Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 44 - Friday, Nov. 9, 2012

Voters across state approve $5.45 billion in local bond elections


Contracting opportunities to be plentiful for schools, cities, counties, other districts

Bond Work
Look for these types of signs in communities throughout Texas soon as road projects are among the many items approved in bond elections this week.

Voters in communities throughout Texas on Tuesday approved $5.45 billion in local bond votes - in cities, counties, public school districts and a community college district and water district. A total of 36 of 45 bond referendums passed in Texas, opening up millions of dollars in contracting opportunities for vendors statewide.


And already, nearly 60 school districts, counties, community colleges, cities and towns are discussing possible bond elections for May 2013 and beyond. Among the projects in those likely bond conversations are local infrastructure improvements, capital improvement projects, parks and recreation projects, library projects, drainage projects, public works facilities, community and multi-purpose centers, new public school buildings, renovations and upgrades to existing public schools, technology upgrades, HVAC projects, school bus purchases and more.


Strategic Partnerships, Inc. has compiled a comprehensive list of the bond issues that passed, including a rundown of what projects are part of each bond issue that passed and the dollar amount for each. Information on the possible bond discussions for votes for May 2013 and beyond are also part of the bond package, which is available for sale.




DFPS Commissioner Howard Baldwin resigns after one year

Howard Baldwin

Howard Baldwin (pictured), commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) since last October, has resigned his post, effective at the end of this month. Health and Human Services (HHSC) Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek said in a statement that he was aware that Baldwin was "interested in new opportunities" and praised the longtime state employee for his "many years serving the state's most vulnerable citizens." HHSC officials say they hope to have a new commissioner in place before the legislative session begins in January.


Baldwin took over as commissioner of DFPS in January after having served as interim commissioner since October of last year. Prior to that time, he was interim executive director of the Texas Department of Rural Affairs for seven months in 2011. Baldwin entered the private sector in 2007 when he opened his own consulting firm, which he maintained until 2011.


His other state service includes having been First Assistant Attorney General from June 2001 to December 2002. He was also Deputy Attorney General for Child Support for the Attorney General's Office from January 1999 to May 2001 and Deputy Director for Government Relations at the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services from August 1993 to December 1998.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Alan MillerAlan Miller, executive director, Workforce Solutions Capital Area 


Career highlights and education: Over 30 years of experience in workforce development at state and local levels. Prior to joining Workforce Solutions Capital Area as executive director, I served as the executive director for the Alamo Workforce Board for six years, served as the division director for workforce development with the Texas Workforce Commission and was the executive director for the Business Employment Skills Team in Ottawa, Illinois, before coming to Austin in 1994. Hold a bachelor's degree and a Master's in Public Administration, both from Northern Illinois University.
What I like best about my job is: Every day is different and that I work with a terrific group of people. I really enjoy my job and believe that we are making a difference in the community.

The best advice I've received for my current job is:  Be yourself, surround yourself with good people and focus on the big picture.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Work hard and enjoy yourself. I expect results but also want people to have fun and enjoy coming to work. When you have a problem, also have a possible solution in mind so that you're not just passing it off.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: If it's warm outside - in my pool with a cold drink or on a golf course.

People would be surprised to know that I: have a growing collection of rubber ducks in my office. I started out with just a few and people just keep adding to the collection. It's whimsical and people get a kick out them.
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: That we are here for both employers and job seekers, and our services are available at no cost.

Booton chosen as 2012 recipient of 'Woman of Year' award


TxDMV employee earns Executive Women in Texas Government's highest honor

Ginny BootonGinny Booton (pictured), Consumer Relations Division director at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV), was named recipient of the Executive Women in Texas Government's (EWTG) "Woman of the Year" award earlier this week. The award, the organization's top honor, was presented at EWTG's annual Professional Development Conference held in San Marcos.


The "Woman of the Year" award is presented annually to a member of the organization who has demonstrated leadership and commitment both to EWTG and the community. A longtime public servant, Booton's state government career includes positions at the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS), Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Department of Agriculture, the State Comptroller of Public Accounts and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Among her many important roles were director of customer service for the Vehicle Titles and Registration Division, where she oversaw 16 regional offices supporting all 254 Texas county tax assessor-collectors. Booton also served as director of operations for the Lone Star Technology Department while at DHS, introducing the electronic debit card that helps needy families with food stamp assistance. She was also formerly head of TxDMV's Vehicle Titles and Registration Division before taking on her current role.


Booton's involvement in EWTG includes having served as president of the organization in 2005 and as program director on the Board of Directors in 2004. She also has served on a variety of the organization's committee. Booton earned an associate's degree from Fayetteville (North Carolina) Community College and a bachelor's degree from Texas State University (the former Southwest Texas State University). She also holds a Master's of Business Administration degree from the University of Akron in Ohio.


Part of Manor Expressway may be open by spring 2014

Manor Expressway
Work continues on the Manor Expressway, east of Springdale Road on U.S. 290, as shown in this photo.

Work continues of the 6.2-mile tollway on U.S. 290 East that has been dubbed the "Manor Expressway," and officials say part of the roadway should be completed by spring 2014. The initial phase of the tollway will have four flyover bridges that connect the toll lanes to U.S. 183 north and south. The flyovers will initially have a toll rate of 50 cents. The eastbound lanes of that 1.4-mile section will open in early December. The westbound lanes should be open in late December or early January, according to Central Texas Mobility Authority officials.


Mobility officials say they want to open parts of the roadway as they are completed. The $426 million project began in March 2010. The tollway, which will include six lanes and six free frontage road lanes, will replace what was a four-lane non-toll highway. When complete, the tollway will run from U.S. 183 to just east of the intersection of Parmer Lane and U.S. 290.


