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These are old entries from the main blog page


03-22-2010: DCTA to Provide A-Train, Capital Projects Updates at Public Meeting. Monday, 10-22-2010, 6:30 p.m. Lewisville Community Rm 1197 W Main St


03-15-2010:

City Council Meeting 03-15-2010:

  • 06:30 PM, Workshop Session.  As Usual, This is an open meeting and I encourage you to attend.
  • 07:00 PM, Regular Council Meeting.
  • Please look over the Agenda - Short Version or the Long version with backup material.  There may be other items that may be of special interest to you. 

     This Item is on the agenda.

    • ITEM 17 - Discussion Regarding Section 3.02 Qualifications of the Lewisville Home Rule Charter in Regards to Councilman John Gorena as Requested by Councilman David Thornhill and Councilman Greg Tierney.

      ADMINISTRATIVE COMMENTS:  Councilman Thornhill and Councilman Tierney have requested that discussion be held regarding portions of Section 3.02 Qualifications of the City Charter which state, in relevant part, as follows: "The mayor and each member of the city council ... shall not be in arrears in the payment of any taxes or other liabilities due to the city ...." and "The city council shall also have the power and authority to declare, and may at its next regular meeting declare a vacancy to exist in the office of mayor or any councilman if such mayor or councilman: a. lacks at any time during his term of office any qualifications for the office prescribed by this charter or by law; or b. violates any expressed prohibition of this charter ….” .
      RECOMMENDATION:  That the City Council conduct discussion as listed in the caption above.

PRE-MEETING COMMENTS:  I have been getting many calls about the article in the Dallas Morning News (DMN). I thank all of you for the calls of support. For now, you can get the some information from the article in the Newspaper at DMN.  The amount that I will be paying for 2010 should be less than $20/year not $47 as the Blogger mentioned.  The follow up to this article is here.

POST-MEETING COMMENTS:  Steve Stoler of Channel 8 (WFAA-TV) was there and did a report on this situation.  I do not like what the title implies that I "Failed to Pay Business Taxes".  How can one fail if never given a chance?   I think Mr. Stoler fairly covered both sides of the issue.  I just do not agree with the other side.
Short Version: I am not in arrears in paying my taxes. I did not know about this. I took immediate action to fix it when I found out about it. I have not received a bill yet nor is it passed due.  I did not intentionally evade paying my personal property taxes.
Long Version: Monday afternoon (03-08-2010), I was told I was not paying my taxes for my office in my home by a local blogger. I was angry about this because I was being accused of intentionally doing something illegal.  I called the County to verify about paying taxes on the personal property in my home.  I was told to fill out a several page form.  On Tuesday, I asked a few questions about the form and sent it in. The estimated annual taxes for 2010 will be about $20/year or less.
     On Wednesday: I got a call from the City Attorney on this matter.  He was advising that an issue came up about this from a local blogger about how it conflicts with our City Charter.  The Blogger wants me dismissed from the Council.  The Attorney advised that I could not be dismissed legally on this - even if I had been in arrears - which I was not.  I also saw an email which had my political opponent's email attached to it asking about the removal of a candidate from office in reference to arrears and I knew at this point things would elevate.  Later the person from the County that helped me with the form called and said that they will go back two years for which I will get a bill in about six weeks and I will pay it. Then my regular 2010 taxes will be billed in October.  I did ask if I could pay it now because I did not want to be in arrears. I was told at this time I am not in arrears (not past due) because I do not have a bill yet.  If I had a past due bill, then it would be in arrears.  Could I leave a check?  They said that they would just mail it back because there was no account yet.
     Then on Thursday I find out that it will be on the Agenda.  The City attorney asked that we not talk about this in groups or blog about it until after the meeting – That is, since it is on the agenda and is subject to the Open Meetings Act, the other Council Members might see it and that could be a violation.
     As for my business, I am an IT consultant – a subcontractor who works by the hour.   I have virtually no assets. I go to businesses and homes and I fix PCs.  I do not see clients in my home.  My business started part-time and has grown to support me and my family.  I know that I am not a CPA and that is why I hired CPAs years ago.  They helped me obtain DBA papers with the County and help me comply with the law.  I have had several CPAs do my taxes over the years and none of them have ever mentioned that I had to pay personal property taxes on my home office (desk, PC, printer, etc…).   The County never sent me a notice of this either.   I learned a few years ago that retail and commercial locations (store fronts, warehouses, office buildings, etc...) had to pay personal property taxes.  I never thought that this would ever apply to a person's residence.
     I would venture a guess that most people who have a small home business do not know this either, so let me tell you what I learned this week. A person will have to pay personal property taxes on their home office or any personal property if they use that personal property to make money. Period. These items can include but not limited to: Office furniture (desk, table, lamp, etc…), office equipment (phone, fax, printer, PC, calculator, etc...), tools of your trade (blow torches, hammers, ladders, etc...), and inventory.   Here are just a few areas that you might not have thought about … Mary Kay, Avon, Handy Man stuff, Mow Lawns, Massage Therapy, a subcontractor, bringing work home from your business or work. Yes, work. Technically speaking you would be doing something to make a profit.   Knowing all this, I wonder if my accusers (or their spouses) are violating this law. Apparently they are aware of this law.
     I wish that things were handled differently.  It was not until I heard it was going to be on the Agenda that I realized what this could mean.  All from something that I was previously unaware and that I had already taken action and fixed.  I do not fault my fellow councilmen for wanting to discuss this.  The accusation was serious and it was falsely portrayed by the blogger as an intentional act.   In fact, if given the chance, I would have asked to make a statement in the open forum portion of the meeting saying what I have said here - I do not think that it needed to be an agenda item. 
     Bottom line is that I DID NOT KNOW these taxes needed to be paid on my home office. When I found out about it, I did what I thought was right and took immediate action to fix it.  After all, we are told to “Render unto Caesar...”.

