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Good News Dallas
by Brian Bodine    Thu, Mar 23, 2006, 02:01 AM

The Dallas ISD School Board is considering a proposal that involves giving performance incentives to the principals of area schools.

The proposal was made by two Dallas ISD officials, Mary Roberts and Denise Collier, on Wednesday and it involves awarding principals who meet or exceed goals set by the district. The proposal includes two categories of criteria by which principals will be evaluated: student performance and leadership. Under the student performance criteria, principals would be evaluated based on five criteria that include such measures as the high school graduation rate and “tax per target performance.”

According to Collier, 40 percent of the principal evaluation will come from the student performance criterion. Sixty percent of the evaluation will come from the principal’s leadership measurement.

“Currently there is no overall evaluation for principals and teachers,“ said Collier. Collier also said that, in order for a principal to receive any bonus stemming from the performance incentives, principals would have to be employed as a principal when the payout takes place. In that way, the incentives could also act as a “retention tool.”

While board members had a mixed reaction to the specifics of the proposal, they were mostly supportive of it. “(Our) core values are teaching and learning,” said Trustee Jerome Garza. “I think this moves us closer to that model.” Garza also suggested that the proposal be tweaked in order to provide for the different populations of district schools. Principals at larger schools, according to Garza, could get larger performance incentives since they manage larger student populations.

Trustee Lew Blackburn indicated that he wasn’t totally supportive of the proposal since it only gave money to the principals and not to other faculty members, such as assistant principals, at high performing schools. Blackburn suggested that the district would be “dangling money to make sure principals do a good job.”

Trustees Ron Price and Dr. Edwin Flores were among the most supportive of the proposal. “We’re going to make these folks accountable for their product,” said Dr. Flores.

”We have to start somewhere,” said Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. “We’re going from zero accountability to 40 %. There is support to move with this.” Hinojosa also said that the proposal was a “living document” and implied that it would likely be changed significantly before it was voted on.

Board of Trustees President Lois Parrott indicated that the board should vote on the proposal next week.

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by Scott Bennett    Wed, Mar 22, 2006, 11:41 PM

If you think that a hard line stand on illegal immigration is a close call among the electorate take a gander at a new NBC news poll by Democratic pollster Peter Hart.  The poll found that 71% of all voters would be more inclined to vote for a congressional candidate who back tougher immigration controls.  The President's plan for allowing illegal workers now in the country to remain was opposed by 59% versus 37% who were favorable.

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PERRY SITE: 721 Days 8 Hours 24 Minutes 59 Seconds
by Scott Bennett    Wed, Mar 22, 2006, 11:24 PM

Gov. Rick Perry's campaign Web site has a "special feature" that quotes an article in the April 1, 2004 San Antonio Express News: [Carol Strayhorn says]  "Texans are embarrassed that we have not addressed the school finance issues," Strayhorn said, adding that her own plan is in the works "but if released now they would be bamming me immediately."  The clock on the Perry Web site counts 721 days 8 hours and 24 minutes and 59 seconds (as of March 22, 2006 at 8:29 PM) since Strayhorn made the statement.  No doubt he will have only a short time to wait with a special session called in less than a month.  Or maybe he will.

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by Scott Bennett    Wed, Mar 22, 2006, 11:05 PM

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn today placed an indefinite hold on all payments from the State of Texas to the Washington, D.C. lobbying firm of Cassidy & Associates, which is being audited by the Comptroller's office.  The current contract between Cassidy & Associates and the Office of State-Federal Relations runs from Nov. 16, 2005 through Aug. 31, 2007. The total amount is not to exceed $330,000.  For those who don't recall Cassidy & Associates is a firm populated by several close associates of ex-House Majority Leader Tom Delay.

The contract has been under criticism over the past few months as DeLay's star has fallen and revelations regarding contributions made by firm members to GOP candidates have become public.  The firm was hired to do lobby work by Gov. Rick Perry's office.  Strayhorn, who is opposing Perry in the fall election as an independent/Republican stated that "As the state's chief fiscal officer I am committed to making sure tax dollars are spent wisely and in absolute accordance with the law," Strayhorn said. "During the early stages of my expenditure audit of the contract with Cassidy & Associates enough questions have been raised and I have found sufficient reason to indefinitely stop all payments to the firm."

During a three-month period in 2004, June through August, Cassidy & Associates was paid $302,363 by Gov. Rick Perry's office. In Fiscal Year 2005, the firm was paid $34,299.06 by the Office of the Governor and $105,000 by the Office of State-Federal Relations. To date, in Fiscal Year 2006, Cassidy & Associates has been paid $52,511.92 by the Office of State-Federal Relations. 

