Eagles trade up in 2nd round to select tight end Dallas Goedert

Welcome to Philly, Dallas Goedert

The Eagles traded up in front of Dallas in Dallas to take a tight end named Dallas.

Got all that?

The Eagles came into Friday’s second round with the No. 52 pick but traded with the Colts to get into spot 49, just in front of the Cowboys, and selected tight end Dallas Goedert (GOD-ert) from South Dakota State.

In order to move up three spots, the Eagles had to give up the No. 169 pick (fifth round).

“He was among the players we had grouped at 32, so we wanted to make sure that we got one of those guys,” Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said. “And that’s why we made the move up.”

When the Eagles traded out of the first round on Thursday night, Roseman felt confident that the Eagles would be able to get a comparable talent with the 52nd pick, 20 spots later. But as the second round progressed, the Eagles saw names they liked come off the board.

During the day on Friday, the Eagles’ brass had conversations about the possibility of moving back up if it didn’t look like one of their guys was going to make it to 52. That’s what happened.

“We didn’t have a lot of picks and we didn’t want to go into anything next year,” Roseman said of the 2019 draft, when the Eagles already have nine selections. “We didn’t want to give up something if we didn’t have to, but at the same token, once guys started to go on our list of guys we were considering at 32, we wanted to make sure we came out with someone we feel really good about. That’s why we made the move here to go get Dallas.”

The Cowboys took tackle Connor Williams from Texas with the next pick at 50, but it would have made sense if they wanted Goedert. Earlier in the day, it was reported that veteran Jason Witten is retiring after a tremendous career in North Texas.

When asked if that was part of the reason the Eagles jumped the Cowboys, Roseman said they were just concerned about getting one of the guys they once targeted at 32.

After moving their fifth-round pick, the Eagles have four more selections for Saturday: two in the fourth round (125, 130), one in the sixth (206) and one in the seventh (250).

Goedert (6-5, 260) finished his college career with back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in college. Personnel head Joe Douglas seemed impressed with Goedert’s college tape and his performance at the Senior Bowl.

“Dallas is a blue-collar kid who works extremely hard,” Douglas said. “This was a guy we felt dominated at that level of play.”

Goedert, 23, is the first tight end the Eagles have drafted since Zach Ertz in the second round of the 2013 draft. Goedert will help fill the void left after Trey Burton went to the Bears in free agency and after the Eagles cut Brent Celek.

Head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles will bring Goedert along slowly in his complex offense but expects his new tight end to fill some of the void left by Burton. Roseman said Pederson was thrilled about the pick.

“I think you saw in our draft room, we were excited about it. That’s part of this moment. We sat down this week and just tried to make a list of guys we’d be excited to get. We want to come down after every pick and be excited to get him. That’s always the focus of when we go into these days. Excited from a front office/scouting perspective, from a coaching perspective. When you get that, you feel really good about it.

Having Sidney Jones lessens blow of small Eagles draft class
Eagles strutting around with Super Bowl swagger

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Deep-State Dallas City Hall, More Tenacious Than You Might Believe

One thing about segregation never changes: the money.
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Dallas City Hall is like Washington. We have a Deep State, and for all the same reasons.

A new regime is in charge here, too. It’s making big policy changes. Those new policies have serious consequences in the real world. Some people in the real world are very unhappy, so those people are looking for the soft spots, the handles, the backdoor accesses they need to defeat the new policies.

Is this about philosophy? Yes and no, but on the surface anyway, mostly no. The immediate battles here are about deals. The new policies are a threat to some people’s old deals. They just want to keep the gravy train on the tracks.

Coming soon to an airport near you – subsidized affordable housing! Because Deep State.

An almost hilarious — because it’s so stupid — attempt to do a Deep State end-run around the new regime is a behind-the-scenes effort gathering steam as we speak to get the city to build affordable housing at airports. Because, you know, that’s really where poor people with kids need to be, at the airport.

You think I’m making this up? Listen, I probably can’t even express to you how much I wish I were. I’m not. It’s surreal, but it’s real: Coming soon to an airport near you, subsidized affordable housing! Because Deep State.

We’ve actually seen round one of this publicly in The War of the CHODOs. CHODO is City Hall slang for a community housing development organization. CHODOs are nonprofit groups that get federal grant money channeled through City Hall to build affordable housing.

The CHODOs and some for-profit developers have built most of the city’s subsidized housing for decades in the city’s poorest, most racially segregated neighborhoods in southern Dallas. That pattern violates all kinds of federal laws and administrative rules, flies in the face of a recent landmark Supreme Court ruling and also doesn’t make much sense.

If you’re going to spend tax money building homes for people, hopefully you’re doing it to achieve some measure of social good. Otherwise, just don’t spend the money. But definitely don’t spend tax money to make things worse.

Building subsidized housing in historically segregated, very poor neighborhoods has the effect of tethering poor people to those areas. Especially for children, not much good and a whole lot of bad tends to happen to them there.

Dallas City Manager T. C. Broadnax and a top staff of newcomers to City Hall are proposing a radically new policy designed to correct past mistakes and also try to get Dallas right with federal law. Many of of those people bring prestigious credentials from posts at other city, state and federal agencies. The new housing policy they propose would be a rational analytical system, not a simple decree or fiat.

Under the old regime at City Hall, everything was good-old-boy. You got a deal because you were one. If you weren’t one, you didn’t get a deal.

Under the proposed plan, all of these investments — because, you know, that’s really what they are — would be carried out according to a rational framework that would aim to put new affordable housing where it will do the most good. That means almost entirely north, almost never south. And, by the way, I am hearing a whole lot of very interesting thinking going on, a lot of it aimed at avoiding the total gridlock and defeat that can be threatened by NIMBYism.

NIMBY — not in my backyard — is real. Organized affluent neighborhoods with political clout are going to fight some forms of public housing. That’s just how it is.

That does not mean a housing policy should be passive, crater and give into NIMBYism without fighting back, but less money spent fighting legal battles is more money for housing.

So, for example, one of the better ideas being floated out there these days involves building affordable housing on or over the parking lots at Dallas Area Rapid Transit stations. The housing wouldn’t be ramming head-first into established neighborhoods. A transit station seems like a convenient place for working and poor people to be near, although I admit that’s a very unexamined assumption on my part.

