Dispatches from Dallas, March 22 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

This week, in news from Dallas-Fort Worth, some more election news, Johnson and Broadnax and various police and environmental stories along with the usual grab bag. Also two stories from the Fort Worth Zoo, one of which is sad but doesn’t involve any animals dying.

This week’s post was brought to you by the music of the Electric Light Orchestra, to whose Dallas concert I just bought presale tickets. Supposedly this is their last tour so check out their show nearest you.

Let’s start with a few items closing out the primary election. First, Bud Kennedy of the Star-Telegram would like you to know that the big losers in Tarrant County and Texas are women, and not just in the “those dudes will tear your rights away” way. The lurch to the far right has tossed a bunch of women out of office. In a surely unrelated story, the DMN reports that Dallas suburbs (Frisco, McKinney, and Plano) have some of the largest pay gaps in the country. Quelle surprise. Meanwhile, if you want the DMN analysis, Gromer Jeffers has analyses of the important races for the Dallas area: the runoffs that may drag the Texas House further right, the Senate race, and our runoff for county sheriff.

A few one-off items from the election:

  • In an unsurprising dénouement, the judge dismissed the residency case against Tarrant County Constable candidate John Wright, who lost to the incumbent in the Democratic primary.
  • If you were wondering why Tarrant County didn’t have joint elections, we now have a reason: GOP Chair Bo French thinks the Democrats cheat.
  • Speaking of French, he arbitrarily decided that an elected precinct chair was secretly a Democrat, so he denied a certificate of election to the victor because he’d been a Democrat in the past. Of course, there will be an appeal to the Election Integrity Unit, but since the unit’s chief prosecutor endorsed the other guy in the election, my hopes are not high. Click through and read the whole thing. In a county where Republicans won’t work on elections with Democrats because Democrats supposedly cheat, this sure looks like putting a thumb on the scale.
  • Not so funny: Matt Rinaldi’s handpicked successor as GOP Chair, who lives in Collin County had a domestic violence call as he was trying to leave his house with a loaded gun to confront the man he thought was having an affair with his wife. Apparently one of his kids called it in. I wish his wife and kids safety and the Republicans a less violent leadership.
  • And a few reports on big money folks pushing Texas to the right: Texas Public Radio on Time Dunn and the Wilks brothers; The Texas Tribune on Wilks and Dunn and their turnaround in this election; and TNR on hometown Houston favorite Mattress Mac. All depressing.

The next story I have for you is the mess of developments surrounding our mayor and (ex) city manager. T.C. Broadnax said relatively nice things about the mayor at a LULAC breakfast at the end of last month. He’s one of the top applicants for the City Manager job in Austin, which he apparently applied for four days after he quit his job here in Dallas. Good luck to him and to my friends in Austin.

Meanwhile, Mayor Johnson has a lot of opinions about things and he’s interested in telling you about them. He and his allies think the council appointed Deputy City Manager Kimberly Bizor Tolbert to hold the fort as Interim City Manager too quickly. He gloated over the unsurprising failure of the mayoral recall effort. It’s basically impossible to recall the guy; it would have taken more than 100,000 signatures to get started. It’s like gloating that you won a race with a turtle. Johnson also wants us to know he voted for Trump for President, which throws some of my theories about what he’s doing in the air. Unsurprisingly, the DMN issued a testy editorial telling Johnson to be less partisan, which he’s going to ignore.

In other news:

  • Former mayor Mike Rawlings is working with No Labels. If you’re more interested in current Dallas politicians, there’s also a video interview with Julie Johnson, who won her primary in CD 32.
  • The Star-Telegram has an explainer on why Fort Worth’s water bills spike in April. The Fort Worth Report also has a piece on how Fort Worth’s water authority switched to a new portal and the consequences for water customers.
  • Two Dallas explainers for you: What’s going on with Dallas city charter and what’s going on with the ForwardDallas land use plan.
  • The Supreme Court wasn’t feeling the review of the sexually oriented business ordinance here in Dallas. More from the DMN.
  • More from the ongoing saga about the disabled veteran and the DPD: they got a reprimand, which is a step below a suspension, and some people think it’s not enough, especially given the delay in dealing with the case. That said, the other story that’s come out of this case is that there’s a secret legal opinion that may limit the board’s oversight powers. I suspect we’ll be back to this one.
  • Also on the police beat: how are Dallas and Fort Worth police going to deal with SB4?. The headline says they differ in what they’re going to do, but reading the article, it’s pretty clear both of them are putting off actually dealing with the question for now. The article mentions that SB4 isn’t designed for enforcement in the interior, according to one of its authors, which sounds like a Shirley Exception moment to me.
  • Tarrant County is having trouble recruiting detention officers and they’d like some federal money to upgrade their training center, please.
  • A few environmental updates from around the area: Shingle Mountain; Tarrant County and its concrete plan; the West Dallas shingle plant. And a new story: because of a mechanical failure, Plano dumped 1.5 million gallons of sewage into White Rock Lake, a couple of miles from where I live. That’s a big lake but it’s also a lot of sewage. There are normally boats and other water activities on the lake, but all that is banned right now for safety reasons.
  • Dallas County’s IT department, which you may remember from greatest hits last year like “we didn’t pay people because our new system is busted”, still has no permanent leader. And the county commissioners just gave them $600,000 to get all their software working and working together.
  • Tarrant County, meanwhile, had a lot of trouble with their appraisal district website during the protest period last year, so they decided to replace it. The new website crashed a week after rollout. The good news is that this time the appraisal district folks admitted they had a problem, unlike last year.
  • UT Southwestern, where I had my cancer treated, had a data breach. If I was affected, I haven’t heard from them yet.
  • USA Today says that if you’re moving to Texas, you should move to Tyler. If you’re inclined to laugh about that, we have friends in Tyler; apparently they think that all the people who are getting priced out of Austin and Dallas are about to descend on their city.
  • The plan to run high-speed rail from Houston to Dallas to Fort Worth has run into opposition from Dallas developer Hunt Realty which says the proposed route through downtown to Fort Worth would doom Reunion Tower.
  • Meanwhile, if you want to know how to get around Dallas without a car, read this interview with the Dallas Urbanists.
  • Do you remember the “affluenza” drunk driving case from about ten years ago? It’s back in the news, with the mom who helped her son run to Mexico making a plea bargain eight years after she was charged. The deal let her out of jail with credit for time served.
  • RIP Paul Alexander, a Dallas resident who was one of the last Americans living with post-polio syndrome and using an iron lung since 1952. The NY Times has more.
  • This month will see the dedication of public art dedicated to the victims of lynching in downtown Dallas. The ceremony will take place at the Sixth Floor Museum nearby because of the noise level at the park (it’s by a major downtown underpass). Unfortunately the mayor has a conflict and cannot attend.
  • Interested in the history of queer movie in Dallas? Read up on CineWilde, Dallas’ queer film series.
  • This investigation into casting bias in DFW theater is the kind of story where the DMN shines. I complain about the DMN a lot, but this is good work and I’m glad they’re doing it.
  • McKinney is about to get an outside open-air music venue that will seat 20,000, rivalling the American Airlines Center for size. It’s expected to open in time for the 2026 concert season, and I hope to review it for you.
  • You may remember that Dr. Phil is basing his new network here in the Metroplex. He just signed Steve Harvey not only as talent but as an equity partner.
  • Have you wondered what it’s like to get deliveries by drone? This instagram reel shows you what happens when you order from WalMart for drone delivery. I was impressed that the eggs didn’t break.
  • Maybe you saw a viral video of zookeepers and a silverback gorilla from the Fort Worth Zoo recently. It’s from last October. Nobody was injured.
  • Last but not least, a sad but non-fatal story from the Fort Worth Zoo. Baby Jameela, the premature gorilla born by Caesarean section, has been rejected by the zoo’s first choice of surrogate mom. They’ve got a second surrogate in mind and hope she’ll warm to Jameela the way her mother and their first choice did not.
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