Is This Thing On?

It’s only been like four years since I posted to this site. I kind of wanted to see if I could still log in on a WordPress site.  Plus I’ve been waxing poetic on the fact that this blog is almost 10 years old (let’s not count the 3+ year hiatus.

Well, let’s see what happens when I hit PUBLISH…

John Spriggins’ “Paper Dolls” debuts at the South Dallas Cultural Center October 24th

Cross posted at Dallas nonprofit news organization

On Saturday, South Dallas artist John Spriggins will open a new show just down the street from his work space.  Spriggins latest work “Paper Dolls” debuts at the South Dallas Cultural Center on October 24th and is a look at how media influence female self image.

John Spriggins and one of his "dolls"

John Spriggins and one of his “dolls”

Early this week I visited John at his studio as he prepared for the show and had a chance to look at some of the 20 images that make up “Paper Dolls.”  Spriggins drafted some of his female friends and acquaintances to pose for a work that offers his take on female sense of self and how self perception is developed.

The idea came about as Spriggins and a cousin talked about what it’s like raising daughters in this day and age.  He looked at the images that females receive through various forms of media, but eventually settled on how magazines covers speak to women.

If you look closely enough, you may catch that the poses and theme are a nod to the paper dolls that were popular in previous centuries, when little girls would cut out clothes on a sheet of paper and paste them on the “perfectly shaped” women on the page.  From cartoons to commercials, images of how women should look, think, and feel constantly bombard them.

“The women that I spoke with have (image) issues that come from a variety of places,” Spriggins says, “and these magazines offer redundant information and quick fixes.”   After giving the models a survey of 10 questions, he used the their answers to fill the “paper doll” silhouettes with messages he clipped from magazine covers.

Paper Dolls

Paper Dolls

Dallas South News will do a full review of the show next week, but I will say that seeing images of these pieces on Facebook did nothing for what they look like up close.  There are multiple levels of interaction that take place between the 20 dolls and their guests.  Each image is so rich with detail and so full of information that the project should lend well to multiple viewings.  I can’t wait to meet these ladies again on Saturday.

“Paper Dolls” opens Saturday October 24th at 5 pm where John Spriggins will talk about his motivation for the work. The event is free and open to the public. The “Paper Dolls” exhibition runs through November 28, 2009.

Southwest Center Mall is sold.

By Shawn Williams – Dallas South News Editor


In a community meeting at the atrium of Southwest Center Mall on Monday night, the public was informed that after months in foreclosure, Southwest Center Mall has a new owner.  When Councilman Tennell Atkins and Mayor Tom Leppert opened the meeting of 150 plus citizens, they did so knowing that there would be blowback from the deal that they were about to announce.

A representative from Madison Realty Capital, who had held the mall since it went into foreclosure, announced that they had formed a partnership with City View Commercial, who bought the inline properties at Southwest Center last Friday.  That means they have control of all the non big box stores (stores inside the mall that are not Sears, JC Penny, Burlington, Dillards, or Macy’s).


SWC Mall Store Display

Jack Friedler was there representing City View but the name that was on everyone’s lips was Jimmy Jazz.  City View is the real estate arm for the more than 80 U.S. retail stores that sell the Jimmy Jazz lines.

About a month ago, word surfaced that an “urban retailer” had gotten in line to purchase the mall formally known as Red Bird.  Ms. Edna Pemberton and other community leaders were uneasy about what they felt was a slight.

Mall advocates felt slighted for two reasons.  First they felt they were doing everything they could to keep the mall from becoming a swap meet and the perception was that if the mall was purchased by an “urban retailer” then “Southwest Center Flea Market” could be the next step.  Secondly, they (community leaders) were working with David Bell of Bell Industry who told him that he had put $15 million of earnest dollars (more on that later) down on the property, and Bell’s group never heard anything from anyone.