     After tonight's meeting, my seat on the Council is no longer the issue as stated in the Channel 8 Video.  After the City Attorney's comments about other cases and the laws concerning it, the discussion turned to the City Charter which contains something that could not be enforced.
     It was very humbling to see so many people show up to give support for me at this Council meeting.  I thank God for having people like you in my life.  Those of you on my Blog Email List know that I usually end all my emails with, “You are not alone.”  I know now….. I AM NOT ALONE!


03-01-2010:

  • City Council Meeting 03-01-2010:
    • 06:30 PM, Workshop Session.  As Usual, This is an open meeting and I encourage you to attend.
    • 07:00 PM, Regular Council Meeting.
    • Please look over the Agenda - Short Version or the Long version with backup material.  There may be some items that may be of special interest to you.
  • City Council meeting Special Session 03-02-2010:
    • 06:30 PM, Special Joint Meeting with the LISD Board of Trustees. At the Bolin Administrative Center.  See the Agenda.
  • CAMPAIGN UPDATE:
    • In just two short months, early voting starts for the yearly City Elections. I will be running for a full 3 year term.  See the Voting Schedule.
    • Signs:  For those of you that have signs from last year’s Election, please put them in your yards starting in April. Early voting starts April 26 and a few weeks before will be good for yards. Maria and I will be posting the signs in the public areas about a week before early voting starts. If you want a sign for your yard, I will ask for those who want one in late March or Early April.
    • What I need NOW is donations. I know money is tight everywhere but money is needed for this campaign. See donation page for more information.

02-21-2010:

  • Citizen’s Fire Academy accepting applications
         The Lewisville Citizen’s Fire Academy, the closest civilians can come to being a firefighter short of joining the department, is accepting applications for its 2009 class. The free 10-week program runs from March 2 through April 27 and will include instruction and training experiences in the classroom and in the field.
         The academy, which is open to Lewisville residents age 21 and older, is designed for people who have a genuine interest in fire department operations and fire and life safety awareness. Classes meet every Tuesday evening, 7-9 p.m., and once on a Saturday. All sessions are taught by fire department personnel.
         For information on the Citizen’s Fire Academy, please call Division Chief Steve Carter at 972.219.3739.  Media contact: Division Chief Steve Carter, 972.219.3739

02-15-2010:

