Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 37 - Friday, Sept. 21, 2012

More changes at Texas state agencies:


Taylor retiring from DADS; Swedberg, Ellison named to new agency posts

Ed SwedbergGordon TaylorTwo long-time state employees are in new positions in state agencies while another with more than three decades of public service in Texas government has announced his retirement. After some 30 years of government service, Gordon Taylor (top right), chief financial officer for the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), is calling it a career.


Landing in new posts in Texas state agencies are Ed Swedberg (top left) and Mark Ellison (bottom right). Swedberg is the new assistant administrator for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and Ellison is the new Special Advisor on Economic Development for the Texas Water Development Board.


Mark EllisonTaylor will end his state service career at the end of September in the CFO post at DADS that he has held since February 2004. At DADS, he has been responsible for directing the Office of Budget and Data Management, Fiscal Management Services and Provider Claims Payments. He also is an advisor to the commissioner regarding budgetary issues.


Taylor began his government career as a budget examiner for the Legislative Budget Board, where he served for six years. He followed that with a seven-year stint with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and in 2003 was named CFO for the Texas Department of Human Services before beginning his current job at DADS.


Taylor holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Miami, a master's from the University of Florida and has done work toward a doctoral degree at The University of Texas at Austin. He also is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Texas Fiscal Officers Academy.




Texas to lose Supreme Court Justice at end of month


Wainwright announces his departure; plans return to private practice

Dale WainwrightTexas Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright this week announced he will leave the High Court at the end of this month to join the Austin law firm Bracewell & Giuliani LLP. Wainwright has served on the state court since 2003.


Prior to becoming a member of the Texas Supreme Court, Wainwright was a district court judge in Harris County. Prior to becoming a part of the judiciary, he worked in private practice law firms in Nashville and Houston.


Wainwright called his years on the Supreme Court "profoundly satisfying." But he said he also enjoyed working in private practice law, saying, "It is time to return to it."


Wainwright earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Howard University and while there studied for a semester at the London School of Economics. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago School of Law.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Betsy PriceBetsy Price, mayor, City of Fort Worth 


Career highlights and education: Price graduated from Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth and earned a bachelor's degree in biology from The University of Texas at Arlington. Her initial plan was to enter veterinary school, but instead decided to marry and raise a family while running her small business, Cornelius Title Service. Price was elected in 2001 as the Tarrant County Tax Assessor. She quickly used her conservative values and business experience in the Tax Assessor Office to make her department one of the most efficient in Texas, saving taxpayers millions of dollars with almost no increases in her department's budget. Price was elected as the 44th Mayor of the City of Fort Worth on June 18, 2011. After just more than a year as the city's top elected official, Price prides herself on being a grassroots mayor who strongly believes in the power of true public engagement. Thanks to her SteerFW young leadership program, hundreds of Fort Worthians under the age of 40 are now deeply engaged in the direction of the city and drafting proposals on issues such as public transit, education, employment and urban development. In her spare time, Price is an avid bike rider and has shared her passion with her Community Bike Rides - or "Rolling Town Halls" - throughout the neighborhoods of Fort Worth.
What I like best about my job is: There's no question what I like most about the honor of serving as the Mayor of Fort Worth - it's the people. It's the chance to work with our citizens to make a positive difference in our diverse communities. That's what keeps me going.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Probably the best advice I've received was not to take things personally.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  My advice would be to stay close to the people and listen. In this role, you can't fall into the trap that you have all the answers. It's all about communication.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: on my bike! 

People would be surprised to know that I: People would probably be most surprised that I once took lessons on barrel racing. As a young girl, we had the opportunity to own and ride horses; and to this day, I still love to get in the saddle. There's something very special about Stock Show time in Fort Worth, and one of my favorite parts is being around the horses and riding in the Grand Entry every night. I can't get enough of that!

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of Fort Worth: Sometimes, I wish more people knew just how big Fort Worth has become. Even in conversations with residents, it's not uncommon for them to be surprised to hear that Fort Worth is the 16th largest city in the United States. But that's okay. I think that surprise comes from the fact that - although we've grown exponentially - we still have that special small town state of mind. That's part of what makes Fort Worth one of the great American cities.

Bishop among speakers for upcoming legislative conference


ERS executive director to address future reality of employee benefits

Ann BishopGovernment pension stories are in the news nearly daily across the country these days. An update of the future reality of state employee benefits will be addressed by Ann S. Bishop, executive director of the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS), in the upcoming 8th Biennial Legislative Communications Conference. The conference is set for Tuesday, Oct. 16. Bishop is one of a number of speakers for the event.


ERS, the 35th largest public pension fund in the country, administers employee and retiree benefits for more than 500,000 state and higher education employees, retirees and their family members. It also manages investment of a $22 billion retirement trust fund. ERS serves 138,000 state employees, law enforcement officers, elected officials, judges and 84,000 retirees.


