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Chad’s Morning Brief: Atmos Energy vs. City of Lubbock, Unpaid Internships, & More

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of March 8, 2012. Give us your feedback below and tune in to Lubbock’s First News with Chad Hasty for these and many more topics from 6-9 am. Just a reminder, LFN will be broadcasting LIVE from Good Brews Coffee & Tea Lounge this morning from 7-9am. Come out and join the show and have some coffee! Details.

Cole Shooter, KFYO.com

1. Atmos vs. Lubbock

Atmos Energy wants to raise rates in Lubbock a whopping 24% on residential customers according to the Lubbock City Council and those on the council aren’t happy about it. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, members of the City Council approved a 90-day suspension which would give time for representative from the city and from Atmos to sit down and hammer out a deal.

The pressure is on the council to hold rates as low as they can, especially in an election year where voters are looking for any reason to vote against you.

According to the local paper:

“Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to talk with Atmos and see if they’re willing to negotiate, and if not, we’re prepared to go out to the Railroad Commission,” Lubbock Mayor Tom Martin said.

Marinda Heinrich, Atmos manager of public affairs for the Lubbock region, said she hopes the parties do not have to appeal to the commission.

“That gives us 90 more days to come together on a reasonable solution,” she said. “If that doesn’t happen in 90 days, then it will move on to the Texas Railroad Commission to hear the appeal.”

City Council Paul Beane has said in the past that he would fight any increase where Lubbock customers were forced to pay at 24% rate increase while smaller towns in West Texas didn’t get the same increase.

2. New Pavilions? (link)

It’s a tight budget year, but that doesn’t mean a few parks can’t get upgrades. According to KFYO News, the City of Lubbock is proposing to build three new pavilions at local parks.

The proposed pavilions would be located at Wagner Park at 26th Street and Elgin Avenue, Miller Park at Memphis Drive and Memphis Avenue, and Burns Park, located at 23rd Street and Avenue K.

The pavilions at Miller and Burns Park would be 28 feet long by 28 feet wide, and will include multiple gabled metal roofs, allowing for air flow, picnic tables, grills, and security lighting. Each pavilion of this type costs $41,290.

The pavilion at Wagner Park would be a 28 feet by 28 feet octagonal pavilion, with a brick patio area at the entrance. It would include a new drinking fountain and security lighting. This pavilion itself will cost $35,650.

The cost of the entire project will be $377,386, and includes engineering, shipping, installation, grills, tables, bollards, stonework, demolition of existing structures, new slabs, a drinking fountain, and more. Also, security lighting will be added to these three additions, as well as the 8 other existing pavilions.

Okay. I’m not saying parks aren’t important, but isn’t this the same City Council that complained about having to spend a few extra thousand dollars to fill up the pools early? They won’t have to fill up the pools early now, but spending over $300-thousand dollars on cosmetic improvements in the parks seems to be a lot.

I’m not sure how the council will vote on this issue, but it’s a vote to watch out for. Is this a necessary expense? We will see what the members of the council say.

3. Unpaid Internships Under Fire (link)

I started in radio as an unpaid intern so this article caught my eye. According to the USA Today fewer unpaid internships are being offered. Why? Because of lawsuits.

As summer intern season draws near, many employers are doing away with unpaid internships or converting them to paid programs amid lawsuits that claim interns should have been compensated for their work, labor lawyers say.

“They’re saying, ‘We’re not going to run the risk,’ ” says Al Robinson, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and former acting administrator of the Labor Department’s wage and hour unit.

Prediction: If this trend continues, there will be fewer interns across the spectrum. Unpaid internships normally qualify for credit in college. Now though, interns think they should be paid and get credit. Absurd. All this will do is hurt college students in the end. Employers aren’t really hiring for regular positions across the U.S., why would they pay a short-time part-timer/intern. Not going to happen. Instead these internship programs will end and students won’t get the experience that they have gotten in the past.

What happened to school credit being good enough? I was an unpaid intern and worked another job before I was eventually hired at the radio station where I interned. It was a great experience and while sure it would have been nice to get paid, I got credit for a class I never had to go to. I’ll chalk that up as a win.

4. No Warrant to Search Your Phone (link)

I don’t like this at all.

Think about all the personal information we keep in our cell phones: It’s something to consider after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled it is now legal for police to search cell phones without a warrant.

Former Dallas FBI Agent Danny Defenbaugh said the ruling gives law enforcement a leg up. “I think not only will it help them, but it could be life saving,” said the former Special Agent, who was based in Dallas.

Paul Coggins is the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Coggins says the court’s ruling pushes the envelope on privacy issues and wonders if it opens the door to more extensive searches down the road. “Does that mean officers now have the right to search through your phone, search through your search history, your photographs, your e-mails and the rest, because it could all be wiped clean,” Coggins asked.

Many critics are asking the same question. They call the ruling an invasion of privacy that far outweighs the needs of law enforcement.

Both Defenbaugh and Coggins agree that the case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme court.

This is one of those cases that I hope goes to the Supreme Court. Privacy is a big deal and when it comes to digital privacy, so much of the law is a grey area. Personally, I think subjects like this should be brought up to the Presidential candidates.

5. Dumb story of the morning (link)

How does this even happen?

Harford County authorities say parents didn’t realize they left their 3-year-old daughter at a Chuck E. Cheese’s until watching the 11 p.m. news.

The manager of the restaurant told the sheriff’s office that Harmony came up to one of the employees shortly after 8 p.m. saying she was thirsty. The little girl was with a group of 14 people, including her mom and dad who are separated, earlier in the day.

The manager called authorities after being unable to find the group she was with and deputies waited until 9:30 p.m. when they brought her back to the precinct and contacted Child Protective Services. The sheriff’s office also contacted local media outlets to try to locate the child’s parents.

After the story aired, the sheriff’s office received several phone calls, including from Harmony’s mother and father. Both stated that they thought Harmony left with other family members during the party.

Child Protective Services released Harmony back to her mother after authorities determined it was an accident. No charged are expected to be filed.

6. Good Brews Good News of the Day (link)

Marriage can make you healthy!

Marriage is good for your heart – in more ways than one according to a new study that shows married adults who undergo heart surgery are over three times more likely to survive the first three months after the operation.

The study, which appears in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found that the likelihood of dying post-surgery is nearly doubled for single people.

“We found that marriage boosted survival whether the patient was a man or a woman,” says Ellen Idler, a lead author of the study.

More than 500 patients in the study underwent either emergency or elective coronary bypass surgery. The study subjects were interviewed prior to surgery and data on survival status of the patients were obtained from the National Death Index.

“The findings underscore the important role of spouses as caregivers during health crises,” Idler said.

Makes sense to me.

Everyday, Good Brews Coffee & Tea Lounge brings you the Good News of the Day! Join Lubbock’s First News at Good Brews on Thursday March 8th from 7-9am. Good Brews is located inside the Kingsgate North Shopping Center at 82nd and Quaker.

Other Top Stories:

Lubbock Using Less Water

Breitbart Video on Obama

Delegate Math Fuzzy For Romney

More on Republican So Called Attacks on Women in Texas

Latino Students Graduating in Texas

Interview with Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance

Wind Farms Paid to Stop Producing Energy

Guests Appearing on LFN Today:

Eddie McBride, President of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce at 7:07am

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of Lubbock’s First News with Chad Hasty. Tune in mornings 6-9am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.

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