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by Will Lutz    Fri, May 5, 2006, 05:49 PM

On the motion of Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock), the Senate Finance Committee has approved the recapture amendment, 9-5. The amendment reduces the amount of money in the new high school allotment. With that money, it equalizes the first four pennies of new education money at the ninety-sixth percentile. No recapture occurs on those pennies. (The prior language in the bill flowed the entire high school allotment to all districts on the basis of average daily attendance.) This was largely an equity fight. Those representing mainly districts that receive state funds (Chapter 42) districts voted aye, and the no votes came mainly from those representing at least some Chapter 41 (Robin Hood) districts. Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) and several other Republican senators told reporters that they cannot support the bill with the recapture/equity amendment.

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by Trey Garrison    Fri, May 5, 2006, 04:08 PM

It's going to cost the City of Dallas $2 million - or 200 bronze statues of Councilman Leo Chaney - to get out of hot water with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Dallas City Council will vote Wednesday, May 10, to accept a settlement with the Environment Protection Agency after it screwed up a bunch of wetlands in the Trinity River Corridor and around the Dallas Zoo. The city will have to pay $800,000 in penalties and invest $1.2 million in environmental projects.

“Due to the nature of the agreement, and the fact that it still requires formal acceptance by the City Council and the Department of Justice, we cannot comment on the specifics of the decree,” City Attorney Thomas Perkins said in a written statement.

Besides the $2 million, the city will pursue the full implementation of an Environmental Management System. And part of the $1.2 million supplemental environmental prjoects include wetland restorations in the Pavaho region of the Trinity River Corridor, and within the Dallas Zoo.

Details of the settlement will be divulged following the Wednesday meeting and lodging of the proposed settlement in the federal court in Dallas.

“The City of Dallas has taken these issues very seriously and has cooperated fully with the federal government. We believe this resolution is very positive for the City and for the environment,” Perkins said in his written statement.

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by Scott Bennett    Fri, May 5, 2006, 02:42 PM
gas pump.jpgFor the fourth week Dallas leads Texas in gasoline prices.  According to AAA a self serve gallon of regular costs $2.941 versus a Texas average of $2.862.  The good news is that area prices have dropped a whopping 1.5-cents in the past week.  San Antonio is still the best deal according to AAA with an average of $2.758 down 3.7-cents.  The national average is @2.918 down .9-cents.
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by Scott Bennett    Fri, May 5, 2006, 02:30 PM

Sen. Florence Shapiro
Although the governor's Business Margin Tax has passed both houses of the legislature and sits on his desk, the session today broke down with efforts to pass enabling legislation at a standstill.  Sen. Francis Shapiro (R-Plano) and give GOP colleagues walked out of the Senate Finance Committee protesting what they say was both the form and substance of HB1.  That is the bill that addresses equity, recapture, a teacher pay raise and other matters necessary to resolve issues raised by the Texas Supreme Court.  Also, a point of order sent HB2 back to the Senate.  HB2 dedicates revenue from the Perry tax plan to tax relief.  The Senate version would dedicate a portion of the revenue to school funding.  Speaker Tom Craddick ruled on a point of order that such a dedication was not germane to the bill's topic.

After their exit Sen. Shapiro released the following statement:

"The solutions being offered by some of my colleagues can best be described as a bridge to nowhere.  They are setting bad fiscal policy for our state that benefits some schools while hurting others. We need policies that are in the best interests of all schools and students in our state.

"The purpose of this special session is to deliver property tax reduction and address the Court's concerns; not create a personal piggy bank for certain members."

Shapiro maintains that the legislature must address the issues laid out by the Supreme Court of Texas and that other issues should wait for the regular session.

Shapiro is joined in her efforts by Senate Finance Committee members Jane Nelson, Kyle Janek, Bob Deuell, Kim Brimer and Tommy Williams - all Republicans.

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by Carolyn Barta    Fri, May 5, 2006, 02:28 PM

Former Nightlight host Ted Koppel will lead off SMU's Tate Lecture Series in September. Other speakers for 2006-2007  announced include Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore, CNN"s Anderson Cooper, The New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, economist Steve Levitt and geographer Jared Diamond. See for more info.

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by Trey Garrison    Fri, May 5, 2006, 11:52 AM

Twenty-seven new police officers - apprentice officers - join the ranks of Dallas' Finest today at a graduation ceremony for Police Academy Class 289 scheduled for 2 p.m. today. It will be held at the Hoblitzelle Auditorium of the Bill J. Priest Institute.

Top honors go to Officer Justin Boyce, who scored the highest overall academy average of 93.15 and was second in academics with a 92.33. Officer Rachel Moore scored the highest in academics with a 93.00 and was second overall with a 92.65. Officer Daniel Fogle was third in both academics and overall with 92.13 and 91.37 respectively.

The female recruits lead the competition in the area of motor fitness. Officer Patricia Mora scored the highest in motor fitness performance with a 97.20. Officer Barbara Ausborne was second with a 94.60. Officer Perry Strickland was third with a 94.40.

Officer William McLennan out shot the other recruits and earned the highest score in Firearms Proficiency with a perfect average of 100.00. Officer Justin Boyce was second with a strong 99.90. Officer Justin Brandt came in third with the outstanding score of 99.80.

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by Trey Garrison    Fri, May 5, 2006, 11:08 AM

Say, here's an idea. Instead of berating a retiring CEO over money he earned and that his shareholders obviously agree with, pandering proposals to suspend gas taxes, and passing feel-good legislation to stop the "price gouging" boogeyman, why not do something useful?

Like opening ANWAR and the coasts to drilling? Easing ridiculous environmental regulations so that it's easier to build more refineries, since we haven't had a new one in 30 years? Or maybe building more nuclear plants so our grids wouldn't be reliant on natural gas?

Oh wait - election year. Best to go after the companies whose total profits account for 9 cents of the price of a gallon of gas.

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by Trey Garrison    Fri, May 5, 2006, 10:54 AM

My good buddy Tim Rogers over at D Magazine is officially closer to 40 today than 30. Happy Birthday, you gruff old coot.

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by Trey Garrison    Fri, May 5, 2006, 10:36 AM

Is it really a surprise the Dallas Independent School District is in the shape it's in given the current field of trustees and would-be trustees?

Matt Pulle over at the Dallas Observer has a hilarious summary of the Men and Women Who Would Be, which as we now know includes an alleged bathroom paramour, a convicted domestic abuser and an expensive lingerie fetishist. Joy.

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by Trey Garrison    Fri, May 5, 2006, 10:19 AM

The Houston Chronicle does a good job of covering how the illegal immigration debate is bleeding over into today's Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which is a real shame because no matter where people's opinions fall, there's never a bad day to celebrate with beer, tequila, chips and salsa. And it's not like Cinco de Mayo isn't part of the Texas heritage, with a number of Texans having fought in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

"I think at any other time Texans may be more than happy to raise a Mexican flag or to drink a beer under the Mexican flag," said Tijerina, a historian who has written books about Tejanos including, Tejanos and Texas Under the Mexican Flag, 1821-1836. "That flag has recently been raising eyebrows."

Maybe everyone should just lighten up for a day.

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