Monthly Archives: July 2011

Travis County’s Bond Rating Reviewed By Moody’s | KUT.org

Travis County’s Bond Rating Reviewed By Moody’s | KUT.org.

July 30, 2011 7:27 pm by: Erika Aguilar

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Travis County’s AAA bond rating could be downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service if the federal government’s rating is lowered as well. Moody’s Investors Service sent a warning Thursday to 177 public finance issuers that each would be “placed under review for possible downgrade the Aaa ratings.” Nine Texas governments were included:

  • Alamo Community College District
  • Tarrant County Hospital District
  • Bexar County
  • Dallas County
  • Tarrant County
  • Travis County
  • City of Richardson
  • City of San Antonio
  • San Antonio River Authority

A downgraded rating could result in higher interest rates for Travis County. From the Moody’s press release, local governments are being reviewed because of their ties to the federal government and federal funding.

“The ratings of these local governments, particularly those with a high economic dependence on federal activity, would be vulnerable to a downgrade of the U.S. government” said Moody’s Senior Vice President Matt Jones, a team leader covering local government ratings. In addition to the risk of federal job reductions, Moody’s review following a U.S. government downgrade would focus on a local government’s reliance on capital markets, its dependence on federal revenues, its sensitivity to macroeconomic cycles, and its available financial resources to offset these risks.”

Texas Sales Tax Holiday (98-490)

Sales Tax Holiday (98-490).

Sales Tax Holiday

August 19 – 21, 2011

Texas shoppers get a break from state and local sales taxes on August 19, 20 and 21 – the state’s annual tax holiday. Lay-away plans can be used again this year to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.

As in previous years, the law exempts most clothing and footwear priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend. Backpacks under $100 and used by elementary and secondary students are also exempt. A backpack is a pack with straps one wears on the back. The exemption during the sales tax holiday includes backpacks with wheels, provided they can also be worn on the back like a traditional backpack, and messenger bags. The exemption does not include items that are reasonably defined as luggage, briefcases, athletic/duffle/gym bags, computer bags, purses or framed backpacks. Ten or fewer backpacks can be purchased tax-free at one time without providing an exemption certificate to the seller.

School Supplies

The 81st Texas Legislature passed HB 1801 (2009) expanding the list of items qualifying for exemption from Texas state and local sales and use taxes during the annual sales tax holiday in August. In addition to clothes, footwear and some backpacks, Texas families also get a sales tax break on most school supplies priced at less than $100 purchased for use by a student in an elementary or secondary school.

The following is an all-inclusive list of qualifying school supplies (if priced less than $100):

  • Binders
  • Book bags
  • Calculators
  • Cellophane tape
  • Blackboard chalk
  • Compasses
  • Composition books
  • Crayons
  • Erasers
  • Folders; expandable, pocket, plastic, and manila
  • Glue, paste and paste sticks
  • Highlighters
  • Index cards
  • Index card boxes
  • Legal pads
  • Lunch boxes
  • Markers
  • Notebooks
  • Paper; loose leaf ruled notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board, and construction paper
  • Pencil boxes and other school supply boxes
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Protractors
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Writing tablets

No exemption certificate is required – with one exception. If the purchaser is buying the supplies under a business account, the retailer must obtain an exemption certificate from the purchaser certifying that the items are purchased for use by an elementary or secondary school student. “Under a business account” means the purchaser is using a business credit card or business check rather than a personal credit card or personal check; being billed under a business account maintained at the retailer; or is using a business membership at a retailer that is membership based.

