Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 33 - Friday, Aug. 24, 2012

Cloud computing for state government?


DIR pilot program allows agencies to explore options for technology needs

Karen Robinson As budget gaps widen, the one place where many government entities are reluctant to cut spending is technology. Most government officials realize that today's technology offers ways to continue to provide services more efficiently and often at reduced costs. For many, technology spending is not viewed as an expense, but an investment - and one that reaps rewards.


Seeking to reduce the investments in their own IT infrastructure resources that are necessary to keep pace with rapidly changing technology, some government subdivisions are exploring "cloud" computing as an alternative.


The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) recently spearheaded a pilot program to study cloud computing to see if it is a viable option for state agencies.


Computer "DIR determined it was necessary and timely to gain a deeper understanding of all facets of cloud-based offerings within a public-sector context," said Karen Robinson (pictured), executive director of DIR and the state's chief information officer.  


The goal of cloud computing is for public entities to have access to the same IT resources they would have in their own IT shops, but without the major expenditures of having to own - and update regularly - those resources. The cloud would provide everything "on demand" from e-mail to servers to software and desktop services for the agencies.


The DIR project - the Pilot Texas Cloud Offering - involved DIR and a small group of other state agencies, including the Texas Secretary of State, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Water Development Board. Robinson said those agencies chose a hybrid cloud-based infrastructure as a service offering from options offered by a cloud broker.




8th Biennial Legislative Communications Conference:


Van de Putte, Turner, Otto call on decades of experience to share legislative insight

Sylvester TurnerLeticia Van de PutteAmong the three of them are 24 terms in the Texas House and Senate, representing a total of 54 years in the Texas Legislature. With that much expertise in all things legislative, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (top left) and State Reps. Sylvester Turner (top right) and John Otto (bottom left) are naturals to discuss what might be called "best practices" for interacting with legislative leadership.


The three will make up a panel for the upcoming 8th Biennial Legislative Communications Conference and will address "Working with the Leadership: Expectations, Preparation and Delivery." The John Ottopanel will be moderated by Sherri Greenberg, the LBJ School's director of the Center for Politics and Governance and a former member of the Texas House. The one-day event, set for Oct. 16, is co-sponsored by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. and The University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. It is held before each biennial session of the Texas Legislature and is designed to bring government executives, appointees, senior staff and elected officials together to discuss the upcoming legislative session.


Van de Putte is in her fifth term as a member of the Texas Senate after serving as a five-term member of the Texas House. She currently serves as chair of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, and is also a member of the Senate Committees on Education, State Affairs and Business and Commerce. Nationally, Senator Van de Putte served as Co-Chair of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, joining the ranks of Texas women Barbara Jordan and Ann Richards. She has been actively involved in the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), serving as President from 2006 to 2007.




Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Dr. John PriceDr. John Price, president, University of North Texas at Dallas


Career highlights and education: Earning a Ph.D. in accounting from North Texas State University, 1981 (now the University of North Texas); earning the designation as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), 1981; becoming dean of the School of Business and Professor of Accounting, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS, 1983; becoming KPMG Professor of Accounting and chair, Department of Accounting, University of North Texas, 1997; being chosen in 2001 to lead the UNT System's Efforts to create a new, public, four-year university in Dallas (executive director, UNT System Center at Dallas); being named Founding President, the University of North Texas at Dallas, Sept. 1, 2010. 
What I like best about my job is: My job as president of UNT Dallas has given me the opportunity to create a legacy for myself and the University of North Texas System that will benefit generations unborn.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: To have the courage to push for disruptive innovations in higher education that will create a new university model to make higher education more affordable and that creates a new paradigm for how higher education is delivered in the 21st Century.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  Dream big, work hard and do whatever it takes to get the job done.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: at home, enjoying quiet time with family.

People would be surprised to know that I: love to watch old western movies. It's provides me with an immense, relaxing feeling.
One thing I wish more people knew about the University of North Texas at Dallas: How hard we are working to help our state Close the Gaps through a more educated populace and our efforts to create and enhance a college-going/career readiness culture in our region.

Straus, Dewhurst announce new staff assignments


Speaker names Shalla Santos to serve House as assistant parliamentarian

Shalla SantosPreparing for the upcoming 83rd session of the Texas Legislature, the state's leadership this week announced a bevy of new staff assignments.


