Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 38 - Friday, Sept. 28, 2012

Brady leads charge for renewal of income tax deduction for Texans


Comptroller: loss of provision could cost state's tax filers $1.2 billion per year

Tax FormTexans stand to lose as much as $1.2 billion per year if a federal income tax deduction for states without a state income tax is not renewed. That's an average of $520 per tax filer, according to information from the State Comptroller's Office. The itemized deduction, for states that fund their services with sales taxes, expired on Jan. 1. Leading the charge to have the deduction reinstated is U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas (pictured).


The Montgomery County congressman recently co-wrote a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, signed by more than 60 other members of the House - 25 from Texas - asking that the deduction be renewed.


Kevin Brady "If the deduction is not extended, millions of taxpayers living in states without an income tax will shoulder a larger share of the federal tax burden since they cannot claim the deduction for state income taxes," wrote Brady. Internal Revenue Service data indicates that 2.1 million Texans claimed $4 billion in sales tax deductions in 2009, resulting in estimated tax savings of more than $1 billion.


Brady and the bipartisan group of lawmakers who signed the letter say that not extending the exemption would be unfair to citizens in the eight states that do not collect state income tax because they do not receive a deduction for state and local income taxes.


Already, the Senate Finance Committee has passed its own tax package, which includes a two-year extension of the sales tax deduction. State Comptroller Susan Combs noted that 15,700 to 25,700 jobs in Texas are associated with the tax deduction. 


"The sales tax deduction saves taxpayers in our states millions of dollars per year and is a vital component of our states' economies, spurring growth and creating jobs," states the letter to the Ways and Means Committee. The deduction was initially part of the American Job Creation Act of 2004 and in the last six years has been extended three times.


Texas Commission on Jail Standards names new director


Brandon Wood to succeed Adan Munoz in agency leadership role in October

Brandon WoodBrandon S. Wood (pictured), a member of the staff of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards since 1999, has been named executive director of the agency, effective Oct. 1. He will succeed current Director Adan Munoz, who is retiring after having held that position since 2006.


Wood, who currently serves the agency as assistant director, began with the Commission as a planner, assisting counties in identifying jail population trends, preparing needs analyses and developing/reviewing construction plans. He has served as the agency's assistant director since August 2007. Throughout his tenure with the agency, Wood has assisted with administrative oversight and operations, facilitated communications with local officials to find solutions for minimum jail standards, interacted with the Governor's Office, Legislative Budget Board and numerous state officials regarding the functional aspects, goals and responsibilities of the Commission and the impact on counties. 


Wood is a graduate of Texas A&M University, where he was selected as the outstanding company commander for the Navy/Marine ROTC unit and was awarded an LBJ Congressional Internship, working for Rep. Bill Sarpaulis in 1993.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Cheryl MacBrideCheryl MacBride, Deputy Director for Services, Texas Department of Public Safety


Career highlights and education: Despite my parents' advice to attend a small school, I earned a Bachelor of Business/Finance degree at The University of Texas. After graduation, I spent about four years as assistant controller for several banks. It was a great experience to learn how the banking world operated; this knowledge has continued to be helpful. In 1985, I joined the General Land Office and was fortunate to serve under three dedicated Land Commissioners: Garry Mauro, David Dewhurst and Jerry Patterson. I held a number of positions there including Deputy Commissioner for Administration. While at the Land Office, I ran unsuccessfully for a position on the Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees. Shortly thereafter, another trustee position was vacated and I was fortunate enough to be appointed to fill Don Green's term and I plan to run for re-election in 2013. In 2009, I joined the Department of Public Safety (DPS), first as chief financial officer and now as Deputy Director for Services.  It was extremely difficult to leave the Land Office after almost 24 years there, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the change, the challenge and learning new territory. I have also served as president of Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association, earned Certified Government Financial Manager and Certified Fraud Examiner credentials and served on numerous committees.
What I like best about my job is: I have a terrific job. No two days are the same. Working at DPS is definitely an E ticket ride (hope this doesn't show my age.)  I never thought I would be involved with a law enforcement agency and my short time with the Department has been extremely rewarding. The very best part though is the support that I have received from my boss, my peers and the staff on my team. This support and teamwork keeps me coming back to work each day and it is very important to me.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: Manage expectations. There is never enough time or money to fix everything today so know your priorities and try not to over-promise.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Dance fast, hold on and, most importantly, ask for help. There are many good people at DPS who stand ready to help and want to help - don't be afraid to ask. The Department is like a big family who support their family members as well as the public.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: making plans to travel with my wonderful husband or catching up with my three terrific grown-up children.
People would be surprised to know that I: love to catch fish. Growing up, my family sailed and fished. I was not only a Girl Scout, but also a Boy Scout (Explorer Scout). My troop canoed and backpacked. And raising my children sometimes meant tagging along on hunting trips. 
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: Texas Department of Public Safety is working hard to open six new driver license facilities and expand automation to serve customers. Many do not realize they can renew their driver license in the comfort of their home. Renewals are available online, via mail and over the phone. Only a small percentage of customers who are eligible to renew without coming into the office (once every 12 years you must go into the office for an eye test) take advantage of these options. The Department is working hard to find good solutions to not only reduce, but eventually eliminate wait time in the driver license offices.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: MacBride will be moderator for one of the panels at the 8th Biennial Legislative Communications Conference on Oct. 16. For more information, click here.)


