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!! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Town Hall Meeting

I have been out of the country and then my computer was down for some time.  So I apologize for not posting recently.  We did have a storm and then National Night Out, so there was some interesting things to write about but I am sorry that I was out of commission.   What I would like to inform you about is the fact that I am hosting a Town Hall Meeting this week.  It will be at Lamar High School, on Wednesday the 15th at 7:00 pm.

The subject matter will include, the introduction of our new North Police Chief Jeff Petty.  He will discuss his observations of the district and where the challenges rest in crime in our neighborhoods.  I will touch on developments of new projects, and the status of old projects.  Also I will try to explain what some of the items are that you will see on the ballot this November. 

I try to hold these Town Hall Meetings once every six months.  The citizens of District 1 have always turned out in great numbers , because you are interested and involved in your  community.  I think that you will be intrigued and informed at the work that is being accomplished to improve the quality of life in North Arlington.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

IAFF National Memorial Service

I was very fortunate to be invited to the International Association of Firefighters National Memorial Service, this weekend in Colorado Springs.  Each year the Firefighters assemble there to intern and pay tribute to those who have given their lives in the service of others.  This year 169 Fire Fighters had their name placed on the granite wall.  Thousands of Firefighters from all over our country and Canada were in attendance to pay their respects.  Unfortunately Arlington has four names that were already on the wall, obviously we would like to keep it at then number for a long time.
Also in attendance were over 280 bagpipers and drummers that gave the ceremony a traditional Scottish flair.  Their artistic abilities were remarkable.  In the older days Police Officers were normally Irish, while Firefighters were Scottish.  So the musical groups were heavy on Kilts’, bagpipes and tradition.  The ceremony lasted two and a half hours, and I felt very privileged and honored to have been invited to this event.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend I strongly suggest it.  The Arlington Firefighters are consummate professionals, and represented our city well. 

Please watch this video, 19 of the 20 Hot Shots names were put on the wall because of the Prescott fire: http://gazette.com/multimedia/video/3797283812001

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Red Light Cameras

Yesterday afternoon at the work session there was a discussion concerning the operation of Red Light Cameras in our city.  The subject was brought up by Robert Rivera.  He continues to take positions that are controversial because he is running for Mayor in the May election, if Mayor Cluck doesn’t run.  All indications are that Mayor Cluck will run again.  So we discussed the liabilities and attributes that Red Light Cameras bring to our city.

All Red Light Cameras installed on or after January 1, 2008 required pre-camera data be captured for the eighteen months prior to installation,.  Of the active red light cameras online, 14 red light cameras were installed after January 1, 2008. The variances between the pre-camera data and 2013 current data is significant.  2013 Red Light related camera crashes, when compared to pre-camera crashes, are down 75% (106 to 27). Subsequently, right-angle crashes are down 58% (50 to 21) and rear-end crashes (56 to 6) are down 89%.  Therefore, data shows the safety of our citizens has been improved by the installation of these cameras.

I have received emails that state that the city has tampered with the duration of the yellow light in an effort to increase the number of violations.  This is not true.  Every yellow light in this city has been set at 3.2 seconds as a constant.   Violators state that tickets are being issued by a company in Cincinnati.  This isn’t true.  Each violation is reviewed by an Arlington Police Officer and he issues the ticket for the violation. Some people are concerned about the revenue that is collected.  The revenue from these cameras goes to the camera company, the State of Texas, and also to the City of Arlington.  The money that goes to the city is used to fund 28 additional officer positions on our police force. 

If we were to get rid of the cameras that are currently in place, and maintain the same level of surveillance, it would cost a million dollars.  That would be calculated by 23 intersections and three daily shifts would equal 69 officers, plus the 28 officers that were previously mentioned wouldn’t be employed, due to lack of revenue.  The City would have to outfit them with cruisers and place them at each intersection.   Then violators would get a ticket for running a red light that would cost them $250 instead of $75.  The difference is that if an officer issues a ticket in the field that is a criminal offense, while the camera issued ticket is a civil offense.

Now I personally don’t like the Red Light Cameras, partly because I have gotten two tickets for rolling right turns.  But I saw the video, and I broke the law.  Therefore, I paid the ticket, as I should.  But when you look at the safety statistics, accidents are down.  The prime directive of Government is to keep their citizens safe, therefore, I have to vote to keep the cameras in place for that reason.