Another great idea is coming from the private sector and involves targeting some forms of affordable housing to public servants. Between the real estate market and the city’s pension problems, we have gotten to a point where too many firefighters, cops and teachers have to get out of town at the end of every day in order to live somewhere they can afford.

In other words, Broadnax’s proposed new housing policy already is spurring a lot of creative thinking, all of it aimed at ameliorating the deeply entrenched, socially corrosive effects of race and income discrimination and segregation. A growing consensus in the city sees solutions ahead to what used to feel like intractable problems. That consensus provides wind beneath the wings of the new regime’s ideas.

But, oh yeah. We were going to talk about affordable housing at airports, were we not? Where does that one come from? I can tell you.

CHODOs, by federal regulation, spring from specific neighborhoods and communities. The original idea was to foster neighborhood improvement through empowerment. The CHODOs are anchored to the neighborhoods that give them birth. Some of these outfits have done multiple millions of dollars in development business with the city over time, all of it in their target areas. Some have done good work in terms of construction, but even those good projects have had the effect of reinforcing segregation.

The southern Dallas CHODOs are looking at the proposed new housing policy, and of course what they see first is financial support being directed out of their turf. The reaction of some of the CHODO leadership, on view at a recent hearing on these issues at City Hall, has been to argue against some basic precepts of the new plan. Steering this important source of public support out of poor neighborhoods, some said, is another bitter nail in the coffin of the city’s most beleaguered neighborhoods.

That’s fair. That’s debate. That’s how we’re supposed to do things in a democracy. The Broadnax proposal, no matter how smart it may look at first blush, needs to stand up to honest challenge. Can’t argue with that.

That’s not what the airport thing is. The idea of building subsidized housing at an airport is focused on one airport only, Dallas Executive Airport in southwest Dallas, and on one agency of city government only, the city’s Department of Aviation.

Somebody thinks the aviation department offers an end-run around Broadnax. Aviation falls squarely within the city manager’s domain, but the department has always enjoyed a good deal of informal autonomy because it makes its own money, mainly from concessions, landing fees, rents and parking at Love Field.

It’s not just about getting out from under the thumb of the new regime. It’s a thumb in the new regime’s eye. It’s the City Hall Deep State telling the new city manager that people like him come and go but the Deep State is forever.

Because of its close ties to the airline industry, especially Southwest Airlines, the aviation department has always had powerful friends in its corner. Many view it as as a fiefdom apart and out from under the immediate thumb of City Hall.

The scheme to build affordable housing at Dallas Executive Airport, when it emerges more fully and gets fleshed out, will be a plot to build affordable housing apart from and out from under the thumb of the proposed new housing policy. Dallas Executive Airport will provide a haven for the CHODOs that want to keep doing what they’ve always done — getting money from the city to put new subsidized housing in already segregated areas.

It’s not just about getting out from under the thumb of the new regime. It’s a thumb in the new regime’s eye. It’s the City Hall Deep State telling the new city manager that people like him come and go but the Deep State is forever. Give the old patronage machine the time it needs, and it will find its way to water.

The idea of poor people living at the airport is only an opening move. Beneath it, pushing it along, is a rejection of the value of assimilation. Ahead of it lie decades more of racial segregation, rationalized and justified as empowerment.

Some people might even advise Broadnax to let this one slide. Let the southern Dallas CHODOs have a bite. Let them build affordable housing at a southern Dallas airport. It’ll keep them busy. Maybe it will keep them off the new regime’s back.

Of course, allowing this luridly stupid plan to go forward also spares the most important legacy of the old regime — the dual sets of rules, one north, one south. It’s always been that way in Dallas, part of the racial truce that defined the old regime at heart. But this would be the old truce with a new twist.

Under the original setup, before the Latino community was a big factor, the clear division in the city was between the old white oligarchy and the segregated black community. Justice, education, economic development: All of it was one way south of the line, another way north, based on race. Guess which side had the money.

If the Deep State stands and the old southern Dallas leadership is allowed to find a way around the new regime at City Hall, then we will still have a north-south divide. But different things will be divided.

South of the new line, we will have yesterday. The legacy of racial segregation will be reinforced and fortified, emboldened by its ability to flout the policies of the new regime.

North of the line will be tomorrow. Hopefully, the Dallas of tomorrow will be a city where people really are empowered, not by the false comfort of separation but by the challenge of full citizenship, full access, full participation, full and equal right to everything that’s on the table to be won. And guess which side will have that money.

So, yes, we have a Deep State here, too. The difference for me is that I like the one in Washington.

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Mavericks mock draft roundup: Which star big man could Dallas end up with?

The Mavericks will have a high lottery pick for the second straight year. Dallas won their lottery tiebreaker with Atlanta and have the third best odds in this year’s NBA draft. The Mavs are assured to pick no later than No. 6 overall.

Dallas selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 pick in last year’s draft and should get another talented prospect to pair with him in this draft.

Here’s a breakdown of where draft experts think the Mavs will pick in this year’s draft and who they might select.

Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid

HoopsHype’s Aran Smith, No. 5 overall pick (April 6): “Doncic is one of Europe’s top overall players, which is unheard of at 19 years of age. It’s no wonder why so many scouts in Europe feel that he should be considered for the first overall pick. And in a lot of drafts, he probably would be. His feel for the game is special for such a young player and he’s got a magical ability to find passing angles and make those around him better. He’s extremely competitive and clutch and never seems to get rattled or lose composure, even in the biggest moments. What he lacks in comparison to the other elite prospects is sheer athleticism. He’s not an overly quick or explosive athlete, so his ceiling isn’t quite as high as the others when you consider defense and ability to create and finish.”

The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre, No. 3 overall pick (March 8): “The hype machine will be in overdrive for months ahead of the draft, and it wouldn’t shock me if Doncic went 1st overall. The Mavericks have an awful roster, among the worst in the league. They’ll be right back here next year barring something lucky in free agency, but Doncic will contend for ROY and be the best scorer on the team.”

Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke

Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, No. 3 overall pick (April 18): “After winning a tiebreaker with the Hawks, the Mavs have a 13.8% chance at the No. 1 pick and will be in position to address their need for a frontcourt mainstay regardless. With a major need up front, Dallas is looking hard at Bagley, whose offensive productivity, rebounding and athleticism were highly impressive at Duke. He has strides to make defensively and as a shooter and finisher, but Bagley is certainly an unfinished product with lots of room to grow. At some point his talent outweighs concerns over positional fit.”

Woo’s previous selection: Missouri F Michael Porter Jr. at No. 7.

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, No. 3 overall pick (April 16): “The concern some have with Bagley is that his incredible production at the collegiate level was mostly the byproduct of superior athleticism and quickness when compared to literally everybody he ever played against — point being the 6-11 forward won’t be able to just physically overwhelm people in the NBA. Perhaps that’s true. But a consensus top-ranked high school player who averages 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds in one year of college for a great ACC team seems bust-proof to me. Honestly, I’d consider taking Bagley first overall. And I’ll never believe he should fall any further than No. 3.”

Parrish’s previous selection: Alabama G Collin Sexton at No. 7 overall.

Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, No. 3 overall (April 16): “If Marvin Bagley III hadn’t reclassified for the class of 2017, he’d be planning out his final weeks of high school right now. Instead, he’s surging toward the NBA draft with (ahead-of-schedule) freshman averages of 21.0 points on 61.4 percent shooting and 11.1 rebounds.

“He just turned 19 in March. During the same month, he also put 21 points and 15 rebounds on defending champion North Carolina, went for 33 points and 17 boards in an ACC tournament quarterfinal against Notre Dame and tallied 66 points on 72.2 percent shooting over his first three NCAA tournament outings.

“No freshman has done more in his freshman year than Marvin,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, per the Associated Press (via ESPN). “He’s broken every record, and he’s really represented us at the highest level. I’m proud of him because he came in late and he adapted at the highest level.”

“There might be questions about Bagley’s jump shooting and defensive ability, but he’s been a wrecking ball at every level so far. There’s value alone in his size, athleticism and energy, and he has the offensive ceiling of a focal point.

“That’s exactly what the Dallas Mavericks need for their post-Dirk Nowitzki future–assuming The Diggler does, in fact, walk away at some point. Bagley could be an ideal screening partner for Dennis Smith Jr., and if those two can handle the primary scoring roles, Harrison Barnes could dazzle as a high-level complementary option.”

Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, No. 5 overall pick (April 9): “With Nerlens Noel unlikely to be in Dallas’ long-term plans and Dirk Nowitzki turning 40 in June, the Mavs will definitely be looking for a frontcourt player to build around.

“Bamba’s rare combination of length, shot-blocking instincts and offensive promise gives him one of highest ceilings of any prospect in this draft. Every team in the NBA is looking for a big man who can anchor a defense.”

Givony’s previous selection: Duke C Wendell Carter at No. 6.

Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey, No. 3 overall pick (April 17): “The Dallas Mavericks could go a bunch of different directions here. Dennis Smith has plenty of potential as the team’s future point guard. Harrison Barnes, in spite of the advanced numbers’ disdain for him, still has some value as a young-ish combo forward who can score nearly 20 points a game.

“With Dirk Nowitzki nearing the end of his career and Nerlens Noel and Rick Carlisle seemingly at odds, inside may be where Dallas looks to round out its core.

“Marvin Bagley III is intriguing as a playmaking 5. Jaren Jackson may have the most defensive potential. But the pick here, for now, is Mohamed Bamba.

“As is the case with most bigs, Bamba still has plenty of work to do on the offensive end, but he’s already unbelievable on the other. Jackson is the only player to have played over 700 minutes with a sub-90 defensive rating and a higher block percentage than Bamba. The Texas center’s defensive rebounding percentage is nearly 10 points higher than Jackson’s and over five points better than his total rebounding percentage.

“And the best Mavericks teams over the last several years were ones that featured a defensive anchor in Tyson Chandler at the 5.”

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, No. 5 overall pick (April 3): “The Dallas Mavericks have been noncommittal with Nerlens Noel and could look at Mohamed Bamba to anchor their defense.

“Bamba has the potential to change a game with his length in the paint like Rudy Gobert, and he’d give Dennis Smith Jr. an enormous finishing target at the rim, where he shot 74.5 percent.

“At Texas, he flashed glimpses of an over-the-shoulder game and jump shot, but those are the skills he’ll have to improve, along with his body.

“Michael Porter Jr. will get consideration, but between the back surgery and poor performances after returning to Missouri, Dallas should feel more confident in Bamba’s unique defensive presence.”

Wasserman’s previous selection: Real Madrid G/F Luka Doncic at No. 1.

Fan Rag Sports’ Daniel O’Brien, No. 5 overall pick (March 30): “The Longhorns’ one-and-done center is a risk-reward commodity, especially on the offensive end. His possible range of outcomes is vast on that end. On defense, however, his floor is high and his ceiling is astronomical.

“He averaged 4.8 blocks and just 3.4 fouls per 40 minutes this season, and opponents scored just 89.7 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. His mobility and long reach form a wall around the rim unlike any other prospect.

“The Mavericks will be targeting him high, but he shouldn’t be considered an immediate savior. He will need a couple of years of growing pains before he starts approaching his prime.”

O’Brien’s previous selection: Duke F Marvin Bagley III at No. 5.

UPROXX’s Brad Rowland, No. 5 overall pick (March 26): “Bamba’s defensive tools are ridiculous and everybody knows it. If anything, he remains underrated at this juncture as a result of playing on an underwhelming Texas team. Playing in Dallas could give him the chance to unlock some of his offensive potential as well. There is some risk here but nothing that the Mavs couldn’t rationalize.”

The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks, Kevin O’Connor and Danny Chau, No. 5 overall pick (March 2): “This is a conspiracy. Tjarks clearly selected Jackson with the fourth pick just so Bamba could fall to his hometown team. As an athletic lob threat and rim protector with a 9-foot-6 standing reach, Bamba is a perfect fit for Rick Carlisle’s offensive system. Dennis Smith repeatedly running high pick-and-rolls with Bamba would be pretty freaking invigorating. If Bamba’s perimeter shot translates, he could end up the best player in the draft.”

