Houston's efforts to brand itself as a world-class city often come in for ridicule, some deserved and some not so much. But Houston is way farther down the path of international prominence than our neighbor to the west, San Antonio. Evan Smith highlights a bit from an interview to be published in their upcoming issue with the newly-elected Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro.
What do you do about luring companies to San Antonio and keeping them there? There are a number of major corporations headquartered in the city, but the loss of AT&T to Dallas last year had to hurt. What kind of package can you put together to attract and retain their kind?
A couple of things. First, we're going to keep refining our economic development model. We have dozens of development entities right now, and we are going to look at how we can streamline that process and create a web presence--an informational portal of entry for San Antonio along the lines of what Houston and Phoenix do. Second, we need to get back to what Mayor [Henry] Cisneros did so well in the eighties, which was to raise the profile of the city. If you watch the Today show or CNN when they do the weather, you'd think San Antonio didn't exist.
It's the seventh-largest city in the country. Is there problem that I don't know about?
Whatever it is, we're going to fix it.
Do you hire people to help market the city? Do you get more aggressive in publicizing things going on? Because obviously you want to spend your time on substance, and marketing isn't really substance. Or at least it doesn't have the same impact.
I like to think it does. If you're a graduate of Yale or the University of Michigan or the University of Chicago and you think about where the jobs are, oftentimes there's opportunity in San Antonio that you wouldn't know about. We can't even fathom how much of a talent investment we're missing out on. So we're going to get on the road, get with companies, write letters to media outlets, and do all the practical things we need to. Over time, we'll get into the national conversation about up-and-coming cities.
What the hell is going on at the Department of Public Safety?
he director of the Texas Department of Public Safety is resigning amid allegations that he touched women at the agency in an unprofessional way, "demonstratively" blew kisses to one and called a veteran employee "his girl."
Col. Stanley Clark's resignation is effective May 31, but he will no longer be performing any duties at DPS, according to a spokeswoman.
Clark, 60, has led the agency since becoming interim director in September. He succeeded Col. Tommy Davis, who retired in the wake of a fire that severely damaged the Governor's Mansion on DPS' watch.
"This is an elite law enforcement agency. We expect all our employees to demonstrate the highest degree of professionalism," Allan Polunsky, chairman of the Texas Public Safety Commission, said in a statement. "The director must set the example for all employees in their workplace communications.
"Col. Clark has acknowledged his failure to adhere to those high standards and has chosen to retire at the end of this month," Polunsky said. "We are disappointed by this matter, and we are committed to moving on in our search for a director."
Paul Burka takes a look at Census figures and projections for 2010 and considers the implication for the 2011 Legislative Redistricting Board redraw of State House and State Senate lines.
There is going to be carnage in rural Texas, especially from Wichita Falls to Lubbock to Amarillo, an area currently represented by six House Republicans: Hardcastle, Jones, Isett, Chisum, Swinford, and Smithee, and only two Democratic districts (Farabee and Heflin). In East Texas, the Eltife and Nichols Senate seats are in rural areas that have not kept up with the growth rate.
On the other hand, Republicans won't even have to gerrymander to gain seats in suburban Texas. Huge growth rates in Collin, Denton, and Montgomery counties will result in more Republican seats. The other two big suburban counties, Fort Bend and Williamson, also have high growth rates, but the growth in these counties includes Democrats as well as Republicans. Growth in urban Texas was right around the statewide average, so the Democrats will have to win seats by defeating Republicans.
On a side note, one thought that struck me in thinking about this was that perhaps we ought to consider increasing the number of members in the House and the Senate. Assuming Burka's population projection is accurate, each of the 150 State Rep districts will have about 168,000 people in it after the 2011 redraw. Now take a look at the 1990 Census figures. Just 20 years ago, each district had roughly 113,000 constituents. To keep that same ratio for the 2010 population you'd need 223 members. Maybe this is one reason why the cost of running for State Rep keeps going up - you have to reach more and more voters just to maintain position. And with four Congressional seats being added to bring the total to 36, the 31 Senate districts are going to become a lot more populous than Congressional ones soon. I say it's worth considering the possibility of increasing the size of each chamber in order to keep a certain level of closeness to each elected official. What do you think?
UPDATE: Greg brings some maps.
