Saturday, April 9, 2016

Opinion Arlington Question 2

Opinion Arlington has asked this last question of the candidates;  A constituent has e-mailed you a point of view, backed by facts, on an agenda item you have or will vote in the opposite way. He asks for a response. How do you respond to the e-mail?  The following is my answer.

Constituents constantly come to me with their opinion on issues contained in our agenda.  Some of the reasoning is tilted some is honest.  This question is best exhibited by the narrowing of Lamar and I think that it is the difference in the choice of candidates in this race.

I received emails from constituents against the narrowing and I asked the developer to hold a town hall meeting concerning this issue because of the number of citizens concerned about this specific item.  Now realize that the $250 million that the developer is contributing to this neighborhood is sizable.  But to get my support he must show that the citizens must be supportive of his plan, or he doesn’t get my support.  His town hall was well attended, over 200 people.  After his presentation 75% of the people stated that they were in support of the plan.  This is a fact that is undisputable.  Some people stated that only Viridian people were the majority.  This is not true.  Many residents were from Park Way Central were in attendance.  I know this because I know the people that were there.  Some Viridian residents were but nowhere near the majority.  But Viridian people vote in the North also.  Some people that were brought by my opponent don’t even live in District 1, but they voted also.  The next evening at Council the Mayor asked for a show of hands that were in support.  The count was 60 for and 3 against.  I was at both meetings and the overwhelming majority was in favor of the plan.  The Council voted unanimously in favor of this issue.  They listened to the people, and so did I.

The difference is although this plan was very controversial, the majority supported the plan and I voted accordingly.  My opponent would ignore the will of the people and vote as she wished.  I will not!  When the RLC’s were voted against I abided by the will of the people and voted at Council to remove them although I thought it was wrong.  Facts prove that I was right.  Over the last 6 months accidents at the 19 intersections have increased by 25%.  More people are running red lights and more of our citizens are going to the hospital.  I personally believe that Obama was a bad choice by the people also, but I have abided by the will of the electorate.  That is the difference between the two candidates for the District 1 seat.  You will make the choice, but don’t do it because of RLC’s, that is a thing of the past.  Consider the facts about who listens and how they will vote.   

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Opinion Arlington Question

Opinion Arlington is a cyber opinion piece that is the brain child of Buddy Saunders.  Mr. Saunder’s ideas are in direct opposition to progress in our city.  Both he and web-helper Richard Weber set a negative narrative to any improvements to our city and in the same breath fail to acknowledge the good works of Council.  I truly don’t know how people can go through life with such pessimism. 

Weekly they put out a question for candidates and it illustrates my point concerning their negativity.  Here is the lastest:

The Arlington Commons-Phase I is at 63 units/acre. In addition to the corporate welfare deal, the developer requested Lamar Blvd be changed in the TDP (Thoroughfare Development Plan) from a six-lane major arterial to a three-lane major arterial. What are your thoughts regarding the TDP? What are your thoughts regarding high-density apartments?

Here is my answer:  Your term “corporate welfare” isn’t accurate in any form.  The word is “commerce.”  Arlington has all the tools that any other city in the Metro Plex has, but when used in  conjunction with Arlington you deem them “Corporate Welfare.”  The Council has set the table with a 380 agreement in this instance. The same as it did with General Motors.  The result is commerce to our city that raises the corporate tax base and relieves our citizens of a tax increase.  The tax rate has remained the same (.648) since 2004.  What you fail to understand is that without this agreement the slum/crime infested apartments would still be there.  The 380 agreement in place allowed $250 million in investment capital to be put into the community.  This investment has already spurred $1 million in redevelopment to the shopping center across the street.  The GM “corporate welfare” will assure a $1.4 billion dollar investment in the Arlington plant while the newer Shreveport Plant will be closing.  Again this commerce will supply jobs and raise the corporate tax base for the next 40 yrs.

