News And People

Volume 13, Issue 45 - Friday, November 20, 2015
Texas gets poor marks in terms of government transparency
State ranks near bottom in access to information, ethics disclosure

The Center for Public Integrity, a national government watchdog group, last week released a report ranking the 50 states on transparency, accountability and ethics. Texas did not fare well, ranking 38th overall with a grade of D- and 48th in terms of the public's access to information.

That kind of national ranking does not come as a complete surprise, though. House Speaker Joe Straus included the issue among the list of interim charges he announced last week. In delivering his more than 150 charges to the House of Representatives, Straus said, "The next legislative session is more than a year away, but the work of that session starts now."

Straus noted that, though the topics he asked the House members to study "cover a wide variety of issues," they focus on "core priorities" for the state and its residents. Prominent among those core priorities were transparency and accountability.

In his directions specifically to members of the Committee on Government Transparency & Operation, Straus asked the representatives to "consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens" and to "determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner."

The committee is chaired by State Rep. Gary Elkins of Houston. "This issue has been on my radar for a while," he said. Elkins expressed surprise at the low opinion some have of the state's responsiveness to open records requests. "But this period between legislative sessions will allow us to look into the concerns that anyone has about how state agencies respond to requests. I'm looking forward to gathering more information on it from all interested parties during my interim hearings," he said.

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas advocates for government transparency and open access to public information. Its executive director, Kelley Shannon, said that her organization works every legislative session to strengthen the law and, as important, to block exceptions to the law. "We're always vigilant about that," she said. "It's really a matter of outreach ... to citizens, yes, but also to the legislators themselves, who may not be completely aware of the unintended consequences of a bill."

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Margie Rose, Deputy City Manager, Corpus Christi

Career highlights and education: I have been afforded an opportunity to serve in municipal and county government for more than 25 years in Michigan and Texas. I have a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and Master of Public Administration degree from Eastern Michigan University.  

What I like best about my job is: As deputy city manager, I enjoy the daily challenges coupled with working on multiple projects with staff.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: After making decisions each day, make sure you can go to sleep at night knowing that you made the best decisions possible.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Be open to learn and be prepared to deal with constant change.

If I ever decided to leave work early, I could probably be found: Reading a romance novel.

People would be surprised to know that I: Enjoy singing, especially gospel music.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: The city of Corpus Christi is a very caring community, and it also has city employees who truly care about what they do on a daily basis for their community.

John Barton joins SPI's team of government affairs experts
Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) has added John Barton (pictured) to its roster of procurement experts. Barton retired in August as the deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). He had worked for more than 30 years in a variety of engineering and executive capacities within TxDOT.

Barton first worked for the transportation agency as a summer employee with a maintenance crew in North Texas, and he steadily rose through the ranks to serve as district engineer for Southeast Texas. His final position, as deputy executive director, made him TxDOT's top engineer. 

Though his entire career has been in service to Texas, Barton has held many national transportation leadership roles, including terms on the boards of directors of both the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Earlier this year, the Texas Transportation Commission honored him with its inaugural Governor Rick Perry Leadership in Transportation Award. Barton is a professor in Texas A&M University's Civil Engineering Department, which in 2014 named him as a Distinguished Graduate.

For SPI, Barton will use his wealth of experience and knowledge of both government and industry to aid the company's clients, both in Texas and nationwide.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome John to the SPI team," CEO Mary Scott Nabers said. "John will help us expand our services even more quickly throughout the country."
Dallas leaders propose major upgrades to home of the state fair
The mayor of Dallas recently asked city council members to consider funding a major renovation of Fair Park, which was built for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition and has served as the site for the annual State Fair of Texas. The request followed a presentation by Walt Humann (pictured), the chief executive of the Fair Park Foundation.

Mayor Mike Rawlings suggested using a public-private partnership (P3) and appointing a nonprofit foundation to help raise the $494 million in upgrades to the aging facility. He also urged the council to increase funding for maintenance of the park from the current $11 million annually to at least $25 million a year and to include between $125 million and $175 million in a future bond referendum.