Bishop, a veteran public servant in Texas government, has served as Deputy Comptroller of Public Accounts and was the first executive director of the Department of Information Resources.


The conference has been jointly sponsored by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. and The University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs since 1998. Always a sold-out event, those interested in attending are encouraged to register now. In addition to Bishop's address, the conference will also feature keynote addresses by State Rep. Jim Pitts, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Kirk Watson, who will discuss the upcoming session from the hometown perspective. Other topics for speakers who will be participating are public-private partnerships at the state Capitol Complex, how to work with the state's leadership and predictions for the 83rd session.


TFC OK's new procedure dealing with public-private partnerships


Aimed at transparency, getting information on proposals to public faster

A new procedure approved this week by the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) is aimed at creating a faster process, and one that is more transparent, for consideration of proposed public-private partnerships (P3s). Currently, an unsolicited P3 proposal is reviewed by the TFC staff.  If the proposal meets the requirements in the P3 guidelines approved last year by the TFC, the proposal is sent to the Commission. Commission members can then vote to allow the staff to continue evaluating the proposal.


The change approved this week removes the step of taking the proposal to the Commission in the initial proceedings. The new guidelines delegate authority to Executive Director Terry Keel to either accept or reject a P3 proposal for evaluation. Keel and staff would determine if the concept meets guideline requirements and if the project is "reasonable."


Within 10 days of gaining that approval, TFC will report the acceptance of the proposal concept. That will begin the time period for other vendors to submit competitive proposals on the same property. When the time period has lapsed, TFC staff will evaluate all proposals received for a property and make their recommendation to the Commission. It is at that time that the Commission will act on the proposal.


The new process would eliminate the Commission having to review the concept at the beginning of the process. Aundre Dukes, portfolio manager and public liaison for the TFC, said the current process takes about seven months to complete. The new procedures approved this week, said Dukes, will trim three to four months off the review process necessary for each project.


TFC officials say they are seeking more transparency and getting information about proposals into the public arena as quickly as possible.


Alamo College taps Flores as new president of Palo Alto College

Michael FloresAlamo College officials recently selected Ruben Michael "Mike" Flores (pictured) as the new president of Palo Alto College. He replaces Ana "Cha" Guzman, who resigned to be president of Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico.


Flores joined Palo Alto in 1999 and most recently served as interim vice president of academic affairs. He has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio, a master's degree from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin.


He previously was employed in community colleges in Michigan and Colorado.


8th Biennial Legislative Conference - Register now

TxDOT names PIO, magazine editor, district engineer

Greg MalatekJill LawlessRickey DaileyThe Texas Department of Transportation recently announced appointments in three positions with the agency. Greg Malatek, P.E. (top left) has been selected as the new Austin District engineer. A TxDOT employee since 1984, Malatek began his career with the transportation agency in the Yoakum District. He later served as a design engineer in the Amarillo District and an area engineer in the San Antonio District's New Braunfels and Seguin area offices. Before being named to the Austin District, he was deputy district engineer for the Waco District and also served as interim Austin District engineer.


After 23 years with the Texas Highways magazine, Jill Lawless (top center) has worked her way up from intern to being recently named editor of the publication. She has previously served as interim editor and managing editor. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.


Veteran newspaper journalist Rickey Dailey (top right) is the new public information officer for the Corpus Christi District. He is a former capitol bureau chief for the Brownsville Herald, The Monitor in McAllen and the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen. Dailey spent the last decade developing strategic communications for a public relations firm in Austin.


TxDOT to award $70 million for hike, bike trails, landscaping

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently began seeking applications for grants from a $70 million federal grant program to help communities with projects such as building pedestrian and bicycle trails, landscaping near roadways, archeological research and programs to protect water from pollutants in highway runoff.


To be eligible for a grant under the Transportation Enhancement Program, the project must demonstrate a relationship to the surface transportation system and incorporate one of 12 categories of projects. Other eligible project categories for grant funding are to:

  • Create scenic and historic highway programs such as establishing tourist or welcome centers;
  • Provide education for pedestrians and bicyclists;
  • Acquire scenic easements and historic and scenic properties, historic preservation;
  • Fund landscape and other scenic beautification projects;
  • Renovate and operate historic transportation facilities such as canals and depots; and
  • Preserve abandoned railway corridors for use as pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

The grants will reimburse up to 80 percent of the cost of the eligible projects. Applications must be submitted to local district offices of TxDOT no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 16.


Department of Public Safety to open historical exhibits to public

Armored CarrierAs part of Austin Museum Day, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials recently agreed to exhibit historical artifacts and current law enforcement capabilities at its headquarters building.


Sponsored by the DPS Historical Museum and Research Center, the free exhibition will take place Sunday, Sept. 23, at the headquarters building at 5805 N. Lamar in Austin and is open to the public.


In addition to vintage patrol vehicles such as a patrol car and motorcycle, visitors also will be able to see a new 34-foot shallow water interceptor equipped with several .30 caliber machine guns and three 300 horsepower engines that currently patrols the coast and the Rio Grande River.


