Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 26 - Friday, June 29, 2012

New faces in new places in state government:


TxDMV gets leader; TxDOT's new commissioner; Kimbrough to the rescue again

Whitney BrewsterJeff MoseleyIt's been a busy week for Texas state agencies. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) has a new executive director all the way from Alaska - Whitney Brewster (top left). The Texas Transportation Commission announced Jeff Moseley (top right) as its newest commissioner and the familiar face of Jay Kimbrough (bottom) has shown up again - this time as the interim executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD).


Brewster, a Houston native who will take over at TxDMV on Aug. 6, has been director of Alaska's Division of Motor Vehicles for the last five years. She is also a former director of Alaska's Division of Elections and is a former deputy chief of staff for the lieutenant governor and worked in the Alaska State Legislature. TxDMV Board Chair Victor Vandergriff called Brewster "a visionary who can effectively guide us toward our strategic goals of being performance driven, customer focused and dedicated to delivering optimized and innovative services to Texans."


Jay KimbroughBrewster will become only the second executive director for the relatively new state agency that was created in 2009. Linda Flores will continue as acting interim executive director until Brewster comes onboard.


Brewster holds a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage.


The Texas Transportation Commission, which has oversight of the Texas Department of Transportation, announced the appointment of Moseley, also of Houston, who was appointed by the governor as a member of the Commission.


Moseley is a former president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. He currently is self-employed as a consultant for Opportunity Houston. The new commissioner also is the past executive director of the Economic Development and Tourism Department of the Office of the Governor and a former Denton County Judge.




Texas A&M negotiating for its own law school


Sharp announces proposed partnership with Texas Wesleyan University

John SharpJust last week, Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp (left) announced the privatization of a variety of services at Texas A&M and the TAMU System. He said the expected $260 million in revenue and cost-savings for privatizing services from dining to building maintenance over the next 10 years would "advance our core mission of teaching and research."


Hardly before the ink dried on the contract, Sharp this week announced his plans for the use of some of that new revenue - a law school in North Texas that will bear the A&M moniker.


Fred SlabachTexas A&M and Texas Wesleyan University have announced a partnership that will create a Texas A&M School of Law. Under the terms of the proposal, which must be approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, TAMU would pay Texas Wesleyan $20 million up front and another $5 million to be paid out over five years.


"In the last week, we have received one of the largest federal grants since NASA was brought to Texas to develop life-saving vaccines and medical therapies, we announced a concession agreement for facilities and food services valued at more than a quarter billion dollars and today we are forging a new partnership to create a long-sought Texas A&M School of Law, which will have a profound impact on the future of Texas," said Sharp in making the announcement Tuesday.


Texas Wesleyan President Frederick G. Slabach (right) said Sharp approached him late last year about a "strategic partnership" and that after discussion, both decided it would be "a mutually beneficial collaboration with limitless possibilities."




Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Rick MillerRick Miller, vice president and Chief Information Officer for Information Technology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)


Career highlights and education: I earned my bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison at a time when only a few universities offered computer science programs. I found that I really liked the business side of IT better, so I began my career working on manufacturing, oil and gas, financial and human resource/payroll applications. My work as a consultant introduced me to UTHealth in the early 1980s. In 1987, I joined the university as the assistant vice president for information services. Today's IT department bears little resemblance to the department in 1987! Not only has technology undergone a complete transformation, but information technology has become a critical foundation for our missions in research, education and health care. 
What I like best about my job is: Leading-edge research and health care require leading-edge technology. It can be a challenge to support, but it is essential to what the university does. We are never bored in our constantly changing environment. You have to be at the top of your game all of the time and you have to thrive in a team. We are very fortunate to have a stable IT staff that not only is incredibly adaptable to changing technology, but understands the university well.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: A university is not a corporation. There must be a balance between unstructured creativity needed to foster new discoveries and the necessity for rules, regulations, policies and procedures that make an organization manageable. This is a decentralized, diverse environment that requires flexibility.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Embrace our diversity and accept the challenge. You will not be bored. You will learn more here than you would in about five years in the corporate environment. You'll be supporting new technology that you never knew existed - technology that is helping to educate health care professionals, manage health care records and answer important questions in research.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: working around my house. I enjoy doing decorative woodworking and landscaping. I'm always working on some sort of home improvement project and thinking about the next one.

People would be surprised to know that I: like working with my hands whether I'm fixing cars, doing home improvement projects or some more artistic endeavor. After spending the day working with technology, it is a nice break!


One thing I wish more people knew about UTHealth: So many fascinating things are happening here. Universities are far more complex than most people know. UTHealth is educating health care providers, providing clinical care and making research discoveries. IT plays a critical and growing role in all of these activities. I'm proud to be part of the team.

Texans react to Supreme Court ruling on Obama health care law

Tom SuehsAlthough the federal government cannot outright mandate that Americans have health care, it can mandate they pay a fine for not having it - as part of the government's power to levy taxes. That was the ruling Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court that has caused waves of comments throughout Texas, and across the country. The Supreme Court ruling, by a 5-4 majority, limits some of the planned expansion of the Medicaid insurance program, the costs of which are shared by the federal and state governments. The ruling also notes that the federal government cannot withhold all of a state's Medicaid funding simply because it does not participate in the expansion. Proponents of the health care law say it could result in some 30 million uninsured Americans finally having insurance coverage. But the key part of the ruling is that beginning in 2014, most Americans will be required to have health care insurance or face fines.


