FrontBurner

A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Local News

Leading Off (7/17/19)

| 32 mins ago

Six Displaced Residents File a Lawsuit Over Crane Collapse. They’re not the first—that was UFC fighter and Elan City Lights resident Macy Chiasson, who filed just days after the June collapse. These six say they’re suffering from depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Texas Instruments Will Delay Building its $3.1 Billion Richardson Plant. The delay—of two years—is apparently over market conditions. TI will likely get hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks on the facility, including about $100 million in waived property taxes to Plano ISD, which notified the state of the hold-up.

Man Shot and Killed in West Dallas. It happened at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Panther Island Management Taken to Task in New Report. The plan is to re-route the Trinity River and create an urban island in Fort Worth. But a new report from consultant firm Riveron says management of the project is lacking.

Read More

Local News

Dallas City Council Members React to the Death of Carolyn Davis

| 18 hours ago

Reaction to the death of former Councilwoman Carolyn Davis is trickling in via social media today. Police say she died after being struck by a driver who is suspected of being impaired and drifted over the median in Oak Cliff last night. Dallas police identified him as 36-year-old Jonathan Moore, a man who has five previous convictions for driving while intoxicated. Dallas County court records show that his last DWI occurred on July 11, 2014. He’d recently finished a probated sentence of five years and a judge allowed him to remove his interlock device from his vehicle on Monday, hours prior to the wreck.

The fatal collision occurred just before 8 p.m. on East Ledbetter road. Police say his SUV veered into oncoming traffic before colliding head-on with Davis’ Cutlass Ciera. Charges were filed Monday evening for intoxication assault and intoxication assault causing brain injury. The arrest warrant alleges he informed a paramedic at the scene that he had taken Xanax before the crash, but denied it at the hospital. WFAA has a history of his past convictions, which date back to 2005. Moore remains in the hospital. As does Davis’ daughter, who is in critical condition.

7-15-2019_-_Interlock_Removal_Order_-_F1333805 by goodmoine on Scribd

We’ve reached out to all current Dallas City Council members and will update this post as more statements come in. Here’s what we have so far:

Read More

Good Reads

Your Summer Reading List: Into a Blue-White Sky

| 21 hours ago

The day after granddad died, I woke to a weedeater chewing up the front yard. I’d lived for the last decade, since I was 2, with my grandparents in East Dallas on Arturo Drive, a strip of chalk road that dead-ends with the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge. They were the only mother and father I’d ever known, and in that time one person had worked the weedeater, and he was dead and gone. I knew Granny wouldn’t dare mess up her hive, gassed with hairspray, doing yardwork. Not in a million years. My eyes had been sealed shut with sleep and snot from crying so hard, but an investigation was needed.

The curtains in my room were made from swatches of an old bedspread with MLB logos halved and sewn back together, the fabric so thin from a thousand washes that the sun pushed through, the bedroom aglow at first light and bathed with the liquid blueness of summer. I pulled the curtains apart and saw Granny tangled in an orange extension cord center-lawn using the weedeater as a scythe, moving back and forth over the crabgrass, spitting dirt and pebbles and whole blades of grass airborne. She was after the loam, trying to scalp every inch of grass.

Granny’s cigarette burned against the early rising sun over the short-leaf pines. Across the way: Mrs. Derricks’ face pressed to her living room window; she held a tumbler of gin under her chin. It was early to be weedeating and an odder sight still to behold Granny stirring the small collection of single wides that had been backed in and unhitched years ago. Not a quarter mile away rails shifted above tar-black crossties as a train edged the lawyered estates of Forest Hills, their lawns pushpinned with private-school spirit signs and Teslas parked at showroom angles.

Read More

Podcasts

New EarBurner: Bobby Abtahi Quits the Park Board, Talks About It

| 21 hours ago

Last week, Bobby Abtahi walked into Mayor Eric Johnson’s office a little after 4 p.m. and tendered his resignation as the president of the Park and Recreation Board. It was something of a surprise; Abtahi was one of many public officials who backed Johnson against former Councilman Scott Griggs in the mayor’s race.

He said it was the right time to exit the stage, especially after seeing his friend Mike Rawlings relax after eight years as mayor. And so after two and a half years heading the Park Board—and $262 million in public funding for new parks, upgraded recreation centers, programming to keep kids off the streets, a privatization deal for Fair park, and a parkland dedication fund—the 37-year-old decided he wanted to spend more time with his family and in his day job as an attorney.

