Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 28 - Friday, July 20, 2012

Study says federal budget cuts in January could devastate states


Texas may lose as many as 160,000 jobs, defense losses could be catastrophic

Air Traffic Control
Air traffic controllers could be among a number of industry employees who could lose their jobs if the federal sequestration mandate goes into effect in January.

Texas could lose as many as 160,000 jobs, third most in the nation, if the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration don't come to terms on the federal budget. If the two don't act before Jan. 2 of next year, the Budget Control Act's sequestration mandate will go into effect and budget cuts of $1.2 trillion over 10 years will begin. And projected defense cuts are claiming the most attention.


A study on the effects of the cuts was recently conducted on behalf of the Aerospace Industries Association, one industry that would be hit particularly hard by Defense Department cuts that are part of the trillion-dollar automatic budget cuts.


The 160,000 Texas jobs would represent about 7 percent of the total 2.13 million jobs lost throughout the nation if the budget cuts are put in place. Texas would rank second only to California, which could lose 225,000 jobs, and Virginia, which could lose as many as 207,000.


Mac ThornberryHouse Armed Services Committee Vice Chair Rep. Mac Thornberry (right) of Texas said that he does not think money should be spent on defense just to create jobs, "But you also need to have your eyes wide open about the economic impact of huge cuts to defense and the effect it would have on jobs, as well as the even more important effect it would have on our national security."


Dr. Stephen Fuller from George Mason University, one of the authors of the analysis, said those types of cuts nationwide could push the unemployment rate above 9 percent nationwide and move the country toward a recession. "An already weak economy will be undercut as the paychecks of thousands of workers across the economy will be affected from teachers, nurses, construction workers to key federal employees such as border patrol and FBI agents, food inspectors and others," he said. At risk, according to the report, are more than 48,000 health care jobs, more than 98,000 in construction, approximately 473,000 in manufacturing and more than 615,000 federal jobs in both defense and non-defense.


In Texas, heavy defense cuts could be crippling. Nationwide, the Department of Defense would suffer most of the cuts, $492 billion, while the remaining $708 billion in cuts would be shared by other federal agencies.




Governor's Mansion:


Four years after tragic fire, 156-year-old building restored to previous grandeur

Mansion Restored

Austin firefighters who fought the fire at the Governor's Mansion four years ago (from left), Travis Blasingame, Capt. Andrew Reardon and Kelly Gall, were on hand for the reopening of the mansion this week.

Four years after an arsonist threw a flaming Molotov cocktail at the front door of the Texas Governor's Mansion, igniting a fire that nearly destroyed the historic building, the 156-year-old structure's rise from the ashes is complete. The mansion, home to Texas governors and their families since 1856, this week was reopened and Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his wife Anita are moving back into the home.  


"Today, the Governor's Mansion stands renewed, as a symbol of Texas' resiliency and our state's determination to work together to overcome the greatest of challenges," said Gov.Perry.


Austin Fire Department Captain Andrew Reardon, one of the approximately 100 firefighters who fought to save the building from complete destruction in the early morning hours of June 8, 2008, called returning this week to see the newly restored mansion a "surreal experience" that brought back memories of what firefighters did that night and what they remembered about that night. 


Reardon said when the dispatch call noted the fire was at the Governor's Mansion, "it kinda' stepped up everybody's awareness a bit." He said the facility he toured this week "looks a little bit different than it did four years ago."


The restoration was jointly funded by a $21.5 million appropriation of state funds by the Texas Legislature and private efforts led by Anita Perry that raised $3.5 million. Included in the restoration was a new roof, restoration of the columns and porches and renovations to the kitchen. Private funds helped pay for an addition on the west side of the building along with landscaping.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Raul G. SalinasRaul G. Salinas, mayor, City of Laredo


Career highlights and education: My first job as a young boy was selling newspapers on the street. I later worked as a newspaper reporter and radio announcer. My first job in Washington, D.C., was working as an aide to former U.S. Representative Eligio (Kika) de la Garza (D-Tex.), then was appointed as a U.S Capitol Policeman while going to college full-time. I graduated from the University of Maryland, with a BA degree in Law Enforcement studies, all while working fulltime on the night shift as a U.S. Capitol Policeman and subsequently became an FBI Special Agent, serving in Washington, D.C., Laredo, and then  retired after serving as an Assistant Legal Attaché, U.S. Embassy in Mexico City for five years.  

What I like best about my job is:  The opportunity that God has given me to work and serve the citizens of Laredo as their mayor. Each and every day, I do my best to make life a little better for all my constituents.
The best advice I've received for my current job is:  Don't take yourself too seriously and never forget where you came from. Be loyal to my staff and always believe in them - support them unconditionally. I rely heavily on the dedicated and committed city staff, who make my job a lot easier because of their limitless experience.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  Take pride in your work and never forget that you are working for the people!
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  going to the mall walking around to stay in touch with the people, listening to their everyday concerns.
People would be surprised to know that I: once worked as a country/western disk jockey in my hometown of Alice, and my radio name was Cowboy Roy.
One thing I wish more people knew about my city: That the employees of the City of Laredo are truly very dedicated people - who take pride in their work and service to our community. They are the best!

