The 21-year-old North Texas man was arrested last week for trying to cash a $360 billion check, saying he wanted to start a record business, authorities said. Tellers at the Fort Worth bank were immediately suspicious — perhaps the 10 zeros on a personal check tipped them off, according to investigators.
So this dimwit goes into a bank with a $360,000,000,000 personal check drawn on his girlfriend's mother's bank account, and tries to cash it so he can start his own record company.
Not surprisingly, when he was arrested he was found to be carrying a .25 caliber pistol (perfect for shooting your nuts off by accident) and some marijuana. He was released on $3,750 bail. (Do you think they let him write a check for it?)
You, Mr. Fuller, have earned the Texas Dim Bulb Award for the month of April, 2008. Now pack your shit and get out of Texas.
Looking at today's Lewisville Leader, I see that the candidates for Lewisville City Council were asked questions about budgetary priorities and taxes this week.
One of the responses that I thought was most telling was provided by Councilman Lathan Watts, who is looking for re-election for his first full term.
The Leader asked this question:
"Under what conditions would you vote for a property tax increase?"
Candidates John Gorena and David Fogle both "got it" and showed their understanding of what drives property tax rates. Councilman Greg Tierney answered correctly, but didn't show his work.
Councilman Lathan Watts, who never ceases to provide us with material, flunked. His answer:
"I can not imagine circumstances under which I would vote for a property tax rate increase."
Really? OK, look - nobody wants a tax rate increase, and it's not something a council should do just for the hell of it. But an increase in the property tax rate is not the same as a tax increase, necessarily.
A situation that we have to be aware of in the coming year is that due to the mortgage market crisis and resultant drop in property values, it may very well be necessary to raise the rates per $100 valuation in order to match the previous year's revenue. So the value of your homestead may have decreased by 10%, but city tax rates might increase just slightly to take up the slack and keep the same total tax bill.
Further, we are in a very "interesting" phase of our economy right now where we see HUGE inflation, even as real property values are dropping. Consumer confidence is down, and retail sales may falter. We'll have to see how well those "stimulus" checks work, and whether people will spend them in Lewisville. (Mine is going to pay bills) The price of fuel is way up and there's just no predicting where it will go. Each time a fire truck rolls out on a call, our city is burning more expensive fuel. We want good police patrol, and we have to fill up those tanks too.
So, with all of this looming and a lot of uncertainty, I want a Councilman with some understanding of where we might be, and the courage to do what is necessary to keep our city budget in the black without cutting services. Tax increases and rate increases are never popular, but are sometimes necessary. In politics, it seems, you can never go wrong by promising never to raise taxes - unless you have to later. ("Read my lips...")
Should Lathan Watts be re-elected, he may very well face that tough decision. Unfortunately he has tied his own hands. But luckily for him, there are four other Councilmen and a mayor who have the experience to know that there is more to fiscal conservatism than just keeping tax rates low.
The article basically points out that many hospitals are now requiring cash on the barrelhead before you can get chemotherapy if you have cancer.
Apparently this is: - Even if you HAVE insurance - Even at "non-profit" hospitals.
Yes folks, if you are uninsured or under-insured, try not to expose yourself to our filthy air, filthy soil, pesticide-laden produce, and MTBE-laden water. Because if you get cancer, and you don't have a family member willing and able to mortgage their house and come up with $60,000 - $150,000 then you're just gonna die, sucka.
Last week, when I was in Atlanta, I learned that one of my coworkers there - a young man in his twenties, fresh out of college - has cancer throughout his body. Though the prognosis is grim, this fellow was very upbeat and hopeful because he had been referred to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
M.D. Anderson, specifially mentioned in the WSJ article, is a non-profit extension of the University of Texas system, with an endowment of $1.88 Billion, and an income last year of $310 Milliion. The President of M.D. Anderson is John Mendelsohn, who earned $1,180,000 last year. Anyone in Texas who has ever known someone with cancer knows that this place has a stellar reputation.
What is unfortunate is that M.D. Anderson is mentioned in the report as having gained a 44% increase in income while lowering its indigent care expenses significantly over the past several years.
My young friend is lucky that our employer has some damn good medical insurance.
That a state-chartered hospital like M.D. Anderson could be allowed to withhold care, even while stacking up cash and lavishing their executives is an outrage. The legislature ought to step in and put a stop to this nonsense.
IT IS TIME FOR UNIVERSAL SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE.
This questionnaire originally appeared in the Lewisville Leader but due to technical difficulties, they were unable to post Week 4 on their website. Due to this problem, WhosPlayin has posted these answers here as a public service, and by permission of the Leader.
