Sunday, January 30, 2011

San Antonio Lawmaker Proposing That S.A. Mayor Pick Board Members

Is this a good idea?  An elected mayor getting to pick 3 at large school board members without the voters being involved.  This is what is being proposed by San Antonio state representative Mike Villarreal (D).

Check out the article here:

I cannot ever believe that San Antonian's will ever give this much power to a mayor.  I hope our mayor is not watching this and getting big ideas. 

While I constantly am chastising the local school boards (which there should only be one), I would never want to take away the citizens right to pick their own school board members.  Never!  Even with the safe guards they say will be added in.  Again, never give up your power as a citizen.  It can only lead to bad things.

Weekend Report Jan. 29 and 30

Bucks Lose
Not enough players and a very good opponent.  "Ouch" is the word as the Americans spanked the Bucks in a home and home series.  Of to Arizona for 3 games.

TAMIU Mens Basketball
How great was that crowd (780+) at the TAMIU vs. St. Marys game.   Hope that is an indication of crowds to come for Laredo sports.

TSA Chief Backs Up on Allowing Privatization of Airport Security

Is the administration intervening to protect the labor union?  Would not be the first time.

Washington (CNN) -- A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was "neutral" on the program.
TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.

Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Florida, wrote a letter encouraging airports to privatize their airport screeners, saying they would be more responsive to the public.  At that time, the TSA said it neither endorsed nor opposed private screening.  "If airports chose this route, we are going to work with them to do it," a TSA spokesman said in late December.
"It's unimaginable that TSA would suspend the most successfully performing passenger screening program we've had over the last decade," Mica said Friday night. "The agency should concentrate on cutting some of the more than 3,700 administrative personnel in Washington who concocted this decision, and reduce the army of TSA employees that has ballooned to more than 62,000."
"Nearly every positive security innovation since the beginning of TSA has come from the contractor screening program," Mica said.

Will the President Allow Big Oil to Drill Again? 

Will the administration end it's move to block oil production in the United States, or will "we the people" have to suffer through high gas prices again?  Last time it was on George Bush's watch in 2008.  Voters remembered just how much the republicans helped in lowering the gasoline prices then, and several of them were voted out.  Now, the current president, with his ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico may be facing some heavy opposition from "we the people" when gasoline prices go well over $3.00 per gallon if the Egypt crisis remains.  Will he heed the call to "drill now," or go the same route as some republicans who refused to hear that message?

Oops, I forgot, General Motors needs $3.00 gasoline to make it's electric car more affordable.  Looks like the unions win again.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How Many Hazmat Suits Does It Take to Change A CFL Light Bulb? By the Heratige Foundation

I got this from Junk Science a truly wonderful website.  You have got to love the EPA.  After reading this, imagine what other rules they have written.  Oh, and to those who forced elimination of the incandescent light bulb.  THANKS ALOT.

Lest anyone tell you that the phase-out of (non-toxic) incandescent light bulbs will be hassle-free (other than hugely expensive), herewith is the directive from the Environmental Protection Agency for ridding your home of toxic vapor in the event you or a loved one (or relative) breaks the mercury-laden compact fluorescent (CFL) pushed by the government as superior:
  • Have people and pets leave the room, and avoid the breakage area on the way out.
  • Open a window or door to the outdoors and leave the room for 5-10 minutes.
  • Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system (H&AC), if you have one.
  • Collect materials you will need to clean up the broken bulb: 1) Stiff paper or cardboard; 2) Sticky tape (e.g., duct tape); 3)Damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); 4) Glass jar with a metal lid (such as a canning jar) or a sealable plastic bag(s)
  • Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag. (NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.)
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Vacuuming of hard surfaces during cleanup is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. (NOTE: It is possible that vacuuming could spread mercury containing powder or mercury vapor, although available information on this problem is limited.) If vacuuming is needed to ensure removal of all broken glass, keep the following tips in mind: 1) Keep a window or door to the outdoors open; 2) Vacuum the area where the bulb was broken using the vacuum hose, if available; and 3) Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and seal the bag/vacuum debris, and any materials used to clean the vacuum, in a plastic bag.
  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly.
  • Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your area. Some states and communities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing bulb debris and cleanup materials.
  • Continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the AC system shut off, as practical, for several hours.
  • The next several times you vacuum the rug or carpet, shut off the AC system if you have one, close the doors to other rooms, and open a window or door to the outside before vacuuming. Change the vacuum bag after each use in this area.
  • After vacuuming is completed, keep the H&AC system shut off and the window or door to the outside open, as practical, for several hours.
To avoid breaking a bulb, follow these general practices:
  • Always switch off and allow a working CFL bulb to cool before handling.
  • Always handle CFL bulbs carefully to avoid breakage: 1) If possible, screw/unscrew the CFL by holding the plastic or ceramic base, not the glass tubing; 2) Gently screw in the CFL until snug. Do not over-tighten; 3)Never forcefully twist the glass tubing.
  • Consider not using CFLs in lamps that can be easily knocked over, in unprotected light fixtures, or in lamps that are incompatible with the spiral or folded shape of many CFLs.
  • Do not use CFL bulbs in locations where they can easily be broken, such as play spaces.
  • Use CFL bulbs that have a glass or plastic cover over the spiral or folded glass tube, if available. These types of bulbs look more like incandescent bulbs and may be more durable if dropped.
  • Consider using a drop cloth (e.g., plastic sheet or beach towel) when changing a fluorescent light bulb in case a breakage should occur. The drop cloth will help prevent mercury contamination of nearby surfaces and can be bundled with the bulb debris for disposal.
There’s a much simpler remedy, of course: Repeal the phase-out of Thomas Edison’s gift to mankind.

