New Fair Park Plan Would Kill State Fair of Texas, Fair President Says

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State Fair of Texas
State Fair rendering of the Di Mambro Plan
There's a new plan for Dallas' Fair Park making the rounds this week, one that would relegate the State Fair itself to a 84-acre section of the 277-acre park and tear down Gexa Energy Pavilion, and it has the State Fair worried.

As things stand, the plan is just a radical re-imagining of potential Fair Park uses, designed by Boston architect Antonio Di Mambro and backed by former Trammel Crow CEO Don Williams. Williams ties the plan to D Magazine Publisher Wick Allison's Coalition for a New Dallas political action committee -- Williams sits on the PAC's steering committee. It wasn't designed under the auspices of the mayor, unlike the State Fair-supported 2014 plan that came from the Mike Rawlings-appointed Fair Park task force. That plan's biggest proposal would create a private nonprofit to oversee Fair Park, a change that hasn't yet been approved by the park board or Dallas City Council.

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Income Inequality in Dallas Is Rising Fast

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Stephen Masker
Protesters rally against income inequality -- and other things -- at an Occupy Dallas rally in 2011.
In a rather unsurprising turn of events, Dallas' rich are getting richer while its poor are getting poorer. According to census data crunched by the Brookings Institution this week, the income of the top 5 percent of earners rose by a impressive 12.2 percent between 2012 and 2013, jumping from $202,371 to $227,015. The drop in earnings for the bottom 20 percent was less dramatic, just $166, or about 1 percent, but it was a drop.

Dallas isn't unique in having a chasm between rich and poor. High income inequality -- or at least higher than the national average -- is the norm for American cities, where, for various reasons, the wealthy have higher incomes and the poor lower incomes than in suburban and rural areas. But the income gap in Dallas is high (Brookings' analysis puts Dallas seventh among the country's 50 largest cities based on the "95/20 ratio," which divides the earnings of the top 5 percent by those of the bottom 20 percent) and it's widening faster than everywhere except Cleveland and maybe Minneapolis, although the census' sample size there was too low to be statistically significant. This is evidenced by how quickly Dallas has climbed the list of unequal cities; last year, it ranked 13th.

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Former DA Craig Watkins Can't Even Ambulance-Chase Correctly

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Dallas County DA / Tracy Nanthavongsa
We've previously noted that ex-Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins -- former political wunderkind, a crusader for the innocent and the scourge of the guilty -- had sunk to trolling for DWI clients using a Hotmail (?!?) account. That's no longer the case; as of 1:32 a.m. today, he is trolling for DWI clients using a "@craigwatkinslaw.com" email address.

But does that mean that Watkins has begun to patch together the tattered shreds of his dignity? Judging by the email blasts he keeps sending, which seem designed to remind everyone in the email database he apparently took with him when he was ousted as district attorney of what a washed-up sad sack he has become, the answer is no.

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Collin County Will Be Bigger Than Dallas in 35 Years -- Maybe

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Google Earth
Collin County, from above.
We have glimpsed a vision of Dallas' future, and it is bleak. By 2050, according to the Dallas Business Journal's read of new data from the Texas Office of the State Demographer, Collin County will have ballooned to 3.8 million people. Dallas County, once upon a time the "urb" in Collin County's "suburb," will have a population of just 3.5 million. The inversion of the city-suburb dynamic will be complete. Frisco -- or maybe Anna -- will supplant Dallas as the area's dominant municipal force, propelling the North Texas region to unprecedented levels of prosperity that is nevertheless insufficient to fix Dallas' pot holes.

But must this be so? Is Collin County's population really going to quadruple over the next 35 years? The answer is, probably not. While the DBJ imbues the population projections with the aura of prophecy, State Demographer Lloyd Potter does not.

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OU Frat Boys: Good at Racist Chants, OK at Crisis PR

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Roger Dorn via YouTube
Parker Rice
As soon as the now-infamous 9-second video of white college students singing a racist song went viral, the anonymity of those involved, especially those members of the University of Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity who could be seen, was sure to be short lived.

Social media users quickly fingered Parker Rice and Levi Pettit, both from Dallas, as the two jubilant leaders of the n-word featuring, pro-lynching chant. Rice and Pettit have both been expelled from OU and both -- or both their families -- reacted quickly to stanch the public relations bleeding that inevitably stems from singing like drunken klansmen while riding a party bus to a fraternity function at a country club.

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(Updated) Frat Boy Leader of Racist OU Chant Is Dallas Jesuit Grad, School Says

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Roger Dorn via YouTube
Went to Jesuit, allegedly
The leader of the racist chanting on a University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity bus trip "appears to be a graduate" of Jesuit College Prep in Dallas, according to the school.

