Dallas Teacher Reinstated After Email Flap | KERA News

Dallas Teacher Reinstated After Email Flap

The Dallas fourth grade teacher suspended because of an email sent to a school board member will be back in class Wednesday.

Joseph Drake sent an email to Board Member Edwin Flores expressing anger over the Board’s vote to lengthen the teacher workday by 45 “unpaid” minutes. Dr. Flores forwarded the email to administrators who put Drake on paid leave for “alleged misconduct.”

Rena Honea is president of the largest Dallas teacher-group, the Alliance-AFT. She’s pleased with Drake’s reinstatement.

Honea: It was always the hope that the District would do the right thing. I think they needed to understand it was just the frustration and the things that had built up over the past couple of years. And that maybe this is something that they really need to pay closer attention to is our hope.

Honea says morale among teachers is the lowest she’s seen it.

The District declined comment on Drake’s status.

BJ Austin, KERA News

No Take-Off For Fort Worth Aviation History Exhibit

The Fort Worth City Council is grounding plans for a “traveling aviation exhibit”, and hoping to recoup the three million dollars already invested.

The Council refused to accept the exhibit assets as collateral for the loan to the Fort Worth Air and Space Museum Foundation. Council members also rejected plans to spend half-a-million-dollars to maintain and market the exhibit at the Museum of Science and History.

Mayor Betsy Price says educating people about the rich history of aviation in Fort Worth is important, but not practical for the city’s limited budget.

Price: I simply can’t make the numbers work. From the time I saw this pop up on the agenda, I cannot make the numbers work on this. And I have struggled for years with why we cannot get private business to step up on the aviation piece.

The Foundation used nearly all of the three million to launch the exhibit. With no money to market it, the exhibit is now in storage. City officials are looking at alternative plans, including liquidation, to recover costs.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Low Cost Vaccines Harder To Get

Starting February first, County Health Departments could be turning-away some people wanting “shots.”

Tarrant County Public Health officials say funding and policy changes by the state are reducing the availability of low-cost vaccines at county health departments. Starting today, clients will be screened for health insurance immunization coverage before getting shots. Those with insurance coverage will be sent to private providers.

Medicaid clients, children on CHIP, and those deemed “under-insured” will still be eligible for the low-cost vaccines.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Judge Says No To Dallas Landfill Plan

A federal judge in Dallas says NO – at least for now -- to the city’s plan to route ALL commercial waste to the McCommas Bluff landfill.

It’s a blow to the city’s so-called “flow control” ordinance which would bring in an additional 18 million dollars in annual landfill fees.

Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the plan violates the waste haulers rights to dump their trash in ANY authorized landfill – a provision of their 2007 contracts with the city. Some of the waste haulers own landfills that would lose money.

The Judge says the city cannot enact its new flow control ordinance “until further notice from the Court.”

Dallas City Attorney Tom Perkins says he is studying the order and evaluating the city’s options.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Good News For GM Arlington

GM Arlington is getting a boost. General Motors today announced it will start construction next week on a $200 million sheet metal “stamping facility” that will create 180 new jobs.

Currently, the Arlington plant receives stamped components from several GM plants. GM says the Arlington facility will save $40 million a year in logistics costs.

The Arlington City Council recently approved a million-dollar-a-year tax break over ten years if the stamping plant were built.

GM Arlington makes SUV’s.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Gov's Tech Fund Creates 820 Jobs, Spends $169M

Gov. Rick Perry's Emerging Technology Fund has invested $169 million in commercial firms to create 820 jobs since 2006.

In a report released by the governor's office, the state's investment in 133 high-tech companies is now worth about $174 million. In a statement, the governor office says the increase in the value of the state's investment indicates it is successful.

Perry says the fund helps attract businesses and jobs to Texas, but critics say the state should not be spending taxpayer dollars to invest in private companies.

The Emerging Technology Fund is one of two programs that allow the state to spend money on commercial enterprises.

The Legislature recently passed a law that makes obtaining copies of the contracts between the state and these companies more difficult to review.

AP

2 men hurt in East Texas biomass plant accident

Construction has been suspended at an East Texas biomass power plant after an accident left two workers critically hurt.

Nacogdoches County emergency personnel say an electrical-related accident and brief fire were reported Tuesday morning in Sacul about 165 miles northeast of Houston.

Southern Power will own and operate the Nacogdoches Generating Facility once it goes into commercial operation, scheduled for later this year.

The general contractor, Fagen Inc. of Granite Falls, Minn., says the site has been closed for the investigation. CEO Evan Fagen also says the injured Fagen workers are receiving medical care and the incident poses no threat to the plant site.

A spokeswoman at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital says both critically injured men were being sent to the burn unit of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

AP

Judges skeptical of Texas in redistricting case

Three federal judges have expressed skepticism about whether the Texas Legislature's new Republican-friendly political maps violate a federal law aimed at protecting minorities.

Attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department and the state of Texas made their closing arguments Tuesday in Washington. Texas is one of nine states with a history of racial discrimination that must get federal permission to make changes to election laws under the Voting Rights Act.

It's unclear when the judges will rule.

The Justice Department and a coalition of minority groups argue lawmakers recut several districts to dilute minority voting power. The state denies the claim and maintains the new districts were designed to solidify and improve Republican chances.

Texas is adding four seats to its congressional delegation because of adjustments made in the 2010 census.

AP

Dallas carjacking killer loses federal appeal

A Dallas man condemned for the 1998 slaying of a 23-year-old Plano stockbroker during a carjacking has lost a federal court appeal, moving him a step closer to execution.

Attorneys for 33-year-old Yokamon Hearn contended state courts improperly barred them from replacing IQ scores with clinical assessments that show he's mentally impaired and ineligible for execution. The appeal was denied Tuesday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hearn was convicted of carjacking Frank Meziere at gunpoint from a self-service car wash in Dallas. The Plano man later was found in a south Dallas neighborhood with 10 bullet wounds to his head.

Hearn doesn't have an execution date. In 2004, the 5th Circuit stopped his lethal injection about 15 minutes before it was scheduled to take place.

AP

Reading Program Comes to DISD

The national Reading Partners program uses volunteers to teach at-risk children to read, and it has just been launched in Dallas.

Mayor Mike Rawlings campaigned on improving public education. He welcomed the program, saying DISD students have recently scored well in math, but NOT in reading.

Mayor Rawlings: We have to work to get Dallas reading now. Everybody needs to read at least 30 minutes a day. I want it to be very clear.

Reading Partners depends on volunteers. They’re now being recruited. The program will start at DISD’s Truett and Mills Elementary Schools.

Bill Zeeble, KERA News

Tyler: 3 teens held after 2 hurt in darts attack

Three teens have been charged in an attack in which two people at an East Texas parking lot were struck by darts.

Tyler police say darts and a blow gun were recovered Monday night in a vehicle carrying the suspects.

Police say aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges have been filed against two 17-year-olds and a suspect who's 18 years old.

Officers around 9 p.m. Monday responded to reports from two females that they had been shot with darts while standing in a retail store parking lot.

One victim was struck in the leg. The other was wounded in the arm. Both were treated at the scene.

Witnesses followed a truck, carrying the suspects, until officers located the vehicle.

Police have not said whether the teens know the victims.

AP