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Good News Dallas
by Trey Garrison    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 09:10 PM

Women can obtain free heart health screenings with on-the-spot results and advice on adopting heart-healthy lifestyles at the National Woman's Heart Day® Health Fair on Friday, February 17, 2006 at American Airlines Center from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Heart disease is women's number one health threat, killing more women than the next six causes of death combined. Yet little over half of all women consider heart disease to be their greatest personal health risk. That's why screening and education are critical.

The event is free and open to the public, and details and schedule of events are available here.

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by Carolyn Barta    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 07:42 PM

If local news outlets are going to maintain their role as a creator of community, they need to understand the growing importance of the Internet in building community, writes the Poynter Institute’s Michael Reszler.
 He cites a report from the Pew Internet and Family Life Project that dispels the notion that Internet users are less connected or more aloof, living in a virtual world where Web surfers never interact with real people.
To the contrary, about 60 million Americans said the Internet played an important or crucial role in helping them with at least one major life decision in the past two years.  While the report does not indicate what sites and sources users are turning to, it does tell us that the Internet is quickly becoming one of the most relevant aspects of everyday life.

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by Special to    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 07:30 PM

Dear Friends:

We have some very important races in the Republican primary. I know many of you may not have the time to really keep up with the candidates in the contested primary races and so I am offering you my picks and reasons why. If you know me, and most of you do, you know that I am not politically correct and only support those candidates who will bring a positive change to the office where they are challenging an incumbent.

District Attorney’s race: DAN WYDE. Dan will bring about positive improvements in this office by making it more efficient, justice oriented and still prosecute the criminals aggressively. The other two candidates are more of the same. While Dan is not perfect, he will be a hardworking, intelligent choice and a breath of fresh air to this office.

County Clerk: CAROLYN GARON. Carolyn knows the office well and will bring in good people to help manage it. Carolyn will be a big improvement over the incumbent. The incumbent is responsible for destroying in excess of 1500 files without backing them up; causing thousands of real estate documents to be returned months late and, in some cases, more than a year by not knowing what she was doing when she shifted people around in her office right after she took office and then tried to blame this on the consultant; disenfranchising thousands of voters who did not vote their precinct wet by making a careless, negligent mistake in certifying an area wet when it was obviously dry and then refusing to correct her mistake until the Commissioners Court threatened to mandamus her through the courts; does not have the support of the three Republican Commissioners nor many, if any, of the other Republican County officeholders or her employees. The incumbent claims to have saved taxpayers 10 million dollars. This is not correct.

195th Criminal District Court: DIANE JONES. Diane has been an excellent county criminal court judge and deserves this office.

County Court at Law #3: ROBERT REAGAN. Robert is an excellent attorney who will make a great judge.

County Criminal Court #3: DAVID LEWIS. David has a wealth of experience both as a prosecutor with Henry Wade, special prosecutor for Dallas County and a defense counsel.

County Criminal Court #6: JENNIFER BALIDO. Jennifer has been a prosecutor, public defender and defense counsel in private practice and would be a great judge.

30th Congressional District: AMIR OMAR

Kenneth A. Mayfield
Dallas County Commissioner
District 4


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by Special to    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 07:26 PM

The Dallas Morning News endorsed Scott Chase in the Democratic primary race for County Commissioner, Place Four.  Chase is running in the Democratic primary against Rose Renfro.  The winner will face Republican incumbent commissioner, Ken Mayfield, in the November general election.  This is expected to be a hotly contested race in the fall as the Democrats try to increase their numbers on the Commissioners Court.  At the present time, John Wiley Price is the only elected Democratic official on the Court.

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by Carolyn Barta    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 07:26 PM

The direct mail battle continues in the race for the Republican nomination for district attorney with a new mailer from Toby Shook replete with endorsements from more than 350 “community leaders.” Included on the list are some well known Republicans.

Previously, candidate Vic Cunningham sent out a mailing stressing his endorsement by a large number of GOP precinct chairman while Shook appeared to be introducing himself to voters in his direct mail piece, listing only his endorsements from police associations and outgoing DA Bill Hill.

In a previous post, I suggested Shook was already running for the general election while Cunningham was positioning himself for the GOP primary. This week’s flyer from Shook, however, suggests he was getting his list of endorsees together.

Among the well known Republican names on the list are George Bayoud, Louis Beecherl, Norman Brinker, Mary Ceverha, James B. Francis Jr., Kent Hance and State Rep. Fred Hill, among others, as well as community leaders John Scovell, Charles Terrell, Forrest Smith and Pete Schenkel.

Shook also added to his law enforcement endorsements, which now include the police associations in Dallas, Farmers Branch, Garland, Irving and Mesquite, the Dallas Chapter of the National Latino Peace Officers Association and Dallas Fire Fighters Association.

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by Special to    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 06:33 PM

Ken George, Dallas County Republican Party Chairman, named longtime media consultant and former news director of KRLD, Ken Fairchild, as the new Executive Director of the Republican Party.  Fairchild brings decades of media experience to his new position, having advised political candidates and corporate executives throughout his career.  He also served as News Director of KRLD-AM radio station when it was an all news station and was one of the top-rated stations in the Dallas market.  The Dallas Republicans will need all the help they can get in this election cycle with local Democrats feeling increasingly confident that this is the year Dallas County will turn Democratic.  Dallas County has been a Republican stronghold ever since 1980 when Ronald Reagan's election to the Presidency swept in a wave of local Republican candidates to countywide offices.  Democrats are contesting most of the local races in this election cycle. 

