Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 19 - Friday, May 11, 2012

300 rural Texas Post Offices spared closure by U.S. Postal Service


But all could be facing fewer retail hours as part of effort to plug $3.3 billion deficit

Post Office
Mail collection boxes may become more prevalent if plans to reduce retail hours at some Post Offices are put in place.

Residents served by 300 low-revenue Post Offices in Texas breathed a sigh of relief this week when they found out their local Post Offices scheduled for closure on May 15 had been given new life.


The United States Postal Service earlier this week said it would keep those Post Offices open, but warned that most of them would likely have their hours of operation reduced.


For Texans, that means modified retail window hours to match customer use. While lobby access and access to Post Office boxes would be unchanged, the town's ZIP Code and community identity would be retained.


Some of the Texas Post Offices affected that under the latest Postal Service plan would see their retail window hours reduced from the current eight hours to a proposed four are Weston, Bardwell, Elmo, Rosser, Dodd City, Randolph and others. Among the Texas facilities currently open eight hours that are recommended for window hours to be cut to six are Powderly, Roxton, Golden, Sumner, Talco, Avery and a host of others. Scheduled to be cut to only two hours of retail sales are a number of Post Offices that currently are open six hours a day, including Kildare, Cuney, Bluegrove, Harrold and numerous others. A few Texas facilities that are currently only open four hours a day - such as Paluxy, Energy, Burlington and others - are recommended for opening for only two hours a day. To view the complete list of recommendations nationwide (including Texas) for reduced Post Office retail hours, click here.


"We will not close any of these rural Post Offices without having provided a viable solution," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.


Among the options that would be provided to the rural communities in Texas and other states are: providing mail delivery service to residents and businesses in the affected community by either rural carrier or highway contract route, contracting with a local business to create a Village Post Office or offering service from a nearby Post Office.




Texas sales tax revenues increase for 25th consecutive month


Allocations of $633M to be shared by cities, counties, transits, special districts

CartsTexas is entering its third year of increasing sales tax revenues, according to figures released this week by the State Comptroller's Office. Sales tax revenue in the state for April totaled $2.07 billion, up 10.9 percent over April of last year and marking the 25th consecutive month for sales tax revenue increases.


May local sales tax allocations that total $633 million will be headed from Comptroller Susan Combs to cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts. That figure is up 5.5 percent over May 2011.


Cities will receive $421 million, up 4.4 percent over last May. Allocations to counties total $41 million, up 9.5 percent. Transit systems will share May allocations of $140.8 million, up 5.4 percent from May 2011, and special purposed taxing districts will share $30.2 million, representing an increase of 18 percent over May of last year.


The sales tax figures represent monthly sales made in March as well as January, February and March sales by businesses that report tax quarterly. To view the allocations by city, click here. To view allocations by county, click here.



Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Angel CruzAngel Cruz, State of Texas Chief Information Security Officer 


Career highlights and education: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, joined the U.S. Navy at 18, served 21 years in various technology roles, visited 25 countries on five continents, and attained the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. While on active duty, I had the opportunity to complete my bachelor's degree and earned a graduate certificate in Computer Systems Management. After leaving active service in 1996, I moved to Texas and became IT Director for a South Texas dairy. Since 1997, I have held top information security leadership positions for The University of Texas-Pan American, The University of Texas at Austin, Freescale Semiconductor, CenturyTel (in Louisiana) and Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation. I joined The Texas Department of Information Resources as State of Texas Chief Information Security Officer in November 2011.

What I like best about my job is:  I get a chance to make a difference - I am able to connect to nearly 200 state agencies and higher education institutions and to city, county and K to 12 organizations and help them protect the IT and business processes that serve our 25 million Texas citizens.
The best advice I've received for my current job is:  Reach out and collaborate, but most of all lead and influence.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  Listen to people, understand and serve your customers and act with a sense of urgency.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: on the golf course. My wife Marybell convinced me to take the game up again four years ago and I have reached the point where I truly enjoy golf.
People would be surprised to know that I:  became a fan of classical music some 10 years ago - I must confess that Puccini's La Boheme and Madame Butterfly, and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde "Prelude and Liebestod" have brought tears to my eyes.
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: DIR is totally committed to serving customers in every way today and tomorrow. In the area of security, DIR has taken great pains to build security into Wide Area Network, Secure Data Center and Texas.gov portal offerings, to identify and enable best-in-class security contracts and to create and deliver new services that help customers solve their security challenges. DIR is also actively fostering collaboration by sponsoring security risk assessments for selected state agencies to recommend improvements, creating a Statewide Information Security Advisory Committee to advise DIR on statewide security goals and participating in Texas Cyber Security, Education and Economic Development Council (2011 Senate Bill 988) efforts to enhance statewide cyber security infrastructure and education, and foster Texas' cyber economic development.

