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

What city council member IS that?!?

KingstonAsHuntAt the Dia de los Muertos festival at the Latino Cultural Center Saturday, the stars turned out, including former city council member Angela Hunt, pictured on the right … only that’s not Hunt. That’s her council replacement, Philip Kingston in drag.

Now, we know straight guys do drag for Halloween … but Day of the Dead? News to us.

Today is Philip’s birthday. It looks like he got his wish: To be the new Angela … we just thought that happened last spring.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Turtle Creek Chorale performs at Dallas City Council swearing-in ceremony

Chorale

Outgoing council members sat in front of the incoming Dallas City Council as members of the Turtle Creek Chorale in the Choral Terrace sang the national anthem.

The predominantly gay Turtle Creek Chorale opened the swearing-in ceremony for the Dallas City Council this morning at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center. About 50 members of the Chorale participated.

A number of out officials and former officials, including Sheriff Lupe Valdez and former District 2 Councilman John Loza, attended. Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance were well represented. Among family members attending was Cowboys hall-of-famer Roger Staubach, whose daughter Jennifer Staubach Gates was sworn in as District 13 councilwoman.

Mayor Mike Rawlings paid tribute to five members leaving the council. The outgoing council had more women than any other council in the city’s history. All five members leaving are women.

Among those leaving, Rawlings cited Delia Jasso for her work on the LGBT Task Force and growth of business in her district, especially in Bishop Arts. He mentioned her recognition by the National Diversity Council in April as the most powerful and influential woman in Texas. He credited her with educating him on domestic violence issues. Rawlings made no mention of Jasso’s stunning recent betrayal of the LGBT community when she withdrew her support for an equality resolution, which effectively killed the measure.

The mayor called Angela Hunt a good friend. As the youngest person ever elected to Dallas City Council, he said she brought a new vitality to the horseshoe.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Philip Kingston, Rick Callahan win Dallas City Council seats

IMG_6232

Dallas City Councilman-elect Philip Kingston, right, hugs outgoing Councilwoman Angela Hunt at his watch party Saturday at the Pour House. Kingston will replace Hunt, who endorsed him. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Philip Kingston narrowly defeated fellow attorney Bobby Abtahi on Saturday in a runoff between two LGBT allies for the District 14 Dallas City Council seat.

With 39 of 41 precincts reporting, Kingston has 2,339 votes, or 55 percent, to Abtahi’s 1,946 votes, or 45 percent.

Kingston will replace Councilwoman Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT supporter who was term limited and endorsed Kingston in the race. District 14 is among the most heavily LGBT in the city and covers parts of Oak Lawn, East Dallas and downtown.

Kingston and his supporters gathered at the Pour House on Skillman. In his victory speech, Kingston thanked his all-volunteer staff and supporters for running a clean and positive race.

“Our message was issues-driven and relentlessly positive,” Kingston told Dallas Voice. “That resonated with voters in District 14.”

Abtahi and several dozen supporters waited for results at The Mason Bar in Uptown. He called Kingston after it was clear he’d lost before thanking his supporters for their hard work and faith in him throughout a long campaign.

“We started this campaign at 1 percent. That was our name ID. That’s how much of the vote we were going to get, 1 percent,” Abtahi said. “And we came back and we showed people that you could have someone from the outside, you could have someone who wasn’t endorsed by the incumbent make a run for it and we did a great job. And I appreciate all your support and now it’s time to relax.”

Kingston and Abtahi expressed strong support for the LGBT community during the campaign, with both saying they’d back a council resolution endorsing marriage equality and statewide LGBT job protections.

Kingston was criticized for his mostly Republican primary voting history and for financial contributions to conservative causes, including a PAC now affiliated with Sen. Ted Cruz and the campaign of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. However, Kingston also gave money to the campaign to defeat Texas’ marriage amendment in 2005.

Abtahi, who has a lesbian sister, was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, while Kingston had the backing of the nonpartisan Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

In the other City Council runoff, Rick Callahan defeated Jesse Diaz in the newly created District 5, which covers Pleasant Grove in southeast Dallas. Diaz was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats. In response to a Dallas Voice questionnaire, Callahan said he supports civil unions but not marriage equality, but his campaign manager later said he would support the council marriage equality resolution.

