Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ball Park Development

Now that this has been posted on the city website, it must be ok to talk about it, since these discussions were in executive session.  Glory Park was the original development planned for this area.  It folded when the financial institutions were challenged in 2008.  A developer arrived on the scene about 3 yrs. ago and his family owned company has been very successful at developing areas around major sports complexes.  He has formed an alliance with the Texas Rangers, and approached the city with a development plan that is very aggressive.  The picture above contains a 100,000 sq/ft of entertainment, restaurant and bar facility, a 50,000 sq/ft Convention Center, and a 300-400 room hotel. 

This development will be in front of the Council on the 15th of the month.  The entire project will cost $200 million, with the entertainment venue scheduled to open on opening day 2017.  You have asked for development in and around the Ball Park, and hopefully you will have it on Tuesday evening.  Our City Manager Trey Yelverton, and his Staff have been working feverishly to get this accomplished by the end of the year.

Several Councilmembers, including myself, have made the trip back to see the developer at his family owned headquarters.  A few have also made the trip up to St. Louis to look at a similar development called Ball Park View.  This is a first class establishment, owned and operated by people that have been successful in a host of other cities.  They are excited about Arlington and we are fortunate that they came to us.  Go Rangers!

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I am very fortunate to have my son and his wife with us today on Thanksgiving.  We will have an opportunity to go to the Cowboy game today and be together as a family.  There is so much to be thankful for that I really don't know where to begin.  But I know that if I am thankful for the things that have been given to me, then I will be grateful for the other things that come my way. 

I hope that you are in a place in your life where you can reflect upon what has been provided to you and be thankful.  I know that life takes it's turns, and we just lost an extended family member this last week ourselves, but this is what the Lord had intended all along, and we pray that she is in a better place. 

I also wanted to be thankful for all of our men and women in uniform, who protect our liberties and freedoms, yet can't be with their family and loved ones on this Thanksgiving.  I wanted them to know just how important that I think they are, and how much I appreciate them and what they do.  I pray for their safe return to their loved ones and hope that they will be home for Christmas.  I guess it's hard to understand just how precious family is until you are on the other side of the world during the Holidays.  The Parker's are wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you are surrounded by your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Finally a Senior Center on Pierce Birch

Yesterday in the afternoon session, Council finally made a decision to support a dedicated stand-alone Senior Center, or as some would prefer and Active Adult Center.  Now this didn’t come easy.  I would liken it to pulling molars.  But Lemuel Randolph, the Director of Parks and Recreation, was looking for direction on where and what to put on which piece of property.  The three properties were Pierce Birch off Green Oaks south of 303, Veterans Park on Arkansas, and Vandergriff Park along Center St..  Veterans Park was removed quickly because of size and access. 

I had to try and put two and two together and hopefully coming up with four.  It was decided through a brilliant display of deductive reasoning, that Council did in fact want a stand-alone Senior Center.  Due partly to the demographic results from the architects, it was decided that Pierce Birch would be the best and only site to accommodate a Senior Center.  Essentially Vandergriff was the only site to fit a Multi-Generational facility, due to its size and location.  So I simply stated that, “for the last 2 yrs. I have been trying to get support from this body for a stand-alone Senior Center.  Each of you has pledged your support to our seniors over this timeframe.   I am now asking for you to fill the void in our city services and provide 65,000 sq/ft of space in this 100 sq mile city, to programing a facility for our seniors.”  How could such eloquence go unnoticed?  I won’t go into the rest of my tirade, but essentially that got it done.  Mr. Randolph even got the message. 

I want to extend my gratitude to Elva Roy and the rest of the Ambassadors for Aging, for attending the afternoon meeting.  I can assure you that your presence was noticed, and you were the elephant in the room.  I would probably have been considered the Donkey, for lack of a better word.  Now we have our guidance and our land, and approval to commence design, all we need from here is money to fund the facilities.  Your persistence and participation will be required to pass a quarter cent sales tax in the Presidential Election in November 2016.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lamar Narrowing Issue

The issue of the Lamar narrowing went viral about the middle of last week when I was in Baltimore discussing a sizable investment in our city.  My email started to blow up and the accusations started flowing in to a website called Next Door.  I was called names and threaten with being voted out of office, etc., the usual.  So I thought the best plan of action was education.  I thought that even the most fanatical citizen would at least listen to reason, if reason was presented in a logical manner.  So I called Bob Kembel the developer of the project and asked if he would consent to an impromptu meeting with the citizens of North Arlington on Monday evening.  Now at this time I really was undecided as to how I was going to vote.  Jamie Sullens was called and found a space at 6:00 on Monday at Shackelford Jr. High. 

The meeting was very well attended and the estimate was about 150 people.  We are blessed with citizens that want to know the facts about issues and want to be well informed about what is happening in their community.  Mr. Kembel made a small presentation and then took questions for 1:45.  I read an excerpt from the ordinance stating that if the level of service(LOS) dropped below a certain category, that is nationally determined, then the issue must be remedied.  He can do this either by mitigation or reinstallation of the lane, at the developer expense.  Mr. Kembel asked, how many were willing to give his plan a chance?  I was standing in the back of the room so I could get a good view.  An estimated 75% of the people raised their hand.

Tonight at the Council meeting about 40 supporters were in attendance and 6 citizens were against the issue.  Ms. Canon was in attendance but left early, and did not voice her views.  I did make a statement saying that this was a very difficult decision, but my personal views were not in consideration.  My vote represented my constituents.  One speaker against stated that there were many Viridian people in attendance, but he failed to mention that he resided in south Arlington himself. 

I am certain that this issue will be watched closely in the future.  Although Mr. Kembel has done everything he has promised in the past, we will see how it affects the quality of life of the Parkway Central residents.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Budget Meeting, 10 Sept.