House Speaker Joe Straus has named Shalla Santos (pictured) as the new Assistant Parliamentarian and Special Counsel. Santos previously served as a staff attorney for the Third Court of Appeals in Austin. Prior to that engagement, she was in private practice and served as a briefing attorney for Justice Don R. Willett at the Supreme Court of Texas. She will join Chris Griesel, who has been House Parliamentarian since 2011. Santos earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her law degree from The University of Texas School of Law.


Straus also this week named Frank Battle as his general counsel and House Ethics Advisor. Battle previously served as general counsel and policy advisor to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a post he held since 2003. Battle also is a former special assistant and legal counsel to former House Speaker Pete Laney and was ethics advisor to the Texas House. He is an honors graduate who earned his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin, a master's degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and his law degree from The University of Texas School of Law.




Two major construction projects planned for UT-Austin

Two new academic buildings are in the works for The University of Texas at Austin. The UT System regents this week approved plans for a $155 million project for the McCombs School of Business and gave an OK for development of the design for a $310 million engineering education and research center.


The business school project includes an academic building for its graduate school, a parking garage and an expansion of the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. The university will pay for the project with $58 million in gifts and $97 million in bonds. The engineering department project includes plans for $105 million through fundraising and the remainder from bond funds and campus reserves.


Southwestern President Jake Schrum announces retirement

Jake SchrumJake B. Schrum (pictured), president of Southwestern University for the last 12 years, has announced that he will retire from the Georgetown university at the end of its 2012-2013 fiscal year. Schrum announced his retirement Thursday during his annual state of the university address to faculty and staff.


Schrum became president of Southwestern in July 2000 and is the 14th person and only the third Southwestern graduate to be named to that position. Dr. Robert W. Karr, chair of Southwestern's Board of Trustees, said a search committee of trustees, faculty members, students, staff and alumni will begin the search for Schrum's successor in September. The board plans to name a successor before Schrum leaves on June 30 of next year.


Schrum earned an undergraduate degree from Southwestern and a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. His higher education administration career began when he served as a fundraiser for Yale. He later held university advancement posts at Muhlenberg College, Texas Wesleyan University, Southwestern University and Emory University. He returned to Texas Wesleyan University to serve as its president from 1991 to 2000.


Joseph Bailes chosen to chair CPRIT Foundation board

Joseph Bailes Dr. Joseph S. Bailes (pictured), an Austin oncologist who is a founding member of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Foundation's board of directors, has been chosen to chair that board. He has served on the board since 2009.


Bailes has extensive experience in legislation, public policy and advocacy and is a partner in Texas Oncology.


The Foundation is a nonprofit that promotes cancer prevention programs and ensures public awareness regarding CPRIT's investments in research and prevention projects. CPRIT was created following approval by Texas voters in 2007 and funded with $3 billion in bond funds over 10 years. It goal is cancer-related research that might help find a cure for cancer.


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Nader named as vice provost at University of North Texas

Richard NaderUniversity of North Texas officials recently selected Dr. Richard Nader (pictured) as the vice provost for international affairs. He has served as the interim in that post since July 2011.


Nader previously held several administrative posts managing international and student affairs at Texas A&M University.


He has a bachelor's degree from Sam Houston State University and a master's and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.


League City to borrow $59 million for public safety building

City Council members in League City recently agreed to borrow approximately $59 million to pay for a $29 million public safety building and $21 million to spend for upgrades to the water and wastewater system. The remaining funds will be used for other infrastructure projects.


Current plans are for the new public safety building to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and house an emergency operations center, the police department, a jail and fire department administration, city officials said. Because the municipal court no longer will be located in the new public safety center, city officials plan to reduce the size of the originally planned 79,000-square-foot facility.


North Texas Tollway Authority may upgrade Dallas North Tollway

Elizabeth MowElizabeth Mow (pictured), director of project delivery for the North Texas Tollway, recently told Plano city officials that the authority has placed a high priority on increasing mobility from toll road to toll road as early as 2016.


One of the highest priorities, according to Mow, is reducing congestion on the five-mile section of Dallas North Tollway (DNT) between the President George Bush Turnpike and the Sam Rayburn Tollway. Two proposed construction projects, each with an estimated cost of $100 million to $125 million, are set to enter the formal design stage in 2013, Mow said.


