Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"They Walked Out on their Community"

"They walked out on their community." So said Carla Ranger, Dallas Independent School District (DISD) trustee about her fellow trustees.

After the jump, what precipitated the walkout and the lesson for Richardson.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A String of Pearls on the Red Line

A few isolated urban centers, left to fend for themselves, are going to wither on the vine. Nurture them to grow together into a string of overlapping vibrant urban centers all along the DART line from Spring Valley to PGBT and Richardson will have a cornucopia.
Source: The Wheel.
That's what I said in a recent blog post. After the jump, a supporting argument I read a few days later in a Slate article by Matthew Yglesias.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stumbling onto the Fun at Eastside

In mild weather on a Friday evening in January, outside Chiloso's Mexican Bistro in Richardson's Eastside, the Berkner Jazz Band played for an impromptu audience of several dozen music lovers. A percentage of the proceeds from dining at Chiloso's went to help fund the band program.

Great food, great music, great time. That's what I call "stumbling onto the fun."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Irony on the Campaign Trail

News from the always irony-rich campaign trail:
  • Newt Gingrich, who had affairs while married to his first two wives, who reportedly asked wife #2 for an "open marriage," and who is now married to the other woman from that second affair, was congratulated on his primary victory in South Carolina by the National Organization of Marriage, a group dedicated to the preservation of traditional marriage. (h/t to @pourmecoffee.)
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) objected to a TSA pat-down at an airport in Kentucky as an governmental invasion of his privacy. Paul was reportedly traveling to a pro-life rally, that's right, a rally against a woman's right to control what happens to her own body. (h/t to @JamilSmith.)
  • Newt Gingrich (again), who surged to the lead of GOP polls by attacking President Obama, the press, the "elites" and pretty much everyone who doesn't appreciate his greatness, came under attack himself in a GOP debate in Tampa, Florida. Responded Newt: "You know, there is a point in the process where it gets unnecessarily personal and nasty. And that's sad." Newt Gingrich -- self-proclaimed victim.
  • In June, 2011, Mitt Romney told a group of unemployed voters, "I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed." Mitt chuckled. This week, Romney released his tax return, revealing that he made $20.9 million in 2011. There was no word on whether he chuckled.

Are politicians oblivious to the irony or are they just cynical? Such questions are why politics remains endlessly fascinating ... and maddening.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is Richardson Screwed?

At a large lunch at Dallas's downtown Omni Dallas Hotel, scene of the annual meeting of Downtown Dallas, Inc., keynote speaker Carol Coletta spoke of the importance of urban centers. D Magazine's Peter Simek was there and summarized her message as this: Dallas is Screwed.

After the jump, does this verdict extend to Richardson, too?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rodger Jones Knows What Women Think

If you tuned in this morning expecting to read my reaction to President Obama's State of the Union address, you're out of luck. I learned yesterday during the day that no one waits for the president to actually give his speech anymore before giving a rebuttal. Now, it's the practice to give a "prebuttal" before even hearing what the president has to say. It's too late for me to do that. That train has left the station, so to speak. Now since we're on the subject of trains...

I can't tell if Rodger Jones, of The Dallas Morning News, is just obtuse or is stubbornly attempting to mislead readers in his ongoing campaign to disparage Richardson's DART stations.

This is not a new topic for Jones (e.g., see here and here). After the jump, his latest criticism.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Destiny of the Republic

Destiny of the Republic
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard: Turns forgotten murder of an obscure president into a gripping national tragedy. B-

From The Destiny of the Republic, by Candice Millard (2011):
Open quote 

Had Garfield been shot just fifteen years later, the bullet in his back would have been quickly found by X-ray images, and the wound treated with antiseptic surgery. He might have been back on his feet within weeks."

After the jump, my review and excerpts.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Countrywide, CashAmerica and Pete Sessions

Cash America
The photo above is not of the official campaign headquarters of Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Richardson's Congressman since about forever. Nor is it even Sessions's official fundraising headquarters, although you'd be forgiven if you thought it was. Let's just call it his unofficial something.

