Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 30 - Friday, Aug. 3, 2012

Electronic health records:


More Texas health professionals, hospitals qualify for implementation incentives

Electronic Records
More Texas health care professionals and hospitals are earning incentives for implemention of electronic health records.

Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included the setting aside of funds to promote the use of health information technology, in particular the use of electronic health records (EHRs) by both health care providers and hospitals. Incentives were set up for both health professionals and hospitals willing to make the switch to EHRs.


In February, officials with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission reported a little more than 200 hospitals in the state together had been awarded a total of $208.9 million in incentives, while more than 2,700 health professionals shared incentives of more than $56.5 million. HHSC officials said at the time that their goal was not just to have new technology in place but to "use it to improve patient care."


"We continue to see a lot of interest in these incentives on the part of hospitals and medical professionals," said HHSC Spokesperson Geoff Wool earlier this week. Wool said the most recent figures (from June 26) show the number of Texas hospitals receiving incentives has now increased to 240 and the total paid to those hospitals has increased to $245 million, an increase of more than $36 million in a little over four months.


Wool said the number of Texas health care providers who have received incentives through June 26 has increased by more than 1,200 since February and now totals 3,909. The total paid to providers is now at $82.6 million, an increase in the last four months of more than $26 million.


The increases, said Wool, tell HHSC that "we're making good progress in laying the foundation for development of electronic health record systems that will lead to more efficient and effective health services for all Texans."




Former legislator Janek named executive commissioner for HHSC


DADS commissioner Trayor selected to serve as chief deputy commissioner

Kyle JanekDr. Kyle Janek (left), a physician and former member of both the Texas House and Senate, has been chosen by Gov. Rick Perry as the new executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Janek, a former vice chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and former member of the House Public Health Committee, will step into his new role of heading up the state's five health and human services agencies on Sept 1, succeeding Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs, who is retiring.


Chris TraylorSen. Jane Nelson, longtime chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said Janek's experience will make him uniquely qualified to take on the HHSC post during what she called a "critical time" for the state's health and human services. "Texas will benefit greatly from his experience as a former legislator and a physician who understands how our policies impact all Texans."


In addition to Janek's appointment, HHSC also announced that Chris Traylor (right), commissioner of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services since 2010, will serve as HHSC's chief deputy commissioner. Perry said Janek and Traylor bring "unparalleled experience and expertise" to their new posts.


Janek is a board-certified anesthesiologist and director of anesthesia services at Lakeway Regional Medical Center. He served in the Texas House from 1995 to 2002 and in the Texas Senate from 2003 to 2008. He is a member of the Travis County Medical Society, Texas Medical Association, Texas and American societies of Anesthesiologists, the International Anesthesia Research Society and the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists. 




Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


William StaplesDr. William Staples, president, the University of Houston at Clear Lake


Career highlights and education: I earned my bachelor's degree in business administration from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, followed by my MBA at the University of Iowa. I then moved to Houston and attended the University of Houston, where I received my doctoral degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. During my doctoral program, I spent a year in Washington, D.C., working for the Federal Trade Commission. From 1976 to 1979, I was on the faculty of the College of Business at Drake University. In 1979, I joined the faculty of the University of Houston-Clear Lake as an associate professor of marketing. In addition to being a professor of marketing, I served the School of Business as a coordinator, program director, associate dean and dean prior to my appointment as president of UH-Clear Lake in 1995.
What I like best about my job is: The best part of my job is the opportunity to work with a lot of great people on a variety of important issues that result in life-changing experiences for our students. The variety of issues makes for both a very interesting and challenging job. The opportunity to work with faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, legislators and community members enables one to build partnerships and friendships to advance the mission of UH-Clear Lake.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Always remember that people are your most important asset. Hire the best people you can and establish a team-oriented environment and you will be able to successfully address most challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Build good working relationships with people throughout the university. Engage in various types of professional development so that you continue to be a life-long learner. Guard your reputation and never bargain away your integrity. 
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: I am not very likely to sneak out early, but if I did, I would be on a golf course enjoying the day and trying to shoot below 90.

People would be surprised to know that I: used to umpire baseball and referee basketball. Also, I have had a hole-in-one, which many of my golfing friends find unbelievable.
One thing I wish more people knew about the Universityof Houston-Clear Lake: Even though the University of Houston-Clear Lake has only been in operation since 1974, we now have almost 55,000 alumni. While UH-Clear Lake has been an upper-level university for the past 38 years, UHCL will become a four-year university in fall 2014, when we admit freshmen and sophomores for the first time.
Ancira to head Speaker's staff; new policy hires cited

Jesse AnciraJesse Ancira (pictured), who has been serving as acting chief of staff in the office of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, has been promoted to the position full-time. Straus also this week announced the hiring of three new members of his policy staff.


