Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Opinion Arlington Question

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Town Hall Meeting

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

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

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

Monday, March 21, 2016

Parker What Are You Doing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Washington D.C.

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

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

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