Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Economic Development Corporation

     Why do we want one of these things?  This is what will fund projects like the Senior Center and the Multi-Generational Facility.  Essentially most of the 2014 Bond package went to improving roads in our city.  $166 million of the $234 million went to improving our roads.  That coupled with the 1/4 cent road repair tax that was approved on the same ballot puts over $47 million in Arlington roads each year.  Couple all that construction with the I-30/360 project for the next five years and you have yourself a mess.  But I digress.
     Since the Senior Center nor the Multi-Generational Facility made it on the bond package, and their is truly a need for both, it should be on the ballot for the voters to decide.  So there will be a Proposition on the November ballot to allow a 1/4 cent sales tax increase to fund these facilities.  The money will go into, you guessed it, an Economic Development Corporation, comprised of 3 civilians and because it is tax money it must have elected oversight.  So four members of the Council will also serve on the board.  The civilian members will be Kevin McGlaun, Juan Fernandez and Laura Capik, while the Council members will be, Jeff Williams, Michael Glaspie, Jimmy Bennett and Me.  As the monies come to the Corporation they will be directed to projects that are high priorities but didn't make it on the Bond election.  This path will get you a Senior Center and a Multi-Generational Facility before the next Bond election. 
     So it looks like the issue will be on the ballot in November and it will be up to the voters to decide the fate of the Senior Center.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Council Meeting 6-16


HOORAY!!  The afternoon meeting was extremely important yesterday.  After 7 months of dragging the Senior Center horse out of the barn, I finally got a commitment from Council to go ahead with the establishment of a stand alone Senior Center.  The center will be constructed with the Summit over in Grand Prairie, as an example.  But Arlington should communicate and find out the pitfalls and attributes of their success.    The construction and programming will be dedicated to active seniors of 50 years or older.  The importance of this decision by Council is that it will not be competing with a Multi- Generational facility, for funding or getting lost in the operation of a larger recreation center.  In this operation seniors come first!  I want to thank Alva Roy and her Age Friendly Arlington group that has supported this idea since their formulation in November of 2014.  There is strength in numbers and although our seniors are polite and respectful of the process their diligence and presence was noticed and appreciated by Council.  This is a big win for Arlington.  We currently have 54,000 seniors capable of using this facility in Arlington, and more baby boomers become eligible everyday.  It is about time that we filled this void in our city services.  My hat is off to my colleagues on Council and Parks and Recreation for their tolerance of my actions in pursuit of this project. 

Now comes the task of funding these projects.  It was discussed that since the Senior Center and the Multi-Generational facility are now on the Master Parks Plan, and we will not have another bond election for about five more years, this can be funded by an election to increase sales tax by 1/8th or 1/4 cent.  The tax would amount to 6.9 million or 13.8 million per year respectively.  The money would go into an Economic Development Corporation with a board comprised of citizens to make the proper expenditure decisions.  With a 1/4 cent increase, the Senior Center could be paid off in two years.  The funding avenue decision could be made as soon as next week during the budget meeting.  When the time comes we will call for the item to be put on the November 2015 ballot election.  Then the people can make the final decision.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Council Meeting 2 June


Tonight was an very interesting meeting.  Let’s start with the good stuff.  The Chick-fil-a is going to expand.  They are going to tear down the store on Collins and buy the building to the east of their property and demolish it.  This will allow for an expansion  and increased parking.  Carmenza Moreno will continue to use her parking lot to benefit charitable organizations by using it for event parking on Sundays when Chick –fil-a is closed.  She is investing heavily in north Arlington and it is much appreciated.  We need more business owners like her.

Next was a senior living facility by Grey Star.  This will be a much needed 176 unit complex across the street from the Highlands shopping center.  This is an untapped market and these types of facilities need to be replicated throughout our city.