Ancira is the Speaker's former general counsel, a post he has held since 2009. He was named interim chief of staff in March. Ancira has nearly two decades of experience in Texas state government. His state government experience also includes being a former associate deputy comptroller and general counsel with the Office of the Comptroller of Public Accounts. He has also served the federal government and is a former special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


In addition to Ancira's promotion, Straus also announced the addition of Patricia Shipton, Dan Madru and Shakira Pumphrey to his Policy office.


Shipton, former director of legislative affairs in the Governor's Office, will be Straus' strategic legislative advisor. She most recently worked in private consulting. Shipton is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin.  Madru will be senior policy advisor for Business and Regulatory Affairs.  He is a former director of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Senate Committee on Business and Commerce. He holds a master's degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and an undergraduate degree from Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Pumphrey will be policy advisor for Corrections and Criminal Justice. She is returning to the Speaker's Office, where she served during the 82nd Legislative Session.  Most recently, Pumphrey served as a Civil Rights Investigator for the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission.  She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Central Arkansas and is currently working on her law degree from the Southern University Law Center.


McCarty announces retirement as TPWD deputy executive director

Gene McCartyGene McCarty (pictured), deputy executive director for administration at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), has announced his retirement from state government after a 34-year career in public service. McCarthy's retirement is effective Aug. 31.


The longtime public servant began his career with TPWD as a fish and wildlife technician at the Dundee Fish Hatchery near Wichita Falls in 1978 and has risen through the ranks at the agency, helping shape department policy and many issues. In 1981, he was promoted to hatchery superintendent at the Huntsville Fish Hatchery. In 1982, McCarty became a biologist in Corpus Christi and helped build the original John Wilson Fish Hatchery. He worked there until 1987, when he was promoted once again to be statewide director for fish hatchery programs. In 1994, he became the director of the Coastal Fisheries division, a position he held until 1997. After leaving Coastal Fisheries, McCarty became chief of staff at the Austin executive office and worked directly with the executive director until promoted to his present position in 2005. In his current role, McCarty supervises the Administrative Resources, Communications, Human Resources and Information Technology divisions.


During the latter part of his career, McCarty played a major role in five legislative sessions by working with all divisions to track bills, provide information and respond to lawmaker's requests. He also worked directly with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, the nine-member board that oversees the state agency.


Nabers addresses small business forum, expo in Irving

Mary Scott Nabers (pictured), president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. and co-founder of Gemini Global Group, was among speakers at the 2012 Governor's North Texas Small Business Forum and Business Expo in Irving on Thursday. Sponsored by the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, the Governor's Office and the Texas Workforce Commission, some 300 representatives of small businesses in Texas registered for the one-day event.


Nabers was speaker for one of the major breakout sessions and spoke on "Building Business Between Government and Business." Luncheon keynote speaker for the event was baseball legend and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.


Following her remarks, Nabers was on hand to sign copies of her new book, Collaboration Nation, How Public-Private Ventures are Revolutionizing the Business of Government.


Jackson announces retirement; Graham new TxDOT counsel
Bob Jackson Bob Jackson (pictured), general counsel for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), has announced his retirement, effective Aug. 31. Jackson served nearly three decades with the state transportation agency, beginning his career in 1984 as a legislative analyst. He worked part-time in the Houston TxDOT district office while attending the University of Houston Law Center. He later was named TxDOT deputy general counsel and was promoted to general counsel in 2006.


Jackson will be replaced by Jeff Graham, who is a former chief of the Financial and Taxation Litigation Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas. He is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and earned his law degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri.


Former Education Commissioner Scott takes law job in Austin

Robert ScottFormer Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott (pictured), who resigned from that post early last month, has landed at the Austin law firm of Beatty, Bangle and Strama in an Of Counsel position, effective Aug. 1.


Scott was appointed as deputy commissioner of education at the Texas Education Agency in 2004. He later served the agency as chief executive, overseeing the reorganization of TEA in 2003. Scott was named Commissioner in 2007 and ran the agency that oversees 1,200 school districts and charter schools in Texas.


"We are very proud to have Robert bring his experience, qualifications and reputation as a policy leader to BBS. It's not often this type of opportunity comes along," said Matt Beatty, managing shareholder at the firm. Scott earned a law degree from The University of Texas School of Law and is a member of the Texas State Bar.


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Duke Medical Center's Jacobs new dean of UTMB medical school

Danny JacobsDr. Danny O. Jacobs (pictured), who currently serves as the David C. Saabiston Jr. Professor and chair of surgery at Duke University Medical Center, has been appointed as executive vice president and provost, and dean of The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Medicine. He will join UTMB on Oct. 1.


Jacobs is an accomplished physician-scientist and teacher. In his new role at UTMB, he will lead the UTMB Academic Enterprise as it pursues its strategic mission goals in the areas of health sciences education, research and patient care. Jacobs will hold faculty appointments in the Department of Surgery and the Institute for Translational Sciences.