Last night I witnessed something that I didn’t want to see.  The Council voted 8-1 to remove spouses from City insurance if the spouse could get healthcare insurance elsewhere.  I was the one vote in descent.  The reason for my no vote was because this didn’t have to happen.  But it did.  Several Firemen were in attendance and it is because of their union APFA, that this occurred in the first place.  The City was prepared to give employees a 3% raise across the board with a 4% raise to the firefighters.  It was their union leader that rejected this amount.  Police and Staff were very happy, but not the Firefighters Union.  They wanted more.  So the City Manager went to work to get them more. 

By removing the spouses from the protection of the City’s healthcare umbrella he could save $1.2 million.  Couple this with a few other innovative ideas and he was able to come up with another 1.5%.  I had a solution to the problem avoiding this outcome, but it was summarily dismissed by the Council and a vote was taken to remove the spouse.  Now here’s the rub.  APFA leadership will never give Trey credit in dollars for benefits.  That’s the problem.  Trey provides a package and APFA leadership only cares about W-2.  That is unfortunate for the rest of the employees that work for the City because benefits are a big part of why they want to work here. 

Last night APFA leadership had Firefighters in the audience, and everyone that spoke stated the City was giving raises on the backs of the employees.  Well we didn’t give you the first 4% and ask you to do anything.  But when the last 1.5% required something of you then squawking about taking something from the employees was the theme song.  Greed isn’t always good, and sometimes it has its consequences.   This didn’t have to be this way, but the greed of one man made it happen.  I think that it is time for him to own up to that responsibility.

We don’t know what will happen with Healthcare in the future.  There might come a time when the City will no longer be able to provide healthcare insurance to its employees at all.  Then we can give firefighters an even bigger raise.  APFA has cast me as the bad guy because they won’t take responsibility for their actions.  That’s fine I’m a big boy and can take their brunt and I know how Unions work.  The problem is that I like the firefighters, they are good people and perform a great service to the Community.  It is unfortunate and embarrassing that current AFPA leadership will never get along with Department leadership.  I have always counseled them to take the high road.  This is what happens when you don’t.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

APFA Leadership

Well I really didn’t want to write this post but I think it should be said.  About a month ago I was approached by APFA (Fire Department Union) leadership.  I was given a book compiled by them.  The book was slanted against the actions of Chief Crowson.  APFA leadership wants the Chief gone, and that's no secret.  After being briefed I specifically pointed at the book and stated, “Are you sure you want to have this conversation?”  Leadership replied in the affirmative.  I replied, “This is not the Union’s job.”  They replied that they wanted to go ahead.

One of the subjects addressed in the book was manning.  Now it is known that Arlington has the least number of firefighters per 1,000 people of any department in the Metroplex at .80.  The book illustrated that over a 182 day period, the department was only manned with the requisite 84 firefighters 44.5% of the time.  Therefore, the only way to man the department properly is to get firefighters to come to work on overtime at 1.5 times their normal pay.  After doing some research I found that the Arlington Fire Department is number 2, in the Metroplex in overtime behind Ft. Worth.  Our overtime for 300 firefighters was $2.3 million last year.  The year before was $2.5 million.  In the book that was given to me, the overtime request was $3.0 million for the next five years totaling $15.0 million dollars.  This is not going to happen on my watch.  My solution to this problem, is to get the equation into equilibrium and hire more firefighters to staff the department properly.  Union leadership howled and stated that it would cost more money because you have to buy their bunker gear.  That will only take a few hours of overtime and it is a one- time purchase.  I can assure you it will be well south of $15.0 million. 

The Council has taken the accusations of APFA leadership seriously.  We have requested an audit of Fire Department expenditures, and I have requested that 18 new firefighters be hired to properly staff their shifts.  For taking their problems under consideration and hiring new firefighters, my name was dragged through the mud at the APFA Union hall, and I was told by their leadership that my campaign would not be supported by them in the future.  Leadership couldn’t tell me this in person, so they left a voice message on my phone.  I find this to be unfortunate and another poor decision by APFA leadership.  After all, if they hadn’t produced the book in the first place and been so greedy in their budget requests, none of this would have happened.  It is very important that leadership take responsibility for their actions, and stop blaming others.     

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Poor Decisions

Throughout the Christian Taylor incident, I have always maintained that, the result was the consequence of many bad decisions throughout the evening.  These decisions rest on both sides, subsequently  causing the ultimate tragedy.  From the Toxicology Report we know that Mr. Taylor ingested marijuana, #1, then ingested 25I or “NBOMe” #2. Mr. Taylor got in a car and drove to the dealership, #3.  This impaired state endangered every person on the road.  After arriving at the dealership he demonstrated destructive behavior, as caught on video, #4.  He then drove his car through the locked and chained front gate and the glass doors of the dealership showroom, #5 & 6.  When confronted by police officers he failed to respond appropriately and advanced toward them, #7.  As a police officer on probation, Officer Miller decided, by himself, to proceed into the dealership alone,  without his training officer present #8.  Evaluating the situation, Officer Miller decided deadly force was needed and deployed his service weapon #9. 

  As you can plainly see, there is a litany of decisions that were made resulting in the taking of a young man’s life.  It should serve as an example to us all, that the decisions that we make as individuals affect others.  Our actions have consequences, and those consequences are our responsibility.  These two young men dealt with each other’s poor decisions resulting in fatal consequences that ripped up our community and rippled through this nation.  As I look back on this incident, I see the first incident of proper judgment came from our Police Chief.  It is my belief, and only my belief, that Officer Miller was not malicious or reckless, nor had a pre-conceived notion to do harm, so I would hope that the Grand Jury will let Mr. Miller go without prosecution.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

25 August Council Meeting

Yesterday’s afternoon workshop was very lengthy and also very interesting.  I started in a Municipal Policy Committee meeting.  The primary subject had to do with Pay Day Loans.  Essentially there are two avenues to take on this subject.  The first is a land use issue.  This is an area that the city can currently take a stance.  It was my suggestion that the city move ahead to utilize our zoning capability now.  The Unified Development Code will be amended to reflect another use of “Alternative Financial Establishments.”  These businesses would have to be in a standalone building, and cannot be within 1,000 ft of each other.  They have to be 200 ft from residential homes and at least 500 ft from major highway entrances.   Although current establishments will be grandfathered in at their current locations, the above will establish strict guidelines for new applicants.  The second avenue will be business guidelines.  Since the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is currently looking at guidelines concerning these businesses, it would be foolish for a city to establish policy that would be overruled by their decisions within the year.  So this avenue is closed to the city, for the time being.