Jack Friedler (L)

Jack Friedler (L)

So Monday night the group felt it was more of the same as they listened to Mr. Friedler makes his pitch.  One of the first questions from the audience was what type of stores the Jimmy Jazz group had in their other properties.  The first word out of his mouth was “sneakers” closely followed by “men’s suits” (I wonder if they have five buttons or six).  Friedler said the best way to find out about their merchandise is to go to their website, so I did.  Their main brands are:

  • Akademics
  • Black Label
  • New Era
  • Essentials
  • The North Face
  • LRG
  • Coogi
  • Apple Bottoms
  • Lacoste
  • Baby Phat

Now, these are not cheapo brands, but it’s not the type of retailers envisioned by potential shoppers who currently travel to North Park, The Parks, and Uptown Village. They’re not going there for the aforementioned brands, although their kids might be.

There were a lot of pointed questions for the Mayor, Atkins, and Friedler. Friedler just got in the mix recently, so it’s understandable that he wouldn’t have many answers.  But Leppert and Atkins didn’t have much to say other than the city doesn’t own the property and has no authority on who buys it.  They asked the public to support Southwest Center Mall in hopes that it may one day become the retail destination that is so desperately desired.

So the people were there to talk about the mall, and for the most part folks were allowed to get their questions out in the open, even if they (we) didn’t get any answers.  The City Manager and Fire Chief were also at the meeting.  Mayor Leppert broke the meeting off in sections (Parks, Code Enforcement, etc.) in case citizens have specific questions, but 3/4 of the people met the Mayor, Atkins and Friedler in front of the old Dillard’s for more follow up.

Mayor Tom Leppert and Councilman Tennell Atkins

Mayor Tom Leppert and Councilman Tennell Atkins

For the second time, they were asked about the rumored $15 million deal that was on the table before Jimmy Jazz came along.  The representative from Madison Realty Capital said there was never a deal on the table and they these were just rumors.  But David Bell had told a group meeting at Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s office last month that he had put $15 million down, which gained he a lot of support from tenants and community advocates.

Leppert and Atkins reiterated the fact that the city didn’t own the building and that this was a private matter.  And yet the city has been intimately involved in everything that has to do with the mall. Remember the $120,000 ULI Study?  City officials were also part of a 5 o’clock meeting with interested parties (including David Bell) before the meeting 6:30 p.m. meeting that the rest of us attended.

So rather than speculating, I walked over to David Bell (of Bell Industry) who sat quietly through the entire meeting and asked him again whether he put $15 million down on the Southwest Center Mall property.  He reaffirmed that he had made the offer and said that his offer was acknowledged in the closed door meeting before the meeting.

There is a WHOLE lot more story left to be told, including the fact that there is a contract on the Dillard’s, for which we were told on Monday would be a “Family Entertainment Center.”  At the same time the Jimmy Jazz rumors started the same groups claimed that the Dillard’s was slated to become a “Latin Night Club.”  I have yet to confirm this.

Anyway, stay tuned, this should be interesting.

Youth Activist Groups Honor Local First Responders on Sept. 11

Dallas County Young Democrats (DCYD) and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats (DSYD) Host Barbecue for National Day of Service

Dallas (September 10) — The Dallas County Young Democrats and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats are honoring service men and women with the “Serving Those Who Serve Us” Barbecue, this upcoming Friday at the Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

The Dallas County Young Democrats and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats are partnering together to answer President Obama’s call to service by honoring our service men and women on Sept. 11, the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

President Obama started a national service initiative called “United We Serve”, this past June, aimed at encouraging Americans to volunteer to bring a greater level of visibility and responsibility for key social concerns. The intiative ends on Sept. 11 with a day of service.

When: Sept. 11 (Friday), 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Where: Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center

5150 Mark Trail Way, Dallas, TX 75232-1809

What: Food, games for all ages, prizes, fire truck tours, and more…

Admission is free to all firefighters, police officers, military personnel, reservists and the families of our first responders. A minimum donation of $5 is requested for non-first responder’s and families.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Dallas Fire-Rescue.

Southern Dallas Left in the Dark on Main Post Office decision


Last night I moderated a Town Hall meeting hosted by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson at Dallas City Hall regarding an Area Mail Processing (AMP) Feasibility Study conducted by the United States Post Office.  AMP Studies are taking place all across the country.

