Archive for the ‘Pleasant Grove’ Category

Bureaucracy Stalls Safety for the Hood

October 27, 2009

I have been following and looking forward to the installation of gunshot detection systems in Dallas. While it was looked at some years ago by DPD, the company that was used produced an inferior product.  A different company is being used in this trial.

So we get to the point where pilot programs take place. One trial is planned for North Oak Cliff and I believe another is set for South Oak Cliff.

According to this DMN article from last week, the installation is being stalled out by Oncor.  Oncor says that they want ShotSpotter (the gunshot detection company) to take responsibility for the utility poles before they allow the system installs.

This is a major mistake by Oncor.  The article says that utility companies in other cities did not require such agreements.  While other cities are experiencing the benefits, Dallas lags behind because of bureaucracy and nonsense and neighborhoods remain at risk of random gunfire.
I also disagree with the whole concept of doing a pilot program, instead of just rolling out the product in a much larger radius. The technology and results of the ShotSpotter system have been proven to be successful nationwide.

Here is an example of the program’s success in San Francisco.  Hopefully, Oncor will wake up and realize how important such a service would be for Dallas’ most crime-ridden neighborhoods and get it together.

City Officials Work Hard and Editor doesn’t Notice

August 3, 2009

Over the weekend, a writer at the Dallas Morning News wrote an editorial titled Life at Pleasant Grove complex is only barely so. It talked about the Barclay Square apartments in Pleasant Grove and suggests that no one has lifted a finger to help the residents that have suffered from air conditioning issues over the summer.

The real title of this blog post should be entitled No one cares, or No One cares to do Research.

This phrase, written by the editor, was quite interesting:

Even worse, your kids are so miserable they can’t sleep, the refrigerator keeps nothing cool, and all you get are wish-we-could-helps from the state, the city and your friends living somewhere the power actually works.

I don’t know if the writer of this of this editorial has read his own paper, or maybe has access to this interesting search engine called Google (all the cool people are using it). A cursory search on would find that city officials have been intensively involved in addressing the needs of the tenants in that complex.

This issue was on everyone’s mind before it made the news, though most of the coverage was appreciated. Assistant City Manager Forest Turner, Code Compliance Director Joey Zapata, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, and many others have put countless days into this issue. In fact, after personally inspecting the complex Forest and Joey ordered every unit be inspected for the appropriate temperature. Think about the number of inspectors that have to be involved to check the air and safety in 141 units in one morning. Joey, Forest, and other city employees were at the complex every single day over the course of weeks. This information could have been uncovered with one phone call. In fact, the writer of the editorial wouldn’t even have to dial 9, since it had been covered extensively by the Morning News’ own writers.

While it wasn’t highly publicized and only one news outlet covered the story, Caraway called a town hall meeting with translators to provide an outlet for residents to air grievances. When have you ever heard an elected official getting involved in such as issue, to the point where he or she made the management face the residents?

The tough part is that it can be days or weeks before anyone contacts the city about such issues. Many tenants don’t know that such complaints can be anonymously filed, or are scared to report such issues. I have suggested that apartment complex owners be required to post the city contact numbers so these issues can be addressed as soon as they arise.

For air conditioning issues, Dallas citizens should call 311 which will create the request and route it to city code inspectors. The city responds within 24 hours to air conditioning issues.

That being said, I have no love for the landlord of Barclay Square. Readers of Dallas Progress know that I have been writing about slumlord apartment owners since this blog began publishing. I think the owners realized that the issues must be fixed or the heat was going to be turned up in the form of more fines and a city lawsuit.

Per city ordinance, units that are eighty-five degrees or hotter must have a temporary air conditioning unit installed. Such action was required at Barclay Square, and from what I heard this was not welcomed by the owners of the complex.

While the Barclay Square tenants did not win in court, their lawyer was pleased that the issues were being addressed by city officials.

The DMN has been the source of some fine writing the past couple of years, especially some of the coverage within the North/South Project. Everyone’s bound to miss the mark every now and then, even yours truly as we write and search for the truth. But this story was everywhere. You would have to be under a rock or totally detached from the news cycle to not know that many people were working on this issue.

We don’t expect every news article to have a city-approved number of attaboys, but I would ask that some level of research be undertaken before the assigned editor throws everyone under the bus.

Pools and Recreation Centers are Needed

May 30, 2009

I just came across an editorial from the DMN that talks about the budget decisions that the City Council will have to make.

While it is true that the City Council is going to have to make some difficult decisions, the article is looking at the wrong items. I may have a different opinion than council on the necessity for bill pay stations, but pools and rec centers are needed.

Most affluent neighborhoods are home to many families that have their own personal pool. I would guess that a few of those same residents have basketball hoops and exercise rooms as well. There’s no 24-Hour Fitness in South Dallas or Pleasant Grove, just so you know.

In southern Dallas, there are very few families with pools and other centers for recreation. Other than a scattering of YMCAs, which are usually at capacity, there’s not much cheap recreation. Oak Cliff has two YMCAs; South Dallas has one Y. Southeast Dallas? No YMCAs. Where are the kids going to go?

I wonder if they read this line item in the budget workshop report put together by city staff with respect to the pools (on page 119). It reads:

The 135,000 participants who visited these facilities in the past will not be served and the opportunity to conduct the 1,650 Teach A Child To Swim lessons will be lost.

The editorial is also written in a condescending tone which I don’t appreciate; I doubt the 135,000 citizens that use the pools would either. Closing of city pools has been a constant drumbeat of the DMN for some time. They wrote a similar article in July of 2008 (payment required).

When you close rec centers, you also close all of the programs for kids and seniors. For kids, this is their only safe haven from the perils of their neighborhood.

This runs counter to their “north-south project” for which the DMN is advocating. Idol time is a danger to our children; the pools and rec centers need to stay open. I know of 135,000 people that feel the same way.

New Site is Up

March 17, 2009

The new site is up.

It includes links to Dwaine’s Facebook group and current events, as well as a list of achievements during his tenure on the council. For those people that consistently focus on Dwaine’s sagging pants efforts like nothing else is being done, I would suggest you look here.

It also includes info on requesting city services, registering for updates, and lots of other useful info. One of my favorite things on the site is our South Central newsletter, published by our South Central Service Area Coordinator Katina Johnson.

I didn’t want to make it too fancy as we have some residents that are still on dial-up internet. I know that sounds ridiculous, but there are still places in District Four and all over the city that are not served by DSL or cable internet, much less U-verse.

As with any site, it will have some bugs. Feel free to report them by contacting us via the website.

Murderer of Oak Cliff Woman gets Life

February 12, 2009

A little more than a year ago, I wrote about the disappearance of Lakendra Lawrence.

The DMN had a write-up that said that her killer was convicted and got life in prison this past week.

Lakendra’s case was on The First 48 last week and it was really upsetting to me. It reminded me how I felt when I was following her family’s ordeal.

This could’ve been my sister, my cousin, my friend. It could’ve been someone in your family. The family is left with nothing but memories.

Thanks to Lt. Craig Miller and the rest of his homicide unit at DPD for helping to give this family closure.

Sometimes, these things are hard to release from my mind. I still have one of Wyshina‘s pictures that I have to give back to her family. I keep a picture of Juanita Payne posted on my wall to remind me why I got into public service in the first place.

All of these beautiful young women killed before they had a chance to live out their lives and dreams. Think about that for a while.

Significant Southern Dallas Blogs

February 5, 2009

Around the time when I started Dallas Progress, there wasn’t much in the blogosphere that focused on Southern Dallas other than blogs operated by print media. Shawn Williams started Dallas South Blog in the same month, and we often joke about how folks thought we might be at odds or in competition. In reality, we have cheered on each other from Day One and have always hoped to see more blogs that focus on our part of town.

Shawn has covered prestigious events such as the Democratic Presidential Debate in Austin, the Democratic Convention, and others. I’ve been blessed to be a member of President Obama’s National Urban Policy Committee, and serve on various boards and commissions (although I was doing that before I started writing). The best part: the great people with whom I have been able to interact as the readership has grown.

What can’t be disputed is that we started this thing in our part of the city.

One thing that Shawn and I have in common is that we chose to live in Southern Dallas. In the 2 1/2-plus years since we started, several significant blogs have popped up from Southern Dallas residents. Here are a few:

Rufus Shaw (RIP) was the first blogger based in southern Dallas. He wrote for DallasBlog “the way he saw it, South of the Trinity.”

Change the Wind: Written by Rev. Gerald Britt of Central Dallas Ministries.

Janet Morrison’s Community Dialogue: Janet Morrison of Central Dallas Ministries has devoted her life to the education of underprivileged youth in South Dallas and Roseland Homes. Without Janet I never would have met Wyshina Harris (RIP) and Sylvia Harris, for which I am eternally grateful. Their energy and determination have kept me going.

Let’s Go to Work: Tiffinni Young is a lifelong southern Dallas resident, former Dallas Park board Member, and a candidate for Dallas City Council District Five.

Making South Dallas Home: Written anonymously by “Camron’s Mom,” a resident in South Dallas. I’ll keep her real name to myself, but I see her as one of the future leaders in that area.

Ms. Betty Politic: Betty Culbreath is the only African-American to have chaired the DFW Airport Board, the City Plan Commission (twice), and the Dallas Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. Her activism in this city is legendary.

Our ASA Family’s Meaningful Relationships – Written by participants of the Turner Courts/Roseland After-School Academy that is operated by Janet Morrison of Central Dallas Ministries. Whenever I think of slowing down, one visit to the ASA gives me all the motivation I need.

Thoughts of an ADHD Drama Queen: A look at being newly married, pop culture, and life in general. She will someday write a book or movie script based on this blog and her life, and we will love it.

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.

There is No Profit in Getting Along…for some

August 2, 2008

For some, there is no profit in getting along. For some, the fact that the Mayor has a great relationship with Dwaine is eating them alive. Some blogs and “news” outlets have a major problem with people getting along and our neighborhoods cleaning up and creating opportunities. They can’t profit when we are getting along.

A paper like the Dallas Observer serves this function. They can’t stand that the Mayor gets along with Dwaine and the majority of the council. They loved it when Laura Miller and Maxine Reese were clawing at each other up at the horseshoe. They didn’t care that the hood got worse and worse because nothing could get done at City Council. They still won’t let Lynn and Rufus rest in peace.

I remember when Observer called me for the Royce West cover story that came out last year, looking for dirt. I guess my quote was too positive, because it was never printed.

I remember when they called me 2-3 times about the story about Pastor Freddie Haynes a couple of months ago. There’s no need for me to call back, because I already know the play. I know people in the community that did return the Observer’s calls and talked at length about the Pastor Haynes story, and I told them that their comments would never make print. I was right.

It was just like when the Observer went out of their way to praise Guardian Management about how great they were, and how they were good Samaritans for using millions in tax credits to buy apartment complexes in Pleasant Grove. This is the company that owns Grove Village Apartments (just east of Loop 12 and Jim Miller) and Pleasant Village Apartments (just north of Loop 12 on Jim Miller). They also tried to say I was wrong when I called them out about the story. I’ve walked the streets of the Grove, and knocked on doors in that area. Everybody who knows anything about those two places knows that they don’t care one lick about their tenants. Every summer they’re on TV because their tenants haven’t had A/C for weeks. Both complexes cater to thugs which hold good tenants hostage, and do nothing about it. You see, that’s what happens when you drop in to do a quick story and don’t return. When you don’t know about the hood and don’t really want to be there to find out what’s happening, you write half-baked stories about it. And it shows.

I personally was glad for Dwaine to get the Observer cover story out of the way in March. I tried to be me, and have a good attitude about it, but I knew what the end result would be. Almost every positive thing written was tainted with skepticism or a “what’s in it for him” tone.

No one at the Observer, Jim Schutze in particular, can just believe that the Mayor and Dwaine don’t want to clean up the hood because it’s the right thing to do. They don’t believe that a southern Dallas councilperson can have an opinion about a major city project, especially one located downtown, without it having to be someone following what the business establishment or some powerful group wants to do. Maybe they just have the same opinion about things…imagine that. No, that would make too much sense. You need the manufactured conspiracy, supported by people’s ideals about what went on in Dallas way back in the day. In the Observer’s eyes, a southern Dallas councilperson can’t think for themselves. Notice I said southern Dallas councilpeople, not African-American. Our councilpeople south of I-30 include many races, and the Observer approaches them all in the same fashion (unless they support their side of an issue).

And that’s the rub. There’s no story in that; there’s no profit in people getting along and working together for the improvement of the community. Councilpeople and Mayors all over the country work together for that specific cause.

Just like the haters in the black community, which profited from the hood being in despair so they could get contracts and campaign for “a brighter day” that never came, they hate the way things are going right now. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get a contract to grow your business. But don’t hide under the guise of community service to get one and then let the community service disappear. Most of the attacks they made are baseless, because they aren’t even in the mix to know what’s going on.

But just like TMZ, there’s plenty of profit in manufacturing nonsense and keeping people at odds.