The soon-to-be dean of the Medical School earned his AB degree in biology and an MPH degree from Harvard University. He received his MD degree from Washington University in St. Louis, completing a surgical residency and serving as chief resident at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery and the National Board of Nutrition Support.


Sharp announces fund to attract faculty, research dollars

 "As we continue to be challenged with doing more with less, it is important for us to find ways to attract world-class researchers without overtaxing our already lean budgets," said Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp as he announced creation of the Chancellor's Research Initiative (CRI). The initiative is aimed at providing one-time funds to Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University to recruit and hire top faculty members. The System is looking for candidates who have a proven record of developing and implementing research programs.


Sharp's proposal would provide $33 million for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 and $34 million in 2015. The source of the funds would be the annual Available University Fund (AUF). The System is looking for faculty already accomplished in such initiatives as NSF Engineering Research Centers, NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers, foundations that support the liberal arts and other similar initiatives. The A&M System regents approved the $33 million in funding at their meeting Thursday.


"We want to attract exceptional faculty members who will have a transformative impact upon the academic and research missions of Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M," said Sharp. "I envision that these talented candidates will also attract additional research dollars for their work and our universities."


In addition, candidates will be evaluated on their ability to augment federal funding with additional support from commercial and/or non-profit sources; alignment of their area of study with current/future national funding priorities and university strategic thrusts; and a track record of their trainees successfully obtaining federal funding. Sharp said he is hopeful the CRI will not only result in successful recruitment of top researchers, but also bring in funding to support their work.


Monticino selected as UNT's interim VP for development

Michael MonticinoMichael Monticino (pictured), who has been head of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Texas for the last two years, is the university's new interim vice president for advancement. He will also serve as director of development for the UNT Foundation. As head of UNT's fundraising operations, Monticino will be charged with expanding the institution's private support, overseeing the university's division of advancement and working closely with the UNT Foundation and UNT Alumni Association.


Monticino joined the UNT faculty in 1990 as a professor of mathematics. He was appointed associate dean for administrative affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2004, dean of the UNT Graduate School in 2009 and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2010. He also is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.


Prior to joining UNT, Monticino was an associate with Daniel H. Wagner Associates, Inc., a mathematical and computer science consulting firm.


Tyler Junior College pushes forward on health science center

Tyler Junior College officials recently began looking for engineers, architects, medical doctors and construction companies to move forward on a new health science and nursing center approved by voters in a $25 million bond election in May. TJC officials expect the new health science and nursing center will be open to students in fall 2013.


Board members advised local contractors to begin teaming up with out-of-town contractors as a team of experts will be selected based on quality and experience because the new building will be a state-of-the-art facility and most likely will need some expertise not available locally, advised Dr. Mike Metke, president of the college. TJC officials expect to make the final selection of contractors for the building by the end of August.


Pflugerville prioritizes 13 park projects as part of five-year plan

Tom WordWorking with parks and recreation staff, Pflugerville City Council members recently adopted a priority list of 13 park projects to include in a five-year plan.


The highest priority is expanding and upgrading hike and bike trails throughout the city. The plan allots $750,000 to spend over a five-year period, or $150,000 annually, to improve trails, said Tom Word (pictured), council member. Other projects included in the five-year plan are expanding parking on the north and south shores of Lake Pflugerville at a cost of about $300,000 and a $1 million plan that will spend about $200,000 a year to transform one- to 10-acre plots of land now owned by the city. The goal is to complete 11 small, neighborhood parks in five years, Word said.


Council members also set a goal of designing and building a $5.6 million regional park northeast of Lake Pflugerville and construction of a sports complex at a cost of about $10.8 million. Future bond funding will be needed to fund these projects, he said.


UTMB cites reduced federal, state funds for cutting 51 jobs

Officials of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston recently cited reduced state and federal funding for the decision to lay off 51 employees, including doctors, staff and researchers.


The first of the layoffs went to 29 faculty members, 90 percent of whom are researchers. Those contracts were not renewed because of reduced research funding from the National Institutes of Health. For most of the 29 contracts, layoffs are immediate, but eight faculty members will remain employed by UTMB for another year, a spokesperson said. UTMB also notified 28 employees who provided administrative and financial support that they no longer had jobs because of reduced state funding, the spokesperson said.


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Tyler ISD exploring $150-$200 million bond proposal in November

Tyler Independent School District trustees are still exploring whether to ask voters to approve from $150 million to $200 million in bonds to pay for two new high schools, a reorganization of schools and renovations to existing buildings.


Superintendent Randy Reid told trustees that voters could approve a $150 million bond proposal with no change to the current tax rate, but that the facilities plan backed by most board members in discussions is a $200 million price estimate. Board members voiced strong support for programs such as the proposed Advanced Career and Technology Center. The center will also address the needs of students who are not planning on seeking bachelor's degrees in college as well as students who plan to attend college and earn a degree.


Other trustees backed creation of centers to serve fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade and urged citizens to provide input on the possible bond proposal at a budget workshop this week. Board members can wait as long as Aug. 21 to decide whether to call a bond election in November, the board president said.


