Archive for March 2009
HB 300 is a big deal. According to state Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, it would immeasurably change TxDoT. In particular, it would abolish the five member commission (TTC) which oversees TxDoT, replacing it with one governor-appointed commissioner. The problem is, Isett doesn’t agree with that provision of the bill…even though he’s the author…
“It’s a process not an event,” said Isett, explaining that his bill is constructed from the Sunset Advisory Commission report on TxDoT. Isett, who chairs the commission, said he did not agree with all of the commission’s recommendations for overhauling TxDoT. Nevertheless, he is confident HB 300 will be worked on during the committee process so that legislation can be passed this session to make TxDoT a “world class” agency.
The key to this may indeed have nothing to do with the amount of people sitting on the TTC. State Rep. Joe Pickett,D-El Paso, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, said that by tweaking formula funding so that transportation dollars (and therefore decision-making power) were concentrated more locally, many of the problems associated with TxDoT would become “moot.” HB 300, as written, would make such changes to formula funding, said Isett.
–Ben Wright Read the rest of this entry »
From the Miami Herald, Hialeah Fire chief steps down amid contract negotiations: On the verge of contract negotiations for Hialeah firefighters, the fire chief will step down Tuesday to pursue opportunities at a growing fire department:
Hialeah Fire Chief Otto Drozd became boss at a time the department was plagued by low morale, budget woes, a revolving door of chiefs and firefighters — and still reeling from a bitter dispute over manpower between some personnel and city officials.
Drozd is now leaving his post amid similar worries and in a contract negotiation year that is sure to be a tough one because of the city’s declining tax revenues, primarily due to the drop in property values, rise in foreclosures and voter-approved tax cuts.
Drozd resigned to become chief of the much larger and growing El Paso Fire Department in Texas, which has 34 stations compared to Hialeah’s eight.
TxDoT is having a rough day.
A bunch of bills regarding TxDoT are being heard today in the House Committee of Transportation. A fair few of them call for TxDoT to be abolished all together. Testimony has been heard from citizens from all across the state, people are wearing anti-toll and anti-TTC t-shirts and every now and then almost everyone seems to applause when someone says anything remotely construed as TxDoT bashing.
State Rep. Yvonne Davis just asked a great question to state Rep. Carl Isett who chairs the Sunset Advisory Commission and is giving testimony over TxDoT’s sunset bill HB 300, which he authored. The bill calls for a complete overhaul of TxDoT including making sure it is brought under legislative oversight, increases transparency and drives decision-making local.
Davis’ question went roughly as follows: If we are going to make all these changes to TxDoT then why don’t we just completely start over from scratch? That led to applause from the committee gallery…and an answer from Isett: “That is effectively what we are doing…the goal of this report is to do exactly what you say and that is to have a whole new agency.”
Isett said his bill would, “change the agency from top to bottom” and create a “whole new paradigm” so that localities could “chart there own destinies.”
It’s TxDoT, but not as we know it!
Check for updates on my twitter page
On the BBC, a story titled ‘US graft adds to Mexico’s woes’ :
“There is trafficking in Mexico because there is corruption in Mexico,” Mexican President Felipe Calderon told the BBC.
“But by the same argument if there is trafficking in the United States it is because there is some corruption in the United States… It is impossible to pass tonnes of cocaine to the United States without the complicity of some American authorities.”
From the Washington Post:
Jose D. Riojas, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security and Preparedness, Department of Veterans Affairs
Jose D. Riojas, began his military career after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery in 1976. He is also a 1997 graduate of the U.S. Army War College completing studies in National Security Strategy. His 30 year military career encompassed numerous and significant operational assignments throughout the world to include, Korea, Germany and Southwest Asia (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm). His assignments include: service with the U.S. Department of State, service as the Army’s representative on the Joint Requirements Oversight Panel, and Executive Officer to the Chief of Staff of the Army. He served in 5 different Army Divisions: the 2nd Infantry, 7th Infantry (Light), 2nd Armored, 25th Infantry (Light), and the 3rd Infantry (Mechanized).
WASHINGTON (AP) — The journalism and free speech museum called the Newseum added 77 names to its Journalists Memorial on Monday to honor reporters, photographers and broadcasters who died while covering the news, including several killed in Mexican drug violence.
Mexico ranked second only to Iraq among the deadliest places for journalists last year, said Alberto Ibarguen, the Newseum’s chairman, and president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The names of five journalists killed in Mexico were added to the memorial wall, along with 13 who were killed in Iraq in 2008.
Among the fallen journalists in Mexico was Armando Rodriguez, a crime reporter for El Diario in Ciudad Juarez who had covered the violent city across the border from El Paso, Texas, for 10 years.
Read the full story here.
From the Albuquerque Journal, a story about a major development flying under the radar, A New Road Along the U.S.-Mexico Border May Help Boost Commercial Development:
CIUDAD JUÁREZ — A simple, unpaved road running along New Mexico’s southern border is generating excitement among state officials eager to see more commercial development in the Santa Teresa area of Doña Ana County.
For the first time, the Mexican-built, seven-mile-long stretch of road provides a direct link between Ciudad Juárez’s west side and the Santa Teresa port of entry on the New Mexico side of the border.
César Chávez’s Legacy To Be Honored
Public invited to honor Texas United Farm Workers Movement and UFW President Arturo Rodriguez
WHAT: Reception & Fundraiser honoring the Texas United Farm workers Movement
WHEN: Monday, March 30th, 2009
WHERE: Westgate Bldg, 25th, 1122 Colorado
TIME: 500PM – 800PM
WHO: The public is invited
AUSTIN – State Rep. Norma Chávez is inviting the public to a reception honoring Arturo Rodriguez, President of the United Farm Workers (UFW), and life of César Chávez on Monday, March 30th as part of the César Chávez Texas holiday activities. César Chávez was born March 31st.
Tigua women had a meeting today with women lawmakers concerned over the lack of voting rights women have in the Ysleta del sur Pueblo community. The meeting took place after state Rep. Valinda Bolton, D-Austin, spoke out last week. Bolton, not a big fan of gambling in general, talked to reporters after the closed door meeting.
“It was a fascinating meeting. I learned a lot. I feel very much more informed. They are bright accomplished articulate women who really did an excellent job of conveying their tradition, there place in their tribe, their economy, there culture,” said Bolton. “I think I realize it is a lot more complex than I properly appreciated.”
Edna Sierra, a member of the tribe who spoke at the meeting, said she was happy to share her culture and clarify the role of women within it.
“We wanted to share a little bit of our cultural aspects with respect to our tradition and how they play into our political structures…We don’t vote on election night but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a say,” said Sierra, who described how women hold top management positions handling millions of dollars and have a say in the removal of tribal officers. Bolton seemed impressed.
“In our culture, voting is such a basic human right and so connected to self-determination that it is very hard for a lot of us to think about it differently. But certainly what I heard from these women was that within their culture they have a great deal of self-determination for themselves and for their family,” said Bolton.
The House committee on Border and Intergovernmental affairs just held a public hearing on HB 4004, a bill authored by state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, which would increase the board membership of the PSB from 5 to 7 members.
Pickett said that he filed the bill after a request by City Council. (Interestingly, the city’s legislative agenda expressed the desire to increase the board to 9 members, not 7.) The bill passed out of committee unanimously and will now go to the Local and Consent Calendars committee. That means, the bill would hit then House floor on a day set aside for local and uncontested bills, meaning it would almost certainly pass. Shapleigh has filed an identical bill in the Senate.
So is it a done deal? Probably…