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ISRAELI SECURITY CHIEF QUESTIONS DECISION TO OVERTHROW SADDAM HUSSEIN
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Thu, Feb 9, 2006, 12:52 PM

The chief of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, made some revealing comments last week when "he was secretly recorded talking to teenage Jewish settlers preparing for military service." According to the Guardian newspaper, Israeli television made public last week the secret recording. Here is what Mr. Diskin had to say about Iraq, "When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos. You get what happens in Iraq. I’m not sure we won’t miss Saddam."

To read the full story in the Guardian, click here.

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DALLAS CQJ RELEASES LIST OF JUDICIAL ENDORSEMENTS By Scott Bennett
by Scott Bennett    Thu, Feb 9, 2006, 12:24 PM

The non-partisan Committee for a Qualified Judiciary (CQJ) announced its endorsed slate of “qualified” candidates in Dallas County judicial races.

The CQJ consists of over 75 lawyers, businessmen and women and many community and civic leaders from all parts of Dallas County. For over 24 years the CQJ has examined, without regard to party label, the qualifications of candidates for the local bench. Candidates are evaluated for their legal ability, integrity, judicial temperament and a commitment to the fair and impartial administration of justice.

With more than 100 candidates in 42 contested judicial races the general public is often bewildered by the choice. CQJ was formed to help provide useful, non-partisan information that would allow citizens to make informed voting choices.

The committee met following an extensive evaluation process consisting of the review of public records and questionnaires submitted by the candidates; references and background checks; and, personal interviews. The CQJ’s Evaluation Committee, comprised of 22 members was chaired by Robert B. Cousins, Jr.

The Evaluation Committee is divided into panels and assigned candidates to study. Following the review process each panel presents its conclusions to the Evaluation Committee sitting as a whole and each candidate then must receive a two-thirds vote by the Evaluation Committee to be reported favorably to the CQJ membership at its February 8th meeting. All endorsed candidates received a two-thirds vote to the CQJ membership.

CQJ Officers are George C. Chapman, Chair; Robert B. Cousins, Jr., Vice-Chair and Chair, Evaluation Committee; Louis A. Beecherl, Jr., Treasurer; Nina Cortell, Secretary; William C. (Trey) Dowdy III and Michael L. Parham, Co-Chairs, Membership Committee.

Directors include: Kim J. Askew, Louis A. Beecherl, Jr., Jim Burnham, Nina Cortell, George Chapman, William E. Cooper, Robert B. Cousins, Jr., Clarice Davis, John Estes, Ruben Esquivel, Douglas D. Hawthorne, Rhonda Hunter, Randy Johnston, Richard Knight, Jr., C. Paul Rogers III, Pete Schenkel, Charles M. Solomon, and Betsy Whitaker.

ENDORSED “AS QUALIFIED”  BY COMMITTEE FOR A QUALIFIED JUDICIARY

COURT/REPUBLICAN/ DEMOCRATIC

44th Civil District Court David Kelton

68th Civil District Court Charles Stokes/Martin Hoffman

101st Civil District Court Jay Patterson/Marty Lowy

116th Civil District Court Robert Frost

160th Civil District Court Nancy Thomas/Jim Jordan

191st Civil District Court Catharina Haynes

192nd Civil District Court Dawn Estes/S.Craig Smith

193rd Civil District Court David Evans/Carl Ginsberg

298th Civil District Court Karen Willcutts/Emily Tobolowsky

Criminal District Court No. 1 Janice Warder/Robert Burns

Criminal District Court No. 5 Manny Alvarez/Carter Thompson

Criminal District Court No. 6 Danny Clancy/Jeanine Howard

Criminal District Court No. 7 Livia Liu/Mike Snipes

194th Criminal District Court Mary Miller

195th Criminal District Court Fred Burns/Fred Tinsley/Dianne Kathryn Jones

204th Criminal District Court Mark Nancarrow

265th Criminal District Court Keith Dean

COURT REPUBLICAN/DEMOCRAT

282nd Criminal District Court Karen Greene/ Andy Chatham

283rd Criminal District Court Becky Gregory/Rick Magnis

292nd Criminal District Court Henry Wade, Jr.

363rd Criminal District Court Faith Johnson/ Tracy Holmes

254th Family District Court Jeff Coen/ David Hanschen

255th Family District Court Craig Fowler/ Lori C. Hockett

256th Family District Court Brenda Garrett Green/Barbara Geddis Van Duyne

301st Family District Court Susan Rankin/ Lynn Cherry

302nd Family District Court Francis Harris/ Tena Callahan

303rd Family District Court Tomi Shehan/ Dennise Garcia

304th Juvenile District Court John Sholden

County Criminal Court No. 1 Ada Brown/Dan Patterson

County Criminal Court No. 2 Neil Pask

County Criminal Court No. 3 Glen Fitzmartin/Doug Skemp/David Lewis

County Criminal Court No. 4 Bill Fay/Teresa Tolle/Don Metcalfe

County Criminal Court No. 6 Jennifer Balido/Alan Barr

County Criminal Court No. 9 Keith A. Anderson/Peggy Hoffman

County Criminal Court No. 10 Lisa Fox/Roberto Canas

County Criminal Court No. 11 Donna Winfield/Elizabeth Frizell

COURT/REPUBLICAN/DEMOCRAT

County Court at Law, No. 1 Russell H. Roden

County Court at Law, No. 2 John Peyton/King Fifer

County Court at Law, No. 4 Ken Tapscott

Criminal District Court of Appeals, Pl. 2 Lynn Burson Brian O’Shea/Jeffrey Rosenfield

Probate Court No. 3 Joe Loving

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DALLAS BAR TO HOST DA CANDIDATE FORUMS
by Scott Bennett    Thu, Feb 9, 2006, 12:10 PM

The public is invited to hear from the 6 candidates for Dallas County District Attorney, as the Dallas Bar Association hosts two lunchtime Public Forums this month. The candidates will discuss issues facing the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, along with their own qualifications and goals.

The three Republican candidates (Vic Cunningham, Toby Shook and Dan Wyde) will participate in a one-hour Public Forum on Wednesday, February 15, and the three Democratic candidates (B.D. Howard, Larry Jarrett and Craig Watkins) will participate in a one-hour Public Forum on Monday, February 20.

Both Public Forums will begin promptly at NOON at the Pavilion at the Belo Mansion, 2101 Ross Avenue in downtown Dallas (garage parking available; enter from Olive Street). An optional $13 lunch buffet will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it so adequate seating is available.

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TEXAS SENATORS WARN WRIGHT COMPROMISE A MUST
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Thu, Feb 9, 2006, 11:34 AM

The Dallas Morning News is reporting today that Texas two US Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, are warning local political and civic leaders to reach a compromise on the Wright Amendment or Congress will take matters into its own hands.  The two senators reportedly say that many states will seek the same exemption received for his state by Missouri Senator Kit Bond.  The two senators believe that at least many senators will seek to exemptions in the same way Missouri did. 

The City of Fort Worth, DFW Airport and American Airlines maintain that the so-called Wright Amendment was "the"compromise and that the subject should be closed.  Southwest Airlines is campaigning hard to lift the Wright Amendment so they can serve long-haul destinations from Dallas Love Field.  Dallas Mayor Laura Miller prefers a compromise that would reduce the number of gates allowed by the city's Love Field Master Plan but that would allow through ticketing (one stop within Wright territory before continuing on elsewhere).  Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis) who serves as chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has vowed to block any attempt to repeal or seriously amend the Wright legislation. 

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PERRY: NO SPECIAL SESSION FOR EDUCATION REFORM By Will Lutz
by Scott Bennett    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 11:36 PM
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GOv. Rick Perry
Gov. Rick Perry announced today that he would limit the call of the upcoming Special Session to reforming the tax system and cutting property taxes, leaving out the issue of education reform altogether.

“Whether education reform can be accomplished in the same 30-day special where legislators must take up tax reform remains to be seen,” Perry said in a speech to the Texas Association of Business. “I will ask legislators to start on the challenge the Supreme Court has deemed unconstitutional, and that is our property tax system.”

However, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, at the same conference told members that education reform must be a part of any special session on school finance. “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," Dewhurst said. "Particularly, dramatically increasing accountability, both academic and financial, which I don’t think is really controversial but is very helpful."

Perry also said that tax increases are not necessary to generate more revenue for the schools. “And we don’t need to raise taxes one cent to generate more money for education, we just need the comptroller to collect the nearly $3 billion owed to her office today by deadbeats and tax cheats,” Perry said.

However, Strayhorn disputed Perry's claim, saying "This is a partisan political attack and once again the governor is not telling the people of Texas the truth." Strayhorn explained there is $2.6 billion in money owed to the state that has accumulated over a ten year period. Those collection cases were turned over to the Attorney General's office many years ago, she said. Debts like these are tied up in bankruptcy courts.
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STRAYHORN: $4.3 BILLION SURPLUS AVAILABLE
by Scott Bennett    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 11:30 PM

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn today released her certified revenue estimate, saying there is $4.3 billion in General Revenue related funds available "to be appropriated or re-appropriated" by the Legislature. The estimate includes the $1.8 billion which has been earmarked for public education.

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PUC: ELECTRIC RATES LOWER DUE TO DEREG By Will Lutz
by Scott Bennett    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 11:25 PM

The Public Utility Commission issued a report Feb. 3 on the effects of electric competition on residential electric rates. The report concludes that electric prices are lower because of competition than they would have been under regulation. The report also concludes that Dallas-area customers who shopped for electric rates saved $800 in the last four years by switching to the lowest-cost provider. The number for the Houston area is $1450.

“The report confirms the many contributions of a competitive market -- greater investment levels, environmental improvements through cleaner generating plants, significant consumer savings because of competition, more service options, shifting the risk of investment from consumers to electric providers, greater energy efficiency and service packaging,” said John Fainter, President of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas. “Further, competition has resulted in efficient mechanisms for promoting renewable energy, the report said. The report also recognizes that natural gas prices have tripled since 2002.”

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PARK DESIGNERS SEEK INPUT ON WOODALL ROGERS PARK
by Trey Garrison    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 09:32 PM

As part of the design process for Woodall Rodgers Park, a master-planned, deck park that will cover Woodall Rodgers Freeway between Pearl Street and St. Paul Street, the project’s sponsors and lead architects invite the public to provide their vision for the park at a  public brainstorming session.  
 
The session will be held this Saturday, February 11th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the Nasher Sculpture Center, 2001 Flora Street, and attendees are invited to remain and enjoy admission to the museum and gardens, compliments of Nasher Sculpture Center.

The public input session will enable designers to create a park that incorporates the creativity, energy and vision of its most important constituents—regional citizens who will use it every day.
 
The brainstorming session will be led by renowned landscape architect Jim Burnett, whose projects have spanned the globe, and Dan Biederman, the mastermind behind Bryant Park in Manhattan—one of the most successful and profitable parks in the country.  Burnett and Biederman were selected to lead the design and programming of Woodall Rodgers Park after an extensive RFP process that garnered interest from national and international firms.  
 
“Creating an instant connection among Uptown, Downtown and the Arts District, Woodall Rodgers Park will quickly become one of our region’s most unique and special assets,” said Linda Owen, president of The Real Estate Council.  “What better way to ensure that this civic jewel achieves every bit of its potential than to invite the public to share ideas with the most brilliant minds in urban planning, who also happen to be the team leading the design effort.”

The session is limited to 150 people, so interested parties are requested to respond to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or to call Kristal Branscum at (214) 692-3600.

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DALLAS CHAPTER OF CAIR ORGANIZES LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN
by Trey Garrison    Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 09:07 PM

The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is organizing a letter-writing campaign targeting area dailies regarding the issue of the Danish cartoons that caricature Mohammed and the ensuing Islamic rage in Europe and Asia they have sparked.

CAIR-DFW sent out an e-mail Wednesday afternoon urging Muslims to write letters to the editor "to give the American Muslim view on why these cartoons are offensive to Muslims, why those of other faiths should stand with us against misrepresenting a prophet of a major world religion, and how Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) reacted with patience and kindness when he was attacked."

The local chapter has been active on the issue since last week.

The e-mail said that the only letters to the editor "published so far have been negative ones published in Tuesday’s Dallas Morning News."

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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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