TEA's Smisko selected for new DISD superintendent's Cabinet

Ann SmiskoAnn Smisko (pictured), associate commissioner for school improvement and educator initiatives at the Texas Education Agency, has been tapped by new Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles as his chief academic officer. Smisko is the sixth and final named member of Miles' new Cabinet as he takes over leadership of the Dallas schools. Others include Chief of Staff Alan King, Chief of Operations Kevin Smelker, Chief of School Leadership Sylvia Reyna, Chief of Communications Jennifer Sprague and Chief of Talent and Innovation Charles Glover.


While at TEA, Smisko had oversight of support for school districts and campuses that did not meet state or federal student performance goals. She will start her job with DISD on Aug. 1. In addition to her work at TEA, Smisko is also a four-year veteran assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction with the Austin ISD, former associate vice chancellor for public schools at the Texas A&M University System and former supervisor for student teachers at Boston College.


Smisko earned her Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin. She also holds elementary, special education, mid-management and superintendent certificates in Texas.


Guzman selected as next president of Santa Fe Community College

Cha Guzman Ana Margarita "Cha" Guzman (pictured), president of Palo Alto College in San Antonio, has been named the new president of Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico. A native of Cuba, Guzman moved to the United States with her family as a young girl. Her educational experience spans more than three decades. She began her public education career as a teacher and later was named as principal of a middle school in Houston.


She has served as Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Support Programs of the Texas A&M University System and as Executive Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Administration and Community Relations and as CEO and vice president at Austin Community College in Cypress Creek. In 2001, Guzman was named president of Palo Alto College. She also has been president of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education. Guzman served as senior advisor to Education Secretary Richard Riley during the last year of the Clinton administration.


Guzman earned a bachelor's degree from Stout State University in Wisconsin, a master's from Texas Southern University and a doctorate from the University of Houston. 


TxDOT considers building toll plaza with food, gas on Texas 130

Officials of the Texas Department of Transportation are considering approaching private developers to build and operate a gas station along with an estimated 19,000-square-foot convenience store and restaurant on a large median at the intersection of the Texas 130 toll road and SH71 east of Austin.


A toll plaza with gas and food for sale would be a first in Texas and allow motorists on the Texas 130 toll road to stop for those products and others without leaving the toll road as well as raise more revenue for toll road operations, a TxDOT spokesman said. Toll plazas featuring gas stations, shops and restaurants are more common in other states, the spokesman said. Texas law allows TxDOT to lease land on toll roads it owns for only a few purposes, including gas stations, garages, stores, hotels, restaurants, railroad tracks, telecommunications facilities and equipment and utilities, he said.


TxDOT officials published a request for information asking interested companies to submit a plan for the toll plaza facility by July 25. Before the toll plaza project is finalized, the agency may need to go through a second, more formal bidding process, the agency spokesman said. The request for information indicates traffic will grow on the Texas 130 toll road to about 77,550 vehicles a day compared to the approximately 20,200 vehicles a day that now use that toll road.


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Sam Houston State has numerous projects in pre-planning stage

Keith JenkinsA student center expansion, new health center and updates to Pritchett Field and the University Camp are all being considered by Sam Houston State University officials. The updates and new construction are in the pre-planning stage, according to Keith Jenkins (pictured), SHSU's Associate Vice President of Student Services.


Expansion of the Lowman Student Center would better meet the needs of a growing student population, said Jenkins. A vote on the expansion is slated in October. Current estimated costs are $30 million, which the university would have to scramble to find. A new health center will also likely be voted on in October. Another project being discussed is a new special events center near the coliseum, which would house the alumni center, parts of the academic advisement center and a new ballroom. Some outside money in the form of grants and private donations would likely help defray the costs.


Other possible construction projects include a new dining facility and residence hall on the south side of campus. Other small-scale updates to campus facilities also are being discussed. The University Camp, home to Bearkat Camp, will be under construction this fall and will be able to accommodate 200 people. It will feature a swimming pool, meeting rooms and an expanded dining hall.


Jamie HackettHackett new superintendent of Bastrop state parks

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials recently selected Jamie Hackett (pictured) as the new superintendent of the Lost Pines Complex of state parks in Bastrop County, Bastrop State Park and Buescher State Park.


Hackett, who currently is the superintendent at the Lake Somerville State Park, previously worked as a park interpreter/police officer at the Lost Pines complex of parks and as the site manager at Buescher State Park, according to Todd McClanahan, director of State Parks Region 3.


