Among ‘Best Cities,’ We’re No. … 41 | KERA News

Among ‘Best Cities,’ We’re No. … 41

Sep 27, 2012

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Dallas 41st in 50 best cities list, healthy food gets trashed in schools, and more.

We here at The High Five love useless numbers (hey, we are a number). And no numbers are more useless – or as irresistible -- as those rankings of U.S cities.

Well, Bloomberg BusinessWeek has weighed in with its annual list of America’s 50 Best Cities, and the top of the chart is pretty predictable: San Francisco (No. 1), Seattle (2), Portland (5). Even Austin at No. 8 doesn’t surprise.

But North Texans might take issue with Dallas’ spot – No. 41 – and the description: the “focal point for oversized American culture: fried food, mechanical bull riding and glitzy displays of largesse” … well, you get the idea. There is a shout-out to “several major arts districts and a vibrant music scene.”

Still, Mayor Mike “Dallas is hot!” Rawlings has to be pretty chilly about these numbers – especially when he looks at a few of the towns that finished higher: Kansas City (15), Baltimore (29) and Lincoln, Neb. (tied for 34). On the up side, maybe that ranking is a tribute to Dallas’ favorite No. 41, the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki.

-Rick Holter

Does Healthier Food Mean Fuller School Trash Cans?

Schools have raised health standards for lunches -- good news, right? Well … ABC’s Nightline spotlighted some kids who chunk their fruit cups before even popping the seal, and then complain about the offending snacks on YouTube.

Students in the U.S. are now throwing away twice as much food as last year, the show reported, now that fries and pizza aren’t steady menu choices. As for DISD, our Bill Zeeble talked to one student this summer who expressed some delight over her free fruit and sweet peas as part of a special program for underprivileged kids.

We’re looking into whether there’s a significant increase in waste at area schools.

-- Lyndsay Knecht

Art Matters. Just Ask The Mayor

If you listen closely, Mayor Mike Rawlings dropped some real future talk in his State of the City address on Tuesday. KERA’s BJ Austin collected this quote, with the mayor referencing Texas oilman Eddie Chiles:

“He said on TV, ‘If you don’t have an oil well, get one.’ I was just amazed,” Rawlings said. “What do you do, go down to 7-Eleven and get an oil well?  What do you do?  Well, I’m saying to you, if you don’t have an arts organization, get one.”

Full-on creative capital theory, it’s not. And we know the quality of the theater collective/music festival/new gallery will decide its cultural-cum-financial stamp. But the mayor’s sense of urgency is valid: just consider what the Atlantic Cities blog had to say about how Denton’s music scene has colored the success of its downtown.

Dallas VideoFest is one institution that has challenged the area for 25 years and literally changed the look of downtown last night (video below.)

Art&Seek’s Stephen Becker has a story on how the festival has continued to grow despite limits imposed by day jobs.

The core schedule kicks off tonight with a screening of Ann Richards’ Texas at the Dallas Museum of Art.

-- Lyndsay Knecht

Police Credit Dropped Wallet With Quick Murder Arrest

An arrest has been made in the murder of 27-year-old Jamal Salaam, the resident of Lake Highlands who was stabbed to death Tuesday in his apartment. Police said Gregory Autry dropped his wallet outside the apartment building, The Dallas Morning News reports. Autry is being held on a capital murder charge.

So the DPD hasn’t had to get all CSI in this case. But it made us wonder: If what falls out of a criminal’s jeans doesn’t incriminate him, maybe his genes can. NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty did a series a couple of years back called “Inside The Criminal Brain” with one story that looked into whether the drive to kill is a genetic inheritance: Can Your Genes Make You Murder?

-- Lyndsay Knecht

With Less State Funding, Clinics Close In Texas

You might’ve heard KERA’s Courtney Collins’ report yesterday on Governor Rick Perry’s hopes to limit spending by amending the constitution.  

Well, Texas Tribune has a piece on one casualty of state budget cuts. Actually, 53 casualties, as that many family planning clinics in Texas have closed because of slashed funding. Last legislative session, the story says, state lawmakers cut money for family planning services by two-thirds.

-- Lyndsay Knecht

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