01.31.09

Increased roadwork outsourcing is costing Texas taxpayers

Posted in Around The State, Money In Politics, Privatization, Road Issues, Transportation, Uncategorized at 3:59 pm by wcnews

From the WacoTrib, Roadwork outsourcing up, at high cost. The article states that TxDOT has started outsourcing most of it’s road repairs since 1995 and that “[m]uch of the shift has been at the direction of privatization-minded lawmakers.”

As the state’s largest user of contract services, the Texas Department of Transportation has embraced outsourcing more than any other state agency, putting three of every four dollars it spends in the pockets of private companies. In 2007, that amounted to $6 billion, according to a 2009 Texas Sunset Advisory Commission report.

The highway department has always hired out its road construction. But in recent years it has steadily increased the number of private contractors it hires to do other work, such as road maintenance and repairs, and engineering and design work.

And as a review of recent agency contracts and internal audits shows, in many cases the contractors are more expensive — at times, vastly more expensive — than having state employees do the same work.

The agency often has no choice: It farms out work because the Legislature restricts the number of workers it can have. “Whether we contract out is not something we decide,” said Zane Webb, director of the department’s maintenance division, who retired from the state Friday after 26 years.

A basic tenet of outsourcing is that private-sector employees work more cheaply and efficiently. But in 50 out of 60 repair and maintenance categories in the agency’s 2008 Statewide Detailed Maintenance Efficiency and Analysis Report, an internal audit, in-house work was cheaper than hiring out.

Take potholes: According to the report, the nearly 13,800 potholes state employees filled during the last fiscal year cost an average of $23 each to repair. The 2,000 potholes repaired by private contractors, meanwhile, cost an average of $129 each — about five and a half times the state worker rate.

The report also shows that the agency spent about $17 million sealing cracks on state roadways last year. When state employees did the work — on about 8,000 linear miles — it cost $327 per mile. Private contractors repaired about 17,000 linear miles at a cost of $812 per mile — more than double the state’s cost.

Why the difference? The state’s repair costs generally are lower because of reduced overhead, explained Webb. Since the transportation department maintains offices statewide, assembling local crews is a relatively simple matter.

In addition, he said, the state has no built-in profit margin: “We don’t have shareholders. We have taxpayers.”

Hiring private engineers and designers often is more expensive than using the state’s professionals, too. An internal analysis comparing the cost of in-house engineering work with contract engineers on nearly $10 billion-worth of road projects between December 2005 and November 2008 shows that private engineers charged about three times what the state employees cost, as a percentage of the total contract.

“I can tell you without question it is substantially more costly to turn out a set of plans with a consultant than with in-house engineers,” agreed Webb.

So how does the transportation department justify hiring expensive private labor when the work could be done cheaper in-house?

“Sometimes, it’s not always about saving money,” Webb said. “It can be about politics.”

[...]

A 1995 law, for example, required that “the department shall use private sector engineering-related services to assist in accomplishing its activities in providing transportation projects.” Legislators set the minimum outsourcing level at 35 percent of the agency’s engineering workload.

Today, about 60 percent of the transportation department’s engineering work is outsourced. Between 2003 and 2007, the number of all professional services contracts – agreements in which the transportation department hires outside engineers, architects, surveyors, etc. to do its work — jumped 70 percent, according to the Sunset Advisory Commission. The value of those professional services contracts outsourced to private firms soared 255 percent over the same period.

“The will of the Legislature is to use private contractors and consultants to the greatest extent possible,” explained Barton.

Not surprisingly, contractors often are behind pushes for more transportation spending.

The Safer Roads Coalition, a political action committee made up largely of road engineers and contractors, spent more than $100,000 successfully promoting Proposition 12 in the three months leading up to the November 2007 election, according to Texas Ethics Commission reports. The measure authorizes the state to borrow up to $5 billion to spend on highway improvements, nearly all of which will flow to private contractors.

The article debunks many, if not all, of the will-worn, pro-privatization arguments, that never come to pass.  Privatization almost always winds up costing the tax payer more.   Just like a privatized/corporate toll road in certain specific circumstances they may be a better option.  But overall state employees will do a better, less expensive job.  It shouldn’t be any surprise that our state’s effort to privatize most of the roadwork in Texas has wound up costing taxpayers much more money.

