Monday, February 28, 2011

Mondays Always Bring Questions

Here's a list of questions for you to contemplate, some rhetorical:

1.   How does the sheriff describe money you send to Washington on April 15th? 

2.  Where are all our young leaders?  We never hear from anyone under 40 years of age in this town.  How can that be?

3.  Who will be the "first" in Laredo to get a texting ticket?  Maybe they should be treated like the first baby born every New Years day.  How about we gather some cash and hold it in reserve for their defense?

4.  How much money is really in the reserve fund from the Sports Venue Tax?  Is it just $20m or more?

5.  Will Scott Walker, Gov. Wisconsin, win out over the unions?

6  What happened to "civility" in politics?  Seems to have flown the coop when the labor unions got into the fray.

7.  Will we ever have an investigative press presence in this town?  Other than LareDos....I doubt it.

8.  Will the Texas state budget be as bad as some predict?  Why the  $10b range in budget deficit estimates?
Wish list vs. needs, maybe?

9.  Will Texas raise taxes?  Income, no;  fees, probably;  property, no;  gas, no.........

10.  Who cares about the Oscars?

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Sorry I have not added to blog this week.  I have had an extremely busy week outside this realm.  I will add some to the blog later in the day.  Thanks.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Tom Debates on LaredoTejas Blog

Check the latest back and forth between myself and the LaredoTejas blog at
under Wade Watch: Yes to guns at our colleges and state universities

Join in on the conversation please.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

WBCA Parade

I was channel surfing yesterday morning when I came across the WBCA Parade coverage on KGNS.  I watched the beginning of the parade.  What struck me as odd was, that George and Martha Washington did not appear in the parade sequence until well after most of the politicians drove by.  I thought the WBCA was about George Washington.

I guess I was wrong. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Data Quoted for Need for Texting Ban Wrong

I looked up the information being supplied to our city councilpersons concerning the texting ban ordinance they will be voting on this coming Tuesday.  In the full agenda of the city council meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 22, under the background section I found this:

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, distracted driving related crashes caused nearly 5,500 deaths and 450,000 injuries during 2009.  In 2008, based on data received from the Texas Department of Transportation where "Cell/Mobile Phone Use" was listed as a contributing factor in crashes, seventeen percent of those crashes resulted in a fatality or serious injury with an additional 23.4% resulting in injury.

Just looking at this, one might say, "Oh my, we must ban this practice."  But they would be making that comment based on out of context statistics.

These types of inaccurate data representations are what cause law makers and public policy types to institute laws that are baseless and counter productive and can create unintended consequences that cannot be comprehended until after the bad legislation is passed.

Note, that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration does not say that 5,500 deaths and 450,000 injuries were caused by some act using a cell phone, but were caused by distracted driving.  I would bet that the numbers of accidents involving cell phones probably comes close to what Texas experienced in 2008.
Here are the real numbers.  In 2008, in Texas there were 439,527 accidents.  Of those, 3,188 had cell phone use listed as a contributing factor in the crash.  That equates to less than 1% of the total accidents in Texas (0.77% actual.)  However, driver inattention accidents (not cell phone distractions) accounted for 96,780 accidents or about 22% of all Texas crashes.  And, accidents with a contributing factor being a distraction in the vehicle resulted in 8,914 accidents, or 2.03% of all Texas crashes.

These numbers may still look large to the untrained eye, but maybe these numbers will help you grasp how rare cell phone related accidents really are.  In 2008, the 3,188 crashes that listed cell  phone use as a factor occurred once every 73,586,260 miles driven in Texas.  How's that for a statistic.  See what you can do if you want to produce numbers that favor your argument.  Tell that to the average person who is not familiar with statistics and they would think these accidents almost never occur.

Again, as I have said over and over, it is not about texting or cell phone use.  It is about distracted driving causing accidents.  Now, if the city wants to ban something useful, ban all those things we know are distracting while driving, eating, drinking, smoking, passengers,reading (newspapers, books, maps, etc.) vehicle attached electronic devices, bright lights/signs along highways, and any other thing that distracts today's drivers.

Impossible, and unenforceable, of course it is.    But because some city councilpersons want to over-regulate your life, they will pass their ordinance that will do nothing to lower accident rates or fatalities, but will get the city some revenue.  Oh, I forgot, even the street cops will tell you the proposed ordinance is unenforceable.

Stop the insanity.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Laredo City Council

Just as I suspected the texting ban wording matches the San Antonio ban almost to a T.

