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EAST MEETS WEST...ER, NORTH TEXAS
by Trey Garrison    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 09:01 PM

Dallas Mayor Laura Miller will meet Thursday with Yasuo Sekiya, vice governor of the Tokyo Prefecture and head of the Tokyo City Promotion to the United States.

He and a delegation comprised of Tokyo city officials and tourism related companies in Tokyo will meet at city hall at 1:15 p.m. to discuss methods to attract more tourists from the United States.

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CUTTING OFF THE HEAD OF 'THE BLACK MAMBA' by The Fish
by Mike Fisher    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 03:25 PM

The Mavericks top the Lakers (finally!) by using a simple 3-step plan that cuts the head off the snake that is Kobe "The Black Mamba'' Bryant. Read all about it in "School of Fish''!

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NEW MOVIE VERSION OF DALLAS LIKELY TO BE FILMED ELSEWHERE
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 02:44 PM

The Ft. Worth Star Telegram is reporting that the upcoming film version of Dallas is likely to be shot outside of Dallas. Possible locations for the making of the new film (which is expected to go into production this summer) include Florida, New Mexico, or Louisiana. Or, the studio could decide to go to Canada where a number of U.S. movies have been shot over the past decade. It won’t be the first time that a movie named after a city has been filmed elsewhere. The film Chicago was shot in Toronto, Canada.

To read the full story in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, link here.

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JAMES WEBB WILL RUN FOR U.S. SENATE IN VIRGINIA
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 01:13 PM

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James Webb
Dallas Blog has learned that decorated Vietnam Veteran and the best-selling author of the Vietnam novel Fields of Fire, James Webb, will run for the U.S. Senate in Virginia as a Democrat against incumbent Republican Senator George Allen.  Webb was an Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration.  Webb became a Republican during the turbulent decade of the '60s and worked on Capitol Hill during the 1970s for a Republican Congressman.  He broke with the Republican Party and the Bush Administration over the war in Iraq and the dominant  influence of the neoconservatives over Bush's foreign policy.  Until Webb decided to run for the Senate as a Democrat, Allen was expected to have clear sailing in his bid for re-election.  Now, he will be in a tough battle against a Democrat who has a strong following in the military and veterans community.  Allen was expected to run for the Republican nomination for President in 2008.  With Webb running against him, those plans may be put on hold.

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GOVERNOR'S ADVISORY PANEL CALLS FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE CHANGES By Scott Bennett
by DallasBlog.com    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 07:47 AM

Gov. Rick Perry’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council has recommended changes to improve fairness and public confidence in the criminal justice system, including giving judges more discretion to order post-conviction DNA testing.


The council’s recommendations are focused in four general areas: forensics, innocence projects, sex offender policies and technology assistance. Among other changes the Panel call forchanges in state law to give judges more discretion in ordering post-conviction DNA tests. The council found that many state district judges have been reluctant to order more DNA testing without the specific statuary authority to do so.  The Panel would also allow the state to pay for DNA testing at privately contracted labs to alleviate the growing backlog of DNA cases that await testing by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). 

The Panel also found innocense projects at the state's four public law schools were underfunded and should seek additional grant money from the Governor's Criminal Justice Division. 

In the area of sex offender crimes the Panel called for funding a global positioning satellite surveillance of registered sex offenders for at least three years, and for life in some cases. (The estimated cost is $756,000 for the first year.)  It would also seek expanded funding for the Office of the Attorney General’s sex offender enforcement unit, at a cost of about $5 million for the first year and $4.5 million for the second year.


The Council recommended further study for additional state funding for a public defenders office to ensure high quality representation of those charged with capital murder, especially in rural areas with limited availability of criminal defense lawyers experienced in capital murder cases.

A complete copy of the council’s report is available at:
http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/pressreleases/PressRelease.2006-02-07.5221

 

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DEWHURST: SPECIAL SESSION MUST INCLUDE REFORM By Will Lutz
by DallasBlog.com    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 07:44 AM

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told attendees of the Texas Association of Business’s annual meeting Feb. 7 that he believes education reform must be a part of any special session on public school finance. There appears to be a looming disagreement between the governor’s office and the legislative leadership on whether the school finance special should only pertain to taxes and the minimum required to remedy the court verdict or whether the special session should also tackle education reform.

“In talking with our senators, I think most feel that if we’re going to put new money into public education, there needs to be some reforms. Particularly, dramatically increasing accountability, both academic and financial, which I don’t think is really controversial but is very helpful. We’ve got to lower our dropout rates,” Dewhurst said. He described the current situation as a "window of opportunity" and warned that the ability to pass education reform might wane once the court challenge has been solved.