The other area of interest had to do with the budget and the wages for sworn and staff employees.  Trey Yelverton is trying to establish city employees’ wages at a level commensurate with the amount of work expected of them.  I pointed out that there is a discrepancy in the manning level of the fire department.  We have the lowest number of firemen per capita of any department in the metroplex, by a wide margin.  Looking at a manning document provided to me by the AFFA union, it was noted that the fire department was only manned properly, at the 84 man level,  44.5% of the time.  Then I compared the overtime numbers to the rest of the metroplex, because that would be the only place that manning could get its solution to the equation.  Sure enough, Arlington is second in overtime per capita, in the metroplex.  Ft. Worth was number one.  So I submit that this is an equation out of equilibrium, and not the proper way to man a fire department.  Now I am aware that the people that work the overtime are doing the job and working for their pay, and that is appreciated.  But the numbers are way off the charts, and they were brought to me in a book supplied by the AFFA.

The last item is the fact that Trey is trying desperately  to get sworn positions up to a 75% level over the next 5 years, while simultaneously getting staff to 50%.  This disparity is untenable.  I pointed out that turnover is very low with sworn positions, and that the employees that are leaving are mostly staff positions.  Therefore, the inconsistency in percentile ranking is a flawed hypothesis.  What monies that are to be distributed need to be targeted strategically in an effort to maximize their affect in certain categories and maintain job satisfaction. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chief Will Johnson's Decision

After the statements given by the officers associated with the incident, Chief Johnson had enough information to make a determination.  Chief Johnson then applied the facts that were brought out in that testimony and weighed those against department protocols.  Termination was the only conclusion that he could make.  I thoroughly support his position on this issue. 

I have received letters not supporting this decision.  Those letters do not consider the facts that Chief Johnson has at his disposal.  Although termination was the result of the process, I can assure you that he made this decision based solely on violations of department stand operating procedure and departmental protocols.  He did not consider pressure from other sources, and those pressures did not affect his judgment, concerning the career of one of his officers.

The article in the Ft. Worth Star that questioned Chief Johnson’s decision highlighted the comments of a  Union called AMPA (Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association).  This Union is very critical of Chief Johnson’s position in an effort to garner rank and file support for an upcoming election.  There is no place for inflammatory rhetoric in this incident.  The Union that currently represents the Arlington Police Officers  APA (Arlington Police Association) wants to consider all of the facts before making a determination.  I ask you to please consider the unfortunate incidents in other cities, and be appreciative of the way that Chief Johnson has handled the events of this instance.  Again, I totally support Chief Johnson’s decision.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

D. R. Horton Comes Home

Last night I supported the relocation of D.R. Horton’s headquarters to Arlington.  We have been in negotiations for the last 2 yrs.  trying to get him to come back home.  Last night the final piece fell into place.  I must say that I had my reservations about giving a billionaire $5.5 million to entice him to our city.  The Horton complex will be located on the I-30 west bound frontage road, between Progressive and the IHOP.  The reason for the move is to get out of downtown Ft. Worth and take advantage of Arlington’s location and our easy access to DFW.

Horton will be given $1.83 million a yr. for the next three yrs.  This money will not come from the taxpayer’s pockets.  This was essential in order for me to support the move.  The money will come from some gas funds from the city’s side of the ledger, not the ATF’s.  Then Buzz Pishkur, Arlington’s  Water Department Director, will sell purified water to other cities to make up the difference.  This line of revenue was the brain child of Buzz and Trey Yelverton our City Manager.  I couldn’t in my mind justify the movement of taxpayer dollars, directly to Horton.  That doesn’t work for me.

Horton has already started to do work at the site.  He will start to move dirt in the next couple of weeks.  The campus will be a collection of buildings that will house America’s largest home builder’s new headquarters.  Housing 350 employees initially, they are required to stay at that location for the next 20 yrs.  If they expand to 500 employees they only have to stay for 12 yrs. and will ensure that the city gets it $5.5 million back.  The campus is currently planned to encompass 165,000sq/ft.  Welcome back home to Arlington D. R. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dave Lieber Article

Yesterday, in the Dallas Morning News a Mr. Dave Lieber, a self-appointed Watch Dog wrote a biased article about me with an extremely negative theme.  Mr. Lieber did this on purpose.  That is the article that he wanted to write from the beginning, and he did.  He wrote this article around contents from two individuals. 

The first was a Ms. Musser.  Ms.  Musser wanted to know if the city of Arlington had a policy or an ordinance concerning e-cigarettes.  I simply stated that we had discussed the issue and had not come to a conclusion concerning the subject at this time.  Ms. Musser wrote back, “I hope that you are not taking money from the e-cigarette industry.”  My integrity was questioned by a slanderous and liable remark made by a lady I had never heard of before.  My reply was on target, “Excuse me!  I don’t take money from anyone.  Don’t ever e-mail me again.”  I was being accused of being on the take by industry from someone I’d never heard of or talked to before.  She stated that I was “overreacting a little.”  I replied again on point, “I give all the money I make at this job to veterans.  To insinuate that I take money to sway a decision in any way is repulsive.  If that is how you think government works then your opinion has no value to me.”   I stand by this comment.  Just because I am an elected official doesn’t mean I am a target, and I’m sorry Mr. Lieber if you think my comments are to honest for the accusing constituent to digest.  If you are going to accuse someone for being on the take, then stand by for a response.  I think that is deserved.  Ms. Musser knew exactly what she was implying and made the statement without corroboration.  She should be ashamed of herself for implying such an act.  But I’m the villain.  Nice job Mr. Lieber. 

