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Good News Dallas
by Scott Bennett    Wed, Mar 8, 2006, 01:58 AM

Republican Primary voters were asked to vote on four non-binding referendums Tuesday and all five passed by wide margins.

  • Prop 1 asking that a photo ID be required to vote:  yes 88%
  • Prop 2 opposing the taking of private property for economic development purposes:  yes 94%
  • Prop 3 called for limiting government spending increases with some exceptions: Yes 90%
  • Prop 4 called for cutting and limiting the property tax rate to 5%:  Yes 92%

No doubt with numbers like this Gov. Perry will be seriously considering adding the topics to a special session he expects to call with a focus on education funding.

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by Scott Bennett    Wed, Mar 8, 2006, 12:51 AM

Republicans have chosen Toby Shook to be thier standard bearer in the Dallas County District Attorney's race.  WIth 85% of the precincts counted Republican Toby Shook has 54% of the vote.  In second place is Vic Cunningham with 3&5 and in third place Dan Wyde with 8%. 

On the Democratic side with 90% of the precincts counted Carig Watkins with 55% of the vote has beaten Larry Jarrett (31%) and B. D. Howard (12%) to become the Democratic standardbearer. 

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by Scott Bennett    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 10:38 PM

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay won 60% of the vote against Tom Campbell's 26%.  All others captured 14%.  DeLay claimed his victory was a signal that conservative had turned back a "leftist" effort to oust him.  Democratic opponent Nick Lampson said that it showed clear vulnerability.

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by Brian Bodine    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 09:22 PM

The Goodwin Tower Center gave the Medal of Freedom to Arizona Senator John McCain on Monday. The Senator spoke to a large audience which nearly filled the MacFarlin Auditorium at Southern Methodist University.

Senator McCain is the fifth recipient of the medal. Previous recipients include General Colin Powell, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, President George H.W. Bush, and General Tommy Franks. McCain received the medal because he has furthered the cause of freedom through his service in the Navy and in his subsequent career in public service.

In speaking at SMU, McCain touted the promotion of human rights and democracy abroad. “All people share a basic desire to be free,” said McCain. “Certainly, the rights of all human beings must be a significant and enduring element of American foreign policy.” McCain is often considered by political observers to be a maverick Republican in the Senate and he has made headlines in the past by publicly expressing his differences with the Bush Administration on some foreign policy fronts.

McCain elaborated on the origins of human rights, citing some of history’s influential philosophers. “I believe that the genesis of rights lies at the origin of the human spirit,” said McCain. “America did not invent human rights. Human rights invented America.”

While the Arizona Senator was adamant about America’s purpose in promoting human rights and democracy abroad, he also expressed that American foreign policy should not send the wrong message to those that we are trying to help. “We fail ourselves as Americans if we don’t consider how our actions or our failure to act impacts those that are as yet unblessed in governing themselves,” said McCain. “Should they sense a truly imperial impulse, they will speed their efforts to limit this reach. Should they detect a truly American goal behind American action, they are much more likely to welcome the power of the United States rather than oppose it.”

According to McCain, an important part of sending the right message is having the right image. “The disgrace at Abu Ghraib set back our national cause and our international ambitions,” said McCain. Recently, President Bush signed into law a bill authored by McCain that banned all U.S. personnel from engaging in "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of detainees.

“Because we hold others to a high standard, we must be even more scrupulous in our own affairs,” said McCain. McCain said that it was the perception of people abroad that counts when it comes to the U.S. having a credible foreign policy on human rights.

"Only by acting in accordance with our values can we further the interests of securing human rights abroad, " said McCain. 

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by Brian Bodine    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 09:19 PM

On Tuesday, the school board for the Dallas Independent School District was briefed on the status of the accruement of costs from its contract with FedEx Kinkos. The deal was signed in 2004 and has the district outsourcing its copying and printing costs to the company. Deputy Superintendent Ron Peace, who oversees DISD business services, gave an evaluation to board members of the total costs for each of the last three years since the FedEx Kinkos deal was signed with the district. No action on renewing the contract was taken on Tuesday, though Peace did say that action on renegotiation of the contract could take place as early as April. If no action is taken by the board, the contract will expire.

