Axios Dallas

Picture of the Dallas skyline.

Happy Thursday! Measure yourself against yourself, not others.

☀️ Today's weather: Sunny, windy and maybe rainy tonight. High of 54°.

ğŸŽµ Sounds like: "If We Make It Through December"

🌲 Situational awareness: It's Dec. 1, which means if you haven't yet, it's officially time to get rid of the pumpkins and break out the winter holiday decor.

  • Except Christmas inflatables. Those are still trash.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Dallas member Boat Charoensombud!

Today's newsletter is 942 cautious words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Texas hospitals at risk of closure

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic often feels like it's in the rearview mirror, but Texas hospitals are still grappling with its aftermath.

Driving the news: Nearly twice as many Texas hospitals, or almost 1 in 10, are at risk of closure since before the pandemic, a new report from the Texas Hospital Association reveals.

  • The report, prepared for the association by consultant KaufmanHall, says hospital revenue is no longer covering the cost of patient care.
  • Expenses have increased, the length of stay has risen and patients are sicker than pre-pandemic levels because of delayed care.

Threat level: In Texas, 26% of rural hospitals are at risk of closing, compared to a 5% risk for urban facilities, the report says.

  • Meanwhile, Texas hospital operating margins remain under intense pressure, and with additional support from the federal CARES Act set to expire, the association found that nearly half of the state's hospitals are reporting negative operating margins in 2022.

Of note: The report doesn't specify which hospitals are at risk of closure.

What they're saying: Texas Hospital Association CEO John Hawkins said larger hospitals in urban areas will be able to withstand those challenges, but it's possible that financial constraints can close service lines and pediatric space in urban areas.

  • "That financial strain I think, ultimately, does impact patient care," Hawkins told reporters Wednesday. "These operating challenges going forward are going to continue to be real for rural hospitals."

Dig deeper

2. ⚖️ Oath Keepers' North Texas founder convicted

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, projected onto a screen. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A federal jury found the North Texan founder of the far-right militia group Oath Keepers guilty of seditious conspiracy for his actions in the lead-up to and the day of the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, Axios' Jacob Knutson reports.

Why it matters: The seditious conspiracy verdict against Stewart Rhodes is one of the most significant results arising from the Department of Justice's vast investigation into the riot.

Catch up fast: Rhodes has become a prominent figure within far-right American politics.

  • The Granbury resident was arrested in Little Elm a week after the riot.
  • He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison from this week's conviction, though the jury also found him guilty on other charges.

Details: During the trial, federal prosecutors attempted to show through encrypted messages, recordings and surveillance video that Rhodes had organized and conspired with his associates to oppose the transfer of presidential power and overturn President Biden's victory.

  • Lawyers for Rhodes argued that he and other Oath Keepers members traveled to Washington, D.C., and organized there, anticipating that then-President Trump would use powers under the Insurrection Act to form a militia and wanted to protect his supporters.

Of note: Seditious conspiracy is a rarely used Civil War-era accusation that two or more people in the U.S. conspire to overthrow, destroy, seize the property of or levy war against the U.S. government, or to prevent the execution of any U.S. law.

3. ğŸŽ„ Where to see Christmas lights from your car

Tucker Hill in McKinney keeps it lit. Photo: Courtesy of Cormac West

Get in, losers. We're going twinkle-watching.

Reality check: These exorbitant displays probably aren't great for the electricity bills or nearby birds or the horses that have to pull those carriages all night or the Margos and Todds who just want to have a quiet holiday in peace.

Yes, but: We love driving through those areas and gawking at the stupendous setups.

  • So fill up a travel flask of "eggnog," turn the dial to your favorite holiday tunes and cruise through these delightfully decorated neighborhoods for some free holiday cheer.

Highland Park: Lots of carriages and limos, lots of decadent displays.

Interlochen in Arlington: Almost always busy, but worth the drive.

Deerfield in Plano: As a go-to Collin County light site for years now, it's actually pretty packed most nights.

Tucker Hill in McKinney: Cute decor on every street, with nearly every house in on the fun.

Special stops: A few houses have seemingly combined an entire neighborhood worth of lights into one single display.

  • This "Christmas House" in Carrollton is basically visible from space, and this is the last year the family will be going Griswold, so see it before it's gone.
  • The "Movie House" in Allen somehow combines every Christmas movie ever into one lawn display. Make sure to turn your radio dial to the appropriate channel for the full effect.

🤔 Know a well-illuminated neighborhood we missed? Hit reply and tell us where.

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

Illustration of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas, animating on and off the screen.

Isn't it a little iron-ic that someone called the cops on themself? Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🛬 The pilots of the two planes that collided at an airshow in Dallas on Nov. 12 were directed to return to the display area just before they crashed, a preliminary report says. (Star-Telegram)

ğŸŽ¨ The man accused of breaking into the Dallas Museum of Art over the summer called 911 on himself from a museum phone. (DMN)

💸 Police are investigating cash thefts at Buddhist temples in White Settlement, Fort Worth and Irving. (WFAA)

🚘 TxDOT broke ground on Tarrant County's Southeast Connector Project, which will widen approximately 11 miles of I-20 and I-820 by 2027. (NBC5)

🚔 Dallas police arrested a man they said shot and killed a suspected shoplifter at a Family Dollar store in Oak Cliff. (FOX4)

New jobs to check out

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5. ğŸŽ… One Christmas musical to go

Like a Hallmark Christmas movie in real life. Photo: Courtesy of First Baptist Church at The Fields

Don't feel like sitting at home and watching "Jingle All the Way" for the 78th time? We have something that might sleigh those humbugs.

What's happening: The musical "Canceling Christmas," written by North Texans Keith Ferguson and Bruce Greer, is based on real events.

  • Set during World War I, amid a global pandemic and political strife, the government threatens to — you guessed it — cancel Christmas.

Spoiler alert: Everyone learns a valuable lesson through the power of song and dance.

Where: First Baptist Church at The Fields, 1401 Carrollton Parkway, Carrollton.

When: Dec. 15-18.

  • 7pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • 3pm Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets: $10, available here.

This newsletter was edited by Lindsey Erdody and copy edited by Judith Isacoff and Yasmeen Altaji.

Our picks:

🏀 Mike is reading about Kemba Walker, the Mavs' newest guard.

ğŸŽ™ Tasha is wondering who is the female vocal equivalent of Morgan Freeman.

👀 Naheed is planning to watch the Casey Anthony docuseries.

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