Hackett will begin her new duties at the parks in Bastrop on Aug.1. The site manager in Bastrop, Roger Dolle, and the site manager at Buescher, Cullen Sartor, will continue to oversee daily operations at those parks, McClanahan noted.


Trinity taps Baronio as VP for alumni relations, development

Lisa BaronioTrinity University officials recently tapped Lisa Baronio (pictured) as the new vice president for alumni relations and development. Her duties include overseeing all fundraising activities for the university, corporate and foundation relations and alumni relations.


Baronio currently is the vice president for advancement and director of development at the University of North Texas and held similar positions at the University of Connecticut Foundation, Wichita State University Foundation and the University of Nebraska Foundation.


Baronio earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa and an MBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


University of North Texas names Wardell dean of graduate school

Mark WardellUniversity of North Texas officials recently named Mark Wardell (pictured) as dean of the Toulouse Graduate School effective on Aug. 1.


Wardell is a former associate provost and dean of the graduate school at Wayne State University and was employed previously at Pennsylvania State University as an associate dean of the graduate school and a department head.


Wardell has a bachelor's degree from Luther College, a master's degree from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia.


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Kreneck retiring as associate director at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Thomas KreneckAfter 22 years at the university, Dr. Thomas H. Kreneck (pictured), associate director for Special Collections and Archives at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, recently announced plans to retire on Aug. 31.


Throughout his career, Kreneck earned recognition as an expert in Texas history and rare books and collections centering on South Texas. He has a bachelor's degree and master's degree from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University.


He also was the assistant director of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center and taught history at several colleges and universities in the Houston area.


Parsons promoted to VP for information technology at Lamar

Priscilla ParsonsPriscilla Parsons (pictured) has been promoted to vice president for information technology at Lamar University. In her new role, she will be responsible for data center services, network infrastructure, telecommunications, academic technology support, information resource security, enterprise applications and customer support.


Parsons began her career at Lamar as a programmer after receiving a bachelor's degree in computer science from the university. After 14 years in Lamar's information technology department, she made a brief foray into the private sector before returning to LU in 2006. She was appointed interim associate vice president for IT in August 2010, and took that position full-time in December of the same year. She also earned her master's degree from Lamar last May while serving as associate vice president. 


Maguire selected as UNT vice chancellor for Administrative Services

james_maguireJames Maguire (pictured), former associate vice president for Campus Planning and Facilities at Boise State University, is the new vice chancellor for Administrative Services and chief architect for the University of North Texas System. Maguire will begin his new duties July 30. He will be responsible for oversight of all major facility construction projects including architect and contractor selection, field oversight of ongoing projects, campus master planning, real estate acquisition, mineral agreements and related reporting to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.


In addition to his service at Boise State, Maguire also previously was director of Capital Program Implementation for the University of California System. He also has participated in private sector business as an architect.


Maguire holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts and architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design. He earned his master's degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley and is a licensed architect in California. At North Texas, he will replace Richard Escalante, who retired Jan. 31.


Leese to return to Tarleton State University administrative post

Mike LeeseDr. Mike Leese (pictured) is returning to the campus of Tarleton State University. Leese is a former vice president of student life and dean of students and a Tarleton alumnus. He now returns as executive director of student life development.


Leese comes to Tarleton after serving for nearly 20 years at Southwestern University in Georgetown, most recently as associate vice president and dean of students. He was also associate vice president of student life, associate dean of students and director of residence life during his tenure there. His more than 40 years in higher education also includes four years as coordinator of Greek Affairs and student activities judicial affairs officer at Texas A&M University.


Leese holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Tarleton and a doctorate from Texas A&M.


Thurman takes over post as provost, VP at Sul Ross State University

Quint ThurmanDr. Quint Thurman (pictured) is the new provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Sul Ross State University. The former chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Texas State University-San Marcos, will replace Dr. Don Coers, who retired in January.


Thurman held his post at Texas State since 2001 and has more than three decades of higher education experience. His first academic position was at Washington State University-Pullman, where he was a tenure-track assistant professor of political science and later promoted to associate professor. He then moved to the WSU-Spokane campus and there directed the graduate program in criminal justice.


Thurman holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. From the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


MSN article in Forbes magazine

Shah new UTPA vice provost for research, sponsored projects

Saidq Shah

Dr. Sadiq Shah (pictured), associate vice president for research and sponsored programs at California State University at Channel Islands (CSUCI), has been chosen as the vice provost for research and sponsored projects at The University of Texas-Pan American. Shah is a former associate vice president for research and economic development at Western Kentucky University.


In his new position, Shah will guide an office that assists faculty and the university community in their efforts to secure outside funding for their research projects and other activities.



Shah holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Peshawer in Pakistan and two additional master's degrees from Washington State University and the University of the Pacific. His Ph.D. is from Washington State University.