List of Clothing, Footwear and Backpacks, and Their Exemption Status

TAX-FREE

TAXED

  • Baby clothes
  • Backpacks for use by elementary and secondary students
  • Belts with attached buckles
  • Boots – cowboy, hiking
  • Caps/hats – baseball, fishing, golf, knitted
  • Coats and wraps
  • Diapers – adult and baby
  • Dresses
  • Gloves (generally)
  • Gym suits and uniforms
  • Hooded shirts and hooded sweatshirts
  • Hosiery
  • Jackets
  • Jeans
  • Jerseys – baseball and football
  • Jogging apparel
  • Neckwear and ties
  • Pajamas
  • Pants and trousers
  • Raincoats and ponchos
  • Robes
  • Shirts
  • Shoes – sandals, slippers, sneakers, tennis, walking
  • Socks (including athletic)
  • Shorts
  • Suits, slacks, and jackets
  • Sweatshirts
  • Sweat suits
  • Sweaters
  • Swimsuits
  • Underclothes
  • Work clothes and uniforms
  • Accessories (generally) – barrettes, elastic ponytail holders, wallets, watches
  • Backpacks – unless for use by elementary and secondary students
  • Baseball cleats and pants
  • Belt buckles (without belt)
  • Boots – climbing, fishing, rubber work boots, ski, waders
  • Buttons and zippers
  • Cloth and lace, knitting yarns, and other fabrics
  • Dry cleaning services
  • Football pants
  • Golf gloves
  • Handbags and purses
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Hard hats
  • Helmets – bike, baseball, football, hockey, motorcycle, sports
  • Ice skates
  • Jewelry
  • Laundering services
  • Leather goods – except belts with buckles and wearing apparel
  • Pads – football, hockey, soccer, elbow, knee, shoulder
  • Personal flotation devices
  • Rented clothing (including uniforms, formal wear, and costumes)
  • Roller blades and skates
  • Safety clothing, glasses
  • Shoes – bicycle (cleated), bowling, golf

A word of caution: If you sell items that do not qualify for the exemption, you may not advertise or promise that you will pay your customers’ sales tax. Additionally, you are prohibited from advertising that you will not collect sales tax on items that do not qualify. You may advertise that tax is included in the sales price of the taxable items that you sell, however.

For information on how to report tax on these sales, please visit Reporting Sales Tax on Tax-Free Items.

[ Extended List of Clothing and Footwear | Sales Tax Holiday Frequently Asked Questions ]

98-490

Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs :: The Frederick Douglass Foundation of North Carolina

Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs :: The Frederick Douglass Foundation of North Carolina.

Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs

| July 24, 2011 | 12 Comments
 

Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs

Copyright 2005 (revised 2010) StudentNewsDaily.com

We all want the same things in life. We want freedom; we want the chance for prosperity; we want as few people suffering as possible; we want healthy children; we want to have crime-free streets. The argument is how to achieve them…

 

LIBERALS – believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all.  It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights.  Believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need.Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve problems. CONSERVATIVES – believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense.  Believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals.Conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve problems.

 

NOTE: The terms “left” and “right” define opposite ends of the political spectrum. In the United States, liberals are referred to as the left or left-wing and conservatives are referred to as the right or right-wing. On the U.S. political map, blue represents the Democratic Party (which generally upholds liberal principles) and red represents the Republican party (which generally upholds conservative principles).

 

THE ISSUES:

ISSUE LIBERAL CONSERVATIVE
Abortion A woman has the right to decide what happens with her body.  A fetus is not a human life, so it does not have separate individual rights.The government should provide taxpayer funded abortions for women who cannot afford them. 

The decision to have an abortion is a personal choice of a woman regarding her own body and the government must protect this right.  Women have the right to affordable, safe and legal abortions, including partial birth abortion.

 

 

 

Human life begins at conception.  Abortion is the murder of a human being.  An unborn baby, as a living human being, has separate rights from those of the mother.Oppose taxpayer-funded abortion.  Taxpayer dollars should not be used for the government to provide abortions. 

Support legislation to prohibit partial birth abortions, called the “Partial Birth Abortion* Ban”

(*Partial Birth Abortion:  the killing of an unborn baby of at least 20 weeks by pulling it out of the birth canal with forceps, but leaving the head inside.  An incision is made in the back of the baby’s neck and the brain tissue is suctioned out.  The head is then removed from the uterus.)