Kimbrough draws another 'fix-it' assignment for state

Jay KimbroughJay Kimbrough (pictured), who has gained a reputation for being the go-to guy when the state agency ox is in the ditch, has been named as a special assistant to the new Juvenile Justice Department. The most recent revelation about the agency, which resulted from the combining of the troubled Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, alleges violence among youth inmates at the various facilities where youth are held and attacks on agency staff.


Kimbrough, who currently serves as assistant director of homeland security with the Texas Department of Public Safety, was appointed conservator of the Texas Youth Commission in 2007 after allegations of abuse and a cover-up at the agency. He also previously was called in to address reported scandals at the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.


Under his new charge at the Juvenile Justice Department, Kimbrough will oversee safety and security efforts at the agency. 


Amacker stepping down from media role at TxDOT

Karen Amacker, media relations director at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) since January 2011, has announced she is stepping down from that post, effective today, Friday. Amacker joined TxDOT in July 2008 as a media relations officer and was promoted to director three years later.


In an email to friends and associates, Amacker said she decided to "step away from my career" to spend more time with her family, which includes a one-year-old daughter.


Prior to joining TxDOT, Amacker served more than two years as marketing and communications director for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. She holds a BBA degree from The University of Texas at Austin. 


Gilman announces plans to leave CPRIT in October

Al GilmanDr. Al Gilman (pictured), Nobel laureate and Texas' Cancer Research and Prevention Institute (CPRIT) chief scientific officer, has announced that he will leave CPRIT in October. The Dallas Morning News reported that in his resignation letter, Gilman was critical of the agency's focus on expanding "commercialization activities" over "research activities" and cited its review of an incubator grant award as an example. The one incubator grant awarded by CPRIT in March was $20 million for a joint project between Rice University and University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.


Gilman has served three years at CPRIT and, according to CPRIT Executive Director Bill Gimson, has been an integral part of CPRIT's early success. Gilman had a 10-year career with the University of Virginia in Charlottesville starting in 1971 and in 1981 was named chair of the Department of Pharmacology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. In 1994, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine when he discovered, characterized and purified a set of guanine nucleotide-binding regulatory proteins termed G proteins. Gilman in 2001 was named dean of the Southwestern Medical School and in 2006 became executive vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He retired from UT Southwestern in 2009 to take his current post with CPRIT.


Gilman earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Yale University and his M.D. and Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. He completed his postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics at the National Institutes of Health. A national search will be conducted by CPRIT to find his successor.


$314M in funding to go to I-35 widening project in North Texas

The North Central Texas Council of Governments recently announced a $314 million windfall in funding that will be used to widen Interstate 35 between Denton and Dallas. The funding, from the Texas Department of Transportation, was recently announced as part of a $500 million funding appropriation for the Dallas region. Officials say the $314 million will be used on a 28-mile section of the interstate highway.


The project would provide a new lane in each direction between the LBJ Freeway in Dallas and US Highway 380 north of Denton. Two reversible toll lanes would also be added, along with another bridge over Lewisville Lake. The price tag for the entire project is approximately $1.2 billion. If the project gains environmental and other agency approvals, construction could begin sometime in 2013. Officials say completion of the project could take five years.


Board of Professional Engineers recognized for quality commitment

Lance KinneyFor the second consecutive year, the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE), has been recognized by the Quality Texas Foundation for its commitment to quality and high performance. TBPE, the state agency that regulates the practice of engineering and licensure of professional engineers, is the only Texas state agency to be recognized for this honor during the 2012 review cycle. The foundation encourages agencies to use the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and helps government entities and nonprofits improve performance through education, training and assessment.


TBPE Executive Director Lance Kinney (pictured) says the priority of the agency is to ensure quality and look for ways to improve the agency. "High performing companies and organizations utilize these concepts to be more successful and efficient, and I believe that it is good government practice for us to do the same," said Kinney. The agency is involved in an initiative that is part of the Baldrige program which encourages agency activities and agency employees toward improving processes and managing for results.


8th Biennial Legislative Conference - Save the Date

Midwestern names finalists for provost, vice president position

Christopher AmesRalph RascatiBetty StewartThree finalists have been named for the position of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Midwestern State University. The three were recommended by a search committee and will be scheduled for visits on the university campus.


