Five stories North Texas is talking about: Ana Reyes' activism pays off with historic win for first Hispanic member of Farmers Branch City Council, Kaufman tries to pick up and move on after high-profile murders, a different way to attack poverty in Dallas and more.
To get a feel for exactly how hard-won Ana Reyes' seat on the Farmers Branch City Council actually was, revisit this piece in the Washington Post from 2007. The controversial renters' ordinance that prohibits landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants was being put to public vote for the first time:
"This has also given people, for some reason, the right to voice their bigotry in a very public way," said Ana Reyes, 33, who was born in Indiana but has lived most of her life in Farmers Branch and is working with the group, Let the Voters Decide, to defeat the ordinance at the polls. "I've been called a wetback and yelled at to 'go back to Mexico.' "
Six years later, Reyes will now be the first Hispanic member of an otherwise all-white council. (Farmers Branch's population is mostly Hispanic.) See the outcome of other local races via our roundup.
- GETTING BACK TO WORK IN KAUFMAN: Kaufman County employees are just trying to put their day-to-days back together as the cameras retreat. But the high-profile slayings of two prosecutors and the district attorney’s wife put Kaufman in a dark pool with places like Mexia, Jasper, and Waco, where awful things happened that drew national media (and shook residents' sense of safety foremost.) How will the town and the area transcend associations? First, leaders want Kaufman to heal. So they've planned ceremonial gestures like prayer walks and offered the victims' families special roles in the annual 4th of July Parade. [Dallas News]
- POLICING TEXAS TANKS: West isn't alone in its breed of tragedy, either. The fertilizer plant explosion last month is a danger prevalent in Texas, which has more facilities that store toxic or flammable chemicals than any other according to the Right-To-Know Network's read of EPA data. Local Emergency Planning Committees, or LEPCs, are especially crucial in preventing another disaster like the one in West. [State Impact Texas]
- TEACHING NEIGHBORS TO FISH: It took a few years, but the modest Dallas food pantry known as Central Dallas Ministries has developed into a large-scale non-profit food distribution center -- and a team of people fighting what they see as the root causes of poverty in our area. Krys Boyd will talk with Larry James, president and chief executive officer of what's now called CitySquare, at noon today about his work with the city’s homeless population and his new book The Wealth of The Poor. [Think]
- ESPRESSO-POWERED ARTS DISTRICT: Some folks were irked when they felt the AT&T Performing Arts Center's building plan couldn't make good on its street-level promise to be active and useful in the neighborhood outside of performance time (boot versus suit, if you will, a favorite phrase spoken by BJ Austin.) But today the box office and information center opens -- and a new Pearl Cup coffee shop could increase foot traffic. Coffee shop culture was something then-outgoing director of the Dallas Arts District Veletta Lill said the area desperately needed in this State of the Arts inventory. [D Magazine]