The first project is to redesign the interchange of the Bush Turnpike and DNT to avoid lengthy traffic backups each morning and afternoon. The second project would increase the capacity of a section of the DNT that travels through Plano by adding a fourth lane to the existing road and adding an exit ramp to reduce traffic congestion in that area during rush hours. Most of the upgrades will be paid using revenues rather than bonds, but Plano city officials are working with Collin County officials to secure funding to help pay for unfunded transportation projects in the county. They are hopeful the effort will help pay the city's requirement to provide some of the funding, Mow said.


Texas A&M taps Mogford for associate vice chancellor post

In a move to upgrade research administration, Texas A&M University officials recently appointed Jon Mogford as the vice chancellor for strategic initiatives. He will serve as the chief research officer. Jeffrey Seemann, who previously served as the chief research officer as well as the vice president of research, was named as the executive director of the Office of Sponsored Research.


Mogford's new duties include working with universities and state agencies in the A&M System on research development, compliance and administration.


National council selects Board of Nursing's Hooper as Fellow

Janice HooperJanice Hooper (pictured), PhD, RN, FRE, nursing consultant for the Texas Board of Nursing was recently inducted as a Fellow of the Institute of Regulatory Excellence (IRE) of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Hooper was one of seven nurses to be honored at the organization's recent annual meeting.


The IRE Fellowship Program is a four-year educational and professional development program designed for current regulators who want to enhance their knowledge of and leadership in nursing regulation. The program includes analyzing issues involving public policy and regulation, strategic planning, patient safety and communication. It also requires the application of evidence-based concepts in decision-making and leadership.


Hooper is lead education consultant for the Texas Board of Nursing and has been an employee of the agency since 2002.  She earned her Ph.D. in education from St. Louis University and holds five master's degrees, two in nursing.


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Bastrop State Park awarded grant funding in competition

It didn't finish first, but even 12th place was worth $10,000. Bastrop State Park's 12th place finish in a Coca-Cola competition, "America Is Your Park," allowed parks across the country to compete for votes with the park getting the highest number of votes earning a top prize of $100,000. Bastrop State Park netted 661,565 votes.


The 6,500-acre Bastrop State Park, 96 percent of which suffered damages during last Labor Day's wildfire, was awarded $10,000 in the competition. The park has been making a comeback since the fire and more than $200,000 in donations have been received from a variety of sources. "The tremendous support we received from people and companies for Bastrop State Park is testament to the special place this park holds in the minds and hearts of Texans," said Brent Leisure, Texas State Parks director. Leisure said the $10,000 grant will be used to hire America's YouthWorks to complete new trails in the park.


Officials report some vegetation is growing and park customers are returning to camp, rent a cabin, fish, play golf and picnic. Visitors can stay at all four campgrounds and the 13 climate-controlled cabins, and most of the park trails have been reopened.


Ector County ISD to ask voters to approve $129M bond proposal

Hector MendezEctor County Independent School District trustees recently agreed to ask voters to approve $129.75 million in bonds to build three new elementary schools and build additions to high schools.


The bond election will be decided in a November referendum.


The new facilities are needed to move the school district toward a new middle school program rather than continue its current junior-high system, said Superintendent Hector Mendez (pictured).


Texas House creates Web site seeking opinion from Texans

The Texas House of Representatives recently launched a new Web site to allow citizens to share their ideas and opinions on state regulations and legislation. The House Government Efficiency and Reform Committee created the Red Tape Challenge Web site that will focus on occupational licensing, state agency rulemaking, public school mandates and manufacturing in Texas.


The Red Tape Challenge Web site will introduce focus areas on each subject on a rolling basis and users are able to offer their recommendations and opinions on such topics as new rules for the state's Medicaid program or other issues. The purpose of the Web site is to help make state government more accountable and responsive to taxpayers, said House Speaker Joe Straus.


Members of the House Government Efficiency and Reform Committee will then consider the ideas and recommendations at a November committee hearing and include those ideas and recommendations on regulations or future regulations as part of its interim report to the 83rd Legislature. The Web site is texasredtapechallenge.com.


TCCD's Eason selected to distance learning Hall of Fame

Kevin EasonDr. Kevin R. Eason (pictured), Director of Distance Learning for Tarrant County College District's (TCCD) distance education program, has been inducted into the Texas Distance Learning Association Hall of Fame. The association annually recognizes long-term distance-learning practitioners or advocates whose have exemplified commitment, outstanding achievements and long-term impact in the field.


Eason boasts a 28-year career that has focused on distance education. He joined the TCCD distance education program in 1984, moving up the ranks to the director post. He served on the Coordinating Board's Distance Education Advisory Committee and on the Texas Association of Community College's eLearning Council, which provides oversight to the Virtual College of Texas and STARLINK.