  • City Council Meeting 02-15-2010:
    • 06:30 PM, Workshop Session.  As Usual, This is an open meeting and I encourage you to attend.
    • 07:00 PM, Regular Council Meeting.
    • Please look over the Agenda - Short Version or the Long version with backup material.  Some items that may be of special interest to you.
      • Item 7 is an eminent domain item.  Always important to watch these closely.  In this case, it is for the DCTA Rail Operations and Rail Center.  DCTA has eminent domain power, but only with approval of the governing body of the affected municipality.  See pages 74-83 of the backup material.
      • Item 8 is about a sign variance.  The interesting point about this item is that the Old Town Design Review Committee reviewed and approved it but the City Staff recommends denial.  See pages 84-90 of the backup material.
      • Item 10 deals with the oil and gas wells in the City.  The City will be hiring a Technical advisor as a consultant for inspecting these sites.  The cost of utilizing a technical advisor is billed directly to the operator of the well inspected.  See pages 103-110 of the backup material.
  • Just a reminder that the Early voting for the Texas Primary Elections start Tomorrow 02-16-2010.   The Primary Election Day is March 2, 2010. See my page - Texas Primary 101.

02-08-2010:  City Council Retreat - After retreat Comments and updates.  The Long Version of the Agenda has Backup Material that contains slides of presentations.  Here is a very brief summary:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

  • 2009 Retreat Recap - City Manager, Claude King, gave an overview of what was discussed in Last years Council Retreat.
  • PD Staffing - Police Chief, Russ Kerbow, requested that the Council consider hiring 13 Patrol officers and 11 other positions for the Budget of 2010/2011.  This amount will be inline with basic minimal staffing (as compared to higher levels of medium and optimal staffing) based on statistics and figures and a bunch of formulas that were impressively presented.  Should be on the agenda for the Budget Retreat in August 2010.
  • ED Policy - Economic Development Director, Nika Reineke, discussed several ideas and options for different areas of he City.   More will be discussed in future Council meetings.
  • “Checkbook” Register - Putting the City Checkbook online.  We liked the City of Fort Collins Colorado site the best.  This is a good for  better transparency of government.  Hopefully it will be online in the next few months.  It did not seem as it would take much to do it either.
  • Project Labor Agreements - not enough support to do this.  We did not feel that it was necessary.

Friday, February 5, 2010

  • E-Verify Contractor Requirement - I was the only one that wanted e-verify as a requirement for our contracts and bids.  I made the motion to have staff draw up an ordinance similar to Mission Viejo (California) or Huntsville (Alabama).  I did not get a second on the motion and therefore it died.
       However, the other Council members wanted staff to draw up wording for a future meeting to add a paragraph to the contracts that if a contractor has been found guilty of violating the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA of 1986) then they MAY be banned for up to 5 years. Again, the official wording will be in a future meeting.   I am not opposed to this but I think that this DOES NOTHING helpful as legal employers are not supposed to violate IRCA anyway.  E-verify would help them prevent IRCA violations in the first place.
  • Taping of Workshops - This will require new equipment for the workshop and replace 20 year old equipment for the Council Chambers.  Two of us wanted to get this started but the rest wanted it to be a an item in the August 2010 Budget Retreat.  I suggested continuing with taping the way they have been but spend the money on the microphones that we would use anyway on the full conversion.  It did not pass a vote.  It will have to wait until the August.
  • Special Events -
    Christmas Holiday at the Hall - The City has been losing about $30K per year on the Christmas event.  We were told that we can save $70K by ending the Christmas event about 1:30 PM.    I would like to have seen the Christmas event would be more successful.  I was reluctant to shorten the Christmas event but the majority was for it.
    Western Day -  They also wanted to move the $70K saved from the change to Christmas to Western Day and make that the big event of the year.  To be a two day event starting Friday night until 10:00 PM and all day Saturday until 10:00 PM.
    July 4th Event - This costs the city about $35K.  It was discussed to cancel it,  move it to the lake, or leave it at the mall area.  It will cost more at the lake.  The majority wanted to have the event at the mall.
    Other Events -  Please see the backup material and slides from the agenda.
  • Economic Development related (Closed Sessions) - I wish I could discuss these items at this time.  Though interesting and exciting as they are, we are asked to not discuss.  This is in accordance with State Law.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