Keel to address public-private partnerships, Capitol Complex


8th Biennial Legislative Communication Conference on tap on Oct. 16

Terry KeelPublic-private partnerships...expect to hear more about them in the next several months and into the upcoming 83rd session of the Texas Legislature. The Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) is currently studying several proposals from the private sector for development of state properties through public-private partnerships. An update on "Public-Private Partnerships and the Capitol Complex" will be offered by TFC Executive Director Terry Keel (pictured) at the upcoming 8th Biennial Legislative Communication Conference. The event, held before each session of the Texas Legislature since 1998, will be on Tuesday, Oct. 16. The perennially sold-out conference is filling up fast and those who plan to attend should register as early as possible.


The conference is jointly sponsored by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. and The University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. In addition to Keel'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 the future reality of state employee benefits, how to work with the state's leadership and predictions for the 83rd session.


Keel is a longtime public servant. He has served as Travis County sheriff and as a Travis County Assistant District Attorney. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives for five terms. Before being named to head the TFC, Keel was parliamentarian of the Texas House.


Keel holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from the University of Houston.


Lottery commission has record-setting year for FY 2012

Gary GriefRecord revenues for the Texas Lottery Commission in fiscal year 2012 have resulted in a $133 million increase in funds for the state's Foundation School Fund. That 13.8 percent increase is a result of record sales of $4.19 billion, surpassing the previous record of $3.81 billion set in 2011.


Lottery Executive Director Gary Grief (pictured) said this is the ninth consecutive year that the Texas Lottery has generated more than $1 billion in contributions to the state. "This is our largest transfer to the Foundation School Fund since 1998," said Grief. The lottery official said sales increased across its entire portfolio of games. Grief said sales receipts for the Lottery's draw games, including Lotto Texas, Mega Millions, Powerball and five other games, accounted for 26.4 percent of sales and totaled more than $1.1 billion.


Education was not the only winner in the record sales year as the Texas Lottery celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. Grief said $4.7 million went to the Fund for Veteran's Assistance from sales of the Veterans Cash scratch-off game. Another $46 million was transferred to the state General Revenue Fund. Approximately 96 percent of the record sales was returned to the state through prizes, retailer commissions and bonuses and transfers to state funds. A record $2.68 billion was paid out in cash and merchandise prizes, besting the previous record of $2.39 billion set in fiscal year 2011. 


TWDB funds $27.3 million in water, wastewater projects statewide

The Texas Water Development Board recently announced financial assistance totaling more than $27.3 million from the Clean Water State Revolvng Fund, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the Economically Distressed Areas program and the Texas Water Development Fund. The monies will be used for water and wastewater improvements in seven cities throughout the state. The funding includes the following:

  • A $6,655 million loan and $1,153,511 in loan forgiveness to the city of McAllen to finance wastewater system improvements;
  • A loan of $705,000 and $564,750 in loan forgiveness to the city of Comanche to finance water system improvements;
  • A $550,000 loan and $537,000 in loan forgiveness to the city of Menard to finance water system improvements;
  • A $2.9 million loan and $500,778 in loan forgiveness to the city of Paris to finance water system improvements;
  • A loan of $895,000 and $717,761 in loan forgiveness to the city of Ranger to finance water system improvements;
  • A grant of $102,000 and a $102,000 loan to the city of Alpine wastewater system improvements; and
  • Loans of $12 million to the city of Brownwood for wastewater system improvements.

Charter school assistance initiative announced by entities

David DunnA support system for the state's charter schools will result from a partnership among the Texas Education Agency, the Region 11 Education Service Center in Fort Worth and the Texas Charter Schools Association. The three make up the new Texas Charter School Technical Assistance Network.


TCSA Executive Director David Dunn (pictured) said the three entities working together will "help raise the effectiveness of charters for students in Texas." TEA selected the other two partners through a competitive application process. Both have previously worked with charter schools. Region 11 ESC's role will be hosting a telephone and e-mail support center for charter schools as well as on-site technical support and training for board members and officers. TCSA will provide training webinars on fiscal matters, academic issues and data analysis. TCSA and TEA will work together to provide orientation sessions for those interested in submitting a charter application and for those groups that have just been awarded a charter. The association will also oversee recruitment and training for reviewers who score charter applications.