Big city mayors call for more state funding for infrastructure

Betsy PriceMeeting in Fort Worth recently, mayors from the largest cities in Texas urged state leaders to allot more money to build and maintain infrastructure and maintain services as urban populations grow. The mayors also asked for the state to cooperate more closely with cities to make government more effective.


The event was hosted by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price (pictured) and included mayors from Houston, Dallas, El Paso and Austin. The group called for state officials to restore $5.4 billion that was cut from public education during the last legislative session and to bring back $20 million to a homeless program that began in 2009 and almost shut down in 2011. Transportation and water issues also topped the issues explored by the big city mayors.


Corpus Christi approves $90 bond election in November

Corpus Christi City Council members recently agreed to ask voters to approve $90 million in bonds in a November election to raise $55 million to upgrade city streets, $16 million to improve parks and recreation and $9 million for economic development.


Council members added the $9 million economic development project along the JFK Causeway after area residents noted that several popular businesses that attract visitors along the causeway lack such basic infrastructure as a paved road or an adequate water supply. Other propositions on the November ballot are:

  • $4.75 million to improve the service center complex;
  • $2.3 million to upgrade the city museum and library;
  • $1.75 million to renovate city hall;
  • $820,000 to renovate the public health building; and
  • $700,000 for public safety upgrades.

University of North Texas Denton campus orders hiring freeze

Warren BurggrenCiting a decline in enrollment and the likely prospects of reduced state funding, University of North Texas officials recently ordered a hiring freeze effective on Aug. 1.


The hiring freeze is needed as the enrollment of transfer and graduate students has declined and waivers and exemptions that reduce tuition and revenue have been implemented, noted Warren Burggren (pictured), UNT provost. University officials also need to identify reductions for the upcoming request the college will submit to the legislature during the appropriation process. One state mandate officials must evaluate is the requirement that calls for public colleges and universities to waive fees for military veterans without appropriating any funding to replace the tuition revenue lost with the exemption, he said.


Hiring for public safety and personnel critical for maintenance of infrastructure most likely will be exempted from the hiring freeze, he added. The hiring freeze affects only the Denton campus as officials of the Dallas campus of UNT and the Health Science Center in Fort Worth will make an independent decision.


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Amarillo moving forward with $69.3 million convention center hotel

Developers of a proposed $69.3 million Amarillo convention center hotel recently began finalizing construction plans and hiring a construction manager as part of a public-private partnership to upgrade the downtown area, the president of the Amarillo Local Government Corp said.


Construction on the convention hotel should begin in late 2013 and be completed by the summer of 2015, said Gary Pittner, president of the ALGC, which oversees the project for city officials. The downtown redevelopment plan also includes a new $13.4 million parking garage and $30.3 million baseball stadium.


The developer, Wallace Baijjali Development Partners, has plans to lease two blocks of land owned by the city south of the Center for the Performing Arts as a site for the new hotel and parking garage, Pitner said. Council also approved an agreement outlining incentives included in the redevelopment project, including a 90 percent rebate of property taxes that would be paid by the operator of the new convention center hotel.


Work begins on Capitol sculpture honoring Vietnam vets

Capitol Sculpture
This Capitol sculpture will honor Texas Vietnam veterans.

Featuring five infantry figures poised in patrol positions, work has begun on the 14-foot bronze sculpture that will grace the grounds of the Texas Capitol to honor the service of hundreds of thousands of Texans who served in Vietnam.


The sculpture is currently at the Deep in the Heart Foundry in Bastrop, and when finished will be installed on the northeast side of the Capitol grounds, hopefully by fall of next year.


A $500,000 matching grant was provided by the state to construct the monument and a committee to raise the matching $500,000 reports its efforts have resulted in the raising of 80 percent of the necessary funds to continue moving forward with the project. The sculpture is made possible by legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in 2005.


The base of the sculpture will have panels depicting naval, artillery, medical and aviation services that support the combat patrol figures. A total of 3,415 "dog tags," representing each of the Texans killed in Vietnam, will be personalized with each individual's name, service, hometown and date of loss, and will be entombed inside the monument. For more information visit www.buildthemonument.org or contact Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument Chairman Robert Floyd at 512-970-9708.


La Feria to use $3M in federal money to build two shelter centers

La Feria city officials plan to use more than $3 million in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to build two new dome-shaped, concrete emergency shelters that will also be used a majority of the time as community centers.


The two shelter facilities, a $2.4 million, 20,000-square-foot facility on Main Street and a $2.4 million, 15,000-square-foot facility on Pancho Maples Drive, will feature a safe room for residents with special needs, including medical needs. FEMA is providing $1.8 million in funding for each of the shelters and the city is contributing the remaining $600,000 in funding for each of the emergency shelters/community centers, the mayor said.


