Wednesday, August 26, 2015

25 August Council Meeting

Yesterday’s afternoon workshop was very lengthy and also very interesting.  I started in a Municipal Policy Committee meeting.  The primary subject had to do with Pay Day Loans.  Essentially there are two avenues to take on this subject.  The first is a land use issue.  This is an area that the city can currently take a stance.  It was my suggestion that the city move ahead to utilize our zoning capability now.  The Unified Development Code will be amended to reflect another use of “Alternative Financial Establishments.”  These businesses would have to be in a standalone building, and cannot be within 1,000 ft of each other.  They have to be 200 ft from residential homes and at least 500 ft from major highway entrances.   Although current establishments will be grandfathered in at their current locations, the above will establish strict guidelines for new applicants.  The second avenue will be business guidelines.  Since the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is currently looking at guidelines concerning these businesses, it would be foolish for a city to establish policy that would be overruled by their decisions within the year.  So this avenue is closed to the city, for the time being.

The other area of interest had to do with the budget and the wages for sworn and staff employees.  Trey Yelverton is trying to establish city employees’ wages at a level commensurate with the amount of work expected of them.  I pointed out that there is a discrepancy in the manning level of the fire department.  We have the lowest number of firemen per capita of any department in the metroplex, by a wide margin.  Looking at a manning document provided to me by the AFFA union, it was noted that the fire department was only manned properly, at the 84 man level,  44.5% of the time.  Then I compared the overtime numbers to the rest of the metroplex, because that would be the only place that manning could get its solution to the equation.  Sure enough, Arlington is second in overtime per capita, in the metroplex.  Ft. Worth was number one.  So I submit that this is an equation out of equilibrium, and not the proper way to man a fire department.  Now I am aware that the people that work the overtime are doing the job and working for their pay, and that is appreciated.  But the numbers are way off the charts, and they were brought to me in a book supplied by the AFFA.

The last item is the fact that Trey is trying desperately  to get sworn positions up to a 75% level over the next 5 years, while simultaneously getting staff to 50%.  This disparity is untenable.  I pointed out that turnover is very low with sworn positions, and that the employees that are leaving are mostly staff positions.  Therefore, the inconsistency in percentile ranking is a flawed hypothesis.  What monies that are to be distributed need to be targeted strategically in an effort to maximize their affect in certain categories and maintain job satisfaction. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chief Will Johnson's Decision

After the statements given by the officers associated with the incident, Chief Johnson had enough information to make a determination.  Chief Johnson then applied the facts that were brought out in that testimony and weighed those against department protocols.  Termination was the only conclusion that he could make.  I thoroughly support his position on this issue. 

I have received letters not supporting this decision.  Those letters do not consider the facts that Chief Johnson has at his disposal.  Although termination was the result of the process, I can assure you that he made this decision based solely on violations of department stand operating procedure and departmental protocols.  He did not consider pressure from other sources, and those pressures did not affect his judgment, concerning the career of one of his officers.

The article in the Ft. Worth Star that questioned Chief Johnson’s decision highlighted the comments of a  Union called AMPA (Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association).  This Union is very critical of Chief Johnson’s position in an effort to garner rank and file support for an upcoming election.  There is no place for inflammatory rhetoric in this incident.  The Union that currently represents the Arlington Police Officers  APA (Arlington Police Association) wants to consider all of the facts before making a determination.  I ask you to please consider the unfortunate incidents in other cities, and be appreciative of the way that Chief Johnson has handled the events of this instance.  Again, I totally support Chief Johnson’s decision.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

D. R. Horton Comes Home

Last night I supported the relocation of D.R. Horton’s headquarters to Arlington.  We have been in negotiations for the last 2 yrs.  trying to get him to come back home.  Last night the final piece fell into place.  I must say that I had my reservations about giving a billionaire $5.5 million to entice him to our city.  The Horton complex will be located on the I-30 west bound frontage road, between Progressive and the IHOP.  The reason for the move is to get out of downtown Ft. Worth and take advantage of Arlington’s location and our easy access to DFW.

