Stakes Running High In Battle Over Dallas Police-Fire Pension

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas councilman Scott Griggs opposes Mayor Mike Rawlings’ effort to kill the state bill aimed at saving the police and fire pension fund, which could go broke within ten years without major changes.

Griggs says, “Not having a bill would mean the end of the pension system. It would quickly collapse.”

The mayor warns city taxpayers would pay an extra $1.35 billion dollars over 30 years with the bill than without it.

Mayor Rawlings has said his concern is that taxpayers will pay that amount no matter how many police officers and firefighters the city hires.

He says that would bind future city councils and hurt taxpayers.

But Kelly Gottachalk, executive director of the Dallas Police & Fire Pension Fund says the Mayor’s funding calculation is wrong, comparing it to fake math.

Gottschalk says under the bill, the city would actually pay an extra $640 million, less than half of what the mayor claims.

She says police officers and firefighters have already agreed to pay an extra $1.2 billion in higher employee contributions to their pension, lower benefits and a higher retirement age.

On Friday, the mayor declined taking questions, referring reporters to a letter he sent taxpayers earlier in the week. “I’m going to let the letter speak for itself.”

In his letter, the Mayor says, “House Pensions Committee Chairman Dan Flynn… continues to press ahead with his unprecedented and unnecessary expensive Dallas pension taxpayer bailout. The current taxpayer bailout package must be voted down…”

But representative Flynn responded in a tweet saying, “Dallas Mayor is no longer dealing in good faith for police and fire retirees, current and new officers.”

Some, like Gottschalk, say they’re concerned rising tensions could kill the bill. “It does worry me.”

But Gottschalk says she’s trying to stay optimistic a solution will pass.

If it doesn’t, she says, “We can’t afford to have this pension fail. We can’t afford to have 7,000 or 10,000 people lose their entire pension.”

Councilman Griggs says, “This is a bill that can’t be killed. This is the biggest crisis in the city of Dallas we’ve had in more than a generation here.”

He says the city shouldn’t argue over how much extra money it will have to spend to save the pension fund.

Griggs says state lawmakers need to give the city the ability to raise money to pay for the changes, then have residents vote on it.

That provision is not part of the state bill under consideration.

The city and state are still negotiating with state lawmakers, and the Texas House could vote on the bill next week.

If approved, it will then go to the Texas Senate.


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‘Guerrilla Marketing’ Promotes Grammy-Winning Band’s Album

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Promotion through vandalism. A Dallas bar is upset after someone representing a Grammy award-winning band used graffiti to promote their new album.

Joel Stephenson with the Double Wide bar discovered a graffiti tag from the U.K. band Gorillaz on the bar’s property on Wednesday.

The tag was painted over an existing mural on the property.

“It’s something we kind of take pride in,” said Stephenson. “I guess it just seems to be the new wave of guerrilla, for lack of a better term, marketing.”

No matter how much cleaner fluid and scrubbing Stephenson puts into the ground, the tag will not come out.

Security camera footage appears to show a man walk up and begin spray painting the property. He hits them five times with the tag.

“I get what they’re trying to accomplish. They’re trying to promote an album, they’re trying to get the word out,” said Stephenson. “But I just think there’s a lot better way to do it.”

This is not the first time vandalism was used to promote in Dallas.

Oscar Healthcare was caught and apologized in 2016 and residents have also reported seeing ride-sharing app Lyft engaging in the same activity earlier in 2017.

“Just have some respect. As much as they’re trying to make a living and put their product out, we’re trying to do the same thing too,” said Stephenson.

Dallas police said property owners can pursue charges. If the person is caught, police said he is facing criminal mischief.

Warner Bros Records denied any involvement with the marketing aspects of Gorillaz.

The PR company representing the Gorillaz, Nasty Little Man, said it is looking into the matter. A publicist denied the artists were directly involved in any way.

“Just like here working at a bar, we’re accountable for the actions of the people that are in our bar,” said Stephenson. “If you’re a band, you have a label, you’re accountable for those you contract to go out and do your marketing for you.”

Stephenson said he listened to the Gorillaz first few albums, but has no plans to listen to the new title etched into his sidewalk.

“Oh I’m definitely going to be ignoring it,” said Stephenson. “At this point, it turns me off. Sorry I’m not interested now.”


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‘Guerrilla Marketing’ Promotes Grammy-Winning Band’s Album

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Promotion through vandalism. A Dallas bar is upset after someone representing a Grammy award-winning band used graffiti to promote their new album.

Joel Stephenson with the Double Wide bar discovered a graffiti tag from the U.K. band Gorillaz on the bar’s property on Wednesday.

The tag was painted over an existing mural on the property.

“It’s something we kind of take pride in,” said Stephenson. “I guess it just seems to be the new wave of guerrilla, for lack of a better term, marketing.”

No matter how much cleaner fluid and scrubbing Stephenson puts into the ground, the tag will not come out.

Security camera footage appears to show a man walk up and begin spray painting the property. He hits them five times with the tag.

