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Texas Southmost College seeks firm to keep students safe

By Melissa Montoya The Brownsville Herald

The Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees came close to leaving students on campus without security services after failed attempts to negotiate security with the University of Texas at Brownsville.

According to Chet Lewis, vice president for finance and administration at TSC, because of the close proximity of the college to UTB, the college’s administration wanted to reach an agreement with the university to use the UTB security services.

“During the summer we had some conversations with the UT System and some representatives of UTB and we went through some different prices and scenarios and we kind of went back to the board and kind of ended up hitting an impasse as to the pricing,” Lewis said.

 

A second round of negotiations also failed to deliver results, he added. At this point, TSC administrators were moving toward starting a search for a security firm to provide college security.

 

According to Lewis, because of a call from the Southern Assoc-iation of Colleges and Schools on approximately the first day of classes letting TSC President Lily Tercero know an application needed to be submitted to the SACS Commission on Colleges, the college’s resources were diverted to accomplish the SACS project.

 

“When we finished up the SACS work, we had a conversation and we touched base with UT System to see if we could extend services a little bit longer,” Lewis said.

 

But the two administrations could not achieve an agreement and security services from the university would end on Friday, he added.

 

“This put us in a situation where we needed to make sure we had a secure environment for our students,” Lewis said.

 

A statement by a UT System spokeswoman said security services provided by UTB were set to end Sept. 1, but were extended to Sept. 20 to “allow TSC more time for transition.”

 

“The University of Texas System has policies and rules that govern policing and security on UT campuses. Services were offered to TSC per those standards until TSC could organize its own security service,” Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said. “Those services were not accepted due to cost. UT does not have the option of scaling back security services to save money, as security measures must meet the UT System standard.”

 

Because of the lack of time, Lewis said that TSC could not put in a request for bid proposals from security firms, but the TSC administration contacted some firms.

 

The college chose Brownsville-based security firm American Investigations Security International, one of the only companies that could immediately begin providing security services for the Friday deadline, Lewis said.

 

The recommendation Lewis proposed to the board was to keep AISI for a 30-day contract and renewal while the college submits a proper request for bid proposals, Lewis said.

“This is a situation that kind of emerged after we were not able to come to any agreement with…Continued here: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_a36e2a10-27e8-11e3-9a05-001a4bcf6878.html

Drug Seizures Increase as Immigrant Apprehensions Drop

photo illustration by: Todd Wiseman

Narcotics seizures on the country’s borders increased by 20 percent during the 2011 fiscal year, with Texas ports seeing more contraband than the other three border states.

In all, about 1.5 million pounds of narcotics were seized here, compared with 1.2 million pounds in Arizona, about 332,130 pounds in California, and 55,260 pounds in New Mexico, according to year-end statistics released today by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Meanwhile, apprehensions of illegal immigrants fell to their lowest levels in decades, the data shows. About 340,250 illegal immigrants were apprehended nationwide last fiscal year, compared to 463,380 in 2010, about a 26 percent drop.

There were about 327,580 apprehensions on the southwest border, including about 119,000 in Texas and 129,000 in Arizona. California and New Mexico saw 72,600 and 6,900 apprehensions, respectively.

The agency says that of those apprehended, about 87,300 had criminal records and convictions. The dip in apprehensions, the agency has said, reflects that illegal immigration has dropped overall.

“These numbers illustrate the investments made by CBP to improve border security, increase efficiencies and facilitate the flow of legal travel and trade through our nation’s borders and land ports of entry,” Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin said in a statement.

Trade at all ports increased by 14 percent compared to 2010, to about $2.3 trillion, though it is unclear how much trade came through the southwest border. WorldCity, a Florida-based media company that tracks trade through more than 240 countries, estimates the value of trade that moved through the Laredo customs district from January through September exceeded $153.7 billion. The El Paso customs district was the second-busiest trade partner with Mexico, with $57.8 billion passing through that port during the same time period, according to WorldCity. And, overall, the U.S. traded about 341.7 billion with Mexico from January to September 2011.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2011/12/12/drug-seizures-increase-immigrant-apprehensions-dro/.

