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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
June 23, 2010     Hays Free Press
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June 23, 2010

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Hays Free Press June 23,2010 N Page 5A Perry celebrates Texas Week in China, missing campaign at home ov. Rick Perry on June 15 kicked off Salute to Texas Week at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, welcoming visitors to the Texas- themed U.S.A. National Pavilion. The governor and members of a Texas delegation also hosted a forum for Chinese businesses to promote the advantages of locating in Texas and how to do business in the state. Attendees heard about incentives and regional benefits available to companies. Perry, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, Secretary of State Hope Andrade and representatives from Texas Instruments and the commu- nities of Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, McKinney and San Patricio were among participants in the forum. Some 70 million visitors from more than 170 nations are expected to attend the May 1 through Oct. 31 expo. China is Texas' third largest export partner, receiving 5 percent, or $8.9 billion, of all Texas exports, accord- ing to the governor's office. Meanwhile, Bill White, the Demo- cratic nominee for governor, has been stumping around the state. He made a June 18 stop in San Antonio, where he spoke to a group of Texas newspaper publishers. White compared and contrasted his style with Perry's, saying he would spend more time working on state business than the standing governor does, and he would move into a don- ble-wide trailer while the Governor's mansion undergoes renovations. The state has been paying $10,000 a month for the governor and first lady to live in a private mansion. MOST WANTED TIPS CAN BE 'TEXTED' Those Texans who'd rather use text-messaging than a phone call or emall to submit a tip for Texas 10 Most Wanted fugitives can have it their way now. A tip can yield a $5,000-per-fugi- tive reward. Citizens can use their cell phones to send text messages to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Key in the code 274637 (CRIMES), then type in the tip. Tips may be submitted through the DPS website http:!/www.txdps.state. Click on the photo of the fugitive and then click the link under the photo to submit a tip. "This will help the program appeal to a gAPffAL younger demographic, generate ad- ditional tips and simply make it more convenient for many people," said DPS Director Steven McCraw. The phone-in method still works by dialing 1-800-252-TIPS. The Crime Stoppers hotline is open 24 hours a day. Citizens need not give their name when calling. MAP SHOWS AREAS WITH NO BROADBAND SERVICE Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples on June 15 announced the launch of the Texas broadband map that illustrates the state's unserved areas, identifies types of service and allows broadband service providers to target future investment. More than 96 percent of Texas households have access to home broadband service, but a quarter of a million households in the Lone Star State don't have access to.high- speed Interact services, Staples said, adding that broadband is related to business development and is a critical lifeline to vital services like telemedicine and education. The state was mapped by Connect- ed Texas, a non-profit organization. The map includes data from 123 state providers and indicates 3.5 percent of Texas households, or about 257,000 residences, do not have access to home broadband service. EMPLOYMENT INCREASES IN MAY The number of non-agricultural jobs grew for the fifth consecutive month, gaining 43,600 jobs in May, the Texas Workforce Commission reported. Texas has gained a total of 35,100 jobs over the year with the annual job growth rate moving back into a positive range. More Texans are employed than ever before at more than 11.2 million workers, the TWC reported. The seasonally adjusted unem- ployment rate for Texas remained at 8.3 percent in May, while the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 9.7 percent for the same month. CAPITOL EVACUATED IN BOMB THREAT A phoned-in bomb threat neces- sitate d the evacuation of the state Capitol on June 18. The individual who made the threat via a 911 opera- tor at about 11 a.m. is still at large. At least 300 people exited the Capitol in an orderly fashion. The Texas Department of Public Safety used bomb-sniffing dogs to comb the Capitol complex. No explosive device was found and the Capitol was reopened at 2 p.m. liT, A&M TO STICK WITH BIG 12 The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and Texas Tech will continue competing in the Big 12 Conference, officials confirmed last week. The conferences future was in question when the universities of Nebraska and Colorado decided to join the Pac-10 Conference. Ed Sterling works for the Texas Press Association and follows the Legislature for the association. Summer road trip very summer, as far back as