By a 82-15 vote, the Senate has taken up comprehensive immigration reform. Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised an "open as possible process" for amendments, which means creating a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants still hasn't cleared two formidable roadblocks in Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who respectively are insisting upon a totally secure border and no path to citizenship. Like the Texas Republican Party, Cornyn and Cruz have come a long way from their relatively progressive stances of only a decade ago. When it comes to immigration reform, they were for it before they were against it.
Reactionary anti-immigration politics are somewhat new to Texas, home to 1.65 million unauthorized immigrants. While California Gov. Pete Wilson was campaigning against illegal immigration in 1994, candidate George W. Bush cut a different trail in Texas, touting education reform as an economic boom to Hispanics. His pro-immigration policies lead to him getting 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, a high-water mark for Republicans.
Back then, Texas Republicans competed for the Hispanic vote. Even Rick Perry signed a state version of the DREAM Act in 2001. And as Texas attorney general, Cornyn was no different. He issued an opinion affirming the right of undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses and cracked down on fake "immigration specialists". And as a senate candidate in 2002, Cornyn's border agenda called for increasing federal spending for education, health care and highways—omitting talk of border fences and increased security personnel.
The Lewisville City Council met in its regular scheduled meeting Monday night, June 17th, 2013. The agenda for this meeting may be found here. These are our unofficial (and rough) notes on the proceedings. Minutes are generally posted by the City Secretary after the following meeting. Councilman Leroy Vaughn was absent due to illness.
Workshop In workshop session the Council heard from Jim Cline, president of Denton County Transportation Authority, who presented slides on the current status and future directions of DCTA service.
Assistant City Manager Steve Bacchus presented the Council with information on the proposed water restrictions.
1.) The is the consideration of an ordinance for a zone change request from single-family residential and office district, to public use on 1.767 acres located between Herod St. and Charles St. on the north side of Church St. This is the property just North of the MCL Grand Theater. The property could be used for events parking, or could eventually be sold by the city for economic development purposes. This was requested by the City of Lewisville, the property owner. Passed unanimously.
2.Consideration of an ordinance for a zone change request from Old Town Mixed Use Two to public use on three tracts totally 0.87 acres located at the northwest corner of Walters St. and Mill St. This property will be used as parking for city staff, freeing up City hall property to be used for parking for public events. This was requested by the City of Lewisville, the property owner. Passed Unanimously.
3.) Consideration of an ordinance amending chapter 17026(a) of the Lewisville city code to reduce the minimum land requirement from 30 to 5 acres for a planned unit development. This was done to help facilitate redevelopment of older properties in the area. Passed unanimously.
VISITORS/CITIZENS FORUM: Bryan Webb, Flower Mound Councilman wanted to inform Council of an initiative taken by Flower Mound to deal with drugs. Community drug summit - August 10th - Saturday - Trietsch Memorial Methodist Church - 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
CONSENT AGENDA: The most noteworthy item on the consent agenda was item 9, which is an implementation of stage 2 water restrictions in Lewisville. The City has been in stage 1 voluntary measures since 2006. This stage will be mandatory. It was moved by Councilman Durham, and seconded by Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Gilmore. Passed unanimously.
10.) Consideration of a variance to the Lewisville City Code chapter 4, article X. fences, located at 1805 South Valley Parkway, as requested by Bradley and Eloina Compton, the property owners. There was a motion to approve by Councilman Durham, which was seconded by Councilman Ferguson. Approved unanimously.
11.) Second and Final Reading: Consideration of an ordinance of the City Council of the City of Lewisville, Texas extending the term of an ordinance granting a gas franchise to Lone Star Gas Company, an Atmos corporation, providing an effective date.
12.) Consideration of a Brownfields assessment program application for the property at 1725 Lakepoint Dr. Councilman Ferguson made the motion to approve, which was seconded by Councilman Tierney. Approved unanimously. Funding for the program was granted to the City by the EPA. $200,000 was for hazardous materials, and $200,000 was for petroleum based materials. The city expects to use almost all of the hazardous materials funding, but will probably return some of the petroleum-based funding.
13.) Consideration of the addition of two new activities to the 2013 Western Days Festival and rain accumulation insurance and approval of a supplemental appropriation in the amount of $35,922 from the hotel-motel fund. Councilman Gilmore made a motion to approve the rain insurance, and second stage expenditures. Councilman Tierney seconded. Item passed unanimously. Councilman Gilmore then made a motion to table discussion of the Beer Tasting event until the next meeting. This item passed unanimously.
