Arlington Is Hellbent on Keeping Armed Libertarians -- and Little Leaguers -- Off Its Streets

Categories: News

Open Carry Tarrant County, via Facebook
Over the summer, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor sided with Open Carry Tarrant County's Kory Watkins and struck down as unconstitutional an Arlington city ordinance banning people from distributing literature -- in his case copies of the Constitution -- to passing motorists. According to a brief prepared by the city attorney's office, the fallout was swift and disastrous.

"Within two weeks of Judge O'Connor's ruling on July 14, 2014, the City of Arlington received a request from a little league baseball team seeking permission to solicit donations on Cooper Street in the City of Arlington," the brief says. "The little league team sought to raise money for a little league trip by handing out bottled water on Cooper Street as a method for soliciting donations."

Next thing you know, the Girl Scouts will be wanting to hawk their absurdly delicious cookies from the Interstate 30 shoulder. A chilling prospect on its face, but in case the thinness of the line between gun-toting libertarians passing out Constitutions and Girl Scouts distributing cholesterol-laden desserts didn't sufficiently alarm the Arlington City Council, the city's lawyers provided some gruesome traffic statistics. Over the past four-and-a-half years, 625 pedestrians have been run over in Arlington. Thirty-three of them died.

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Dallas May Soon Declare Ebola Disaster But THERE'S STILL NO REASON TO PANIC!!

Categories: News

Prepared to declare disaster, Dallas County officials swerved from the dramatic statement at the last minute this afternoon.

On Thursday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Mayor Mike Rawlings, and members of city health authorities convened for an emergency commissioners court meeting to officially declare disaster in Dallas. But after a private debate, and a significantly tamer public discussion, the court agreed that while disaster declaration was a "tool in the toolbox," it's not quite time to say there's an emergency in Dallas.

Court members stressed how well Dallas is handling the Ebola outbreak and implied that declaring disaster would increase the level of fear and uncertainty throughout the city and indeed the country.

"I think given what is happening locally, it has an impact nationally, and as such we need to move cautiously with this declaration," Commissioner John Wiley Price said. "It is in our toolbox, but I am not sure ... whether it is premature."

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Thomas Eric Duncan's Fever Was in Range for Ebola During His First Hospital Visit, AP Says

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram via Twitter
Thomas Eric Duncan.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., had a fever of 103 degrees during his first visit to Presbyterian Hospital, The Associated Press reports. The Centers for Disease Control lists a fever of greater than 101.5 degrees as one of the potential signs that someone has contracted the virus.

Despite his high fever, a physician noted that Duncan was "negative for fever and chills," according to the AP. Duncan also complained of abdominal pain, which is another potential sign of the virus. He was released from the hospital after his initial check-up.

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Rifle-Toting Huey P. Newton Gun Club Delivers Report on Police Shootings to Feds

Categories: Guns, News

Sky Chadde
The Huey P. Newton Gun Club and the Indigenous People's Liberation Party stand across the street from the Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse.
In hopes of raising awareness of police brutality, two groups walked single-file together through downtown Dallas Monday afternoon with rifles slung over their shoulders. The Huey P. Newton Gun Club, which marched down Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in August, and the Indigenous People's Liberation Party stopped in front of the Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse. As about 10 members stood in a line on the sidewalk across the building's entrance, three members went inside and attempted to hand a report directly to U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana.

They got as far as her division manager with the report, compiled from data obtained through open-records requests, which shows that the majority of victims of Dallas police shootings are from the minority community. It's the same report Dallas Communities Organizing for Change released to the media last week. To the marchers, the numbers in the report are evidence of a systemic problem of police abuse toward minorities.

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Dallas Newspaper Picks the Wrong Week for its "Taste of Africa Comes to Dallas!" Cover

Dallas Weekly, one of the city's main black-owned newspapers, just published its latest issue online. The issue date suggests the cover was designed pre-ebola, but the timing of the email blast they just put out is ... unfortunate.

