Soft Target

Here's further proof that having professional sports franchises in your town is worth a hell of a lot of money. In its recently released budget for fiscal year 2005, the Department of Homeland Security decided to award $5 million of the $3.6 billion it set aside for its Urban Area Security Initiative to... Arlington. Seems the DHS has decided that the home of the Texas Rangers (and, in a few years, the Dallas Cowboys) is a "high-threat" urban area.

Previously, Arlington was getting about $400,000 to $500,000 from the feds, but now, instead of funneling most of the security money to "high-risk" cities, the DHS is sending it to the nation's biggest cities. Also, the department now factors in reports of domestic terrorism incidents, "whether actual attacks or just false reports," according to a recent story in The New York Times.

(Note to Dallas City Council members: Grab a phone and get busy calling in those fake threats. The city could use the money.)

So long: If Dallas needs another reason to improve its schools and parks, here's a small one: Dallas Morning News editorial writer and columnist Ruben Navarrette is heading off to California for a similar job at The San Diego Union-Tribune. Navarrette and his wife are expecting a baby this month, and he says impending parenthood prompted them to start looking for a more "livable" city for families--i.e., one with good schools, lots of green spaces and a little more character and charm than Dallas. (Not that he's knocking the city. Dallas is a great "grown-up playground" for single people, he says.)

So why should you care? Here's why: Navarrette is one of the writers who has helped revivify the Morning News' once soporific editorial pages. He also has led the way in demanding more accountability from Dallas cops and the district attorney's office in the fake-drug scandal.

Navarrette's nationally syndicated column--he writes two a week--will appear in the Morning News, and when possible he'll keep plugging away at the fake-drug story from a national angle. The fake-drug cases often seem to be a bigger deal outside the state than in, Navarrette says. "It's considered a really extraordinary story outside of Texas," he says. "When I go speak outside the state, when I mention fake drugs, their mouths drop open."