Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas

Christmas time is here and since America was established on Christian/Judean principals it is important for us to recognize that the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated throughout the world.  Sure the glitz and socioeconomic aspects of Christmas have grown to overshadow the true reason and spirit of Christmas, but let’s not be duped by Madison Avenue.  Don’t take the Jos A. Bank specials of buy 1 get 3 free to be the reason that you celebrate Christmas.  Actually if you look in your Bible in the book of Luke Chapter 2, verses 1-20, it will tell the whole story of the birth of Jesus.  This simple story has captured the hearts and minds of people throughout the world.  It is the beginning of Christianity and ignites the spirit of giving and good will toward others.  This Christmas Spirit is the celebration of the birth of the Savior of all Christians. 

Santa, his travels, and all his gifts are symbolic in that he gives to people he doesn’t even know because they are supposed to be good.  The Three Wise Men traveled following a star and gave their most precious possessions to a baby that angels professed to be the son of God.  The innocence of a babe lying in a manger inspired their generosity.  This is the meaning of Christmas as we know it today.  This celebration where we surround ourselves with family, over eat and over spend, also overshadows its true meaning.  Please take some time to lend some authenticity to the Christmas Spirit.

And if I might ask, while you are gathered round the table this Christmas, would you take the time for a small prayer.  All around the world tonight, there are young men and women who are watching over us to keep our freedoms safe and intact for future generations.  They can’t be with their families this Christmas.  Please ask that they be kept safe and returned home to their loved ones soon.

God Bless You and Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 22, 2013

700 Kyle St.

Anyone that lives near the Tree Top addition knows that the house at 700 Kyle burned several months ago.  Now it is an eyesore and people want to know what is being done about this problem.  Rumors were started that it was a Meth House and that the laboratory burned up.  This simply isn’t the case.  An addition over the garage was constructed, and the wiring was faulty and the house caught on fire. 

Code enforcement issued a citation concerning the house access and the owner constructed a chain link fence to limit the access.  Then months passed with nothing being done about the property.  Everyone thought that the insurance company was dragging its feet.  Apparently there is no insurance company.  Code control was prepared to issue another citation and the owner has simply vanished.  So the next step is a DSS hearing.  A Dangerous and Substandard Structure hearing is scheduled for 6 February and this property will be on the agenda.  This is the first step in the removal of the structure from the property.  It will take time but the gears are slowly moving in the proper direction allowing the property owner the due diligence that is required.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Student Housing

Last night at the Council meeting, something significant happened that you should be aware of concerning student housing at UTA.  Now let’s back up and get a little history on the Sapphire project.  Awhile back this project was touted as a luxury living apartment project.  Since they couldn’t get the financing for the project with that purpose in mind, they went the student housing route and got the dollars required.  Student housing is a hot comodity right now because it is recession proof.  Then the project was sold from a west coast company to a Dallas company, which is a good thing.  The problem is when you build student housing it is usually one door knob per unit.  Each unit will have a common room, four bedrooms and four bathrooms.  So the number of units is not the issue, it is the number of students per acre that is significant.

 Now the Arlington Lofts on Abrams street was defeated a few months ago because the density was too large, at 166 students/acre.  It just so happens that the Sapphire project between Center and Mesquite is also at 166 students/acre.  So the new density standard for the city of Arlington has been set very high.  Yesterday at the work session I asked John Hall the Director of Planning for UTA, “what is the upper number of density that he considers comfortable student living at UTA?”  He could not give me an answer.  When asked what the density is going to be for the new student housing projects on campus, he simply stated that the private sector is going to have higher density than typical university housing.

So last night’s vote was pivotal in the argument of what is the upper limit of students that can live on an acre of land.  The Council voted 8-1 to set the acceptable bar at 166 students/acre.  How high will it go?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Library

When I was running for office there were two proposals concerning the building of a new library.  One was a complete tear down and rebuild for $40 million.  The other option was a tear down to the skeleton of the structure and rebuild for $30 million.  Now there is a new proposal, which we will call the relocation proposal. 

The library is proposed to be constructed near the train tracks and where a portion of the current city hall parking lot is located.  Instead of the previous proposals of 100,000 sq/ft, this will have 85,000 sq/ft and the price tag is down to $20 million.  The plan would include a new city council chamber incorporating all the ADA changes that our current chamber would require.  The total cost of the project would be $26 million.  This to me seems like a common sense approach to solving the problems of an aging library that should be replaced and incorporating $3 million in ADA changes that have to be incorporated in the current chamber. 

Another positive to the project is that there is a developer that wants to build a multi-use facility on the current library site.  Retail establishments will be on the bottom floor and either lofts or offices spaces on the above floors.  This project will invest another $26 million in private money in our downtown area.  I get the feeling that most if not all council members view this project favorably.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving

As we start into this holiday season I am always reminded that I should reflect on what has been given to me.  I should be Thankful.  It is easy for me to give thanks because I feel that I am a very rich and undeserving person.  I am rich because I have been given, two great kids, the love of a good Texas woman, and I was a fighter pilot in the United States Navy.  I can’t draw to a better hand than that, so I am thankful. 

But I can also be thankful for so much more in life.  I am thankful that I was born in this country.  Some people travel from all the corners of the world to get here to experience what we take for granted.  So I am thankful to be an American and pursue happiness and the American dream.  I am also thankful for my friends and neighbors, for my relatively good health, and for those years without struggle.  Sometimes the friction of life can weigh heavily on anyone.  But what I am thankful for mostly is something that we Americans take for granted year in and out. 

I am thankful for the young men and women that are watching over us as I write this message.  Each and every minute of the day they help to preserve our way of life through their commitment to us.  In the middle of our day, they are standing their posts in the middle of their night.  They are flying off carriers into the blackness of night.  They are hauling 40lb rucksacks up the mountains of Afghanistan. They are on mission in the 120 degree heat of Iraq.  They are sentinels, standing their watch to insure our way of life, to keep us safe, and I am thankful.  Please, as you are surrounded by family and friends this Thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on their sacrifice to you.  God bless our young men and women in harms way.  Have a great Thanksgiving Holiday

Friday, November 22, 2013

Apartments

For those that remain interested in the progress of the apartment project along Lamar from Lincoln to Rolling Hills Country Club, I have good news.  Mr. Kembel has been working very hard to get the Country Wood Apartments under contract from Fanny Mae.  Just yesterday I recieved word that this has been accomplished and it looks like North Arlington has a facelift coming in the very near future. 

I have a great deal of confidence in Mr. Kembel's ability and his character as a person.  I have every reason to believe that demolition will start within the next six months.  I would imagine that relocation will now become his priority.  This has to be accomplished in a very specific and orderly fashion, with respectful consideration for those individuals affected by this project.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mickey Eddleman




Mickey was a good friend, squadron-mate, fighter pilot and father to his two children.  He was the personal corporate pilot for Ross Perot and his family.  He played on the National Championship UTA football team.  He excelled at everything that he pursued in life, and he will be missed terribly, by his friends, family and the community.  So long ol friend, fair winds and following seas.


