Firehouse Theatre Director Sues Target For Neglect Following January Attack. Derek Whitener says the Cityplace store’s security failed to protect him and discouraged him from calling police before the robbery. Whitener alerted employees and security on his way into the store about two men whose presence concerned him. Those men robbed and attacked him as he was leaving the store. The 33-year-old was severely beaten and left with permanent brain damage, significant memory loss, and a loss of some motor skills.
DART Police Boost Presence in Deep Ellum Following Recent Sexual Assaults. Officers are being staged at the DART station near Baylor University Medical Center. The goal is to be more visible following two separate attacks that were reported within hours and blocks of one another early Sunday morning.
Valley View Center Demolition Will Start Today. Before the wrecking, Dallas developer Scott Beck will host a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. The demolition will make way for a $4 billion mixed-use development within the Dallas Midtown district. Still, there might be something worth saving at Valley View Mall.
The Mavericks Welcome Dennis Smith Jr. The North Carolina State point guard was the ninth overall pick in last night’s NBA draft. There’s a lot of promise in Smith, who averaged 18.1 points per game as a freshman—a rare feat for a college player. He’s just in time for a revamped locker room, complete with refrigerated cup holders.
Affluenza Teen’s Mom Might be Jailed Again. Tonya Couch, Ethan’s mother, awaits trial for charges of helping Ethan flee to Mexico to evade arrest. She has been on bond but was caught drinking alcohol Friday, violating the conditions of her bond, which Tarrant County authorities are trying to revoke.
Person of Interest Identified in Deep Ellum Sexual Assault. The assault was reported Sunday near a DART station on the east edge of Deep Ellum. The person of interest is described as a 5-foot-6 Hispanic man with glasses and tattoos on both arms. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward if someone gives police information that leads to an arrest.
Dallas School Bus Board Votes to Investigate Finances. Yesterday the board approved $90,000 for an independent audit that will look into business deals and finances to find out the source of the agency’s financial troubles. The board hopes the investigation will be done in time for voters to take notice this fall when they decide the fate of the agency. “Until we know what went wrong, there’s no way we can fix it. We have to get to the bottom of this,” said DCS board president Gloria Tercero Levario.
Baby Giraffe Tsavo Will Meet the Public Today at Dallas Zoo. The calf—who was the long-awaited result of giraffe Katie’s live-streamed pregnancy—was born last month but will be introduced to the public today in the giraffe feeding yard. After that he’ll be making regular appearances outdoors.
Dallas Wave Will Be Removed from Trinity River. The Dallas City Council voted yesterday to shell out $2 million to partially remove the $4 million Dallas Wave whitewater feature from the Trinity. It closed soon after it was opened in 2011 because the Army Corps of Engineers said it made the river unnavigable. The narrow bypass channels were the main issue, as they were more turbulent than the actual Wave. Partial removal—the option the city could afford—is supposed to begin in January and end in September.
Russian Hackers Aimed at Dallas County Servers Prior to Election. Yesterday, officials said that Russian hackers targeted Dallas County servers before the presidential election last November. It’s likely they were trying to access voter registration rolls. They weren’t successful, but would have caused chaos if they had been. “The fact that there were that many attempts says they expected to disrupt. If you disrupt the voter file, then when people are trying to validate at the polls, you got mass confusion,” John Wiley Price said.
Fort Worth Murder Rate Up 70 Percent. This past weekend, five people died from gun and knife violence in Fort Worth. That’s part of a nearly 70 percent jump in the city’s murder rate from January to March, compared with last year. Gang violence is largely to blame. Fort Worth police created a violent-crimes task force to increase patrol in neighborhoods with high crime rates.
You might have heard late last week about the internet goof committed by Kurt Eichenwald, the Newsweek writer and Dallasite. Kurt, who has written for D Magazine, was last in headlines for being assaulted on Twitter by a troll who intentionally caused him to have a seizure. This thing last week was kind of like that, only different. In tweeting a picture of his computer screen while dueling with a similarly inclined troll, Kurt accidentally showed the world that he had a tab open in his browser for a 212-page manga porn comic. Or hentai comic. I don’t know. It’s confusing. Kurt explained on Twitter that he was actually looking for tentacle porn, to prove to his wife that such a thing actually exists. And then the internet exploded. It got so bad that some people even apologized for kink shaming Kurt. This is the world. Today.
Think for a minute what would happen if everyone could see your recent searches. There are lots of reasons that any of us could be searching for something that, taken out of context, might look bad. To show solidarity with Kurt and to prove my point, here’s a screen grab of a recent browser window I was using for research purposes:
Dallas on Board with Fight Against Sanctuary Cities Bill. Along with other Texas cities like Austin and San Antonio, Dallas is joining the fight against the state’s sanctuary cities bill. Yesterday, Mayor Rawlings called SB4, which goes into effect Sept. 1, “unconstitutional,” and said it “greatly infringes on the city’s ability to protect.” There is talk among these cities’ mayors of potential litigation.
City Council Unsure How to Spend $800 Million. There’s a new $800 million bond package proposal from the Citizens Bond Task Force that encompasses streets, city buildings, parks, trails, housing, and flood control. Now the city just has to figure out how best to divvy up the cash and keep each district happy. They hope to vote on June 28.
Women Ambassadors Forum Helps Shape Women Leaders. The third annual women’s forum, being held at SMU, covered topics yesterday like preparing women to be successful leaders and promoting gender equality. Jen Welter, the NFL’s first ever female coach, spoke, as well as Neiman Marcus’ Carrie Tharp, and others. “Being the first is great, but what is most important is not being the last. I was so conscious every time I stepped up, because I didn’t want my narrative to be, ‘We had a girl once, but….’ Just realize as you’re the first, continue to set the stage so you’re not the last,” Welter said. The four-day forum ends tomorrow.
Exxxotica Versus Dallas City Hall Moving to New Orleans. The porn expo’s fight with City Hall is heading to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in NoLa. The expo’s attorneys filed an appeal on Tuesday, a few weeks after the case—initially filed last year—was dismissed here. Next week, City Council will vote on paying Dallas’ outside attorneys even more to fight the suit.
District Judge Removed as Enrique Arochi Appeals Christina Morris Kidnapping Conviction. State District Judge Mark Rusch, who presided over convicted kidnapper Arochi’s trail last year, has been disqualified and recused from further proceedings in the case. Arochi filed the motion through his attorney Steve Miears, who accused Rusch of bias, suggesting that the judge “violated Arochi’s due process rights by unlawfully interfering with the attorney-client relationship.” Last September, Arochi was convicted of the aggravated kidnaping of Morris, who has not been seen since Aug. 30, 2014.
DART Could Raise Bus and Rail Fares. One change would phase out two-hour passes, replacing them with a.m. and p.m. passes. The cost would be $3 by August 2018, and monthly passes would go up from $80 to $96. There will be two public meetings—one at Addison Town Hall and the other at Rowlett City Hall—next Thursday to discuss the proposed changes.
Frisco and McKinney Are Two of the Nation’s Fastest-Growing Cities. Which is evident if you’ve sat in Frisco traffic lately. The two cities dominated the U.S. Census Bureau’s list, with Frisco coming in second with a 6.2 percent growth and McKinney at third with a 5.9 percent gain.
Monday is Memorial Day. Here’s how you can celebrate.
Dallas City Performance Hall is Getting a New Name. Yesterday, the city council voted to accept a $22 million arts gift from the Moody Foundation. A stipulation of the gift was changing Dallas City Performance Hall to Moody Performance Hall. The name change will happen in a few weeks.