Comment was widespread in Texas after the ruling was announced. Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs (top) said he is pleased that the ruling gives states more ability to "push back" against forced expansion of the Medicaid program. "The court clearly recognized that the Affordable Care Act put states in the no-win situation of losing all their Medicaid funding or expanding their programs knowing that they would face billions of dollars in extra costs down the road," he said.


Rodney EllisThe down side for Texas, said Suehs, is that already a quarter of the state budget is spent on Medicaid and he expects increased enrollment will make it take up an even bigger part of the already stretched state budget. "The best long-term solution is for Congress to grant states more flexibility to tailor solutions that best meet their needs." In Texas, 3.4 million people are covered under the Texas Medicaid program.


Democratic Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis (bottom) of Houston said the high court did the right thing in upholding the Affordable Care Act. "While not perfect," he said, "this law was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of Congress after months of deliberation and was supported by virtually every major health organization in the nation. It is the greatest step toward universal access to affordable health care since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, and it will help millions of uninsured Americans receive the care they need and deserve."




Sunset Advisory Commission wins NCSL Excellence Award

SunsetThe Sunset Advisory Commission has been named winner of the National Conference of State Legislatures' 2012 Excellence in Evaluation Award. The Sunset Commission ended up atop the ratings among seven other states competing for the award, which recognized work produced by the Commission that affects Texas government. During the period recognized by the award, Sunset Commission staff produced 41 reports that included close to 600 recommendations to help create more effective and more efficient government agencies, even if eliminating some agency operations was part of the solution.


"The Sunset staff does an excellent job of formulating recommendations to ensure our state agencies efficiently perform their charge," said former Sunset Chair Sen. Glenn Hegar. "This award is well deserved."


Created in 1977, the Sunset Commission reviews the policies and programs of more than 150 governmental agencies every 12 years. It explores the need for each agency, identifies any duplicative services of other public services or programs and considers way to improve each agency's operations and activities. The Sunset Advisory Commission is estimated to have had a positive fiscal impact to the state of more than $945 million from 1982 to 2011. 


State approves $1.9 billion in construction, project development

Ted HoughtonTransportation projects throughout the state got a $1.9 billion boost this week when the Texas Transportation Commission approved additional transportation funds that will be directed to a variety of projects. The funding was identified earlier this year and the Commission Thursday gave final approval for distribution of the funds.


Among the allocations approved were:

  • Corpus Christi District - $60 million for design-build from Driscoll to Kingsville on US 77, to construct mainlanes and overpasses.
  • Wichita Falls District - $650,000 to build a regional, multi-modal travel center in Wichita Falls.
  • Lufkin District - $6 million for priority development services related to the development of I-69 on US 59 from south of Diboll to the Nacogdoches County line.
  • Houston District - $18.068 million to build a connector to Texas Medical Center on SH288.
  • Beaumont District - $624,000 to install high mast lighting on US 69 at SH 73.
  • Abilene District - $8.121 million for US 83 and SL 322 frontage road conversion from two-way to one-way operation, new structures , reconstruction of roadway, new roadway and ramp alignment. 
  • Austin District - $130 million for the first phase of a MoPac improvement project to construct north- and south-bound managed lanes.
  • Fort Worth District - $129.997 million for Segment 3A of the North Tarrant Expressway to reconstruct feeway and add managed toll lanes on I-35 West.

The projects funded were identified by representatives of TxDOT, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), regional transportation organizations and highway districts as those that focus on safety, congestion mitigation, maintenance and statewide connectivity. To view the complete list of projects, click here.


Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton said the state is in a unique position now that these funds have become available. "We want to make the best use of them by partnering with local communities to insure this funding is applied where they feel it is most needed." Approximately $100 million in funding has yet to be allocated and projects to be funded will be based on the recommendation of TxDOT, MPOs and local stakeholders.


Panama Canal Stakeholder Work Group holds first meeting today

Chaired by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, the Panama Canal Stakeholder Work Group will hold its first meeting today, Friday, in Austin. The group was recently appointed to study issues and opportunities in Texas related to the expansion of the Panama Canal. The inaugural meeting will be hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT officials said this first meeting will generally be to introduce members of the stakeholder group and is not open to the public.


Ports throughout the country are expecting increased import and export trade as a result of the Panama Canal expansion. This group is charged with studying issues related to the expansion and its effects on Texas ports and with providing guidance on projects to relating to ensuring safe and efficient movement of trade through Texas deep water ports.


Members in addition to Emmett include: Jack Todd, Texas Association of Manufacturers; John LaRue, Texas Port Association; Jim Edmonds, Port of Houston Authority; John Esparza, Texas Motor Transportation Association; Fred Malesa, BNSF; Carlton Schwab, Texas Economic Development Council; Jim Greenwood, Texas Oil and Gas Association; Kenneth Dierschke, Texas Farm Bureau; Rigoberto Villarreal, city of McAllen; Steve Boecking, Alliance Texas; Judge Carlos Cascos, Cameron County; Joseph Adams, Union Pacific; Jim Griffin, East Harris County Manufacturers Association; and Aaron Demerson, Governor's Office of Economic Development and Tourism. The group plans to hold other meetings in various other Texas cities.