CBS Sports’ Reid Forgrave, No. 6 overall pick (March 22): “I believe every player in this mock draft, one through six, and maybe even later, would have been the top-rated player in last season’s draft. While the 2017 draft was marked by its depth, this draft is marked by its stacked top. Porter was my top pick in the preseason. The back surgery makes him too much of an injury risk to take over the handful of other guarantees in this draft, but Porter’s ceiling is high, high, high. Maybe not Kevin Durant, but Porter is a natural scorer. Think of him in the mold of Jayson Tatum, just a tick more talented, a tick bigger, a tick better of a scorer. You could even toss in a little bit of Dirk here. I’ve heard some people say that since Porter’s two-game return from back surgery in March was so disappointing, NBA general managers will knock him for it. That’s nonsense. Scouts have seen Porter’s dynamic offensive game for years; they’re not going to judge him poorly for two subpar collegiate games when he didn’t appear quite physically ready to return.”

Forgrave’s previous selection: Michigan State C Jaren Jackson Jr. at No. 7.

SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell, No. 3 overall pick (April 12): “Jackson didn’t put up gaudy stats like Ayton or Bagley, only averaging 11 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He wasn’t even on the floor much in Michigan State’s NCAA tournament loss to Syracuse (yes, that was a problem). He’s not a ready-made contributor yet, either, entering this draft as one of the youngest players in the class. Still: Jackson’s combination of shot blocking and three-point shooting is a perfect fit for the modern NBA. No other big man in this draft can match him in those two areas. For a patient team, Jackson could be a gem down the line.”

O’Donnell’s previous selection: Duke F Marvin Bagley III at No. 4.

Sporting News’ Chris Stone, No. 3 overall pick (April 18): “The Mavericks won a coin flip against the Hawks for the third spot on Friday. The two teams will split ping pong balls and have virtually equal lottery odds, but if things fall in line, it’ll be Dallas who selects first on draft night.

“Jackson is one of the youngest prospects in the 2018 draft class and his statistical profile — in part due to his age — is one of the most promising. The 18-year-old averaged 5.5 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman while shooting 39.6 percent from behind the arc. He has legitimate unicorn potential. Turning him into a long-term ball screen partner with Dennis Smith Jr. would be a terrific move for a franchise looking to bring back its glory days.”

Stone’s previous selection: Texas C Mohamed Bamba at No. 5.

Yahoo Sports’ Jordan Schlutz, No. 5 overall pick (April 6): “The youth movement continues for the Mavs. Jackson, a 6-10 jumping jack, is an ideal complement to Dennis Smith Jr. because of his dexterity, quickness and ability to pick-and-pop. As a freshman, he connected on 40 percent of his threes, and his defensive flexibility is a huge plus for a Dallas team that lacks an identity.”

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie, No. 4 overall pick (March 28): “Jackson was pretty awful in both of Michigan State’s NCAA Tournament games (by his lofty standards). He averaged four points, six rebounds and a block, and displayed some of the general weaknesses that give scouts pause when evaluating him. While his feel on the defensive end is quite strong, his offensive feel isn’t quite there yet. He struggles with double teams and turnovers, and isn’t a natural passer. Still, he’s the best defensive prospect in the class as a shot-blocking savant, he knocks down shots from distance with terrific touch and he’d fit nicely with Dallas as it transitions out of the Dirk Nowitzki era and into something new under Rick Carlisle.”

Vecenie’s previous selection: Real Madrid G/F Luka Doncic at No. 2.

NBADraft.net, No. 3 overall pick (April 12)

NBADraft.net’s previous selection: Real Madrid G/F Luka Doncic.

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Dallas politician says ‘illegal immigrants’ to blame for city’s middle class problem

Staff Photographer

J.J. Koch, who has a high chance of becoming the next sole Republican on the Dallas County commissioners court, says that blame for the city’s declining middle class falls in large part on one group: unauthorized immigrants.

They make up roughly 7 percent of the county, according to the Pew Research Center, but Koch believes they have put an outsize burden on public schools, social services and the economy.

“This shrinking of the middle class won’t stop until we end the flow of illegal immigrants into our County,” Koch said Thursday in a campaign email to his supporters. “That time-tested formula for achieving the American dream will end in Dallas County if we don’t take immediate action to change course and enforce our laws.”

Koch, a Dallas attorney, led the Republican primary for northern Dallas County’s District 2, which has long leaned Republican. He faces former State District Judge Vickers “Vic” Cunningham in the runoff election on May 22. As county commissioner, Koch would not have much power over immigration, besides oversight of the county jail which already hands over unauthorized immigrants to the federal government.

Some saw Koch’s mailer as purely political — trying to capitalize on the widespread concerns about unauthorized immigration that helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency.

“It is disappointing to see this sort of fear-mongering from someone who wants to serve on the Commissioners Court,” said Commissioner Elba Garcia, herself a Mexican immigrant. “County governance is about management — competent administration and prudent stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars, not partisan grandstanding.”

Koch was weighing in on a new report out this week by the Center for Public Policy Priorities that showed rising poverty and racial inequality in Dallas County. One key statistic: Median household income fell by 16 percent since 1999, the report found.

“What has changed since the rise in poverty?” Koch said in the email. “The answer is hidden in their own chart,” he said, referring to a graph that showed the county population growing far less white and far more Hispanic over time.

By 2050, Dallas County will have 1.9 million Hispanics, 404,000 whites, 641,500 blacks and 300,000 people of other races, the report said. Koch took issue with the report not differentiating between all Hispanic people and unauthorized immigrants.

Koch said unauthorized immigrants fuel economic woes because they burden public schools with more poor students and non-English speakers. He said such immigrants also accept jobs for lower wages, which leads to salaries falling for other similar jobs. And he added, those issues lead to more “not just white flight, but middle-class flight” to the suburbs.

“People immediately say, ‘You’re being racist,’ but clearly this has nothing to do with racial origin,” Koch said. “It has to do with: a bunch of poor people came over the border and settled here in Dallas.”