The cost for the 6.2-mile trek, including the flyover, will cost automobiles and two-axle trucks $2.12 if the motorist has an electronic toll tag. Rates are slightly higher for those who pay by mail. That rate is approximately 34.2 cents per mile, more than double the 15 cents per mile or lower of six other area toll roads.


Nov. 2012 Tx Bond Elections - Results Package

Game Warden Danny Kelso named Texas Wildlife Officer of Year

Danny Kelso
Game Warden Danny Kelso, TPWD photo

Game Warden Danny Kelso with Texas Parks and Wildlife has been recognized as the Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year by the Shikar-Safari Club International. Kelso graduated in April 1991 as a member of the 42nd Texas Game Warden Training Academy. His 22 years as a game warden have been spent in Aransas and Refugio counties.


TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith said Kelso has a reputation for being the "go to" person in his community, frequently assisting local entities with law enforcement, firefighting and community events. He has assisted in the apprehension of several groups of poachers in the areas he served and has apprehended other hunting violators on the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Refugio County.


Smith noted that one of Kelso's cases was when he saw a truck drive by his residence, with the subjects in the vehicle checking to see if he was on duty. After seeing his truck, they drove to the WMA. Kelso did the same, hiding his truck. He waited for the hunters and arrested them for illegal hunting. "The hunters learned two key facts that day," Smith said, "the season had closed two weeks prior, and game wardens are always on duty."


TxDMV announces addition of three to leadership team

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) Executive Director Whitney Brewster has announced three new members of her executive team.


Margaret Wilson will serve as the agency's general counsel. Wilson has an extensive legal background at the state and federal level and in private practice. A practicing attorney since 1984, she most recently worked in private practice in Austin with an emphasis on administrative law and litigation, and a sub-specialty in motor vehicle industry issues, including cases related to dealer licenses and vehicle titling. She also is a former general counsel in the Texas Governor's Office and was deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Wilson holds a law degree from the Baylor University School of Law. Her first day at the TxDMV will be Monday, December 3.


Jimmy Archer, who retired after serving 25 years as chief of the criminal investigations division at the Texas Comptroller's Office, will serve as TxDMV's new director of the Motor Carrier Division (MCD). He has worked with federal, state and local regulatory agencies in his past work. Archer holds a bachelor's degree from the University of St. Thomas and his law degree from the South Texas College of Law.


Jonathan Taylor has been named by Brewster to serve as director of the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO), where he will work with department leadership and business owners to direct, define, develop, plan, implement and evaluate transformation projects. Taylor comes to TxDMV after having been director of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund in the Office of the Governor. He led the development of the fund's strategic plan and managed the state's investment in portfolio companies and large-scale research projects. Taylor earned a bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University.


Improving Texas Economy:


Texas sales tax revenue continues to climb; up 8.2 percent in October

Tax RevenueChecks totaling $611.5 million are headed to Texas cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts for November sales tax allocations. The figures are up 5.4 percent over November of last year.


State Comptroller Susan Combs said that sales tax revenue in October was $2.03 billion, representing an increase of 8.2 percent over the same month last year. Combs said the state's increasing sales tax revenue can be attributed both to collections from the oil and natural gas-related sectors as well as strong consumer spending leading to gains in retail trade and the restaurant sector.


Cities will receive $404.4 million for November allocations, up 4.1 percent over November 2011. Counties will share $40.1 million, up 12.9 percent over the same month last year. A total of $136 million will be shared by transit systems, up 4.5 percent from last November, and special purpose taxing districts will share $31 million, up 19.1 percent over the same month last year. The allocations can be viewed by city and county.


Annie's List - Grossman Solutions


Port of Houston Authority executive level positions slashed

A new executive structure, minus a handful of executive-level staff, has been announced for the Port of Houston Authority. Authority Executive Director Leonard Waterworth announced the restructuring earlier this week. Previously, nine top executives were placed under Waterworth's supervision. He has now cut that number to four deputy executive directors.


Waterworth also announced a plan he says will save several million dollars through a centralized procurement function. More money is expected to be saved through voluntary early retirement. That proposal would offer early retirement for more than 50 employees, including some of the executives whose positions were cut or individuals who were placed in lesser positions. He said if all who are eligible accept the early retirement, it would save the Authority $4 million per year.


Four finalists picked from 20 candidates for Parkland CEO

Pete DelgadoWright Lassiter IIIParkland Health and Hospital System has released the names of the four finalists for the position of chief executive officer. The finalists were named following the first round of interviews last month. Parkland Board Chair Debbie Branson said the board interviewed approximately 20 candidates for the post. "We have narrowed them down to the four who we think will vigilantly sustain a culture of patient safety and quality care at Parkland for many years to come," she said. "These four candidates most closely fit the needs of Dallas County, Parkland and our patients."


The finalists include:

  • Larry VolkmanTed ShawPete Delgado (top left), chief executive officer, LAC+USC Healthcare Network, Los Angeles, California;
  • Wright L. Lassiter, III (top right), chief executive officer, Alameda County Medical Center, Oakland, California;
  • Walter (Ted) Shaw (bottom left), CPA, FHFMA, interim executive vice president and chief financial officer, Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas; and
  • Larry E. Volkmar (bottom right), chief executive officer, Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona.

The second round of interviews are expected to occur over the next several weeks. Branson said that although the board is looking to select a permanent CEO as soon as possible, "We're not setting a hard deadline." She said the board will not make a hire until it is satisfied the person chosen is best suited to "lead Parkland into a new era." She said the decision will be an important one adding, "We're going to get it right."


DPS Director McCraw accepts criminal-investigations award

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw recently accepted an award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Thomson Reuters. The award recognizes the Texas Border Security Operations Center (BSOC) for implementing the successful Operation Drawbridge program, which monitors farms and ranches along the Texas-Mexico border with motion-detecting cameras.