Council members took no action on the proposal, but at least two council members expressed support for the idea of upgrading Fair Park, citing the risk of losing the state fair and the bicentennial celebration in 2036 to another venue if Fair Park is not improved.
TxDOT to review four options for I-10 Connect Project in El Paso
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials recently began studying four options for the Interstate 10 Connect Project in El Paso, which is estimated to cost between $30 million to $50 million.

TxDOT officials plan a public meeting in January 2016 to discuss the project that would connect I-10 with US 54 and the Cesar Chavez Border Highway, noted Bob Bielek, the El Paso district engineer. Local residents had complained that previous plans for the project required the demolition of Lincoln Center, a 100-year-old cultural center.

The plan is to study the four options, submit a preferred option to the Metropolitan Planning Organization and to seek bids for the connector project in 2019, Bielek said. None of the four options call for demolishing Lincoln Center, he added.
Denton parks officials pondering proposal for second skate park 
Denton city officials recently began considering a petition signed by 500 residents to build a skate park in the central area of town. The next step, according to Superintendent of Planning and Construction Jim Mays (pictured), is for more of the public to share their ideas on the features they would want in a skate park. 

Built in 2004, the city's only skate park is located on the north side of the city and requires driving about 12 minutes from the town square to access, said one supporter of the proposed downtown skate park. A skate park in the center of town would allow more residents to walk or skate to the park rather than drive, he noted.
Austin Energy weighs proposal to build new $500 million gas plant
As an offshoot of the city of Austin's effort to generate 55 percent of its power using renewable sources by 2040, Austin Energy officials recently began reviewing a study on the feasibility of building a new $500 million gas plant.

The proposed 500-megawatt plant would be able to power 375,000 to 500,000 homes and replace an aging gas plant that is scheduled to be shuttered by the end of 2018, according to the 150-page report by an Austin-based consultant. The study examined two potential locations, one in the northeast and one in Del Valle, southeast of the city.

The study proposed building a "combined-cycle" gas plant, which features a gas turbine that produces electricity and then uses excess heat thrown off by the turbine to make steam that generates more electricity. The combined-cycle plant would use about 40 percent less fuel than the city's existing gas plant, according to the study.

Council members made no decision on the study.

SBOE opens up superintendent candidate pool in limited form
The State Board of Education (SBOE) this week chose to reject a proposed rule change that would have allowed school districts throughout the state to hire superintendent candidates with no educational background at all.

The board did signal that it is amenable to superintendents who have not taught in classrooms but do have administrative experience, however. That would open the doors to candidates such as school district chief financial officers.

The proposal had been approved by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) in October but needed to pass the SBOE before becoming official. What the SBOE did this week was to send the proposal back to the SBEC, asking its members to submit a revised proposal that would allow district administrative experience to replace classroom experience but leaving out the option that would allow candidates with no education experience whatsoever.

State law only allows the SBOE to reject an SBEC-proposed rule if two-thirds of the members present vote to do so. The SBOE will take a final vote on the rule change on Friday.

TWDB to host financing information workshops in December, January
Beginning in December, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) will host its annual workshops highlighting the agency's financial assistance programs. The first workshop will be held in Lubbock Dec. 2, and others will follow through January 2016 and be held throughout the state.

The discussion topics will include updates on the TWDB's financial assistance programs, including the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Also included in the workshops will be an explanation of the TWDB's online application system and important dates pertaining to the financing programs.

The workshop dates and locations for December will be:
  • Midland, Dec. 3;
  • Granbury, Dec. 9; and
  • Waco, Dec. 10.
Regional project team members will be at the workshops to discuss specific project needs and answer questions. For more information, check the TWDB website.
Blinn sells $10 million in bonds to fund new campus construction
Blinn College is moving closer to the start of construction on its second campus in Bryan, after its Board of Trustees approved a $10 million bond sale this week. That money will go toward the funding of the first phase of the construction of the new Bryan West campus.

The campus will eventually serve 10,000-15,000 students and have seven academic buildings, three other buildings and as many as 6,000 parking spaces. The first phase is scheduled to begin in 2016. It will include one amenity building and an academic building with eight labs and 18 classrooms. It will also build out more than 1,000 parking spaces. 

Phase 1 of the project will cost $35 million and is scheduled to be completed in time for the fall 2017 semester. The college has already hired an architect and chosen a construction manager for the project.
November 2024 Texas Bond Results
Seguin prepares to take back operations of events complex
The city of Seguin will take over management and operations of the Seguin Events Complex in January 2016. Currently, the Guadalupe Agricultural and Livestock Fair Association (GALFA) manages the complex, but its lease will end at the close of the year.

And so, with the transition, city officials are investigating what changes and renovations are needed at the facility. The city has surveyed six local groups that use the complex to determine what those changes might be. High on the list of needs were the horse barn and restroom facilities.

"The city wants to see the complex become a first class facility that will be an asset to the community," Seguin Public Information Officer Morgan Ash said. "We hope it functions better for existing users of the complex, like Buck Fever, the Guadalupe County Fair Association and our rodeo and livestock events."
Navasota approves $40,000 study needed for federal grant
Navasota City Council members recently began the process of applying for a $780,000 federal grant to help pay for renovations to a ground water storage tank.

Renovating the storage tank is necessary to meet requirements of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and to ensure safety, city officials said.

The council approved a $40,000 payment to a consultant, who will prepare a report required to apply for the grant. The report will analyze alternative plans, provide cost estimates for the project, provide an assessment of the environmental impact and make that information available to the public for comment.
Contracting Opportunities

Transportation Commission approves Proposition 1 projects
Yesterday, the Texas Transportation Commission approved nine roads projects using Proposition 1 funding, totaling more than $435 million worth of investment. Commission officials have now approved final contract awards for 131 of the approximately 200 planned Proposition 1 projects across the state.

Included in this round of funding was the $233 million Interstate 30-State Highway 360 interchange project in Arlington. It is scheduled to start in the spring of 2016 and estimated for completion in 2020. The November awards also include $25 million toward the construction of a new location relief route for SH 31 outside of Corsicana. That entire project is estimated to cost about $105 million.
Amarillo city staff to lead planning efforts for new venue
Amarillo City Council members recently agreed to a proposal by Interim City Manager Terry Childers to have city staff lead efforts in planning the design and construction of a multipurpose event center that was approved by voters earlier this month. The proposed facility, which would include a baseball stadium, is estimated to cost about $32 million.

Council members instructed Childers that those efforts include stating the goals of the event center project, holding community meetings, appointing one person to be accountable for those efforts and providing a timeline for the process.

The board of the Local Government Corporation, which has worked closely with the city on the project, agreed to the proposal.
Tomball ISD embarking on renovation of school facilities
Trustees for Tomball Independent School District recently approved the second phase of renovation projects at two elementary schools using funds from $160 million in bonds voters approved in 2013.

The second phase of the $2.9 million renovation of the two schools improves the cafeteria kitchens and adds new freezers and coolers. The third phase calls for upgrading fire suppression and public announcement systems, replacing exterior windows and adding carpet throughout the elementary schools.

The 2013 bond funds also will pay for projects to improve access to the parents' pick up drive at a junior high school and to add more parking across from the district's transportation facility. Trustees plan to review final design plans and cost estimates in March and then seek bids from contractors to complete those projects.
SPI Training Services

TWDB approves $17 million loan for Turkey Peak reservoir project
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) this week authorized a loan for $17.1 million to the Palo Pinto County Municipal Water District No. 1. The financial assistance comes from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program. It will be used for the acquisition and design phases of the Turkey Peak Reservoir project. The water district will save more than $2.4 million over the life of the loans by using the SWIFT program.

The funds will be used to complete the purchase of 1,300 acres of land and design a new dam four miles downstream from the current Lake Palo Pinto Dam. The new Turkey Peak reservoir will combine with Lake Palo Pinto to provide the water district's growing population.