I can remember, my parents loaded us all up and schlepped my sibs and me across the United States in our green, wood- pand-appliquVista Cruiser station wagon. You remember the one, introduced in the late 60s with such cosmic fanfare, touting the state-of,- the-art "peek-through-roof" spanning the width of the car, directly over the back seat? We were so amnt-garde, and it wasn't lost on our neighbors who sauntered across the street, highballs in hand, to peer through our tinted glass in admiration. Yep, we had made it. And we were on our way to see America, first class, South Texas Style. From where we lived, it took us one full day of mind-numb- ing northern motion to even come within spitting distance of exotic lands like southern Oklahoma or east New Mexico. My mother fortified us with decks of playing cards and pop-tarts and, after 14 hours of listening to us bicker and wail about the chafing sunbum arising on our bare arms and thighs, courtesy of our once beloved sunroof, she shep- herded my walleyed father into the gravel parking lot of a roadside motel. As he walked up to the registration window, subconsciously checking his back pocket for his wallet, my morn magically produced bathing suits for each of us and then foisted open the creaky gate to the peanut-shaped pool. Mission accomplished, she leaned back smiling, suddenly childless, before my father even retumed with the turquoise room-k fob. She must have seemed Herculean. Then, we swam like c. I have no idea what my parents did in the ensuing hours in which their children belly- flopped and played dead on the bottom of the pool and had floating tea parties and never once got out to pee. Then, when someone started bleeding or crying or when our lips turned pale blue, my mom came out with a stack of little scratchy white towels. She herded us into a nordically-chilled cinderblock room and peeled us out of our suits and poured us into our pj's.We shoveled white bread sandwiches and fritos into our growling stomachs and watched static black and white TV until our chlorine-burned eyes could focus no longer. Amazingly, we'd wake to find ourselves bundled back into theVista Cruiser, pil- lowcase creases denting our faces, wrapped in familiar blankets, rambling down the highway. The red-hot ember of Dad's cigarette perched on the arc of the steering wheel, like a beacon, guiding us on- ward, through America. om Today is as good as any other T,t's May 13, my fourth day lin the field, counting nos- I es for the Census Bureau, and I'm still a little nervous. Most people I have talked to have been wonderful, and I've had some very pleasant conversations with people I feel could be friends under different circumstances. Still, it only takes one paranoid fool with a gun to end my time on earth, and that stays in the back of my mind. All of us temporary enumerators are aware of the risk. When I arrive for the morning meeting near Kyle, there is a buzz going around the room about the woman lawyer in Leander, Carolyn Barnes, who took 5 shots at a 68-year-old female census worker, just yesterday. As I look around the room and gauge the mood, I am en- couraged to see that everyone seems to be taking it in stride and with good humor. We will be undaunted by this. Mostly. Still, I know as I leave the office that today could be the day I get blown away. The first stop is in the office of a model home, to verify the status of a nearby vacant house. The realtor is friendly and talkative. His wife is also working for the Census Bureau, so he is sym- pathetic and helpful. Next I find a young wife who just moved back from Baltimore, where she had met her husband. He is working in the background as we con- duct the interview. Then I go to a big house in the country, GOD AND where nobody is home but the resident's mother. She agrees to pinch hit for her son and fill out the census infor- mation. She wants to get it right, and even calls to make sure of her daughter-in-law's birthday. Next I am pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call. When I visit a house and nobody answers the door, I usually leave a notice with my phone number, as we are trained to do. I often jot an invitation to conduct the interview by phone. The pre- vious night, I had noticed an "Obamanos" bumper sticker on/l car at a house I visited, and I was disappointed they did not come to the door. But here they are, calling me! They have their question- naire in front of them (forgot to send it in), so the interview goes smooth as glass. Maybe someday we will meet. In the meantime, I have another interview completed. I am pafid by the hour and by the distance I drive my car, but my productivity is evaluated on an interviews- per-hour basis. The standard is 1.08. So every interview completed is a proverbial feather inL my cap. I am having a problem with a vacant house. All I need is to find someone knowl- edgeable enough to confirm that it was vacant April 1. There is a sign on the door with the name of a property management company, but when I call, and mention the word "census", they put me