Next would be me calling a study sent to me on RLC’s (ancient history).  I called the study “garbage” because it was done four months after the RLC’s were removed from Houston.  This was an old article written in the Houston Chronicle that Ms. Canon sent to me, trying to justify her position.  The pertinent article from the same paper was done four YEARS after the cameras were taken down.  This article showed fatalities up 40% and accidents up 117% in the same city. 

Now let’s continue the discussion concerning Ms. Canon.  Ms. Canon has lied to get people to sign her petition.  She has knowingly lied to newspapers concerning RLC’s being a violation of Constitutional Rights, and she has perjured herself making the same statements under oath in Austin.  Mr. Lieber, you can respect this type of behavior all you want, but I cannot.  Canon wanted the collection of violations prior to removing the cameras forgiven.  Guess what, that violates the Constitution of the State of Texas.  I think that is enough said about Ms. Canon.

I have tried to be as transparent and as open a representative as possible.  This blog speaks to that fact.  I have given town hall meetings every 6 months.  Gone to various social clubs to speak and give information.  Given leadership lectures at UTA, for Professor Saxe.  I have accomplished all the things I said I would do in my campaign, in just three years.  Gangs gone, Prostitution and Drugs down 90%, no gun shots at President’s Corner at night.  Also accomplished the following:  apartments down, property values on the rise, TXDOT property in work with Trammel Crow, Arlington sign to be installed this fall on I-30, Lamar repaved and Brown soon to be.  I have fought hard to get a Senior Center on the ballot in November/May, benefitting 54,000 seniors.  And on the daily side I have responded to each of your emails to try and correct what you see wrong with our community.   

So please Mr. Lieber don’t just take a couple of emails and judge a body of work.  If you wanted to write about an individual, not a politician, who works hard for the people of Arlington, you could have.  It just takes you doing a little more work.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wages for FY16

During the month of July the Council has been on vacation.  However, I have been here for most of the month doing the city’s business.  As a whole the city runs a little slower during the month of July.  When we start up in August, we get into the budget cycle and that means that the Tuesdays that we didn’t meet in July are all packed into August and we have a meeting on something every Tuesday next month. 

I have been working on a concept that would bring our first responders up to the 70th percentile of the other cities in the Metroplex as far as W2.  Our tax base grew last year by 6%, which means that the pie got bigger.  If you read the article in the Star Telegram a week ago concerning police officers, you would realize why it is important to address W2.  The paper confirmed that 14 of the last 20 police officers hired by Ft. Worth, were Dallas police officers.  It was the W2’s that made the Ft. Worth positions more attractive.   We don’t want that to happen in Arlington.  So it is important to address W2’s and how we rate in the market place.

When a raise is given you simply can’t just give a raise to the first responders only. (Police and Fire)  Our staff is also under paid, and we are losing good people to other cities.  Bridget White, Clayton Husband, Andrea Roy were all key figures in our staff that were lured elsewhere due to better offers.   That is why a raise is required across the board.  Our staff personnel are compensated well  below the market average, and this must be addressed in order to maintain the high caliber of professional services that our community deserves.  These are the reasons that I believe W2 is so important, and should be addressed in the month of August for FY16.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

General Motors

Tuesday was a very important day for the city of Arlington.  It was the day that General Motors announced the largest single investment in the history of our city.  The table was set by the City Council back in April when we established a re-investment zone for GM specifically.  This allowed an 80% reduction of taxes for the next 10 years.  With that incentive in place General Motors pulled the trigger on a $1.4 Billion investment in their plant in Arlington.  We are lucky to be chosen because they decided to close the plant in Shreveport and invest in Arlington.  It could have gone the other way.

This decision is part of GM’s plan to spend $5.3 Billion on needed upgrades to plant facilities throughout the United States in the next five years.  Arlington is the largest single investment for GM.   The Arlington plant has been running three shifts in an effort to meet demand for their quality SUV products.  Arlington produces 75% of all the SUV’s purchased in America.  The plant will increase in size by 1.2 million sq/ft.  To put this into perspective AT&T Stadium is 1.0 million sq/ft.  This investment is four times the size of the Toyota headquarters deal in Allen.  Arlington is a General Motors city and it has been for over sixty years.  We can be very proud of this accomplishment for our city.  This is a perfect example of  your local government working in conjunction with a private enterprise in order to bring jobs and revenue to our city.  Thank you General Motors for having the faith in our community to make the largest investment in our city ever!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 10th (Vacation)

Although the Council takes the month of July off each year for a much needed vacation, many of us remain in the City and continue our efforts.  Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Rangers Hall of Fame luncheon, inducting Juan Gonzalez, and Jeff Russell.  The luncheon was very entertaining with an interesting cast of Ranger Hall of Fame members.

Then it was over to UTA where the NCAA Champion Movin’ Mav’s played an exhibition game of wheelchair basketball with a bicycle club that was riding across American to elevate awareness of those with disabilities.  Needless to say the Movin’ Mav’s did not let this opportunity pass.  At half time the score was 38-2.  I read a proclamation acknowledging this tremendous effort by these young bicycle riders from all over the United States, and congratulated them on a successful ride to Arlington.  They are scheduled to arrive in Washington D.C. on August 8th.

