Dallas Hospitals Get Black Out, Super Bowl Parties Don’t


Hospitals are having their power shut down.

But thankfully Jerry World and all things Super Bowl are safe.

How is this not reckless endangerment? Or at least grade A douchebaggery?

How Do You Know If Your Councilman Is A Moron?

He says things like this:

But if we hope to continue to attract world class businesses and corporations to Dallas and avoid bigger cuts in future budgets, the answer is clear: We must increase taxes in order to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all our residents.


This is the kind of ignorance of basic business 101 that rivals former Dallas City Councilman Leo Chaney, who once told me that investors would build another Mockingbird Station in his district if only he got the area zoned for it. Never mind things like demographics, traffic, demand, or any of the other fundamentals retail developers weigh.

Every time there’s a budget crunch, they cut the kind of services that anger people enough to where they accept a tax increase — cutting library hours, community pools, park maintenance.

What they don’t do is cut, or don’t cut enough, is where it counts — city payroll and civil service pensions.

Oh, and how’s that $500 million city-owned hotel working out? Glad they’re spending half a billion smackers on that?

Um, No, Not Really, Mr. Mayor

Look, let me say first I love downtown Dallas as much as anyone else. I live in the DFW because I love the DFW*.

And then today I read this little platitude from Mayor Leppert.

You all have understood, that so goes downtown, so goes Dallas, and so goes North Texas.

Um, not really. In fact, hard statistics for the past 30 years show otherwise. Despite decades of valiant efforts, downtown Dallas consistently has the worst rate of occupancy for both commercial and residential real estate.

This has been true consistently despite both booms and busts everywhere else in the DFW area. During several periods of massive population, retail, spending and business growth all over DFW, downtown Dallas has still just plodded along well behind the rest of the pack.

Downtown Dallas may be important to our hearts, but what happens to downtown Dallas has almost zero impact on the rest of the Dallas-Fort Worth economy. Downtown is not the core of Dallas-Fort Worth — it’s just one more submarket in a huge metropolitan area that has no center.

* (offer void in Garland)

In Print This Month: A Look at Bill McNutt

On your news stand or in your mailbox, the June issue of D Magazine with my feature on Bill McNutt, the alumnus arrested and now under the spotlight.

Here’s a teaser. Follow the link for the full story.


The details of Bill McNutt’s February arrest—at least the details that have been made public—don’t add up. The prominent SMU alumnus had been banned from campus since November 2008. A university official would later tell the Dallas Morning News that SMU had “heard reports of alleged questionable behavior that caused concern among some students.” McNutt had dinner parties at his house, and he invited students to them. Alcohol was available. So was a masseuse. Several people told the News that the dinners were “creepy,” and girls felt pressured to undress for a private massage in a mirrored back room.

But even if true, none of that was illegal. So why would the university ban a donor and the founding president of the Young Alumni Association from campus? And why, if he was banned, did McNutt continue to receive personal invitations to on-campus functions from members of the administration? The administration was saying one thing; SMU Police Chief Rick Shafer was saying another. He warned McNutt that he was “not welcome on the SMU campus for any reason whatsoever.”

In Print This Month — C’est Moi

My column on the hunt for a new top cop for Dallas is up on the web now.

Read it here.Picture 1

Also, I get some kind words from Rudy Bush at City Hall.

Dallas Libertarians Are Talking Health Care

It’s new web series of locally made videos, and here’s the first. This is pretty good stuff.

With government takeover of medical care being sold as “reform” by the administration-directed media, nice to hear some alternative voices.

For specifics on market-based alternatives to government-run health care, Whole Foods CEO John McKay’s list of eight ideas remains one of the most succinct and thoughtful.

1. Remove the legal obstacles which slow the creation of high deductible health insurance plans and Health Savings Accounts. The combination of high deductible health insurance and Health Savings Accounts is one solution that could solve many of our health care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high deductible health insurance plan, and provides up to $1,800 per year in additional health care dollars through deposits into their own Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness. Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of team member satisfaction.