Dallas attorney J.J. Koch, center, answers questions in an editorial board meeting as former Garland City Council member Stephen Stanley (left) listens and former state District Judge Vickers “Vic” Cunningham (right) takes notes at The Dallas Morning News in Dallas on Friday, February 9, 2018. All were running for the Republican nomination for Dallas County commissioner in District 2. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

He added that unauthorized immigrants use social services and resources that would be better spent on native-born people living in poverty.

“If we want to be really honest about it, illegal immigrants are taking away resources that we could use to create a strong, thriving black middle class in Dallas County,” Koch said.

In response, Commissioner Garcia said that immigration “is one of the great strengths of our economy in North Texas.” The county’s unauthorized immigrants work in construction, manufacturing and service industries, and 34 percent are homeowners, she said.

Citing a 2016 study by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, she said unauthorized residents in Texas paid $178 million in property taxes and $1.4 billion in sales taxes in 2010.

“This shows that undocumented residents of Dallas County contribute to the economy of our community with both their labor and their disposable income, as well as being part of our community tax base,” Garcia said.

Garcia added that the middle class in Dallas is most hurt by the rise in housing prices coupled with relatively unchanged wages.

“I do not believe that either of these issues is caused or exacerbated by undocumented immigrants,” Garcia said.

Hector Flores, the former president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said immigrants often take jobs that are dangerous, pay little and offer no benefits. Citizens wouldn’t work those jobs, he said.

“He’s trying to race-bait,” Flores said of Koch. “He’s trying to duplicate the GOP plan that got our POTUS into office by arousing the darker side of Americans.”

In his email, Koch called himself “the only candidate openly committed to enforcing the rule of law”and “the only candidate who understands the magnitude of this issue and has the courage to take it head on.”

His opponent, Cunningham, brushed that off as “more big talk from Mr. No Experience.”

“As a State Criminal District Judge, I worked with ICE on a regular basis deporting criminal illegal aliens,” Cunningham said. “As county commissioner I will fight against sanctuary cities and will always uphold the rule of law, just as I have always done during my 30 year career in criminal justice.”

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Mavericks mock draft roundup: Could Dallas end up with a star big man from Texas or Duke?

Barring something crazy happening, the Mavericks will have a high lottery pick for the second straight year. Dallas selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 pick in last year’s draft and should get another talented prospect to pair with him in this draft.

If the Mavs continue at this pace, they should have a top five pick. Check out where the Mavs stand in the lottery race right here.

Here’s a breakdown of where draft experts think the Mavs will pick in this year’s draft and who they might select.

Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid

The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre, No. 3 overall pick (March 8):”The hype machine will be in overdrive for months ahead of the draft, and it wouldn’t shock me if Doncic went 1st overall. The Mavericks have an awful roster, among the worst in the league. They’ll be right back here next year barring something lucky in free agency, but Doncic will contend for ROY and be the best scorer on the team.”

NBADraft.net, No. 5 overall pick (March 29)

NBADraft.net’s previous selection: Duke F Marvin Bagley III at No. 3.

Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke

Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, No. 5 overall pick (April 3): “Should Bagley fall here he’d offer strong value, and would be a fascinating frontcourt complement to Dennis Smith in Dallas. He was picked apart by critics as the season went on, but Bagley’s athleticism, offensive potential and rebounding ability give him a strong upside. He can be a ball-watcher on defense and his interior play can be predictable, but at some point there’s no sense looking past his production. Bagley’s best NBA position is probably going to be power forward, but he will need to keep improving as a jump shooter to make that happen. He’s still a very good prospect, and deserves some patience.”

Woo’s previous selection: Missouri F Michael Porter Jr. at No. 7.

SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell and Matt Ellentuck, No. 4 overall (March 28): “Bagley is so skilled at scoring around the basket. He was unstoppable with one-on-one coverage all year, using a variety of tricks to average 20 points per game in his true freshman season for Duke.

“The question is whether he blocks enough shots to be a center or has the type of perimeter game the modern four now demands.

“A bet on Bagley comes with the idea that he’s just scratching the surface of his skill level. He’s shooting 36 percent from three-point range on 50 attempts this season, but he’s only a 62-percent free-throw shooter. You can see the outline of a playmaking big man who can attack off the dribble for himself and others, but his feel and handle are still developing.

“Finding the right team will be as important with Bagley as any prospect. Bagley is not a shot blocker and he doesn’t have strong defensive instincts right now. He needs a defensive anchor next to him, ideally one who can also stretch the floor.”

O’Donnell’s previous selection: Duke C Wendell Carter at No. 7.

Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, No. 5 overall pick (April 3): “The Dallas Mavericks have been noncommittal with Nerlens Noel and could look at Mohamed Bamba to anchor their defense.

“Bamba has the potential to change a game with his length in the paint like Rudy Gobert, and he’d give Dennis Smith Jr. an enormous finishing target at the rim, where he shot 74.5 percent.

“At Texas, he flashed glimpses of an over-the-shoulder game and jump shot, but those are the skills he’ll have to improve, along with his body.

“Michael Porter Jr. will get consideration, but between the back surgery and poor performances after returning to Missouri, Dallas should feel more confident in Bamba’s unique defensive presence.”

Wasserman’s previous selection: Real Madrid G/F Luka Doncic at No. 1.

Fan Rag Sports’ Daniel O’Brien, No. 5 overall pick (March 30): “The Longhorns’ one-and-done center is a risk-reward commodity, especially on the offensive end. His possible range of outcomes is vast on that end. On defense, however, his floor is high and his ceiling is astronomical.

“He averaged 4.8 blocks and just 3.4 fouls per 40 minutes this season, and opponents scored just 89.7 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. His mobility and long reach form a wall around the rim unlike any other prospect.

“The Mavericks will be targeting him high, but he shouldn’t be considered an immediate savior. He will need a couple of years of growing pains before he starts approaching his prime.”

O’Brien’s previous selection: Duke F Marvin Bagley III at No. 5.

UPROXX’s Brad Rowland, No. 7 overall pick (March 12): “Bamba is the final player in my top tier and the Mavs may get a steal here. Injuries (and a mediocre Texas team) have kept Bamba out of the national spotlight but his absurd length draws comparisons to Rudy Gobert in terms of defensive ceiling and he isn’t a stiff on the other end either.”

