The proposed $10,000 bonus for new Dallas Police recruits was passed Wednesday morning without dissent by the Dallas City Council.
Councilmembers have been weighing the measure as a way to increase recruitment as it tries to add more officers to the 3,000-member force, even as the city fights to bring down its outrageously high crime rate.
The challenge was figuring a way to increase compensation for recruits without violating a 1979 court decision that prohibits raising recruit pay without likewise raising pay for all ranks.
Dallas ranks almost last among the 10 largest cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in terms of starting salary, but the city is also considering a request for an across-the-ranks pay increase of 13 percent, which would cost more than $40 million a year of the city's roughly $1 billion budget.
To accomplish this - which Councilmember Angela Hunt has told DallasBlog is critical in increasing public safety and bringing down the crime rate - would likely require a tax increase.
“We know we need more officers on the street,” she said. "I think people are smart enough to grasp the concept that things like more cops cost money, and they are willing to pay for it if they know that’s what their taxes are going towards.
"And if after we go to people in town halls and explain this idea, and they reject it, then at least we put it to them and gave them a chance to make the decision whether to accept the level of public safety they have now, or improve it," she said.
The proposal passed today goes into effect retroactive to April 1, and gives a one-time $6,000 bonus to recruits upon graduation of the Dallas police academy. The balance of $4,000 is paid after completion of probation, which takes 82 weeks of service to complete.
On Tuesday, Dallas County commissioners voiced support for a $240 million bond financing program for Baylor Health Care System. The bond money would be used for an expansion of the system, including a volunteer medical program and the adding of 96 positions.
Executive officers representing the system told commissioners that the ability of Baylor Health Care System to serve the north Texas community was dependent on the ability of Baylor to be financially strong.
Felipe CalderonThe Mexican newspaper Reforma published a new poll Tuesday which shows that center-right candidate Felipe Calderon has taken the lead for the first time in the campaign to succeed Mexican President Vicente Fox. Calderon has 38 % of the vote with Lopez Obrador, the leftist candidate, now in second place with 35% of the vote. PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo is a distant third with 23 % of the vote. Lopez Obrador may also have been hurt by his refusal to participate in the first televised debate between the candidates held last night in Mexico City. The election will take place in early July.
Conservative journalist Tony Snow has agreed to become President Bush's new White House spokesman, according to a number of news reports. The announcement is expected to come today. Snow is very popular in conservative circles and gets along well with the Washington press corps. Some were surprised that Snow would leave Fox news and give up his new radio show to join the Administration at a time when the President has his lowest poll ratings since his first election as President in 2000. According to the Washington Post, Tony Snow only agreed to serve as White House press secretary after he was given assurances that he would be "an active participant in administration policy debates." As a conservative commentator, Snow has been particularly critical of the spending excesses of the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress.
Snow's appointment should be well-received in that he is well thought of by those who have gotten to know Tony Snow both as a political insider and as a news commentator.
The shake-up of President Bush's White House continues with the next rumored change being the White House Counsel's office. Harieitt Miers of Dallas may be the next Texan to go as the new White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten puts his own team in place.
Our friends at the Dallas Business Journal report that Parkland Hospital is getting ticked off that FEMA hasn't paid the bill on the $1.4 million in free treatment the facility gave to Hurrican Katrina evacuees. The feds have paid about $200,000.
I suggest a bill collections agency. Maybe not the one the City of Dallas uses for parking tickets, though.
The Austin political newsletter Quorum Report is reporting that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has said that the Perry/Sharp tax plan as written will provide too little revenue to cut property taxes to the desired $1 rate. He believes that it will more likely take the property tax rate down by 35-cents.
Texans for Taxpayer Relief has announced that it is running radio ads promoting the governor's tax plan. It is running on radio stations throughout the state, including KSEV, the Houston talk radio station that is home to plan opponent and Sen.-elect Dan Patrick. The group also released the list of its contributors, which include the Texas Apartment Association, the Texas Beer Alliance, the Texas Association of Builders, Texas Credit Union League, Maxxam, the Texas Motor Transportation Association, and the Texas Restaurant Association. The script for both ads are posted below in pdf form. One of them argues that the Perry-Sharp plan is based on conservative principles and another bashes the "spend the surplus plan" stating that it "will create a large budget deficit and higher taxes in the future."
Charles Barkley is laughing at how Mavs fans applauded Erick Dampier for his 12/12 effort in Game 1. We thought we'd check back into Sponge Chuck Fat Pants' career for some laughs of our own. ... In the 'School of Fish':
Increasing concern is being expressed in Mexico that the leading candidate for President in Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, may turn out to be another Hugo Chavez, the radical leader of Venezuela who has assumed dictatorial powers since gaining power in that oil-rich nation. Mr. Lopez Obrador is the former Mayor of Mexico City and is the candidate of the Leftist party in Mexico. At the moment, he is the frontrunner in the race to succeed Vicente Fox as President of Mexico. The election is scheduled for July 2nd. That have been reports that Chavez has been providing financial backing to Mr. Lopez Obrador's campaign.
In Tuesday's Financial Times, a top aide to the center-right candidate for President, Felipe Calderon, accused Lopez Obrador of being another "Chavez", a reference to the radical leader of Venezuela. Ernesto Cordero was quoted in the article as saying that "Andres Manuel has no respect for democratic institutions. He has no respect fo the Supreme Court, he has no respect for Congress,...and everything else that he does not agree with."
The race has tightened in recent weeks as Mexican voters have started moving away from their support of Lopez Abrador in light of his ties with Hugo Chavez; but the former leftwing Mayor of Mexico City still maintains a slight lead in the latest polls. His election could have a major impact on U.S.-Mexico relations which already are strained over the immigration issue.