1948 - 2013 | Obituary  Mickey Lee Eddleman, 65, of Arlington was delivered into the hands of the Lord on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. Funeral: 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Lamar Baptist Church, 1000 W. Lamar Blvd. Interment: Moore Memorial Garden. Visitation: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Moore Funeral Home in Arlington. He was a man of many hats, beloved father, husband, brother, friend, mentor and role model, and a man of many talents, decorated athlete, All-American football player, national champion, Navy fighter pilot, career aviator, car enthusiast, avid outdoors man and hunter. Most importantly, he was a man of God. Survivors: He will never be forgotten by the ones who knew him best, his son, Christopher Sean Eddleman and his wife, Brittany; daughter, Whitney Marie Eddleman; and brothers, James and Sammy Eddleman.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

Today, November 11, we observe Veterans Day.  Join me at the Veterans Park in Arlington, at 11 AM, to pay tribute to all veterans for these are the heroes who have defended our nation with courage and honor. Please take the time to thank those men and women who have served in our Armed Forces, and served down range to protect our precious way of life. The preservation of freedom isn't free; it is paid for by the blood, tears, and the sacrifice of our veterans and their families.  Many of our veterans have paid the ultimate price and are still missing in action, and many others are buried in far away places around the globe.  Remember that every moment of every hour of every day, brave Americans are standing watch.  They stand watch at their posts, in the air and on or under the sea.  They are there for you.  So if at all possible, please take a moment to reflect and pray for all service men and women. They’ve served the cause of Liberty, and their bravery is the fuel that has kept the beacon of freedom burning strong. They are truly the American Heroes!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Urban Shield

During the last City Council meeting I had the displeasure to listen to a couple of veterans speak their minds in opposition to Urban Shield.  They belittled the exercise in Boston stating that, “two guys set off a bomb that only killed three people.”  They likened this exercise to the, “militarization of our first responders.”  I sat there respectfully and didn’t say anything, listening to their point of view.  To this day I regret it.

I wanted to ask the following questions.  When you were in the military did you do any training?  Why?  The Boston bombings (plural) were designed to kill or maim as many American Citizens as possible.  When acts of terror like 9-11 and the Boston bombing occur, it is so surprising and unthinkable that the average American stands flat footed, unable to understand or respond properly.  Unlike and IED in Afghanistan these bombs were detonated on American soil.  Therefore, first responders, local law enforcement and the FBI, not the military, are tasked with emergent needs, and the apprehension of the terrorists.  So knowing that the War on Terror is at our doorstep what is our responsibility?

The first task of local government is to keep our citizens safe from harm.  Arlington Police and Firefighters are tasked with that responsibility.  In an effort to react swiftly and efficiently to any situation, it is important to have some familiarity.  Therefore, training is essential.  Yes, training Mr. Veteran.  The same training that you had to keep Americans safe.  That is what Urban Shield is, a training exercise.  By your comments at the Council meeting, you would deprive our first responders of this valuable opportunity.  The ability to prepare for eventualities that could very well happen in our city, to our citizens, on any given day.  Yes Mr. Veteran, and if it affected your family you would be standing at that same podium or in front of a reporter stating how incapable and inept our first responders were.  How hypocritical, shame on you!

This afternoon I will witness the exercise that is happening in my District.  I will watch and learn.  I will consider it part of my education, my training, so that if such a catastrophe occurs in the future I will understand the reasoning and decision making required in keeping our citizens safe.  That is responsible government.       

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Vote

Yesterday the election results showed us that the voters of Arlington were tired of driving to East Chase Parkway to by a bottle of whiskey.  The citizens of Arlington are just as grown up and responsible as the citizens of Pantego, Dalworthington Gardens and Ft. Worth.  The vote was 70% to 30% in favor of alcohol sales in Arlington. 

Of course there are concerns about the placement of package sales stores in and around our city.  I can assure you that the city is looking at restrictions that will be beneficial to the community concerning the location of these establishments.  Restrictions near hospitals, churches, schools, and other medical facilities will all be considered.  Blue Laws will remain in affect, and children will not be allowed on the premises. In total I believe that this will be beneficial to the citizens of Arlington, the City of Arlington and the Texas Rangers. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monoply Streets

Tonight at 7:00 at Nichols Jr. High School, I will be having the second meeting with the residents of the Park Place edition, also known as the Monopoly Streets.  We are going to look at the possibility of removing a half mile of wooden fence that is in disrepair, and putting up a masonry wall.  The masonry wall would extend down Canty St. and make the corner at Randy Snow and end at the park.

We had an initial meeting about three months ago.  The purpose of that meeting was to present the idea, and then find out if there was support in going forward with the project.  Now we have the numbers required to give the neighbors specifics.  The wall will cost the neighbors a total of $5.79 a month for ten years, and that includes insurance.  The benefits of making such an improvement are two fold.  1)  By pooling their money and putting up the wall, they will enchance the beauty of their neighborhood, and their property values will increase. 2)  Realtors state that the amount of time a house is on the market is decreased because people want to live in a well maintained community. 

Change is never met without issues, especially when you are talking about other people’s money.  So there is some resistance to moving forward, but nothing that sensible people can’t talk out.  I look forward to this evening and talking to my constituents.  This is another step in making our neighborhoods in North Arlington, a better place to live.

Side note:  Last night the Arlington Police Department put on the first annual Police Palooza at J. Gilligans from 3-10 pm.  The event was well attended, and music artists associated with the APD performed.  All proceeds went to charity.  A great time!     

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Odds and Ends

Southwest Nature Preserve :  Yesterday I had an opportunity to attend the opening of the Southwest Nature Preserve.  It is about 7 acres and it is a beautiful little area off of Bowman Springs Road south of I-20.  The lake is very picturesque and a perfect place to teach your kids to fish or just sit and take in the sights.  There is a platform that sits in the lake connected to a wide walking path.  Pick-Nick tables are available, and I was simply impressed by the overall serenity of the Preserve. 

As a converted Texan I hold the outdoors and nature in a special place.  I have hunted Russian Boar with a bow in Tennessee, Grizzly in the Yukon, and fished all over.  I take the responsibility of passing my appreciation of the Great Outdoors on to my children.  I don’t want them to miss what nature has to offer.  This Southwest Nature Preserve is a perfect place to start that appreciation process with your family.

ATF Reorganization:  The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation was reorganized this last week.  The Fund will be capped at 100 million dollars, and the remainder of the revenue will be utilized to invest in our city.  The corpus or body of the fund will be added to annually to compensate for inflation, to insure that the buying power will remain in place over time.  56% of the remaining funds will be spent on airport/parks projects and cemetery maintenance.  The rest will be utilized for economic development and infrastructure improvements, to include 501 C 3 and city beautification projects.

The Foundation Board is now the City Council and a 5 citizen Advisory Board will be formed to select projects to be funded in our city.  Final approval of expenditures will rest with the Foundation Board.  The corpus of the fund is a very important aspect in the city’s ability to maintain a AAA bond rating.

Bond Election:  The Council was asked for input by the City Manager concerning topics that should be considered for the Bond Election in 2015.  Roads were the main item of concern.  I forwarded the idea of a Senior Recreation Center, centrally located in our city.  I feel that we have neglected our seniors and instead of having classes at the local YMCA, a center designed around an active senior lifestyle should be constructed.  Grand Prairie has already constructed The Summit through a 21 million dollar bond package, and it is well utilized by there seniors of 55 years and older.  If you haven’t seen this facility it is a must.      

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Council Meeting 15 October

Last night two items of interest were on our agenda.  1)  The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation was reconstituted to make the City Council the ATF Board of Directors, and the fund was capped at $100 million dollars.  2)  XTO was denied a request to install a 1.5 million gallon water tank at the Eden Rd. drill site.  Both votes were unanimous, so let's examine why.

ATF:  The fund is currently at 98 million dollars and growing at a rate of 15 million annually through gas royalties, plus 5 million from the return on investments on the body or corpus of the fund.  We feel that 100 million is sufficient for a rainy day since it represents approximately ½ of the annual general operating budget.  We have taken precautions to maintain this value in the future through inflationary contributions to insure the buying power remains the same over time. 