Edmonds says he won't seek reappointment to Port Authority

Jim EdmondsJim Edmonds (pictured), chair of the Port of Houston Authority, has indicated he will not seek reappointment to another term after his current two-year term expired earlier this month. A member of the Authority since 1996, said he wants to spend more time with his family.


Harris County officials note that Janeice Longoria and Elyse Lanier, both port commissioners, are interested in the chairmanship.


Earlier this week, Port Authority Commissioner Jim Fontenot, Jr. was reappointed, in spite of the nomination of Col. John Kennedy for his seat. 


May 2012 Tx Bond Elections

Donald CampbellFort Hood commander may be headed to job in Europe

Pending congressional approval, Fort Hood Commander Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell (pictured) could soon be bound for Europe to head U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army in Germany.


Campbell has served as Fort Hood commander since April of last year when he replaced Gen. Robert Cone, who is now head of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.


No replacement for Campbell has been made yet. 


TWDB awards $258M toward water projects throughout state

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) recently approved financial assistance totaling $258,212,002 as follows:

  • City of Brady - $500,000 - loan of $350,000 and $150,000 in loan forgiveness from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for water system improvements. The funds will be used to conduct planning and design to install radionuclide removal technology for existing groundwater supplies. The city will also use the funds to study improvements that may be needed at its existing surface water treatment plant to develop a sustainable water supply for customers and address treatment issues within its system.
  • City of Brownsville - $200,000 grant from the Economically Distressed Areas Program to finance wastewater services. The city will use the funds for the construction phase of a first-time municipal wastewater service to serve an estimated 283 residents (an estimated 80 connections)in the Villanueva project area.
  • City of Del Rio - $5 million loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to finance wastewater system improvements. The city will rehabilitate approximately 41,000 linear feet of 6-inch to 12-inch sewer lines.
  • East Aldine Management District (Harris County) - $9,909,094 grants and $577,000 loan from the Economically Distressed Areas Program to finance water and wastewater services. The funds will be used for the construction phase of a project to provide first-time municipal water and wastewater services to the 1,585 residents of the Sherwood and Benton Place Communities.
  • El Paso County Tornillo Water Improvement District - $140,000 grant from the Economically Distressed Areas Program to finance wastewater system improvements. Funds to be used to complete planning and design activities of a project that will ultimately provide wastewater service to four colonias (Drake Subdivision Units 2, 4 and 7 and Rancho Henderson).
  • El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board - $570,000 grant from the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) to finance water system improvements. The funds will be used for the construction phase of a new water distribution system to serve an estimated 428 EDAP-eligible residents in the Turf Road area.
  • Kerr County - $1.924 million - loan of $570,000 and loan forgiveness of $1.29 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and a grant in the amount of $64,000 from EDAP to finance wastewater system improvements. The project includes completion of the planning and design portions of a project to serve residents of Center Point and the corridor along SH-27. The county also will use the EDAP funds for the acquisition of easements for the project.
  • City of Marlin - $3 million loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to finance wastewater system improvements. The funds will be used to conduct a sanitary sewer evaluation study and to address excessive inflow/infiltration and pipe failures within the sanitary sewer collection system, along with failing, unreliable lift stations.
  • City of Marlin - $2,907,908 loan of $1.68 million and loan forgiveness of $1,227,908 from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance water system improvements. The funds will be used to continue the city's water distribution line replacement program and replace existing water meters with an automatic meter reading system to reduce the water losses within the city.
  • North Alamo Water Supply Corp. - $1.154 million grant from the Economically Distressed Areas Program to finance wastewater system improvements. The funds will complete planning, acquisition and design activities of the NW Donna Colonias Regional Wastewater System, which will provide wastewater service to six colonia areas located northwest of the city of Donna in Hidalgo County.
  • San Jacinto River Authority (Montgomery County) - $230.53 million loan from the Texas Water Development Fund to finance a water supply project. The funds will be used to continue the development and construction of an alternative water supply program for Montgomery County.

Texas Forest Service gets Smokey Bear Award for wildfire efforts

Bruce WoodsTaking to heart Smokey Bear's famous "Only YOU can prevent forest fires," the Texas Forest Service's Mitigation and Prevention Department took its prevention efforts to the people last year during the state's record-setting wildfire season. For its efforts, the group was recently awarded the Bronze Smokey Bear Award. The awards are presented annually by the U.S. Forest Service to organizations or individuals who have made outstanding contributions to wildfire prevention efforts across the state.


Part of the Texas Forest Service's 2011 public information campaign was collaboration among the agency's Wildland Urban Interface Specialists and Communications Department, along with teams from other states. They prepared flyers, used social media posts, press releases and public service announcements and created brochures and booklets in English and Spanish that detailed how to prepare for a wildfire and steps that can be taken to prevent a dangerous blaze from destroying homes and property.


