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Wed March 28, 2012
North Texas Water Provider May Lift Restrictions
The North Texas Municipal Water District could lift some of the tough Stage Three water restrictions tomorrow – including twice-a-month lawn watering.
The District’s Denise Hickey says once-a-week watering would be the most likely change. She says recent rains have restored lake levels.
Hickey: Lake Lavon has returned back to full elevation. We’ve received 20 inches of rain there. We’ve had additional rain inflow at Lake Jim Chapman. However, we still remain without 28% of our supply from Lake Texoma.
That’s because they don’t Zebra Mussels to spread beyond Texoma.
The city of Plano, a member of the North Texas Municipal Water District, is not waiting for the special meeting. It’s announced on its website that once a week watering will begin April 3rd.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Dallas Moves Toward Lawsuit Over Pig Blood Spill
The Dallas City Council has cleared the way to sue Columbia Meat Packing in civil court for violation of the Texas Water Code. In December, the Oak Cliff slaughter house and packing company was discovered dumping pig blood into nearby Cedar Creek, which flows into the Trinity River.
State law says a city may enforce the Water Code if it officially authorizes such a power. The council passed such a resolution today.
It does not name Columbia Meat Packing, but the city council has made it clear it wants to shut down the business. Columbia, meanwhile, has filed for a new certificate of occupancy that eliminates the slaughter-house designation in favor of processing and packing only.
The company has said it corrected the pig blood problem as soon as it was aware of it.
BJ Austin, KERA News
AT&T Performing Arts Center CEO Resigns
The AT&T Performing Arts Center is looking for a new CEO. Mark Weinstein has stepped down after nine months to focus on family issues.
Weinstein says it’s critical to have leadership focused 100% on the organization’s interests and priorities. He says he felt it was in the best interest of the Center to step aside.
This is the second time Senior Vice President Doug Curtis will fill-in as acting CEO. In 2010, Mark Nerenhausen resigned abruptly after less than two years on the job.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Texas Schools Lack Financial Accountability
A new report says Texas public schools rely on such opaque accounting practices that no average citizen can possibly determine how they are spending state funds.
Titled "No Financial Accountability" the privately funded report was released Tuesday night.
It says school districts dutifully follow state rules and provide copious amounts of data in their annual financial statements. But it also shows that they lump large expenditures into nebulous categories like "instruction."
The authors collected financial statements from about 50 districts statewide. Scrutinizing one annual report, they determined that just 22 percent of "instruction" funds were actually going to pay teachers for teaching.
It was written by three private equity investors with no financial links to public education. They paid for the report with their own money.
Texas wins latest round with EPA in federal court
A federal appeals court has sided with Texas in a dispute with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency surrounding the state's compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered the EPA to take another look at the benchmarks Texas uses for some pollution control permits. The ruling is a victory for state environmental regulators in a long-running clash with Washington over pollution standards.
Judge Jennifer Elrod condemned the EPA for imposing standards "created out of whole cloth" in a 32-page written opinion. She also slammed the EPA for taking more than four years to reject the Texas standards.
The ruling does not order the EPA to accept the standards set by Texas, but instead to promptly reconsider them.
JetBlue suspends captain who disrupted flight
JetBlue Airways is suspending the captain whose erratic behavior caused an emergency landing of an early morning flight from New York bound for Las Vegas.
Clayton Osbon has been a pilot at JetBlue since 2000, the airline's first year of flying. The company said a "medical situation" occurred onboard the plane on Tuesday but wouldn't elaborate.
Passengers said the pilot was yelling and acting unruly in the cabin after he was locked out of the cockpit of the plane. A group of passengers tackled the captain and restrained him until the plane made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas.
JetBlue spokeswoman Allison Steinberg said Wednesday that Osbon was taken off active duty pending review of the incident.
Texas boy missing 8 years to remain in foster care
A judge has ruled that a Houston boy who disappeared as an infant eight years ago and who was recently found will remain in foster care while officials determine whether he should be reunited with his parents.
State District Judge Mike Schneider agreed Wednesday with a Child Protective Services recommendation that 8-year-old Miguel Morin should remain in the state's care at least until a May 16 hearing.
The judge also accepted a CPS plan to have Miguel and his parents, Auboni Champion-Morin and Fernando Morin, undergo therapy separately to see if the boy is ready for a reunion.
Miguel has been in foster care since authorities found him living with his godmother elsewhere in the state. Police say she abducted him in late 2004 when he was 8 months old.
Convicted killer of 10-month-old boy set to die
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to block the scheduled execution of a convicted child sex offender condemned in the beating death of a 10-month-old boy he was babysitting at a home in Dallas.
Forty-seven-year-old Jesse Joe Hernandez is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening in Huntsville for the slaying of Karlos Borjas 11 years ago.
The child was brought to a Dallas hospital in April 2001 with a skull fracture and bruises to his head, thigh and abdomen. A week later, he was taken off life support and died. Hernandez's DNA was found in Karlos' blood on a pillowcase and on the child's clothing.
Hernandez denied beating the children but later acknowledged to a detective he may have hit the boy with a flashlight.
Texas senator tries to block dunes lizard listing
Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is trying to block the proposed listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species.
Cornyn on Wednesday filed an amendment to energy tax credit legislation that would block the lizard's addition to the federal endangered species list.
Echoing oil and natural gas producers throughout the Permian Basin, Cornyn says listing the species could bring production in parts of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico to "a screeching halt."
The basin produces more than 1 million barrels of oil a day.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has delayed until this summer a final decision on whether to list the lizard.
Cornyn and congressional representatives from several other states had sent letters to the agency and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking for the delay.