We also feel that, since this is the citizen’s money,  proper utilization could enhance our city through economic development, and capitol investment.  56% of this money is required to flow back to projects at the Airport and Parks and Recreation, because that is where it came from, but the rest can be used to improve our city as a whole.

An Advisory Board will be comprised of one person from each of the city’s five districts.  This Board will look at requests for projects, finalize their decisions and simply forward them to the ATF Board for approval.  These expenditures are distributed from the interest on the corpus.  The same process as the former ATF board, except there will be no Council members on that Board.  Since expenditures of public funds require elected official oversight, final authorization will rest with the ATF Board.  The ATF Board will convene this Friday to select members of the Advisory Board.

XTO:  XTO wanted to install a temporary 1.5 million gallon water tank for fracking purposes outside the confines of the drill site.  There is a 5 acre parcel adjacent to the drill site that they own, and that is where they wanted to erect this tank.  Neighbors didn’t want the tank in their backyards and I get that.  What disturbed me was the fact that XTO wanted to maintain their current 1.4 million gallon water frack pond also.  Now I like the idea of the temporary tank because it precludes a permanent frack pond and doesn’t alter the aesthetics of the drill site.  But to have 2.9 million gallons of water to frack the remaining 3 wells and an unidentified number of future wells is simply overkill.  This isn’t being a good neighbor and it could set a precedent for every other operator in our city.  Therefore, I had to oppose this issue. I would fully support the installation of the tank behind the masonry wall if the current frack pond was removed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

National Night Out

Last night Arlington joined a national effort to participate with other cities to take America back.  I had the honor of riding with North Arlington Police Chief Leland Strickland.  We only had time to attend six of the thirty events that were held in north Arlington.  Each gathering was unique in atmosphere, food and citizens in attendance.  National Night Out is an evening that is enjoyable, entertaining and full of community.  It brings neighborhoods closer together, and tightens relationships.

The National Event is 30 years young and involved 37.5 million people in 15,704 communities from 50 states last year.  The purpose is to (1) heighten crime prevention awareness, (2) increase participation in anti crime programs, (3) strengthen neighborhood spirit and strengthen first responder relationships, and (4) send a message to criminals, stating we are organized and fighting to keep our neighborhoods crime free.

The Chief and I wanted to stay the evening at each event.  The combination of good food, visiting with friends and talking about what is happening in your neighborhoods, was simply too enjoyable.  I could have stayed for the duration, but we had to move to the next event.  At each event that we attended, Police Officers and Firefighters were in abundance.  These personal contacts are extremely valuable in formulating community relationships with our first responders.  They enjoy putting names to neighborhoods and hearing your concerns.  I also noticed that the best food gets the biggest fire truck.

Again, Chief Strickland and I had a great time, and we look forward to NNO every year.  We want to thank those that organized the parties and cookouts, and also those who participated by showing their support.  The opportunity to get together to promote awareness, safety, and neighborhood unity, also bolsters first responder relationships.  This builds a foundation for community partnerships and couples citizen involvement that only strengthens the resolve of a safer nation.   Well Done North Arlington!!

PS:  This blog went over 18,000 views yesterday.  For being in existence for only 1 year that is remarkable.  Please continue to stay informed about the issues in our community.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Vehicle Burglaries

I was having lunch with the North Police Chief, Leland Strickland at the "Prince" on Randol Mill one day.  As we were standing in line to pay the bill, a lady came up to him and asked if he would step into the parking lot.  Her van had been burglarized in broad daylight, in the parking lot.  A computer was stolen from the van and the side window was broken out.  I want to bring this to your attention because car burglaries are very prevalent in North Arlington, and there are simple/common sense precautions that can be taken to help prevent you from becoming a victim.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Take your keys with you.
  2. Lock your car.
  3. Park in attended lots if possible.
  4. Completely close your car doors.
  5. Take your valuables with you or hide them.
  6. If you take your items out of the car and place them in the trunk, be advised that burglars might be watching you do this.
  7. Park in your garage if possible, and lock your garage and the vehicle inside the garage.
  8. Replace any T shaped lock handles with straight locks.
  9. Engrave your driver's license number on any expensive accessories.  Engravers cost less than $10.
  10. If possible install visible alarm systems.
  11. Utilize wheel locks/lugs.
  12. When possible avoid parking between large vehicles.  They provide cover criminals.
  13. Remove detachable radio faceplates when able.
Many times you can observe suspicious behavior.  If you see any of the following behavior please dial 911 and report it to a dispatcher:
  • Pulling door handles
  • Looking in windows
  • Odd clothing for the time of year (long coats or gloves being worn in summer)
  • Lookouts
  • Nervous looking behavior (constantly looking around, rapid movements)
  • Checking for alarms by bumping windows or bumpers for sensitivity.
Tomorrow is National Night Out, so talk to the officers to see if there has been any auto burglaries reported in your neighborhoods.  Talk about some of these precautions to see how you can better protect your possessions.  But most of all watch for suspicious behavior in your neighborhoods and report it.  Be a proactive neighbor!  Hope to see you tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

One Observant Lady

I had the pleasure of having lunch yesterday with the North Police Chief, Leland Strickland.  He told me of an arrest concerning a burglar that was operating in the Monopoly Street area, and around the Canty and Randy Snow apartment complexes.  Common procedure is to canvas the area and ask the neighbors if they had seen anything suspicious.  One lady not only said yes, but gave a description of the vehicle, complete with license plate.

The car was located and the residence was put under surveillance.  After selling some stolen merchandise, the items were a match to a burglary in the above area.  The suspect was apprehended, and during questioning a cache of guns was located at another apartment.  I wanted to bring this to your attention because of the action/observation of one lady that saw something out of the ordinary.  She didn’t call 911, but she should have.  She had vital information and didn’t think that it was important enough to bother the police with it.  You are the eyes and ears of the community.  You have the power to help stop bad people from committing crimes in your neighborhoods.  This lady is to be commended for her situational awareness and attention to detail.  Without her astute observation the bad guys would still be on the street putting our possessions at risk.  If something looks suspicious or out of place, it probably is, so dial 911.

National Night Out is Tuesday, October 1st.  Just in North Arlington alone, there will be 30 different gatherings to celebrate this event.  We have remarkable people watching over us on the Arlington Police Force.  The closer our relationship can become, the better we will be served as a community.  I hope to see several of you Tuesday night.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Arlington Signage

One of the items that I put on my door hangers during my campaign was Arlington Signage welcoming visitors to our city.  This is an example of seeing something that needed to be accomplished and the City Manager and Staff already taking this for action. 

The city received a grant from the state in 2012, for the beautification of state thoroughfares.  The amount of the grant was $310,000, and the city added another $50,000 from the general fund.  The above sign will be 20’x 20’, with letters that will be 2’ high.  The sign will be illuminated with different colors at night to accentuate the visibility.  Placement of the first two signs will be along I-30, near Randol Mill going east, and near the Crown Plaza going westbound.  Additional signs of the same type will be located along I-20 and 360 in the coming years.  Construction is scheduled for early summer 2014.

In addition to these signs, there will be different signs in our city to designate the entertainment district.  These will be 30’ high and will cost $450,000.  They will be funded through the hotel occupancy tax.  Their placement will be within the city to designate the boundaries of the entertainment district.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Back In Town



Just a note to say that I am back in town after the annual vacation to the islands.  Leisure time is over, I feel rejuvenated and ready to get back to work doing the city's business.  However, while I was gone there were a few incidents that were of significant impact to our community.  First, there was a fire at 700 Kyle Dr. the day that I left.  Station 8 Firefighters arrived on the scene at 11:50 and the fire was extinguished at 12:50.  This was a very damaging fire, almost a total loss.  The fire was believed to have started in the attic and or garage area. 