During emergencies, the two shelters also will be used to house emergency personnel and members of the National Guard, the mayor said. FEMA also is awarding grant funds to build emergency shelters in Willacy County and in Los Fresnos, he said.


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Fort Worth rounding up funding for new police, fire center

Fort Worth city officials recently agreed to vote soon on several funding options to help pay for a proposed new $97 million headquarters and training complex for the police and fire departments.  


In early August, the city council is expected to vote on selling certificates of obligation to finance $77 million of the estimated $97 million cost of the headquarters and training facility. Board members of the Crime Control and Prevention District and City Council members plan to vote on Aug. 30 on whether to use $10 million from a projected surplus in the police department 2013 budget to help pay for a police firing range. City officials plan to finance the remaining $10 million by selling to Tarrant County the downtown building currently housing the police department.


Austin airport scheduled for $5 million in improvements

Officials of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport recently received approval from City Council to proceed with a $5 million airport upgrade to increase convenience and improve security barriers used following the terror attacks of 9/11.


The plan calls for adding steel bollards similar to those installed at the capitol building in Austin to replace larger planters placed near the terminal entrance in 2001, building a temporary space for a cell phone lot to allow a convenience store and/or gas station on the current site and rebuilding a cell phone lot around that retail establishment, ABIA officials said. The plan also calls for renovations to the curbside pick-up and drop-off area and building a new road to allow two-way traffic from the new cell phone lot to Presidential Blvd., the road circling the airport also being resurfaced under the plan.


The Federal Aviation Administration will reimburse about 75 percent of the cost of the improvements, a spokesman for the airport said.


Wall tapped as new executive director of center for technology

Jim WallOfficials at Texas A&M University recently appointed Dr. Jim Wall (pictured) as executive director of the Texas Center for Applied Technology (TCAT), a part of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES).


Wall previously was the deputy director who oversaw computing and information technology for TCAT. As executive director, Wall is responsible for administering policies, the agency agenda, setting goals and implementation strategies.


He also will oversee implementation of workforce development and technical assistance to small businesses.


Del Rio seeking second round of bids to demolish building

Del Rio City Council members recently agreed to seek a second round of proposals to demolish the old police station. The first round of proposals submitted were over budget, city officials said.


Council members authorized the city manager to reject all previous proposals submitted to demolish the downtown building and advertise again for proposals to tear down the old police station.


Auditorium Shores trailhead in Austin getting makeover

The trailhead at Auditorium Shores in Austin will get a makeover in several areas following action of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Plans are being made to help mitigate congestion caused by runners, cyclists and those who walk in the area. Plans are for more parking, restrooms and an area for food trailers.


Trails will be widened and there will be revamped areas to sit, take a break or get in some pre-run exercise. The city plans later to improve an off-leash area for dogs and the concert area. City officials are hoping to tap into an offer from a private company that produced Austin City Limits Music Festival to help pay for improvements to the concert area.


Construction is expected to begin in fall 2013 and completion is expected six to nine months later. The trail area will remain open during the upgrades. The project is expected to cost $2 million, including $1 million from the parks department and $1 million in state grant funds.


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Corpus Christi plans $23 million renovation of public housing units

Corpus Christi Housing Authority board members recently authorized staff to begin seeking proposals for architects and financial consultants for a $23 million renovation of four public housing developments along Ayers Street. Agency officials had tried several times to win a federal grant to demolish and replace the rundown housing units and failed. Housing authority officials now plan to renovate the exteriors and interiors of more than 900 housing units, said Gary Allsup, chief executive officer of the housing authority.


The estimated cost to renovate La Armada II, the largest of the public housing developments, is $14.8 million to install air conditioning, enclose back porches to add connections for washers and dryers, upgrade electrical systems, replace plumbing and renovate kitchens and baths, Allsup said. Some of the housing units, such as Clarelaine Gardens, only need renovations such as installing a $1.4 million central air conditioner as those units received renovations about two years ago.


The housing renovations, which will be financed through noncompetitive tax credits, capital improvement funding and federal energy performance funding, will be done in phases and could begin as early as 2013, Allsup said.


State-ordered study reveals Premont ISD needs $12M in repairs

A facilities study ordered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently found that cash-strapped Premont Independent School District would need to spend $12 million to bring facilities up to state health and safety standards. Responding to the TEA order to merge with another school district and a later decision to give the district more time, voters in the Premont school district approved an increase in taxes and trustees hired a new superintendent to lead the district in efforts to keep the school district operating.


Conducted free of charge by an architectural firm that performs work for the nearby Tuloso-Midway school district, the $18,500 study found that the Premont district must abandon six of its 10 facilities because of disrepair. The district also needs to spend more than $9 million on improvements to the high school and middle school and $673,000 for health and safety improvements such as fire alarms and public address systems that are needed immediately, the study found.


The architect's study also suggested the board ask voters to approve $7.5 million in bonds in spring 2013 to pay for the facility upgrades required for the district to remain operating.