McCraw said DPS officials are proud of the BSOC, which has enabled officers to monitor illegal activity along the remote areas of the Texas border. He said the effort has helped make Texans safer by leveraging technology.


The BSOC has helped officials apprehend about 4,000 individuals and 10 tons of narcotics this year alone with help from the fully operational Operation Drawbridge, which includes sheriffs and members of the DPS and U.S. Border Patrol.


Collaboration Nation

Texas high court justice to chair State Law Library board

Debra LehrmannTexas Supreme Court Justice Debra H. Lehrmann (pictured) has been elected to serve as chairperson of the Texas State Law Library Board.


Lehrmann replaces Assistant Attorney General Rick Gilpin, who is retiring after 12 years as chair.


Lehrmann served as District Judge of the 360th District Court in Fort Worth and for 22 years as a law judge in Tarrant County before being appointed to the Texas Supreme Court by Gov. Rick Perry in 2010.


McAllen eyes foreign investors to fund $16M hotel project

McAllen city officials recently began discussions with a group of foreign investors to help fund a $16 million, 195-room hotel project at the McAllen Convention Center. A development group that operates other hotels in McAllen has partnered with the EB-5 Regional Center of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation to match foreign investors with projects that create jobs, city officials said. Once EB-5 officials finalize documentation for the project, developers will seek a maximum of 32 investors to committ at least $500,000 each to the proposed five-story McAllen convention center hotel project, city officials said. The EB-5 program, a federal immigrant investor program, allows investors who help create jobs in high unemployment areas of the United States and their families become eligible for visas, green cards and permanent residency in the United States.


Several hotel projects planned at the convention center have been announced, but were placed on hold as the economy worsened and the drug war continued along the border with Mexico, city officials said. With no on-site hotel, the McAllen convention center has struggled to attract major meetings and conventions even when offering free use of the convention center building, said officials of the McAllen Convention and Visitors Bureau.


A&M regents appropriate $5M for Kyle Field redevelopments

Steven MooreThe Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has appropriated $5 million to redevelop iconic Kyle Field in the current fiscal year.


Phase 1 of the upgrade, which includes the demolition of the G. Rollie White Coliseum, the Reed Building and the Netum Steed laboratory, was originally slated to begin in Fiscal Year 2014. Steven B. Moore (pictured), vice chancellor of marketing and communications, said the demolition could begin as soon as this fiscal year, however.


Moore said it was not yet clear whether the existing stadium will be renovated or if a new stadium will be built. A&M System Chancellor John Sharp recently met with local leaders to discuss the possibility of a new $450 million, 103,500-capacity stadium, though it remains unclear whether officials are considering the venture.


Contracting Opportunities

Houston a finalist for $5 million prize for recycling proposal

Annise ParkerBloomberg Philanthropies recently selected the city of Houston as one of 20 cities that are finalists for a $5 million grant. The grant would help pay for a proposal to use single-stream recycling to increase by 75 percent recycling of residential trash at a proposed $100 million material resource recovery facility in Houston. A total of 305 cities applied for the prize to be given to the boldest local initiative to address a national problem.


Officials of Bloomberg Philanthropies plan to announce the winner of the $5 million Mayors Challenge and four $1 million winners this spring in New York City.


Houston Mayor Annise Parker (pictured) said she is excited that the city is one of the finalists and looks forward to the time when Houston residents can throw all garbage in a single can and the city sort it out at a resource recovery facility. Current plans are to partner with a private firm to build the resource recovery facility to separate paper, glass, metals and yard waste and possibly divert waste food into a composting facility, Parker said. Revenue from the sale of the recyclables would help pay for construction of the facility.


A&M regents approve $902K contract for IT assessment

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has approved a $902,983 contract to be awarded to an Omaha-based firm to assess information technology services across all the System's colleges and agencies.

The assessment will be administered in two phases: a four- to five-month phase in which the firm will analyze the governance, security and infrastructure of IT departments and another (optional) phase in which the firm will analyze application IT management, operations, demand and staffing.


System Chancellor John Sharp will review the results of Phase 1 before proceeding to Phase 2, which, he said, have been put in place to "ensure that our IT groups throughout the system are where they need to be."


A&M board approves 300-bed addition at Corpus Christi campus

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has approved the addition of 300 beds to on-campus student housing for its Corpus Christi campus. The first phase of 150 beds is slated to be complete in fall 2013, while a second phase is set to open the following fall.


The housing will be constructed by a private-sector partner. A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said the university's plan to work with a private partner is financially responsible because the housing essentially is privatized, and that can save taxpayers. He said every university in the state should operate that way.


SPI Training Services

Williamson County, Round Rock may partner on $15 million bridge

Gary HudderWith a goal of relieving snarled traffic, Williamson County and Round Rock officials recently began negotiations to partner in building a $15 million bridge over railroad tracks at RM620.


Williamson County officials agreed to pay $4 million toward the cost of the bridge project with a requirement that the city award a construction bid on the bridge within five years. The agreement under consideration by the Round Rock City Council calls for the county to pay the city in four payments, with $1 million due after the city receives an environmental study on the project. Gary Hudder (pictured), transportation director in Round Rock, said he is hopeful the city can begin construction on the new bridge beginning in the spring or summer of 2014. The goal is to complete construction on the bridge in 2016.


Before beginning construction, however, the city must work closely with Union Pacific Railroad, the owner of the railroad tracks, the Texas Department of Transportation, officials who maintains the road, and must win approval of a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency, Hudder said. County officials also agreed to pay another $1 million when project plans are complete and the remaining $2 million when the city awards a construction bid on the bridge. Engineering studies should be completed in late 2013 or early 2014, Hudder said.


Southlake creates task force to explore moving public library

Southlake City Council members recently agreed to form a task force to explore the possibility of moving the Southlake Public Library to a new location.