01.30.09

Two from the Austin Chronicle

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, SBOE District 10, Uncategorized at 4:32 pm by wcnews

They’re lining up already to run against Cynthia Dunbar, Democrats to Challenge Dunbar on Education Board:

In 2006, Republican Cynthia Dunbar of Richmond drew no Democratic opposition in her run for District 10 on the State Board of Education, allowing her an easy 70% win over a Libertarian opponent.

But with Dunbar making a spectacle of herself lately – being a pro-creationism, anti-evolution voice on the board, writing an editorial warning of martial law under an Obama administration, and writing a book calling public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion” and unconstitutional – and the Democratic Party resurging in Texas, she won’t get such an easy walk in 2010.

In the past two days, party activist Susan Shelton confirmed to me that she definitely plans to challenge Dunbar, and University of Texas math professor Lorenzo Sadun said he’s “very likely.” Sadun also told me he’s heard “as many as a dozen people are thinking of running” as Democrats.

It’ll be interesting to see if she get’s a less extreme challenger in the GOP primary. The AusChron also has a report from “Wing-nut Fest 2008″, TPPF: Sneering at Workers and ‘Blowing Up’ Public Policy:l

The event, held Jan. 22-23 at Austin’s Four Seasons Hotel, brought state legislators and their staffers together with power players of the fiscal conservative movement such as TPPF founder and GOP sugar daddy Dr. James Leininger. The bulk of the program consisted of panel discussions on conservative touchstones like charter schools and eminent domain. There was also plenty of time for Democrat bashing, such as when supply-side economics guru Arthur Laffer joked about “Obama’s way of creating a destitute economy.” (“I’m kidding,” he added. “It’s not just Obama.”)

Last year’s gathering was overshadowed by electoral politics, with keynote speakers Govs. Rick Perry and Mark Sanford of South Carolina both being talked about as potential Republican vice presidential nominees (see “TPPF Conference,” Jan. 18, 2008). The closest this year’s event came to celebrity status was the opening lunch, where Laffer and Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, argued over whether Amer ica should shut its borders to foreign workers. Krikorian argued that immigration only imports more “working poor” (“Just look at the fellas serving the tables here,” he told the diners) and that low-skill jobs could be filled by “ex-cons, recovering addicts, [and] the disabled.” Laffer called closed borders anti-competitive and lauded cheap migrant labor as a powerful union-busting tool. However, both men were chastised for failing to distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants by state Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Dallas, who informed them that, having been raised in Taiwan, she was actually an immigrant herself.

With legislators out of the red-meat environment of the election, the divide between nonelected theorists and pragmatic lawmakers was sometimes obvious. While Ohio Univer si ty economist Richard Vedder, a TPPF favorite, condemned school accreditation as “a competition-restricting device” and TPPF research fellow Rick O’Donnell savaged research at universities as a poor investment, Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas (last session’s chair of the House Select Committee on Higher & Public Education Finance), took a more moderate tone and continued making his pitch for funding more Tier 1 public schools in the state.

Hard to believe less voters are buying the conservative line, isn’t it?

01.29.09

Open Letter From A Prudent Citizen

Posted in Commentary, Commissioners Court, Hutto, Landfill, Precinct 4, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 10:21 pm by wcnews

An open letter to the WCCC:

AN OPEN LETTER TO WILLIAMSON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
AND LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Commissioners:

The residents of the Hutto area are reaching out to you at this difficult time. You face some extremely important decisions regarding the landfill expansion permit and the landfill contract.

You have the upcoming hearing on the expansion permit in two weeks on February 11 and you still do not have a new contract for the landfill that is acceptable to the residents of Hutto. Of course, if you allow the expansion permit to go through without a new contract in place, that would be disastrous. It would leave us with the 2003 contract. And if you think having the 2003 contract covering the existing 200 acre landfill is horrific, imagine that contract covering a 575 acre landfill! This appears to put us (and you) in a difficult spot. However, there is a solution.

That solution is to pull the expansion permit and to put it to rest for good (and pay Waste Management for the costs they have incurred in pursuing the permit, as you have already tried to do before). Then you could just allow the current landfill to operate, whether under the 2003 contract, or perhaps under an improved contract, for the remainder of its life. This would provide more than enough landfill capacity for the residents of Williamson County.