When asked about the work of former Comptroller John Sharp’s commission, Dewhurst said, “In my talking with a number of the members [of the commission], I don’t know that there’s a consensus yet on where they are. Some of them are supporting this gross receipts tax. Some want to see an expansion of the sales tax to all business services with the exception of food and medical [care]. So I don’t know if there’s a consensus today, but we’re open in the Senate to look at any recommendation.” Dewhurst noted that the senate passed a bill to expand the sales tax to services in 2003 but noted that the concept later ran into more resistance.

Dewhurst has not ruled out a plan requiring a constitutional amendment. “One of the elements that several senators have recommended to me is to go in and lower local school property taxes by some meaningful amount, that even after local enrichment there still is a reduction, and then propose a constitutional amendment which would provide another huge reduction in local school property taxes.”

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CARTOON WARS
by Scott Bennett    Tue, Feb 7, 2006, 06:08 PM

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WHILE THE PRESIDENT HAS HIS CONSERVATIVE CRITICS, MAINSTREAM REPUBICANS STILL SUPPORT HIM
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Tue, Feb 7, 2006, 05:20 PM

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President Bush
While George W. Bush has his critics on the Left, he also is losing support among conservatives. A Wall St. Journal poll revealed that more than 50% of those who identify themselves as conservatives would like to see most of our troops out of Iraq by the end of this year.

A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor entitled "Conservatives ask: Is Bush one of us?" quotes a number of conservatives critical of Bush’s domestic spending policies and his recent State of the Union address.

Nonetheless, rank-and-file voters don’t seem to share those views. The Monitor story notes: "A Gallup poll of State of the Union watchers, two-thirds of whom were Republicans, showed a 75 percent positive rating, including 48 percent who were very positive."

What those poll results suggest is that, while conservative activists may be increasingly disenchanted with Bush’s policies, mainstream Republican voters still are standing behind their man.

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DON’T INVITE COUNTY COMMISSIONER MIKE CANTRELL AND COUNTY JUDGE MARGARET KELIHER TO THE SAME PARTY
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Tue, Feb 7, 2006, 05:06 PM

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Mike Cantrell
Well-placed sources tell DallasBlog that County Commissioner Mike Cantrell believes that County Judge Margaret Keliher was behind a story in the January issue of D Magazine which was highly critical of Cantrell for his alleged role in a flawed Dallas County computer contract awarded to an IT consulting company called InfoIntegration.

The article in question is entitled "The Schemer" (link here) and focuses on an IT consulting company called InfoIntegration headed by Tonya Brenneman which (the article maintains) was unqualified to develop and manage such a sophisticated computer network for the county. Three members of the Court, including County Judge Keliher, voted in favor of the contract. Commissioner John Wiley Price opposed it. Commissioner Mayfield was absent for the vote.

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Margaret Keliher
The D Magazine article refers to the IT contract as a "$3million lemon" and puts much of the blame on Commissioner Cantrell who, according to the article "played a hands-on role in securing the contract for InfoIntegration". Cantrell disputes that and believes that Keliher, one of the few county officials to come out looking good in the article, set him up to take the fall for problems with the new computer system.

In her first term in office, Keliher has managed to alienate all of her fellow Republicans on the Commissioners Court. The relationship had deteriorated so badly that the Republican Commissioners tried to recruit State Representative Fred Hill to run against Keliher in the Republican primary. Hill seriously considered making the race but ultimately decided to run for re-election to the House instead.

Keliher’s only remaining ally on the Commissioners Court is Democratic Commissioner John Wiley Price. The relationship between the Republican commissioners and Keliher was already strained prior to the D Magazine article. But now, it is completely ruptured, with Cantrell particularly incensed over what he believes was Margaret Keliher’s role in that negative story about him.

Right now, the Republicans control the Commissioners Court by a 4 to 1 margin. If the Democrats were to defeat Republican Ken Mayfield in November and hold two seats on the five member Court, longtime Courthouse observers wouldn’t be surprised to see Margaret Keliher do a reverse Carole Strayhorn and move from the Republican Party into the Democratic Party in 2007.

Meanwhile, don’t expect relations between Keliher and her fellow Republicans on the Court to improve anytime soon.

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TARRANT COUNTY DA ENDORSES SHOOK IN DALLAS DA RACE
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Tue, Feb 7, 2006, 04:54 PM

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Tarrant DA Tim Curry
Tarrant County DA Tim Curry today endorsed the candidacy of Toby Shook for the Republican nomination for District Attorney in Dallas.  In his endorsement letter, Curry made the following statement:  "I wholeheartedly support Toby Shook for Dallas County District Attorney because he is supremely qualified, and he has the temperament, the character, a sound vision and a desire for innovation that will make him a powerful leader."  Shook is locked in a very tight race for the Republican nomination with former Judge Vick Cunningham.  Former Judge Dan Wyde also is a candidate in the Republican primary for the DA post.

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