Sadly, I am no longer young enough to be considered a "Young Democrat". But I'm still young enough to tell you about the Texas Young Democrats convention going on this weekend in Austin. Here's actual YD George Nasser with the details.
The Democratic youth vote in Texas went up over 300% in 2008. Want to know what this surging demographic is up to next? Catch the movers and shakers of the Texas youth movement at the Texas Young Democrats Convention in Austin this weekend.
The convention will kick off Friday night with a fundraiser for the TYD at the Thistle Cafe from 7 to 10pm. Speakers will include state senator Leticia Van De Putte and Texas Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie. The convention itself will run from the morning of Saturday, April 18 to noon on Sunday the 19th, at St. Edwards University's Ragsdale Center. Guest speakers for the convention will include Bill White and John Sharp, as well numerous representatives from various issue groups and the Texas Democratic Party.
Also be sure to join the Texas College Democrats following the convention for lobby training at UT at 6pm in preparation for Monday's TCD Lobby Day.
A district court judge has suspended the new drivers license rules implemented by the Department of Public Safety pending a civil trial on the grounds that DPS didn't have the authority to do what it did.
The rules prevent thousands from getting standard-issue licenses even though they're legally in the country, said the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is suing over the policy.
District Judge Orlinda L. Naranjo said the rules -- which specify that people who aren't U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents must prove they're legally here before getting a license -- go beyond DPS authority.
"This case is not about illegal immigrants obtaining driver licenses, it is about legal residents who have been denied or have been threatened a denial of a driver license," Naranjo wrote to lawyers, saying she was granting a temporary injunction. After a formal order, such an injunction would block the rules pending a trial.
"DPS has created havoc by attempting to inject its political agenda into the lawmaking process and improperly giving second-class status to individuals who in every way have complied with the laws of the land regarding their presence in the United States and Texas," said David Hinojosa, MALDEF lead attorney in the case.
Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, said the rule changes "had no legislative backing. State agencies do not have the power to pass rules that contradict or fail to comply with state laws."
Before the rules were changed, an unexpired visa was accepted as proof of identify for someone seeking a driver's license, Naranjo noted. The change required the visa to have been issued for at least a year and have at least six months remaining on it when presented to DPS.
Naranjo wrote: "State agencies possess only those powers granted to them by the Legislature ... The Court finds that the Legislature did not give DPS the authority to create a new category of ineligible persons to receive a driver license."
The state said it has filed notice that it will appeal the decision by State District Judge Orlinda Naranjo of Travis County, who said DPS acted outside the scope of its authority in its changes to driver's license rules last year.
DPS said the appeal means those rules -- touted last year as a crackdown on unauthorized immigrants -- will remain in effect until the merits of the appeal are decided.
"Noncitizens or temporary visitors to the United States who appear at DPS driver license offices will not be issued driver licenses if they do not meet current identification rules," the agency said.
Not so fast, said the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which sued over the rules and persuaded Naranjo to agree to the temporary injunction.
The group will oppose the state's effort to keep the current rules in place while the appeal is pending, said staff attorney David Hinojosa: "We would fight that."
Anyway. Just to review the history, DPS implemented this rule change in October. Stories about the difficulties that legal immigrants faced getting licenses soon followed, as did two different lawsuits to force DPS to rescind that rule. I'm not sure if they were combined into one or if the other case is still pending. There's also been legislation filed to prevent DPS from doing this, though I doubt it will pass; as of today, both HB1278 and its companion SB2261 are in committee. If it is the courts that ultimately decide this, we're a long way off from a resolution.
It's still another month till the anniversary, but the people of Wichita Falls are remembering the massive tornado that nearly destroyed their town thirty years ago.
It was April 10, 1979, that Mother Nature grew furious.
It was when three supercells spawned a series of tornadoes that dispatched that fury -- more than 50 tornadoes that barreled through not only Texas and Oklahoma, but through Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Nebraska, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Alabama.
It was the perfect storm, and Wichita Falls was in the middle of it all.
An F4 tornado hit Wichita Falls late in the afternoon that day, Terrible Tuesday, killing 42 people in Wichita County and another 12 in Wilbarger County as it dug its heels over almost 47 miles, leaving unimaginable damage in its path.
It's been 30 years since that day, and the Wichita Falls Museum of North Texas History is remembering the Terrible Tuesday that left its indelible mark in the area with its latest exhibit, "Gone With the Big Wind: 30th Anniversary of the 1979 Tornado."