Ray Wolff resigns as auditor for Wilson County

Ray Wolff recently resigned as auditor for Wilson County, effective July 31. Two district judges, Stella Saxon and Donna Rayes, will appoint a new county auditor to replace Wolff, who served as county auditor since the 1980s.



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.


Pickens to headline Texas Lyceum Water Conference

A conversation with energy leader T. Boone Pickens will highlight the Texas Lyceum Water Conference slated for Friday, Aug. 10, in Amarillo. The conference will be at the Amarillo Civic Center from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Pickens will be among a number of state leaders and stakeholders who will be seeking possible solutions to the state's water crisis. Current and former members of the Texas Legislature, including former State Sen. Kip Averitt and House Natural Resources Chair Alan Ritter, municipal and water authority experts, conservationist, oil and gas industry leaders, landowner and agricultural advocates and academic experts, all of whom have studied water issues for years. There will be a number of panel discussions on issues from hydrology to energy production. To view the agenda, click here. To register online, click here.


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.


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.


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 two upcoming workshops

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) has two workshops coming up of interest to government officials. 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. 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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Local government technology spending remains strong


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


Technology spending will remain strong throughout 2012 and 2013. In fact, most expect it to increase because of the usage of mobile devices, smartphones and iPads. The Gartner Group, a technology research firm, predicts worldwide spending on information technology will reach $3.6 trillion before the end of this year.


Local government spending on technology in Texas will not reach trillions of dollars, but spending will be strong in spite of funding reductions. Public officials must now rely on technology because of staff reductions.


In the first quarter of this year, local governments in Texas spent millions on technology that included computer software, hardware, telecommunications equipment, wireless networks, cable installation, phone system upgrades, GPS systems, Web site design, temporary IT personnel and professional services.


The following list of awarded contracts provides a quick look into contracts that will roll over in the future as well as services and products that public entities routinely purchase:

  • The city of Houston signed a three-year contract worth $10.4 million for telecommunications services at the Houston Airport System;
  • The city of Irving spent $151,000 for personal computers and $68,000 for rugged mobile data computers;
  • The city of Mesquite spent $70,000 on electronic citation writers;
  • A contract worth $325,000 was awarded by the city of Arlington for video surveillance cameras, access control devices and hardware and software support and maintenance;
  • The city of Arlington spent approximately $1.6 million for mobile data computers;  


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Collaboration Nation

Travis County backs new road to connect to new Formula One track

Travis County commissioners recently approved amending a transportation plan to include $48.7 million in funding for a new road to connect the eastern side of the new Formula One racetrack to SH71. The new four-lane road will connect FM812 and Elroy Road to SH71 and is expected to ease traffic congestion when the race track opens as well as benefit local residents, county officials said.


Officials of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization must still approve any changes made to the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan before the county can proceed with the project. Extending the Maha Loop Road, which now ends near the Texas130 roll road, will provide an alternative to motorists traveling to the race track, said Steve Manilla, who oversees transportation and natural resources for the county. Funding for the proposed Maha Loop Road will come from a bond election, federal funding or local funding, he added.


Harlingen CISD to seek funding

for special $13.9 million school

Julio CavazosHarlingen Consolidated Independent School District trustees recently authorized district staff to seek out funding to pay for a proposed $13.9 million School of Health Professions.


District officials expect to use the Qualified School Construction Bonds program to obtain low-interest or interest-free loans to pay for building a new facility to train health professionals, said Julio Cavazos (pictured), assistant superintendent for business. Current plans call for accommodating 500 to 600 students from the eighth grade to grade 12 and would cost an additional $1.7 million to $2 million a year for staffing and supplies for the campus, Cavazos said.


Texarkana selects Bassett

as interim city manager

Texarkana City Council members recently selected Charlie Bassett as the interim city manager. Bassett will replace former City Manager Larry Sullivan until city officials hire a new full-time city manager.


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Holt retiring as municipal judge

for Bandera, court clerk resigns

Lynn Holt recently retired as municipal judge in Bandera, effective on July 18. Council members said they would advertise for applicants to serve as interim municipal judge after the city attorney advised that the city would benefit from hiring one person as the interim municipal judge rather than having different individuals serve as interim.


Peggy Larson, the clerk in the municipal court, also resigned effective July 20, the city manager said.


El Paso eyes new $50M stadium

as city closer to hosting team

Joyce WilsonPacific Coast League officials recently sent El Paso City Manager Joyce Wilson (pictured) a letter notifying the city that minor league baseball  has approved sale of a Triple-A baseball team to El Paso investors. El Paso city officials committed to building a new $50 million stadium downtown if the MountainStar Sports Group of El Paso secures the minor league team.


Plans call for building a stadium to seat from 7,000 to 9,000 fans on the site where the city hall is located if the sale is finalized. The new stadium could open as soon as April 2014, city officials said. If the purchase is finalized, the Triple-A baseball team will replace a Double-A minor team in that was sold in 2004 and moved to Missouri.


