Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cinderella Ball

Normally I am not a Ball Go-er, but my wife collared me into going to the Cinderella Ball.  Now the Ball is a fund raising benefit put on by the Ladies Auxiliary to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Arlington.  There were 20 contestants.  They were all, not only very beautiful young ladies, but they were remarkable contributors to our Arlington Community.  Their efforts were so notable that they raised over $409,000 for this worthy cause.  Over the years this event has raised 8.4 million dollars with the proceeds going to fund youth programs, facility equipment, capital improvements and operating expenses for the nonprofit agency.

Jimmy Bennett was the master of ceremonies, and introduced each contestant and read their bios.  The Carol H. Zimmer Award, presented for the first time in honor of longtime Ladies’ Auxiliary member Carol Zimmer, who passed away last month, was presented to Erin Hibbs.  Scholarships were awarded to Kylie Wade, Hannah Hullender, and Madison Darden for $1,500, $1,000 and $750 respectively.

Miss Cinderella for 2013 was Miss Baylee Mozjesik, a junior at Lamar High School.  She raised over $71,000 in this most generous effort.  I'm sure she will represent The Ladies Auxiliary and the City of Arlington in the most elegant and professional manner.  It was a great night, a noble event and I loved seeing my wife get all dressed up for the evening.

It was a busy weekend.  My wife had a birthday, we went to the Cinderella Ball, we observed Easter and celebrated the event of our Savior's Ascension to Heaven, and my wife retires from Parkland Hospital tomorrow after 32 years of being a Nurse Anesthetist.  Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Busy Week

Last week was a Council week so it was busy and this one is just as hectic.  On Saturday the Rotary sponsored an adoption picnic.  Potential parents had the opportunity to meet kids that were up for adoption and inter-relate with them.  There were over 80 parents and 100 kids at this event and it went into the gym because of the weather situation.  It was a great success.  Then off to the Entrepreneur Awards Ceremony at UTA to honor AISD kids from grades 3-7 for their product ideas.  There was a ton of award recipents.  But another great event that was held in the College Park Center and sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. 

Sunday was Church and teaching Sunday School in the second hour.  That evening I presented a power point presentation to Park Central HOA at Rolling Hills Country Club.  Subject matter included my district efforts in the past, present and future.  The Arlington Police Department Aviation Department, the proposed car wash on Green Oaks and Ball Park, and the status of the Forest Hills apartments were additional subjects.  There were about 40-50 people there and it was great to see people coming from their homes and interested in what is happening in their community. 

Monday morning it was off to Roquemore Elementary to give dictionary's to the 3rd grade.  These dictionary's were provided by the North Rotary Club, and it was heart warming to see the little ones get their new books.  Lunch with the Rotary, then off to the Doctor, and then another presentation to the Rolling Hills HOA at Ellis Elementary.  There were about 30-35 in attendance.  This presentation had an actual radio controlled helicopter on display to prove that the City of Arlington doesn't have drones.  That is all media hype, the sky is not falling.  The new Police Chief Will Johnson and the North Deputy Chief Leland Strickland were in attendance and spoke. 

Tuesday was the Council Retreat at the convention center.  Well it wasn't a treat!  This was a How-Goes-It concerning our budget and the results of the Citizens Satisfaction Survey.  We sent out over 29,000 surveys and recieved 598 back.   Essentially 82% of the citizens considered Arlington a good to excellent place to live.  They sited location, convenience and affordable housing/taxes as the top 3 reasons to live here.  After four hours of that, it was off to the Arlington Police Association's burger bash to celebrate our new Police Chief's appointment. 

I'm going to play golf today just to prove to myself that I'm terrible at it, then I'll get my taxes in the mail, hopefully.    

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Last month I had the pleasure of addressing the Republican Women of Arlington.  After my presentation was over I had a deposition to give in Ft. Worth and had to leave to meet that obligation.  It didn't give me time to answer the questions of the ladies after the luncheon.  One individual went directly to the school board and stated that I was going to "have the principals report to me."  This statement couldn't be further from the truth.  The principals of AISD are the responsibility of the School Board and Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos.  I might add that although I have met many times with principals of schools in my district, most meetings were attended by either Superintendent Cavazos or a member of the Board.  I have contacted the lady that has made this statement to the Board and corroborated my side of the story through other individuals in attendance. 