Tarleton State picks Minckler for vice president's position

Tye MincklerTye V. Minckler (pictured), vice president for operations at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has been named Tarleton State University's vice president for finance and administration/chief financial officer. He will replace Jerry Graham, who retired after 42 years at the university.


Before joining the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he served for five years, Minckler was director of facilities development and management at the University of Washington's School of Medicine from 2000-2007. He also was the chief financial officer at two private sector companies, one a software services start-up he cofounded.


He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Washington and is a certified management accountant.


Lamar University announces new positions for Zabala, LeBlanc

Linda LeBlancJuan ZabalaTwo members of the Lamar University alumni office have been promoted to new roles in the University Advancement division. Juan Zabala (left) joined Lamar in 2003 as director of alumni affairs. In 2007, he was also given oversight of the Advancement Services department. Zabala has been named associate vice president of University Advancement, a position he has held on an interim basis since September 2011. Before joining Lamar, he was assistant dean of The University of Texas School of Law. Zabala holds a master's degree from Lamar and undergraduate degrees from Sul Ross State University and BYU Idaho.


Linda LeBlanc (right), currently Zabala's assistant, will move to the position of director of Alumni Affairs. LeBlanc has been on the university's advancement staff since 2003 as assistant director of alumni affairs. She earned her bachelor's degree from Lamar in 1975. Before joining the Lamar staff, she worked in the private sector, part of that time in television broadcasting.


Dallas/Fort Worth Airport eyeing new $40 million headquarters

Jeff Fegan Dallas/Fort Worth Airport officials recently began discussing construction of a new headquarters building costing from $35 million to $40 million to anchor the proposed Southgate Plaza. The new headquarters building would allow the airport staff, now housed in 10 buildings, to operate more efficiently from one facility, said Jeff Fegan (pictured), chief executive officer for the airport. Airport officials also discussed preliminary plans for a new $1 billion Terminal F that could be needed as soon as 2020 and the possibility of a $330 million expansion of parking lots at Terminals C and E.


The new airport headquarters funding will come from the public improvement facility corporation fund made up of revenue from two hotels and the rental center at the airport. Airport officials also may use a third-party developer to build the headquarters facility and then lease the building to serve as the headquarters, Fegan said.


The proposed Southgate Plaza to be built at the south entrance of DFW Airport near the rental car center has been discussed since 2007, but remained in limbo as the economy faltered. In May, however, airport officials announced plans for a 133-room hotel for proposed Southgate Plaza that could be open for business as soon as fall 2014. Before the Southgate Plaza project is finalized, however, member cities of the airport, Dallas and Fort Worth, must approve the project for funding.


Borger community hospital to build new $1.4M medical building

Dennis JackHutchinson County commissioners recently agreed to allow the Golden Plains Community Hospital (GPCH) in Borger to build a new 9,200-square-foot medical office building costing between $1.2 million and $1.4 million. The new facility will provide space for a general surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, an internal medicine physician and an OB/GYN specialist as well as new facilities for the Golden Plains Rural Health Clinic.


Hospital officials also are looking at installing dialysis services at the new clinic if the need in the county is determined to be sufficient to support that service, said Dennis Jack (pictured), chief executive officer of GPCH. The rural health clinic will feature six examination rooms and an improved layout over the current health clinic, Jack said.


Hospital board directors expect to review construction plans for the medical office building this week, begin seeking bids on July 23 and announce a building contractor on Aug. 24. The new medical office building and rural health clinic, which is located near the community hospital, is expected to be ready for business in March 2013.


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Amarillo votes to accept almost $2 million grant for airport upgrades

Amarillo City Commission members recently agreed to accept a Federal Aviation Administration grant of almost $2 million to pay 90 percent of the cost of improving drainage at the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. City officials approved almost $221,000 from the capital improvement fund of the airport to pay the city's contribution to the drainage project.


The airport experienced almost $9 million in damages in July 2010 when almost 11 inches of rain east of Amarillo flooded the basement and the parking garage at the airport. The flood damage, covered by insurance, also caused failures of the telephone system, telecommunications system, temperature controls and two elevators at the airport. The goal is to improve drainage around the airport to help prevent flooding in the future, said City Manager Jarrell Atkinson.


Lubbock airport asking for proposals to develop unused land

James LoomisPreston Smith International Airport officials in Lubbock recently asked for proposals to develop and lease 28 acres of unused land parcels located near Interstate 27 on the western edge of the airport. Airport officials will accept the proposals until Aug. 14.


The goal is to lease the land for a minimum of 33 cents per square foot per year to raise revenue for airport operations, said James Loomis (pictured), executive director of the airport. Leasing all the land would generate as much as $400,000 a year, but Loomis noted airport officials most likely will lease a few acres at a time to prospective businesses such as gasoline stations, convenience stores and hotels/motels. Any adult-oriented businesses or public parking lots are prohibited from leasing airport property, he noted. Council members expect to make a final decision on leasing the airport land in September.