Thursday Jan. 27

School District Budget Crisis

Maybe it is "really, really" time to consider consolidating UISD and LISD to take some of the bite out of the upcoming budget cuts.  At least consider it for the children.

By consolidating we could finally trim administrative cost from both districts and use that offset to keep teachers on the payroll.  Do it for the children.

Consolidation would also bring efficiencies and savings to purchasing, maintenance, transportation, and other service areas that would result in cost savings that would help keep teachers on the job.  Do it for the children.

One less school board meeting to have to deal with.  One set of city wide rules for schools.  Do it for the children.

UISD, LISD, it is time to put the children first!   (Where have I heard that?)

San Antonio Express News Proposes Gasoline Tax Tied to Inflation.....Can LMT be Far Behind?

Yesterday the SA Express News, in an editorial, proposed that Texas raise the gas tax and index it to inflation to assure that Texas will be able to build the roads we need in the future.

Not once did the editorial mention looking at cutting fat and inefficiencies from the TxDOT budget.  Say for example we get rid of the "Buckle Up" TV campaign.  I think we all know by now that it is illegal to drive in Texas without wearing a seat belt.  TxDot spends millions on this advertising and enforcement program.  I know, that would take away some overtime for local police who are paid by TxDOT to enforce seat belt laws.  Too bad. 

Nor did the SA Express News mention that we need to trim the 30% plus cost of environmental studies that are conducted on every construction project.  Yes, for every million spent on highway construction we spend over $330,000.00.  Many of these studies are done on existing roadways that had already been previously studied for original construction.  This is outrageous and needs to be addressed.  No wonder we don't have new roads on the pace we need them.

The legislature is supposed to address the practice of taking money from the highway fund and using it on pet projects and as supplemental money for other budget items.

And just a question for the SA Express News:  If you index the gas tax to inflation, and inflation increases by 1.2%, and the gas tax is $0.12 would our new gas tax be $0.13, or $0.12144? 

Jail for Lying to School District

ABC News
From ABC News:

An Ohio mother's attempt to provide her daughters with a better education has landed her behind bars.
Kelley Williams-Bolar was convicted of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district.
"It's overwhelming. I'm exhausted," she said. "I did this for them, so there it is. I did this for them."
Williams-Bolar decided four years ago to send her daughters to a highly ranked school in neighboring Copley-Fairlawn School District.
But it wasn't her Akron district of residence, so her children were ineligible to attend school there, even though her father lived within the district's boundaries.
The school district accused Williams-Bolar of lying about her address, falsifying records and, when confronted, having her father file false court papers to get around the system.
Williams-Bolar said she did it to keep her children safe and that she lived part-time with her dad.
"When my home got broken into, I felt it was my duty to do something else," Williams-Bolar said.
While her children are no longer attending schools in the Copley-Fairlawn District, school officials said she was cheating because her daughters received a quality education without paying taxes to fund it.
"Those dollars need to stay home with our students," school district officials said.

I wonder if that would happen to a mother from Nuevo Laredo who sent her kids to a Laredo, Tx. school and lied about U.S. residency? Jail, even kicking child out of school?  I doubt it.  I bet the school district would wait with open arms, no matter what the cost to it’s taxpayers.  So much for the “budget crisis.”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday Jan 25, 2011

County Fire Department

Looks like Webb county will be looking to the voters to approve a fire district which will be capable of levying a tax to support the new fire department.

I agree that the county must have a good fire  department and that the proposed fire district is the way to go.  I also believe strongly that a volunteer fire department with some full time staff is the best model for fire protection in the county.  Over 80% of all fire departments in the United States are volunteer departments.  I have worked with volunteers in the Kansas City area and was impressed with their service and dedication.

