Is the United States inevitably on the path to Hillaryland?
The big debate is on as it becomes clear that despite GOPers' and Fox News' continued clamor about Benghazi, Clinton is riding high in polls that match her up against Democrats and Republicans. According to a McClatchy-Marist poll, the former Secretary of State would today handily beat all of her potential Republican challengers, with Rep. Paul Ryan giving her the toughest run (52 percent to 44 percent). Among Democrats, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll gives her a six to one lead over potential party competitors.
So this means you can throw away your new crystal ball? Not quite. If doing well in early polls and looking like a front-runner was a certainty then we would have had President Edwin Muskie, President John Connally, President Rudi Guiliani - and President Hillary Clinton. Amid growing Democratic consensus about Hillary and a circular firing squad in the GOP, Republicans are going after her.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has been hammering former President Bill Clinton's "predatory behavior" with Monica Lewinsky, and saying while it isn't Hillary's fault, "it's sometimes hard to separate one from the other" -- an argument bound to insult many women voters. Some conservative talkers now gleefully echo Paul. Republican National Committee chairman Rance Priebus says "everything is on the table" to use against Hillary Clinton, including a "truckload" of negative material.
Here’s a move that I just can’t understand: The Dallas City Council put its water supply at risk by allowing the Seaway Pipeline, which will carry heavy tar sands oil, to pass through a piece of property that Dallas Water Utilities owns, and has water pipelines on. Don’t worry though: They got paid $1,600. All better now. I’m sure that any accident with the oil pipeline won’t cost any more than that. Dallas Water Utilities supplies treated and untreated water to the City of Lewisville.
This is an interesting article about Attorney General Greg Abbott prosecuting voter fraud. It seems some right-wing types were zealous about special taxing districts, and decided to claim voter registrations at a hotel so that they could legally vote themselves onto the directors of a road utility district that had been put together by developers and was in use to fund infrastructure for a business area.
Ted Nugent is a dirtbag draft-dodger, racist, and misogynist who in the past has made statements about affairs with underage girls. But Greg Abbott is traveling with him, and the two will be in Denton today. If you want to know someone’s values, pay less attention to the words they say, and more attention to what they do. Abbott talks a game about family values, and going after predators, but he’s hanging out with one today - showing that politics is really more important to him.
Kraig Parker will be performing at Sounds of Lewisville this June 3rd. Here's some video of Kraig from last year:
By Jason Stanford Sandy Kress, the controversial testing lobbyist, is leading a new raid on school taxes. This month he registered to lobby for Amplify, the company that wants to replace textbooks with tablet computers, positioning him to grab some of the hundreds of millions of dollars Education Sec. Arne Duncan is offering to create pre-K tests. Despite a nationwide backlash against high-stakes testing, your tax dollars are now going to developing standardized tests for 4-year-olds, and Kress is ready to cash in.
Kress was the architect of No Child Left Behind who then lobbyied for Pearson Education while simultaneously serving on several state advisory boards. Kress became so unpopular amid an anti-testing rebellion in Texas that the legislature made it illegal for him or any other testing lobbyist to make campaign contributions. Even registered sex offenders can give politicians money in Texas.
But now the Obama administration is pushing a new and (pardon the pun) untested theory that we can use student scores to measure teacher effectiveness. To compete for Race to the Top funds, states have to figure out how to use standardized test scores to measure the effectiveness of teachers, something education historian Diane Ravitch has called "junk science".
There are basic problems with using student scores to judge teachers. The tests don't measure classroom learning, school funding is unequal. Stress caused by high-stakes testing impairs thinking. Using test scores to judge teachers encourages teaching to the test. But for Duncan, the real problem was that there is no way to determine the effectiveness of a kindergarten teacher if that's the first year students take standardized tests.
Diagram of proposed Lake Park improvements - click image to enlarge. (Map from City of Lewisville Grant Application)
By Steve Southwell
Lake Park in Lewisville will soon see infrastructure upgrades, thanks to a federal grant that the city has been awarded. Roads, parking, and drainage in the park will get upgrades to improve citizen access to the lake. The federal government will pay about 80% of the cost of the $3,911,754 price tag, with the City of Lewisville providing a match in the amount of $773,000 from existing available funding.
Lewisville Vision 2025 Committee member Jennifer Linde found out about the Federal Lands Access Program, administered by the Federal Highway Administration, and passed the information along to Deputy Mayor Pro Tem TJ Gilmore. Gilmore thought it sounded like a good deal, and sent the information along to city management. Lewisville then spent $10,000 on a scoping study to go with a the city’s ultimately successful grant application. The purpose of the federal grant program is to specifically provide funding for projects that improve access to federal lands. Lake Park is actually owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but is on long-term lease to the City of Lewisville, which manages the park for recreation.
