Axios Dallas

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Happy Thursday! It's not noble to self-deprecate. Self-celebrate instead.

☀️ Today's weather: Lovely. High in the low 70s.

ğŸŽµ Sounds like: "Just Got Paid"

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Dallas member Rob McAngus!

💧 Situational awareness: The Environmental Protection Agency issued the first-ever national rule to limit the presence of highly toxic "forever chemicals" in drinking water.

Today's newsletter is 923 equitable words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: UT-Dallas lays off DEI staff

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

UT Dallas is the latest Texas public university to lay off staff due to the new law barring diversity, equity and inclusion programs at state institutions.

Why it matters: Texas is one of at least nine states to pass legislation limiting or prohibiting DEI programs on college campuses.

  • Anti-DEI bills have been introduced in 21 states since 2021.

State of play: Senate Bill 17, which took effect in January, bars public universities from maintaining offices or programs dedicated to supporting historically underrepresented groups, such as people of color or members of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Critics of the programs say they are discriminatory and emphasize assisting only certain groups.

The latest: UT Dallas is eliminating 20 jobs and its Office of Campus Resources and Support at the end of the month to comply with SB 17, university president Richard C. Benson announced this week.

  • The move comes a week after UT Austin laid off at least 60 people who had worked in DEI positions. Most jobs were in the Division of Campus and Community Engagement, per the Austin American-Statesman.

Friction point: The bill author, state Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), sent letters last month to the chancellors and boards of regents at Texas public universities saying the organizations have made progress complying with the law but many appear to have simply renamed their DEI programs.

Zoom in: To comply with the law, the University of North Texas in December moved its staff from the Multicultural Center and Pride Alliance into Student Affairs. UNT president Neal Smatresk noted that the school would support everyone, "including our first-generation, low-income and underserved students."

  • The law states that it does not limit the support of low-income and first-generation students.

Of note: Student organizations are not affected by SB 17 and can continue to host programs on race, gender identity and sexual orientation.

What's next: The state Senate Committee on Education plans to hold a hearing in May to determine whether universities are complying with the law.

  • University leaders have until May 3 to submit written responses detailing how their schools have eliminated DEI programs.

Full story

2. 🤑 D-FW inflation higher than national average

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inflation in Dallas-Fort Worth remains higher than the national average but is still well below heights seen in 2022, per the latest Consumer Price Index report.

Why it matters: Consumers continue to see high prices, especially for food and shelter.

  • Inflation was falling at the end of last year, but it has remained higher than palatable for the first part of the year, likely putting at risk the Federal Reserve's plans to lower interest rates.

Zoom out: Nationally, consumers are paying 3.5% more for goods and services compared to last year.

By the numbers: D-FW inflation in March was up 4.9% from a year ago, per the CPI report out yesterday.

  • Local housing costs are up 6.2% over last year.
  • D-FW food costs are up 3.7% compared to last year, with dining out costs driving the hike with a 6% annual increase.

The intrigue: Texas and D-FW gas prices remain below the national average, but the CPI fuels and utilities category saw one of the biggest annual jumps in the Dallas metro at 9.2%.

  • Piped gas utility prices are up almost 21% since last year.

Flashback: In October 2022, inflation in D-FW was at 9.2%. Though the cost of goods was straining consumers' wallets, local and state budgets saw a surplus from increased sales tax revenue.

What's next: The CME FedWatch tool now sees an 80% chance that rates stay at current levels at the Fed's June policy meeting.

  • Last week, the tool had 62% odds of rate cuts.

3. ğŸŽ‰ Axios Dallas Weekender

Ann Coulter will be in Dallas tonight to debate the issues the country faces. Photo: Rich Polk/Getty Images for Politicon

ğŸŽ¤ Talk it out. The Free Press, a Los Angeles-based digital media company, is hosting live debates across the U.S. on complex topics the country faces. The first debate, over whether America should shut its borders, will feature author Ann Coulter and libertarian magazine Reason editor-at-large Nick Gillespie.

  • 7pm today at the Majestic Theatre. Tickets start at $50.

🪁 Fly high. The nonprofit Vibha is hosting a Kite Flying Festival to raise money for education and health care for underprivileged children.

  • 3-8pm Saturday at The Sound. Free admission.

🕺 Break it down. Watch local street dancers honor the hip-hop movement at the Underground Movement Festival's latest showcase.

  • 5-10pm Saturday at Plano's McCall Plaza. Free admission.

🥁 Groove to the music. The three-day Dallas Reggae Festival is a family-friendly event with live music, Caribbean-inspired food, jewelry vendors and crafts.

  • Friday to Sunday at 13331 Preston Road in Dallas. Daily admission starts at $25.

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4. ğŸ—ž Burnt ends: Bite-sized news bits

The hottest news in town. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

⚖️ Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice faces eight criminal charges, including aggravated assault, in connection with a racing crash in Dallas last month. (ESPN)

ğŸ”Ž Grapevine police are asking for help figuring out who stole artifacts from the 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial. (WFAA)

🥣 Post, which makes Honey Bunches of Oats and Fruity Pebbles, plans to open a 1-million-square-foot distribution center this year in Wilmer, south of Dallas. (Dallas Business Journal)

🛒 Fort Worth's first H-E-B opened this week at Alliance Town Center. (FOX4)

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5. 🌈 One coffee shop to go: Bonton Farms

Farm out extra time for this stop. Photo: Naheed "Lucky Charm" Rajwani-Dharsi/Axios

If you stop by Bonton Farms in Dallas, don't skip the coffee shop next to the restaurant.

Vibe check: You can shop for produce, meat and honey — all produced at Bonton — while sipping on your coffee.

What to order: Lucky Charms latte, topped with colorful marshmallows

Where: The Coffeehouse at Bonton Farms, 6911 Bexar St.

Cost: $5.25

Six word review: Caffeinated take on sugary childhood favorite

😋 Have a favorite coffee shop we should try? Hit reply and let us know.

This newsletter was edited by Bob Gee and copy edited by Carolyn DiPaolo.

Our picks:

💸 Tasha is cogitating on how much it cost to build The Mexican.

👀 Naheed is reading about the possibility of Texas A&M bringing back its bonfire tradition.

Like how we're cheaper than inflation? Become a Dallas member for as little as $50 a year and get exclusive newsletters and access to members-only events!