However, I am hearing rumors that there may be problems with the fire chief.  I heard from a person very close to the Webb County Fire Department, that the chief is not even showing up at the fire station (located just off 59hwy behind the Webb County Highway Department lot).  This person also stated that the fire department has not received "certification."  As he tells it, the requirement to be certified are just filling out and submitting the proper forms.

Also, that the volunteers, while being paid $50.00 per shift, are being required to be at the fire station full time.  This is not the model that I am familiar with.  Full or part time fire department personnel work at the station as drivers.  Volunteers continue to work their regular jobs.  Once a fire call comes in, the driver at the station takes the fire fighting vehicle to the fire, and the volunteers respond from their homes or jobs to the scene. These volunteers are allowed to operate their private vehicles as "emergency vehicles" utilizing flashing lights and siren.  Volunteers are then paid per call, or a monthly fee.

If you wonder why we in Laredo should be concerned, we drive the highways and may own property in the county.  We need the best fire department the county can afford. 

I hope to get Webb County Commish Gerry Garza on the show for his comments.

State of the Union

I will be watching at least the beginning of the State of the Union Speech from President Obama tonight.  I am sure, like most Americans, after about 30 minutes, I will get bored and watch something else.  I did the same with Bush, Clinton, Bush, Regan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, and maybe Kennedy.  I am not sure if Kennedy's SOU speechs were televised.  I can't remembers.  PS, I was born when Eisenhower was president.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Talk Jan. 24th

Charlie San Miguel Chastised by Laredo Morning Times

Looks like the editors at the Laredo Morning Times are calling Charlie San Miguel out for the continued questioning of police chief Maldonado at the last city council meeting.

I did not see the meeting, so taking what I can from the LMT, Charile was questioning the police chief as to why he did not honor a call by the police union to add 10 officers for park patrol only.  The chief, and city manager responded that the chief was in charge of the department and that with the resources available, the chief did not feel he had the manpower to assign officers to patrol only parks.  And the chief further stated that officers on normal patrol cruise through the parks on a regular basis.

The LMT seems to think that Charlie may have other things in mind than just park patrols. 
I wonder if it could have something to do with getting a relative in as a new police chief, or at least grandstanding for the police union whom supported him during the campaign.

PS, the call for the 10 additional officers to patrol the parks took place over 2 years ago...Charlie was not even a blip on the city council screen at the time.

Me thinks LMT might be onto something.

Henry Cuellar on national TV?

My bets are that our U.S. Congressman will, again, have front row seating to allow him some national TV face time tomorrow night when President Obama enters the House of Representatives chambers.

As in years past, Henry has been front and center.  I expect nothing less this year.

Remember when Henry was chastised by the democrats for hugging George W. Bush.  Won't happen this time, but bets are hugs are in order. 

Maybe, just maybe, Henry will sit next to Nancy Pelosi???????  Surely Henry will not be one of those democrats holding hands with republicans in a "show" of bipartisanship.  No way.

We will see about 7:08 p.m. tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Texas State Budget

Get ready, those that think the solution to a reduced Texas state budget is to raise taxes are coming out of the woodwork.

Just check Robert Rivard's Sunday (Jan. 23) editorial as it appeared in the San Antonio Express News. Robert Rivard is the editor of the San Antonio Express News.

It's time for legislators to put a new motto on Texas license plates: “First in prisons, last in schools.”
As the Texas Legislature strips funding from virtually every education initiative and institution in the state from pre-kindergarten programs to public schools to the higher education system, perhaps now people will start to connect the dots.
We've voted ourselves into a state of idiocy.
Voters have increasingly bought into the now ubiquitous “no new taxes” sound bite, an intentionally manipulative campaign strategy that has made Texas a one-party state. Now come the consequences: A state already last in the nation in investing in the education of its children is poised to fall even further behind.
Contrast that with the images of backslapping state leaders at last week's swearing-in ceremonies in Austin. What were they celebrating?
I sat Saturday morning at the TriPoint YMCA as hundreds of engaged residents gathered for the fifth and final planning session of Mayor Julián Castro's SA2020 strategic initiative. What the process ultimately yields remains to be seen, but the collective energy and commitment of the people stood in stark contrast to the self-congratulation and indifference so evident in the state Capitol.
Castro and his administration face a real challenge shaping that local energy into a tangible action plan, but his task pales now compared with what the city faces if promised state budget cuts take effect.
The state's top officeholders have convinced voters that taxes are bad, that taxes are unfair, that taxes stand in the way of economic growth and prosperity. Democracy, in truth, depends on people's willingness to pay their fair share.
Fewer nurses, public heath programs, children's services, teachers, scholarships and student loans, and anti-dropout programs — these are images never conjured by politicians who campaigned on the no-new-taxes platform.
What can't be reduced to a simple, easy-to-swallow sound bite is this: Many people do not pay their fair share of taxes because in Texas we do not tax fairly and equitably. Everyone knows it, but there is little appetite for change.
Elected officials know people prefer the certainty of the present system, with all its negative consequences, to the risk of change. They play on that fear, and it's proven to be a foolproof road to incumbency.
San Antonio will have to look within as city leaders contemplate the possibilities in the coming years. They will have to somehow build that future momentum at the same time they try to ease how hard and far we fall backward.
Speaker after speaker at the SA2020 meeting came to the microphone in the jam-packed auditorium Saturday morning to share personal vision statements amid enthusiastic whistling and applause.
High school students, neighborhood activists, teachers, artists, all spoke of a greater commitment to education, to elevating literacy, to attacking the dropout problem, to supporting the arts and to creating better jobs.
Unless people now force state leaders to reconsider their simplistic slash-and-burn approach to balancing the budget, such messages of hope are going to be difficult, if not impossible, to convert into reality. The Republican majority might say the time to speak was in November at the polls. They will say they are doing what voters elected them to do.
Is this what we really want?