Supporters for moving the library argue that moving the library to a new location also could provide more space for other city departments while opponents argue that digital technology has reached the level where a traditional library with rows of shelves is not the solution.


City officials have explored moving into a former two-story furniture store on State Street or building a library as part of a multi-purpose center proposed for Bicentennial Park. City officials plan to ask voters to approve a bond issue in May to pay for a senior activity center, gymnasium, swimming pools, workout and weight rooms and community space, but have dropped plans to add library space to that facility. The director of community services, who oversees the library, also suggested looking into a partnership with Keller or Grapevine for a public library facility.


Huntsville to reorganize city departments in December

Chuck PintoChuck Pinto (pictured), interim city manager of the city of Huntsville, recently announced plans to restructure and reorganize several city departments based on direction and guidelines from City Council.


The restructuring will be done using the current budget and will not add more costs, Pinto said. Plans call for the city to operate eight departments beginning Dec. 1. These departments are Finance, Parks and Leisure, Public Works, Community and Economic Development, Tourism and Cultural Services, Public Safety, Human Resources and Information Technology.


The streets department, which was under Planning, now will be part of the Public Works Department. The Community and Economic Development Department will include planning and zoning, customer service, inspections and engineering as well as a new business retention and expansion division that will be paired with the Main Street Program, Pinto said. The Public Works Department will include water services, wastewater services, solid waste services, environmental services, garage, streets and drainage.


Help Wanted

  60 public sector entities

are using our Job Board!

Nearly 60 state and local government entities, nonprofits and other public sector groups have advertised their job openings on our Job Board since its inception, with dozens of jobs still available. Click here to view jobs. Free job postings for public sector entities and nonprofits. Send your posting to editor@spartnerships.com

Wichita Falls to seek $96,000 grant to rehabilitate bridge

The Wichita Falls City Council recently authorized city staff to apply for a $96,000 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation to renovate a 102-year-old bridge to use when extending a hike and bike trail. The historic old bridge was closed to traffic in 1972.


Council members also agreed that the city will provide a 20 percent matching contribution not to exceed $24,000 if the grant is approved. The grant funds will be used for engineering and environmental evaluations to connect the bridge into an existing trail system, said John Burrus, director of aviation, traffic and transportation. The actual renovation of the bridge may not begin for six to eight years, he said.


Waco officials developing possible bond election projects

Malcolm DuncanA possible new bond election in 2014 could result in a new Dewey Community Center for Waco, along with a solution to keep part of Lake Shore Drive from sliding into Lake Waco.


The Waco City Council agreed during a recent goal-setting retreat to develop a list of projects and settle on a price by August, in time for the May 2014 ballot. The bond issue will likely be less costly than the $63 million approved by voters in 2007 to fund park improvements, bolster public safety and upgrade libraries, the convention center and the Texas Ranger Museum. Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. (pictured) said this time the issue has to be "bite-size."


One councilperson proposed reconstructing the Dewey Center, estimated to cost $5 million, while another suggested including a fix for an endangered quarter-mile section of Lake Shore Drive near Koehne Park, which could feasibly slide into Lake Waco due to unstable limestone bluffs and shale.


Tomball ISD approves study to assess facility upgrades

Trustees for the Tomball Independent School District recently approved a study to assess improvements and expansions for district facilities that will be needed until 2019.


Trustees will appoint interested persons who will be organized into subcommittees to study demographics, population projections, programs used by other school districts, the current financial condition of the district and options for financing capital expenditures. Subcommittee members will visit school campuses, conduct research and interview teachers and administrators for the study, district officials said.


The facilities group will then analyze the information and present the findings of the study at a public forum and make a recommendation to trustees on facilities needs of the district for the next five years and options to finance those upgrades.


Subscribe to the Government Contracting Pipeline

El Paso approves $24.7 million to buy, renovate buildings

El Paso City Council members recently agreed to spend $11.7 million to purchase two downtown buildings and an additional $13 million to renovate the Luther Building to replace the current city hall. City officials plan to demolish the city hall and use that site for a new $50 million baseball stadium to house a minor league baseball team.


City officials expect to issue certificates of obligation to fund the $30 million needed to demolish city hall and to buy and renovate buildings to serve as a new city government campus.


Wichita Falls to apply for $800K grant to extend hike, bike trail

Jack MurphyCity Council members in Wichita Falls recently authorized city staff to apply to the Texas Department of Transportation for an $800,000 grant to pay for a portion of a new circular trail project at the Wichita Bluff open space area. City officials also agreed to contribute 20 percent in matching funds, or $24,000, to qualify for the grant for the trail project.


Plans call for building about one mile of trail at the gap selected by city staff as the highest priority for the circular trail project, said Jack Murphy (pictured) of the parks and recreation department. Once the one-mile trail segment is completed, city officials plan to build five more miles of trails to fill two other gaps in the proposed circular trail project.


Big Spring voters reject proposed new 4B corporation

Big Spring voters recently rejected a proposal to change the sales tax used to fund the city's economic development corporation from a Type A to a Type B corporation.


Changing to a Type B corporation would have permitted the use of sales tax funding to pay for water and other quality-of-life projects. Currently, the city's economic development corporation is a Type A corporation limited to development of new business enterprises that create and/or retain jobs.


Fredericksburg OKs scaled-back design for $1.29M pool project

Fredericksburg City Council members recently agreed to a scaled-back design for upgrading the proposed Town Pool and approved a $1.29 million bid that is within the proposed budget.


To bring the project into budget, council members cut back on $7,000 in landscaping, saved $14,600 by eliminating a UV system for the pool and changing from LED lighting to metal halide lighting fixtures and removed competitive racing lane lines and tile that would have cost $5,750. They also saved $10,800 by changing the depth of drains on the pool deck.


Did you miss Government Contracting Pipeline?

