As the fiscal cliff conversation heats up (three weeks to go!), its financial impact on Texas’ programs is starting to come into focus.
That includes an estimated $142 million reduction for Health and Human Services, a drop that will affect more than 300,000 clients statewide, HHS budget and fiscal policy director David Kinsey told the House Interim Committee yesterday. Affected programs include the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC), family violence prevention and service, and nutrition services for the aging and disabled. The short presentation after the jump lays out a few more details.
HHS isn’t the only department bracing. Burnt Orange Report wrote this morning that Texas public schools “stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, with Title I aid for the economically disadvantaged and IDEA funding for students with disabilities taking the biggest hit.” Nationally, education dollars could take a $4 million hit.
Golf Courses Are the Ultimate Cure-All For Urban Poverty: Here’s another article (paywall) that talks about how Mayor Mike Rawlings is really jazzed about how great that golf course is going to be for South Dallas. But you don’t need to click through. You already know how huge this deal is going to be. Just think about what a major boom Dallas National has been for Cockrell Hill. I mean, can you think of a more affluent and booming neighborhood in North Texas than the island city of Cockrell Hill? It’s like a second Highland Park, which also has a golf course in it. Coincidence? I think not.
Man Tries to Steal $269 Worth of Meat: In order to really appreciate this story about Rodney Johnson’s attempt to make off from a Kroger with $269 worth of meat shoved up under his coat, you have to try and picture just what $269 worth of meat looks like. Then read how he was first tackled by police and then struck in the back of the head before officers finally managed to arrest the hungry thief.
Michael Young Is No Longer a Texas Ranger: Drop your head to your chest, raise your right arm, extend your fingers, and drop a final claw on Michael Young as he heads out the door to Philadelphia. “If there was crying in baseball, I guess I’d cry,” Wash said. But we all know Wash cried.
Cowboys Win Game, Josh Brent Just Loses: What do you say about Josh Brent? Over the weekend he lost his best friend, he lost his career, and he quite possibly lost his freedom for up to the next 20 years (the maximum sentence for intoxication manslaughter). He was released from jail after posting bail that was $10,000 more than his $490,000 2012 salary. “It’s not a good moment for anyone right now,” Brent’s attorney said. I guess that’s all you really can say.
Next week, Dallas City Council members will – likely – approve a letter of intent for city manager Mary Suhm to continue negotiations with SMU and AT&T to build a golf course on city property in southern Dallas.Â During this morning’s City Council briefing, the proposed Southern Dallas golf course came up, of course. A lot of details were fleshed out, including the dealbreakers. The entire presentation is after the jump, but here are some points:
1. Lease approximately 400 acres from City for 40 years beginning with a base lease of $1,000 and increasing to $10,000 per year upon opening of the course
2. Develop, program, and operate the golf complex, consisting of an 18-hole championship golf course, practice range, short course, clubhouse, tournament facilities, The First Tee youth golf program teaching facility, and training academy for the SMU golf team, at an initial development cost of not less than $20 million for the first phase and any additional cost overruns as a result of construction
3. Fund and/or make an additional $2.5 million in improvements to the City’s Trinity Trails Phase 3 with funds from AT&T
4. Secure relocation of the Byron Nelson Championship to the completed golf course and pursue similar tournaments
Geez, gas prices amirite? $3.29 by my house. Seems there’s gotta be a way to drive those prices down, help the consumer:
The chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, will take home a higher salary next year and his bonus increases 5 percent.
The Irving, Texas, company’s board of directors awarded Rex Tillerson, the company’s chairman and CEO, a bonus of $4.59 million, up from $4.37 million last year, a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed.
A $4.59 million bonus? Like, that’s not his salary? Or the salary of an entire company? Wait, maybe it will get better:
Tillerson’s salary will rise 5 percent to $2.71 million effective January 1.
The CEO will receive about half the bonus in cash by the end of this year, while the payout of the balance is linked to the company’sÂ earnings, the filing said.
Tillerson was also granted 225,000 shares of restricted stock, the same amount as last year.
Get out. Kindly leave.
The board of Dallas-based Oncor recently authorized a $17 million payment to its CEO, Robert Shapard, and three other execs are receiving payments of more than $2.7 million apiece, the Texas Tribune reported this morning. The approval for the bonuses was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving.Â Consumer advocates were not pleased.Â The company’s performance does “not in any way justify bonuses,” Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas director for Public Citizen, told the Tribune. The bonuses come on the heels of the company’s recent $5-a-month add-on forÂ its construction of wind-power transmission lines built acrossÂ Texas, and the installation of smart meters, which will cost consumers $2.19 a month for the next 10 years.
Spend any time listening to conservative talk radio, and you’re likely to encounter Goldline, the metal company backed by Westlake resident/conservative kingpin Glenn Beck, Ol’ Blabbergums Sean Hannity, and other right-tumbling radio jocks.
