The Dallas City Council approved on Wednesday zoning for Cypress Waters, a multifamily and retail development being put together at North Lake by The Billingsley Co. The development is designed to include up to 4,700 living units.
The rezoning action - the first step towards the construction of the Billingsley project - was strongly opposed by municipal leaders of Irving and Coppell, who say it would put the equivalent of the population of Addison in a crowded area and drain those two cities' resources.
The Coppell Independent School District is even threatening to condemn the land using eminent domain to stop the project.
It's a long road between rezoning approval and dirt being moved, with both Dallas city council approvals and legal challenges from Irving and Coppell ahead.
Wednesday's raucous hour of debate on the issue promises to be just the start.
Rebecca Lopez at WFAA Channel had a really horrible "report" on Wednesday chock full of fright words and pretty much devoid of anything meaningful.
It was so bad, I just ... oh lord, just read the written version.
"Powerful military rifles, the kind used against United States troops in Iraq, are increasingly being found on young teenagers in North Texas, police said."
I like that. "Powerful military rifles." Makes you think of automatic rifles. "Increasingly being found on young teenagers." Even scarier. Makes you think there's numbers to back that up. You'd be wrong. Of course.
The weapons are so powerful they could pierce some body armor, which has some officers worried.
Sounds positively evil. That is, until you realize that pretty much most any good hunting rifle will pierce body armor.
"This is what we are facing here on the streets," said Mike Dupree, Dallas County constable.
What followed was pictures of semi-automatic, civilian versions of SKS and AKs. The same caliber as a good deer rifle, but they look real menacing to people because of the pistol grips and the magazines.
High powered rifles, guns and ammunition were all recently taken from teenagers by Dallas County Constables.
"This is the clip of an AK-47 right here," Dupree said while he showed News 8 some of the confiscated weapons and ammunition. "These are hollow points right here."
Wow. Hollow points. You know, the kind of bullets designed specifically to NOT overpenetrate a target.
Dupree said many citizens might be shocked out how easy it is for young kids to get a hold of the high-powered weapons.
"Oh sure, you can give a kid $300, $400 dollars and say, 'Here, go buy a gun,' and he'll be back in less than an hour with a gun," he said.
I'd like to see this. Not saying it never happens, but he makes it sound like you could pick any kid off the street and do that. I have my doubts.
But I bet he has some statistics on how these scary-looking firearms "are increasingly being found on young teenagers in North Texas."
Erica Hernandez said she agrees after her 13-year-old brother was placed in jail after she said he was armed with a 9-millimeter handgun and robbed a local vendor.
"Thirteen-years-old and he got a hold of anything he could get a hold of," she said.
Some residents in Oak Cliff said they have seen more teenagers with guns as well.
"They get in a beef with somebody or an argument, they can just pop the trunk and take out guns and shoot," said resident Latasha Brown.
Recently, a 15-year-old Dallas girl was arrested and accused of robbing several banks over the last few months. Incidents such as those have authorities nervous.
And that would be "no" on the stats. Just some anecdotes.
But come on. Surely what follows will be hard facts on juvenile gun crime arrests and convictions, and not more baseless hyperbole.
"This type of fire power right here, you could stand off a division of law officers," Dupree said.
I was wrong.
And say what you will, but it's pretty certain that Mr. Dupree doesn't know how many troops constitutes a "division."
Law enforcement agencies said they are now targeting areas where there are guns and gangs in an attempt to get to the weapons before they end up in young hands.
Which is good.
But that doesn't make this any less a pointless story. Nor does it excuse the fear-pimping.
Oh wait. Election year. Nevermind.
(Good lord, does anything end up on the cutting room floor at Channel 8?)
Dallas' daily newspaper hasn't been any help when it comes to understanding just what the heck is going on with the FBI investigation of certain members of the city council and Southwest Housing. It's been about as comprehensive and deep as that publication's business section.
But hot on the heels of D Magazine's great primer on the state of the FBI investigation comes the Dallas Observer's cover story that details the full, sordid story of just what happened at city hall that got the feds all fired up. You don't want to miss this one. (Nice work, Matt.)
AG Gregg AbbottTexas Attorney General Greg Abbott today launched a statewide initiative to work with local law enforcement and prosecutors to combat and prevent the persistent problem of voter fraud. The initiative’s initial phase, which will finish before early voting commences for the March primary elections, targets 44 key counties that either have a history of voter fraud or the population of which exceeds 100,000. The initiative was triggered by a dramatic increase in indictments for voter fraud.
The key 44 counties include 18 cities where the Attorney General has previously investigated or prosecuted alleged Election Code violations that were referred by the Secretary of State. 34 of the counties have populations of at least 100,000. The 44 counties contain 78 percent of eligible registered voters in Texas.
Downtown boosters have worried for some time about the pending consolidation of Chase Bank and BankOne into a single building. There has also been much speculation on which building would be the winner, the old Bank One Building or the Chase Tower on the edge of the Arts District. Today, Chase announced that it will move 1600 people from BankOne Tower and two other buildings into Chase Tower. While that will mean more than 80,000 square feet in additional leased space for that building it will mean a net loss of nearly 200.000 square feet in the CBD. Chase made clear that it wanted a major downtown presence and wanted all its people in one building.
It has been posted on the internet for nearly a year and I am told only a few hundred people have taken a look. The "it" is the city's "Needs Inventory" for this year's upcoming bond election. The total of the preliminary list total over $7 billion! No, the Council isn't going to incorporate this full wish list into the bond package. But the amount will almost certainly top $1 billion and maybe even $1.5 billion. For a city Dallas size that is real money.
But I find that most of the council agrees that at least half the $7 billion represents "pay me now or pay me more later" items. In other words there are things you can postpone and no harm done. But there are other things related to roads and the like that if you don't do them now you will do them later at much greater cost. This means there is real pressure to drive the bond package toward the $1.5 billion mark.
Trey Garrison's article preceding this comment provides a link to the City's Needs Assessment. It is 337 pages long. That is a good size book. But if you pay taxes in this city you would do very well to print it and read it. And you would do even better to attend the long list of Town Hall meetings scheduled to let City Dads and Moms hear what you think. There are real needs and this is real money.
Restaurants that want to put up sidewalk cafes, businesses that want to landscape medians, and neighborhoods that want to beautify their sidewalks may be getting some relief soon from city licensing fees.
The city is considering cutting the onerous licensing fees it currently charges businesses and residential associations for improvements to common areas and rights-of-way.
Currently, the city charges fees as much as $1,000 to businesses when they make landscaping improvements, install decorations such as awnings or lighting, or other aesthetic improvements, a policy which has raised funds but hindered urban beautification.
The city staff is currently drawing up recommendations to reduce these fees to as low as $350 - and possibly lower - and extending the life of the license from the current short term to 40 years.
Council member Angela Hunt says that regardless of the cost in revenues lost, she would rather the money developers and business owners have go to making the city more aesthetically pleasing than "to a bunch of city bureaucrats - and I include myself as one of those bureaucrats."
Council member Dr. Maxine Thornton-Reese agreed. "Even if you can't put a dollar sign on how much aesthetic improvements help in growth, it's worth it to make our communities more beautiful."
City staff is researching the numbers and has to get back to two different council committees before either can recommend the fee cuts to the full council.