By Rosemary Westwood - Monday, February 4, 2013 - 0 Comments
Freebies and discounts designed to tempt deal seekers
Your next cross-border shopping trip could be more than 2,000 km away. A luxe shopping centre, a theatre and a handful of high-end hotels in Dallas are launching “Canada Appreciation Month” in February, offering freebies and discounts in a bid to lure more shoppers and boost the $340 million that Canadians spend in Texas each year.
Anthony Wilkinson, head of tourism for NorthPark Centre, an upscale mall in Dallas, says Canadians are lured to Texas for big-ticket items, since there’s no luxury or state sales tax (419,000 Canadians visited Texas in 2011, up 12 per cent from 2010). The majority fly from Toronto, but also Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal. Dallas malls now offer Canadians on-site refunds for local sales taxes, and the competition for shoppers could grow. After Ottawa increased tax-free allowances at the border last June, travel to the U.S. jumped 7.5 per cent. Canadians spent a record $5.2 billion in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2012, with the dollar continuing to hover near parity.
A $500 Michael Kors bag “is probably going to be about $300 in Dallas,” notes Wilkinson, who’s practising O Canada for a “red and white” event to start Canada Appreciation Month. To make the $750 flight worthwhile, you’d only need to buy four of them.
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM - 0 Comments
A shooting on a Texas community college campus wounded at least three people Tuesday…
A shooting on a Texas community college campus wounded at least three people Tuesday and sent students fleeing for safety as the campus was placed on lockdown, officials said.
Lone Star College System spokesman Jed Young said two people were involved in a shootout at the school, and two others were injured after being caught in the crossfire.
Young said one of the shooters had been shot and was in custody while the other had fled the scene.
Melinda Muse, spokeswoman for the Harris County Health System, said two people were taken to Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital Emergency Center following the shooting.
Reports are not clear whether the shooter was among those taken to the hospital.
By Nicholas Köhler - Monday, October 22, 2012 at 10:55 AM - 0 Comments
An Ontario family with Mennonite values, became the toast of Texas society, even naming one son J.R.
Some months ago, back on the Fourth of July, a sunny, ever-so-slightly Southern-twanged brunette cheerfully walked viewers of the Today show through the travails of setting up a festive, patriotic, red-white-and-blue table—at the very last minute (the secret: use rope, paper bags and alcohol). It was a jingoistic spread, the star-spangled arrangement made complete with individual goblets full of red velvet berry cobbler—a Southern dessert staple. Entertainment guru Kimberly Schlegel Whitman adroitly concluded the segment with a snappy little drink. “You want to greet your guests with something refreshing,” she chirped, “so we put Popsicles in wine glasses and poured Prosecco over it!”
Her turn on Today was just the latest in a string of television appearances for the wealthy 36-year-old Dallas socialite, who’d signed with a branding expert in L.A. in an effort to land a TV deal. The exposure did not always go as planned. Late last year, when she and her sister Kari were featured on Top Chef: Texas, hosting the competing cooks in their sumptuous homes, professional foodies took to their blogs and blasted them. “Kim hates cilantro, bell peppers, grease and things she has never tried,” wrote the Baltimore Sun. The Los Angeles Times asked if “any more proof was needed that money can’t buy you taste . . . ” At no time did Kim and Kari look more out of touch than the moment when, tucking into their appetizers, they began discussing their weddings: Kari said 800 guests had attended her nuptials (“you’re joking,” blinked one Top Chef judge), then Kim told everyone she’d had 1,200 at hers.
Despite the jibes, Kim’s TV hustle appears to have paid off: this month she began co-hosting a new talk show, Texas Living, on Dallas’s KTXD, a gig that will allow her to expand on her role as, in Dallas Morning News writer Alan Peppard’s words, “the Martha Stewart of the Southwest.”
Given all those red-white-and-blue bona ﬁdes, it’s easy to forget that Whitman is the daughter of Bob and Myrna Schlegel, who moved to Dallas from southern Ontario with their children in the mid-1980s in search of a larger market for the retirement and nursing homes they’d been running in Canada with much success. The Schlegel’s story is one of an old Kitchener-Waterloo family, steeped in the Mennonite values of simplicity, modesty and frugality, that relocated to flashy, opulent Dallas and ended up doing Texas bigger than the Texans do. And what do you think Kim, who moved to Dallas in the fourth grade and remains a Canadian citizen, calls her four-year-old son James Robert? It’s J.R. for short.
The Schlegels, who recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, looked into Florida and California, but liked the Lone Star State’s anti-union, pro-business environment. “Unions don’t belong in health care facilities,” Myrna, a registered nurse, avows. “The big joke here is, ‘I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could,’ ” Bob says.
