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Tue April 17, 2012
Texas Drops Federal Funding For Women's Health Program
Texas officials have proposed phasing-out federal funding for the women's health program through November after Washington said it was illegal to ban the participation of Planned Parenthood.
The Women's Health Program provides routine exams, contraception and preventive health services to low-income women. Until this year, federal funds covered 90 percent of the cost. But federal officials said they would cut funding after Texas lawmakers insisted groups affiliated with abortion providers be banned from taking part.
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services said federal law gives women the right to choose their health care providers.
Gov. Rick Perry has ordered Texas to cover the lost federal funding. The plan released Tuesday says the state will help the women find new providers and recruit more clinics to participate.
Lawmakers consider size of board of education
Texas lawmakers have expressed skepticism on whether 15 elected members on the State Board of Education are enough for a state the size of Texas.
Each board of education member represents more than 1.6 million people and two districts cover 35 or more counties. Redistricting Committee Chairman Burt Solomons said he doubted whether those 1.6 million could be effectively served by just one person.
But School Board Chairwoman Barbara Cargill said she felt the board did a good job and said she was opposed about making the board larger. She said she maintains an e-mail list for 4,500 people. Her district covers 24 counties and 139 school districts.
Several lawmakers expressed amazement that the board members could properly represent their districts. School board members are part-time, unpaid officials.
Senate race in Texas turns negative on Dewhurst ad
The Republican campaign for the next U.S. senator from Texas is taking a new negative turn with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst releasing a statewide television ad attacking one of his opponents, attorney Ted Cruz.
The 60-second ad criticizes Cruz for representing a Chinese company in a $26 million fraud case against an American businessman. A Dewhurst spokesman won't say Tuesday how much the campaign spent or how long it will run.
The ad marks the first time Dewhurst has attacked Cruz's record in a television ad.
Cruz also released a statewide TV ad about his experience defending a cross honoring World War I veterans as constitutional.
Also running in the Republican primary are former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former college and NFL football player and television analyst Craig James.
More Debate On Permanent Watering Restrictions
The proposal to make twice-a-week watering permanent and region-wide got some push-back at Fort Worth City Hall Tuesday.
Fort Worth resident Jonathan Marut cautioned Council members not to ramrod it.
Marut: To date there has been no public citizen input and little council input. As Councilman Scarth observed during that pre-council meeting, it certainly looks like a fait accomplis.
Council member Sal Espino says regional water conservation is good idea that needs to be publically discussed.
Espino: The premise behind the movement you’ve seen is to look at the long term water needs for the region, working together as a region. And I think that’s all being done in good faith. But certainly we want the public to participate.
The Dallas City Council talks about permanent twice-a-week watering Wednesday. The Fort Worth Council discussion comes later.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Three N TX Women Arrest In Big Fraud Scheme
Three Tarrant County women are among ten people arrested in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme.
Federal officials in California say the scam was run out of two El Cajon, California businesses. The indictment says the group made fraudulent home loan applications, got the money, then diverted it to their personal accounts – as much as 10 million dollars.
Named as part of the scam are Leticia Miffleton of Watauga, Sharlo Burris, and Catherine Wheeler of Fort Worth. Court appearances are set for Wednesday and Thursday.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Dallas Firefighter Fired After Bank Robbery
The Dallas Firefighter under arrest for allegedly robbing a bank has been fired.
Last month, Jesus Ventura was on put on leave after he fired a gun inside Fire Station 45 and had to be disarmed. Last week, he was arrested for robbing a bank. Federal officials say he passed the teller a 20 dollar tip before making his getaway. He was arrested a short time later as he attempted to rob a nearby convenience store. Ventura told a federal judge he suffers from bipolar disorder.
Dallas officials say they fired Ventura Monday.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Postal Workers Picket To Preserve Jobs
Postal workers in Dallas and Fort Worth staged informational pickets outside the main Post Offices Tuesday.
The action was part of a nationwide “Save America’s Postal Service” campaign.
Local officials say even though the main Dallas distribution center on I-30 has been take off the closure list, the fight to save post offices and jobs is far from over.
The Postal service has targeted 200 processing centers and 3600 post offices for closure to cut costs. A moratorium keeping them open expires May 15th, unless Congress acts. The Senate began hearings on Postal Service operations Tuesday.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Companies to pay $14.8M in FEMA trailer settlement
Nearly two dozen companies that manufactured government-issued trailers for storm victims after Hurricane Katrina have agreed to pay more than $14 million in a class-action settlement of claims the temporary shelters exposed occupants to hazardous fumes.
Plaintiffs' attorney Gerald Meunier said Tuesday that the proposed settlement could benefit tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents who lived in travel trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Meunier said 21 trailer makers or their insurers will pay a total of $14.8 million to resolve the claims without any admission of wrongdoing.
A court filing Friday asks U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt to preliminarily approve the deal, which would be the largest mass settlement of claims over formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers.
Gang member gets 50 years for Super Bowl bet death
Prosecutors say a North Texas gang member has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for a killing over an unpaid $40 Super Bowl bet.
A jury in Fort Worth convicted 19-year-old Clevin Earl Brown Jr. of murder and engaging in organized criminal activity. Jurors on Monday ordered 50-year prison terms for each count, with the sentences to be served concurrently.
Investigators say 20-year-old Jarami Thomas was shot and killed in March 2011 in the parking lot of an Arlington convenience store.
Prosecutors say Thomas had placed a bet on the February 2011 game, played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, via Facebook.