Suzanne Wooten Declared Innocent Over Bribery Charges. The former state district judge had been convicted in 2011 on nine counts, including bribery and money laundering. But yesterday, she was acquitted of all the charges. Her attorney called the whole ordeal a “legal fiction.”
Interim Dallas County Schools Leader Wants Records to be Reviewed. Interim Superintendent Leatha Mullins asked law enforcement officials to review business records for the agency. This will also include a forensic audit of stop-arm camera contracts as well as real estate dealings. “We have completed an audit, refinanced the bonds, reorganized procedures, and there’s a complete team of new leadership including the Board of Trustees. We’ve truly transformed DCS and are moving forward,” Mullins said.
UNT Wary After Multiple Sexual Assaults Near Denton Campus. There have been multiple sexual assaults and attempted assaults northwest of the school, and police are investigating them. They don’t know if one or more people are responsible for the incidents, which entail someone entering homes after knocking or breaking in. An alert was sent to UNT students and faculty advising them to be extra cautious.
The day after last year’s shooting in downtown Dallas, Peter Simek posted this thoughtful essay on FrontBurner. It’s a great piece of writing, especially when you consider how quickly he put it together and that it was posted without an edit. For that essay and several other posts, Peter last night won the best online column category at the City and Regional Magazine Association’s annual convention, beating out writers from Los Angeles Magazine, Seattle Met, Pittsburgh Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. You can find the full list of winners here.
Congrats, Peter. Now send me the story I’m waiting on. You’re late.
Texas Monthly just released its list of the 50 best barbecue joints in the state. The top 10 are ranked, with the other 40 merely listed by city, even though each place gets a numerical score on a 5-point scale. It’s confusing. Maybe in print it makes more sense. Anyway, Cattleack Barbeque, Lockhart Smokehouse, and Pecan Lodge are the three Dallas places on the list. Cattleack comes in at No. 3 overall and scores 4.75. Pecan gets 4.25. Lockhart gets 4. Is it time to fight?
Balch Springs Man Who Was Tased Believes It Was Based on Race. Marco Stephenson was tased by officer James Young in April when he was already handcuffed. Stephenson was walking with his nephew, who had a BB gun. He told the kid to give it to him since they were walking in a nicer part of Balch Springs and someone might call the police. The police came and handcuffed him, when he was then tased. “I can’t say nothing but ‘you did it because you’re dealing with a black man,’ ” Stephenson said. “How can you want somebody to support the blue when you’re dealing with people based on what color they are?”
Jesuit Dallas Condemns Video Containing Racist Remark. A video, posted on Twitter on Tuesday, shows a Jesuit student using racist language. I won’t repeat the disgusting comment here. The school’s president, Mike Earsing, said Jesuit “swiftly addressed the situation in an appropriate way,” but the actions taken are not clear.
City Council Accepts County Election Results. Yesterday, the council voted to accept the county results from the May 6 election, although some did so reluctantly due to allegations of voter fraud. The DA’s office is investigating the allegations.
Dallas Police Honor Victims in Memorial Service. 84 Dallas police offers killed in the line of duty, including those killed in the July 7 ambush last year, were honored at yesterday’s memorial service. “We know that good doesn’t always conquer evil, and today is a reminder of that,” Interim Police Chief David Pughes said. “But where would we be if good people didn’t answer God’s call to fight bad people?”
There’s a good story in The Atlantic that I recommend you read. It’s about America’s favorite racist, Richard Spencer. It was written by Graeme Wood, who has an unusual perspective on Spencer, because Wood went to St. Mark’s with him. In fact, they were chemistry lab partners. It’s a long story, so here’s a taste:
“My upbringing did not really inform who I am,” Spencer said with a shrug. Then he reconsidered. “I think in a lot of ways I reacted against Dallas. It’s a class- and money-conscious place — whoever has the biggest car or the biggest house or the biggest fake boobs,” he told me. “There’s no actual community or high culture or sense of greatness, outside of having a McMansion.”
Then, after you read the story, I recommend that you go watch a few clips of Spencer getting punched to music.
‘Major Progress’ Made on Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund. After days of negotiations, a plan for a possible agreement among Dallas leaders, pension fund officials, and police and fire associations has been reached in the state Senate. State senators Royce West and Don Huffines brokered the deal, which would amend a House bill to rescue the failing fund. Through the bill, the city has a 6-5 majority on the board. But a 2/3 majority of the board would have to approve changes that reduce benefits, increase contributions, or seek reimbursement on payments from DROP accounts. The bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Despite progress, retirees are still concerned about their pensions.
Details Emerge in the Shooting Death of Jordan Edwards. The gunshots heard at a house party the night the teen was shot and killed by a Balch Springs police officer came from a nearby nursing home parking lot, investigators say. Four shell casings were found there. Roy Oliver, the now-fired Balch Springs officer who shot Edwards, heard the gunfire and left the house party he was investigating. Frightened by the shots, Edwards, his brothers, and friends got into their car to leave, when—soon after—Oliver fired his rifle into their car, striking Edwards.
Monica Alonzo and Omar Narvaez Will Face One Another in Council Runoff. Although incumbent Alonzo and challenger Narvaez led the polls in last weekend’s city council elections, there have been rising concerns in West Dallas about mail-in ballot fraud. County elections officials reviewed and counted the hundreds of ballots before finalizing the results. The candidates will face off in the June 10 runoff election.
Rangers Rally Late Against San Diego. They scored four runs in the ninth inning, winning 5-2 thanks to a three-run homer from Mike Napoli. Jonathan Lucroy posted three hits, including a single in the ninth inning that kept the rally moving.
Kenneth Amyx Sentenced to Life for Killing Girlfriend. Amyx had alleged that it was a failed murder-suicide pact with his girlfriend Jennifer Streit-Spears, but state district judge Scott Becker sentenced him to life in prison yesterday. During the sentencing phase, Amyx claimed that he was God and that Jennifer visited him in his jail cell each night.
Dallas City Council Removes DART Board Member. The council voted 10-5 yesterday to remove DART board vice chair Richard Carrizales in the middle of his two-year term. The decision was supposedly about creating stronger representation on the board, not due to the fact that Carrizales voted back in October to fund the Cotton Belt rail line.
Frisco Robbers Used Grindr to Target Hate-Crime Victims. Four Frisco men were indicted yesterday on the charges of federal hate crime and conspiracy. They used the dating app Grindr to pass themselves off as gay men and would arrange to meet at the victims’ homes. The men would then assault and restrain the victims and make derogatory comments regarding their sexual orientation. They then stole items from the victims. Absolutely awful.
DISD Will Offer Retention Bonuses for Teachers. At a board briefing today, officials will present proposed changes to Teacher Excellence Initiative, DISD’s teacher evaluation and merit pay system. One of those changes is a retention raise for its best teachers.
Storms Likely Today. They could move through the area this afternoon.
Oh, dang it. I meant to give you more advance notice about this event. It’s called the American Freedom Tour, and it’s happening right now at the Sheraton. Maybe if you hurry you can still catch Tomi Lahren. The thing goes till 5 o’clock. What, exactly, is this thing? Well, it’s Tomi and Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty. And they are going to teach you — um, stuff.
This one day event will give you the inspiration and training you need to succeed in today’s America. From personal success to business and money, the American Freedom Tour will give you the motivation and education necessary for success. Learn from America’s most successful and outspoken entrepreneurs how to achieve and live the American Dream. Learn how they did it and how you can too!
So, yeah. Learn how to rant on Facebook. Or make duck calls. Makes perfect sense.
If that’s not your thing, though, go read sometime D Magazine contributor Joe Guinto’s profile of Tomi that Politico posted Sunday. It’s titled “Tomi Lahren Won’t Shut Up.”
Thankfully, the biggest story to come out Monday’s lengthy shooter standoff in East Dallas, was that of Sgt. Robert Watson, the Dallas Police Officer who pulled wounded Dallas Fire and Rescue Paramedic William An into the back of his patrol car and rushed him to Baylor, likely saving the man’s life. Otherwise, the shooting itself was merely another episode of senseless violence erupting from unknown, though undoubtedly troubled circumstances. Derick Lamont Brown shot and killed his godfather before wounding An and a neighbor, finally taking his own life in his East Dallas home. Brown was 36. He had a criminal record, was previously involved in African-American activist causes, and was under investigation from the FBI. He was found dead after DPD SWAT deployed a robot to survey the scene inside the house.
Throughout the day, breaking news about a shooter armed with an automatic weapon could not help but conjure memories of the terrible events of last summer. But it was the end of Monday’s standoff – and a conspicuous player in its conclusion – that bore most similarity with last July’s tragic police shooting. Just as last year’s nightmare episode was ended when Dallas police used a robot to deliver a package of explosives to shooter Micah Johnson, who was holed up in the El Centro Community College parking garage, on Monday, a robot entered the East Dallas home to find that this latest shooter had already taken his own life.
Robots are increasingly becoming a more common tool for local police departments, and it is not just in Dallas, which served as the cinematic backdrop for the prescient sci-fi satire, Robocop, which is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its theatrical release this year. Around the world, police forces are increasingly using robots to survey crime scenes, enforce crowd control, and even walk street patrols. This month, Dubai is expected to roll out its first robot patrolman, a wheeled officer with a touchscreen chest that allows people to report crimes and pay parking tickets. This Robocop even salutes.
After Dallas police used a robot to kill Micah Johnson last July, there was much discussion about the ethical implications of using robots to do policework, and particularly, to execute suspects. The advantages robots offer police in these kinds of situations are obvious: it reduces the need for cops to put their own bodies in harm’s way. But Rasha Abdul Rahim, an arms control adviser with Amnesty International who advocates for an international ban on killer robots, argued that these advantages come at a cost. What will happen when future advances in robotic policing technologies create situations in which non-human law enforcers are faced with situations that are not as black and white as the letter of the law and the official call of duty?
“For example,” Rahim argues, “during mass protests in Egypt in January 2011 the army refused to fire on protesters, an action that required innate human compassion and respect for the rule of law.” How would robotic crowd control devises programmed to merely enforce the law enforced have responded in a similar riot, protest, or revolutionary circumstance?
This may sound like a concern tied to technologies that don’t yet exist. After all, the Dallas’ police robots are basically expensive remote control cars still operated by people. But more advanced – and potential problematic – police robotics already do exist. This July 2016 article in Wired surveys some of the robots that are being used today around the world. For example, in India, riot-control drones can shower crowds with pepper spray and paintball. Prisons in South Korea are using robotic guards that are equipped with 3D cameras and are programed to monitor inmates and detect fights and escapes. Israeli police have the so-called “Deadly Rover,” which looks like a remote-control car with a 9 mm Glock attached to the top. The “Drone-Catching Drone” in Japan uses nets to catch rogue drones. Traffic Robocops are already on the streets in the Congo; the humanoids function just like our red-light cameras, but they also waive their arms to direct traffic. And Poland’s lightweight “Tactical Bot” weighs around four pounds, and it can be hand thrown into buildings to conduct surveillance or deliver stun grenades.
Reading about these real-life Robocops can be unnerving, especially when considered in light of the rapid advancements in Artificial Intelligence, the rapidly evolving means and methods of violence, and Barrett Brown’s recent dealings with the Bureau of Prisons. If the broken, autocratic institutions that already exist in our society are equipped with deadly devices that possess their own capacity for decision making, learning, and enforcing codes and regulations, dystopian visions of the order and magnitude of Robocop no longer feel outlandish. Questions like those raised in the wake of last year’s shootings become not merely pertinent, but pressing and necessary.
But fears of new technology shouldn’t cloud our vision for the potential benefits of using robotic technology in policework. Monday’s events demonstrated a clear example in which new machines can keep our police officers safe. Then there is Emily, a robot being used by the Greek coast guard to help with the Mediterranean refugee crisis. Developed by researchers at Texas A&M university, Emily (which stands for Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard) is a nautical drone equipped with a life vest and tethered to a rescue boat. She can speed across the water at up to 20 miles per hour to deliver her flotation device to drowning refugees.
Emily is a reminder that science and technology, as such, are themselves morally neutral fields. Whether particular technologies are developed, and whether or not they are used to harm or benefit society – these are the results of the human decisions and the human systems that produce and deploy new technology. Whatever perceived threat we may see in the expansion of robots into law enforcement, the real threat is, ultimately, a human one. As Rahim reminds us, it is up to those who possess human compassion and social awareness to get out in front of emerging technologies and ensure that robots we will make serve, and not destroy, the social good.
ProPublica, in collaboration with National Geographic, published a story last week by Ginger Thompson about the massacre in Allende, Mexico, that occurred in March 2011. Gunmen from the Zetas cartel launched an attack on the quiet ranching town, a 40-minute drive from Eagle Pass, Texas, in retribution for a DEA operation. That operation was based on intel, specifically trackable cell phone PIN numbers, provided by a high-level Zetas operative from Dallas. But then the DEA shared the information they gathered on two of the cartel’s most wanted kingpins with the Mexican federal police, knowing the agency’s history with leaks. And the unthinkable happened.
Read this. You can even listen to the interviews. And then read Thompson’s article published Monday about the DEA’s accountability, or lack thereof. She raises some good questions about the costs of war.
The folks over at KERA 90.1 have just learned that they won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in video, in the large-market radio division. This is a big deal. As soon as Krys Boyd opens the phone lines today during her Think show, everyone should call in and congratulate the station. Here’s the video that won the award:
Last month the Dallas Morning News ran three excerpts related to Dallas from Edward McPherson’s new book, The History of the Future. The first of the series begins in Dallas 318 million years ago, a seemingly lifeless vacuum until the arrival of John Neely Bryan in 1841. Three short paragraphs later, this appears:
Dallas came from nothing. Unlike surrounding areas, it was not a camp for Native Americans or prehistoric men. Dig and you ﬁnd few artifacts.
McPherson, to some degree, is having us on. By the end of that same paragraph, he writes:
Dallas wasn’t there until — suddenly — it was, called forth in the minds of white men.
But back to that first quote; the second one seems plausible enough. Is he categorically saying Dallas hasn’t many artifacts, and that their regional paucity is proof there were no camps of native peoples? Or is this a well-crafted provocation of obvious untruth? Either way, it raises an important question: how many people know enough about Dallas’ pre-John Neely Bryan history to know McPherson’s statement is erroneous?
How many people, for example, know about the 2,617 chipped lithic artifacts, 11 ground or pecked stone tools, 21 ceramic vessel fragments, 66 fragments of fired or burned clay, 2,850 grams of thermally altered rock, 96 faunal remains, and two charred botanical fragments recently unearthed prior to and during the construction of the Texas Horse Park in the Great Trinity Forest? Without question, the nearly 3,000 artifacts are strong evidence for a camp(s) of prehistoric humans engaged in a variety of activities. The possible reasons these artifacts have not received news coverage — the medium by which most people would know about the find — will be addressed a little later on. It’s more a city omission than a MSM one.
First, some images to prove that Dallas has artifacts.
In decades past, the Dallas Morning News frequently covered area archeological discoveries. A few hours researching their archives through the Dallas Central Library’s database revealed sites all over the city. Here are a few highlights:
1920 Lagow Sand Pit, near Fair Park. Skeletal remains of a prehistoric man found in the fossiliferous part of the pit along with the skull of an extinct camel.
1941 White Rock Lake Spillway. Two ancient graves found near the spillway after area flooding. In one of the graves, a man, woman, and baby were jointly buried. The baby rested on the left arm of the woman and had a 29-inch-necklace made of 81 beads made of polished bird bone around its neck bones.
1961 Trinity River. An Irving man, Alvah White, found more than 300 arrowheads “representing many tribes” by working a big sand deposit near the original confluence of the West and Elm forks of the Trinity.
1972 Intersection of I-30 and LBJ Expressway. Two police officers found hundreds of artifacts, dating back 5,000 years, in a gravel pit northwest of the busy intersection: 1,000 arrowheads, grindstones, tomahawks, pottery, teeth, and five human skeletons.
Ca. 1978 Dallas Soccer Fields. After people found artifacts on soccer fields around Dallas, it prompted an area archeologist to ask the city where it was getting its sand. The sand—and all the artifacts—originated from the same pit near downtown; the Parks Department knew what was happening but didn’t inform the city.
And most recently, but not reported by the Dallas Morning News:
2015 Texas Horse Park, Great Trinity Forest. A cultural resources survey is completed within a 266-acre track owned by the city and operated as an equestrian facility. Artifacts found during the investigation are deposited in Austin at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL). The survey is not yet publicly available and artifacts can only be viewed at TARL by appointment.
Questions at this junction might be: where is Lagow Man now? Where is the bird-bead necklace? The arrowheads? The grindstones? Hard to say, before state and federal laws were established in the 1960s, there were few protections for archeological sites and artifacts. Under the Antiquities Code of Texas, enacted in 1969, major projects — highways, roads, reservoirs, horse parks — require political subdivisions of the state (cities, counties, river authorities) to “notify the Texas Historical Commission of ground-disturbing activity on public land and work affecting publicly owned historic buildings.”
In a nutshell, that is why the most recent Dallas artifacts were recovered. The city is required by law to conduct a professional cultural resources survey and to deposit artifacts in a state-approved facility under the Antiquities Code. The city is not required, however, to mount exhibitions or make public statements. (And without some substantial digging, the media can’t report on something it doesn’t know about.) Some cities, like San Antonio, elect to broadcast area finds as a matter of public interest.
Prior to construction of the Texas Horse Park, there was a high probability artifacts would be recovered. That’s because once THC had been notified of project, it conducted research using a database called the Texas Archeological Sites Atlas. THC’s database revealed 14 previously recorded cultural sites in the area. Some of that information came from surveys for other projects, and some from sites recorded by the Dallas Archeological Society, a long-lived organization that disbanded about five years ago.
The DAS formed in the late 1930s. Two of its most prominent early members, Forrest Kirkland, an artist, and Robert King Harris, a locomotive engineer, recorded area sites and wrote about artifact finds. Articles of the society’s members were published in its periodical, The Record, a publication archeologist Tim Dalbey describes as “the only source of public local information about archeology up into the 1970s.”
The 1940s-era survey work by Harris was the basis of a city-funded project in 1978. The $10,000 project, conducted by SMU archeology students, aimed to create a database of prehistoric sites in Dallas for use by city planners and builders (at the time, thought to be in the hundreds). Dallas’ chief preservation planner Mark Doty said in an email he isn’t aware of an archeological database, adding, “we do not have that for historic overlays and districts.”
The same inquiry was made among other city departments with no response. If the 1978 database does exist, the public most likely wouldn’t be allowed access for reasons of guarding sites against potential looting and vandalism (precisely who the looters and vandals might be is open to qualification). There are other ways to learn about local sites and view artifacts without jeopardizing them, but most require travel outside the city.
As mentioned earlier, the artifacts excavated near the Texas Horse Park can be viewed at TARL by appointment only, located on the campus of UT Austin. Harris’ maps of area archeological sites and other papers are housed at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Anthropological Archives in Suitland, Maryland. And the DAS periodical, The Record, can be found at SMU, UTA, and UNT libraries as non-circulating “missing, scattered issues.”
Dallas is big, but is it deep? How far back in the past are we willing to look for continuity as a human family? I think McPherson is provoking us into this line of inquiry with his cultural history of Dallas tropes and factual inaccuracies. But if the public doesn’t know where to look for information—which is most likely found in the interstices of conscious omission—how can we possibly act in our best interests?
More construction is coming to the Great Trinity Forest and the floodway. I would wager most people would not want a park of concrete and asphalt if it came at the expensive of cultural resources that few even know exist.
Special thanks to Tim Dalbey for his insights on area archeology, and the THC for providing the most recent version of the Texas Horse Park cultural resources survey.
To recognize the name Geoff Johnston in this digital space, you’d have to be either a very careful reader or Geoff’s mom. His is not a regular byline in our pages. But over the years he has written stories for D Magazine about outdoor handball, the scarcity of Chocodiles, and a panic attack he suffered at the Dallas World Aquarium. So when he pitched me a story about his friend Destiny Hernon-De La Rosa, a pro-life feminist and the founder of a group called New Wave Feminists, I thought: that’s some pretty heavy stuff. I wonder if he can pull it off, especially given that he and Destiny are friends. I think he succeeded and hope you agree. The story ran in our June issue, and it just went online.
Earlier this year, when President Trump enacted the travel ban from predominantly Muslim countries, not long after we’d had Bill Holston, from the Human Rights Initiative, on our podcast, I got to thinking about a sorry part of Dallas’ history. In the early 1920s, one out of every three eligible men in the city belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. The Dallas chapter was the largest in the world. The State Fair of Texas had Ku Klux Klan Day. I had learned about this history, if memory serves, from Wick Allison, the founder and co-owner of D Magazine. His memory is even worse than mine, though, so I went looking for a more trustworthy account of the era. That’s when I came across a story about the KKK in Dallas written by Darwin Payne and published in 1997 by Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas. Reading that story about events nearly 100 years ago, I couldn’t help but see parallels between then and now, which is why we decided to reprint Payne’s piece in the June issue of D Magazine. The story went online today.
A few weeks ago, I was illegally re-arrested on the orders of the Bureau of Prisons after I refused to stop doing interviews with the press, and thereafter placed back in Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution’s J2 detention unit, where I had spent most of 2014 fighting my charges and engaging in mean-spirited literary criticism. During the four days it took before the lawyers hired for me by Dallas fixer Wick Allison were able to find the right person at the BOP to threaten so as to get me released, then, I had a final opportunity to revisit my erstwhile convict lifestyle, as well to collect valuable intelligence on my many enemies.
Before I could begin my sentimental journey back into the Belly of the Beast, I would have to undergo the intake process. This entails being photographed, fingerprinted, and asked a list of questions by which to determine if you might be in danger from other inmates; even if you’ve been here before, the questions must still be asked, and, having been asked, answered. There are exceptions, though. “Have you ever cooperated with law enforcement?” read the staffer. “Oh, right. You don’t cooperate with anyone.” He remembered me fondly, as one does an eccentric neighbor.
Next I was approached by my old enemy Osvaldo Arellano, a Special Investigative Service officer. The first time I met this fellow, he and some other toy fascist had shown me an envelope that had just arrived from my mother and told me that a printout she had included of a photo of lawyers Jay Leiderman and Tor Eckland standing outside the prison after a recent legal visit constituted “possession of an escape accessory” because it showed the prison fence, which is presumably a secret. “I can put you in the hole right now,” he’d announced, before demanding to know why the picture had been in the envelope. I’d said he’d have to ask my mom. “I don’t know your fucking mom,” he’d shot back (clearly he’s not an active member of the Dallas Junior League). Before leaving, Arellano added that a “selfie” I had drawn for Leiderman and which had afterward appeared on VICE’s website, depicting myself as a stick figure saying, “Help I’m in jail lol,” could be construed as a request for someone to break me out of the prison. It was, actually.
Now Arellano made some sort of vague threat regarding “problems” we’d had last time around. I wasn’t sure if he was talking about this fence photo incident, or the demonstration a number of us had held against a particularly deranged guard and for which he’d insisted on ascribing me a leadership role, or the column I wrote regarding a guard who was in the habit of locking black inmates in the shower stalls while bragging about how he’s a member of a whites-only Fort Worth gang, or the time I outed Aryan Circle member George “Tennessee” Pass as an FBI asset only to be shipped to another facility the following day, or my regular habit of adding the word “Story” to every instance of graffiti reading “West Side” I could find. But I assured him that I was just passing through this time and wouldn’t be writing about the jail this time, and certainly not about him.
After I finished lying to the cops, I was placed back in J2, a huge two-story chamber with some 50 little concrete cells running off the sides. This was my home during the most formative year of my life, and now, three years on, I had returned. It was sort of like Brideshead Revisited.
Others had returned, too. I encountered an old friend I’ll call Con-C, after the name he used in the epic pen-and-paper role playing campaign I led in those days. The last time I’d seen Con-C, an up-and-coming meth dealer, he was being taken to the hole after assaulting another inmate (another one of my players, I’m afraid, though it wasn’t over the game). Since then he’d been transferred to the federal prison at El Reno, where he lived the exciting life of a prison opiate addict. Being a gregarious fellow, he’d managed to land a job as a sort of narco-ambassador for El Reno’s Native American faction, which didn’t deal directly with other races and thus needed someone to handle drug purchases (that Con-C himself was not a Native American, and that they’d still be dealing with him, didn’t matter for some reason). Plus he’d managed to acquire the only three syringes on the compound, which he rented out in exchange for a piece of whatever dope was being shot up. For an extra fee, he’d do the injecting himself on those customers who had trouble finding a vein. But Con-C blew his comfy setup when he agreed to buy heroin from the Aztecas on behalf of the resident Triad, using the credit of the Aryans. You can do this kind of thing on Wall Street, but in prison there are consequences for financial chicanery. He managed to survive the fallout, though, and had since been brought back to Seagoville for another case stemming from his original arrest.
Still others had never left. My old friend Lawrence Shahwan, who’d been picked up in 2014 for his role in a synthetic marijuana operation, had spent the last three years in the same cell while awaiting sentencing. Shahwan had once served as “speaker” for the Woods, an amorphous gang comprised of each white inmate in a given facility who’s believed to be “good” — not a snitch or sex offender. It’s not hard to become a Wood. Indeed, I accidentally became one myself years ago merely by stepping into Seagoville, where I was suddenly obligated, for the first time in my life as a junkie loner, to attend regular meetings. But Shahwan no longer had to attend those meetings. To his own great relief, he’d been kicked out of the Woods for being half Arab.
Shahwan filled me in on all the fine prison gossip I’d missed. Some months back, a child molester, or “chomo,” had begun leading daily evangelical prayer meetings in the religious services room. One evening, he and his co-religionists grabbed one of the big plastic laundry carts, filled it up with water, dragged it into the church, and began performing full-immersion baptisms. The guard on duty was visibly shaken; he didn’t know whether he was legally obligated to stop it or to let it proceed. He asked Shahwan what he thought. Shahwan told him to let it be, for everyone loves a good chomo baptism.
If you’re still stuck on the renting-out-syringes thing, I can assure you that they’re sterilized with diluted bleach between uses.
I also ran into a more recent acquaintance. Carlton Nalley had been with me at the Volunteers of America halfway house in Hutchins, where he was in the habit of insisting on his legal rights. Indeed, he had been in contact with the office of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, as well as his representative from his home district in Virginia, regarding alleged instances of staff misconduct. Returning from D Magazine one day back in January, I found that Nalley was gone. The U.S. Marshals had picked him up that morning, something that usually happens only after a “client” is found, via the formal disciplinary process, to have committed some serious infraction. Nalley had committed none. A staff member had earlier accused him of having a smartphone, but well over half of Hutchins’ clients have them, and neither getting caught with one nor refusing to hand one over to staff constitutes a serious infraction; two other roommates of mine had been caught red-handed with smartphones at earlier points, and neither got in any real trouble at all. (Indeed, smartphones are allowed at many BOP halfway houses, and will be permitted at Hutchins in a matter of weeks.)
Here at Seagoville, Nalley explained that his re-arrest had been due to “concerns that he was suicidal.” In fact, he told me, halfway house director Merrill Wells had simply wanted him out.
I can confirm much of this because, as it happens, I was Nalley’s roommate during these events, and indeed was his bunkmate. I know that he was in touch with Rep. Johnson’s office because he made one of his follow-up calls from my phone a few days before his re-arrest. I know that the halfway house was proceeding with some sort of “suicide” excuse because I was present when a staffer came in to ask him, apropos of nothing, whether he was “okay.” And I know that Wells, though not a terrible fellow in the context of what goes on throughout the American prison complex at large, has no problem cooperating with the BOP in illicitly re-imprisoning inmates contrary to policy and federal law when they prove inconvenient, because that was exactly what Wells did to me — something I documented via audio recordings before my own re-arrest and BOP operations files after my release. Most of all, I know there’s no point in reporting any of this.
And that was the great lesson I learned during my original stay at Seagoville. To be sure, I had other formative experiences. It’s where I read Malcolm Muggeridge’s autobiography. It’s where I had lengthy conversations about Hermetic thought with former Dallas Cowboy Sam Hurd, whom I presented with a biography of Elias Ashmole upon his departure. Here, in my cell, I invented a game in which one throws a rubber band ball into a cup, though there’s more to it than that. I set forth to write a sort of neo-Greek tragedy and got three stanzas into the project before deciding that the world had no need for such a thing. I tried my hand at prison politics. I learned to appreciate Sonic Youth.
But most of all, I realized that journalism will not be enough to save this country.
Dallas County Schools is in trouble. After the agency responsible for busing 75,000 students in 12 North Texas school districts lost millions on a stop-arm camera program (What do you mean people don’t pay tickets?), the Texas House Committee on Public Education voted to dissolve it. Meanwhile, a $25 million sale-leaseback of land used to park buses is expected to cost Dallas County taxpayers millions more in the long run. Then DCS Board President Larry Duncan stepped down amid allegations that his campaign profited from the land deal. Tonight, NBC 5 will air a 30-minute investigative report at 6:30 p.m. schooling us on who orchestrated the deal, who profited from it, and how much more it will cost taxpayers.
As I pointed out earlier, Texas Monthly has a new barbecue list that strikes me as controversial for the sake of being controversial (a point proven by this post?). But let us focus on the cover itself. Here’s a comparison of TxMo’s last barbecue cover, from 2013 (far left), with the current cover and D Magazine’s cover from last year. Who wore it best? (I’ll tip my hand by saying that the cover in the middle is a crime against meat and that its author should be ground up, mixed with peppery seasoning, and stuffed into lamb intestines).
Wylie H. Dallas posted a video on Facebook a bit ago of someone doing donuts at the intersection of Hatcher and Malcolm X. You should watch the video. Because this guy — I assume it’s a guy — is really good at doing donuts. Truly impressive work.
But I bring it to your attention because Wylie introduced the video with this remark: “As members of the Dallas Police Department continue to flee, the city predictably begins to descend into chaos.” If he wasn’t being sarcastic, then I think Wylie has led a sheltered life. This kind of thing happens every weekend in the big city, and it always has. Heck, it happens all the time in small towns, too. Young, stupid people have done donuts in cars since cars were invented. Well, since cars were powerful enough to do donuts. Furthermore, the video shows a police chopper flying overhead and squad cars arriving at the scene shortly thereafter. Pretty good response time, actually.
So let’s be careful with the “descend into chaos” line. Crime rates are still at historic lows.
While Nancy Nichols was working on her post, I, too, was digging on the Richard Butterly case. The owner of Poor Richard’s Café didn’t let a child pornography arrest stop him from running a restaurant. He dutifully reported to work for nearly a week afterward, even helping out with the busy Mother’s Day crowd. All of that changed Monday when the Collin County Sheriff’s Office announced that he was one of 15 men arrested in a sting operation for various crimes against children.
“Richard said he was told that this was not going to be made public,” restaurant general manger James Wells said. “His attorney has now suggested that he keep a low profile and stay away for a while.”
Wells found out about the arrest the same way most of his wait staff did — when media outlets and concerned patrons began bombarding the restaurant with calls. While shocked by the allegations, and unsure of the exact case details, Wells said he still supports his friend of 30 years, whom he considers one of the most upstanding people he knows. “I spoke to him yesterday, and he said this will all a big mistake, but his attorneys will get it all straightened out.”
According to Plano Police Department spokesperson Officer David Tilley, the arrest came after a months-long investigation initiated by the Collin County District Attorney’s Office with the help of Plano detective Jeff Rich and the Collin County Sheriff’s department.
Rich, a member of the FBI’s Dallas Child Exploitation Taskforce, was nationally recognized in 2010 with the U.S. Attorney General’s William French Smith Award for outstanding contributions to cooperative law enforcement. He’s considered an expert in combatting crimes against children, and regularly helps train officers in other departments across the country. He also helped developed software that allows law enforcement to track online pedophiles.
“It’s a passion for him to put these child predators away,” Tilley said. “He’s a dad. This is something that means a lot to him.”
The sting operation that netted Butterly relied on officers posing as kids online, as well as tips from internet service providers regarding illicit files. The end result was 15 people arrested so far on child exploitation charges ranging from possession of child pornography to online solicitation of a minor. Tilley said that’s just a normal day’s work for Rich.
“So many arrests have been made behind the sense that you never even hear about,” Tilley said. “He doesn’t toot his own horn. He just does his own job and doesn’t ask for any recognition.”
As I talk with Taylor Toynes in his office at For Oak Cliff, at the corner of Marsalis and Ann Arbor Avenue, he points out the window at what is now a service station.
“My grandfather’s grocery store was across the parking lot from here. He sold the best burgers in Dallas. Promise.”
I ask him if he got paid. “I ate for free,” he says with a smile. “I ate for free and I got a lot of knowledge from my grandfather and a lot of love from the community. Now, when I come around, everybody already knows me.”
These days they know him not as the kid who took their burger order, but as the community organizer who got Mark Zuckerberg to help clear a vacant lot for a community garden. And they know him as the guy who has big plans for this part of Oak Cliff, starting with backpacks and school supplies for thousands of kids (this year’s Back to School Festival will take place August 12 at Glendale Park) and ending with college-ready graduates prepared to give back to their community. Recently, his organization joined forces with Strong Schools Strong Dallas to advocate for a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) to raise more than $100 million for DISD, which is facing a $60 million shortfall.
On Thursday, four DISD trustees, including Lew Blackburn, voted against the TRE, which would cost the average taxpayer an additional $220 per year and save the district millions in interest by allowing it to pay off its debt earlier. Blackburn was quoted as saying, “I don’t know what we’d do with an extra $100 million a year. I’m sure if we had the sandbox, we’d figure out some kinda castle to build.”
But Toynes isn’t daunted. He grew up in this community. He knows what it is capable of and what it needs. Sand castles aren’t on his list.
So, you share an alma mater with C.J. Miles and Larry Johnson? We went to state this year in basketball. Skyline High School never went to state before. This was the first year. You ought to take a trip up there. It’s like a university. It was the first magnet school in the country. They have the aeronautics cluster where students can graduate with a pilot’s license. They work on planes in the school; there’s a hangar at the school. The cluster that I was in was called Man and His Environment, and it included sociology, psychology, and law. Those were the three tracks that you could take. My first year, we learned sociology. By the end, I was taking AP Human Geography, which was the coolest subject. We learned about people, and the movement of people, and different cultures. It prepared me so much for college.
Did you end up going to law school? I decided not to go. When I attended the University of North Texas, I majored in political science because I knew that was the track to go to law school. Then, when I graduated, I worked at the District Attorney’s office in the Family Violence Division. I had taken my LSAT and did okay on it. I had written my personal statement. I had gotten recommendations. Heath Harris, who was the First Assistant to the District Attorney at the time, wrote me a letter of recommendation to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston. And then I read the article.
What article? It was an editorial on the prison pipeline, and it had the number of inmates in the state of Texas compared to the number of college ready graduates broken down by zip codes. I saw 75216—the zip code where I grew up, where we are right now—and it had 681 inmates and only two college ready graduates. Right then, as I was sitting in the DA’s office, I thought, I don’t know if I want to do this because I’ll probably be a prosecutor. I thought, Man, I want to be a teacher. I want to get to kids before they get to this point. So I signed up for Teach for America. I could’ve ended up anywhere in America, obviously, but I chose DISD in South Oak Cliff. And they granted me my wish.
Where did you end up getting assigned? I was placed at W.W. Bushman elementary school on Bonnie View. I grew up in Oak Cliff and have lived here all my life. I’ve seen a lot and experienced a lot, but, as a teacher at W.W. Bushman that year, I recognized the little privilege that I did have just growing up in a different neighborhood, off of Red Bird Lane, when I was working with my students. I really began to understand what poverty looked like.
How did For Oak Cliff come about? It came out of my classroom at Bushman Elementary School. A lot of my students didn’t have backpacks when the school year started. I ended up saying to one of my close friends from growing up, Kenny Reaves, “Man, let’s have us a block party to raise money for backpacks for my class.” He was like, “Cool. What we going to call it?” I was like, “I don’t know, but we going to do it for Oak Cliff.” He said, “So you want to have a block party for Oak Cliff?” I was like, “Yeah. Let’s call it that.” That’s literally how For Oak Cliff happened.
How did the first backpack block party turn out? Another friend, Juliana Bradley, helped me organize. By the end of that summer—the event was August 13, 2015—we had over 1,000 people in Glendale Park, the most beautiful park in Dallas. We partnered with the United Way, Texas Instruments. William’s Chicken donated a lot of chicken to us. A whole lot of chicken. People ate for free. We registered 75 people to vote. We got 10 people employed. We gave out a thousand backpacks to kids. That was the first year.
Has it grown since then? Our goal with the Back to School Festival is voter registration, job fair, college fair, and school supply giveaway. Last year, we had over 3,000 people in the park. We gave away over 2,000 backpacks, fed over 2,000 people, and registered around 200 or so people to vote. We worked with Uber and the Express Job Professionals and got a dozen people employed. I realized, man, if we work together, we can make something happen. And if we listen, if we really listen to the students and to the community and what they want, they are always going to support us when we bring it to them.
Have you expanded beyond the school festival? On Mondays and Wednesdays, we have partnered with El Centro and WorkReadyU to offer GED classes. We currently have 10 parents that come in here to get their GEDs. It’s a two-generation model, so we’re working towards not only teaching the parents, but educating the children as well. Parents can bring their kids and we work with them to reinforce some of the things they are learning at school. We just really want to build a culture of education over here.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges this neighborhood faces? The stat that’s getting thrown around a lot is Dallas has the highest childhood poverty rate. But if you look at where it’s concentrated, this spot is burning up. In this neighborhood, more than 75 percent of children under the age of 5 live below the poverty line. I heard Geoffrey Canada [president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone in Harlem, New York] say one time—and this was very profound to me—he said he remembers the day that he realized Superman wasn’t coming to save the day. That’s when I realized we’ve really got to do it ourselves.