The project, which is slated for completion by September of 2015, will include reconstruction and widening of 1.65 miles of park roads, nine parking lots, and installation of 2.25 miles of new trails, mostly along existing roadways, improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists. All of the improvements occur within the boundaries of Lake Park, east of Mill Street. The park’s roadways are currently narrow, and in some places crumbling at the edges. At capacity, the park can be hard to navigate, especially for vehicles with trailers. The typical road reconstruction will be 24 feet wide with pavement, and an additional 2 feet of unpaved shoulder on each side. Parking lots need general improvements, including those needed to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act. The hike and bike trails will be 10 feet wide.
At Monday night’s Council meeting, the Council voted to accept the grant and authorize the signing of contracts. Afterward, Gilmore thanked Linde for bringing the item to their attention, and urged residents to contact their council members when they learn of opportunities like this.
Lewisville Parks and Leisure Services Director Bob Monaghan said he anticipates the design work to start in March with construction beginning in November of this year.
The Lewisville City Council meeting on Feburary 3rd lasted 12 minutes, and included only three items: Approval of a car wash, a consulting contract for Western Days, and approval of a bid for paving a parking lot.
The Lewisville City Council met in its regular scheduled meeting Monday night, February 3rd, 2014. The agenda for this meeting may be found here. These are our unofficial (and sometimes rough) notes on the proceedings. Minutes are generally posted by the City Secretary after the following meeting. Video is available here.
Workshop Session The workshop session was very short, and there was no substantial discussion.
Open Session Mayor Pro Tem Vaughn presented an Texas Municipal Library Directors’ Association - Achievement of Excellence in Libraries Award for 2013 award for the Lewisville Library to Library Manager Ann Wiegand . Wiegand thanked the Council and Mayor for their support of the library, and stated that the library’s three main goals are self-directed education, research assistance and instruction, reading skills for children and teens.
There was a public hearing regarding providing a Special Use Permit (SUP) for a car wash, Legends Express on Round Grove Rd. at Oakbend, near Walmart.
Rev. Dr. Byron Wells of the Round Grove United Church spoke and said he had reached an agreement with property owner regarding screening between it and the neighboring church and cemetery.
The Council approved the item unanimously without discussion.
Visitors/Citizens Forum No speakers.
Consent Agenda The consent agenda was passed unanimously. It included renewal of a consulting contract with Promoter Line, who has provided services to Lewisville in operating the Western Days festival for several years. The new agreement lasts 5 years, and sets a consulting fee of $47,500 per year. The consent agenda also included the approval of a bid by 2L Construction, LLC for the Walters Street parking lot, for $306,488, for a total budget of $315,688.
Reports - Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Gilmore reminded everyone that the library does a lot of work, and that they should look at library website for activities for children, adults, or teens. Plenty of great stuff all the time. - Councilman Ferguson noted numerous arts activities and shows at the MCL Grand Theater.
The meeting was adjourned to closed session for real estate and economic development discussion at 7:12. When the Council came back, no further action was taken.
By Angela Jackman, Parents4LISD The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees met in their regular monthly meeting Monday night, February 10th, 2014. These are our unofficial notes of the proceedings. Official minutes are generally posted after the following month's meeting when they are approved by the board. Agendas and minutes are posted here. Meeting video can be found here.
Meeting Highlights 1) Mrs. Chantell Upshaw will be the principal for the Marcus High School 9th Grade Center.
2) Barbara Brown (LISD Chief Technology Officer) received the Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of Technology in Education award.
3) Dr. Penny Reddell reported on the Texas Academic Performance Report ("TAPR"). LISD compared favorably to the state and region averages in reading, math, science and social studies. ACT and SAT scores compare favorably and LISD's drop-out rate is low.
4) The Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Report was presented. 78% of the staff responded; results reported that 45% of the staff was "fully engaged," 45% was "not engaged" and 10% was "actively disengaged." The student indexes showed that 54% were "hopeful," 33% felt "stuck" and 13% were "discouraged."
5) Lori Rapp addressed Instructional Materials Adoption. The district will adopt new math and science materials with funding from the Instructional Allotment Fund. The district will present teacher feedback in March.
6) The 2014-15 Financial Forecast reflects possible savings of $4 million in the current year. The 2014-15 budget will include $100 per student for technology funding. LISD spends over 65% on instruction, which is about 4% over the state average. LISD spends about 2.2% on administration, compared to the state average of 3.6%.
7) Students and teachers from DeLay Middle School presented Inquiry by Design as used by English / Language Arts for reading and writing.
8) Mr. Perry presented a construction update. Progress continues on the aquatic center and the two ninth grade centers. A topping out celebration is planned for Flower Mound 9th grade center for February 21.