Robert Wilonsky broke that news in The Dallas Morning News last week. We invited Abtahi to come on the podcast and reflect on his tenure (and, yes, embarrass himself guessing quotes from Parks and Rec characters). Programming note: There are show notes after the jump, but I’ve also transcribed the interview and pulled out some interesting portions. Let me know what you think of that.

Read More

Local News

Leading Off (7/16/19)

| 22 hours ago

Former Councilwoman Carolyn Davis Killed in Car Wreck. A suspected drunken driver crashed into Davis’ car in East Oak Cliff last night, killing her and injuring someone believed to be her daughter. Melissa Davis Nunn is in the hospital in critical condition; Davis died at Baylor University Medical Center. The driver, 36-year-old Jonathan Moore, passed over the median in his Mazda SUV and collided with Davis’ Cutlass Ciera. WFAA says he has four previous DWI charges. Some of her council member colleagues praised her dedication to her community in a Morning News story. She was also set to be sentenced in September after pleading guilty to accepting bribes from a low-income housing developer; she faced up to three years in prison.

WFAA Gets Recording of Addison Plane Crash. The station filed an open records request of any video from the incident, which killed 10 people on board. Channel 8 says the plane “never gets higher than the surrounding tree line” and is described as “on a crash course with a nearby hangar.”

Don’t Smoke Weed With Strangers in Deep Ellum. This has been going around Facebook for a few days, and NBC 5 picked it up last night. Apparently two men are inviting passerby to smoke a joint or a blunt that’s laced with K2 or some other drug. The victims pass out. The men then rob them and take off. Police say they’ve found three such robberies from last weekend alone. The suspects are described as two black men between 20 and 30 years old. One is five feet tall and 190 pounds, the other is six feet tall and 170. The shorter guy might go by the name of Bonton.

Read More

Good Reads

Your Summer Reading List: A Common Thing

| 2 days ago

Chasity cursed and hit the steering wheel when she realized she’d left the gift bag, balloon bouquet, and card on the kitchen island of her Deep Ellum condo. She was already in Plano. She couldn’t turn around. She had to get to the shower on time. Everyone would be there—Momma, her sister, the aunties, and all of her sister’s friends. She needed to get there to be what they needed her to be. The only one without a man or children. It made them feel useful to tell her why.

You spent too much time trying to be white and done missed being what you ’posed to be, Momma told her at the last event. The time before that, one of the aunties said, Don’t no man want no woman that can’t be on time.

She imagined her family watching the door, waiting for her to arrive with a new handbag or scarf or shoes. And then their smiles at the end of the shower—smiles meant to remind her that no matter how put-together she appeared to be, she’d still go home alone. Smiles meant to remind them of who they were.
She sighed and took the Park exit off the Tollway.

Her family would never understand her experience. That her degrees didn’t get her through tough workdays. It took much more than that to be the only black woman—the only black person—in those spaces. She was constantly fighting for herself—for them—for how people saw them. Yet all her family would see her as was the bourgeois one who blended in.

She was relieved when she saw the Super Target on the service road. She’d have to be practical. She wouldn’t get more cute little outfits. She’d get the ones she’d already purchased from Neiman’s—the ones she left behind—to her sister later.

She drove down a few aisles in the parking lot before she spotted a C-Class Mercedes, almost identical to hers, pulling out from a space near the entrance.

“This day might just save itself,” she said out loud.

Read More

Books

Five Dallas Book Clubs We Wish We Could Join

| 2 days ago

When Interabang Books opened at Preston and Royal two years ago this month, it changed the bookselling game in Dallas. Lori Feathers, the store’s co-owner and adult books buyer (who also sits on the board of the National Book Critics Circle), made it a priority to engage North Texas readers and revitalize the literary scene. Interabang’s Book Club Concierge Service was created to do just that. Feathers offers free advice on creating reading lists and even offers to lead discussions, her schedule permitting. She thinks Dallas has one of the strongest book club environments in the country. And it’s not just wine and social hour: these are readers choosing a challenging discussion over cheese. We asked her to name some of the fancier clubs in town.

