City of Dallas Releases Video of Small Dot It Says Is Tennell Atkins on Day of Assault

Categories: City Hall

City of Dallas via Youtube
It's like flipping Where's Waldo.
Last Friday, the day Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins was ticketed for shaking a 61-year-old city employee while screaming, "Do you know who I am" in her face, the security camera that should have recorded the incident wasn't working. The city of Dallas says it had been out of order since December 4.

The city's public information office promised it would look for an alternate video. Thursday morning, it announced that it'd found something. Before we go any further, please watch the 31-second clip below carefully.

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Tennell Atkins Ticketed for Assault on City Hall Security Guard

Categories: City Hall

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Patrick Michels
Tennell Atkins. But of course you knew that because he is very important.
Update: 12:54 p.m.: Atkins has issued a statement about the incident. He admits that he was "a little upset" but denies touching Hultquist.

"I regret that the two ladies feel I was too aggressive in my comments and that I 'shook' one of them," he says. (You can check out Atkins' full statement at the bottom of the post.)

Because of Dallas City Hall's new security measures, the building's green doors stay locked until 8 a.m. On Wednesday, Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins couldn't wait, according to police.

He jerked on the doors, shouting "Open the door!," cops say, as security guard Raquel Hultquist watched. She asked Atkins if he had his city ID with him. He didn't, so she told him to go talk to security at City Hall's blue doors. He didn't, and was eventually buzzed into the building. When he got inside, police say Atkins confronted Hultquist.

"Do you know who I am?," Atkins shouted in Hultquist's face after grabbing the 61-year-old woman by the shoulders. "Why didn't you open the door?"

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Former Mayor Laura Miller Prepares to Lead the Fight Against Preston Center Skybridge

"Artist's" rendering of proposed Preston Center skybridge.
Get ready for Round 3 in the ongoing -- and possibly never-ending -- bout between Laura Miller and would-be Preston Road/Northwest Highway developers. A few months after helping neighbors kill two proposed apartment developments near the intersection, Miller is limbering up to fight Crow Holdings' plan to build a pedestrian skybridge from the two-story parking garage in Preston Center to a planned 50,000-square-foot Tom Thumb.

Crow doesn't need the city's blessing to put in the Tom Thumb; the zoning for that came with the building, the former Sanger-Harris department store at Westchester Drive and Berkshire Lane, that the company purchased last December. But the skybridge -- which, sources say, is a prerequisite for Tom Thumb signing a lease -- is a different matter. Crow representatives will appear before the City Plan Commission next Thursday to ask for a specific use permit.

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Fired Deep Ellum Cop Jesus Martinez Gets Outpouring of Support at Council Meeting

Scott Griggs via Facebook
View of Martinez's supporters from the council horseshoe.
On paper -- and video -- firing Jesus Martinez was a straightforward call for Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Martinez was filmed "using his right knee to pin the pedestrian's right elbow down while raising the pedestrian's left elbow and hand upward causing him severe pain," according to the police department. The video, shot in June and lasting about three-and-a-half minutes, doesn't show the beginning of the incident, but Martinez said when he tried to arrest Joe Wesson for aggressive panhandling, Wesson took a swing at him. During the fight that followed, Martinez pepper sprayed Wesson and ended up with some of the spray in his own eyes, he said.

Witnesses to the arrest contradicted what Martinez said, saying there was no fight, and the officer was fired by the department for using "unnecessary and/or inappropriate force against a citizen."

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City to Pay $250,000 Settlement to Homeless Support Groups

Categories: City Hall

Dallas Observer
Bringing an end to almost an eight-year legal battle, the Dallas City Council will vote Wednesday on whether to pay two charity groups $250,000. Big Heart Ministries and Rip Parker Memorial Homeless Ministry sued the city in March 2007, challenging a city ordinance that restricted the ways groups could provide food to the homeless.

In 2013, U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis ruled in favor of the groups, saying that city violated their rights under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The $250,000 payment, as well as proposed changes to the city's food safety ordinance, are part of a post-judgement settlement agreed to by the groups and the city. Once the changes are approved, the groups doing the feeding will no longer be required to provide restroom facilities and hand-washing stations and a certified food handler will not be required to be on hand.