“I get what they’re trying to accomplish. They’re trying to promote an album, they’re trying to get the word out,” said Stephenson. “But I just think there’s a lot better way to do it.”

This is not the first time vandalism was used to promote in Dallas.

Oscar Healthcare was caught and apologized in 2016 and residents have also reported seeing ride-sharing app Lyft engaging in the same activity earlier in 2017.

“Just have some respect. As much as they’re trying to make a living and put their product out, we’re trying to do the same thing too,” said Stephenson.

Dallas police said property owners can pursue charges. If the person is caught, police said he is facing criminal mischief.

Warner Bros Records denied any involvement with the marketing aspects of Gorillaz.

The PR company representing the Gorillaz, Nasty Little Man, said it is looking into the matter. A publicist denied the artists were directly involved in any way.

“Just like here working at a bar, we’re accountable for the actions of the people that are in our bar,” said Stephenson. “If you’re a band, you have a label, you’re accountable for those you contract to go out and do your marketing for you.”

Stephenson said he listened to the Gorillaz first few albums, but has no plans to listen to the new title etched into his sidewalk.

“Oh I’m definitely going to be ignoring it,” said Stephenson. “At this point, it turns me off. Sorry I’m not interested now.”


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Former Firefighter’s Stance On Prop 2 Draws Ire From Colleagues

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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A battle at the ballot box about how Arlington’s fire department is controlled has ignited passionate debate. And one former firefighter says it has led to threats from a state union official.

“That’s my opinion that we don’t need civil service here in Arlington,” said retired Arlington fire fighter Mark Gist.

Gist said he expected his stance against Prop 2 at the ballot box to draw criticism from fire fighters who support adopting state civil service rules for the department. But he did not expect what he calls a threat from a vice president of the Texas State Association of Firefighters.

Gist says the vice-president, Curtis Dunn, sent texts which read in part:

“I will do everything in my power to make sure none of my friends or family ever but (sic) anything from you… it is now my goal to hurt your business.

It concludes, “Good luck traitor.”

Dunn is not only an Association of Fire Fighters member, he’s also a retired Arlington firefighter who served with Gist.

“That was like a kick in the gut, you know,” Gist said. “Pretty shocked.”

“After someone has their opinion of which way they want to vote on an issue, you ought to be able to express yourself one way or the other, both sides of the story. And, so this was — I can’t believe someone wants to hurt my family’s business just because of the way I want to vote.”

Dunn declined an interview but did say he’s a third generation fire fighter and passionate about the issue. But he says he was emotional when he sent the texts and he regrets the effects they’ve had.

A representative of the local association of fire fighters which supports Prop 2 said Dunn’s comments were done as an individual and he is not associated with their group.


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Controversial Flier Asks ‘White Americans’ To Turn In Illegal Immigrants

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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A controversial flier appeared on the University of Texas at Arlington campus that asks “white Americans” to report “any and all” illegal immigrants.

flier Controversial Flier Asks White Americans To Turn In Illegal Immigrants

Flier appearing on UTA campus.

The school is taking down the fliers after students said they appeared on a message board inside the university commons.

The group behind the message appears to be protesting the possibility of UTA becoming a “sanctuary campus.” The term “sanctuary city” refers to cities that follow certain procedures to shelter illegal immigrants.

“I feel like it’s ignorant people trying to incite some sort of rally or some sort of riot to get people off campus or get people to go to their way,” said student Kasandra Moreno. “But with such a diverse campus, it doesn’t make sense to do that here.”

The fliers include the website of “Vanguard America,” a white supremacist group, but it’s still unclear if members are responsible for the fliers. CBS 11 did not receive a reply from the group when asked about the notice.

“We are a very open and welcoming campus,” said Moreno. “I’ve been here four years. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

School officials say the signs violate campus policy, and they “expect high standards of civil discourse”

One student saw the flier’s message and is glad it’s been taken down.

“It’s very offensive because I was actually born in Nigeria and I came here when I was a baby,” said student Chineme Obikudu. “It resonates with me in a negative way.”


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Dallas ISD STAAR Test Results Show Gains & Losses

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test scores are in and for the most part Dallas Independent School District (DISD) 5th and 8th grade students scored well.

Texas Education Agency (TEA) spokesperson Lauren Callahan explained that something different this year is the breakdown of scores, or report card of student standings. Child performance is now sorted into four categories — Approaches Grade Level, Meets Grade Level, Masters Grade Level, and Does Not Meet Grade Level.

“The levels ‘approaches, meets and masters’ all indicate that a child has passed the assessment, but they indicate different things as you go up the level,” Callahan said.

Any student who fails the initial STAAR test is tutored can re-take the standardized exam two more times. Those who still do not pass the state assessment exam are held back a grade, unless a parent appeals and a placement committee unanimously agrees to promote them.

Callahan said the various scores of 5th and 8th students ebbed and flowed. “We saw just a slight dip in reading scores in both grade levels as compared to the March 2016 rates, and we saw a slight increase in both grade levels in math over the same time period. So, overall our students are doing very well.”

More than 80-percent of 5th graders passed the math portion of the STAAR test and 71-percent passed the reading portion, while three-quarters of 8th graders passed both.

