Archive for December, 2008

For Those We Left Behind…

December 30, 2008

Many of us will celebrate the arrival of a new year. Let’s take a little time to say a prayer for those who have lost a family member or friend during 2008. All of the following deaths deeply impacted me.

Lakendra Lawrence

Dallas Fire-Rescue firefighter Charles Whitaker

DPD Senior Corporal Victor Lozada

Rufus and Lynn Flint Shaw

City Plan Commissioner Erma Jones-Dodd

Juanita Payne and C’Andrea Donnelle

Rev. Dr. CAW Clark

Former Dallas City Councilman James Fantroy

Wyshina Harris. The reward is now $10,000.

I really appreciate the work of the Dallas Police Department and especially Lt. Craig Miller and the rest of his team at the Homicide Unit. This group works day and night, is always accessible, and closes a lot of cases that might be forgotten in other cities.

Touching a Nerve

December 26, 2008

The “welcome to hell” post I wrote a few days back definitely touched a nerve with some of the readers. I appreciate the responses I received. These types of places and areas exist in our communities, and we must continue to move the clock forward toward progress (not backward).

I hope it causes something greater than anger that fades with time. I hope it inspires people to stay involved and get reacquainted with their old neighborhoods, even if you moved far away.

Rebuilding District Four – A Block at a Time

December 24, 2008

For years, we have been complaining about the lights being out on the Corinth Street Bridge. This is the bridge that starts near the Longhorn Ballroom at Industrial and takes you to Oak Cliff near the Corinth Street DART rail station. In 2006, a wheelchair-bound man was struck and killed on the bridge because no one could see him.

For years, no one at City Hall would see to it that the lights were fixed. Why? I have no idea.

Dwaine Caraway made it a priority, and some months ago the project began to repair all of the lights on the bridge. For everyone that uses the bridge, I know it’s been frustrating to sit in one lane of traffic going each way.

View Larger Map

It took some time but the lights are now back on! I can’t remember a time when the bridge lights were fully functional. For those that drive it on a regular basis, you know that you used to have to drive with your high beams on just to make sure no one was in the street at night.

I hope that these improvements make the the holiday trips a little bit safer for residents of Oak Cliff.

This bridge marks the northern point of the Corinth/Lancaster Road Initiative that we have talked about since the campaign trail. The actual term came from us (well, actually Dwaine) It’s one piece of a bigger puzzle.

Here are some of the projects approved or under construction along Lancaster:
*Mixed-use development at the corner of 8th & Corinth.
*Brand-new supermarket just south of the Illinois DART Station.
*DART Police HQ moving to the Monroe Shops.
*Job training and office space complex where the Sunset and Southern Comfort Hotels once stood.

The eastern part of District Four is also undergoing change. Our “east side” neighborhoods are working on a comprehensive plan which will immediately go into effect once approved. And right in the middle of district four, Joppa is undergoing a transformation thanks to the Trinity River Project, volunteer groups, and a mass of determined neighbors.

A block at a time, District Four will be revitalized.

Welcome to Hell where You are Welcome to Sell – The Situation on South Lamar

December 19, 2008

When I speak about south Lamar, I am not referring to the Cedars. I am referring to the portion of Lamar that is in South Dallas.

In this area, we have a real bad situation in terms of crime. Most of it can be attributed to the type of behavior that is caused when you have a proliferation of nightclubs, liquor stores, and motels in a small radius.

Here is a graphic of the nightclubs on and around South Lamar.

Here is a graphic of the liquor stores on and around South Lamar.

The green arrow represents a newly-proposed nightclub. In a one-block radius of the newly proposed club, there are five other existing clubs.

On South Lamar alone, in the DPD’s 300 number patrol beats (SE division), there have been 236 crimes from January 1st – December 19th. They include:

13 aggravated assaults
15 assaults
33 burglaries
18 robberies

These are only the crimes committed on Lamar; this doesn’t even include the side streets.

In terms of making policy, we as elected and appointed officials have to make sure that we take these types of things into account when we decide where to allow new clubs to exist. If we don’t protect all citizens equally in all corners of the city, we are failing our constituents.

DPD is stretched to the hilt because the leeches of the community aren’t being shut down and are allowed to flourish. People complain about DPD, but they’re stuck at the clubs and bars that cause all of the problems. What Avi Adelman is writing about on Lower Greenville is happening in this area as well. The people in South Dallas just have less resources and less of a voice.

We are beyond doing sweeps on South Lamar; we need businesses shut down.

