Saturday, February 16, 2008

Texas House Elections Committee Public Hearing: Examines lobbyist disclosure and use of state e-mail for political communications


TIME & DATE: 1:00 PM, Monday, February 25, 2008

PLACE: E2.028

CHAIR: Rep. Leo Berman

The committee will hear invited testimony on the following charges:

Study the exemption in the Texas lobby contingent fee ban, which currently permits contingent fees and does not require lobby registration, for influenceing the purchasing of goods or servisces by a state agency.

Consider whether this exemption should be amended or repealed.

Research the current Texas law prohibiting the use of public resources
for political advertising, and determine whether the law needs to be amended to clarify that publicly funded e-mail systems may not be used for political communications.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rental Car Agreements charge up to $100.00 for a $1.00 toll on NTTA

TxDOT Trans Texas Corridor TTC69 Townhall Meeting Beeville - Hank Gilbert

Linda Stall discusses TxDOT's view of "Highest and best use of land" and pass along cost to the taxpayer. Linda tells TxDOT that hundreds of people have been in that hall tonight who are satisfied with the current best use of the land:

Part II - TxDOT discusses eminent domain and Quick Take Process with Hank Gilbert:

Trey Duhon discusses transportation funding with TxDOT officials:

Martha Estes reads poem on Mary Peters:


North American Union and Multi-Modal Corridors

Tx RR Commission Candidate - Dale Henry: Protecting state's water a priority

By RANDY ROSS - Longview News-Journal - Friday, February 08, 2008

Protecting the waters of Texas is a priority for Dale Henry.

The 76-year-old Democratic candidate for the Texas Railroad Commission said the production of oil and gas in Texas does not matter if the industry destroys Texas' natural water sources.

"We have to stop wasting and contaminating our water," Henry said.

Henry faces Art Hall of San Antonio and Mark Thompson of Hamilton in the Democratic primary election on March 4.

Henry has more than 40 years of experience working in the oil and natural gas fields in the United States and abroad, according to his campaign Web site. He has a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

"I've been hands-on from the top to the bottom," Henry said. "I more or less speak the language of the oilfield."

The Railroad Commission is the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline safety, safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry and the surface mining of coal. Established by the Legislature in 1891, the commission is the state's oldest regulatory agency, according to the agency's Web site.

The self-described environmentalist from Lampasas is a former city manager and county commissioner. He also founded 4 Arrows, the first cementing service company contracted by the railroad commission.

Henry said his experience in the oil and gas industry make him an ideal candidate for the commission. He said he knows the commission's rules and regulations from working as a contractor, and he would be able to begin working on his first day.

The oil and gas industry has a strong economic impact on the state, he said. That impact has come at a cost to the public, he said.

Henry said the commission has for many years considered the economics of the industry more important than public safety. He said that philosophy has changed in recent years, but it needs to continue to change. He said the commission must consider what is in the public's best interest.

"Environmentally, we have a problem," Henry said.

He said companies often cut corners when installing casing in wells to save money. As time erodes sealing and concrete shifts, water begins flowing and drawing out contaminants.

By forcing companies to install casing properly, Henry said companies would save more money in the long-term by avoiding remedial and repair work.

"These are serious matters," Henry said.

Attempts to reach Republican incumbent Michael Williams for comment were unsuccessful Thursday.

Read more in the Longview News-Journal

Super Bowl Tickets Part 2

R. A. Dyer - Politex - February 11, 2008

Last week, the Star-Telegram reported that state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, had accepted free Super Bowl tickets in 2004 from a top lobbyist for CenterPoint Energy.

But King, R-Weatherford, wasn't the only elected official to have accepted CenterPoint's largesse.

The same 2004 lobby report from CenterPoint Vice President Scott Rozzell that shows free tickets for King and his son also shows free tickets for Republican Michael Williams and his wife.

King chairs the House Committee on Regulated Industries. Williams chairs the Texas Railroad Commission. CenterPoint has business before both.

Watchdog groups have said it's improper to accept such gifts because it gives the impression that policymakers are too close to the industries they oversee.

But Williams, like King, said he did nothing wrong. Both are running for re-election

"It's legal and it's ethical and it's consistent with state law," said Williams. "It was reported who purchased the ticket, who I went with, who went with me and so forth. Voters can make their own judgments."

King earlier denied to the Star-Telegram that CenterPoint has paid for his ticket. But after being asked about the old lobby report from Rozzell, King acknowledged that he accepted the freebie.

King faces former Weatherford Mayor Joe Tison in the Republican primary. Williams is unopposed in the Republican primary. However, three Democrats are vying for that party's nomination to run against him.

--R.A. Dyer
Read more in POLITEX

Monday, February 11, 2008

Deal would expedite 360/E. Broad Street crossing expansion

By ROBERT CADWALLADER - Special to the Star-Telegram - Mon, Feb. 11, 2008
MANSFIELD -- An agreement between city and state officials could speed relief to the traffic-clogged intersection of Texas 360 and East Broad Street by early fall.

