1. Connecting You With City Information, News, and Resources
City Budget, Public Safety & more!
Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn
Current Council appointments:
- Government Performance and Financial Management, Vice Chair
- Public Safety
- Housing and Homeless Solutions
- Legislative, Vice Chair
- Regional Transportation Council
- City Council Representative to Texas Municipal League Policy Summit
- National League of Cities Youth, Education, and Families Council
- Women in Municipal Government
Hello District 12,
Most of the news out of city hall surrounds the budget and public safety. Below is a recap of how specific proposals would affect you. With a budget of $3.8 billion dollars, my goal is to lower the property tax rate, increase street repair and maintenance, and maintain funding for public safety.
Last month, three District 12 budget town hall meetings were held to get your input. If you weren't able to join us but would like to share your thoughts, please email me.
If you need help with anything, please let us know and we will try to resolve your city issues and connect you to assistance for things beyond the city.
Visit the District 12 Website:
A Bunch of Miscellaneous Things...
- Do you have an interest in serving as a volunteer on a city board, commission or task force? There are several new task forces and committees coming up. To be considered, please fill out this google form and share what interests you. It's the first step to serving the residents of Dallas and improving the city. If you have some time and interest, please sign up.
- Reminder: If your home is near power lines, please keep your trees trimmed!
- Rental assistance - The city council voted to fund two big programs to help residents who have had their ability to pay rent impacted by COVID. If you need help or know someone that does, please go to http://unitedwaydallas.org/rental-assistance, www.Metrocrestservices.org<http://www.Metrocrestservices.org> or to www.DallasCaresActRent.org<http://www.DallasCaresActRent.org>. Funds are available for City of Dallas residents who live in Dallas, Collin, and Denton counties.
- If you would like me to speak at your HOA, crime watch, or scout meeting, please email me or Navaz. I have enjoyed hearing from you and talking with you, even if it has been virtual!
- Would you like to get a COVID-19 test? Check out the testing sites and hours at www.dallascityhall.com/COVID19<http://www.dallascityhall.com/COVID19>. There is no charge and the eligibility has changed so more people can get tested.
- One of the initiatives I am proud to have worked on is establishing a community resource hub to connect residents with resources for assistance during COVID-19. You can find help with food, transit, financial assistance, healthcare, education, work, immigration, legal services and English literacy by zip code in multiple languages. Check it out at https://communityresources.dallascityhall.com/
- Frankford Road repaving project update - After successfully winning the partnership grant, the project design was advertised in the paper this week and the contractor should be selected in January. This project will repair the street problems on Frankford from Preston to Coit.
- If you live along the Osage Branch of McKamy Creek, please know that the city is reviewing the erosion that is happening in that area. Inspectors from several departments have already been out to inspect. Additionally, some adjustments and repairs to lines have already been made.
- There is a big, expensive transportation project being considered by TXDOT and your input matters. It's for I-345, which many people have never heard of, but travel on. It's the little part of the highway between Central Expressway just before downtown that is elevated and turns into I-45 (the route to Houston). If you work downtown, use the road to go to Fair Park or Southern Dallas locations, travel to cities south of Dallas frequently, your input is important. No decisions have been made yet, but depending on what happens, it will greatly affect the City of Dallas and several large real estate investors. You can get involved and give input by joining their mailing list and attending future public meetings. They have already conducted a study that shows the community is split on how to proceed. To join the mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> and to view the study, visit 345study.com.
- 44,000 North Texans are needed for a DFW #COVID19 Prevalence Study via UT Southwestern in partnership with Texas Health Resources. They are encouraging the community to be part of the solution. If you would like to learn more about the study or how to participate, please go to: https://bit.ly/3hDQJtT #DFWAnswerTheCall
- COVID is still here and now it is being joined by West Nile and the Flu. Do what you can to protect your health by getting a flu shot, using mosquito-repellent, and all the Covid things you know... masks, wash hands, social distance, etc... We've come so far in reducing the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Let's keep it up so we can continue the progress and open up further!
- We've been hosting lots of virtual town halls the last few months. The dates for the next town halls are not set but here are the topics planned: Utilities - Oncor, Spectrum, AT&T, and Verizon, How to Get Traffic Calming on Your Street, and special guest nights with our Police Oversight Board member and Library Board member. If you'd like to suggest a special guest or topic, please email me. All town halls have time for you to ask any question you want.