It’s a company that thrives on convincing YOU, American consumer and intelligent being, that the government and FDIC-protected banks have no business with your money, and you should instead buy gold coins and bury them in your backyard along with your grains and guns. In February the company agreed to repay $4.5 million to customers due to “unfair sales practices,” after the Santa Monica, Calif. city attorney’s office hung 19 charges on the company, accusing them of bait and switch tactics.Â Customers believed they were buying goldÂ bullion when in fact they were buying overpriced gold coins, maybe with chocolate inside. Criminal charges against executives were dropped when Goldline agreed to disclose the price mark-ups.
The latest piece of the Midas puzzle came this week, when former employees CarolÂ Taylor Gabrelow and her husband,Â Joel Gabrelow, sued the company for unlawful termination. See, Mrs. Gabrelow informed company higher-ups that their telemarketing techniques violated state and federal law. The execs then fired her and her husband.
“Goldline specifically targets vulnerable consumers with sales tactics designed to pressure those consumers into buying products that would often result in the consumer losing over one-third of his or her investment the instant the purchase is made meaning that, even when the price of the precious metals increases, because these consumers were deceived into purchasing coins with mark-ups exceeding 50 percent, it could be years, if ever, before the consumer recoups, much less makes any profit on, the investment,” the complaint states.
Keep on being great, Glenn Beck.
According to Slate’s Matthew Yglesias:
Texas’ rapid economic growth has been largely a question of rapid population growth–it’s warm, it’s close to Mexico, and it has a very permissive building-permit regime, so lots of people have been moving there–but the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ new data release on personal income growth in 2011 shows a great year for Texas across the board.
Personal income grew in every metropolitan statistical area in America, but Texas was a star performer. Its biggest MSA, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, was in the top quintile of all American metro areas. So was Houston. So was San Antonio. So was Austin. So was El Paso. That’s five out of the state’s top five metro areas, and you can throw in Corpus Christie [sic] and some of the small West Texas cities for good measure.
Yes, that’s true, but the Bureau’s report also shows that the worst performing county in the United States – at -28.8 percent personal income growth – is Texas’ Lynn County, south of Lubbock. Not sure if that’s entirely related to the fact that it’s a dry county, but that’s where my money sits.
Odessa and Midland – 90 miles southwest of Lynn County – had the highest MSA growth, at 14.8 percent and 14.8 percent, respectively.
The Nation caught up with some of the striking Walmart workers last week, specifically Colby Harris, from Dallas:
Dallas striker Colby Harris emphasized that despite issues with low pay and repeated retaliation, he’s committed to remaining a Walmart worker. “If you leave this job, you’re going to face retaliation in some form somewhere else…,” he said last night. “If you change Walmart, and you change corporate America, it can really better a lot of people’s lives.”
Harris toldÂ The NationÂ that the main purpose of today’s picketing outside his Dallas store is to send a message to the workers inside: that “you can speak up and not get punished.” What if Walmart retaliates? “We’ll just take more actions…,” said Harris. “It will not be accepted or tolerated.” He said that going on strike last month heightened his confidence: “I’m not as nervous to take actions now. I know I’ve done it before…I can do it again.”
This, though, was all before yesterday’s news that Walmart has asked the National Labor Relations Board to block the strikes, which could mean trouble for the striking workers:
While the NLRB is most often criticized by conservatives, its swiftest and strongest remedies are devoted to restricting unions. Federal law requires the NLRB to prioritize employers’ allegations of illegal picketing over other charges, and to request an injunction to stop the picketing if it finds “reasonable cause” to believe such allegations are correct, and expects to issue a complaint (the equivalent of an indictment). So injunctions restricting picketing are often granted within a few days of workers’ going on strike (in contrast, workers who allege they were fired for their union activism often wait for months, injunction-less, to find out whether they’ll get their jobs back). Experts say that, if Walmart has strong enough evidence, an injunction could potentially be issued in time to block Black Friday pickets. But that’s a very big “if.”
But look at these deals!Â Samsung 32″ TVS for $249! An olde-tyme popcorn machine for $49! A pair of human kidneys for only $79.99!
Meanwhile, Occupy Dallas is planning to support striking workers at the DeSoto Walmart on Friday.
UPDATE: 200 Dallas-area employees are expected to walk out Thursday night, the Observer reports.
There are plenty of conversations I can keep up with. Pro basketball conversations. College basketball conversations. Rules of basketball conversations. I’m pretty well-rounded.
None of those conversations have anything to do with the so-called fiscal cliff, a term that’s been tossed around on NPR a lot recently. To me it roughly translates to “Dear God I’ll listen to Train on KXT before I try to figure this story out.”
