Adam Medrano judges Dallas Salsa Fest

SalsaLast night, I went to the Underpass Tavern in Deep Ellum to watch three folks — food journalist Teresa Gubbins, city councilmember Adam Medrano and occasional Voice contributor Jose Ralat — woof down 28 different salsas in categories from “mild” to “green” to “exotic” (bacon salsa!) to “hot.” I shadow-tasted, picking my own fave among the contenders. Which ones won? Well, you’ll have to go back on Saturday night from 7–10 p.m. to learn, but you can also enjoy the salsas on your own.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Kirven: Benny Longoria death certificate never signed

Benny Longoria

Benny Longoria

Dallas activist C.d. Kirven told Dallas Voice today, via email, that efforts to get Tulsa police to investigate the death of gay man Benny Longoria are moving forward.

A friend found Longoria, 40, dead in his apartment on June 20. But the man’s family said police did not contact them until a month later, that police had Longoria’s body cremated without notifying them and that police have refused to return his possessions, including his cell phone.

A representative of the company that manages the apartment complex where Longoria lived said that the apartment and most of his possessions were covered in blood when his naked body was found. Police have refused to investigate the case as a suspicious death.

Kirven learned of the situation earlier this week when Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano contacted her and asked if she could help the Longorio family find answers.

Today, Kirven said the case is being investigated as possible HIV/AIDS-related discrimination, and that she has helped the Longoria family filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Kirven also said she is helping the family file a complaint with the Internal Affairs division of the Tulsa Police Department.

Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker reportedly told the family that Benny Longoria’s doctor verified that he died of a combination of ethanol abuse and HIV/AIDS. But Kirven said that when she contacted the office of Longoria’s physician, Dr. Frances Haas, she was told that Dr. Haas had not confirmed any cause of death and had not signed a death certificate.

Kirvin said today that she has obtained a copy of Longoria’s death certificate, which has not been signed by any doctor. She said Dr. Haas is mailing Benny Longoria’s medical records to his family and “wants nothing to do with Benny’s death.”

She also said that Capt. Alexander has said that because the doctor has not signed the death certificate, by law Longoria’s death has to be investigated as a suspicious death.

A memorial in celebration of Benny Longoria will be held Saturday at 5 p.m. at Compadres Mexican Grill, 7104 S. Sheriden Rd., in Tulsa. For information contact C.d. Kirven at 972-533-1593.

Kirven said that several TV stations have said they will be covering the memorial service and vigil, and that she was faxing a copy of the death certificate to KRMG radio in Oklahoma City, which is planning coverage of the case. She has also talked to a reporter with Vice.com.

Tulsa-based reporter Richard Fricker called Dallas Voice today in an effort to contact Kirven, and said that he knows of similar cases that have happened in Tulsa.

Dallas Voice will, of course, continue to follow this story as it unfolds, and will have a representative at the memorial service in Tulsa on Saturday.

memorial-flyer-Benny_Longoria

—  Tammye Nash

Medrano hosting block party Saturday

Medrano.Adam

Councilman Adam Medrano

Dallas’s District 2 City Councilman Adam Medrano and the Love Field Neighborhood Assocation are hosting a Community Tour Block Party for area residents from 6-8 p.m. Saturday in the 2400 block of Sheridan Street.

There will be free drinks and hot dogs, and entertainment provided by the Northwest Police Station, plus an appearance by McGruff the Crime Dog.

For information call Medrano’s council assistant, Monica Huerta, at 214-670-4048.

—  Tammye Nash

Dallas celebrates Pride at City Hall

Pride City Hall

The city’s LGBT Task Force celebrated Pride at City Hall today and gave three Spirit of Equality awards.

Councilman Jerry Allen was given the Leadership Award. Allen guided the city council’s recent equality resolution through committee.

Councilmen Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston won the Ally Award. Both have worked closely with the LGBT community during their terms in office.

The Rev. Jim Mitulski accepted the Community Award for Cathedral of Hope. Task Force member Cd Kirven said the church stepped up when support was needed to help pass the resolution.

The resolution instructs city offices to make sure policies are equal and inclusive of everyone including the LGBT community.

—  David Taffet

Angela Hunt is among the pall bearers for Trinity Tollway

Trinity Tollroad

The proposed Trinity Toll Road

A funeral for the Trinity Toll Road is planned for Sunday and former City Councilwoman Angela Hunt is one of the pallbearers.

The obituary lists former Mayor Tom Leppert as the road’s closest survivor and asks mourners to please send $1.5 billion for actual improvements for the city in lieu of flowers.

For her first few years on the council, Hunt was the only council member to call the plan to pave the Trinity River stupid. OK, so she actually used stronger language than that and Leppert refused to talk to her for four years.

And they actually weren’t going to pave the river. They were going to build a parkway in the river bottoms that flood severely once or twice every decade.

Then when costs began to soar, they turned the “parkway” into a “tollroad.”

When everyone questioned whether the road was going to flood, they decided to put the toll road on an elevated levee. Except no one would answer Hunt’s question: How do you put a road on an elevated levee and make it go under the Angela Hunt Hill Bridge and over the other historic bridges crossing the river? And if the river already floods to the top of the levees, won’t they flood over the top when part of the river bottom displaces the flood area? Where will the water go?

When the levee idea became too ridiculous to actually consider, they decided to put up a wall between the river and the levee and put the road in a trench. No one answered what happens if there’s ever a crack in the wall and the water comes pouring through during a flood. We all know the answer, though. Put a finger in the dyke. Yeah, that’ll work.

When Scott Griggs joined the council, he shared Hunt’s opinion that the tollroad-in-the-river was a hare-brained scheme.

Councilman Philip Kingston, who replaced Hunt on the Council, shared his predecessor’s opinion of the road. Councilman Adam Medrano also isn’t in favor of throwing out billions of dollars and others have joined the opposition.

That leaves the mayor and his biggest ally on the council — Vonceil Jones Hill — as the biggest remaining cheerleaders for this stupid plan.

The funeral for the toll road takes place in Bishop Arts on Sunday at 5 p.m. The procession begins at Oddfellows, where they’ll be serving a special drink called a Flooded Parkway.

—  David Taffet

Which picture makes openly straight City Councilman Philip Kingston look more gay?

In which picture does openly straight Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston look more gay? In his Black Tie picture with City Council partner Adam Medrano or in his NOH8 picture with City Council partner Adam Medrano? Philip’s wife Melissa wants to know.

Philip sent me the first two pictures posing Melissa’s question. I’ve added two more, just to throw fuel on the fire: In his Cedar Springs picture at the opening of Out of the Closet with City Council partner Adam Medrano or in his Pooch Parade picture with city council partner Adam Medrano?

Philip & Adam Black Tie

Philip & Adam at Black Tie Dinner

Philip & Adam NOH8

Philip & Adam at NOH8

Philip & Adam Cedar Springs

Adam & Philip at Out of the Closet opening on Cedar Springs with an elegantly attired sister

Philip & Adam Pooch Parade

Adam & Philip judging the Pooch Parade in Lee Park

—  David Taffet

City, county officials attend Out of the Closet opening

DSC_2449There was even a baby. Dozens of people, including representatives from the city of Dallas and Dallas County showed up Saturday morning to support the opening of Out of the Closet, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s new thrift store on Cedar Spring Road.

But the store, beaming with a vivid paint job that transformed the former Union Jack into chic thrift, offers more than clothing and household goods. HIV testing is available and a full-service pharmacy will be added in three to six months. AHF Regional Director Bret Camp told the crowd that AHF has 22 clinics in the U.S., two of them in Dallas and Fort Worth.

“AHF serves 300,000 patients worldwide and over 4,000 a day in HIV clinics,” he said.

The return of an HIV clinic to that block on Cedar Springs, prompted one county official to say that the fight against HIV has returned to where it began.

“This is where the HIV fight began,” said Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services. “… but we still have a long way to go.”

Dallas City Councilmen Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston were there, along with Rod Givens, District Director for Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s office, and Tony Vedda, president and CEO of North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. The store’s opening coincides with the Cedar Springs Merchant’s Association’s weekend of the Cedar Springs Arts Fest and Easter in the Park. Cedar Springs Road will be closed today from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the arts fest.

To see more pics of the opening, go here.

Read more about the weekend festivities here.

 

 

—  Steve Ramos

Kingston and Medrano official NOH8 pics

13958Adam Bouska was in town  Jan. 29 to take pics for the NOH8 campaign. Two of the no-haters were Oak Lawn’s city council members Philip Kingston and Adam Medrano.

Philip sent over two of the pics for me to share.

Along with councilman Scott Griggs, Kingston and Medrano wore NOH8 t-shirts to a city council meeting when an equality resolution was debated.

Is it me, or is it good to see politicians with duct tape across their mouths?

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—  David Taffet

Dallas City Council approves resolution

Photos by Steve Ramos

—  Steve Ramos

A ‘landmark day for the city of Dallas’

Council passes comprehensive resolution, ending more than a year’s work and beginning the process for full city equality

CoxRawlings

HAPPY ENDING | Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Resource Center CEO Cece Cox chat after the equality resolution passed Wednesday with a vote of 13-2. Allies and LGBT community members filled the room during the discussion and vote. (Photos by Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

 

ANNA WAUGH  |  News Editor

With Wednesday’s passage of a comprehensive equality resolution, 13 councilmembers assured the local LGBT community they support equality in city employment, living and tourism.

The resolution is a “comprehensive statement of support” that directs the city manager and staff to identify inequities in those areas and work to resolve them administratively and also through council approval.

Changes that require council approval will be brought to the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee first. Councilman Jerry Allen, committee chair, had openly gay city employees Theresa O’Donnell and John Rogers make three presentations on LGBT issues before the committee passed the resolution in February.

The measure easily passed the council 13-2 with Sheffie Kadane and anti-gay Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill voting against it.

Mayor Mike Rawlings came out in favor of the resolution Tuesday. His support was questioned after he delayed the vote a week by requiring the measure be discussed in executive session for legal concerns last week.

GaitherKiven

ACTIVISTS | Nell Gaither, left, Cd Kirven and David Mack Henderson chat after the city council vote.

“I am proud to have voted in favor of this,” Rawlings said after the resolution passed. “It’s very humbling to be mayor of this city. We have so many great communities. …There’s not a better community in the city of Dallas than the LGBT community.”

Rawlings angered the LGBT community in June after he blocked the previous resolution that addressed marriage equality and workplace protections from being added to the agenda. He had the city attorney declare him present so former Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano couldn’t place the item back on the agenda as acting mayor after former Councilwoman Delia Jasso pulled her support from a memo requiring the item to be voted on.  While he told supporters and Dallas Voice he supported those issues personally, he called the resolution a “misuse” of the council’s time.

He said this week he’s completely behind the current resolution and analyzing what the city leadership can fix moving forward. He even wore a red and blue striped tie Wednesday, which he said doubled as his support for Southern Methodist University and the LGBT community.

“I believe in the resolution, and I think it’s a good structure to come back to so we are prepared to make those decisions,” Rawlings told Dallas Voice. “We’ve done a lot of the hard work now. God’s in the details on this stuff. We need to look at each one of them, examine them and have those discussions, but I’m enthusiastic about it.”

As for the tension with the community after last year’s resolution failed, Rawlings said he’s ready to look past it.

“I never had an issue with the LGBT community,” he said. “I’m very proud of them. I love them. Now they may not like me, but I’m always a believer in turn the other cheek and be positive, love people and the rest will take care of itself.”

But LGBT activists and advocates have struggled to support Rawlings since his time in office began in 2011 when he failed to sign a pledge for Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Followed by the resolution’s failure, advocates wondered if he would back any equality measures. GetEQUAL TX activist Cd Kirven said his support and his words about the LGBT community this week show a shift in his attitude towards the community.

“I’ve very proud of the mayor for getting behind this and championing our community,” Kirven said. “I’m just very proud of the progress he’s made.”

The resolution is the council’s most significant show of support for the LGBT community in a decade after the council approved domestic partner benefits in 2004. Two years before, the council passed a nondiscrimination ordinance in 2002, barring discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Before that, the council approved a nondiscrimination policy for city employees to cover sexual orientation in 1994, which was later amended to include gender identity.

Councilman Scott Griggs, the author of the previous resolution, thanked the LGBT community for coming together and working with city staff, councilmembers and the city’s LGBT Task Force to bring the new measure forward.

“I can’t speak enough about your patience and your perseverance,” Griggs told the audience Wednesday. “It’s a real testament to the whole community. This is a wonderful landmark day for the city of Dallas.”

City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said he’s already begun discussions with city staff about employee pensions and other items.

However, he said anything with a financial impact would be brought to committee. He expected a report to be presented next quarter with a list of items and a timetable for implementation.

“That process has already begun, but I can’t give you an answer as to which one will be first,” Gonzalez said.

Cece Cox, CEO of Resource Center, said she glad to hear the city manager’s office has already begun discussing possible changes, and she’s already spoken with Gonzalez. Cox said the center’s staff would prioritize changes into what can be done quickly and what can be done ,that has the most impact.

“I think it’s a start,” she said. “The resolution sets forth a whole lot of things that now need to be done.”

Some items the city’s LGBT Task Force plan to resolve fairly quickly are adding comprehensive transgender healthcare for city employees, making the pension plans equal for same-sex spouses and updating policies to improve the city’s score on the Hunan Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.

Cox was among the more than 30 LGBT advocates wearing red in the audience Wednesday and clapped when the resolution passed. She said the work and input from many LGBT organizations to help the resolution succeed shows how significant its passage means.

“A lot of work went into this, so what was accomplished today was very significant,” Cox said.. “It makes me proud looking over 20-plus years of ordinances and resolutions and discussions. It’s significant.”

Click here to read the resolution and here for more photos.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 7, 2014.

—  Dallasvoice