through to a voice mes- sage that says to submit my question in writing (What? The whole questionnaire?) and maybe they will get back to me at some point in the indefinite future. Maybe. I don't have time to wait around, so I go back to the very first house I ever visited, where the interview went so smoothly. It's just a few doors down from the vacant house, so there is a good chance they will know what I'm try- ing to find out. I go back at the same time of day, hop- ing to find the same helpful and friendly woman. She is not there, but her mother is. And glory be! She knows the mystery house was vacant on April 1. I reach to write this down, I discover I have left all my pencils in the car. I ask her to wait a second while I go and fetch one, but instead, she offers to bring some from the house. Even though they may not be the kind we need, I agree to this. If she wants to be helpful, I am going to let herl While she is inside look- ing for pencils, the dog comes to the door, and with the dog comes the woman's grandson. I ask him the dog's name. His answer sounds like "Maui." So I say, "Maui?" and he says, "No! Mahwi!" like I am the dumbest person in the world. (I am only the second or third dumbest, I will have you know.) "Have you ever seen the movie Mahwi and Me?" he contin- ues. I have to confess, I have not. His grandmother rescues me, by returning with two pencils to choose from. I take down her name and phone number, as I am re- quired to do. (My boss wants to know I am not out there, just making stuff up.) I learn that she is a distant former relative of a famous American mystic. This leads to an in- teresting conversation about our mutual admiration for the mystic, the powers of the mind, the science of kinesiol- ogy (body electronics), and the scientific basis for old wives' tales about how to pre- dict the gender of an unborn child. Sweet. Yes, today could be the day I get blown away. (Sounds like the start of a good coun- try song!) But then, come to think of it, I could have said that bout every day of my life up to now. So I'm not go- ing to worry about it. I'm way past the halfway point of my life anyway, and this job, up- holding the Constitution by simply meeting and talking to my neighbors, is as good a way to die as any. God save the United States of America. Spending vs investment hear a lot about overnment spend- g these days and little about either saving or investment. We need to get our senses together and differen- tiate between spending and investment. It seems to me that spending is that which is expended on what and where we are and investment is in how we live. This is not to say that how we live does not depend on where we live and what we do but where and what is not everything. Too many people see spending on how we live as where we need to cut govern- ment expenditures.They are perfectly willing to spend on items such as roads, airplanes, weaponry and buildings. Those items do not speak directly to how we live. I will not get into the two expenditures that most people don't understand, namely Medicare and Medicaid. Gen- erally speaking, people who are opposed to those pro- grams are only opposed until you ask one simple question - is one of your relatives on either program? That ends the argument except the person will say that we shouldn't have started it anyway. They do not see that those programs are the "how" we live. When it comes to the edu- cational system in the United States, there are myriad ways that people want to cut "spend- ing" on education. "Education is too top heavy" they say. "Schools are not educating kids today." "We are educating too [-PffS many illegals" is another of the arguments. Too many people see expenditures on schools as spending and not an invest- ment. Yes, it is an investment because we are relying on those we are educating to sustain us in the furore. They may not be getting the education you and I did, but they are not living in the same world that we did or the world of the furore. when pushed to elaborate on what should be cut from the education funds, normally the first answer that most give is there is no purpose in teaching art and music. The question is always, "How will those subjects help them get a job?" You see, that answer speaks to the "what" of living and not the how. What ifwe stopped the expenditures on extracurricular athletics? How do those help one get a job? If that proposal comes up in school board meetings, there is instant opposition. Roads and buildings invari- ably take precedence over new libraries or parks. There are those who will argue that libraries are outdated. "We will not need libraries because of the new technology of com- puters and other electronic in- stnunents." Those who argue that way are still thinking that a library is nothing more than books on a shelf. The library can be the key to the world out there that we have not imag- ined. It is the focal point for the accumulation of learned material, the equipment, and staffto tap into that material. The library is a way to enhance "how" we live as well