- The family homeless shelter is still under negotiation with the city real estate office so there is no new update.
- Just a quick shout-out to all the people who have made it a point to show our police officers some kindness and support. In District 12, we've had families that have fed our officers by hiring catering from the Hamburger Man, retaurants like Kosher Palate that have brought over brisket dinners, people who have baked cookies, cupcakes, and banana bread, and many who have participated in donations from Amazon Wishlist. Previously we've chalked their driveway with words of encouragement, and a booster group decorated the doorway with post-it notes of praise. Schools, camps and faith groups have dropped off cards and they are posted inside the station. I hear over and over from the officers and command staff at North Central that they FEEL THE LOVE and it has truly made it easier for them during these difficult times. We have the best community!
Ladies, do you feel left out of the conversation about improving public safety in Dallas? If you live or work in Dallas, let's work together to make sure ALL of our children, seniors, families, and businesses can thrive in a safe city. If you'd like to be part of the movement to make Dallas the safest large city in America, let's start talking about how to make it happen! Sign up here: https://forms.gle/fjK5iAUPH61cUKvx5<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0014qzAEWxN3JtX1e_gE8TKesl0jQF--Lj_vYxyekcX3HIY9m2r7S3mdWo-xznW52qC2HGBnQe6ZHNXQps6b7oEmD4_H_4462dEQmjBm3fNYFvUKQfxIiJUf8Srva58oEk-eP8oR0dqf3nVfvIjP2xg8NKnXKKTT2L8&c=wSRHx-xKc1a2VnjlcFIdyw7SASLHJJJE3gwsvoFoOb-GrJ6EGWzsZw==&ch=X5Uxz2HXCpnf6veZhHtkdyVrponQGHfci3p0sOQu81BnhBxAxJPhdA==>
The City Budget - 2020-2021
While the three District 12 Budget Town Hall meetings are complete, you can still give input and make your opinion known. The budget, along with all amendments are posted on financialtransparency.dallascityhall.com
There is a lot of discussion about public safety and the Mayor's proposed amendment (which no council member voted for) and one of the amendments that passed to take away $7 million from Dallas Police Department (I was one of three that DID NOT vote for it). The meeting to discuss this was very difficult and long, starting at 9 am and ending at 1:40 am!
I am a strong supporter of public safety and spoke up against all amendments that sought to defund the police, which included reducing overtime 25%, closing our police academy, ending mounted patrol, and not hiring any officers next year, and I voted against every one of them.
The amendment the Mayor put forward last week had a problem that meant I could not support it. While I supported 100% the way he wanted to use the funds to address the drivers of crime as outlined from his task force, I could not support the way he developed the source of funds. He is definitely on the right track in talking about the excess, duplication and waste at city hall, but I can’t support decreasing the salary of people at the $60,000 level or having pay cuts up to 25 percent. The reality is the city must hire engineers, city planners, and other technical professionals, and we must pay on par with other organizations to recruit the talent we need. I have made several suggestions to his office about how his amendment could be adjusted so I could fully support it, including 1) starting pay reductions at the $100,000 level and with a lower percent, 2) using an alternate source of funds ($6.7 million) identified in my budget amendments, and 3) looking at the total line item for salaries (not including police & fire officers) and proposing an overall percent decrease from last year and allowing the city manager to decide how to accomplish that with the budget. I am glad he is changing his approach to decrease the total line item for salaries, which I support.
Another item of note that passed was the creation of a fund to clean/remove homeless encampments that are on the water department right-of-way and on land that is designated as a park. This will allow for quicker and more frequent resolutions to this out of control problem.
The final budget approval is more than a month away. If you'd like to give input, here's how you can make your voice heard:
email all city councilmembers and mayor at once
sign up to speak at a council meeting (virtual)
In The News
BUDGET/PROPERTY TAX RATE
PUBLIC SAFETY/CRIME/POLICE BUDGETING
In November 2017, voters across the city decided to support all of the propositions in the City of Dallas' bond proposal. Included in the bond was a project to build a bridge in the Prestonwood neighborhood for over $300,000 across a creek off Shadybank to make it easier and safer for students and the community to get to the other side. Since it is a short-cut for some kids to get to school and a lovely walking area, there has been long-time interest in making it a safer path. The Prestonwood HOA voted in 2016 to support the project, paid for a feasibility study, and it was included in the city's 2017 bond package.