As far as we can tell, aside from Judge Gattis and Waste Management, no one even wants this landfill expansion. Nor is it needed as Gattis argues. The technology of handling solid waste is already making great strides toward making landfills obsolete. In as little as the next 5 to 10 years, we will continue to experience great strides in single stream recycling, zero waste programs and similar initiatives that promise to eliminate the need to just bury our waste. Please do not lock us into a huge landfill expansion now when technology is showing us that we will not need it. Remember, the current landfill still has upwards of 20 years (or more as technology improves) of life left. There is simply no pressing need to allow this expansion now. And the damage it will do to the economic development of the northern Hutto region is just too much of a price to pay.

It would ironic indeed if this Court went down in history as the one that declared virtual nuclear war on a billboard for the benefit of one neighborhood, but allowed this landfill expansion to ravage an entire area of the county for the next three generations. You have the power to stop the madness now.

Thanks for listening and please help put a stop to this now.
Jeff Maurice
Hutto, Texas

Jeff Maurice is chairman of the Landfill Committee of the Hutto Citizens Group.

Maldonado Honors District 52 School Boards

Posted in 81st Legislature, Good Stuff, HD-52, Public Schools, Uncategorized at 2:32 pm by wcnews

rrisd

(State Rep. Diana Maldonado [center] pictured with [l-r] RRISD Superintendent Jesus Chavez, Jr., and Trustees Diane Cox, Brian Sellers, and Charles Chadwell)

From the press release:

Rep. Maldonado Passes House Resolutions Honoring District 52 School Boards

For Immediate Release: January 29, 2009

Contact: Jon Niven 512.463.0670

Austin – State Representative Diana Maldonado (HD-52) of Round Rock honored each of the six school district’s located in House District 52 this week with House Resolutions 135 through 140.

“As a former school board member and President, I have deep respect for those who selflessly and admirably serve our children, our teachers and our communities,” Maldonado said. “Positions in public education are often thankless jobs, and I am proud to be able to express the Texas House of Representatives’ sincere thanks with a Resolution in their honor.”

January is School Board Recognition Month in Texas and there are six Independent School District’s (ISD) within District 52: Round Rock ISD, Coupland ISD, Georgetown ISD, Hutto ISD, Taylor ISD, and Thrall ISD.

“Representative Maldonado has been, and will continue to be, a champion for public education and I am grateful that she is taking our issues to the Texas Legislature,” Round Rock ISD School Board President Diane Cox said. “On behalf of the Round Rock ISD School Board, I would like to sincerely thank Representative Maldonado for this recognition as we continue to grow and improve the quality of education for students in Round Rock.”

Full text of the resolution in the extended entry.
Read the rest of this entry �

Carter’s political ploy, the “Rangel Rule”

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, District 31, Money In Politics, Uncategorized at 10:22 am by wcnews

Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) has introduced one of those bills that just makes a person scratch their head.  The bill in question is one he recently filed that he”s calling the “Rangel Rule” (H.R. 735).  From The Weekly Standard blog:

Carter, a former longtime Texas judge, today introduced the Rangel Rule Act of 2009, HR 735, which would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from charging penalties and interest on back taxes against U.S. citizens. Under the proposed law, any taxpayer who wrote “Rangel Rule” on their return when paying back taxes would be immune from penalties and interest.

“We must show the American people that Congress is following the same law, and the same legal process as we expect them to follow,” says Carter. “That has not been done in the ongoing case against Chairman Rangel, nor in the instance of our new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. If we don’t hold our highest elected officials to the same standards as regular working folks, we owe it to our constituents to change those standards so everyone is abiding by the same law. Americans believe in blind justice, which shows no favoritism to the wealthy or powerful.”

That “judge” Carter wants to make a rule letting all tax cheats off without penalty because Charles Rangel (D-New York), is backwards. What Carter, and all other Americans, should be for is holding Rangel accountable – have him pay for his mistakes like everyone else. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right, Judge.

But Carter probably knows this bill has no chance of passing, since it has been filed in the committee that Rangel chairs. This is pure political grandstanding.  Rangel was part of Lawrence Lessig’s keynote address at Netroots Nation last Summer, and part of the impetus for starting Change Congress.  Read more about Rangel, and others, and how to bring about change here, Hope + Lessig = Change.