Texas Forest Service Mitigation and Prevention Department Head Bruce Woods (pictured) said the agency's efforts may have helped save lives and homes. "While it's difficult to measure success by what didn't happen, we have seen evidence that community leaders, the media and the public got the message," Woods said.


Parkland executive VP and CFO Dragovits leaving post

John DragovitsJohn Dragovits (pictured), executive vice president and chief financial officer for Parkland Health & Hospital System, has announced he will be leaving after accepting the president and CEO position with Anthelio.


Anthelio is a health care information technology provider with Dallas headquarters. He will likely leave Parkland in mid-July.


Dragovits joined Parkland in September 2006. He will continue to advise the Board of Managers voluntarily. During his tenure, Parkland has maintained two AAA bond ratings and doubled its net assets and has been described as a leader in the transition to electronic health records.


Collaboration Nation

Carlson gives up seat on DART board to pursue counsel post

Scott CarlsonScott Carlson (pictured), who has served on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board for nearly a decade, recently resigned from the board and is expected to be among the finalists for the general counsel position at the agency.


Carlson was granted a waiver from ethics policies that prohibit members from working for DART within two years of leaving the board. He is one of more than 100 candidates for the position.


Carlson, a Dallas attorney, left the board two weeks ago when Jim Adams of Dallas, his replacement, was sworn in.


GLO's farm, ranch conservation program completes first project

Landowners in Texas have the unique opportunity to purchase future development rights for their farm and ranch lands, allowing them to be compensated for continuing to farm or ranch family lands and forgo any subdivision or development. The Texas General Land Office is offering assistance to such landowners through its Texas Farm & Ranch Lands Conservation Program and it is having great success.


The program recently closed its first project, the 700-acre Brazoria County Savannah Oaks and has another project in Harris County on the drawing board. Officials are also accepting applications for a third project. The benefits of the program to landowners are significant. They can pass undeveloped, productive land to future generations, gain cash and tax advantages to provide immediate financial benefits, keep the land under family ownership and in agricultural production and preserve and protect natural resources.


The program was not without some hiccups when it first got started. One of the first hurdles was identifying non-federal matching funds. But through the efforts of those in the program and the Land Office's Government Relations Division and others, supporters were able to have the 50 percent matching funds requirement removed from the Natural Resource Code. Program officials do, however, encourage participants to donate portions of their easements as a match or locate other sources of matching funds. The amount of matching funds is part of the scoring process in consideration of applications. For more information about the program, click here.


Henrich to take medical leave from UTHSC president's position

William HenrichDr. William Henrich (pictured), president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, has announced he will be taking several months of medical leave absence. Henrich reports he has myelodysplasia (MDS), a blood and bone marrow disorder previously called preleukemia.


Dr. Kenneth Kalkwarf, the health science center's dental dean since 1988, will serve as interim president in Henrich's absence. Henrich, who has been with the health science center since 2009, will undergo a form of bone marrow transplant involving stem cells at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He said he plans to return to his job by sometime early next year.


Henrich came to the health science center in 2006 from the University of Maryland in Baltimore, where he was chairman of medicine. He served as medical dean before being named president, replacing Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, who left that post to become chancellor of the UT System.

Gonzales to resign House seat June 30; start at UTPA next day

State Rep. Veronica Gonzales, who has been hired as vice president for university advancement at The University of Texas-Pan American, will resign her legislative post on June 30. She will then take up her new job at UTPA the following day, July 1.


At UTPA, her main role will be marketing and fundraising. She said she is hopeful to help the university to increase its student population and help the university become one of the top universities in the nation.



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Finch will head TAMU Water Conservation, Technology Center

Calvin FinchA veteran of 22 years of involvement in Texas water conservation, Dr. Calvin Finch (pictured), has been named to head the Texas A&M University System's new Water Conservation and Technology Center in San Antonio. Finch comes to the center after having served as director of regional initiatives and special programs and director of water resources and director of conservation for the San Antonio Water System. Finch was also previously a county extension director for Travis County and county extension agent for horticulture for Texas Agricultural Extension Service (now the Texas AgriLife Extension Service) for Bexar County.


The new center is administered by the Texas Water Resources Institute in partnership with the Texas Center for Applied Technology and will focus on projects dealing with high priority water issues in Texas. The center will target four high priority efforts: water conservation, water reuse, groundwater desalination and energy development and water use. Its staff will conduct applied research and development, testing and validation, technology transfer and training and extension education. The center will eventually be housed at the TAMU-San Antonio campus.


Finch holds a master's degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and his doctorate from Texas A&M University.


TWU, Collin College sign agreement on nursing program

Patricia Holden-HuchtonThe timeline for earning a bachelor's degree for nursing students at Texas Woman's University and Collin College just got a little more streamlined. Next fall, Collin College nursing students will be eligible for concurrent enrollment with TWU.


Students will be able to select which program they would like to partner with while completing the associate of applied science degree in nursing in addition to an associate of arts or science degree. When they complete their core curriculum, they will have a seamless transition to a bachelor of science in nursing at TWU. "This partnership with Collin College is another excellent example of how institutions can work together to meet the state and national demand for new nurses," said Dr. Patricia Holden-Huchton (pictured), dean of the TWU College of Nursing.


