Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of April 11, 2013. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am.

Cole Shooter,
Cole Shooter,

1. LP&L, FBI, and the City of Lubbock (link)

At this point is anyone really surprised that the FBI is back in Lubbock and now possibly taking a look at LP&L? According to KFYO News:

A federal agency may be looking into Lubbock’s City-owned utility, but Lubbock Power and Light says that they cannot confirm that any official investigation is underway.

LP&L released a statement Wednesday morning stating that Lubbock City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld told members of the City’s Electric Utility Board that she had received a phone call from federal law enforcement officials regarding a potential fraud related to an LP&L job order contract in mid-March.

They continued, saying that LP&L contacted their independent third party financial auditor, BKD, who said that they were aware of the situation.

The utility says that they contacted federal authorities to express their desire to cooperate fully in any inquiry, and “federal authorities could not confirm nor deny any investigation and to this date LP&L is unaware of any official investigation by federal authorities of LP&L.”

They note that BKD’s additional audit on the utility’s procurement procedures found no evidence of inappropriate activity on the part of LP&L. The inquiry is reportedly in reference to a civil lawsuit against a contractor that has worked for LP&L.

LP&L’s complete statement is included below.

On Tuesday March 19, 2013, the Lubbock City Manager for the first time informed members of the Electric Utility Board that she had received a phone call from federal law enforcement officials regarding a potential fraud related to an LP&L job order contract. LP&L believes that the City Manager received this information in mid January.

By the next day, Wednesday March 20, 2013, the Chairman of the Electric Utility Board and LP&L staff contacted our independent third party financial auditor BKD, LLP and informed them of this issue. BKD, LLP was already aware of the situation.

LP&L also contacted the federal authorities expressing LP&L’s desire to cooperate fully in any inquiry. Federal authorities could not confirm nor deny any investigation and to this date LP&L is unaware of any official investigation by federal authorities of LP&L.

It is important to note that BKD, LLP, when they did the additional audit on LP&L’s procurement procedures, were already aware of this federal inquiry and they did not find any evidence of inappropriate activity on the part of LP&L. In fact, BKD, LLP issued a clean unqualified opinion of LP&L’s finances.

Add this to the circus at City Hall and it's pretty embarrassing what is going on in Lubbock. Some are saying off the record that all of this ties in together or at least it appears to all tie together.

The problem city leaders are facing now is a growing unease about how things are being run in Lubbock. City Council members should be thankful that there aren't elections this year as I think the voters are ready to throw everyone out.

What will come of this possible investigation by the FBI? No one really knows, but distrust among the public will continue to grow.

2. Drug Testing Welfare Applicants (link)

The Texas Senate yesterday passed a bill that would require applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to submit to a drug test in order to receive benefits. And no, it wasn't just the evil, mean-spirited Republicans that voted for this. The Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill.

“This bill makes sure state resources are not used to support drug habits, while ensuring children continue receiving benefits in a safe environment,” said Sen. Jane Nelson, the author of Senate Bill 11, which now goes to the House.

The protective payee provision that was included in SB 11 drew praise among some members in the upper chamber.It provides for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to designate another person to receive TANF benefits on a child’s behalf if the child’s parent tests positive for drugs.

Nelson told her colleagues that the provision is the reason the bill passed unanimously out of committee, with bipartisan support.

Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, expressed concern that the bill creates a “three strikes, you’re out” model. The first time a person tests positive for drugs, he or she is ineligible for financial assistance for six months; the second positive test triggers a 12-month penalty; the third positive result deems the applicant permanently ineligible for TANF benefits.

Nelson reassured Lucio and Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, that applicants get “plenty of opportunities” to get help. SB 11 allows for applicants who test positive for drugs the second time to reapply for benefits after six months if they have enrolled in or completed a drug treatment program. She highlights that the base bill includes $300 million to increase the availability of such programs for low income Texans.

In the House, state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, has filed House Bill 1583, which would applicants for unemployment benefits to submit to a drug test. It was set to be heard in committee Wednesday afternoon. Her staff confirms she has withdrawn that bill. A similar measure, House Bill 1281, filed by Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, was heard in committee Wednesday.

This is a good start, but I'd like to see lawmakers go a step further. If you are getting welfare benefits I believe you should deal with random drug screenings. That way the abusers won't be able to cheat the system so easily.

However, good start and kudos to the Democrats who recognized that this legislation just made sense.

3. Karen Garza Out at LISD (link)

Dr. Karen Garza is leaving Lubbock ISD. Garza and LISD made the announcement yesterday.

Lubbock Independent School District’s superintendent has resigned.

Dr. Karen Garza has announced that she has accepted the superintendency of the Fairfax County Schools in Fairfax, Virginia.

The Fairfax County School Board unanimously selected Garza as their preferred candidate for superintendent of the 181,000 student district.

The Fairfax County School District has almost 200 schools and an annual budget of more than $2 billion.

Garza sent an email to LISD employees saying “I think the district leadership, the Lubbock ISD teachers, and all other Lubbock ISD staff for their support over the last four years. We have asked a lot of you as we implemented an aggressive, but intentional plan to improve student achievement and you have risen to the occasion through your very hard work and extraordinary dedication.”

Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees President Steve Massengale commented, saying “We are very disappointed for Lubbock ISD to lose Karen Garza; however, we are proud of what we’ve accomplished under her leadership. She is a tireless champion for children and has both the vision and leadership skills to be a catalyst for lasting change. The board joins me in wishing Karen and Louis all the best in the future.”

Massengale says that he anticipates the board will name an interim superintendent quickly, and then will consider their options.

What have you thought about Dr. Garza's time in Lubbock?

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