The third item was a bail bonds issue that was very difficult for me to decide.  The Unified Development Code, UDC, was adopted in June of 2014.  In January 2015 an individual put in for a bail bonds business in an area next to the jail.  The current zoning under the new UDC does not allow this use.  But the certificate of occupancy was issued by the city.  In March the city revoked the CO, bringing attention to the zoning error.  The applicant had spent tens of thousands of dollars and now had to shut down his business.  So he appealed to the Planning and Zoning Commission, P & Z.  The vote to deny was split 4-3.  So he appealed to the Council to hear his case.  The lawyer for the applicant pointed out that the attorney opposing the case was in fact a part owner in a bail bonds business.  I can’t tell you how polluted it made the case for me.  I had decided that I was going to rule in favor of the applicant, but when I heard this it made my decision very easy.  The vote was 8-1 in favor of the applicant.

Lastly, was Kelly Canon and Richard Weber.  Mr. Weber stated that the minutes of previous meetings were illegal because Citizens Comments were not televised nor were the comments published in the minutes.  Kelly Canon stated that she was taking this issue to the State Attorney General because we were conducting illegal meetings in violation of the Open Meetings Act.  Ms. Canon gave us a sheet that stated that a “deliberation” is being conducted and needs to be recorded either by video or in the minutes.  That’s all well and good except that there is no deliberation!  The Council cannot not speak because the subject that the citizen brings before us is not on the agenda, ergo no dialogue and no deliberation.   The purpose of Citizens Comment is to allow access to the entire City Council at one time in an effort to hear any subject that is on the citizen’s mind.  If there is something that can be fixed, we send a staff member to the address to solve the issue.  The problem, according to several Council Members is that certain people were using the city videos to post on You Tube to further their issue, without Council D-E-L-I-B-E-R-A-T-I-O-N.  The definition of deliberation is – a verbal exchange during a meeting between a quorum (a lot of Council Members) of a governmental body and a person.  Well we had the person, and the quorum, but no exchange.  The right to address the Council is covered under the 1st Amendment and I love to hear from the citizens in case we can do something for them.  There is no right to be on TV.  It is a shame that certain folks abused the privilege to further their personal agendas.  They can still post on You Tube but they have to make the recordings themselves.     

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New Mayor


     Last Tuesday evening we had the pleasure of welcoming our new Mayor to Council by having him sworn in during our scheduled Council meeting.  The chamber was standing room only, and there was a sense of excitement in the air.  Justice of the Peace Mary Tom Curnutt performed the oath of office, and a new chapter was started for Arlington, Texas.  I might add that all the incumbent Council members were re-elected and sworn in by the City Secretary.
     As for me, I am looking forward to working with Jeff, and I think that a new energy will add some vitality to Council.  Sometimes we need a different perspective and I hope that Jeff will offer his insights and experiences in the business and engineering areas where he has been successful.
     I think that Jeff and I are very like minded, in that we want to accomplish the same goals for the City.  At a lunch we had last week I outlined my objectives, and he was on board.  I look forward to his support on establishing a state of the art senior center in Arlington.  I am also looking forward to seeing what can be done about establishing senior living facilities in north Arlington where apartments are currently setting.  It is our combined belief that we owe a debt to our seniors, and that there is a void in the services that we currently provide.  So I am excited, and now that we are done with all the ceremony and celebration I'm looking forward to getting back to the job of building a better Arlington.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day


  
Memorial Day is very special to me.  I am a Veteran, so was my dad and my son, and there is a day in November set aside for saying thank you for our service.  But Memorial Day has a special reverence to it because it remembers those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to preserve our way of life.  There is a saying, “they gave away all of their tomorrows so that we could enjoy today.”  That is so humbling to me that it shakes my core. 

This weekend I was free to attend the church of my belief.  I am free to speak my mind on any subject without the threat of imprisonment.  I am free to move about this great country without restriction.  And lastly I am free to pursue life, liberty and happiness, as long as I conform to the laws of this nation.  For some of you it may not sound like much, but imagine not having just one of those freedoms, much less having all of them removed.  That is why it is so important to take the time to remember our fallen.