Carter appears to be trying to use a piece of legislation to score political points.  That Congress is not trusted by the American people and needs to reform is not news, (see Lessig above).  Carter’s law, if passed, would allow every American to fudge on their income tax with impunity.  It’s likely a backhanded slap at the IRS as well.  It’s not hard to see that Carter is not trying to right a wrong, or bring about justice, but he’s trying to make doing wrong right.  It’s just more of the same, not the change we voted for in Novmeber.

01.28.09

Crash Magnet

Posted in Central Texas, Road Issues, Transportation, Williamson County at 10:32 pm by wcnews

Following up on an earlier post, more on the mess on the toll roads this morning.  Apparently the roads were treated before midnight.  Between then and the start of the morning rush hour the rain washed the sand and magnesium chloride away, Mother Nature challenged TxDOT crews.

Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Marcus Cooper says the early morning freeze “was the perfect storm of circumstances that created alot of havoc on the roadways.”

Late Tuesday night TXDOT treated SH 45 and SH 130 with liquid magnesium chloride, but early morning rain washed it away.

TXDOT rushed to de-ice the roadway again, but by then it was too late. It was time for morning rush hour to start, and commuters were already slipping and sliding onto the road.

TXDOT says the situaion caught them by surprise, and it’s working to determine how to outsmart Mother Nature the next time there’s rain and a quick freeze.

That caused the roads to become a “crash magnet”.  More From KVUE, Drivers slip and slide on North Austin elevated roadways.

Elevated roadways in North Austin had problems with ice Wednesday morning.

The roads were in good condition by late Wednesday morning, but for much of the day, State Highway 45 was like a crash magnet, with the icy road contributing to dozens of wrecks.

Video here.

The decision to close the road is not up by TxDOT.

Cooper said crews were back out trying to lay another layer of sand around 6 a.m. by the time the rain stopped, but traffic had already started to build up. As far as making a decision to shut down the toll road, Cooper said TxDOT leaves that decision to DPS or the local sheriff’s office.

Let’s hope this is a learning experience for all involved and it will be handled correctly next time.

[UPDATE]:  From the AAS story we get buckpassing on 183-A between the CTRMA, TxDOT and the un-named company that did the de-icing.

About 15 crashes occurred on the 183-A toll road, most during the 8 a.m. hour, officials said. The road had been pretreated with sand and magnesium chloride Tuesday night, but rain washed that away, said Steve Pustelnyk, a spokesman for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

The toll road operator received its first report of an ice-related collision on the road at 6 a.m. A request was made for the roads to be immediately treated by a private agency that contracts with the mobility authority through the Texas Department of Transportation, but the trucks did not arrive until at least 8:30 a.m., Pustelnyk said.

“We are looking into this to see how we can do this differently next time,” Pustelnyk said. “We are not happy with the speed of response this time. … Obviously, we will be reviewing the contracts to see why the conditions of the contract could not be met.”

Pustelnyk said he did not know the name of the company because it is hired by the Transportation Department. But TxDot spokesman John Hurt said he did not know the name of the company because the toll road is under the purview of the mobility authority.

Adding another layer to the bureaucracy, the CTRMA, probably only made things worse.

WSJ Op-Ed debunks (again) private toll roads

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Privatization, Round Rock, Transportation at 2:03 pm by wcnews

Thomas Frank on corporate tolls, Toll Roads Are Paved With Bad Intentions.

But something happened on the road to privatopia, with so many brilliant schemes of the last few decades melting away in this harsh new day of failing banks and plummeting asset prices. Recent events have even pushed the ugly word “nationalization” into the conversation, with our brightest pundits choking over those alien syllables.

Thus was highway privatization stripped of its extremeness. It is no longer one of those things that you need urgently to do because all the cool European kids are doing it.

The thing now is to seem concerned in a vaguely social-democratic way. Ikea is calling on consumers to “Embrace Change.” The new Pepsi campaign, shouting “Hope” and “Yes You Can,” mirrors the Obama-for-president effort. And a group of infrastructure-privatization boosters, including Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, have recast their project as a sort of “private stimulus.” As one of the group’s members told The Wall Street Journal last week, private infrastructure investment is “really a perfect fit with Obama’s objectives.”