The DART Green Line will be running in or near your area in about two years, and its organizers hope it will allow cities to become more “walkable.” Does this apply to your city or town? What other changes might your area see in the future?
Greg Tierney (Place 1 incumbent): This definitely applies to Lewisville in three specific locations. DCTA (not DART) should be running commuter rail services beginning in 2010/2011. Lewisville will have three stops: Lakeside Circle, Main St (Old Town), and Garden Ridge. We hope such forms of transportation encourage people to get out of their cars and encourage new development around the new station locations. Lewisville is already attempting to be a more walkable city and this applies to more than just the rail hubs. Numerous grant funded projects (Timber Creek Trail and Old Town) are being developed to link various areas of the city via walking.
John Gorena (Place 1 challenger): There are plans to make several transit centers in Lewisville when the rail is built along with the expansion of I-35. The rail system will ultimately connect Lewisville with downtown Carrollton’s DART Rail and then downtown Denton. This will connect this area with Dallas. Hopefully, all the construction will be completed by 2013. Users may need to take local bus routes to and from the stations or use the parking facilities at the transit center locations.
J. Lathan Watts (Place 3 incumbent): As I’ve mentioned in answers to previous questions, Lewisville is working with the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) to bring a rail stop to Lewisville, hopefully in or near Old Town. With a rail stop in Old Town that portion of the city would become more “walkable.” Moreover, with DCTA bus routes throughout Lewisville, commuters could get to most points of interest in our city without the use of a car. As far as other changes, the expansion of I-35 will definitely be a big change for Lewisville and the city staff, mayor, and council are working to make sure it is a positive change.
David Fogle (Place 3 challenger): Yes. The rail system is expected to be open in Denton County by 2010. The station for Lewisville has already been set off I-35 and Garden Ridge to accommodate residents in both Lewisville and Highland Village. Hopefully, the rail system will alleviate current and future traffic congestion on I-35.
Discuss your city or town’s role in transit oriented development. Explain ideas you may have for your area or for the surrounding areas. How might you work with other cities or towns?
Greg Tierney (Place 1 incumbent): We are working with land owners, developers, and other partners like DCTA on all of our transit locations to stimulate TOD. We are working with Highland Village to potentially utilize a single consultant to help develop concepts and options for both cities for the areas around the Garden Ridge station. Lewisville already has an overlay district for the Old Town station that we are evaluating for its applicability to TOD. The third location is surrounded by a single property owner who we have been working with to develop a viable plan that takes advantage of the rail.
John Gorena (Place 1 challenger): The city has been working with the Denton County Transit Authority (DCTA) for several years on this project and the plans are mostly completed and waiting for construction to begin. DCTA has been working closely with each jurisdiction who voted to participate (Lewisville, Highland Village, and Denton) to integrate station plans into local economic development and comprehensive land usage plans.
J. Lathan Watts (Place 3 incumbent): A rail stop in Old Town is the key to transit oriented development that would continue the renewal and revitalization of that section of the city. Adding residential development to the city is important for continued growth. A transit oriented development could be very attractive to young professionals interested in urban living but not interested in the cost of living in larger urban areas. Lewisville should work with the other cities around Lake Lewisville to maximize such a wonderful asset. Cooperative efforts in development and transportation to and from the cities on the lake would benefit all the communities involved.
David Fogle (Place 3 challenger): Already, Lewisville has worked with Highland Village to decide where the 3rd rail station should be because as Mayor Gene Carey pointed out, “we both pay taxes on it.” Lewisville’s commitment to a cleaner environment begins with public transit. Look at where we came from and how much Lewisville has changed. Choosing public transit is a relatively new concept to Lewisville. It used to be drive a car or walk.
What is the current status of your bus system? If you have one, does anything need to be done so it is used more often by your residents? If you don’t, do you need one?
Greg Tierney (Place 1 incumbent): DCTA is the entity that operates transit in Lewisville. We have worked with them to establish their initial routes and have been told that ridership is continuing to build, albeit slowly. Service routes are always subject to further review and change and we work with DCTA periodically to examine those. We will also be linking rail sites to the bus transport system to provide the option to go outside Lewisville using mass transit for as much of the trip as possible. Ultimately, the price of gas may have more impact on increasing ridership than anything we can do.
John Gorena (Place 1 challenger): The DCTA bus program called “Connect” makes about 100 different stops in the area. Connect had about 3,600 passengers in December 2007 and the program continues to grow. Texans like to drive their cars, giving them more freedom to move about the Metroplex. Getting more residents to use the bus system will take some time and encouragement.