8th Biennial Legislative Conference - Register now

Colasurdo sole finalist for president of UTHealth in Houston
Giuseppe Colasurdo
Regents for The University of Texas System recently selected Dr. Giuseppe Colasurdo (pictured) as the sole finalist to serve as president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).


Colasurdo, a pediatrician who was born in Italy, will succeed Dr. Larry Kaiser, who resigned in April 2011 to lead Temple University Health Systems in Philadelphia, PA. Colasurdo now has dual citizenship.


Colasurdo has served as interim president of the UTHSC Houston and was a member of the search committee until he stepped down after he decided to be considered for the post of president. He served his residency at the UT Medical Branch at Galveston and a fellowship in Denver after arriving in the United States in 1985.


Kimbrough to leave juvenile justice agency, return to DPS

Jay Kimbrough, who recently served as interim director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, will return to the Texas Department of Public Safety this month to his job as assistant director of homeland security for Texas.


Kimbrough joined the youth agency in May following the retirement of the former director, Cherie Townsend. He predicted the youth agency will operate well under the new director, Mike Griffiths, who previously served as director of juvenile services in Dallas County from 1995 to 2010.


Blinn College taps Shomaker as chief financial officer

Kelli ShomakerTrustees for Blinn College recently appointed Kelli Shomaker (pictured) as the chief financial officer and senior vice president for finance and administrative services.


With 35 years of experience in the public and private sectors, Shomaker has served as associate vice president for operations at Texas A&M University. She also has worked as an auditor for a private accounting firm and for two other private sector companies. Shomaker replaces Dr. Van Miller, the former chief financial officer, but she will also serve as a senior vice president when she begins her new duties in October.


Shomaker has a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and is a certified public accountant.


TFC says three more public-private partnership projects studied

The Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) has confirmed that is has received and is currently studying several proposals for public-private partnership developments involving state property. The project includes a proposed new state office building and two proposed mixed-use projects. Once reviewed by staff members, the proposals will be made public. All three proposals include a current state parking lot as the site for the facilities.


These unsolicited proposals will result in the TFC seeking proposals from other developers who might be interested in submitting competing projects.


The TFC board recently voted on a proposed change in the way these proposals are vetted, hoping to cut down the amount of time it takes to move through the process.


The latest P3 proposals follow an earlier proposal that would build a mixed-use, high-rise facility on property currently occupied by a state parking lot. That facility would include a planetarium as part of the project.


Garrett selected as executive vice president at ACU

Allison GarrettAllison Garrett (pictured), former senior vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma Christian University, has been selected as the executive vice president of Abilene Christian University. She succeeds Dr. Phil Schubert, who in 2010 moved to the presidency of the university.


Garrett earned a bachelor's degree with honors from Oklahoma Christian University, a law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law and a Master of Laws degree in securities regulation from the Georgetown University Law Center.


As executive vice president, Garrett will be responsible for financial operations, enrollment, marketing and facilities and campus management. She also will serve as a key liaison with ACU's Board of Trustees.


Page tapped as director of Texas Film Commission

The governor recently selected Heather Page of Austin to be the new director of the Texas Film Commission. A camerawoman who has worked on several major films and television shows, Page previously was a workforce training administrator at the film commission.


Legislators created the Texas Film Commission to support growing media industries in this state and to help increase the state's competitive edge as a destination for film, television and gaming production.


Oct. 2012 Procurement Training

Children's hospital in San Antonio wins license to operate

The national accrediting organization for hospitals recently approved a new license recognizing the Children's Hospital of San Antonio, also known as Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital, as an independent licensed children's hospital. The Christus children's hospital will compete with a new children's hospital being built by The University of Texas Health Science Center.


Christus Santa Rosa Health System closed an adult hospital this year and approved $135 million to renovate the facility into a stand-alone children's hospital. Christus administrators also are negotiating with Texas Children's Hospital and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to replace the doctors from the health science center in order to remain a teaching and research hospital. Founded in 1959, the Christus officials gave up a separate license for its children hospital in 2007 and merged with the adult hospital. Under the new agreement, the Christus children's hospital will be able to recover from 80 to 90 percent of the cost of treating children under Medicaid instead of the current 51 percent reimbursement rate the hospital received. About 75 percent of patients at the Christus children's hospital are covered by Medicaid.


Administrators for Cristus had worked with the UT Health Science Center to partner on a new children's hospital, but UT administrators instead joined with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the parent of the Baptist Health System to build a new children's hospital in the South Texas Medical Center.


