Returned Fugitives And New Brunch Spots Start The Year Off In The Right Direction.

Welcome to D-Rated, in which we try to determine if the quality of life in Dallas and its surrounding areas is moving up or down by arbitrarily awarding and subtracting point values to our living situation based on current events.

New Year's Grey: The new year started off about as bad as it gets. Early New Year's Day, UNT student Sara Mutschlechner was shot and killed while designated-driving her friends home from a party. As with the earlier shooting death in Denton, the details surrounding the situation only make things sadder. Authorities have arrested 20-year-old Eric Jamal Johnson at the Marine base he was stationed at in Arizona. What possesses a young man home for the holidays to shoot the driver of a moving car? We'll find out once he's extradited and put on trial, but this is just awful and makes the place I called home for three years feel less and less safe. Minus 5.

The Bitch is Back: After her extradition from Mexico and a flight from L.A., Tonya Couch, terrible mother of affluenza teen Ethan Couch, is now back in custody. Her attorney is trying to get her bail reduced from $1 million to $15,000, but once she is out on bond, she will have to wear a GPS system. (Since, y'know, she's a flight risk, obviously.) Charged with a third-degree felony, Couch could face anywhere from two to 10 years in prison — that is, of course, unless she has a judge that gives her something like probation. Plus 3.

Murder in the Fourth: Dallas saw a 17 percent jump in murders in 2015. That sounds terrible, and any murder is awful, but 2014 had the fewest murders in the city's history. And while its murder rate of 10.7 killings per 100,000 people is the fourth-highest among America's largest cities, that's also the fourth-lowest in the city's history. Other than spikes in violence in cities with great civil unrest (Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore), murder rates are mostly on the decline, or at least near the lowest they've ever been. Let's hope that continues. Minus 3 for the uptick, Plus 2 for the downward trend.

Kings Without Their Crowns: The Mavericks, who were supposed to flounder this year after missing out on DeAndre Jordan, have still managed to tough it out in a Western Conference that features two historically great teams in the Warriors and the Spurs. On Tuesday night, they stuck it out against an ascendant Sacramento Kings team in two overtimes with Deron Williams — who was supposed to be washed up — hitting an epic buzzer-beater to secure the win. The Kings haven't won a game in Dallas in more than a decade. Even better? The team followed that win up with another in New Orleans, where, rather impressively, four of the team's best players weren't even playing, Boom shakalaka. Plus 2.

Hash Crown: As a rule, I have to be really damn excited about a restaurant to write about it in this space. After all, there are dozens of restaurants opening and closing each month in DFW. But in spring 2016, Plano will get San Diego's phenomenal Hash House A Go Go. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but specializes in enormous brunch skillets full of biscuits, eggs, potatoes and meat. Having been to the original location in San Diego, I can attest that this is a brunch place worth the wait. But bring your appetite or get a doggie bag, because these dishes really are that big. Plus 2.

Pot At The End Of The Rainbow: Dallas moved a step closer to implementing a cite-and-release policy for folks they catch with fewer than four ounces of marijuana on them. Per our own H. Drew Blackburn, “The move could put a dent in Dallas' jail population for non-violent offenders — DPD currently averages between 100 and 120 misdemeanor marijuana arrests per month — in addition to saving officers time and in turn improving response times for other, more important calls.” Way to almost start getting our priorities in order and joining the 23 states where at least some form of marijuana is legal. Plus 4.

This Week's Total: Plus 5.
Last Week's Running Total: We're starting fresh this year.
This Week's Running Total: Plus 5.

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