Another statement that is in contention is that I said, "our schools are terrible."  What I said was, "our schools WERE terrible."  The testing at the end of the 2010 school year put three of the five schools that were "Academically Unacceptable" in the north district.  You don't have to take my word for it, because it's a matter of public record.  This is very unfortunate, because after that school year the rating standard changed to either Pass or Fail.  In order to get into a Pass category you only have to test above 60%.  Our schools that were previously "Academically Unacceptable" have all gotten test scores that has put them into the "Pass" category.  There is hope that the state will change this rating system to paint an accurate picture of the true standing of our schools and where they are in comparison to the old system.

The good news is that Superintendent Cavazos and the AISD Board have met the challenges of these schools and made real time strategic personnel changes to correct these problems.  Each of the schools in question underwent principal changes.  Mr. Cavazos and the current Board are very progressive, not only in the personnel changes that they have made, but also in changing the curriculum to better suit the needs of a diverse student population.  They have my total support and admiration for the job that they are doing.

While we are discussing admiration, let me talk about today's teachers.  I personally believe that the missing ingredient to a successful education is parental involvement.  I can assure you that most kids in AP classes come from homes where parents make education a priority.  I applaud their efforts.  Then there are those homes were education is not so important.  If the student doesn't show his/her own initiative, then it is up to the teacher to inspire that child to want to learn.  In our current society this can be very difficult.  Today's teachers face the challenges of behavior management, communicating with parents, planning lessons, and keeping up with the latest in technology.  And they do this in over crowded classrooms, on reduced budgets, for comparatively little compensation.  You have my total respect for what you do.

In closing let me say this.  The fact that the developers of the Viridian project, that is located in my district, have selected the HEB school district has not been lost on me or the School Board.  There is a reason for this, and the school ratings in 2010 didn't help the matter.  The Board has met this situation by opening up enrollment in AISD to anyone that wants to attend.  Therefore, Viridian residents can attend AISD schools.  Now the challenge is to get the parents of the kids in Viridian to want to attend Arlington schools.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Short Term Rentals

Yesterday during the work session at City Council the subject of an ordinance was before the Council on Short Term Rentals.  After hearing Jim Parajon talk to us about the ordinance the Mayor stated his displeasure with the ordinance and stated that he wanted the item tabled, instead of voted on.  It was evident from the straw pole that there was no support for the ordinance and that it would be defeated, probably around 7-2 or 8-1.  Neighbors from a troubled neighborhood were going to arrive to the City Chambers tonight expecting to speak.  So instead of letting the item be put on the table and die a slow lonely death, I mentioned to Jimmy Bennett that I would like a vote one way or another on the issue. 

As I made my way down to the City Chamber, it was decided, unbeknown to me, that a vote would be taken after all.  So the neighbors did have an opportunity to speak.  Several people voiced their opinion concerning the deterioration of their neighborhood.  Then the root of the problem stepped up the to microphone.  That was the property manager of the short term rental in question.  The first words out of his mouth was a lie and the hits just kept on coming.  He stated that he had lived in the house since 1982.  Actually he hasn't lived in the house for the past several years and he is not the owner of the house now.  The owner, although in attendance, did not address the Council nor would he speak to me after the meeting.  It would seem that he is very good friends with several of the Council Members and is looking to utilize those friendships instead of becoming a good neighbor.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out why this person is so determined to ruin a beautiful neighborhood.

