Archive for February, 2009

Final Count: 147 Guns

February 28, 2009

I felt that the gun buyback went pretty well. You never know what to expect.

UPDATE: The youtube clips are up right here (btw, I also had no idea that Dwaine had over 65,000 youtube hits):

No one said it was the cure-all, but you have to respect the fact Dwaine is willing to try everything to make the city safer.

In total, 147 guns were turned in the police, no questions asked.

The stories that some people told really hit home; Matthew Haag from the DMN did a good job of covering that aspect of the story.

Even though the event officially started at 9am, one woman showed up at 7am with several guns.

From 8:30 on there was a steady stream of people. Contrary to what some claimed would be brought in, all types of weapons were turned in to DPD (including a Tec-9).

And yes, my buddy Trey Garrison showed up and talked with Dwaine and the Mayor.

The event was well-attended by the media; we’ll see what the actual coverage looks like.

Thanks to Stephanie, Esmeralda, DPD and the city staff that showed up to help. Thanks also go out to Charles Terrell of Safer Dallas, Better Dallas, Kroger, Schepps Dairy, Radio One (94.5 KSOUL and 97.9 The Beat) for sponsoring the event.

Check out the slideshow:

Transfer of RSS Feed is Here (BOO!)

February 27, 2009

For those of you that subscribe to Dallas Progress via feedburner or other reader tools (live bookmarks, RSS, etc) , some changes are afoot. Those of you that write blogs also know what I’m talking about.

Google bought FeedBurner, and now I have to switch everything over. I’ve been avoiding it for a while because it involves techy things that I loathe. I can usually teach myself anything related to technology, be it writing code or anything like that, but it’s only because I hate paying for things I can do on my own.

The switch may cause you to temporarily lose your subscription.

If you can’t get Dallas Progress on your feedreader, just leave me a comment on this post and I’ll help you out.

Please bear with us, it should only happen once.

The Trinity River Project – So Much Work to be Done

February 27, 2009

It’s been a while since the Trinity Trust model was unveiled, but I saw it for the first time yesterday.

As you know, I was an early critic of the project. I realized that the voters have spoken and we are moving forward. But as I began to look at the project on my own, my view changed over the course of years.

At the City Plan Commission, I chair the Urban Design Advisory Committee and our task is to review 23 different areas that are associated with the Trinity with respect to zoning and design.

We are on plan #4. Again, there are 23 study areas. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, and I hope to be there to see it through to the end.

Back to the model. I did my best to get the entire model on my phone, and even in panoramic view it was impossible.

Seeing Oak Cliff, West Dallas, South Dallas, and other areas together on a 40 foot by 15 foot (my estimate) wall map along with the model reminded me of the work we must get going on the City Plan Commission and in this city in general. Townview High School, Pinkston High School, Cedar Crest, Fair Park, downtown Dallas…it’s all connected.

The Trinity River Project is about more than a tollroad. It’s also about more than a park. It’s also about positively transforming the lives of the citizens of Dallas. I hope everyone keeps an open mind and seeks to find out info on their own as this project moves forward.

Press or B.S.? – What’s the Motivation?

February 26, 2009

I have been aware of a group that has a problem with the Gun Buyback program that is occurring on Saturday.

If this group that is complaining about the Gun Buyback is really sincere about helping to clean up the community and about public safety, the opportunity is available to sit down with Dwaine Caraway and me and have a frank discussion about the pros and cons of this issue and others.

If their “counter-event” is just for attention and YouTube hits, there’s nothing we can do for them. They can do what they do and we’ll keep doing what we do.

No cameras, no media. Just two groups with opposing views sitting down and exchanging ideas.

Consider the olive branch extended.

And by the way: no public money is being used to buy the guns. Just so you know.

Cutting the DA’s Budget is a Big Mistake

February 24, 2009

This article, which talks about the Dallas County Commissioners pushing Craig Watkins to cut money and staffing in his office, is quite troubling.

When crime goes up and families can’t get closure because violent offenders can’t get prosecuted, most of the commissioners will be AWOL and silent. They will let Craig take any heat for having to release violent offenders. Craig is doing work that is nationally recognized; why stop the progress?

Cutting back on essential needs like felony prosecutors is the wrong move. In the article Craig suggested cutting car allowances for himself and others; but will Commissioners cut their car allowances? No. Commissioners recently increased their salaries and car allowances. That’s the first thing that should be cut; they already make more than $120,000 per year. In contrast, the Mayor and City Council get zero money for car allowances.

There are so many quotable items in the article, but a couple really stand out:

The cuts, Watkins said, “would decimate us to the point where we would have to ask: ‘Which criminals do you want us to prosecute?’ ”

and this one:

County Commissioner Mike Cantrell suggested that Watkins begin his cost cutting by eliminating one of the three prosecutors from each of the felony courts. Those who remain, he said, can manage the jail population “the same as we’re doing right now.”

The 51 prosecutors assigned to the 17 felony courts each handle more than 300 cases a year, the district attorney’s office said. Other cases are handled in those courts by units that focus on crimes like child abuse, gangs, organized crime and family violence.