14.) Discussion and consideration of appointments to various City Boards/Commissions/Committees. All of recommendations for appointments were passed unanimously. (List forthcoming)
15.) Consideration of excusing Mayor Pro Tem Vaughn from attendance at the City Council meetings held on May, 21, 2013, June 3, 2013, and June 17, 2013. Mayor Ueckert mentioned that Councilman Vaughn was getting better, and worked with Councilman Gilmore on board appointments. Motion was made to approve his absence, which was seconded by Councilman Durham. Passed unanimously.
Reports LFD Chief Tim Tittle congratulated the PD on their win at Battle of the Badge. Carrollton ended up beating LFD in the finals.
Gilmore: Don’t let off on mosquito prevention. Kealy Operations Center- first Tuesday of every month - free landscaping classes.
King: 2025 Meeting on Wednesday 19th at Senior Center
Ferguson: Was at the Battle of the Badge - very interesting game. Paws in the Park was a big success. Dogs were adopted. Sounds of Lewisville - Hip Hops play tomorrow night. Kildares on June 25th. Lewisville Summer Musicals - Red Skelton’s American Way - July 5th and 6th at MCL Grand. Yoga in the courtyard at MCL Grand. Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. Visual Arts League - Acoustic Fridays - 7 p.m. Solo exhibit by Dan Lattimore continues. Photography by various members. June 29th - Aug 10th - Fresh Ideas VAL exhibit.
Well, shoot. Here it is Sunday already and I haven't posted an update since last Thursday. Today is Fathers' Day, and is a chance to reflect on the importance of our fathers in our lives. It's also an opportunity for us fathers to reflect on the job we are doing, hope once again that we're not screwing up our kids too badly. It's been a tough year on us for a number of reasons that I won't go into, but suffice it to say that things escalate when the kids go into middle school. My oldest will now be in high school this coming year, and my youngest will be finishing up 8th grade. I really hope attitudes change.
The past week at work was a vast improvement for me, since I finally got back to writing code. I had spent weeks writing estimates and specifications, and it was on my last nerve. Finally, I got a rush job to make some nifty improvements to an image upload and email process on my client's website, so I ended up diving into Java to get the job done. It's not a language I ever work with, but sometimes it's a better tool for the job, so I hobbled some stuff together with thanks to the great Google for the technical help.
Anyhow, enough about my week; here are some links:
This past Monday, the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees met in workshop session to discuss the 2013/14 budget. Chris Roark has good coverage in the Flower Mound Leader. I shot video which I need to get posted soon. There was also a discussion of the district's technology plan, and trustees were updated on the implementation of 1:X and getting iPads into the hands of students. My oldest was pleased to learn that next school year, all 4th, 7th, 9th, and 10th grade students will be issued iPads, and the teaching for those grades will incorporate them in the lessons.
Rick Perry delivered a blow to Lewisville ISD today with his veto of H.B. 2824, which would have allowed our school district and other districts in the Texas High Performing Schools Consortium to opt out of the state's high-stakes testing regime and form the model for a new accountability system. This is very disappointing. H.B. 5 decreased the testing, but it did not go far enough. The tests are not a great assessment of student learning, and an even poorer measurement of school accountability. TEA is working on a new accountability system, but it still heavily relies on those damned tests. I heard an analogy the other day that seems to fit: If your leg is broken, does your doctor repeatedly X-ray it in the hopes that it fixed itself, or does she simply use it to diagnose where the break is, then fix it? That's how we need to use assessments in our schools: to diagnose.
Here's a story that disgusts me: In Texas, it's apparently legal to shoot a woman if she takes your money and doesn't follow through with sex. As much as I love my native state, backward-ass things like this embarrass me for our state. This guy admits he killed a woman because she did not follow through with the prostitution that he expected. That's a murder committed as part of a crime that he was participating in. I hate to second-guess judges and juries, but this seems pretty clear-cut to me.
With the drought continuing, and area lakes below where they need to be, the Lewisville City Council will vote Monday night on whether to implement mandatory water conservation measures for the city. If approved by the Council, the city would go into Stage 2 water conservation, which calls for mandatory limits on outdoor watering to only twice per week on trash collection days - 5-9 a.m. and 7-11 p.m., with no watering on Sundays.
