Is Dallas Main Post office about to close?

Late Friday afternoon I received a letter that supposedly went out from the American Postal Workers Union.  This letter was on American Postal Workers Union letterhead, and signed by President Larry Crawford and Secretary/Treasurer Jennifer D. Fulbright.  I was not able to call and very this information at (214)631-3162.  But here is the first 2/3 of the letter.

On Wednesday, July 1, 2009, at Mountain View College, the U S Postal Service held a Public Forum regarding the closing of the Main Post Office.  There was only one problem, the public wasn’t there. They (the USPS) said they notified you.  They said they sent out notices and posted the meeting time and place, but you chose not to come, because you just don’t care.  Funny, the Mayor and the City Council didn’t know, until we notified them.  The media didn’t know until we told them, so we can only deduce from all that you now know because we are telling you.  We need you to SAVE OUR LOCAL POSTAL SERVICE.

The Postal Service’s plan to shift mail processing operations from the Dallas Main Post Office at 401 D/FW Turnpike to 951 Bethel RD in Coppell, TX possess a serious threat to prompt and reliable mail service for the Dallas area.

What does this mean for the citizens of Dallas?  Despite USPS assurance to the contrary, mail service will suffer.  Mail will be collected earlier in the day and will arrive later, maybe even after dark.  And we could experience delays of several days in the time it takes to send and receive our mail Checks and medications may not reach their destination when they are needed: credit ratings could suffer because of late bill payments, and birthday cards and gifts could arrive late.  Everyone doesn’t use email or the internet.  Once again the southern sector of our city will suffer if the citizens are not heard from.  What a shame for the 5th. largest city in the United States to lose it’s identity by losing it’s postmark.

The letter goes on to ask citizens to “ring the phones of your Mayor, your Representatives and your Postmaster.”  They list several politicians and for people to call and say that the Postal Service is accepting public correspondence if postmarked by July 16th.  Because of the names in the email string I’m pretty sure this is real.  It may be out there somewhere else but I haven’t seen it yet.  I’ll try to verify this on Monday.

AMERICAN AIRLINES RECOGNIZES EMPLOYEES WITH THE FIRST EARL G. GRAVES AWARD FOR LEADERSHIP

American’s Employees Build on Graves’ Legacy

Of Diversity and Inclusion as a Business Imperative

FORT WORTH, Texas – American Airlines employees Gary Kennedy, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, and Frank Stanton, Tower ManagerChicago, were awarded the first Earl G. Graves Award for Leadership to recognize their work in advancing diversity and inclusion within the company and in their communities in a ceremony Wednesday at American’s headquarters.

The award was established in honor of Earl G. Graves, Sr., founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, who influenced many of American’s diversity initiatives during his tenure on AMR’s Board of Directors. Graves helped American establish its practical, business-minded approach to diversity and worked to demonstrate that American’s diversity efforts are integral to its business goals. Graves served on AMR’s Board of Directors for many years and chaired the AMR Board Diversity Committee from 2002 until his retirement in 2008.

Graves attended the event and personally recognized the honorees along with American Airlines Chairman and CEO Gerard Arpey, Roger Staubach, Chairman AMR Board of Directors Diversity Committee, and a number of American Airlines and American Eagle employees.

“At American Airlines, we have always taken very seriously our responsibility to promote diversity and inclusion,” said Denise Lynn, Vice President-Diversity and Leadership Strategies. “We thank these deserving colleagues for their leadership. We know they have inspired others, not only through their passion and dedication over time, but through actions which have had a lasting, long-term positive impact on our company.

“We believe that our long-time commitment to diversity in the workplace, as a company and as individuals, has truly helped to move hearts and minds from a place of simply tolerating differences to one of active appreciation and inclusion.”

In addition to Kennedy and Stanton, La’Wonda Peoples, Manager-Workplace Giving and Volunteerism, and Sherri Macko, Manager-Supplier Diversity and Business Strategies, were recognized for their exceptional work for diversity and inclusion.

Award candidates were nominated by their fellow employees. Winners and honorees were then chosen by a selection committee made up of senior management and members of the company’s Diversity Advisory Council based upon three primary selection criteria:

  • Long-term commitment to leadership
  • Demonstrated passion and commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Legacy of leadership in diversity by having a lasting impact on the company

Kennedy and Stanton were nominated for their continuous commitment to the company’s diversity mission and for their ability to incorporate diversity into American’s daily operations.