In Dallas, the Schlegels prospered, selling their nursing home business in 1994 for a reported US$62 million. Bob’s second business, Pavestone, became the largest manufacturer and distributor of paving stones in the U.S. It earned big money—an estimated $348 million in 2009—and Bob went on to sell it for an undisclosed amount (very likely north of $300 million, news reports say).
Kim and Kari and the other Schlegel offspring, Kirby and Krystal, have lived accordingly. Kim’s 2005 wedding to Justin Whitman “set a new benchmark for ‘Dallas lavish,’ ” according to the city’s D Magazine. It was written up in Vanity Fair by Dominick Dunne, an old friend of the groom’s family, who gushed: “The Dallas Symphony Orchestra played and the symphony chorus sang as the beautiful bride, Texas heiress Kimberly Jayne Schlegel, preceded by 12 bridesmaids, walked down the aisle in a dress made in Paris with a 20-foot train.”
For a time Kari, a real estate agent, and Kirby, a sports team owner who recently sold both the Tacoma Rainiers baseball team and the Texas Tornado Hockey Club, lived together in a 12,200-sq.-foot penthouse atop the exclusive W Dallas Victory Hotel & Residences. Their separate living quarters, individually decorated, met in the middle at a grand salon reserved for entertaining. “I gotta quit showing up to places where members of the Schlegel family live,” wrote Andrea Grimes of the Dallas Observer last year. “It makes me question whether my hard-working, up-by-their-bootstraps parents couldn’t have just put in a couple extra hours at the office and bought me a 29th-floor penthouse.”
Perhaps predictably, the Schlegels aren’t very well-liked in some parts of Dallas, at least if snarky headlines are any indication: “Inside the Schlegel family dynasty,” “Inside the swanky penthouse of Kari and Kirby Schlegel,” “Kim Schlegel throws a high-society dog party,” “SCHLEGEL, SCHLEGEL EVERYWHERE,” and “Does Robert Schlegel think he’s better than me?”
An event planner and entertainment maven, Kim has written several books, the first of which, The Pleasure of Your Company: Entertaining in High Style, she began writing at 24. She has since followed up with 2008’s Tablescapes: Setting the Table with Style, which includes instructions on how to seat 36 at one table, and Dog Parties: Entertaining Your Party Animals, in 2006. She’s also known for presentations like “Set a Southern Table,” as part of her job as editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine.
She began in the hospitality biz while still in her early 20s, shortly after Idlewild, the oldest gentleman’s social club in Texas, invited her to be a debutante at its annual ball. Idlewild debs and their families must also organize their own spectacular coming-out affairs, with some 400 invited, but in Dallas, Kim and her mother could find no suitable knickknacks for rent that would give the bash that oh-so-crucial pizzazz. “Kim has really good taste and really great style and none of the companies had any of the things she wanted,” says Myrna. “So we went out and bought them.” Later, Myrna’s friends began asking if they might borrow the Limoges china and Baccarat crystal they’d picked up for the Schlegel ball. “I remember so well, very sarcastically, my mother saying, ‘Oh, we should be charging for this!’ And it was this aha moment for me—I was like, ‘We should!’ So I started a party-rental business.”
The Schlegels of old would no doubt look askance at this conspicuous consumption. Both Bob and Myrna, who grew up just south of Kitchener, come from Mennonite, and ultimately Amish, stock, two religious groups known for strict austerity. (“By the way,” says Myrna, “we’re Methodists now.”) “My mother, growing up, wore a head covering to church—very, very different from her lifestyle now,” says Kim. “My grandmother did not have a wedding ring until she went to the hospital to give birth to their fifth child and basically said, ‘I don’t want the nurses thinking I’m not married’—so she got her first wedding ring.”
Bob grew up on his father’s dairy and poultry farm, where he took his share of knocks. At 5, he broke his neck and spent a year in a body cast. At 7, he was mauled by two Great Danes. Around the same time the Schlegel homestead burned down. Yet Bob was entrepreneurial and peddled knives and first-aid kits to neighbours, and later installed a Pepsi machine at the local garage. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” is his Mennonite motto and the Schlegel family creed. Noted philanthropists in Dallas, they also have a building—the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship—named after them at Wilfrid Laurier University, Bob’s alma mater.
More than anything, the Schlegels like to party. “They don’t slow down,” says Brent Gingerich, a cousin and owner of peopleCare, the business the family left behind in Ontario. “They like to throw parties, and when they throw parties they throw big parties.”