as "what" we live. Watching a child chase a butterfiy in a park is worth the million words that all of us wish we could write. The joy of being outdoors, of exploring nature, and of breathing the fresh air is the "how" of living. It is through the parks and recreation areas of this great nation and the governments that provide them that we are able to use our imaginations. We are not being told or shown, but rather expe- riencing things about which we might know little, but will want to learn about. It is parks in the cities and towns that allow us to get away from the electronic world that so dominates our lives. Parks are not expenditure; they are an investment in the quality of life. The more we invest in the "how we live" the more this na- tion will prosper. There is more to the quality of life that we should expect from our govern- ments. Yes, governments can provide some of that but we must also expect to give some- thing back. Not just mone but of ourselves. It is easy to spend money, but it takes effort for one to invest in his community. Let's all do some of the latter. PEg Firing Continued from pg. 4A good for the soul. Don't fear it. Change tests us and breaks us from our comfort zone. In doilg so, change can free US .... I would like to respond to some of the allegations and criticisms I have heard over the past week... When I first applied for a CEO position in 1983, a good friend of mine told me; "remember Juan, you always go into a CEO job the same way you go out...fired with enthusiasm!" As a CEO it is a fact that you go to work every day knowing that you can be fired. This past Monday, the Board exercised its right to make a change in leadership. They deserve to have some- one working for them that supports them and that they support. I respect that. I heard that I did not run fast enough or jump high enough. For that, I accept the responsibility, but I assure you it was not because of brain surgery or my age. I know of no directive that this Board has given me that I have not responded to or taken action to address. It is the Board's responsibility to define what reforms need to be made, not the CEO's. I implement, the Board initi- ates. My role as a CEO is to cre- ate a safe environment where people can operate with judg- ment and discretion and who go home knowing they have made a difference in people's lives. I criticized an audit that accused my managers of resisting change without any facts to back up such a dam- aging daim. I stand by my criticism of that audit, even though I fully support and acknowledge the crucial role an intemal auditor plays in effective management. I have been criticized for not firing enough of the man- agers who were around dur- ing the Fuelberg era. In fact, I have been given instructions by individual Board members to fire 3 to 5 managers just to show some blood. That is how it was presented to me. I am not in the firing busi- ness. I am in the education and motivation and account- ability for actions business... The employees here at PEC, including the manag- ers, have embraced this new culture of Servant Leader- ship. They are seeking more opportunities to learn how to use these principles more effectively in the day-to-day management of the organiza- tion. There is no crisis at PEC... just the opposite. We are a very successful and strong company. We have a secure power supply from the LCRA, we have a rate structure that has transparency in our costs, we are reshaping our website and we are improving our financial controls... The work of reform is not done at PEC and I regret that I may not have an o99ortunit to continue to lead it. But I am proud of what has been achieved here. Mostly, I am confident in the people who work here. I am confident that they will continue to do what they do best, provide outstanding service to our members. Now, I am compelled to say a few words about the employees of PEC. I have not made any efforts to encourage or discourage the employees from taking the action to support me here today. I have never in my professional life been sup- ported like I have today and I am deeply gratified... Let me say that my time here at PEC has been the joy of my life .... This is perhaps the most exciting time in our history to be part of the dec- tric utility industry. This is not just a collection of exceptional professionals. This is a family, a real family that is ready to help whenever and wherever help is needed. Over the years, we all face hardships, but when you're a member of the PEC family, you never face them alone. Ask any employee who has gone through a family crisis how much the support of the PEC family means to them. That's what PEC is. It's not a building, or our tracks, or our lines, or even electricity. PEC is the membership, but it is also to a great extent the employees. It is the part- nership that has been built between our members and our employees that makes us who we are. I am cnrtfidertt that the employees of PEC will continue building on that partnership and strengthen- ing our bond with the com- munities we serve.