Another Case for Phillip Kingston

Philip Kingston may be a controversial figure throughout Dallas, but he’s what you should expect coming from the East Side, which doesn’t usually fall in with this city’s status quo. One of my favorite quotes of his is that he’s “really running against 50 years of bad government in Dallas.”

Now more than ever, our city seems on the verge of real culture change. Dallas’ traditional power structure has gravely failed our city, proven by what they have done with their time in the drivers seat. Philip’s rudeness opens the door a little wider for other people to be accepted within our political environment.

At City Hall, Philip has stretched the political spectrum and created room for less boisterous new blood to fit in. As he pushes the envelope of the policy-making landscape, someone like Patrick Kennedy (who has some relatively radical ideas) seems like an obvious commonsense choice to serve on the DART Board. Or CM Mark Clayton who surprised everyone two years ago by taking his seat without a much anticipated run-off.

Philip is like the basketball player who’s throwing elbows in the paint and attracting the attention of the defense, which leaves his teammates open in the backcourt for open shots.

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via TheRinger.com

The Griggs-Medrano-Kingston trio has built great excitement for our city and brought hope to us who know Dallas has so much untapped potential that has failed to flourish. It’s important that we not kill this momentum. A friend of mine says that Dallas is always a few funerals away from being a great city. Maybe soon we’ll only be a few council elections away.

cover photo was via Lakewood Advocate Magazine

Harry Potter and the Dallas Citizens Council

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Professor Horace Slughorn

As a citizen of this city and a nerd in general, I’ve taken it upon myself to learn about Dallas history to understand the place we live in today. An organization that always comes up in my reading is the Dallas Citizens Council, made up of Dallas’ business elite. There’s a lot of vilification and conspiracy surrounding the group within my East Dallas bubble, but I’ve stumbled upon an analogy that helps me to better understand the Citizens Council.

I recently rewatched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince because you can never be too old to appreciate magic and mystery. Horace Slughorn is the new professor this year at Hogwarts, and his characterization strikes me as relevant to my studies in how Dallas works.

Professor Slughorn is a very powerful and knowledgeable wizard, but what makes him unique are his connections with the elite of the wizarding world. Like the Dallas Citizens Council, Slughorn won’t remember your name unless you’re powerful, successful, or well-connected. The Professor’s “Slug Club” dinners suggest to me of what Dallas Breakfast Group events might be like (since I’ve never been to one, I can only speculate).

giphyBeyond his ambition, Slughorn is significant to both the book and this analogy because of his connections: he’s been privy to important conversations that have significant consequences to the world in which he lives. The Catholic in me recognizes the Professor’s guilt and denial in his reluctance to own up to a terrible decision he made in the past that gave information and power to Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter’s evil antagonist. Still, Professor Slughorn possesses the knowledge and key to defeating the wizarding world’s greatest enemy, which he eventually shares with Harry.

Since its inception in 1937, members of the Dallas Citizens Council have been privy to important conversations and decisions that haven’t been open to public scrutiny. Just as Slughorn reconciled his past sins, our past leaders need to unpack bad decisions and revisit past mistakes in order to fix our housing problem, to make the best out of the Trinity, and to repair Fair Park.

The organization has pivoted and wants to “work within the system,” in which case, reaching beyond its Slug Club will be necessary in order to find the best solutions to the myriad problems in our city. Otherwise, we’ll need an unfathomable amount of felix felicis to get us out of this mess.

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Raising Cane’s Ross Ave Drive Thru

I love Raising Cane’s fried chicken fingers. I don’t leave Old East Dallas for any random reason, but I will drive to Lovers and Greenville just to grab some Cane’s chicken strips more often than I care to admit. That said, I have mixed feelings about the new Cane’s going up on Ross Ave.

I’ve complained enough about Ross on this forum. But to sum up my frustration with how we develop the Eastside, I’m extremely disappointed with the design and form of the most important corridor that links Downtown to East Dallas. We have had the opportunity to extend the greatness of Lowest Greenville, but we’ve chosen to replicate Coit and Campbell. And the brand new Raising Cane’s drive thru is case in point of wasted opportunity.

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Before and during construction

To make numbers up to prove a point, let’s say that the new location will bring in 500 cars per day, so over 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year, that would be 182,000 cars per year that will come in and out of this location, where previously there was no activity at all, in addition to the car traffic that currently passes through this section of Ross (19,387/day in 2002 according to the city). The question I have is: will this facility produce enough tax revenue to make up for the traffic wear and tear on the roads that serve it?

I did a quick analysis of two properties on Lowest Greenville: a traditional development vs a modern drive thru.

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According to 2016 data from DCAD.org, the traditional development yields a 90% higher return on property tax yield and has increased in value more than 100% over a decade, as opposed to the drive thru that decreased in value by 14% over the same period of time. I calculated the value over an acre to imagine what a neighborhood of these types of developments would look like financially.

If our goal is to build wealth in our city that is quickly losing value, then Raising Cane’s drive thru development is nothing more than a band aid over a gushing laceration. Dallas needs creative solutions to solve our myriad financial problems. While not providing a quick fix, reforming how we develop our land will be similar to establishing healthier habits to stave off larger medical bills down the road.

In the end, Cane’s will have my business, as Taco Cabana already does, but the dopamine starts and ends with fried chicken, and not with civic pride.