If the restrictions are approved, the would be in effect from July 1st - August 31st. Enforcement will be performed by city staff from public services, community development, police, fire, and parks department. A first violation would warrant a door tag or letter; and a second violation would result in a warning citation. A third violation would hit the violator with a citation that could cost up to a $500 fine.
The City of Lewisville has no water rights of its own, instead purchasing both treated and untreated water from Dallas Water Utilities, which owns the rights to Lewisville Lake and other local reservoirs. The measures are being considered at the request of Dallas Water Utilities, which is asking all customers to implement mandatory restrictions. The City of Lewisville is limited in the amount of water it can take from DWU each day, and exceeding that amount can have permanent fiscal impacts on ratepayers. The limit for Lewisville is 29 MGD (million gallons per day).
In 2011, Lewisville reached and temporarily exceeded its supply capacity to provide water, hitting a peak in August of 29.9 MGD, which was met partially by drawing down elevated storage. Lewisville's pumping system has a daily capacity of 39 MGD, which is what it could pump with current equipment if supply was increased.
Lewisville has been under voluntary Stage 1 measures since October 2006, and city staff say this would be the first time under the current plan that the city would go to Stage 2. In February of 2012, the city expected to have to go to Stage 2 in the Spring, but storms in late February and early March of last year filled area lakes to the point where it was not necessary.
The Council will discuss the measures in a workshop session Monday night at 5:30, and will vote on the measures in open session at 7:00 p.m. Contractual requirements with DWU require that the council approve the measures, so they are included in the consent agenda.
With the new Superman movie coming out in a couple of days, I thought it would be pertinent to discuss the importance of a character like Superman in our culture. Specifically, there seems to be backlash when it comes to certain aspects of the character, such as the variety of powers or the lack of interesting stories in the Superman canon. For the majority of my life, I was one of those people. Superman just never appealed to me. He had too many powers, never seemed to have depth to him, and generally was inferior to Batman.
However, like many great stories, it only takes one moment to seep into the soul and change everything.
2009 was a rough year for me. In the moments between work and school, I found myself becoming an insomniac. My dreams alluded me, much like my friends, and it took a toll on my consciousness. I was waiting for happiness to find me, only to find myself disappointed when nothing came. Life took an unexpected halt and I hated every minute of it. That was, until I stumbled upon a comic called All Star Superman, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely.
The comic started out like any other. Superman rushes to save a ship--rigged to fail by Lex Luthor--from plummeting into the sun. However, this is not like many of Luthor’s other ploys. With major exposure so close to the sun, Superman’s regenerative abilities actually turn on him and he begins dying. I could go into the how Superman chooses to live his last days, but one moment in particular will always live in my memory.
Superman/Clark Kent is having one of the last conversations he’ll ever have with the love of his life, Lois Lane. Yet he hears something amidst this talk, and abruptly leaves to investigate. A girl is standing on a high rooftop as her cell phone falls to the ground below. She imagines herself succumbing to the same fate as she closes her eyes, but Superman appears behind her. He says calmly: “Your doctor really did get held up again, Regan. It’s never as bad as it seems. You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.”
A Petition Could Force a Local-Option Election for November to Allow Liquor Sales in the City
Residents of Lewisville could soon buy packaged liquor from stores in Lewisville instead of driving to Highland Village, if voters approve. A group of Lewisville residents has completed the first step of a process to launch a petition drive calling for a local option liquor election. Since the last local option election in 2005, Lewisville residents have been able to buy beer and wine locally, but residents looking for distilled spirits must still drive to nearby Highland Village.
City Secretary Julie Heinze received the petition request last Friday, and verified that it meets the requirements under Texas law, having been signed by 10 eligible Lewisville voters, and a notice of intent published in a newspaper of general circulation. The petition calls for a measure to legalize “The legal sales of all alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption only”. Since beer and wine sales are already allowed, the effect of the petition would be to allow the sale of distilled spirits. Mixed drinks are already allowed to be sold for on-premise consumption in Lewisville bars and restaurants.