Here is Laredo's text:
amending Chapter 9, Article
Public hearing and introductory ordinance
VII of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Laredo, Texas, by adding
Section 19-224 prohibiting the use of a hand-held mobile communication
device to send, read, or write a text message or engage in any other use of
the device besides dialing telephone numbers or talking to another person,
while operating a moving motor vehicle; and providing for a fine of up to
$200.00 per violation.

Here is the San Antonio version:
The City Clerk read the following Ordinance:
Take a look at the front of my webpage to see, illegal and legal activities, and go figure out for yourself if this ban make sense.
Noise Abatement-More Room for Fraud
The city council will be asked to approve $4,000,000.00 for airport noise abatement.  Who is this money going too?  Whose houses will be bought at a high price and the owner get to move to a new larger home.  Will the houses that get the money be in Winfield, Alexander Estates?  I will bet you $100.00 that no city council person will ask these questions.  What a waste of money and rip off of the US taxpayer.
2011-R-15 Authorizing the City Manager to submit a grant application to the(Approved Operations Committee)
Federal Aviation Administration in the amount of $4,000,000.00 for the
Noise Abatement Program at the Laredo International Airport and
authorizing the execution of all necessary documents resulting from the
award. The purpose of the grant is to provide funding for acquisition,
soundproofing of residential structures and for the acquisition of aviation
easements. The City's local match in the amount of $210,526.32 (5%) is
available through the Airport's Construction Fund.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

They Have Nothing on Laredo

I took this from the Daily Standard:

In Wisconsin, Teachers Take Students from Class to Protest

12:55 PM, Feb 16, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Teachers and students in Wisconsin are protesting Governor Scott Walker's budget bill. But it's not a mark of democracy: instead, teachers have been taking kids out of school to march on the Capitol in Madison. It's being called a "sickout" -- and it's illegal.
"Teachers are joining protests planned today at the State Capitol," one witness to the protest said. "Yesterday, more than half of the student body of Madison East High School walked out with the support and assistance of their teachers."

If you were in Laredo in 2003 you might have remembered the dramatic return of the "Texas 11 Minus One" group of Texas state senators who fled to Arizona to avoid a vote on the redistricting rules.  I will only post the first couple of paragraphs of the Laredo Morning Times coverage of the return.  Please note what cheerleaders and band were at the event.  I thought mixing school district assets with politics was frowned upon.  
Texas senators return
Times staff writer
Before a cheering crowd of family, friends and supporters, the "Texas 11 Minus One" delivered hugs and speeches Wednesday afternoon in Laredo after returning from a defiant six-week holdout in Albuquerque, N.M. 
While the Cigarroa High School band played and stylish Ryan Elementary cheerleaders performed, the 10 Democratic state senators received a good dose of Texas heat while they stood on a makeshift stage in an airport hangar before an enormous Texas flag.

This event occurred on either 9-10-2003  This would have been a Wednesday.  Clearly these kids were taken out of school and asked to perform for a partisan political event.  Illegal, I would hope so.  I wonder what the statue of limitations is on this type of incident?

But I guess if everything you do is "for the children," this was probably legal.

Lots of Stuff

Government Jobs:
I found this job application website.  Makes you want to quit the private sector and go to work for the government.  

Question:  How can the government pay more for jobs than the private sector?  Doesn't the private sector job pay for the government job?  Kinda crazy.  Well come to the year 2011.

Federal Jobs Net (Career Center)

Government Jobs / Federal Jobs / Civil Service Jobs / Post Office Jobs

Are you considering a government job? The federal government employs approximately 2 million federal workers plus 700,000 Postal workers and hires hundreds of thousands each year to replace civil service workers that transfer to other federal government jobs, retire, or leave for other reasons. Average annual salary for full-time federal government jobs now exceeds $79,197.
The U.S. Government is the largest employer in the United States, hiring about 2.0 percent of the nation's work force and the workforce is expanding significantly due to health care reform, in-sourcing, and many new regulatory programs. Federal government jobs can be found in every state and large metropolitan area, including overseas in over 200 countries. The average annual federal workers compensation, including pay plus benefits, now exceeds $119,982 compared to just $59,909 for the private sector according to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Texas Minority Majority State (Saw this on LaredoTejas Blog)

My question is; Why is this a big deal?

Texas to officially become a minority-majority state

Texas will officially become a majority-minority state for the first time based on 2010 census estimates.

The switch occurred in 2005 and its source includes both Hispanic immigration from Mexico as well as black migration from other parts of the United States.