The DPS exhibit also features a helicopter, SWAT vehicles (pictured), crime lab vehicles, a self-contained mobile command center for emergency situations and the Canine Unit.


Parkland Hospital eyeing $32 million pedestrian bridge

Parkland Memorial Hospital officials in Dallas recently revealed preliminary plans for a proposed three-story pedestrian bridge that could cost as much as $32 million to link the new hospital to other medical facilities across busy Harry Hines Blvd.


The proposed pedestrian bridge would be attached to the front of the new hospital and span more than 1,000 feet before the bridge splits to provide pedestrians access to the Children's Medical Center Dallas and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.


Responding to a board member's question regarding the introduction of a pedestrian bridge so late in the process, the new chief financial officer for Parkland said doctors, nurses and other hospital staff will need to cross the busy boulevard several times a day, causing safety and time concerns. Board members also discussed adding an underground tunnel that would not interfere with utility lines, but learned that option would require elevators to extend beyond the basement level of the hospital. Board members took no action on the proposal for the pedestrian bridge.


Oct. 2012 Procurement Training

Texas Tech selects Smith as new dean of pharmacy school

Quentin SmithThe president of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center recently appointed Quentin Smith, Ph.D., (pictured) as the dean of the pharmacy school.


One of the earliest faculty members at the School of Pharmacy, Smith previously worked in the Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institutional on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. He also was chair for the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Smith has a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah.


Thomas Thekkumkara, who served as interim dean since July, is returning to his post as regional dean and a professor at the School of Pharmacy at Amarillo.


Port of Galveston may borrow $12 million to upgrade public docks

Port of Galveston officials recently began discussions on borrowing $12 million to improve public docks in time for three new cruise ships expected to berth on the same day several times next year. Port officials already have spent more than $65 million on the 257,657-square-foot cruise ship complex since 2000.


The port operates two terminals for cruise ships at Pier 25 and at Pier 27 and managers expect the port will need to safely manage three ships docking into the two terminals at least nine times in the next year. The plan is to use the loan for a bulkhead and fender to protect the stern of the ship to be moored in the middle, for additional mooring and for a tent to process passengers on the days when three ships are berthed at the terminal built to serve only two cruise ships.


Because of its recent success as a port for cruise ships, Galveston port officials also have discussed adding a third berth for cruise ships or building a new terminal on Pelican Island to serve cruise ships departing and arriving from that city. Some port officials, however, have opposed spending millions on terminal and mooring improvement without any long-term commitments from operators of cruise lines. Of the $25 million in operating revenue collected by the city-owned port, about $9 million of that revenue came from cruise ship operators and passengers who use the port.


Greenville to apply for grant to replace old water lines

Massoud EbrahimGreenville City Council members recently authorized city staff to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to help pay for replacing old water lines that are obsolete and decayed.


Massoud Ebrahim (pictured), director of public works, told council the maximum amount of the grant will be about $275,000 per jurisdiction. The city will be required to contribute a 20 percent match, or $55,000, if a $275,000 grant is awarded in 2013-2014 grant allocations from the Texas Department of Rural Affairs, which administers the CDBG program for Texas, Ebrahim said.


If the grant is approved, plans are to replace about six badly deteriorated sections, or 4,850 linear feet, of unlined, galvanized cast iron pipeline with new PVC pipe that is larger and able to support the fire department in fire suppression. Some of the old lines are 60 to 80 years old, measure only two inches in diameter and causing problems with leakage and low water pressure. He estimated the city would need to spend about $80 million to replace all of the older, galvanized iron water lines.


Nov. 2012 Tx Bond Elections

VIA chief confirmed finalist to lead Atlanta transit system

Keith Parker, president and chief executive officer of VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, recently became one of two finalists selected to lead the transit system in Atlanta, Georgia.


Parker, who joined VIA three years ago, previously was an assistant city manager in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was chief of the transit system. Parker previously worked for transit systems in Vancouver, Washington, and in Richmond, Virginia. A spokeswoman for VIA said Parker declined to comment on his selection as a finalist in Atlanta and remains committed to the success of VIA.


Stephen G. Bland, chief executive officer of the Allegheny County Port Authority in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the other finalist for the top spot at Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).


Leman to be director of Baylor's Innovative Business Accelerator

Gregory LemanGregory Leman recently agreed to serve as director of the Innovative Business Accelerator (IBA) at Baylor University, a joint venture organized to help new technology companies grow their business by using research and academic intellectual assets of the university.


Organized by the Hankamer School of Business and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the IBA will be located in the Baylor Research and Innovation Collatorative, which is scheduled to open in January 2013. IBA staff also will help gain access to capital through programs such as venture capital financing, the Baylor Angel Network or loans from the Small Business Administration. It will also offer a range of business, science, legal and technical services to entrepreneurs in technology as well as provide an executive education program for executives of the new technology companies.


