The Texas Senate has sent HB 2 back to the House, 20-10. It has made minor changes to the language, which bill sponsor Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) said is intended to fix the House’s parliamentary concerns. The Senate version of the bill still dedicates one-third of new revenue from the Perry-Sharp tax plan to education, once the tax rate for school maintenance goes down to $1.00 per $100 of valuation. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst overruled a two subject point of order raised by Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos (D-Austin). The Barrientos point of order is similar to the one that sent the bill back to the Senate. Assuming the new Senate version of HB 2 is not killed by point of order, the House can now concur in Senate amendments or go to conference.
The new language in the bill reads as follows (designed to replace page 1, lines 43-48 in the last Senate version of the bill): One third of the money appropriated from the fund may be appropriated only for the purpose of increasing the level of equalization of school district enrichment tax effort to the extent that limits reliance by school districts on local property tax effort and decreases the enrichment tax rates of districts.
Belo Interactive revenues have increased 60 percent in the first three months on this year, driving the Dallas-based media company to shift more resources into its Internet properties to capitalize on that success. At the same time, Chairman and CEO Robert Decherd Tuesday blamed "pervasive negative sentiment toward the industry" for the steady decline in the company's share price over the last six months.
At Belo's annual shareholder meeting, Decherd called on leaders of the industry to begin "counter-punching" to offset negative investor perception of media companies and announced some Belo-specific initiatives. In an effort to create shareholder value, he said the company must practice "ferocious" cost controls as it continues to invest in the audiences of its TV, Internet and print properties. Strict discipline in managing and reducing expenses is essential, he said.
Toward that end, he said hat annual capital spending would be reduced from $120 million a year to $75 million. Belo's board of directors also approved an increase in the company's dividend to an annual rate of 50 cents a share, up from 40 cents. And the company is taking advantage of the depressed share value by repurchasing stock. Through the end of April, the company has repurchased 3.3 million shares and expects to repurchase that amount at least over the next eight months.
Meanwhile, the company celebrated its journalistic achievements of the year. WWL-TV in New Orleans won a Peabody Award for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina. The Dallas Morning News won a Pulitzer for breaking news photography, also for Katrina. And KTVB in Boise, Idaho, won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for spot news coverage. "Belo operates some of the strongest market-leading media properties in the nation with a wonderful group of professionals who consistently create award-winning content," Decherd said. Belo owns 19 TV stations, four daily newspaper, specialty publications and more than 30 Web sites associated with its operating companies.
Texas Comptroller and Independent candidate for Governor of Texas Carol Keeton Strayhorn delivered 101 boxes containing what her campaign claims are 223,000 signatures of registered voters. If those signatures verify as people who are indeed registered to vote and who did not vote in the primary of either party this year Strayhorn will have more than five times the number of petitioners required to make the ballot. Over the past few weeks there is been speculation that the Strayhorn campaign was struggling and might fall short of its need threshold. However, such a large number would almost certainly contain sufficient numbers to qualify.
As if President Bush didn't have enough problems, an article in the Wall St. Journal Monday suggests that the Skull & Bones elite society at Yale University to which the President, the President's father and grandfather all belonged to while students at Yale may have dug up the remains of the Indian leader Geronimo and transferred them to the Tomb at the headquarters of Skull & Bones. Among the culprits in the alleged stealing of the skull of the Indian chief was the President's grandfather Prescott Bush, who later went on become a U.S. Senator from Connecticut. According to the Journal story, Prescott Bush was stationed at Fort Sill during World War I where Geronimo was buried and where his remains were allegedly stolen from: "one senior Bonesman, as society members are known, tells another about the robbery. 'The skull of the worthy Geronimo the Terrible, exhumed from its tomb at Fort Sill by your club..is now safe inside' the Tomb, wrote Winter Mead." Prescott Bush was identified as one of the six Bonesmen involved in the alleged theft of Geronimo's skull.
Others have debunked the speculation, saying that the skull at the Skull & Bones headquarters "appeared too small to be a grown man's." But, the latest Journal story about the Yale society simply adds to the mystery of Skull & Bones, a highly secretive organization which has included some of the prominent figures in American life as its members since its founding in 1832.
It's been one of those rare days when the daily's blog has been interesting to read.
Usually it's just Macarena nagging the men of both genders on the editorial board, or wishy-washy backslapping and nerdification. Today, check all the posts under the headline DART does not increase crime, where you get to see editorial board members savage the work, credulity and credibility of the metro reporter and editors behind this lead story.
The funniest part is where they go so far as to suggest the City of Dallas is safer than Plano despite, well, you know.
Waiting for a callback from Dave Levinthal's editor, Dwayne Bray, but in the meantime Jim Schutze over at the Dallas Observer already has the daily's defense of Dave's story and his character. First. Again.
Update: Dwayne called. Said basically the same as what he said to Schutze. Cements the point - in the age of spam filters, best to follow up with a call.
The City of Dallas is facing some real world accounting reform and it could affect the municipal bond rating, says Dave Cook, CFO for the City of Dallas.
This is a new accounting standard for the city - the private sector has been doing it for a decade - that is coming two years from now.
Under the new rule, the city must count future retiree health benefits as part of the city liabilities. This change could adversely affect the bond rating, increasing the interest for future bond issues, but it may be only visible to someone closley examining the books. The range of possible effects is wide, he said.
And speaking of Steve Wolens, aka Mr. Laura Miller, he's one of the attorneys helping San Antonio with their desperate lawsuit against online travel companies, including three based here in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The suit goes like this: Travelocity or some other online travel firm buys a hotel room in San Antonio at wholesale price - say, $75 - and the Travelocity customer ends up buying it for $125, which is still a bargain for the customer, since retail is usually $150. Travelocity currently pays hotel taxes on the $75 it paid for the room, not the $125 it charged the traveler.
San Antonio, which like so many other cities has all the fiscal discipline of a pack of teenage girls on a mall outing and eyes Internet commerce like a fat man does the buffet at Pancho's, thinks it deserves to tax Travelocity on the $125. Wolens says the suit is on behalf of all cities in Texas. It's hard out there for a pimp.