Texas joins Hawaii, California, New Mexico and the District of Columbia as states and a federal district lacking a majority of whites who are not Hispanic. Eight more states, led by Arizona, Maryland, Nevada and Georgia, have shares of non-Hispanic whites nearing the tipping point of 50 percent.
Why do we let the government categorize us by race?  What is the difference between a black, Hispanic, or white issue?  People are people, and to segment people by race, is well, racist.  Or at least that what Dr. King thought. 

Is this a political issue?  What, Hispanics should only elect Hispanics?  Whites should only elect whites.  No wonder this country is screwed up.  

In 2002 I opposed Laredo building a monument to honor only Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients.  I said the memorial should be built for all the people of Laredo.  A city councilman told me, while I was addressing the council meeting, "If an Anglo from Laredo is awarded the Medal of Honor, we will build them a separate memorial."  Later that week in a letter to the editor, I was accused of being a racist for wanting a single memorial that would serve all Laredoans.  Go figure.

High Speed Rail
Why are we even considering high speed rail as an efficent form of transportation in this country?  The cost to build this system are beyond out of sight.  Just the land purchase (right of way) alone will be billions and billions of dollars.  Then you have maintainence and other cost.  The ticket prices would have to be in the hundreds of dollars to ever pay back the expense of operation and construction. 

Let's say there is high speed rail between Laredo and San Antonio.  That is 150 miles of right of way to purchase.  You cannot mix high speed rail on the freight tracks.  Cannot be done, don't even go there.  Then all the over/underpasses to be built.  You surely don't want a train moving 200 mph crashing into a vehicle.  Just think of all the at grade accidents we have today.  Then once you arrive at the destination of the train, what will you do, walk, get a cab, rent a car to get around town.  If you only need to be in San Antonio for a couple of hours, will you have to wait for the return train?  How many high speed trains will there be?  I do not see very many opportunities for the rail to be anywhere near cost/time effective.  Why not invest in something that we know works?  Airports, not much right of way needed there vs. the number of people who can move at more than twice the speed of "high speed rail."

Food Prices Rising
Thanks alot United Nations, Al Gore, George W Bush, Barrack Obama, and others.  Your idiotic idea that corn/sugar/other food source based ethanol is just what we need is causing food prices to soar, not only in the United States, but world wide.
I was in Kansas last October, and saw field after field of corn sitting awaiting harvest.  Most of these fields in past years were put  up for wheat, but now corn.   I asked a good friend of mine who owns an implement dealership why all the corn was not harvested.  He said the farmers were awaiting commodity prices to go up.   And they did.  Now the corn is harvested.  Good business move by the farmers, but really bad for the US consumer.  If the US government were not subsidizing ethanol (pathetic fuel) we would not be paying such ridicolus prices for meat, or other food stuffs.  Sugar and corn syrup are used in almost everything we eat.  Nor would we be forced to use an inefficient fuel for our vehicles.
Now that there is a shortage of  wheat worldwide (remember that corn sitting in what used to be wheat fields) there will be substansial increases in food prices for those foods that use wheat.  How is this better  than drilling for oil and natural gas, or building nuclear power plants?
Let's stop this insanity now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Valentines Day Massacre at Commish Court????????

On the QT, expect a bombshell for transparency at the Webb County Commissioner's Court meeting tomorrow.  Will there be bodies facing the barrage of FIO requests after the meeting?  Will there be bodies squirming under the bright public light of day?  Wait for it.   It will be great.

Also at the court, we will hear the Commish's ask for a $20,000 raise for Juan Vargus, Director of Webb County Community Action Agency, in addition to his duties as Economic Development Director.  This will take his salary up to around $130,000 annually.  Pretty good increase for someone who is taking over an agency that has a lot of overlapping responsibilities as the ED group. 

And I would have somewhat applauded this move (Somewhat?  Because in the private sector, very rarely do you get extra money for taking over extra work....) if it was intended to consolidate the departments.  However, it does not.  It only provides for another level of management, as there will still be a director for the CAA hired.  Only that position that was $85,000 annually, will now be $65,000 annually.

I really wish our government agencies would understand the words:  Improved efficiencies, and the cost savings factor that comes with them.

I guess we will have to wait until some Tea Party types take over the court.  HAHA...I know.....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More On the Proposed Texting Ban

Jr. submitted written testimony in support of Items 4 and 5.
My friends here is the San Antonio Texting Ban Ordinance.  I also included the city council discussion of the item before it was adopted.  As you can see, everyone who appeared was in favor of the ordinance, even the guy who took the time to count the 53 drivers he saw texting and driving while on his way to the meeting.

