Archive for the ‘CityCouncil’ Category

Linda DeLeon To Resign

Monday morning District 1 Councilwoman Linda DeLeon announced that she will not seek reelection (A-J story, KCBD story).

Linda is a fantastic organizer and leader, and I’m sad to see her leave the council. But, she’s right: 24 years of public service is a long time, and the next generation of leadership needs to emerge.

The talk radio crowd and other outside-of-district-1 interests may imagine that they had some hand in her resignation. That’s not how I see it. As much as they liked to beat up on her, she beat them every time. In the end, she is leaving office on her terms, not theirs.

My prediction for the future of City Council District 1 is that Victor Hernandez will win the election in May. For me, the silver lining in this announcement is that I won’t have to see two friends of mine run against each other.

Best wishes to Linda and good luck with whatever comes next!

Election Time!

Early voting started yesterday. You can early vote in the usual places — most United Supermarkets, the TTU Rec Center, and Lubbock City Hall. Early voting runs through October 30th, and Election day is Tuesday, November 3rd.

What’s on the ballot this time? For City of Lubbock residents there are four bond issues, and for everyone there are eleven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. Of note, there is an important amendment relating to Tier One universities and a few relating to property tax / appraisal reform.

Today I’m going to talk about the City of Lubbock bond issues.

I have obtained some documents from West Texas Organizing Strategy (WTOS) about the Lubbock bond issues that may be useful to you:

Map showing City recommended bond proposals (pdf)
Map showing gateway street fund expenditures (pdf)
Gateway funds summary (pdf)

I strongly recommend reading those documents.

It’s interesting to see what made it from the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to the ballot — and what didn’t make it. Example: Mahon Library needs serious repairs and upgrades, but was dropped from the bond proposal.

Also interesting is WHERE the proposals ended up — mostly in SW Lubbock. For Lubbockites, this is a familiar tune; developers guide the business of the City to their advantage. New properties (mostly outside the loop) get attention and money, while maintenance and upgrades get a pass. Deferred maintenance is how we end up with bumpy major thoroughfares and a library so moldy we have to close it.

Let’s have a look at the propositions.

Proposition 1: “The issuance of $43,085,000 general obligation bonds for street improvements”

I wish the language on this proposition in particular were more precise, and I wish it were split up into smaller, clearer projects on the ballot. Right now, the money from this proposition is earmarked $20,725,000 for 34th Street, $4,750,000 for traffic signal upgrades, and the rest for streets in SW Lubbock. I would prefer to vote for a 34th street issue separately from paving new streets in SW Lubbock, but somehow they got bundled together into a single bond issue that accounts for 2/3 of the value of all the bond proposals.

It feels like the City is saying, “We’ll fix 34th St for you, but you have to approve money for new streets in SW Lubbock first.”

Also, if this proposition passes, the work on the SW Lubbock streets will begin right away, while the work on 34th St is still 3-4 years away due to engineering and architectural studies that have to be done. With the vague wording of this proposition, I believe there’s a real possibility that the money will get eaten up by other street projects before 34th St is ready to go.

Additionally, Gateway Streets Fund money (40% of our franchise taxes and access line fees collected in Lubbock) could have been spent on 34th St, but it’s being spent elsewhere, again mostly in SW Lubbock.

Proposition 2: “The issuance of $7,500,000 general obligation bonds for firefighting facilities and equipment”

Who would vote against providing firefighting facilities? This is easily the least controversial bond proposal, and the new fire stations are in areas where response time could use improvement.

Proposition 3: “The issuance of $1,200,000 general obligation bonds for water recreation facilities”

This proposal is for four “splash pads,” which are little water parks where water shoots out of the ground and falls back down on a mat. Splash pads are basically cheap alternatives to pools. If you look at the placement of these splash pads, they suggest a line of thinking like this: “Sorry we filled in your swimming pools, North and East Lubbock. Have some splash pads!” (There is one in SW Lubbock as well, but two are in East Lubbock and one is in North Lubbock.) As far as I know, these will be the first such facilities in Lubbock.

Proposition 4: “The issuance of $9,000,000 general obligation bonds for soccer facilities”

By “soccer facilities,” this proposal is not referring to the existing Berl Huffman Complex, which needs serious repair. It refers to a new soccer complex at FM1585 and Milwaukee Ave.

Lubbock soccer has had a bumpy ride, not only because of the condition our soccer fields. For some reason, those on the political right in this town really decided that they hate soccer because it represents “communism” or some other bull.

My hope is that the new complex gets built, but can’t we maintain our existing soccer fields as well?

That’s all I’ve got about the Lubbock bond issues. Be sure to check out the WTOS documents I linked above. (WTOS will make a presentation about those documents this Sunday, October 25, at 12:15 at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 4600 48th St.)

As always, the wonderful League of Women Voters voter guide is available online for free. Also, the Texas Legislative Council has an analysis of the amendments (pdf).Remember, you can take these (or any other literature you want) into to voting booth with you.

I’ll return with a post about the amendments tomorrow.

Lubbock Needs an Animal Shelter

What happened to Lubbock’s plans to build a new animal shelter?

Lubbock’s current animal shelter (pound, really) is not meeting the city’s needs and is actually a health hazard to any animal that enters the place. The walls are made of porous material filled with every kind of dog and cat disease out there. The ventilation is poor. The cages are overcrowded. Approximately 1,000 pets are adopted from the facility each year, and the Humane Society of West Texas finds homes for approximately 1,000 more through their pet adoptions every Saturday at PetSmart. Approximately 64,000 animals are put down each year in the current facility. That ratio is appalling.

I know there are folks on the City Council working to get the animal shelter project going. Unfortunately, there are those on the Council throwing wrenches in the gears too. The City had plans for a $6.5 million modern animal shelter in McAlister Park (Brownfield Hwy & Milwaukee, a great location for an animal shelter) ready to go, but they were scrapped. At one time, an argument was made that city services would have to be extended to the location, but that proved to be bogus. Later, a proposal for a $3.2 million shelter in the Heart of Lubbock neighborhood was advanced, but the citizens of that neighborhood opposed it. They had every right to oppose it, and I believe that the Milwaukee location is much better anyway.

I have my suspicions that, as is often the case in Lubbock, some developer or another was really driving the bus on this decision and steered the animal shelter away from the Milwaukee area.

Regardless of this project’s long and difficult history, we must not let it fall by the wayside. Getting a bond issue for a new animal shelter on the November ballot is the best way to show the Council that the citizens of Lubbock are serious about this.

If you want to get involved in advocating for a new animal shelter, there will be an organizing meeting at the Groves Branch Library (5520 19th Street) on Thursday, February 26 at 7:30pm. A petition to get a bond issue for a new animal shelter on the November election will be available to sign at the meeting.

The Gone Gazebo: Google’s Got It


View Larger Map

Thanks to the miracle of Google Streetview, you can see the hastily demolished gazebo in its undemolished state through the application above.

Through inquiries, I have learned that the Gazebo was not structurally sound, and that safety was the reason it was demolished. (Apparently when the 1-800-Junkmax guys backed the dozer into the wood beams, they splintered instantly.) Chalk another piece of Lubbock’s public property gone to poor maintenance, I guess.

I hope the City will consider something similar to replace the gazebo — some nice benches and a water fountain, maybe.

Is it time to make Lubbock wet?

The A-J reports that City Councilman Todd Klein wants to lay the legal groundwork for packaged alcohol sales in Lubbock.

It’s about time. To me, this makes complete sense. The city should be prepared for voters to approve packaged alcohol sales in the city limits, and we citizens should be organizing to bring that choice before the voters as soon as possible.

I also wonder (out loud) if it’s possible for the City Council to place the question of packaged alcohol sales before the voters without a petition. If they can put bond packages on the ballot, why not a packaged alcohol sales referendum?

May Election Analysis: Lubbock City Council District 4

District 4 is headed to a runoff.

Paul Beane won a plurality of the votes with 45.33% (about 3,100 votes) of the vote, with just under 7,000 votes cast total. Jerry Bell won 31.57% of the vote, and Tom Keisling won 23.10% of the vote. Bell and Beane will face off with early voting beginning on Tuesday.

Let’s look at how the May 10 election went:

As you can see from the map above, Paul Beane did well throughout the district.

In my mind, it’s not clear what Tom Keisling’s supporters will do in this runoff election. Will they support Bell, Beane, or stay home? Since District 4 has excellent turnout no matter the election, the preference of Tom Keisling’s supporters is likely to be one of the deciding factors of the runoff election.

Another deciding factor will be which way the highest-turnout precincts lean. Precinct 54 (Honey Elementary) alone accounts for nearly 18% (1,194 votes) of the total vote and is always the highest-turnout precinct in any election in Lubbock County.

Other high-turnout precincts in this election are:

  • Precinct 52 (11%)
  • Precinct 127 (10%)
  • Precinct 12 (10%)
  • Precinct 30 (9%)
  • Precinct 123 (8%)

 

As with District 2, the outcome of the runoff election is unclear. Both candidates have their work cut out for them.

May Election Analysis: Lubbock City Council District 2

Lubbock City Council Districts 2 and 4 are headed for a runoff election Saturday, June 7. With that in mind, I have decided to try a little analysis of the May election results.

Lubbock City Council District 2 (LB2) straddles Interstate 27 from 19th street on south. The Interstate is a physical barrier as well as a psychological and cultural one. The situation is improving over time, but the three precincts west of I-27 (19, 25, and 29) are still “anglo precincts,” and the four precincts east of I-27 (6, 20, 26, and 40) are still “minority precincts.” Each half on either side of I-27 accounts for 50% of the votes cast in the Council 2 race.

In the picture above, Floyd Price carried the green precincts and Armando Gonzales carried the purple precincts. The gray precinct (29) was a tie between the two; Armando Gonzales carried it by a single vote.

I believe this runoff is up in the air. Price missed winning outright by less than 5 percentage points, but, as Todd Klein showed us in 2007, a runoff can be won by the underdog. Time will tell if a 46.47% to 37.39% gap can be closed in this race.

I will look at the district 4 results this weekend if I have time (there are more precincts involved). I will say that Jerry Bell has his work cut out for him — Paul Beane won a plurality in every single precinct in district 4.

What are your thoughts on the City Council runoff races?

Milestones?

As of this moment, over 10,000 people have early voted in the May Elections in Lubbock County.

This morning, an online petition to reconsider the current implementation of the Visitor Center was launched. (I do not necessarily support or oppose this particular petition, nor do I have anything to do with the group that is circulating it. I am just pleased to see an online petition dealing strictly with a Lubbock issue.)

Over the weekend, Lubbock City Council Member Todd Klein released the Visitor Center research documents which he requested on Friday on his website. This is the right direction for local government to take — openness with information that is used to make decisions. In the future I hope we have this type of openness without having to ask.

I think these are milestones along the way to a more transparent city government with a more engaged citizenry.

South Beach is Coming Down

Like it or not, the City of Lubbock has started to tear down the South Beach nightclub building, which was purchased in order to build a visitor center.

The visitor center — and more importantly the manner in which one is constructed or even conceived of — has come under intense public scrutiny recently. Also, Council members Klein and Leonard tried to revisit the current 6-10 million dollar plan with no success.

Some even consider the closing of South Beach to be a catalyst for much of Lubbock’s political activity in the past two years. It provided an excuse to circulate three petitions to attempt to recall Linda DeLeon. It got Armando Gonzales on the radio and running for the City Council. It’s drawn attention to the real consequences of downtown redevelopment. It’s called into question who stands to benefit from downtown redevelopment and whether it’s above-board.

I think that downtown redevelopment is a worthy and even necessary goal, and that it’s okay for both public and private money to be used to make it happen. But, the particular details of how it happens will have to be watched very closely indeed.

Todd Klein Town Hall Meeting Tonight

Lubbock’s most accessible elected official is having another town hall meeting tonight at 6:00p.m. at Parsons Elementary (56th & Elgin). The meeting is for District 3 residents, but all are welcome. I’ve heard that there may be candidates for non-city positions there to speak as well.

Be there or be square!


Close
E-mail It