Archive for June, 2008

Our Friend is Gone

June 28, 2008

As many of you know, a couple of days ago we lost one of our Dallas City Plan Commissioners. Erma Jones Dodd, City Plan Commissioner for District 8, died of natural causes on Thursday.

Erma was loved and depended on by many. She was deeply involved in her community, in the lives of her grandchildren, and in the schools in her neighborhood. She was the “Big Mama” of her family, and for people like that there’s no replacing them.

I got a voicemail from Erma on Tuesday about our meeting that night. Never in my wildest thoughts did I think that would be the last time that I heard from her.

In the short time that I knew Erma, I learned a lot. I think about all of the conversations we had about my district and southern Dallas. She cared so much for the voiceless, those underprivileged people in our city. Erma’s voice carried in such a way that she was often the “second” to many of our motions at CPC.

Erma had a heart of gold, and was selfless beyond measure. She was always running from one community or school meeting to the next. If you check the records, you’ll see that she had been coming to City Hall to speak on various issues long before she was on the City Plan Commission and Community Development Commission.

I never got to thank her for all of the advice that she gave me, but I am glad I got one last hug during our last meeting.

I won’t be posting for a while in honor of my friend. Erma, I’m glad to have known you.

Jerry Allen – Why the Hostility?

June 26, 2008

It seems like every time there is a controversial zoning issue in Lake Highlands, there is a group of people that wants to come out against Councilman Jerry Allen with some reference to next year’s election.

What I see is someone that listens to all sides and tries to come up with the best possible solution, and in the end he has the guts to make the tough call. Everyone ruffles some feathers from time to time, but in the end you can’t deny that he cares about Lake Highlands and the rest of his district. His assistant, Patricia Love, is always available when you have questions or need some help.

While I’m not a District 10 resident, half of my family has lived in District 10 for over 50 years and are pleased with having Mr. Allen as the councilman. When there’s an issue he gets right on top of it, especially when it comes to neighborhood safety.

Jerry Allen is a class act that listens to all sides and represents his district well. That’s what you want in a councilperson, right?

Does Open Mic Time Mean You Get to Curse?

June 24, 2008

I feel that the policy regarding open mic time at City Council should be addressed.

I know there is a policy in place, but people are taking advantage of the fact that the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and Deputy Pro Tem usually let people finish their “speeches.”

I propose the microphone audio get cut the minute someone curses during the open time period. A few weeks ago, one of these people (guess who…yeah, him) cursed a blue streak as 100 elementary stunned school kids on a field trip looked on during their trip to City Council.

Is that the civics lesson we want to give our kids?

Put the “every week” people at the end of the meeting with no end of meeting exemption, once per month. Then the kids are gone, at least. And the people with real concerns get their chance to address the council in the morning.

My Take on Creating More Layers of Government for Southern Dallas

June 24, 2008

A lot of discussion has occurred with respect to the idea of creating a new public-private development corporation to work on southern Dallas.

While I like a lot of the things that the DMN is talking about, I disagree with this idea.

I figured I would post my comment from their blog and find out what my readers thought about this issue.

My comment:

We do not need another layer of government to fix this issue. Development can occur without creating any more committees or ad hoc business corporations.

What you need are a Mayor and City Councilpeople that are adamant about things getting done. The current set is more focused on such issues. We have had multiple northern City Councilpeople that have visited District Four (Sheffie Kadane, Linda Koop, Pauline Medrano, Ron Natinsky, Jerry Allen). They have seen the problem first hand, and support our efforts.

In District Four, for example, we have multiple developments coming. These developments include:

*New medical center in Piedmont with $30+ million investment with no TIF and no city funding, 150-200 jobs.

*Quality TOD such as senior housing with over 20,000 SF of retail.

*Job training center with additional office space where two hot-sheet motels used to foster all types of mayhem in the community (actually this is a 1/2 block outside the district but we closed the motels and Dwaine got the deal done).

*Three other major developments to be announced.

*Dozens of rundown houses have been closed, and more will be closed with new urban nuisance laws.

This was done simply by having an engaged Councilperson in less than one year.

We must also realize that federal help is needed because the degree of neglect is quite high and will require a higher level of investment that the city can support in the near term. Also, the 2006 bond package is particularly focused on the issues in southern Dallas. Let’s see where we are in a couple of years as that takes shape.

Your thoughts?

Atlantic City will Build Largest Single-Building Solar Project

June 23, 2008

Public-private green building partnerships are catching on as a way for cities to save money and be good stewards of the environment at the same time.

My buddy Jetson Green has taken his show on the road from Dallas to Utah, but still remains on the cutting edge with info about all things environmental. He reports that Atlantic City’s new convention center will be the United States’ largest single building solar project.

Here’s the kicker within the original article:

The center says it will save about $4.4 million in electricity costs over the 20-year contract, while also reducing greenhouse gases and helping the environment. It currently spends about $1.4 million a year on electricity.

Atlantic City is also considering the use of wind turbines, whose proposed usage near the Trinity Parkway is causing some heartache locally but seems to be catching on around the country.

Jetson also pointed me to info about the world’s first green-built convention center, located in Pittsburgh.

Congrats to a Friend

June 19, 2008

My buddy Adam McGill over a D Magazine is now the proud father of a baby boy. Adam sent an e-mail out to us last night but since he’s blogged about it I’ll publicly wish him the best.

Henry McGill, future blogger, came into the world at a healthy 8 lbs 9 oz. Cheers!

No More Slurpees on the Katy Trail

June 18, 2008

The DMN reports that Steve Shafer of Shafer Property bought the Knox-Travis site (map) that held the 7-Eleven as well as Bill’s, my favorite flower shop. I’m not sure if he bought the vacant lot next to Bill’s on Travis. Shafer is planning a 60,000 SF office/retail development.

I’m not mad at Shafer at all for doing his thing. Sites gets redeveloped, development moves forward. There’s a 7-Eleven down the street on Fitzhugh but we all have our favorite spots to which we get attached.

When I lived in Knox-Henderson, this was the place where you stopped after coming off of the trail on a hot day. It was also the site of almost every bouquet of flowers I bought for my wife.

I have already read that the 7/11 was being torn down as this is being typed. I’ll be interested to see how the rendering looks and hope the new building will preserve the character of the area.

My Environmentalist Side

June 16, 2008

On a day where former VP Al Gore endorsed Barack Obama in Flint, Michigan, I felt like sharing a few “green” links with my readers.

Gas 2.0: For the first time ever, the Prius is the most searched vehicle on search site Who ever thought that car commercials would lead on MPG? San Francisco passes the largest city solar program in the U.S.

Popular Science Magazine’s The Green Mega City. It’s an interactive site with all types of info.

Eco-Bridge: Chicago’s New Harborside Green Space.

The Vertical Farm Project: How we can use indoor farming to sustain our urban communities.

We all have to do the best we can to take care of the environment. Hopefully these links make you think about the world around you and how we can all do our part to be good stewards of the earth’s resources.

Thank You District Four

June 15, 2008

Thanks to the residents of District Four and the city staff for making the South Oak Cliff townhall meeting a success.

Over 300 people came out on a hot Saturday morning to get an update on various issues in the community. A special thanks to all of the seniors that attended even though they used walkers, canes, and the like.

As everyone that is involved in District Four firsthand knows, we’ve been at countless neighborhood meetings all over the district even before Dwaine took office. These meetings are a chance for surrounding neighborhoods to get together and work for progress on a larger basis. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, this isn’t anything new.

As always, 311 complaints were taken by city employees and reported in real-time. Drug houses were listed. Lighting issues were reported.

Thanks to Chief Scott and her South Central Division officers for being available and addressing all issues that were presented. Thanks to Stephanie Pegues, Katina Johnson, and all of the various city departments that were represented and took note of every issue that was raised.

We appreciate all of the kudos for the work that is being done, but it happens because citizens are willing to stand up and take an active role in cleaning up the community and city employees are doing their best to address the needs of District Four.

After a year of being in office, District Four residents can see the improvement. Yes, we have an incredible backlog but block by block things are improving.

Our residents are not afraid. They stand united and are working to continue to improve District Four “One Block at a Time!”

Tim Russert – RIP to a Great News Guy

June 13, 2008

As you may know, Tim Russert of NBC/MSNBC died this afternoon of an apparent heart attack.

Tim is a guy who made me watch political news. He always seemed liked he really enjoyed giving you the scoop and his insights. To me, he is a model of the way politics should be handled from a news perspective. It really can be enjoyable, and you can report the facts and take people to task without coming off like a jerk and acting like you’re above reproach. The people that really followed Tim will understand why someone left an memorial note written on a dry erase board.

The one thing that I got from watching his shows was: Politics is FUN – do your homework, be prepared, and enjoy your work!

He passed in his office in Washington DC, doing what he loved, preparing for Sunday’s Meet the Press.

A man gone too soon. I didn’t always agree with his views, but I can respect a great news guy when I see it.