Anita Perry: Abortion “Could Be a Woman’s Right”

From the 2013 Texas Tribune Festival, Texas First Lady Anita Perry takes part in a one-on-one conversation with Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith on Sept. 28, 2013.

photo by: Callie Richmond

Texas first lady Anita Perry said Saturday that while there’s no daylight between her and her husband on abortion, she doesn’t judge women who undergo the procedure under state law.

“That could be a woman’s right, just like it’s a man’s right if he wants to have some kind of procedure,” she said.

And she added that while she doesn’t agree with it, “the older I get, there are two sides of every nickel.”

“God made us our own individuals, and I can believe, you can believe, what you want to believe,” she said.

In an interview at The Texas Tribune Festival, Perry also suggested that her husband’s comments on state Sen. Wendy Davis — that the single mom who filibustered the state’s strict abortion legislation could learn from her own experience — were misconstrued.

“He thinks if she had decided to terminate her pregnancies — and maybe he could’ve chosen a word that would’ve been a little more sensitive to what she was thinking — it would’ve come out differently,” she said.

Perry said it’s been easy for the public to misunderstand her husband, from suggestions after the “oops” presidential debate that he was lacking in smarts to the perception that he has a surplus of “swagger.” “He walks just like his mother,” the first lady joked.

She did little to dissuade the audience of rumors that the governor is seriously pursuing a second presidential bid, saying the advice they’ve received is to plan a presidential race two years out, and plan to run twice. She said the mistake they made last time around was jumping into a presidential race “six weeks after you have back surgery.”

“Getting out across the country … is one of the greatest things you can do in life,” she said.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/09/28/anita-perry-abortion-could-be-womans-right/.

Galveston Pleasure Pier ranked among world’s 5 best seaside parks

Photo By James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle
Tilman Fertitta’s yacht Boardwalk motors along the Galveston beachfront near the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Galveston.

Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is one of the five best seaside parks in the world, according to Amusement Today, a trade publication that each year hands out its Golden Ticket Awards.

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Photo By AP Photo/Dr.Scott M. Lieberman/FRE

The Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park, Seawall Boulevard and beaches of Galveston Island, Texas, are seen from atop the San Luis Resort on Thursday, July 4, 2013. The Historic Pleasure Pier amusment park, seawall, and beaches of Galveston Island, Texas are seen from atop the San Luis Resort on Thursday, July 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman)

The other four on the list are: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.; Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, England; Morey’s Piers, Wildwood, N.J.; and Gröna Lund, Stockholm, Sweden.

The Best Seaside Parks was one of 10 categories in the group’s Golden Ticket Awards for 2013, presented earlier this month at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Winners are picked by an international panel of amusement park enthusiasts, according to the Amusement Today website.

Rebuilt by entrepreneur Tilman Fertitta at a cost of $60 million, the Galveston Pleasure Pier at 25th Street and Seawall Boulevard opened for Memorial Day weekend in 2012.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the top seaside parks in the world,” Fertitta said in a statement on the pier’s Facebook page. “To win this award after being open for just over a year further validates the planning and hard work that went into this project.”

Fertitta, who grew up in Galveston and lives in Houston, is the sole owner, chairman and chief executive officer of Landry’s, Inc.

Landry’s owns more than 400 properties, including restaurants, hotels and the Kemah Boardwalk.

The new Pleasure Pier’s 16 rides include the Iron Shark Steel Roller Coaster, a 100-foot-tall structure with a drop that the park’s website describes as “beyond-vertical;” the Texas Star Flyer, which swings riders over the water 230 feet above the Gulf; and a 100-foot-tall Ferris wheel called Galaxy Wheel that boasts a “spectacular” LED light show.