When I was elected, the project had already begun. Today, the project is in the construction phase. I was surprised to find that some in the community were unaware of the project status or that some of the neighbors didn't want the bridge. I don't know the whole story of this project because it predates my service, but there are some important lessons.
- If something is happening, or not happening, in your neighborhood and you have a concern, please contact your councilmember.
- If you aren't hearing from your councilmember, find out why. Either they are not communicating with your or you are not engaged with the communication channels available.
Here are pictures of the bridge that is being built. There are rumors that the City is also providing a rock garden with seating, but that is unfounded.
Frequent Power Outages?
If you are having frequent power, cable, or internet outages, you're going to want to join us for the upcoming District 12 town hall. We're working to secure a date for Oncor, Verizon, AT&T, and Spectrum to join us later this month. STAY TUNED FOR A CONFIRMED DATE.
Oncor is currently doing extensive pruning in the Bent Tree North and Bent Tree West neighborhoods and is expected to work on the Frankford/Preston area throughout September.
If you live in Bent Tree North or Bent Tree West, there has been a specific effort to resolve the frequent power outages. With the leadership of Bob Rycroft and Bill Hoyt, we believe we've identified the issues and have a plan to resolve and correct some items. Here's what is happening:
1) Primary cause of the outages have been due to lightning, wind, primary voltage conductors contacting each other and facilities contacting vegetation.
Oncor began comprehensive vegetation clearing of the mainline circuit August 24, and expects to complete the work by September 11. This week crews have focused on conducting the necessary trimming in the area. Trimming is anticipated to be complete next week, weather permitting. Lighting arrestors are being installed on Oncor poles to prevent this type of interruption to the electric service.
2) Oncor has comprehensively patrolled the feeder and made repairs. It is expected that these remedies will significantly improve the feeder’s performance. Below is the summary of the actions taken thus far to address the reliability: Replaced failed insulator and ridge pin on freeway crossing over Dallas Tollway, spot trimming of trees has occurred at numerous locations along the feeder route, where it appeared the primary conductor was making contact, poles were replaced on circuit route along Ivy Hill and Dallas Tollway, installed spacers in primary conductor slack spans and other locations to improve conductor separation and reduce faults, improved coordination of smart switches on the feeder to increase operation efficiency of equipment, installed a dozen fault indicators at various points to improve feeder performance by proactively providing locations that have experienced faults.
Here is important information from Oncor:
Oncor conducts routine vegetation management activities including the pruning of trees that are within 10 feet of electrical lines. Arborists canvass affected neighborhoods, including proactive in-person outreach and providing door hangers to ensure customers are informed in advance.
It is unsafe and a violation of the Texas Health and Safety Code for non-line clearance certified contractors to be near the high voltage lines. Customers should not hire contractors to conduct any pruning which would require them to be within 10 feet of the electrical line. Oncor will respond to any such violation by assessing the situation and determining the best course of action to ensure the safety of our customers and community; this may include the immediate trimming of any tree(s) potentially impacted.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact the number on the green tag notifying of the pending pruning as soon as possible, so your concerns can be addressed prior to the pruning. Oncor prunes for safety and reliability but also consider the health of the tree during the pruning process in order to preserve the tree whenever possible.
For more information regarding the Texas Health & Safety Code you may log onto
District 12 Office
We're celebrating for Elysia Martin who got an offer she could not refuse. She has joined the organization that sponsored her college fellowship as they moved their office to Dallas. Elysia did a great job resolving resident issues, researching issues and gathering data, and was truly a delight to work with. The office won't be the same without her, but we're excited for her to take her professional skills to the next level.
We are currently interviewing candidates that have been furloughed from our libraries... stay tuned for an announcement!