The finalists include:

  • Dr. Christopher Ames (right), Special Assistant to the President at Washington College in Maryland. Ames holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas and a Ph.D. from Stanford University;
  • Dr. Ralph J. Rascati (center), Associate Vice President for Advising, Retention and Graduation Initiatives and Dean of the University College at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Rascati earned his bachelor's degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts; and
  • Dr. Betty Stewart (left), Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Eckerd College in Florida. Stewart earned her bachelor's degree from Mississippi State University and a Ph.D. from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Boston U's Farnsworth named dean of UT Law School

Ward FarnsworthWard Farnsworth (pictured), associate dean for academic affairs at Boston University Boston University, is the new dean of the School of Law at The University of Texas at Austin, effective June 1. He succeeds former Dean Larry Sager, who was asked to step down last year.


Farnsworth, who holds a law degree from the University of Chicago, is a former law clerk to Richard A. Posner, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, as well as to Anthony M. Kennedy, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.


Khator announces reorganization of UH government relations

Darrin HallGrover CampbellWith the resignation of longtime University of Houston Vice Chancellor/Vice President for Government Relations Grover Campbell (top left), a reorganization of the UH System government relations office has been announced by UH System Chancellor Renu Khator. Campbell has served the UH System for 27 years, having joined the UH team in 1984. His resignation is effective May 31.


Khator has since announced that Darrin Hall (top right), current head of intergovernmental relations for the city of Houston, will become executive director of the UH System Office of Government Relations. Additionally, Alison Leland (bottom left), who teaches in the UH Honors College, has been tapped by Khator to serve as interim director in charge of community outreach in the newly organized office.


Alison LelandJames AndersonHall and Leland will begin their new jobs on June 18. A former UH student, Hall served as a senior aide and deputy director of government affairs for then-Houston Mayor Bill White and has also served in the administration of current Mayor Annise Parker. Leland, an attorney and wife of the late U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland, will direct various community projects at the university.


Also, Executive Associate to the Chancellor/President James Anderson (bottom right) has announced his retirement, effective June 1, when he will be moving to California. In his position with UH, Anderson represents the chancellor and president in both external and internal university activities, serving as a liaison to communities, businesses, civic and governmental agencies, developing university partnerships and related academic activities and working with projects and initiatives in the Office of the Chancellor and President.


Collaboration Nation

Sam Houston State University may build new research park

Al HootenIn an effort to spur job growth and new businesses in Huntsville, Sam Houston State University officials recently moved forward with a proposed new 160-acre research park to perform criminal justice and other research activities.


The proposed site for the research park is on SH19 and Ellisor Road, said Al Hooten (pictured), vice president of finance and operations for the university. A similar research park operated by Louisiana State University has created about 10,000 jobs in Baton Rouge over the last 25 years, Hooten said.


University officials are working on a master plan for the research center and with a landowner, who has agreed to donate from 60 to 80 acres of land for the center. Construction on the project should begin about six months after the master plan is approved and a traffic study of SH19 is completed, Hooten said. City council members also agreed to apply for an $877,757 grant to pay for extending a 12-inch water line to the research park site, he said.


El Paso Community College tags Serrata as new president

William SerrataThe board of trustees of El Paso Community College recently tapped William Serrata (pictured) as the college's new president. Serrata, who currently is vice president of student affairs at South Texas College in McAllen, is expected to begin his new duties in El Paso on Aug. 1.


Serrata also was director of admissions and registrar, director of enrollment services and registrar and interim chief student services officer. He replaced the former president, Dr. Richard M. Rhodes, who resigned to take on the presidency of Austin Community College.


Joint UT-TAMU System library construction begins soon

Construction on a joint facility near Bryan to preserve library resources of The University of Texas System and Texas A&M University is expected to begin in June. The project recently received approval of a $6.3 million appropriation toward the project. Officials expect the facility to house approximately 1 million books that will be made available to scholars and others making requests.


To be constructed on the TAMU Riverside Campus, the library will include 18,000 square feet. When completed in March of next year, the facility will help relieve some of the space issues of the libraries in the two systems. The new facility was preceded by a joint library storage facility at The University of Texas at Austin's J.J. Pickle Research Campus, where volumes requiring a more structured environmental control are housed. While both systems will share the expense of building the new facility, A&M will provide staffing.


The two systems have had previous success in such partnerships. The two established the Texas Digital Library, an online repository for electronic theses and dissertation. It now includes more than a dozen regional members, among them several schools from both systems.


UT-Pan Am announces Charlton as associate vice provost

Jonikka CharltonJonikka Charlton (pictured), a member of the faculty of the Department of English in the College of Arts and Humanities at The University of Texas-Pan American, has been named Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education-Student Success Initiatives at the university.