Kennedy, a 25-year American Airlines employee has long been active in promoting diversity at American and within the legal profession more broadly, and has recently been recognized for his efforts with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2009 Employer of Choice Award and the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Bar Association’s 2009 Allies for Justice Award. In addition, Kennedy established American’s pro bono program in which participating attorneys provide legal services to indigent clients. Kennedy also helped establish a mentoring program for minority students at Texas Wesleyan law school.

Stanton, a 42-year American Airlines veteran, has been instrumental in the success of American’s Chicago O’Hare diversity and inclusion efforts. He helped establish the Chicago chapter of the African-American Employee Resource Group (AAERG), and was honored as AAERG member of the year in 2007.

He also served as a member of the local Diversity Action Council, where he first helped organize opportunities for exposure to areas of interest and developed on-the-job training in the 1970s to aid diverse employees’ advancement. Today, American’s Walk-A-Mile program continues to provide employees with the opportunity to shadow fellow employees in areas of interest.

Dallas Business Journal response to Dallas South post on 40 under Forty Awards

Here’s a message that I received from the Dallas Business Journal regarding yesterday’s post on their 40 under Forty Awards.

Dear Shawn,

We couldn’t agree with you more about the need to highlight talent in our community that’s often overlooked by the general media, and we’re glad that Dallas South is doing just that.

We share in your vision, and that’s why last year the Dallas Business Journal launched two programs – the Minority Business Leader Awards and the Women in Business Awards – both of which recognize outstanding achievements by entrepreneurs and corporate executives.

But our commitment to covering the diverse talent that makes up our business community would be disingenuous if it were limited to these award programs. It’s not: We want to cover news about successful and innovative business leaders — no matter their ethnicity or gender — daily online at dallasbusinessjournal.com, weekly in our Friday print edition — all year long. That’s why we’ve reached out to many minority and women organizations like the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, the African Chamber of Commerce, DFW Minority Business Council , Women’s Business Council-Southwest and others to build partnerships.

Thank you for highlighting this issue. We encourage your readers to make nominations in any of our awards programs by visiting
http://dallas.bizjournals.com/dallas/nomination/

And we’re always looking for news-making entrepreneurs and executives to profile in Dallas Business Journal’s Enterprise Zone section in our weekly print edition. Our copy editor, Debbie Bolles, will be happy to provide the guidelines; just e-mail her at dbolles@bizjournals.com.

Thanks for helping to spread the word!

Christine Perez
Assistant Managing Editor (and project editor of the 40 Under Forty special publication)
Dallas Business Journal

Dallas Business Journal 40 Under 40 void of Young Black Business Talent

I find it odd that the Dallas Business Journal has compiled a list for their 40 under Forty Award that has zero African-American Males and zero African-American Females. I wasn’t able to get my hands on a physical copy of the journal which dropped yesterday (sold out), but I did click on all 40 names listed which included pictures, and there was no (visible) African-American representation on the list.

I find it interesting that D CEO has executive Gail Warrior-Lawrence (Warrior Group) on this month’s cover for their Super Entrepreneurs issue. Warrior doesn’t look a day over 30, but I’m not revealing her age. The point is there are black business people out there to highlight in such a way.

Maybe DBJ is holding out some of their good young candidates for the Minority Business Leader Awards. I can’t tell you, I’m just reporting what I saw when I clicked on the award winners.

According to the Dallas Biz Journal Website, they are already looking for solicitations for next year’s list. Here’s the call as it appears on the site:

In 2010, the Dallas Business Journal will once again seek highly accomplished executives and entrepreneurs under the age of 40 for our 40 Under Forty Awards program.

To qualify, candidates must be 39 years old or younger as of June 30, 2010, and have a proven track record in both business and community involvement.

We are looking for executives who really shine — innovators, dealmakers, influential leaders who excel in their respective companies and industries, and show dynamic leadership in their communities.

Apparently there were no Black innovators, no Black dealmakers, no Black executives that “really shine” and are under 40. Or maybe there were no black folks nominated. I know of at least one person who was, but I guess they didn’t make the cut.

Am I offended by the Dallas Biz list? Not really. But it further illustrates the need for places like Dallas South that helps folks see the overlooked portions of our community.

And it illustrates what’s being lost in the dire state of Black media outlets like Ebony and Jet. So stop emailing me about how I’m racist for having a site dedicated to the positive portrayal of African-Americans.

Anyway, look for a list from Dallas South that will highlight the under 40 business scene. If you have anyone you would like to nominate, comment on this post and we will consider them.

DALLAS BUSINESS JOURNAL 40 UNDER 40

Save-A-Lot opens new Southern Dallas location at Crest Shopping Center

On Tuesday, Save-A-Lot held a “Dollar Cutting” ceremony for their newest store at Crest Shopping Center in the Lancaster-Kiest Corridor. The store is completely new construction and replaces an abandoned theater, located at 2611 South Lancaster.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway were both on hand to participate in a “breakthrough shopping cart event” where they competed in a time race to grab groceries to benefit a family in need. Leppert was competitive as usual, racing around the store grabbing oatmeal and spaghetti, throwing them into the basket while Caraway pushed a neighborhood girl holding their item list.

View Map of Sava-A-Lot Location

Tenants at Crest Plaza are pleased with the progress. “This is of vital importanance,” says Vincent Hall, owner of Mickey’s Catfish.” We want business from all over the city and for people to feel comfortable spending their money in the area.” Hall also praised Caraway’s efforts working with the Crest Plaza owners to update the center.

Save-A-Lot donated 5,000 lbs. of food to the North Texas Food Bank on Tuesday, but Councilman Caraway challenged the community to do their part now that the new Save-A-Lot has come on board. “It is this community’s responsibility to make sure that this Lancaster-Kiest corridor continues to thrive.”

Crest Shopping Center is undergoing a face lift as the owners are putting a new facade on the entire plaza. “We want to be part of the revitalization of this area,” says shopping center owner Jonathan Shokrian. “It’s been kick started by Councilman Caraway,” he said. Cato Stores plans to enter the shopping center by the end of summer and Shokrian says other tenants are in the works.

Also on hand to help celebrate the store opening were State Representative Barbara Mallory-Caraway and City Plan Commissioner Michael Davis. Save-A-Lot has 19 stores in Texas with 11 of those being in Dallas-Ft. Worth.

This store is not a net gain for Southern Dallas because they already had a location in the plaza before, but does represent progress. Grocery stores are few and far between on the south side of town.

Caraway and Leppert see Lancaster-Kiest as a key area for Southern Dallas development due to its proximity to the DART Rail. There are plans to eventually construct a hotel in the area was well as other mixed-use developments.

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Cowboys Stadium opens to poor reviews from many concert goers

It may be hard to tell by some media reports, but there are lots of complaints floating around about Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.  Traffic seemed to be better than expected, but concessions and sound quality were not.

Just from reading through comments on websites and reports, it looks like one of my concerns early was the real issue: the deadline of June 6th was too short.  If you looked at the stadium 6 weeks ago, in no way did it look like it would be ready for prime time.

Concessions were apparently a problem, as some reports had lines at an hour long.  Price…..well that’s to be expected ($7.50 Hot Dog, $14 Margarita).

And when you go to a concert at a venue as grand as Cowboys Stadium, you can’t expect the acoustics to be the same as your local black box theater.  We attended the Essence Festival when it was held at Houston’s Reliant Stadium in few years back, and the sound was far from perfect.  The Superdome is a much better place to watch a concert, but it’s not as big either.

Many of the problems, like the fact that there weren’t enough concession items on hand, should be worked out before the Jonas Brothers.  But some folks in the 400 section basically paid to watch the concert in high definition. At the end of the day, Cowboys Stadium is a football field, not an opera house.

Stand alone Chick-Fil-A headed to Wheatland Town Crossing

I can taste the Chicken Biscuits already. Progress is coming along nicely with the new Chick-Fil-A going up on Wheatland just off Hampton (near I-20). I’m told that the waffle fries should be ready sometime in August.