McKinney agrees to begin Gateway project by June 2013

Jason GrayMcKinney City Council members recently approved an agreement to allow the city and private developers to move forward with construction of the proposed Gateway hotel and conference center at Sam Rayburn Tollway and US75.


City officials project the hotel and conference center project will cost about $35 million to $38 million with the public funding ranging from $18 million to $20.3 million. Those funds will be paid by the McKinney Community Development Corporation, the McKinney Economic Development Corporation and the city. Private developers are expected to pay about half of the cost to build the project, said City Manager Jason Gray (pictured).


Current plans are to build a full-service hotel and event center on the partially completed structure that has been on the site for almost four years, Gray said. Construction must begin by June 2013 and be completed by late 2014, he added. The city will retain ownership of the eight acres of land from the project and could gain as much as $6 million in hotel occupancy tax revenue from the hotel, according to Gray. The city also will receive another $6 million in value from owning the event center, with those proceeds and the hotel tax amounting to a $9.5 million return in the first 10 years of the project. After deducting the $7 million the city expects to pay in the incentive, city officials estimate a $2.3 million gain for the city from the investment in the hotel and conference center.


El Paso voters approves tax hike to pay for baseball stadium

Voters in El Paso recently approved a 2 percent increase in hotel occupancy taxes to help pay for a new $50 million baseball stadium. The stadium will be home to a minor league baseball team.


MountainStar Sports Group purchased the Triple-A team, the Tucson Padres, to relocate to El Paso to play in the new baseball stadium to be built on the site of the current city hall. The new hotel occupancy tax in El Paso will be 17.5 percent.


Ferris seeks $420K grant to build sidewalks, upgrade drainage

Ferris City Council members recently authorized staff to apply for a $420,000 grant from the Transportation Enhancement Program to pay for a new sidewalk connecting a junior high school to I-45 and improve drainage in that area.


Students currently walk along the shoulder of the highway, which is dangerous, said Chuck Dart, the director of economic development and the main street project for the city. The city will be required to provide 20 percent in matching funding to qualify for the grant to help pay for the sidewalk project, Dart said.


Midland group to award $5 million to parking garage project

Midland Development Corp. (MDC) recently agreed to provide $5 million in an agreement with the city to build a new parking garage next to a proposed $12 million, four-story apartment complex located on city-owned property.


Plans call for the new parking garage to be built on a parking lot across from Midland Center near the intersection of Main and Wall streets. The garage is designed to provide 300 parking spaces for the 110 tenents of the loft apartments and for customers of the retail stores and restaurants planned for the first floor of the apartment building. MDC officials plan to begin the bidding process for the parking garage soon, said Pam Welch, executive director of the MDC.


National Education Partnerships Conference planned Dec. 9-11

The Texas Association of Partners in Education (TAPE) and the National Association for School and Community Engagement (NASCE) will host the National Education Partnerships Conference Dec. 9-11. Held at the Marriott Riverwalk in San Antonio, the conference is designed for anyone involved in partnerships for student success, including school partnership coordinators, business partnership professionals, community involvement specialists, parental involvement specialists, principals, education foundation staff, parents and school volunteers. Sponsors anticipate up to 200 attendees from across the United States. Workshops will provide partnership coordinators in schools, businesses and agencies with helpful tools and best practices for effective partnerships that align resources for student success in school, career and college. Registration is as low as $239/person and special conference hotel rates are available through Nov. 19. More information on the conference, including a draft agenda, session and keynote speaker descriptions and links for registration and hotel reservations, is available on the conference Web site: http://www.partnershipsconference.org/. Questions? Contact Jennifer Peters at jpeters@tape.org.

TSABAA Mid-Winter conference to be held in December

The 33rd Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association (TSABAA) Mid-Winter conference is on tap for Dec. 6 and 7 at the YO Ranch Hotel and Conference Center in Kerrville. Following a welcome reception on Wednesday, Dec. 5, the conference program will begin on Thursday, Dec. 6, and will conclude before noon on Friday, Dec. 7. An agenda is posted on the TSABAA Web site. Some of the topics include: The Business Side of People Management, Funds Consolidation Bill, Maximizing Productivity on a "Stone Soup" Budget, ERS Update, A Word from the Wise - A Panel Discussion on Dealing with Challenges in Your Office and the always popular Political Panel.


Clean Fleet Technologies Conference to be held Nov. 15 in Houston

The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) and Houston-Galveston Clean Cities/Clean Vehicles Program are hosting the Clean Fleet Technologies Conference on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. This day-long event, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., will highlight opportunities and experiences across the full spectrum of clean alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies. Speakers, exhibitors and vehicle displays will highlight the latest technologies, infrastructure, and funding for cleaner on- and off-road vehicles and fleets. Keynote speaker is Jon Coleman, Ford Motor Company Fleet and Technology Manager. City of Houston Council Member Oliver Pennington will give welcoming remarks. A number of breakout sessions will highlight the experiences of existing alternative fuel vehicle fleets and opportunities. The afternoon panel discussion will focus on smarter driving and maintenance opportunities through ecodriving, idle reduction and optimizing vehicle performance with GPS. For more information on the event, click here. Sponsorships and exhibitor opportunities, click here. To register online, click here.


TxDOT to host 2013 Small Business Briefings across Texas

The Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Office of Civil Rights-Supportive Services Section will conduct briefing conferences around the state for small, minority- and women-owned businesses providing contract opportunities and information on how to do business with TxDOT and the state. Corpus Christi is the location of the first of four briefings events being offered in fiscal year 2013. The day-long briefings include general industry sessions and specific information on how to do business in the construction, goods and services, information technology and professional engineering service industries. Breakout sessions will cover small and minority-owned business certifications, resources for business development, marketing for state contracts and information on TxDOT toll projects. Each briefing also includes a contracting opportunity fair, industry sessions and a multitude of networking opportunities. Please join us! The Corpus Christi event will be Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Holiday Inn Hotel-Emerald Beach, 1102 S. Shoreline Drive, 78401. Other briefings include Wednesday, March 20, in Arlington; Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Lubbock and Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Odessa. To register, click here. For more information call 1-866-480-2518, Option 1. For questions regarding the Office of Civil Rights-DBE/HUB/SBE and Supportive Services programs, click here or call 512-486-5510.


