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TexasTowelie's Journal
TexasTowelie's Journal
May 1, 2014

Officials monitor Rio Grande River water supply after warning of Pemex release

A “bad” substance is believed to be snaking its way into the Rio Grande.

The unidentified substance, which already could have impacted Falcon Reservoir, was released from a facility in Mexico owned by the country’s oil conglomerate Pemex, and federal and state agencies are advising water rights holders along the Rio Grande, the Valley Morning Star learned.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) issued a precautionary notification to Falcon Reservoir facilities Tuesday, and to additional water users downstream Wednesday after being advised by the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) that its counterpart in Mexico, the Comisión Internacional de Límites y Agua (CILA), had alerted to this.

“They do not know what the material is or the quantity released, but it went into the Rio Salado and is headed toward the Rio Grande near Zapata,” TCEQ’s precautionary notification states.

More at http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/valley/article_a744e018-d0dd-11e3-ad4d-001a4bcf6878.html .

May 1, 2014

Texas Is Losing Out on Millions of Dollars Thanks to Its Defective Property-Tax System

After the private company Houston 8th Wonder purchased the former Six Flags AstroWorld site at Kirby Drive and Loop 610 for $77 million in May 2006, the Harris County Appraisal District turned around and said the empty 104-acre lot was worth $74 million. Instead of taking the $3 million savings and going home, Houston 8th Wonder's hired-gun lawyers bulldozed HCAD for the next six years in multiple courts and slashed the AstroWorld site's value to $31 million, resulting in significant lost property-tax revenue for Harris County.

Over the past 18 years, the Dallas Country Club, a members-only group that boasts a 100-acre golf course and dynamite views of the downtown Dallas cityscape, has routinely sued and prevailed over the Dallas Central Appraisal District. In 2013, the Highland Park property was appraised at a little under $22 million, a sum that critics say is ridiculous and allows the Mockingbird Lane club to skirt significant property-tax responsibility.

And in San Antonio, the posh JW Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa, with a construction price tag that nearly eclipsed $600 million, has been able to lower its value by $125 million by winning multiple lawsuits against the Bexar County Appraisal District. At press time, two outstanding court cases — and millions more in property-tax revenue — are at stake between the resort and the appraisal district.

There are hundreds more cases — from El Paso to East Texas and at many points in between — that will likely be marked in the loss column for appraisal districts. At press time, the Travis Central Appraisal District was locked in a colossal tussle with the owners of Austin's Circuit of the Americas Formula One racetrack while in Port Arthur, a recent win by a Valero refinery forced the Jefferson County school districts to give back $16 million in tax revenue.

More at http://www.houstonpress.com/2014-05-01/news/texas-property-tax-assessments/ .

May 1, 2014

Collin County Judge Keith Self Is Ready for the "Federal War on Texas"

Last month, Collin County Judge Keith Self received what in normal times would be an unremarkable letter from the Bureau of Land Management.

The agency's Oklahoma office, the letter explains, is beginning an environmental impact study on about 40,000 acres in and around Lake Lavon. It's part of a larger, multi-state review, done in collaboration with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, of land and mineral deposits.

The BLM, &quot i)n the spirit of government to government consultation and cooperation," then asks the Self and Collin County Commissioners Court to become a "Cooperating Agency" to ease the feds' planning efforts.

Not everyone in Collin County is so sure they want to cooperate with the federal government, especially the newly reviled BLM.

More at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2014/05/collin_county_judge_keith_self.php .

May 1, 2014

Economist to Austin City Council: The Good News Is Also the Bad News

Austin's economic boom is expected to continue surging through 2019, according to an Austin economist who presented his forecast to City Council last week.

But John Hockenyos of Texas Perspective Inc., an economic and public policy consulting firm, also cautioned that the kind of economic growth the city is expected to achieve cannot be sustained without continued substantial population growth.

“If we're going to keep this up — and it’s debatable whether that’s desirable or not — at this pace we’re going to have lots and lots of people continue to move here,” he said. “So far that hasn’t been a problem; others might say that is the problem.”

Hockenyos’ projections forecasted a surge of growth in tourism, hotel occupancy, the housing market, multi-family residences, jobs, and manufacturing.

More at http://www.austinpost.org/article/austin-growth-expected-continue-inexorably .

May 1, 2014

Austin Police Ticket 47 Campus-Area Cyclists on 'Bike to UT Day'

Bicyclists heading to campus this morning as part of Bike to UT Day received breakfast and the chance to win raffle prizes.

But 47 bicyclists also received something else: a ticket.

This morning, multiple Austin Police officers were seen pulling over bicyclists heading toward campus on Speedway Avenue, just south of the intersection at San Jacinto. The ticketing occurred just blocks north of Speedway Plaza, where a Bike to UT Day party was scheduled to begin at noon.