Tim Vierling, Dallas Sr. Plant Manager, gave a presentation, and then took questions from the audience as well as myself.  Also involved in the conversation were Mayor Tom Leppert and State Senator Royce West.

Senator West had some very pointed comments for Mr. Vierling and the Post Office, including the fact that his office had contacted USPS about this matter at least twice without a response.  He also referenced a previous AMP study done either late ‘06 or early ‘07.

This latest AMP study apparently concludes that the Post Office will save $9.2 million annually by consolidating mail processing operations in Dallas with those at the North Texas facility located in Coppell.  I say apparently because no one outside of the Postal Service has seen this study.  Most of the savings will come from eliminating 117 jobs.

The first document on the USPS website regarding the AMP is a brief dated March 24, 2009 which says the following regarding the study:

If the feasibility study supports the business case for consolidation, we will hold a public meeting to allow members of the community to ask questions and provide feedback. We will address these questions or concerns at the public meeting.  The public’s input will be considered in any final determination.

By June 17, 2009, the Post Office had seen enough information to determine that consolidation was necessary.   A public meeting was called for July 1st at Mountain View College and the following highlights of the study we have not seen were released in a brief.

1.    Business Case:

Proposed annual savings in the AMP feasibility study is approximately $9.2 million.

2.    Postal Employees:

Due to the consolidation, a net decrease of approximately 117 positions is projected.  All reassignments will be made in accordance with collective bargaining agreements.

3.    Local Customer Considerations:

Services that are currently available from the Dallas facility will continue to be available to customers.

•    Collection box pick-up times will not change as a result of the AMP.
•    Retail services will remain the same.
•    Business mail acceptance will remain the same.
•    A local postmark will be available for stamped First-Class Mail.
•    Delivery of mail to residences and businesses will not change as a result of the AMP.

4.    Commercial Mailers:

•    Mailers who presort mail will continue to receive applicable postage discounts.
•    Mailers who drop ship mailings will continue to deposit them at the Dallas facility.

So a public meeting was called, but the public wasn’t aware.  Mr. Vierling siad that the post office’s position was that they had done everything necessary to publicize the meeting, including sending notices to media outlets and government officials.  He then admitted that Senator West’s office was left off that list and was not contacted.

I can say that Dallas South was not contacted about this public meeting either. The organization that has access to every home, business, and place of worship in America couldn’t drop a half sheet announcement in the mailbox?  That doesn’t make sense.

A recap of the July 1 meeting on the Postal Service Website says that 267 people were in attendance including a staffer from Congresswoman Johnson’s office Channel 33 KDAF.  It also lists the number of questions and comments from the meeting by category which lists “Lack of Public Input” as the most frequent topic.

I found out about the AMP Study on July 10th like most people who have expressed concerns in the days sense, receiving an email which contained a statement from Larry Walker, President of the Local American Postal Workers Union.  That’s when the public actually became involved and started to understand that the Post Office was not closing, though major changes were slated for Dallas Main.

It is clear after Monday’s town hall that the public in general and Southern Dallas specifically were not made aware of this “proposed” change.  According to reports, most of the 267 people present at the July 1st meeting at Mountain View were postal workers.

The decision seems to be already made and while there have been meetings held there is no exchange of ideas.  On Monday Mr. Vierling gave us the post office’s position, but never acknowledged the most pressing concern, which was what happens with the 117 employees who would be affected by this move.

One thing I learned about from Monday’s meeting was the concept of “stand by” rooms.  Apparently post office employees are asked to go into these “stand by” rooms whenever there is not enough work for them to do.

Questions from the audience suggested that postal workers are being paid to read magazines and do crossword puzzle in these rooms while others on the floor are being paid overtime.  Another question suggested that managers are asked not to use the workers in these rooms for performance or disciplinary reasons.  Mr. Vierling said that this is not the case.

