Photo: Jeff Turner

To all the talented journalists and Dallas Morning News employees that were handed pink slips recently: I know how overwhelming this feels. When I was suddenly laid off from the same publication in 2009, I felt unmoored and somewhat lost. You will find a way to move on, though, so hang in there.

The advice offered by human resources that morning was very basic: I was instructed to file for unemployment as soon as possible and given information on COBRA benefits. While the information I received was far from comprehensive, one thing that was missing was information on how this sudden loss of income would affect my repayment of student loans, credit accounts, and most important of all, my mortgage. 

What do you do if you’re a federal employee that has been furloughed due to the government shutdown, or you’re a worker who was just laid off, and you have a mortgage? 

“If you see that you’re not going to be able to make your payments, call your lender and see what options are available to you,” said Lisa Peters of Caliber Home Loans. “The bottom line is this: don’t put it off.”

Not every lender is the same, nor is every mortgage or change in employment, so it’s crucial to contact your lender immediately if you think your employment situation might cause you to get behind on your mortgage. Sometimes a lender may be able to offer a loan modification or a forbearance to ensure that you pay as much as you can on your loan until you get back on your feet. 

Important note: When your lender reaches out after a missed mortgage payment, you cannot stop the process of foreclosure by ignoring the mail notices. 

(more…)

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

From staff reports

Word came early this morning that the Dallas Morning News laid off 43 employees, including 20 writers, editors, and other newsroom personnel, marking yet another round of staff reductions as print revenue declines.

The 43 layoffs account for about 4 percent of the A.H. Belo Corp. employees, the newspaper said. It did not say what percentage of Dallas Morning News employees that equated to, nor did it disclose how much of the newsroom that accounted for. (more…)

The State Fair of Texas is just around the corner, which means Jeremy Larsen is about to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Last year, the home designer and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realtor entered three items into the Fair’s cookie contest. He was recognized for them all.

“I didn’t think that was a very big deal until other people started telling me it was,” Larsen said. “It turns out a first-time entrant getting three honorable mentions is pretty good.” (more…)

Historic Spanish Colonial
Certain homes define Dallas, and this Highland Park historic Spanish Colonial at 3806 Beverly Drive is one of them. We are more than excited that it’s on the market because it has rarely been available.

Settle in with a big cup of coffee because we have a tale to tell.

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Hill Haven Midcentury Modern

We’ve loved this Hill Haven Midcentury Modern at 11316 Valleydale Drive for a long time. The architectural screen block wall is the first clue that something special is about to unfold behind that turquoise blue front door of our Inwood Home of the Week!

Former owner Alex Eskenasy of Eskenasy Ferguson Architecture had a great deal to do with what makes this home special.

“The house had an existing architectural vocabulary that I used,” Eskenasy explained. “It already had all the components, the quirky midcentury modern details like the breeze block wall, and the connections between beams and columns expressed throughout different porches. I wanted to take the original architecture, embellish it, and expand the house.”

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DISDd22016runoffSo we’re still working on getting District 2 representation on the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees because basically nobody voted in the election. Less than five percent voted in the election in May, forcing a runoff between Dustin Marshall and Mita Havlick.

Remember this map? This is the map that showed how poorly people showed at the polls. Less than 50 votes separated Havlick from Suzanne Smith in the May election. Less than 50 votes may very well decide this runoff, too, which is asinine.

Early voting starts today and lasts until June 14. Election Day is June 18. For information – including polling places – on early voting, click here. For information on voting on Election day, click here.

Now, in the meantime, I thought I would provide a brief primer on the two candidates. A previous rundown is here, but I reached out to both candidates last week with a quick second set of questions to augment the information found in the rundowns and in other responses from Dallas Kids First (Marshall, Havlick) and the Dallas Morning News, as well as responses at Turn and Talks (Marshall/Marshall podcast, Havlick/Havlick podcast).

My questions and each candidate’s answers follow. None of the responses have been edited. (more…)

Photo illustration NPR See this? This is what we should be talking about, but we arent.

Photo illustration NPR
See this? This is what we should be talking about, but we aren’t.

I will be honest – I’ve been dreading this snapshot for the District 7 election. It’s the final one, and every day that has passed has only made me more nauseous when I look at how nasty the Dallas Independent School District’s District 7 race has gotten. It’s gotten bad enough that I’m actually going to move the “my two cents about District 7” feature of these snapshots that usually goes at the end up here, up top.

It’s that bad. And if I sound cranky, it’s because I don’t like having to devote a perfectly good story on what I’m about to devote a perfectly good story on. Very little grinds my gears, but this is one of those things. (more…)

Photo courtesy Blue Diamond Gallery.

Photo courtesy Blue Diamond Gallery.

In our third installment looking at the Dallas Independent School District’s school board election, we will be looking at District 5, which includes Oak Lawn, Wilmer, West Dallas, Hutchins and parts of east Oak Cliff. Incumbent Lew Blackburn, Marquis Hawkins, and Linda Wilkerson-Wynn are running.

One of the highest-profile issues facing District 5 right now is the condition of South Oak Cliff High, and where it will fall in the tiered system that determines when schools tapped to receive bond money for repairs, improvements or replacement – as well as whether repairs and improvements are enough for the aging structure that is, much like many other schools in the district, suffering from years of deferred maintenance.

And just as a reminder, I am breaking down each race and assigning a mathematical value to key endorsements for a final score. Because of the volume of candidates, I’ll be featuring one race a day through Sunday. Early voting begins Monday and lasts until May 3, with Election Day on May 7. For information on early voting, click here.

The scoring system goes a little something like this: Experience, I think, should be given some weight. So it is assigned a number value of one. Endorsements should matter too, so each one those are also given a value of 1. I considered six sets of endorsements in this system, largely because the organizations providing them have a regular history of endorsing candidates. Those endorsements are The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Kids First, Educate Dallas, the NEA, Alliance AFT, and The Real Estate Council PAC.

In this race, Educate Dallas did not endorse a candidate, so there will be a possible score of 6 (DMN, DKF, Alliance AFT, NEA, TREC and incumbent). (more…)