Sporting News’ Chris Stone, No. 5 overall pick (Feb. 13): “With a 7-9 wingspan, Bamba has the physical tools to one day be the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. He averages 5.4 blocks per 40 minutes for Texas and deters a significant number of shots around the rim for the nation’s fifth-ranked defense. There are some questions about his focus and intensity, but none about the ability.”

“On the offensive end, Bamba could help the Mavericks establish a formidable pick-and-roll attack alongside Dennis Smith Jr. The Texas freshman has an impressive catch radius and would force help defenders to make difficult decisions as he crashes towards the rim. He’s even flashed a bit of shooting range with a slow-loading jumper.”

The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks, Kevin O’Connor and Danny Chau, No. 5 overall pick (March 2): “This is a conspiracy. Tjarks clearly selected Jackson with the fourth pick just so Bamba could fall to his hometown team. As an athletic lob threat and rim protector with a 9-foot-6 standing reach, Bamba is a perfect fit for Rick Carlisle’s offensive system. Dennis Smith repeatedly running high pick-and-rolls with Bamba would be pretty freaking invigorating. If Bamba’s perimeter shot translates, he could end up the best player in the draft.”

CBS Sports’ Reid Forgrave, No. 6 overall pick (March 22): “I believe every player in this mock draft, one through six, and maybe even later, would have been the top-rated player in last season’s draft. While the 2017 draft was marked by its depth, this draft is marked by its stacked top. Porter was my top pick in the preseason. The back surgery makes him too much of an injury risk to take over the handful of other guarantees in this draft, but Porter’s ceiling is high, high, high. Maybe not Kevin Durant, but Porter is a natural scorer. Think of him in the mold of Jayson Tatum, just a tick more talented, a tick bigger, a tick better of a scorer. You could even toss in a little bit of Dirk here. I’ve heard some people say that since Porter’s two-game return from back surgery in March was so disappointing, NBA general managers will knock him for it. That’s nonsense. Scouts have seen Porter’s dynamic offensive game for years; they’re not going to judge him poorly for two subpar collegiate games when he didn’t appear quite physically ready to return.”

Forgrave’s previous selection: Michigan State C Jaren Jackson Jr. at No. 7.

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie, No. 4 overall pick (March 28): “Jackson was pretty awful in both of Michigan State’s NCAA Tournament games (by his lofty standards). He averaged four points, six rebounds and a block, and displayed some of the general weaknesses that give scouts pause when evaluating him. While his feel on the defensive end is quite strong, his offensive feel isn’t quite there yet. He struggles with double teams and turnovers, and isn’t a natural passer. Still, he’s the best defensive prospect in the class as a shot-blocking savant, he knocks down shots from distance with terrific touch and he’d fit nicely with Dallas as it transitions out of the Dirk Nowitzki era and into something new under Rick Carlisle.”

Vecenie’s previous selection: Real Madrid G/F Luka Doncic at No. 2.

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, No. 7 overall pick (March 15): “Sexton’s Crimson Tide took a bad turn late and closed the regular season on a five-game losing streak that put their NCAA Tournament hopes in real jeopardy. But it would be foolish to suggest Sexton is the main issue — though him missing 15 of his 17 3-point attempts in that stretch, and lowering his 3-point percentage to 30.6 on the season, was both problematic for Alabama and enlightening for NBA front offices. Nobody questions the 6-3 point guard’s athleticism or aggressiveness — and it was on display in the final seconds of Alabama’s win over Texas A&M in its SEC Tournament opener. But his inability to consistently take over games at this level, and consistently make shots, is a slight source of concern.”

Wendell Carter, C, Duke

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, No. 6 overall pick (March 20): “The Mavs could certainly use help in the frontcourt, and Carter’s basketball IQ and versatility are promising in a number of ways. He is a physically mature big man with a 259-pound frame and a 7-foot-3 wingspan, which will allow him to play the center position in the NBA with ease.

“He is a polished player with excellent hands and touch around the basket and has demonstrated a nice blend of passing, shot-blocking and perimeter shooting, despite being overshadowed at times by fellow big man Marvin Bagley III.”

Givony’s previous selection: Missouri F Michael Porter Jr. at No. 7.

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Dallas regional spelling bee crowns co-champs after running out of words

Staff Photographer

Dearth. Shortage. Depleted.

While none of these was the winning word at the 60th annual Golden Chick Dallas Regional Spelling Bee, each summed up the situation that unfolded Saturday at the Bush Center in Dallas.

For the first time that anyone could remember, bee organizers ran out of words to lob at the young competitors.

As a result, after 27 rounds of competition lasting over two hours, the last two students standing were named co-champions.

Naysa Modi of Frisco and Abhijay Kodali of Flower Mound never faltered. They will head to Washington, D.C., at the end of May to represent North and East Texas at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. All expenses will be paid by the Dallas Sports Commission, presenter of the Dallas bee for the last two years.

Naysa Modi (left) and Abhijay Kodali were named co-champions of Saturday’s the 60th annual Golden Chick Dallas Regional Spelling Bee. (Rose Baca/Staff Photographer)

Using up the entire list of words ultimately wasn’t a problem, as regional bee officials for the first time already had planned to send the top two finishers to the national competition.

Larry Kelly, the commission’s marketing director, said officials wanted to do this for two reasons.

“To acknowledge and celebrate the 60th anniversary year of the Dallas Regional Bee and because our region is so large and has so many talented spellers,” he said.

Other areas also send more than one competitor. Houston, for example, sent two last year.

Saturday’s bee began with a videotaped greeting from former first lady Laura Bush. She congratulated spellers for making it to the regional level, and she touted the importance of spelling and reading.

“Your talent in spelling … will help you read any book,” she said. “And reading is the most important thing you can do.”

And with that, the battle among 21 spellers got underway. Along the way, students had to handle words like “amerce” (to punish by imposing a fine not fixed by statute), “urticant” (producing a stinging or itching sensation) and “scarabaeus” (a less common name for “scarab,” which is a representation or image of a beetle).

By the 12th round, only three students remained — Naysa, Abhijay and Sohum Sukhatankar, a sixth-grader at St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas.