P3C, public-private partnership conference, set in Dallas

P3C, the Public-Private Partnership Conference, is scheduled for Feb. 21 and 22, 2013, at the Sheraton Downtown Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas. The event brings together real estate community development professionals and municipal leaders to highlight the latest development trends and opportunities involving public-private partnerships across the United States. The conference is a high-profile setting for municipalities to announce, unveil and discuss upcoming development projects. More than 30 cities and public agencies from across the country will take the stage next year at P3C to showcase their capital projects to a nationwide audience of developers, builders, architects and investors. P3C attendees participate in multiple networking elements within the conference, which provides presenters broad industry exposure to their projects. The agenda is designed to touch upon the most relevant and pressing issues vital to today's successful public-private partnership ventures. The event will bring together more than 65 thought-provoking and engaging speakers to exchange valuable insights with the country's leading development organizations. For more information and to register, visit www.P3C2013.com.


TASSCC announces Dec. 11 as date for State of State Conference

The Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communication (TASSCC) State of the State Conference is a one-day event set for Dec. 11 that brings together technology directors from Texas state agencies and institutions of higher education to discuss the strategic direction of technology in Texas. At the conference, members will examine the role of IT in state government and higher education, explore future trends and hear in-depth discussions on topics currently impacting public sector IT. Among the speakers will be Texas Tribune Editor in Chief and CEO Evan Smith and Executive Editor Ross Ramsey, who will discuss the state of the state. Richard Froeschle of the Texas Workforce Commission will address the changing face of the Texas labor market and Doug Robinson, executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) is also a guest speaker. Sponsorships are available. To register, click here.


Texas Municipal League 100th Annual Conference, Exhibition set

A century in the making, the Texas Municipal League will hold its 100th Annual Conference and Exhibition on Nov. 13-16 in Grapevine. Hear from the experts, such as the Opening General Session keynote speaker Jim Carroll, a futurist who will discuss trends affecting public service and how to turn challenge into opportunity. Dive into concurrent sessions on leadership, smartphone apps, health care, youth, retail development, parliamentary procedure, legislation, water management and community meetings...just to name a few. And not to be missed is a walk through the exhibit hall, where delegates will find more than 300 vendors equipped with services and products to help public servants serve better. With an agenda so full, we also carved some time to celebrate 100 years of municipal excellence - join us on Nov. 14 for the TML Centennial Gala. A conference like this only comes around once every 100 years. So what are you waiting for? Register now at www.tmlconference.org


Media Notice

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Citizen services continue
to move to Internet


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


Talk about change - here's a shocking fact! Estimates are that E-government expenditures globally in the first decade of the 2000s are approximately $3 trillion. If that does not demonstrate a change in the way governments deliver services, perhaps nothing will.


As governmental jurisdictions face the challenges of doing more with less because of budget constraints, the delivery of services and citizen transactions via the Internet are attractive ways to both save money and generate revenues. Simply put, people are willing to pay for convenience and public officials are eager to comply.


Citizens are more than happy to interact with government via the Internet. And, they like it even better when the chore can be handled anytime 24X7. All kinds of transactions can now occur online. For instance, with simply a click or two, citizens can obtain marriage records, building and zoning permits and property records. They can also make online payments for utilities, fees, fines, driver's license renewals and more. Some states estimate that online transactions are now saving them 90 percent of the cost of an in-person transaction.


In Texas, citizens access the state's online portal, Texas.gov, to conduct transactions with the state. This program is a true public-private partnership. The state allowed a private partner to shoulder the start-up costs and then share in the revenue that resulted. Under the terms of the Texas partnership, a small fee for each transaction online provides a return on investment (ROI) to the private partner in exchange for financing, developing, operating and maintaining the services. The remaining fee revenue goes to the state. For Fiscal Year 2012, the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) estimates that Texas.gov will add $31 million to state coffers. In 2011, the state's share of the total revenues received was 39 percent and that figure increased to 40 percent this year. The initial contract netted the state $15.6 million, while the new contract is expected to bring in $31 million. That amounts to a huge increase in the state's share of the revenue.


Texas.gov hosts more than 1,000 online services for more than 100 public sector customers. Consumers can enroll in state programs and services, request birth, death and marriage documents, renew vehicle registrations and order specialty license plates.



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Denison to seek bids for

new downtown pocket park

Denison City Council members recently agreed to seek bids for the first phase of construction of a new downtown pocket park. The first phase, which includes demolition, stabilizing the facade and grading, is expected to cost about $175,000.


City officials plan during the second stage of construction to add greenery, seating, a small dining area with a cover and a covered stage during the second phase of the construction. That phase is estimated to cost from $157,000 to $270,000. Council members are expected to consider the bids in December.


Huntsville superintendent urges

$13 million in facility upgrades

Steve JohnsonNoting that Huntsville Independent School District could assume $13 million in debt without raising taxes, Superintendent Steve Johnson (pictured) urged board members to ask voters to approve bonds in May 2013 to pay for facility upgrades.


District officials last passed a large bond package in 1999 and have only approved renovations to campus facilities in the last nine years, Johnson noted, and asked trustees to explore what options the district can use to upgrade facilities. The district has identified its needs and is asking a group of citizens, staff and students to prioritize facilities needs to present options to voters, Johnson said.


