DART isn’t paying injured officer’s full salary



DART Officer Jesse Retana

Jesse Retana, one of the DART officers injured July 7 when a gunman ambushed officers after a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas, is being operated on today, (Friday, July 29) to remove bullet fragments from his left tricep.

But while injured Dallas Police Department officers are receiving full pay as they recover, DART officers are not covered by Civil Service. So injured DART officers are being paid through Workman’s Compensation — and that means a 30 percent reduction in their pay.

Cheryl Orr, DART vice president of human capital, said DART is aware of the situation and is addressing the issue.

Retana’s husband, Andrew Moss, started a GoFundMe page to help them through this difficult period. And while this puts a severe financial strain on this couple, Moss notes that other injured DART officers have children. So this page is to help them as well.

“When I found out about this attack, I was unbelievably scared but calm – I have worked with Jesse before so I knew he would do his best to make it home. But I knew he would put himself between the innocent and this monster to do his best to save as many others as possible — that’s just who he is,” Moss wrote.

So make a donation, if you can. To contact DART and let the agency know you support full pay for officers recovering from injuries sustained while protecting the public, you may email James Duff.

Retana is expected to make a full recovery, but that recovery won’t be quick.

—  David Taffet

Shooter identified


DART officer Brent Thompson

Dallas police identified the shooter killed in the El Centro parking garage as Micah X. Johnson.

Police said he told negotiators he wanted “to kill white people, especially white officers.” He was not affiliated with any group or terrorist organization, but angry about recent police shootings in other cities, as far as police know at this point in the investigation. He was in the Army Reserves as a junior officer.

Of all police departments in major U.S. cities, DPD has the lowest rate of officer-involved shootings.

No information has been released about the DPD officers who were killed and injured, but DART has given out names of their officers shot and information about the officer killed.

The three DART officers who were shot and are expected to recover from their injuries are Omar Cannon, 44, Misty McBride, 32, and Jesus Retana, 39.

The officer killed, Brent Thompson, 43, was married two weeks ago. His wife, Emily, is also a DART officer and was not on duty last night.

People will gather at Thanksgiving Square at noon for a service to remember the slain officers.

—  David Taffet

Streets closed downtown, 12th officer reported shot

downtown mapIf you work downtown, you are asked to stay home. Streets in downtown Dallas closed include a 25-square block area — everything from Houston to Griffin streets and Ross Avenue to Jackson Street. No traffic will be allowed until further notice.

A 12th officer and a second civilian was reported shot. The death toll remains at five.

Chief Brown corrected information reported overnight. The suspect that died in the El Centro parking garage died as a result of the bomb squad robot detonating a bomb near him.

According to Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell, one of the DART officers injured worked for partner benefits with his husband in 2013 when DART was resisting covering gay and lesbian officers equally with straight officers.

LGBT Police liaison Laura Martin was assigned to the demonstration. She worked throughout the night and will be back at work a little later this morning, but she reports she is safe.

—  David Taffet

DOT offers clarification on nondiscrimination policy

Trans Awareness Logo. INSET sizeExisting nondiscrimination policies covering public transportation already include protections for transgender people, according to a statement issued Monday, Nov. 9, by the federal Department of Public Transportation, at the request of Dallas’ Trans Pride Initiative.

The policy “including a prohibition against discrimination based on sex can be interpreted as being inclusive of gender-identity discrimination,” the statement from the DOT’s Office of Civil Rights noted.


Trans Pride Initiative President Nell Gaither

The statement points out that the nondiscrimination policy is referenced in the Federal Transit Authority “Master Agreement,” and that, “We will clarify that gender-identity discrimination is included in the ban on sex discrimination in our fiscal year 2016 Master Agreement.”

Nell Gaither, president of Trans Pride Initiative, said DOT issued the statement after her organization and Resource Center submitted a joint inquiry seeking clarification in June, as part of their efforts to help a Dallas trans woman who had encountered discrimination from employees in the Dallas public transportation system.

The woman “had been harassed, being called ‘sir’ and ‘mister’ in order to publicly out her” after she showed her state identification, Gaither said. “That’s not only harassment, it can her safety and her life in danger.”

Gaither said that although the woman had tried to resolve the situation by talking with transit staff, but had been unable to have the problem resolved.

“On the contrary, staff were victim blaming,” Gaither said. “At one point, a manager reviewing the issue stated that the trans woman was ‘confusing [the person who harassed her] by not getting her ID changed.’ That’s not an appropriate response.”

Gaither said that in the process of researching options to get the matter resolved, she learned about the DOT’s nationwide Master Agreement. Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center, was at the same time looking into an incident in which a gay man had been harassed by public transit staff, and McDonnell suggested TPI and the Resource Center submit a joint request to FTA officials asking for clarification.

The joint request, submitted June 12, also asked that the Federal Transit Authority modify the Master Agreement to include specific protections based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity.

The statement issued Monday only addresses gender identity, possibly because case law around sex discrimination as it applies to sexual orientation is less clear, Gaither said. Federal policy makers may see tying these to well-established sex discrimination coverage as a better solution than adding enumerated protected classes to the policy.

“We will continue to advocate for sexual orientation protections to be specifically added, but we certainly think [the] announcement is worth celebrating,” she said.

Gaither said that anti-trans discrimination has long been a problem in public transportation, and that such discrimination has a disproportionately large impact on low-income people who often depend on public transportation to get where they need to go.

“We are certainly happy to see this clarification, and we call on our communities and advocates around the nation to make sure public transit systems are held accountable for similar discriminatory actions moving forward,” she said.

—  Tammye Nash

River flooding continues

My obsession with our flooded river continues. These pictures were taken from downtown’s southernmost river crossing, the DART bridge. Actually, the Santa Fe Trail, which is right next to the DART bridge, is a few feet further south. That bridge is cut off from 8th and Corinth Station because the bike path connecting the station to the bridge is still under water.

Although there are signs of the river receding on the Oak Cliff side, the length of time the river bottoms are flooded adds to the ridiculousness of putting a highway here unless it’s going to be a five-mile-long bridge, which it’s not.

More flooding to come. Rain is predicted again and Lake Lewisville is still way above flood stage and water needs to be let over the dam.

—  David Taffet

Oak Cliff gets streetcar service

The new downtown-to-Oak Cliff Dallas Streetcar began running today — and the car had that new streetcar smell.

Owned by the city of Dallas and operated by DART, the 1.6 mile new service is free and runs Monday-Friday from 5 a.m.-7:15 p.m. The trip takes six minutes, but the streetcar runs only once every half hour during business hours and three times an hour during rush hours.

Weekend service may be added later, according to DART officials at the Union Station stop.

The trolley makes four stops: one downtown at Union Station and three in Oak Cliff — Founders Park at Greenbriar Lane, Lake Cliff Park at Oakenwald Street and Methodist Dallas Medical Center at Beckley Avenue.

The Greenbriar Lane stop is three blocks from Hillcrest House and other AIDS Services of Dallas facilities.

An extension is planned up Zang Boulevard to the Bishop Arts District. So far, it’s unfunded, but plans are for it to open in 2016. That extension would be just three blocks from AIDS Arms’ Trinity clinic.

A phase 3 extension will include a downtown loop that will include the Omni Hotel and Dallas Convention Center.

Unlike the McKinney Avenue trolley with its historic cars, the Dallas Streetcar uses modern vehicles that are hybrids powered in two ways. They’re run by overhead power lines downtown and in Oak Cliff and by an on-board stored energy system as it crosses the Trinity River on the Houston Street Viaduct. This is the first streetcar in the U.S. to use this type of power. DART officials at the Union Station stop said on days when DART light rail has had problems with its overhead lines, the Dallas Streetcar could operate entirely on its battery power.

Currently, only one car is running and from Union Station to Greenbriar Lane, there’s only one track. In Oak Cliff, there are two tracks, so as the line is lengthened, two (or more) cars can run.

Other than the Dallas Streetcar, the Houston Street Viaduct is still closed to vehicles. New concrete is being poured and it looks like the bridge should reopen soon, alleviating some of the backups from downtown into Oak Cliff during rush hour.

—  David Taffet

DART begins service to DFW Airport

DART mapThe final station on DART’s Orange line now links Dallas to DFW Airport — in a way it doesn’t link Dallas to Love Field. The new DART station is actually inside DFW Airport at Terminal A. Walk from the station to the terminal and once inside security, link to any of the airport’s gates.

DART skirts Love Field and does not go to the airport. A bus takes passengers from Inwood Station to Love Field’s terminal.

While the trip to DFW airport might take longer than driving, riding DART can save quite a bit of money. Terminal parking is $20 per day and long-term parking is $9 per day. A DART trip is $2.50 each way, but parking is free at DART stations. Overnight parking is available at Market Center Station and Inwood Station in Oak Lawn and Hampton Station and Westmoreland Station in Oak Cliff.

From any of the downtown or Oak Lawn stations, take the Orange line. From Oak Cliff, transfer to the Orange line at West End Station. On the Red or Blue lines from the north, transfer to the Orange line anywhere between Mockingbird Station and West End Station. From South Dallas, transfer from the Green line anywhere from Arts District Station to Bachman Station.

Travel time to DFW Airport is 50 minutes from West End Station downtown, 43 minutes from Market Center Station, 41 minutes from Parkland Station and 39 minutes from Inwood Station.

Once the Orange line splits from the Green line at Bachman Station, the train makes five stops in Irving before arriving at the airport.

The Orange line originates in Plano during rush hour, LBJ at other times, and is DART’s longest line. From Downtown Plano Station to DFW Airport is a 90 minute train trip.

DART and Fort Worth’s The T continue to operate the TRE, which stops at CentrePoint Station south of DFW Airport with a shuttle bus transferring passengers to each of the terminals at the airport.

From Denton, train travelers can take the A train from downtown Denton to Trinity Mills Station, transfer to the Green line to Bachman Station and transfer to the Orange line to the airport.

—  David Taffet

DART passes partner health benefits


Members of the LGBT community gathered outside the DART board room after passage of the plus-one plan

After debating the issue for more than a year, DART passed what it called its Healthcare Equalization plan that gives its employees domestic partner benefits this evening. The vote was 10-3. Michael Cheney and Randall Chrisman, who walked out of the board to break quorum two weeks ago, voted against the plan along with Mark Enoch.

The so-called plus-one plan allows any DART employee to put another adult in the household on the DART healthcare plan.

A number of speakers addressed the DART board at the end of the meeting. Rather than asking for their votes as they have for more than a year, speakers thanked the members for voting for the plan.

More on DART in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

LGBT residents address Garland City Council on DART, nondiscrimination


Garland Mayor Douglas Athas, left, Lerone Landis, Patti Fink and Rafael McDonnell

Following the walkout by Garland DART board representative Michael Cheney on Sept. 24 before a vote on healthcare benefits for same-sex partners at the transit agency, LGBT Garland residents and other area activists attended a Garland City Council meeting Wednesday night.

Two Garland residents and Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink addressed the council. After the meeting concluded, Mayor Douglas Athas and two councilmen spoke to the group in the council chambers.

Lerone Landis told the council he lives in Garland with his husband and their 4-year-old daughter. He said he was a daily DART rider and was disappointed to learn that it was Garland’s representative who prevented the healthcare equalization plan to pass.

To show its commitment to diversity, he urged the Garland City Council to pass a nondiscrimination policy for its own employees and for city residents.

Carmarion Anderson said she was embarrassed to be a Garland resident after Cheney’s stunt at the DART meeting.

“We live here and pay our taxes here,” she said.

She said she expected equal treatment for herself and for DART’s LGBT employees.

Fink called Cheney’s action at the DART meeting “shameful.” She encouraged the council to pass an ordinance that would cover city employees.

“Be on the cutting edge and bring new business to the city,” Fink said.

The practice at the council is to not address speakers directly as they make their allotted three-minute presentations. However, the three statements were made at the end of the meeting and the mayor came to introduce himself and talk to the group afterward.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell, who was also at the meeting, spoke to the mayor earlier in the day about the issues.

He said he believed the opposition to the DART healthcare plan among Garland officials is not rooted in homophobia but in the city’s fiscal conservatism. Athas agreed it was unfair for DART to be covering unmarried heterosexual partners and not same-sex partners.

“The council was certainly aware of Mr. Cheney’s actions,” McDonnell said.

Athas told Dallas Voice last week that he spoke to Cheney and was opposed to the DART plan. Athas’ opposition to the plus-one plan is that it’s open to abuse because the plan could cover nieces, nephews or anyone else and the agency had no way to monitor it.

But Athas said Wednesday night that the city would consider the idea of a nondiscrimination ordinance.

“We have a lot of lesbian and gay employees,” he said. “We would never allow that sort of discrimination.”

He said he had never heard a request from any of the city’s lesbian and gay community for a nondiscrimination ordinance. But he called the ordinance “nothing to rush into because no one’s come forward” with a complaint.

Fink told the mayor that most Fortune 500 companies have a nondiscrimination policy and look to relocate in cities that have similar policies. She said that the city may not have received any complaints, but  many people looking for work may have skipped applying in Garland because they have no protections.

McDonnell said he received an email from Athas Thursday morning, telling him the next step is to have Human Resources look over Garland’s nondiscrimination policies.

The mayor called the city extremely fiscally conservative. McDonnell said an ordinance is a good way for a city to avoid a discrimination lawsuit.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: DART delays vote on DP benefits until October


UPDATE: Two board members — Cheney and Chrisman — walked out of the DART board meeting tonight before a scheduled vote on a domestic partner healthcare equalization plan, breaking quorum.

One of the board members was coaxed back into the meeting to vote on other agenda items and pass the annual DART budget that includes the expected cost of the added healthcare benefits.

But he walked again as the item came up at the end of the meeting. It was tabled until the next meeting. If it passes at that time, it may delay benefits for another year because the signup period begins Oct. 1.

ORIGINAL POST: The DART committee-of-the-whole passed its version of domestic partner benefits on a voice vote of 9–2 this afternoon. The entire DART board, made up of the same members, must vote on it again tonight for final passage.

DART has been discussing DP benefits since July 2012.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell attended the meeting — the 19th DART meeting he’s attended at which the issue was discussed.

“I’m pleased we’re finally at this point,” he said. “A part of me never thought we’d get here.”

He noted he’s spent more time on DART DP benefits than any other issue he’s worked on at Resource Center.

The no votes came from the same representatives that voted no and abstained on the issue two weeks ago. Michael Cheney, who represents Garland, called for a roll call vote. As he voted, he said he voted no after consulting with city officials in Garland.

Garland doesn’t have a nondiscrimination ordinance or protection for its LGBT city employees — yet.

The DART board meeting for final approval is tonight at 6 p.m. A number of members of the community are scheduled to speak, including the partner of a DART employee who can’t work for health reasons and contacted the agency about being added to his husband’s policy.

—  David Taffet