The second event was the double homicide at 2100 Madison Dr. near Whole Foods on Sept 7th.  On Sept 11 two suspects in the case were arrested.  On 13 Sept a third suspect was arrested.  Anibal Hernandez of Arlington and Miguel Trevino of Euless are both charged with Murder and the third suspect faces charges of Tampering with Evidence. 

What I want to bring to your attention is the fact that we live in a world where your life can be altered or terminated in an instant.  There are bad people in this world everywhere you go.  But there are also people like the first responders in both of these incidents that go above and beyond their calling.  I am always amazed at the efficiency of the committed professionals that respond to emergencies in our community.  I want to simply say thank you to the Arlington Firefighters and Police Officers that make our community a safer place to live.   

Friday, August 30, 2013

State of the District

I have been remiss in not posting on this subject earlier.  My efforts were channeled in having a successful Town Hall Meeting and I haven't gotten to this subject until now.  I had an opportunity to attend the "State of the District" luncheon held about a week ago.  This is an annual luncheon sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, for the purpose of announcing results of AISD student performance, and solutions to existing challenges.  The AISD Superintendent, Dr. Marcelo Cavazos conducted the body of the presentation.

This was the first year of the new state standard, and the AISD as a district performed admirably.  As you may know, it is very important for potential residents in our area to know that a quality education can be attained in our public schools.  After the testing of the 2010 school year, my district had three of the five "Academically Unacceptable" schools within its boundaries.  The AISD has made strategic changes to meet these challenges and they have paid off.  All three schools were brought up to "Meets Standards'.  Two of the three schools have done so with "Distinction".  Results:

Lamar High                         Met Standards with Distinction               Principal Dr. Larry Harmon

Shackleford Jr. High            Met Standards with Distinction (3)          Principal Andy Hagman

Roquemore Elementary        Met Standards                                     Principal Yvonne DuPont

It is important to note the the following:

3 of 6 high schools, 12 of 12 junior high and 24 of 50 elementary schools received at least one distinction.  Shackelford Junior High has received "Distinction" in all three categories.  Ellis and Speer elementary were the only schools in District 1 that did not "Meet Standards".

I want to personally thank Dr. Cavazos, the AISD Board, the Principals and all of the hard working faculties for the successes that they have achieved.  The education of our children is the most fundamental investment that we can make in our future.  The dedication of our AISD educators are already paying dividends.  Well Done!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Aftermath

The town hall meeting was a huge success.  We had 500 people in attendance and all seemed very interested and supportive of this project.  My purpose in calling this meeting was to lay all the cards on the table so that you now know what I know.  You know where we are with Fannie Mae.  That there is one piece of the puzzle that isn't under contract, and why.  We tried to answer all the hard and commonly asked questions.  This town hall meeting on the Lamar Project was our effort to be transparent and open concerning every aspect of this issue.  You responded admirably!

As a result of the meeting, I have not heard one negative comment.  I have been asked several questions that are difficult and I will try to answer a few here.

1. You supported the Lamar project and voted against the Abrams Lofts.  The density is the same, how can you do that?  A.  If you do the simple math you will see that the number of door knobs are the same but the number of people are twice as much on Abrams as Lamar.  692 students divided by 4.25 acres is 165 per acre.  Lamar is 78 people per acre.  The number of door knobs is 53 per acre for both.  The two student housing projects on the south side of Abrams are 67 and 116 people per acre, that's enough.

2.  Why would I want to rent and pay $1,200 to live next to the hood?  A.  This single project will infuse $178 million into that area.  You are looking at this project as it looks today.  The interest that this project will attract is already starting to show and we haven't gotten everyone under contract yet.  Senior living people have showed interest.  The TXDOT properties are back in play.  Today's hood isn't going to be tomorrow's hood.  Have some vision.  Also changing neighborhoods doesn't happen over night, be patient.  If you have better ideas or solutions, I will be glad to entertain them.  If you have more money I will be glad to put it to work in this area. 

3.  Apartments don't commit crimes people commit crimes and you will simply relocate people to other apartments and the problem will simply be relocated.  This doesn't solve anything.  A.  When I took office gun shots were commonly heard each night.  With police and code cooperation we have moved gangs out and relocated them elsewhere.  The President's corner area is safer today due to that effort.  Yes they relocated and I'm certain that they are still out there, but those efforts have improved this neighborhood.  There are 45,000 multi family door knobs in Arlington.  Mr. Kembel talked about his relocation plans.  He is an earnest and sincere man with Arlington's best interest at heart.  He will soon move here and his family will become Arlington citizens.  He has skin in the game.  I referred to a study done by Dr. Bowman concerning calls to service verses apartment condition/economic level of residents.  I showed two different apartments complexes and the difference in calls to service and why.  We showed you how we plan to maintain the apartments over time.  I told you that I would take you to single family neighborhoods that are unsafe due totally to the above factors and not density.  The hypothesis that density produces crime is inaccurate and you will have to come to terms with that.  The world is a complicated place.  I don't plan on fixing it, just making it a better place to live.

4.What are the infrastructure costs?  Where is that money coming from?  A.  Demo is 2.5 and sewer and drainage is 750K.  These monies will come from our economic development department/capitol budget.  The 5.2 for the park renewal and linear median park will come from Parks and Recreation budgets.

I would like to go on record and thank my co-host Jimmy Bennett, and the panel of Trey Yelverton, Bob Kembel, Bruce Payne and Bowie Hogg.  Their knowledge and honesty was displayed for everyone to see.  Simply put, we are men that are trying to make Arlington a better place to live.  It was a great town hall and it couldn't have succeeded without the support of the citizens of Arlington.  Thank you!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Town Hall Meeting

Just a reminder that next Monday on the 26th there will be a Town Hall Meeting at the Convention Center, rooms 5-8.  The event will start at 7:00 pm and last till 9:00.  The subject will be the apartment project on Lamar from Lincoln to Rolling Hills Country Club.  Jimmy Bennett and I will be co-hosting the event.

Schedule of Events

Introductions--Charlie Parker

Efforts by the City of Arlington--Jimmy Bennett

Rehab vs. Redevelopment--Charlie Parker

History of the Project--Trey Yelverton

Project Overview--Bob Kembel

380 Agreement--Bruce Payne

Roquemore Elementary--Bowie Hogg

Questions

This is a very important meeting that will give answers to questions and dispel rumors surrounding this  project and it's importance to our community.  Please take the time out from your schedules at home and attend this meeting.   I think that you will be well informed for your efforts.

The MAX

Yesterday morning I rode the Metropolitan Arlington Xpress or MAX to Centerport station's TRE stop.  The bus was clean, air conditioned and gave a smooth ride.  It was a very pleasant experience to leave the driving to someone else and talk to my neighbor Stephen Zimmer.  The ride took about 20 minutes.  A ticket to ride for the entire day is $5.00.  This will also give you transfer authority to be able to ride the "T" in Ft. Worth or DART in Dallas.  If you are a student the price is cut in half to $2.50.  For the first month you can also register with the city down at City Hall and ride for free.  This contract is for two years and will allow you to visit the Bush Library or State Fair without the hassle of parking and traffic while you read a book.