Kemah residents oppose 

idea of $12M parking facilty

Residents in Kemah have failed to warm to the idea of a dual-use, park-and-ride parking facility, a $12 million project proposed as a joint effort between the city and The Gulf Coast Center-Connect Transit. The facility, which would include 500 parking spaces and a 3,500-square-foot lobby, would operate as a traditional commuter park-and-ride facility during weekdays and as a parking facility during evenings and on weekends.


Councilman Wayne Rast said he is interested in putting the project on the ballot next May, but residents who attended a public meeting to discuss the project, which would provide bus service to areas of Houston and Galveston with a one-way ticket at $4 a ride, opposed its construction.


Gemini Global Group

Rio Hondo begins its search

for new city administrator

City commissioners in Rio Hondo have launched a search to find a replacement for City Administrator Hipolito Cabrera, who has left the post after 14 months to take another job.


Cabrera previously served as city administrator in Santa Rosa. He replaced Arturo Prida as Rio Honda city administrator in August 2011.


Commissioner Rick Tello said he and his team are looking for someone who will stay committed to the job. 


Robstown ISD to allow new

trustees to hire superintendent

Leobardo CanoAfter a fourth meeting debating over who should serve as the new superintendent, Robstown Independent School District board members recently agreed to allow new, incoming trustees to search for a new superintendent.


Trustees also agreed to accept two new conditions to continue the contract of Dr. Leobardo Cano (pictured) to serve as interim superintendent until a new superintendent is selected. Trustees agreed the board can fire Cano whenever they choose, but agreed to pay Cano $60,000 to buy out his contract prior to June 2013. Trustees reopened their search for a new superintendent after Morris Aldridge, an assistant superintendent for Clint ISD, withdrew his name from consideration after being selected by Robstown trustees as the lone finalist for superintendent.


Two administrators, counselor suspended in El Paso ISD

Two Bowie High School administrators and a counselor have been suspended for their alleged roles in a plan orchestrated by former El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia to remove students. Anna Luisa Kell, an assistant principal in charge of guidance and instruction, and Johnnie Vega, an assistant principal, will receive pay while on suspension as district officials investigate their roles in the district-wide cheating scandal. Felipe Cobos, a school counselor, has also been suspended.


The scheme, spearheaded by Garcia, who pled guilty in June to conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud, resulted in the banishment of some students while it prevented others from enrolling and manipulated grade levels to keep students from taking the 10th grade test that determines whether a school is meeting federal learning standards.


Members of the community and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) have pressured EPISD officials to take disciplinary action against those believed to be involved in the scandal, which also included Garcia reportedly steering a $450,000 no-bid contract to his mistress.


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Plainview ISD board narrows

its superintendent search

Plainview Independent School District's (PISD) board is narrowing its search for the next superintendent. The candidate will replace Dr. Ron Miller, who is set to retire at the end of the year.


District officials have been working with an Illinois-based search firm, which has brought to the board 60 eligible candidates. PISD Board President Brandon Brownlee said the task ahead of the board will be to narrow that playing field to 10 or fewer candidates.


Brownlee said he cannot divulge any applicant names, but said the board will set up interviews this month and will work to ensure "every candidate is...vetted, and vetted completely."


Cavazos named lone finalist for superintendent at Arlington ISD

Marcelo CavazasArlington Independent School District (AISD) officials have named Marcelo Cavazos (pictured) lone finalist for superintendent.


Cavazos has led the district as interim superintendent since June, when trustees decided to replace Jerry McCullough, who served the district for 40 years.


Cavazos previously served as an English teacher in Mission Consolidated ISD before moving to McAllen ISD, where he also taught government. He became an associate advisor for San Benito Consolidated ISD in 1995 and began work for the Texas Education Agency Department of School Finance and Support in 1998. He joined AISD in 1999 as associate superintendent for instruction. He holds both a bachelor's and master's degree from The University of Texas-Pan American and a doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin.


Ortega retiring as director of guidance services for EPISD

Kathleen Ortega, the director of guidance services for the El Paso Independent School District, recently announced she is retiring from that post effective Dec. 21. Ortega previously revealed to investigators that she had hidden key documents for about seven months that were related to an alleged cheating scheme uncovered throughout the district.


Athens wins $275,000 grant

to expand sewer system

Athens City Council members recently won a $275,000 grant from the Texas Community Block Grant program to pay for expanding the city sewer system.


City officials plan to provide first-time sewer service to 13 households along Magnolia Street. The project will include a lift station, 13 manholes, road borings and 5,500 linear feet of six-inch sewer line. City officials must still select a grant administrator, engineer and labor standards officer before the grant is finalized.


Pruf LED - superior LED lighting

Round Rock planning to

transform old police station

Round Rock officials are planning to convert the old city police station into a new municipal court and home of the city's parks and recreation department. The transformation was seen as a more economical solution than selling the facility.


Crews have begun demolition of the facility to get ready for major renovations. More than $3 million was recently approved by the City Council for the renovations. The city at one time had a buyer for the building, but when the buyer backed out, officials decided to keep the building and transform it. The newly renovated building is expected to be completed and operational by October of next year.


Childers named Abilene

director of community services

James ChildersJames Childers (pictured) has been named Abilene's director of community services, a role in which he will oversee the divisions of health, library, parks and recreation, the civic center and zoo.


Childers, who holds a bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University and a master's degree from the University of North Texas, worked for the city of Flower Mound from 2002 to 2005. Afterward he served as assistant director of Code Compliance Services in Dallas.


Childers replaces Mike Hall, who left the community services post after decades of service.


Osborne resigns La Porte

economic development post

Stacey Osborne, director of economic development for the city of La Porte, has announced her resignation. She will be moving to Huntsville to pursue other opportunities. She will remain in her current position until the end of November.


City officials already are starting the process to find a replacement. Until a replacement is found, City Manager Corby Alexander will serve as economic development director to handle ongoing promotional efforts.


Research Analysts - States

Marble Falls takes long look at sports complex feasibility study

A feasibility study regarding a proposed sports complex in Marble Falls is headed to the City Council. Some have recommended that instead of building a new facility, that existing facilities should instead be renovated and improved.


The city's Parks and Recreation Commission made its recommendations and said the city should consider upgrades to ball parks and sports fields as an alternative to a new sports complex. A new complex is expected to cost some $34 million, but others remind that it would bring more tournaments and athletic events into the area, positively affecting the local economy. 


Bonham picks Fillipowicz as economic development head

Stephen FillipowiczStephen J. Fillipowicz (pictured), who has for the last five years served as director of the economic development corporation in Apache Junction, Arizona, has been chosen as the executive director of the Bonham Economic Development Corp., effective Dec. 1.


Fillipowicz is no stranger, having served from 2001-2007 as economic director for the city of Lancaster and was director of economic development for the city of Seguin from 1996 to 2001. From 1994 to 1996, Fillipowicz was director of the Jourdanton economic development corporation. He holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and earned a Master's of Public Administration from Old Dominion University.

Pasadena Oks $99K for golf

course environmental study

Pasadena City Council recently approved $99,000 to pay for an environmental study of the Pasadena Municipal Golf Course.


Expressing concerns that the environmental study could be used to help sell the municipal golf course, several council members expressed opposition to selling the golf course unless city officials agree to build a new municipal golf course. The mayor explained that the environmental study is not a move to close down or sell the golf course, but is a study of a 153-acre site near Red Bluff Road.


Check our Web site for additional press releases

It probably comes as no surprise that we get dozens of press releases from a variety of state agencies, colleges, universities, nonprofits and local government entities seeking inclusion in the Texas Government Insider each week. Space limitations prevent us from using them all. However, we recently began posting a select number of those that didn't make it into TGI on the Strategic Partnerships, Inc. Web site. Each week, we pick out some of the press releases that feature information we think will be of interest to the majority of our readers and post them under Government News on our Web site. Readers are encouraged to bookmark and check that page often, as we attempt to post new information there as it is received.

Mercado pleads guilty

in Detroit extortion case

Former Bexar Metropolitan Water District General Manager Victor M. Mercado has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy in relation to contractors when he was head of the Detroit municipal water utility. On the day before his trial, Mercado entered a guilty plea to charges of violating the federal Hobbs Act that relates to extortion of contractors. Under the plea bargain, Mercado will face no more than 18 months in prison. He faced a maximum sentence of five years.


He left Detroit in 2008 and was subsequently hired by the Bexar Metropolitan Water District a year later. In 2010, he was fired after being indicted in the case in Detroit.


New London selects Walters

as new municipal court judge

New London city officials recently selected Carolyn Walters as the new municipal court judge. Walters previously worked 24 years with former Rusk County Judge Sandra Hodges.


Alliance Airport selected for

$15.56 million federal grant

The Texas Department of Transportation recently awarded a $15.6 million federal grant to the Alliance Airport, an industrial airport located in north Fort Worth.


Airport officials plan to use the grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to extend a runway to 11,000 feet to allow fully loaded cargo aircraft to fly non-stop to Europe or Asia.


Alliance airport officials previously received $215 million from the FAA, TxDOT and Tarrant County to secure 80 percent of the funding needed for expanding two runways. The runway projects are expected to be completed by 2016.


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Government News

Check the GOVERNMENT NEWS section of the SPI Web site for these and other press releases:

  • Tarrant Co. College partners for job-training grant
  • A&M center cites workforce training partner

DeRight retiring from post

as Amarillo city secretary

Donna DeRight is set to retire as city secretary of Amarillo. During her career, she has worked for for seven mayors, four city managers and a multitude of commissioners.


DeRight began her tenure in the city's tax office as a vocational education student and went on to work for the city, eventually becoming secretary to City Manager John Stiff in 1982. She became city secretary four years later.


Recent Reports

Colorado ISD looking at another bond election in May 2013

Following the rejection this month of a $29.9 million bond proposal by Colorado Independent School District, Superintendent Reggy Spencer recently said he is planning on returning in May 2013 with a slightlly altered bond proposal for voter approval.


The bonds are needed to upgrade buildings with an average age of 69 years, Spencer said. The May bond proposal most likely will be lower than the $29.9 million proposal rejected this month, but Spencer said he is not sure how much lower the proposal will be. Opponents of the bond cited proposed improvements to the football field and buying additional buses as unnecessary expenses. If voters approve the bond issue in May, Spencer said construction can be completed in August 2015 rather than in January 2015.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 11/2/12
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Keith W. Kidd of Reno, Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board;
  • James Hill of Fort Worth, Housing and Health Services Coordination Council.

Longview to seek grant funding

for beautification efforts

The City of Longview will seek a grant of $1.6 million from the Texas Department of Transportation for beautification projects in the south side of the city. The Longview Business Alliance has been seeking upgrades to streets and the landscape in the area to attract customers to shops in the area and encourage people in the community to become interested and involved in the proposed revitalization of the area.


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Pasadena reassigns housing authority director to new post

Pasadena city officials recently reassigned Susie Garison, the director of the Pasadena Housing Agency, to a newly created job as a field operations coordinator in the streets and roads department. The reassignment was in response to an investigation being conducted by the mayor into allegations of fraud by the director of the housing authority.


Rockwall taps Estep as

new planning manager

Rockwall city officials recently selected Lance Estep as the new planning manager effective Nov. 2. Estep, previously a planner in Greenville, holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree.


Estep will report to Robert LaCroix, the director of planning and zoning for the city, and will be responsible for zoning, development and making presentations to City Council and several city boards, LaCroix said.


The Texas Government Insider is a free weekly e-newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
The Insider is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1994 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.
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