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Hometown: Texas
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Current location: Red Hell Texas
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Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

State health chief Greenstein is a “no show”

State health chief Bruce Greenstein skipped Tuesday’s legislative hearing on his agency’s proposed $8.87 billion budget, a few days after a report of a federal probe into the award of a Medicaid claims processing contract to one of his former employers.

Meanwhile, state Inspector General Stephen Street, whom the Jindal administration brought into probe, told the panel that he has asked those who had anything to do with the contract dealings to “refrain from commenting publicly on the specific matters under investigation.”

Federal rules require confidentiality, Street said.

The Jindal administration canceled the $185 million-plus contract with Client Network Services Inc. after the federal grand jury probe became public last week.

More at http://theadvocate.com/home/5543774-125/greenstein-is-a-no-show .

[font color=green]Cronyism is alive and well in Louisiana.[/font]

Sinkhole swallows more trees

BAYOU CORNE — About 25 trees fell into the Assumption Parish sinkhole and a new crack formed Monday night in a earthen well pad south of the lake-like slurry hole, state regulators said.

Experts working for the state Office of Conservation believe the collapse and cracked well pad are linked to now-calmed seismic events from late last week, officials said in a statement Tuesday.

Because of that connection, agency officials said the discovery did not halt work around the sinkhole and the area remains in emergency officials’ lowest “alert” status.

Parish officials also estimated Tuesday that the edge collapse, or slough-in, probably bit off a quarter-acre from the formerly 13-acre sinkhole’s southeastern edge. More firm measurements are pending.

More at http://theadvocate.com/home/5543772-125/sinkhole-swallows-more-trees .

[font color=green]More than 350 people have been evacuated thus far.[/font]

$61 billion payoff from Eagle Ford

AUSTIN — Last year, the Eagle Ford Shale had a $61 billion impact and supported 116,000 jobs across a 20-county swath of South Texas — a once-sleepy region increasingly defined by an oil and gas boom.

The latest numbers from an ongoing University of Texas at San Antonio study continue to show a ballooning financial effect as the industry races to drill oil wells in the region.

The results of the study were released Tuesday at a meeting at the Capitol of the House Energy Caucus and Eagle Ford Shale Caucus, a group of South Texas lawmakers hoping to bring attention to the road, water, health, housing and other infrastructure needs brought on by the influx of workers and truck traffic into the region.

America's Natural Gas Alliance, an industry trade group, paid for the study.

More at http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/energy/article/61-billion-payoff-from-Eagle-Ford-4386142.php .

Bill to test welfare applicants for drugs approved

Drug testing for Texas welfare applicants moved a step closer to reality Tuesday when the bill’s author accepted legislative changes to ensure that children would continue to receive benefits if a parent is caught using drugs.

In the original version of the bill by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, children could permanently lose benefits based on a third failed drug test by a parent.

But Nelson agreed to several changes designed to ensure that children would continue to receive benefits while their drug-using parents are directed into rehabilitation programs, prompting the Health and Human Services Committee to vote 9-0 to approve Senate Bill 11.

“My intent is absolutely not to hurt the children,” Nelson said. “But I believe that if Mama is a serious drug abuser, that money is not going to helping the children. That money is going to buy drugs.”

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/bill-to-drug-test-welfare-applicants-delayed/nW4m6/ .

Texas House votes to reduce high-stakes testing, change graduation requirements

The Texas House on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to loosen high school graduation requirements and significantly reduce high-stakes testing after a daylong debate in which legislators grappled with how academic rigor and flexibility can co-exist.

House Bill 5 won preliminary passage on a 145-2 vote. State Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, who unsuccessfully pushed an amendment aimed at steering more students toward college, and state Rep. Naomi Gonzalez, D-El Paso, were the only nays.

The legislation reduces from 15 to five the number of end-of-course exams needed for graduation from high school and amounts to an about-face for Texas, which has been at the forefront of the standardized testing movement. The required tests would be algebra, biology, U.S. history and 10th-grade reading and writing.

The bill also replaces the current “4x4” graduation plan — four years of English, math, science and social studies — with several different paths to a diploma. The aim is to increase flexibility for students, particularly those seeking career training.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/heated-debate-in-texas-house-over-testing-graduati/nW4qF/ .

Light Texas 130 traffic prompts credit review of toll debt

The privately operated section of the Texas 130 tollway south of Mustang Ridge is attracting about half the predicted traffic, according to Moody’s Investor Service, prompting it to investigate downgrading credit ratings for more than $1.1 billion in debt attached to the toll road.