My bet is that the San Antonio ordinance will be very similar to the ordinance that Laredo will produce.  Read it, and see that it is much more than a texting and driving ban.  You will not be able to use your cell phone except to dial a phone number or talk to another person.

Gone are the GPS uses, gone are the mapping uses, gone are the email/text type readings (including any emergency updates, such as real time highway conditions from TxDOT) and any other thing you might use your cell/smart phone for besides talking.  Smart highway technology and wired society, out the window.

Oh by the way, this is from the Texas Department of Transportation Website:

TxDOT Twitter Feeds

TxDOT joins the chorus of tweets on Twitter, a micro-blog that allows the agency to provide important travel updates and news to you in 140 characters or less.

This was at the bottom of TxDOT's Social Media Information Webpage

Why use social media?
We don't just try to keep traffic flowing, we try to keep information flowing, too. Our customers use all sorts of new methods and we're committed to meeting those needs.
Social media can be used to supplement traditional communication methods and help interaction with the agency. It enables individuals to find out about the department's programs and activities in a quick, accessible and personable manner.

Will TxDOT have to remove and quit using texting/tweeting/social media as information sources as people might be tempted to read them while driving because of the importance of messages that could be being made available to the driving public?
Mind you, there will be no ban on putting on make up, no ban on eating or drinking in the car, no ban on being distracted by children crying or fighting in the back seat, no ban on smoking in the car (dropped ciggarettes), no ban shaving, no ban on reading a printed map, no ban on reading the newspaper, no ban on reading a magazine, and no ban on any of the other thousand things in a car that can be distracting. 

I know whatever the Laredo city manager's team comes up with will pass.  I would bet that the fire and police departments will be exempted....for emergency reasons of course.  And an emergency is just the exact time you do not want to be distracted while driving.  Hopefully they are the only exemptions and not city staff or personnel.

Enforcement will be very expensive and difficult at best.  The only hope the city would have is that when stopped for texting and driving the driver will readilly admit guilt and sign a statement admitting such guilt.

Opps, that brings up an interesting legal question.  If the police officer stops you and ask you if you are texting, and you say yes, and he writes you a ticket, could that ticket be thrown out of court for asking you to incrimnate yourself without due warning (Miranda).   Or will texting traffic stops have to begin with the phrase:  "You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.  Do you understand these rights?  Will you talk to me now?"

How many of us will be stopped by the police and asked that question?  Will this new ordinance become another tool for the police to use in making a traffic stop in search of something beyond a mere traffic violation?   Hard to say. 

Of course we know as Americans that we do not have to give, or let the officer look at our phone without a warrant.  Nor can the police access your phone records without a subpeona.  And I am not even sure you have to give the police officer your phone number.  You are only required to produce your drivers license.  And if you own multiple phones like I do (how many of your kids have phones in your name), how are the police going to know which phone record to go after, and how can they prove which phone you were using at the time. 

So, how much time and energy are involved in getting a warrant or subpeona?  Let's see, filling out an information with all the reasons for needing the information and what information the officer expects to find.  An exact description of the items to be siezed, and so on. It will not be cheap in manpower hours.  All for a $200 ticket?  Even DWI's aren't this hard to prove.

Why am I putting all this information out there on how one MIGHT fight one of these tickets?  Because, I think creating a new law that has real enforcability issues, is not warranted.  I believe that by enforcing "existing" law, a safer Laredo would emerge.   Why waste our money and time when our police officers can already issue a ticket to anyone driving in a wreckless and careless manner.  Enforce that law with the same zeal as a texting ban, and people will learn that texting can cause you drive erattically and there will be a cost for doing so.

I forgot, our police officers DON'T EVEN GIVE TICKETS TO PEOPLE RUNNING RED LIGHTS RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM.  Why should we expect something like texting to get their attention...never mind.

From San Antonio City Council Meeting Minutes:

The City Clerk read the following Ordinance:
Chief William McManus presented Item 4 and stated that the City Council had passed an ordinance on
August 21, 2008 regulating the use of hand-held mobile telephones and communication devices in
designated school zones. Subsequently, on September 1, 2009, State Law banned the use of cell
phones in school zones. He noted that the issue of texting while driving had been presented to the
Public Safety City Council Committee. Their recommendation is that the use of the phone, with the
exception of dialing, answering and speaking, be prohibited while driving. He provided statistics from
the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration in which nearly 5,500 deaths and 450,000
injuries were caused by distracted drivers in 2009. He stated that text messaging was banned for all
drivers in 30 states and the District of Columbia, and that school bus drivers were banned from texting
in Texas and Oklahoma.
Chief McManus recommended that the dialing of telephone numbers and talking to another person be
allowed. He stated that school zone restrictions would remain unchanged. He outlined the exceptions
that include the vehicle being stopped and out of traffic lanes, as well as reasonable belief that a
person's life or safety is in danger. He reported that warning citations would be issued the first 90 days
following the effective date of the ordinance; thereafter, the maximum fine would be $200. He added
that the Police Department would educate the public on the importance and requirements of the new
Mayor Castro called upon the individuals registered to speak on Item 4.
District Attorney Susan Reed spoke in support of the ordinance and referred to an accident that
occurred in which a VIA Bus Driver had been texting while driving. She stated that texting while
driving was dangerous and that it was important to establish a standard for the community. She
thanked Councilmember Cortez for his work on said item and asked the City Council to vote in favor.
Leo Trevino stated that he was a biker, veteran and father and expressed concern with people that text
while driving. He mentioned that just this morning, he counted 53 drivers that were texting and had to
use his hom to keep them from moving into his lane. He stated that there must be accountability for
people that text while on the road.
Nazirite Ruben Flores Perez stated that texting while driving was a distraction and spoke in support of
the ordinance.
Myriam Aguilar spoke to the fact that there were already too many distractions on the road. She stated
that she was a mother and would like to protect her children.
Cindy Aguilar also referenced the many distractions on the road and stated that driving requires
concentration. She mentioned that she was a student at UTSA and spoke of her experience texting
while driving. She stated that her car had rolled over three times and she had a near death experience.
Laura Escamilla stated that she was a mother and commonly witnessed individuals texting while
driving. She said that she was in support of the ordinance and taking preventative and protective
Julissa Florez stated that she was a mother and had been involved in an accident with an individual that
was texting while driving. She asked the Council to vote in favor ofthe ordinance.
Veronica Gonzalez representing Commissioner Chico Rodriguez read a letter from Mr. Rodriguez
stating that the issue of texting while driving had become more prevalent in San Antonio and
referenced the many fatal accidents that had occurred. The letter mentioned the importance of
educating the younger generation about the responsibilities of driving and recognized Councilmember
Cortez and Former Temporary Acting Councilmember Cantu for bringing the issue forward.
Fonner Temporary Acting Councilmember Leticia Cantu addressed the City Council in support of the
ordinance and thanked the Council for their support. She added that she was speaking as a mother and
that the ordinance would help save lives.
Faris Hodge,
Mayor Castro stated that this was a common sense approach to make San Antonio Roadways safe and
recognized Councilmember Cortez and Fonner Temporary Acting Councilmember Leticia Cantu for
their leadership on the issue. Councilmember Cortez asked of the enforcement of the ordinance. Chief
McManus replied that enforcement would occur during Police Officers' regular course of duty.
Councilmember Cortez asked of the study released indicating that prohibiting texting while driving
increased accidents. Chief McManus replied that it was unfortunate that the statistic was released but
that it did not make sense. He added that having a law in place would deter individuals from texting
while driving. Councilmember Cortez spoke of the many accidents that have occurred due to
individuals that were texting while driving and the need to address emerging technology. He stated the
importance of a public education campaign and referenced the statewide ban on texting while driving
that would be sponsored by Senator Uresti. He asked that it be included in the City's Legislative
Agenda and thanked Fonner Temporary Acting Councilmember Cantu for bringing the issue forward.
Councilmember Cisneros spoke of the dangers of texting while driving and mentioned that there were
many studies that had been conducted to confinn it. She stated that it was important to protect the
community and asked that staff work with the Texas Department of Transportation to ensure that
drivers are aware of the new law. Councilmember Williams spoke of the control factors used in the
various studies and asked if the ordinance would make San Antonio a safer city. Chief McManus
stated that he felt that it would make San Antonio a safer city. Councilmember Rodriguez asked ofthe
category designation for traffic accidents. Chief McManus replied that accident reports utilized a
category for distracted drivers. Councilmember Rodriguez stated that it did not take a study to
understand the impact of texting while driving. He explained the importance of educating young
drivers in the community and stated as Chair of the IGR, he would be pleased to add it to the list of
legislative priorities.
Councilmember Lopez asked of novice drivers. Chief McManus replied that the tenn was utilized for
individuals that have just received their Drivers License. Councilmember Lopez spoke of the
importance of educating young drivers in the community about the new law. Councilmember Ramos
asked of the penalty for violating the ordinance. Chief McManus replied that a fine of up to $200
would be assessed. Councilmember Ramos stated that this was a step in the right direction and looked
forward to working on a more comprehensive plan. She requested a listsurrounding
municipalities that have also passed a ban on texting while driving. Councilmember Medina spoke of
the importance of outreach and education for young drivers in the community and mentioned that there
were already many distractions while driving.
Councilmember Cortez moved to adopt the proposed Ordinance. Councilmember Rodriguez seconded
the motion.
The motion prevailed by the following vote: AYES: Cisneros, Taylor, Ramos, Cortez, Medina, Lopez,
Rodriguez, Williams, Chan. Clamp, and Mayor Castro. NAY: None. ABSENT: None.