The pier also has midway games, retail shops and a selection of food venues, including the state’s first Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Fertitta rebuilt the park where the original Pleasure Pier stood from 1943 until Hurricane Carla…Continued here: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Galveston-Pleasure-Pier-ranked-among-world-s-5-4849480.php

FBI: Navy Yard gunman left note about radio waves

Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis left a note saying he was driven to kill by months of bombardment with extremely low-frequency radio waves, the FBI said Wednesday in a disclosure that explains the phrase he etched on his shotgun: “My ELF Weapon!”

Alexis did not target particular individuals during the Sept. 16 attack in which he killed 12 people, and there is no indication the shooting stemmed from any workplace dispute, said Valerie Parlave, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office. Instead, authorities said, his behavior in the weeks before the shooting and evidence recovered from his hotel room, backpack and other belongings reveal a man increasingly in the throes of paranoia and delusions.

“Ultra-low frequency attack is what I’ve been subject to for the last 3 months, and to be perfectly honest that is what has driven me to this,” read an electronic document agents recovered after the shooting.

The attack came one month after Alexis had complained to police in Rhode Island that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel room and sending microwave vibrations into his body to deprive him of sleep.

On his shotgun, he had scrawled “My ELF Weapon!” _ an apparent reference to extremely low-frequency waves _ along with “End to the Torment!” `’Not what yall say” and “Better off this way,” the FBI said.

Alexis, a 34-year-old former Navy reservist and computer technician for a government contractor, used a valid badge to get into the Navy Yard and opened fire inside a building with the Remington shotgun, which he had legally purchased in Virginia two days earlier. He also used a 9 mm handgun that he took from a security guard, a weapon found near Alexis’ body. He was killed in the building by a U.S. Park Police officer following a rampage and shootout with police that the FBI said lasted more than an hour.

“There are indicators that Alexis was prepared to die during the attack and that he accepted death as the inevitable consequence of his actions,” Parlave said.

Surveillance video released by the FBI on Wednesday shows Alexis pulling his rental car into a garage, walking into the building with a bag and then skulking down a corridor with a shotgun, ducking and crouching around a corner and walking briskly down a flight of stairs. The video does not show him actually shooting anyone.

A timeline issued by the FBI shows Alexis started the rampage on the building’s fourth floor and then moved down to the third and first floors. He ultimately returned to the third floor, where he was killed around 9:25 a.m. FBI Director James Comey has said there’s no evidence that Alexis shot down into…Continued here: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/texas/article_add0a741-a84b-540d-9bf5-908e83e5b574.html

Houston boy, 14, stabbed at bus stop, man sought

Police say a 14-year-old Houston boy has been stabbed while protecting a girl from an attack by one of her relatives as the children waited at a school bus stop.

Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva says a man Thursday morning tried to grab the girl, the boy intervened and the suspect ran away.

Silva says the boy was cut but his injuries are not life-threatening. The teen was in stable condition when transported to a hospital. The girl wasn’t hurt.

Police didn’t immediately have additional information about the fugitive, a possible motive or his exact relationship to the girl.

The Houston Independent School District says the boy attends Westside High School. District officials say…Continued here: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/texas/article_52ad4d48-3061-569b-92ff-3f1979d5934a.html

Legal bill for North Texas Tollway Authority board member in FBI probe: $148,790 and counting

By MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER

Transportation Writer

mlindenberger@dallasnews.com

The federal investigation into possible conflicts of interest among current and former board members of the North Texas Tollway Authority is getting costly for the authority.

Already, legal bills to pay for a private attorney for one of its board members, David Denison, have reached $148,790, the authority has disclosed.

The investigation continues, as does the NTTA’s full cooperation, officials there confirmed Friday.

Denison asked the board in December to cover his legal expenses tied to the investigation.

Denison has said he has done nothing wrong and is cooperating fully. The request to cover his bills is in keeping with state law and board policy. The vote in December carried a caveat, however: If it is shown later that the investigation is tied to conduct by Denison that violates the law or board policies, he will have to reimburse the NTTA.