 Fairchild recently wrote a guest commentary for Dallas Blog chiding the media for overreacting to the Cheney shooting incident.

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by Brian Bodine    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 05:10 PM

DISD school officials discussed the annexation of Willmer-Hutchins Independent School District at Wednesday night’s Board of the Whole meeting. The annexation was approved by the Department of Justice in December and will officially take place on July 1.

WHISD was shut down by the Texas Education Authority in 2004. DISD picked up the responsibility to educate the students after Lancaster Independent School District turned it down. The district has been one of the worst performing school districts in the state. To date, WHISD students have been attending DISD schools while WHISD schools are empty and considered by some experts to be economically unfeasible for renovation.

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by Brian Bodine    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 03:43 PM

Republican District Attorney candidates tackled questions on Wednesday about reforming the District Attorney’s Office at the Dallas Bar Association headquarters.

At the Belo Mansion Banquet Hall, three DA hopefuls answered questions about various aspects of the District Attorney’s office and about the changes they would make if elected. The race is considered by observers to be a toss up between Assistant Dallas County District Attorney Toby Shook and former Judge Vick Cunningham. Former Judge Dan Wyde is considered to be running a distant third in the primary. The debate was hosted by and largely attended by members of the Dallas Bar Association.

Highlighting the debate were disagreements over the causes of the “fake-drug” scandal in 2004 and proposals for improving the District Attorney’s relations with the community.

“The fake-drug scandal was about narcotics officers looting money off the street,” said Wyde. He was referring to local law enforcement officers who he claims were disapointed that they did not get a pay raise in 2000. Wyde put significant blame on the District Attorney’s office for the scandal.

The 2001 “fake drug scandal” happened when police informants allegedly planted fake drugs on innocent people, ultimately leading to the indictments of several Dallas police officers.

Cunningham, however, did not blame the District Attorney’s office for the actual scandal, but said that the main problem was that the public has lost trust in the office. Cunningham suggested that even if the District Attorney’s office was not hiding anything, it was the perception of impropriety that could have averted some of the fallout from the situation. Cunningham said that the best way to avert this would have been to appoint an independent prosecutor.

Shook defended his record in the District Attorney’s office and said that the way to avoid similar incidents from occurring is to “have better communication with top, middle, and lower management of the police department.”

The candidates also touted ways to improve race relations in the community. Shook said that he would meet with minority leaders, along with various other community leaders, to earn their trust and to help solve crime problems together with the District Attorney. “This way they feel they have a voice,” said Shook.

Shook also said that he would create a “speaker’s bureau” that would educate the community about criminal justice and about the District Attorney’s office.

Cunningham said that it was important for the District Attorney’s office to be as open and inclusive as possible, and that he would chose a grand jury that would represent a cross section of the community.

”It’s so important for our entire community to believe they have a voice in our government, and that’s the bottom line.” said Cunningham. “I would tell people to come down and participate in your government.”

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by Special to    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 02:39 PM

We told you a week ago here at DallasBlog that relations were frayed between County Judge Margaret Keliher and her fellow Republican County Commissioners. See our story here. The first evidence as to how bad the situation has deteriorated was on display at this week’s Commissioners Court meeting as Keliher found herself at odds with her fellow commissioners over how to spend money allocated for homeland security.

Our reporter Brian Bodine was there at the Courthouse when an intense disagreement broke out between the County Judge and two Commissioners over the use of $475,000 in Homeland Security funds to create an IT module. The new computer module would allow various law enforcement agencies in the county to communicate with one another and share information on matters relating to homeland security. According to our reporter, Commissioners Mike Cantrell and Kenneth Mayfield were particularly outspoken in criticizing Keliher for her opposition to the IT module. When Keliher called for using the money instead to hire new staff and address the shortcomings in the Homeland Security Department, Commissioners Cantrell and Mayfield scolded Keliher for not filling the County Homeland Security Director position soon enough.

All four commissioners voted  in favor of using the Homeland Security funds on the IT module. Commissioners Dickey and Price, however, were not involved in the intense exchange between Keliher and the other Commissioners. Commissioner Dickey told DallasBlog that she supported the new computer module because a "good IT system where people from Dallas County and the region can talk to each other is absolutely vital to security. If we can’t talk to each other, every city will do everything in a vacuum. The duplication would be ridiculous. If we share resources we won’t have to duplicate those resources. It’s a no-brainer."

Later, Keliher’s executive assistant did tell DallasBlog that Keliher "was okay" with using the Homeland Security funds for the computer system although she preferred an alternative use for the funds.

This vote points out how isolated Keliher has become on the Court and how little influence she wields with her fellow commissioners. A longtime observer of the Courthouse scene maintains that what he calls Keliher’s "grandstanding" on a number of issues which have come before the Court has hurt her credibility with her fellow Commissioners. This is a far cry from when Lee Jackson was the County Judge, and there was a general consensus in the decision-making process on most issues which came before the Commissioners Court.

Brian Bodine contributed to this story.

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by Mike Fisher    Thu, Feb 16, 2006, 01:42 PM

Madison Avenue's Winter Olympics plans haven't quite worked out. You can get Bode Miller and Michelle Kwan merchandise for half-price, and US Hockey is reduced to being as good as Team Latvia. So leave it to Nike to guide us Back To The Future for an apparently forgivable hero. Click on 'The School of Fish' for more. ... 

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