Police tell KUT the action was part of a "special assignment bike initiative" that began in early February, and focuses on enforcing pedestrian, biking and driving safety near campus. The crackdown is part of the same traffic initiative that lead to the controversial arrest of a jaywalker in the West Campus area back in February. Police are now focused on moving violations in the north campus area.

More at http://kut.org/post/austin-police-ticket-47-campus-area-cyclists-bike-ut-day .

May 1, 2014

Rick Perry's 'Texas Miracle' is a Texas Mess - And He Won't Be Around to Clean it Up

Texas is experiencing exponential growth. This is not news to anyone living in one of the Texas cities at the center of this population boom. With overcrowded freeways and a strained water supply, Rick Perry's 'Texas miracle' of business and population expansion is impossible to miss.

Though Perry may be right in pointing to low taxes in the state as key drivers of this migration of both people and business, it is this same focus on low taxes and low spending that could spell doom for Texas' infrastructure, the Wall Street Journal reports. When that time comes, Perry will be far away from the Governor's mansion, and it will be up to someone else to clean up his mess.

The population growth seen in Texas in recent years is astounding. 1.3 million people moved to Texas between 2010 and 2013, making Texas the fastest growing state in the country. Between July 2011 and July 2012, half of the cities in the United States with the greatest population growth were in Texas. Houston gained almost 35,000 new residents, and Austin has grown to be more populous than San Fransisco.

A large part of the attraction in Texas is that it wasn't really hit by the recession. Not only did the economy barely experience a trough, but the unemployment rate in Texas is lower than the national average. Many businesses are still planning to move into the state, with Toyota and Epicor Software moving this year.

More at http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/15168/rick-perrys-texas-miracle-is-a-texas-mess-and-he-wont-be-around-to-clean-it-up .

May 1, 2014

Flea Market Raids in Rio Grande Valley Leave Women Without Birth Control and Abortion Care

The few reproductive health options women in the Rio Grande Valley have are dwindling: Recent raids on the RGV's biggest flea market have pushed contraception and abortifacient providers out.

After multiple family planning and abortion clinics closed, more women began seeking misoprostol, a drug commonly available in Mexican pharmacies and frequently transported across the border.

While misoprostol is not the ideal replacement for legal abortion care supervised by a doctor, it is one of the safer methods of self-inducing abortion.

But, as MSNBC reported this week, after the Sheriff of Hidalgo County charged nine market vendors with selling prescription drugs like diet pills and Viagra, birth control and misoprostol have disappeared from the markets.

More at http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/15167/flea-market-raids-in-rio-grande-valley-leave-women-without-birth-control-and-abortion-care .

May 1, 2014

Happy May Day!

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May 1, 2014

Was that a double entendre headline that made me ROTFL? "Voters come out for CBC election"

Yes, that is what appeared as a headline on the www.mysoutex.com Website in the uber-conservative region of the state where I was raised as a youngster. Considering that the area is dominated by ranchers, I could envision the main characters of Brokeback Mountain leading the LGBT flocks to the polls in a scene that for lack of better words could be described as "yummy". With all those people choosing to "out" themselves for this election, maybe they can get organized for a Gay Pride parade in June?

The story is about an election at Coastal Bend College in Beeville, Texas where there is some dissension about the Board of Trustees because of the elimination of some of the vocational programs and the rise in administrative costs. There have been significant budgetary adjustments since most of the prospective students are able to find high-paying jobs that don't require any college courses due to exploration related to the Eagle Ford Shale play.

Nearly all of the story is hidden behind a paywall so I'll skip providing a link--however, I thought that my fellow DUers would enjoy the humorous headline.

May 1, 2014

Texas 'Has No Plans' to Use Drug From Botched Oklahoma Execution

Update: After Tuesday night's botched execution in Oklahoma, Texas corrections officials say they have no plans to use midazolam in future executions. Midazolam was the first component of a three-drug cocktail administered to death row inmate Clayton Lockett yesterday. Read more about the execution here.

As KUT first reported in February, the state has supplies of midazolam on hand. But the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says in a statement that it "has no plans to change our procedures. Texas does not use the same drugs as Oklahoma as we use a single lethal dose of pentobarbital and we have done so since 2012.”

Attorneys for death row inmates in Texas have unsuccessfully tried to find out who is selling compounded pentobarbital to the state. They're suing in civil court and making a case to the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General that TDCJ should disclose its source.

The botched execution in Oklahoma is "what litigators and inmates have been talking about," says Maurie Levin, a lawyer who represents death row inmates. "The possibility that something like this will happen when there's no transparency or openness, and when the prisons proceed with executions in this unbelievably unacceptable, secretive manner."

More at http://kut.org/post/texas-has-no-plans-use-drug-botched-oklahoma-execution .

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 02:57 AM
Number of posts: 110,129

About TexasTowelie

Retired/disabled middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

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