That’s Dallas hospitality. For her part, Kim sees nothing paradoxical about her roots in quiet Canada and her current role keeping Dallas loud and shiny. “I think one of the reasons I felt so at home in Texas at such a young age is that Southerners are so friendly and warm, and I find that Canadians are the same way,” she says. Maybe that’s why she’s allowed her mother’s nickname for James Robert Maxwell Elam Schlegel Whitman, her four-year-old son, to stick. “Now we have a J.R. in Dallas with some good Canadian blood in him,” Kim laughs. On the other hand, it may not last. “My mother loves the new revival of the show Dallas but she was very upset that J.R. is still the villain—she thought by now he should be the good guy.”
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 2:09 PM - 0 Comments
They are chilling words, spoken by men in their last moments of life. Texas…
They are chilling words, spoken by men in their last moments of life. Texas has been recording the last statements of inmates on death row before their execution for the last 30 years, the Toronto Star reports. You can even scroll through them on the website of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Here are some of them:
- “From there you call me a cold-blooded murderer. I didn’t tie anyone to a stretcher. I didn’t pump any poison into anybody’s veins from behind a locked door. You call this justice. I call this and your society a bunch of cold-blooded murderers.” (Henry Porter, 1985)
- “The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man — convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do. From God’s dust I came and to dust I will return — so the earth shall become my throne.” (Cameron Todd Willingham, 2004)
- “Are they already doing it? I’m gonna go to sleep. See you later. This stuff stings, man almighty.” (Rodrigo Hernandez, 2012)
- “God bless America, God bless everyone. Let’s do this damn thing… I feel it; I am going to sleep now. Goodnight, one, two, there it goes.” (Mark Stroman, 2011)
Texas has executed 484 people since 1976.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 6:00 PM - 0 Comments
The pipeline has become a powerful symbol and political pawn this election year. It is also a sort of Rorschach test of how Americans view energy issues: Are we energy rich or energy poor? How do energy policies affect job creation, tax revenue and U.S. manufacturing competitiveness? How pressing are climate-change concerns, and how do we balance them with economic priorities?
The American public is firmly behind the pipeline, seeing plenty of upside in potential jobs and limited environmental downside. A new Washington Post poll finds nearly six in 10 saying the U.S. government should approve the project. Its wide acceptance is rooted in the fact that 83 percent think it will create jobs. Nearly half think it will not cause significant damage to the environment.
The oil industry and many national security experts think that importing more oil from Canada, a stable neighbor and ally, will make the United States more secure, and they worry that, without the Keystone XL, Canada will send that oil to China. But the process of extracting oil from the sands, also called tar sands, has alarmed people worried about climate change.
Presumably the Post team will eventually visit the towns of Reklaw (pop. 379), Alto (pop. 1,225) and Gallatin (pop. 419), Texas, which are fighting the pipeline because they fear a spill could contaminate their water supply.
See previously: Keystone rhetoric and reality
By Jesse Brown - Monday, March 12, 2012 at 1:15 PM - 0 Comments
I am not making this up: homeless people are being used as human hotspots by a marketing firm.
It’s called a “charitable innovation initiative,” which loosely translates to “disgusting marketing ploy.” It’s happening right now on the streets of Austin, Texas, where the technology portion of the South By Southwest festival is underway. It works like this: you see a homeless dude hauling around some gear and wearing a t-shirt that says, “I’m Jimmy, a 4G Hotspot.” You pay (what you want) with cash or via SMS and then loiter around the guy for 15 minutes of the most awkward Internet access you’ve ever had. Yes, he keeps the money. No, that doesn’t make it okay.
Homeless Hotspots is brand-less for beta-testing, but if it’s deemed a success, expect future iterations to be brought to you by Verizon or whatnot.
By Emma Teitel - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
The move may worsen student attendance, not improve it
A school district in southern Texas is doing the unthinkable (if you’re a Texan, that is): it’s eliminating its highly popular athletics program in hopes of preventing an imminent state-mandated closure—the result of an abysmal academics record. Basketball, baseball, track, tennis, and—wait for it—football will be slashed from the district’s curriculum and budget, says Premont superintendent Ernest Singleton, to save money and give students more time for school work. In fact, the Premont Independent School District’s academic standing and student attendance record is so low that the district has started sending a group of school officials to knock on the doors of truant students’ houses. If the situation doesn’t improve, Premont students will be absorbed by another school district—and 90 Premont citizens will be out of work. But the athletics program cancellation could backfire. One 15-year-old student said the ban will make kids want to attend school even less. “Nobody wants to try anymore,” he said.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 15 Comments
Julian Fantino reassures Texas that the Harper government is committed to the F-35 program.