Now let’s talk about the Thoroughfare Plan.  In the original 380 agreement dated 2013, one of the attachments specifically shows that the linear park will run the length of the project from Center St. to Rolling Hills Country Club.  It clearly illustrates that westbound Lamar is narrowed to one lane.  The reason that the Thoroughfare plan was amended later  is that traffic studies had to be accomplished.  Then they had to apply for the amendment to the TDP.  It wasn’t because of parking required for the leasing office, as my opponent claims.  If it is found out that traffic is problematic then the city will require the developer to remove the parking and re-establish the second lane of traffic, at his own expense. 

Lastly, let me discuss the difference in my opponent’s views on this subject and mine.  A Town Hall meeting was held by Mr. Kembel, the developer of Arlington Commons.  Over 200 people attended and were educated as to his goals for the project.  At the end of the meeting over 150 people sided with the developer in a straw poll.  Then the next evening at Council over 60 people were in agreement with 3 against.  Council’s vote was unanimously in favor.  I listened to the people and voted accordingly.  My opponent would disregard the majority and vote as she pleases.  I refuse to participate in Mr. Saunder’s pity party.  He has already endorsed my opponent, therefore we know his allegiance.  I will answer the questions on this forum.   

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Town Hall Meeting

Thursday evening I had a Town Hall meeting and it was well attended by about 130 citizens that wanted to be informed.  We covered many subjects, and one of them was the Senior Center.  Now Mr. Saunders was in the crowd and he asked the question about how the Senior Center was coming along and what ways could be used to pay for the center:

  1.  The Senior Center has been designed.  There has been interest by developers to put senior living around the center and this could be a prime example as to how to build a senior living complex for other cities.
  2. Where will the center be located?  There is about 25 acres at the Pierce Birch site on Green Oaks across the street from the Fire Department Training center
  3. How will the center be paid for?  There are three options:
    1.  Certificates of Obligation could be used.  To issue certificates like these it would require a simple vote by Council, and the bonds would be floated and paid for through normal debt retirement.  I don’t favor this option because it doesn’t give the people an opportunity to voice their opinion concerning having a Senior Center.
    2. General Obligation Bonds:  This is simply a bond election.  It would be put on the ballot and the people would decide if they want their tax money to be spent on a Senior Center.  This is a good option.
    3. Lastly, a ¼ cent sales tax would be voted on to fund an Economic Development Corporation.  Which simply means it would go into a fund and a committee of citizens would decide where the money would be spent.  This ¼ cent would equate to $14.7 million annually.  The cost of the Senior Center would be $37.7 million.

Mr. Saunders then tells people how I support a road diet.  The truth is hard to come by with Mr. Saunders.  I explained that the narrowing of Lamar was in the 380 agreement dated 2013.  You can plainly see on a diagram that Lamar westbound is narrowed.  After a traffic study was completed Mr. Kembel approached the city to amend the Thoroughfare Plan.  This was met with resistance by some people like Mr. Saunders and Kelly Canon.  A Town Hall meeting was held by Mr. Kembel to explain what he was trying to do.  Over 200 people were in attendance, and after they heard the plan for the linear park, and the fact that if traffic is a problem he had to return the parking to a second lane for traffic, he posed one question.  After hearing the plan how many people support the narrowing?  75% of the people in attendance were in favor of his plan.  Then the next evening at Council, the Mayor asked those in favor to stand.  Over 60 people stood in support and 3 were in opposition.  The Council voted unanimously to approve the plan.  I voted to support the people!  That is the difference between me and my opponent.  You can put whatever spin you want on the outcome, but we live in a democracy.  Ms. Canon would have disregarded what the people wanted and done what she wanted regardless of the desires of the citizens.  That is the difference between the two candidates.  You will have a choice on May 7th.  I hope you pick the one that listens to you the people.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Parker What Are You Doing?

With this posting of the blog, I just want to update you on the activities that I have been attending over the last month and a half.  First is the ground breaking of Champions Park, which is located on the Northeast corner of Collins and I-30.  This is planned to be a restaurant and retail project.  Current LOI’s include Torchy’s Tacos and Tokyo Joe’s.  Greenway, the developer, is very tight lipped concerning other occupants in the area.