"I am appalled by the actions in the video and extremely hurt by the pain this has caused our community. It is unconscionable and very sad that in 2015 we still live in a society where this type of bigotry and racism takes place. All of us at Jesuit Dallas are deeply committed to a culture of justice and equality for all. This was certainly true when the school became the first in Dallas to integrate, and it's true today," school President Mike Earsing said in a statement.

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The Bloodstained Men -- America's Premiere "Intactivist" Protesters -- Are Coming to Dallas

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bloodstainedmen.com
Brother K, left, and fellow Bloodstained Man Brian Herrity will be protesting male circumcision in Dallas on Tuesday.
In October 2012, seven men in white jumpsuits -- immaculate save for an unsettling crimson stain spreading from their crotches -- gathered outside the convention center in New Orleans as the American Academy of Pediatrics was having its annual meeting. The body had just issued a policy statement endorsing newborn male circumcision, a decision that had inflamed the anti-circumcision activists and left some of its veterans, among them a bearded Californian named Brother K, grasping for a way to convey the horror of a practice they consider genital mutilation. The stained coveralls confronted convention-goers with what Brother K would describe as a "profound bloody spectacle."

"In the past 30 or 40 years in American cultural life, I myself cannot think ... of any symbol that so represents what's going on in America -- the tragedy, the disaster, the catastrophe of it -- and captures it in one bloody spot, on the crotch of men."

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Dallas-Area Cops Seize Millions in Cash and Property Every Year, and No One Fights Them

Categories: News

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401Kcalculator.org via Flickr
Anecdotes of civil forfeiture abuse in Texas abound. The most egregious example from recent years probably comes from the tiny East Texas town of Tenaha (population 1,160), where the district attorney and local police teamed up to shake down innocent out-of-town motorists for cash and other valuables worth millions. Near the border, cops were wont to focus enforcement efforts on catching the large amounts of cash headed back to Mexico, all the while more or less ignoring the drugs and weapons flowing the other way; inevitably, innocents were caught up in the dragnet. In 2012, Fort Worth cops kept or attempted to keep 15 cars, trucks, and SUVs seized from TCU students and others involved in a university-centered marijuana ring.

But the real danger of the practice, which allows cops to take possession of ill-gotten gains by filing a lawsuit against it (e.g. State of Texas vs. Three Thousand Three Hundred Twenty-Two Dollars in United States Currency), is not in the flagrant abuses but the insidious way it subverts due process and other protections built into the criminal justice system. The property owner in a civil forfeiture case -- in contrast to a defendant in a criminal case -- has no right to an attorney; he can hire one, but it will be costly and may not be worth it, since the legal bill will often exceed the value of the seized property. There is also no presumption of innocence. It's up to the property owner to prove that his stuff isn't tainted by illegal activity, rather than the state's burden to prove that it is.

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Texas Will Be Majority Hispanic by 2044, Researchers Say

Categories: News

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Center for American Progress
That's the line where Texas becomes majority Hispanic.
Texas became a majority-minority state -- one where whites makeup less than 50 percent of the population -- sometime between 2002 and 2004. There are still more white people than any other ethnic group in the state, and whites still accounted for 57 percent of eligible voters in 2012, but that will eventually change, too.

New data from the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, show just when the bigger demographic tipping points might happen. According to the authors of the study, which has been compiled into a cool set of interactive charts, by 2020 Hispanics will become the largest ethnic group in the state, making up 42 percent of Texans. By 2044, the state will be majority Hispanic and only 31 percent white, the researchers say.

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Rowlett Man Wants Cities to Crack Down on Handicap Parking -- By Hiring His Company

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Damian Morys via Flickr
Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel, like all decent human beings, hates it when able-bodied individuals (read: assholes) park in handicap parking spots. "It really disgusts me," he says, "because the handicapped deserve the same rights as we have. Those folks that violate that should be ashamed of themselves and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

Therein lies the problem. Handicap parking violators are rarely brought to justice. Cops in Rowlett seldom have the time to comb the city's parking lots looking for offenders. (In certain neighboring cities, which Gottel claims knowledge of but declined to name, police have given up on handicap parking enforcement entirely.) Rowlett, per an obscure provision of the state's transportation code, deputizes citizen volunteers to write handicap parking tickets, but even that has a limited effect since the volunteers, mostly retired senior citizens, are instructed to avoid confrontation and are usually saddled with other duties -- manning special events and the like.

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