Texas Government Insider
News And People

Volume 14, Issue 42 - Friday, November 4, 2016
Early voting breaking records
Early voting ends today in Texas and turnout rates are turning heads. The Texas Secretary of State has posted daily voter turnout numbers for 15 counties for both in person and mail-in votes. With totals from the first 10 days of early voting, the number of reported votes cast has already surpassed the number of votes cast during the entire 12-day period before the last presidential election in 2012. 

In addition to voting for the next president, Texas voters will decide races for railroad commissioner, state supreme court judges, state court of criminal appeals judges, state board of education members, state senators and state representatives. 

More than 14 million Texans are registered to vote with about two-thirds of those voters living in the following counties: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, Collin, Denton, El Paso, Fort Bend, Hidalgo, Montgomery, Williamson, Galveston, Nueces and Cameron. 

In 2012, about 31 percent of registered voters in those counties had cast ballots by day 10 of early voting. This year, the total for the same day was 37.45 percent. Over the entire 12 days of early voting, the percentage of voters turning in early votes is on track to exceed the final total of 39.38 percent in 2012. 

In Collin County, more than 46.5 percent of registered voters have already cast their ballots, compared to 37.4 percent on the same day in 2012. In Williamson County, 44.7 percent of registered votes are in, compared to 32.4 percent on day 10 in 2012.

Reissig named Administrator of the Year
Mike Reissig
Mike Reissig, a deputy comptroller for the Office of the Texas Comptroller, was selected as the 2016 Administrator of the Year by the Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association. The award recognizes state employees who demonstrated outstanding leadership in administration of state agency business.

"Mike embodies a very rare combination of technical knowledge and know-how and extensive real-world experience, tempered by a good dose of common sense and a great sense of humor," said Fiscal Management Division Director Rob Coleman, who nominated him.

Reissig joined the comptroller's office in 1985 and has worked as a chief revenue estimator, director of tax administration, director of fiscal management and associate deputy administrator for tax and revenue before becoming a deputy comptroller.
Texas voters to decide on more than $5.2 billion in bond projects
In addition to casting votes for national, state and local officials, voters in Texas will also decide more than 40 bond issues that will have a direct impact in their communities. More than $5.2 billion in bond referendums are on the ballots in cities, school districts, community colleges and special districts. 

The projects include new schools, jails and police stations. Massive mobility projects and stadium proposals are receiving nationwide attention this year, but bridge and road repairs are equally important to local voters. 

Some of the smaller bonds being considered include a $1.7 million project for water system improvements and a $3 million road bond in central Texas. School districts across the state are seeking funds for renovations and improvements with bonds from $4.5 million to more than $600 million. The largest project is a transportation bond for the City of Austin with $720 million in projects going before voters. Other projects awaiting voter approval include a major league baseball stadium, a new community college campus and an expo center. 

In order to have the most detailed information on these elections, the Strategic Partnerships research team has compiled the 2016 Texas Bond Package. The report will be ready for delivery Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 9. It will provide all the details and contain information not available anywhere else. Order now and be among the first to receive the information.
October state sales tax revenue was $2.3B
The state comptroller's office has announced state sales tax revenue totaled $2.29 billion in October, 0.2 percent more than in October 2015. Total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in October 2016 was down by 2.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago. 

In October 2016, Texas collected $396 million in motor vehicle sales and rental taxes, down 4.6 percent from October 2015. Motor fuels taxes totaled $299 million, up 2.1 percent. Oil and natural gas production taxes were $224 million, down 6.9 percent. On their own, natural gas production tax collections in October 2016 were 9.3 percent higher than in October 2015, representing the first year-over-year monthly increase since December 2014. Click here for more information.
Former TDCJ chief joins Strategic Partnerships' team of consultants
Brad Livingston
Brad Livingston, former executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has joined the Strategic Partnerships Inc. (SPI) consulting team as a senior consultant. He will specialize in consulting with clients interested in criminal justice, law enforcement, executive and financial issues, planning and strategy development. 

For more than a decade, Livingston was the chief executive officer of the TDCJ and previously served as the agency's chief financial officer. He was also a top aide in Gov. George W. Bush's Office of Budget and Planning. Livingston is a nationally-recognized leader in the field of criminal justice administration and law enforcement in general. His consulting strengths are enhanced by his work with the Legislative Budget Board and his oversight of procurement strategies for one of the largest public agencies in Texas. He is particularly adept in procurement analysis, finance and political strategy. 