Affirmative Action Due to prevalent racism in the past, minorities were deprived of the same education and employment opportunities as whites.  The government must work to make up for that.America is still a racist society, therefore a federal affirmative action law is necessary.  Due to unequal opportunity, minorities still lag behind whites in all statistical measurements of success. Individuals should be admitted to schools and hired for jobs based on their ability.  It is unfair to use race as a factor in the selection process.  Reverse-discrimination is not a solution for racism.Some individuals in society are racist, but American society as a whole is not.  Preferential treatment of certain races through affirmative action is wrong.
Death Penalty The death penalty should be abolished.  It is inhumane and is ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment.  Imprisonment is the appropriate punishment for murder.  Every execution risks killing an innocent person. The death penalty is a punishment that fits the crime of murder; it is neither ‘cruel’ nor ‘unusual.’  Executing a murderer is the appropriate punishment for taking an innocent life.
Economy A market system in which government regulates the economy is best.  Government must protect citizens from the greed of big business.  Unlike the private sector, the government is motivated by public interest.  Government regulation in all areas of the economy is needed to level the playing field. The free market system, competitive capitalism, and private enterprise create the greatest opportunity and the highest standard of living for all.  Free markets produce more economic growth, more jobs and higher standards of living than those systems burdened by excessive government regulation.
Education – school vouchers
& charter schools
Public schools are the best way to educate students.  Vouchers take money away from public schools.  Government should focus additional funds on existing public schools, raising teacher salaries and reducing class size. School vouchers create competiton and therefore encourage schools to improve performance.Vouchers will give all parents the right to choose good schools for their children, not just those who can afford private schools.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research Support the use of embryonic stem cellsfor research.It is necessary (and ethical) for the government to fund embryonic stem cell research, which will assist scientists in finding treatments and cures for diseases.An embryo is not a human. The tiny blastocyst (embryos used in embryonic stem cell research) has no human features. Experimenting on embryos/embryonic stem cells is not murder. 

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to cure chronic and degenerative diseases which current medicine has been unable to effectively treat.

Embryonic stem cells have been shown to be effective in treating heart damage in mice.

Support the use of adult and umbilical cord stem cells only for research.It is morally and ethically wrong for the government to fund embryonic stem cell research.Human life begins at conception. The extraction of stem cells from an embryo requires its destruction. In other words, it requires that a human life be killed. 

Adult stem cells have already been used to treat spinal cord injuries, Leukemia, and even Parkinson’s disease. Adult stem cells are derived from umbilical cords, placentas, amniotic fluid, various tissues and organ systems like skin and the liver, and even fat obtained from liposuction.

Embryonic stem cells have not been successfully used to help cure disease.

Energy Oil is a depleting resource.  Other sources of energy must be explored.  The government must produce a national plan for all energy resources and subsidize (partially pay for) alternative energy research and production.Support increased exploration of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power. 

Support government control of gas and electric industries.

Oil, gas and coal are all good sources of energy and are abundant in the U.S.  Oil drilling should be increased both on land and at sea.  Increased domestic production creates lower prices and less dependence on other countries for oil.Support increased production of nuclear energy.  Wind and solar sources will never provide plentiful, affordable sources of power. 

Support private ownership of gas and electric industries.

Euthanasia
&  Physician-assisted suicide
Euthanasia should be legalized. A person has a right to die with dignity, by his own choice. A terminally ill person should have the right to choose to end pain and suffering. It is wrong for the government to take away the means for a terminally ill person to hasten his death. It is wrong to force a person to go through so much pain and suffering.Legalizing euthanasia would not lead to doctor-assisted suicides of non-critical patients.Permitting euthanasia would reduce health care costs, which would then make funds available for those who could truly benefit from medical care. 

 

Neither euthanasia nor physician-assisted suicide should be legalized. It is immoral and unethical to deliberately end the life of a terminally ill person (euthanasia), or enable another person to end their own life (assisted suicide). The goal should be compassionate care and easing the suffering of terminally ill people.Legalizing euthanasia could lead to doctor-assisted suicides of non-critical patients.If euthanasia were legalized, insurance companies could pressure doctors to withhold life-saving treatment for dying patients. 

Many religions prohibit suicide and euthanasia.  These practices devalue human life.

Global Warming/
  Climate Change
Global warming is caused by an increased production of carbon dioxide through the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas).  The U.S. is a major contributor to global warming because it produces 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide.Proposed laws to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. are urgently needed and should be enacted immediately to save the planet. 

Many reputable scientists support this theory.

Change in global temperature is natural over long periods of time.  Science has not shown that humans can affect permanent change to the earth’s temperature.Proposed laws to reduce carbon emissions will do nothing to help the environment and will cause significant price increases for all. 

Many reputable scientists support this theory.

