Opinion

Wed
21
Jan

What do people learn at professional conventions?

by Willis Webb
 
“There are all kinds of conventions and everyone who attends one has stories to tell. We’ve all heard or read about conventions that are wild and woolly, some that are sedate and those of each kind that are filled with uplifting and informative programs. In my three-quarters of a century of living, I’ve been to some of both kinds. Probably the “wildest and woolliest” meetings were a couple of regional Jaycee conflabs. Originally, Jaycees were known as the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees for short) with membership restricted to young men ages 18-35. Ultimately, there was a name change to the short “nickname.”
 
Wed
21
Jan

Perry gives parting speech as legislative session begins

by Ed Sterling
 
Governor Rick Perry addressed a joint session of the House and Senate for the last time on Jan. 15, a couple of days after the opening of the 140- day regular session of the 84th Texas Legislature. Before recounting various aspects of the state’s performance during his record-breaking tenure as chief executive, Perry said, “I have come here to reflect on what we have done together, and to say farewell. But most of all, to tell you it has been the highest of honors to serve as your governor for the last 14 years.”
 
Wed
14
Jan

Proposal would put contracts under increased scrutiny

By Ed Sterling
 
Signaling his intent to promote transparency and accountability in the 84th Texas Legislature, House Speaker Joe Straus announced on Jan. 9 that in the coming weeks the House would release a budget proposal designed to strengthen oversight of state agency contracts. The Legislature convenes today, Jan. 13.
 
Wed
07
Jan

Why Texas needs more Electric Vehicles (EVs)

BY RICHARD GOLLADAY
 
Texas now has too much of a good thing: wind generation. During summer, a good percentage of that West Texas wind production comes on strong when we need it least – late at night. This creates problems for the traditional steam-electric plants on the grid, which have to reduce power output significantly.

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Wed
07
Jan

New mix of lawmakers, officials heading for Austin

by Ed Sterling

When the 84th Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 13 and oaths of office are administered, the political party split will be 21 Republicans to 10 Democrats in the 31-member Senate, and 98 Republicans to 52 Democrats in the 150-member House. The composition and leadership of committees, the flow of legislation through those committees and control of floor debate will be according to the wishes of new Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Houston and House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio. Straus is subject to reelection by his peers. He is expected to retain the rostrum and gavel for a fourth consecutive term, even if challenged by a subgroup within the Republican party.

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Wed
31
Dec

PEC president takes a look back at 2014

BY PEC BOARD PRESIDENT
 
2014 has been a year of tremendous growth and achievement for Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC.) As the nation’s largest electric co-op with 8,100 square miles and 223,000 members, PEC ranks among the fastest growing utilities in the nation. Just this year alone, we added nearly 9,000 meters. As a not-for-profit utility, our Co-op’s milestones are not just about serving more members. We are working to improve PEC’s industry-leading reliability, our member services and our commitment to fiscal responsibility through an open and transparent business model. And PEC employees are number one when it comes to serving our members and all of our communities.
 
Wed
31
Dec

Texas notches big year for job creation

by Ed Sterling

2014 has been a banner year for job creation in Texas, according to government assessments. Drawing on figures calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Workforce Commission on Dec. 19 reported employers added 34,800 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in November, for a total of 441,200 jobs added since last year. “This broke the state’s previous record set in October, as the state’s annual job growth expanded to a new high for a fourth month in a row,” according to an agency news release, which also said, “even more Texans were employed in November as the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent from 5.1 percent in October, and down from 6.1 percent a year ago.”

Wed
24
Dec

State contract with tech firm prompts calls for probe

by Ed Sterling

State Sen. John Whitmire, DHouston, on Dec. 18 requested that the special prosecution unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office “begin a formal and thorough investigation” into transactions between the State of Texas and 21CT, a software intelligence firm with offices here and in Vienna, Virginia. Information about the transactions came to light via an ongoing investigation and stories published by the Austin American-Statesman.

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Wed
17
Dec

Panel sets $7 billion minimum for Rainy Day Fund

by Ed Sterling

On Dec. 11, a Senate-House joint committee empaneled to adopt a sufficient balance for the state’s “rainy day fund” approved $7 billion as the floor for it. Properly titled the Economic Stabilization Fund, the oil and gas tax-fueled pool of money was created by constitutional amendment in 1988 when oil was selling as low as $10 a barrel, causing state coffers to run thin. Calculated at $6.7 billion last August, the fund previously had no required minimum. The maximum the fund may hold is capped at 10 percent of the state’s general revenue during the previous two-year budget cycle.

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Wed
10
Dec

Tough guy attitude: ‘Ain’t gonna hurt none of me’

by Willis Webb

Being raised in a small town where most people didn’t have much, forced many to scrape and scramble to make a living. Pride in supporting yourself and your family was a strong motivation for most folks I knew in my growing up years. Standing on your own two feet was the mantra of that period I am inclined to describe as “hard-scrabble” times. This promoted an attitude, from childhood on, of “Don’t mess with me. I’m the Lone Ranger and I can take care of me and Tonto.” Perhaps that’s a poor example since Tonto often took care of the Lone Ranger, but I digress.

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