As a consultant with specialized subject matter knowledge and executive leadership experience, as well as his decades of credibility and relationships, Livingston will offer valuable insight, guidance and assistance to SPI's clients. 

"We are delighted to add Brad's credentials, insight and strategic thinking to the SPI Team," said SPI President and CEO Mary Scott Nabers.


TWDB approves $2M  for conservation, wastewater projects
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved financial assistance totaling $2 million for agricultural conservation and wastewater system projects. 

The city of Alamo will receive $1 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The city will use the assistance to finance planning and design costs for a new wastewater treatment plant. 

The Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District will receive $1 million from the Agriculture Water Conservation Loan Program to provide financing for a water conservation equipment loan program. The district will use the funds to provide loans to area producers to purchase efficient irrigation equipment.
Parks commissioner under fire
Photo by Texas Sierra Club
A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) commission meeting on Thursday included comments by protesters seeking to stop pipeline construction in Standing Rock, N.D. TPWD Commissioner Kelcy Warren is the head of a Dallas-based company constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline. The company is also in charge of the Trans Pecos and Comanche Trail pipelines in West Texas. 

One of the issues on the commission's agenda was whether the agency should grant a pipeline easement in the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in East Texas. The commission heard comments about environmental threats caused by pipelines and criticism about the treatment of Native Americans and protesters in South Dakota by Warren's company. 

Warren recused himself from voting on a Texas pipeline easement. The issue has been tabled until the next meeting.
Waco considers $100M riverfront promenade project
Waco City Council members discussed updated information about a proposed public-private partnership to build the Brazos Promenade. The riverfront project would cost about $100 million with the city spending $20.2 million for incentives and cleaning the 16-acre site.

The city would spend up to $8 million in the first six months of 2017 to remove and clean the site covered in as much as 10-feet of debris under the proposed agreement. Other costs to the city would be adding water and sewer infrastructure, building a parking garage and landscaping sidewalks and other public areas.

City officials plan to use a $3.9 million economic development grant and funding from a tax increment financing zone to pay the city's contribution to the project. City council members are expected to vote on an agreement with the developer and an 80-year lease in mid-November.


Sabine Pass Port Authority wants $7.5 million to rebuild piers, docks
Sabine Pass Port Authority (SPPA) commissioners are seeking voter approval on Nov. 8 for $7.5 million in bonds to improve port facilities damaged by a series of hurricanes.

If voters approve the measure, commissioners plan to complete a concrete pier to replace the wooden pier destroyed by hurricanes. The bond would also help fund new wharves, docks and other facilities such as terminal and storage facilities.
Fort Worth to consider $7.9M for road, sewer line
Tax increment finance district board members on the north side of Fort Worth agreed to ask the city for a loan to pay for improving East Exchange Avenue and upgrading a major sewer line. 

In only its second year of collecting revenue, the TIF district has not raised sufficient revenue to fund the improvements. The sewer line along Mule Alley connects with the Fort Worth Stockyards and is part of a project to upgrade that stockyards area. About $3.5 million of the loan requested by TIF board members would be used to upgrade East Exchange Avenue along with adding new sidewalks and landscaping. The loan would be repaid with no interest over a 10-year period.
San Marcos approves plan to use $25.08M federal recovery grant
San Marcos City Council members approved a plan on how to use a $25.08 million disaster recovery grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) earlier this year. 

The plan, recommended by a grant consultant, urges the city to spend $12.5 million for infrastructure projects, $7.5 million for home and rental property owners, $3.75 million for planning projects and $1.25 million for grant administration. 

Once HUD officials approve the plan, city officials expect to create two new positions, a disaster recovery manager and a disaster recovery engineering project manager. City staff are reviewing more than 20 infrastructure projects to address flooding issue in recent flood events in the city in order to prioritize the projects.
Capital Area MPO to pay for $7.6M road project
Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) officials agreed to pay for a $7.6 million Texas Department of Transportation project to improve one mile of Manchaca Road to relieve traffic congestion in the South Austin area. The project calls for widening Manchaca Road from Ravenscroft Drive to Farm-to-Market Road 1626 into four lanes and a center turning lane. The project also includes building curbs and sidewalks.

Officials plan to seek bids on the expansion project in 2018 and begin construction later that year. While TxDOT has completed the design and environmental, the agency must now re-evaluate the noise analyses and plan to meet with residents to discuss mitigating noise from the project.
Dallas moves on $250M park
The city of Dallas is moving forward with plans for a $250 million park along the Trinity River after receiving a $50 million donation for the planned park. Management of the park will be a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) with the Trinity Trust, a nonprofit that has funded $60 million in trails and bridges along the Trinity River since 2004.