Gun Control The Second Amendment does not give citizens the right to keep and bear arms, but only allows for the state to keep a militia (National Guard).  Individuals do not need guns for protection; it is the role of local and federal government to protect the people through law enforcement agencies and the military.Additional gun control laws are necessary to stop gun violence and limit the ability of criminals to obtain guns. 

More guns mean more violence.

The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms.  Individuals have the right to defend themselves.There are too many gun control laws–additional laws will not lower gun crime rates.  What is needed is enforcement of current laws. 

Gun control laws do not prevent criminals from obtaining guns.

More guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens mean less crime.

Health Care Support free or low-cost government controlled health care.There are millions of Americans who can’t afford health care and are deprived of this basic right.  Every American has a right to affordable health care.  The governement should provide equal health care benefits for all, regardless of their ability to pay. 

 

Support competetive, free market health care system.All Americans have access to health care.  The debate is about who should pay for it.  Free and low-cost governement-run programs (socialized medicine) result in higher costs and everyone receiving the same poor-quality health care.  Health care should remain privatized. 

The problem of uninsured individuals should be addressed and solved within the free market healthcare system–the government should not control healthcare.

Homeland Security  

NOTE – there are many facets to Homeland Security.  This entry focuses on airport security.

Airport security – Passenger profiling is wrong, period.  Selection of passengers for extra security screening should be random. Using other criteria (such as ethnicity) is discriminatory and offensive to Arabs and Muslims, who are generally innocent and law-abiding.Terrorists don’t fit a profile.
“…Arabs, Muslims and South Asians are no more likely than whites to be terrorists.”(American Civil Liberties Union ACLU) 

 

Asked on 60 Minutes if a 70-year-old white woman from Vero Beach should receive the same level of scrutiny as a Muslim from Jersey City, President Obama’s Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said, “Basically, I would hope so.”

 

Airport security – Choosing passengers randomly for extra security searches is not effective.  Rather, profiling and intelligence data should be used to single out passengers for extra screening.  Those who do not meet the criteria for suspicion should not be subjected to intense screening.The terrorists currently posing a threat to the U.S. are primarily Islamic/Muslim men between the ages of 18 and 38.  Our resources should be focused on this group.  Profiling is good logical police work. 

“If people are offended (by profiling), that’s unfortunate, but I don’t think we can afford to take the risk that terrorism brings to us. They’ve wasted masses of resources on far too many people doing things that really don’t have a big payoff in terms of security.” – Northwestern University Aviation Expert A. Gellman.

 

Immigration Support legal immigration.  Support blanket amnesty for those who enter the U.S. illegally (undocumented immigrants).  Also  believe that undocumented immigrants have a right to:
– all educational and health benefits that citizens receive (financial aid, welfare, social security and medicaid), regardless of legal status.
– the same rights as American citizensIt is unfair to arrest millions of undocumented immigrants.
Support legal immigration only.  Oppose amnesty for those who enter the U.S. illegally (illegal immigrants).  Those who break the law by entering the U.S. illegally do not have the same rights as those who obey the law and enter legally.The borders should be secured before addressing the problem of the illegal immigrants currently in the country.  The Federal Government should secure the borders and enforce current immigration law.
Private Property Government has the right to use eminent domain (seizure of private property by the government–with compensation to the owner) to accomplish a public end. Respect ownership and private property rights.  Eminent domain (seizure of private property by the government–with compensation to the owner) in most cases is wrong.  Eminent domain should not be used for private development.
Religion and Government Support the separation of church and state.  The Bill of Rights implies a separation of church and state.  Religious expression has no place in government.  The two should be completely separate.  Government should not support religious expression in any way.All reference to God in public and government spaces should be removed (eg., the Ten Commandments should not be displayed in Federal buildings). 

Religious expression has no place in government.

The phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution.  The First Amendment to the Constitution states“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”  This prevents the government from establishing a national church/denomination.  However, it does not prohibit God from being acknowledged in schools and government buildings.Symbols of Christian heritage should not be removed from public and government spaces (eg., the Ten Commandments should continue to be displayed in Federal buildings). 

Government should not interfere with religion and religious freedom.

Same-sex Marriage Marriage is the union of people who love each other.  It should be legal for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, to ensure equal rights for all.  Support same-sex marriage.Opposed to the creation of a constitutional amendment establishing marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  All individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, have the right to marry. 