The petition is being organized by Eppstein Group, a Dallas-based firm that provides these services on behalf of its clients. We have reached out to Eppstein for more information and have yet to hear back from them, but we understand that liquor retailer Total Wine and More is pushing for the change. We have also attempted to contact Total, but had not yet heard back from them by the time we posted this story. Interestingly, the public notice of intent was published December 7th of 2012 - over six months ago in the Denton Record Chronicle.
The next step in the process is for Heinze to generate the petition forms. The organizers then have 60 days to gather 4,422 signatures in order to get it on the ballot for a special election for the voters. That number is equivalent to 35% of the registered voters in Lewisville (both Dallas and Denton County portions) who voted in the last gubernatorial election. Once the petition is returned, the City Secretary would then verify the signatures as valid voters, and certify whether the requirements had been met.
Organizers could not have asked for better weather for SummerFest, which was held Saturday at Westlake Park on Lewisville Lake in Hickory Creek. The event itself was free, although admission to the park costs $4 per carload. Westlake park is managed jointly by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Our Lands and Waters Foundation. SummerFest was held in conjunction with National Get Outdoors Day.
The event featured live bands, a classic car show, a cardboard boat regatta, a fishing competition, and the North Texas Steak Cook-Off. Dozens of competitors in the steak cooking contest had the area smelling of delicious smokiness, and were sharing appetizers and steak with the public. One volunteer we spoke to said that the parking lot had over 500 cars, but that since there were no admission gates, it was hard to estimate the crowd. Still, for a first-year event, that kind of attendance is laudable.
Nearby, scores of boats were lashed together for a huge party in the water near the old dam.
Our Lands and Waters Foundation PR and Marketing Directory Stephanie Berndt said that the event’s purpose is to raise awareness of the public’s parks. “They’re your parks, and we want people to know what kind of amenities are available in the parks,” said Berndt. “We have wonderful picnic sites; we have pavillions for rent; we have the boat launch,” she added.
Berndt explained that the foundation partners with the Corps to co-manage and enhance the parks, repairing and upgrading amenities, as well as trying to open closed parks. The organization hopes to put in a new swim beach in Oakland Park. The organization, a 501(c)(3), offers free membership, with a monthly e-newsletter. For more information check out the Our Lands and Waters Foundation’s Facebook page or website.
It's Thursday morning, and burnout continues. I should probably be at work right now, but my youngest son has surgery later this morning and my nerves are up, so we're sitting at the house killing time before we have to take him up to the hospital. It's nothing serious; just a little procedure to correct a congenital issue with one of his ankles. If it goes well, he'll get the other one done later this year. He is super-excited about it, and not the least bit nervous that I could tell. (Update 6:30 p.m. - He's home now, all drugged up, and doing fine)
As my regular readers know, I am a computer programmer / consultant in my day job, so normally I write code for a living. The past few weeks I've been gathering requirements and writing proposals, estimates, and functional specifications for a big project. What it has meant is many hours on the phone talking to folks, lots of time hunting through thousands of programs constituting millions of lines of code, and a lot of head scratching and reckoning. It's daunting sometimes being faced with huge problems where you start out with a goal in mind, but too many unknown unknowns.
What has been worse for me in the past week is that having taken a SWAG at an initial estimate, then gone back and taken the deep dive to gather more details, my estimates have generally gone up and the hi/lo ranges gotten bigger - which is the opposite of what should happen with more information. So each and every day this week and last, usualy by 3 p.m. my brain has wanted to shut down, saying "enough of this".
It's been awful hard to keep going, because my favorite activity is just to take a single well-defined issue, and try to write some code to solve the problem. Even better is when the problem is well-defined, and you tell me that it can't be solved, but then give me the time I need to prove you wrong. I need some time off, but I really need to land this project.
Saturday night / Sunday morning was awesome. (Video is here.) Now that is how a city welcomes home champions. At Monday night's City Council meeting, the Mayor recognized them again, and then yesterday the city had a pep rally at City Hall for them. City staff are looking into what it would take to add some recognition to the water tower on I-35E.
On Tuesday afternoon, I joined what seemed to be 100-200 others at the Lewisville 2025 Plan "Big Ideas" event at the MCL Grand Theater. I wish I could say that it was better-attended than it was. There were a lot of familiar faces there. The event basically was a venue for citizens to learn about existing plans, talk with city staff in various departments about how things currently are, and provide big ideas about where we would like to be in 2025. At this point in the process, it's all about brainstorming and gathering the ideas to see what the trends are, and what people are thinking about. Going in, I couldn't think of much, I have to admit, but after viewing some of the ideas that other folks had shared on some of the paper boards there, the ideas started flowing, and we contributed quite a few. I took my oldest son with me to this. At 14, I think he might have been one of the youngest there; Councilman T.J. Gilmore had his kids there too.
