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by Trey Garrison    Tue, May 16, 2006, 02:39 PM

Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill's office called me this afternoon to let me know they're sending us a statement on his position on the discretionary funds some councilmembers want in the 2006 bond program. After the jump is the text, which is a copy of a letter he sent to the daily back in January on the same issue. I don't know if they ever ran it, and I just don't have the patience to jack around with their lousy search archive feature, so here it is.

First, bond discretionary funds are subject to strict criteria.  For example, the discretionary funds allocated to District 5 can be used only for the development, construction or acquisition of infrastructure for economic development projects.
Second, the use of city funds, whether bond discretionary funds, or other funds for specific needs within a council district without regard to how the specific need ranks on a needs inventory has been very successful.  For example, the infrastructure for the development of the Bishop Arts area (CDBG funds) was low on the City’s “needs” list, but has resulted in a tremendously successful development (Council members Laura Miller, Dr. Elba Garcia and Steve Salazar were champions of this expenditure).
Third, the expenditure of discretionary bond funds must be approved by the full City Council.
Fourth, a “rush” to spend bond discretionary funds within a specific time as some have suggested is unwise.  If the City Council would have followed this suggestion, when the Trinity River bonds were passed, we would not have changed course and developed a better vision for the Trinity River.  In fact, we have not spent 50 percent of the 1998 Trinity River Bond allocation, and we may seek more money in the 2006 Bond Program.
Finally, my southern sector colleagues and I have worked diligently to redevelop Southwest Center Mall, the “Monroe Shops” transit station and the Lancaster Kiest Transit Corridor.  In fact, General Growth Corporation, a major mall developer, committed to redevelop Southwest Center Mall and the bond discretionary funds were to be used for not only the redevelopment of the mall but also the entire Camp Wisdom corridor.  This dream was not realized, but my bond discretionary funds were an integral part of the City’s financial plans for the mall redevelopment.  My other southern sector colleagues would have also contributed their districts’ bond discretionary funds to bring to reality a “new” Southwest Center Mall.  In essence, your negative comment of the Council members’ restraint in utilizing discretionary funds is a criticism of our efforts to redevelop Southwest Center Mall.
I believe that a clear majority of the City Council will vote to utilize bond funds at the discretion of the council member.  Specific criteria are in place now for the use of these funds and will be applied to a new bond program.  I believe these criteria are necessary and appropriate.

Donald W. Hill
Mayor Pro Tem

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by Scott Bennett    Tue, May 16, 2006, 02:29 PM
george_w_bush.jpghas a new state-by-state Presidential approval poll out and Pres. G W Bush is in what Pres. George H W Bush would have called "deep do-do."  His approval rating in Texas is 42% versus 56% who disapprove.  Idaho (52%), Utah (51%) and Wyoming (50%) still give the President a plurality approval.  Not one Southern or border state gives the President a majority approval rating.  The President's worst state is Rhode Island where just 21% approve of the job he is doing.
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by Scott Bennett    Tue, May 16, 2006, 01:19 PM

Harriet_Miers.jpgD Magazine Publisher Wick Allison reports on D's Front Burner Blog that an unnamed "high-level" delegation is headed to Washington DC next week with an agenda item of recruiting Presidential Legal Council Harreit Miers to run for Mayor.  Apparently there are those who doubt that the large phalanx of white males can beat the incumbent and want a female candidate. 

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by Scott Bennett    Tue, May 16, 2006, 12:42 PM

As usual the American people are pretty schizophrenic over civil liberties versus security.  A new USA TODAY/Gallup poll finds that 53% of Americans feel that the Bush Administration either has it about right or hasn't gone far enough in restricting liberties in pursuit of security.  Only 41% think it has gone too far.  However, 51% disapprove of the administration's use of phone records to build a database and fully 54% believe it violates the law.  A majority of 61% want immediate Congressional hearings. 

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by Trey Garrison    Tue, May 16, 2006, 08:30 AM

Of course, maybe it's not a good idea to give individual Dallas City Council members control of discretionary funds for which there is little public oversight given that, well, things happen.

Good job, CBS 11.