Read More

Local News

Why Emma Fuhrmann Got In Trouble For Posting a Photo of a Sunset

| 2 days ago
Emma Fuhrmann in our July 2018 issue. (photo by Elizabeth Lavin)

Emma Fuhrmann is a young Dallas actor who scored a small but pivotal role in Avengers: Endgame. She plays the older version of Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie. Again, it is a small part — and I just realized that is a bit of a pun, since we are talking about Ant-Man’s daughter, and I’m sorry — but in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are no small parts and there is nothing too small to escape the notice of Marvel security. Not even a photo of a sunset. This is from Fuhrmann’s recent interview with ComicBook.com:

I took a picture of the sunset and posted it on my Instagram story, and I just tagged the location, Atlanta, Georgia. The next day, [Marvel’s] head of security came to my trailer and talked to me about how I can’t post that. I was like, “Well, I wasn’t going to say I was on set of you know, Endgame or anything,” and they were like, “No, we understand, you’re not the first person we had to talk to about this today, but I’ve had people calling me all day trying to find out where you’re going to be filming,” and that was sort of just like a, “Okay, wow, this is real.”

It reminded me of when Fuhrmann appeared in our July 2018 issue, as part of a spread about trainer John Benton, aka the “hips whisperer” for models and actresses. We had originally mentioned that she had a part in Endgame, and it was a detail that had already been reported elsewhere. But I guess she had learned her lesson after the sunset incident, and pleaded with us not to include it when she was contacted during factcheck. So we said, instead, that Fuhrmann was “in a much-hyped movie coming out next spring.”

Hopefully, it won’t get her into trouble to mention that she is Endgame now.

Read More

Local News

Councilman Casey Thomas Didn’t Disclose Those AAC Tickets From VisitDallas, as Required

| 2 days ago

The Texas Monitor picks up where we left off on how one current and one former Dallas City Council member used VisitDallas’ American Airlines Center suite. As you’ll remember, the city finally sent us a list of people who’ve used the suite. As we reported, the only active City Council member to use it was southern Dallas representative Casey Thomas. The Monitor points out Thomas wasn’t exactly first in line to rip into VisitDallas leadership when we all found out how the shop was run a few months back.

But the scoop is this: the Monitor got their hands on Thomas’ last three years of annual gift disclosures. The tickets aren’t on them.

Tickets for each of those events exceeded the $50 minimum required for disclosure. Mars, for example, charged $591 for a top seat during his 2018 tour.

Although the annual gift disclosure filed by Thomas did not mention the American Airlines Center events, it did include other perks he received from VisitDallas. He reported receiving two tickets to the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament from VisitDallas in May 2018, worth $300 each, and an $85 polo shirt in 2017.

Thomas did not respond to a phone message or text requesting comment. His office did not respond to an email.

He hasn’t responded here, either. We’ll update if he does. Former Councilwoman Monica Alonzo, she of West Dallas, used the suite twice during her time in office.

Read More

Animals

NYT Magazine Presents an Unflattering Portrayal of the Dallas Zoo’s Elephant Habitat

| 2 days ago

I missed this New York Times Magazine story last week but it has now been passed to me and it bears passing to you. Charles Siebert writes about zoo elephants, homing in on the “rescue” mission in 2016 that brought elephants from a piece of Southern Africa called Swaziland to Dallas as well as zoos in Wichita, Kansas, and Omaha, Nebraska. Siebert posits the rescue portion as a justification, a public relations ploy to get increasingly endangered creatures to the U.S. In other words, they might not be better off.

As Siebert writes, among other impacts of enclosed spaces, we are learning that captive elephants struggle to sustainably reproduce. For every one birth, two elephants die, according to the story. Nearly all of the elephants on board that 2016 flight—15 out of 17—were breeding-age females. One of them was pregnant. That elephant came to Dallas and, just two months later, had a baby named Ajabu that Siebert says the Dallas Zoo called a surprise. But Siebert contests that, arguing that the elephant had already been monitored for months by vets in Swaziland at the time of the flight. Too, the zoo shipped two of the animals to California to grow the Fresno Chaffee Zoo’s herd in 2018, despite assurances they wouldn’t.

As charming as the photos of Ajabu’s early life are, the story presents an alternative narrative about what it means to keep elephants confined. Advocates for the welfare of the animals say putting elephants in enclosed spaces has devastating results, forcing the majestic creatures into behavior they’d never exhibit in the wild. The president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums maintains that American zoos can provide for the overall well-being of African elephants. It’s difficult not to read the piece and come away believing that, at minimum, some cutthroat, perhaps even seedy stuff happens in the process of procuring the animals for display. Read the piece and decide for yourself here.

Read More