Prohibiting same-sex citizens from marrying denies them their civil rights.  [Opinions vary on whether this issue is equal to civil rights for African Americans.]

Marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  Oppose same-sex marriage.  

Support Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, which affirms the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.

Requiring citizens to sanction same-sex relationships violates moral and religious beliefs of millions of Christians, Jews, Muslims and others, who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Social Security The Social Security system should be protected at all costs.  Reduction in future benefits is not a reasonable option.  [Opinions vary on the extent of the current system’s financial stability.]
Social Security provides a safety net for the nation’s poor and needy.  Changing the system would cause a reduction in benefits and many people would suffer as a result.
The Social Security system is in serious financial trouble.  Major changes to the current system are urgently needed.  In its current state, the Social Security system is not financially sustainable.  It will collapse if nothing is done to address the problems.  Many will suffer as a result.Social Security must be made more efficient through privitization and/or allowing individuals to manage their own savings.
Taxes Higher taxes (primarily for the wealthy) and a larger government are necessary to address inequity/injustice in society (government should help the poor and needy using tax dollars from the rich).Support a large government to provide for the needs of the people and create equality.  Taxes enable the government to create jobs and provide welfare programs for those in need. 

Government programs are a caring way to provide for the poor and needy in society.

Lower taxes and a smaller government with limited power will improve the standard of living for all.
Support lower taxes and a smaller government.  Lower taxes create more incentive for people to work, save, invest, and engage in entrepreneurial endeavors.  Money is best spent by those who earn it, not the government.Government programs encourage people to become dependent and lazy, rather than encouraging work and independence.
United Nations (UN) The UN promotes peace and human rights.  The United States has a moral and a legal obligation to support the United Nations (UN).  The U.S. should not act as a sovereign nation, but as one member of a world community.  The U.S. should submit its national interests to the greater good of the global community (as defined by the UN).The U.S. should defer to the UN in military/peacekeeping matters. 

The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security.  U.S. troops should submit to UN command.

The UN has repeatedly failed in its essential mission to promote world peace and human rights.  The wars, genocide and human rights abuses taking place in many Human Rights Council member states (and the UN’s failure to stop them) prove this point.History shows that the United States, not the UN, is the global force for spreading freedom, prosperity, tolerance and peace.  The U.S. should never subvert its national interests to those of the UN. 

The U.S. should never place troops under UN control.  U.S. military should always wear the U.S. military uniform, not that of UN peacekeepers.

[Opinions vary on whether the U.S. should withdraw from the UN.]

War on Terror/Terrorism Global warming, not terrorism, poses the greatest threat to the U.S., according to Democrats in Congress.Terrorism is a result of arrogant U.S. foreign policy. 

Good diplomacy is the best way to deal with terrorism.  Relying on military force to defeat terrorism creates hatred that leads to more terrorism.

Captured terrorists should be handled by law enforcement and tried in civilian courts.

Terrorism poses one of the greatest threats to the U.S.The world toward which the militant Islamists strive cannot peacefully co-exist with the Western world.  In the last decade, militant Islamists have repeatedly attacked Americans and American interests here and abroad.  Terrorists must be stopped and destroyed. 

The use of intelligence-gathering and military force are the best ways to defeat terrorism around the world.

Captured terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants and tried in military courts.

Welfare Support welfare, including long-term welfare.Welfare is a safety net which provides for the needs of the poor.  Welfare is necessary to bring fairness to American economic life.  It is a device for protecting the poor. Oppose long-term welfare.Opportunities should be provided to make it possible for those in need to become self-reliant.  It is far more compassionate and effective to encourage people to become self-reliant, rather than allowing them to remain dependent on the government for provisions.

51 Bullet-Pointed Facts That Dispute Barack Obama’s Identity & Eligibility to be President of The USA! Share This | CatchKevin.com

51 Bullet-Pointed Facts That Dispute Barack Obama’s Identity & Eligibility to be President of The USA! Share This | CatchKevin.com.

 

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‪HouseDebtpaymentBill.AVI‬‏ – YouTube

‪HouseDebtpaymentBill.AVI‬‏ – YouTube.