Charlton began working at UTPA in 2005 and two years later was appointed coordinator of the First-Year Writing Program for the Department of English. She has also been assessment coordinator for General Education/Writing at UTPA since 2007.


Charlton earned her bachelor's degree from East Texas State University and her master's from Texas A&M University-Commerce. She holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University, where she served as an instructor of English from 2001-2005.



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VIA announces text messaging for determining bus arrival times

VIAThis is one instance in which texting and transportation DO mix.


VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio's public transit system, has introduced a new initiative that will allow bus riders in the city to get bus arrival information real-time through their mobile devices. Bus riders can find out when their next bus arrives by texting any VIA Metropolitan Transit bus stop number to 52020. Every VIA bus will be equipped with GPS tracking technology that allows for the tracking of each bus and allowing real-time information on when the bus will arrive.


A text message about a particular bus schedule will get a response from the system that is tracking buses to see if the bus is on time and, if not, will predict the time it will arrive. The information also will be available by email to nextbus@viainfo.net, with the bus stop number in the subject line. VIA is working to develop applications for Android and iPhone users, which should be available by the end of this year. 


El Paso moves forward to issue $110M in bonds for capital projects

El Paso County commissioners recently agreed to publish notice of the intent to issue $110 million in certificates of obligation to pay for several construction projects and to buy equipment.


If commissioners vote in June to issue the bonds, the proceeds will be used to complete the Tornillo-Guadalupe port of entry and to expand a jail annex, the county judge said. Commissioners also plan to spend about $9 million to upgrade information technology, $8.5 million to expand and improve courthouse annexes on the east and west sides of the county, $5 million for general improvements and repairs throughout the county and $3.5 million to buy 70 patrol vehicles and two transport vehicles for the Sheriff's Office.


Brownsville ISD buses to get pollution-control equipment installed

Carl MontoyaNearly 130 buses in the Brownsville ISD will be outfitted with pollution-control equipment thanks to a $1.7 million grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Texas Clean School Bus Program. The retrofits will help reduced school children's exposure to particulate matter. "Retrofitting a good portion of our bus fleet provides significant benefits to our children and community in the form of cleaner air," said BISD Superintendent Carl Montoya (pictured).


The diesel particulate filters to be installed on 129 of the district's older diesel school buses are expected to reduce particulate matter by 85-90 percent. BISD has 57 schools that serve approximately 50,000 children and runs more than 300 buses. Approximately 27,000 of the students ride a bus each day.


Since the Texas Clean School Bus Program began in 2008, TCEQ has granted $2.9 million in the Valley and more than $16 million statewide to retrofit approximately 6,400 school buses with pollution-control equipment.


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Rio Hondo meeting with USDA to seek OK for upgrading water plant

Rio Hondo commissioners plan to meet with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine whether the city can use a $1.3 million federal grant and a $2.8 million federal loan to build a new water plant. The other option would be for the city to return the federal funding awarded in 2007. The USDA requires the grant and loan to be used within five years or be returned.


City commissioners continue to debate whether to spend about $1.2 million to renovate the water plant built in 1985 or to build a new water plant using a 40-year loan from the USDA and may make that decision following the meeting with USDA officials.


El Paso to spend $2.5 million to upgrade convention, arts center

Bryan CroweEl Paso City Council members recently approved a two-year improvement plan that includes $2.5 million to upgrade the convention and performing arts centers, located in the downtown area. The plan also includes upgrades to the downtown visitor's center, Abraham Chavez Theatre and Plaza Theatre.


The majority of the funding will go to upgrade the convention center, with about $1.1 million earmarked for a new security system, renovating concession areas and adding new technology, said Bryan Crowe (pictured), assistant general manager of the convention center. Plans call for spending about $175,000 at the Chavez theatre to repair the elevators, upgrade lighting and the roof. The administratioin building of the convention center and visitor bureau, along with the Plaza Theatre, also will get facelifts that include fire detection systems with sprinklers and remodeled restrooms, he said.


Western Governors University Texas selects advisory board

Western Governors University Texas, a private nonprofit university established in 2011, recently selected a 13-member board to advise the chancellor. WGU Texas provides online courses to students seeking bachelor's and master's' degrees. A 13-member Board of Trustees will continue overseeing the online university and its branches.