Leman currently is director of the University Entrepreneurial Initiatives and is the Curtis Hankamer Chair in Entrepreneuship at the School of Business. He has a bachelor's degree from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.


Harlandale ISD approves $1.7 million to upgrade facilities

Harlandale Independent School District board trustees recently approved $1.7 million in funds left over from 2006 and 2009 bond issues to remodel former band halls into rooms for spirit teams and former field houses into athletic training rooms. The district just completed construction on new band halls and field houses for two high schools.


Trustees also plan to pave parking lots and move a softball field using the remaining bond funds. The district still has $3.6 million remaining from the 2006 bond and $350,000 from the 2009 bond due to lower construction costs and earned interest. District officials plan to spend the remaining bond funds on future priority projects to upgrade facilities.



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Mena to resign as chief medical doctor for El Paso living center

Dr. Ascension Contreras Mena, who began work as the chief medical doctor for the El Paso State Supported Living Center less than two years ago, recently announced he is resigning effective on Sept. 28. A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services in Austin, which oversees the state center, said state officials have begun a search to select a new medical director for the living center in El Paso.


Southlake pushing for $1.8M turnaround bridge at busy intersection

John TerrellMayor John Terrell (pictured) of Southlake recently began negotiating with officials of Gateway Church, Tarrrant County, the Texas Department of Transportation and Southlake Town Square to form a private-public partnership to pay for a proposed $1.8 million turnaround bridge over SH114 and Carroll Ave.


The new bridge would permit motorists using the westbound frontage road of SH114 to make a U-turn to the eastbound frontage road without stopping at traffic lights on Carroll Avenue and to travel east or to stop at Southlake Town Square with less delay and congestion, Terrell said. Southlake city officials allotted $100,000 for the turnaround project in 2012 and are considering earmarking an additional $400,000 for 2014, he said. The public-private partnership turnaround project could begin as early as May 2013 and be completed by late 2013, the mayor added.


The turnaround bridge becomes even more critical with the completion of several highway projects, including I-635 in north Dallas and the DFW Connector in Grapevine, according to the developer of Southlake Town Square. The project also has received environmental clearance from the Texas Department of Transportation, a spokesman for the agency said.


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San Antonio military hospital wins $25M grant to improve access

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) recently awarded a $25 million grant to a project to improve access to the medical center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston (SAMMC).


Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials said the federal grant will be used to build a new connector between IH35 and Loop 410, demolish an existing bridge and construct new entrance and exit ramps to increase safety for the 230,000 military beneficiaries in the area that use inpatient, outpatient and ambulatory services at SAMMC. DOD did not approve grants requested for two other access projects at the Wurzbach corridor and at IH35 and Benz-Engleman Road in San Antonio.


Construction on the new connector and ramps will begin as soon as environmental reqjuirements are satisfied, a TxDOT official said. The Office of Economic Adjustment of DOD allotted $300 million to improve access to military facilities impacted by the base closure process in 2005.


Amarillo ISD forms group to study facility needs, bond election

Jim AustinTrustees for the Amarillo Independent School District recently agreed to appoint a committee of citizens to study which areas of the city are experiencing the most population growth and where the district needs to expand to serve those new students. District officials noted that enrollment this year is nearly 33,500 students, 500 students more than last year.


District officials may need to approve a bond election as soon as May 2013 to take advantage of low interest rates and also consider refinancing current bond debt to take advantage of those low interest rates, said Jim Austin (pictured), president of the board of trustees. If interest rates go up, the district will be forced to spend more to expand district facilities, he said.


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El Paso approves contract to lease new $50 million ballpark

El Paso City Council members recently approved a contract with a Triple-A minor league baseball team to lease a new $50 million ballpark to be built in the downtown area. Council also approved an $81 million plan to relocate city hall and make other capital improvements as part of the project to attract a Triple-A team to the city.


Mayor John Cook, however, left the meeting without commenting on whether he wiould veto the hotly debated vote on the 25-year contract with MountainStar. On Thursday, he announced he would not exercise his veto power. The contract calls for a base rent of $20,000 per year, with a 10 percent increase every five years, a 50-cent ticket surcharge, also to increase by 10 percent every five years, to be paid to the city. The city also will get $24,000 a year with a 10 percent increase every five years, with other parking revenues to be split between the team owner and the city. The agreement also calls for the team to remain in El Paso for at least 25 years and implements penalties if the team moves to another city.


Council members, however, removed a proposed no-compete clause to allow another minor league baseball team to continue to play in a city-owned stadium past 2016 if city officials agree to extend that lease. While approving the ballpark development agreement establishing a timeline for design and construction of the ballpark, council members postponed purchase of two downtown builders. Council, however, accepted the donation of the Luther Building to serve as city offices when the current city hall is closed. City staff members are still working on plans for relocating city offices, but expect that move to occur in March. Demolition and construction should begin shortly after that, the city manager said.