Horton will be given $1.83 million a yr. for the next three yrs.  This money will not come from the taxpayer’s pockets.  This was essential in order for me to support the move.  The money will come from some gas funds from the city’s side of the ledger, not the ATF’s.  Then Buzz Pishkur, Arlington’s  Water Department Director, will sell purified water to other cities to make up the difference.  This line of revenue was the brain child of Buzz and Trey Yelverton our City Manager.  I couldn’t in my mind justify the movement of taxpayer dollars, directly to Horton.  That doesn’t work for me.

Horton has already started to do work at the site.  He will start to move dirt in the next couple of weeks.  The campus will be a collection of buildings that will house America’s largest home builder’s new headquarters.  Housing 350 employees initially, they are required to stay at that location for the next 20 yrs.  If they expand to 500 employees they only have to stay for 12 yrs. and will ensure that the city gets it $5.5 million back.  The campus is currently planned to encompass 165,000sq/ft.  Welcome back home to Arlington D. R. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dave Lieber Article

Yesterday, in the Dallas Morning News a Mr. Dave Lieber, a self-appointed Watch Dog wrote a biased article about me with an extremely negative theme.  Mr. Lieber did this on purpose.  That is the article that he wanted to write from the beginning, and he did.  He wrote this article around contents from two individuals. 

The first was a Ms. Musser.  Ms.  Musser wanted to know if the city of Arlington had a policy or an ordinance concerning e-cigarettes.  I simply stated that we had discussed the issue and had not come to a conclusion concerning the subject at this time.  Ms. Musser wrote back, “I hope that you are not taking money from the e-cigarette industry.”  My integrity was questioned by a slanderous and liable remark made by a lady I had never heard of before.  My reply was on target, “Excuse me!  I don’t take money from anyone.  Don’t ever e-mail me again.”  I was being accused of being on the take by industry from someone I’d never heard of or talked to before.  She stated that I was “overreacting a little.”  I replied again on point, “I give all the money I make at this job to veterans.  To insinuate that I take money to sway a decision in any way is repulsive.  If that is how you think government works then your opinion has no value to me.”   I stand by this comment.  Just because I am an elected official doesn’t mean I am a target, and I’m sorry Mr. Lieber if you think my comments are to honest for the accusing constituent to digest.  If you are going to accuse someone for being on the take, then stand by for a response.  I think that is deserved.  Ms. Musser knew exactly what she was implying and made the statement without corroboration.  She should be ashamed of herself for implying such an act.  But I’m the villain.  Nice job Mr. Lieber. 

Next would be me calling a study sent to me on RLC’s (ancient history).  I called the study “garbage” because it was done four months after the RLC’s were removed from Houston.  This was an old article written in the Houston Chronicle that Ms. Canon sent to me, trying to justify her position.  The pertinent article from the same paper was done four YEARS after the cameras were taken down.  This article showed fatalities up 40% and accidents up 117% in the same city. 

Now let’s continue the discussion concerning Ms. Canon.  Ms. Canon has lied to get people to sign her petition.  She has knowingly lied to newspapers concerning RLC’s being a violation of Constitutional Rights, and she has perjured herself making the same statements under oath in Austin.  Mr. Lieber, you can respect this type of behavior all you want, but I cannot.  Canon wanted the collection of violations prior to removing the cameras forgiven.  Guess what, that violates the Constitution of the State of Texas.  I think that is enough said about Ms. Canon.

I have tried to be as transparent and as open a representative as possible.  This blog speaks to that fact.  I have given town hall meetings every 6 months.  Gone to various social clubs to speak and give information.  Given leadership lectures at UTA, for Professor Saxe.  I have accomplished all the things I said I would do in my campaign, in just three years.  Gangs gone, Prostitution and Drugs down 90%, no gun shots at President’s Corner at night.  Also accomplished the following:  apartments down, property values on the rise, TXDOT property in work with Trammel Crow, Arlington sign to be installed this fall on I-30, Lamar repaved and Brown soon to be.  I have fought hard to get a Senior Center on the ballot in November/May, benefitting 54,000 seniors.  And on the daily side I have responded to each of your emails to try and correct what you see wrong with our community.   

So please Mr. Lieber don’t just take a couple of emails and judge a body of work.  If you wanted to write about an individual, not a politician, who works hard for the people of Arlington, you could have.  It just takes you doing a little more work.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wages for FY16

During the month of July the Council has been on vacation.  However, I have been here for most of the month doing the city’s business.  As a whole the city runs a little slower during the month of July.  When we start up in August, we get into the budget cycle and that means that the Tuesdays that we didn’t meet in July are all packed into August and we have a meeting on something every Tuesday next month. 