Serving on the advisory board are Jelynne LeBlanc-Burley, an executive vice president and chief administrative officer for CPS Energy in San Antonio; Patricia Diaz-Dennis, retired senior vice president and assistant general counsel for AT&T in San Antonio; John Fitzpatrick, director of Educate Texas, Dallas; Bernie Francis, chief executive officer of Business Control Systems and First Class Caregivers Inc. of Dallas; Karen Garza, a superintendent at Lubbock Independent School District; Bonnie Gonzalez, CEO of Workforce Solutions in McAllen; and Woody Hunt, chairman and CEO of Hunt Companies in El Paso. Also on the advisory board are Alice Rodriguez, an executive of JPMorgan Chase Bank in Dallas; L.E. Simmons, president of SCF Partners in Houston; Lora Villarreal, a vice president for Xerox Services of Dallas; Andres Alcantar, chair of the Texas Workforce Commission, Austin; Dr. Reynaldo García, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, Austin; and Robert Scott, Texas Commissioner of Education, Head of the Texas Education Agency, Austin.


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Lago Vista moves forward with $200,000 public library expansion

Lago Vista City Council members recently approved spending $200,000 to expand the current public library by 2,000 square feet by using adjoining space that once served as a fire station.


The first phase of the expansion project should be completed by the end of summer and will be used for meeting space, more room for the children's session and storage, said Assistant City Manager Frank Robbins. The next step is to add a 9,000-square-foot addition to the library within the next five years, Robbins said.


Grapevine leaning toward $28.6 million activities center

After reviewing three options for expanding the Community Activities Center, Grapevine City Council members selected a $28.6 million design plan for the Community Activities Center.


The favored design, which incorporates the current activities center, includes 7,500 square feet of aquatic features, a community room, space for seniors, an indoor playground for children, upgraded locker rooms, weight and fitness spaces and a large community room. This plan will increase space from 48,000 square feet to 108,000 square feet and feature a new entrance, a separate entrance to the senior center and with a covered walkway to the library.


The first option, estimated at $20.7 million, had less space for water features and seniors would remain at the current Senior Activities Center, which would be upgraded. Estimated to cost about $25.1 million, the second option would have placed the seniors in the Community Activities Center and offered about 6,400 square feet of water features.


TSABAA announces 43rd Annual Summer Conference in June

The Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association (TSABAA) 43rd Annual Summer Conference will be June 7and 8 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in San Marcos. To view the agenda with speakers and topics, click here. Some of the topics include Challenges Facing Employee Benefits; Lead Your Team, Don't Just Manage the Process; the State Audit Plan; and Data Center Consolidation & Technology Sourcing. The conference registration deadline is May 18 and the hotel reservation deadline is May 7. Click here to register. Questions should be addressed to Trina Edwards at trina.edwards@dps.texas.gov or by phone at 437-4056. 


Propane Emergencies Program for Emergency Responders in June

The Propane Council of Texas (ProCOT) and the Texas Propane Gas Association have partnered with the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) to bring the popular national Propane Emergencies Program to Texas for an Emergency Responder's Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 12 and 13, at the TEEX Brayton Training Field in College Station. The Emergency Responders Conference consists of 16 hours of training, including a half day of classroom and half day of field training exercises each day. To view the full schedule, click here. This session is geared for anyone involved with propane-related emergency and incident response activities including fire fighters, hazmat team trainers and other fire service educators, law enforcement hazmat personnel, propane professional and others. Registration is $140 per person; deadline is May 28. For additional Information or to register, click here, call 800- 325-7427 or email jmason@txpropane.com .


Third Annual Texas Unites Conference planned in June

The Texas Citizen Corps Program and the Texas Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster are sponsoring the 3rd Annual Texas Unites Conference on June 13-15. The conference will be at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk in San Antonio. The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has joined the conference by bringing professional speakers and workshops on public health preparedness issues. By bringing these organizations together again for a third time, the Texas Unites Conference will provide additional training opportunities, discipline tracks and continuing education credits to participants. This year's conference is on track to be one of the largest annual professional, volunteer and emergency management training summits in Texas to include all Citizen Corps, VOAD, MRC and other affiliate partner programs. Featured keynote speaker is Scott Huse, personal and team development motivational speaker. Other invited speakers include Tony Russell, FEMA Region 6 Administrator; Steve McCraw, director - Texas Department of Public Safety; and Nim Kidd, chief of Texas Division of Emergency Management. For specific workshop and agenda information, or for online Registration, click here. For hotel information and reservations, click here.


Texas State offering HUB networking, training event

Texas State University-San Marcos' HUB (Historically Underutilized Business) Outreach Program, Facilities Planning Design and Construction and the Hispanic Contractors Association de San Antonio Inc. is sponsoring an afternoon of networking and training from 1 to 4 p.m. on May 22. The event will be at the Embassy Suites San Marcos, 1001 E. McCarty Lane in San Marcos. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m. This free event will provide businesses a venue to connect with Texas State staff, prime contractors, other universities/colleges and other government agencies to learn about their procurement opportunities. There will be focused training sessions, which will offer information and education on doing business with the governmental entities. Those attending should RSVP no later than May 14 by emailing Texas State HUB Specialist Yolanda Strey at ys12@txstate.edu or calling 512.245.2523.