This BS in nursing program will be online, which allows Collin College students to earn a bachelor's degree without leaving the county. Students can complete core curricula at Collin College and then take "bridge" courses online from TWU. Details on the TWU/Collin College bachelor of science in nursing program can be found at www.twu.edu/nursing or at www.collin.edu/nursing.


Junkins to seek out nation's, world's best scholars to TAMU

John JunkinsBringing the nation's and world's best scholars to Texas A&M will be the goal of John Junkins (pictured), who has been named director of the Texas Institute for Advanced Study. The idea for the institute was Junkins' and after serving as interim director since May of last year, he now will hold the title full-time. He is hopeful of attracting Nobel laureates and other exceptional academics. They will be brought in to work with students and faculty to help enhance the intellectual climate at the university.


Although the institute has raised start-up funds of almost $2 million for each of the last five years, Junkins said an endowment of approximately $200 million would be needed if the program is to flourish. He said he will work toward making the institute's value so potential donors will want to invest in it.


Junkins is shooting for 25 fellows to be appointed by the institute each year, but said the first round in the fall will likely have six to eight. They will hold year-long appointments.


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Reyna leaving Fort Worth ISD for post in Dallas school district

Sylvia ReynaSylvia Reyna (pictured), Fort Worth ISD's school administration chief for the last two years, has been hired as the Dallas school district's new chief of school leadership. She will oversee assistant superintendents and executive directors who manage the district's more than 225 principals.


Reyna was one of numerous new hires that Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles has announced, including a human resources chief and five assistant superintendents. Although not naming all of those appointees, Shirley Ison-Newsome was announced as one of the assistant superintendents. She currently serves as DISD's interim schools chief.


To date, Miles has filled six of the seven open positions in his Cabinet. The lone position not filled is that of chief academic officer.


Search for Angelo State's next president gearing up

Mickey LongWith numerous applications already in hand, the search for the next president of Angelo State University is moving forward. Mickey Long (pictured), Texas Tech University regent and chair of the search committee, said a "handful" of applications from qualified candidates have already been received.


The university is seeking to replace ASU President Dr. Joseph Rallo, who was appointed vice chancellor of academic affairs for the Texas Tech University System, of which ASU has been a member since 2007. The search group has employed a Washington, D.C.-based professional search firm to assist in their efforts and has launched a Web site as well to announce the position and seek nominations from the public.


Rallo will remain as president of ASU until a new president is named. Long said it could be fall before the committee has its recommendation ready.


Did you miss Government Contracting Pipeline?

Collaboration on arena in Tyler under consideration

Mark McDanielThe Park of East Texas, home of the East Texas State Fair, could become a partner with the city of Tyler to build a conference center and event arena. A recent study showed the city could support both a conference center with private hotel and a separate event center. The plans are similar to the Park of East Texas' plan for a regional entertainment and conference campus.


City Manager Mark McDaniel (pictured) said the proposals are different, but both are designed to boost tourism. The city's projects, which could include public-private partnerships, would cost about $130 million. Park of East Texas projects are expected to cost $66 million. McDaniel said Park of East Texas has been approached about being an anchor tenant for the arena, but all involved remind that the talks are in the preliminary stages.


While the local hotel-motel tax will help fund a convention center, a bond issue would be likely to fund an event center.


El Paso County plans panel to oversee $50K or more contracts

Contract awards of more than $50,000 will soon be examined by a new Procurement Review Panel approved by the El Paso County commissioners. The panel will be charged with ensuring that bid specifications are accurate and that the awarding of a contract to a vendor will not result in fraud or waste. The panel is expected to include the county auditor, county attorney for procurement, the county purchasing agent and a contract administrator who will likely serve as chair.


County Judge Veronica Escobar said the creation of the panel is a way to ensure a system of checks and balances when it comes to government spending, ensuring transparency and efficiency. The panel will likely be charged with creating policies and procedures. The judge pointed out that it is important to the county as well as all vendors that specifications are accurate and that county departments do not overspend on their needs. The panel is expected to give priority to projects in the recently approved $110 million capital improvement plan.


Texas Transportation Commission adopts rural plan

Texas Rural Transportation Plan 2035 (TRTP) was adopted by the Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday, making rural considerations part of the long-range planning efforts of the state transportation agency. The plan also is expected to provide the foundation for safer, more efficient and less congested transportation networks between population centers.


This marks the first time the Commission has addressed specific rural issues in transportation. The plan unites TxDOT with public and private stakeholders, local elected officials and the public, with a goal of connecting rural area residents with urban markets, jobs and services. It is also part of TxDOT's statewide long-range transportation plan and examines all modes of transportation, from highways to bicycle and pedestrian facilities.


Petition means voters will decide jail, courthouse projects

Tim FambroughA petition was filed this week with the Nolan County commissioners that effectively moved the decision on county jail construction and courthouse renovations out of the court's hands and into those of voters in the county. A petition bearing 446 signatures - well above the 420 required - was presented to the court asking for the issues to go to a November bond vote.