District officials have been disappointed in the contract that was apparently supposed to reduce copying and printing costs. Instead, costs have nearly quadrupled.

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by Tom Pauken    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 07:49 PM

John Mauldin is an Arlington-based economic analyst who writes a widely-circulated, weekly commentary on the economy. He also publishes a "guest letter" each week from a respected economist. This week John turns to Paul Kasriel, Director of Economic Research for the Northern Trust Company, to write on a subject we have covered extensively here at DallasBlog – the housing bubble.

Mr. Kasriel’s column is entitled "Is Dave Leonhardt A Renter?" He warns that the U.S. economy has become far too dependent for its economic well-being on a constantly rising, residential real estate market.

Those of us who lived through the housing market collapse in Texas during the 1980s remember homeowners who were under water on their homes (i.e., the value of their homes being less than what was owed on them) simply giving up their keys and walking away from their obligations in the wake of the oil industry and financial institutions’ collapse in the Southwest. Could it happen nationally this time? If Paul Kasriel is to be believed (and his statistical information is compelling), "housing today is more highly leveraged than it was in 1989, just before the last bicoastal housing bust occurred."

I urge our readers to read John Mauldin’s latest "Outside the Box" on the housing bubble by Paul Kasriel. Link here.

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by    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 07:14 PM

Tonight at 7, the polls will close. But there’s another side of Texas politics that does not get much ink. Right after the polls close, each major party holds a precinct convention. The precinct convention elects delegates to the county or senatorial district conventions, which in turn elect delegates to the state convention. But the precinct conventions also consider resolutions. These resolutions are often considered by the party platform committee, so interest groups often encourage their members to submit resolutions at their party’s conventions.

Here are some of the resolution topics we’ve heard about so far:
* Opposition to raiding the Permanent School Fund as a method of finance for expanded state government
(Americans for Prosperity and several other conservative groups) * Support of appraisal and revenue caps (Americans for Prosperity)
* Opposition to cloning (pro-life groups)
* Ending taxpayer-funded lobbying (Americans for Prosperity)
* Supporting restrictions on the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes (Americans for Prosperity)
* Increased funding for public education and teacher pay raises (teacher unions)
* Cap superintendent salaries to the governor’s salaries (Katy Citizen Watchdogs)
* Prohibit homeowners associations from foreclosing on property (Katy Citizen Watchdogs)

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by Scott Bennett    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 06:46 PM

Today seems to be a big day for polls.  The ABC News Poll takes a look at Sen. John McCain and Sen. Hillary Clinton and finds that they are formidable contenders for the Presidency but that each have different strengths and weaknesses.  Hillary has stronger support from her base while McCain has similar support across all sectors and much lower negatives. 

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by Trey Garrison    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 05:27 PM

Police say this Arlington womankinseth.jpg wasn't clowning around when she tried to hire a hit man to off her husband.

She's under arrest now, and I'm thinking of a famous line from Winston Churchill when a woman told him that if she were his wife, she'd put poison in his cup. He replied that if he were her husband, he'd gladly drink it.

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by Trey Garrison    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 04:52 PM

The Dallas Fire-Rescue Department is asking for about $135 million of the proposed 2006 bond for 10 replacement stations, major upgrades to existing fire stations and six new fire stations.

The current Fire-Rescue Department needs inventory totals $234 million, which includes another 15 desired replacement stations that the fire department is not asking for out of the 2006 bond package.

DFD is facing many of the same problems today with its existing firehouses that first came to attention 20 years ago, including facilities that are too small and lack of proper insulation.

The cost to repair and bring up to code the stations needing replacement would be almost 80 percent of the replacement cost.

Currently the city of Dallas has 55 fire stations operating. The city also owns a number of sites for future stations.

Since 1991 there have been three new stations and nine replacements stations built, all funded through the bond program.

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