Essentially this service does a few things.  1.  Arlington is no longer the largest city in America without mass transit.  2.  It closes the hole in the donut concerning Arlington and mobility aspects that surround our city.  3.  It give us a good look at what the ridership might be for a light rail system from UTA through the entertainment district to Centerport and possibly beyond to DFW.  I think that this is a very important step in our City's evolution.  You can thank Kathryn Wilemon for her efforts in bringing the MAX to Arlington.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Arlington Tomorrow Fund

On Wednesday of this week the Council met to discuss what should be done with the Arlington Tomorrow Fund revenues.  As you may know, the fund is comprised of original signing bonus' and gas well royalties.  The fund has been in existence for the last 5 years and is currently valued at 98 million dollars. 

Now the state of Texas has a Rainy Day Fund.  That fund will be capped at 30% of the state general operating budget.  The state general budget is so big that it will never get to that point.  So you will see the Governor make suggestions to the legislature for one time appropriations, like he did this year for water and transportation.  Using that as a yardstick, our general operating budget is just north of 200 million a year.  Therefore we could cap the ATF at 60 million.  I believe that almost all of the members of the Council are in agreement that the fund should be capped at 100 million dollars, with an increase annually to account for inflation.  We want to make sure that we maintain the same buying power twenty years down the road as we have today.

So this creates a dilemma.  The deposits are averaging 15 million a year into the fund.  The interest on the corpus (body of the fund) is 5% or 5 million a year.  So this creates a 20 million dollar a year opportunity for the city to invest in city infra structure.  Using 2 million dollars to scrape the La Jolla apartments could be a possibility.  Building a senior recreation center, putting in more sidewalks, or supplementing funding for a new library.  But who will make these decisions?  I know that I wouldn't want that responsibility without consensus of the entire Council.

So there is a question before the Council of how do we want to shape this decision making process.  It is important to have citizen input in this process.  Therefore, the current composition is very desirable, with two citizens and three Council members.  The oversight of the expenditure of public funds requires a majority of elected officials to be present.  Individuals cannot spend tax monies without going through a Congressional approval process at the federal level.  Another option would be to use the current composition as an advisory board, with final approval resting with the entire council.  So these are the questions that we have to ask ourselves, and hopefully we will come out the other end with a solution that speaks to a better Arlington and not just a few.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

First Year

I was sworn into office on 3 August of last year.  I have had the pleasure to serve our community and there have been some huge mistakes and some victories along the way.  I might add that the meager amount of monies that I have earned has been donated to help our wounded veterans in appreciation for their tremendous sacrifice to uphold our freedoms.  So let's take a look and see if I'm worth my salt.  I will not take credit for many of these efforts.  I will simply say that I have made some great friendships and alliances along the way:

1.  First of all I wanted to have a central form of communication to disseminate information in and around North Arlington.  This website was put into existence about 10 months ago.  Since that time you have viewed its contents over 15,000 times, and I have posted 78 items.  I would call that a remarkable success.  I am always surprised that someone would want to actually read what I have written.  Thank you for staying informed.

2.  Two wonderful ladies have helped me establish a program called "Friends of Rocquemore".  Essentially it is a program that elevates education in the family structure to kids that live in and around the apartments in the Lamar/Collins Overlay.  Participating complexes would reduce the family rent a small amount if a good report card was presented to the management.  There were also corporate donations.  Best Buy, Walmart Neighborhood Stores, Lincoln Square, and Rodriguez & Associates all contributed to make the end of the year awards ceremony the best ever.

3.  I had the pleasure to partner with the Police and Code Compliance to address the biggest threat to our neighborhoods, the Forest Hills Apartments.  The material and living conditions were horrible.  Code did a great job of making sure that the owner of this complex maintained city standards.  This also transformed into a new code standard ordinance for all multi-family structures throughout the city.  I was fortunate to participate in this process since I was on the Municipal Policy Committee.  Police increased patrols in the area and established a bike patrol.  This increased exposure resulting in two gangs moving out of the Forest Hills complex.  NO MORE GUN SHOTS AT NIGHT.  The owner finally sold.

4.  I feel blessed that, when I ran for office my priorities were aligned with that of City Staff.  I wanted to improve our neighborhoods and Staff's efforts were also aimed in the Collins/Lamar Overlay area.  A cooperative alliance was already formed and I simply fell in step with their efforts.  Bob Kembel the visionary responsible for Viridian consented to come up the hill and help us with our ageing apartment problem.  He has consented to 160 million dollars of investment in the Overlay.  This is truly remarkable since there has been no interest for the last eight years!  Last night the Council consented to enter into a performance driven agreement to start the project.  The demo of the apartments will begin in December.

5.  I have spent the last week in meetings with the principals of Windsor Senior Living  facility, located on I635 in north Dallas.  They have five properties, four in Texas and one in Vail Colorado.  They want to construct a new facility with over 150 beds.  Their care ranges from independent living to constant care.  Their facility in Dallas is eleven stories and is a beautiful opportunity to downsize, or get care for immobility, dementia, Alzheimer's, or pre-hospice.  I hope to bring their talents and investment to our city.

6.  I have a PID (Public Improvement District) in progress also.  Essentially I have approached the citizens in the Park Place development (Monopoly Streets) to consolidate their efforts to surround their neighborhood with a masonry wall.  This effort is ongoing and will replace the wooden fence, and increase their property values.  It is an exercise in coming together as a community and consolidating your resources and efforts as a neighborhood.

7.  The control tower at Arlington Municipal Airport was put on the termination list due to sequestration.  I had the pleasure to lobby for its survival by visiting Senator Cornyn, Representative Barton, and I met with staff from Senator Cruz and Representatives Williams and Veasey.  After our visit Arlington Airport was the only airport to be fully funded for the next two years.  When you tell someone that you have 33,000 hrs. of flight time, it puts some validity into the conversation.

8.  We had a problem with a short term rental in one neighborhood.  That issue was exposed to the Council level where the neighbors could confront their problem first hand.  The Staff is currently monitoring other addresses that are advertised as "Short Term Rentals" and we will see if the problem necessitates an ordinance.

9.  Signs were installed on Center Street warning drivers to be cautious in and around the Summit school area.  Drop-off and pick-up times created congestion and became a problematic safety hazard.  The installation of these signs were the best option available in solving this problem.

10.  A crosswalk was requested and established at Lamar High School in an effort to safely allow students to get to their cars in the parking lot north of Lamar.

These are just some of the items that we have addressed in the north.  Some haven't been successful, like the Walgreens effort.  We addressed the issue with their corporate representative, but we received no cooperation on the matter.  Police have been tremendous in being available and vigilant concerning this issue, but a willingness to solve this problem by Walgreens is essential to be successful.  Out of this failed effort a success was created when the Arlington Police Department established the "REC".  The REC is a faith based effort to allow students a place to go on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school.  Tutors, basketball and other activities are available to the students, until their parents can come and pick them up.  This program has received county wide media attention and is a feather in the APD cap.

I have had the pleasure to meet some truly incredible people this past year.  I have partnered with some to try to make our neighborhoods a better place to live.  I want to thank each and every one for their contribution to our community.  And I want to thank you, the voter, for allowing me to meet these remarkable individuals.  I have hosted two town hall meetings in the past year and I have another on the Lamar/Collins Overlay Apartment Project on 26 August at the Convention Center starting at 7:00.  This will start off year two.  Let's see where this takes us.     