County Judge Tim Fambrough said that the petition action and bond election, if passed, could delay jail construction nine months to a year. The county had already decided on a location, had architectural work done and even picked a contractor to build the jail and repair the courthouse facade. He said he is hopeful voters will see there is a real need for the jail and pass the bond vote in November.


Nabers book signing slated at BookPeople in Austin in July

A second Austin book-signing featuring Mary Scott Nabers and her book, Collaboration Nation: How Public-Private Ventures are Revolutionizing the Business of Government, is slated for Tuesday, July 24, in Austin. Those who missed her earlier Austin event can participate in a book signing with the author beginning at 7 p.m. on that date at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar in Austin. The book signing is free and open to the public. To get a book signed at the event, a copy of the event book must be purchased from BookPeople. Those who cannot attend the event can pre-order a signed copy on the BookPeople Web site. For more information about the book signing, click here.


Summit on Elder Financial Exploitation set in Houston

The Houston Financial Abuse Specialist Team and the Better Business Bureau Education Foundation will host its Texas Summit on Elder Financial Exploitation on Friday, Aug. 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event will be held at the United Way offices, 50 Waugh Drive, Houston, 77007. The event will address the growing crisis of elder financial exploitation and investment fraud through a number of sessions with featured speakers. Those attending will examine newly emerging research on why older persons may be more susceptible to financial abuse and learn about successful programs on how to prevent that abuse, prosecute perpetrators of these crimes and protect the victims. William Benson, National Policy Advisor for the National Adult Protective Services Association and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Administration on Aging will deliver the opening address. For more information, including the day's agenda, and to register, click here.


UTA to host Government Procurement Conference 2012 in July

Government Procurement Conference 2012, hosted by ARRI Extension Centers at The University of Texas at Arlington, is slated this year for Wednesday, July 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Arlington Convention Center. Organizers call the event one of the most important and largest procurement conferences in North Central Texas. The main focus for the Conference in 2012 is to provide small businesses an opportunity to meet local, state and federal government buyers and their prime contractors. Local, state and federal government buyers were on hand for last year's event, along with more than 1,000 conference-goers. There are 60 sponsored registrations for Veteran/Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses. The event features free, informative educational workshops, buyer networking opportunities and access to resource and assistance agencies. Sponsorships and exhibit space are available. The event contact person is Jennifer Wilson at 817.272.5909 or Jennifer.wilson@uta.edu. For more information and to register, click here.


AACOG announces three upcoming workshops

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) has three workshops coming up of interest to government officials. On July 27, from 8:40 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., AACOG will host a Newly Elected Officials Workshop in the Al 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.


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'Apps' transforming government
provision of information, services


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


A decade ago most Texans would have scoffed at the idea of ever being dependent on mobile devices. But, that day is coming quickly.


As government seeks ways to increase efficiency, be more responsive and save time, the solution has become downloadable mobile "apps" for mobile devices. In fact, apps are transforming the way government provides both information and, in some cases, services.


Just last month, President Obama issued a memo requiring federal government agencies that provide public services to have at least two services available on mobile devices within a year. And, with a noticeable trend away from desktop computers to laptops, notebooks, smartphones and other mobile devices, it only makes sense that we will all soon be accessing government data and services through mobile apps.


In Texas, colleges and universities have embraced the use of apps in a big way. There are dozens of apps for students, parents, alumni, instructors and employees. But, cities, counties, state agencies, school districts and health care providers are also aggressively offering new apps.


At Texas A&M, the university has a suite of free mobile apps. Students can download programs that deliver campus news, course information, YouTube videos, maps, event schedules, library data and bus routes. One program provides a directory of everyone on campus, including students, faculty and department officials.


The city of Huntsville, like most other Texas cities, now offers numerous mobile apps that allow citizens to access types of public information. They can view public meetings, get news and event information and report back to public officials about street conditions or criminal activity. The objective is to engage communities and encourage residents to become the eyes and the ears of city officials.


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Book People speaking and signing

El Paso commissioners authorize bids for Sportspark renovation

The El Paso County commissioners this week authorized the county purchasing agent to begin soliciting bids for a $6.5 million renovation of the El Paso County Sportspark. Work on the 45-acre park should begin in August. It is expected to close down through February of next year with a portion of it ready to re-open in March 2013. The entire park is expected to be open to the public by October of next year.


TGI will not publish next week;

SPI closed Wednesday for July 4

The Texas Government Insider will not publish next Friday as our staff takes a few days of vacation. We will resume our reglar Friday publication dates on Friday, July 13. The offices of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. will be closed all day Wednesday, July 4, in observance of the July 4th holiday. We will resume our regular office hours at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 5. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.


Corpus Christi studying options

on customer service center

Troy RiggsCorpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) officials are continuing to purchase uptown property and their next project could be the construction of a multi-million-dollar customer service center. Officials are hopeful the investment in the uptown area will help fight blight in the city. Assistant City Manager Troy Riggs (pictured) said any structure with people going in will spur more business activity in an area, and that is what is hoped for from the customer service center.


The RTA hopes to use property around and near City Hall for new development. RTA officials expect to sign lease agreements with interested partners before a design is finalized. Construction would follow the design stage.