When I think of all of my friends that went to Vietnam and didn’t return and some casualty’s names aren’t even on that wall, I stop and think.  To this day, emotion overwhelms me when I stand at that wall.  I find it interesting that there is only one memorial in Washington D.C.  That would be Arlington Memorial Cemetery, all the rest are monuments.  Even the word is preserved for something very special.  If you have ever been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, you will understand the word Memorial.  The Old Guard has stood watch over the Tomb continuously since 1948, continuously!  The west side of the Tomb reads, “HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD”. 

America remains that beacon on the hill today, because of the sacrifice honored on this day, Memorial Day.  Please take the time to reflect on this gift, and remember.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Vote Official


Yesterday was an interesting day for the city of Arlington.  We started out the afternoon with an Arlington Tomorrow Foundation meeting.  Now this meeting had two elements that I thought were of merit.  The first was $4.0 Million to be granted to the new library from the fund.  The remaining amount is to be issued in certificates of obligation.  This is an example of a new library and Council Chamber that is to be constructed without the use of citizen tax revenue.  That’s correct, there isn’t a burden to the taxpayer for these new structures.  The second item of interest is the “Dream” sign that is to be installed near the Levitt Pavilion.  Although this expenditure passed, I simply couldn’t bring myself to vote for it.  The reason being is simply that I don’t think that it was a good idea to arbitrarily construct something of this nature.  In short I think it will look “cheesy”.  Now I have to print a disclaimer and state for the record that I am no authority on the arts.  That being said I simply could support something of this nature.

Last night the vote was canvassed and became official.  Mayor Cluck pounded the gavel for the last time.  It was a very emotional event for the Mayor.  You can either love the Mayor or not, but you can’t deny the fact that he has dedicated the last sixteen years of his life in the service of our city.  During that time Arlington has evolved into the entertainment capital of the Metroplex.  We, as a city, have thrived in a time where other cities have floundered, through an economic downturn.  Arlington has more projects completed and underway than any other city in north Texas.  Mayor Cluck has played a large part in making those project become reality.  He can be proud of the work that he has done.  So we said goodbye to him at a reception last evening.  Where one door closes another door opens and new opportunities arise.  I look forward to working with the new Mayor and setting out on new challenges for our city.   

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Election


While everyone in Arlington was going to the polls to vote on Mayor, Council, School Board and Prop 1, I was lucky enough to be removed from the process by attending my son’s wedding in Cabo.  I was surprised by some of the results, especially in the school board races.  I was not surprised by the Mayor and Prop 1 results.                                                                                                                                                
School Board races gave me pause because this current School Board was voted Number 1 in the state, and the one race that kept Aaron Reich was within 1% of losing.  Peter Baron was in the same situation with a losing result.  I find this unwarranted due to the performance of the School Board over the last few years.  I feel that these are good people doing a thankless job, to create a positive learning environment for our children.  We will see what results can be achieved.                                                             

The Mayoral race I saw before leaving was a very close contest.  Jeff ran a very good campaign and was simply rewarded with this victory.  I spent yesterday with the Mayor at our Council meeting and he seems to be taking the defeat very positively, and in good spirits.  It may have been time for a change and some fresh ideas, but Mayor Cluck’s body of work over the past 16 yrs. has been remarkable and good for the city.  He can be proud of the accomplishments that he and past Councils have achieved with a good conscience.  Isn’t that what we all strive to do in our lives?                                                                    

Concerning the Red Light Cameras, the people have spoken, and my hands are clean.  I have tried to educate the citizens on what will happen and we will see if accidents increase like in other cities.  I have every confidence that the RLC company will sue the city and that the election will be ruled illegal, just as it has been in the other six cities in Texas.  I can only hope that your loved ones will not be injured in the future, because of this poor decision by the voters.                                                                                                        

Concerning my son’s wedding, it was beautiful.  The groom was handsome, the bride was beautiful, the setting was remarkable, and I caught a 150 lb. striped marlin.  This event was successful in removing me from the political process and enjoying the time with my family.  I am blessed.