Archive for March, 2008

The Randomness-Having Fun in Urban Dallas

March 31, 2008

We decided to hang out a little yesterday.

It started off by looking at a couple of houses and then attempting to go to my favorite chicken place, Brothers on Gaston Ave. We were kindly informed that they were out of mostly everything due to the glowing review that was in the Dallas Morning News last week. They had nothing but wings and peppers, and were out of my beloved fries as well. The cherry limeade did soften the blow, however. So I got my wife some wings and then headed to Chip’s on Cole for more food. We then hit up Cole Park for our mini-picnic. That was just the beginning.

We then rode through Victory Park, circled back to the Angelika and came up on some free tickets to AFI Dallas. We went to a few late-night screenings. I love indie films, and the ones we saw were definitely interesting. We got home way late for a Sunday, but we had a ball.

Life is fun in Big D. Sometimes a whole lot of little unplanned things can add up to a cool date night.


Superstars on the Rise

March 28, 2008

Turner Courts is in the BonTon area of South Dallas (map). It has often been maligned by the media, taken advantage of by people that mean it harm, and thugs that often don’t live in the neighborhood but use it as a place to do crime and untold damage to an area.

Demetria Frank is the new community prosecutor for the South Dallas/Fair Park neighborhood, which includes Turner Courts. TC is in District Four, although most of South Dallas is in District 7. I met Dee before she started in her new position. I knew she’d do a great job. I guess the proverbial cat is out of the bag now with her Channel 8 feature story earlier this week.

She took the road that a lot of us take, which is to sacrifice time and income to make a difference in our community. Like many others, she could likely make twice the money or more in the private sector. There are many of us in this city that operate in our own zones, but we are meeting up and doing our best to have an impact.

I have been even more inspired by the citizens of Turner Courts. As I told them at one of our meetings, my mother spent part of her childhood in a public housing project, and went on to raise a houseful of college students. Anything is possible. The spirit of these residents keeps me going in tough times.

Even before we got officially appointed to our respective positions, I told Janet at Central Dallas Ministries (who has been in the area for ten years) that we would do everything we could to improve the area. It’s coming along bit by bit. As Jim Schutze mentioned in the article, Dwaine has pushed DART to restore nighttime bus service to Turner Courts, and moved the city to replace broken street lights and also seek code compliance crackdowns against liquor stores in the area. DHA is also stepping up to fix the playgrounds.

Yes, Turner Courts will be torn down and redeveloped in better housing at some point as part of DHA and the City of Dallas’ master plan, but that doesn’t mean that the residents don’t deserve the best before that happens. I’ve also gotten word that current TC residents will be the first to get a shot at moving in when after it’s rebuilt. I also got the promise in a public meeting that Central Dallas Ministries will get comparable space to what they have now when the Bexar Street project is finished.

The code and store crackdowns in BonTon came courtesy of folks like Dee Frank, Corey Morgan in Dallas Strategic Services, and countless other people and groups. When people work together, we can accomplish a lot.

Check it out for yourself:

Larry James’ blog post (link)
Turner Courts residents blog – “Love thy Neighbors” (link)
Janet Morrison’s Community Dialogue Blog (link)
Our ASA Family blog – Turner Courts youth (link)
DMN Editorial on CDM’s Programs in Turner Courts (link)

Channel 8 news coverage:

The Mayor Gives Dallas Kids a Real Internship Program, Dwaine holds his 9th Teen Summit, and Eddie Bernice Johnson keeps on going

March 28, 2008

Mayor Tom Leppert announced another program which speaks to his commitment to education and opportunity for Dallas’ youth. He announced a paid internship program for students of select DISD schools, which will also allow them to interface with top company execs. Here’s the DMN story on the program from Rudy Bush at the DMN (link).

For now, it is limited to a few schools. I’m sure that this program will expand as more opportunities present themselves.

These are the types of programs that save lives. I speak from experience.

When I was in college, I was part of a program called INROADS. INROADS helped provide internships as well as business experience that helped me move forward in life. Additionally, when I was in junior high and high school I was part of a very small program called Expose, which was started by a top commercial real estate CEO in my home town of Philadelphia. In addition to a paying job, this CEO allowed me to shadow him and learn the business world as well. I also learned basic skills like balancing a checkbook and working a HP 12-C before my teenage years (my commercial real estate people know what I’m talking about).

This is the difference between Tom and others. Sure, no one expects you to agree with everything Tom tries to do as Mayor. But what you see is a constant execution of his campaign promises, which sets him apart from many politicians on the city and county level that exploit the hopes and dreams of a community for votes by campaigning on ideas you never intend to implement.

