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Dallas Grapples With Expensive IT Fix

Dallas City Hall is buying a four million dollar band-aid for the city's sophisticated billing system. The system, purchased five years ago, has cost 15 million dollars MORE than anticipated.

Outside consultants have had to help city employees run it.

Council members have approved more than three million dollars for software upgrades and maintenance. They also approved a 900 thousand dollar, three-month contract extension for the private company to continue to run the system.

During that time, city officials will try to come up with a plan to stop paying millions each year to outside consultants.

Two Dead In Arlington Crash And Shooting

Arlington Police are sorting out a shooting and multi-vehicle crash that left two people dead this afternoon. Sgt. Christopher Cook says there was an initial fender-bender between an SUV and smaller car at North Collins and Cantor.

A high speed chase began and the SUV rear ended a pickup stopped at the light on North Collins at Brown Boulevard.

One person in the pickup was killed. Sgt. Cook says at one point, "a young man walked up to the driver's side of the SUV and was shot." The driver of the SUV is facing charges in the shooting death. Two children, twin toddlers, in the SUV were not seriously injured.

Sgt. Cook tells the Fort Worth Star Telegram eight vehicles were eventually involved in the chain-reaction crash.

State Board To Pass Water Plan

Texas Water Development Board is today expected to approve the state's water plan for the next five years.

The vote comes as almost all of Texas' 16 water regions battle the ongoing drought.

The water plan for Region C which includes the DFW area again calls for the construction of the Marvin Nichols reservoir in Northeast Texas, while Region D in East Texas opposes the project because it would flood thousands of acres. Environmentalists argume North Texas should do a better job conserving water before it builds the new reservoir.

Jim Parks chairs DFW's Region C group and says the opposition has not derailed plans to move forward with Marvin Nichols.

Parks: Marvin Nichols is as important to us as are other projects in the plan from the standpoint it produces a large amount of water from its location in the Sulphur River basin. There's nothing right now that would cause that to change that anytime soon. So we are still planning on the project to meet our long term water needs.

Parks says Region C's plan also calls for importing water from Oklahoma but not for decades. That's because there's still no agreement with Oklahoma and the Indian Nations for selling the water to Texas.

FEMA wildfires declaration now 119 Texas counties

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has expanded its wildfires disaster declaration area for Texas to include 119 counties.

Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday announced FEMA has granted the state's request to increase the original 45 counties eligible to seek disaster help.

A FEMA disaster declaration, on July 1, covered Texas wildfires between April 2 and May 3. Perry's office says the updated disaster declaration extends the wildfires incident period through Aug. 29.

Texas, since Perry's initial statewide disaster proclamation last Dec. 21, has responded to more than 26,000 fires that have burned more than 3.9 million acres. The governor's office says state and local response costs are estimated at more than $330 million.

Dallas Police Hunt Fellow Officer

Dallas Police are looking for one of their own.

Officer Rashad Davis is facing a "second" arrest warrant for family violence. But Police can't find him.

Davis was arrested after an altercation on December 6th and placed on administrative leave. While on leave, his live-in girlfriend accused him of a second family violence incident.

Officers are asking anyone who knows the whereabouts Rashad Davis to call 911.

Dallas Councilman Wants HS Playoff Game Refs Investigated

Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway wants an investigation into a controversial referee call that cost Skyline High School a state semi-final playoff victory against Southlake Carroll.

At issue is an onside kick by Southlake Carroll in the final minute that set up a come-from-behind victory for the Dragons. Caraway says the ball did not travel the 10 yards required, and the referee made a big mistake. The Councilman says the officiating was below the standards required for such an important game.

The Dallas School District has indicated it will file an official complaint with the UIL, the University Interscholastic League. Officials say that has not happened yet.

Big Wal Mart Approved On Edge Of Trinity Forest

Southern Dallas is getting a big Wal Mart. The city council approved plans for the 100 thousand square foot store at I-35 and Ledbetter.

Neighbors spoke for the Wal-Mart. Mary Graves, and other members of the Dallas Historic Tree Coalition argued against it.

Graves say Wal-Mart plans to use existing trees in the nearby floodplain as partial mitigation of the six thousand trees it plans to cut down to build the store.

Graves: A mitigation policy for only 35% of these trees is not enough. We can't keep chipping away at the urban forest without figuring out a way to offset that impact.

But Council member Dwaine Caraway rejected concerns about the trees. He said Wal-Mart could be the catalyst to bring other development, and end decades of "retail neglect" in that part of Dallas.

The vote to approve the store was unanimous.

Dallas Getting Food Truck Friendly

"Food Trucks" get another green light at Dallas City Hall.

City Council members adjusted the city code to increase the types to food that trucks can cook, including raw poultry and seafood. And trucks can be "retrofitted" to become mobile food venues.

Council member Ann Margolin voted YES.

Margolin: I think food trucks add enormously to the quality of life in the city. They're operating now in the Arts District and as time goes on, I think we need to look at making it easier for them to operate in other places where it's appropriate.

City officials say 42 food trucks are on the road.

Fort Worth has a new, central location for Food Trucks. The "Food Park" opened earlier this month near Montgomery Ward Plaza and 7th Street. Trucks dish-up their specialties Thursday through Sunday.


Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.