Huntsville ISD names architect

to study district's facility needs

The SHW Group architectural firm has been hired by the Huntsville ISD to study district facilities to see which ones should be renovated, repaired or enlarged.


Superintendent Dr. Steve Johnson said some of the district's facilities are aging and should be assessed so that a facility needs plan can be developed.


The district received 10 responses to its RFP for architectural services and narrowed that number to four finalists to be interviewed, with SHW selected.


Collaboration Nation

Parkland Hospital hires

search firm to help find CEO

Parkland Memorial Hospital has hired a search firm to help the health care provider find a new chief executive officer. The firm, based in Los Angeles and one of the largest executive search firms in the nation, will be seeking a replacement recommendation for Dr. Ron Anderson, who stepped down from his leadership role last year after the hospital's Medicare and Medicaid funding was put at risk after federal inspections at the hospital.


Dr. Thomas Royer is currently serving as interim CEO and has indicated he will not seek the position full-time. Officials note they are seeking a new CEO who can lead the hospital long-term - five-plus years. They expect the search effort to take several months to a year.


Woden's Brent Hawkins resigns post as district superintendent

Brent HawkinsBrent Hawkins (pictured), superintendent of the Woden ISD, has resigned. He will leave the school district to take a position as deputy director of the Region 6 Education Service Center in Huntsville.


Hawkins' career as a superintendent spans six years, the last four of which were spent in Woden. Hawkins' last day in Woden will be Aug. 10.


Port of Galveston approves study for new berth for cruise ships

Officials of the Port of Galveston this week approved funding not to exceed $60,000 to hire a consulting and design firm, CH2M Hill, to conduct a study to determine if it is possible, and if so how, to berth three cruise ships in a single day at the port. The findings will be used to determine if a third cruise ship terminal should be built. The board also authorized staff to enter into discussions with TMP-PRISMA Marina Management LLP regarding a possible public-private partnership to develop close to 100 acres of port land on Pelican Island for a cruise/cargo terminal facility.


The conceptual study will determine the feasibility of mooring the three ships on the same day and also give the port an idea of the costs to handle the larger vessels.


League City to borrow $75M

for police station, infrastructure

League City officials this week approved borrowing of up to $75 million that will mean construction of a new city police station and for street, drainage and traffic improvements and water and wastewater projects. The issuance of certificates of obligation do not require public approval such as the sale of bonds. The public safety building alone, a planned 70,000-square-foot facility, will cost close to $40 million. It would accommodate approximately 200 employees and be built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. It would include the police department, jail, fire department administration, emergency operations center and maybe the municipal court. City officials say the debt would be paid off through general revenue and water and wastewater usage revenues.


Principal named lone finalist for Vidor superintendent's job

Jay KillgoVidor High School Principal Dr. Jay Killgo (pictured) has been picked as the lone finalist for the superintendent's job in the Vidor ISD. The district will have to wait a mandatory 21-day period before officially hiring Killgo for the top spot in the district.


A 16-year veteran educator, Killgo has spent the last five years as principal at Vidor High. He was named the lone finalist for Evadale ISD in April, but chose to seek the Vidor post when Dr. Joe Burns announced he was leaving the VISD top job to become superintendent in Copperas Cove.


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Rusk ISD picks Lamesa's

Davis as new superintendent

Scott DavisLamesa ISD Superintendent Scott Davis (pictured) will be the next superintendent at Rusk ISD. Davis recently signed a contract with Rusk and will report for his new position on July 1.


Davis' wife, Kristie, has also been hired by the district.


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Rose among two finalists

for city manager spot in Kansas

Margie RoseMargie Rose (pictured), assistant city manager for the city of Corpus Christi, has been named one of two finalists for the city manager post in Topeka, Kansas.


Rose is currently Assistant City Manager of Administrative Services in Corpus Christi and was named interim city manager last year. The longtime municipal employee has more than 25 years of experience in city government. In addition to her work in Corpus Christi, Rose was also a city manager in Inkster, Michigan.


M.D. Anderson reports stolen laptop has patient information

Officials with the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston report a laptop was recently stolen from a faculty member's home. The laptop contained information on approximately 30,000 patients, including names, treatment and research information, and Social Security numbers. Specific medical information on about 10,000 individuals was on the unencrypted computer that was stolen in late April.


An M.D. Anderson representative said there is no indication that the laptop was stolen for the information it contained. He also noted that M.D. Anderson is already taking steps to prevent such incidents in the future, including encrypting all of the facility's computers. The stolen laptop has not yet been recovered. Affected patients are being notified of the breech and credit monitoring services will be offered.


LeFleur Transportation

Brownwood moving forward

with plan for new fire station

The Brownwood City Council recently awarded a $304,200 contract to Brown Reynolds Watford for architectural and engineering services for the design of the city's proposed new fire station. The firm specializes in the design of fire stations. Preliminary cost estimates have the new fire station price tag at $2.95 million.