Census Ends 9/30/20
Have you completed the Census? Every person counted helps determine how funding for roads, fire trucks, and schools will be allocated. Please fill it out today by going to www.2020census.gov
<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0014qzAEWxN3JtX1e_gE8TKesl0jQF--Lj_vYxyekcX3HIY9m2r7S3mdW2A8JHjtz6T1nbO5zpZhrQLGBjmrxce_dawP0EGI-4N4xHvfW8N_ycbuvzVCZ3yOybBiK2O28FHnc-6BJt160dUXANaDGJnUw==&c=wSRHx-xKc1a2VnjlcFIdyw7SASLHJJJE3gwsvoFoOb-GrJ6EGWzsZw==&ch=X5Uxz2HXCpnf6veZhHtkdyVrponQGHfci3p0sOQu81BnhBxAxJPhdA==>. It is quick, important, confidential, and legally required for all who live in the United States.
In an effort to try to get as many people as possible to complete the census, the City of Dallas and Dallas County joined forces to hire a company to help increase participation. In District 12, I've been putting up posters, yard signs, and on Saturday we knocked on doors and left door hangers at apartment communities in the district.
Please take a minute to mention the census to a friend, your adult kids, your parents, and neighbors and let's make sure as many people as possible have responded. Thanks for your help!
Need help, got a question, or want to give input?
Office phone: (214) 670-4067
Text phone: (214) 490-1036
2. NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
FOR THE ANNUAL ASSESSMENT RATE OF THE PRESTONWOOD PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT ("PID"}
Please take notice that no earlier than 1:00 p.m. on September 9, 2020, the City Council of the City of Dallas, Texas, will conduct a public hearing in the City Council Chamber of Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla Street, 6th floor, Dallas, Texas to consider the apportionment of the proposed 2020 assessment for the Prestonwood Public Improvement District (the "District") to fund approved supplemental services and improvements for the benefit of property in the District, pursuant to Chapter 372 of the Texas Local Government Code (The "Act"). Any interested person may appear via teleconference and speak for or against the setting of an assessment against real property and real property improvements, exclusive of rights-of-way, to continue funding for the District for the purpose of providing supplemental services and improvements. Written or oral objections to any assessment will be considered.
3. Dates For Face To Face Instruction Announced
August 25, 2020
Richardson ISD Teachers, Parents, Students and Staff,
I’m writing to update you on RISD’s plans to resume face to face instruction next month. Our team has been moving forward over the last 5 weeks with plans to begin in-person instruction on September 8 for all students instead of beginning in-person instruction on August 19 as the RISD calendar originally intended. Delaying face to face school until September 8 was based on a July order from our Dallas County public health authority closing schools until that time. That order was issued during a period of record high cases and metrics within Dallas County, and although it was later amended from an order to a recommendation as cases and metrics began receding, our team believed it was prudent to remain with our delayed start of in-person school based on that advice.
Over the last month, working with data provided by Dallas County, RISD has been able to develop and track school district-specific data related to positive cases within RISD’s portion of the much larger Dallas County. New cases within RISD’s portion of Dallas County continue to be lower than some other portions of Dallas County, and this is one factor that we continue to monitor and consider as part of our decision making process. During the planning to return to face to face learning, RISD has also consulted with the City of Richardson Health Authority, which has consistently cited the social and emotional impact that the isolation created by the pandemic has had on children. We have been encouraged to weigh the emotional health of students carefully as another factor when determining the need for extending closures.
After our initial days of virtual learning, it is clear that many of our youngest learners, and their caregivers, are often struggling with asynchronous virtual learning. Students in PK-3 are at the most critical stage of their academic development, and most need and benefit from a face to face classroom setting with a professional teacher. Early childhood literacy is essential to the academic success of students, and our youngest learners are impacted more than other students are by the “COVID academic slide” from the spring. Despite valiant efforts at remote learning in the spring, our educators feel that most students have experienced a deficit in their learning as a result of the pandemic. Virtual instruction this year is superior to what RISD was able to offer on short notice in the spring, but for many students, face to face learning is the most effective option, and students who are denied that option are falling farther behind.
We are aware of the most recent updated recommendations for school districts in Dallas County to remain closed to in-person instruction beyond the September 8 date of the previous recommendation, and have evaluated those recommendations as part of all of the factors the district has considered when weighing this decision. Based on the extensive health and risk mitigation protocols that RISD is planning for in-person learning, which are based on recommendations from national, state and local health authorities; feedback from RISD teachers, parents and employees; recommendations from both Dallas County and City of Richardson health authorities; the current lower level of COVID activity within RISD boundaries compared to Dallas County as a whole; the social and emotional impact on students from continued isolation from peers; and RISD’s belief as educators that the continued academic impact of delaying face to face instruction is increasingly detrimental to students; RISD will be resuming face to face instruction as follows:
* Students in grades PK-6 and Centralized Special Education Programs, whose parents have chosen face-to-face instruction will resume in-person instruction on Tuesday, September 8, which will represent a delay of three weeks from RISD’s original in-person start date.