J. Lathan Watts (Place 3 incumbent): Our bus system is still relatively new. People are still getting accustomed to the idea of taking a bus in Lewisville, but I’ve received very positive feedback from those who do. The city has done a good job of promoting the bus system and should continue to draw attention to this service of DCTA through the various publications the city produces. I would like to see fewer empty seats on the buses when they pass by to be sure of a good return on our investment, but I realize this will take time and I am willing to be patient. Some say North Texans will never get out of their cars; they certainly won’t if they have no alternative. That is why the buses and eventually the rail line are so important.
David Fogle (Place 3 challenger): Lewisville does have a small bus system through DCTA called “Connect,” which makes 100 stops throughout the area. Currently, Connect operates Monday through Saturday. In the future, I would like to see a bus system run on Sundays to give disadvantaged families the opportunity to attend a church. DCTA also offers a Park and Ride system for residents of Lewisville that have to commute to Denton for work or school. The Park and Ride station in Lewisville is at the Movies 8 Theater on Oak Bend. The Commuter Express is ideal for college students attending UNT or TWU.
Many of the interstates and state highways in the area are congested. Do you have plans in place to relieve any of the major thoroughfares? If elected, is this something that needs to be addressed?
Greg Tierney (Place 1 incumbent): I-35 is a major priority for us and has been for several years. We executed an agreement with TXDOT and NCTCOG to begin construction on this road by 2010. We recently encouraged the NTTA and TXDOT to take action to speed up the process of developing the project. The extension of Windhaven/Corporate Drive would provide an alternative to SH 121. At a larger level, state funding for highways is an issue that must be dealt with by the legislature. They have taken the position of no increase in gas taxes which has forced the entire state to focus on tolled facilities.
John Gorena (Place 1 challenger): As this has been addressed, the expansion of I-35 and the addition of the rail system will help. There are other things that can be done. For example, if businesses across the Metroplex want to voluntarily change shift start times to start an hour earlier or later of the peak traffic times, then this can spread out the traveling vehicles and lessen congestion. This can save travel time and help people save time on the roads.
J. Lathan Watts (Place 3 incumbent): Interstate 35 is the NAFTA corridor. Commerce from Mexico to Canada must pass via I-35. For this reason alone, that highway is always going to be congested no matter how many times we expand it. I would like to see more attention given to the service roads (possibly expanding them) so that local traffic has a viable alternative to the highway which would relieve some congestion. If re-elected, I will continue working with the mayor, council, and staff to address these challenges with creative thinking to provide common sense solutions to this challenge.
David Fogle (Place 3 challenger): There are presently plans for TXDOT to expand I-35, but I know there have been some delays. I think Lewisville has been a champion of change. Similarly, resistance to change would lead us to a dead-end street, being that we are in a highly competitive area. If chosen as a city leader, I would encourage our city to expand on the role of explanations and compassion to those affected by the expansion. I have met quite a few city employees that are eager to share their knowledge with our residents. With the expansion of I-35, come new opportunities to our region.
This questionnaire originally appeared in the Lewisville Leader but due to technical difficulties, they were unable to post Week 3 on their website. Due to this problem, WhosPlayin has posted these answers here as a public service, and by permission of the Leader.
Most cities or towns in the area speak of “going green.” Give specific examples of budgetary opportunities that will allow your city to be more environmentally-friendly. Explain why they are or are not realistic.
Greg Tierney (Place 1 incumbent): Currently Lewisville already makes every effort to be green, and I support these efforts. One popular program we offer is the hazardous waste disposal program. This is available, once a month, to residents to dispose of items dangerous to the environment such as old batteries, old paints, used oils, electronics, etc. We are also exploring the use of hybrid vehicles. We currently offer curbside recycling and are exploring recycling for multi-family units and yard waste curbside recycling. Our entire new building construction for the city is done with the environment in mind especially in the area of energy efficiency.
John Gorena (Place 1 challenger): Though I do not believe that global warming is caused by man, I do believe that we have to be good stewards of our environment and take care of the earth. The “going green” movement will have a positive effect on our environment. If possible, we can conserve more water and energy. We can do little things that can make a big difference. The city already uses devices to use utilities more efficiently like light motion detector timers in city buildings, water conserving appliances, LED based lighting systems, planting more trees, and community education.
J. Lathan Watts (Place 3 incumbent): Lewisville should consider, when awarding contracts for building public buildings and facilities, the applicants’ experience in green building techniques. Also when considering what type of businesses to bring to Lewisville, the environmental impact should be a factor. In both cases this “green factor” should not be the single determining factor but should be considered. Making this policy decision would have little to no impact on our current budget and is therefore a realistic step we can take immediately.