Hidalgo County eyeing $168M in bonds for drainage, courthouse

At the urging of the county judge, Hidalgo County commissioners recently discussed asking voters to approve $168 million in bonds to pay for a $100 million drainage project and up to $112 million to upgrade the county courthouse.


Commissioners also are looking at a $10 million request by the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority from a vehicle registration fee to help pay for a new southern toll road connecting international bridges to Expressway 83.


County officials discussed directing $100 million of proposed bond funding be set aside for the Raymondville Drain, all of which will be reimbursed with federal funding, according to the county judge. An architect also provided several options ranging from $76 million to $112 million to upgrade the courthouse to provide more space for judicial functions. Commissioners took no action on the bonds but have an Aug. 20 deadline to call a bond election in November.


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Oak Ridge North exploring options for $5.2 million in capital projects

Oak Ridge North City Council members recently began exploring options to pay for nearly $5.2 million in capital improvement projects planned for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.


The largest project, a $3.08 million upgrade of the water treatment plant, is a high priority, noted City Manager Vicky Rudd. Other projects discussed include $750,000 for a new detention pond to improve drainage, $250,000 for phase 2 of Oak Ridge North Commerce Park, $154,000 and $81,000 to upgrade water and wastewater facilities at Blueberry Hill and $175,000 for a generator for city hall.


Council members directed city officials to present a financing plan that includes issuing certificates of obligation, cash payments from the city ranging from $1.5 million to $2.5 million and increasing water and sewer rates by 25 percent for council members to evaluate.


Waco approves $35 million for infrastructure for stadium project

Waco City Council members recently agreed to use $35 million to pay for infrastructure to support construction of Baylor Stadium with the stipulation that Baylor University make the stadium available for rent to residents and organizations not affiliated with the university.


The stadium project would not be economically feasible without the city's participation, the president of Baylor said. Before the project can go forward, however, council members must take a second vote, which is scheduled in about two weeks. The Baylor University Board of Regents also approved the project this week.


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


Institute of Internal Auditors cites Austin conference in September

The Institute of Internal Auditors will host its 2012 Southern Regional Conference Sept. 16-19 in Austin. The event, to be held at the Hilton Austin, will feature a world-class professional development conference with an "Audit Roundup: Lasso the Possibilities" theme. Those planning to attend should note there is an early registration discount of $100 for registrations prior to July 31. Audit executives, directors, managers and staff will benefit from regional speakers in tracks on governance, IT auditing, fraud, waste and abuse and emerging issues. CPE credits are available. Among the speakers for the general session are industry experts such as Ann Bishop, executive director of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, and Mike Jacksa, senior audit manager for Farmers Insurance. There also will be a variety of concurrent sessions in tracks led by subject matter experts on issues from IT auditing to governmental issues to fraud, waste and abuse. For more information, click here. To view the conference brochure with the complete agenda, click here.


TASSCC planning annual conference for Aug. 12-15 in Arlington

The Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communication (TASSCC) will hold its 2012 Annual Conference on Aug. 12-15 at the Sheraton Arlington Hotel, 1500 Convention Center Drive in Arlington. The theme for this year's conference is "TASSCC All Stars 2012, Hitting IT Out of the Park." The TASSCC Annual Conference is considered by experienced public sector IT professionals as one of the best and most affordable opportunities for learning and sharing in Texas. The conference focuses on the unique opportunities and problems faced in delivering services to citizens. Networking opportunities are available and continuing education credits are awarded for those attending. Karen Robinson, executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources will deliver the welcome with Bill Bott, consulting partner of Change and Innovation Agency, the keynote speaker, addressing "Extreme Government Makeover." Other keynote addresses will focus on advanced analytics in health and human services, transforming the public sector, technology trends and a legislative update from State Rep. John Zerwas. Click here to view the agenda and click here to register.


Austin benefits fair for Texas veterans slated July 21

Central Texas area veterans are invited to attend a free "come and go" benefits fair this Saturday (July 21) at the Norris Conference Center, 2525 West Anderson Lane, Austin 78757. The event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is one of several that will be held throughout the state. Officials from the

Texas Veterans Land Board will be available to provide information on state programs including land, housing and home improvement loans as well as Texas state veterans cemeteries and nursing homes for veterans. They will be joined by representatives of the Texas Veterans Commission, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and local Realtors and lenders specializing in veterans loans. Veterans wishing to discuss pending claims with VA officials should bring pertinent case information, including claim numbers if available. For more information on the benefits fair, please call Jim Mickler at 512-417-3757. For more information on benefits available only to Texas veterans, such as veterans cemeteries, nursing homes and low-interest land and home loans, call 1-800-252-8387 or visit www.texasveterans.com.