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Tyler ISD pushes bond proposal further down the road

Michelle CarrCiting lack of community support, trustees for Tyler Independent School District recently agreed to wait until May 2013 to call a bond election rather than holding a bond election in November.


Trustees also expressed concerns about the disagreement among themselves on which of the projects in a $450 million facilities plan to place in the bond proposal, said Michelle Carr (pictured), board president.


More time is needed to educate voters and board members plan to begin work immediately on preparing for a bond proposal in May of next year, Carr said.

Gregory-Portland ISD sets $30.4 million bond election in November

Gregory-Portland Independent School District trustees recently agreed to place a $30.4 million bond election on the ballot in November. The bond funds will be used to build a new elementary school, expand an elementary school and build a new physical education and sports complex if voters approve the bond proposition.


Pflugerville ISD shuts down plan to buy land for new high school

Charles DupreCiting the potential for city officials to have to spend $18 million on road improvements to the proposed school site, Pflugerville Independent School District trustees recently agreed to end negotiations to buy 149 acres on Weiss Lane to build a new high school.


The decision arose after learning several city council members had expressed concerns regarding the cost of road improvements that would be necessary to provide access to the Weiss Lane site for the proposed new high school, said Superintendent Charles Dupre (pictured).


Lakeway to ask voters to approve $4.3 million bond proposal

The Lakeway City Council recently placed a $4.3 million bond proposal on the ballot in November. If the bond is approved, city officials plan to use the funding to upgrade Flint Rock Road.


Travis County voters last year approved $4.3 million in bonds to improve the road by adding left-turn lanes at critical intersections, reduce the number of curves and hills and widen a portion of the road to four lanes. If the bonds are approved, county officials will then begin the design process for the proposed road improvements, the county engineer said.


AACOG selects transportation director, two promoted

Edna JohnsonEdna Johnson (top left), who has spent her entire career in the transportation industry, was recently named the Alamo Area Council of Governments' Regional Transportation Director for Alamo Regional Transit (ART). Johnson, who previously worked on a project with the Capital Area Rural Transit System relating to interline passenger and package Gaylyn Dieringer Sherrie Huckabay shipping with Greyhound Bus Co., has spent more than three decades working in rural public transportation, small urban areas and as an advocate for the Texas Transit Association.


AACOG also announces that Gaylyn Dieringer (bottom right) has been promoted from Workforce Operations Manager at the agency to Workforce Director. She has been involved in Workforce more than 24 years. Sherrie Huckabay (bottom left), former Academy Coordinator and Academy In-Service Supervisor for AACOG's Alamo Area Regional Law Enforcement Academy and former Human Resources Manager, has been promoted to Director of Human Resources.


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Nederland looking at new city hall, public safety office upgrades

The mayor of Nederland recently recommended building a new city hall and renovating the current city hall to create an emergency operations center along with the police department and fire department.


While the city won a $2.1 million grant to help pay for upgrading public safety, city officials were not able to locate suitable property for an emergency operations center and began exploring renovating the current city hall to house emergency operations. Because the facility is too small to keep city hall operating in the same area, the mayor supports building a new city hall and moving the administrative offices into that facility. That would happen before beginning the renovations to the former city hall building to create the emergency operations center.


Council members are expected to approve a contract with an architect to plan and design the new city hall building at their next meeting. Because the projected $4.3 million cost of the two projects is more than the grant, which must be used for fire and emergency operations, city officials most likely will use bond funding to pay for the new city hall, the mayor said.


San Marcos to ask voter approval to purchase of land for new park

John ThomaidesThe San Marcos City Council recently voted to place a non-binding proposition on the ballot in November to ask voters whether to purchase 70 acres of property along the San Marcos River east of Interstate 35 for a new city park.


Council also approved two other non-binding propositions for the ballot asking whether the city should use eminent domain and whether to raise property taxes if necessary to acquire the property on both sides of the river. The property is currently valued at more than $1 million. San Marcos currently owns 1,808 acres of park land, with about 87 percent of those parks located west of the interstate and only 230 acres of park land east of the interstate.


Councilman John Thomaides (pictured) said that he does think it will be necessary to raise property taxes to pay for the park land or to use eminent domain to acquire the riverfront property. But, he believes voters should be aware of that possibility and have a chance to express their support or opposition.