Nueces County Sheriff urging plan to expand county jail

Jim KaelinNueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin (pictured) recently began working with county commissioners to gain support for his plan to expand the county jail. The jail, which has not been expanded for 20 years, is funded by nearly $12.5 million of the $18.5 million budget for the sheriff's office, Kaelin said.


The sheriff urged commissioners to add space for 150 inmate beds using an annex building. The sheriff's opponent in the November election, Isaac Valencia, a Corpus Christi police officer, has supported consolidation of city and county jails.


Austin Community College wins $4.5 million in grants

Austin Community College (ACC) recently was named the recipient of three separate grants totaling $4.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop learning models for computer programming, nursing and biotechnology fields.


ACC is partnering with Western Governors University, a nonprofit online university, to use the $2 million computer programming grant to implement coursework to allow students to move through their studies at their individual pace. The two schools plan to develop curriculum for 24 programming courses over a three-year period, said Richard Rhodes, president and CEO at ACC.


ACC also won a $2 million nursing grant and a $500,000 grant for a biotechnology program, he noted.


Pega Texas Conference 2012

A&M official wants locals to pay $38M for Kyle Field renovation

Chancellor John Sharp of the Texas A&M University System recently meet with local government officials to ask them to consider contributing $38 million to help fund a proposed $400 million renovation of Kyle Field.


Sharp told the invited local officials that their $38 million contribution would help ensure that home games would remain in College Station while the stadium renovation is under way. The Bryan-College Station Convention & Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce released a recent study that indicates that every Aggie home football game in 2011 generated $17 million in direct spending in Brazos County. Sharp did not indicate how much he would ask Bryan and College Station city officials or Brazos County officials to each kick in for the stadium renovation.


The chancellor estimated the price tag of the stadium renovation to range from about $425 million to $450 million. The project expects to expand seating to 103,500 fans. Current plans call for construction on the stadium renovation to begin after the 2013 football season ends, continuing through three off-seasons. The stadium expansion should be complete in time for the 2016 football season.


Weatherford ISD eyeing major renovation of facilities

Jeffrey HanksWeatherford Independent School District trustees recently met with architects to learn more about a proposed plan to upgrade several facilities to support a reorganization of campuses by realigning grades.


The renovations include plumbing upgrades to address water leaks, replacing carpet, flooring and some mechanical structures, said Superintendent Jeffrey Hanks (pictured). He also urged safety upgrades and changing the size of some classrooms to support moving ninth grade students to the high school and transferring students from two middle schools to a Ninth Grade Center. The facilities plan also includes building four practice fields, a new career and technology building, an agriculture facility and new baseball and softball fields.


Hanks also recommended using space at two elementary schools for fifth- and sixth-grade students and retaining pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade students at elementary campuses. The reorganization plan also would require expanding the high school campus, adding a fourth gymnasium, enlarging the cafeteria and adding an academic wing on the lower level to raise capacity by 200 students.


Nov. 2012 Tx Bond Elections

Design plans nearly complete for Austin central library

Austin City Council members saw the updated design plans for the city's new $120 million central library at their meeting Thursday. Construction on the new facility is expected to begin next fall, with a planned completion date of spring 2016.


The new 200,000-square-foot library not only will feature meeting spaces, but also a street-level cafe. The library is being paid for with $90 million in bond funds and approximately $30 million more from sale of city property downtown and other city funds. The new library will include computers for patron use, a bookstore where old books will be sold and a 200-space parking garage. Other amenities will include sustainable features and bike parking.


Heimall to command Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso

Michael HeimallThe Office of the Army Surgeon General recently selected Col. Michael S. Heimall as the new commander of the Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso. Heimall will replace Brig. Gen. Dennis D. Doyle on Oct. 24 in a change of command ceremony. Doyle is the new commanding general at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu.


Heimall currently is the assistant chief of staff for TRICARE Transition at Western Regional Medical Command at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash. Commissioned in 1987, Heimall has a bachelor's degree from Norwich University in Vermont and master's degrees from Baylor University and the U.S. Army War College.


Beaumont Army Medical Center serves active-duty service members, retired military personnel and their families with nearly 3,700 employees and an annual budget of nearly $300 million. A new military hospital with an estimated price tag of $966 million is being built at East Fort Bliss and should open in late 2016.


El Paso delays vote on possible building purchase

El Paso City Council members recently agreed to delay a vote to approve the purchase of a $2.3 million building on Texas Avenue expected to house employees moved from current city hall.


Council members expect to finalize next week the purchase of the Texas Avenue building as well as finalize the purchase of the building that formerly was home to the El Paso Times newspaper. City officials expect to spend up to $10 million to renovate the building on Texas Ave. to house the city's Development Department when the current city hall is demolished to make room for a new Triple-A baseball park.