AACOG announces four upcoming workshops

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) has four workshops coming up of interest to government officials. A Texas Notary Law and Procedures Seminar is planned for 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on May 16. The event will be in AACOG Classroom 1-01. The event is for current, new and non-notary participants. For more information, click here. On July 27, from 8:40 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., AACOG will host a Newly Elected Officials Workshop in the A. J. Notzon III Board Room at 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100 in San Antonio. The workshop is for newly elected mayors and city council members or alderman; however, any and all elected officials and city staff are welcome to attend. For information, click here. A Planning and Zoning Officials Workshop is planned for 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 at the Tesoro Drive address. Among the topics are comprehensive plans, importance of planning and more. For information, click here. Finally, on Sept 7, AACOG will host a Basics of Economic Development for Elected Officials Workshop. This workshop will also be at the Tesoro Drive address from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Presentations will be provided by Charlie Zech with Denton, Navarro, Rocha, and Bernal, P.C. For more information, click here.


Institutes on Evidence-Based Quality Improvement set in July

The 2012 Summer Institutes on Evidence-Based Quality Improvement will be held July 17-21 at the Grand Hyatt Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio. The event is being offered by The Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice (ACE), Improvement Science Research Network (ISRN) and The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. Pre-Conferences are planned for July 18. For more information, click here or contact Kandice Hall at HallKM@uthscsa.edu.


DIR to host 12th Annual Information Security Forum

The 12th Annual Information Security Forum, hosted for government personnel only by the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), is slated for Tuesday, May 15. The free, one-day event is co-sponsored by the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC). Conference focus this year is "Security Program Maturity," with possible topics to include security assessment process, threat landscape/risks, legal and privacy landscape, why it's important to improve security program maturity, implementing enterprise solutions and governance. Interested vendors are invited to exhibit and/or provide speakers. Sessions should be purely educational and not promote products or services. The event is targeted to Information Resource Managers and other IT and security decision-makers. For more information, contact Joy Hall Bryant at joy.bryant@dir.texas.gov or Sue Atkinson at sue.atkinson@dir.texas.gov.


E-Learning Symposium 2012 planned for June 13 in Austin

Professionals who manage and design E-Learning programs in health care, government, higher education, energy and corporate settings will not want to miss this year's E-Learning Symposium 2012 Austin. The symposium is an interactive conference designed to help professionals and key decision-makers learn how to execute E-Learning programs within their organizations. The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, at the Omni Southpark Hotel, 4410 Governors Row in Austin. The event features leading industry experts who share their knowledge on of-the-moment topics, processes and technology within E-Learning. For more information, click here.


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Creative funding initiative
debated for higher education


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


Creative and innovative funding concepts are becoming increasingly common with public officials at all levels of government. Budget deficits and declining revenues have solidified the need for new types of financial options.


Oklahoma recently became the latest state to create an infrastructure bank and the newly organized Chicago Infrastructure Trust is the first such city-based endeavor. Both entities are there to provide additional sources of funding for infrastructure projects. Oklahoma's objective is to jump-start numerous transportation projects and the city of Chicago's first project will be a $225 million citywide energy retrofit.


Now, another state is taking a page from those models and has plans to create another innovative program to provide funding for much-needed higher education projects.


Missouri lawmakers are currently debating a bill that would create a "Higher Education Capital Fund." It involves the use of state funds as well as private donations and grants to ensure that campus capital building needs at public colleges, universities and community colleges are funded.


The legislation provides for the state's General Assembly to appropriate money to the fund as a means of providing matching funds for capital projects in higher education. But, there are numerous stipulations. For instance, the state cannot issue bonds to provide money for the fund. And, many projects are specifically excluded from funding. These projects include athletic facilities, parking structures and student housing. The state's commissioner of higher education would oversee and administer the fund, but a line item appropriation by the legislature would be required for each funded project



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Gemini Global Group

Llano revises plan, seeks new bids for stabilizing Red Top Jail

Llano City Council members recently agreed to ask for another round of bids with a revised scope of work to repair the Red Top Jail. Citing lack of funding and the high cost, council members last year rejected a $394,000 bid from a Round Rock company to repair the jail foundation, the city manager said. Since then, Texas Historic Commission officials said they have set aside $25,000 toward paying for the jail repairs, and hope the redesigned plan will attract lower bids for the jail project, the city manager said.


