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Local Government

The Legislature Kneecapped Revenue for Texas Cities Just in Time For Budget Season

| 15 mins ago

This summer, Texas cities will begin maneuvering through their budgets knowing that the state has lessened the revenue they’ve come to expect. The last session resulted in two immediate stoppages: no more revenue from red light cameras and a limit on fees that municipal governments can charge telecommunications companies for using public right of way. Then, in 2021, cities won’t be able to grow property tax revenue collections by more than 3.5 percent without voter approval. This has been written about before locally, but the Texas Tribune’s new urban affairs reporter corralled responses from all major Texas cities and what they’re expecting.

Across the board, municipalities are reporting an immediate hit in a ballpark that ranges from $4 million (Austin) to $27 million (Houston) from the telecom limitations alone. Dallas and Fort Worth expect about $7 million to $8 million less than they received last year. Red-light camera revenue doesn’t seem like it’ll hit the cities as hard—San Antonio and Houston had already outlawed them—but Dallas and Fort Worth each say they’ll lose out on $1 million next year. (The year after, the city projects a loss of $2.4 million, presumably because existing contracts are allowed to expire if they were signed before May.) It’s by no means a huge portion of their general funds, but these captures can help lead to things like police raises and longer hours for libraries.

The real pain comes the following budget cycle, in 2021, when the Lege’s property tax reform begins. Previously, cities didn’t have to go to voters unless they wanted to jump revenue collections by 8 percent. Now, the cap is at 3.5 percent, and all municipalities are going to feel it: Austin is expecting a shortfall of $52.6 million by 2023-2024; San Antonio’s could be as high as $81 million, which is what it estimates it would’ve cost the city if the cap was in effect in the last decade. Dallas says it would’ve been down $25.1 million if the law was in place last September. The law won’t affect tax bills much, just how much the cities can collect.

The five-year forecast that the city’s budget office presented the Council in June is even more grim.

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Good Reads

Your Summer Reading List: Shorty

| 3 hours ago

Shorty had a curse word for the world stuck in his throat that even the sweetest Boone’s Farm strawberry wine couldn’t wash down. A curse word he slurred effortlessly at everyone who walked down his block of Wayne Street. And it truly was his. While Annette Strauss was the mayor of the city of Dallas, Shorty was the mayor of the 1800 block of Wayne Street.

“You don’t know nothing about no damn dominoes, so step off, youngster.”

“That has got to be the ugliest damn dog on this whole planet.”

“Mr. Ice Cream man! There ain’t no reason to be playing that music that damn loud!”

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Local News

Since 2014, Dallas Averages One Shooting Per Day

| 5 hours ago

In May, more than 40 people were murdered in Dallas, an unexplained spike from the 15 in May of last year. The investigation files crowded the desks of a skeleton homicide crew, prompting Dallas PD to boost the unit from 14 to 22 detectives. By mid-June, the number of homicides here had already notched over 100, on pace to surpass last year’s total of 196.

With election season behind us and City Council out for the summer, rhetoric around the issue has slowed. But it’s way too easy to find examples illustrating that the problem hasn’t gone anywhere.

Not all of these killings involve guns. But gun violence has long stretched the city’s limited resources while leaving neighborhoods and families reeling from its effects. To get a grip on how deeply Dallas is impacted by gun violence, we analyzed five years of DPD incident data. The results are staggering. They show that on average, the city sees at least one gun-related murder or shooting involving an injury per day.

Over the past five years (June 2014 through May 2019), there have been at least 2,285 people injured by shootings in the city of Dallas. Of those people, 482 died. Because the city’s public incident data excludes sensitive records, such as offenses involving minors or sexual assault, the numbers are surely low. But the statistics presented here offer some of the most comprehensive tallies yet of how gun violence impacts our city.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (7/18/19)

| 7 hours ago

Chief Hall Taking Leave of Absence After Surgery. DPD Chief U. Renee Hall underwent major surgery and is now on a leave of absence and recuperating. Executive Assistant Chief David Pughes will fill her role in the meantime.

Carolyn Davis’ Daughter Also Killed in Car Crash. Melissa Lashan Davis-Nunn, the 27-year-old daughter of former City Council member Carolyn Davis, also died as a result of Monday’s crash. Jonathan Alger Moore, who crashed his Mazda SUV into Davis’ Oldsmobile Cutlass, faces two counts of intoxication manslaughter. He is now in the Dallas County jail.

Dallas Cops Arrest Two People on Sex Trafficking Charges. Jerry Duncan and Kathryne Sneed were arrested on sex trafficking charges in three states, one of which is Texas. They’re in the Dallas County jail with bail at $100,000 each.

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Politics

Early Campaign Donations Show A Major Fight For Texas Legislative Seats in 2020

| 23 hours ago

The kumbayah of the 86th legislative session’s comity and bipartisanship led to the passage of historic and costly school finance legislation. It was one without fist fights or bill-killing massacres. But the gloves are off: 2020 is upon us.

For the first since 2009, when Republicans only held a two seat majority, both parties are on defense.