Monday, February 7, 2011

If It Saves One Life - Politically Correct But Not Realistic

How many times during the cell phone, texting and driving discussions have you heard the phrase, "Well if the ban (restrictions, or whatever) saves one life, it is worth it."
This is a bad way to legislate because it eliminates the risk/reward analysis that needs to take place before implementing any legislation.  If we legislated by the idea that a life cannot be lost because of any action, then we as a nation would be paralyzed.

Let's look at a very simple action and then you decide if the risk of a death are warranted versus the reward.

The national speed limit on most open road interstate highways is 70 miles per hour.  Speed is the leading cause of death in accidents.  If we could assume that we could eliminate 90% to 95% of all speed related deaths by lowering the speed limit on interstate highways to 20 miles per hour, would that be a good choice?  Maybe we never allow passing on any two lane roadway.  That would eliminate lots of fatality accidents.  But what is the risk/reward factor?

Get the point?  If we only make statements like "If it saves one life" and we live by that motto, this country will move backwards at a very high rate.

Just think of the restrictions on business and commerce if you live by that creed.  It is endless.

Risk versus reward should always be the guiding light on legislation, not politically correct comments.

Texting and Driving - The Current Numbers Do Not Warrant a Ban

Well, the city is going to move forward tonight on implementing a ban on texting while driving.  I am against this ban as there is no data that has ever been presented that supports the need for a ban.  And I will attempt to illustrate that the current data might support just the opposite.  That texting and driving has little if any affect on the accident rate.

Now, is texting and driving the safest thing you can do.  Of course not.  Any distracted driving should be eliminated as much as possible.  Almost all accidents involve some type of distraction or very high speeds.  Of course impaired driving is a whole other issue and should not be confused with this topic.  I don't think driving and applying makeup is safe, nor is driving with a bunch of kids in the back seat who are causing you to take your eyes off the road.  What about the baby in the car seat who is crying?  Does this take your attention away from driving?  Of course it does.  You must do what you can to limit distractions and learn when and where it is safe to take your eyes off the road for the seconds required to address these issues.  But ban them!  Of course not.

Now to prove my point that at this time there is no data to support the need for a ban on texting.  There has been no increase in accidents in Laredo that would support a ban.

Here is the traffic accident data for the city of Laredo (numbers provided by Laredo PD) including the population data for Laredo (sourced from US Census Bureau.)

Population x1000175518141874193319932022
Avg Accidents P Day17.717.418.018.117.618.0

Population x10002052211221712231
Avg Accidents P Day18.419.418.217.7

As you can see from these numbers that the number of accidents  per day in the year 2000 is the same as the number of accidents per day in 2009 at 17.7.   There was in increase up to 19.4 accidents per day in 2007, but that number has gone down.  I am sure there will be an anomaly in 2011 when the number of accidents for last weeks ice storm are added.   

While we are at this point, I want to note that in no way does this set of data equate to a professional study using accepted statistical analysis.  What would be nice here would be the number of miles driven vs. accident data.  That would be a better number than I am providing.  However, this common sense look at numbers should start you thinking about what needs to be done to validate the need for a ban.

Now you have seen the actual number of traffic accidents in Laredo, now let's look at the frequency of the act of sending a text message.

In the year 2000 there were 105.9 million wireless subscriber and 14.4 million text messages sent.  This data came from the national wireless association web page.  In 2005 there were 207.9 million wireless subscribers and 9.8 billion text messages sent.  In 2009 there were 285.6 million wireless subscribers and 152.6 billion text messages sent. 

Summary, nationwide there were 10,597 more text messages being sent in 2009 than in 2000. 