CenTex Chapter of ASPA announces Summer Film Series

The CenTex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) will hold its annual Summer Film and Meet and Greet with area political science faculty on Saturday, July 21. The event will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, 1165 Angelina Street, Austin 78702. This free event, also open to non-members, will feature the movie "Patriocracy," with a discussion period after the film. There also will be time set aside for networking with area political science faculty and public and nonprofit administrators. Both admission and food are free. Please RSVP to CenTexASPA@gmail.com. For more information click here or call Robert Ochoa, CenTex ASPA president, at 210-857-8453


Executive Women in Texas Government set November conference

The Executive Women in Texas Government will sponsor its 2012 Annual Professional Development Conference on Monday, Nov. 5, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will be held at the Embassy Suites San Marcos Hotel-Spa and Conference Center located at 1001 East McCarty Lane, San Marcos, TX 78666. This full-day event features prominent keynote speakers as well as more than 35 workshops to provide participants with opportunities for hands-on learning and development of leadership skills for multiple career levels. The conference is open to all interested professionals and is designed for those working in government and for organizations that collaborate with government agencies. Members and non-members are encouraged to view the EWTG Web site for conference details.


National Association of Social Workers plans annual conference

More than 1,000 social worker are expected for the upcoming 2012 National Association of Social Workers/Texas 36th Annual State Conference. The event is set for Friday, Sept. 7, through Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Westin Galleria in Houston. Among the speakers for the event are Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSWand his perspective on "The Social Work Story" and Vicki Hansen, LMSW-AP, ACSW, will discuss "What Social Workers Want" in the context of NASW's Social Work Reinvestment Initiative. Those attending will be able to expand their skills through targeted training, tracks representing a variety of practice areas including ethics. Supervision credits and licensing review courses for the LBSW and LMSW exams will also be available and exhibits will be open. For more information and to register, 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. 


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.


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


A group of budget experts calling themselves the State Budget Crisis Task Force released a report this week that has some ominous language. The report, an analysis of six states including Texas, detailed how each state has been affected by the financial crisis that began in 2008. The report points out that although there has been some recovery, a handful of lingering problems will ensure a level of fiscal crisis for states even after the economy rallies.


One brief sentence in the report stands out - "Fiscal stress rolls downhill."


As the federal government reels from a mounting debt - it's on track to surpass $1 trillion for the fourth consecutive year - its attempt to rein in spending will affect all states. And, as states react to funding cuts, they will, in turn, find ways to keep some of the funding that previously flowed to local governmental entities.


Cities, counties and school districts have their own fiscal woes - dwindling tax revenues, growing populations that require services, aging facilities, infrastructure needs and health care mandates.


Data shows that the nation's residential housing market has turned the corner and home builder confidence is now higher than it has been in nearly 10 years. However, recent reports from the U.S. Department of Commerce show total public spending for construction declined last year. And, at the state and local level, which make up the biggest part of public construction funding, the numbers fell to the lowest rate since November 2006.




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Book People speaking and signing

Officials talking up possibility

of second S. Padre bridge

A draft environmental impact statement has identified a half-billion-dollar solution to the need for a second bridge to South Padre Island. The $3 million study recommends an eight-mile bridge and 10 miles of roads and links to the northern end of the city. The recommendations would create the longest bridge in the state and would include tolls for its use. Estimates are that the construction could take three years and could begin as early as 2016.


David Allex, chair of the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority called the project the most important economic development and safety project "anywhere in South Texas, if not the entire state." He said the area is in desperate need of a second bridge to provide access to and from South Padre Island. Officials expect that such a project would require a mix of funding in addition to tolls, such as federal loans, bonds and possibly a public-private partnership.


In addition to the safety factor, a second bridge also could impact the local economy as it would provide access to land on the north end of the city for future hotels and residences. 


AgriLife Extension Service appoints Branham to district post

Garry BranhamGarry Branham (pictured), who has been serving as 4-H and youth development specialist in Tom Green County has been selected by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service for the West Central District. Branham, who begins his new job Aug. 6, will be headquartered in San Angelo.


Branham began his career with AgriLife in 2002 and served as the 4-H and youth development agent in Hill and Johnson counties. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Angelo State University


Harris County toll increases

to help fund capital projects

With a goal of raising about $38 million, Harris County commissioners recently approved increases of 10 cents and 25 cents for motorists using toll roads in that county. Effective Sept. 18, motorists with an EZ TAG will pay an additional 10 cents per toll and motorists paying cash will pay an additional 25 cents.


The additional revenue will help pay for a planned $9.1 billion capital improvement project throughout the county, with much of those upgrades planned for northwest Houston. One of the projects will connect SH 249 and the Sam Houston Tollway and another is approximately $400 million in upgrades to US 290. Including the addition of toll lanes and expanding the capacity of the HOV lanes in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation.


The third project is planned within the SH 249 right-of-way from Spring Cypress Road to Spring Creek and will allow motorists on the toll road to avoid 10 traffic lights.


