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Good News Dallas
by    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 07:14 PM

Tonight at 7, the polls will close. But there’s another side of Texas politics that does not get much ink. Right after the polls close, each major party holds a precinct convention. The precinct convention elects delegates to the county or senatorial district conventions, which in turn elect delegates to the state convention. But the precinct conventions also consider resolutions. These resolutions are often considered by the party platform committee, so interest groups often encourage their members to submit resolutions at their party’s conventions.

Here are some of the resolution topics we’ve heard about so far:
* Opposition to raiding the Permanent School Fund as a method of finance for expanded state government
(Americans for Prosperity and several other conservative groups) * Support of appraisal and revenue caps (Americans for Prosperity)
* Opposition to cloning (pro-life groups)
* Ending taxpayer-funded lobbying (Americans for Prosperity)
* Supporting restrictions on the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes (Americans for Prosperity)
* Increased funding for public education and teacher pay raises (teacher unions)
* Cap superintendent salaries to the governor’s salaries (Katy Citizen Watchdogs)
* Prohibit homeowners associations from foreclosing on property (Katy Citizen Watchdogs)

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by Scott Bennett    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 06:46 PM

Today seems to be a big day for polls.  The ABC News Poll takes a look at Sen. John McCain and Sen. Hillary Clinton and finds that they are formidable contenders for the Presidency but that each have different strengths and weaknesses.  Hillary has stronger support from her base while McCain has similar support across all sectors and much lower negatives. 

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by Trey Garrison    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 05:27 PM

Police say this Arlington womankinseth.jpg wasn't clowning around when she tried to hire a hit man to off her husband.

She's under arrest now, and I'm thinking of a famous line from Winston Churchill when a woman told him that if she were his wife, she'd put poison in his cup. He replied that if he were her husband, he'd gladly drink it.

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by Trey Garrison    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 04:52 PM

The Dallas Fire-Rescue Department is asking for about $135 million of the proposed 2006 bond for 10 replacement stations, major upgrades to existing fire stations and six new fire stations.

The current Fire-Rescue Department needs inventory totals $234 million, which includes another 15 desired replacement stations that the fire department is not asking for out of the 2006 bond package.

DFD is facing many of the same problems today with its existing firehouses that first came to attention 20 years ago, including facilities that are too small and lack of proper insulation.

The cost to repair and bring up to code the stations needing replacement would be almost 80 percent of the replacement cost.

Currently the city of Dallas has 55 fire stations operating. The city also owns a number of sites for future stations.

Since 1991 there have been three new stations and nine replacements stations built, all funded through the bond program.

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by Trey Garrison    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 04:28 PM

Click here and scroll down to "HEY, MATT, THANKS FOR READING MY COLUMN."

Matt was wounded by friendly fire, then hit with a full on publisher's barrage. Blog war is hell. Lord help me, I do love it so.

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by Tom Pauken    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 03:59 PM

Clay Robinson has an excellent article in today’s Houston Chronicle about the Sharp Commission’s proposed solution to the school finance quandary. According to the Chronicle story, Sharp will propose a "revised franchise tax which would apply to limited liability partnerships, as well as corporation … It would help pay for a cut of about one-third in local property taxes spent on school operations."

The Sharp plan "will net about $4 billion a year more than the current franchise tax" while cutting property taxes by $5.8 billion a year." The difference would be made up by the utilization of a portion of the estimated $4.3 billion surplus. The Chronicle story also mentions that "some commission members want to raise the sales tax, which he (Sharp) opposes."

Gov. Perry reportedly has signed on to the Sharp Plan while opposition is coming from some auto dealers, law firms and other professionals, along with companies headquartered outside of Texas.

With the Governor’s support of the Sharp plan, chances improve that the Texas legislature may finally be able to reach an agreement on a school finance alternative to our excessive reliance on high property taxes and the Robin Hood redistribution of local property taxes.

To read the complete Robison story, link here.

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by Trey Garrison    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 03:57 PM

The independent auditors presented their final report on the Dallas Police Department's fake drug scandal from back in 2001, and it appears as though the DPD is doing the bare minimum to comply with the auditor's recommendations. Some city council members would even like to see an independent panel continue to audit the Dallas Police narcotics division.

The auditor's report restates the obvious – the D.A.’s office did not require lab testing of drugs, there was a failure to follow standard operating procedures and a lack of supervision.

Last year auditors said the Dallas Police narcotics division hadn't fixed problems with handling confidential informants identified after the infamous 2001 fake drug scandal. They now say some but not all of their recommendations have been implemented.

As the report from the auditors notes, eight narcotics officers signed documents claiming field tests were positive for drugs when they turned out later to be fake, but only three of them - disgraced officers Mark De la Paz, Eddie Herrera and David Larsen - were ever fired and indicted, and only one, De la Paz, convicted. Which should be of great comfort to all those who spent time in state prison because of bogus busts and prosecution.

And one of the officers involved in the scandal - Officer Larry Moses - who despite there being excessive evidence of inconsistent testimony regarding a drug bust (first saying he was present, then not, then had contact with defendant, then not, then saying he was involved, then saying not) was put back on duty and even on special assignment with the narcotics unit. He has since been returned to duty as a patrolman in the Southeast division.

Further, the department hasn't addressed all of the problems with its handling of confidential informants. The DPD says it will record conversations with snitches "when possible," but as Scott Henson at our favorite legal affairs blog, Grits for Breakfast, points out, it means inevitably "when something improper is discussed those conversations won't be recorded. It's a loophole you could drive a truck through. What's more, the department failed to implement all the recommendations, and continues to use officers who helped convict innocent people in the first place."

Councilman Ron Natinsky said he was concerned about ongoing errors in field testing of drugs, despite improvements that saw only 40 false positives of almost 10,000 field tests in 2005, using the new guidelines and training.

“Of the 10,000 field tests, 40 (that were false positives) is a small percentage, but it’s significant if you’re on the receiving end of a false positive” Natinsky said.

Councilman Mitch Razansky, not one to recommend spending city money lightly, wondered if the city couldn't engage the independent auditing firm - Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr PC - to continue ongoing work watching over the Dallas Police Department.

“I feel confident our police chief today is doing what should have been done a long time ago. But is there anyone left in the department that should have been investigated more than they have? My biggest concern, has anyone gotten away with anything? You just cannot answer that question. So I wish the investigation would have gone deeper, but this is fantastic. But sorry to hear that maybe some people may be getting by with something,” he said.

Council member Angela Hunt echoed Razansky.

“I agree we should continue to have independent panel looking at this … to once again secure the public trust. My recommendation is after the trials we do have independent panel review transcripts and evidence to ascertain whether currently there are people in our police department there who shouldn’t be,” she said.

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by Mike Fisher    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 03:54 PM

What happens when two 800-pound gorillas climb into bed together? Some thoughts on the marriage between the Cowboys and The Ticket -- and a dismissal of concerns that somehow the radio station will now lose its "sports edge'' from Mike Fisher in the "School of Fish.'' ...

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by Scott Bennett    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 03:51 PM

Rudi Giuliani
The Quinnipiac Polling Institute has begun testing for the 2008 Presidential contest with a poll of 1900 registered voters nationwide.  The poll simply named a number of nationally known political figures.  Survey respondents were asked to rate each person with a number between 1 and 100 with a higher figure being more favorable.  The most popular politician was former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani who scored 63.5.  Surprisingly the number two was Illinois Senator Barack Obama, a newcomer to the national scene, who rated a 59.9.  Sen. John McCain was third with 59.7 and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was next with a score of 57.1.  Former President Clinton was fifth with 56.1 which was ahead of eighth place finisher Sen. Hillary Clinton with 50.

Full results may be viewed here Click the first newsrelease

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by Scott Bennett    Tue, Mar 7, 2006, 03:29 PM

Survey USA is out with a pre-election survey of sorts sponsored by KEYE-TV in San Antonio.  There are no head-to-head matches but there are some interesting numbers.  The firm surveyed 1200 Texans of which 905 were currently registered to vote. First, the two Democrats contending in today's primary for Governor of Texas, are unknown to the same number of people: 62%.  The favorable and unfavorable ratings were basically equal.  Gov. Perry had 44% favorable and 37% unfavorable which hardly seem deadly to an  incumbent.  Only 4% didn't know who Perry was.  Carole Strayhorn was 40% favorable, 25% unfavorable and 17% unknown.  So Strayhorn is carrying a small advantage in public perception.  Kinky?  SUSA reports that 26% view him favorably,  27% view him unfavorably and 26% have never heard of him.  What does this all mean?  Hard to tell.

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