I wonder what the people that were behind those stupid flyers and commercials that made fun of Tom and put out a bunch of lies during last year’s Mayoral campaign think about great programs like these. Some of these same people are now giving Tom shout outs during their radio segments; they sure changed their tune on that issue.

Here’s something else that I find amusing. Others that call Tom and Dwaine all sorts of names in various news articles show up at City Hall and ask for help because no one else will listen. How do you reconcile such behavior? Because it’s all a front, that’s how. I look at folks like Tom, Dwaine, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, and others that keep their heads down and deliver for my community.

Also, Dwaine’s ninth Community Teen Summit will be held at City Hall on this Saturday, March 29th. Here’s the flyer (link). You know the drill; Dwaine has held these on a monthly basis since he was elected. The topic is “the real power of Myspace and Facebook.” I know that Dwaine has probably never been on Myspace or Facebook unless I showed him a page, but he knows that teens use these online portals to interact and he should therefore find a group that can speak to kids about these things. Dwaine does have a YouTube page if you didn’t know (link). Collectively, his videos have gotten over 30,000 hits. This forum will also include an education fair and a scholarship opportunity along with breakfast and lunch like always.

I get several emails every week from Eddie Bernice Johnson’s office about positive programs that she’s gotten funded or passed. I think about last summer, when she ignored the typical politics that hurt real people on the ground to make sure that Hutchins had a bridge so that its residents could get better ambulance service (link). Nothing’s changed. This Saturday, Rep. Johnson is hosting a ‘Super Saturday’ to help lower-income people file tax returns and get other valuable information (link).

This summer is going to be off the hook! Major things will be jumping off to keep the kids having fun, learning, and doing positive things to divert their attention from the streets.

This is what real elected officials do in office. Stay focused, ignore the haters, and deliver to the community.

Motel Three will be closing in one month

March 24, 2008

The Motel Three at 3705 Bonnie View in South Oak Cliff (map) has been ordered to close on April 19th, 2008. It has been the site of multiple murders, aggravated assaults, and other violent crimes.

This has been long overdue. Thanks again to Pastors Tommy Brown of Ervay Cedar Baptist Church and Steven Sims of Greater Ideal Baptist Church for stepping up and out to effect change in their community. It takes real guts to address these places, and we are grateful to these two individuals. Dwaine and I cannot do it all on our own; we need continued community support to keep this effort moving forward.

As Deputy Chief Sherryl Scott and others work hard to reduce crime in this area, we as city officials must do our best to eradicate the areas of crime magnets such as hotel-sheet motels, drug houses, and car washes at which more crack rocks are sold than cars cleaned. Together, as we said during the campaign, we will take back District Four one block at a time.

Other motel stories can be found by clicking the motels label at the bottom of this post.

Target Now Open in Oak Cliff

March 19, 2008

After more than a year of planning and construction, the new Target store is now open at the corner of I-20 & Wheatland (map).

Former councilman James Fantroy was always big on getting retail to his district. Under his leadership, the Wal-Mart was built on Wheatland as well as the rest of the corridor. One of his last efforts before leaving city council was to get this Target going along with the rest of this shopping center.

The one thing I wish the Target included was a deli and a produce section. However, there is expansion space built into the store and it includes most grocery items as well as a refrigerated and frozen food section. There is a large Starbucks, and unlike other Targets there are 5 or 6 express registers.

Thankfully, I can now spend my grocery money in Oak Cliff and not give it to Cedar Hill.

The Speech heard around this Nation

March 18, 2008

No commentary needed.


March 18, 2008

This is how I choose to remember Rufus and Lynn. Her smiling, and him looking serious and focused. No news article written or forthcoming, no haters, and no one else can deny the impact that both of them had on this community and our city. The diversity of speakers that honored them at their funeral, from family and church leaders to civic giants and elected officials, all spoke of a couple that made you think and got things done.

Who knew that in addition to all of her civic duties, Lynn attended mass daily and was in a monthly book club with many women including Carol West (Sen. West’s wife), State Rep Barbara Mallory Caraway and others? Who knew that Rufus was not just a world-class athlete but also a student that was always at the top of his class in high school and college?

How ironic is it that at the same time as their funeral, Barack Obama delivered a speech that will go down in history as one that challenges us to do better as people and as a country from a racial perspective. I wonder what Rufus would have thought or wrote about today’s speech.

It’s also ironic that last week, the new shopping center just a mile down the street from their home. Championed by former Councilman James Fantroy, the center includes a Target, with a Chili’s, several banks, and other businesses set to open in the coming months. This is part of what Rufus and Lynn wanted, to have development in our community. As we move to make changes in our community, they won’t be here to see it. That’s what really hurts.

