Dallas Pays More for Electricity than Austin or San Antonio. Thanks, Deregulation.

Categories: Biz

Dallas is the light blot up top. The expensive-looking one.
There exist, floating around the Internet and stuffed into the filing cabinets of public-interest watchdogs, an trove of eminently credible reports and white papers explaining in painstaking detail why and how Texas' decade-old experiment with electricity deregulation has failed. But there's an easier way to show how the free market has screwed over the state's electricity-using humans: compare rates in the small number of Texas cities (Austin, San Antonio, San Marcos) that own their electric utility and thus weren't directly affected by deregulation with rates in the large number of cities (Dallas and pretty much everyone else) that were.

That this comparison can be made is a historical fluke. Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of the Texas office of Public Citizen says Texas' municipal and cooperatively owned electric providers tend to be in Central Texas, "where historically they were settled by German utopians and populists. There's a long tradition of community ownership of assets." This, and a push for economic development, drove Austin to establish a public electric utility in the 1890s. San Antonio's came later, after it took over a private provider that went bankrupt after World War II, unable in peacetime to handle the debt incurred it had incurred serving the city's military boom. Dallas and Houston, by contrast, have always had private utilities.

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Urban Orchard Market, Downtown Dallas' Only Grocer Folds After Less Than a Year

Categories: Biz, Development

When Urban Orchard Market opened to moderate fanfare last October, there was hope that maybe, finally, Downtown Dallas was grown up enough to support a grocery store.

It's not. Ten months after opening, the jaunty "Now Open" banner still hanging above the door, the market has quietly closed. A downtown resident who identified himself as Dennis arrived at the storefront off Jackson Street on Thursday morning to find the doors gated and locked. He had planned to pick up a loaf of bread.

"Now," he declared with mild regret, "I have to buy CVS bread."

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Same-Sex Marriage Would Pump at Least $182 Million into the Texas Economy

Categories: Biz

Ernst Vikne
People getting married usually spend money to do so.

From the realm of obvious stuff that is interesting nonetheless comes a study by UCLA's Williams Institute that shows the simplest economic effect marriage equality would have on Texas. The study takes a look at the number of same-sex couples in the state and the effect their being allowed to marry would have on the wedding business. Shockingly, profits for the businesses involved would increase considerably if the prohibition were rolled back.

"Allowing gay couples to marry here would give an economic boost to caterers, florists, event venues, and others who make a living through wedding planning," Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, said in a press release announcing the study.

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Dallas Service Workers Can't Wait for the Notoriously Bad Tippers of Mary Kay to Leave

Categories: Biz, Crime

This is your waiter, not your eyeshadow guinea pig.
The Mary Kay convention has been gracing Dallas for the last 40 years, and by now the lipsticked ladies have become a staple of the Dallas summer, known for pumping millions into the local economy.

The money just doesn't spill into servers' wallets. Over the decades, the Mary Kay attendees have acquired a reputation for getting severe alligator arms when the tabs are settled at downtown restaurants and, less frequently, bars. Reports of abysmally low tips, no tips at all and cloying non-tip tips leave local servers frustrated and broker than usual.

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Strip Clubs Lose Another Round In Fight Against Texas' "Pole Tax"

Categories: Biz, Legal Battles

Your friendly neighborhood strip club, it's safe to say, is no fan of the $5-per-patron "pole tax" the Texas legislature saw fit to levy in 2007. Its displeasure has been expressed in two ways: by refusing to pay (the tax has so far raised less than a third of the projected $44 million, prompting Comptroller Susan Combs to publicly urge 200 or so establishments
to pay up) and, through the Texas Entertainment Association, the industry's Austin-based lobbying arm, by engaging the state in a protracted legal fight.

That fight may be coming to a close. On Friday, a state appeals court rejected the TEA's claim that the fee violated the Texas Constitution, which requires that a quarter of revenue generated by an "occupation tax" has to be used to fund public education. Revenue from the pole tax, by contrast, is set aside to provide resources for sexual assault victims (all of the first $25 million raised) and low-income health insurance.

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Atmos Has Dallas Over a Barrel, Is Raising Your Gas Bill Again

Categories: Biz, City Hall

Atmos Energy, via Facebook
It's a wonderful time to be an Atmos Energy shareholder. The gas distributor's profits -- and dividends -- keep going up.

It's much less wonderful to be an Atmos Energy customer, who is fueling those profits through increasingly large bills.

Despite its profitability and despite getting six rate hikes out of the city in seven years, Atmos is asking Dallas residents to pay a bit more: $8.7 million total per year (a 12.3 percent increase) or about $2.75 more more per customer per month.

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REI Is Moving Into Dallas Proper, Next Door to Half Price Books' HQ

Categories: Biz

A year ago, Half Price Books made the rather unexpected announcement that it would be dipping its toe into real estate development.

The decision, executive vice president Kathy Doyle Thomas told us at the time, was less about finding an alternative revenue stream than about boosting the decaying area surrounding its Northwest Highway flagship, where it's building its first (and possibly only) shopping center.

Now, Half Price Books has its first tenant: outdoor equipment retailer REI.

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Amazon Expands Same-Day Delivery to Dallas

Categories: Biz

Carl Malamud
Brick-and-mortar retailers in Dallas beware. Amazon has you in its sights.

The e-commerce behemoth on Thursday announced that it has added Dallas to the list of a dozen cities eligible for same-day delivery. That means that if a customer orders any of the million-plus eligible products by 12:15 p.m., it'll be at her doorstep by 9 p.m. that night.

The process is, like everything Amazon does, straightforward. If you live in a qualifying zip code, you will see a "Get it Today" or "Get it Tomorrow" filter. Click it. Wait. In Dallas, same-day delivery will cost Amazon Prime members $5.99 for up to 150 pounds of goods, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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One Million Moms Pledges to Destroy Dallas' Kimberly-Clark Over "SAM In My Pants" Ad

Categories: Biz

Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark, the conglomerate behind Kleenex, Huggies and a host of other brand-name personal care items, is blazing a new trail in the market for adult incontinence products.

With its new Poise Microliners, the company is targeting young women suffering from "light bladder leakage" (Kimberly-Clark's phrase) -- customers who probably won't turn to the company's Depends brand. To roll out the new product, Kimberly-Clark rolled out the ad below, which features a woman talking in what seems to be a wildly inappropriate way about having "Sam in my pants."

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At the Center of Valley View Redevelopment, a 20-Acre, $100 Million Park

Categories: Biz, City Hall

Via the City of Dallas
Transforming Valley View Center from a dystopian wasteland into Dallas Midtown, a mammoth, 450-acre complex of restaurants and offices and stores and apartments and retail, won't be cheap. More than $10 billion was the figure floated when developer Scott Beck first went public with the idea last year.

Most of that will come from the private sector -- but not quite all. The Dallas City Council is set to chip in $360 million in the form of reimbursements through a newly created TIF district.

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