Willacy County to upgrade park, Raymondville wetlands

Willacy County commissioners recently received an update on plans to build a new 500-foot fishing pier, boardwalks and new restrooms at a park in Port Mansfield. The plan also includes a new wetlands project near Raymondville with public walking trails through salt marsh wetlands and a parking lot for ecotourists. The two projects will cost about $1.7 million and be completed in 2013 and 2014, the county judge said.


The wetlands project involves the Wetegrove Ranch, whose owners are developing an assisted living center and a RV park for seniors on the ranch property. They also are restoring the ranch house to be used for public events and providing land for a nature and birding center, according to county officials. The plan to transform the harbor at Port Mansfield into a tourist destination involves replacing restrooms at the Fred Stone County Park and building boardwalks and a 500-foot fishing pier to attract more visitors to Port Mansfield.


Funding for the two recreation projects includes $533,000 from the Coastal Infrastructure Access Program fund, $500,000 from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, $500,000 from Willacy County and $176,000 from the Willacy County Navigation District. The Texas General Land Office also provided $100,000 in funding to the navigation district to build a ramp to launch airboats and another station to launch kayaks. The plan is for the county and navigation district to create the new, 28-acre Laguna Point Recreation Area near the Fred Stone County Park. It will allow the county to flood small ponds with salt water from the Laguna Madre to create a wetland area for hikers and birders to visit in addition to mitigating the wetlands area. The new restrooms at the county park also will serve those using the birding trail and other facilities at the new recreation area, the county judge said.


Former TDHCS director hired by Austin Housing Authority

Michael GerberMichael Gerber, former executive director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, has been hired as the new president and CEO of Austin's Housing Authority. Gerber succeeds James Hargrove, who retired from the post he held since 1997.


Gerber is also a former employee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was an advisor to Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm.


Plans move forward to widen Interstate 35E in Denton County

Denton County commissioners recently received notification that the environmental clearance necessary to widen and upgrade I-35E in Denton County received approval and the upgrade of the interstate highway can move forward.


The project calls for adding a lane in each direction from I-635 to US380, rebuilding high-occupancy lanes into two reversible toll lanes between I-635 and Loop 288 and build new southbound frontage roads. The plan calls for general purpose and managed lanes across Lewisville Lake and moving northbound traffic onto the existing lake bridge. The widening project will take about four years to complete.


Denton County officials plan to seek proposals from construction companies in November, select the winning bid before the end of this year and beginning construction on I-35E in early 2013.


National Procurement Institute hosts 44th Annual Conference, Expo

The National Procurement Institute, Inc. (NPI) will hold its 44th Annual Conference and Exposition on Oct. 21-24, at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston. Hear from the experts, such as the Opening Ceremony keynote speaker Patrick Snow, who will give you the tools for "Creating Your Own Destiny" and taking charge of your future. This year's conference also features sessions focused on leadership, the Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award and other professional development topics geared toward helping you and your agency achieve procurement excellence. The conference program also has networking opportunities, including a Welcome Reception,Opening Ceremony, Presidential Gala Dinner and a Buyer/Supplier Roundtable Luncheon. The conference is an excellent opportunity to obtain 14.25 continuing education hours (CEH) and network with your peers. Register online at www.npiconnection.org. Questions? Interested in being an exhibitor or sponsor at the conference? Contact Craig Rowley, NPI Executive Director, 702-989-8095, or executivedirector@npiconnection.org.



Water Forum III planned for Oct. 10 in San Antonio

The San Antonio Clean Tech Forum and the Mission Verde Alliance are hosting a critical and all-encompassing luncheon program - Water Forum III - Our Water: Our Future at the historic Pearl Stable in San Antonio. The Forum is set for Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 307 Pearl Parkway, San Antonio, 78215. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will give the opening and closing remarks. Panelists include: Robert Rivard, forum moderator and director of the Rivard Report; Calvin Finch, director, Texas A&M Water Conservation & Technology, Texas State Rep. Lyle Larson; Robert R. Puente, president & CEO, San Antonio Water System; Andrew Sansom, executive director, The Meadows Center for Water & the Environment at Texas State University; Suzanne Scott, general manager, San Antonio River Authority; Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples; and Reed Williams, San Antonio City Council, District 8. The Forum will address a number of water-related issues facing our region and State. The primary focus will be the challenges the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and the City of San Antonio face in meeting our growing city's future water needs and locating and purchasing non-Edwards sources of water. However, the water issues facing San Antonio are not unique to this region and are issues facing communities across the State of Texas. The event is intended to serve as a platform to learn how one community works to confront its water challenges and in so doing other communities statewide can see one successful model at work. Individual ticket sales are now available at www.missionverde.org . Tickets are $65 per person.