That being the situation, Council Woman Capehart wanted to study the ordinance and make changes so it was put on the table to be looked at again in the future.  Personally I think that the city needs an ordinance on the books so that property owners can rent their property if they want to, and if it turns toxic, then neighbors should have recourse under the same ordinance.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Well today was very interesting and busy.  After proving to a lady that airplanes were not actually flying over her house too low.  I was present at a meeting conducted about "sagging'.  Sagging is predominant with kids, but has transgressed to young adults.  Wearing your pants below your hip is known as sagging.  In attendance at this meeting were, the Chief and Assistant Chief of Police, the City Attorney, the Deputy City Manager and myself.  Essentially the reason for the meeting was to see what other cities had done concerning this behavior. We looked at the pitfalls and hazards concerning writing an ordinance.  The feeling was that two sections of Constitutional Rights could be threatened.  The Fourteenth Amendment, concerning the race card and the First Amendment concerning freedom of expression.

Since we are dealing with pants height I felt that the Fourteenth Amendment was not a player.  However, our Deputy City Manager felt that the ACLU would sue the city if an ordinance were passed.  Dallas had looked at an ordinance and decided the same thing.  So instead of passing anything substantive they spent money on a campaign of awareness, with no result.  Since case law allowed us to look at the reason that schools could enforce dress code, it was obvious that once off school property the First Amendment takes over.  Thus, the pants come down.  Disgusting, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Washington D.C.

After changing my clock, I got on the 6:30 flight to Washington DC on Sunday morning.  I was attending a meeting of the National League of Cities (NLC).  Sunday was taken up with seminars on various subjects that you could attend, so I filled up the rest of my day with subjects like law enforcement, cyber crime and transportation.  It was OK, but that really wasn't the reason that I was in Washington. 

Sequestration is suppose to be a 5% cut across the board.  Really!!!  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has decided that any control tower at any airport with less than 150,000 annual operational events will be closed.  Mark Twain stated, "there are lies, damn lies and statistics."  Well this statistic is creating a lie that is leading to a safety problem.  The FAA is painting with a very broad brush.  So I went to the Hill on Monday to explain to our elected officials what a fallacy this was and to get their support to reinstate our funding to the control tower.  You see the tower is a federal building with federal employees that are licenced and supervised by the FAA, so federal dollars are the only appropriate solution to this problem.  We stopped into the offices of Congressmen, Roger Williams, Marc Veasey, and Joe Barton.  We also met with a Senator Ted Cruz staffer and Senator John Cornyn.  I was impressed by Congressman Barton and Senator Cornyn, they are very astute representatives of our area.  Most of the people that we talked to pledged to support some kind of reinstatement.  Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas is going to float a bill that reinstates funding to certain control towers that can prove that positive controlled airspace is a requirement for their area.  Senator Cornyn pledged his support for that effort.

Our little troop was comprised of Kathryn Wilemon who covered transportation and the rail coming from Houston, Robert Rivera who covered opposition to the new Obama tax on Municipal Bonds, and Michael Glaspie who covered the CDBG reduction and how it affects our non profits in Arlington.  All in all a good trip with purpose.  Sequestration is a result of our government not doing its job.  It is important that our representatives understand that their collective lack of accomplishment affects real people and their everyday lives.  Fix it!!

I wanted to express my appreciation to our city staff personnel that coordinated our trip.  Jennifer Wichmann and Nora Coronado did an excellent job of setting up this entire trip.  They held our hands and took us to every appointment that was set up.  I got home about 10:00 PM last night, so I did miss the dedication of the Cody Rocamontes skate board park at Randol Mill Park.  It looked like the kids were having a great time without my sorryness in attendance.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Carol Zimmer

I wanted you all to know that yesterday morning a very beautiful lady passed away.  Carol Zimmer lost her fight with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease.  When I first met Carol the disease was advanced, but that didn’t hinder her one bit.  Her personality transcended her illness.  Although, we communicated through her Ipad, she was engaging, vivacious, and funny.  She always had this beautiful smile that captured you without speaking.  While she did require the use of a wheelchair, her mobility was never in doubt.  I would see her at various social events, the dedication of Viridian, Christkindl Market, or a New Years Eve Gala.  She was active and always on the move.  Steven was constantly by her side, and his love for Carol was evident through the proud gaze in his eyes.  He has been  totally devoted to her.  She was always the center of attention, and she will be missed terribly.