Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tech Regents contact info

Keeping to our mission as a source of information above opinion, interest has been shown in contact info for the Texas Tech Board of Regents. Any use of eminent domain would need their approval. This has been posted on the S-T site, but seems more ephemeral there.

Locally, Dr. Joseph C. Rallo, e-mail is

Christina Martinez, Executive Sec. to the Board, or 806-742-2161, PO Box 42011, Mail Stop 2011, Lubbock, Texas 79409

F. Dueser
400 Pine St. Abilene, Tx. 79601
(325) 627-7155

Bob L Stafford
1600 Wallace Blvd.
Amarillo, Tx. 79106

Windy Sitton
9204 Utica Av
Lubbock, Tx. 79424

Larry K. Anders/ NA
(972) 247-5300

Mark Griffen
4601 10th St.
Lubbock, Texas 79416
(806) 791-5713

Daniel Serna
6031 Interstate Hwy. 20, suite # 251
Arlington, Tx

Diane S Turner
PO Box 249
Blanco, Texas 78606

In view of the announcement Wednesday, I will withhold most comments, in hopes this all works out. In the meantime, it cannot hurt to let ASU's new regents feel a little of the community's opinion on this closing.

One thing I will say, in my opinion, the "safety of students" issue is bogus cover. Were it not, someone would be out there with a list of deaths, injuries and near misses. I pointed out during the school bond debate that much younger Central students negotiate 8 lanes of Bryant Raceway going to McDonalds every lunch period. These young adults are considerably brighter and more agile than Dr. Rallo wants to give them credit for.

If it is determined that the value of an undivided campus is greater than the inconvenience to 10,000 drivers a day, so be it, but I am glad to see the city at least nominally involved in that decision again.

Don't forget the meeting Dec. 13, 7:30 PM, I believe City Auditorium.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks for so Much

If it seems that all anyone does here is gripe, well that goes with the territory. If we didn't love San Angelo, we wouldn't have taken up the hobby of trying to improve things around the edges of an essentially very nice small city. Indeed, one of the things to celebrate about San Angelo, we have a government so open that from time to time a truck driver and a computer geek can actually get the city's attention and have some measurable effect.

Just a few musings on a day of Thanksgiving. We live in wonderful times. Don't let the media drumbeat of this that or the other crisis get you down. Bad news sells papers. I have lived long enough to get a little perspective on all this.

Chicken Little squawks the price of oil will ruin us all, drive us into bankruptcy, crisis! Right, and we are setting records this year for holiday travel by car, air, whatever moves people. Anybody seen a gas line lately?

Income disparity is growing, there are more poor than ever before, woe is us, Squawk! I seem to recall an itenerent prophet out of the Middle East a couple millenia back said something like "The poor will be with us always". A lot of this is definitional, in that whoever is at the bottom of the heap will be poor by that day's standards. For the first time in human history, a major problem amongst our poor is obesity. For virtually all of history, and in 90% of today's world, making that statement would convince a listener that one was delusional, a crazy man, yet that statement is very much true by American standards of poverty.

As never before, Chicken Little tells us the environment is on the brink of failing, we are raping the planet on an unprecedented scale, Squawk! I remember my first airplane trip, Atlanta to Dallas, north window seat. It was an unending view of visible smokstack plumes, each a hundred miles long and overlapping. Major rivers literally caught fire, they had so much gunk floating on them. Only loons ate fish caught in most Eastern domestic waters. I don't say forget environmentalism the job's all done, but I can tell you, we live in a vastly cleaner America than I was raised in.

Locally the San Angelo Foundation just received a headliner of a donation, and that's great. One of the things I am impressed by is the smaller scale, but still stunning in aggregate generosity of San Angelo's people. People give their volunteer time to a host of causes, from feeding the elderly, to rebuilding and building houses, helping children, name a cause, our citizens open their pocketbooks and give of their time.