First Assistant District Attorney Terri Moore said in the article that prosecutors already work hours of overtime for free because the office is understaffed. “This place is a legal sweatshop,” she said. “How dare they talk about making it worse?”

Commissioners are always crowing about having the lowest taxes in the state; but at what cost to crime victims and the general public is this so-called accomplishment achieved? If you do that, you also should brag about the backed up courts, the lack of staffing, and the long length of time that it takes for a crime victim to get justice through the system. Doesn’t make much sense, now does it?

In my opinion, the District Attorney’s office and prosecutors are also a public safety component just like police and fire departments.

When talking about the potential deficit that the City faces, Mayor Tom Leppert and other city council members have said that they won’t support any cuts in police and public safety. It’s time for the County Commissioner’s court to do the same.

Dwaine Caraway Filing is Official

February 20, 2009

Today, Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway officially filed for reelection for City Council District Four.

There are no challengers. I doubt anybody else running could draw 10%.

Some additional things are also in the works, like the entire redesign of the website. Look for it soon. Tell Dave Levinthal at the DMN that we are coming for our A grade.

The One Article You Must Read this Month

February 19, 2009

District Attorney Craig Watkins is on the cover of D Magazine’s March Issue. I’ve known he was going to be on the cover for a while, but I figured I’d keep it under wraps as long as I could. No more.

In writing a feature article about Craig, Zac Crain did one of the best pieces I have read in some time. Articles like this are why D Magazine remains relevant; they look at all angles of the issue when writing feature pieces. They’re willing to travel any and everywhere for a story (I remember when we had Rod Davis deep in the hood for his pit bull story), and not just write hit jobs from the comfort of their laptop like some writers in this town.

Zac wrote this piece over the course of six months. Instead of writing an article that is mostly based on personal opinions of other writers and anecdotes cobbled from other magazines, Zac wrote something that is awardworthy in my opinion.

The article includes great photography from Elizabeth Lavin, including the cover shot and another with Craig’s barber and mine (the best in the city), Troy King of Testosterone Barbershop on Murray Street in Deep Ellum (it’s true, you can get a good fade in Dallas without driving to Far North Dallas or Desoto).

Enough said. Buy the mag, read the article, and let me know what you think.

A Mayor and Council that Shows Leadership

February 19, 2009

Sometimes, watching items like the Convention Center Hotel unfold can be an event in itself.

Why are people shocked that we are pursuing this venture? When Mayor Leppert campaigned, he talked about the same issues that he’s working on now. In his inauguration speech, he talked about the Trinity River project, the Convention Center Hotel, and other issues. Everyone acts surprised, but in fact the Mayor is simply carrying out what he promised.

Is it fun getting beat up on a daily basis? No, it probably isn’t. But he’s doing what he said he would do. He also has a City Council of whom the majority supports that vision.

Not many people are willing to say it, but these are items that were kicked down the road by the previous administration.

We should’ve had a Convention Center Hotel years ago, but thankfully it is now being addressed. Some people that are against the hotel believe that hotel jobs are beneath them and dismiss the jobs saying that they “aren’t high paying jobs.” Don’t we have a responsibility to create jobs for all levels of income? Maybe some look down their noses at workers in the service industry, but I value their contributions and hard work.

The economic development committee, which is comprised of 8 council members, has been briefed on the hotel since the Fall of 2007. I’m glad Councilmen Allen and Caraway reminded the audience of this fact yesterday. I don’t see how people that can say this issue is being rushed along. At some point, you have to make the big decisions.

The Mayor’s inauguration speech also talked about green building, saying that green standards and requirements need to be established if we’re going to be a world-class city. And it’s on the books.

It’s the difference between chasing headlines and following up on what you start. That’s what leadership is about.

Hotel Agreements Approved

February 18, 2009

The City Council voted 10-2 (2 had a conflict, 1 absent when vote was taken) to approve the development and operating agreements for the Dallas Convention Center hotel. Omni will be the hotel operator, and Matthews Southwest will develop the center.

Hotel Request Denied…and what Debate are they waiting for?

February 18, 2009

Before the anti-hotel folks could even begin crowing about their attempt to get an injunction against the hotel moving forward, a funny thing happened.

Their request was denied. That didn’t take long.

Fox News The Dallas Observer keeps writing that Anne Raymond is waiting for a debate with Mayor Leppert.

I’ve been saying for some time that Mayor Leppert is waiting to debate Harlan Crow on the issue. Why won’t Fox News the Dallas Observer report this fact that has been known for months? They still act like she’s waiting for a debate that’s never going to happen.

I was also listening to Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson on the radio yesterday. According to Congresswoman Johnson, the whole point of the city issuing the hotel bonds is so the city can issue the bonds at at a lower amount of interest. The savings is 4-5% over the whole life of the bonds.

She also said that we’re not going to be in this shape forever, meaning that we need to move forward so this city can reap the benefits of revenue from having such a setup. Such a move has always made sense to me.