Youth-serving partners to host youth, family conference

The Strengthening Youth and Families Conference is slated for Nov. 6-11 at the Omni Southpark Hotel in Austin. It is an annual event sponsored by a collaboration of youth-serving partners, including Prairie View A&M University's Juvenile Crime Prevention Center, Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments and the State Volunteer Resource Council for Texas Youth. The conference will offer workshops related to the prevention of high-risk problem behaviors for youth, early intervention for youth who have just begun to engage in indicators of those high-risk behaviors and treatment for those youth who become trapped in those behaviors. Workshops will be geared to a multi-disciplinary audience of youth-serving professionals, volunteers and family members. Online registration only for the conference. Early bird discounts are available for registration before Oct. 5. For more information, click here.


CATEE 2012 Conference set Oct. 9-11 in Galveston

CATEE (Clean Air Through Energy Efficiency) 2012, set for Oct. 9-11 in Galveston at the Hotel Galvez, will feature speakers bringing information on timely topics, workshops on financing energy efficiency, energy management for schools and choosing the correct green rating system. The event is an educational conference and business expo connecting public and private decision-makers and thought leaders. Guest speakers in the plenary session will address issues from sustainability leadership to energy efficiency issues and the 83rd Texas Legislature. There will also be a number of breakout sessions on topics such as success in school energy management, new technologies that work and sustainable commercial buildings, to name a few. Attendees will include state leaders, government officials and staff, business owners, development professionals, facility managers, utility and energy services resources, industry experts, researchers, policy makers and clean energy and air quality advocates. Registration is now open. For more information, click here.


TARC Conference exhibitor, sponsorship opportunities available

The Texas Conference on Regionalism is set for Sept. 19-21 at the Westin Oaks Galleria in Houston. The Texas Association of Regional Councils 2012 Conference: Building Texas Together is the annual conference of Texas' regional planning councils. The councils operate programs across subject areas ranging from public safety and emergency preparedness to human and social services and are instrumental in the planning and expenditure of funds derived from local, state and federal resources. Exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities are available for the conference. Those exhibiting will have an opportunity to interact with staff, leaders and decision-makers from Texas' councils of government, cities, counties and special districts. The conference agenda includes dedicated time for those attending to visit with exhibitors. Conference sponsors are recognized throughout the conference with premium booth space and signage as well as name recognition in the conference program and on the TARC Web site. Various sponsorship levels are available for businesses of all sizes. To view the draft agenda for the conference and for more information about the remaining exhibitor and sponsor opportunities click here or email tarc@txregionalcouncil.org.


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.


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.


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Public transportation rebounds;
millions invested in local projects


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


Ever wonder about public transportation? Well, here's some startling data that is positive enough to generate excitement about the Texas economy.


Nearly 2.7 billion trips were taken via public transportation in the United States during the second quarter of this year. Public transportation, like the economy, is on the rebound. As a result, state and local governments are investing millions of dollars in transit projects. The objective of course is to provide safe, efficient public transportation while curbing traffic congestion and mitigating clean air issues. But another positive result is that hundreds of jobs will likely be created because of increased funding and emphasis on public transportation in the near future.


Ridership during the second quarter of 2012 nationwide increased by 1.6 percent over the same period last year, according to a recent report. The American Public Transportation Association says this marks the sixth consecutive quarterly increase.


All modes of public transportation - light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, trolley and bus - showed increases nationwide. And some areas of the country reported record numbers for the second quarter, including one in Texas. Commuter rail ridership set a local record in Lewisville when a new service resulted in a triple digit increase of 258 percent. And the city of Austin was among a number of cities nationwide that showed double digit ridership increases.


Public transit systems in Texas have benefitted from sales tax revenue and that has allowed them to invest more in services. The State Comptroller recently wrote checks to Texas transit systems that totaled $126.4 million for September, up 17.1 percent from September of last year, with a year-to-date increase of 10.1 percent.



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Collaboration Nation

Travis County looking at $10 million in building renovations

Travis County commissioners recently began a discussion on spending $10 million to renovate the 50-year-old former headquarters during the next three years to house county and district attorneys.


Commissioners plan to spend $3.6 million this year, $4.9 million from next year's proposed budget and the remaining $1.5 million during the third budget year.


Before moving forward with the project, one commissioner urged the county to hire a contractor to design and build the new cafeteria. Moving the cafeteria from the third floor to the first floor and doubling its size needs a contractor that has specific expertise with commercial kitchens, noted the commissioner. Current plans call for facilities management personnel to lead the cafeteria project, currently estimated to cost $213,000 for design and construction. Commissioners made no decision on the cafeteria renovation and are expected to discuss that issue at their next weekly meeting.


Lampasas taps deGraffenried

to fill city manager position

Finley deGraffenriedLampasas city officials recently selected Finley deGraffenried (pictured) as the new city manager to replace former City Manager Michael Stoldt.


deGraffenried, who was city manager in Llano for more than five years, will begin his new duties in Lampasas on Oct. 15.