Now, let's put this besides Laredo accident data.  I do not know how many text messages were sent in Laredo.  But let's assume that Laredo is no different than the rest of the country in the numbers of messages sent per person.  Actually you might make the argument that Laredo probably did more texting than the national average because 50% of our population is under 25 years old, and this demographic has the highest rate of texting. 

Laredo 2000

17.7 accidents per day   Population 175,500    National text messages 14.4 million

Laredo 2005

18.0 accidents per day   Population 202,200   National text messages 9.8billion (681 times more text messages than in 2000, but only a .3 accident per day accident increase in Laredo)

Laredo 2009

17.7 accidents per day   Population 223,100   National text messages 152.6 billion (10,597 times more text messages than in 2000, and the accident rate per day is the same for Laredo)

Common sense should tell you that if texting and driving is so dangerous, and that accidents are imminent if you text and drive, then if texting goes up 10,500 times more over a given time frame that the accident rate should go up if texting and driving is as dangerous as some people try to make it out to be.

Obviously, Laredo's accident rate has NOT increased, even with the dramatic increases in text messages being sent.  Again, this is not anywhere close to a proper study of the issue.  But, common sense says the anecdotal information being put forth needs to be investigated before a total ban is implemented.  I mean why would you ban something that does not severely impact the community.

PS, the "If it saves one life" argument is not valid, and shows a complete disregard for risk/reward analysis.  It is a political statement not founded in fact.

Friday, February 4, 2011

City Council Meeting Feb. 7, 2011

While looking at the LaredoTejas blog (link on this page) I noticed that he had a blog on the Feb. 7th city council agenda.  You have to read his post on that issue, it is very interesting to say the least.

When I looked at the agenda, I came across these two items (below).  Solar panel installations for city owned buildings.

My questions are:
1.  How long to pay off the $500,000 worth of solar panels?
2. What are monthly/daily maintenance cost?
3.  How much is the state actually paying, and does the city have to put up cash.

The agenda items states that instillation will be educational to the public, and help reduce greenhouse gases.  I think the gas that needs to be reduced is coming from city council on this issue.

 Authorizing the City Manager to execute a design-build contract, not to exceed $250,000.00, with Mardel Souza, Inc., DBA Atlantis Solar Texas, of Brownsville, Texas, to provide for the design-build of a 21 Kilowatt photovoltaic solar array rooftop mounted system at the N.E. Hillside Recreation Center and a 21 Kilowatt photovoltaic solar array rooftop mounted system at the LBV Tech Rec Center. This will offset approximately a third to half of the energy consumption for these recreation centers. Funding is available through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). (Approved by Operations Committee)

 Authorizing the City Manager to execute a design-build contract, not to exceed $245,000.00, with South Texas Solar Systems, Inc., of Laredo, Texas, to provide for the design-build of a 38.24 Kilowatt photovoltaic solar array rooftop mounted system, as well as a 2.4 Kilowatt wind generator at the City of Laredo’s Environmental Services Department. This will offset approximately half of the energy consumption for this building. Funding is available through the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) Grant. (Approved by Operations Committee)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday Feb. 3rd

Snow in Laredo?
Snow flurries or snow showers won't affect driving too much.  Watch out for bridges though, they are always first to freeze over. 

Note to TxDOT, please, please, NO GRAVEL  on the roadway.  It does not improve driving conditions.  It only makes it worse.

UISD Schools Closed - My thoughts on the real reason.

UISD is closing tomorrow.  But I bet you think it is because of the cold weather and the concern for the children.  I would bet you, and most likely be right, that UISD is closing because of low attendance.  There were less than half the kids in school today from a normal day (anecdotal only from friends with kids in school.)

My bet is UISD closed because they would be losing lots and lots of money (that is what drives school districts today) because of kids missing from school.  Hence, close the school, blame the weather, and have a make up day in May.  What about the poor kid(s) who actually studied for that test and were ready to take it, or were ready to make a presentation they had worked hard to complete.  Oh, it's not really for the children, but for the money.

Thank you LISD.....Dr. Nelson you are looking better day by day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Another Blog Validates My Point About On Demand Power

The below blog post proves my point that we need more "on demand" power generating capacity.  When these plants had mechanical failure, wind and solar could not ramp up to meet the demand to keep power flowing to all Texans. 