Whether the Comproller actually has the power to refuse to pay bills is an open question.  By her actions today it appears that the Comptroller believes she has such authority. 

While DallasBlog is still awaiting a statement from the governor regarding the Comptroller's authority his office did release the following statement: 

Kathy Walt, press secretary to Gov. Rick Perry, issued the following statement today regarding the comptroller’s announcement that she is suspending payments to Cassidy & Associates, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm that represents Texas interests before Congress.

“As long as we’re talking about audits, when will the comptroller voluntarily comply with the independent State Auditor’s recommendations so Texans can have faith that her tax decisions are not for sale to her contributors? Today’s action smacks of another publicity stunt by Comptroller Strayhorn to grab headlines. Her appetite for media attention is legendary.”

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by Trey Garrison    Wed, Mar 22, 2006, 07:39 PM

Now how cool is this? A Stradivarius violin made in 1725 and valued at £570,000 (which in American money is what? A billion?) is being returned to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra fully 21 years after it went missing.

The violin, one of only about 600 in existence, resurfaced when it was put up for sale at auctioneers Bonhams, which struck a deal with the vendor to see it returned to the orchestra.

The BBC has the full story. (For the record, £570,000 is $996,000, at the exchange rates at the close of market today.)

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by Mike Fisher    Wed, Mar 22, 2006, 07:35 PM

Thanks in large part to your support, it's so far so good on our experiment on Texas Progressive Radio (910AM in Dallas, 1600AM in Austin, 103.1 FM in San Antonio) with "The Mike Fisher Show''!

In fact, we're expanding to two hours, to 8-10 p.m. on Thursdays, with live streaming at

Last week, we were joined by our own Tom Pauken and by Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman.


Thurs the 23rd: George Parnham, the attorney for Andrea Yates; and social commentator Bob Ray Sanders

Thurs the 30th: Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, Al Lipscomb and Channel 8 sportscaster Dale Hansen!

Join us, tune in, call in (at 214 787 1-910) and offer Listener Feedback at

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

to let 'em know you want more "School of Fish'' on the radio!



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by Carolyn Barta    Wed, Mar 22, 2006, 05:59 PM

Will Pryor, Democratic congressional candidate in District 32, says the recent Democrat move to censure President Bush  “is not only non-productive; it steals focus from the issues this nation needs Congress to address.”  A professional mediator seeking to unseat Republican Pete Sessions, Pryor said Congress needs to spend more time working to solve problems and less time polarizing the electorate.

Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., introduced a resolution to censure President Bush, saying he broke the law and misled Congress by engaging in domestic eavesdropping and illegal wiretapping. Censure is a way to publicly scold the President while falling short of impeachment. The last president censured was Andrew Jackson in 1834.

"I respect Senator Feingold and share many of his frustrations. I, too, am concerned about the proper balance between national security and protecting the rights of our citizens. Let’s debate those issues head on. But I believe that our nation is tired of polarized politics and partisanship that makes headlines but fails to solve problems,” Pryor said, in a release. 

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by Trey Garrison    Wed, Mar 22, 2006, 05:10 PM

All that stuff of yours that got ruined in the flood waters, or got washed into your yard? Call the city's 311 line and you can arrange curbside pickup of your water-logged flotsam over the next two weeks.

City sanitation workers will pick up anything no larger than a standard sized sofa - such as soggy carpets, sheetrock, flooring and, one supposes, water-logged sofas. They promise no tickets during the two weeks. (I'm looking at you, "Mr. Blue Easy Chair on the Roof" guy.)

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by Trey Garrison    Wed, Mar 22, 2006, 05:07 PM

Just got it verified from the Plano Police Department that yet another arrest warrant is out for the Plano soccer coach who was charged last week with indecency with two children on his soccer team.

Comes word today that Dennis Drummond, the accused coach, is now wanted on another count of attempted indecency with a third child.

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by Brian Bodine    Wed, Mar 22, 2006, 11:52 AM

The Dallas Morning News has reported that the University of Dallas, a private catholic school of 3,000, is one of the remaining three contenders for the George W. Bush Presidential Library because of its partnership with the surrounding city of Irving.

The university’s partnership with Irving and the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau involves the City of Irving funding $50 million in hotel and motel tax revenue for the “George W. Bush Library and Institute at Freedom Park.” City officials have touted the accessibility, scenery, and location of the University of Dallas, citing its proximity to the airport and views of the surrounding city skylines.

Click here to read DMN article 

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