A Daily Conversation
About Dallas


And The Winner of The Reader’s Choice Taco Tournament is… Tacodeli

| 11 hours ago

The September issue of D Magazine is all about tacos. I’m sure you already know this. And if you didn’t, you do now. Dallas taco aficionado José R. Ralat ate, like, so many tacos, and then selected his favorites, and then wrote about them. You can read his words here.

But why let an expert have all the say? You guys eat a lot of tacos, too. I bet some of you are taco experts in your own social circles. You deserve to be heard. So we gave you a platform in the form of a taco bracket. We gathered every single taqueria mentioned in the package and let you vote.

Over the past three weeks you narrowed the selection, and today, with bated salsa-breath, we announce the winner: Tacodeli. With 7,552 of your votes in the final round, it’s your favorite of the bunch. It beat Resident Taqueria for the top spot. 

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Local Government

How Dallas’ Infrastructure Development Is Really A Ticking Time Bomb

| 12 hours ago

Editor’s NoteThis is a guest column by Charles Marohn, the founder and president of the nonprofit known as Strong Towns. He saw a FrontBurner article by Jon Anderson and wanted to expand upon it. It was interesting. So we’re running it. Strong Towns is also having a two-day symposium in Plano in early October. 

A recent D Magazine piece by Jon Anderson entitled “Dallas Is Long On Maintenance Needs. Is There A Way To Generate More Intelligent Revenue?” correctly identifies a critical problem facing Dallas: the city’s perennial revenue shortage. “As a city,” writes Anderson, “we’re not generating enough revenue to keep the lights on.” He is absolutely right—but if anything he is understating the problem.

Dallas’s predicament is simple, and it is not unique. In fact, it’s one we see all over North America. After decades of growth, Dallas has built a tremendous amount of public infrastructure. But too much of that infrastructure serves places that do not generate sufficient wealth and thus tax revenue to maintain all of the public infrastructure that supports them—the roads, the pipes, the sidewalks, the lights, and so on. To put it more bluntly, Dallas’ development pattern is insolvent.

Finding creative ways to align revenues with expenses, as Anderson suggests, might improve the incentive to make efficient use of land. But it will not alone be enough to make Dallas solvent. What is really needed is a fundamental change in Dallas’s pattern of development, which for decades has provided a short-term illusion of wealth in exchange for enormous, long-term liabilities.

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Census Data Show That Dallas Really Is Becoming More Urban

| 14 hours ago

Back in May, the U.S. Census published new population data that highlighted a march back to the cities. Dallas and Fort Worth were beneficiaries of this trend, adding more residents than all but two other cities in the country. But the northern suburbs—namely Frisco and McKinney—were still growing at a quicker rate relative to their population.

This week, the Census released more nuanced data as part of its annual American Community Survey. You can explore all sorts of fun data right here. So you see the population jumps (which were actually higher than the Census previously reported), but we can also see things like education level, median household income, median home value, total housing units, vacancy rates, and so on and so forth.

Before we go further, these are one-year estimates, which carry the highest margin of error of all Census data. But it does paint a general picture. Dallas added 24,000 people between 2016 and 2017. That’s more than triple what we added between 2000 and 2010, and brings us to more than 150,000 new residents since 2010, when the last Census was taken. Median income jumped by almost $4,000, landing at $50,627. The median home value rose by more than $30,000, which now sits at $190,600. This spike occurred despite the fact that there are more housing units in 2017 as well as more vacancies than in 2016. So much for supply and demand.

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Local News

Leading Off (9/25/18)

| 19 hours ago

Oakridge Administrator Suspended Over Message to Stormy Daniels’ Lawyer. This is an odd one. Butch Groves is the upper-school head of the private Oakridge School in Arlington. Michael Avenatti is Stormy Daniels’ lawyer. They apparently don’t know each other. But Groves sent Avenatti a message on Twitter. It read: “You are a [expletive] douche bag. You lying piece of [expletive].” We normally publish the dirty words on FrontBurner when they are necessary, but the DMN doesn’t tell us what they were. [checks internet] Oh, they’re pretty much what you’d guess. Nothing special. Anyway, Groves has been suspended.