City officials approved $30 million that will be used along with the $50-million donation to fund the first phase of construction.
Smithville eyeing $10.8M plan to improve airport
Smithville city officials are considering a $10.8 million, long-range plan to upgrade the Smithville Crawford Municipal Airport to become a base for single engine air tanker aircraft. The upgrade would improve the capability to fight wildfires in Central Texas as well as assist in economic development.

Officials are developing a plan that would allow up to six single-engine air tankers to be housed and fueled at the airport. Preliminary plans include extending the runway by 1,000 feet at an estimated cost of $2.2 million, enlarging the taxiways by 3,000 feet at a cost of about $3.5 million, building new and larger hangars, moving fuel tanks, upgrading fuel quality and building two 7,000-gallon water tanks. Power lines also would need to be moved to allow the larger aircraft to take off and land and an automated weather observation station could be installed.
Tano Tijerina, County Judge, Webb County
 
Judge Tano Tijerina
Career Highlights and Education: I was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1993 in the 8th round and played four years of minor league baseball. After several seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, I retired from baseball and returned to Laredo. I became involved in the ranch industry, particularly oil and gas, rodeo stock management, financial investments and transportation. I also continued my education at Texas A&M International University and graduated in 2002 with a degree in fitness and sports and a minor in criminal justice. On Jan. 1, 2015, I became the 23rd Judge for Webb County.

What I like best about my job is: I have the opportunity to change the face of county government - moving Webb County in a positive direction not only internally but externally - for the constituents. When you love your community so much, this is one of the most rewarding ways to contribute.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Stay humble and be yourself; but, most importantly, always put God first.
 
Advice you would give to a new hire in your office: Take everything in stride and ride for the brand!

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: With my kids watching them in their extracurricular activities.

People would be surprised to know that I: Arrive to work around 6:45 a.m. and I take a moment to do my Bible study. Also, as much as I hate it, I'm pretty emotional.

One thing I wish more people knew about my county: One thing I love about my county is that we are very hospitable. We don't have much; but, the little that we do have, we will share it.
Calendar of Events

Jan. 23-25, 2017

The Water for Texas 2017 Conference in Austin, Texas, will showcase innovative scientific, planning and financial solutions to water challenges; interactive data and technology; and compelling conversations on water issues that affect all Texans. Panel discussions, workshops, and exhibits will offer the opportunity to network and engage with industry leaders, elected officials and TWDB Board members and staff. A conference agenda is available. Register here.

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

No matter what happens at the polls on Tuesday, both presidential candidates have made public pledges to address the country's infrastructure problems. That's extremely good news, because it appears that the next president will champion infrastructure reform.

However, the way the problem is addressed will be very different depending on who wins the election. Here's a quick overview of what can be expected:

Donald Trump has made public statements that include the following bits and pieces of his infrastructure spending plan:
  • Trump says he will refocus government spending on American infrastructure but provide maximum flexibility to the states. Details of the plan have not yet been released.

  • He says his plan to generate new tax revenues will rely heavily on jobs that are created and the economic stimulus that will result from infrastructure projects.





Canales named superintendent at Weslaco ISD
Priscilla Canales
Priscilla Canales was named as the lone finalist for Weslaco Independent School District. She will replace Ruben Alejandro, who resigned in June, once the required waiting period has ended. Now serving as an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Del Valle ISD, Canales also was a director and campus administrator for San Antonio ISD.

Filomena Leo, a former superintendent for La Joya ISD, has served as interim superintendent following the resignation of Alejandro.
Dokken named executive director of research institute
Quenton R. Dokken
Tarleton State University officials selected Quenton R. Dokken as the executive director of the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) based in Stephenville.

Now serving as president and chief executive officer of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation in Corpus Christi, Dokken begins his new duties on Nov. 7. He previously was associate director of the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Center for Coastal Studies and national director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Gulf of Mexico Regional Marine Research Center.

Dokken earned his bachelor's degree from Texas A&I University, his master's degree from Corpus Christi State University and his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.
Joslin appointed city manager in Alice
Andy Joslin, who has served as interim city manager in Alice since early March, was appointment city manager for that city. 

He previously was city manager in Floresville and worked in law enforcement for 19 years.


Weaver to serve as acting city manager in Lubbock
Chad Weaver
City Attorney Chad Weaver of Lubbock agreed to serve as acting city manager of the city once City Manager James Loomis retires on Nov. 18. He agreed to serve in that post until a new city manager is selected. Council members are in the process of interviewing four finalists.

Weaver joined the city in 2007 as an assistant city attorney and was appointed city attorney in May 2014.
Grapevine approves $1.5M for new dog park
After Grapevine City Council members weighed two options ranging from $1.5 million to $2.5 million for a new dog park offered by Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Mitchell, the council directed Mitchell to pursue the $1.55 million option that calls for parks staff members to install portions of the project. 

Plans for the city's first dog park should be completed in February. Construction on the project is expected to begin shortly after the design plans are approved.
McKinstry

Lucio proposes light rail system in Lower Rio Grande Valley
Eduardo Lucio Jr.
State Senator Eduardo Lucio Jr. proposed the creation of a light rail system in the Lower Rio Grande Valley during a meeting with the Lower Rio Grande Development Council. A light rail system is needed to meet the heavy demand for public transportation in that area, he said.

The Brownsville senator also said he is meeting with the chancellor of the Texas A&M University System to request that the Transportation Institute affiliated with the system conduct a study on the feasibility of building a light rail. The cost of a light rail system could range from $34 million to $65 million.
Commission OKs $1.67M grant for Corpus Christi road
Texas Transportation Commission members approved a $1.67 million grant from the Texas Mobility Fund to help the Port of Corpus Christi help pay for widening a section of the Joe Fulton International Trade Corridor. Improvements are needed due to the construction of a nearby plant increasing traffic.

The port authority spent $50 million to build the 12-mile road to serve as an alternate route for large trucks and railroads to access the north side of an inner harbor built in 2007. Port commissioners plan to use the TxDOT grant to improve an intersection with Mike Carrell Road.

The project includes adding turning lanes to the intersection and an entrance road to provide access to the new plant. Other improvements include an automated rail gate, adding more signage, traffic signals and striping.


Lakeway officials seeking public comment on new police station
Lakeway city officials are asking for public comments on the need to build a new justice center to house the police department that now operates in a crowded building shared with other city services. A proposed new police station could be built at the intersection of Lohman's Crossing and Lohman's Spur.

A feasibility study conducted by the city earlier this year found the current building was so inadequate that it impacted morale in the police department. A citizens' committee chaired by a former mayor recommended that the city council schedule a bond election in May 2017 to raise funding for a new facility. Council members have until February to decide to schedule a May bond election.
Texas Judicial Council calls for improved courthouse security
A special committee appointed by the Texas Judicial Council approved a list of recommendations for improving courthouse security statewide for Texas legislators to consider in the legislative session beginning in January 2017. 

The committee was formed to improve security for all who have access to courthouses rather than just focusing on court personnel, said David Slayton, executive director of the Texas Judicial Council. 

 The recommendations for legislation include establishing court security training, protocols for notifying judicial personnel of threats, creating a permanent committee on court security at the state level and appointing a director of court security. 
JOB BOARD
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. New jobs added this week:  

Click here to view more. Send postings to editor@spartnerships.com.

On Our Website 

 
Trillions to be invested in smart cities

GOVERNOR'S APPOINTMENTS
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments:  
  • Esmaeil Porsa, M.D., Parker, Commission On Jail Standards;

  • Bill Stoudt, Longview, Commission On Jail Standards;

  • Kelly Rowe, Lubbock, Commission On Jail Standards;

  • Dennis Wilson, Groesbeck, Commission On Jail Standards;

  • Monica Burdette, Rockport, Texas Historical Commission;

  • Martha Mosier, College Station, State Board Of Social Worker Examiners;

  • Brian Brumley, Sumner, State Board Of Social Worker Examiners;

  • Beverly Loss, Wolfe City, State Board Of Social Worker Examiners;

  • Benny Morris, Cleburne, State Board Of Social Worker Examiners.
RECENT REPORTS
Texas Government Insider Archives
View our other newsletter,

Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Priscilla Loebenberg 
TGI is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1995 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.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
Barton Oaks Plaza One, Suite #100
901 S. Mopac Expressway Austin, Texas 78746
Strategic Partnerships, Inc., 901 S. Mopac Expressway, Ste. 1-100, Austin, TX 78746
Sent by cc@spartnerships.com in collaboration with
Constant Contact