Council Meeting August 6th

Yesterday had some interesting things to consider.  In the afternoon session we were confronted with a very large problem looming on the horizon.  Fire Chief Don Crowson is responsible for the communication aspect of our first responders, both Fire and Police.  Our radio system is thirty years old and it is not only hard to get parts but also our neighbors all around us are changing systems from analog to digital.  The Ft. Worth system is our backup system, and it will cease to exist in December of 2014, because they have gone digital.  So if our main system goes down after December of next year we are down to cell phones.  Therefore, we need to join the rest of the neighboring communities in purchasing a new digital communications system.  The price tag is 14.8 million dollars, however with the use of some grant monies the price tag due the city is 10.8 million.  There is no doubt that we need the new system but we need to find the money, because it is a huge expenditure that currently isn't in the budget.  The most popular solution for this problem is a lease to own program by Motorola.  We would pay 1.5 million for 10 years and at the end we would own the system.  I think that this is going to be the solution to the problem.  It will take 16 months to install the system and get it up and running.

Last night also had some drama.  A car wash has been proposed for the corner of Green Oaks and Ball Park Way.  It has been postponed at the P&Z level four times and was finally defeated by them about two months ago.  The developers petitioned for a hearing to present to the City Council and make a determination on their development plan.  They made a very strong case, and an impressive push to become successful.  I personally had reservations concerning the compatibility of the project, and the concerns of the majority of the citizens in and around this neighborhood.  I did not know how the vote was going to come out, but I knew that either way the city would either get a good car wash or something better in the future.  The vote was very close, 5-4 against.  I was proud of the Council in that we validated the concerns of P&Z and upheld the concerns of the majority of the citizens in the surrounding area.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Windsor Senior Living Facility

I have spent the last several days talking to a group of individuals that comprise several senior living facilities in Texas and Vail, Colorado.  They have been very successful in the housing and care of seniors.  I believe that they are unique in what they do.  I toured their latest project yesterday with Bruce Payne. (Economic Development) It use to be a Marriott Hotel on I635 near the I635/75 interchange (High 5).

The Senior Living Facility is called "Windsor Senior Living" and it is eleven stories, with 236 rooms.  The gentleman that started the project is very attuned to being able to work with the cities in which he invests.  The property that I am trying to get him interested in is the block from Center/Lincoln over to Whole Foods.  They want to build a seven story structure with a minimum of 150 rooms.

What they currently have in Dallas is eleven stories with the top five floors dedicated to independent living.  The residents get three meals a day and have a kitchen and beautiful apartments.  There is in-house care available if needed and is a perfect solution for downsizing.  The fifth and fourth floors are for less ambulatory residents in wheelchairs.  These are the start of the assisted living care floors.  The third, and second floors are reserved for those with memory loss, from dementia to alzheimers.  The first floor is for those that require constant care and monitoring.

The reason that I believe this to be a good place for a Senior Living Facility is the proximity to two golf courses, emergency response on the same property (Fire Station 8) and Arlington Memorial Hospital, that is 1.1 miles away.  Arlington has approximately 60,000 seniors with little to zero care available to them.  The largest concentration of seniors is in the north and west.  When the time comes to downsize, and stay in the area, there is nothing of quality available.  Maybe there will be in the future.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Just a Note

This is just a note to let you all know what is happening in District 1 as of today.  I started off by going to the Citizens Police Academy Seminar at the Sheraton hotel.  From there I had a meeting with a group that is interested in expanding their senior care facility over in Dallas.  I showed them around the Lamar/Collins Overlay and explained the projects that are in work in that area.  Then it was back to the office to meet with Mr. Albert Ross the President of the Veterans Park Project.  I missed the Cowboys Stadium announcement because I ran a little long in my other meetings.  In this mornings Star Telegram it was stated that Arlington will get 5% of the naming rights to the stadium.  They estimate that the price to AT&T will be $18 million a year.  Arlington would normally get $900,000 but Jerry put a cap on the deal at $5 million to the city over the length of the contract.  Since the city put up 30% of the money for the stadium it would seem that we didn't drive a very hard bargain.  But what do I know since I wasn't there.  Well $500,000 a year is better than nothing.  If you couple that with the $500,000 a year that is required to be donated by the Jones Foundation to the city it's an extra million annually.  I might add that this $500,00 will all go to bond debt service, while the foundation monies are supposed to go to youth sports.


Just to let you know, this blog has been in existence for a little over a year.  I have posted 74 times and there are over 14,000 views on the information.  I call that a success, but there is still room for improvement.  So please spread the word, and let's all stay informed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Greg Abbott

I just got back from a Greg Abbott rally over in Duncanville.  It was held in the Ben Franklin Apothecary Store over on 302 North Main St..  The reason for holding this rally there was that he had worked there as a young boy in high school.  I can tell you for certain that Mr. Abbott is definitely running for Governor.  He's got the stump speech down and all the sound bites are in play.  I have to say that I was impressed with the man himself.  I agree with every aspect of his platform.  Of course he is a conservative Republican and so am I.

As Attorney General for the state of Texas, Greg Abbott has sued the Obama Administration 27 times.  He has been victorious in his fight to display the Ten Commandments in Austin, and to maintain the words  "under God" in the pledge of allegiance.  These battles were both won in the Supreme Court.  He also has a case pending, stating that Obamacare is a violation of the 10th Amendment of the Constitution.  He has upheld freedom of speech and the right to bare arms.  His priorities for Texas are to improve public education, balance the state's budget and and secure our borders.  He openly discusses his misfortune concerning the accident that has left him paralyzed.  He has overcome this detriment and has no problem engaging the opposition.  He is a man to be admired.  He states that he ran daily as a young man, and that he can no longer run.  But he will run for the office of Governor of the Great State of Texas, and I believe he will win.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Joe Barton

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to Joe Barton for about an hour and a half.  He was delayed in Washington DC due to a farm bill that was being voted on, but he finally got on an airplane and made it to the Tea Party event.  The only other elected official there was Ron Wright the Tarrant County Tax Accessor and former Barton Chief of Staff.

Topics of conversation ranged far and wide, but the main subjects concerned stripping the food stamp portion of the farm bill away and voting on it in the future.  Congressman Barton assured that the food stamp
spending level would remain below 2007 expenditures.  Immigration was another subject at the forefront.  Joe stated that if a person was born in this country, they would remain a citizen of this country.  However, if the parent was illegal, something other than citizenship would be afforded to them.  It was noted that entering this country illegally is only a misdemeanor, and can be punished by 6 mos. in jail, however normally this option  isn't utilized until the 3rd capture. 

It must be obvious that Congressman Barton is not for term limits since he is in his 28th in Congress.  I guess that his most important issue currently is fiscal responsibility.  Obama was running a 1.4 trillion dollar deficit.  Currently they have it down to .8 trillion.  Congressman Barton would like to see a balanced budget, but he believes that it won't happen until the current administration is gone.  It was stated that the three largest areas of spending is the Military Budget, Social Security, and Medicare/Medicaid.  Until these areas are addressed, there will never be a balanced budget.

It was stated that the coup in Egypt to oust the Arab Brotherhood was accomplished by the Egyptian Military.  This military is considered friendly to the United States because we provide them with military hardware.  Therefore, this removal of the current regime is looked upon favorably by DC.  I am sure that Obama will do nothing since he is very adept at only voting "present."

All in all an interesting evening, however some of the members of the audience were disrespectful and trying at times.   

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Town Hall Meeting - Apartments

I want to get this out early so that everyone will have an opportunity to see this presentation.  There will be a Town Hall Meeting concerning the apartment project along Lamar, on the 26th of August at 7:00 at the Convention Center, rooms 5-8.  The capacity of these rooms are around 500 people.  The meeting will be hosted by Jimmy Bennett and Charlie Parker.  Bob Kembel, the developer will be in attendance to give a portion of the presentation.  Also in attendance will be Trey Yelverton (City Manager) and Bruce Payne (Economic Development).