Sohum was last year’s regional champion and placed in the top 40 at the national bee. On Saturday, he lasted 26 rounds before tripping on the word “religate,” which means to bind together or constrain. Sohum mistakenly gave the spelling for the word “relegate,” meaning to consign to a lower position.

Naysa, a seventh-grader at Reynolds Middle School in Prosper, will be returning to the national bee for the fourth time. The 12-year-old won three regional bees in Louisiana before moving to North Texas in August. Last year, she finished seventh in the nation.

While admitting to having butterflies before each bee, Naysa said she’s calm once on stage. Her poise was on display each round. She asked many questions of the pronouncer, then typed out each word on an imaginary keyboard before spelling them.

“That’s how I study,” she said. Her advice for success in spelling bees is “to take a deep breath and calm down because when you freak out, your brain shuts down.”

Abhijay, 11, stood with his hands behind his back before slowly spelling out his words. He’s a fifth-grade student at Liberty Elementary School in Flower Mound. His teacher, Kim Martich, and principal, Tim Greenwell, came to offer support and said they plan to celebrate his victory at the school.

Abhijay said he prepares by making up quizzes and doing them with his sister, a former spelling champion herself. This was his first time in the regional bee.

More about the bee

WFAA-TV (Channel 8 ) will televise the regional bee at 4 p.m. Sunday. Bee Week 2018 is May 27-June 1 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center near Washington, D.C.. The finals are scheduled for 8:30 p.m May 31. To learn more, visit spellingbee.com.

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Having Mike Modano top Stars’ 25th anniversary celebration seems like a perfect end for Dallas

The Dallas Morning News/Photo by Louis DeLuca. Illustration by Joshua Friemel.

Mike Modano is not mad at the Stars.

"That’s a bad rumor right there," the franchise’s all-time leading scorer said.

And to prove it, Modano will be honored as part of the team’s 25th anniversary in Dallas on March 31. The timing is pretty good, as it will be fan appreciation night at the final regular season home game, and it will be against the Minnesota Wild. Modano was drafted first overall by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988.

"It works out pretty good, because of the timing and the opponent," Modano said. "It kind of brings things full circle."

Modano came to Dallas with the Stars from Minnesota in 1993. He helped build a hockey following and tradition that is being celebrated throughout this season. Among other former Stars who have been honored are: Brett Hull, Ed Belfour, Guy Carbonneau, Craig Ludwig, Marty Turco, Brenden Morrow, Bill Guerin, Shane Churla and Todd Harvey, so it seems perfect to have Modano for the last game.

"We’re so happy he could do it, because it’s exactly the way the anniversary celebration should end," said Stars CEO Jim Lites. "Having him here is great for the fans."

Modano had a job with the Stars for a few years after he retired, but when he decided to live in the Phoenix area, the Stars felt they couldn’t maintain him as a full-time employee. That’s led some to speculate that the two were on harsh terms, but both Lites and Modano said that’s not the case.

"I love the team and I love the city, and I love going back there," Modano said in a phone interview. "I’m really looking forward to seeing the fans and looking back at 25 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long."

Modano lives in Arizona with his wife Alison and children Jack, Kate and Reese, and parenting has taken up a lot of his time. He said he appreciates the timing of having young children when his playing career is over, but also said he wouldn’t mind looking into a possible return to hockey in some form.

He’s just not sure which.

"It’s early in the process, that’s for sure," Modano said. "I’m just sort of sending feelers out to friends who work in the industry and see what their lives are like."

Marty Turco works with the Stars in business development, while several former teammates work in front office or advisory roles. Modano served as the Stars’ executive advisor and alternate governor when he lived in Dallas. In that time, he had a hand in developing the Little Rookie program and helped spread the word of hockey to kids in North Texas through free and low-cost outreach programs.

"Honestly, those are some of my best memories there, because you get to see the kids who can’t necessarily afford to start playing hockey getting a chance to enjoy the game," Modano said. "You hope you made an impact with programs like that."

Lites said Modano certainly relates to the fans.

"He’s brought so much joy for them over the years, and looking back on that joy, all of it with all of the players, is a big reason why we have had this celebration," Lites said. "You don’t want to live in the past, but you certainly want to appreciate it."

And Modano said he does. Asked why he missed Jere Lehtinen’s number retirement earlier in the season, Modano said he had a family situation that prevented him from attending. But he added that he and Lehtinen have talked a great deal this season.

"He knows I wanted to be there, and he understands," Modano said. "I think we all were a part of some special times here, and it’s good to look back on them. That’s what this is all about."

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Cries of ‘he’s raping me!’ at Cityplace hotel end in bloodshed, man’s arrest

A Bedford man has been accused of killing a man who tried to intervene when a woman called for help at a Dallas hotel.

Michael Warner, 37, was booked into the Dallas County jail early Tuesday on a murder charge in connection with the March 10 slaying of 22-year-old Francisco Muñoz.

Warner was visiting a woman at the Best Western Cityplace Inn along North Central Expressway, near Fitzhugh Avenue. After a few minutes, the woman started to feel uncomfortable and texted one of her friends to come to her room, an arrest warrant says.

When the woman’s friends, including Muñoz, got to the room, they heard her screaming.

“He’s raping me!” the woman shouted, the warrant says.

One of the friends kicked the door, and Warner walked out of the room.

“He tried to rape me,” the woman told her friends.

One of the men hit Warner, knocking him to the ground. Warner pulled out a gun and started firing at Muñoz and two others, witnesses told police.

Surveillance video shows Muñoz falling as he tried to get away. Warner walked over to Muñoz and shot him, the warrant says. Muñoz was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Warner’s bail has been set at $200,000.

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Tech talent to determine if Dallas sinks, swims in Amazon HQ2 applicant pool – Dallas Business Journal

A large and elite tech workforce appears to be the top consideration for Amazon.com Inc. in its search for a home for its massive second headquarters, according to recent reports.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) is telling many cities that didn’t make the cut for the $5 billion, 50,000-worker project dubbed HQ2 that a lack of concentrated technology talent caused them to end up on the loser list, according to Bloomberg BNA.

That could be good news or bad for Dallas-Fort Worth, which remains one of 20 metro areas still in the running for the highly-coveted mega project.