* Students in grades 7-8 whose parents have chosen face-to-face instruction will resume in-person instruction on Monday, September 14, which will represent a delay of four weeks from RISD’s original in-person start date.
* Students in grades 9-12 whose parents have chosen face-to-face instruction will resume in-person instruction on Monday, September 21, which will represent a delay of five weeks from RISD’s original in-person start date.
* Students whose parents have chosen virtual instruction will continue to receive virtual instruction in the same format that they have since school began on August 19. In advance of each nine-week grading period, every student and family will have an opportunity to choose to continue in their current learning framework or transition to the other option.
The logistics of face coverings, scheduling and managing the movement of cohorts of students, limiting school-related entrances/exits, screening of staff and students, and maintaining social distancing protocols become more complex as grade levels rise, so the additional delay for older students will allow staff to evaluate best practices from the implementation of protocols in lower grades and revise planning as needed before older students return in person. In addition, as transmission rates among high school students more closely resemble those of adults, this delay in the return to face to face instruction for those students was made in acknowledgement of the most recent Dallas County recommendations.
RISD will continue to work with health authorities to conduct contact tracing in the event of positive cases in a school or activity among students or staff, with exclusion and quarantining as necessary and consistent with CDC guidelines. Per our district Return to School Blueprint, RISD will consult with health authorities about the possibility of temporary classroom, activity, or school closures if multiple positive cases were to dictate those decisions. In the event that becomes necessary, having started our first three weeks with 100% virtual instruction will be an invaluable experience as students and teachers will be able to more seamlessly transition back to virtual instruction, if needed.
It is more critical now than ever before that we as adults follow health and social distancing protocols and model those expectations for the children of our community. As well, this is a time that our classroom teachers need all of the empathy, support, and cooperation that it is possible to give, not just from students, but also from our parents and everyone in our community who values education and the well-being of those who make it possible.
I appreciate your continued support as we continue to navigate this unprecedented time together.
Jeannie Stone, Ed.D.
4. RISD Superintendent's Update - July 7
- The North Dallas Neighborhood Alliance (NDNA) is a non-profit, volunteer organization formed in 1981 to support and represent the various homeowner and neighborhood associations (HOAs) in North Dallas.
- NDNA is an umbrella organization whose membership is comprised of HOAs in Districts 11 and 12 of the City of Dallas. All HOAs in Districts 11 & 12 are eligible to become members.
- NDNA is administered by an elected Board of Directors who meet once a month. Please click on Contact Us to communicate with NDNA’s Board.
What NDNA Does
- Sponsors public meetings:
- Meetings include programs on code compliance, beautification, low income housing, curbside recycling, multi-family zoning, and topics requested by membership.
- NDNA meetings are often attended by the District 11 and 12 City Council Representatives and allow residents the opportunity to speak directly with their elected officials.
- HOAs are kept abreast of meetings and news such as the Cotton Belt/Silver Line Rail project and local zoning issues involving new development.
- In Addition, NDNA:
- Sends out email alerts and notices concerning neighborhood and City of Dallas issues.
- Monitors major developments city-wide as well as in Districts 11 & 12 such as proposed zoning changes and land development projects, safety issues, crime trends, homelessness, trash collection, and road projects.
- Provides information from the City of Dallas, major upcoming events, safety and crime prevention issues, and provides a means for member HOAs to connect with each other via NDNA.us
- Provides zoning assistance / expertise when needed by HOAs.
- Has direct ties with the Dallas Police Department’s North Dallas VIP program, the Board of the Preston Ridge Trail, the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, and Texas Neighborhoods Together (TNT monitors state legislative issues pertaining to neighborhood associations).
The city of Dallas is divided into seven community code districts with offices located throughout the city. The districts are responsible for the enforcement of over 900 city ordinances intended to keep your neighborhood clean and code-compliant. Community Code addresses concerns both proactively and by citizen requests submitted through 3-1-1.