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River barge to honor president of Texas A&M-San Antonio

Maria Hernandez FerrierRio San Antonio recently christened a new river barge named to honor Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier (pictured), the president of Texas A&M University-San Antonio.


The commander of Rio San Antonio Cruises said Dr. Ferrier and other women are selected "Leading Ladies of the Rio" because of their contributions to San Antonio. In the past, river cruise barges have been named for Lila Cockrell, a former mayor, and Susan Reed, the district attorney.


The chancellor of Texas A&M University System and a member of the board of regents of the A&M system attended the christening ceremony.


Jacksonville selects Tyler architect for new civic center

Jacksonville city officials recently hired Fitzpatrick Architects of Tyler to begin preliminary designs for a proposed $2 million civic center. Once the architect presents renderings of the civic center project, city officials will begin searching for the most suitable site for the civic center project being funded through the hotel/motel occupancy tax.


Texas Municipal League 100th Annual Conference, Exhibition set

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


Free forum to address mortgage foreclosure scams

A Loan Scam Alert Forum, sponsored by the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, NeighborWorks America and the City of San Antonio Human Services Department is planned for Friday, Aug. 31, from 9 a.m. to noon. The forum will be held in the Al J. Notzon III Board Room at 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100 in San Antonio. The forum will address the increasing number of mortgage foreclosure scams homeowners face and will offer information on how to identify such scams, how to help families at risk of foreclosure, free resource materials and an opportunity to network with local and federal agencies. The event is free, but space is limited so those seeking to attend should RSVP to acoleman@fdic.gov by Monday, Aug. 27. For more information, call 281-536-9939.


HGAC plans events to celebrate 'Commute Solution Month'

August is "Commute Solution Month." As a part of Commute Solutions Month, the Houston-Galveston Area Council will host a series of public outreach events at local Park & Ride and transit center facilities within the Houston-Galveston region. This year's celebration is to show appreciation to commuters, employees and the general public for their participation in riding the bus, vanpooling, carpooling, NuRiding, teleworking, biking and walking. Transit riders will receive t-shirts and other promotional items as they board their vehicles. Commute Solutions, a program of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, is designed to reduce traffic congestion on our roads and improve our air quality. This program provides commuters with a variety of alternatives to driving their cars that will save them time and money and relieve stress often associated with a long commute. For more information about the Commute Solutions Program, call 1-877-512-7333 or visit www.commutesolutionshouston.org.


Institute of Internal Auditors cites Austin conference in September

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) 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. 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. IIA's Chairman Phil Tarling and the North American Board Chairman, Mike Peppers, will both be keynote speakers as well. 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.


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.


AACOG announces upcoming workshop

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) on Sept 7 will host a Basics of Economic Development for Elected Officials Workshop. This workshop will also be at 8700 Tesoro Drive 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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Many schools considering BYOD to augment high-tech classrooms


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


Back-to-school shopping for school supplies means a new destination - the tech department at a favorite retail store. Thanks to technology, some students are replacing backpacks with flash drives.


Classrooms are morphing into high-tech learning centers. Some schools require students to purchase tablets, e-readers or laptops. Others may furnish iPads or electronic notebooks that students can take home with them every day. And some even allow students to bring personal smartphones to class to take advantage of the technology in accessing the Internet, checking assignments and interacting with teachers and professors.


A whole new conversation has emerged regarding BYOD - Bring Your Own Device - in schools, colleges and universities and even in state and local government settings. BYOD is certainly not without its detractors. Some IT professionals say it creates the need for more IT security.


Texas A&M University estimates that its approximately 50,000 students and 2,700 faculty members use between two and five mobile devices regularly while on campus and in classrooms. That kind of demand resulted in a need for the university to upgrade its campus-wide wireless network.


The University of Tennessee at Knoxville reported similar figures. Officials there estimate that more than 27,000 students and 9,000 faculty and staff are part of a growing number of BYOD users with a total of more than 10,000 mobile devices. With that many devices trying to connect to the university's network, UT was forced to upgrade its wireless network as well.





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Collaboration Nation

Robstown ISD to place $13.5 million bond proposal on ballot

Robstown Independent School District officials recently agreed to ask voters in November to approve $13.5 million in bonds to pay for improving Robstown High School.


If the bond proposal passes, district officials plan to rebuild and upgrade 30 classrooms in addition to renovating the cafeteria and library. The project will require moving students from the high school into currently closed elementary buildings for almost two years while the renovations are being completed.