Denison, a former Lewisville mayor, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. No charges have been filed against anyone in connection with the investigation. The FBI has never said what it is looking for, or even confirmed the investigation.

When the investigation began in October, the NTTA did not announce it to the public. Instead, it disclosed the investigation to investors through an official statement tied to a round of bond sales. It confirmed the investigation when asked about it by The Dallas Morning News.

Since then, the authority has declined to comment on the investigation or reveal whom the FBI has approached. Some board members and other officials have said they have been approached, but details about the conversations have not been made public.

The silence was so deep, in fact, it was not clear whether the investigation had continued beyond October.

But, on June 8, in a 317-page official statement to investors related to a new round of $409.6 million in bond sales, the NTTA said for the first time that the investigation has continued.

“In October 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed several officials of the authority regarding any knowledge the officials may have concerning the conduct of certain current and former board members, including possible conflicts of interests pertaining to authority business,” the statement reads.

“The authority has no reason to believe that it is the target of the investigation or that the investigation will [damage the NTTA’s ability to make its debt payments]. The investigation is ongoing and the authority is cooperating fully with the FBI. There can be no assurance that the investigation will be limited to the matters described above or that the authority will not become a target at a later date.”

The bond disclosure statement, required as part of the process, would ordinarily already be posted to the NTTA’s website, but that hasn’t yet happened.

The News discovered the document on a third-party site aimed at bond investors and confirmed its contents with the NTTA.

Spokeswoman Susan Slupecki said the NTTA is simply running behind schedule and will soon upload the document to its site.

She said the NTTA would not comment further, however, because the FBI has instructed officials not to…Continued here: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/transportation/20120721-legal-bill-for-north-texas-tollway-authority-board-member-in-fbi-probe-148790-and-counting.ece

Burton Touts Connection to Cruz in New Ad

Konni Burton, a Republican running for Fort Worth’s Senate District 10, highlights her campaign’s grassroots support and namedrops U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in a new online campaign ad. The day after Cruz wrapped up his 21-hour filibuster-like speech against Obamacare, Burton, a Tea Party activist, highlighted her work during the junior senator’s 2012 campaign.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/09/26/konni-burton-touts-connection-to-sen-ted-cruz/.

Ground broken on $28.7M Regional Transportation Authority project (Video)

Photo by Rachel Denny Clow, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Rachel Denny Clow/Caller-Times Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority board members, employees and community leaders unveil the rendering for the new RTA Staples Street Center and Station during a groundbreaking at the site Thursday. Originally posted here: http://www.caller.com/news/2013/sep/26/ground-to-be-broken-on-287m-regional-authority/

Senate Website Gets Second Amendment Wrong

by AWR Hawkins

A Senate.gov web page covering the Constitution gets the scope of the Second Amendment wrong, telling readers that it is not clear whether the amendment protects an individual right or a collective right.

Here is what the Senate’s web page on the Constitution says about the Second Amendment: “Whether this provision protects the individual’s right to own firearms or whether it deals only with the collective right of the people to arm and maintain a militia has long been debated.”

This is simply not true on at least two levels.

Number one, the scope of the Second Amendment has not been seriously questioned until Alisky-minded radicals isolated it from among the other amendments in the Bill of Rights and began attacking it. Before that it was taken for granted that the scope of the Second Amendment was the same as the scope of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and so on.

Remember, the Bill of Rights protects individual, “unalienable rights” with which we were “endowed” by our Creator.

Secondly, and confirming these things, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment is an individual right twice in the last five years.

In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) they ruled: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia.” In McDonald v. Chicago (2010) Associate Justice Samuel Alito referenced the Heller decision to make the same point in a different but equally clear manner: “In Heller, we held that individual self-defense is ‘the central component’ of the Second Amendment right.”

How is that Wikipedia has incorporated the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual right but a U.S. Senate website has…Continued here: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/09/25/Senate-Website-Gets-Second-Amendment-Wrong