The exhibit is mainly a photography exhibit, with countless 8x10 black-and-white images displayed at the museum showing the destruction: cars pummeled as if they were made of tin, and frames of houses surrounded by a swirl of debris.
During the 2007 legislative session, $110 million was appropriated at Governor Perry's urging for border law enforcement agencies to combat drug smuggling and gang activity. How's that working out?
The state's $110 million Border Star program, designed to help local authorities combat violent crime and drug smuggling, has been ineffective and a waste of resources, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said Wednesday.
In a study of 11 of the 40 border law enforcement agencies participating in the program, the group said authorities were stopping and searching thousands of vehicles but making few drug seizures and arrests. Also, it said, the 13 surveillance cameras set up on the border - a $2 million investment - netted just three arrests in their first six months of operation.
The ACLU said Operation Border Star's performance measures encourage law officers to engage in work that doesn't truly protect Texans from drug crime and emphasize geographic areas other than major drug corridors.
What resulted "was a disruption of the lives of ordinary citizens," said ACLU policy analyst Laura Martin, who noted that the 29 other police and sheriff's departments in Border Star didn't respond to the request for information.
Program supporters say that although it may not have recorded great numbers of drug arrests, it's a deterrent. And they said the departments studied by the ACLU account for just $5 million of the $110 million allocated and aren't a representative sample.
"It's proven that more boots on the ground disrupt and deter criminal activity along the border," said Katherine Cesinger, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry. "The governor believes that Operation Border Star and the state-led border security efforts are working."
I read this story and I think about the people who apply for food stamps and CHIP and stuff like that who have to fill out numerous forms and submit to interviews and investigations to prove that they really need those funds. For just about every social program that we spend money on in this state, lawmakers demand to see results to justify that spending. Teachers are held accountable nine ways to Sunday for what goes on in their classrooms. But we drop a hundred million bucks on border security funds, and we're supposed to accept Governor Perry's faith that it's making a difference? Where are the metrics and the reviews and the progress reports? I don't get it. Stace has more.
There's long-term planning, and then there's long-term planning.
Big Bend National Park is known for its jagged beauty, but sometimes the mountains are blotted from the horizon by a sky the color of mud.
The air is so dirty on many summer days that the federal government wants Texas to implement a plan that makes at least "reasonable progress" toward eliminating haze at the iconic park, with the goal of achieving natural visibility by 2064.
But the clean-air plan, which the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is poised to approve Wednesday, sets a target of 2155, missing the federal goal by 91 years.
In a new report on population trends in public schools, the Texas Education Agency reports that Texas now enrolls 130,000 fewer white children than 10 years ago.
For the first time, Hispanic children dominate first-grade classes, adding about 4,000 children last year to become the outright majority with 50.2 percent of students.
But Hispanic children would have become dominant without even one new student, because white first-grade enrollment dropped by about 2,000.
White children are now fewer than one-third of the first-graders in Texas.
If this is a surprise to us, it's not one to Karl Eschbach of the University of Texas-San Antonio, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as the official state demographer.
"What people don't realize is the sheer inevitability of this change," Eschbach said Friday.
It isn't about immigration, he said. It's about native-born Texan and American children growing up.
Some white conservatives -- not all of them but certainly all the ones with radio shows -- fear the "Latinization" of Texas. No reason to fear.
"It's already happened," Eschbach said.
"If the state is going to be healthy, we have to invest in children," Eschbach said, repeating part of the presentation he gives across the state. "We have to invest in education. We have to invest in preparing children for a global economy."
In other words, Texas' future depends on how well we prepare today's minority children.
Eschbach was blunt.
"The children who don't 'look like us' will have the greatest say in the state's future success," he said.
Despite a declining national and state economy, a majority of Texas voters still maintain
that too little is being spent on education. A 60% majority of voters believe the state
government is spending too little on education versus 10% who say too much and 24%
who say the right amount. This perception of under-investment is held by majorities of
Republicans, Independents and Democrats, and it is essentially unchanged from the
view held throughout our polling from 2003 through 2007.
Sixty-three percent (63%) of Texans think state funding for public schools should be
increased. By contrast, just 6% believe state funding for schools should be decreased
and 27% say it should be kept at the same level. This majority support for increasing
state spending on schools is held by 54% of Republicans, 62% of Independents, and
76% of Democrats.