  • Budget Projections/Reduction Prioritization - The revenues and expenditures of the city were reviewed.  With the budget shortfall, a list of items was suggested that could be cut by the City Manager.  The consensus was to not cut any personnel and maybe not hire if someone quits.  Some projects were kept frozen, and  a freeze on hiring no critical positions.  Other items on the budget were frozen to same money.
  • Sales Tax Options - With the budget shortfall and after even more budget cuts, the City will need to increase revenue.  An option is to raise the Sales Tax from 8% to the State of 8.25%.  This is a better option than increasing property taxes.  This topic will need to be voted on by the Citizens and that might be in the November 2010 election.  This should be on future council meetings.
  • CIP Review - Discussed the CIP General Obligation debt issued for general projects—mainly streets & drainage.  New and improvements Interest and Sinking (I&S) portion of property tax pays for servicing of debt.  Principal & interest payments for FY 2009-10 will equal $8.425M...  Yes, if we had no debt, we would have $8.425M.  Current Outstanding Debt: $63,460,000.  One interesting point,  if we did not add anymore debt and just made the payments we could be out of debt in 2025 - or sooner if we paid some off sooner.  To save some money, some debt was basically refinanced at a lower rate.  No new debt was created.  We also discussed projects in the City.
  • Health/Comp Plan Overview - Basically the City of Lewisville is self insured.  The current status of the Health Plan and TMRS was discussed.  We also discussed the pay scales and rates of employee wages as compared to other similar cities.
  • Wrap Up/Direction - This is when we discussed and gave direction to staff like the summaries listed above.

02-04-2010:  City Council Retreat - February 4-6, 2010 - This is in town at the Hilton Garden Inn just south of the mall.  All are open meetings except for the Friday Afternoon meetings.  The official Agenda is available online - Short Version Agenda (Schedule) and the Long Version Agenda with Backup Material.   (Hint:  Right Click the long version and save it to your computer for faster access.)

  • Thursday, 02-04-2010, 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM.  Topics include 2009 retreat Recap, Police Department (PD) Staffing, Economic Development (ED) Policy, Check book register, Project Labor Agreements.
    • MY COMMENTS:
      • PD Staffing:  I have always advocated that we need more police officers.  My personal opinion that I have stated publicly is that we need, to start, at least 5 more officers per shift (4 shifts makes that 20 officers).  Then reassess our needs again.  I have spoken to our police chief many times about the outstanding officers that we have in this City.  I have ridden out with officers four times on various shifts and I can assure our citizens that our officers are very good at what they do.  I have encouraged him to look into increasing the staffing of our police department.  The police chief is going to give his assessment and report on this evening.
  • Friday, 02-05-2010, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.  Topics include E-Verify Contractor Requirement, Taping of workshops, special events.  After lunch are closed sessions.
    • MY COMMENTS:
      • E-Verify Contractor Requirement:  I requested that we discuss an E-verify participation requirement for the companies that receive our bids/contracts.  Learn more about E-verify.  Also, this is a continuation from the meeting on 01-04-2010.
      • Taping of workshops:  I want more Government transparency.  Before I was elected, I went to meetings for about two years.  I noticed that many of the items discussed are done in the non-taped open workshop meeting.  The staff has been looking at options to tape the workshops.  We are trying to do this as cheaply as possible but my view is that the tests have not revealed a good audio quality.
  • Saturday, 02-06-2010, 9:00 AM to 2:15+ PM.  Topics include Budget Projections/Reduction Prioritization, Sales Tax Options, Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Review.  Then After lunch, health comp plan, wrap up, etc...
    • MY COMMENTS:
      • Very important topics this morning ....  With the shortfall of funds, what to spend money on and what to postpone?