Council members approved a contract with MountainStar Sports Group that calls for the city to build a $50 million ballpark in the downtown area to secure a minor league baseball team. The MountainStar group is negotiating the purchase of the Tucson Padres, an affiliate of the San Diego Padres, and could finalize that purchase this week, city officials said.


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HISD awarded $7.7 million STEM grant from DOE

Terry GrierThe Houston Independent School District has been awarded a $7.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. HISD is one of only 35 school systems nationally to receive the grants that are to be used to attract, reward and retain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers.


"Nothing we can do has more impact on our goal of providing every child with an academically rigorous education than placing effective teachers in every classroom," said HISD Superintendent Terry Grier (pictured). "This grant will help us compete to keep the best talent in Houston ISD classrooms."


In addition to offering teachers financial incentives, HISD will also use the grant to give teachers the instructional materials they need to conduct authentic problem-based learning STEM projects, develop and deliver specialized training for teachers through partners such as Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine and to hire additional math and science coaches to support teachers at participating schools. Twenty-five HISD schools, most of them elementaries, will benefit from the grant. Most of these schools have large populations of low-income family students.


Linden to apply for state grant to help pay for planning

Linden City Council members recently authorized a consulting firm to apply for a grant for planning and capacity building from the Texas Department of Agriculture to perform infrastructure planning for facilities and housing.


The funds can be used for mapping, land use studies, economic development, upgrading the central business district, parks and recreation, water distribution and wastewater systems in addition to drainage, community facilities and subdivision regulation. City officials hope to use the grant funds to create a digital base map of existing sewer and water lines and other infrastructure.


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Northeast Texas Community College wins $232,532 grant for lab

Northeast Texas Community College (NTCC) recently won a $232,532 grant from the office of the state comptroller to create a Mobile Industrial Technology Laboratory.


The new lab will permit the college to make available industrial technology training to more students in the area, said Jonathan McCullough, vice president for advancement at NTCC. The Industrial Technology Training Center (ITTC) in Mount Pleasant has 183 students enrolled in classes this fall receiving training in industrial technology, electrical operations, manufacturing engineering, electrical technology, robotics, video game programming and drafting, he said.


Wichita Falls approves $30 million plan for capital projects

Jim DockeryWichita Falls City Council members recently approved a new five-year capital improvement plan calling for the city to spend $30 million on capital projects in the 2012-2013 budget year.


On tap for the coming budget year are plans to replace the utility billing system that tracks utility customers, takes meter readings and performs billing; performs routine street and line repairs; and proceeds with the Wichita Falls Intermodal Travel Center, said Jim Dockery (pictured), chief financial officer for the city. City officials also plan to begin the first phase on the terminal at the municipal airport, upgrade the record-keeping system in the municipal court, purchase equipment for the mowing program on rights-of-way and move forward with the McNiel Drainage Project, he added.


Council members must still approve funding for each project before work can proceed, Dockery said. Current plans call for work on the travel center and airport terminal to begin in October or early November.


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Brownwood approved for $12 million loan for two water projects

Brownwood city officials recently learned the Texas Water Development Board approved a $12 million low-interest loan to help the city pay for two water treatment projects.


Plans call for spending $3 million to upgrade an existing wastewater treatment plant and $9 million to build a water reuse facility to filter more contaminants from the water to supplement the water supply, said Bobby Rountree, city manager. The plan is to purify water at an existing plant and pump that water to the new reuse facility that will use membrane filtration, reverse osmosis and carbon absorption to purify about 1.5 million gallons of water a day, Rountree said.


Before construction on the water reuse facility can begin, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality still must approve the design for the proposed water reuse plant, Rountree said. That approval process can take from two to three months, he said.


Amarillo College wins $1M grant to upgrade science, technology

Amarillo College recently won a $1 million grant from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The federal grant will be used to buy equipment for the Hereford Campus Training and Development Center.


The grant must be used to support students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to prepare them for high-quality jobs with good salaries, a spokeswoman for the Commerce Department said.


Free Pega Texas Conference slated for Austin on Oct. 26

The Pega Texas Conference, a free, educational, one-day conference on systems modernization and business transformation, is slated from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26. The event will be held at The Commons Center, J.J. Pickle Research Campus, The University of Texas at Austin, 10100 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78758. The conference should be of special interest to agency executives, IRMs/CIOs, program managers, business managers, business analysts, IT project managers, IT developers, solution partners and team members who are passionate about reducing costs, improving customer services and increasing operational efficiencies. Information will be provided on business transformation through intelligent BPM, BPM and CRM technology in the enterprise ecosystem and success stories of legacy system modernization. The event is free, but pre-registration is required as space is limited. The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), co-sponsor, will award three hours of continuing education credit for the morning session. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. For more information and to register, click here 


Water, energy conference announced by TAMU for Oct. 3-4

The annual Texas A&M Energy Institute Conference is joining forces with Growing Texas this year for a conference to highlight cutting-edge research programs at Texas A&M University that explore the challenges and opportunities of conventional and emerging energy technologies that rely on the use of water. The event will be held Oct. 3 and 4 at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, 801 University Drive East, College Station 77840. Student research will be showcased during the reception where students will exhibit posters and answer questions about their current energy projects. With participants from state agencies, multiple departments and other Texas A&M University System components, this conference will be of interest to faculty, students, community leaders, economic development professionals and industry stakeholders throughout Texas. For more information and to register, click here.


