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Chad’s Morning Brief: Lubbock City Council, Greg Abbott Stands With Kountze ISD, & More

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of September 28, 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.

Cole Shooter, KFYO.com

1. Lubbock City Council (link)

The Lubbock City Council met last night and there was a lot to discuss. The controversial topic from a couple of weeks ago was decided. Money that had been designated for the North University Gateway Project in 2004, last week, was moved to 34th Street reconstruction. The move last week angered Councilman Victor Hernandez and last night the council voted to move those funds back to north Lubbock. According to KFYO News:

District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez offered the budget ordinance, which moved $765,978 from the $21,490,998 set for the 34th Street Reconstruction Project from Indiana Avenue to Avenue Q.

The funding, originally appropriated in bonds for the North University Gateway Project in 2004, was later moved to the 34th Street project.

There was no impropriety in doing so, because the bond language which the voters approved simply said “The issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $9.2 million for street improvements,” with the North University funds as part of that total measure.

“Legally, what the City did was allowed,” said Hernandez.

“But, what’s sold to the public is not a lot more specific, and that’s where people get upset. They said ‘you came to my elementary school, you came to my neighborhood association, and you touted specific projects, and now you’re telling me you don’t have to comply with it?’ Legally, we don’t,” Hernandez continued.

The changes to be made to North University include drainage, curbs, sidewalks, and general improvements to the street and the public access areas.

A majority on the council also want to hire extra staff with the new tax money they are getting in. Though the Mayor and City Manager didn’t agree with the areas that needed new staff.

District 6 Councilwoman Latrelle Joy also offered a budget ordinance adding three positions to City Hall.

The three positions cost $182,522, and are being covered financially by increasing the sales tax revenue forecast for the year.

In the 2012-13 budget, the City has now budgeted for sales tax revenue of more than $52,760,000.

The new positions include two senior auditors to Internal Audit, and one executive assistant to the City Council. The City Manager’s office did not request for these positions to be added.

Mayor Glen Robertson did not agree with this measure, saying that he believed that other positions in the police department need to be filled first. City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld was asked where she would prefer to see more employees, and specifically said that she believed that the City needs more building inspectors and animal control officers.

The first reading passed by a 5-2 vote with Mayor Robertson and Councilwoman Gibson voting against.

Mayor Glen Robertson will join Lubbock’s First News this morning from 7-8am on 790AM KFYO.

2. Abbott Offers Assistance (link)

Attorney General Greg Abbott is offering his assistance to Kountze ISD and their battle with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. According to a press release from Abbott’s office:

Dear Superintendent Weldon:

I write to offer my assistance and to provide advice about a menacing and misleading letter you recently received from an organization called the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). That organization has a long history of attempting to bully school districts into adopting restrictive religious speech policies that go well beyond what is required by the United States Constitution. Consistent with that history, the letter you received incorrectly claims that allowing Kountze High School cheerleaders to display banners decorated with Bible verses at football games amounts to a “serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment.” That exaggerated claim is not supported by the Constitution. Instead, it is based solely on FFRF’s distorted, anti-religion view of the First Amendment, a view that is unsupported by court precedent and has recently been rejected by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It appears that your recent decision to prohibit the cheerleaders at Kountze High from displaying their religious messages at football games—a decision that has since been blocked by a court order—was based on a mistaken belief that FFRF’s letter correctly interprets the law. Unfortunately, that mistaken belief was apparently reinforced by erroneous advice from the Texas Association of School Boards. Contrary to FFRF’s claims, however, the Supreme Court has never held that it is illegal for a public school to “host religious messages at school athletic events.” And the Supreme Court has never ruled that religion must be “kept out” of public schools. Instead, each of the Supreme Court cases cited in FFRF’s letter involve decisions by public officials to promote a religious message or to direct the content of a private citizen’s religious message.

Unlike the cases cited by FFRF, Kountze ISD has neither made the decision to include a religious message on the cheerleaders’ banner, nor provided any direction as to the content of the cheerleaders’ message. Rather, news reports indicate that these decisions were made entirely by students. Those same news reports also indicate that the banners were made by the cheerleaders off of school property and without the use of school funds. That these students chose to express their religious viewpoint at a school function does not violate the Establishment Clause.

You can read the full release in the above link. Good for Abbott for standing up to this group.

What do you think?

3. Perry Isn’t Blaming Sleep Apnea (link)

Governor Rick Perry isn’t blaming sleep apnea for his failed Presidential bid. Instead, the Governor was bothered by a nerve issue in his foot. According to the Houston Chronicle:

Instead, Perry said he was kept awake by a nerve issue in his foot. He’d had back surgery before launching his presidential campaign last year. Texas Tribune reporter Jay Root disclosed the sleep apnea diagnosis in a campaign-trail e-book, “Oops!”

“I slept pretty much all night last night. Best I can tell, I didn’t snore or make any untowards noises,” Perry said after speaking at a Google for Entrepreneurs Day event Thursday.

Asked about the machine that was prescribed to help, and described in Root’s book, Perry said, “We tried for a month, and didn’t seem to make any difference. My issue was one of a hyper-fusion of that nerve in my foot that kept me awake and we just couldn’t – we looked at a lot of different things.

“That was one idea that came up, and the doctor said, ‘Well you may have it. You may not,’” Perry said. “Anyway, it’s a no never mind now. I’m sleeping rather well.”

Asked if it was confirmed that he didn’t have sleep apnea, but that it was one thing doctors checked out, Perry said, “Yeah that would be my analysis of it, that they were looking at all the possibilities, and that was one. I’d still be using it if it worked. Didn’t work for me, so – “

There were a number of issues for Perry in the Presidential campaign. Sleep apnea? Possibly, but if Perry says no, I’m okay with that.

4. Austin Embraces Gay Marriage (link)

The City of Austin is the first in Texas to support same sex marriage.

At a press conference, Mayor Pro Tem Cole spoke about the evolution of rights in Texas, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King: “… Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Whatever afflicts once directly also afflicts one indirectly.”

Council member Morrison acknowledged the progress made within the Austin community, when it comes to civil rights, but said there was still a ways to go.  Morrison pointed to practicality when making her point.

“Marriage equality provides important legal and economic protections including access to health care, parenting rights, property rights and other protections,” said Morrison.

Well, okay but this was all for show. In 2005, voters in Texas approved banning same sex marriage and civil unions. The only county in Texas that didn’t have a majority supporting the ban? Travis County.

Other Top Stories:

Obama Voter Loves Her Obama Phone

Sadler Calls Cruz ‘Cowardly’

The New Yorker Slams Texas

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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