North Texas
12:36 pm
Mon September 26, 2011

Roundup: Texas Refineries May Get Back $135M

Dallas, TX – Three commissioners appointed by Gov. Rick Perry may grant some of the nation's largest refineries a tax refund of more than $135 million, and that has schools and governments worried.

Communities fear they'll have to pay back money that's already spent after a particularly bad budget year.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is evaluating 16 requests for the refund. Valero believes it is eligible because of pollution-controlling technology used at refineries. The company thinks it shouldn't have to pay taxes on the devices because of a Texas law that says such technology is tax-free.

Patricia Gonzales of Pasadena says the school her children attend has already laid off eight staff members and asked parents to donate money to pay for basketballs and gloves for science teachers.

Parents and grandparents in Pasadena are handing out fliers and offering $10,000 cookies at a mock bake sale designed to raise awareness about the possibility that area refineries could be awarded the refund.

The concerned families handed out fliers and asked parents dropping children off at school Monday to sign petitions to express opposition to the move. The Pasadena Independent School District may have to return $11.3 million to two refineries.

Similar events are planned later Monday at eight Houston schools.

3rd trial for accused killer of flight attendant

A former car dealer whose capital murder conviction and death sentence for the rape-slaying of a flight attendant 33 years ago in Dallas has been overturned twice by the courts is back on trial a third time.

Opening statements were set for Monday in the retrial of 59-year-old Jonathan Bruce Reed. Reed is accused of the November 1978 murder of 26-year-old Wanda Jean Wadle, a flight attendant for Braniff Airlines. She was found by her roommate unconscious and with a plastic bag around her head at their northeast Dallas apartment. She died nine days later.

he roommate also was attacked. She survived by feigning unconsciousness and testified against Reed. She told The Dallas Morning News 2009 she would testify again against Reed. Prosecutors again are seeking the death penalty.

Daniels asks conservatives to cut Perry some slack

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is asking fellow Republicans not to count out Rick Perry. Some conservatives are disappointed with the Texas governor's performance in the latest GOP debates.

Daniels says it's too early for what he calls "last rites" over the Perry campaign, and he notes that Perry hasn't been in the race for very long.

Daniels says people ought to cut Perry some slack and give him a little time.

Daniels also says he's worried that the party's nominee will end up playing it safe in light of President Barack Obama's political weakness, and merely campaign as a default option to Obama's re-election.

Daniels tells CNN's "State of the Union" that this strategy would miss the opportunity to have an in-depth discussion about government spending.

Teen held in apparent strangling of stepfather

Authorities in Fort Worth are questioning a 16-year-old about the apparent strangling of his stepfather.

Police responded Sunday to a call about a domestic dispute and found a 47-year-old man not breathing. He died later at a hospital.

The Tarrant County medical examiner's office didn't immediately rule on a cause of death but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Monday a preliminary police report indicated the man was strangled by his stepson.

Police Sgt. Pedro Criado said charges were expected to be filed.

Piranha caught in suburban Houston lake

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials say a fish caught by a pre-teen girl in a suburban Houston lake last month was a red-bellied piranha. It's only the second piranha ever verified in Texas waters and the first in nearly 30 years.

The hand-sized fish chomped down on piece of hot dog used as bait at the 23-acre lake at Harris County's Tom Bass Park. When adults with the girl saw the fish's razor-sharp teeth, they turned it over to authorities.

Parks officials told the Houston Chronicle the notoriously aggressive meat-eating fish likely was dumped in the lake by an aquarium owner. The fish is illegal in Texas but officials say it's easily obtainable on the Internet.

The only other verified Texas piranha came in Kendall County in 1982.