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.


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


The 83rd session of the Texas Legislature is only three months away. Once again, all eyes will be focused on the drafting of a new state budget. When the session ends next May, the state will have a new multi-billion-dollar roadmap for spending for the next two years. Watching the budget process and the legislative actions that surround it will be of enormous interest to state agency officials, state employees, private sector businesses and Texas taxpayers.


Strategic Partnerships, Inc. and The University of Texas at Austin Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs are teaming up for the 8th Biennial Legislative Communication Conference on Tuesday, Oct. 16. This jointly sponsored conference was initiated in 1998 and is a perennial sell-out. The all-day conference features government executives, board appointees, senior staff and elected officials who discuss issues related to the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature.


The state budget will be the most closely watched issue of the legislative session. The conference will feature House Appropriations Chair Rep. Jim Pitts delivering a keynote address as well as a panel including the budget directors of the Lt. Governor and House Speaker's offices and the Legislative Budget Board. Another panel will feature executives and board members of a variety of state agencies who will address innovative ideas the state will incorporate to meet the challenges of the legislative session.


One of most anticipated topics for state agencies and state employees will be an address by Ann Bishop, executive director of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, who will bring information on the "future reality" of state employee benefits.


Several other members of the Texas House and Senate and key staff in the state leadership's offices will offer insight on the upcoming session from an insider's point of view while Sen. Kirk Watson will deliver a keynote on the session from a hometown vantage point. The agenda will include a session on public-private partnerships regarding the Capitol Complex, and the day always ends with a panel of political pundits and their predictions for the upcoming elections and issues related to the 83rd Legislature.

Those who plan to attend are urged to register early. Once capacity is reached, no more registrations can be accepted.


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Collaboration Nation

El Paso nabs $13.5 million grant

for transportation projects

Sun Metro of El Paso recently won $13.5 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation to build new bus shelters and buy new buses. Transit authority officials also plan to use a portion of the funding to pay for new articulated buses and fare boxes for a new rapid transit corridor project to expand and improve service.


Grindstaff resigns as assistant

city manager in San Angelo

Elizabeth GrindstaffElizabeth Grindstaff (pictured), an assistant city manager in San Angelo, recently resigned from that post to accept a job in private business, effective on Oct. 2.


An assistant city manager since 2006 and a former planning director, Grindstaff previously worked for city governments in Abilene, Bryan and Hillsboro. She has a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University.


San Benito approves $90,000

to install 64 surveillance cameras

San Benito city officials recently approved spending $90,000 to install 64 surveillance cameras at two fire stations and city hall.


Half of the new security cameras will be installed at city hall and the remaining shared by two fire stations and the service center, where expensive equipment and supplies are stored, the mayor said. The cameras will allow city officials to monitor the interiors and exteriors of those facilities.


New Comptroller's report

addresses local debt in Texas

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs recently released the report, "Your Money and Local Debt," the second in her series of "Texas, It's Your Money" reports. This new Web tool encourages Texans to delve into the amount of debt being carried by their local taxing entities.


In addition to the report, other Web tools allow visitors to the State Comptroller's Web site to find the amount of debt for cities, counties and special purpose districts. The Web tool is accompanied by worksheets that go with the report series so information found can be stored on the worksheet for reference. To view the report, click here


Interested in P3s?

Arlington ISD looking for

three area superintendents

Arlington Independent School District trustees recently began a search for three educators to serve as area superintendents, a secondary and two elementary superintendents.


The new positions are a result of a restructuring that assigns area superintendents to supervise campus principals, assess curriculum, accountability measures, instructional standards and staff development at the 73 campuses operated by the district. Each of the area superintendents will report to the superintendent.


Mary Scott Nabers interview

slated on C-Radio in October

Mary Scott NabersMary Scott Nabers (pictured), president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., co-founder of the Gemini Global Group and author of Collaboration Nation, will be the guest for an upcoming interview on C-Radio, a live national talk radio show dedicated to business and personal finance news and information.