Why do you think this area of Oak Cliff has become the hottest spot for poverty in Dallas? It’s a systemic issue. Segregation was a very real thing in this community. My grandmother’s from Dallas, too. Once I asked why she didn’t go to W.H. Adamson or Sunset High School, near where she grew up in the Tenth Street Historic District. I asked her one time, “Why did you go to Madison? That’s so far away from where you grew up.” I thought about it right when I asked her. I was like, “Man, segregation. I forgot.” It’s that close in our history. It’s neglect of a community. It’s a lack of resources. Where can people go work over here? People don’t understand. Food deserts are one thing, but job opportunities come along with having a grocery store. You can employ 20 people or more with a grocery store. Not even a Walmart, but just a neighborhood grocery store. A lot of people have been oppressed for so long in so many different ways, but the main thing is that people are starting to see it now and understand it a little bit more. It’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take a lot of work from the powers that be within Dallas, as well as from within our own communities. We’re going to have to come together, work together, start loving one another more, and start building a culture of education.
How you think a TRE can help? I think people should have the opportunity to decide what they want for their schools. That’s my whole thing. Let people make the decision because we are underfunded. From a national level, to a state level, to the local level. It’s all the way down. When you look at it, which are the first schools to get hit? How are the first schools going to miss that hall monitor, that urban specialist, or that additional principal? Some schools can be okay without that. They have things like PTAs and booster clubs, a lot of parental involvement. They could thrive still. When we talk about schools that need these resources, that have been at the bottom of the totem pole as far as just about everything, what are we going to do? We have got to make sure we are educating our children. Not only educating them, but giving them the best quality of education possible.
The next DISD Board of Trustees meeting, with presentations of TRE town hall findings, will be Thursday, May 25, 6:00 PM, at the DISD Administration building in the Ada L. Williams Auditorium (3700 Ross Ave.).
My first job out of college was a three-month paid internship as a sports editor at the Dallas Morning News. The DMN, along with the Boston Globe, had the best sports section in America. I didn’t know the term “imposter syndrome” at the time, but I certainly felt the effects of it every time I took a seat along the editing ring and pulled up a story to edit. No one gave one damn that I was young, dumb, and petrified. A dozen or more editors surrounded me every night, and they had neither the time nor the inclination to help me get through my shift without wetting myself.
Except for one person: Mike Hashimoto. Hash, as he was and is known, was there for me when I needed it — helping me rework dumb headlines, cut dangling strips of copy off the boards with an X-Acto knife minutes before deadline, whatever I needed. He didn’t coddle me. In fact, I felt pretty stupid every time he chided me with that deep, sighing baritone of his. But I have no doubt he kept me from being fired, which enabled me to get my next job, at D Magazine, which led to every other job I’ve been lucky enough to have in Dallas.
He was a helluva stand-up guy and a damn fine newspaperman. That’s why it didn’t surprise me when he became an editor on the news desk. He was a pro’s pro, someone who would make reporters and their copy better, no matter subject matter.
What surprised me was his move to the editorial writer-columnist role at the paper. That he could write smart takes was obvious; that he was so conservative shocked me. Because, c’mon, how could an insane liberal like me admire someone who admits to being “torn between conservatism and libertarianism”? How could I consider required reading the works of a person described as “the world’s only Japanese-American redneck”?
Because Hash was and is so damn smart. That’s how. Together with his then colleague Rod Dreher (the author of that redneck quote), the pair cranked out the sharpest conservative columns you could read anywhere in the country, let alone in Texas.
I disagreed with him often — I thoroughly enjoyed sending him emails mocking his faith in Mitt Romney four-plus years ago — but his columns were always thoughtful and well-written. Even when he was hammering Craig Watkins during his 2010 campaign (I was running Watkins’ media campaign at the time), I respected his tenacity and heart. He hated bullshit, and he called it on anyone who deserved it, no matter his personal relationship with the subject.
Hashimoto is leaving the DMN because of his declining health, which is terribly sad. But he’s still a tough-minded sumbitch, one who says he wants no sympathy. So I’ll give him none. I will, though, say this is not only a loss for the paper but for the city, too. I think that is the sort of thing upon which we can agree, no matter our politics.
Every year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation releases a list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.” They’ve been doing it for 30 years. To mark the anniversary, the organization today sent out a press release touting success stories, endangered historic places that are being saved. The Statler is on the list, which is a big deal. You can read below what the National Trust has to say about the importance of the Statler. But one thing not mentioned: the place was supposed to reopen last year. And the IRS is all over the developer, Mehrdad Moayedi. Work on the project does continue. But let’s not celebrate too early here and pull a Leon Lett.
Here’s the National Trust on the Statler, which is says is “thriving and contributing to [its] communit[y]”:
Today, to mark the 30th anniversary of the America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list and how it has been a catalyst for the preservation of threatened historic sites around the country, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is issuing a retrospective list culled from the nearly 300 sites named to the program since its inception. The 2017 list highlights 11 once-endangered sites, including the Statler Hilton Hotel, that are now thriving and contributing to their communities—while also focusing attention on the extraordinary efforts undertaken to bring them back from the brink. The Statler Hilton appeared on the 11 Most Endangered list in 2008.
“The Statler Hilton Hotel was a crown jewel of Dallas that will now once again serve as a vibrant center of community life for people in the Metroplex,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The successful transformation of the Statler Hilton is a poster child for the power of the historic tax credit and a significant example of the ways that older and historic buildings can contribute to the vibrancy of their communities. Texas is a place that loves its superlatives, and as the largest historic tax credit project in the state of Texas, this one has definitely earned its bragging rights.”
When the Statler Hilton opened in downtown Dallas in 1956, its sheer size, bold form and innovative architectural features soon made it an icon of mid-20th-century design. Completed at a cost of $16 million, the Statler Hilton was once the largest convention space in the South. The Y-shaped building employed a flat-slab structural system, the first full application of its kind, which reduced the number of columns and allowed for an innovative modular thin-skinned curtain wall design consisting of 1 3/8” thick panels made of glass and porcelain coated steel panels. These progressive features made it a significant contributor to the Modern movement in Dallas and the state of Texas.
Once hailed as the most modern hotel in the country, the Statler Hotel sat vacant for many years with calls for its demolition. Located on an increasingly attractive piece of real estate, the Statler Hilton faced an uncertain future as encroaching development pressure heightened the threat of demolition. The saving of the Statler Hilton is an exemplary reuse of mid-century modern buildings that are often overlooked in large urban areas.
Through preservation efforts and the help of state and federal tax credits, the Statler Hilton will soon be fully restored to its former glory. With a $175 million renovation of the Statler underway, it is currently the largest tax credit project in Texas. Plans for the redevelopment include 7,800 square feet of retail space, 19,000 square feet of restaurant space, a 2,200-square-foot hotel bar and 2,900 square feet of meeting space. The renovated building will house luxury apartments, a Hilton Curio Hotel, and include two rooftop pools with amazing views of downtown Dallas.
And here are the other historic places that the National Trust has put on the celebratory list:
Angel Island Immigration Station – San Francisco, Calif. A point of entry to the U.S. for immigrants from eighty countries across the Pacific Rim between 1910 and 1940, but abandoned since World War II, the remaining buildings of the Immigration Station were scheduled to be torn down until park ranger Alexander Weiss re-discovered writings on the walls, inaugurating a long-term grassroots preservation effort. Listed in 1999, the now restored poems carved into its walls by Chinese detainees illustrate these immigrants’ stories and serve as a stirring reminder of the challenges they overcame.