From Austin KUT 90.5 blog:

More than fifty electricity generation units stopped working overnight because of severe weather, reducing capacity by 7,000 megawatts and leading to the rolling power outages across Texas today.
The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has asked utilities and transmission providers like Austin Energy to implement the rolling power outage underway now.
ERCOT says as of noon, about 2000 megawatts of power had been restored. That allows it to request fewer drawdowns in electricity usage from local utilities, meaning rolling blackouts are gradually being scaled back.
One megawatt is about enough electricity to power 200 homes in extreme temperatures, ERCOT said in a news release.
ERCOT says it is prohibited by market rules from revealing which plants caused the lost capacity.
But Luminant, the largest power company in Texas, released a statement to KUT News saying theirs are among the generators that conked out.
As a result of extreme weather and prolonged cold, Luminant lost generating capacity overnight at a few of its power generating units in Texas. We are working with ERCOT, which is also experiencing other systematic challenges.
Luminant is currently doing everything it can to restore operations as safely and quickly as possible. The company is also actively working with ERCOT and other state agencies to manage this situation.
The second largest power generator in Texas, NRG, told the Dallas Morning News that none of its generators was affected.
The Associated Press is quoting Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on a possible cause of the lost capacity.
Burst water pipes at two coal-fired powerplants forced them to shut down, triggering rolling power cutsacross the state, the lieutenant governor said Wednesday.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said this is something that "should not happen." 
Dewhurst said he was told that water pipes at two plants, Oak Grove and Sand Hill, forced them to cut electricity production. Natural gas power plants that should have provided back up had difficulty starting due to low pressure in the supply lines, also caused by the cold weather.
The lieutenant governor said the demand placed on the Texas grid was nowhere near peak capacity. He said he was frustrated by the situation. The statewide electricity authority ordered cities across the state to start rolling power outages to cope with the crisis. 

Rolling Blackouts.....Are we getting a glimpse into the future?

I have been very critical over the last several months about Texas and other states putting more and more of their "power eggs" in one basket.

Well, today we are getting our first glimpse of windmill and solar power problems that I and others have been predicting.  We keep building (via subsidy) these antiquated forms of power generation that cannot respond to demand issues that modern power consumers require. 

Today, because of a deep dipping cold front, the entire state of Texas is experiencing rolling blackouts.  Pre-arranged outages because the state power grid cannot handle the amount of power that is required to keep your home or business operating. 

Do not be fooled friends, these blackouts are being caused by lack of sufficient power production to meet demand.  Some are saying the blackouts are being caused by some plants being down for maintenance.  Well, maintenance is figured into demand requirements.  Texas no longer has the power production that can meet demand.  It really is that simple.

Are we going to continue to dump millions and billions in windmills and solar power?  Are we going to tell future manufacturing companies and other business, "Well, we can give you power, ugh, at least until it gets really cold, or really hot.  Then we will cut you off for a few days off and on until we get back to normal."

When was the last real power plant built in Texas?  

We are building wind farms like crazy.  As of the end of 2009 Texas had 76 wind plants comprising 9.1 percent of overall Texas electricity capacity. In 2005, Texas adopted a RPS which required the state to have 5,880 MW of total renewable capacity in place by 2015, and 10,000 MW by 2025.

For some more information, check out this link:

Here is just one sample from that link:

Despite their being cited as the shining example of what can be accomplished with wind power, the Danish government has cancelled plans for three offshore wind farms planned for 2008 and has scheduled the withdrawal of subsidies from existing sites. Development of onshore wind plants in Denmark has effectively stopped. Because Danish companies dominate the wind industry, however, the government is under pressure to continue their support. Spain began withdrawing subsidies in 2002. Germany reduced the tax breaks to wind power, and domestic construction drastically slowed in 2004. Switzerland also is cutting subsidies as too expensive for the lack of significant benefit. The Netherlands decommissioned 90 turbines in 2004. Many Japanese utilities severely limit the amount of wind-generated power they buy, because of the instability they cause. For the same reason, Ireland in December 2003 halted all new wind-power connections to the national grid. In early 2005, they were considering ending state support. In 2005, Spanish utilities began refusing new wind power connections. In 2006, the Spanish government ended -- by emergency decree -- its subsidies and price supports for big wind. In 2004, Australia reduced the level of renewable energy that utilities are required to buy, dramatically slowing wind-project applications. On August 31, 2004, Bloomberg News reported that "the unstable flow of wind power in their networks" has forced German utilities to buy more expensive energy, requiring them to raise prices for the consumer.
Why doesn't the government look at the history of these wind farms before forcing us to use them?  Someone is getting rich, and I bet the initials are GE.  Yep the same GE that has their CEO working for the Obama administration.

And you all thought Halliburton was bad under the Bush administration.  Well, Halliburton never caused rolling blackouts in Texas.

Listen in tomorrow as we will be taking calls and listening to your issues on this matter.