Archive for May, 2008

Goodbye Hot-Sheet Motels, Hello to Real Development

May 30, 2008

Here is more coverage on the transformation of the Lancaster Road Corridor from a blighted area to a jewel of the community. Again, when we sought to shut down the side-by-side hot-sheet motels this is what we envisioned; that another group would pick up the baton and bring something positive to the community.

I remember when Dwaine Caraway and I went to City Hall over two years ago and spoke about these motels. The only person that spoke up in support from our own community was former councilman James Fantroy. A lot of people did a lot of work to make this happen. Thanks again to the city attorneys that fought the false allegations brought on by these slum owners in court. Thanks to Bishop Larry McGriff and the Church of the Living God along with the other pastors that supported him, and thanks to Dr. Beverly Mitchell Brooks of the Urban League. Back by prayer and determination, all of these people stood up to the plagues of the community. Unlike a lot of talk that you hear about who’s doing what, these people stepped up.

Brad from Channel 8, as he has done from the beginning from this fight, does a great news piece. Check it out here.


Some Great Things Happened at City Hall Yesterday

May 29, 2008

As you’ve probably heard, yesterday’s City Hall meeting went into the evening. However, a lot of things happened yesterday.

The hot-sheet motels across from Veterans Hospital will be torn down and a job training center with office space will be built in its place. The Urban League and City Wide CDC are partnering up to bring this great development to South Oak Cliff. When Dwaine Caraway, Bishop McGriff and the Church of the Living God, the Urban League, and I worked to close the Sunset Motel and the Southern Comfort motel, this was what we had in mind. The goal was to rid the community of blight and crime havens and to have positive things in its place. As you know, the first motel the Dwaine and I helped to shut down in South Dallas has been demolished and a community/health center is being built. Thank you to the Mayor and City Council for making this a unanimous vote.

People that are stopped for traffic violations and do not have insurance will be towed. This is a significant step in Dallas, and this has already happened in other major cities. In this issue, I look at it as protecting the single Mom with kids that has her car totaled when she’s hit by an uninsured driver. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, but as it has in other large cities this will be proven to be a good thing as time goes on. Even though I’m on the younger side, our liability insurance costs $220 for 6 months, which is $36-37 per month (about $1.20 per day). That’s much cheaper than the ticket.

The towing vote was 10-5 as follows:

Voting for it: Mayor Tom Leppert, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and council members Sheffie Kadane, Linda Koop, Mitchell Rasansky, Carolyn Davis, Ron Natinsky, Dave Neumann, Angela Hunt and Jerry Allen.

Voting against: Mayor Pro Tem Garcia, and council members Salazar, Medrano, Atkins, and Hill

Larry James, John Greenan, and CDM got more funding for their Citywalk project. I have written about this project in the past, and it will be a great step in ending chronic homelessness in Dallas.

Dallas’ scrap metal ordinances were strengthened yesterday. We must combat this plague and place as many roadblocks as we can in this insidious practice that is severely impacting our neighborhoods, and we don’t need to wait for other cities or counties to toughen up to do so.

The St. Regis hotel/condo project was approved. This $200 million+ development (with no tax abatements) will add needed property taxes to the city once its completed.

All in all, it was a great day at City Hall and a great day for Dallas.

The Mayor is Listening! Convenience Store Crime is being Addressed

May 28, 2008

For some time, I have been writing about convenience store crime in the City of Dallas. I am glad the Mayor and DPD are working to assemble a group that will make recommendations to address this issue. The panel is tentatively called the Mayor’s Convenience Store Crime Task Force.

According to reports, DPD officers responded to more than 6,300 calls to convenience stores from 2004-2007. These recommendations should come back to council committee near the end of June.
Here’s the clip from CBS 11 news:

I Know How You Feel Barack

May 28, 2008

From Dallas to Washington, from local politics to the presidential race, we all have to ‘brush our shoulders off.’ Today, this just seemed appropriate:

Grocery Stores Selling Drug Paraphernalia

May 25, 2008

This story caught my eye this weekend:

Police Bust Denton Store For Selling Drug Items

It talks about a store in The Colony that was busted selling crack pipes.

If you think that these stores are only in Denton County, you’re kidding yourself. This is a problem all over Dallas. There were a few busts at stores in Lake Highlands a few years back, but it’s still a huge problem.

These items do not look like an actual crack pipe like you’ve seen in a movie. They are four-inch glass tube with a removable fake rose inside. They are sometimes sold separately or in a kit with a steel-wood pad, which is used to filter the crack rock or meth so these addicts can get high. The nicknames used include “”straight shooter,” “love rose,” “”rose tubes,” and a “glass.”

The so-called rose is simply a way to give the store owner an “out” and claim ignorance of its real purpose. But if 9 out of 10 people that buy the item look suspect, what would you think? The store owners know exactly what they’re doing.

The pictures on this post are from various news sources.