Personally, I am thankful for a day of nearly complete sloth. With luck my high point of activity will come when I leap up to celebrate one of many Dallas touchdowns. However you spend yours with whomever, have a good Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanks for the warm welcome

Dr Joe Rallo has a strange idea of how to get off on the right foot in a new town. He is proposing to exercise eminent domain in order to close down Johnson St. through campus. Never mind negotiating with City Council, forget taking community comment or inconvenience into consideration. Dr. Rallo has decided that since he can, he will.

No one has bothered to justify this in terms of cost/benefit. If there has been a rash of student pedestrian injuries, no one has made that case. The inconvenience is undeniable. Johnson is described by the city as a level F feeder and handles over 10,000 vehicles a day. Parents of Crockett students, residents of the area, anyone wanting to get from Knickerbocker to Av N, all that traffic will either go to Bryant on the east, the construction constricted Sherwood, or jam up residential streets never designed for heavy traffic.

Turns out, city has looked into this possibility. Seems that if ASU exercizes eminent domain, as a state entity, ASU wins. Dr. Rallo may be feeling a bit bullet-proof, with good reason. He can't be voted out, no one in the city has any authority to dismiss Rallo. Winning hand all the way 'round, trump suit. Pardon me if I ask, does he really want to play it?

Dr. Rallo might want to check with Mayor Lown about the trash can episode from Lown's first term. Lown had supported a plan by Trashaway to go to an automated pickup system, would have saved gas, money, time, looked great on paper. Problem was, San Angelo residents were unexpectedly proud of their private trash cans. San Angeloans are some of the most welcoming people on the planet, ask the veterans who recently were feted to a parade and deer hunt. Still, those warm hearted folks keep a handy supply of the metaphorical pitchforks and torches if one crosses them. I was most recently on the wrong end of that when I supported an appointed Police Chief.

Dr. Rallo, ASU is a real jewel-in-the-crown asset for San Angelo, no one doubts that. When ASU desired the change to the Texas Tech system, the almost unanimous public support helped our State Rep. Drew Darby make it happen. I'm here to tell you, if you do this folks will still be cussing you ten years from now.

There are alternatives. You could add to freshman orientation a short course folk in my generation learned in kindergarten; Look Both Ways Before You Cross the Street. Seriously, some have suggested a pedestrian overpass, but I counsel against that. Look at the one on S Bryant. By the time one adds the ADA serpentine ramps on either end, it is a huge time-waster, all the healthy kids still cross the street and jump the low median fence. One I have seen is a pedestrian tunnel. It's as quick as crossing the street and by nature ADA friendly.

Hold off until Rosemont can be opened as a detour, briefly close Johnson, build the tunnel. The students are safer, the short inconvenience is quickly forgotten, the pitchforks stay in the closet, everybody's friends and we all live happily ever after.

I live on the other side of town. I think I have used Johnson St maybe 4 times in the last year. When I first heard about the eminent domain plan, it hit me as arrogant, autocratic, pick an unpleasent adjective. I can only imagine how people who actually depend on Johnson feel. Friendly advice to a newcomer; San Angelo is chock full of great people, it's easy to make friends for life, folk who will watch your back when you need them. Leave them feeling like you have crossed'em and gotten over on them, they will never trust you on anything. Real sure you want to go there over a glorified crosswalk?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rangers reports: Updated twice

The reports by Texas Ranger Shawn Palmer are available and they are interesting reading. There are 691 pages in the file we have just received. This contains a request letter and three reports. I have made these scanned reports searchable and more compact. Right now report 1 and report 2 are ready and online. Report 3, the largest, is split into 4 parts of about 200 pages each. They available as part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4. There may be some errors in the searchable text, but the information displayed should be accurate. We have done a lot of checking but some errors may have crept in. Let us know if you find any errors so we can get them corrected.

These reports show the amount of detail required for an investigation. They also contain important information that hasn't been available previously. We are still studying these reports and will have analysis and comments later. I do want to say that my initial reaction is one of disappointment and we will leave it at that.

Update 2. The Standard Times now has these reports online here. They have more bandwidth so they should be more readily available, if not as easily searchable.