Texas House seats in Dallas County—and even neighboring Collin, Denton and Tarrant counties—are in play. Both parties need to defend what they have, including the six Democratic Dallas pickups and the two remaining Republicans in the local delegation. With the first major campaign finance reports of the season now available, a glimpse of what is to come predicts a wild ride.

Here’s where we stand:

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Urbanism

North Texas Won’t Win in the Long Run With a ‘Dallas Also’ Attitude

| 1 day ago

Over the weekend, the Dallas Morning News editorial board published its take on the Texas Monthly interview with Mayor Eric Johnson, which we also spoke about last week. In the interview, Johnson tells TexMo that he believes regionalism is fine when it comes to big economic engines like Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. But when it comes to services like public transit, he argued that Dallas needs to start delivering for its own residents. To my ears, that sounded like Johnson pointing out that sometimes the region’s interests and the city’s interests don’t align. In those cases, the mayor of Dallas must stick up for the city.

If that’s what Johnson really meant, it’s a striking shift in tone compared with his predecessor. Nonetheless, the News’ edit board, one of the former mayor’s biggest champions, tried to close the gap on Johnson’s comments. Johnson’s comments were “nuanced,” the editorial says, and they demonstrate that “he deeply understands this difficult dance” between regional and urban interests. “We don’t hear from the mayor a ‘Dallas First’ motto that excludes our important partners in this region,” the edit board writes. “What we hear is a ‘Dallas Also.’”

I’m not sure what exactly “Dallas Also” means, but I find something pejorative about the phrase and the way it implicitly frames the city’s interests as subordinate to a greater regional project. More importantly, the general tone of the editorial—the way it brushes off criticism of DART’s light rail, its fawning at supposed “nuance,” its suggestion that the future success of DFW requires a delicate dance between large urban centers and suburban partners—underscores a complacency and a general failure to grasp the real stakes of the city’s—and the region’s—future. It is a lack of urgency that also seems to be shared by a large subset of Dallas’ civic leadership.

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Media

New Podcast Announces Big Changes at D Magazine Partners

| 1 day ago

In late May, we saw some significant changes at D Magazine. On the cusp of our 45th anniversary (coming up in September!), founder Wick Allison announced he was relinquishing editorial and management responsibilities while remaining our chairman. Wick, as you know, is also the founder and co-chair of the Coalition for a New Dallas superPAC and several other enterprises.

His wife, Christine Allison, became editor-in-chief of all media as well as CEO of the company. Christine founded our D Home magazine and is the author of 13 books. She has been running the operational side of the business for several years. Tim Rogers will remain the magazine’s editor, and the rest of the editorial staff is unchanged.

Gillea Allison, senior of the four Allison daughters, became our new president and chief revenue officer. Her sisters were named earlier to the company’s board of directors.

Yesterday Jason Wright’s Texas Titans podcast featured an interview with Gillea Allison about her background, what led her back to Dallas, what it’s like to enter and rise in a family business, how she sees the future of media, and a host of other subjects. There’s also some interesting insight into what we aim for here at D Magazine: to create communities around the topics we cover. (The interview begins at the six minute mark.)

Well worth a visit for media junkies, which aren’t we all? Join me in congratulating Gillea and Christine in their new gigs.

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Good Reads

Your Summer Reading List: The Watch

| 1 day ago

“Why do you wear a man’s watch?” I asked my grandmother when I was 3, playing with blocks.

“So I will remember to put you to bed,” she replied.

“She doesn’t care when you go to bed,” my grandfather said.

“Why do you wear a man’s watch?” I asked my grandmother when I was 10, cutting out sugar cookie stars.

“Because the numbers are bigger,” she replied.

“Your grandmother can see the gnat on a bullet a mile away,” my grandfather said.

“Why do you wear a man’s watch?” I asked my grandmother when she gave me her pearls.

“It was my father’s,” she replied. “ It reminds me of his heart ticking.”

“Her father never wore a watch,” my grandfather said. “And he had no heart.”

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Transportation

Bike Friendly South Dallas Has Bees in its Walls. That’s Actually Great News.

| 1 day ago

A lot was going right last month for Bike Friendly South Dallas, the joy-and transportation-spreading South Dallas bike shop that uses an earn-a-bike model. The organization had scored sponsorship from The Real Estate Council’s Associate Leadership Council that brought around a quarter of a million dollars worth of renovations to its first-ever bike shop, located near Ervay and Al Lipscomb. The shop opened this month.

What could derail such momentum? Perhaps a beehive in the cinder block walls, which is what founder Stan Hart recently discovered.

As it turns out, though, Bike Friendly has fallen into an opportunity. Rather than spend hundreds of dollars to remove it, Hart has teamed with an organization that will be taking the bees out for free this Saturday and putting about 10 hives on the roof so that they can produce honey—and revenue—for Bike Friendly South Dallas. The hive in the wall will be taken off site, and then those bees will be “rehabbed”—somewhere remote in California, I assume—and brought back onto the roof, as well.

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Local News

Leading Off (7/17/19)

| 1 day 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.

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Local News

Dallas City Council Members React to the Death of Carolyn Davis

| 2 days 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:

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Good Reads

Your Summer Reading List: Into a Blue-White Sky

| 2 days 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.

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