Todd retires as assistant superintendent at Lindale ISD

Carolyn ToddAfter 43 years as an educator, Assistant Superintendent Carolyn Todd (pictured) of Lindale Independent School District recently retired from that post. In her 33 years with Lindale ISD, she was a teacher and principal as well as the assistant superintendent.


Brown County to seek bids for communications equipment

Brown County commissioners recently agreed to seek bids for emergency management radio equipment for use by police departments, county constables and lake patrols throughout the county. Funding for the emergency radio equipment is from a 2010 Homeland Security grant, said Brent Bush, emergency management director for the county.


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Rancho Alegre wins $1 million grant to improve drainage

Rancho Alegre recently received notice that the Texas General Land Office will award the city a $1 million grant to improve drainage to more than 500 homes in the area. Plans call for installing culverts to divert rain into a nearby creek.


Thorndale ISD selects Spinn

as new superintendent

Craig SpinnThorndale Independent School District trustees recently selected Dr. Craig Spinn (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Spinn, an educator for 26 years, currently is the principal for the Burnet Consolidated ISD. Spinn has a bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University, a master's degree from Angelo State University and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University.


Kemp disbands police

department to cut costs

Citing budget problems, Kemp city officials recently laid off the police chief, four police officers and a part-time secretary, ending all police department operations on Wednesday of this week. Officials of the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office said that sheriff's office deputies will provide police services to the estimated 1,100 residents of Kemp in the absence of the police department.


Baylor to name stadium

John Eddie Williams Field

Following a series of large donations to Baylor University, officials of the Waco-based university recently named the new football stadium after John Eddie Williams, a Houston lawyer and alumnus.


The John Eddie Williams Field will be located on 93-acres of land off Interstate 35 and be connected to the campus by a bridge over the Brazos River. With a capacity of 45,000 spectators and the ability to enlarge to hold 55,000 fans, the new football stadium also will feature open concourses with views directly into the stadium, suites, loge boxes, indoor and outdoor club seating, student seating in a designated area, an event center and a stadium club along with a canopy to shade half of the stadium during the day. The new stadium should be completed in fall 2014, Baylor officials said.


Williams and his wife, one of the top five contributors to Baylor, also donated funding to help build the Baylor Law School and the Sheridan and John Eddie Williams Legal Research and Technology Center at Baylor Law School. A former student athlete at Baylor, Williams received the President's Award in 2009 and the 2008 Clarence Darrow Award from Baylor.


HDI Solutions

Powers tagged as interim superintendent at Wichita Falls

Trustees for the Wichita Falls Independent School District recently selected Dr. Tim Powers, the assistant superintendent, as the interim superintendent. Powers, who also served as interim superintendent in 2009, will replace Dr. George Kazanas. Powers said he would not apply for the superintendent's job.


Board members hired a consulting firm to help in the search for a new superintendent and plan to discuss applicants at their meeting on June 7.


Allen resigns as assistant superintendent at Midway ISD

Chris AllenFollowing his selection as a deputy superintendent for Lake Travis Independent School District, Dr. Chris Allen (pictured) recently resigned as an assistant superintendent at Midway ISD. Allen is expected to begin his new duties at the Lake Travis district in late June.


League City finalizes contract

for Loftin as new city manager

League City council members recently agreed to a contract calling for a $170,000 a year salary and four weeks of paid vacation for Mike Loftin, who recently became the new city manager.


Loftin, who was the assistant city manager for management services for two years, suggested the contract omit a termination package, which would make him an at-will employee who can be terminated for good cause, bad cause or for no reason at all.

Loftin became interim city manager in February after Assistant City Manager Rich Oller resigned as acting city manager following the resignation of City Manager Marcus Jahns in July 2011.


Bee Caves Council creates director of finance position

The Bee Caves City Council has approved the creation of a director of finance position to replace the current deputy city administrator position. The deputy post was recently left unfilled by the resignation of Travis Askey.


The person named to the newly created post will advise the city administrator on financial issues, manage city finance and accounting services, prepare data reports and recommendations, oversee the financial and management information system and assist in management of city funds' investments.


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Canales tapped as new city secretary for city of Waelder

Waelder city officials recently selected Jessica Canales as the new city secretary. Canales previously was the secretary to the superintendent of Gonzales Independent School District. She began her new duties in Waelder this week.


Weslaco ISD selects Alejandro

as finalist for superintendent

Trustees for Weslaco Independent School Ruben AlejandroDistrict recently selected Ruben Alejandro (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Alejandro is a 33-year school district employee who served as interim superintendent following the departure last fall of former Superintendent Richard Rivera. Alejandro previously was a deputy superintendent for the Weslaco school district.