I don’t pretend to have all of the answers. As someone who grew up in these types of environments, as someone that has had to deal with things like people getting robbed and killed in front of our family home, I know what I’m talking about. Too many of these types of places in the same area asks for trouble.

It’s obvious that there are people that don’t care where they put their businesses; it’s up to us to help communities revitalize and reap the benefits of a better tomorrow.

We Need more like Pete Carroll

December 14, 2008

This is a great piece that aired on 60 Minutes tonight about USC football coach Pete Carroll.

Of course we know that Carroll is a hugely successful college coach, but his calling also includes a crusade to positively affect the lives of inner-city youth.

To me, this is the type of involvement I like to see. The one-day sports camps that you often see in DFW are OK, but then the kids go back to their regular lives. Kudos to Pete Carroll for putting together a sustained program that will truly impact the lives and outlook of the youth in his city.

Check out “A Different Kind Of Coach.”

Watch CBS Videos Online

Dwaine Caraway Closes Illegal Truck Parking Lot

December 13, 2008

In the Glen Oaks section of District Four, a truck parking lot has been allowed to exist since January of 2003. The lot was located across from Big T Bazaar at Oak Park and Rockport (map).

It was illegally operating as a commercial vehicle storage lot. As Dwaine worked with the city attorney’s office to resolve the issue, the owner started to put more vehicles on the lot. Clearly this was an untenable situation.

Would you want this next to your home?

View Larger Map

For years, the neighbors were forced to endure this blighted site as the entryway to their community. In addition to being an illegal storage site for 18-wheelers and school buses, the owner also thought it was OK to store pit bulls and allow an illegal housing shack on the site.

Dwaine Caraway made its shutdown a priority, and in 30 days it will be a memory. Dwaine has ordered that the Certificate of Occupancy be revoked, and the lot will be closed.

We have consistently stated that neighborhoods can’t get the development that they desire if the area is not cleaned up. This site was holding back the entire I-35 & Ledbetter intersection; now we can continue to progress toward a more commercially vibrant community.

I’m Not Running

December 12, 2008

A few people have asked, e-mailed, and called asking me if I’m running for city council next year. As it stands now, I am not running.

I guess I can’t say it any clearer than that.

UPDATE: A “reporter” at the Dallas Observer claimed on their blog that I somehow changed my mind about running for City Council District Eight. Typical made-up stories.

Everyone from Councilman Tennell Atkins, to his assistant, to City Employees and neighbors on down have long known that I never intended to run for District Eight. It’s not based on who is or isn’t in the race. At least Rudy Bush from the Morning News did some actual legwork to get the correct info.

Such writing is just more nonsense written by people who claim to be in the know about southern Dallas politics but aren’t.

Follow up on Dallas’ Sustainable Block

December 9, 2008

Larry James of Central Dallas Ministries has more detail on his blog surrounding the Re:Vision Dallas Sustainable Block that I wrote about yesterday. The more I hear about this project, the more I like it.

Dallas’ Sustainable Block Location Announced

December 8, 2008

Sustainable development has always been an important issue to me. Thanks to some of my friends in green building, I learned about this great project.

Check out Re:Vision Dallas. They have announced the location of what is reported to be Dallas’ first fully sustainable city block. The location is the block across from the parking area behind City Hall (map below).

Now while we were the first to use the “One Block at a Time” slogan in Dallas, this is such a great idea I’ll give them a pass.

Ideas like Re:Vision, along with the Convention Center Hotel and the proposed renovation of the Convention Center Arena are the types of projects that can transform this area of downtown Dallas.

Once Again, Jim Schutze Disrespects Southern Dallas

December 4, 2008

In this week’s issue of the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze had this to say about about southern Dallas:

“This guy is trying to change southern Dallas from an impoverished Third World slum into a boomtown.”

More after the jump.

So southern Dallas is “a third world slum?” Wow. Is that really where we are right now? Tell us what you really think about us?

Every part of town has neighborhoods that need work, but to denigrate my part of town for the sake of an article is disrespectful but quite typical of Schutze.

It’s easy to throw stones in your comfortable little bubble while the rest of us do the real work. But such a statement really reveals the true nature of a person that could care less about what happens to our part of the city.

For all of their posturing, the Observer actually has the least diverse base of writers in the city. The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, and all of the other major publications employ writers of diverse backgrounds through direct hires or freelance articles.

Fortunately, we have many people who live all over the city that have a higher regard for those of us that live on the other side of the Trinity. People that actually do real work in this city, including other local media personalities that put off-camera time into contributing socially to southern Dallas.

When hate is deep in your heart, those types of aforementioned phrases slip out from time to time. I’m not surprised at this point, just stating the obvious.