State Comptroller offers info on creating, dissolving tax entities

The Texas Comptroller recently made accessible to the public a new resource to help citizens learn more about creating and dissolving local special purpose districts. The Local Taxing Entities Creation and Dissolution Provisions is now available along with previous reports, Your Money and the Taxing Facts, Local Tax information and search tools to provide access to accurate information on local taxes levied in each county in Texas.


The information is part of an effort by the comptroller to provide more information on the agency's Texas Transparency Web site that provides detailed information about state spending, datasets that users can download and links to local government transparency efforts.


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El Paso wins $1.2 million federal grant to upgrade transit system

Sun Metro, the transit system in El Paso, recently won a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to buy more buses that run on compressed natural gas.


The transit system plans to buy 14 new vehicles that operate with compressed natural gas for the paratransit system serving about 5,000 passengers a day, most of whom are disabled or elderly, a spokeswoman for Sun Metro said. The grant to El Paso is the only one to be awarded in Texas from the $59 million Clean Fuels Grant Program for 2012.


Nabers interview on C-Radio

rescheduled to date of Oct. 16

Mary Scott NabersDue to a scheduling conflict, Mary Scott Nabers' interview with C-Radio, a live national talk radio show dedicated to business and personal finance news and information, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16. Nabers (pictured), president and CEO of Strategic   Partnerships, Inc., co-founder of the Gemini Global Group and author of Collaboration C-Radio Nation, will be interviewed by C-Radio host Cynthia Nevels, Visa Practical Money Awards winner, author and entrepreneur. Nabers, one of the nation's leading experts on business opportunities, will address "Public and Private Collaboration That Work." The interview will air live here at 11:30 a.m. (CST) on Oct. 16.

Richland Hills selects Hawk

as new interim city manager

Richland Hills city officials recently selected Curtis Hawk as the new interim city manager. Hawk previously served as a city manager in Southlake, Burleson and Cisco and as an assistant city manager in Abilene and personnel director in Sherman.


City officials said the six-month contract with Hawk will give council members sufficient time to evaluate Hawk and, if he is not the right person for the job, he will help council members find a new city manager.


Oak Ridge North eyeing $5 million upgrade to water, sewer system

Oak Ridge North city officials recently began eyeing $5 million in capital improvement projects that include renovation of a water storage tank and upgrading the sewer system.


The sewer projects need to be completed soon as the system is 40 years old, said City Manager Vicky Rudy, who recommended using $2 million in funds the city has on hand and borrowing $3 million more to pay for the improvements.



Nixon to seek $250,000 state

grant to repair sewer system

Nixon City Council members recently authorized staff to apply to the Texas Department of Agriculture for a $250,000 grant to repair and upgrade the sewer system.


The grant funding will be used to rebuild two lift stations at the sewer plant, said City Manager George Blanch. Deadline for applying for the grant is October.


Breland may resign as city administrator in Goliad

Sereniah BrelandSereniah Breland (pictured), city administrator in Goliad, recently notified city officials that she plans to resign as city administrator as soon as her appointment as the new city manager in Guthrie, Oklahoma, is finalized.


The mayor said city council plans to select an interim city administrator to replace Breland this week. The city administrator in Goliad for almost two years, Breland notified city officials that her last day on the job is expected to be Oct. 9.


McLennan County selects new county judge and tax assessor

McLennan County commissioners recently selected Scott Felton as the new county judge and Randy Riggs as the interim tax assessor collector.


Felton, who will complete the term of former County Judge Jim Lewis, who retired from that post before his term expired, will have to seek election in 2014 if he wants to continue as county judge.


A former city council member in Waco, Riggs will replace former Tax Assessor Collector Buddy Skeen, who recently pled guilty to misuse of government property and power.


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Edinburg approves $11.3 million to pay for capital projects

Edinburg City Council members recently adopted a budget for 2012-2013 that includes about $11.3 million to pay for several capital improvement projects including $6 million to upgrade a recreation facility, $3 million to upgrade roads and the remaining funds to expand a water plant.


City officials plan to add two competition-size gyms, a game room and a weight training area to its current recreation facility on Palm Drive, repair and expand three roads and double the capacity of a water treatment plant to provide more service on the city's west side. Other projects under consideration in the near future include buying a golf course when a lease the city currently holds expires next year and building a new fire station for the north side of the city, which is growing rapidly, city officials said.


Corpus Christi's Riggs named safety director in Indianapolis

Troy RiggsDavid "Troy" Riggs (pictured), Corpus Christi's assistant city manager for safety, health and neighborhoods, has been selected by the city of Indianapolis as its new public safety director. A native of Kentucky, Riggs has more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement and has been a police officer, detective and police chief.


Riggs is a graduate of the University of Louisville.


Kilgore taps Dallas-based company to manage country club

Kilgore City Council members recently tapped a Dallas-based company to manage the Meadowbrook Country Club, including the previously private golf course, restaurant and pro shop.


City staff plans to begin final contract negotiations with Eagle Golf, which was selected from bids submitted by eight companies to manage the former private club purchased by city officials earlier this year.