Congresswoman Johnson is scheduled to meet with Mr. Vierling on Wednesday to tour the facilities for herself and understand why the North Texas (Coppell) facility was selected over Dallas. Hopefully she will get more answers, but one thing is clear: residents were not properly informed about this process and have not had a chance to properly give their input.

District Attorney Craig Watkins Responds to Dallas Morning News Editorial

The following is a response from District Attorney Craig Watkins regarding the Dallas Morning News Editorial “Watkins Needs to Investigate the Constables.”

By Craig Watkins – Dallas County District Attorney

In (Monday’s) editorial, “Watkins needs to investigate the constables,” the Dallas Morning News failed to print my actual comment and instead chose to write an editorial that would leave readers with the false impression that I am not doing my job.  When asked last week by the Dallas Morning News whether the district attorney’s office was investigating two Dallas County constables (Precincts 1 and 5), my response was the same response we always give when complaints are made against elected officials and other public servants.  I would neither confirm nor deny whether we are investigating this issue.

To accuse me of “sitting on the sidelines” and suggest that I would allow alleged criminal activity to go unnoticed is disingenuous.  Just because I am not vetting my cases with the media and the court of public opinion, which I will never do, is hardly a reason to jump to the conclusion that I am not doing my job.

There is a reason why the district attorney’s office has prosecutorial independence.  There is a reason why we do not comment on potential public integrity issues.  My job as the criminal district attorney for Dallas County is to seek truth and justice, not to feed the insatiable appetite of those who have political agendas.

Yes, I do owe it to taxpayers to get to the truth, and the citizens of Dallas County can rest assured that I take my job very seriously and that I do it with the utmost integrity and sincerity.  If a crime has been committed, we will follow the law and do our jobs. However, under no circumstances should anyone expect the district attorney to discuss the particulars of any potential investigation or case.

Craig Watkins
Dallas County Criminal District Attorney

Alert/Update: U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson to hold townhall on Dallas postal operations Monday moderated by Shawn P.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson will hold a townhall meeting on Monday August 24th regarding the Dallas Main Post Office and Distribution Center.  A few weeks ago we reacted here to rumors that the Dallas Main Post Office was closing.

While rumors of the Post Office’s demise were a bit exaggerated, the reality of moving a bulk of the center’s operations away from Dallas Main is serious.  A study by the U.S. Postal Service recommended the transfer of mail processing operations from the Dallas Main Post Office to Coppell, TX.

Those scheduled to speak at the meeting include:

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert

The Honorable Royce West

Mr. Tim Vierling, Senior Plant Manager Dallas Post Officee

Congresswoman Johnson and her staff requested that I serve as moderator of the meeting that is sure to bring questions and concerns from residents, union members, government officials and the like.   The meeting will be held at Dallas City Hall – City Council Chambers and begin at 6:00 p.m.

What: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson Townhall on Postal Operations

Date: Monday, August 24, 2009

Time: 6:00 PM

Location: Dallas City Hall, City Council Chambers
Room 6 E North, 1500 Marilla Dr., Dallas, TX 75201

UPDATE: VENUE CHANGE Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Rep. Pete Session to participate in healthcare dialogue

Please note that the venue for Monday’s healthcare forum has been changed to Cityplace Conference Center.

On August 17, a local discussion will take place around proposed healthcare legislation that is making its way through both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) will participate in the program being held at City Place Conference Center.

Advance registration is required and space and parking are limited.  If you want to get in on the debate, you must register early to reserve your seat or risk letting other voices lead the discussion.  It’s imperative that residents of Southern Dallas are present at this discussion, so register as soon as possible.

Registration is free, so visit or call 214-270-2403 and let them know how many slots you need.  You can also email  The program is presented by Curran Tomko Tarski LLP, SMU Cox Executive Education, and Deloitte.  Register Now.

For information regarding parking, click here.



Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)


Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX)

Monday, August 17th

7:30 – 11:00am

Cityplace Conference Center

2711 N. Haskell Ave. #100

Dallas, TX 75204

7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Registration, Networking and Continental Breakfast

8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Congressional Dialogue and Discussion

9:30 – 10:30 a.m. Community Perspectives Panel

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Closing and Networking