How so? Well, state governments are in straitened circumstances these days, scarcely able to afford the upkeep on the roads and bridges they inherited from our statist ancestors. Indeed, one scarcely ever sees the word “infrastructure” without the inevitable qualifier, “crumbling.” And few are willing to raise the gasoline taxes which pay for the repairs.

[...]

But there’s good reason to be reluctant to privatize. It doesn’t take an MBA to figure out that we didn’t build our Interstate highways in order to create opportunities for venture capitalists. The purpose was public service.

Transferring them to the private sector, at the very least, complicates this mission. At worst it will effectively close those roads to the part of the population that can’t afford the revolutionary tolls that private ownership will surely bring. The cost of, well, just about everything will start to rise as more pieces of the transportation system embrace their for-profit destiny and start charging whatever the desperate commuter will bear. Wear and tear on the remaining public-sector roads will certainly increase as traffic is driven off the tollways.

And even if your governor’s heart is set on immediately extracting the long-term value of a highway, privatization isn’t the cheapest way to do it. Public borrowing is costly these days, true, but interest rates on municipal bonds are still considerably lower than those borne by corporate debt. Allowing a private rather than a public entity to take over your toll road merely means that your tolls will have to be that much higher to cover their more expensive debt.

Perhaps it’s best to go back to the ideological beginning. One of the reasons our roads and bridges are falling apart is public hostility to tax increases — gasoline taxes in particular. This attitude, in turn, is largely the product of the generalized distrust of government that conservatives have stoked for decades.

So we’ve starved the beast for years, and now the utterly predictable consequences have come to pass. But the ideologues responsible aren’t really to blame. Governments have failed not because the right undermined them for decades. They’ve failed because it is their nature to fail. The answer is to throw ourselves on the mercy of the market — to embrace this last, worst outsourcing scheme of them all.

And once you’ve signed on to that, they’ve got a 99-year lease on a bridge they’d like to sell you.

Our governor’s heart is surely set on corporate tolls. And we’ll surely be getting higher and higher tolls, to insure corporate profits, that will keep average Texans driving on the “crumbling infrastructure”.

State of the state is “good”

Posted in 81st Legislature, Around The State, Commentary at 9:36 am by wcnews

Gov. Rick Perryr gave the “State of the State” address yesterday, calling it “good”.  Full text can be read here [doc] and can be viewed here.

The Texas News Post has some video snippets, as well as some post speech reactions from media and lawmakers.  Wayne Slater says he didn’t hear any big ideas, a number of small ideas.  He also called it a speech that will be effective in the next political campaign.  Perry also blamed Washington quite a bit.

Garnet Coleman has the Democratic response:

The state of our great State is strong, because Texans are a wonderfully diverse people. The people of Texas deserve a government that works for them, the same way they work for their families.

Too many things are broken, and today, the Governor failed to propose solutions to fix many of the things that have been broken during his tenure as Governor.

In the Governor’s address to a joint session of the Legislature, he neglected to mention the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the mismanagement of the state unemployment fund, and the need to make a real investment in clean, renewable energy sources.

“Whether we are Democrats, Republicans or Independents, surely we can agree that we can’t afford to ignore the health of 1.5 million uninsured Texas children. Many Texans can no longer afford tuition at state universities, and we can do better than the Governor’s fake freeze. Education is one investment that doesn’t lose value in tough economic times, and it’s time for the state to meet its responsibility to fix a system that’s broken.”

link to video via Off The Kuff and he has some more reaction, So how’s the state of our state?

[UPDATE]: Vince has tons, and tons or reaction to the speech.

Recieved via email

Posted in Cedar Park, Commentary, Road Issues, Transportation at 9:02 am by wcnews

Apparently things were bad on 183-A this morning.

You had a very interesting natural experiment take place this morning regarding the efficiency in managing the roadways, and CTRMA failed disastrously.

The 183A toll road overpasses were covered with ice, and people were sliding out and wrecking all over the place at Avery Ranch.

I’m sure you’re getting tons of emails like this

I’ve also heard of problems in the SH 45 and I-35 area. Please feel free to comment on your drive in here.

