RISING INMATE POPULATION LEADS TO $5 MILLION IN OVERTIME COSTS
Officials from the Sheriff’s department testified at the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court yesterday and were asked to explain the amount of money going to overtime pay in the fiscal year. Since October, close to $5 million has gone to overtime costs.
According to officials at the Sheriff’s Department, the main reason for the overtime was an increase in the inmate population at Dallas County jails. Officials said that the Decker jail currently has five floors open – more than the county anticipated having open. The county has had to increase overtime work for guards at the jails in order to manage increasing inmate populations.
Officials also attributed the overtime costs to vacancies in Sheriff’s Department staff and to state requirements for staffing at county jails.
According to monkeymeter.com, Dallas is one of the top ten cities for road rage in the country. Monkeymeter.com uses a test created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to calculate which cities have the most occurrences of road rage.
PAN Candidate for President of Mexico Felipe CalderonFelipe Calderon, the candidate of the conservative PAN party in Mexico, has increased his lead in the hotly contested Mexican presidential race over the leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo is running well behind the two major contenders. A new poll published this week in El Universal puts Calderon in first place with 39 percent of the vote, according to the Financial Times. He has a four point margin over Obrador, but the trend is in Calderon's favor. The leftist candidate Obrador has been hurt by his close ties to the Leftist leader Hugo Chavez of Venezuala who is rumored to be funding his candidacy. Obrador also has lost support for his failure to participate in the televised presidential debates and for his personal attacks on President Vicente Fox.
It is good news for the United States if Calderon can maintain his present lead and win election in July. The Chavez influence in Latin American affairs is beginning to do serious harm to our relations with our neighbors to the South.
ABC New/Washington Post poll: "Would you support using the National Guard to guard the US border with Mexico? Support 74% Oppose 25%. Is the US doing enough to keep illegal immigrants from coming to this country? Yes 20% No 77%.
Gov. Rick Perry praised the recently concluded special session at a news conference with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick. “I will be proud to sign this plan that will reward teachers and reform our schools, provide a record property tax cut that will make homeownership more affordable, reduce the net tax burden on Texans by nearly $7 billion, and improve our tax system so it is fairer because it is broader,” Perry said. “Because of this plan, our schools will improve, our economy will grow and our state will prosper.” When asked, Perry explicitly said he plans to sign House Bill 3, the revised franchise tax, despite calls in some Republican circles for a veto.
Also at the news conference, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he hopes to have a tax relief constitutional amendment for seniors passed early in the regular session in time for the May 2007 ballot. The House passed a constitutional amendment that would provide tax relief to seniors but it did not make it out of the Senate Finance Committee.
Perry held the news conference at the governor’s mansion and was flanked by representatives of the business groups that endorsed the plan. Several legislators attended the event with Perry, including two Democrats – Vilma Luna (Corpus Christi) and Patrick Rose (Dripping Springs).
Our resident economist Carl Pellegrini has these observations about our one-sided trade dealings with China:
"The United States economy is four times that of Japan, but the former's exports to China are only half of the latter.
So what's up? Are Japanese goods far more attractive than American products in China?
'No,' says Charlie Martin, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. 'All branches of the US Government need to recognize that our failure to take full advantage of the opportunity that China presents is contributing to our bilateral trade deficit.'
Martin made the remarks Tuesday when releasing the chamber's annual white paper on American business in China. Both Japan and Germany have substantial government offices and industry organizations to promote trade; and the United States ends up ceding market share to competitor countries because they devote more resourses, Martin said."
The overall reaction by council members to the bond package was positive, but some were worried that Dallas voters needed to know how the bond would affect property taxes factoring in increased home values.
“It’s a good program, but people’s taxes, if this passes, are going to be close to 50 percent more in six years,” Councilmember Mitch Rasansky said, factoring in the estimated cost of increased home values.
“We should have some additional table to factor in what property value increases will mean to the bottom line,” Councilmember Angela Hunt said. “People need to have all the information if they are going to vote for this.”
They may be searching everywhere including Drury Lane, but what's strange is police are not releasing video of the man - said to be in his late teens or early 20s - who delivered what appears to be marijuana laced muffins to Lake Highlands High School on Tuesday, affecting up to 18 members of the faculty.
Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn held a news conference with representatives of the Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas Federation of Teachers today to criticize the special session. She referred to the tax package passed by the legislature as a "$23 billion hot check" and called for higher teacher pay raises. "It took a court order to make Perry finally do something, but what he did does not work," Strayhorn said. "Perry's plan includes a paltry pay raise for teachers, provides a pittance of property tax relief that will evaporate almost immediately, punts our problems just past the November election and will postpone only temporarily additional court action.
“Carole Strayhorn has made $66.9 billion in promises to Texans but only offered $7.7 million to pay for it,” responded Perry spokesman Robert Black. “Her rapid-fire attacks have resulted in a white-hot check that she can’t pay for and the state can’t afford. The Strayhorn campaign slogan should be: Talks too loud, promises too much, delivers too little.”
Democrat Chris Bell called for higher teacher pay raises too, but also for Strayhorn to get out of the race. “With Rick taking away her only issue, Carole Strayhorn no longer has any reason to be in this race,” Bell said. “Her whole campaign was about Rick Perry’s inability to pass a school finance plan. Now the big issue in the race becomes not just funding education but improving education, and we’ve been talking about that from the start.”