El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

Archive for February 6th, 2009

NPT Media: Times goes California on its employees

According to our friends over at ABC-7, the El Paso Times will force 225 employees to take unpaid days off. The ‘furlough’ program is taking place industry-wide, as reported on this blog earlier today.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 6, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Straus on the Clyburn Amendment

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-Alamo Heights, said he thought the Clyburn amendment by which a state Legislature can request stimulus package funds if that state’s Governor is opposed to the funds, was an appropriate way for Texas to receive Federal economic aid.

“My understanding is that Congressmen worked with members of the House here to make sure that the language of the stimulus bill and what we’re doing here are consistent,” said Straus, when asked about a successful amendment to House rules last week, by Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, which, assigns federal stimulus package issues solely to the Appropriations committee. (Last week, Dunnam told NPT, the amendment to House rules would speed up the process of getting $15bn of federal aid to Texas.)

I asked Straus if he thought any such request (which must be made by a concurrent resolution, several of which have been already been filed in Texas) represented the Legislature going to Washington cap-in-hand behind the Governor’s back?

Straus’ response: “No, I don’t think so. The Governor is going to be involved. We’ll work with the Governor and the Senate. I really don’t see problems there.” Straus added he was “not a huge fan” of parts of the stimulus package being put together in Congress. However, he was glad that a road map for dealing with the package was part of the new House rules.

“I think it is appropriate that the House is committed to a structure to discuss and work with the federal government whatever does happen,” added Straus.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 6, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Straus on committee assignments

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-Alamo Heights, told reporters earlier today not to expect committee assignments early next week.

“I haven’t made any final decisions yet,” said Straus, who wouldn’t comment on individual committees or the prospects of former Craddick loyalists.

“Once you do that…there are ripple affects that come into play, so I’m not making any announcements or decisions (on individual committees) until the whole picture is put together,” cautioned Straus.

Straus told reporters that a lot of progress had been made last week, as he did “virtually nothing” but meet with individual House members. Straus admitted the process was “complicated” as it involved balancing seniority, talent, interest in issues and specific issues relevant to members’ districts.

“A whole lot of people want to be chairmen of one committee, there’s more interest in committee X than there is spots to put them in…I keep reminding the members that no matter where you are, you are free to work on whatever issue you want to work on,” explained Straus.

The new Speaker conceded that it would be impossible to “get it exactly right.” When asked if assignments would be finalized by the end of next week, Straus said “I sure hope so.”

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 6, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Straus has press for breakfast

Earlier today, Speaker Joe Straus, R-Alamo Heights, invited the Capitol press corps to breakfast in the newly renovated Speaker’s apartment.

joe-talkingStraus also answered questions for 20 minutes before visiting with journalists over coffee and tacos. Straus discussed the budget, committee assignments,  the stimulus package, the cost of renovating the Speaker’s apartment, Tier 1 universities and a number of other issues.

NPT was there and you cant watch video of Straus’ question time here

You can also scroll down the blog and view pictures of the Straus’ plush new digs.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Media: Furloughs in the future at the Times?

Times employees might be asked to take one-week unpaid “furloughs,” an industry-wide trend that recently has taken place at media giants Gannett and MediaNews Corp, which are partners in the El Paso Times (MediaNews owns the larger share). Here are the NY Times and San Francisco Chronicle articles on Gannett and MediaNews respectively. Here at the El Paso Media Group, we took our furloughs when it really counted — during the December holidays. Thanks, boss!

Meanwhile, no word back from the Times on the question about publisher Ray Stafford’s future there. As reported on the NPT Blog, his (approximately) $600,000 home is on the market for (approximately) $800,000. UPDATE: 11:20 a.m. Friday (Feb. 6, 2009): Still not confirmed, but some sources say Stafford, a West Texas guy, is simply downsizing.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 6, 2009 at 11:07 am

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: They’re, like, all valley girls and boys on Monday

El Paso legislators will host “Valley Days” in Austin on Monday and Tuesday.

“The two-day event gives elected and civic leaders from Ysleta, Tornillo, Fabens, Horizon City, Socorro and San Elizario an opportunity to network and meet with their state delegation on issues of importance to their communities.” a press release from the office of state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh.

“Valley Days in Austin lets us visit on Valley needs like water, sewage, broadband, roads—basic stuff. Leaders from Horizon, Socorro, San Eli, and Fabens will join Senator Uresti, Representative Quintanilla and me to go agency to agency to advocate for the people of our Mission Valley,” Senator Shapleigh said.

Read the whole press release in the documents section of NPT’s on site blog resource

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 6, 2009 at 10:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: The Speaker’s digs

House Speaker Joe Straus invited the press corps into the Speaker’s apartment this morning for breakfast and questions. Here are some pictures. Video to follow…



Speaker Straus conversing with the press                A young Joe Straus at the Speaker’s desk in the 1960s
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tv light-reading

$1.3m was spent restoring the apartment,               You can’t judge a book by its cover, but
including antique paintings, historical                       can you judge a politician by his books?
chandeliers, restored sofas
vintage Sony HD widescreen…

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NPT Exclusive: where they keep the booze.              There may be no such thing as a free lunch,
but what about breakfast?
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chand the-appartments-bedroom

A chandelier that cost $75,000.                       A bedroom that did not cost $75,000
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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 6, 2009 at 9:33 am

Posted in Uncategorized