01-29-2010:

  • City Council Meeting 02-01-2010:
    • 06:00 PM, Workshop Session.  As Usual, This is an open meeting and I encourage you to attend.
      • Topic will be a discussion regarding screening wall options.
    • 07:00 PM, Regular Council Meeting.
    • Please look over the Agenda - Long version with backup material.  Some items that may be of special interest to you.
      • Item 6: Clarifying Noise Restrictions and Providing Exemptions
      • Item 7: Parking Regulations: Prohibited Parking on Specific Streets pertaining to LISD.
      • Item 8: Related to the Special Events ordinance

01-22-2010: 

  • I have added a link to Chuck Baldwin's Article that came out today that I wanted to share.....  Today marks the 37th anniversary of the infamous US Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, which, in effect, legalized abortion-on-demand nationwide.  ... Click here for more.
  • City Council Meeting 01-25-2010:
    • 06:30 PM, Workshop Session.  As Usual, This is an open meeting and I encourage you to attend.
    • 07:00 PM, Regular Council Meeting.
    • Please look over the Agenda.  Short version or Long version with backup material.  Some items of interest...
      • Item 6: Approval of the Old Town Plaza Conceptual Design.  Take a look at the drawings in the Agenda pages 66 to 166 of the Long version.  The designs start on page 136.
        • Note:  This is a continuation of the design process from the Design Charrette.
      • Item 11: Consideration of Acceptance of a Report From the 2009/2010 Charter Review Commission; and Provide Direction to City Staff. Look over the recommended changes to the City Charter.   The changes are in red. See the Agenda pages 179 to 223 of the Long version.
    • Note: Someone has pointed out that in the minutes from the Charter review committee that I said the secretary did not have to write every single word I said...  She was taking notes but when I made a comment, the keys started flying and I made the comment half joking - as if everything I say is not that important and thus it is taken out of context and twisted.  I was visiting the Charter review committee to see if they would recommend term limits like other cities have.

01-20-2010:  Texas Association of Business Poll at http://www.txbiz.org is much like the 'just for fun' polls that I wrote about on 01-15-2010.  It asks, "Who should BACPAC (TAB's Political Action Committee) endorse for Governor?".  The txbiz poll is located on the right side of the page.  I do not know when they will be taking the poll off.  It did not indicate how many people have voted.
     I voted for for Debra Medina and it showed a pie chart with only shades of blue that is hard to distinguish between shades.  I think it would have been better to show percentages and number of votes.  For all we know only 12 people voted.
     Each color shade has a computer RGB color code. I used my color sampler from Adobe PhotoShop program to check the color shades. The largest part is Medina (28,28,255) and the second largest is Perry (0,0,255).  To make it easier to see, I gave each shade it's own unique color for easy viewing.

 
This graphic snapshot taken & shaded  01-20-2010 about 2:30 PM


01-19-2010:  Cross walk for Evergreen Senior Living Apartments (ESLA).  I went to the transportation board meeting tonight where about 20 or more ESLA residents came to show their support for a cross walk on Garden Ridge Blvd.  It was agenda Item 4.  About two months ago, I had requested that the Staff look at the costs and bring it to a vote a City Council meeting for a vote.   The staff chose to go the Transportation committee route to do some research and study it a little bit.
     The ESLA residents are asking for is for some signage and a painted crosswalk to help make it a little safer.  But a blinking light would not hurt either, restrict u-turns and other things that make a crosswalk safer.  ESLA residents know that the signs will not make it 100% safer but it will make it somewhat safer.
     The Staff representative advised against it stating that they should walk a block North to Main street to the intersection to cross thus adding about 40% more distance to make the trip across the road.
     The transportation committee meets once a quarter and they have asked staff to do more research and voted to discuss it more in the next meeting in April 2010.  At that time, hopefully, the committee will decide to vote yes or no and send a recommendation to the City Council which is where the final decision will be made.

     Q: How did the senior Citizen cross the road?
     A: We will have to wait and see...

That's the way I see it - John Gorena


01-15-2010:  JUST FOR FUN...  Online Polls about which candidate for the Republican nomination for Texas governor performed best in Thursday night's televised debate?  I am just posting links to online polls from City Newspapers or TV stations.  If you find others, please let me know.  These polls check IP addresses so that you can only vote once per IP - a simple check to try and stop cheaters.  To watch the debate online see: http://texasdebates.org/video.php

These polls are for amusement only, are not conducted scientifically, and represent the opinions of site visitors.  Since the polls will go away after time, I took a snapshot at 24 hours after the debate.  In my opinion, these polls can show a trend - unless someone found a way to really cheat a lot.  Again, they are not scientific.