This location means that the Chick-Fil-A shop at Southwest Center Mall will most likely close down. I often forget about the Red Bird location when I’m craving a chocolate brownie with walnuts, and usually wait until I’m in the area of Southwestern and Central to cure my fix. But it’s really not that bad parking up close to the food court and running in and out at the mall.

Still, the area deserves a better location and it will be great for the kids to have a playground as well. So often in our area fast food chains won’t even provide patrons with indoor seating (hello Wendy’s), but I know that Store Operator Stacey McGee and his staff will do an excellent job in for the community.

Stacey McGee

I have no doubt that their store will be one of the best in town (no offense Morgan). So I’m putting in an early order for a Chicken Salad Sandwich combo with a lemonade to drink…..and a brownie.

D Magazine/Shawn Williams: Saving Old Red Bird Mall

In this month’s D Magazine, there’s an article written by yours truly where I talk about the plight of Southwest Center/Red Bird Mall.  You can read Saving Old Red Bird Mall at the D Magazine site (MAKE SURE TO GO PICK UP A FEW COPIES).  Thanks to Tim Rogers at D for the opportunity, and Trey Garrison for helping me with the edit.  Here are a few excerpts from the article.

  • My son and I recently found ourselves in the mall formerly known as Red Bird because I had forgotten Dillard’s had packed up last year and moved to the new Uptown Village at Cedar Hill. We tried to find something else to occupy our time since we had already made the trip. “Does this mall have a Build-A-Bear Workshop?” my first-grader asked. “No, son,” I said, halfway shamed by his question and my answer. “They don’t have that store here.”
  • Dr. Frederick D. Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church and a group of Southern Dallas pastors unsuccessfully pursued a joint venture with an investment group to purchase the mall in 2001. (“The owners of Red Bird got complacent and didn’t keep up with what other malls were doing,” Haynes says. “They lost contact with the community.”) Then Dr. Roland Hill, pastor of the Living Waters Worship Center, created the Red Bird Renaissance Community Development Committee to help find new ownership. But again, no deal.
  • Some of these challenges of perception may be addressed now that Mayor Tom Leppert’s 240-member Southern Dallas Task Force lists the mall as a top priority. Edna Pemberton was assigned by Leppert and Councilman Tennell Atkins to serve as a liaison between Southwest Center’s tenants and the city. Pemberton’s duties have included everything from persuading an Oncor meter man not to flip the switch on the mall’s power to leading a group of store owners to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with the Department of Labor.
  • Start by changing the name back to Red Bird Mall. Tear down everything west of the common area that stands in front of Foley’s, including the vacant J.C. Penney and most of Dillard’s. The lower level that leads east toward Penney’s is void of tenants. The stores that are open on the upper level of that end of the building can flip to the boarded-up spaces in front of Sears on the far east side.

Convention Center Hotel Message to a Friend

I was responding to a message from a friend this morning and figured I’d post what I typed on the blog.

Shawn,

Just read your latest post. Why is the hotel so important? I don’t live in Dallas and I don’t have a say but what is it expected to bring.

I have heard of conferences but with so little entertainment to offer I don’t see that being a big pull. I think it is great that this mayor wants to build up Dallas but I am not sure what or why you all think a hotel is the way to go about it.

Friend

###

Friend,

That’s a good question and a question I plan to answer in the next few days. The hotel is important to a city like Dallas because convention and tourism is the lifeblood of major cities. New Orleans is taking their time to rebuild living space, but they wasted no time making sure that tourism was protected and back up as soon as possible.

Dallas is the only city in the top 20 convention markets that does not have a convention hotel. Even most opponents agree that the city will benefit from such a venue, they just don’t agree with how it’s being funded.

Regardless of what people say, convention planners like to come to Dallas. When you have a convention on a coast like San Diego -A GREAT CONVENTION CITY- it can be tough for people to travel from the East Coast. Early Departures/ Late Arrivals, jet lag, it all takes away from the experience.

When I was working a convention in Seattle recently they told me attendance was down this year because many of the doctors from the East Coast did not attend. The logistical convenience offered by Chicago, Dallas, (even Houston) offers an initial incentive for our first customer: convention planners.