They’re already banned in Michigan, Chicago and San Francisco. In Washington, DC, citizens challenged the liquor license of every store that sold the items.

We need your help to help root out these plagues on the neighborhood. No one person can rid the community of drugs, but if we all pitch in we can make a difference.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson Statement On Senator Edward Kennedy’s Medical Diagnosis

May 21, 2008

Washington, D.C. – (May 20, 2008) Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson today issued the following statement on the news that Senator Edward M. Kennedy has been diagnosed with a brain tumor:

“I have a deep respect for Senator Edward Kennedy and an appreciation for the work he has done on issues important to the American people. His leadership on health care, education and civil rights has been inspiring, and his long commitment to the well-being of American families is a reminder of how much one hard-working, dedicated person can accomplish. He is simultaneously a down-to-earth and approachable man and a symbol of hope to people around the country.

“I will keep him and the Kennedy family in my prayers.”


A Bridge to Hope

May 21, 2008

Yesterday, I attended the ribbon-cutting for “The Bridge,” also known informally as the new Homeless Assistant Center. I was floored and humbled.

I felt embarrassed to drive my car to the front of the building. I’m not knocking those who did, but I just left a sick feeling in my stomach. I parked a little ways away and walked to the entrance.

As I approached the entrance, I saw hundreds of homeless people that were watching us walk past them to go into the courtyard, all silent but watching. I stopped for a bit to say hello to everyone; immediately their eyes lit up and they all said hello and smiled. I wonder how many times someone speaks to them in a day. I know now that a beautiful place will await them to give them the services that they need.

I’m glad I voted for the 2005 proposition to fund this center via city bond funds. I knew we had to have this center. The way things were being done in Dallas was simply not working.

Last December (when we on the City Plan Commission voted to temporarily extend the permit on the Day Resource Center), the excitement started to kick in for me. That’s when I knew that the Bridge would soon be a reality.

I have written many posts about the homeless situation in Dallas since I started this blog. This phrase comes to mind when I think about the new center.

In my interactions with homeless people, I have found some of them to be highly intelligent and capable of surviving on their own. They just need a place to stay to stabilize themselves. How can you get a job if you have no address? There are street people that can’t get their veterans’ checks or SSI checks because of this.

I talked yesterday with one of the tour guides that told me about an overlooked but important fact. The Bridge can accept mail for the people it serves. This is a major step in stabilizing people that do not want to be on the street. Unscrupulous people can no longer steal their benefits check, and people can now work on getting jobs since they can put an actual address on a job application.

There are so many resources and services that are now available in one place. A pharmacy, mental health counseling, legal services, and community service supervision is available. A full list can be found on the Metro Dallas Housing Alliance website (link).

Larry James, whom I was glad to see yesterday, wrote a great post this morning poking fun at those who thought that downtown would disintegrate if this center was built. As he accurately pointed out, more developments are being announced within walking distance of this facility.

This facility is the beginning of an era in which Dallas will be viewed nationwide as an example of how to properly address the homeless epidemic that is grappling our cities.

The picture I chose to post (from the DMN), which shows a man doing his laundry, is significant to me. Most homeless aren’t asking for anything special; just a sense of stability and dignity. Now people can have clean clothes to go to try and get a job, or can feel presentable enough to seek out their family.

A shot at dignity, and an opportunity to reestablish their lives. The Bridge isn’t a cure-all for homelessness, but it’s a great step in the right direction.

Protect Your Home

May 16, 2008

Here’s a link to an article that has a lot of great info about securing your home and preventing “kick-in” burglaries. Spending a few hundred dollars can prevent a much higher loss due to burglary; it’s cheaper than losing all of your valuables as well as your piece of mind.

This makes me think back to last holiday season. A neighbor of mine had her door kicked in and someone stole all of her Christmas gifts. She was hysterical; her screams are what prompted me to go check on her.

She cried on my shoulder as I called the police for her, since she was having some difficulty with 911 since she didn’t speak English and was emotionally distraught about the situation. My wife sat with her as I waited for the police to come. It made me sad, but it also made me angry at the callousness of some people in this world that think it’s OK to take from others. These people aren’t crackheads; they are thugs that will do anything for a little bit of money.

Doing things like those mentioned in this article may help prevent other from this same fate.

Breaking News! Edwards endorses Obama

May 14, 2008

John Edwards just endorsed Barack Obama for President! This pic was just taken in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (courtesy CNN).

Edwards brings a working class group of supporters that can do nothing but help Obama’s campaign. Those 19 pledged delegates don’t hurt either.

Plus, he just muted the Hillary Clinton/West Virginia news cycle. Nice work.

Vote Done

May 14, 2008

The final call on today’s vote surrounding the hotel was 11-2.

Yes: Leppert, Caraway, Medrano, Neumann,Salazar, Davis, Atkins, Kadane, Allen, Koop, Natinsky
No: Hill, Hunt

Not voting due to conflict: Garcia, Rasansky

Thanks to those that supported.