I've been somewhat familiar with a lot of the plans just by my proximity to the issues from tracking and reporting on them here, and because I've attended the last several years of Council retreats and budget workshops. But it was still neat to get another look and see details that I had either missed before, or forgotten.
There will be two more of these Big Ideas gatherings on June 19th at the Senior Activity Center, and July 18th at the Municipal Annex. We strongly encourage everyone to attend one or both. Even if you don't have any ideas now, or don't feel strongly about anything, you may change your mind once you see what others have been thinking. For me, putting check marks next to the ideas of others was equally worthwhile.
Events This Saturday, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., the Our Lands and Waters Foundation presents SummerFest On the Lake. The event is in Westlake park on Lake Lewisville, which is in the city of Hickory Creek.
Battle Of The Badge softball tournament benefiting the Children's Advocacy Center for Denton County (CACDC) happens this Saturday. Numerous local police and fire agencies will send their teams to compete.
On Saturday, June 22nd, Denton County Democratic Party’s Democratic Gun Club will meet up at the range for some shooting. RSVP by June 14th. I only post this because people who have been brainwashed by the NRA wing of the Republican Party seem to think that all Democrats have the singular purpose in life of taking away their guns. While there may be some in our party with strong anti-gun views, the majority of us just seem to favor sensible regulations that are consistently and fairly enforced. This is especially true in Texas and throughout the rest of the south, and is why I have exactly zero fear of the government ever taking my guns away - no matter how loud the radical voices on either side of the issue may be.
Best Little Brewfest is June 22nd at Texas Motor Speedway. Proceeds benefit Cloud 9 Charities, Alzheimers Caregivers Support, and Teen Suicide Prevention. 50+ Craft brewers with over 100 beers will gather under one roof. Admission is $30, which is a little steep, given that you will probably not want to consume more than about $10 worth of beer if you are going to drive home, but it's for a good cause.
On June 1st, cities in the North Texas Municipal Water District started mandatory Stage 3 water restrictions due to drought, and may only water lawns once per week. City of Lewisville Staff posted the following comment on Facebook this week: "Lewisville is not a NTMWD customer and is not subject to those restrictions. Residents are, of course, encouraged to be wise about their water use. Per capita consumption in our city already is lower than the conservation target for the impacted cities, so good job everyone! Keep it up." Lewisville Lake is still at about 517 feet, or about 5 feet below conservation pool. Lewisville Public Works director Carole Bassinger said earlier this week that even with the rain, Dallas Water Utilities is pulling out water, so the level has not risen.
The Town of Flower Mound has created an anonymous tip line to help teens with drug problems get help. The program focuses on intervention outside the criminal justice system. Typically, police departments focus on law enforcement, so sometimes in the course of investigations, they may suspect people of drug use, but not have evidence to prosecute. This program sets out to cure the problem by working with the individuals' families to get help for the person. If you have information relating to a teenager using narcotics, please call the Flower Mound Police Sergeant Colin Sullivan at 972.874.3341 or the FMPD non-emergency line at 972.539.0525. All tips and information regarding teen narcotic use will remain confidential and no criminal charges will be filed, once information is provided.
During the school year, kids get nutritious meals at school. But kids are just as busy and just as hungry during the summer break. KIDS EAT FREE.
In an effort to help families in today’s challenging economic times S.Tracy Howard Project is sponsoring the Summer Food Service Program and meals will be provided to all children 18 years and younger without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. The program kicks off Monday, June 10th and will continue through August 24th, serving Breakfast Monday - Saturday between 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. and Lunch 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. A balanced hot meal and beverage will be provided at the following locations:
Bay Shore / Parc Lake Village 1901 Lakeview Cr Lewisville, TX 75057 Willow Ridge 797 S. Old Orchard Lewisville, TX 7506. Macon Manor Apts. 2534 Vintage Drive Farmers Branch, TX 75234 St. Charles Place Apartments 1090 S. Charles St Lewisville, TX 75057 Oak Tree Village 1595 Old Orchard Ln. Lewisville, TX 75067