Archive for the ‘South Dallas’ Category

If You Don’t Give Eric Johnson a Chance, I have No Words for You

March 16, 2010
Anyone with a pulse can read this interview with incoming District 100 State Representative Eric Johnson and see that he has something special going for him. 
I guess where I differ than some is that I feel Eric would’ve won regardless of any indictment looming over the incumbent. I believe he would’ve won anyway.  
Eric was willing to work for your vote.  He and his wife were everywhere…from the MLK DART station, to East and Southeast Dallas, to West Dallas and beyond.  It will be good to see if he actually owns any clothing other than suits or campaign shirts, since that’s what it seems like he’s been wearing for the last nine months.
Equally important, when he spoke or wrote, he had ideas. He didn’t hide when questioned about his campaign, he admitted mistakes, and he kept working.  The voters of his district took notice; and that’s why he won.
This race speaks to one of the core issues in Dallas, and probably in other impoverished neighborhoods nationwide.  To me, there is a general lack of political mentorship in southern Dallas, of which the end result is incumbents who win time and again based on the fact that “they’re there” so to speak.  
What also results is entire neighborhoods that exist in a virtual tailspin of mediocrity, hamstrung by the lack of original ideas and political will to change things.  It’s almost like some entrenched politicians avoid new ideas as if it’s an indictment of their leadership.  It’s not.  That’s the equivalent of sticking with Windows Me when Vista has been around for years and Windows 7 has been released.
There are some exceptions, but for the most part I am correct. There are some political leaders that will shrug off what I wrote, and that’s fine.  There are exceptions in Dallas to what I’ve written in this piece. However, if it makes you upset, take someone under your wing and prove me wrong. We need positive, encouraging guidance to continue improving our communities in the future.  
Go forth Eric, do your best to bring your ideas to fruition and uplift District 100.

Bishop Larry McGriff – Funeral Information

February 23, 2010

RIP Bishop Larry D. McGriff

February 18, 2010

For those that have not heard, Bishop Larry McGriff had a brain aneurysm and stroke overnight and passed away this morning. He was recently married to Dr. Karen Hollie, the pastor of Lifeway Church and a columnist at the Elite News.

I still can’t believe Bishop McGriff is gone. He was a great pastor and love to sing with the choir, but he truly loved doing God’s work “outside the walls.”
From toy giveaways to helping people get jobs, he did so much that people will never know. He was a driving force in rallying the community to help us close multiple hot-sheet hotels, and he brought teens to City Hall to participate in Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway’s Teen Summits.
If you rode anywhere with him and he hopped out of his car, especially at a store or somewhere like that, people would run up to the car to say hello or ask for some help. It didn’t matter if you were homeless, formerly incarcerated, or just down on your luck, you had a friend in Bishop McGriff.
I always jokingly called him my “surrogate uncle” because he treated me so well and I looked up to him a lot. He never asked me for anything, other than to keep him abreast of what we were trying to clean up in the community.
When you drive down Lancaster and look across from the VA Hospital, you can see Bishop’s work. Those motels are dust! Ironically, today, I saw the 3-D model for the development that will go on the land where the Sunset Motel and Southern Comfort Motel once stood and plagued the community.
Notice that the news heading in one of the videos below says “into the sunset.” How appropriate.
For the most part no more stories will be done on this blog for a while. I can’t imagine anything meaning more than this right now.
RIP Bishop McGriff. Thank you for everything. I would not be where I am without him. To a pastor that had the guts to step out on behalf of the community, you are already missed.
I’m glad I got to say goodbye. I found a few videos of him and I wanted to share them with you. Please pray for him and his family.

If you ever went to Church of the Living God, you heard this song:

Sunset Motel will be Closed – May 2007 (closed and demolished)

Southern Comfort Motel is on Notice – July 2007 (closed and demolished)

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.