The next ground breaking was over at Arlington Commons.  This is the apartment project along Lamar next to Rolling Hills Country Club.  They are building in a rapid pace to try and get their first tenant into Phase 1 around June of next year.

Following that was the ground breaking for the I-30/360 interchange.  This is a four year project that will cost the state an estimated $254 million.  A much needed addition to our city, and an off ramp that will allow increased access to the Great Southwest Industrial Park.

D.R. Horton is going great guns with their project and has been moving dirt for the last six months.  They are starting to pour concrete, and I am very impressed with the rate that project is taking shape.  But just down the street we had a ground breaking ceremony for the new Aloft-W hotel.  They are located behind BFF Asian Grill and Rio Mambo .  This is going to be a 135 room hotel with a modern decor.   We are very fortunate to land this project because Aloft-W hotels are very particular as to where they are located.

Now if that isn’t enough, you may have read in the paper that the North Point Development Corp. has purchased the Six Flags Mall.  We will wait to see what happens there, but I am looking forward to seeing what becomes of this project.  I know but can’t tell.

Lastly, there were two ribbon cuttings that I attended.  One was for Stein Mart on March 10th.  They have a bright new store located in the old Best Buy space.  This gives residents a new shopping opportunity and gives Stein Mart a facelift in the process. 

The other ribbon cutting was the new virtual reality ride at Six Flags.  This is really innovative, and is called the Revolution.  It utilizes the Shockwave Rollercoaster’s sensations and couples them with a visual scenario through the use of virtual programming.  You are placed in the backseat of a futuristic fighter.  Where you look is where the guns point, much the same as my old fighter did back in the day.  To shoot you tap the side of the goggles.  It is your job to save the world by shooting the enemy invaders, and you are in a very bogey rich environment.  The last scene is coming back aboard a carrier.  I can assure you it is nothing like landing on a carrier but they use the breaking of the coaster to simulate the arrestment aboard ship.  Hey it’s a kick in the pants, and the use of technology to spice up an old ride is worth the wait in line, several times over.
So that's what I've been doing when I'm not in Washington or running a campaign for re-election.  Oh yeah, since I'm running for re-election, I'd like to ask you to vote for me on May 7th.  Till then check out my website at, it's interesting.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Washington D.C.

I spent all afternoon on the Hill yesterday in Washington D.C..  The Arlington contingent visited the offices of Senators Cornyn and Cruz and Congressmen Barton and Veasey.  We covered several subjects from the additional funding of Handitran, to the effort to tax municipal bonds and the fair tax act.  My subject had to do with aviation.  The FAA is trying to divest itself of the responsibility to control air traffic.  (ATC)  They would like to relinquish that responsibility and give it to either a non-profit or a for profit company.  This is a bad idea on many levels, but the most important one is the safety of the traveling public.

All governments and government officials should be concerned with keeping their citizens safe, as a prime directive.  We currently move over 700 million passengers through the skies of America each year.  The FAA is charged with making that safe, and it is so effortless that we take it for granted each time we get in an aircraft.  If we shifted to private enterprise, the board of the new company would be made up of airline executives.  They’re driven by the bottom line, and answer to the company shareholders on a quarterly basis.  You can see how the paradigm shifts, and safety gets swept under the rug.  There is an argument to be made since Canada has privatized their ATC.  But Canada has 1/10th of our population.  Most of their traffic is derived from the U.S. to their border cities of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.  There are very little interior flights nationally in Canada.  The only time that Canada is tasked with volume is when the U.S. Carriers leave for Europe and proceed across eastern Canada to get their spacing to join the NAT Track system and cross the Atlantic.  But there is no congestion and it is all done at high altitude with proper spacing.