A sidenote: some of the haters have suggested that my enmity is because I wasn’t selected to work on a particular campaign. That’s pure foolishness. First, I’ve known the candidate involved for years, long before that person decided to run. He’s a great guy. Second, when it comes to campaigns I have a short memory. Third, I think my track record on campaigns is pretty good the past few years…basically everybody I helped in the last 2-3 years vs. the haters are in office except for one person. For them? Not so much. Most campaigns I work on I volunteer, so we can get good people in office. As a prominent Dallas leader told me a few months back, “we don’t need any more political consultants, we need leaders.”

I look at how many positive articles or blurbs have been written in the Observer recently about people that are trying to make a difference in southern Dallas, elected and unelected. There aren’t many.

It’s not about being sensitive to criticism or anything like that; it goes with the territory. I have been around politics all of my life, whether living in Dallas or somewhere else. But I can tell the difference between those that want to have an educated discourse or disagreement about real issues and those that simply want to stir up drama to keep us fighting with each other.

And there are people in the Black community that like to stir up nonsense as well. They have their own reasons, I guess, but most of it is because the hood is improving and they aren’t part of it. As I have written before, some people like to profit from pain.

It’s not an age thing either. I have plenty of people in the community to whom I listen that are 60, 70, 80-plus years old; it’s just not them. I know the difference between a hater and a mentor. A lot of the haters don’t have many young people around them. They avoided their chance to mentor the next generation so they could hold on to whatever power they had.

Notice when finding someone to talk bad about Dwaine, the Observer can never find a District Four resident to do it. That’s because the residents love what we’re doing. Come to our town hall meetings. You’ll see a few agitators, and we still work with them to get them help if we can. But most of the people are happy and are excited about the progress being made. Ask any of the major non-profits if they like what we’re doing in District Four. Ask residents if they get code and police response like never before. Or, put on your tin-foil hat and let the Observer keep you confused and running in circles.

The Observer never asks the haters, “what’s in it for them?” As one famous person once said, “we don’t believe you – you need more people.” I’ll take the community over a couple of rock throwers any day of the week.

The funny thing is that most of the big groups in north Dallas have volunteers that come to our communities and help clean up, and donate their time to worthy causes. We have people from all over DFW, that see us in action and know what we’re about. So they laugh when they see these stories, because they’re in our neighborhoods and see the improvement for themselves.

The haters find safe haven when talking to the Observer, but ask those haters when was the last time they were even in District Four doing anything of note. In the last year, have they ever knocked on the door of a drug house? Have they ever talked to the thugs on the corner and try to encourage them to start a new life? Have they taken bus loads of kids out of the hood to expose them to positive things? Have they been to one funeral of a kid claimed by teen violence, to try to promote peace? The answer is: NO.

If you watch the movie Street Fight which talked about Cory Booker going up against the “establishment” in Newark you’ll draw a lot of parallels to Dwaine’s fight to get in office. Just like Cory, Dwaine broke through after some defeats and things are looking up.

Maybe I’m helping the Observer and the haters, because then they’ll link to this story and probably publish an article about it. Whatever.

But I want people that don’t come to the hood and think that they are getting an accurate picture of what’s going on to know what’s really happening. There’s a difference between being anti-establishment and trying to stir up a bunch of drama and hate to keep us running in circles. The Observer is mostly about the latter.

The haters? They hate everything we are trying to do. If they hate everything we do, do they like motels, crack houses, and crime? Do they hate seniors being able to sit on the front porch without getting hit in the head? Do they hate the fact that the motels are being torn down across from the VA Hospital with job training centers being built where the motels once stood, and that the VA may expand with positive residential development?

I guess you can’t please everyone, but all this does is take the focus off of what’s important. This is like the John McCain/Britney Spears ad; with all of the real issues going on THIS is what we’re talking about? This is what happens when we start focusing inward instead of thinking about how the community can improve, even if we’re not part of everything that goes down.

Click on the any of the tags that you see below this post, you’ll see what’s happening in District Four.

Bottom line: we have love where it counts…on the streets and at polls. The haters can’t do anything about it.

Hate that.

Grove Village Landlords up to their Old Tricks

July 7, 2008

If it’s summertime, then the air conditioning must be out at Grove Village near Loop 12 and Jim Miller in Pleasant Grove. I wrote about it last year, and I got a hard time about it from various corners.

The fact remains that these landlords are serial offenders. With 52 published criminal offenses since the beginning of the year, they also need to do major work on the security side. Listen to the tenants – this is an every year thing. It seems that while other complexes in the same neighborhood have no problem maintaining their A/C, the owners of Grove Village always have some issue. Low-income residents are constantly taken advantage of by their landlords; places like Grove Village are the reason why tax-credit apartments get a bad name.

CBS 11 coverage:

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?