C-RadioNabers, one of the nation's leading experts on business opportunities, will be interviewed by host Cynthia Nevels, Visa Practical Money Awards winner, author and entrepreneur. The program's theme will be "Public and Private Collaboration That Work." The interview will air live here at 11:30 a.m. (CST) on Oct. 16.

Vasquez agrees to step

down from post in El Paso Co.

Piti Vasquez, the purchasing agent for El Paso County for the last 35 years, recently agreed to step down from that post after a Procurement Review Panel raised questions about contract negotiations for construction of a new $7.5 million sports park. Vasquez said he plans to retire on Dec. 31.


Corpus Christi taps Canales

as interim assistant city manager

Corpus Christi city officials recently appointed Herb Canales, a 30-year city employee, as the interim assistant city manager overseeing public safety, health and neighborhoods. Canales, who has served as library director since 1985, replaced Troy Riggs, who resigned to become the new public safety director in Indianapolis.


Canales has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin, a master's degree from Columbia University and a master's certificate in public history from Texas State University. City officials are expected to appoint an interim library director to serve while Canales is the interim assistant manager. The search for a new assistant city manager could take several more months to complete, city officials said.


HDI Solutions

Shane Merritt named to lead

sheriff's office in Bandera

Capt. Shane Merritt of the Bandera Sheriff's Department, recently agreed to take charge of the department following the resignation of Chief Deputy Richard Smith. Merrit was the police chief in Bandera prior to joining the sheriff's office in 2006.


Merritt said his goal is to keep the sheriff's department operating and improving until voters in November decide whether James "Bubba" Popham, the Democrat candidate, or Dan Butts, the Republican candidate, becomes the new sheriff. Smith had performed the duties of sheriff since May 2011 when former Sheriff Weldon Tucker resigned following criminal charges of abuse of official capacity.


McKinney selects Wehmeier

to lead economic development

Jim WehmeierMcKinney city officials recently selected Jim Wehmeier (pictured) as the new chief executive officer for the McKinney Economic Development Corp. He replaces Jim Young, who left that post in January.


Currently the CEO and president of the Lufkin Economic Development Corp., Wehmeier begins his new duties in McKinney on Nov. 1. His previous employment includes sports management, the high-tech industry and in economic development in Hillsboro.


Lex Frieden Employment Awards

to be presented at annual event

The Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities will present its annual Lex Frieden Employment Awards at a Wednesday, Oct. 24, luncheon at 11:30 a.m., at the Hilton Hobby Airport Hotel in Houston. These awards recognize businesses, individuals and organizations dedicated to maintaining an inclusive workforce.


The event will be hosted by the Houston Mayor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. The awards are named for disability rights champion instrumental Lex Frieden, who was instrumental in the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This year's recipients are Target Southwest Greatland, Austin; Image Microsystems, Austin; Big Lots, Denton; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; Stephen Booher, City of Arlington; Stacy Zoern of Community Cars, Inc., Austin; and the Employment Alliance for People with Disabilities, Corpus Christi.


More information about the event and sponsorships is available here or by contacting or jo.virgil@governor.state.tx.us.


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New Braunfels appoints

bond advisory committee

New Braunfels city officials recently appointed 24 members to a new bond advisory committee. The group plans to begin meeting in October to develop a list of projects to recommend to include in a proposed bond election in May 2013. The mayor appointed Ray Sill, a local pastor, to chair the bond committee.


Frisco police chief, fire

chief to assume new duties

Todd RenshawBeginning on Oct. 1, Frisco Police Chief Todd Renshaw (top) and Fire Chief Mack Borchardt (bottom) will begin their new duties. Renshaw will become the new director of public safety and oversee police and fire services, while Borchardt will become the fire programs consultant and a special assistant to the city manager. Borchardt will report to Renshaw in the reorganization.


Mack BorchardtRenshaw has named Assistant Police Chief John Bruce as the interim police chief and plans to name a new fire chief soon, said City Manager George Purefoy. Renshaw began his career in law enforcement in 1983 in Allen and became chief of police in Frisco in 1994.


In his new role following his retirement as fire chief, Borchardt will oversee cleanup of property formerly used by a technology company, oversee development agreements, some emergency management plan actions and construction of the new fire station on the east side of the city. He joined the city as a volunteer firefighter in 1973 and five years later become the city's first fire chief.


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Canyon rejects all bids for

$650,000 baseball complex

Randy CriswellCanyon City Council members recently rejected all bids submitted to build a proposed $650,000 baseball complex after all the bids ran more than $1 million, several thousand dollars more than the $650,000 budgeted for the project.


City officials will work with the architects and engineers to identify ways to cut the cost of the proposed baseball complex, said City Manager Randy Criswell (pictured). At least $150,000 of the cost is for water and sewer, leaving only $500,000 to build the facility. Once cost-saving measures are identified, city officials expect to place the baseball complex project up for bid again, said Criswell, who told council the project would not be completed in time for baseball season in spring 2013.