Police Release Sketch of North Dallas Murderer. Twenty-four-year-old Lin Wang had just gotten a master’s degree from UTD. On Friday night, after she walked her dog, a man followed her into her apartment and stabbed her to death. He also stabbed another woman who survived the attack. And now we’ve got an idea of what the killer looks like.

Shady Dallas Housing Agency Gets Caught Doing Shady Stuff. You’ve probably never heard of the Dallas Housing Finance Corporation. It’s a city of Dallas agency. And it sounds like a total slush fund being run by self-dealers. The DMN has a good investigative report into the mess. The City Council is poised to address the matter tomorrow.

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Local News

At Media Day, Mavs Players’ Optimism Undermined By Organization’s Failed Corporate Culture

| 1 day ago

As the press conferences for the Dallas Mavericks’ annual media day were set to begin on Friday afternoon, CEOs and leaders of local companies and nonprofits and universities were scattered among members of the press. They represented the newly formed, 27-person Dallas Mavericks Advisory Council, co-chaired by former Dallas Police Chief David Brown and Katie Edwards, the Mavericks’ senior director of communications.

Most of them sat patiently, seemingly excited to be in an unfamiliar environment, almost as if gifted tickets to a Hollywood movie premier. They include folks like Bob Mong, the president of UNT Dallas, and Jan Langbein, the CEO of the Genesis Women’s Shelter.

The makeup of the council itself was a reminder of the ethical and institutional failures in the organization’s recent past, factors which beget its creation. “We are here to observe,” Edwards said to the media and her fellow board members just before the press conferences started.

The Mavericks are recovering from a disgraceful public scandal at the exact moment when their on-court product is likely on the verge of an exciting turning point. Those are two vastly different dynamics that have almost nothing in common with each other, but media day was a reminder that they exist on not-so-distant planes. This is a professional sports organization with a lot to reckon with and a professional sports team with a lot of promise. Those aren’t equally important, but they are equally true.

Two days before media day, the results of the team’s harassment investigation was made public. It substantiated numerous allegations of workplace misconduct that took place over the past two decades, the vast majority of which happened through Mark Cuban’s tenure as owner. (Cuban said he was unaware that Ussery was investigated by the team for sexual harassment in 1998.)

Terdema Ussery. Photo by Elizabeth Lavin

The 43-page report cited incidents of grossly inappropriate behavior toward women ranging from comments to forceful, unwanted kissing to watching pornography in plain sight. The former president and CEO of the Mavericks, Terdema Ussery, was a serial harasser; the report found evidence that he harassed at least 15 employees. The team’s in-house writer, Earl K. Sneed, was not fired despite two incidences of attacking two of his significant others, one of whom was also a Mavericks’ employee. A top-performing salesman often watched pornography on his work computer and once allowed a used condom to slip out of his pantleg and onto the floor. This behavior was protected by a human resources head named Buddy Pittman, who bullied employees who reported the misconduct.

The NBA chose not to apply a basketball-related penalty like draft picks, as almost everything found in the investigation occurred on the business side. On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced a $10 million donation to various women’s organizations, four times the maximum amount the NBA can fine an owner.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle began his press conference with a statement about the scandal. “I am in awe of the women that have worked in this organization over the past twenty years,” Carlisle said. “I’m inspired by the victims who have had the courage to come forward and tell their stories to ensure an accurate investigation.”

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Former Observer Writer Anna Merlan Has a Book Coming Out

| 2 days ago
This is the cover of Anna’s book. If you skipped the post and the headline, you might say, “Who’s Anna? What’s this book?” And I would say that you need to go a little slower. Quit rushing. Don’t just click on something. Read it. OK? OK.