DeGiovanni resigns as deputy

city manager in San Antonio

Pat DiGiovanniPat DeGiovanni (pictured), the deputy city manager in San Antonio, recently resigned to become the new chief executive officer of Centro Partnership, a public-private partnership charged with downtown redevelopment. DeGiovanni will assume his new duties on Jan. 1 and plans to wrap up several initiatives during his remaining months with the city of San Antonio.


DeGiovanni joined the city in 2006 and played a central role in forming Centro Partnership. He's also been credited for his role in easing the process of developing projects in the center of the city.


Sunset Commission to hear staff presentations at meeting

The Sunset Advisory Commission will meet on Wednesday, Sept. 5, to hear staff presentations and public testimony on six government entities. The meeting will be in the Senate Finance Committee Room of the State Capitol Extension, Room E1.036, beginning at 9 a.m.


Staff reports and public testimony will be heard on the State Pension Review Board, the Office of Fire Fighters' Pension Commissioner, the Port of Houston Authority, the State Employee Charitable Campaign Policy Committee, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.


Commission decisions will be made on four Texas Criminal Justice Agencies, including the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Managed Health Care Committee, Windham School District and the Board of Pardons and Paroles.


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McCulloch County asking voters to approve $6.8 million for new jail

In an effort to reduce overcrowding at the county jail, McCulloch County commissioners recently voted to place a $6.8 million bond proposal on the November ballot. The bond funds, if approved, will be used to build and equip a new 20,000-square-foot to 25,000-square-foot law enforcement center and jail to replace the current facility that has only 22 beds. County officials also will use bond funds to buy 5.56 acres of land on which to place the new jail and law enforcement center.


Mueller to serve as new town manager in city of Little Elm

Matt MuellerMatt Mueller (pictured) recently agreed to serve as the new town manager in Little Elm to replace Ivan Lanford, who resigned to become a general manager in Texas City. Doug Peach will continue to serve as interim town manager until Mueller begins his new duties


In Oklahoma, Mueller previously served as a city manager in Guthrie, a deputy city manager in Claremore and an analyst in Edmond. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma.


Brittain declines offer to serve

as new city manager in Overton

The Overton City Council recently offered Melinda Brittain the job as city manager, but she declined,. That sends the Council back to square one to find a replacement for B.J. Potts, who resigned to serve as city manager in Dimmitt.


Brittain currently is city manager for Dow Worthington Gardens and was an assistant city manager in Center.


HDI Solutions

Overton to seek bids for

new water and sewer system

Overton City Council members recently agreed to use a $275,000 block grant to hire an engineering firm to develop a plan for improvements to the water and sewer system. City officials expect bidding on the water and sewer system upgrade to begin in October and begin construction early next year.


Allen taps Flanigan as new

director of engineering

Chris FlaniganAllen city officials recently selected Chris Flanigan (pictured) as the director of engineering. He replaced John Baumgartner, who retired.


Flanigan previously was the city's project manager for the capital improvement program and became assistant director of engineering in 2007 prior to working for a private company. He has a bachelor's degree from Kansas State University and a master's degree from The University of Texas at Dallas.


Texas Municipal League region 14 selects new president, officers

Region 14 members of the Texas Municipal League (TML) recently elected Scott Sherman, mayor pro-tem of Pearland, as the new president of the group, which represents cities in that region.


Region 14 TML members also selected Bert Miller, mayor of Navasota, as the 1st vice president; Bobby Marshall, a council member in Missouri City, as the 2nd vice president; and Julie Masters, mayor of Dickinson, to serve on the TML board of directors.


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Trull to resign as superintendent of Paris ISD in June 2013

Paul TrullPaul Trull (pictured), a consultant who is currently serving as acting superintendent at Paris Independent School District after resigning as superintendent of that district last year, recently announced he intends to resign from that interim post in June 2013. An educator for 31 years, Trull also served as a principal and assistant superintendent for the Paris school district.


Trustees plan to begin a search soon for a new superintendent to replace Trull, district officials said.


Hays County approves $174,000 study for central dispatch center

Hays County recently approved a $174,000 study to evaluate the feasibility of merging four separate call centers now operating in the county into one central dispatch center.


The four dispatch centers are at the sheriff's office, the police departments in San Marcos and Kyle as well as Texas State University. Each of the centers performs dispatch duties for 15 emergency service agencies, including emergency services districts and fire departments. The cost of the study will be shared proportionately among all of the emergency service agencies based on their call volume.