01.27.09

New landfill contract ready for scrutiny

Posted in Commentary, Commissioners Court, County Judge, Landfill, Precinct 4, Williamson County at 11:19 pm by wcnews

From the county web site (best viewed in Internet Explorer):

Williamson County Judge Dan A. Gattis made the announcement after Executive Session of Commissioners Court today that the Landfill Subcommittee will present an agenda item next week, February 3, 2009, to discuss a proposed contract with Waste Management regarding the landfill.

A copy of that proposed contract is available here.

A comparison to the existing 2003 contract is available here.

Via the AAS, New Williamson landfill contract proposed.  Here are three of the dozens of changes in the new proposed contract.

The proposed draft, released by the commissioners Tuesday, would make dozens of changes to the 6-year-old agreement with Waste Management of Texas, which operates the landfill. The new contract would:

Give the county nearly three times as much revenue as it currently receives.

State that Waste Management does not have any legal interest in the landfill property or an expansion permit that is pending before the state.

Give the county authority to hire an oversight inspector to monitor daily operations at the landfill at Waste Management’s expense.

County Judge Dan Gattis, Sr. seems pleased with it.

“What we’re looking for is more control, which means more citizen control and more accountability,” County Judge Dan A. Gattis said.

WMI hasn’t made up it’s mind yet.

Steve Jacobs, Waste Management’s Central Texas landfill manager, said Tuesday that the company needs time to review the draft before commenting on it.

“There’s still things we’ve been in discussions for quite some time and will continue to be in discussions about,” he said. “We’re not in agreement on a lot of the issues.”

Gattis again professes his pleasure with the contract and makes a pre-emptive strike against any “citizen” that would dare criticize the new contract.

Gattis said the proposed contract, versions of which have gone back and forth between the county and Waste Management, addresses many of the residents’ concerns.

“Any prudent citizen reading this will be pleased by this contract,” he said.

Nice try.

Jeff Maurice, chairman of the Hutto Citizens Group’s landfill committee, said he had not read the revised contract in detail yet and was worried that residents won’t be able to review the proposal effectively in one week.

After a cursory look, he said the proposal does not seem to address three major concerns: that the contract lasts too long (the current version is for 25 years, the proposed revision for up to 40), that the landfill height will not be limited, and that trash from other counties would be brought in.

“For them to say that the new contract is better than the 2003 contract is not saying much,” Maurice said. “That one was so horrible that virtually anything would be better than it, but it does not mean that the new one would be better for the county.”

Exactly, the contract couldn’t possibly be worse than the current one. But if the new contract is too unfavorable to WMI they can decide to stick with what they currently have.

From the Hutto Citizens Group’s (HCG) press release [.pdf] on this news it appears the county is trying to rush the new contract through in order to have it done before the February 11th Texas Commission on Environmental Quality(TCEQ) hearing on the landfill expansion permit.

Maurice said that the HCG and citizens would try to analyze and prepare comments on the contract in the short time frame available. “All members of commissioners court are aware that citizens asked for at least 30 days to review this contract proposal, and the Hutto City Council even passed a resolution to that effect, but we were ignored—a disappointment on such an important matter controlled by members of commissioners court,” Maurice said. “We’ll do the best we can to do a thorough analysis of the contract despite the unfair, short, time frame.”

As discussed at numerous HCG meetings, citizens fear that the county won’t finalize an agreement with WMI that cures problems associated with the landfill permit application before it is considered by TCEQ in two weeks.

“The county has made a very unwise decision about moving forward on the permit process, and we can only hope that if no acceptable contract is negotiated and signed by both parties before February 11, then the county will do what it promised and pull the permit down—or at least have it postponed until the contract issue is resolved,” Maurice said. “If the 2003 contract is as bad as Judge Gattis says it is for a 202-acre landfill, it’s substantially worse for a 575-acre landfill,” he added. “Why would an elected official want to make an already bad situation that much worse.”

The HCG and citizens have said they intend to make sure the message to Morrison is simple and clear.  “He’s being asked to keep his word about pulling down the permit if there is not an acceptable, new contract,” Maurice said. “His constituents are desperately counting on him to do that.”

Should be a fun time and the commissioners court next Tuesday.

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