Texas Tech University ISD selects Taliaferro as superintendent

Jim TaliaferroThe Texas Tech University Independent School District (TTUISD) has chosen Jim Taliaferro (pictured) as its new superintendent, effective Aug. 1. Taliaferro retired from the Slaton ISD in January of this year, after having served as superintendent there for seven years. Taliaferro holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Wichita State University, a master's from West Texas State University and a doctorate from Texas Tech.


TTUISD was established in 1993 by the State Board of Education and has more than 2,900 full-time students and 8,530 supplemental students through supplemental and home school curriculum.


Blain announces resignation

from Liberty-Eylau ISD

Nick BlainNick Blain (pictured), superintendent of the Liberty-Eylau Independent School District, has announced his resignation. The school board met in closed session, after which Blain's letter of resignation was read by Board Member Christina Walker.


SPI on Twitter

Denton selects Gibbs as interim director of libraries

Terri Gibbs, branch manager of Denton's Emily Fowler Central Library, has been named interim Director of Libraries for the city. She will fill in for former director Eva D. Poole, who has accepted the post of chief of staff for the District of Columbia Public Library. Gibbs will continue her duties at the branch library while serving in her interim post.


Gibbs has been branch manager of the Fowler library since June 2008. She started her career with the city in 2007 as senior librarian at the Denton South Branch Library. Prior to her affiliation with the city of Denton, she was assistant director for the Ardmore, Oklahoma, Public Library from 2005 to 2007 and children's librarian and assistant director for the Chickasha, Oklahoma, library from 2002-2005. She holds a bachelor's degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a Master of Library Information Science from the University of Oklahoma.


Harlandale ISD selects Madrigal

as interim superintendent

Rey MadrigalA new interim superintendent has been named for the Harlandale Independent School District. Rey Madrigal (pictured), assistant superintendent for operations, was named to the interim post for up to six months. He was one of two internal candidates for the interim post, the other being Samantha Gallegos, director of secondary curriculum.


Madrigal will take over for Robert Jaklich, who announced his resignation last month. Madrigal graduated from Harlandale High School and was later a principal at the school. He has spent three decades in public education.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 6/22/12

Denton's assistant city

manager Greene will retire

AFred Greene 40-year career in municipal government will end in August with the retirement of Denton Assistant City Manager Fred Greene (pictured). Greene will leave his post after having been employed by the city since November 2007. He has been responsible for oversight of the Parks and Recreation, Library, Police, Fire and Planning and Development departments.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Daniel F. Gilliam of Victoria, Texas School Safety Center Board;
  • John Eckstrum of Montgomery, San Jacinto River Authority Board of Directors;
  • Joseph Stunja of Kingwood, San Jacinto River Authority Board of Directors.

Morrison signs contract

as new Killeen city manager

Glenn MorrisonGlenn Morrison (pictured), who served as interim city manager since the departure in March of last year of former City Manager Connie Green, has signed a contract as the city of Killeen's new city manager. Morrison has had his hands full over the last year, serving not only as interim and assistant city manager, but as director of community services as well. The one-year contract between Morrison and the city is set to renew automatically each year if no action is taken by the Council to remove Morrison.


Hutto chooses McGlothlin as

new director of human resources

Amy McGlothlin has been selected as the new director of human resources for the city of Hutto. McGlothlin has been with the city for nearly eight years and previously served as a human resources manager.


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Bass to head Dallas County Emergency Services division

Douglas BassBoasting a career of more than 30 years of emergency management and homeland security experience, Douglas Bass (pictured) has been chosen as the new Chief of Emergency Services for Dallas County. Bass most recently served in the South Florida Water Management District, but also previously served as the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director for Miami-Dade County (Florida), Fairfax County (Virginia) and Onslow County (North Carolina).


Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins hailed Bass for his "impressive resume in the field of emergency management" and for bringing a wealth of experience to Dallas County.  "We are fortunate to have one of the top emergency management officials in the country lead our Homeland Security and Emergency Management department," said Jenkins.


Bonham superintendent

Cruse leaving for another job

Bonham Independent School District Superintendent Sonny Cruse recently announced he will be leaving BISD. Cruse has accepted the deputy superintendent position in the Huntsville ISD. Cruse, who has been with the Bonham ISD for five years, will continue to serve Bonham ISD until the end of July.


Abshier selected as lone superintendent finalist in Liberty

Cody AbshierDr. Cody Abshier (pictured), who has served the last four years as the principal and superintendent at the pre-K-8 grade Devers ISD, has been named lone finalist for Liberty ISD superintendent. After a mandatory 21-day waiting period, Abshier will be offered a contract. He would succeed Dr. Cynthia Lusignolo, who left Liberty ISD to become superintendent of the Texas City ISD.


Abshier is a Liberty High School graduate and taught fifth grade for nine years in that district after doing his student teaching there. He later served as a junior high school teacher in Devers for three years and then was middle school principal for eight years in Anahuac before taking his current job in Devers. Abshier holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Lamar University.


Bellmead chooses Thomas

to serve as new city manager

Everett "Bo" Thomas, city manager for the city of Page, Arizona, has been tapped as new city manager for the city of Bellmead. Thomas will undergo a background check before the hire is official. He has been with the city of Page for the last 10 years and is expected to begin with Bellmead on July 9.


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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