Robstown ISD to interview

finalists for superintendent

Robstown Independent School District trustees recently asked three applicants for superintendent to return for additional interviews. District officials declined to identify the three finalist candidates, citing a confidentiality agreement with the Texas Association of School Boards, which is helping the district with the search.


Trustees also selected Leobardo Cano, who previously worked for Robstown ISD and Premont ISD, to serve as interim superintendent until a new superintendent takes over the post. The new superintendent will replace former Superintendent Osvaldo Romero, whose contract was terminated in June.


Bushland ISD to create citizen committee to study bond proposal

Bushland Independent School District officials recently agreed to appoint a committee of from 10-12 citizens to identify which facility projects should be included in a bond proposal as early as May 2013. Superintendent Don Wood and Jeff Sumpter, president of the board of trustees, will serve as non-voting members of the committee, Sumpter said. Voters approved a $16 million bond proposal in 2003 and a $9 million bond proposal in 2009 and the district has about $21 million remaining from those two bond issues, the business manager for the district said.


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Mary Scott Nabers


Strategic Partnerships, Inc.


Irving ISD grant to increase

student home Internet access

Irving Independent School District board members recently agreed to use a $125,000 state grant to allow 250 students at the career preparatory center to check out wireless Internet devices for academic projects.


Teachers are using Project Share, which reqiuires students to have access to the Internet as more classes use online participation as part of the learning process, district officials said. The grant will allow the school district to loan the wireless Internet devices to students who do not have access to the Internet at home, district oficials said.


El Paso appoints Childs as

new tax assessor-collector

David ChildsEl Paso city officials recently appointed David Childs (pictured) as the new tax assessor-collector. Childs served as tax assessor-collector in Dallas County for almost 20 years.


Childs took over after an audit that alleged that previous city officials mismanaged almost $1.2 million. The audit found that nearly $1.2 million was not stolen or lost, but was spent incorrectly to relocate the tax office to another building, buy furniture, pay for construction costs and attorney fees for bankruptcy cases. The chief auditor alleged that Juan Sandoval, the former tax assessor-collector who retired in June, was responsible for mismanaging the funds.


Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 9/21/12
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Maria Teran of El Paso, State Health Services Council;

  • Jorge Gaytan of Houston, Crime Stoppers Council;

  • Emerson F. Lane Jr. of Beaumont, Crime Stoppers Council;

  • Ernesto Rodriguez, Jr. of McAllen, Crime Stoppers Council;

  • Brad Boney of Galveston, Board of Pilot Commissioners for Galveston County.

Longview approves $100.6M

for capital upgrades in 2012-13

Longview City Council members recently approved a proposed $100.6 million, five-year capital improvement plan that includes seven projects totaling $6.3 million in the 2012-2013 budget year.


The seven projects to begin this budget year are a $1.2 million project to upgrade bridges and culverts, a $1.8 million project at the wastewater treatment plant and $800,000 in other upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant. Other capital improvement projects included in the five-year plan are $675,000 to install devices to monitor flow at water treatment plants, a $300,000 project to improve drainage and a $700,000 project to thicken sludge at the wastewater treatment plant.


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Rose City selects Veazey as city

secretary, Scogin for new clerk

Rose City recently selected Tanya Veazey as the new city secretary and Iris Scogin as the new municipal court clerk. Veazey, who previously served as the municipal court clerk, will replace Veronica Grant, who was terminated from her post as city secretary.


El Paso ISD selects Butler

as new interim superintendent

Vernon ButlerEl Paso Independent School District trustees recently selected Vernon Butler (pictured) as the new interim superintendent.


An educator for 35 years, Butler replaces Ken George, who was named as interim superintendent on Sept. 11 to serve for a minimum of two weeks after Terri Jordan, the previous interim superintendent, returned to her former job as chief of staff for the school district.


Former Superintendent Lorenzo Garza resigned in November 2011 after pleading guilty to mail fraud in a reported scheme to cheat on tests to measure student achievement. Garza is set to be sentenced for that offense in October. District officials set a goal to hire a new superintendent in early 2013.


Branson to lead convention

center expansion project

Phillip Branson, a project manager for the expansion of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, recently began his duties as the project manager overseeing the work of Hunt-Zachry, the construction company in charge of the $325 million convention center expansion project in Fort Worth.


Branson, who was a senior project manager at AECOM during the $302 million airport expansion, will lead an eight-member team made up of city employees in the Capital Improvements Management Services division during the convention center project. Hunt-Zachry expects to begin the design phase of the expansion project in October, start construction in about a year and complete the expansion project by April 2016.


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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