Why is this important to Laredo? Expect the Laredo Morning Times to soon toot the same horn. I would say early to mid-week, the LMT will produce something similar to this.

I am having real trouble swallowing Robert's take on taxes and the intellectual capabilities of the voters in Texas. I think Robert needs to wake up to the idea that Texans as well as Americans from other states have had it with excessive spending and the failure of those in charge of government to spend our money wisely. Robert, and those on the left, will have you believe the only solution to improve government is to continually raise your taxes. Yet, the left never mentions that population and economic growth will provide necessary increases in revenues to fund the government at higher levels during normal times. Tax revenues in normal times always go up in a state with positive growth. Since we are in an economic downturn, we cannot expect revenues to meet "prior budgeted" expenses even though Texas is growing. And who says that every Texas agency needs more money every year? I know the agency leaders do. But why can't the state live on limited money for a couple of years? You have to live within your means at all times throughout your personal lifetime. The same that applies for the people must apply to government. People and businesses do not have the money for tax increases to make up for budget shortfalls. Texas, live within your means. It is that simple Robert.

Robert says that Texas is a state that is last in the nation in spending on education. Who cares? Spending per student has never equated to the quaility of a students education. If that was the case then 49 other states would be way ahead of Texas kids on test scores.

When you read the below release from the TEA, you too will say who cares if Texas is 49th in spending per student on education. (I know it is 2009 data, but that was the latest I could find.)

The Texas Education Agency just sent out the following release on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test:

African-American fourth-grade students in Texas earned the sixth highest score on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test, results released today show.

The exam, often called “the nation’s report card”, was taken by 172,533 fourth-grade students in the nation’s public schools, including 5,954 youngsters in Texas. A NAEP reading exam was also given to 155,392 eighth-grade public school students across the country, including 5,733 in Texas.

Overall, the 2009 scores were statistically identical to the 2007 scores nationally and in Texas at both grades. NAEP exams are given every two years.

Texas’ fourth-grade students earned a scale score of 219, while the national average was 220. In 2007, both the national and Texas score was 220. Texas students had the 34th highest score among 52 states and jurisdictions. However when the scores are examined by ethnic group, the ranks were significantly higher.

African-American fourth graders earned a score of 213, which is statistically significantly higher than the score of 204 posted by African-American students across the country. Only students in Department of Defense schools, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Delaware earned higher scale scores.

White fourth-graders in Texas had the 12th highest score in 2009, earning a 232 compared to the national average of 229. Hispanic Texans earned the 19th highest score with a scale score of 210, which was significantly higher than the 204 earned by Hispanics nationally.

The highest scoring ethnic group in Texas was Asian/Pacific Islanders who received an average scale score of 242, compared to a national average of 234.

Our Texas kids are learning at a higher rate than most students in other states. Statistics are good if you know how to read and question what they mean. So, my friends do not fall into the idea that you must spend more on education to get better educated kids. So, again, who cares what other states spend.

Robert goes on about other services being cut. Well, welcome to the current economy. Sorry Robert, but the people cannot afford to pay more taxes, and they HAVE spoken at the polls.

PS, Robert you really want to help Texas education? Come to Laredo and look at the lines of kids coming to Laredo schools everyday from Mexico and pay nothing in taxes for their kids education. Then tell us in Laredo about tax equity.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wake Up Laredo Blog by Tom Wade

I want to welcome you to the Wake Up Laredo blog. This blog will be updated daily by me.

I will be covering topics at the national, state, and local level that affect you and me.

I can be contacted directly by using the "contact me" link at the bottom of the home page.

Since it is my blog, I will determine if your language is abusive or obscene, at which time I might delete your post. Please be respectfull of others who may post to this blog. I will never delete differing opinions.

I encourage you to participate on the blog, as well as call in to the radio show.

Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you.