“We will purchase the F-35,” Fantino asserted. “We’re on record. We’re part of the crusade. We’re not backing down.”
Even setting aside the word‘s fraught history, “crusade” seems an odd term to apply here.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 40 Comments
Terry Milewski travels to Texas to compare crime policy here and there.
Adds Rep. Jerry Madden, a conservative Republican who heads the Texas House Committee on Corrections, “It’s a very expensive thing to build new prisons and, if you build ‘em, I guarantee you they will come. They’ll be filled, OK? Because people will send them there. ”But, if you don’t build ‘em, they will come up with very creative things to do that keep the community safe and yet still do the incarceration necessary.”
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Amid wildfires and “exceptional” drought conditions, Texas is praying for rain
Not since the infamous dust bowl days of the 1930s has a U.S. state been so hot and dry. More than 80 per cent of Texas is experiencing “exceptional” drought conditions, the highest category on the U.S. Drought Monitor Scale. By the end of August, only 18.6 cm of rain had reached the state this year, and the average temperature over the past three months was 30.4° C, the hottest ever for a U.S. state.
The drought has fuelled scores of wildfires, razing 3.7 million acres of land. In the particularly hard-hit county of Bastrop, more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed and two people killed, according to San Antonio’s KSAT news. Much of the state’s ranchland has also withered and died, forcing sheep and cattle herders to cull or sell off thousands of their animals. Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Extension Service has concluded that the drought has cost US$5.2 million in lost crops and livestock. Says Mayor John Jacobs of the town of Robert Lee, whose reservoirs are down to 0.5 per cent of their capacity: “We’re just hanging on, praying for rain.”
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 3 Comments
The gun-carrying Texas governor is suddenly the top Republican contender
Barack Obama’s approval ratings of 43 per cent are the lowest of his presidency—as low as George W. Bush’s in his second term. The number of net new jobs the gasping American economy created in August was exactly zero. And on a sunny afternoon in a meticulously manicured suburb of Manchester, N.H., a state that plays a key role in picking presidents, several hundred Republican voters have gathered to hear from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the man who has vaulted to the lead of a raucous race to oust the President. The crowd skews somewhat grey-haired and more than a little country-clubby. Men sport khakis and button-downs, the women tailored dresses and high heels. Tidy white golf carts shuttle guests from their cars to a white tent that has been set up on grounds studded with American flags.
Even among this well-heeled group there is fear about where the country is headed—financially, politically, and even metaphysically. “The country, the people have lost their faith,” says Joyce Gardiner, a 68-year-old retired marketer from Londonderry. “Obama,” she purses her lips, “is inept.” James Shephard, 57, who says he lost his job at a plant that manufactured bomb-disposal equipment, is here to take pictures of the event for a Tea Party group he recently joined. “The vice is squeezing tighter and tighter,” he says. “People say they have to do something before the boat goes over the cliff.”
A murmur of excitement runs through the crowd as the governor arrives. Perry is tanned, square-jawed and sporting the salt-and-pepper mane that gave him the nickname Governor Goodhair. Along with his blue shirt and khakis, he sports some Texas flair: black ostrich leather shoes and a gold-tipped belt bearing a buckle embossed with a large “R.” Perry smiles broadly with a wink here, a thumbs-up there, as a glowing introduction is read out: the son of tenant farmers, Air Force veteran, still married to his high school sweetheart, and governor of the state that created 40 per cent of all the new jobs in America since 2009. “A person of action,” sums up the host. Perry takes the podium with the swagger of a man who has been governor for a decade (he took over when George W. Bush moved to the White House), who has never lost an election (he switched his affiliation from the Democrats to Republicans in the 1980s as they ascended in Texas), and who carries a concealed weapon (the .380 laser-sighted Ruger came in handy last year when, while jogging, he shot and killed a coyote who threatened the family dog.)
By Erica Alini - Friday, August 26, 2011 at 1:21 PM - 2 Comments
Rivals are learning the hard way why Amazon is the next retail king
“Amazon,” one Morgan Stanley analyst proclaimed recently, “is the Wal-Mart of our era.” The Seattle-based e-commerce giant is expected to report revenues of US$49 billion this year, an eye-popping 43 per cent year-over-year increase that beats Wal-Mart’s memorable 1991 performance, when it registered $44 billion in revenues and a 35 per cent increase over the previous year.
The world’s largest online retailer has also managed gargantuan growth without the bad publicity that earned its bricks-and-mortar cousin the epithet of “evil empire.” But try to get between Amazon and its bottom line, and you’ll see the company’s Darth Vader side. Governments and competitors who’ve tried to out-muscle it recently are finding a surprisingly feisty, shrewd business with a special knack for getting what it wants.
