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Chad’s Morning Brief: Lubbock City Council Meeting, The Race Card, Gary Zheng, and LP&L and Other Top Stories

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of April 25, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.

Important Election Dates:

Early Voting for City and School Board Election: April 28 – May 6

Election Day for City and School Board: May 10

Early Voting for GOP and Dem. Primary Runoff: May 19 – May 23

Election Day for GOP and Dem. Primary Runoff: May 27

Cole Shooter, KFYO.com

Lubbock City Council

The Lubbock City Council met Thursday night in a meeting that lasted all night long. The main topic of discussion? A truck stop according to KFYO’s Cole Shooter.

At a rather lengthy meeting of the Lubbock City Council on Thursday evening, the Council gave final approval to a zone change which will allow for a new truck stop to be built near Lubbock’s Preston Smith International Airport.

Numerous people turned out to voice their opinion, both in support of the construction of a Love’s Travel Center and in opposition, prior to the Council’s approval of the zone change request.

The Love’s Travel Stop is slated to be built at the southwestern corner of Interstate 27 and Regis Street.

The Council originally set a five-minute time limit for each person who wanted to voice their opinion to the group, but allowed people more time if they needed it.

One speaker, John Spence, who is a resident in the Country Club area near the proposed location for the travel center, said that he had a number of concerns about the business being near his home, but those involved with Love’s Travel Center attempted to assuage his concerns.

Spence spoke in favor of the travel center, saying that since Love’s responded to his concerns, he believed that “Love’s will do a good job in our community.”

Not all speakers were for the zone change. Former Lubbock Mayor David Miller, who is in charge of Spirit Ranch, which is in the location of the former County Line restaurant not far from the Love’s Travel Center location, spoke out against the zone change.

“It’s not about trucks or truckers,” Miller said. “Everybody in between, 10-year-olds and 80-year-olds, have been to our place, and that safe haven that we’ve been able to provide them, that frankly, nature has been able to provide them, we believe will be diminished.”

Randy Andrews, owner of Graco Real Estate, which owns the land on which the Spirit Ranch is located, also voiced his disapproval of having a full travel center at the location, stating that he would prefer a normal convenience store.

Another resident, Linda Gillespie, who has been outspoken on her opposition to the travel stop, voiced her opinion as well.

Expressing concern over increased traffic at night for the 24-hour travel center, Gillispie said “Who’s going to call that police officer? There’s nobody there. We’re sleeping with our windows open and by the time they get that call, that guy could be in our house, in our yard, vandalizing my cats.”

Lane McClanahan, a Lubbock Police lieutenant, spoke in favor of the travel center.

“I know that there’s been a lot of talk about drugs and prostitution,” said McClanahan. “Those particular types of calls, from my experience, haven’t been that prevalent at the other truck stops. I don’t think it’s that big of an issue. If it is, call the police department, officers will show up, they’ll address that issue.”

District One Lubbock City Councilman Victor Hernandez offered an amendment to the ordinance, which allows Love’s Travel Center one sign that is within the City of Lubbock’s sign regulations on the property.

The Council chose to consider the two parcels of land involved in the zone change request separately, which includes the larger 12.5 acre parcel of land that will be the future location of the travel center, and a smaller four acre plot of land which Love’s hopes to turn into a shopping area containing businesses.

A site plan, thoroughly outlining the plans for the larger parcel, was included for the travel stop. No detailed site plan was available for the smaller parcel.

The Council gave final approval to the zone change request from R-1 residential to Interstate Highway Industrial for the parcel that will be home to the travel center 6-1, Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson dissenting.

The zone change request for the smaller parcel failed unanimously, with the Council members stating that they would prefer a detailed site plan before agreeing to any zone changes for that site.

Though debate over the Love’s Travel Stop composed the majority of the meeting, the Council did consider other items.

The Council delivered final approval to an expansion of the City’s ban on the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana.

Since the chemical compositions of these synthetic drugs for sale change to dodge existing ordinances, the Council approved the second reading of the ordinance, which adds a number of new chemical structures to the City’s ban list.

The item was approved 6-1, with Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson voting against the measure, saying that he would prefer a ban that was more enforceable by Lubbock Police.

District Three Councilman Todd Klein also offered a resolution that would establish a citizen task force to study payday lending businesses in the Hub City, and to make recommendations to State officials to mitigate predatory lending in Texas.

Since this item was considered after 11 p.m. Thursday, the Council unanimously voted to postpone the item until the next meeting to allow them to thoroughly discuss the matter.

The Council also chose not to approve a budget amendment sponsored by Klein, which would have amended the fiscal year 2013-14 budget to add one position to the City’s Risk Management Fund by adding the position of Organizational Development Coordinator.

The budget increase would have been for $32,000, with total annual cost for salary and benefits for the position in future years at more than $65,000.

District Five Councilwoman Karen Gibson said that she preferred to wait to consider creating the position until the budget process for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The amendment failed 5-2, with Klein and Hernandez voting in favor of the item.

Former Mayor David Miller thinks that nature and tranquility would be impacted by Love’s. Seriously? It’s on the corner of I-27 and Regis next to an airport. By the way, are we having a problem with people vandalizing cats these days?

I’m glad this issue is over though I have no idea why Mayor Glen Robertson voted against the truck stop.

Race Card Played

The LP&L/Gary Zheng saga took an odd turn on Thursday when the TTU Chinese Faculty and Staff Association wrote an open letter to Mayor Glen Robertson. In the letter the association claims that LP&L CEO Gary Zheng has been subject to racism and discrimination.

April 24, 2014

As members of the TTU Chinese Faculty and Staff Association and the Chinese and Chinese American communities in Lubbock, we have been deeply troubled by the series of events revolving around Dr. Gary Zheng, Lubbock Power & Light’s CEO and Director, since October 2013. Dr. Zheng was first insinuated by you as being involved in corrupt and criminal activities on October 17, 2013, and continued to be portrayed as being dishonest and deserving demotion on March 16, 2014, even though not a shred of evidence has been found against Dr. Zheng in the Ashcroft Law Group’s “The Investigative Report for Lubbock Power & Light” released on March 13, 2014. At this point, we want to know why you have continued to smear Dr. Zheng.

We were first stunned by the news report on your allegation that “people could lose jobs” and “they could go jail” on October 17, 2013. As we were waiting for the result of the legal investigation, we were bombarded by innuendos, speculations reported as facts, and misleading comments represented as official investigation. On March 16, 2014, you made another public statement: “They could have fired him in October and I think they should have.” It dawned on us that you first assumed Dr. Zheng to be guilty and then started fishing for evidence. As no evidence can be found, you just want to have Dr. Zheng fired on the basis of your own allegations.

Dr. Zheng’s ordeal reminds us of the McCarthyist style of witch-hunt against Dr. Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Lee was first slanted by the New York Times and other media as a Chinese spy, then subjected to various interrogations by the Department of Energy, and finally jailed in solitary confinement for 278 days. On September 13, 2000, federal judge James Parker not only publicly apologized to Dr. Lee for the way this case began and was handled but also drew a lesson for the executive branch of the government: “They did not embarrass me alone. They have embarrassed our entire nation and each of us who is a citizen of it.” Even though Dr. Lee reached a settlement with the federal government and the five news organizations for $1.65 million in 2006, the damage done to him, to his family, and to all Chinese and Chinese American communities across the country can never be fully measured by the monetary compensation. We hope that Dr. Zheng’s experience will not become our local version of the Wen Ho Lee case.

Chinese came to North America in as early as the 1830s. Chinese workers not only helped build the transcontinental railroad in the United States in the late nineteenth century but also helped create the technological miracles in the Silicon Valley in the late twentieth century. Despite Chinese American contribution to the prosperity and diversity of the United States, they were socially, culturally, and institutionally discriminated against in history, particularly during the Chinese Exclusion Era from 1882 to1943.

Today, it is against the law to discriminate any individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin, but implicit racism against Chinese is still rampant in our culture and society. Dr. Zheng has now been victimized twice by racial prejudices while working at Lubbock Power & Light; he was first referred to as “a Chinaman” at City Council meetings back in 2003.

In 2012, Congress officially apologized to the Chinese and Chinese American communities in the United States for the damages done under the Chinese Exclusion Act. We demand that you publicly acknowledge the conclusion of the Ashcroft Law Group’s “The Investigative Report for Lubbock Power & Light,” which clears Dr. Zheng of any wrongdoing, and apologize to him, his family, and our Chinese and Chinese American community in Lubbock.

Respectfully,

Daan Liang, President of TTU Chinese Faculty and Staff Association

(co-signers) Qing Cao, Qin Chen, Yong Chen, Xinzhong Chen, Zhen Cong, Zhaoyang Fan, Qing Feng, Weimin Gao, Jiawei Gong, Miao He, Juyang Huang, Qing Hui, Hongxing Jiang, William Lan, Changzhi Li, Guigen Li, Jing Li, Kunyu Li, Wei Li, Xu Li, Jingyu Lin, Zhangxi Lin, Hongchao Liu, Yunjuan Luo, Yanzhang Ma, Beixin Ni, Jenny Qiu, Beibei Ren, James Sheng, Jian Sheng, Huazhong Shi, Yuan Shu, Huaxin Song, Lianfa Song, Yiyuan Tang, Alex Wang, Dong Wang, Shiren Wang, Shu Wang, Zhixin Xie, Wenwei Xu, James Yang, Le Yang, Linda Yin, Jessica Yuan, Hong Zhang, Hong-Chao Zhang, Kai Zhang, Weiwu Zhang, Yan Zhang, Yuanlin Zhang, Weiping Zhao, Jianjun Zheng, Huijun Zhu, Xiaotong Zhu, Yu Zhuang, Delong Zuo

You can view the Mayor’s response here. He accurately points out that no one on this City Council or EUB has said anything about Zheng’s race. In fact the only time race has entered the discussion was in the above letter from the association.

Looks to me like a lawsuit is brewing.

Other Top Stories:

STAAR Results Released

Lubbock Police to Crack Down on Panhandlers 

BLM Denies Texas Land Grab 

Guns Everywhere Bill Signed 

9/11 Exhibit Under Fire

Holder Says Sotomayor Is Courageous

DOJ Announces Clemency Overhaul 

E-Cig Industry Waits on the FDA

Dallas a Canvas for Change

Abbott Affirms Teachers Rights To Carry 

Most Texans Drive and Talk

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am 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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