In case you missed it (it seems few media outlets covered this) there is a House Bill introduced with bipartisan support from both House and Senate to make sure social security, the debt bonds, and vet payments are paid from august 2011 payroll taxes. About $ 187 Billion (minimum) is estimated to come into the FED coffers. Social Security, Vet pay, Debt payments are estimated at 81 billion.
SO… there will be NO DEFAULT

East Austin residents say streets have become clogged on weekends, and crime has followed

East Austin residents say streets have become clogged on weekends, and crime has followed.

‘We’ve become a parking lot for downtown’

When Jesse Flores, 74, had a stroke at his East Eighth Street home in 2010, SXSW crowds blocked the ambulance.
Julia Robinson/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

When Jesse Flores, 74, had a stroke at his East Eighth Street home in 2010, SXSW crowds blocked the ambulance.

Christino Padilla lives in the Guadalupe neighborhood, just east of I-35. The neighborhood association there is asking the city to implement resident-only parking, which would require a permit. Padilla thinks it's a bad idea, especially on his street where there hardly even any driveways.
Alberto Martínez/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Christino Padilla lives in the Guadalupe neighborhood, just east of I-35. The neighborhood association there is asking the city to implement resident-only parking, which would require a permit. Padilla thinks it’s a bad idea, especially on his street where there hardly even any driveways.

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

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Updated: 7:21 a.m. Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Published: 9:38 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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Jesse Flores’ late night visitors earlier this month were drinking beer and listening to music, perched on the front porch of his East Eighth Street home.

Problem is, they weren’t invited.

“I don’t know what they were thinking,” said Flores, who told the couple he would summon police if they didn’t leave. They did.

Flores suspects the couple were part of the waves of late night revelers who are inundating his Guadalupe neighborhood to park for free and then walk a few blocks to Austin’s downtown nightlife scene and the expanding cluster of bars and restaurants along East Sixth Street, east of Interstate 35. The influx is creating parking and traffic snarls that residents say became a weekly nuisance about a year ago, bringing crime and other problems into the neighborhood.

“We’ve become a parking lot for downtown,” said Mark Rogers , who has lived in the neighborhood, along downtown’s eastern edge, for 26 years and is secretary of the Guadalupe Association for an Improved Neighborhood.

“It’s the crime that’s come along with (the parking); that’s the problem,” said Paige Warshaw, who, with her husband, Larry, and their two children, lives next door to Flores.

Recently, the neighborhood association voted to apply for city permits that would restrict parking on some streets to residents and their guests. While it will be up to residents to support applications on their blocks, neighborhood association members say the vast majority endorse the idea. Rogers fears the parking problems could get worse in September, when the city is scheduled to expand pay parking hours downtown to nights and Saturdays. (The City Council on Thursday will consider delaying the expanded parking hours until January.)

Not everyone is sold on permitted parking, however. Christino Padilla, who lives on Inks Avenue with his two young daughters, worries that residential permit parking would be an inconvenience, limiting his ability to host guests and family members who visit. Households get up to four permits total for residents and guests. He says he can live with nightlife and development creeping closer to the neighborhood.

“It’s just unfortunate we’re stuck,” Padilla said. “You have to pay the price for the convenience of living close to downtown.”

Thefts up in Guadalupe

The complaints from Flores and his neighbors echo those in other neighborhoods, such as Rainey Street, within walking distance of downtown nightlife.

Residents of Guadalupe, roughly bounded by East Fifth Street, East 11th Street, I-35 and Navasota Street, say more traffic is bringing a host of problems and a late night show they’ve grown tired of watching — drunken strangers littering, chattering boisterously, even relieving themselves in front yards. According to some residents, their troubles have an added twist: Criminals are taking advantage of the neighborhood parking scene, breaking into cars or mugging people when they return to their cars on dark streets.

“Every Friday and Saturday morning there’s (car window) glass on the street,” Paige Warshaw said.

Police say it stands to reason that crime will gravitate to an area where many cars are parked and that they are responding to hot spots near downtown with a combination of undercover enforcement and more foot and bicycle patrols.

According to Austin Police Department statistics for the Guadalupe neighborhood, thefts increased 53 percent during a one-year period ending July 20 , compared with the same period the year before. Burglaries of vehicles increased 42 percent during the same period.