They never acted like they were doing you a favor do give you a few words of encouragement or advice. Rufus is one of the people that inspired me to write in Dallas. I remember a conversation with me when Lynn called somebody a wimp for not stepping up and taking control of a meeting, which made me laugh out loud on the telephone. The last time we talked on the phone, I remember that she told me “Rufus said ‘keep doing what you’re doing.’ “

I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing them for decades, as many others in the audience did. But I know this: their community and civic contributions are to be remembered and honored, and no article can take that away…at least that’s how I see it from South of the Trinity.

Dallas, You Let Me Down

March 13, 2008

I have been holding it in for two days but I can’t take it anymore. I’m disappointed at a lot of the coverage from many sources. Linking and posting to 911 calls linked to tragedies is behavior that I have always detested. Now we have that going, too. And who the heck cares about what Rufus got arrested for more than 20 years ago?! Does that really matter now?! From what I understand the charges were dismissed.

We can’t even grieve and have the process of a funeral for two beloved individuals in this community without turning it into a circus. But hey, maybe some of us have a conscience and the rest don’t give a darn what they see when they look in the mirror.

I would like to thank Brad Watson, Shaun Rabb, Steve Pickett and Craig Civale for trying to approach this tragedy with a high degree of professionalism and looking for different angles other than the same-old story.

The main haters, for the most part, have been silent. That too, is telling. You’re wondering who Rufus called ‘the haters’ in the black community? Look at his columns.

A lot of the posters on various blogs and news sites have used their hatred of the Mayor, Lynn, and Rufus on other issues and channeled it into hateful and moronic posts. Most of it is over some other issue they are mad about which has nothing to do with the circumstances. Most of the people have never set foot in City Hall and likely have a voting record that is spotty at best. Most are a bunch of do-gooders that want to opine about what happens in the minority community but couldn’t find Oak Cliff or South Dallas without a map.

I’m disgusted. I thought Dallas was better than this.


March 11, 2008

When you get a call in the middle of the night, it’s never good news. I am truly devastated.

Rufus Shaw and Lynn Flint Shaw were two people that I truly looked up to. Neither of them never pulled any punches, and contrary to most of the people that talk about our part of town (elected or not), they really cared about southern Dallas and did what they could to improve it and inspire others.

Beyond being known as a world record holder in high school track and field, Rufus was a writing and thought-provoking machine. He was a pundit before the term was prominent. His mind and spirit will be missed.

I still remember the conversation that Lynn and I had when my D Magazine story came out. Very few people in my part of town called me when it got published. But she did, and we talked for some time about the state of this city and her passion for improving the part of town in which we lived. Rufus is what I would call, one of ‘the realest.’ Rufus was a person that encouraged me to say what I felt, expose the truth, and to never back down from the haters.

They both made sacrifices in this town to speak their minds and tell things how they need to be told. All I can do is be grateful to them for welcoming me to Oak Cliff, encouraging me to write, and be active in my community. And now they’re both gone.

You never know what type of pressure people are under. This is a praying time.

Don’t look for any posts for the next day or so.

My Squad’s Experiences with the Texas Caucuses

March 10, 2008

In what will likely be my last presidential post for some time, I wanted to give people a view other than my own.

There is a group of people in my generation in DFW that are really starting to assert themselves in the political process. We’ve had these types of conversations for years. They are not part of any political establishment, they aren’t card-carrying members of any prominent groups. As I’ve already read, the “machines” are assuming that they will fall into the ranks of the establishment; such thinking will likely prove to be incorrect.

I wanted to post a few of their experiences good or bad. Unedited, after the jump.

K- from Balch Springs
So you will have to excuse an improper language run-on sentences and what have you but I have to tell you what went down in BALCH SPRINGS. I’m hearing there was chaos everywhere but BALCH SPRINGS was off the chain.

My family gets to the rec. center and we wait until about 7:45 to enter the room for the caucus. Mind you I’ve never participated in a caucus before so I had no clue what I was supposed to go on. So all these people pile into this room and there is this elderly white poll judge sitting in his chair not giving any direction. It became clear he was overwhelmed by the turn-out of people. 10 minutes and no directions were given. Finally a woman from the city council of Balch Springs asked if he needed help. I went up to her and said I don’t know what I’m doing but I can help with whatever you need. CHAOS Total chaos. People that came just to vote were now in charge of the Caucus. I heard the precinct judge say several times “I don’t know”. I stayed there from 7 – 11 until the sheriff came to pick up the ballets. I am so upset that this guy had a lack of knowledge of what was going on. I swear and this is not an exaggeration, by the end of the night I knew just about as much as he did. I have to really say I was impressed with the number of BLACK people that stepped up in a professional manner to help out with this process. Some people left because it was not organized.