Meanwhile, toll rates for trucks on the entire length of the tollway, from Seguin to north of Georgetown, will likely be lowered for one year to encourage more traffic. That move is expected to put a dent in revenue, however.

Also, the Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday will consider higher speed limits on a portion of the frontage roads alongside the 85 mph toll road, which could spell more bad news for the tollway, likely steering some traffic toward the free lanes.

The SH 130 Concession Co., a partnership of Spanish tollway company Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry Construction Corp., over the past several years built the $1.3 billion, 41-mile road with its own equity and debt — including $430 million borrowed from the federal government — and is operating it under a 50-year contract with the Texas Department of Transportation. Neither the company nor TxDOT has released traffic or revenue figures for the road, which opened Oct. 24 and began charging tolls on Nov. 11.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/light-130-traffic-prompts-credit-review-of-toll-de/nW5B4/ .

George Jarkesy: Conservative Talking Head, Host to Radio Show in Investments, Gets Slammed by SEC

A local radio host who splits his time between spouting right-wing dogma and offering investment advice has been hit with a cease-and-desist order from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

George R. Jarkesy, Jr. hosts a show on KTEK-AM 1100 (Official motto: "Yes, We Exist" and is semi-syndicated in a handful of other cities and on local cable.

Jarkesy gives financial advice and is big in the Eagles & Angels Association, which deals with venture capitalists and companies looking for investors.

The SEC filed an order March 22 claiming Jarkesy, his partners and his company John Thomas Capital Management defrauded investors via two hedge funds and improperly bloating their fees.

More at http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2013/03/george_jarkesy_radio_fruad.php .

[font color=green]The hedge funds claimed to have $120 million in investments in 2011. Jarkesy has also appeared on Fox Business News.[/font]

Former Employee Says Tom Thumb Forced Him to Work Through Broken Hand, Fired Him

During six years with Tom Thumb, Shaun Garcia says he worked hard, rose up the ranks and earned a reputation as someone who could turn struggling, theft-plagued stores around. He started as a stocker at the Lewisville store then quickly earned a series of promotions, first to assistant night manager, then to full night manager, then as grocery director of stores of increasing size.

He finally landed at the Tom Thumb at Forest and Marsh lanes in Northwest Dallas, which is where he was on the morning of November 17, 2011, the day a couple of vice presidents from Tom Thumb's parent company, Randall's Food & Drug, were scheduled to inspect the store. This was also the day that Garcia's work life would turn to shit, according to a lawsuit he filed against Tom Thumb yesterday in federal court.

It was about 7:20 a.m. and Garcia was helping make last-minute preparations for the visit when, as he descended a flight of cluttered, greasy stairs in a back room, he slipped and fell. He put his right arm out instinctively to break his fall.

What actually broke was his hand. A doctor would later determine that it had fractured in several places and would need surgery to repair, but he didn't know all that at the time. All he knew was that his hand was swollen and that he was in agonizing pain. Garcia showed the hand to his boss, a man named Rock Pollard, who, according to the lawsuit, said that "the store would get 'walked' in just a few hours and it could be a while before he could send Garcia to get medical attention."

More at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/03/broken_hand_tom_thumb.php .

Texas ranks No. 1 in inappropriate student-teacher relationships

SPRING -- Another case of a student and teacher having an inappropriate relationship has been reported in the Houston area.

Kathanna Culp, 28, is accused of having sex with a student in the Spring Branch ISD and of hosting pot parties for teens.

Terry Abbott, who was chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush, calls these types of relationships an epidemic, and says school districts need to do more to stop it.

Abbott decided to start keeping track of the media accounts of these types of cases, and what he found since January 1 is more than 200 cases nationwide. That's nearly two every week.

More at http://www.khou.com/news/texas-news/Texas-ranks-No-1-in-inappropriate-student-teacher-relationships-200151691.html .

GOP leadership: Texas will defend conservative values, traditional marriage

On the day that the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the future of gay marriage in America, about 250 opponents of same-sex marriage gathered on the south side of the Capitol to hear the state’s political leadership promise that Texas will remain a bastion of “freedom, family and faith.”

It was the Texas Faith and Family Rally, an annual event sponsored by Texas Values and Concerned Women for America of Texas.

“Our core values are being attacked on a daily basis … by government fiat in our courts and in our schools, “ said state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels. “They want to redefine marriage between a natural man and natural woman the same way the want to redefine the Constitution. It’s just not going to stand with me.”

Campbell said these values had to be defended here, “because there is no other Texas to move to.”

Comments from Rick Perry and David Dewhurst at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/gop-leadership-texas-will-defend-conservative-valu/nW4rQ/.
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