City Council Member Mike Martinez, who is familiar with Guadalupe residents’ complaints, said police have conducted undercover drug sting operations and that the department’s downtown command area now includes entertainment areas on East Sixth and East Seventh streets.

“We understand that this is a concern. We want to do everything we can to address it,” Martinez said.

Ambulance was blocked

According to residents, traffic descends on the neighborhood on weekends beginning at about 11 p.m., choking streets as drivers circle the blocks for a place to park. Returning to their vehicles beginning around 2 a.m., some leave evidence — used condoms, underwear, discarded beer bottles.

Rogers described Guadalupe’s residents as generally tolerant: like Padilla, cognizant that if location is everything, then feeling the brush-up of nearby street festivals and special events is the price to pay for living near downtown.

But the influx of nonresident traffic every weekend is testing the neighborhood’s patience like never before, he said.

“We’re trying to sleep at a decent hour, and we’re hearing car doors slamming and people carrying on, which is normal for downtown, but it’s not normal for neighborhoods that are generally quiet,” Rogers said.

When Flores suffered a stroke one afternoon during the South by Southwest Music Festival in 2010, traffic jams blocked an ambulance trying to enter East Eighth from San Marcos Street.

The ride to the hospital less than a mile away took 20 minutes, Flores said.

Not all want permits

Beset in the 1980s by drug dealers and prostitutes, the Guadalupe neighborhood has been part of a larger transformation of East Austin, attractive to homebuyers who remodel older homes there.

A decade ago, the Warshaws bought a former crack house that had been destroyed by fire and rebuilt it into a two-story, 3,000-square-foot home. They enjoy living in downtown’s shadow and being able to ride their bikes to the Children’s Museum or to Auditorium Shores. A developer, Larry Warshaw has an easy commute to meetings downtown.

Having overcome its problems with drug dealing and prostitutes, the neighborhood had been “cleaning up considerably,” Paige Warshaw said.

Now, with the crime issues stemming from nonresidential parking, “I feel we’re going backwards,” she said.

Restricting parking on some streets during late night and overnight hours could help reduce crime, Warshaw said. The program “has 100 percent support” on her block on East Eighth, she said.

But Adam Bates, who lives on East Ninth Street farther west from the interstate, said he thinks permit parking would only push problems to adjacent neighborhoods. “Then it just continues in a vicious cycle,” he said.

Bates said he prefers that the entire central East Austin area unite to find a common solution.

Though residential permit parking was never intended as a crime prevention measure, it would be a good fit in the Guadalupe neighborhood, said Gary Schatz, the city’s assistant director of transportation, the department that manages residential permit parking. The program “was envisioned specifically for this type of location: single-family residential homes adjacent to commercial activities where there is spillover parking,” Schatz said.

Martinez said that though the city is listening to residents’ concerns, there are limits to what it can do when neighborhoods are blocks from downtown.

“I don’t think we’re going to preclude downtown from being an entertainment district,” Martinez said. “It is simply what it is.”

jcastillo@statesman.com; 445-3635

Norfolk light rail’s start-up could start up rash of accidents | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

Norfolk light rail’s start-up could start up rash of accidents | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com.

“There’s a wide range of bad habits out there, egregious bad habits,” said Jim Price, Hampton Roads Transit rail operations officer, including this example of a pickup stopping on the Light Rail tracks at Bute and Boush in Norfolk on Friday, July 22, 2011. &lt;span class='credit'&gt;(Brad Vest | The Virginian-Pilot)&lt;/span&gt;

 

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“There’s a wide range of bad habits out there, egregious bad habits,” said Jim Price, Hampton Roads Transit rail operations officer, including this example of a pickup stopping on the Light Rail tracks at Bute and Boush in Norfolk on Friday, July 22, 2011. (Brad Vest | The Virginian-Pilot)

On the Records: Shifting Unemployment Rates in Texas — Texas Workforce Commission | The Texas Tribune

On the Records: Shifting Unemployment Rates in Texas — Texas Workforce Commission | The Texas Tribune.

Gov. Rick Perry isn’t the only one touting Texas’ job growth. The Texas Workforce Commission today released its latest stats, which show that Texas has gained more than 220,000 jobs since last year. “As businesses continue to shift resources into Texas, new opportunities arise for job seekers already here, and for those who come here looking for opportunity,” Tom Pauken, chairman of the commission, said in a press release. 