After the jump, Pete Sessions in the news.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Putnam County Spelling Bee at LHHS

From 2012 01 Musicals

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, at Lake Highlands High School: Singing, dancing, comic acting. Fresh, fun musical. Celebrity spellers! See it.

Spoiler alert: I've always suspected it, but now I have proof, and hundreds of witnesses, that Ellen doesn't know "crapaud." ;-)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Anything Goes at RHS

From 2012 01 Musicals

Anything Goes, at Richardson High School: Singing. Dancing. Jokes. Large cast on a big stage. Live orchestra. See it. Two words: Cole. Porter.

You can still catch the final performances. Check the website for times.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hola, MoFo

After dropping out of the presidential race, Rick Perry is coming home to Texas. Welcome back. What does the future hold for the Texas governor whose presidential campaign crashed and burned so spectacularly?

After the jump, some instant wild speculation.


  • After Recount, Santorum Wins Iowa
  • Perry Drops Out, Endorses Gingrich
  • Newt-mentum Surging in South Carolina

After the jump, the cold splash behind the headlines.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: The Art of Travel

Art of Travel
The Art of Travel, by Alain De Botton: Not a travel guide, but a guide to seeing places with fresh eyes. B-

From The Art of Travel, by Alain De Botton (2002):
Open quote 

My motive was simple and hedonistic: I was looking for beauty. 'Delight and enliven me' was my implicit challenge to the olive trees, cypresses and skies of Provence."

After the jump, my review and excerpts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Richardson Racks Up Rackspace

The one piece of real estate most responsible for starting Richardson on the way to becoming "Telecom Corridor" is the old Collins Radio site on Collins Boulevard. Collins Radio opened its Richardson office in 1951. Sadly, more recently the site sat mostly abandoned after Collins and other tenants moved to newer homes. Recently, the old site is enjoying a renaissance as a computer data center.

After the jump, the electronic age sixty years after Collins Radio.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Barn Raising in Southwest Richardson

In recent posts, I reviewed the City of Richardson's system of representation by at-large elections of its seven city council members. In one post, I pointed out how Dallas's city council (elected in single-member districts) was likely to divide on the issue of a $300 million flood control project that would be of most benefit to only a portion of the city. In another post, I pointed out how Richardson's city council (elected at-large) had pulled together on the West Spring Valley Corridor Reinvestment Strategy that will be of most benefit to only a portion of the city.

David Chenoweth responds in a long post on his own blog titled "Logic, Absurdity and Single Member Districts." I can't tell for sure, but I feel like he thinks his post supplies the "logic" and mine the "absurdity." [Update: Chenoweth clarifies that he was not referring to me or my argument as absurd. I regret the false conclusion on my part.]

After the jump, a brief look at his "logic."

Friday, January 13, 2012

North Texas Tea Party Shuns Mitt

It's probably no surprise, but the North Texas Tea Party (NTTP) reports that its members don't much like the likely GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Three candidates rank higher in Tea Party preference: Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and, um, I forget the third. Oops. Oh yeah, it's Rick Perry. 35% of those who responded to the NTTP survey prefer Rick Santorum, 27% Newt Gingrich, and 13% Rick Perry. Mitt Romney is the first choice of only 9.7%.

After the jump, my analysis.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stop! Give Me Your Money!

Red-light running isn't smart. Red-light running isn't safe. Red-light running kills. But cities that wanted to do something about it faced a quandary: the cost of putting extra patrols at every intersection to catch red-light runners was prohibitively expensive. So, local government did what private industry had already done (to combat shoplifting, for example): use cameras to automate the task, reducing labor costs. Suddenly, it became practical to enforce a common sense traffic regulation that even two-year-olds know: a red light means stop. (A yellow light, on the other hand, means something else altogether.)

Then, a funny thing happened on the road to highway safety. After the jump, we follow the money.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Look at Richardson's Council Districts

Yesterday, I blogged about a story by Jim Schutze in Unfair Park about how Dallas's single member council districts prevent that city from pulling together to implement improvements for the good of the city as a whole. I said Richardson doesn't have Dallas's divisions and therefore, single member districts are inappropriate for Richardson.

In response to my post, I was told that Richardson does, too, have divisions. After the jump, a look at what those divisions might be and what impact single member districts might have on those divisions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Single Member Districts In Action

There has been a lot of talk recently in Richardson favoring amending the City Charter to replace at-large council member elections with single member districts (and by "lot of talk" I mean an odd voice or two crying in the wilderness, and by "wilderness" I mean some place like San Antonio).

Dallas already has single member districts. How's that working out? After the jump, Jim Schutze, in Unfair Park, gives us a look. The issue is flood control in East Dallas.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Few Comments About Comments

It's a new year. Time for resolutions and all that. I thought it might be a good time to offer a few comments about commenting on this blog. Popular or not, I resolve to continue to keep a light hand on moderating comments. That's because I welcome comments. I appreciate comments. I wish more readers would comment.

Still, there are some types of comments that I don't want to see, specifically those that violate the stated commenting rules: "Comments are welcome, but please identify yourself. Keep it courteous, keep it clean, keep it on topic." Hypothetically, calling someone laughable or boring or inane is both discourteous and off-topic. Such arguments are not welcome.

After the jump, a few more behaviors that are not welcome.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rose Bowl Game (2012)

From 2012 01 Rose Bowl

"The Granddaddy of Them All," the New Year's Day Rose Bowl Game, first played in 1902, is grander than ever. Growing up, watching on television, I couldn't resist the warm, sunny weather beckoning football fans watching from frigid Wisconsin. The game put an itch in me to be there in person like no other football game ever did. Finally, fulfilling that "bucket list" desire, we attended our first Rose Bowl game. It's everything I envisioned and more. Except for the outcome: Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38. But even that can't spoil the experience.

All of our Rose Bowl Game photos can be found here.
Photos from New Year's Day in Pasadena can be found here.
Photos from the Rose Parade can be found here.

Trivia about the Rose Bowl I didn't know until this year: The record attendance for a Rose Bowl Game is 106,869, set in 1973. This year's full-house attendance was only 91,245. What's up with that? In 2000, the Rose Bowl was renovated. Bleacher seats were replaced with seats with backs (except in the end zones). That reduced seating capacity by about 15,000.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rose Parade (2012)

From 2012 01 Rose Parade

Twenty one marching bands. Eighteen horse units. Forty three large floats, all completely decorated with flowers and other natural materials. That can describe only one parade -- the annual New Year's Day Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Fulfilling a "bucket list" desire, we attended our first Rose Parade this year. Attending in person restores the entertainment value of parades that television coverage has increasingly sapped. No commercial interruptions, no obligatory pauses while minor celebrities lip-sync to the cameras, no announcers reading lame, scripted jokes. Only the full-on experience of floats, marching bands, horse units and an enthusiastic crowd. All in the glorious sunshine of southern California.

After the jump, a look at the pre-parade festivities and more photos.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Berkner 63, Lake Highlands 47

From 2012 01 Berkner Basketball

The Berkner Rams improved to 4-0 in District 9-5A basketball Friday night with a 63-47 win over crosstown rival Lake Highlands. It's a great time to be a Ram!

All photos from the game can be found here.

New Year's Day in Pasadena (2012)

From 2012 01 Pasadena

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

OTBR: Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge

Latitude: 44.8450° N
Longitude: 123.0476° W

A child on a road trip with his family asks, "Where are we?" and the father answers, "Let's check the map. We're off the blue roads [the Interstate Highways marked in blue on the road atlas]. We're off the red roads [the US and state highways]. We're off the black roads [the county highways]. I think we're off the map altogether." It was always my dream to be off the map altogether.

After the jump, a few of the random places (and I mean random literally) that I visited vicariously last month that are "off the blue roads".