Abtahi.Bobby

Bobby Abtahi shakes hands with gay former Councilman Craig Holcomb at his watch party at the Mason Bar on Guillot Street in State-Thomas. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

—  John Wright

LGBT advocates clash with City Council members over equality resolution

LGBT activists turn their backs and walk out a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday during remarks from Councilman Dwaine caraway about the equality resolution. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

LGBT activists turn their backs and walk out of a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday during remarks from Councilman Dwaine Caraway about the equality resolution. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

8_Dallas_City_Council_Meeting_20130612_Copyright_2013_Patrick_Hoffman_All_Rights_Reserved_8

Activist Cd Kirven yells at Councilman Dwaine Caraway before leaving the meeting. (Patrick Hoffman/Dallas Voice)

LGBT advocates expressed their frustration over the lack of support for an equality resolution Wednesday morning at a Dallas City Council meeting.

Mayor Mike Rawlings was absent during the meeting, though he was not considered absent while in South America last week, preventing Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano from using her power as acting mayor to place the equality resolution on the agenda.

The resolution supporting marriage equality and statewide LGBT-inclusive workplace protections, authored by Councilman Scott Griggs, was slated to be voted on Wednesday but never made the agenda after Councilmember Delia Jasso surprisingly withdrew her signature from a memo last month to require a vote. Jasso remained silent during the meeting. During the accusations from council members that the method of bringing the measure forward was misguided, Griggs also remained silent.

Tensions ran high after speakers addressed the council, resulting in several audience members walking out, turning their backs on Councilman Dwaine Caraway and even shouting at council members during the meeting.

Lesbian activist Cd Kirven said she expected more from council members and that they should support civil rights.

“You, as a municipal representative, should always represent those ideals and are a critical part of freedom’s foundation,” Kirven told council members. “Again the LGBT community is disappointed by officials who claim to be allies.”

—  Dallasvoice

Flip-flopper Delia Jasso withdraws support for marriage equality resolution

DJasso

Councilwoman Delia Jasso

Lame-duck Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso, defeated in the May 11 election, has abruptly withdrawn her support for an LGBT equality resolution, meaning Mayor Mike Rawlings is no longer required to place the resolution on the council agenda.

According to an email from the city secretary to council members on Tuesday, Jasso has pulled her signature from a memo in support of the equality resolution that she signed in April. Jasso was one of five council members who signed the memo, the required number to force Rawlings to place the resolution on the agenda under the city charter.

When she signed the memo, Jasso was running against fellow incumbent Scott Griggs, who authored the resolution, in District 1. Griggs handiy defeated Jasso May 11 after they were both placed in the same district when council maps were redrawn in 2011.

In response to Jasso’s decision to pull her signature from the memo, Griggs noted that Rawlings publicly came out in support of the resolution for the first time only hours before — in today’s Dallas Morning News. Griggs said he’s hoping that even though he’s not required to and once called the resolution a “misuse” of the council’s time, Rawlings will still place it on the agenda.

Griggs has said he has the eight votes needed to pass the resolution — but the current council leaves office at the end of June. Before Jasso pulled her signature, the resolution was scheduled for a vote June 12.

“I’d still like it to move forward, and I think we’ve got the votes, and I’m enthusiastic about the mayor’s support,” Griggs said. “I think it would send a great message.”

Rawlings chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said Wednesday morning that the mayor does not plan to place the resolution on the agenda.

—  John Wright

Dallas City Council candidates to screen for Stonewall Democrats on Saturday

Stonewall

Twelve candidates or their surrogates from six Dallas City Council races will appear at Resource Center Dallas on Saturday as they vie for endorsements from Stonewall Democrats.

Everyone is invited to attend the candidate screening sessions, but only those who have been members of Stonewall Democrats for more than 30 days may vote on the endorsement recommendations, which will be ratified at the group’s next general meeting on March 19.

Opening remarks and instructions begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and candidates will appear by district. Oak Cliff-area races will be covered in the morning, with Oak Lawn-area races in the afternoon.

Stonewall political chair Jeff Strater is organizing the screenings. He said each candidate will be given three minutes to make a statement and then members can ask questions for seven minutes.

Under Stonewall’s bylaws, the organization may endorse only Democrats, even though the races are nonpartisan.