And there are things to do in Dallas that even folks who live here don’t take advantage of. Ask locals whether they have been to the Nasher Scupture Center and most will say no. Yet it’s one of the reasons the New York Times listed Dallas as #17 in the their list of top #44 cities in the world.

In my initial article on this issues for the Dallas Morning News on December 17, 2007, I stated that Dallas needs both a hotel and improved entertainment options to be successful. In this hotel deal, Matthews Southwest (hotel developer) has committed to raising up to $30 million for entertainment and retail space around the hotel. These are the same people who recruited Brooklyn’s Jazz Cafe to the Southside. I was there on Friday, you could hardly get in.

It’s just one man’s opinion, but I think Jack Matthews is the 21st Century Trammell Crow/Marcus Stanley. Because he’s not from here (like many of us) he’s not bogged down by what can’t happen. “You can’t make money out of that Old Sears Building,” but he did. “You can’t build a successful hotel downtown,” but he will.

The way Matthews treats his African-American retail tenants (which are quite a few) is outstanding, and he’s a huge supporter of “minority owned businesses.” I’m sure that goes for everyone who work and live in his buildings. People love working for the guy. I was on board with the hotel before they announced a developer, but I can tell you my support would not be as strong were it anyone else.

FACT

In 2007-2008 the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau booked 1 million room nights, $ 1 billion of economic impact for our city. That’s a record for Dallas and up 20% from the previous year. This had everything to do with the fact that the Dallas City Council approved the hotel.

In the end, I think part of it is that I see Dallas not as it is, but as it will be 5 years from now. I see Dallas with a deck park over Woodall Rogers, a beautiful bridge extending into West Dallas, a Performing Arts Center and Theater that rival any such venues in the world. I even see the stinky Trinity becoming a white water rapids course.

Our city made some mistakes, and if I can borrow a line from our President, much of that took place before I got here. But Dallas has to protect Dallas. Prop 1 and 2 don’t make one person safer, one road smoother, and they don’t save one job. We have to move forward, and that’s what we’ve been able to do in the last 4 or 5 years. We can’t let one person stand in our way for fear that he’ll lose business.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Shawn

Cash Loans Dealer replaces Starbucks on Camp Wisdom Road in Southern Dallas

Who in the hell left the gate open?

That’s the kicker from the above sermon by Rev. B.W. Smith (about 2:00 in) when describing a little dog that always yapped at a big dog from behind the safety of a fence. Now I’m not really drawing a parallel with the dogs in this post, but I am wondering, who in the hell left the gate open for a cash loan store to moves in next door to a check cashing place.

When Magic Johnson brought Starbucks into Southern Dallas it was a proud moment. When I moved to this part of town I often stopped by the coffee house, even though it wasn’t as cozy as most. I hated to them close, but it was never packed so I could understand.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the building was getting a paint job, loud red and yellow to be exact. I figured it was either going to be repurposed as an El Pollo Chicken or Williams Chicken. Not what I would have chosen, but they pay taxes so I could let that ride.

But when I was told last week that another check cashing place was moving in, I was pretty upset. Riding by this week I saw their sign up: Loan Star -Cash Loans. I would never have imagined that this would go up right next to PLS’ outfit.

The Dallas Morning News published an excellent investigative report on Sunday about pay lenders and legislators like Ft. Worth’s Sen. Wendy Davis who are attempting curtail their activities. Payday lenders are virtually unregulated here in Texas.

Read Doug Swanson’s Pay Day Loan investigation article written with research provided by students from the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism at the University of North Texas.

As the article discusses, they are only open because people see value in their service. But their service takes advantage of people . Taking advantage of people isn’t a crime, but charging 900% on a loan should be.

And who from the community is keeping track of the type of development moving into our community? We all came together to stop the New Fine Arts building that was going in on Westmoreland, but what about these check cashing outfits?

Is anyone at the table when these outrageous lenders look to further penetrate our area? And by the way, does anyone care that the Pet Store that left the Southwest Center Parking Lot is now at $8 Fashion Outlet?

I know we’re desperate for tax revenue and business expansions in the South but seriously, does that mean we accept anybody that’s not selling porn? Or does it mean that because we’ve left the gate open for so long we get what we get? Too often we’re like the little dog in Rev. Smith’s story – yackity yack, yackity yack, yackiity yack.