The visualization below breaks down unemployment rates by city for June 2010 and June 2011 to show where Texans are gaining, and losing, job opportunities. Click on the legend to remove a year from view. 

Texas Workforce Commission: June Unemployment Rates(Please Note: Data is not “Seasonally Adjusted”)

Unemployment Rate %

Highcharts.com

The data used for this visualization can be found here with more information about job growth in Texas from the commission’s press release. 

APD Installs Surveillance Cameras

APD Installs Surveillance Cameras.

 

 

 

APD Installs Surveillance Cameras

Updated: Thursday, 21 Jul 2011, 6:01 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 21 Jul 2011, 6:01 PM CDT

On Thursday the Austin Police Department installed surveillance cameras in the Rundberg Lane area. More cameras will later be installed downtown.

The cameras have tilt and zoom capabilities as well as night vision and cover a 360 degree radius.

One of the cameras is up outside the Jack in the Box at Rundberg and Middle Fiskville. The other three are on the west side of the interstate.

One was installed near the front of Los Portrillos Mexican restaurant. The owners welcomed the move.

Police believe the cameras will deter drug related crimes and other crimes against people. They say the cams will also help officers who will monitor those cameras 24/7 solve crimes and use the tapes as evidence in court.

“If I zoom in on activity that appears to be criminal in nature I can call for ground troops to intercept before anything transpires,” said Michael Schultheis of the Austin Police Department. “And if a robbery came out down the street I can predict a route of escape and aid officers on the ground apprehending them and maintaining evidence.”

This is the first phase of the project. Sixty days after these cameras have been installed, APD will place 29 cameras downtown to keep an eye on the crime in that area.

Read more: http://www.myfoxaustin.com//dpp/top_stories/APD-Installs-Surveillance-Cameras-20110721-ktbcw#ixzz1Smw86FiT

Gov. Rick Perry signs health care reform bill into law; Texas fourth state to pass health care compacts bill | Texas Healthcare Report

Gov. Rick Perry signs health care reform bill into law; Texas fourth state to pass health care compacts bill | Texas Healthcare Report.

By Mark Lisheron
pills

 

With the signature of Gov. Rick Perry today, Texas has joined three other states stating their intention to enter into a health care compact.

The compact, which would challenge the authority of the federal government to dictate the terms of the federally and state funded Medicaid program, was part of a wide-ranging health care reform bill, Senate Bill 7, passed by the Texas Legislature in its recently concluded special session.

Georgia, Oklahoma and Missouri have already signed onto the compacts movement, with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signing a bill into law on Thursday.

The law establishes Texas, along with the other three states, as pioneers in an uncharted use of Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution which allows states to enter into agreements that, with the approval of Congress, cannot be abridged by the federal government. There are more than 200 state compacts currently in effect, nearly all of them related to commerce.

Article 1, however, does not outline the terms by which Congress might be compelled to agree to a state health care compact. Supporters are hoping to tip the balance in their favor as more states pass compacts laws.

Perry said the compacts language is an important part of a health care reform package the Legislative Budget Board has estimated will save Texas $467 million.

“Texas faces unique challenges when it comes to health care delivery, and Washington’s one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit our needs,” Perry said. “SB 7 provides state-based solutions to rising health care costs by providing millions in savings, rewarding innovation and improving the health care of Texans.”

 

Texas Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, introduced the compacts bill as a separate piece of legislation and fought hard for its passage in the special session after seeing it stall at the end of the regular period.

“Health care spending crowds out funding for our schools, highways and public safety. That’s why we need the health care compact,” Kolkhorst said. “Texans need a bigger say in how our health dollars are spent, a government closest to the people governs best.”

Leo Linbeck III, a Houston businessman and one of the founders of the national Health Care Compacts Alliance, said Texas has struck a blow for self-governance, giving Texans an opportunity to shape its own health care system.

“Rather than forcing Texans to comply with a one-size-fits-all system designed by federal politicians and Washington D.C. bureaucrats, the health care compact will bring those decisions back to Texas, “ Linbeck said. “Americans want self-governance, especially in health care.”

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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.