2. Change the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have exactly the same tax benefits. Right now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible for employers but private health insurance is not. This is unfair.

3. Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that health insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable everywhere.

4. Repeal all government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance many billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual health insurance customer preferences and not through special interest lobbying.

5. Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors into paying insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are ultimately being passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

6. Make health care costs transparent so that consumers will understand what health care treatments cost. How many people know what their last doctor’s visit cost? What other goods or services do we as consumers buy without knowing how much they will cost us? We need a system where people can compare and contrast costs and services.

7. Enact Medicare reform: we need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and move towards greater patient empowerment and responsibility.

8. Permit individuals to make voluntary tax deductible donations on their IRS tax forms to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP or any other government program.

My Piece on Dallas Constables Online or in Your Mailboxes

Pulse_cityI have a news-ish column in this month’s D Magazine questioning whether the anachronism known as constables in Dallas go way too far.

Short version: Constables, who have a necessary role, are doing too much, becoming too militarized, and don’t have enough oversight as they increasingly become — of course — revenue agents.

It’s online now.

Portraits in Leadership: Carolyn Davis

cdavis1I’m not sure exactly what to say. The Dallas council adopted a rule that members have to attend at least half a meeting to get paid for that meeting, and one member more than any other has a problem with that?

A frustrated Davis, who voted against the measure along with council members Vonciel Jones Hill, Steve Salzar and Ann Margolin, said there could be many reasons why she couldn’t attend a full meeting.

“I have to take my daughter to school,” she said.

What kind of job did Carolyn Davis have before where she expected to get paid for not showing up? Some sort of union job or community organizer gig? And look, I covered council for a year. Meetings typically run eight hours. Where does her daughter go to school, Shreveport?

For those not following at home, Davis is the member who expensed the city for her vacation to Belize (trade mission or some damn thing), uses campaign funds to pay for her car maintenance, and doesn’t even know what committees she sits on.

It all leads to the obvious question: How on earth could Dallas be facing financial difficulties with visionary leadership such as this?

French Cinema or Kabuki Theater? Eh, Gun Buyback is Back

I didn’t realize it was already happening again. But Big Bob say yes.

Flashback to the last buyback and our weird video here.

(Amanda Warr did a great job, but I hate seeing myself on video. Unless I’m naked.)

Full story behind the video here.

Friday Roundup: ‘Sprawl’ is the N-Word for Suburbanites

My favorite attorney, Robert Guest, talks about how bad zoning contributes to DWI. And I agree.


Robert rightly notes that drinking and driving is not a crime as long as you’re not intoxicated — yes, MADD, you can drink and drive and people do it every day and do it safely. That’s an important distinction few in the media make when parroting the MADD fundamentalist line.

But then Robert equates bad zoning — separating residential and retail use so that you can’t have a neighborhood bar or neighborhood market in an actual neighborhood — with the word “sprawl.”

Zoning is what happens within a municipality. “Sprawl” is the n-word urban yokels use to criticize suburbs and exurbs. Like drinking and intoxication, that’s two different things.

I like “sprawl.” Or, “s-word growth” as we cool people say.

Sprawl means growth with lower costs, allowing more choices and less crowding. It means more diversity of both living space type and a wider market of municipal governments to choose from. I know, like white guys in the 1950s thought of black guys, you untraveled urbanites think all suburbs look the same.

Sprawl means I have a choice and don’t have to live in a rundown DISD school system, or under a city government that has zero sense of fiscal responsibility, or under a police department that pulls drivers out of closed windows (hi Garland PD) for failing to use a turn signal.

Sprawl also means I don’t have to be packed like a sardine in hip, trendy, poor-quality multifamily housing built on top of light rail stations used by homeless people as open-air urinals, by DISD students as aftermarket car part shopping, and by commuter trains that no one rides. Or spend $1.2 million for a 1950s home smaller than my garage and still in a crap school district.

So, love you Robert, but let’s leave the S-word with the bigots and control freaks who invented it, and come up with something better.

Is “Tribe of Danger and Excellence” taken?