The City Council is set to consider a resolution tonight that would clear the way for the $785,000 project, which would install traffic signals and widen the East Broad Street crossing between the northbound and southbound frontage roads. The main lanes of Texas 360 have not yet been constructed.

"During the morning and evening peak hours, it's hard to get through the intersection," Assistant City Manager Chris Burkett said. "These improvements will help that, especially during the football season."

The Mansfield school district's stadium stands near the intersection, one of the most complained-about crossings in the city.

The state has agreed to allow the city to bid on the project; the state bidding process would take about six months longer. However, a major obstacle had to be negotiated away.

Several months ago, the state said that if city took over the project it would also have to take over maintenance of not only that intersection but all other state highway signals in the city.

The city has to start maintaining those lights anyway by 2010 because its population exceeds 50,000. But city officials wanted to avoid the estimated $192,000 in costs over the next two years.

State officials have now agreed to allow the city to maintain only the Texas 360-East Broad intersection during that period.

Mansfield City Council

Three elections: The council is expected to call the general city election -- to decide the Place 6 and 7 council seats, currently held by Michael McSpadden and Larry Broseh, respectively -- and two special elections to fill the mayoral vacancy and update the city charter for the first time in 20 years. Embattled Mayor Barton Scott stepped down last month in the face of a recall election. The three elections would be May 10.

State of the City: City Manager Clayton Chandler will outline the staff's analysis of the city's current and future financial health. In this shortened version of the staff's presentation to New York bond rating agencies in the fall, Chandler said he will acknowledge that the housing slowdown has crimped the city budget but that continuing commercial growth -- especially in sales taxes -- has eased the impact.

Gas drilling: The council will discuss a subcommittee's suggestions for stepping up controls on oil and gas well exploration. A key goal is to get drilling companies to share right of way to run transmission lines.

Read more in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Local area mayoral and council seats up for May 10th Election

The Dallas Morning News - Sunday, February 10, 2008

Here's a look at other selected mayoral and council seats up for election May 10:

•Arlington: Four of the nine council seats are up for election. Veteran at-large members Steve McCollum and Ron Wright, the mayor pro tem, have said they don't intend to run. The other incumbents up for re-election are Mel LeBlanc and Sheri Capehart.

•Duncanville: The balance of power could shift if the mayor's seat or the District 2 council seat changes hands. Mayor David Green and District 2 council member Scott Cannon routinely vote together when the council splits 4-3. Both plan to run again, as does one of their opponents, District 4 member Deborah Hodge.

•Flower Mound: Mayor Jody Smith is expected to seek a third term. In Place 2, Planning and Zoning Board member Steve Dixon is running, and incumbent Al Filodoro has indicated he probably will, too. In Place 4, incumbent Laurie Long isn't running; Planning and Zoning Board member Jean Levenick is expected to run.

•Garland: The council seats held by Douglas Athas in District 1, Laura Perkins Cox in District 2, Larry Jeffus in District 4 and Jackie Feagin in District 5 are up for election. All four incumbents are expected to run again.

•Grand Prairie: District 1 council member Lee Herring has said he won't run again. At-large member Ruthe Jackson and District 3 member Bill Thorn have said they will.

•Highland Village: Mayor Dianne Costa faces a challenge from Fred Busche, who left the council last year because of term limits. The two have sparred in the past over development projects at the FM2499-FM407 intersection. Two open council seats also are up for election: In Place 2, Don Combs can't run because of term limits, and in Place 6, Scott McDearmont has said he won't run again.

•Lancaster: Five-term Mayor Joe Tillotson's decision not to run has prompted District 5 council member Clyde Hairston to declare for the seat. The District 2, 4, 5 and 6 seats will also be up for election.

Two council seats are up for election. Place 1 representative Lathan Watts plans to run again, and Place 3 incumbent Greg Tierney said he's leaning toward doing so. No challengers have surfaced.

•Park Cities: The mayors and all council seats are up for election. In University Park, all the incumbents but Harry Shawver (term limits) can run again. In Highland Park, Mayor Bill White and council members Andy Smith and Webber Beall face term limits, but Gail Madden, George Reynolds and Bruce "Smokey" Swenson are eligible to run again.

•Plano: Three council seats are up for election. Incumbents Loretta Ellerbe in Place 3 and Harry LaRosiliere in Place 5 are seeking re-election. In Place 1, term limits will keep Shep Stahel from running again.

•Rockwall: Three council seats will be on the ballot. Incumbents Stephen Straughan in Place 2, Cliff Sevier in Place 4 and Margo Nielsen in Place 6 have said they plan to seek re-election.
Read more in the Dallas Morning News

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DFW Regional Concerned Citizens attempts to examine issues from all directions. When a story says "By Faith Chatham" it contains my viewpoint. When it is by others, but posted by Faith Chatham, it is from someone else's viewpoint. When I discover contents which is on topic for this site, I frequently link to other sites. Usually those sites contain content which differs from my viewpoint (and frequently that of other members of DFW-RCC).