See also: Dallas Ministries Can Feed the Homeless Wherever They Damn Well Please

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Dallas Officials Say Bringing Save-A-Lot to Underpopulated Section of Southern Dallas Will Convince People to Move There

Categories: City Hall

For the past few years, the Dallas City Council says it's been trying to develop a vacant lot on Simpson Stuart and Bonnie View roads, in a section of Dallas south of Loop 12 that is 22.5 square miles but home to just 27,500 people.

What the relatively low-population area needs is another grocery store, Councilman Tennell Atkins has said, even though there apparently aren't enough people to support a grocery store. "Density of just over 1,200 people per square mile is an impediment to attracting established grocers," explains a city report.

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Bentley the Ebola Dog's Monitoring Cost $27,000

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Dallas Animal Services
He's an expensive little bugger.
Of the just more than $155,000 the city of Dallas spent responding to Ebola, almost $27,000 -- just more than 17 percent of the total -- went to caring for Bentley, Nina Pham's King Charles Spaniel. The majority of the Bentley cash, $17,057.46, was spent on getting Grand Prairie Armed Forces Reserve Complex ready for the dog's stay and providing security at the former Naval Air Station.

The single biggest item on the full list, which you can check out below, was the $58,000-plus Dallas Fire and Rescue spent on hazmat response. It cost $18,824 to pay the paramedics subjected to 21-day quarantines after contact with the first diagnosed U.S. Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.

The city won't bear the full brunt of the bill. It is seeking reimbursement of some costs from the state and about $19,000 of Bentley's burden will be covered by grants and donations.

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New City of Dallas Media Plan Is All About Message Control

Categories: City Hall, Media

David R. Tribble
Taking out the middle man.
Sana Syed had a baptism by fire. Just after she took the city of Dallas' public information officer job, Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola. Syed did an admirable job filtering and distributing the torrent of information that would come out over the succeeding weeks.

She would also show that she knew how to spot and promote a story that would be a winner for the city, however harrowing the circumstances. Bentley -- the King Charles spaniel who belongs to Nina Pham, one of the Texas Health Presbyterian nurses to get Ebola after treating Duncan -- quickly became the face and focus of many of Syed's tweets and press releases. The end of the dog's monitoring for Ebola and his reuniting with Pham was the unofficial end of Ebola in Dallas, however absurd the press conference that accompanied it was.

See also: Bentley Is an Extremely Cute Dog, But Tomorrow's Press Conference Is Insane

Wednesday, Syed outlined how she hopes to keep the positive news flowing with a new city news website, improved use of social media and something new called "The Communications and Policy Institute."

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Surprise, Surprise. Mike Rawlings Is Running for Re-election

Dallas Observer
He's in.
Put aside any thoughts you had about the 2015 Dallas mayoral election being competitive. Mike Rawlings is running again.

Just before his annual "State of the City" speech Tuesday, Rawlings formally revealed to The Dallas Morning News the poorly kept secret that he'll be on the ballot in May.

He will face a much easier task in seeking a second four years than he did in 2011, when he overcame a crowded field and a runoff with former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle to win his first term. Rawlings showed he was a formidable fundraiser in that race, collecting $1.5 million, more than three times as much cash as anyone else in the race.

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Dallas City Hall and Trinity East Have Teamed Up to Keep Their Fracking Fight in the Dark

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Jay Barker
Back in February of 2013, Schutze shook loose a secret memo showing that City Manager Mary Suhm had struck a secret deal with Trinity East Energy to allow gas drilling on city parkland while, at the same time, promising the City Council that there would be no gas drilling on city parkland. The memo offered a rare glimpse behind the curtain at City Hall, a place where an unelected bureaucrat can and often does flout the will of the people.

One can almost imagine Suhm and Trinity East execs huddled in a dimly lit back room somewhere, a dense cloud of cigar smoke hanging about their heads, their knowing chuckle building to sinister peals of laughter as they imagine playgrounds being replaced by drilling rigs.

Plant that image in your mind, because that could be as close as Dallas gets to actually discovering what transpired between city officials and Trinity East.

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