9) The board approved a resolution regarding proposed electric regulatory changes.
10) The board approved an agreement with Serenity High.
Local animal shelters and rescues are full of cats and dogs that need loving forever homes. From time to time, we'll be posting information about animals in the Lewisville area that need to be adopted.
This is Merlin! Merlin is a Miniature Poodle, and he is about 10+ years old. Merlin is very friendly and doesn't act his age at all. He still has plenty of energy and loves walks! Merlin is mostly blind, but that doesn't stop him from doing anything. This wonderful boy is in need of a home, and he seems like he would do great in any environment. So please stop by and say hello!
Dallas will need to be neutered and will need his rabies vaccinations to complete the adoption agreement. Dallas is approximately 1 year old. Dallas is very friendly. He loves to take walks or run around in yard. Because of his size he may not do well in a home with small children, but he is very friendly. Dallas came in as a stray and is available now!
When adopting a pet, the adopter will sign an adoption agreement. The agreement states they are at least 18 years of age; that the animal is to be spayed/neutered within 30 days or at 6 months of age; also that the animal be vaccinated against rabies as required by State and City code. The total cost to adopt ranges from $20.00 - $50.00 depending on residency.
AirCheckTexas Accepting Vehicle Replacement Applications; Program had been focusing on repair assistance.
AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine will continue helping qualifying motorists purchase newer, more fuel efficient vehicles, after it began accepting applications for replacement assistance in North Texas for a limited time Feb. 10.
Residents with vehicles that have failed the emissions portion of the state inspection in the past 30 days or are more than 10 years old are encouraged to apply for replacement assistance if they meet the income criteria and certain vehicle requirements.
Assistance is open to vehicle owners in nine Dallas-Fort Worth area nonattainment counties (Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall and Tarrant). AirCheckTexas is one of many programs implemented to help North Texas reach attainment of the federal government’s ozone standard, which it has until 2018 to meet.
This is the third year in a row the replacement assistance has operated on a limited basis, following a reduction in funding. The repair component of the program, offering vouchers worth as much as $600, has continued year-round.
During the four months replacement applications were accepted in fiscal year 2013, 1,150 vehicles were replaced. Since the program began in 2002, 29,900 vehicles have been replaced, while 28,450 have been repaired with the help of vouchers.
A family of four earning $71,550 or less per year may receive assistance. The program offers $3,000 vouchers toward replacement of a vehicle with a newer, cleaner automobile. The amount increases to $3,500 if the newer car or truck is a hybrid, electric or natural gas-powered vehicle.
For information on the status of the program and a video explaining the application process, visit NCTCOG.org/airchecktexas.
Applications and income documentation for all adults in the household must be submitted by fax, 817-608-2315, or mail. The mailing address is AirCheckTexas Program, P.O. Box 5888, Arlington, TX 76005-5888.
NCTCOG is not able to assist walk-ins because of limited resources. Assistance through this application-based program is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. After enough applications have been received to exhaust the available funding, the replacement portion will be closed. The repair program will continue, but replacement applications will no longer be accepted for the rest of fiscal year 2014. The program could be briefly reopened to qualifying motorists seeking replacement vouchers in fiscal year 2015.
Believe it or not, there is good news when it comes to income inequality. It turns out Republicans finally believe that the gap between rich and poor has become a problem. The bad news is, according to a new poll, is that Republicans think the best solution is cutting the taxes for the wealthy and big corporations so money and opportunity can rain down on the poor. Addressing poverty by ensuring that cash does not become lonely in the wallets of the wealthy is what passes for a Republican governing philosophy these days, and it is exactly why Barack Obama has decided to go it alone on income inequality.
The issue isn't that income inequality exists but that the wealthiest 1 percent has achieved the financial equivalent of escape velocity, leaving us poor folk back here on Planet Broke. In 1982, the top 1 percent highest-earning families took home one out of every $10. Now they get more than twice that, leaving the other 99 percent of us to make do on less. The last time it was this bad was the Gilded Age, and majorities of Republicans, Democrats and Independents agree it's time to do something about it.
As was made clear in his State of the Union address, the problem Obama faces is that his potential governing partners believe in an economic ideology roughly equivalent to fairy dust but stand resolutely opposed to thinking happy thoughts. Herein lies the Hell that Republicans envision for the poor: Most Republicans (51 percent) believe that the poor are poor due to a "lack of effort"," that our economy is "generally fair to most Americans" (53 percent), and that "most people who want to get ahead can make it if they're willing to work hard" (76 percent). In other words, Republicans believe that income inequality is that fault of lazy poor people, which is why they want to put more money into the hands of rich people who are doing all the work.