Community Organization Says Dallas Police Miss Target When Tallying Shootings

Categories: News

Sky Chadde
The scene of an officer-involved shooting.
Dallas Communities Organizing for Change, which has been largely critical of the Dallas Police Department, hopes to set a higher bar for the department in how it identifies incidents when officers fire their weapons. "They don't categorize officer-involved shooting appropriately," says Stephen Benavides, the organization's spokesman.

The department, police spokesman Major Jeff Cotner says, essentially divides officer-involved shootings into two categories: hits and misses. Now, a hit is also divided into whether the person shot was injured or killed. In order to avoid confusion, Cotner says, most reports released to the media that tally up officer-involved shootings only include the hits.

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The Dallas Police Department Is Replacing Its Old Stun Guns With Better Stun Guns

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The Dallas Police Department is swapping its old Tasers for new-and-improved models.
In the next three to four months, all Dallas police officers on patrol will be equipped with new, smart Tasers that are safer than their predecessors, Chief David Brown said at Wednesday's City Council meeting. After the council approved a five-year deal with Taser International Inc. for the purchase and maintenance of Tasers, the department's 700 or so old Tasers will be replaced with 2,000.

"We haven't in the past had a lot of Tasers in our department," Brown said at a town hall meeting last month. "Because of the challenges with Tasers causing deaths early on, our department backed off of Tasers several years back."

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Arlington's City Council Won't Abolish Red Light Cameras, But Its Citizens Might

Categories: News

Yousuf Fahimuddin
Arlington City Council member Robert Rivera can rattle off scores of reasons why his constituents think the city should pull the plug on its red-light cameras. They worry about Big Brother's growing omniscience and the privatization of policing, or object to the government making a revenue grab while cloaking it in public safety measure. Some just have a gut feeling that it's unconstitutional.

Rivera doesn't formally endorse any of those sentiments, which, though they have been echoing across the country for a decade, have failed to slow the rapid adoption of the technology by cash-strapped local governments. His stated reason for floating a proposal to abolish red-light cameras in Arlington is more pragmatic and thus less easy to dismiss as the product of the populist fringe. Arlington's system simply isn't fair.

Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright has repeatedly refused Arlington's entreaties to block the vehicle registrations of red-light scofflaws, saying that cities are responsible for collecting their own fines. (In a similar display of chutzpah, Collin County Tax Assessor Kenneth Maun rebuffed similar advances by the NTTA.) Because violations caught by red-light cameras are civil offenses that can't go on credit reports or driving records, there are no consequences for ignoring the tickets, meaning the upstanding citizens who actually pay them are suckers.

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Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez Signs Letter Supporting Same-Sex Marriage. So We Pop the Obvious Question.

Categories: News

Harry Wilonsky
Sheriff Lupe Valdez says it's time for marriage equality in Texas.
Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals received a letter signed by more than 50 Texas law enforcement officials who support same-sex marriage, according to the Texas Tribune. Among them was Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, the county's first Hispanic, first female and first lesbian sheriff.

When we heard the news, we had one question for the sheriff: Are there wedding bells in her future?

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Dallas Plan Commission Told to Shut Up, Mind its Own Business on Trinity Tree Massacre

Categories: News

Eric Nicholson
You say you can't see the forest for the trees? City Hall can fix that.
There were several points on Thursday when City Plan Commission members came dangerously close to debating whether City Hall should be allowed to get away with eviscerating several dozen acres of post-oak savanna, in violation of its own zoning rules, so rich people can go golfing.

Luckily for the city's embattled Trinity Watershed Management Department, any substantive discussion of the issue was promptly and summarily strangled by city legal and planning staff.

District 14 Commissioner Paul Ridley was the first to give it a shot.

See also: Dallas Broke Its Own Rules to Get Dirt for Its Golf Course. Now, It Wants a Free Pass.

"Does zoning for Subarea 1 permit strip-mining?" he asked after listening to city planner Neva Dean rattle off the list of the things allowed in the horse-park portion of Planned Development District 883, which includes a hotel and restaurants but not, as you can see from the ordinance, a strip-mine.

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