Of the seven people running in District 14, five have predominantly Republican voting histories, according to Strater. Phillip Kingston signed a pledge affiliating with the Democratic Party to qualify for the Stonewall endorsement. Bobby Abtahi’s most recent voting is in Democratic primaries, which qualifies him without signing a pledge, Strater said. Only Jim Rogers has a record of voting exclusively in Democratic primaries.

The full schedule for Saturday’s screenings is below.

—  David Taffet

Aerial spraying begins tonight, includes most of Oak Lawn and Uptown

Updated map, 4:50 p.m.

Aerial spraying for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus begins tonight from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. The area of Dallas, Highland Park and University Park to be sprayed are bound by LBJ Freeway, the North Dallas Tollway and I-30.

Uptown and most of Oak Lawn are included in the spraying area. The only area bounded by those highways that is not included is Mesquite.

Another 20,000 acres may be added later today, according to a mid-morning release from the city of Dallas.

In Oak Lawn, there have been three human cases of West Nile Virus in the 75219 zip code and one case in 75235. In Uptown’s 74204 zip code, one human case has been reported. The 75235 zip code west of the Tollway is not included in tonight’s announced spraying area.

One case has been reported in each of North Oak Cliff’s two zip codes — 75208 and 75211 — but Oak Cliff, south of I-30, is not included in the spraying area.

—  David Taffet

Flashing lights won’t fix Cedar Springs’ No. 1 problem: Shabbiness

Community must work together to spiff up our strip, which wasn’t even included in Dallas’ ‘Complete Streets’ program until recently

Phyllis Guest
Taking Notes

Afriend and I went to a Jan. 12 meeting at the Round-Up Saloon, hosted by Dallas City Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano. The meeting was called to address the epidemic of pedestrian traffic accidents on Cedar Springs Road.

We listened to a city engineer, other city staff, a police officer and local businesspeople. The engineer showed us slides of Cedar Springs as it is and as the city proposed to change it in three stages.

If you read David Taffet’s article on Page 6 of the Jan. 27 issue of Dallas Voice, you know what’s proposed. And if you’ve been on Cedar Springs, you can’t have missed the most obvious change: yellow warning flashers, first at Knight Street, then at Reagan.

They are supposed to flash 24/7 for a month, then only when a pedestrian pushes the button to cross the street. However, when I left the Oak Lawn Library on Tuesday, Jan. 31, the flasher at Knight — just in front of the library and the corner of Ilume — was not flashing. Hmmm.

I also went to the Cedar Springs Merchant Association meeting Jan. 25. There, Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Mayor Mike Rawlings, took questions and listened to comments during the first half of the meeting. I thought the most important point was made by Luke Crosland, ilume’s developer: The area generates $30 million a year in alcohol sales.

That’s a huge amount of revenue. With the next phase of ilume scheduled for development, and with more and more apartments replacing the area’s older homes, no doubt that revenue stream will grow.

In the second part of the meeting, CSMA Executive Director Scott Whittall spoke of the traffic study the city will conduct throughout February to help officials make more decisions about traffic problems and solutions. Whittall also announced a new campaign, online and presumably in print, to market “The Strip on Cedar Springs.” (Go to TinyUrl.com/8yb7uj8 to enter the logo design contest.)

Finally, after asking CSMA attendees to sign up for one of two committees, “traffic problems” or “taxi solutions,” Whittall announced a whole calendar of events for the remainder of 2012. All are geared to attract locals and visitors to The Strip.

Sounds good.

And if more crosswalk lights, pedestrian signs and police patrols will keep people from being run down, that certainly is good.

But changing the behavior of pedestrians and drivers is not the main problem.

The main problem is shabbiness.

Drive slowly up and down Cedar Springs as I did on Tuesday at midday.

Look at the very different storefronts, the very disparate signage.

Look at the street, cracked and torn and unevenly marked.

Look at the sidewalks, also cracked and torn. In some places, curbs are high, in other places low, in still others slanted to accommodate the disabled. Holes as big as a boot are everywhere. Round metal whatevers are inserted along portions of the sidewalk holding what look like tall twigs. Even if the twigs spring to life next month, they will still look weird.

This is a major “entertainment district” in a major American city? This is our answer to Manhattan’s Great White Way or Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade?

Our area was not even included in Dallas’ Complete Streets planning. In fact, I had never heard of “Complete Streets” until it appeared on the city’s handout of short-term, medium-term, and long-term Cedar Springs Pedestrian Safety Improvements. On the handout, as you might guess, it was No. 12, a long-term option to “Review area for Complete Street design.”