I have been working on a concept that would bring our first responders up to the 70th percentile of the other cities in the Metroplex as far as W2.  Our tax base grew last year by 6%, which means that the pie got bigger.  If you read the article in the Star Telegram a week ago concerning police officers, you would realize why it is important to address W2.  The paper confirmed that 14 of the last 20 police officers hired by Ft. Worth, were Dallas police officers.  It was the W2’s that made the Ft. Worth positions more attractive.   We don’t want that to happen in Arlington.  So it is important to address W2’s and how we rate in the market place.

When a raise is given you simply can’t just give a raise to the first responders only. (Police and Fire)  Our staff is also under paid, and we are losing good people to other cities.  Bridget White, Clayton Husband, Andrea Roy were all key figures in our staff that were lured elsewhere due to better offers.   That is why a raise is required across the board.  Our staff personnel are compensated well  below the market average, and this must be addressed in order to maintain the high caliber of professional services that our community deserves.  These are the reasons that I believe W2 is so important, and should be addressed in the month of August for FY16.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

General Motors

Tuesday was a very important day for the city of Arlington.  It was the day that General Motors announced the largest single investment in the history of our city.  The table was set by the City Council back in April when we established a re-investment zone for GM specifically.  This allowed an 80% reduction of taxes for the next 10 years.  With that incentive in place General Motors pulled the trigger on a $1.4 Billion investment in their plant in Arlington.  We are lucky to be chosen because they decided to close the plant in Shreveport and invest in Arlington.  It could have gone the other way.

This decision is part of GM’s plan to spend $5.3 Billion on needed upgrades to plant facilities throughout the United States in the next five years.  Arlington is the largest single investment for GM.   The Arlington plant has been running three shifts in an effort to meet demand for their quality SUV products.  Arlington produces 75% of all the SUV’s purchased in America.  The plant will increase in size by 1.2 million sq/ft.  To put this into perspective AT&T Stadium is 1.0 million sq/ft.  This investment is four times the size of the Toyota headquarters deal in Allen.  Arlington is a General Motors city and it has been for over sixty years.  We can be very proud of this accomplishment for our city.  This is a perfect example of  your local government working in conjunction with a private enterprise in order to bring jobs and revenue to our city.  Thank you General Motors for having the faith in our community to make the largest investment in our city ever!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 10th (Vacation)

Although the Council takes the month of July off each year for a much needed vacation, many of us remain in the City and continue our efforts.  Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Rangers Hall of Fame luncheon, inducting Juan Gonzalez, and Jeff Russell.  The luncheon was very entertaining with an interesting cast of Ranger Hall of Fame members.

Then it was over to UTA where the NCAA Champion Movin’ Mav’s played an exhibition game of wheelchair basketball with a bicycle club that was riding across American to elevate awareness of those with disabilities.  Needless to say the Movin’ Mav’s did not let this opportunity pass.  At half time the score was 38-2.  I read a proclamation acknowledging this tremendous effort by these young bicycle riders from all over the United States, and congratulated them on a successful ride to Arlington.  They are scheduled to arrive in Washington D.C. on August 8th.

Then my efforts landed me in front of the City Manager for a discussion concerning the elevation of W-2 wages for our employees throughout the city.  In short our staff and first responders are considered to be below the 50% median of cities throughout the Metroplex.   If the entire compensation package is considered we rest above the 50th percentile in dollars.  My efforts were to level that playing field and put the items in the compensation package into W-2 and let the employee decide where the dollars should go, W-2 or 401K.  The City Manager was very receptive but we will see how the discussion plays out during our budget talks.
My last consideration for the day was putting the finishing touches on a power point presentation to be given to the New World United Methodist Church on Tuesday.  I enjoy this presentation every year because these people not only put on a great lunch, but they are very plugged into the Community.  So I look forward to this event.  However,this year there will be a conflict.  General Motors will be making a big announcement concerning the largest investment ever in our Community.  Although I will miss the announcement I will make the reception later that afternoon.  Does this sound like a vacation to you?