City plays favorites

June 26, 2017

It seems that some people want the east side sports complex to be even bigger than the ten million dollar project the voters approved in the 2012 quality of life bonds.

It looks like the expanded bill will be $23.6 million.

Who pays?

The city plans to create a “Public Improvement District” that would assess fees to homeowners in a nearby new subdivision.  According to an article in the Times the fees would bring in about $6.8 million.

The city has already approved a tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) that will get go keep 42.5 percent of property taxes collected above the current tax base in the development.  That will amount to between $43 and $55 million.

You pay

In other words an area of town wanted a bigger, better, nicer park.  City council is allowing them to carve out part of their city property taxes that would normally have gone into the general fund.  Instead the money will be used to pay for bonds that the city wants to issue.

We deserve better

Brutus


A new city council

June 25, 2017

Take the time to follow the first meeting (Tuesday, June 27, 2017) of city council with the newly elected representatives at their seats.  We will soon have four new members as well as a new mayor.

New coalitions will be formed.

Pay particular attention to important agenda items that some people try to run through before the new members gain first hand experience.

In the gift that keeps on giving, we will have to have yet another election to select the representative for district 8.

We deserve better

Brutus


City clerk retires

June 24, 2017

We recently witnessed the retirement of the city’s municipal clerk after 30 years of service to the community.

Mrs. Momsen was a steadying influence on the groups that have constituted our city councils.

Without her even more of the rules would have been ignored and we would have worse off than we are now.

According to an article in El Paso Inc.

She politely declined to be interviewed, but when asked why she’s retiring now, she said, “You know, you just know.”

Unfortunately we do.

She often seemed to be the only one at a city council meeting that was concerned about the citizens.

We thank her for her service and will miss her.

Brutus


School districts–charter options (2)

June 23, 2017

In order for one of our local school districts to become a home-rule charter district, one of two methods must be used to trigger the creation of a charter commission:

  1. a petition must be signed by at least five percent of the voters of the district, or
  2. at least two-thirds of the total membership of the school board adopt a resolution ordering that a charter commission be appointed

In either case the school board must establish a charter commission within 30 days.

The commission must have 15 members, 25 percent of which must be classroom teachers.  A majority of the commission must be parents of school-age children attending public school.  The teachers must be selected by the representatives of the professional staff (whatever that means).

The commission must complete a proposed charter within one year of the commission’s creation, otherwise the commission is dissolved.

The proposed charter is then submitted to the voters in an election.  At least 25 percent of the registered voters in the district must vote in order for the charter to be approved.  The school district board of trustees can continue to order elections until the 25 percent threshold is reached, if they want to.

An adopted charter can be amended if at least 20 percent of the registered voters in the district vote in an election to approve the amendment.

We plan to discuss the method of approving a campus charter school next.

Stay tuned.

Brutus


School districts–charter options (1)

June 22, 2017

We learned the other day (thanks to the Times) that some at EPISD may be considering operating or facilitating charter schools.  We hope that the people at the Times realize that they have struck upon an opportunity to educate the public while selling more newspapers by covering this complex topic in depth with a number of articles.

Without regard to what the Times does, we intend to discuss the subject in several blog posts.  We have learned that making our articles short and limiting them to one point works better with many of our readers.

As it turns out, Texas law allows school districts to operate in the charter format one of three ways:

  • They can adopt a home-rule school district that applies to the entire district
  • An individual campus can operate under its own charter
  • The district can hire a private firm to run programs on school district property

The rules are complicated and vague and will be subject to much argument and probably lawsuits.

We will write about how these options can be adopted in future posts.

Stay tuned

We deserve better


EPISD–in the spotlight

June 21, 2017

The battle between two of our potential congressional candidates (the county judge and the president of the EPISD school board) is heating up.

We are beginning to see articles in the Times that shine light on problems relating to the EPISD superintendent and the board president.  It would be nice if these articles were the result of the Times doing good investigative reporting about our local governments.  Instead, it looks to us that the Times is trying to influence the upcoming election.  Without regard to their motivation, we are thankful for their coverage.

The latest article dealt with travel expenses racked up by the superintendent and the board president.  Evidently the superintendent and board president have been living it up while traveling on district business.

The Times informed us that the superintendent said he wasn’t familiar with state laws regarding government employee’s travel expenses.  What a shame.  They also told us that the superintendent has “severe health issues” and must travel in first-class on longer trips.  Try applying for a job at the district with “severe health issues”.

We can expect to hear more about this as teachers are being asked bear the brunt of the district’s financial problems.

We deserve better

Brutus

 


Asleep at the wheel?

June 20, 2017

Can someone out there help us to understand how a United States Navy warship accidentally collided with a cargo ship?

We deserve better

Brutus


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