Check out www.dallascompletestreets.com. You’ll see that nine areas have already been selected for attention and investment, apparently by city staff or consultants. You’ll also see a list of workshops held this past November and December, none in our area and none advertised in the Dallas Voice.

How do we get from shabby to spiffy? We talk to the Dallas City Council, we talk to the Cedar Springs Merchant Association, we talk to the Dallas Complete Streets planners, and we talk to one another. Perhaps we organize the equivalent of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, which works on conserving what’s best and reworking what’s not.

Today. We can start today. Each of us can make one phone call or write one email, and make one post on Facebook or Twitter.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Send comments to editor@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Violent crime falls 13% in Oak Lawn hotspot

But jumps in vehicle burglaries, auto thefts fuel overall increase in 2011 for Maple-Wycliff TAAG

Martin.Laura

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com
Violent crime fell roughly 13 percent last year in the 1-square-mile hotspot that encompasses the Cedar Springs entertainment district and most of the Oak Lawn gayborhood, according to statistics provided by the Dallas Police Department this week.

However, the number of nonviolent offenses jumped 7 percent in the area —including significant spikes in vehicle burglaries and auto thefts — leading to a 4 percent increase in overall crime.

The Maple-Wycliff Target Area Action Grid, previously known as the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG, stretches generally from Maple Avenue to Lemmon Avenue, and from Oak Lawn Avenue to Kings Road.

The area, identified by DPD as one of 27 crime hotspots citywide, recorded 108 violent offenses from Jan. 1 through Dec. 26 of 2011, down from 122 violent offenses during the same period in 2010. Statistics for the final five days of the year were not yet available this week.

The 2011 numbers put the Maple-Wycliff TAAG at No. 7 for violent crime on a list of the city’s worst hotspots. Three years ago, shortly after the hotspots were identified, the Maple-Wycliff TAAG climbed as high as No. 2 on the list.

“I think part of it is the general trend in Dallas and nationally, that crime has gone down,” said Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, whose district includes portions of the Maple-Wycliff TAAG. “I think the other part of it is the additional focus the city has placed on making safety a greater priority in that area.”

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison for DPD, cited increased patrols, including plainclothes officers, as well as greater community involvement.

“The reason we have TAAG areas is they’re identified as high crime areas, so we address them with extra patrols,” Martin said. “Those areas where we have high crime get more attention, so it would stand to reason that crime would be reduced in those areas.”

Both Hunt and Martin also pointed to improved street lighting in the gayborhood, much of which was initiated by Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats’ Light Up Oak Lawn campaign.

Martin said even the Office Depot at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave. — where the parking lot has long been plagued by aggravated robberies — recently installed additional lighting.

“If you go over there on the weekend now it looks like Christmas,” Martin said. “I don’t believe we’ve had a problem since then at that location.”

The 12.5 percent decrease in violent crime in the Maple-Wycliff TAAG was part of an 8.8 percent reduction citywide — which marked the eighth straight annual decline, a record for Dallas.

The Dallas Morning News reported this week that murders dropped to a 44-year low in 2011, while total crime was down 39 percent over the last eight years.

Factors cited as contributing to the trend include the hiring of hundreds more police officers over the last few years, DPD’s strategy of hotspot policing and the large number of convicts who are behind bars.

However, despite increased attention from police, the news was not all good for the Maple-Wycliff TAAG. Statistics obtained by Dallas Voice show vehicle burglaries jumped 21 percent from 2010 to 2011, while auto thefts jumped 17 percent.

The Maple-Wycliff TAAG recorded 338 vehicle burglaries in 2011 — or an average of almost one per day — up from 280 in 2010.

Martin noted that the number of vehicle burglaries dropped sharply over the last month of 2011. She said this was after DPD made several arrests of burglars who had been very active in the area.

Martin advised people to park in well-lit, nonisolated areas, away from shadows and tree cover, and to lock their vehicles and set their alarms if they have them.

She also said people should take anything from their vehicles they can’t afford to lose, and hide everything else under a seat, or in the glove compartment or trunk.

But she warned people against hiding items after they’ve already parked, because she said criminals look for this.

“You don’t want people to observe you hiding things,” she said. “Make your vehicle a hard target. Burglary of a vehicle a lot of times is a crime of opportunity.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas