This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.
This week, in news from Dallas-Fort Worth, it’s another grab bag. We have followups to the Southwest Airlines religious liberty case, the ransomware attack on the city of Dallas, and the DPD evidence-mishandling scandal; a former Miss Texas leaps into North Texas politics; HB3 and school security officers in North Texas; book banners in Fort Worth; Farmer’s Branch moves to a 4×10 work week; State Fair news; the Kalita Humphreys theater; and more.
This week’s post was brought to you by the music of Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita, which you can sample in their Tiny Desk concert.
And in DFW-adjacent travel news, over the last weekend we visited the tourist mecca of Oklahoma City to enjoy True Nature: Rodin and the Age of Impressionism at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. We also ran across the Myriad Botanical Gardens, an award-winning garden mostly in a conservatory, which was nice to escape the rain (!). I commend them both to your attention if you end up in OKC.
- You may remember from last week that a Trump-appointed Paxton-apprenticed federal judge here in Texas required Southwest Airlines to send some of its attorneys to an Alliance Defending Freedom religious liberty training. Southwest is appealing and Chris Geidner reported yesterday that there’s now a 30-day stay on the order. Here’s a DMN backgrounder on the issue, which points out that the judge is also Ken Starr’s nephew. I was wondering.
- In HD 112, there’s a Democratic challenger coming for Rep Angie Chen Button: former Miss Texas Averie Bishop. Richardson blogger Mark Steger has some local analysis.
- The latest on the Dallas ransomware attack: the number of affected individuals has grown to more than 30,000. KERA has a short interview with a UT Dallas privacy expert about the folks affected by the ransomware and how and why the city might decide to release information slowly. Meanwhile the DMN has two opinion pieces telling us all how cranky they are that the city didn’t tell us all this sooner.
- And while we’re on the subject of IT SNAFUs, DPD has finished auditing 450 homicide cases in its lost evidence scandal. They are not releasing a report yet.
- Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the city of Dallas has a multi-billion dollar unfunded pension liability. There’s some time to deal with it but the money is going to have to come from somewhere, probably multiple somewheres, including the taxpayer’s pocketbook.
- Parents and school officials are dealing with the fallout of HB 3, the school security officer law passed in the wake of the Uvalde shootings. The gist of the problem is there aren’t enough officers and there isn’t enough money to pay them, so schools are going to have a hard time following the law. Local coverage with more details in the DMN; the Observer; KERA; local Richardson ISD coverage; and a note from local blogger Mark Steger about the funding for this mandate, which notes that in the case of Richardson ISD, they’re paying about a third of what the district needs.
- I’ve talked a lot about suburban DFW school districts and book bans; now the problem is reaching the big city districts in North Texas. Fort Worth ISD’s school libraries are all closed for two weeks as the district reviews which books are “age-appropriate”. Here’s some backstory about the group behind the push. There’s also DMN coverage of the same story.
- The August of Awfulness continues with scorching heat here in the Metroplex. Some things you should know: how heat affects your body; heat affects mental health too; summer seasonal affective disorder is real; the impacts of heat are unfairly distributed.
- Just to make things really awful: 25 FWISD school had AC outages this week.
- It’s time for football practice already in this hellish heat. Heat is also an issue for football players and coaches are supposed to stop practices when the wet-bulb temperature is at or above 92.1 F. Anything that applies to football practice also applies to other forms of exercise. Be careful out there.
- Here’s an explainer about renewables and ERCOT that helped me understand the timing on those “reduce your consumption” alerts we’ve started getting from ERCOT.
- Another problem caused by the scorching summer: heat and algae are doing a number on the water in Arlington. It’s still safe. It just tastes and smells awful.
- It ain’t over till it’s over, and COVID’s not over. Cases in Dallas County are on the rise. Mask up and get your boosters!
- The inner ring Dallas suburb of Farmer’s Branch has moved to a 4×10 workweek, following the example of Keller and Rowlett. City services are open from 7:30 AM to 6 PM five days a week. An opinion piece by a city official explains why.
- In a historic inversion of usual trends, increasing mortgage rates mean that on average, new homes in the Metroplex cost less than existing homes. Nobody who has a low-interest mortgage wants to move and pay a higher rate unless they absolutely have to.
- Need an explainer about Medicaid expansion, or the lack thereof, in Texas? KERA has you covered.
- Here’s a background piece on every right-wing lawyer’s favorite judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, whose name you’ll recognize from the current Planned Parenthood case and a number of others.
- Bad news: the federal government has exempted Baylor from Title XI sexual harassment rules because of their religious mission.
- The State Fair is banning unaccompanied minors after dark. (Star-Telegram; Observer). The DMN has opinions, which is that it sucks to be a teenager when you don’t have anywhere to hang out. In other State Fair news, the Star-Telegram tells you when you can carry a gun at the Fair. And here’s a headline I have to quote in all its glory: Instead of celebration, State Fair family faces fried pho fury. Someone may have copied the original idea of fried pho!
- Cattleack Barbeque, one of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 joints, has been sold to one of its employees. The hands at the pit will remain the same; the only major change expected is that Cattleack will start to open every Saturday for lunch instead of just the first Saturday of the month.
- Here’s an update on the city’s plans to save the Kalita Humphreys Theater, a landmark building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s not good, alas.
- Finally, here’s an interesting piece about a local musician: Joshua Ray Walker Reclaims His Narrative With a New Album of Female Pop Covers. I’m meh on Walker’s music and I don’t think the Lizzo cover, which I’ve heard, adds much to the original, but bravo to him for doing his thing and covering women artists.