The application period for the next funding cycle of the SWIFT program will open Dec. 1. Water districts and other governmental bodies will have until Feb. 5, 2016, to submit preliminary, two-page applications.
Allen panel chooses projects for $93 million 2016 bond election
Members of five subcommittees appointed by Allen city officials recently recommended asking voters to approve a total of $93 million in capital improvement projects in a bond election planned for May 2016.

A new $16 million recreation center, a $9.9 million fire station and a public library expansion project at a cost ranging from $12.8 million to $16.5 million (depending on which of three options is selected) are among the projects recommended. The bond committee members divided their areas of study among parks and recreation, public facilities, public safety, streets and drainage and financial options. They also backed $23.8 million in street and drainage projects to be included on the proposed bond ballot.

Capital improvement program steering committee members are scheduled to present the recommendations at a special city council meeting Dec. 3.
Williamson County weighing proposal for ground water study
Williamson County officials recently began studying a request from the Lone Star Regional Water Authority to contribute $50,000 to a water study focusing on the feasibility of obtaining groundwater from the Trinity Aquifer and the Wilcox-Carrizo aquifer and diverting it into three storage areas. Communities within the authority's jurisdiction could then draw water from the storage areas, according to Landy Warren, president of the water authority.

The proposed study would determine the scope of current water resources and how much demand there is for more water given expected population growth, Warren said.

Warren plans to meet with 25 water providers in Williamson County to discuss the study and ask if these providers would help pay for the ground water study.
Collaboration Nation

Dallas to decide on final master plan for Dallas Executive Airport
After four years developing a master plan for expanding the Dallas Executive Airport, Dallas City Council members recently scheduled a vote for Dec. 9, at which point they will decide whether to adopt the proposed plan.

The plan calls for a 7,000-foot expansion of the runway, strengthening the concrete and building new hangars. Council members are hoping to attract more general aviation traffic and stop the decline of business at the airport.
The proposed plan also responds to complaints of noise pollution from neighboring residents and business owners, requiring the contours of the loudest noise to stay within the boundaries of the airport.
Ector County urged to use contractor to mail jury summons
Confronted with an expected increase in jury trials over the next year, Ector County commissioners are considering a proposal by the district clerk to request bids for a private partner to print and mail summonses to potential jurors.

District Clerk Clarissa Webster (pictured) explained that county officials would still be responsible for compiling jury lists and determining those qualified for service, but hiring an outside vendor would streamline the process. County officials expect to schedule 32 jury weeks next year, as compared to the 20 the county had in 2015, Webster said. The creation of the new 446th District Court also has increased the need for more jurors, Webster said.

Commissioners took no action on the proposal.
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McKinney weighing options for airport after bonds rejected
McKinney city officials recently began exploring alternatives for upgrading the municipal airport after voters rejected a $50 million bond proposal for an expansion. The city purchased the airport from a private manager two years ago.

Council members asked Interim City Manager Tom Muehlenbeck to review the city budget for possible funding sources for the expansion project, which would add new taxiways and hangars at the general aviation airport. The airport is self-sustaining at this time, with hangar rentals accounting for about half the revenue and fuel sales providing a little less than that, Muehlenbeck said. Airport officials also report that more than 100 aircraft owners are on a waiting list for hangar space.
Ector County superintendent urges 2016 school bond election
Ector County Independent School District Superintendent Tom Crowe (pictured) recently urged trustees to consider asking voters to approve a bond next year to build new schools. Voters last approved a bond - $130 million to build and expand facilities - in 2012.

Because it takes about three years to plan and build a high school and two for a middle school, Crowe said the bond election should be held in 2016, in order to give district officials enough time to buy land and begin construction.

Crowe presented demographic information to support his proposal. He also urged appointing a bond committee to help prioritize projects to include on the bond ballot. The district could need up to two more high schools, he said.
Laredo exploring proposal to recycle tires collected by city
Laredo City Council members recently began considering a proposal made by one council member to contract with a company to recycle tires now collected by the city and placed in a landfill.

The process would involve the contractor separating the tires into elemental parts and converting those materials into other products. The city has collected as many as 8,000 tires in one day and would benefit if fewer tires went to the landfill, the council member said.
Calendar of Events

CATEE to host annual energy efficiency conference in Galveston
Dec. 1, 2015
The Clean Air Through Energy Efficiency (CATEE) Conference is an educational conference and business exhibition connecting public and private decision-makers. Its purpose is to help communities improve decisions regarding energy and water, learn from examples and seek alternative energy sources - and reduce related emissions. The CATEE Conference will be held at the Hotel Galvez & Spa in Galveston. The conference provides a valuable forum to share information on state and local energy efficiency policies, raise awareness of the importance of energy efficiency, develop and move toward new policy goals and highlight successful policies and practices. CATEE 2015 is hosted by the Energy Systems Laboratory of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. Registration is open and an agenda is available.

LBJ School offers Construction Purchasing Certificate Program
March 7, 2016
Buyers, contract administrators and project managers interested in earning a construction purchasing certificate can do so through The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs. The program aids in understanding and using new terms, remaining compliant with unfamiliar laws, developing control plans and schedules and staying on budget. The LBJ School's Construction Purchasing Certificate Program consists of four core courses and one elective to be completed over a period of two years. The goal of this certificate program is to provide participants with the skills and knowledge to ensure that their organization's construction projects are well managed and secure the intended results and value. The courses are complementary in nature, and each course repeats annually. The next available course is Project and Construction Management and will be held March 7-8, 2016. Registration is open.

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Texas' gift to the world - MD Anderson Cancer Center 

By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

It is almost impossible to find an individual whose life hasn't been touched by a cancer diagnosis. Last year, more than 1.6 million people in the United States became new cancer patients. Around the world, more than 8 million lives per year are lost to some type of the disease. For many, the treatments are long and grueling with uncertain outcomes. And while research is constantly discovering better ways of tackling cancer, new advances are slow to move from research centers into oncology practices.

Doctors and researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center are accelerating the movement from discovery into practice with a novel approach modeled after the United States's ambitious plan to reach the moon. The MD Anderson program is called "Moon Shots."

Texas Government Insider will not publish Thanksgiving week
In observance of the Thanksgiving holidays, Texas Government Insider will not publish next Friday, Nov. 27. We will resume our regular Friday publication dates Friday, Dec. 4.

The offices of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 26 and 27, for the holiday. Our office will reopen Monday, Dec. 1, at 8:30 a.m.

Have a safe and happy holiday!
Weis leaving Austin Energy to accept new job in Seattle
Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis (pictured) this week notified city officials that he will resign his position, effective Jan. 31, 2016. He has agreed to serve as the new chief executive officer of Seattle City Light.

Weis has served as general manager of the publicly owned electric utility for five years. He previously worked for the Snohomish County Public Utility District in Washington and the Turlock Irrigation District in California. Weis has a bachelor's degree from Western Washington University.

Austin city officials have not yet selected a candidate to replace Weis as general manager.

Collin College's El-Ashmawy named 2015 professor of the year
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) this week selected Collin College chemistry professor Amina Khalifa El-Ashmawy (pictured) as the 2015 U.S. Professor of the Year.

A native of Egypt, El-Ashmawy moved to Dallas when she was eight so her mother could conduct medical research. She holds an associate's degree from Kilgore College, both bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas.

"I am often asked why I am at a community college and not somewhere else in higher education," El-Ashmawy said. "My answer is, students. I greatly enjoy interacting with students and helping shape their future. Community college is where I believe I can maximize such interactions."

Sherman names Hicks superintendent finalist 
David Hicks recently won selection as the lone superintendent finalist for Sherman Independent School District.

Once the required waiting period is over, Hicks (pictured) will replace former Superintendent Al Hambrick, who retired in August.

Hicks is currently the superintendent of secondary academic programs for Denton ISD. He earned his master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas, and his undergraduate degree is from the University of Dallas.

Burkburnett names Chaplin as lone finalist for superintendent
Burkburnett Independent School District trustees recently named Tylor Chaplin (pictured) as their lone finalist for superintendent.

During his 20 years in public education, Chaplin has served as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent. Currently, he is the superintendent for Falls City ISD, southeast of San Antonio.

He will replace Danny Taylor, who is leaving that post after serving as Burkburnett's superintendent since 1985.
Northrop Grumman

TFC names Franco to lead P3 endeavors
The Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) this week named Samuel Franco (pictured) to lead its efforts in managing public-private partnerships (P3).

Franco has been a project manager for a construction firm and been heavily involved in P3 projects in Texas and nationwide. Among the projects he's worked on are the Portsmouth Bypass in Ohio and the Texas 130 project outside of Austin.

He will start his job with the TFC in January 2016. His position will be director of the new Center for Alternative Finance and Procurement.

Franco is a graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso with both bachelor's and master's degrees.

Henderson to retire from DFPS after 25 years
Tracy Henderson, the chief financial officer for the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), has announced that she will retire at the end of February 2016. Henderson has worked within the state's various health and human services agencies and departments for more than 25 years.

"Words cannot express the gratitude to all the finance staff and the rest of DFPS for giving me the opportunity to experience child welfare issues and to work with so many dedicated and caring state employees," Henderson wrote in an email announcing her retirement.

She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas and a graduate degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

Tarrant County College to hire search firm to find new chancellor
Tarrant County College trustees recently approved issuing a request for proposals for an executive search firm to assist in conducting a national search for a new chancellor.

The next chancellor will replace the late Erma Johnson Hadley. Vice Chancellor Angela Robinson has served as acting chancellor since the death of Hadley in October. She will continue in that post until a new chancellor is selected. 

College officials expect to select a search firm early next year, according to Louise Appleman, the president of the board.

McAllister named interim superintendent of Jourdanton ISD
Board members of Jourdanton Independent School District have appointed Theresa McAllister as the district's interim superintendent.

Superintendent Lana Collavo this week notified the board that she is retiring, effective Dec. 18. Collavo has served as superintendent for the Jourdanton district since 2005 and has worked 39 years in public education.
LeFleur Transportation

Abilene appoints Childers, Patterson as assistant city managers
Abilene City Council members recently appointed two new assistant city managers, James Childers (pictured, top) and Mindy Patterson (pictured, bottom), to replace former Deputy City Manager David Vela, who resigned to become city manager in Alice.

Childers previously served as director of community services. In his new post, he will oversee parks and recreation, the library, the civic center, the zoo, animal services and the Abilene/Taylor County Public Health District. He previously worked in several positions for the city of Dallas and for Flower Mound in the human resources department. Childers earned a bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University and a master's degree from the University of North Texas. 

Patterson, who has worked for the city for 24 years, has served as the deputy director of finance, assistant director of finance and an assistant to the finance director. She has a bachelor's degree from McMurry University and earned her certification as a government finance officer, public manager and administrator from Texas State University. Patterson will manage the departments of finance, community services, transportation services and administrative services in her new job.
Health Information Designs
TDI Legal Division to see leadership changes
The Legal Division within the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) will experience a change in leadership in December when General Counsel Sara Waitt retires after 24 years with the agency. She will be replaced by TDI Chief Clerk Norma Garcia, with Associate Commissioner Stan Strickland assuming the duties of deputy commissioner for the TDI Legal Division.

Waitt first worked for TDI in 1987. She left twice for jobs in private practice but has been with the agency permanently since 1999 and has served as general counsel under three insurance commissioners. "I have loved my time at this agency," Waitt said. "The staff are smart, capable and committed to doing what's right for the people of Texas. It's been an honor and pleasure to work here."

Garcia joined TDI in 1998, after serving the Office of the Attorney General in its Financial Litigation Division. She has an undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University and a law degree from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law. A graduate of Baylor University and South Texas College of Law, Strickland joined TDI in 1996 and has been in charge of its Legal Section since 2011.

McNamee, Paxton's chief of staff, to step down
Bernard L. McNamee, the chief of staff for Attorney General Ken Paxton, announced this week that he will resign from the office and return to private practice in Richmond, Va. McNamee (pictured) has been chief of staff for the Office of the Attorney General since January.

"Bernie McNamee has been a vital part of my staff throughout my first year as attorney general," Paxton said. "His leadership on legal policy and his sage counsel have helped us chart a course toward a stronger Texas."

McNamee came to Texas after serving as senior domestic policy advisor and counsel to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in Washington, D.C. He has served three attorneys general in Virginia, including as chief deputy, and also worked as a policy advisor to former Virginia Gov. George Allen.

Amarillo selects Childers as interim city manager
Amarillo City Council members recently selected Terry Childers (pictured) as the interim city manager. The former city manager from Oklahoma City will replace former City Manager Jarrett Atkinson.

He also has served as an administrator with the city of Austin, an interim city manager in Tyler and a deputy city manager in College Station. Most recently, he founded and managed a construction company.

Childers earned a bachelor's degree from Abilene Christian University and a master's degree from the University of North Texas. He also attended The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Jefferson seeking full-time city administrator
For the first time in about three years, the Jefferson Council of Alderman agreed to hire a full-time city administrator for the city. The new administrator would be the first for Jefferson since the previous city administrator, Shawn Farrell, resigned in March 2012.

Council members agreed to require applicants for city administrator have three to five years of experience in city management.

Snipes selected as city manager in Missouri City
Anthony Snipes recently won selection as the new city manager in Missouri City.

A former assistant city manager in Austin, Snipes (pictured) will replace Ed Broussard, who resigned to accept a new position in Tyler. Snipes also has held administrative posts in the cities of Fort Worth and Dayton, Ohio.

DuPree retiring as superintendent at Whitehouse ISD
Superintendent Daniel DuPree (pictured), of Whitehouse Independent School District, recently announced he will retire from that post in August 2016.

Dupree has worked for the school district for more than 20 years. He previously served as the assistant superintendent for 9 years before winning selection as superintendent.

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Donna to replace Flores as city manager by 2016
Donna City Council members have decided to extend the contract of City Manager Fernando Flores only until Dec. 31, after which they plan to have an interim city manager in place.

Prior to becoming city manager last year, Flores had served four years as the planning director for the city.

Whitehouse taps Wright, Johnson to share interim city manager duties
The Whitehouse City Council has appointed Madison Johnson and Stefani Wright to share duties as interim city managers.

Johnson, who is the public information officer, and Wright, the city secretary, replace former City Manager Kevin Huckabee, who resigned this week.

Johnson and Wright will serve as interim city managers until council members select a new city manager.
2014-15 Texas Academic Performance Reports
Texas Education Agency
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments:
  • Sanjiv Yajnik, Dallas, presiding officer of the Texas Economic Development Corporation;
  • Steve Head, The Woodlands, Texas Economic Development Corporation;
  • Mark Griffin, Lubbock, Texas Economic Development Corporation;
  • Alejandro "Alex" Meade, Mission, Texas Economic Development Corporation;
  • Mike Rollins, Austin, Texas Economic Development Corporation;
  • Nancy Windham, Nacogdoches, Texas Economic Development Corporation;
  • Dawn Ferrell, Wichita Falls, Deputy Adjutant General for Air;
  • Cecile Young, Austin, State Refugee Coordinator;
  • Thomas Reiser, Houston, Coastal Water Authority Board of Directors;
  • Douglas Walker, Beach City, Coastal Water Authority Board of Directors;
  • Anna Benavides Galo, Laredo, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission;
  • Jeanne Latimer, San Antonio, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission;
  • Kelcy Warren, Dallas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission;
  • Reed Morian, Houston, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
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Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Peter Partheymuller   
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