We will all be there to answer any questions that you may have concerning this project.  I expect the first check by the city to be written in August, allowing the demolition to start as early as September.  This is an exciting time for North Arlington.  A project of this stature doesn't come along very often, and it is important for the citizens to understand the impact and magnitude associated with what the City and Mr. Kembel are trying to accomplish.  I will get this information out to all the media and informational resources between now and then, with several reminders.  Please spread this information through your email lists so that everyone will have an opportunity to attend.  See you there.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July 4th

After participating in several events to celebrate this year's Independence Day, I simply wanted to make some observations.  First was "Light Up Arlington".  What a remarkable event.  I can't even venture a guess as to the number of people that were in attendance downtown.  The music of the two feature bands was great and even the band in the Library parking lot was very enjoyable.  The fireworks display was also exceptional, and seemed to go on forever.

The next morning was the 4th of July Parade.  Wow, it is always impressive to see the number of entries, floats and bands that enter this event.  It's just another annual event in Arlington that is planned and executed flawlessly.  That evening there were fireworks on the field of play at Ranger Stadium.  The Rangers out played the Seattle Mariners and then we were all treated to another wonderful fire works display.  The fun continues with the Rangers hosting the Astros through the weekend.

It always amazes me that our founding fathers decided to go to war against the most powerful force on earth to win our independence.  Can you imagine putting together an army to rival the British army and navy of that day.  It is how our country started, and it shows the purpose and resolve of our ancestors.  We are very much the same today.  Our armed forces stand up around the world to maintain our liberty and freedoms, and those of other countries.  I feel fortunate to be an American, and it is my responsibility to remember the heroes of the past.  Winning our independence is one thing, but maintaining it is costly and of the utmost importance.

I hope you all had a great 4th of July.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Arlington Rotary

Last night the Arlington North Rotary Club had its annual change over dinner.  Jackie and I attended at Texas Land and Cattle and enjoyed the event tremendously.  Rotary is a club where you put community first and you pay a membership to serve that community.  Over the years it has been Rotary's mission to stamp out Polio in the world.  That's right, when you were a kid and you stood in line with your parents to get your sugar cube, the Rotary probably paid for that immunization. 

There are several chapters of Rotarians right here in Arlington.  The Downtown Club just celebrated their 90th year in existence last month.  Our little Northern Club hasn't been in existence that long but its makeup is one of impressive membership, and I am lucky to be a member.  We are supported not only by our dues, but also by flag subscriptions.  On every holiday we put out flags in front yards, and pick them up that evening for a subscription fee of $30 a year.  It is a great opportunity to show your patriotism on these days and it is taken care of by the Rotary.  These monies are used to perpetuate the eradication of Polio and also to help bring clean drinking water to the people of Honduras. 

A Rotarian award that is given out for distinction in service over each year is the Paul Harris Award.  It is given for a achievement of a certain level of participation and generosity.  I am proud to say that the Arlington North Club has achieved a level of 100% Paul Harris Fellowship participation.  We are the only club with that distinction.

Last night the changing of the gavel occurred with Stace Callaghan passing the hammer to the new President Craig Forester.  Also, the Rotarian of the Year Award was given to Joe Bruner, and deservedly so.  If you would like the opportunity to serve your community and don't know how to go about it, please consider the Arlington North Rotary.  We meet every Monday at 12:00 at Olenjack's Restaurant and our speakers are extremely interesting.  On July 22nd our speaker will be Dr. Vistasp Karbhari the new President of UTA, so come and visit.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Arlington Tomorrow Fund

This is a touchy subject but it needs to be addressed.  The reason that it is touchy is that the Mayor wants one thing and the Council has to approve it.  Two names were offered to the Council for approval and the Council voted 6-3 to table both nominations.  The reason for putting the names on the table, instead of voting on them is simple.  Due to the size of the fund, ($100 million) there is a discussion of capping the fund and using the proceeds that are above the cap.  If that is done and there is $15-20 million to be used annually.  Should that expenditure be used by the ATF as it is currently comprised?  Or should we reconstitute the ATF to acutally be the City Council?  Or should the ATF only deal with the interest, and the principal above the cap moved to another fund with Council oversight?

Having many questions of this magnatude, the Council called for a special meeting to address these issues and many more concerning ATF funds/composition.  That meeting will be held on August 14th.  It made sense to me that we should not vote on the appointment of members to the ATF until after that meeting.  I brought this up in the afternoon session over a month ago but the Mayor wanted to go forward with the nominations.  So the Council voted to table the approval of the appointments.  The individuals that were nominated are both remarkablely capable and the tabling has nothing to do with their individual qualifications.  Each will be voted on if the ATF remains in its present form.   

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Apartments

I have been wanting to tell all of you what is happening with the apartments and tonight the Council approved a Master 380 agreement concerning the apartments in the Lamar Overlay.  Essentially Bob Kembel of Viridian started his own development company JCKPL.  He has been actively pursuing the apartment complexes along Lamar.  He has successfully put the following apartments under contract, Huntington Chase, Pointe at North Highland, and Water Chase.  The fourth apartment complex is still in play.  The city has agreed to participate in this process.

Phase I will consist of the demolition of Huntington Chase and the Pointe and the city will put up 1.5 million in good faith.  Half a million will be granted upon the demolition of phase II and III.  $750k will be given to secure drainage improvements for the project.  And a total of 2.4 million will be given to demo the entire project.  The total give by the city is 5.2 million.  The total funding required by the developer is $160 million.

Let me simply say that it was truly a miracle that we were able to find a developer, and then have the developer come up with $160 million to help solve our apartment problem.  This deal is simply an overall agreement that the city will work with the developer in good faith.  I would like to bring to your attention that the Lamar Overlay has been in existence for the last 8 years and nothing has happened.  Mr. Kembel intends to comply with the restrictions set forth in the overlay.  Some single family, some retail and mixed use centered around three large apartment complexes.  The driving force behind this project was our City Manager, Trey Yelverton and Bruce Payne from Economic Development.  I plan on having an Apartment Town Hall Meeting at the Convention Center in the middle of August to show you what the Plan will entail.  Your neighborhoods in this area just got a face lift, and a big boost in property values. 

Bob Kembel has been working on a plan with local community leaders concerning relocation and the gradual movement of affected citizens as leases expire.  It was a good day at City Hall.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Yukon

Well, just to let you know that I haven't forgotten about informing you guys.  I took a few weeks off and went to the Yukon to go hunting.  It was a very physical and demanding experience.  This is a picture of me on top of a mountain, way above the tree line.  The snow drifts on the north side were about chest high.  At my height that isn't very high.  I got back on the 12th.  I would say that the trip was unsuccessful because I didn't harvest a grizzly.  Essentially, I was looking for Yogi and all I saw was Boo Boo.  My goal was a 9 ft. Grizz and I only saw a 6 ft. Black Bear.  The experience was very Spartan.  No running water, except for the streams, and no electricity.  Just a guide, a tent and a pot belly stove. 

If you can imagine no Internet or newspaper delivery and a total black out when it comes to information.  As I was taxiing into the gate at DFW, I started reading about Officer Vo's tragedy, the police departments troubles with the FBI, and the four murders in our city.  All of this came to me at one sitting.  I was simply devastated.  But I have solid faith in our Police and they will bounce back from this event and I know that they are hard at work trying to find the criminals that are still at large.  One has already been apprehended.  Well, we have a Council Meeting this week and I have about 1300 pages to read and prepare for discussion.  Just an added note; the apartment issue is getting very exciting and I hope to share all of that information with you very shortly.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Council Day, 21 May

The work session was very interesting today.  Mike Bass presented a hybrid code modification for multi family dwellings.  The council pretty much adopted the concept, with two exceptions.  1)  Landscaping and 2) the ability to recoup costs for excessive calls to service. 

