City News Roundup
Dallas can see centuries-old comet in the sky and more city news
This roundup of news around Dallas includes the exciting return of a Dallas website and the possibly more exciting return of a centuries-old comet. A top City Hall official is retiring and there's a homeless count coming up.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
The website for the Dallas Central Appraisal District (DCAD), which appraises property taxes in Dallas County, is back after a months-long outage following a ransomware attack on November 8 that disrupted DCAD's computer system, servers, email, and website. DCAD launched an interim website but nothing beats the original, and it's here just in time for the January 31 deadline for 2022 property taxes.
Comet is in town
A bright green comet is sweeping through the sky with visibility across DFW over the next month. Called C/2022 E3 (ZTF), the comet was discovered in March 2022, and according to NASA, is now visible in the Earth’s northern hemisphere, where it will reach its closest distance to Earth on February 1. It'll possibly be visible to the naked eye, although binoculars or a telescope are obviously optimal, and the best time is early mornings before the sun rises. Livescience.com has good tips for viewing, Space.com has photos, and theskylive.com has live up-to-the-minute updates. Halley’s Comet, the most famous comet, takes about 76 years. This one takes 50,000 years, and it really deserves a catchier name (although astrology buff Bob "AstroBob" King is calling it "Comet ZTF").
Housing Forward, an agency that works with the homeless, is seeking volunteers to help count Dallas' homeless population on January 26. The count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for communities that receive funds. According to the Dallas Observer, this event usually takes place on a single morning or night in January, when cold weather is likely to drive more of the homeless into shelters, making them easier to find and count.
The 2022 count found 4,410 homeless people, compared to 4,570 in 2021. Other stats: 83.2 percent are 24 or older, and Black people are the majority at 54.2 percent (even though they're only 24 percent of the general population). More than half or 65.3 percent are male.
Dallas City Attorney retires
Dallas City Attorney Chris Caso is retiring, according to an email obtained by D Magazine, in which Caso said, “I will be retiring from the City on February 28 to spend more time with my family and to pursue other interests." Caso became interim city attorney in 2018 and was officially appointed to the position in 2020. During that time, he was involved in controversial cases including an effort to close poker rooms and an ordinance that banned sexually oriented businesses from operating from 2-6 am. The retirement announcement comes one week before he was due for an evaluation.