By Alex Ballingall - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
A school board in San Antonio will soon be monitoring students’ lunch choices
Kids accustomed to wolfing down nothing but chicken nuggets and fistfuls of fries might not feel as comfortable doing so at several elementary schools in San Antonio, Texas. In what some say is a bizarre mix of Orwellian intrusiveness and health-conscious fanaticism, the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) is poised to become the first to install high-tech camera systems that will monitor and identify all the food students eat in five of its school cafeterias.
Roberto Trevino of the San Antonio Social and Health Research Center received a US$2-million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to execute the idea. The hope is that it will help accurately measure what children are eating and eventually affect their food choices. “We know the present research science is not accurate,” says Trevino. “Most of it depends on self-reporting, on surveys, on pencil and paper. We’ve been funded to develop a new instrument to measure human nutrition.”
This is important, he says, because accurate accounts of nutritional intake are vital in the fight against childhood obesity. According to the Texas Children’s Hospital, more than 40 per cent of children in Texas are obese or overweight. “In order for us to attack that problem we need to understand it, and in order to understand it we need better measuring tools.”
By Colin Campbell - Friday, April 29, 2011 at 8:01 AM - 0 Comments
Police in Texas hoard a stock of Crown Victorias
News last year that Ford will soon discontinue its Crown Victoria sedan sent police forces across North America reeling. The big, rear-wheel-drive Crown Vic has long been the go-to police cruiser. It’s relatively cheap (at under $30,000), built like a tank, and is easy to fix. So before the car disappears for good, the police in Austin, Texas, are asking the city government for US$4.5 million to buy a final supply of 176 Crown Victorias—enough to last them at least five years.
This hoarding of cop cars should end up saving the city a lot of money, say the police. Carmakers are rushing to market replacement cruisers, mostly based on today’s smaller sedans. But police in Austin argue they don’t yet know how much those cars will cost (likely a lot more than the old Fords), and switching would mean replacing their entire stock of replacement parts for the decades-old car. Most importantly, the police point out the newer cars just aren’t “tried and true” like their beloved Crown Vics.
By selley - Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 3:28 PM - 3 Comments
Must-reads: …Robert Fulford, John Ibbitson, David Frum, Doug Saunders, Dan Gardner and John Ivison
Oh yes he did
What the 44th President means to the United States, Canada and the world.
The Ottawa Citizen’s Dan Gardner traces a brief history of racist American legislation and public opinion for the purposes of highlighting just how far the nation has come, and how quickly. He recounts the story of Jacqueline Henley, a Louisiana toddler whose aunt found it impossible to raise her amidst rumours the child’s father was black, and whose adoption by a black couple was rejected by the courts on grounds she was officially white, and they wouldn’t inflict official blackness on her unless there was irrefutable evidence. That madness was in 1952; today, says Gardner, everybody knows Barack Obama’s mother was white and nobody cares. Heck, it was only 41 years ago the Supreme Court nixed anti-miscegenation laws, and in that time public approval of intermarriage has gone from 80 per cent against to 80 per cent in favour. In short, don’t you tell Dan Gardner that “moral progress” is impossible.
Can this “new Democratic coalition of New Southerners, liberal northerners, wary blue-collars, African Americans, Latinos and suddenly mobilized” youth be sustained, John Ibbitson asks in The Globe and Mail, or will it “dissolve as [Obama] struggles to reverse economic decline and financial panic”? It remains, naturally, to be seen. But Americans made a historic decision yesterday, he contends, that “the last eight years were a waste” and that “we need to start again”—and the world will take note. More fundamentally, however, Ibbitson says Obama’s victory is a reaffirmation of what’s possible in the political world. “Peace can come to Ireland. The Cold War can end. America’s racial wounds can start to heal.”
By Jeff Harris - Monday, March 27, 2006 at 11:58 AM - 0 Comments
Jeff Harris goes behind the scenes
Even in Austin, TX, we managed to find some Canadiana. Edmonton rapper Cadence Weapon compares maple syrup to southern BBQ sauce, the Flaming Lips teach us about the aurora borealis and we get a sneak peek of Swollen Members’ tour bus. Plus clips of live performances from Morrissey, the Beastie Boys and Metric.
By Jeff Harris - Sunday, March 26, 2006 at 1:26 PM - 0 Comments
Get a feel for the deep South with pictures onstage and on the streets…
Get a feel for the deep South with pictures onstage and on the streets of the Lone Star state. The Beastie Boys, Neil Young, Morrissey and Lady Sovereign are just a few of the hundreds of acts that took over Austin, TX.