Landscaping, is suppose to meet a certain standard if the complex was built after 1991.  Most of our apartments that are in disrepair were built before 1991 and therefore have no requirements to maintain a certain level of appearance.  Most apartments that are having financial problems are quickly identified by the condition of the grounds.  They will not put in money to maintain a sprinkler system, nor will they spend the money for water.  Therefore the vegetation dies, and there is no money to replace it.  Code needs a mechanism to make the owner maintain or replace the damage to the complex.

Excessive Calls to Service, Chief Crowson told me that there was an individual that would call the Fire Department and then when they arrived he said that he wanted a pizza.  Lana Wolf told of ONE apartment complex that had over 53% of all calls to service in East Arlington.  Forest Hills Apartments had over 600 calls in six months.  Legal told us that recovery of funds for excessive calls was a violation of the 14th amendment.  I don't believe that for 1 second.  I asked what Constitution was he using?  If it violated the 14th amendment then why is L.A., St. Paul, Norfolk, Fayetteville, and Raleigh successful in establishing such a program.  The Mayor, of course, was against the idea.  But I received support from Lana Wolf and some others.  I will try to implement this in committee.

Of note also was a discussion on Abrams St.concerning the number of lanes that will go through downtown.  All scenarios were considered.  Five lanes (current config.) down to Two lanes with a more eclectic downtown experience. It was noted that if the two lane option was chosen the delay to get through downtown would be over 6 and a half minutes.  Considering that there are only two main east/west arteries in Arlington, (Division & Abrams) and the population/traffic will only increase I think that the two lanes option is unacceptable to my way of thinking.  The city is spending a great deal of money to improve Abrams east to the city limit.  To neck it down in the downtown area will more than likely drive away business rather than increase foot traffic.

Lastly Sheri Capehart suggested that the Council have a special meeting to reconsider the makeup and investment strategy of the Arlington Tomorrow Fund.  I suggested that any appointments be tabled until after that meeting and the Mayor about blew a gasket.  He has submitted a name to sit on that Committee and even if there is no place for the nominee to serve he refused to table/delay the appointment.  There is close to 100 million dollars in that fund, and it is likely that the entire format of the Committee might change. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What's a PID?

Tonight I will be addressing a group of citizens that reside in the Park Place addition (Monopoly Streets) .  The meeting will start at 7:30 at the Elzie Odom Recreation Center.  The reason for the meeting is to discuss forming a Public Improvement District or PID.  Now what a PID does is allow a neighborhood to essentially get a loan from the city to make improvements.  In this case it will be a stone wall that surrounds their neighborhood.  The wooden fence that encases their neighborhood is showing wear and it is only a matter of time before it starts to fall down and will need to be replaced.  The problem is, when an individual citizen makes this determination, you will have new fence and then old fence and a patchwork effect will identify your neighborhood.  If a PID is established, then the stone wall will be constructed all at once and look uniform throughout it's life.  It will give the neighborhood a professional upgrade, therefore raising the property values of the entire addition. 

Now the city can't go around putting up walls for everyone.  So how is this paid for?  Well, each of the houses in the addition has an increase in their annual property tax.  The amount of increase is subject to how the PID is constructed.  In this addition there are 178 houses.  If the cost of the wall is $500,000 then each house will own $2,800.  If the tax assessment is constructed for a ten year period, the cost per house will be $280 annually.  If it is constructed for 15 years it is $187.

Now how do you form a PID?  A committee will be formed of citizens within the addition.  This committee will be tasked with getting signatures from each of the households within the addition.  If the committee in Park Place is successful in accumulating signatures of 90 houses or over 50% of the households.  Then the petition is submitted to the City Council for approval and the funds are allocated and the PID is established.  That's the nuts and bolts of a PID. 

Now as you can imagine some citizens are more involved in their community than others.  As you know, some people take more pride in their homes than others.  Some people are a little more cash strapped than others.  This is where the rub is to establishing a PID.  We still live in a democracy, and you have freedom of speech.  The city isn't making you establish a PID.  This is a concerted effort by citizens to improve their neighborhood.  As a collective body, they either want to do this or they don't.  They will decide.  Grand Prairie currently has 15 PIDs that have been established. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The North Rocks

Last night I held a town Hall meeting at the Lamar High School Auditorium.  The event was well attended with over 100 citizens leaving their homes to become more informed on the issues concerning their neighborhoods.  The event started with a few issues such as this blog, Welcome to Arlington signage, then we proceeded to the APD aviation unit.  Sgt. Houston had one of the radio controlled units on display, and described the scenarios where it could be deployed.  Then Chief Leland Strickland gave an update concerning hot spots and other criminal activity and the department's efforts to limit it's affects through recent arrests.

We then had a healthy discussion about the Walgreens on Davis and Lamar.  The Walgreens district manager  and store manager were both in attendance to state Walgreens position on the issue.  Things are not likely to change on this issue due totally to this corporate position.  We then covered concerns on a possible tax increase and its reasoning.  Lastly, I discussed miscellaneous items like Arlington Municipal Tower and our successful lobby efforts to return funding to this facility.  The question and answer session was very lively and we covered items from soup to nuts.  I want to thank Dr. Larry Harmon for hosting the event and being available to answer educational questions.  It was a good evening and the North Rocks.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Town Hall Meeting Tonight 8 May

I just wanted to send out a reminder that Jimmy Bennett and I will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting tonight at Lamar High School Auditorium.  The event will start at 7:00 pm and last about 2 hours.  The North Deputy Chief Leland Strickland will give a brief overview of crime in our area.  The Arlington Police Departments Aviation unit will give a short presentation concerning their radio controlled helicopters.  I will have a short presentation and then most of the time will be spent listening to you and your concerns.  I hope to see you there this evening.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Town Hall Meeting

I wanted to have a town hall meeting before the election on May 11th.  This meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 8th at 7:00 pm at the Lamar High School Auditorium.  The subject matter discussed is going to be the Arlington Aviation Program, Law Enforcement/Crime, and some of the things that are happening in the North.  What I really want to do mostly is talk to the residents of the north and listen to what is important to you and see what you are seeing in our neighborhoods.  It is valuable to our North Chief of Police, and myself that we improve the quality of life in District 1.  I can only do this by listening to you.

So please plan to come out and spend a little time with me on that evening.  I am not up for election this year so there will be no, "can I have your vote please".  Just a night of sitting and talking about what we need to do as a community, here in North Arlington.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Boyz of Summer

Baseball season is back in full swing in this great baseball city.  (take that Josh)  Opening day was awesome!!  What a great game to watch on the first day of the season in Arlington.  Our little Rangers won their opener and went on to take 2 out of 3 in the home stand, against our arch rival Angels.  What was really sweet was the fact that the baseball fans of Arlilngton got their revenge served cold to Josh Hamilton.  He did it all by himself.  The first two games he went 0 for 11, with a batting average as low as .054.  In the third game of the stand he did get a couple of hits, but Kinsler's 3 run shot proved to be enough to win.  So Josh's impact was of little consequence.  At one point this weekend both Josh and Puljos were batting a combined 144 and costing the Angels over 45 million dollars worth of payroll this year. 

I'm excited about this year's season.  We do have a few holes in the line up but there are also several blinding bright spots.  All in all a beautiful weekend full of baseball, hotdogs, peanuts and beer.  It's going to be a long season, and I look forward to another remarkable year for the Rangers and the baseball fans of Arlington.