Floresville approves $2.1

million upgrade of sports facilities

Floresville City Council members recently approved spending $2.1 million to expand and renovate the city-owned sports complex. The sports complex, scheduled to open in spring 2013, will now feature three new softball fields, four baseball fields, a football field, soccer field, splash pad site and walking track on 150 acres of city-owned land on SH97. City officials also plan to upgrade concession stands and restroom facilities and renovate existing city fields as part of the project.


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Dawson ISD looking for

new full-time superintendent

Following the retirement of Arvel Rotan, who served five years as a part-time, interim superintendent for Dawson Independent School District, trustees agreed to hire a full time superintendent to lead the district. This week was the deadline for applicants interested in the new full-time post, the president of the school board said.


Dawson ISD needs a full-time superintendent who is on the job more than the four or five hours a day schedule for the part-time, interim superintendent, the president said. Trustees plan to begin this month and hire a new superintendent by the time school opens on Aug. 27, the president said. Wayne Poe, a former administrator for school districts in Mexia and Wortham, has served as interim superintendent since Rotan retired.


Sugar Land eyeing $3 million camera system to deter crime

Doug BrinkleySugar Land Police Chief Douglas Brinkley (pictured) recently presented a two-phase plan for the city to use a $3 million surveillance system using cameras to help deter crime. The city currently operates eight License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras.


The plan calls for buying 138 more LPR cameras and 70 video cameras to install around town, infrastructure upgrades needed for the technology and continued use of a public-private partnership with the First Colony Management District (FCMD) to access video cameras operated in the commercial district. Using video cameras has helped police recover 11 stolen vehicles, evidence in a shooting case and helped identify robbery suspects, Brinkley said.


Corpus Christi backs away

from vote on $60 million park

Following a request by supporters of the $60 million Destination Bayfront park, Corpus Christi City Council members recently deleted that proposed project from a $90 bond election the council approved for November.


Backers of the 34-acre park proposed as a public-private partnership to create a park to connect and show off the city's bay front asked council to remove the park project from the bond proposal and instead focus on upgrading streets and roads and repairing buildings. Supporters of the mixed-use park are expected to continue working to gain support for the park that features areas for festivals, an amphitheater, retail establishments and a center for cultural attractions all connected by green space and accessible to visitors.


El Paso adds $4.6 million

proposal to November bond vote

El Paso City Council members recently agreed to increase a bond proposal to be voted on in November by $4.6 million to pay for building six new soccer fields in the central part of the city. City officials previously had allotted $400,000 in the November bond election to add more soccer fields. If approved by voters, city officials will be able to spend $5 million on the new fields needed to provide the comparable number of soccer fields in the northwest areas of the city.



TxDOT approves $333,500

grant to Terrell County Airport

The Texas Transportation Commission recently approved a $333,500 grant to the Terrell County Airport to upgrade lighting and make other improvements. Airport officials expect work to begin on the airport upgrades in about two months, county officials said. The Aviation Facilities Grant Program of TxDOT awarded the grant.


Belton ISD tags Haugeberg

as new deputy superintendent

Eric HaugebergBelton Independent School District board members recently selected Eric Haugeberg (pictured) as the new deputy superintendent.


A former teacher with Belton ISD, Haugeberg currently is pursuing a Ph.D. at Texas A&M University. He has a bachelor's degree from Baylor University and master's degrees from the University of Texas at San Antonio and Florida State University. In his new position, Haugeberg will be responsible for long-range planning, district demographics and bond construction in addition to managing the business office and district operations.


Eagle Lake to apply for $350,000 grant to upgrade sewer system

Eagle Lake City Council members recently agreed that city officials should seek a $350,000 grant from the 2013-2014 Rural Community Development Block Grant Program to help pay for upgrading the sewer system.


Council members also voted to commit $66,000 in city funds for the sewer upgrade as required by terms of the grant administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture.


Bonham appoints Shipp as

its new city manager

Bonham City Council members recently appointed Bill Shipp as the new city manager. Shipp previously served as city manager in Commerce and Royse City.


Gemini Global Group

Smiley eyes expansion of water storage system through grant

With an eye to a more secure water supply, the Smiley City Council recently discussed seeking a grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture to help pay for a new water tank that will double the ability of the city to store water.


City officials recently spent $12,000 to repair and inspect one water tank and the other water storage tank needs about $40,000 in repairs to meet standards, the mayor said. A new water tank will cost about $60,000 and will double the capacity of the city to store water, which is critical for meeting a growing population and if the drought worsens again, city officials said.


Canutillo ISD appoints Brigham

as associate superintendent

Annette BrighamTrustees for Canutillo Independent School District recently appointed Annette Brigham (pictured) as the new associate superintendent and chief of staff to the superintendent. Brigham currently is the executive director of school resources.


She has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at El Paso and a master's degree from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. She previously was a teacher and principal.


