Meyer says he’s centrist, Cattanach says he’s out of touch in Texas House rematch for key Dallas seat

One in a series about elections for the Texas House of Representatives.

State Rep. Morgan Meyer says the district he represents is centrist.

Because of that, the Republican lawmaker said he’s focused his five years in Austin on middle-of-the-road issues where he can work across the aisle with Democrats.

“We are not far to the left, we are not far to the right,” he said. “We are right in the middle.”

But his Democratic opponent Joanna Cattanach says that old line won’t work. House District 108 — which spans the Park Cities, Uptown, parts of downtown and Old East Dallas — has moved politically to the left and Meyer is “out of touch” with its needs on issues like access to abortion and preventing gun violence.

After coming within 220 votes of ousting Meyer two years ago, Cattanach said she’s back to finish the job in November.

“The issues that I fought for in 2018, did not change,” she said. “The district has become, frankly, even more socially liberal on many of these issues and they do want change.”

The political rematch is one of the most closely watched races in the November elections, partially because the district is one of the Democrats’ top targets this year.

The outcome could also have deeper implications for the battle for the Texas House, as Democrats try to take the chamber for the first time since 2001. Such a victory could dramatically alter the political landscape in Texas.

What’s the right fit for the district?

Meyer, a 46-year-old attorney, said the district’s politics remain the same as when he was elected. If voters need proof, just look at the last election.

In 2018, the district voted against Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Pete Sessions by more than 10 percentage points in their Senate and congressional races. Don Huffines, the Republican state senator that covered his district, was swept out of office.

But the district stuck with Meyer. Meyer said that’s because he’s worked well with other lawmakers to pass bipartisan legislation like protecting special needs students in schools and criminalizing the unsolicited electronic sending of lewd pictures.

“I have the experience to do it and have shown over my entire career, the ability to work across the aisle with Democrats and Republicans to tackle the most serious issues of this state,” he said.

As a member of the public education committee last session, he said, he played a key role in the state’s marquee school finance bill, which increased school funding by $4.5 billion and put an additional $2 billion towards teacher pay raises.

“Those are the results my constituents want to see,” he said.

But Cattanach, a 39-year-old journalism professor and former reporter for The Dallas Morning News, said the voters she talks to are concerned about Meyer’s record on guns, access to abortion and other social issues.

In 2015, Meyer supported the “campus carry” bill which would allow people with a handgun license to conceal carry a weapon in most

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Dallas Agency Brings Coding In-House to Target Covid-19 Aid

The Dallas Housing Authority’s efforts to distribute Covid-19 housing assistance to the city’s renters were bolstered by a sales software system reconfigured with features that enabled officials to grant aid more quickly and equitably.

The governmental agency, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in August was tasked with distributing $4 million to income-eligible renters before Dec. 31 as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

To meet the deadline and ensure the funds would reach the neediest families, DHA staffers customized an existing software program from Zoho Corp. to automate tasks and map the most economically vulnerable neighborhoods in the city. Zoho’s customer relationship-management software is primarily intended for sales teams.

“If we can leverage technology to move faster but also move with intention, that was really the spirit of what I tried to accomplish here,” said Dr. Myriam Igoufe, vice president of policy development and research at DHA.

The Dallas Housing Authority’s system for managing Cares Act funds is based on customer-relationship management software from Zoho Corp.



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Dallas Housing Authority

The automated system her team built went live in late August and started approving checks to landlords last week.

Early results are encouraging, she said. Staff now have a better understanding of who is applying and from what sections of the city, an important distinction that enables officials to better sense whether the money allocated to one district may run out and adjust plans if needed.

Approximately 1,525 people applied for rent relief funds through DHA, with 388 approved to have checks sent to their landlords in the coming weeks. Sixty-three percent of those accepted applicants came from neighborhoods above the 80th percentile in terms of being the most vulnerable. Without the system they have created, Dr. Igoufe said, distribution wouldn’t have been as targeted.

“This to me means that we are providing much-needed relief to the most vulnerable people in our city,” she said. “A lot of people are months and months behind on their rent, and it’s not a character flaw. It’s Covid.”

Dallas resident Keia Johnson, 27, is on track to have her $1,065 rent covered for two months through the program. Ms. Johnson said she has been unemployed since March—after losing jobs as a dental coordinator and a beauty salon receptionist—and has been cutting costs and borrowing money just to keep up with her rent.

“Unemployment benefits can only do so much. It’s just been a strain. And then, filling out that [DHA] application and seeing them say ‘Congratulations, we’re paying for it,’ has been a relief off my back,” Ms. Johnson said.

DHA started using Zoho about two years ago to better keep track of families applying for federal housing vouchers. Although Zoho allows for some customization, Dr. Igoufe said her team took things a step further, including writing new code, to make it useful for managing rental assistance.

First, they had to figure out which neighborhoods were likely to be the most vulnerable,

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Policing, criminal justice issues at the forefront in Dallas County race for Texas House

An already combative race for an eastern Dallas County statehouse seat grew even more contentious this week when Republican challenger Will Douglas questioned Democratic incumbent Rhetta Bowers’ support for local police.

“I’d like to push back on on the idea that Rep. Bowers supports local services,” Douglas said during an interview Monday with The Dallas Morning News’ editorial board. “I’m pretty sure Rep. Bowers chose not to sign Gov. [Greg] Abbott’s pledge to not defund the police. That brings me to another point of where representative Bowers and I differ. I’m a strong supporter of our law enforcement.”

“So am I,” Bowers cut in.

Douglas’ snipe came after Bowers fielded a question about her opposition to last year’s bill to cap a local government’s property tax revenue increase at 3.5%. Bowers said she opposed it because the city and county officials in her district told her it could harm their ability to fund public services like police, fire and emergency responders.

Bowers, who accused Douglas of being divisive, said he is distorting her record.

“My opponent has been very accusatory of me, not knowing me at all,” she fired back. “I am not about defunding the police. I fought hard for law enforcement when I was in the Legislature, and I took it as a great honor, and still do, to serve.”

Support for police has become a wedge issue since activists began calling for “defunding the police” after the death of George Floyd in May at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. The issue gained more attention as cities like Austin began reallocating resources away from policing and toward social services to address issues, like homelessness and mental illness, that police encounter on a regular basis.

Abbott, a Republican, seized on the political opportunity to create a ‘Back the Blue’ pledge and asked lawmakers and citizens to sign it to show their support. The GOP sees the issue as an easy way to peel off voters in competitive races like House District 113, where Bowers is facing her first re-election campaign. The district covers parts of Dallas, Balch Springs, Garland, Mesquite, Rowlett and Sunnyvale.

Douglas, who has a Black father and a white mother, said reducing funding for police would impact communities of color that are most impacted by violent crime. He said Bowers is trying to stay away from calling it a “defunding” but the end result is the same.

“If your boss tells you he’s going to reallocate your paycheck, I think you’re going to consider yourself defunded,” he said.

Bowers said she has pushed back against the moniker of “defunding the police” because it sends the wrong message. But Bowers, who is also Black, said Douglas is oversimplifying a complicated issue.

Police leaders in her district have told her they need help with homeless people. Because of that, Bowers filed a bill last session that required more training for officers on how to interact with homeless people. The bill did not pass.

After Floyd’s death,

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New York restaurant group launches second of five new ghost kitchen concepts in Dallas

Kitchen to Kitchen, a New York-based digital restaurant group, launched its second delivery-focused restaurant last month on Aug. 6. The company’s first concept, Meatball Kitchen, which started in March, and the new Sweetbasil Thai Kitchen are headquartered in a central commissary kitchen in Garland, in one of Revolving Kitchen’s 25 commercial cloud kitchens available for rent.

The restaurants are the beginning of five total ghost kitchen concepts the company plans to open in Dallas, the city they chose to establish national operations.

Ghost kitchens, sometimes called dark kitchens or virtual kitchens, refer to a growing business model whereby restaurants exclusively sell food for delivery or carryout. While ghost kitchens have existed for some time, new ghost kitchens have started popping up in Dallas in response to the pandemic, like TLC Vegan Kitchen, ZaLat Pizza, and three new Detroit-style pizzerias.

Tofu tikka masala pulao rice served by Lucky Cat Vegan, exclusive to Uber Eats, located inside Spice in the City in Dallas.
Meatball Kitchen offers meatball subs and other dishes for delivery.
Meatball Kitchen offers meatball subs and other dishes for delivery.(Eichar Photography / Eichar Photography)

Kitchen to Kitchen, on the other hand, set their wheels in motion in January, before the pandemic, because as marketing director Ben Green explains, “delivery sucks,” historically. Oftentimes, restaurant food sold to-go isn’t built to withstand a long car ride. It’s also expensive, and not to mention bad for the planet.

Kitchen to Kitchen’s mission is to revamp delivery by selling food designed to be as delicious when opened at dining room tables as it was when it left the kitchen, Green says.

“We imagine an experience that doesn’t make you feel bad for the amount of money spent or the amount of packaging used,” he says.

Deliveries are packed in paper bags with recyclable, reusable to-go containers. Each order includes a personalized, handwritten thank you note. The company’s motto is: hospitality, delivered. “The whole interaction is designed to make customers feel taken care of — because food is an expression of care,” Green says.

Meatball Kitchen offers meatball subs and other dishes for delivery.
Meatball Kitchen offers meatball subs and other dishes for delivery.(Eichar Photography / Eichar Photography)

In addition to deliveries within 5 miles of Revolving Kitchen in Garland, Kitchen to Kitchen seeks restaurant partners to reach new customers and increase their delivery radius without having to open new locations. The bulk of food preparation is completed by Kitchen to Kitchen’s chefs at Revolving Kitchen and then delivered to restaurants who “put the last mile together,” Green explains. Partnering with Kitchen to Kitchen is a way for restaurants to increase revenue while still selling their own food in whatever way they’re accustomed to doing.

Green says Kitchen to Kitchen’s leadership chose Dallas to test their concepts because “Dallas is America’s greatest food city” with “a lot of talent and discerning palates.”

The company is co-founded by Dean Furbush, formerly the CEO of Fresh Direct. His vision is to prioritize a work culture of respect and sustainability for everyone connected to the company — from contractors to the planet.

“We’re excited to be in Dallas and launching these concepts here first with its core ethos being care, hospitality and unconditional respect across the board,

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