Thursday, January 22, 2015

Red Llight Cameras III

On Tuesday a citizens group dropped off a petition to city hall to put the removal of Red Light Cameras on the ballot for the May 9th election.  The required number of citizens signed this ballot for some reason.  I was told by one individual that the people seeking signatures were not forthright in presenting the issue to voters.   (That is hearsay)

Last Friday evening Kel Walters was killed at the intersection of Burney and Green Oaks.  The best lead that the police have in this murder investigation is a camera from an insurance company.  If we had a camera at this intersection we would know immediately who committed this crime. 
The reason that we have Red Light Cameras at all is the fact that you wanted people to stop running red lights.  That was the number two topic of concern on a survey conducted by the Arlington Police Department in 2005.  Enter the Red Light Cameras in 2007.  Accidents are down 75% at the 19 intersections equipped with Red Light Cameras. 

The city of Houston voted to get rid of their Red Light Cameras in 2010.  Since that time, accidents are up 117% and fatalities are up 30% in the intersections that had Red Light Cameras.  These are facts that cannot be refuted.  Public safety is my number one concern.  Please be informed when entering the ballot box.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Tale of Two Developers

Last night was an interesting evening concerning the tale of two developers.  One developer came to us and wanted approval of a “W” hotel in our city.  Now the piece of property that the hotel went on was a terrible location but the developer did the heavy lifting, and through diligence got the job done.  Earlier, since he had the zoning, there was no need for him to come to us for a Planned Development, but on his own, he has established three quality businesses that front the “W” hotel.  That is the way to effect change for the good in Arlington.

The very next case was one known as Champion’s Park.  This is the property on the east side of Collins and the north side of I-30.  This developer has been trying to put together a Planned Development for the last two years.  Two years he came to us with the same plan.  Last year he came to us with the same plan.  This year he came to us with the same plan.  He could have come to us two years ago and requested a change of zoning and it would have been approved without issue.  But he didn’t.

His plan is to develop this property in two phases.  Phase one is eight pad sights.  Of these eight locations, the developer doesn’t know what business will be put in the development.  He has no letters of intent signed by anyone.  The second phase of the operation consists of two large pad sites.  Although Arlington is in need of hotels, this developer can’t find a hotel to go on one of these sites.  I find this odd because the first developer accomplished this at a much less desirable location.  So this developer has no clue what will go in any pad site in this development and wants approval of his development plan.  The developer did admit that the normal template for shopping centers is to secure principals and then fill in the subsequent businesses.  I stated that he was putting the cart before the horse, and he had no horse.  His plan is tantamount to building a Footlocker and hoping a Dillard’s shows up.  Others may think this is how Arlington should conduct business but I am less convinced.  If you want me to take the responsibility of putting something in a gateway property, then at least tell me what it is.  I deserve that courtesy.  I want to apologize to the thirty constituents that were at the meeting last night in support of this project.  I hope that your support is well warranted.  I however, want something more than hope for North Arlington.  That is why I could not support this developer.   I hope you recognized last night what my representation of your best interest  looked like.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Red Light Cameras #2

There has been a move afoot to solicit signatures to remove red light cameras from our city.  It seems that Ms. Kelly Canon, of the Arlington Tea Party, has accumulated the requisite number of signatures to put this issue on the ballot.  If this is what the voters of Arlington want then I have no problem with it.  However, if you would allow a closer look at the issue, you might want your signature back. 

Red light cameras were established in our city in 2007 because of a survey that was accomplished by our police department in 2005.  The second highest priority on that survey, from the citizens, was to reduce the number of red light violations.  People were running red lights on a very frequent basis.  An 18 month study was accomplished and it was done to establish a base line of statistics.  The statistics were utilized in an effort to identify where to put the cameras so that they would have the most impact on solving red light violations.  The attributes of red light cameras are as follows:

  1.  Accidents at these 19 intersections are down 75%.  This may not mean much to you, unless you are one of the remaining 25% caught in an accident.  The City Charter tasks me with keeping the citizens of Arlington safe.  According to this statistic alone, if I were to take a position in opposition of red light cameras, I would be in violation of my sworn duties.
  2. Red light cameras are used to record accidents at these intersections.  It is a reliable way for the insurance companies to see who was at fault.  If you were in an accident and didn’t have someone to corroborate your story, a record of the accident would be very helpful.
  3. The red light cameras only capture those individuals that run red lights.  I have been caught twice for not stopping while turning right.  I witnessed the infraction on video and agreed.  So I paid the fine.  I paid because I broke the law, and I was compelled to do the right thing.  Ms. Canon will say that you don’t have to pay the fine so we shouldn’t have the cameras.  By her reasoning then we should stop our police department from giving warnings, you don’t have to pay them either, even though you broke the law.
  4. Lastly, the monies collected are sent to our police department.  The cameras generate about $2.1 million in revenue each year for Arlington. The money covers administrative expenses associated with operating the cameras; the salaries of 9 police officers who form the police department’s DUI unit, 14 patrol officers and 6 officers that administer the program.  So the city covers the salaries of 29 officers in total without raising your taxes.  A very innovative way to improve the safety of our citizens.

So the next time you are asked to sign a petition, try and take a good look at what this person is saying and what their motivation is behind their effort.    