Antietam National Battlefield – Sharpsburg, Md. One of the most significant events in American history, the Battle of Antietam influenced the outcome of the Civil War and immediately led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
First listed in 1988 in response to a flawed proposal to construct a shopping center and other buildings on battlefield land, the listing helped to galvanize support and action by local, state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations, resulting in a true preservation success story.
Cathedral of St. Vibiana – Los Angeles, Calif. Opened in 1876 following five years of construction, the Cathedral endured until 1995, when the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles began to move ahead with plans to demolish it. Listed in 1997, the ultimately successful fight to save the then-Cathedral of St. Vibiana was a defining moment for Los Angeles preservationists.
Governors Island – New York, NY. Once the nation’s oldest continuously used military post, Governors Island played roles in several eras of American history until 1995, when the military left and the Island faced an uncertain future. Listed in 1998, Governors Island has been transformed from an underused historic property into an active and indelible community resource that is loved by native New Yorkers and visitors alike.
Historic Boston Theaters – Boston, Mass. Once lavish palaces, the Boston Opera House, Paramount Theatre and Modern Theater had fallen into disrepair when they were listed in 1995. The listing led to the late Mayor Thomas Menino and city agencies to develop a network of partnerships to rehabilitate the theaters and revitalize the surrounding neighborhood, resulting in a key preservation success story for the city
Little Rock Central High School – Little Rock, Ark. When listed in 1996, the school that had been at the center of the nation’s school desegregation debate was suffering from deterioration. Still in operation as a public high school, it has also been established by Congress as the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site that teaches visitors about our nation’s ongoing struggle to achieve civil rights for all.
Nine Mile Canyon – Utah. The ‘world’s longest art gallery’ contains thousands of ancient Native American cultural resources. When listed in 2004, truck-traffic, dust and chemical dust-suppressant were damaging these irreplaceable treasures. Paving the Canyon road has alleviated this threat, and also made its vast cultural resources more accessible to visitors.
Penn School – Frogmore, S.C. Founded in 1862, the Penn School was one of the first schools in the South for freed slaves, operating until the post-World War II years when many students left and the school eventually closed and was deteriorating. After being named to the 11 Most list in 1990, several campus buildings have been restored and the renamed Penn Center has become a leader in cultural preservation that President Obama recognized in 2017 as part of the Reconstruction Era National Monument
President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home – Washington, D.C. Since being named to the List in 2000, President Lincoln’s Cottage has transformed from a threatened site to one of the most visited, revered and vibrant places in Washington that serves as a gathering place for discussion, education and reconciliation.
Travelers’ Rest – Travelers’ Rest, Mont. The only place where archaeological evidence of a Lewis and Clark encampment can be found, the site’s integrity was threatened by development. The 1999 11 Most listing helped spur action to protect the landscape as a state park.
Follow us on Twitter at @savingplaces and join the conversation using the hashtag #11Most
About America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places Program
Over the past 30 years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has used its annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places to spotlight important examples of the nation’s architectural and cultural heritage that were at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. Of the sites that appeared on the list since 1988, fewer than five percent have been lost.
Members of the public are invited to learn more about this year’s 11 Most list and what they can do to support hundreds of sites that remain endangered at www.SavingPlaces.org/11Most
The May issue of D Magazine features a story by Jamie Thompson about the murder of Ira Tobolowsky. A year ago, the prominent lawyer was burned alive on a Friday morning in his North Dallas garage. Police still don’t know who did it. But the Tobolowsky family thinks they know who the killer is. The story is now online.
I asked Jamie about her reporting process and what she had to leave out of the story that she wished we’d had the space to include.
I followed the news about Ira’s death when it happened. I live about 10 minutes from his house, and it is rare for someone to be murdered in this part of North Dallas. Rarer still that it would be a respected attorney, killed in such a violent way, as he’s about to climb into his Lexus and head to his law office. I thought I might want to write something about it. After about six months—when no one had been charged with the murder—I decided to look into the case.
I reached out to Jonathan Tobolowsky, the eldest brother, toward the end of last year, told him I’d like to meet with him and his two brothers. They weren’t sure they wanted to do a story, but agreed to get together and talk about it. We met for lunch at Mi Cocina in West Village. I didn’t take any notes or record. We just chatted and got to know each other. Jonathan seemed the most hesitant. He had to get up and leave the table at one point, because talking about his dad’s death upset him so much. He looked me in the eye at one point and said something like: We don’t want to be a crazy story. If we do this, you will write this story, then move on. We will still be here, without our dad. This isn’t just a story to us. Someone stole our father from us. We want that person to be caught and to pay for what they’ve done.
I started out thinking the story would be part biography and part murder investigation. I interviewed several dozen people about Ira—the man, the father, the friend, the lawyer—and have several hundred pages of notes of interesting stories and interviews about him, and zero of that made it into the story. Of all the people I’ve written about over the years, it’s rare that I encounter a person who was as beloved as Ira. People often talk about lost loved ones in adoring terms, but this man was LOVED. Nearly everyone I spoke to said the same things: Ira dropped everything and focused on whoever was in front of him in the moment. Ira was a loyal, faithful friend. I laughed my ass off and cried more than a few times, hearing Ira’s relatives and friends talk about their times with him. He loved the law, loved his family and friends, loved living. Although he was often in excruciating pain due to his spine deformity, whenever anyone asked how he was doing, he’d say, “I’m terrific.” It is my one regret that more of Ira didn’t make it into the story.
But as the reporting unfolded, I began spending more and more time with Michael, Jonathan’s brother, keeping up with the investigation. The story began to turn in that direction. In March, I talked to Michael at least once a day—sometimes multiple times a day—as I followed along. I was at his office at least once a week, sitting across from him as he sat in his father’s chair, at his father’s desk, trying to find justice for his dad.
Ira’s death shook—probably forever—how his family and friends and acquaintances feel about their own safety. Michael sleeps with a gun in his nightstand. After learning so much about Ira’s death, I, too, got a little paranoid, making sure my keys were in my hand when I walked out of my house into the garage toward my car, making sure no one was out there. That’s part of what’s so unsettling about this crime. If a lawyer like Ira could get murdered in daylight in a safe neighborhood, it starts to strip away everyone else’s feelings of safety.
I have no doubt that this family will not rest until they discover, for certain, who killed Ira. They believe that if the tables had been turned, and one of them had been murdered, Ira would have done the same, probably to an even greater extent than what they are doing.
Bill Approved to Save Dallas Police and Fire Pension System. Yesterday, the Texas House unanimously approved a bill to save the police and fire pension system from insolvency within 10 years. Not everyone was happy, though. “I am not surprised, but I am incredulous. The House dealt a brutal blow that was devastating to the taxpayers of the city of Dallas. They have been taken to the alley and beaten up pretty bad over this,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said. The city already pays more than $120 million a year for the system. Rawlings plans to visit Austin today to keep fighting the bill, which is not out of the House quite yet.
North Lake College Shooting Deceased Identified. In what appeared to be a murder-suicide at the Irving college, a woman found in a study area was identified as 20-year-old Janeera Nickol Gonzalez. A man with what looked like a self-inflicted gunshot wound was identified as 21-year-old Adrian Victor Torres. It’s not certain whether they knew each other.
Two People Killed at Arlington Sports Bar. At Zona Caliente yesterday evening, a man walked in and fatally shot an employee. Then, a customer with a handgun fatally shot the gunman. The Arlington police spokesman said the customer “prevented further loss of life.”