Despite the economic anxiety of voters, those who support increasing the funding of
schools remains over 60%.
Furthermore, 71% of voters - with no partisan bias (Republicans 69%, Independents
71% and Democrats 76%) - believe the state legislature has more work to do to properly
fund public schools, versus 20% who say it has sufficiently addressed the issue.
Although those saying the Legislature must do more has declined from 81% two years
ago to 71% now, the current 7-to-2 sentiment remains overwhelmingly lopsided.
Mardi Gras Galveston
Another lawsuit filed against DPS
Fish farming in the Gulf?
The lap bands of Collin County
Armstrong versus secondhand smoke
DPS sued over new drivers license rules
No drivers license for you!
The wind farms are running
Texan of the Year 2008
A little Christmas spirit in Grapevine
Moving to Texas
Making movies on location
Dallas extends smoking ban
They're not just sidearms, they're accessories
Smoke 'em if you got 'em in Dallas
RIP, Jim Mattox
More on UT domestic partner benefits
Domestic Partner benefits at UT
Score one for Duncanville
RIP, Fred Baron
Rick Noriega on Texas Monthly Talks
The cult of Buc-ees
Duncanville's war on swingers continues
He finally cleared that last bit of brush
Texas colleges and the drinking age
RIP, Jim Warren
Kenedy wind farm lawsuit tossed
Hillary Clinton to campaign for Obama
Green College Station
Pushing for wind energy infrastructure
DPS director to retire
Comer sues the TEA
"Crazy ant" pesticide now available
The state of solar power in Texas
Fire at the Governor's mansion
Interview with Tom Gray of the AWEA
Lawsuit against Kenedy wind farm on hold for now
Wind energy facility coming to Houston
The state's airplanes
The state of wind power in Texas
LSG report on higher education in Texas
Perry goes on the offensive
The pill for pigs
Obama's voter registration drive in Texas
Where the people will be
Our weak laws and our bad air
The polygamist PR campaign
Wind power to the people
Adopt-A-Beach Spring Cleanup April 26
Caller editorializes for Kenedy wind farm
A pause for the vehicle voucher program
Injunction sought to stop wind farm construction
Texas Independence Day party
Duncanville sues the swingers
Six beers over Texas
Austin wants to eliminate waste
Duncanville sex club lawsuit
CHA files suit over Kenedy wind farms
More on the TEA and Chris Comer
Intelligent design and the TEA
We have met the enemy, and it is us
The rural doctor shortage
If the house is rocking, don't bother knocking
"Including this one..."
PUC denies request to halt Kenedy wind farm
"Baby Jessica", 20 years later
Shooting yourself in the foot, Irving-style
Don't think pink
How many birds are we talking about?
How about that utility dereg?
Our state dinosaur: Not who you thought it was
Offshore wind leases granted
PUC to hear wind farm appeal
More on Rep. England's party switch
Preservation: It isn't just for Houston
One last shot at delaying the Kenedy wind farms
Mario Gallegos' Very, Very Good Idea
I for one welcome our new arachnid overlords
King v Kenedy, still fighting it out
A response from the billboard industry
The Hispanics are coming!
Change of Command photos
Four day school week on hold for now
Lady Bird Lake
DADS: We're not that bad
More on the state school abuse scandal
Four-day school weeks?
My cousin, the hero
The next TYC scandal
RIP, Heather Burcham
Mighty big brick you've got there
Noriega on Lady Bird
RIP, Lady Bird Johnson
Texas: Still growing like gangbusters
King versus Kenedy continued
San Antonio gets on the municipal WiFi bandwagon
Julie Boyle update
Henry Cisneros to buy Carol Burnett's house
"We'll go somewhere where there's cheese!"
Cleaner cement for Dallas
Death to fire ants!
Help Eagle Pass
Come to the compound!
Lawsuit filed against New Braunfels tubing ordinances
Let the tubing season begin!
No more teams for San Antonio?
Easing up on the tubers
Renovate the Alamo!
Updating the River Walk
Cooler lovers fight back in New Braunfels
Cooler restrictions passed in New Braunfels
The state of the state 2007
The NYT's appropriate obit for Molly Ivins
RIP, Molly Ivins
Talking about taking the train to Galveston
Molly Ivins back in the hospital
Austin citizenship drive
More New Braunfels tubing rules
Microsoft comes to San Antonio