Lt. Regina Smith – Pure Inspiration

October 12, 2009
I waited through the evening to watch the news tonight on CBS 11.
The lead story focused on DPD Lt. Regina Smith, wife of slain officer Senior Corporal Norm Smith.  She had a comfortable position working in Chief Kunkle’s office, but she has made a change.  Lt. Smith has gone back to patrol in Southeast division, on the same streets where you could often find Norm Smith.
The story also said that she is trying to collect $3,000 to buy the gang unit a ballistic shield. These are the shields you often see in raids that protect officers from shots from handguns, shotguns, and machine guns.  Maybe there’s a good Samaritan out there that will donate the funds; just a thought. A Level IV shield would work just fine.

If she can continue the fight, so can we.

We Can All Take the Credit or Accept the Blame

September 30, 2009
Anything written by Rev. Gerald Britt will command my attention.  He has been in the trenches, working on behalf of the community for decades.  With that in mind, make sure you read his post on his Change the Wind blog.
Rev. Britt is right; a lot of people are working countless hours to improve the community. In some areas, assistance is given by the city but we always need residents and interested citizens to fill the gap. We also need media to report the good and bad that is going on.
With respect to District Four, the philosophy is to “make it safe,” and then businesses will return.  I still remember three years ago when people were telling Dwaine Caraway that his campaign would go nowhere if he made public safety his number one issue. Well, as we continue to find innovative ways to reduce crime the investment is coming back slowly but surely.

Even within the City, we are not waiting for the Task Force to do the work for us.  Crest Shopping Center in Oak Cliff is being revitalized, the 8th & Corinth/Fiji mixed-use transit-oriented development project will break ground shortly, and zoning is being reviewed on the eastern side of our district to ensure better uses for that area.

The convenience store initiative is now law, and the goal is for it to be expanded to car washes. The store ordinance requires videotaping of all areas of the premises, as well as all being part of DPD’s criminal trespass program which allows police to effectively address loitering issues which foster drug dealing and other crimes.
The city has a role, the newspaper has a role, and the community has a role.  Everyone has a part in the success.

DART’s Green Line Signals a New Era of Possibilities

September 13, 2009
While full service will start on Monday, Saturday was the first day that the public could ride the DART Green Line train.  There are four brand new stations, and each one had some sort of party around the station.
Despite the rain, the trains were packed! 
I started at the Baylor stop in Deep Ellum and ran into a few friends at the It’s a Grind coffee shop.  They had a great band, free cookies from Kessler Cookie Company and other fun stuff.  I then hopped on the train and rode to the south end of the line, which is the MLK station.
The Martin Luther King Jr. station is a jewel in itself. There is a lot of history that is detailed in the various art features.  Pictures from famed Dallas photographer R.C. Hickman are featured at the train stop.

The Fair Park station stops right in from of the gate on the Expo Park side.

Then the train moves to Baylor station (in Deep Ellum) where lucky residents of the Ambrose live right at the train stop and onto the Deep Ellum station on Good Latimer where we got a close up of The Traveling Man statue.

The current line will run from the MLK Transit Center to Victory Park, while connecting to the Red and Blue lines at all of the current downtown stops. The rest of the green line stations will be open in December 2010, with the line stretching from Pleasant Grove to Carrollton.
As some have said, access to jobs is an important byproduct of the green line. In a little more than a year people that live in Pleasant Grove, Parkdale, and most of South Dallas will have direct access to jobs from Love Field and to Carrollton.  While there may be bus service to some of these locations, it’s intermittent and it’s a totally different proposition to ride on the train. In terms of time and ease of travel this rail line will put a lot of jobs in reach.
In addition, as events are hosted in Fair Park and downtown the train will ease some of the car traffic that is generated when people are traveling to these destinations.  As I rode the train you could feel the excitement and there was a lot of conversation amongst the passengers about the benefits of having the green line. Once the State Fair hits, it will be a great way to showcase the progress of our city. 
I heard that Victory Station will have a party this coming Saturday. Bring it on!
Video of my trip is below.

Background music: “Car of Love” by Main Ingredient 

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.