Chad’s Morning Brief: Councilman Victor Hernandez Takes to Facebook to Criticize Mayor Glen Robertson, SAT Scores in Texas, & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of September 25, 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.
1. Facebook Battle Continues for Council (link)
Monday on the show I told you about what I have dubbed the "Facebook City Council" and the messages some members post about the council. Remember, we've been told how great the council works together but it seems like some want to post messages about each other rather than have it out at City Hall.
Yesterday after the show, Councilman Victor Hernandez posted this about Mayor Glen Robertson.
Did the Mayor commit a rookie mistake (in not understanding what he was voting for) or is he intentionally fooling the public? The tale of the 2012-2013 budget and street maintenance.
(Note- I do not believe it to be contrary to the Open Meetings Act for me to discuss an entry which the Mayor posted on Facebook, after the vote on the particular subject matter has been taken by Council.)
y, the Mayor posted on Facebook the following,
“Your City Council passed a budget for 2012-2013 last week. This budget will raise your property taxes by 1.82 cents per one hundred dollars of evaluation, or $18.00 per year on a one hundred thousand dollar home. We did not raise the storm water fee or electric rates as proposed, which will save the average taxpayer $120.00 per year. We also lowered the base rate for water by 25% and offset that reduction with a raise in the cost per one thousand gallons. All city employees will receive a 3% cost of living raise. The only issue I had with the 644 million dollar budget was that we are raising your 2014 property taxes by almost one cent without your having any opportunity to express your opinion. This was done with an amendment to the budget removing street maintenance from the storm water fund. While I agree that this needs to be done, I think that the second reading of the budget was the worst possible way to accomplish this. Slipping items in at the last moment is not good, open, honest and transparent governance. I am sick of hearing that this is the way we have always done things. This is the first time that I have been ashamed of our action as a council. I hope we will use this as a learning experience and become more honest and transparent in the future.” Mayor Glen Robertson
The reason I feel compelled to reply to the Mayor's assertions is that the Mayor leads the public to believe that he voted against moving the funding of street maintenance from the storm water fee to another source i.e., possibly a future property tax rate increase. (As an aside, I say "possibly" because a future property tax rate increase to fund street maintenance is only one of many possible ways of funding street maintenance.) Nonetheless, I think it important that the story be told with a bit more detail.
First of all, the ultimate passage of the 2012-2013 city budget required a number of steps to be taken.
1. A motion to approve the 2012-2013 budget was made (MAIN MOTION).
2. A number of amendments were passed, one if which included removing street maintenance from being funded by the storm water fee (AMENDMENTS to the main motion).
3. The MAIN MOTION (to approve the 2012-2013 budget), along with all Council approved AMENDMENTS, passed 4-3. The Mayor was one of four council members who supported removing street maintenance from being funded by the storm water fee to another funding source, possibly a future property tax increase.
Could it be that the Mayor did not realize that by voting in favor of the budget and amendments, he was in fact voting for street maintenance to no longer be funded by the storm water fee? If so, then his affirmative vote had the aforementioned unintended consequence albeit, a rookie mistake.
Alternatively, could it be that the Mayor thinks he can deflect personal criticism by pointing to the rest of us and stating that the amendment to find an alternative funding source for street maintenance was supported by a 6-1 vote? If this be the case, then the Mayor should understand one thing, it does not matter how many amendments are passed, if the main motion which is being amended fails, the whole thing fails - main motion and amendments. Another rookie mistake.
If the Mayor was as adamant as he says he is, concerning the process ("... Slipping items in at the last moment is not good, open, honest and transparent governance..." Glen Robertson), he could of easily voted against the budget and thus the amendments, thereby killing any effort to change the way we fund street maintenance. This way, the Mayor could have attempted again, to slow the process down in order to give the public an opportunity to provide input into the proposed amendment. But in fact, the Mayor was the swing vote which guaranteed the passage of the main motion and any amendments.
Truth be told, there were three council members who voted against the budget including all amendments (although seemingly for different reasons, none of which had to do with the street maintenance fee issue). The three members of council who voted against the budget were Councilwoman Joy, Councilman Klein and yours truly. The Mayor, on the other hand, was the fourth vote needed to pass the budget and amendments and thus, should be willing to stand by his vote and not pick and choose only those portions which suit him.
In addition, what I found particularly troubling was the following portion in the Mayor's statement, "... This is the first time I have been ashamed of our action as a council. I hope we will use this as a learning experience and become more honest and transparent in the future."
2. SAT Scores Drop (link)
More students are taking the SAT, but that doesn't mean scores are going up. In fact SAT scores in Texas dropped sharply. According to the Dallas Morning News:
“We are clearly building a college-going culture in Texas,” said state Education Commissioner Michael Williams. “The increased minority participation is important to the health of this state because of our changing demographics.” The big jump in the number of minority students had an impact on the overall scores for the state as minorities typically score lower on the exam that white students. In all, 156,486 public school students from the Class of 2012 took the SAT, an increase of nearly 6 percent over the previous year. Including public and private schools, the number of students taking the college entrance exam was 172,802.
The average math score for the Class of 2012 was 499, down three points from a year ago. In reading, the average score was down five points to 474. And in writing, the average was down four points to 461. Twenty-one seniors earned a perfect score of 2400, or 800 on each of the three sections. “While I am pleased with the increased participation, we must improve our students’ readiness for success in college. I am hopeful that changes the state has made in recent years to our curriculum standards, graduation requirements, assessment and accountability systems will result in improved performance,” Williams said.
3. Paul Ryan Reaches Out (link)
On Monday VP candidate Paul Ryan made his pitch to the Ron Paul supporters who are threatening to either sit out of this year's election or even vote for a third party candidate. According to Politico:
Paul Ryan made his pitch to voters who supported Ron Paul during the Republican presidential primary, saying if they don't want a second-term Obama presidency they should back the Republican presidential ticket, not vote for Paul or third-party candidates.
Ryan's comments came in response to a question from an attendee who asked Ryan why he and other libertarians should vote for Romney and Ryan, as opposed to "not say Libertarian or Vermin Supreme and the Pony Party?"
"Do you want Barack Obama to be re-elected? Then don't vote for Ron Paul," Ryan said, to cheers from attendees.
Ryan added that he considers Paul – who has not endorsed the GOP presidential ticket – a friend, and that there are "many things that Ron has championed that I am a big believer in, especially liberty and sound money."
"Look at where we are, and this is where we all see eye to eye," Ryan said. "We believe in limited government and economic freedom. We believe in pro-growth policies that say you keep your money in your family's budget, in your family's business instead of sending it to Washington in the first place. That creates prosperity, freedom and jobs."
It's nice that Ryan is trying to reach out to the Paulbots out there, but I don't know if it will work. Personally, I'm tired of the GOP having to baby the Ron Paul supporters. Do the right thing or get out of the way. We can't afford four more years of this administration. I'm not sure why the Paulbots don't get that.
4. Iranian President in NYC (link)
The Iranian President is in New York and has once again said that Israel would be eliminated. According to Reuters:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be "eliminated," ignoring a U.N. warning to avoid incendiary rhetoric ahead of the annual General Assembly session.
Ahmadinejad also said he did not take seriously the threat that Israel could launch a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, denied sending arms to Syria, and alluded to Iran's threats to the life of British author Salman Rushdie.
The United States quickly dismissed the Iranian president's comments as "disgusting, offensive and outrageous."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted Israel could strike Iran's nuclear sites and criticized U.S. President Barack Obama's position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic work is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.
"Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists," Ahmadinejad, in New York for this week's U.N. General Assembly, told reporters. "We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves."
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