The study will help determine the cost of the proposed communications center and develop more detailed plans for the central dispatch center, county officials said. The study also will research if state and federal dollars would be available for the proposed central dispatch center and how the county could pay for the center. Because several of the emergency services agencies do not currently share technology, some local police departments may not become aware if sheriff's deputies respond to an active shooting, said Erica Carpenter, communications director for the dispatch center in the sheriff's office. A central dispatch center would help eliminate confusion and allow all dispatchers and other emergency workers to train and work together in one facility, she said.


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Ford leaving Taylor EDC

for job in Louisiana

Jason FordJason Ford, chief executive officer of the Taylor Economic Development Corp., has announced he is leaving the EDC to accept a job with the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. Ford has served four years with the Taylor EDC, after previously serving with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce as economic development director.


Officials with the Taylor EDC expect to name an interim CEO soon while they search for a new full-time CEO.


Chambers to be interim Hays Co. emergency management director

Hays County commissioners recently tapped Mark Chambers, the county fire marshal, as the interim emergency management coordinator. He replaces Jeff Turner who resigned from that post. Commissioners also agreed to create a committee of stakeholders to help select a new emergency management coordinator.


Chambers previously served as both fire marshal and emergency management coordinator from 1999 until county officials separated those duties into two positions in 2005. The emergency management coordinator oversees disaster response and recovery, training for emergency responders, shelter operations and the emergency operations center.


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Grapevine-Colleyville ISD

taps Mooney as new CFO

The Grapevine-Colleyville ISD board of trustees recently selected DaiAnn Mooney as the new chief financial officer. Mooney joined the city in 1996 and previously worked as a staff accountant and as director of finance. She also has acted as interim CFO on two occasions. Mooney replaces Elaine Cogburn, the former CFO who resigned to join Mansfield ISD.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 8/17/12

Winters leaves post as city manager in Aransas Pass

Reggie Winters, the city manager in Aransas Pass, recently resigned from that post, effective immediately. City officials expect to select an interim city manager next week, the city secretary said.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Gene Allen of Kerrville, chair, Texas Funeral Service Commission;

  • Rick Tate of Marfa, Pecos River Compact Commissioner;

  • Anna Hundley of Dallas, State Independent Living Council;

  • Calvin Turner of Austin, State Independent Living Council;

  • Stephen Gersuk of Plano, Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities;

  • Bill O'Neal of Carthage, Texas State Historian

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Red Oak taps Argumaniz

as new city secretary

Red Oak City Council members recently appointed Dana Argumaniz as the new city secretary. Joining the city eight years ago, Argumaniz previously was an executive assistant to the mayor, city manager and assistant city manager.


Seguin eyeing plan to add bus service, share costs with AACOG

Seguin City Council members recently began reviewing a proposal from the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) to establish fixed-route bus service in Seguin. The proposal calls for the city and AACOG to share the city's cost, estimated at $32,000 for the first six months of operation and $64,350 for the second full year of operation.


Joe Ramos, senior director of regional services for AACOG, outlined four tentative routes to provide scheduled bus service linking residential neighborhoods and business centers in the city. The proposed charge would be $1 per trip or 50 cents for passengers over age 65, those with disabilities and students who are age 18 or younger, Ramos said. The bus service would be available from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday. Only one bus will initially operate, but using two buses would enhance services and another bus could be added later, he said.


Fort Bend ISD selects assistant superintendent, administrators

Fort Bend Independent School District board members recently approved Phillys Hill as an assistant superintendent. Trustees also appointed a new chief legal counsel, chief academic officer and chief human resources officer.


Hill previously was executive director of elementary schools, a principal and teacher at Killeen ISD. She has a bachelor's degree and master's degree from the University of Mary Hardin Baylor, a Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University and her superintendent's certification from Tarleton State University.


Trustees also named Cynthia Rincon, who previously was human resources director of employee services and a teacher, as the chief legal counsel for the district. Rincon earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and a master's degree from the University of Houston-Victoria. Mary Jackson, who was the district's director of special programs, is the new chief academic officer. Jackson holds a bachelor's degree from Mercer University, a master's degree from Georgia State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston. Trustees also tapped Beth Martinez as the chief human resources officer. Previously director of staffing, Martinez also was a teacher and principal for the district and has a bachelor's degree from Houston Baptist University and a master's degree from the University of Houston.


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