There don’t appear to have been any hiccups with this year’s exam, as opposed to last year when problems plagued the standardized test.

More than 14,000 students across Texas had answers erased last year, or were given the wrong test version. There were also a number of delivery mix-ups and scoring problems. In response, ETS, the company that administers the STAAR test, was fined by the TEA and ordered to make some $20 million in improvements.


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NASCAR Has Huge Hole To Fill After Earnhardt Retires

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – There was a moment during the Bristol Motor Speedway race that captured the essence of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He was walking briskly to the care center for a mandatory health check after a crash. Flanked by a television reporter on one side, a handler on the other, he was explaining why he wrecked while hustling to his destination. A fan approached him from behind, Earnhardt turned, and the fan was shoved away when it became clear he just wanted a selfie.

Earnhardt never broke stride. He just gave his aw-shucks smile and continued on his way. Once cleared by the medical staff, he found the fan and posed for the photo.

Earnhardt is a 14-time winner of NASCAR’s most popular driver award for a reason. He’s personable and authentic and as close to the roots of racing as any driver alive today. When he walks away from NASCAR at the end of this season , he will take a lot more than 26 Cup wins.

He will also take a big, reliable chunk of NASCAR’s identity. The big question is whether he will also take Earnhardt Nation and its thousands of fans with him, too. It’s the last thing NASCAR needs in a time of transition, both in terms of structure and in its celebrity lineup of drivers.

NASCAR has already lost Jeff Gordon, the driver who took the sport mainstream and announced his retirement two years ago at 43, just like Earnhardt. Then a year ago it lost Tony Stewart, the talented, volatile rebel who said what everyone was too scared to say out loud.

Carl Edwards, friendly and a strong ambassador, walked away from NASCAR at the start of this year.

Now here goes Earnhardt, the blue-collar everyman. A third-generation racer from North Carolina who says “ain’t” and “Daddy” and talks the way the good ol’ boys always did.

So what does NASCAR do now, with its most bankable stars rapidly exiting stage left at a time when the sport needs to rebuild its audience?

“It will be an important year for fans to look at what other drivers are out there and who will make them interested in continuing to watch,” said Jill Gregory, chief marketing officer for NASCAR. “We knew these days were going to come, we just didn’t know when.”

Gregory said the biggest challenge for NASCAR is introducing the current crop of young talent to fans and giving the drivers a chance to make their own marks rather than pigeonhole them in roles as the next Gordon, Stewart or Earnhardt.

“What is true to them? What is authentic?” asked Gregory. “You look at Kyle Larson, he loves to race. That’s what he is going to do, and allowing him to do what he naturally loves, that’s what we want to highlight. I don’t think there’s an effort to say ‘We’re going to make this guy into the next Jeff Gordon.’

“We have to let it come naturally and what do they gravitate toward, because if it’s natural, that’s what makes it real to the fans. If we are trying to manufacture it, that’s how it is going to be seen. We have to let it play out.”

Earnhardt didn’t hesitate to name the future of the sport: Larson, the current Monster Energy Cup points leader, and Chase Elliott, his current teammate who replaced Gordon last season.

Elliott is the son of Hall of Famer “Awesome” Bill Elliott, a Georgia native who grew up at NASCAR tracks. Larson is a dirt tracker from California who will race anything at any time and is likely headed in 2018 for a seat in the Indianapolis 500. Earnhardt also praised Ryan Blaney, another second-generation NASCAR driver, and Bubba Wallace, who have used social media to show the life of a millennial and not been afraid of overstepping their place.

Although their personalities are often overshadowed by the veterans, they are settling into their own niches and engaging a much younger fan base for a series whose origins are steeped in the bootlegging days of Prohibition.

“All those guys have great attitudes, great personalities,” Earnhardt said. “I know them well enough to be excited about how fans are going to know them in the future. I feel like that these are the guys that they’re the cream of the crop, and maybe I’m the only one that sees it in this room, but I really have a lot of confidence in the personalities that we have.”

“We’ve just got to get them in front of the fans, let the fans get to know them, and I think the rest will take care of itself,” he added.

The new regime has certainly stepped up through the first two months of this season. Three of the top four drivers in the standings are 27 or younger. Blaney is 10th in the standings, rookie Erik Jones is 13th and although reigning Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez is only 22nd in the standings, the rookie driver from Mexico has brought a huge new following to NASCAR.

As team owner Rick Hendrick prepares to fill a hole in his No. 88 Chevrolet , he’s not worried about the options.

“I’ve never seen so much young talent,” Hendrick said. “They’re here, they’re young, they’re aggressive, they’re fun. I think the sport has got a lot to be excited about, and I think the fans, let’s face it, Dale is unique. You can’t replace Dale.

“But he also is still going to be in and around and visible in the sport, and help tap these young guys on the shoulder and really tutor them. Tell them what they’re doing wrong, what they could do better, because he’s been through all those cycles of life. No one in the garage could be any better than Dale Earnhardt to mentor these guys because he’s been through all the different stages, and every one of them look up to him.”

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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