01-13-2010:  I went to a I35E stake holders meeting today and listened to the presentation from TXDOT.  It seems that they might start acquiring key property in the summer of 2010.  Construction along the middle section (it is what they call the area from the Lewisville Lake bridge down through Lewisville to the 161 toll way) may still not start until 2012 or 2013.  They are saying that they do not have enough money yet.  Get up to date and more accurate information at http://www.keepitmovingdallas.com.


01-04-2010

  • City Council Meeting 01-04-2010: The Workshop Session will start at 5:30 PM where the police chief will give an overview.  This is an open meeting and I encourage you to attend.   I appreciate your support.  Please call me to discuss if you like.

    Please look over the Agenda. Look over the Agenda Long Version with Backup Material (PDF). This meeting has two important issues on the agenda that that I asked to be put on the agenda:

    • E-Verify requirement (Item 8) - See PDF pages, 8,  214-330. (the FAQs for e-verify start on page 302).
      • After Meeting report (01-04-2010):  The E-verify issue discussion will be continued at the council retreat (Feb 4-6, 2010) - There is still hope that the others will see the benefits of adding the e-verify requirement to our bids and contracts. [Note: I did make a motion that staff look at the ordinance from Mission Viejo, CA and others and come up with a draft or two to make E-verify a requirement on our city Bids and Contracts – Kind of like the federal level contracts. The Motion was not seconded.]  The Retreat will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn in South Lewisville. The Agenda and times will be available a few days before. Being that this is the first meeting in my memory that is in Lewisville, I encourage you to attend all that you can…
             The following are articles in newspapers relating to this topic:
        • 01-06-2010: Lewisville Leader: Council adds hot topic agenda item to retreat: Online version or PDF
        • 01-08-2010:  Dallas Morning News: Lewisville may crack down on hiring of illegal immigrants: Online version or PDF
        • 01-12-2010: Editorial: Lewisville leader wants to expand E-Verify use: Online version or PDF
        • 01-15-2010: MSNBC: Lewisville Clamps Down on Day Labor: Online version or PDF
    • 287g training for Officers (item 9) - See PDF pages, 9, 11-31.
      • After Meeting report (01-04-2010):  The ICE Access programs (and 287g) – The Police chief will continue with his efforts. The rest of the Council did not want to get a 287g trained officer at this time. I made the motion but did not get a second.
    • See more on these topics from my 12-02-2009 entry
  • Texas Primary Election Season is here!  The Governor candidates have been invited to come debate on Tuesday night (01-05-2010) but only one has accepted.  Please come see Debra Medina at the Denton County Republican Assembly (DCRA) meeting:
    • What: Monthly meeting of the DCRA
    • Where: Lewisville Chamber of Commerce Building—551 N. Valley Parkway (just North of Main)
    • When: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 (Happy New Year!)
      • 6:30 Meet and Greet
      • 7:00 PM Program
    • Why: Guest Speaker Debra medina and Elect Delegates and Alternates to TxRA Endorsing convention
    • Who: All candidates for Governor have been invited. Only Debra Medina has accepted. Following her presentation there will be a Q & A time.
    • Come and bring friends!

 


Voting Schedule
Be a Sheepdog!
Agenda 21 / ECLEI
Calendar
Debt Explained
Dining in Lewisville
What Has America Become?
Arizona SB1070
Republican or Democratic
Texas Primary 101
Christian Citizenship
American Form of Government
287g Related Info
E-Verify
Narco-Terrorism
Pledge of Allegiance
Texas Pledge of Allegiance
Oath Of Office
Pro America Oath
Oath - Boy Scout
Illegal Immigration Articles
Border Agents Jailed
Send a Fax to...
Mortgage Bail Out of 2008
Links to See
Day Laborer Sting
What do you think?
Do You Want This?
Cross Voting
Are you angry yet?
Watch Your Language
Citizenship Requirements
Immigration Numbers USA
OK HB1804 / AZ HB2779
Pro-Life/Choice
Snowball Express
C.F.I.R.
Gun Control
THE ARCHIVES




Judicial Watch






Contact me online

 

If you absolutely must call me:
John Gorena 972-315-0496