Do you remember Anna Merlan from the Dallas Observer, back when the staff was big enough to need two elevators? Sure you do. Her presence is missed around here although I guess the internet makes everywhere “around here.” I only met her once, I believe, at Lee Harvey’s, and since I follow her on various social media sites, it feels a bit — to me, anyway — like she never left. Would I like to see her dropkick folks around here in the jeans? Obviously. But she is doing it somewhere and that’s good enough for me.

ANYWAY, Anna has a book coming out in April. It is titled Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power, and I am very interested to read it and go insane. Maybe less interested in going insane because I have a lot of good things happening currently, personally, but I guess we all run that risk every day by simply going out into this bonkers world. So, OK. Go pre-order the book and then tell me your favorite gloomy-day pick-me-up in the comments, which are still active for whatever reason.

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Local News

Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger Has Been Fired

| 2 days ago

Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger, who shot and killed 26-year-old Botham Jean in his apartment earlier this month, has been fired after an internal investigation found she “engaged in adverse conduct.”

Guyger was charged with manslaughter in the killing; she is currently free on $300,000 bond. During a community meeting, Chief U. Reneé Hall had said that she could not fire Guyger because of “federal, state, and local laws … civil service laws,” although WFAA found that department policy appeared to contradict that statement. According to DPD’s general rules, “The Chief of Police may circumvent all formal disciplinary procedures to render an immediate decision when it deems it necessary to preserve the integrity of the department.” Hall also argued that firing Guyger could impact the criminal investigation.

Guyger can appeal her firing through the city’s civil service rules. In a statement, the department says she was fired during a hearing Monday morning. It’s one of the many things that protestors have called for. Guyger was allowed to remain free for nearly four days after the shooting, a detail viewed by many as hypocritical.

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Local Government

Atmos Energy Says 3-Year Infrastructure Replacement Plan May Be Feasible

| 2 days ago

I received an email on Friday with the Dallas City Council’s agenda for Wednesday, along with a memo to Council from City Manager T.C. Broadnax about the requested acceleration of Atmos Energy’s Infrastructure replacement. Back in April, weeks after a natural gas explosion killed 12-year-old Linda Rogers, Atmos indicated that it could replace all cast-iron pipes in five years, by 2023. Council members objected to the timeframe, but company leaders would not commit to a quicker replacement plan.

Apparently Atmos now says it can replace the pipes in three years if they are able to increase the number of crews 40 percent by the end of next year. But it remains to be seen if that volume of qualified crews is a realistic option. Given the fact that one of the contributing factors to the string of February leaks was heavy rainfall, our current weather patterns seem to make haste a top priority. Given the Dallas Morning News‘ investigative report yesterday, outlining how more than two dozen homes in North and Central Texas have blown up since 2006, while Atmos was earning billions in profits, the question remains why they didn’t start hiring and training crews sooner. Here’s the memo in full:

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Local News

Leading Off (9/24/18)

| 2 days ago

23-Year-Old Doctoral Student Drowns Near UTA Campus. Alan Amaya was swept into a creek on Friday night.

Cowboys Lose in Seattle. They didn’t look good but at least they did look boring. Zeke Elliott had one touchdown called back because he went out of bounds before catching a Dak Prescott pass and then fumbled on his best run of the game. Season is looking like an 8-8 Jason Garrett Special.

Wettest September Since 1932 Set to Continue. We’ve already gotten more than four times the normal amount of [extremely Axl Rose in statement mode voice] cold September rain and guess what? It’s going to basically rain the rest of the month, too.

Security Guard Foils Wing Stop Robbery. Not sure if rumors are true that security guards are required to say “Wing stop and put your hands up” like I’ve heard. Anyway, two are in custody.

McAllen Mayor Says Best Tacos ‘Definitely Not in Dallas.’ Thank you guys for promoting our issue so hard. Next feature I write, I’m definitely going to start some business with various Texas mayors. Also, this is a little strange for me, as I am a former (very briefly) resident of McAllen.

FC Dallas Wins on the Road in Vancouver. At least one Dallas team left the Pacific Northwest happy. Matt Hedges got an unmarked header late late late in the match and FCD goes back atop the Western Conference standings.

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