Then my efforts landed me in front of the City Manager for a discussion concerning the elevation of W-2 wages for our employees throughout the city.  In short our staff and first responders are considered to be below the 50% median of cities throughout the Metroplex.   If the entire compensation package is considered we rest above the 50th percentile in dollars.  My efforts were to level that playing field and put the items in the compensation package into W-2 and let the employee decide where the dollars should go, W-2 or 401K.  The City Manager was very receptive but we will see how the discussion plays out during our budget talks.
My last consideration for the day was putting the finishing touches on a power point presentation to be given to the New World United Methodist Church on Tuesday.  I enjoy this presentation every year because these people not only put on a great lunch, but they are very plugged into the Community.  So I look forward to this event.  However,this year there will be a conflict.  General Motors will be making a big announcement concerning the largest investment ever in our Community.  Although I will miss the announcement I will make the reception later that afternoon.  Does this sound like a vacation to you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Economic Development Corporation

     Why do we want one of these things?  This is what will fund projects like the Senior Center and the Multi-Generational Facility.  Essentially most of the 2014 Bond package went to improving roads in our city.  $166 million of the $234 million went to improving our roads.  That coupled with the 1/4 cent road repair tax that was approved on the same ballot puts over $47 million in Arlington roads each year.  Couple all that construction with the I-30/360 project for the next five years and you have yourself a mess.  But I digress.
     Since the Senior Center nor the Multi-Generational Facility made it on the bond package, and their is truly a need for both, it should be on the ballot for the voters to decide.  So there will be a Proposition on the November ballot to allow a 1/4 cent sales tax increase to fund these facilities.  The money will go into, you guessed it, an Economic Development Corporation, comprised of 3 civilians and because it is tax money it must have elected oversight.  So four members of the Council will also serve on the board.  The civilian members will be Kevin McGlaun, Juan Fernandez and Laura Capik, while the Council members will be, Jeff Williams, Michael Glaspie, Jimmy Bennett and Me.  As the monies come to the Corporation they will be directed to projects that are high priorities but didn't make it on the Bond election.  This path will get you a Senior Center and a Multi-Generational Facility before the next Bond election. 
     So it looks like the issue will be on the ballot in November and it will be up to the voters to decide the fate of the Senior Center.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Council Meeting 6-16

HOORAY!!  The afternoon meeting was extremely important yesterday.  After 7 months of dragging the Senior Center horse out of the barn, I finally got a commitment from Council to go ahead with the establishment of a stand alone Senior Center.  The center will be constructed with the Summit over in Grand Prairie, as an example.  But Arlington should communicate and find out the pitfalls and attributes of their success.    The construction and programming will be dedicated to active seniors of 50 years or older.  The importance of this decision by Council is that it will not be competing with a Multi- Generational facility, for funding or getting lost in the operation of a larger recreation center.  In this operation seniors come first!  I want to thank Alva Roy and her Age Friendly Arlington group that has supported this idea since their formulation in November of 2014.  There is strength in numbers and although our seniors are polite and respectful of the process their diligence and presence was noticed and appreciated by Council.  This is a big win for Arlington.  We currently have 54,000 seniors capable of using this facility in Arlington, and more baby boomers become eligible everyday.  It is about time that we filled this void in our city services.  My hat is off to my colleagues on Council and Parks and Recreation for their tolerance of my actions in pursuit of this project. 

Now comes the task of funding these projects.  It was discussed that since the Senior Center and the Multi-Generational facility are now on the Master Parks Plan, and we will not have another bond election for about five more years, this can be funded by an election to increase sales tax by 1/8th or 1/4 cent.  The tax would amount to 6.9 million or 13.8 million per year respectively.  The money would go into an Economic Development Corporation with a board comprised of citizens to make the proper expenditure decisions.  With a 1/4 cent increase, the Senior Center could be paid off in two years.  The funding avenue decision could be made as soon as next week during the budget meeting.  When the time comes we will call for the item to be put on the November 2015 ballot election.  Then the people can make the final decision.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Council Meeting 2 June

Tonight was an very interesting meeting.  Let’s start with the good stuff.  The Chick-fil-a is going to expand.  They are going to tear down the store on Collins and buy the building to the east of their property and demolish it.  This will allow for an expansion  and increased parking.  Carmenza Moreno will continue to use her parking lot to benefit charitable organizations by using it for event parking on Sundays when Chick –fil-a is closed.  She is investing heavily in north Arlington and it is much appreciated.  We need more business owners like her.

Next was a senior living facility by Grey Star.  This will be a much needed 176 unit complex across the street from the Highlands shopping center.  This is an untapped market and these types of facilities need to be replicated throughout our city.

The third item was a bail bonds issue that was very difficult for me to decide.  The Unified Development Code, UDC, was adopted in June of 2014.  In January 2015 an individual put in for a bail bonds business in an area next to the jail.  The current zoning under the new UDC does not allow this use.  But the certificate of occupancy was issued by the city.  In March the city revoked the CO, bringing attention to the zoning error.  The applicant had spent tens of thousands of dollars and now had to shut down his business.  So he appealed to the Planning and Zoning Commission, P & Z.  The vote to deny was split 4-3.  So he appealed to the Council to hear his case.  The lawyer for the applicant pointed out that the attorney opposing the case was in fact a part owner in a bail bonds business.  I can’t tell you how polluted it made the case for me.  I had decided that I was going to rule in favor of the applicant, but when I heard this it made my decision very easy.  The vote was 8-1 in favor of the applicant.

Lastly, was Kelly Canon and Richard Weber.  Mr. Weber stated that the minutes of previous meetings were illegal because Citizens Comments were not televised nor were the comments published in the minutes.  Kelly Canon stated that she was taking this issue to the State Attorney General because we were conducting illegal meetings in violation of the Open Meetings Act.  Ms. Canon gave us a sheet that stated that a “deliberation” is being conducted and needs to be recorded either by video or in the minutes.  That’s all well and good except that there is no deliberation!  The Council cannot not speak because the subject that the citizen brings before us is not on the agenda, ergo no dialogue and no deliberation.   The purpose of Citizens Comment is to allow access to the entire City Council at one time in an effort to hear any subject that is on the citizen’s mind.  If there is something that can be fixed, we send a staff member to the address to solve the issue.  The problem, according to several Council Members is that certain people were using the city videos to post on You Tube to further their issue, without Council D-E-L-I-B-E-R-A-T-I-O-N.  The definition of deliberation is – a verbal exchange during a meeting between a quorum (a lot of Council Members) of a governmental body and a person.  Well we had the person, and the quorum, but no exchange.  The right to address the Council is covered under the 1st Amendment and I love to hear from the citizens in case we can do something for them.  There is no right to be on TV.  It is a shame that certain folks abused the privilege to further their personal agendas.  They can still post on You Tube but they have to make the recordings themselves.     