Galveston County judges select Glenn as new district clerk

The six district judges in Galveston County recently selected Doryn Danner Glenn as the new district clerk to replace Jason Murray, who resigned from that post after being arrested on a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated.


Glenn served from 2007 to 2010 as the chief deputy clerk under former District Clerk Latonia Wilson and became director of governmental affairs when Murray assumed office. Glenn, an attorney who began working as a summer clerk in the District Clerk's Office in 1986, said she will not stand for election as district clerk in the November election.


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South San Antonio ISD eyeing

six candidates for superintendent

South San Antonio Independent School District board members recently invited six applicants for superintendent to interview with trustees.


District officials declined to identify the finalists for superintendent to replace former Superintendent Ron Durbon, who was terminated from that post in 2011.


Trustees plan to select a lone finalist for superintendent on May 30, the board president said. Interim Superintendent Linda Zeigler, a 26-year employee of South San Antonio ISD, said she applied for the superintendent's job.


Huntsville selects Pinto

as interim city manager

Chuck PintoFollowing the resignation of former City Manager Bill Baine, Huntsville City Council members recently selected Chuck Pinto (pictured) as the interim city manager. Pinto previously was city manager in Seabrook and was hired through a consulting firm.


City officials also are collecting more information on executive search firms, identifying the qualifications that council members want in a city manager and appointing a search committee comprised of council members, city staff and citizens to assist in the search for a new city manager.


Recent Reports

HISD announces Cardona as

new chief middle school officer

Michael CardonaMichael Cardona (pictured), principal at North East ISD's Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio since 2009, has been named Houston ISD's chief middle school officer. Prior to becoming high school principal in San Antonio, Cardona was principal of North East's Driscoll Middle School for three years.


Cardona began his education career in 1992 as a teacher working with students with disabilities. He will report for duty at HISD on July 2, replacing Dr. S. Dallas Dance, who was recently named superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland.


Cardona holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University-Kingsville and a master's from Texas A&M University. He is currently studying for his doctorate at Texas A&M.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 5/4/12
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Fredrick "Rick" Rylander of Iraan, Texas Water Development Board;
  • Lewis McMahan of Dallas, Texas Water Development Board;
  • Lynwood Givens of Plano, Texas State Library and Archives Commission;
  • Sharon Carr of Katy, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Dallas group pushing for new hotel tax to pay for advertising

Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) officials recently asked Dallas City Council members to authorize an additional 2 percent sales tax on hotels with more than 100 rooms to pay for advertising the city's convention and vacation attractions. The CVB currently has about $5 million a year to spend on tourism and advertising and the new tax is estimated to provide an additional $10 million a year in revenue if council members approve, said Phillip Jones, president of the CVB.


Some of the funding from the proposed 2 percent Tourism PID assessment will be used to produce a national commercial promoting Dallas, Jones said. 


Arnold to retire as superintendent of White Settlement schools

Audrey ArnoldWhite Settlement Superintendent Audrey Arnold (pictured) recently announced her retirement from that post effective in mid-summer. School board members also agreed to hire a search firm, Arrow Educational Services, to assist in finding a new superintendent to replace Arnold. Arnold joined the White Settlement district in 1993 as an educational diagnostician and an assistant high school principal. She later served as an assistant superintendent of instruction and as a deputy superintendent prior to being selected superintendent five years ago.


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Marshall to reopen sale

of municipal golf course

Marshall city officials recently agreed to reopen bidding on the Oaklawn Golf Course after an attempt by an online liquidator failed in selling the property owned by the city. Bids on the 97.2-acre golf course will reopen on May 23 after a required two-week advertising period, said Jack Redmon, director of parks and recreation. As a result of the economy, the city is in the hole for almost $100,000 in operating expenses at the golf course and needs about $250,000 to repair the irrigation system, he said.


In another effort to reduce spending and increase revenue, city officials also plan to sell city property on Austin Street if the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce relocates its office as proposed by city officials. Any proceeds from the sale must be dedicated to the library, according to an agreement ceding the property to the city, the city manager said.


Denton ISD agrees to release Braswell from current contract

Ray BraswellDenton Independent School District board members recently agreed to an offer from Superintendent Ray Braswell (pictured) for a release from contractual obligations with the school district. Trustees also selected Jamie Wilson, deputy superintendent, as the lone finalist for superintendent to replace Braswell.


Braswell, who joined Denton ISD in 1979, also was a principal, a director and an interim and associate superintendent for the district. He became superintendent in 1999.


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.
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