Anyway, CNBC did a sort-of Idiot’s Guide to Fiscal Cliff-DwellingÂ yesterday, and it was helpful. I now feel like I can present this post to you without crossing my fingers and hoping no one calls me out.
Two investors have purchased 28 buildings along Henderson Avenue, the Morning News just reported. The exact buildings weren’t announced, but the total sale price could top $50 million. The properties all sit between Central Expressway and Ross Avenue, and the new owners say they plan to continue to expand and improve the lots.
Let’s try to figure out what Henderson could use, shall we?
1. Deli- This is indicative of the city in whole, but especially Henderson.
2. Pho- Maybe this is just because I’m tired of driving all the way to Garland to get reasonable pho. And YES, I’ve been to Mai’s; meh.
3. Live music venue- This is tricky in East Dallas due to noise regulations, but I imagine a smallish venue (a la the departed La Grange) would do well here.
About 16,000 people serve as flight attendants for American Airlines, and they get paid an average of $45,000 a year to do so. In less than a week earlier this month, more than 20,000 job-seekers applied to fill 1,500 openings, the Star-Telegram reported this afternoon.
“We’re thrilled with the overwhelming response to our regular flight attendant job postings, and believe we now have enough qualified candidates to consider for these openings,” American spokeswoman Missy Cousino said. “In the meantime, job postings for several language speakers, including Korean, Mandarin, Finnish and Japanese will remain open.”
It’s the first time American has hired new flight attendants in a decade, the article states, so if you think you keep seeing the same man handing you peanuts year-in and year-out, you’re probably right.
From the Texas Tribune:
Despite its “Keep Austin Weird” slogan and passion for clean energy, Austin is increasingly attracting oil and gas companies like Three Rivers, a small firm founded in 2009 that focuses on oil development in West Texas and New Mexico, aided by the high oil prices of recent years. Austin’s oil industry, about 4,000 workers strong, is still dwarfed by Houston and Dallas. But the city’s entrepreneurial bent and reputation as an attractive place to live, along with the top-tier petroleum engineering program at UT, have trumped the fact that Austin is far from the oilfields.
Keep Austin Fueled?
Texans Are Nation’s Second Biggest Source of Election Funds: Donors from the Lone Star State have contributed $61 million to the presidential campaigns this year, second only to California’s $102 million.
Are North Texans Better Off Than They Were Four Years Ago: Ahead of tomorrow’s vote, The Star-Telegram gives that election-season question a local spin and finds out, of course, it depends on who you ask.
Jerry Jones Admits He Would Have Fired Himself as Cowboys GM: Jerry Jones tells Bob Costas he would have fired himself as general manager of the Dallas Cowboys had he not actually had been, well, the general manager. But since Jerry Jones is Jerry Jones, he can’t fire himself, he can only look himself in the mirror, straighten himself out, and try again. And you wonder why the Cowboys lost again.
Watch Plane Clip a SUV During Botched Landing: William Davis, the pilot who flew a Cesina Skyhawk through a passing SUV, says he’ll probably quit flying after this incident. Can’t say I blame him.
As Austin Mulls Council Districts, Dallas Displays Pros and Cons of System: The capital city is considering switching away from citywide council representation, and Dallas shows that district-elected representatives can lead to more responsiveness and greater diversity in city government, while also creating a tendency towards a fiefdom-like system. One interesting stat sticks out: over the past two decades, three Dallas council members have been convicted of criminal charges stemming from the abuse of power, while in Austin during that time there have been no such charges.
Will Tougher Zoning Produce Better Businesses in South Dallas? That’s what council member Caroyln Davis hopes. A revised Planned Development District will try to weed out car washes, check cashing businesses, and other non-desirables, while opening the doors for community gardens and other warm and fuzzy ideas like that. But city staff fears some of the new ordinance is unenforceable and say it may discourage new small businesses.
Another Falling Death in Downtown Dallas: Last month when a 25-year-old woman accidentally fell from the 19th floor of a downtown building, we wondered what the deal was with the sudden spike in falling deaths downtown. Tim said he thought it was because Dallasites aren’t yet used to living in high rise apartments. Krista and I wondered if it was a statistics thing. Zac Googled-around trying to find the percentage of New Yorkers who fall every year. This highly speculative conversation will likely continue today now that another man has fallen to his death from a downtown Dallas building.
Last night at the Dallas Center for Architecture, I moderated a panel that discussed the relationship between Fair Park and South Dallas, and how Fair Park’s design and use impact the surrounding neighborhoods. The panel members included Rev. Gerald Britt, Robert Foster, Patrick Kennedy, Hank Lawson, and Vicki Meek, and the conversation brought a number of issues to light regarding the history and use of the park and the ongoing difficulties that face redevelopment there. I wanted to pull out a few takeaways, as well as put forth a few ideas to keep the conversation going. If you’re interested in your city, jump: