AUSTIN — More than a dozen city council members had their day in federal
district court on Nov. 23 when their challenge to the constitutionality of
the Texas Open Meetings Act was heard with Judge Rob Junell presiding.
The plaintiffs, from cities across Texas, claimed the Act violates their
right to free speech because it requires them to meet and vote in public
or face jail time and fines if they are convicted of deliberating about
public business secretly, or in a manner that circumvents the Act.
City council members from Wichita Falls, Arlington, Alpine and Hurst
testified they routinely avoid communicating with other council members
outside of an official meeting because they could not be sure if doing so
would be a violation of the Act.
But the Texas Attorney General's office, defendants, refuted the
plaintiffs' arguments on constitutional and procedural grounds.
Judge Junell called for more input from both sides in January, before he
will render a decision in the case.
Jury finds DeLay guilty on 2 counts
In an Austin state district courtroom, a 12-member jury on Nov. 24 found
former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay, R- Sugar Land, guilty of
money laundering and conspiracy.
The case stems from an incident several years ago when DeLay moved
corporate campaign contributions to the Republican Party into political
races for certain Texas Republicans running for seats in the U.S. House.
DeLay, who faces a sentence of five to 99 years in prison and up to a
$10,000 fine on the money laundering charge, and two to 20 years in
prison and up to a $10,000 fine on the conspiracy charge, said he will
Panel investigates allegation
The House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics met at the Capitol
on Nov. 23 to check out an allegation by a state representative that he
may have been pressured to vote for the reelection of House Speaker Joe
Straus or lose his seat in the upcoming redrawing of districts.
The allegation, lodged by Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, sprang from a
telephone conversation he had with Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman. The
allegation turned out to be nothing action worthy.
The Ethics Committee chalked it up as a disagreement between two members.
But of course, there is quite a bit of uncertainty afoot on how
Congressional, state Senate and state House districts will look when the
Texas Legislature applies Census 2010 figures to the state map.
Investments will create Texas jobs
Gov. Rick Perry on Nov. 22 announced a $3.1 million investment in PETCO
Animal Supplies Inc., that he said would create 400 jobs in San Antonio
and generate an estimated $17 million in capital investment.
On Nov. 23, Perry announced a $2.5 million investment to create a U.S.
operations center for SunPower Corp. in Austin. Perry said the investment
would create 450 jobs and generate an estimated $10 million in capital
The state’s financial contribution to the two projects comes through the
Texas Enterprise Fund, a business incentive account that requires the
governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House to agree before
funds can be disbursed.
Plenty of shingles in our asphalt
In mid-November, the Texas Department of Transportation reported that in
the last 18 months, it pre-qualified two dozen used shingle-processing
operations to supply TxDOT road projects.
The use of road paving material that incorporates asphalt roofing shingle
scrap saves money, and, TxDOT said, “Placing a two-inch hot mix overlay
with 5 percent recycled shingles on one mile of a two-lane road uses 80
tons of shingles and saves 40 cubic yards of landfill space.
“That’s as many shingles as roofers would remove from 40 2,000-square foot
homes.”Chemical company wins honorTexas Workforce Commission on Nov. 19
announced Dow Chemical Co. as its 2010 Texas Workforce Employer of the
Dow, which employs 6,500 workers in Texas, was chosen from among five
finalists for its collaboration with the Texas workforce system and for
supporting the agency’s goal of ensuring that both employers and workers
have the resources and skills Texas needs to remain competitive in the
Officials noted that Dow dedicates resources to a state employment project
that matches industry jobs to military job descriptions to help returning
veterans secure employment.
10 to vie for vacant House seat
Eight Republicans, two Democrats and one Libertarian are running in the
Dec. 14 special election for the House District 44 seat.
The winner will succeed the late Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin, who had served
as the district’s state representative since 1983, Kuempel, 67, died of a
heart attack in Austin on Nov. 4.
Guadalupe, Gonzales and Wilson counties make up House District 44.