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New Mayor

     Last Tuesday evening we had the pleasure of welcoming our new Mayor to Council by having him sworn in during our scheduled Council meeting.  The chamber was standing room only, and there was a sense of excitement in the air.  Justice of the Peace Mary Tom Curnutt performed the oath of office, and a new chapter was started for Arlington, Texas.  I might add that all the incumbent Council members were re-elected and sworn in by the City Secretary.
     As for me, I am looking forward to working with Jeff, and I think that a new energy will add some vitality to Council.  Sometimes we need a different perspective and I hope that Jeff will offer his insights and experiences in the business and engineering areas where he has been successful.
     I think that Jeff and I are very like minded, in that we want to accomplish the same goals for the City.  At a lunch we had last week I outlined my objectives, and he was on board.  I look forward to his support on establishing a state of the art senior center in Arlington.  I am also looking forward to seeing what can be done about establishing senior living facilities in north Arlington where apartments are currently setting.  It is our combined belief that we owe a debt to our seniors, and that there is a void in the services that we currently provide.  So I am excited, and now that we are done with all the ceremony and celebration I'm looking forward to getting back to the job of building a better Arlington.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is very special to me.  I am a Veteran, so was my dad and my son, and there is a day in November set aside for saying thank you for our service.  But Memorial Day has a special reverence to it because it remembers those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to preserve our way of life.  There is a saying, “they gave away all of their tomorrows so that we could enjoy today.”  That is so humbling to me that it shakes my core. 

This weekend I was free to attend the church of my belief.  I am free to speak my mind on any subject without the threat of imprisonment.  I am free to move about this great country without restriction.  And lastly I am free to pursue life, liberty and happiness, as long as I conform to the laws of this nation.  For some of you it may not sound like much, but imagine not having just one of those freedoms, much less having all of them removed.  That is why it is so important to take the time to remember our fallen.

When I think of all of my friends that went to Vietnam and didn’t return and some casualty’s names aren’t even on that wall, I stop and think.  To this day, emotion overwhelms me when I stand at that wall.  I find it interesting that there is only one memorial in Washington D.C.  That would be Arlington Memorial Cemetery, all the rest are monuments.  Even the word is preserved for something very special.  If you have ever been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, you will understand the word Memorial.  The Old Guard has stood watch over the Tomb continuously since 1948, continuously!  The west side of the Tomb reads, “HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD”. 

America remains that beacon on the hill today, because of the sacrifice honored on this day, Memorial Day.  Please take the time to reflect on this gift, and remember.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Vote Official

Yesterday was an interesting day for the city of Arlington.  We started out the afternoon with an Arlington Tomorrow Foundation meeting.  Now this meeting had two elements that I thought were of merit.  The first was $4.0 Million to be granted to the new library from the fund.  The remaining amount is to be issued in certificates of obligation.  This is an example of a new library and Council Chamber that is to be constructed without the use of citizen tax revenue.  That’s correct, there isn’t a burden to the taxpayer for these new structures.  The second item of interest is the “Dream” sign that is to be installed near the Levitt Pavilion.  Although this expenditure passed, I simply couldn’t bring myself to vote for it.  The reason being is simply that I don’t think that it was a good idea to arbitrarily construct something of this nature.  In short I think it will look “cheesy”.  Now I have to print a disclaimer and state for the record that I am no authority on the arts.  That being said I simply could support something of this nature.

Last night the vote was canvassed and became official.  Mayor Cluck pounded the gavel for the last time.  It was a very emotional event for the Mayor.  You can either love the Mayor or not, but you can’t deny the fact that he has dedicated the last sixteen years of his life in the service of our city.  During that time Arlington has evolved into the entertainment capital of the Metroplex.  We, as a city, have thrived in a time where other cities have floundered, through an economic downturn.  Arlington has more projects completed and underway than any other city in north Texas.  Mayor Cluck has played a large part in making those project become reality.  He can be proud of the work that he has done.  So we said goodbye to him at a reception last evening.  Where one door closes another door opens and new opportunities arise.  I look forward to working with the new Mayor and setting out on new challenges for our city.   

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


While everyone in Arlington was going to the polls to vote on Mayor, Council, School Board and Prop 1, I was lucky enough to be removed from the process by attending my son’s wedding in Cabo.  I was surprised by some of the results, especially in the school board races.  I was not surprised by the Mayor and Prop 1 results.                                                                                                                                                
School Board races gave me pause because this current School Board was voted Number 1 in the state, and the one race that kept Aaron Reich was within 1% of losing.  Peter Baron was in the same situation with a losing result.  I find this unwarranted due to the performance of the School Board over the last few years.  I feel that these are good people doing a thankless job, to create a positive learning environment for our children.  We will see what results can be achieved.                                                             

The Mayoral race I saw before leaving was a very close contest.  Jeff ran a very good campaign and was simply rewarded with this victory.  I spent yesterday with the Mayor at our Council meeting and he seems to be taking the defeat very positively, and in good spirits.  It may have been time for a change and some fresh ideas, but Mayor Cluck’s body of work over the past 16 yrs. has been remarkable and good for the city.  He can be proud of the accomplishments that he and past Councils have achieved with a good conscience.  Isn’t that what we all strive to do in our lives?                                                                    

Concerning the Red Light Cameras, the people have spoken, and my hands are clean.  I have tried to educate the citizens on what will happen and we will see if accidents increase like in other cities.  I have every confidence that the RLC company will sue the city and that the election will be ruled illegal, just as it has been in the other six cities in Texas.  I can only hope that your loved ones will not be injured in the future, because of this poor decision by the voters.                                                                                                        

Concerning my son’s wedding, it was beautiful.  The groom was handsome, the bride was beautiful, the setting was remarkable, and I caught a 150 lb. striped marlin.  This event was successful in removing me from the political process and enjoying the time with my family.  I am blessed.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Vote No on Prop 1 and Keep the Cameras

I will leave this post up until after the election is over.  4/28/15 the only significant item on the Council's plate was the tax abatement for General Motors 80% off for 10 yrs.  They are very happy with those numbers.