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 15th Meeting

This afternoon two important things happened.  The first was another discussion on either a Senior Center or a Mega Multi-Generational Center.  I am running up against a brick wall in my support of a Senior Center, and the reason is money.  It would seem by limiting memberships to only seniors we would be out membership fees from other possible people under age 50 that would want to use the facility.  That delta in money coming through the door is the total reason that most Council Members find it hard to back a Senior Center, Operational & Maintenance costs.  (O&M)  It will take an overwhelming amount of emails, and a concerted effort by seniors to write to their entire Council to convince them that this is what needs to be done.  They know very well my position concerning this issue.  I will continue to work from the inside but I need your help from out there.

The second important thing that we accomplished was to select a new City Attorney.  This is the second most important thing that the Council does.  The last time was 26 years ago when they selected Jay Doegey.  Jay retired on 1 December and the selection process required a very tough decision between three excellent candidates.  When all the dust settled, Teris Solis was the attorney selected to head up the city office.  I said that this was the second most important thing that we do.  The first is selecting the City Manager.  We also select the City Auditor and the City Justice or Judge.  Teris was an in house selection.  I felt that if the other candidate would have been selected there would have been more turmoil within the legal office.  I’m certain that Teris will do a remarkable job and that she will serve the city well.  Congratulations Teris.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

City Center

Yesterday was a marathon session of the city council.  We started with committee meetings at 10:00.  Then went to the afternoon session at 12:30 and talked about how Parks and Recreation functions and their cost recovery philosophy.  This is a precursor for our discussion about a Mega Center vs. a Senior Center.  I feel this will be the bone of contention about the Senior Center.  Mr. Randolph feels that he will never recover the Operating and Maintenance costs (O & M) from a Senior Center, and that a Mega Center will have a broader base for membership fees.  This discussion will continue over time and it is up to the citizens to write their Council Representative and let them know what they would like put on the ballot for the May election.
The next item that was discussed was the new building that will be replacing the current library property.  I have my concerns about this building but I am very supportive of the project.  This building will start the renovation of downtown Arlington.  The building will have retail, office, residential and will incorporate parking for the library and city hall.  It will be designed and operate like the one in downtown Addison.  Addison’s model has been operating for the last 20 years, and been a success over time.  The developer is ready to go and it should be complete in the next three years.   The project will be called City Center.  This project is a public/private partnership.  The public aspect is one that will designate the land for this project and lease the parking component for the city’s use.  The private part will be the 29 million dollars required complete the project.  There is already interest in business’ who want to lease space in this building.
The last point of interest in the afternoon session was the fact that I was able to move up the repaving of Avenue H one year in the bond package.  So Greater Southwest will be repaved in 2015, Avenue H in 2019 and Avenue E in 2020.  I think that this schedule will fit nicely with the 360 and I30 exchange that is being planned.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Catch Up

I want to apologize for not posting on my blog in a long time.  As some of you may have heard I had an operation on my neck and it was extremely painful.  The recovery was such that I really didn’t want to do much except try and heal.  We did have an election during my convalescence, and I was very pleased with the Republicans taking the Senate in a mandate from the American people.  It will certainly be an interesting new year.

On the city side of the fence, the apartments on Lamar seem to be coming down at a moderate pace.  The asbestos abatement makes going a little slow.  And the agreement with Mr. Kembel had to be redone.  The reason for this rewrite is that the County cannot accomplish the writing of a 380 agreement.  They simply don’t have the personnel in the office.  Therefore, the city  had to redo the 380 agreement into three abatements of ten year durations.  That was the real reason for the rewrite.  All the financials remain the same, however some of the durations were extended to ensure success.

On another subject, Jay Doegey is leaving the city as City Attorney, at the end of this month.  We are currently interviewing replacements for him.  Jay has been here for over 26 years and felt now was a good time to take retirement.  I certainly have enjoyed working with Jay and wish him well as he follows his personal pursuits.  We will interview three more applicants on Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Endorse Cole Ballweg

Yesterday was the first day of early voting.  The polls were very busy and hopefully this is an indication of increased interest in our city, state and country.  Although I do not live in the 94th House District I have gone out of my way to endorse a candidate in that race.  I consider myself a Regan Republican.  Fiscal restraint, smaller government, with open business horizons.  That is why I have taken a stand against the radical extremist candidate Tony Tinderholt.  Mr. Tinderholt will solve the immigration problem at the Mexican border by invading our neighbor to the south.  “I think we should go across the border and stop it.  It’s really sad to say that at some point what’s going to happen on the border is going to be bad.  And people are going to die.”  I’m sorry Mr. Tinderholt but it doesn’t have to be that way, and that is why I can't support you as a Republican candidate for office.

In another unrelated incident, Mr. Tinderholt was in support of the radical group Open Carry Tarrant County.  They wanted to go into our streets with semi-automatic rifles and have conversations with drivers waiting at red lights.  They also wanted to bring those same weapons to City Council meetings.  Although I listened to all of the participants talk in support of this issue, when I talked Mr. Tinderholt screamed above me violating the same First Amendment Rights that he professed to hold sacred minutes before.  Although he later apologized, it was indicative of the type of representation that he will take to Austin if elected.

As a viable alternative I have endorsed Cole Ballweg in this race.  He has received every endorsement that is available except for the Tea Party.  Cole has endorsements by the Arlington Police Association, Fire Fighters Association, Teachers Association, and the Star Telegram.  Cole is not a bleeding heart liberal as some people would paint him.  He is articulate, well versed and knowledgeable on the issues that Texans are currently facing.  Cole is a small businessman that has family roots that reach deep into Arlington’s history. 

This is an important election.  I expect my republicans to maintain the House majority and gain enough seats to take the Senate majority.  I expect Greg Abbott to be our next Governor, but I can’t in good conscience support Tony Tinderholt.  VOTE FOR COLE BALLWEG!!