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by Trey Garrison    Tue, May 16, 2006, 07:47 AM

Straight-up solid story by Emily Ramshaw today on how some Dallas City Council members want to take the arguably lean proposed 2006 capital bond program and load it down with discretionary pork that they may not be in any rush to spend and that doesn't need council approval to be doled out.

Why any councilmember should get money that doesn't require full, public council approval is a mystery, and while every single councilmember is a man or woman of unquestionable honor well above reproach, suspicion or federal investigation, ahem, imagine if someone with less than their perfect integrity were elected to the horseshoe.

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by Special to    Mon, May 15, 2006, 11:12 PM

Several acres of valuable state-owned property sit vacant and undeveloped at the corner of Carroll Ave and the North Central Expressway. If the Dallas County Judge has her way, the lot will be used for a housing project that is financed by county bonds.

Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher and Commissioner John Wiley Price are believed to be the two chief supporters of building an apartment project at the vacant spot. Other commissioners on the court are either opposed to or undecided on the project. If sold by the state, the property could turn a substantial profit.

The project would be managed by the Housing Finance Corporation of the county and it would be financed by Bank of America.

The project would have 320 units that would be sold at market rate. An additional 32 units located on the property would be used to house approximately 60 youth aging out of foster care. According to a document released by Judge Keliher’s executive assistant Bob Johnston, these additional units would be subsidized by the rental of market-rate units and would “promote the integration of youth aging out of foster care into the larger community.”

Speaking to DallasBlog, Johnston said that the use of the bond money is a non-recourse debt and thus, there is no financial risk to the county. Johnston explained that the market-rate rents would eventually pay off the bonds.

“That’s the beauty of it all,” said Johnston. “The market is being used to pay for this at no cost to the tax payers.”

“There is no tax money at all in this,” added Johnston.

According to Johnston, Central Dallas Ministries is located nearby and will act as a source for medical, legal, and job training services for the youth. Central Dallas Ministries is run by liberal activist Larry James.

Other commissioners could not be reached for comment.

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by Scott Bennett    Mon, May 15, 2006, 08:30 PM

The Special Legislative session has adjourned after after passing a group of bills that Texas Gov. Rick Perry says will cut school property taxes by one third, create a new Business Margins Tax, provide an across-the-board pay raise for teachers and make several far reaching changes in public education.  Upon adjournment Texas Comptroller and gubernatorial candidate Carol Strayhorn urged the governor to veto his own tax plan.  In a letter sent to the governor today she claimed that the plan was "irresponsible" and "unconstitutional."  The Governor's spokesman dismissed the Strayhorn letter as an attempt to stay "relevant."

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by Special to    Mon, May 15, 2006, 06:43 PM

The Daily Telegraph has cited a new report from the American Journal of Clincial Nutrition which claims that drinking "one to three cups of coffee a day may protect people from heart disease and strokes."  The report was based on a study of 27,000 older women in Iowa who participated in the survey over an extended number of years.  The Telegraph noted that antioxidents found in coffee "protect cells from damage and reduce the inflammation that encourages arteries to narrow."  Drinking red wine in moderation also is helpful in this regard. 

As the Telegraph notes, there have been numerous studies in the past "that have suggested that coffee is bad for you."  It is hard to know who to believe about what to drink and eat in order to reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

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by Tom Pauken    Mon, May 15, 2006, 06:28 PM

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), President Bush's chief political advisor Karl Rove blamed the unpopular war in Iraq for the President's declining poll numbers.  The AP quoted Rove as saying about the American public's attitude towards the President,  "They're just sour now on the war...I think the war looms over everything.  There's no doubt about it."  AEI is the leading neoconservative think tank in the country; and the public policy intellectuals associated with that Washington-based institution  have been among the strongest advocates for military action in Iraq and Iran.

Rove, who remains under investigation for his alleged role in the "outing" of CIA operative Valerie Plame, declined to answer a question from a member of the audience about his role in the ongoing CIA-leak investigation, "saying he would not go beyond statements by his attorney,"  according to the AP report. The prosecutor is expected to announce within the next week as to whether Rove will be indicted.  The President's political advisor recently testified for a fifth time before a Washington grand jury.

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