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San Juan tags two finalists to lead economic development corp.

San Juan city officials recently selected Ismael Delgado and Feliz Garcia as the two finalists to be the new executive director of the San Juan Economic Development Corporation (EDC). The new director will replace Miki McCarthy, who left that post in January following a reported dispute with the president of the board that oversees the EDC.


Delgado, a resident of Pharr, is the director of special projects at The University of Texas-Pan America. Garcia, a McAllen resident, is the marketing coordinator for IBC bank. Board members plan to talk with both finalists and may take action on the appointment of a new director at the next meeting of EDC board members.


Guadalupe Co. agrees to creation of metropolitan planning group

Guadalupe County commissioners recently expressed support for joining with Comal County to create a metropolitan planning organization to include both counties.


Supporters in Seguin and New Braunfels led efforts to create their own transportation planning entity to become eligible for federal and state gas tax proceeds rather than joining the San Antonio-Bexar County MPO. Backers also said having their own MPO will give residents in Comal and Guadalupe County more opportunities to determine priorities for local transportation projects. Supporters plan to take similar resolutions from cities in both counties to a Sept. 24 meeting of the San Antonio-Bexar County MPO in an effort to gain support for creating the new MPO.


Conroe authorizes sale of $27M

in bonds for variety of projects

Conroe City Council members recently authorized the sale of $8.97 million in certificates of obligation and $13.13 million in revenue bonds to pay for $27 million in improvements to roads, the water system and sewer system.


The city sold the certificates of obligation to pay for construction of Drennan Road West and Plantation Road, to widen Wilson Road between I-45 and Frazier Street and to renovate the Crighton Road Bridge. City officials plan to spend $5 million of the revenue bonds to pay for two new water wells and a storage tank.


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Hays County awarded grant

for law enforcement equipment

New equipment for the Hays County Sheriff's Office will result from a $28,970 grant administered by the Governor's Criminal Justice Division. Officials in the county say the funds will be used to purchase night vision recording equipment for the Narcotics Task Force and three laptop computers for booking areas within the jail. Audio and visual equipment for interview rooms in a Dripping Springs substation will also be purchased.


Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 9/14/12

El Paso ISD looking at two

for interim superintendent

Trustees for the El Paso Independent School District recently interviewed Vernon Butler as a candidate to serve as interim superintendent. Terri Jordan resigned as interim superintendent on Sept. 11 and returned to her previous job as chief of staff for the school district. Trustees appointed Ken George as temporary interim superintendent to serve until they appointed a new interim superintendent.


Board members expect to decide soon whether to hire Butler, a veteran educator, until a new superintendent is hired, said Isela Castanon-Williams, president of the board. Butler retired as superintendent of Anthony ISD in 2007 and also served as an interim superintendent and a principal at Ysleta ISD. He currently is a manager at Western Governor's University and previously served as a consultant to Region 11 and Region 19 Education Service Centers.


George, who retired as an administrator for the El Paso school district, told board members he could serve as interim superintendent for only a few weeks as he has other commitments he must fulfill. District officials plan to hire a permanent superintendent by March 2013. The new superintendent will replace Dr. Lorenzo Garcia, who left that post following a cheating scandal.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Nyria Melchor of Plano, Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders;
  • Pat Ekiss of Taylor, Texas Commission on Fire Protection

Sharon Roberts Lee resigns

as city secretary for Big Sandy

Sharon Roberts Lee recently gave notice she is resigning as city secretary in Big Sandy, a post she held for 15 years. Her resignation is effective on March 13, 2013.


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Cameron County approves $600,000 upgrade at airport

Cameron County commissioners recently approved $600,000 in upgrades at the Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport that is used primarily by privately owned, single-engine and twin-engine aircraft.


County commissioners authorized an agreement with the Aviation Division of the Texas Department of Transportation to build a new fuel farm facility at the airport, a former military base located about 10 miles northwest of Port Isabel. The county is using a $450,000 grant and will provide $150,000 in funding to pay for the fuel farm project.


Mineola ISD selects Fuller as

lone finalist for superintendent

John FullerMineola Independent School District trustees recently selected John Fuller (pictured) as lone finalist for superintendent. Fuller has served as interim superintendent of the district since June.


An educator for 41 years, Fuller previously served as superintendent for school districts in Wylie, San Marcos, Muleshoe and Wells.


Sinton selects Townsend

as interim city manager

Sinton city officials recently approved a contract that calls for Marvin Townsend, a former city manager in Corpus Christi, to serve as interim city manager.


Townsend, who was city manager in Corpus Christi from 1968 to 1981, will replace Jackie Knox, the former city manager whose contract was terminated by council on Sept. 11. He also was a city manager in Laredo, a manager for the Texas Municipal League and was an advisor to several Coastal Bend cities, including Port Aransas, Portland, Hidalgo, Robstown, Ingleside, Refugio and Gregory. Townsend has a master's degree from Cornell University.


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
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