On one hand, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Amazon-chasing organizations like the Dallas Regional Chamber have plugged North Texas’ high concentration of tech workers and its roots as the home of industry-changing technology companies such as Texas Instruments and AT&T.

“We’re a region built on technology,” Rawlings said when DFW was selected as a finalist, “From the birthplace of Texas Instruments to now having the highest concentration of tech workers in the state.”

In addition, the Wall Street Journal named Dallas-Fort Worth as the overall best fit for Amazon’s HQ2, and the publication cited DFW’s large tech labor force as a top reason for its choice.

Other studies and rankings, however, call into question whether DFW has the workforce that Amazon needs. Most recently, a study from the Brookings Institution concluded that a relatively low number of college-educated millennials in Dallas-Fort Worth could derail the metro area’s bid for the online retail giant.

Topping Brookings’ list was Boston, where the tech talent pipeline is filled by dozens of higher education institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Northeastern University.

Forty percent of all tech workers in Texas are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the metro is the fourth-largest tech market in the country in terms of workers, behind San Francisco, San Jose and New York City, according to Dale Petroskey, president and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber.

A high concentration of software and web developers is especially critical in Amazon’s search for a second headquarters, which the company claims will be equal to or bigger than its existing one in Seattle.

A tool from information technology association CompTIA allows for metro-to-metro comparisons of tech talent, and using this metric, Dallas looks to have a relatively strong case.

DFW has 209,600 tech sector jobs, according to CompTIA. That soundly beats out Austin, the only other Texas city still in contention, which has 113,200.

Breaking it down further into software and web developer positions, DFW has 39,183, and Austin has 20,389 positions of those types.

Turning to DFW’s competition for HQ2 outside the state:

The nation’s biggest metro, the New York-Newark area, has the most tech workers, with 392,400 in the sector. Some 96,068 of those are software and web developers.The Atlanta metro has 155,600 tech sector workers. Of those, 32,722 are software and web developers.The Denver area has 114,500 tech sector workers, including 24,476 software and web developers.Washington, D.C., a frequently mentioned frontrunner, has 297,900 tech jobs, including 64,704 software and web developers. Boston has 263,500 tech jobs, including 52,588 software and web developers.

For perspective, the Seattle area, where Amazon is based now, has 178,800 tech workers. Some 63,037 are software and web developers, and many of them work for Amazon already.

Amazon initially received 238 requests from metro areas wanting the company to make them their new home. When the 238 was pared to 20, the short list left off places like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Detroit, and some of those cities have publicly blamed a tech talent shortage for their downfall.

Largest North Texas Software Developers

Ranked by No. Of Total Local Employees

Rank Company Name No. Of Total Local Employees 1 Sabre Corp. 3,300 2 Thomson Reuters 1,208 3 Crossmark 900 View This List

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Dallas to Houston high-speed rail plan reaches end of public input Friday

Photo illustration by Texas Central Partners

ARLINGTON — As the public input period comes to a close for a proposed high-speed rail line from Dallas to Houston, North Texas transportation planners are unveiling potential stops for a connector route.

The Regional Transportation Commission on Thursday discussed progress for a connection to Fort Worth and ongoing discussion with other planners for a line south from Fort Worth to Waco, Temple-Killeen, Austin, San Antonio and Laredo.

The RTC will decide in April whether to take on the environmental study to get the Dallas-Fort Worth line in motion. Environmental clearance would be about two years away.

A stop in Arlington remains a point of contention. Officials in Dallas, where a penny of sales tax goes to Dallas Area Rapid Transit, do not want Arlington — which is not a part of DART or the Fort Worth Transportation Authority — to get high-speed rail. Dallas City Council member Sandy Greyson reiterated that point at Thursday’s RTC meeting in Arlington.

"It is the city of Dallas’ position that no city be included unless they are member of a transit authority," Greyson said.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams responded to Greyson that "we certainly want to be regional players and very much want to be part of the regional transportation system."

Public input period ending

Meanwhile, Friday ends the Federal Railroad Administration’s public input period on the $15 billion Dallas to Houston line being proposed by Texas Central Partners. The company hopes to break ground on the project next year.

Though it already held public meetings in each of 10 counties affected by the rail line during the impact period, federal railroad authorities added a meeting last Monday in Houston after several requests. Texas Central officials said people in Houston wanted to talk about the location of the station. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement evaluated three Houston terminal station options, including Northwest Mall, which was eventually selected.

The Federal Railroad Administration will look into concerns from the public and include all the comments in a final environmental impact statement.

"We will be notified to incorporate solutions into the designs," said Holly Reed, managing director of external affairs for Texas Central Partners. "That gets put into the action plan for the project."

The company’s plan for high-speed rail is not popular with many landowners and leaders in rural counties along the route. Sheriffs from the eight rural counties along the proposed route held a news conference last week to introduce their coalition and voice concerns about the bullet train, which would take passengers from Dallas to Houston in 90 minutes with a stop near College Station.

‘Frought with faults’

The sheriffs’ event was supported by Texans Against High Speed Rail, which is also ramping up its opposition.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement "in and of itself is really a disaster argument, frought with faults," said Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High Speed Rail. "It’s based on a fundamental they can realign or close roads. Or the assumption they can charge tax on ticket sales. Transportation is not charged sales tax.

"If you’re Texas Central and assume you can reroute 15 roads in a county, what happens if that county says you can’t do that. And every county is doing that from Ellis to Waller," Workman added. "Look at the major issues that are already there and you can only imagine the depth at which the minor issues go. They are so far from being able get this done, it’s not even funny."

Texas Central Partners says the public input process, which began Dec. 22, is designed to address concerns from county leaders, the Texas Department of Transportation and individuals. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement assures that no public roads will be closed, the company said.

"It is a 240-mile project that touches a lot of people’s property," Reed said. "That’s very important, to take those concerns into the process."

Holly Reed of Texas Central Partners, developers hoping to build and operate a high-speed train between Dallas and Houston

Texans Against High Speed Rail also believes Texas Central needs legislative approval before it can operate as a railroad. The company disagrees.

"The pace is set by the FRA, the environmental statement and a safety permit," Reed said. "We hope that’s final by year end, which starts construction next year. The Legislature does not have to take action for the project to go forward."

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