David Fogle (Place 3 challenger): Lewisville has been fortunate enough to offer urban facilities, while still keeping the small town feel. Currently, the city has enacted voluntary water conservation plans. At stage one, we are asked to water outside only on trash pickup days. Water conservation is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce the demand for water, and will stretch out our supply. Lewisville’s website has done an excellent job at thoroughly explaining the stages of water conservation
If elected, what do you think needs to be changed about current environmentally-friendly initiatives in your city or town? What needs to be enacted?
Greg Tierney (Place 1 incumbent): I believe we always need to be looking at ways to improve. We are currently teamed with Keep Lewisville Beautiful and are working on a “Clean Stream Team” program. This program is aimed at storm water pollution prevention. Lewisville is the host city for an upcoming Business Recycling Workshop offered thru the North Texas Corporate Recycling Association. I believe keeping with current trends and organizations to stay on the cutting edge of available programs has worked well for us in the past and that we should stay the course.
John Gorena (Place 1 challenger): I think Lewisville has taken this issue seriously enough to say that we need to continue and improve where we can. We can continue looking at ways to conserve natural resources and use utilities more efficiently. We need to continue programs to properly dispose of unwanted household chemicals (paint, etc.). We need to continue city programs that help residents learn how to conserve water and electricity. It comes down to learning how to do things differently in order to conserve
J. Lathan Watts (Place 3 incumbent): Lewisville already operates a successful recycling program. In addition to this, I would like to see an effort to get the community more actively involved in keeping the city clean. This is one area the city and LISD could work together to create more “clean up days” in Lewisville on a regular basis (quarterly or monthly perhaps). Teaching our children to take pride in their city is important for the future of Lewisville and if kids are involved, their parents will be as well.
David Fogle (Place 3 challenger): The Lewisville landfill has its doors open for Carrollton to dump construction debris and yard waste. When the landfill is full, the city will have to ship its trash to another city, which will be costly. To have the same trash picked up from our front yard would cost twice as much. We have to do all we can to keep that landfill open as long as possible. One approach that the city could take would be to strongly encourage recycling amongst the high density living spaces. Another would be to closely evaluate the waste transported from other cities.
On March 12, the Environmental Protection Agency strengthened standards for ozone levels in the country. States will be required to come up with a plan to explain how they will decrease pollution and comply with the federal standard. What are some ideas you have so that your city or town can contribute?
Greg Tierney (Place 1 incumbent): Public transportation! I am very much an advocate for DCTA. By the year 2012 we should have a light rail system stopping in Lewisville that connects us to downtown Dallas and eventually Fort Worth and DFW airport. I would like to see our transportation board add to its priorities more proactive, aggressive ways to get the public in tune with using public transportation. Non idle zones in certain areas such as school pick up areas and banks (should kids really be breathing all those fumes?) should be created. City operated hybrid vehicles – we currently have more than 450 vehicles in our fleet.
John Gorena (Place 1 challenger): Specifically, the EPA strengthened its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone (a respiratory irritant) which is the main component of smog. The intention is to improve human health and protect sensitive trees and plants. The largest contributor of ground smog is vehicle exhaust. We are already working with the county and state to build new roads and bring a rail system to the area. These efforts should lessen vehicle idle time (slow traffic) and encourage people to leave their cars at home and take the rail system.
J. Lathan Watts (Place 3 incumbent): Lewisville’s leaders both elected and staff should have a voice in the process of crafting any policy by the state which is mandated by the EPA’s recent actions. State officials need to know that a one size fits all approach is neither wise nor fair. Cities like Lewisville should not be punished with strict regulations due to the problems of larger cities in the area such as Dallas.
David Fogle (Place 3 challenger): It was the first time the Clean Air Act had been revised in over 10 years. The tough standards were put in place in response to the most recent evidence gathered. The changes were geared towards protecting people with asthma and lung diseases. I realize that the more rigid standards have thrown some cities into the EPA’s ozone violation arena. However, Lewisville does not have mountains that other cities have, to trap pollution in one spot. Therefore, I think Lewisville is in the clear.
Many cities and towns in North Texas are drafting ordinances for oil and natural gas drilling, and some have already started drilling. Do you have any environmental concerns about this? Even if there is no drilling in your area, are you affected? What is your plan of action?
Greg Tierney (Place 1 incumbent): Lewisville passed, and I voted in favor of, a drilling ordinance in April of 2006. The purpose of the ordinance is to protect the quality of the environment, protect the health, safety and general welfare of the public, and to minimize the potential impact to property and mineral rights owners. Within the ordinance are controls over oil and gas emissions and a requirement for all operators to maintain environmental liability coverage.
John Gorena (Place 1 challenger): Having worked in the oil field, I know there is always a possibility of a problem when drilling. Current technology for drilling can be safe for the environment and surrounding areas. In Lewisville, we get our drinking water from Lewisville Lake and I do not fear any type of ground water contamination. If this nation is going to be more independent for energy, we will have to learn to adjust. “Not In My Back Yard” will mean in someone else’s back yard. Once drilled, the tank battery site can be surrounded by trees to make it more appealing.
J. Lathan Watts (Place 3 incumbent): It is in our nation’s best interest to seek energy independence. Clean coal, nuclear, solar, wind, or any combination of these would be a preferable alternative to our current dependence on foreign oil. Until the day comes when we no longer depend on oil and natural gas, we must make the most of the oil and natural gas supplies we have. I support drilling for oil and natural gas. This could be a great source of revenue for the city that isn’t derived from taxes of fees paid by residents.
David Fogle (Place 3 challenger): The Railroad Commission of Texas no longer has to regulate buses and trains, as it did long ago. Its primary focus has evolved to concentrate on the state’s oil and gas industry. Our Railroad Commission has done a good job protecting the interests of the owners and preventing pollution to our ground water resources. The owner of the minerals initially resides with the owner of the land. As a city, we should side with the Railroad Commission on preventing waste and protecting our ground water.
The City pays nothing to have the cameras installed, and will receive $13.50 - $23.50 of each $75 citation issued, after the State of Texas, and red light camera vendor Redflex Traffic Systems receive their shares.
Lewisville's portion of the revenue will pay for police officer overtime to review video and still images taken by the cameras.
Chief Kerbow and others have stated that this system is for safety rather than for revenue. Given the numbers, I would tend to believe them. And personally, I don't think it's a bad idea to install them.
Red light violations are among the most dangerous of traffic violations, and we can't have police at every intersection to monitor the traffic. I also do not believe that stationary cameras in a public intersection violate any civil rights.
We just need to make sure that there are proper controls in place for the following: - Ensuring that the system is correct when it deems a motorist to have run a red light. Given the profit motive of the vendor, there needs to be an audit system in place to verify accuracy. Presumably this is what the officers will be doing when reviewing the photos. - Ensuring that video and images taken by the system are only used for the purpose of traffic enforcement, and nothing else. - Ensuring that the ticket is sent to the correct and true owner of the vehicle in a timely manner. You wouldn't want a ticket to be mailed to an incorrect address and result in a warrant being issued.
What do you think about this? Take a Poll! (or leave a comment)
...Burgess has amassed one of the ugliest and most reactionary voting records imaginable. He participated in 58 roll calls regarding Iraq and all 58 times he found no flaws in the Bush-Cheney agenda. He voted to rubber stamp Bush all 58 times. Burgess never tires of chanting, zombie-like, about how we have to support the troops. But his voting record on supporting the troops is the worst in the entire U.S. Congress!
Of the 22 roll calls relating to the well-being of America's military personnel, Burgess voted against them all 22 times. Similarly he has voted against military veterans every single time a piece of legislation has come up to ease their burdens. Of the 22 roll calls Burgess has participated in since 2003, he has voted against veterans all 22 times!
It's Sunday night, and you know what that means - another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance blog roundup. (and another episode of "Dexter" on CBS) This week's edition was compiled by Vince at Capitol Annex
North Texas Liberal analyzed the arguments from Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, and Newt Gingrich in favor of the flat tax. See our conclusions here.
The Commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas is a monumental ass. PDiddie of Brains and Eggs has the dirty details in "Discussted".
Last week, KUHT (PBS Channel 8) in Houston ran a special on immigration and public attitudes towards it called Houston Have Your Say, which included public officials, activists, ordinary citizens, and a couple of bloggers. Off the Kuff was one of those bloggers, and he wrote about his impressions here.
I have tickets to Belk department store's charity sale (this Saturday, May 3). The tickets allow customers to get into Belk early in advance of a semi-annual charity sale. The sale is Saturday, May 3 from 6am to 10am. You'll receive $5 off your first purchase when you present your ticket to the sales associate. You'll also be recieving 20-50% off goods, including rarely discounted brands!
Hi y'all. As you know already, I am taking part in this years' Dallas/Ft. Worth Breast Cancer 3-Day event. I am walking 60 miles in early November to show my support for survivors, victims, and families affected by breast cancer. As part of my commitment to the cause, I have promised to raise a minimum of $2,200 by the event. This money goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure to help with research, education, and assistance for those affected.