I also discussed FY17 funding for our Contract Tower at Arlington Municipal Airport.  Contract towers control 28% of total air traffic very efficiently utilizing only 14% of ATC’s budget.  The reason that they are so good at their job, is that 70% of Contract Towers are manned by Veterans.  All trained and experienced in the armed forces.  Arlington needs positive controlled airspace because of all of our events.  We have 120 events a year in our entertainment district.  (Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA Final Four and National Championship games, etc.)  People come from all over the U.S. and land at Arlington Muni.  Our ramp looks like JFK.  I asked for funding for all 257 Contract Towers in the U.S. to the tune of $158.8 mil. and got support from every office.  These were the two biggest topics on the Hill and I was fortunate to lend a helping hand with my past expertise.   

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

TCAP (Texas Coalition for Affordable Power)

Tonight at the Council meeting there was an interesting development that may save the City tens of millions of dollars.  Arlington is the largest of 171 members of TCAP (Texas Coalition for Affordable Power).  Although we are the largest player we get no discount for the volume of electricity that we use.  I believe that the citizens of Arlington should get the lowest price per kilowatt hour.  That is my goal.  Electricity prices are linked to the price of natural gas.  Therefore, if natural gas is at a low then so is electricity.  Energy prices are as low as ever, and the way to get the lowest possible price is not to use a sole provider, but to enter a competition with several providers.  That is why I voted to table the continuation of talks with TCAP. 

Currently we are paying 7.4 cents per kwhr.  With the add-on charge it is 7.5 cents.  We are caught in a 5 yr. contract with an energy provider where we are paying twice the amount of today’s going rate.  With todays cost of energy we should be paying approximately 3.6 cents per kwhr for the same 5 yr. deal.  My proposal at this evening’s meeting will put the providers into a bidding war for our contract, and instead of coining a 5 yr. deal we should extend the contract to 9 yrs.

Our current 5 yr. contract cost is about $12 mil a year.  At a cost of 4.1 cents the cost is $6 mil per year.  TCAP states that they can coin a contract for the 4.1 cents or lower, 4.2 with the add-on charge.  I believe that the competition will give us a cost of 3.7 cents on that 9 yr. deal.   This will save the city approx.. $7 mil. per/yr. and $63 million over a 9 yr. period.  Every contract that the city has is bid through the RFP process. (Ready For Proposal)  This process is awarded to the lowest bidder.  There will be a bidding war for our contract, and the Arlington Tax Payer will be the ultimate winner.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Arlington Commons Groundbreaking

Yesterday at 4:00 people gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Arlington Commons.  Now the removal of apartments and the improvement of the neighborhood was one of my campaign resolutions.  I promised that I would do something about the apartment problem in and around the Collins/Lamar Overlay.  This is my answer. 

I have worked closely with Bob Kembel, the Viridian developer, to insure that this project is a success, and that a quality product would be assured.  At one point the project was in severe jeopardy, and during and Executive Session of Council, the former Mayor and I had some words that were not pleasant.  The result of that exchange resulted in a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday.  Another controversy of this project dealt with the narrowing of Lamar by one lane going west.  The picture below  is one of the original pictures that was shown to the citizens at the at the Apartment Town Hall Meeting at the Convention Center.  You can plainly see that the traffic going west on Lamar is depicted as one lane.  There is a linear park and also parking in front of the complex.  This lane reduction was also depicted in the original 380 agreement that was approved by Council unanimously.  At some point in the process the Thoroughfare Plan had to be amended to coincide with the 380 agreement.  That amendment occurred about two months ago. 

We have said all along that this investment in our community would spur other investment.  The mini center across the street from the complex has been purchased and redeveloped already.  The renovation is estimated at around $1 million, and new businesses are already opening their doors.  AISD will spend $7 million in redeveloping Roquemore Elementary School, into the Jimmy and Laura Jones Fine Arts Academy.  Parkway Central’s park will get a facelift, and a linear park will run down the middle of Lamar.  It is hard to believe that the metamorphosis is here.  But when you think back to the slums that were there just a year ago and what is about to happen, you have to be excited for North Arlington.