A letter in support of RLC's by the Chairmen of the National Safety Coalition.  We have an opportunity to keep our intersections safe.  Early voting starts today.

Dear Legislator X

We write to express our support for continuing Texas’ red light camera programs and urge you to vote against [BILL #] at the [NAME] committee on [DAY], [DATE]. Texas communities use traffic safety cameras to reduce red light running, reduce crashes and save lives, and these programs have had enormous success. However, [BILL NUMBER] seeks to ban, limit or place restrictions on the use of red light cameras and put the public’s safety at risk.  This would drastically reduce the ability of our Texas police departments to enforce and hold accountable drivers who run red lights. 

Law enforcement officials understand the dangers affecting their communities, particularly the dangers we face on our roadways.  Local police departments know the needs of their communities and understand the need for the added enforcement on our roadways. We believe they should have every available technology at their disposal to enforce the crucial traffic safety laws that keep us safe and hold red light runners accountable.

The data is indisputable that Texas’s red light camera programs have successfully changed driver behavior and reduced red light running, crashes and injuries on our state’s roads.  The most recent statistics from police departments show traffic safety cameras have reduced crashes at the state’s most dangerous intersections:

  • Ft. Worth: 83% reduction in the number of collisions after one year of installing safety cameras (Star-Telegram, 2/1/15)
  • Arlington: 75% reduction in the number of collisions at photo-enforced intersections (The Shorthorn, 2/11/15)
  • Sugar Land: 59% reduction in the number of intersection crashes at photo-enforced intersections (City of Sugar Land, 2012).
  • Plano: 50% reduction in rear-end collisions, 43% in intersection collisions, and 20% in red light running collisions at photo-enforced intersections (City of Plano, 2013)
  • Killeen: 47%  reduction in red-light violations (Killeen Daily Herald, 8/3/2014)
  • Austin: 40% reduction in the number of collisions at photo-enforced intersections (Austin American-Statesman, 3/5/12).

We are concerned if the red light camera programs do not continue we could see dramatic increases in red light running and crashes, as has happened in other communities:

  • Houston: The Houston Police Department reported a 117% increase in collisions – from 4,100 to almost 9,000 – and a 30% increase in fatal crashes since safety cameras were turned off in 2010 (ABC 13, 10/28/14). Injury crashes increased by 350% and one dangerous intersection saw crashes increase by 1,300% (KTRK-13, 6/8/11).
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: 584% increase in speeding and red light running five months after cameras were turned off (KRQE, 5/27/11).
  • Garfield Heights, Ohio: 214% increase in speeding after safety cameras were turned off (City of Garfield Heights, 2011)

Even more, many Texas police departments face resource challenges. Red light cameras have served as force multipliers, allowing them to address other public safety needs without having to sacrifice the enforcement of our most basic traffic safety laws.  Local police officers have utilized safety cameras to make roads safer for all of us, and they have worked.  If municipalities had not had the right to determine what is best for their roads, who knows how many more accidents would have occurred?  Unfortunately, for many families, it is already too late. 

Photo enforcement keeps our roads and residents safe, but we need your help to make sure these traffic safety camera programs continue to be successful. In the next ten hours, at least one person will be killed on our Texas roadways.  We cannot wait for more innocent bystanders to be killed while we allow more drivers to ignore our most basic traffic safety law – red means stop.  We urge you to oppose any effort to ban or limit the use of traffic safety cameras.



Paul and Sue Oberhauser                                                    
National Co-Chairs, Traffic Safety Coalition

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 14 Council Meeting

I’m sorry I did not post after the Council meeting on the 14th, but I left town very early the next morning.  There were two items of interest on the agenda.  The first was the issue terminating the agreement with the developer on the Sapphire Project.  That was a student housing project on Center St. and Hosak.  This project was approved two years ago and never got off the ground due to lack of funding.  The city paid the developer to demo some ghetto apartments that were on the land in question, but funds were never available to start construction.  In the last moments the developer produced a financier to start the project, but it was too little too late.  The Council voted 9-0 to cancel the agreement.  I was never in favor of this project because it allowed 172 students per acre.  I stated at the time that I would not allow 172 dogs in an acre of land much less students.  I was the only no vote as I recall.

The second item was the request by the Athos Academy (Bardin & Bowen Rds) to increase their student count from 1206 to 1416.  The residents were concerned because of the increase in traffic.  I spent 4.5 hrs. watching traffic from 7-8:30 and 3-4:30 on three separate occasions.  I took this issue seriously and came away with the fact that after each green light interval the traffic queues were empty.  I drove the area and found that travel was manageable and acceptable.  So traffic was not the issue for me.  The issue was trustworthiness.  You see the school had an agreement with the city to operate at 1206 students.  They didn’t honor that agreement for one day.  They opened the school with over 1300 students.  At the time of their request they were operating in the 1390 range of students.  So residents were not telling the truth about the traffic and school management didn’t uphold the agreement with the city.  What finally blew me off the fence was a letter from the school’s attorney stating that they were in full compliance with state statutes and only had to comply with certain numbers of teacher to student levels.  The ratios were K-8th grade 1 teacher for 28 students and 9th-12th grade 1 teacher for 34 students.  Now the school employs 78 teachers so if you do the math, the school could go to over 2300 students according to their lawyer and be within the guidelines of the Commissioner of Education’s rules for Charter schools.   In defense of the school, they stated that they would bus any number over 1200 students in an effort to ease traffic concerns.  But since I could not trust them to comply with the 1206 number, I certainly couldn’t trust them to maintain their word concerning the proper number of students to bus.  That is the reason that I voted no on this issue.  The issue was denied 5-4.  When asked how they could regain my trust in the future, I simply stated that they should operate within the confines of the original agreement with the city and readdress it as we see what the impact it is on the community.