Collaboration Nation

San Angelo reviewing top applicants for city manager

A committee created by the San Angelo City Council expects to take its first look at the top applicants selected by a search firm to serve as the new city manager. The new city manager will replace former City Manager Harold Dominguez, who resigned to serve as city manager in Longmont, Colorado.


The committee, which is comprised of City Council members and city employees, will decide how many and which candidates to select for thorough background checks, said Lisa Marley, director of human resources and risk management for the city. City officials expect to release the names of the finalist candidates after all background checks are completed, Marley said.


Marvin Beaty tapped as new superintendent for Bonham ISD

James Loomis Dr. Marvin Beaty (pictured) recently became lone finalist for the Bonham Independent School District following a vote by school board members. Beaty currently is superintendent at Troup ISD and previously was superintendent at Hermleigh ISD. He also was a teacher and administrator in Louisiana. Beatty will replace Superintendent Sonny Cruse after trustees finalize his contract when the required waiting period expires.


Governor's North Texas Small Business Forum & Business Expo

Midland airport officials urge

$1.5 million parking project

Midland International Airport officials recently urged city council to approve a $1.5 million project to add 200 more covered parking spots at the airport. Record revenue from parking lots in May and June will help fund the parking lot expansion, officials said. City Council members must approve the project before it proceeds.


Tyler ISD to appoint Mooring

as interim superintendent

Gary Mooring Tyler Independent School District officials recently agreed to name Gary Mooring (pictured) as the new interim superintendent to replace Dr. Randy Reid, who resigned to be superintendent at Keller ISD.


Mooring, who previously served as interim superintendent for the Tyler school district prior to the appointment of Dr. Reid, could begin his new duties as early as Aug. 1, district officials said. Mooring also was superintendent at Bishop Consolidated Independent School District and Hutto ISD as well as a deputy superintendent, an interim transportation director and an interim executive director for special programs at Tyler ISD.


Mission's Ruby Red Ventures

fund to benefit small business

Red Ventures fund, a $100,000 small business fund created by the Mission Economic Development Corp. and the Mission City Council, is aimed at assisting entrepreneurial firms and promote creating innovative businesses in the city. The goal is to encourage entrepreneur-oriented Rio Grande Valley residents to either expand or launch new business ventures in Mission. 


"Considering how difficult it is to borrow money today, we need to begin removing some barriers and making capital more accessible to fuel startup growth. If we don't support our small businesses or aspiring entrepreneurs, who will?" said Alex Meade, Mission EDC CEO.


Ruby Red Ventures will assist these businesses in gaining a better understanding of how to develop and follow a realistic business plan and offer forums in which they develop skills in presenting their ventures. The program will include two rounds of $50,000 funding each year, with a maximum of $25,000 per company. The application period begins in September, with the first allocations set for March 2013. Participants will be required to attend small business workshops to help them prepare business plans.


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White to be new city manager

for city of Grand Saline

Grand Saline City Council members recently tapped Rex White to serve as the new city manager. White previously was a director of the Grand Saline Economic Development Corporation, trustee for the Grand Saline Independent School District and manager of the Main Street program.


Kimes takes back resignation

as Austin County Treasurer

Elery Kimes, the Austin County Treasurer, recently rescinded a resignation submitted last week to county officials. Kimes said he now plans to remain in office until the election in November and has no plans to seek election as county treasurer or any other political office.


Kimes assumed the office of county treasurer in March of this year after Cathy Frank, the previously county treasurer, resigned. Citing the cost savings of training a new county treasurer, Austin County commissioners approved the request to rescind the resignation submitted by Kimes.



Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

seeking part-time consultants

Strategic Partnerships, Inc. is seeking part-time consultants with experience and knowledge regarding the operations of cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas and in the Dallas-Fort Worth or Houston area public school districts. The ideal candidates for these part-time positions will be retirees who are former school district superintendents or C-level administrators and staff or former city managers or county officials who served in the Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston areas. To apply, please email a resume to jobs@spartnerships.com.


O'Neill to serve as interim superintendent at Socorro ISD

Pat O'Neill Pat O'Neill (pictured), assistant superintendent for administrative services, recently agreed to serve as interim superintendent at Socorro Independent School District until a new superintendent is on board. O'Neill will replace Xavier De La Torre, who resigned to be the county superintendent for Santa Clara County in California.


O'Neill is expected to return to his duties as assistant superintendent once trustees name a new superintendent. Board members are expected to begin interviewing two or three finalists for the superintendent's post and make a new offer by the end of July, district officials said.


City of Denton's project-specific Web sites goes online for public

The City of Denton recently launched its project-specific Web site - DentonPlan2030com, aimed at informing cities regarding events, meetings and updates to the city's Denton Plan. 


The Denton Plan, updated to reflect land-use decisions in the city for a dozen years, is the city's comprehensive plan. The new Web site also tells the public about the updates and how to get involved in the process. It also includes a schedule of public events and provides a way to request city staff to attend an association, organization or group meeting. 



Copperas Cove ISD taps Kirkpatrick for deputy post

Copperas Cove Independent School District trustees recently tapped Richard Kirkpatrick as the deputy superintendent to replace Troy Galow, who resigned as deputy superintendent in June to accept a job with Pflugerville ISD. Kirkpatrick, who begins his duties immediately, has served as a principal and assistant principal for the school district since 2006. He has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree. His father, Richard Kirkpatrick, also was superintendent at Copperas Cove ISD from 1981 until 1994.


VIA to get new paratransit vans, asset management system

Thanks to a $3.94 million federal grant, VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio will replace 35 of its paratransit vans and develop an asset management system. Of the funds, $2.52 million was awarded by the Federal Transportation Administration's State of Good Repair Initiative. The remaining $1.416 million for purchase and implementation of an asset management system came from a second State of Good Repair grant. The van replacement is part of a three-year program which will eventually see a total of 104 vans replace with new, propane-powered vehicles.


Manor agrees on $2.1 million upgrade of PD, city hall

Manor City Council members recently agreed to issue up to $2.1 million in certificates of obligation to pay for expanding the police station and renovating a building to serve as the new city hall.


The city paid $350,000 and gave the Lions Club a six-acre track of land to buy the Lions Club Building to serve as city hall, housing all administrative and utility offices, meeting rooms, council chambers and a municipal court annex. An Austin-based architect, BLGY Architecture, is designing the new city hall and city officials expect to begin seeking bids for renovating the facility later this summer. Construction could then begin in October. The police department will remain in the city-owned building on East Parsons as public works employees move to another city-owned building on West Parsons. Both of those facilities also will be upgraded, city officials said.


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Midlothian ISD selects Bowman as assistant superintendent

Board members for Midlothian Independent School District recently selected Katie Bowman as the assistant superintendent for finance and operations. She has worked in public school finance at Goose Creek ISD, Birdville ISD and Mansfield ISD since 1983.


A certified public accountant, Bowman has a master's degree from The University of Texas at Arlington. She will replace Dr. Edd Bigbee, who resigned to be the chief financial officer for McKinney ISD.


Mason County sets aside $600,000 for renovations to courthouse

Mason County commissioners recently approved spending up to $600,000 to renovate the 100-year-old county courthouse. The Texas Historical Commission previously awarded an emergency renovation grant to the county to repair the roof and upgrade the electrical system. That grant will pay only one-third of the up to $900,000 cost of the courthouse renovation project. The Historical Commission also requires the county to pay any remaining costs to replace electrical systems in the attic and exterior, replace the clock tower and return the dome to its earliest version.


Commissioners in June agreed to use tax notes to pay the county's share of the cost of the renovation of the historic courthouse, or up to $600,000. Plans call for the project to begin in early August.


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Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 7/13/12
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Brenda Coleman-Beattie of Austin, OneStar Foundation;
  • Melissa Pardue of Austin, OneStar Foundation;
  • Robert "Bob" Wright II of Dallas, OneStar Foundation;
  • Kirk Beckert of Richardson, OneStar National Service Commission;
  • Veronica "Ronnie" Hagerty of Houston, OneStar National Service Commission;
  • Robert Marbut Jr. of San Antonio, OneStar National Service Commission;
  • Art Serna Jr. of Kyle, OneStar National Service Commission;
  • Amber Wall of Pflugerville, OneStar National Service Commission;
  • Dan Woodward of Houston, OneStar National Service Commission;
  • Erik Salwen of Houston, Texas Southern University Board of Regents;
  • Michael Donegan of Rockwall, Texas Historical Commission;
  • August Harris III of Austin, Texas Historical Commission.
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Kermit terminates Watson

from post as city manager

At the urging of the mayor, Kermit City Council members recently terminated Sam Watson as city manager. Council members are expected to announce an interim city manager this week.


Killeen ISD appoints Crayton, Rainwater as new directors

Killeen Independent School District trustees recently appointed Jo-Lynette Crayton as the new executive director for elementary schools and Marvin Rainwater as executive director of the Career Center. Trustees in June also hired John Craft of Hamilton to serve as the new deputy superintendent and in May tapped Diana Miller to be the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.


El Paso creates city development department to upgrade services

El Paso City officials recently agreed to create a new City Development Department by merging functions in the planning, building permits, inspections and the economic development departments along with the Business Center. Currently, some of the departments report to the Engineering Department and others operate individually.


The City Development Department was created to provide better service to the public and includes a "One-Stop-Shop" to acquire a wide assortment of permits, including new construction permits for homes and commercial uses, alarm permits, permits for rock walls and licenses. City officials also are evaluating a downtown location for the One-Stop-Shop, but do not have a specific location in mind for the new City Development Department.


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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