Glenn Heights group recommends $16 million in bond projects

At a recent town hall meeting of the Glenn Heights City Council, members of the bond advisory and campaign committee presented $16 million in projects the group is considering including in a proposed bond election.


The majority of the projects studied for the bond election focus on improving streets, said Dr. Willie B. Sublet Jr., chairman of the bond advisory committee. Sublet also urged residents and council members to provide feedback to committee members on projects they believe should be included or deleted from a bond proposal.


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Fort Bend ISD postpones selection of its interim superintendent

Due to the absence of two board members, Fort Bend Independent School District trustees recently postponed the selection of a new interim superintendent, The interim superintendent will replace Superintendent Timothy Jenney, who is on vacation and paid leave until his retirement becomes official in January.


Assistant Superintendent Mike McKie is currently the acting superintendent for the Fort Bend School District. McKie, who has a master's degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, would not disclose if he has applied for the superintendent's position. Board members have set a goal of hiring a new superintendent by January 2013, the board president said.


Whitehouse creating new

municipal fire department

Whitehouse city officials recently began creating a municipal fire department and negotiating with the Smith County Emergency Services District to work out an agreement for both entities to pool resources and work together to provide affordable fire protection.


Council members authorized the assistant city manager to hire a fire chief and certified firefighters. The council, however, has not determined how many firefighters will be hired or whether firefighters will be housed at only at the main fire station on East Main Street or another station on SH110.


John Hargis, a firefighter who worked in Longview, will serve as fire chief. He has been certified as a firefighter since 1998 and also served 21 years in the Whitehouse Voluntary Fire Company.


Peters to resign position

as Poth ISD superintendent

Andy Peters, superintendent of the Poth Independent School District for the last 13 months, has announced his resignation. Peters has been named the lone finalist for superintendent of the Marfa ISD.


Peters came to Poth in July of last year after having served in the Louise ISD. He replaced former Poth Superintendent David Wehmeyer, who retired after serving the district for seven years.


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Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 7/27/12


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.


Walston to resign as city

attorney in Rockport

After 21 years as the city attorney in Rockport, William G. Walston, Jr. recently advised city officials he plans to resign effective on Oct. 1. Walston, who said he has decided to explore other professional opportunities, previously served two years on the city council before becoming city attorney.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Robert Franco Jr. of Austin to the Texas Economic Development Corp.;
  • Jeff Foster of Mount Vernon, Rehabilitation Council of Texas;
  • Martha Garber of Coppell, Rehabilitation Council of Texas;
  • Saul Herrera of Midland, Rehabilitation Council of Texas;
  • Manuel Lopez Jr. of Rosenberg, Rehabilitation Council of Texas;
  • Joyce Delores Taylor of Houston, Rehabilitation Council of Texas.

Sealy City Secretary Langton retires after 24 years of service

Krisha Langton, who has served in a variety of positions with the city of Sealy for the last 24 years, most recently as city secretary, has announced her retirement. During her tenure with the city, Langton has worn the hat of director of human resources, head of the city's municipal court, public information officer and finally city secretary. She began her career after serving as a part-time clerk with the high school's marketing program and then being recruited by the city in 1989. She was named city secretary in 1998. Following her retirement, she will begin work as a customer service representative and sales department consultant at Visual Promotions in the city.


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Fort Worth golf course plan includes dog park, pool

Fort Worth city staff recently unveiled a proposed master plan to convert a golf course into a park featuring a dog park, swimming pool, basketball courts, playgrounds, trails and scenic overlooks. City officials plan to close the 138-acre Z Boaz golf course on Sept. 30 and reopen the property as a park the next day to allow visitors to enjoy the trails and green spaces, David Creek, the assistant parks director said. Currently the master plan for the new park calls for a pool for the west side, but at no specific spot and no funding is available for adding features such as a pool or a dog park, Creek said.


The proposed plan calls for building a $4 million pool with lap lanes, a water slide and zero-depth beach, two playgrounds that will cost about $500,000 to make one of the parks accessible to children with disabilities, three covered and two uncovered basketball courts, a fenced dog park, a fitness trail with stations, a grass amphitheater, a skate park, two overlooks and enlarged ponds.


Allen selects Flanigan as

new director of engineering

Allen City Council members recently selected Chris Flanigan as the new director of engineering to replace John Baumgartner, who retired from that post.


Previously the assistant director of engineering for the city, Flanigan has a bachelor's degree from Kansas State University and a master's degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. He joined Allen in 2000 as a project manager in the capital improvement program and was previously an engineer in the private sector.


Rock will head up League City's economic development efforts

Owen Rock has been chosen by the city of League City to fill the position of economic development manager. He will be responsible for building a network of local, state and national developers and businesses and recruiting them to invest in the city. A native of Ireland, Rock came moved to Houston 20 years ago.


He holds a master's degree from the London School of Economics and has worked with cities in Indiana, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. The economic development manager slot has been vacant for two years.


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