Sorry this is so long but this has to be GOD working. I was supposed to be in volleyball practice at 8. I didn’t leave the polling site until 11p.m. I have been saying I don’t know what I want to do but in some way I want to be involved in politics. Well, I was nominated as a delegate and some of the City Council members of Balch Springs gave me their cards. Ya girl is about to get into politics. Now I have to speak up about the issues we had tonight. The sheriff’s deputy as well as some others are going to report this guy and his staff. I could write a novel about the chick that was helping him out!

T from Grand Prairie

This was for Precinct 4520 in North Grand Prairie, Dallas County.

well i got there around 6:30 and it was at an elementary school. There was no place to park and I had to park way down the street and walk.

Walk up to the school and the line is longer than the one when I went to fort worth to see obama. Lots of the people had early voted and were there for the caucus so we were trying to figure out if we had to wait in that line.

We found out that we did not, and were told to go wait in the cafeteria. so we went in there but it didn’t seem like anyone was in charge. We were trying to find the precinct captain for obama, and we finally found him and while he was nice, he was very passive and soft spoken and wasn’t sure what he was to be doing.

This hillary supporter was there i guess trying to take charge, but me and this other girl heard her telling people that you could not caucus if you did not have your voter card which is a bold face LIE. And me and other sista tell her so. So she wanted to act all indignant like “how dare you question ME?!” We tell her that we know the rules and we just want to make sure that no one gets false information and everyone gets to vote. She tells me that if I know the rules then pull them out and I told her I would be happy to pull them up b/c I have internet on my phone. Then the other sista was like “I’m an attorney and ma’am I’m sure you don’t want any problems.”

By this time, a group of people had gathered around and wanted to make me their leader and the precinct captain asked for my help too.

So then it gets time to have the caucus (not till around 9pm b/c we had to wait till everyone finished voting) and we had to officially elect a leader and they asked me to do it and other girl be my helper. so we are trying to get everyone in a line and organized and this hillary supporter keeps trying to over talk her and everyone was like “sit down and shut up!!” Finally we get everyone in line and I start logging in the votes and everyone when they came up thanked us for taking charge.

As far as the votes when it was like one clinton for every five obamas.

It was by far the most unorganized thing I have ever went to. I don’t understand how they could have not been prepared for this. Have they not been watching the news? Were they not aware of what the turnout would be?

(ps – as a side note, i was talking to one of my coworkers today who was showing me an email that she was sent as a clinton volunteer, to get to the caucus locations early and try and dissuade people from getting in, etc. This confirms to me that I was not imagining what I was seeing. I truly believe the disorganization was the result of a “favor” or something called in by the clinton campaign.)

Z from Ft. Worth –

If you caucus they will come….

Last night, I was floored!!! No, you don’t understand, Precinct 1104 showed out during the Democratic Primary!!! I’d been telling people over the last few weeks that I didn’t expect a huge turnout for the caucus in my area but oh was I wrong!( I vote in my parents community) In fact, I’ve never been happier being wrong in my entire life!!! At 6:45 the line was out of the recreation center doors and midway into the parking lot. At 7:00, the line was about a mile long! By 7:30, it seemed like the entire neighborhood was camped out to caucus. I saw people I hadn’t seen since high school, and for the most part things were uber positive UNTIL…. around 7:30 when the election workers began arguing over the caucus itself. *Note to Tarrant County Elections officials, you need new help that can actually READ, and follow directions!

During my stint (about 3 hours) waiting in line, a nice blue haired lady had been waiting in her car in the parking lot for several hours, before getting out to inquire about the caucus line. She was there to caucus but didn’t realize that the long line that she thought were late voters, were actually the hundreds of people who had shown up to caucus. Now normally I try to respect my elders and I hated the fact that she was going to have to walk a mile down the road and around the corner just to get in line, so I contemplated letting her cut in front of me. That is until I saw her car!! In huge letters on the windshield was written “Hillary Clinton for President”. Um excuse me, no ma’am, you’ve ruined your chances for cutting in my space. LOL I know it was wrong and I commented to the lady in front of me who shared the same sentiment that I hope my actions didn’t just secure me a place in the fiery gates of hell! LOL-But God fixed the situation by having the elections staff announce that people aged 65 and up could move to the front of the line anyway…so problem solved.(’cause she WAS old)

After finally getting in, there was yelling, and cursing, and all of the great things that make Ft. Worth “funky”! The truly great thing was that all of these ‘negatives’ were happening for a positive reason. I heard so many people mention “History in the making”, and I was truly grateful that my little brother was able to make it from class to attend. We both signed on as delegates and will hopefully be heading to the convention later this month! Ft. Worth, you and I have had a love/hate relationship since 1987 or so, but last night you truly made me proud to say that yes, I am a Fort Worthian*….