Of note also, there was a Reinvestment Zone established for General Motors.  The reason for the RZ is to establish an abatement, should General Motors decide to make an investment of $1.2 billion in the Arlington Plant.  I believe that this abatement will be approved at the next Council meeting, setting the table for GM’s decision.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Town Hall Meeting

I will be holding a Town Hall meeting on the 23rd of April at Shackelford Jr. High.  It will be an update on the projects that are going in mostly in North Arlington.  I will also discuss the library and 100 Center street project. 

Topics to be covered:

Arlington Commons, I30/360 Interchange, Ditto Golf Course, TXDOT Property, Viridian update, Aloft Hotel, Convention Hotel, General Motors update, Roquemore and Eddie & Debbie Peach Elementary Schools/Boys & Girls Club, Library, Champion's Park, 100 Center St. and the MGM Grand hotel.  If I have left anything out your questions will surely cover it. 

I hope to see a good turnout as we usually do.  I will start the power point presentation promptly at 7:00.  And as always I look forward to an active question and answer period.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dallas Morning News Red Light Cameras

Red-light cameras have caught a lot of folks in the act, but they’ve also succeeded in changing behaviors — making people hit the brakes, not the gas.

Of all the innovations that have made life safer for us, I wonder which one is the most hated.
I remember lots of grumbling about seat belts in the beginning. And so many motorcyclists hated helmet laws that Texas threw out the mandate.
I’m sure construction workers still gripe about some OSHA protections. I know I’m irked at times by all the safety paraphernalia on my lawnmower.
But I’m going to bet that the least-loved lifesaving innovation is the red-light camera.
Last week, a judge in Tarrant County cleared the way for Arlington voters to decide on a ban of red-light cameras in their city. A legal challenge arose after a petition drive put the matter on the May ballot.
In Chicago, red-light cameras have emerged as a major issue in the runoff next month between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Garcia has promised he will rid the city of red-light cameras on his first day in office.
Me, I’ve always liked red-light cameras.
Many hate them down to their toenails, however. And while I’ve never understood that level of revulsion, I do get the milder forms of distaste.
There’s something a little Big Brother-ish about an automated system that catches and convicts us of our wrongdoing. It’s so cold and remote — and relentlessly effective.
The things never rest, while cops seldom seem to have the time for traffic enforcement these days.
But I guess it comes down to picking your poison. Would you rather have the irksome cameras keeping watch over us? Or would you rather turn intersections into a free-for-all?
Just last week, I easily stopped when a light ahead of me turned yellow. The car behind me whipped around and shot through the fully red light.
That’s not a common sight these days, but I can remember 10 or 15 years ago when it became rampant. When a signal light turned green for you, it was routine to see a car or two zip through the intersection on red before you could go.
That was the situation that brought red-light cameras into widespread use. And I believe the cameras succeeded in changing behaviors. People began to hit the brakes, not the gas, at yellow lights.
The debate over red-light cameras has gotten bogged down in conflicting studies over how much they increase driver safety. Some studies find that decreases in side crashes are offset by an increase in rear-end crashes.
But those tend to be minor — and they illustrate the extent of our problem. They happen when the driver of the second car has every expectation that both he and the driver ahead will blow through a changing light.
I don’t really care what the studies show. I’m satisfied with what the cameras show — and that’s people plainly, clearly, boldly driving through red lights.
That is so dangerous to my family and to yours that I would think we’d welcome almost any measure to stop it.
Another rap against red-light cameras is that they produce so much revenue for both cities and the camera companies. Again, to me that just illustrates the frequency of the violations.
Now, I’m completely sympathetic to complaints that some red-light cameras have been operated unfairly — with unusually short yellow lights, for example.
Every state should set clear regulations on how cities can use the cameras — giving a little extra yellow light time, if anything, at monitored intersections.
I don’t love the cameras. But I have visited countries where red lights are treated as suggestions and intersections become a game of chicken.
I love that even less.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Constitution vs. Red Light Cameras II

Article VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. 

Really, you want us to draw a jury for a $20 civil municipal case.  It is important to know the value of a dollar.  Back in colonial days $20 was a lot of money.  A $20 piece of currency in 1800 is worth $356 today. The gold alone in a $20 gold piece is probably worth over $1,200 alone.  So as you can see the monetary values have an effect on what is reasonable when considering drawing a jury.  However, you are still entitled to a jury trial in a civil case if the case is federal, not local.  A good illustration is the OJ Simpson trial not the criminal but the civil, he got a jury.

Amendment XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Due process!  If you run a red light and hit and kill someone you are going to get more due process than you can handle.  Ms. Kowlonski ran a red light and killed Mr. Clark and crippled his passenger for life at the corner of Green Oaks and Cooper. Both were 21 yrs. of age.  She was caught on a RLC and is doing 28 yrs. in a federal prison. 
7th Circuit Idris   “It is enough to say that photographs are at least as reliable as live testimony, that the due process clause allows administrative decisions to be made on paper (or Photographic) records without regard to the hearsay rule.  And that the procedures Chicago uses are functionally identical to those it uses to adjudicate parking tickets, a system sustained in Van Harkin v. Chicago.”  “substantive due process depends on the existence of a fundamental liberty interest, and no one has a fundamental right to run a red light or avoid being seen by a camera on a public street.” 
6th Circuit  Mendenhall   “The Akron ordinance as well as its implementation, satisfies due process concerns.  First the ordinance provides for notice.  Second the ordinance provides for a hearing.  Third a record is taken at the hearing and Fourth the ordinance provides for the right of appeal to the Common Pleas Court…on an adverse decision.”
Conclusions: We have discussed the 4th 5th 6th 7th and 14th amendments and we have learned through these precedent setting decisions that no Constitutional Rights are being violated with the use of RLC’s.  I have given you decisions from the Supreme Court, the 5th 6th 7th Circuit Courts and Texas State Law.  So it is important to realize that those people screaming about their Constitutional Rights being violated are all wasting their collective breath.  These are simply lies.  To them a goat simply has 5 legs.