This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.
This week in news from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, we have a grab bag of news on regular beats: ransomware, Collin County’s favorite hometown Attorney General, six degrees of Clarence Thomas, and more. Plus updates on last week’s police violence story, suburban school districts behaving badly, a Mary Kay convention, a tree burn in East Texas, and last, but not least, a baby klipspringer.
This post was brought to you in part by the music of the late Sinéad O’Connor.
- One from Thursday evening’s news: the state of Texas has put up a historical marker at the site of a lynching in downtown Dallas in 1910. The description of the lynching and its aftermath are graphic, so read with care. But even if you don’t read the details, please don’t forget that white people in Texas were murdering Black men under Jim Crow.
- Last week my big story was the first installment of the DMN’s investigative series on police violence. This week we got an idea of what the local response is going to be: a whole lotta nothing. Moving the needle on police reform has been nearly impossible after the police ambush of July 2016; I hope the subsequent installments in this series can inspire the citizens of Dallas to press for more oversight and earlier intervention to get rid of violent officers.
- In ongoing ransomware news, Dallas’ city manager has emailed city employees to let them know employee data was accessed back in May. The city will be paying for credit monitoring for employees.
- Speaking of breaches, our host covered the Harris Health breach this week. The same HCA breach also hit Medical City Healthcare here in Dallas. The DMN article says 11 million HCA patients had their data exposed.
- And in Dallas County software news, the judges are asking the county to pay for an investigation of the auditor’s office over the botched rollout of the new payroll software. Meanwhile, the court management software rollout continues to be a disaster. I can’t tell whether the payroll software and the court software are two aspects of the same failure or whether some poor fool scheduled two complex software rollouts right on top of each other. In any case, my best wishes to the poor IT workers of Dallas county, who are clearly dealing with bad management choices, as well as the employees, lawyers and related staff, and defendants in the criminal system who don’t have a working system to get them through their court appearances or paychecks that reflect the work they do.
- In Ken Paxton news, the DMN broke a story about how Representative Jeff Leach of Plano got into it with one of the AG’s staffers. This is how you get your allies in the Lege so mad they’ll impeach you, friends. Also worth reading are the Dallas Observer’s takeaways, where we’re reminded that Rep. Leach’s texting fingers are also in the ongoing Collin College pie.
- Related, as noted by our host earlier this week, Paxton’s lawyers want to bar three Democratic senators from voting in the trial. I take this one personally because one of the state senators is mine. We’re so far into uncharted waters that nobody has any idea how this is going to turn out, but at least it looks like Paxton’s lawyers won’t get to strike all the Democrats without a fight.
- In six degrees of Clarence Thomas, What Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said about the Super Bowl ring he gave Clarence Thomas: it was an honor to give it to Thomas because Thomas was a Cowboys fan. Also according to Jones, he’s never given a Super Bowl ring to any other politician or justice.
- A twofer on Dallas County’s juvenile courts: Dallas County’s battle over juvenile records delayed by state investigation and Dallas County prosecutors want to lock up fewer kids, and it’s working. These two stories were published the same day and with the same stock photo of the juvenile courthouse, which was mildly confusing as I assembled this post.
- Meanwhile, in the suburbs, Carroll ISD has declared it open season on queer kids, removing LGBTQ-specific protections from their discrimination policy, requiring students to use the restroom associated with their birth-assigned gender, and no longer requiring teachers to use a student’s preferred pronouns. Good luck to queer students in Carroll; they’re going to need it. And in Carrollton-Farmer’s Branch ISD, the new white superintendent allegedly made racist comments about Black and Hispanic students. CFBISD is majority-Hispanic and 11 percent of its students are white. The Board is going to look into the matter; either this will be the last we hear of it or we’re going to hear a lot about it. It’s impossible to tell which yet.
- In DISD schools, parents aren’t clear on why the littlest kids, including pre-K students, need clear backpacks. Part of the issue is that the clear backpacks offered by the school district won’t hold up to daily use.
- The weather here in north Texas continues to be hotter than the proverbial oven. At least five people have died in Tarrant County in the current heat wave. Meanwhile, the city of Dallas has joined a “cool coalition” of cities looking for comprehensive technological solutions. And the state of Texas is rolling back local ordinances to protect outdoor workers, which are the targets of the Death Star law. (You know what to do: vote the bastards out.)
- A Unitarian Universalist church in Plano was firebombed early Sunday morning. Damage was limited to the entrance and the church conducted services after the attack. Apparently the UUs have been targeted by a hate group this summer.
- The Dallas-based developer that bought Fairfield State Park is moving forward with development. As mentioned in the article, apparently the developers have torn down the park’s main office building. Looks like they’re going to try to go hard as they can before eminent domain can happen in hopes of forestalling it.
- Joppa can’t catch a break. The former freedman’s town in South Dallas just got rid of one batch plant and now another one is trying to move in. TCEQ is holding a hearing in downtown Dallas in August. This DMN editorial lays it out: the whole process is something of a sham; even if residents can get to downtown Dallas (and I hope someone rents a bus for them), TCEQ has long been subject to regulatory capture and they’re going to approve this application over the objections of the neighbors.
- The Alabama-Coushatta people of east Texas have been working with SMU anthropologists and the Indigenous People’s Burning Network to perform forest management through controlled burns. One of the goals is to regenerate the population of longleaf pine. This is a hopeful story and the sort of thing that normally slides under the radar, but in a year where we’re seeing terrible wildfires across Canada early in the season, it’s worth your attention.
- Two stories that are quintessentially Dallas, which is to say all about the rewards of successful capitalism: Barbie pink gets Mary Kay competition as nearly 20,000 descend on Dallas and 9.4-carat diamond ring up for grabs at Highland Park estate sale for late Exxon exec, which includes the original story and a follow-up after the estate sale.
- And here’s that promised zoo-born: Dallas Zoo announces birth of klipspringer as it celebrates birthday of its eldest one. The older klipspringer is twenty-four, which is a ripe old age for these dwarf antelopes.