Some relief for the more than 9,100 homeless of Dallas County could be coming in an innovative new development downtown, but it is more than two years off. And acquiring the building may cost about three times the value at which the building is currently appraised.
The Central Dallas Community Development Corporation is proposing a $16.8 million project to turn the vacant 15-story tower at 511 N. Akard into a mixed-income single-room occupancy and retail center for low and no-income residents.
The project, dubbed City Walk at Akard, would provide about 200 single-room occupancy, long-term residences, with monthly rents ranging from $384 to $1,050. (A few of the larger units would be rented at market prices to help generate revenue.) The bottom two floors would be set aside for offices and limited retail, including Central Dallas Ministries' administrative office, a public interest law firm, Central Dallas CDC offices, job training offices for tenants and other like uses.
The project cost breakdown is about $6.3 million for the property acquisition, with the balance going to the rehabilitation and renovation of the property. The vacant building at 511 N. Akard is currently owned by a private, limited partnership based in Ontario.
Despite the quoted acquisition price in the CDCDC's proposal, according to the most recent Dallas Central Appraisal District evaluation of the property at 511 N. Akard, the property is appraised at only $2 million.
Proposed funding for the redevelopment will come from low-income housing tax credits, historic tax credits, and about $2 million from the City of Dallas. The first step for CDCDC is securing the tax credits.
Councilman Leo Chaney, chairman of the Quality of Life Committee, said while details need to be worked out before his committee can vote on whether to recommend the project to the full city council, he is excited about the project.
"This isn't about 'affordable housing' it's about 'obtainable housing' - something in short supply especially in downtown and uptown Dallas. It's a major step in the right direction for serving this community," Chaney said.
To visit a 1,000-year-old Croatian-style winery carved from bedrock and overlooking a 50-acre lake, you'd have to travel to, well, Croatia.
Or, if you wait two years, you can get a pretty close approximation a few miles north of Dallas in McKinney, Texas. According to GlobeStreet.com, John Wales, owner of the Wales Manor label, will operate the soon-to-come commercial winery and vineyard in Adriatica, a 45-acre, Euro-style residential and retail village in McKinney's Stonebridge Ranch development.
The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) in a 10-5 party line vote, removed itself from membership in the National Association of State School Boards (NASBE). The motion was put forth by member Terri Leo of Spring who said that many of NASBE's policies are "out of touch with mainstream America and that NASBE has taken positions with which the majority of the SBOE disagrees."
Stating that NASBE's policies continue to gravitate to left, Leo cited three current policy decisions which she feels do not reflect a proper balance. First, Leo questioned the NASBE October 2004 publication on citizenship education. "Under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, the publication listed only the words 'Separation of Church and State,' a phrase that does not even appear in the Bill of Rights. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase 'separation of church and state' eleven years after the Bill of Rights was passed; he was writing to allay the fears of the Danbury Baptists who had heard a rumor that a national religion was going to be established."
Leo asserted that NASBE should promote correct information and not misinformation. "Why didn't NASBE mention the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment for peaceable assembly, freedom of the press, and the petition of the government for redress of grievances? Are these no longer important for students to learn?"
Leo continued by saying, "Why should we entrust NASBE with developing and funding a national curriculum on civics education when the editors of the NASBE publication think that 'separation of church and state' is a proper condensation of what the Bill of Rights says?"
Leo also mentioned that NASBE's policy statements support comprehensive sex education, "an approach which the majority of Texas voters do not support. Texas has a law that requires abstinence-only education, a law which the majority of Texans support; yet the SBOE is paying more than $40,000 in NASBE dues and travel expenses to attend NASBE meetings which promote positions with which we do not agree."
A third point of contention raised by Leo was that NASBE continues to push State Boards of Education to implement policies on 'bullying' that have a special victim category for homosexuals. She noted that at the October 2005 NASBE symposium, the organization constantly referenced state bullying policies which she state are vehicles for social engineering promoted by the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning (GLBTQ) lobby.
"Bullying is wrong -- period," Leo said. "All bullies should be punished equally and all victims dealt with compassionately. I don't want a homosexual student bullied any more than I want a short chubby child bullied," Leo said emphatically. "Elevating homosexuals by giving them special rights has been used to silence freedom of speech from teachers and students who respectfully disagree with homosexuality. The NASBE position violates the concept of equal protection under the law."
Leo stated that NASBE's push for this type of bullying policy introduces the concept of "thought crimes" in which someone's actions are "more" illegal based on their thoughts or beliefs. Leo stated, "I know very few people who want to deny gays and lesbians the basic civil rights that the rest of society enjoys, but many people have a big problem with public schools forcing the gay agenda upon teachers and students."
Texas pays the highest NASBE dues ($40,600 per year) along with California and New York because NASBE bases its annual dues on student population. "It's not right that Texas is footing a large proportion of the bill, but Texas has really no more representation or say-so in policy decisions than the states which pay a much smaller amount. NASBE only pays half the cost for one member of each state to attend its annual convention. It seems to me that NASBE needs Texas more than Texas needs NASBE, so why are we paying them over $40,000? That is not wise stewardship on the part of the SBOE."
It is nice to be wanted - sometimes. Right now both the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TexDOT) want a stretch of SH121 in Collin County. Or to be more accurate, the state has proposals from private players that want a piece of the Collin County action. The reason is simply that the tolls from the stretch of road in the fast growing area could well fund a wide range of projects beyond the road itself.
Local municipal and Collin County elected officials had worked out a plan they hoped would solve serious traffic problems in the heart of the country, but TexDOT later backed away from the plan leaving many area leader fuming. Most local leaders would prefer the local NTTA own the project. The NTTA would guarantee payments to TexDOT of up to $500 million over some half a century plus pay costs with a guarantee that tolls would rise if needed to cover construction payments. TexDOT would use money from the project to construct additional transportation projects in North Texas.
The ultimate problem will be exactly what revenues will be used for, regardless of their source. Transportation needs throughout North Texas are far outstripping the ability of fuel taxes to fund. This is leading the state to turn to toll roads. But the funds from toll roads will be used to pay for more than the road on which fees are being collected. They may be used to fund additional projects.
The ultimate decision will lie with the Texas Transportation Commission.
TCTA filed the lawsuit in state district court. “SB 5 violates the Texas Constitution because it grants special favors to telephone companies and other new video providers while forcing cable companies to continue to operate at a disadvantage,” said Tom Kinney, chairman of the TCTA board and president of Time Warner Cable-Austin Division.
TCTA has a similar lawsuit pending in federal court.
With the passage of SB 5, new video providers like SBC (now AT&T) and Verizon are now able to apply for a state issued franchise. "SB 5 will generate investment in Texas and provide consumers with more choices and better products and prices," said AT&T spokesman Kerry Hibbs in response to the new lawsuit.
Incumbent cable companies, however, believe the new law is unfair because they cannot apply for a state issued franchise until their municipal franchise contracts have expired.
Rep. Charlie HowardTexans for Lawsuit Reform PAC (TLR) endorsed Rep. Charlie Howard for re-election on Monday. TLR is the state’s largest tort reform organization. In making the endorsement, TLR praised Rep. Howard’s voting record on legal reform issues. The endorsement of Howard is included here.
The endorsement from Texas for Lawsuit Reform came only days after a massive mailing titled "Shark Watch" to Republican primary voters in Howard’s district insinuating that the conservative incumbent legislator was in the "hip pocket" of the trial lawyers. Howard has a Republican primary opponent.
The question remains: Who is really behind this innocuous-sounding organization (Texans for Texas)? A call to Janelle Shepard, a former nurse and the Executive Director of Texans for Texas was not returned.