Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Local citizens used to pouring over the voluminous City Council agenda packets have more free time on their hands as these documents are not available on the City's new website or SlideShare, their former home. These documents used to be available the Friday before the Tuesday City Council meeting.
The background packet frequently has information of interest on city topics I follow. I hope Public Information returns to its former practice.
Update: The 457 page agenda packet became available the morning of the meeting for download at the City's website. That's an absurd amount of material for interested citizens to read in waning hours before the meeting.
by PEU Report/State of the Division at 8:31 AM
Monday, March 03, 2014
As a longtime Eagle pilot he said he still made a decent salary, but the company was making it harder to do so. He stated he needed to stay with his aircraft which the company moved far away from his home in East Texas. The pilot lamented he would not be able to support his family on the low wages being paid new pilots and may need to make a different career choice.
I thought this conversation odd in light of city leaders' efforts to recruit another regional airline to serve San Angelo and the number of full planes I'd flown in the last several years.
Yet, his story is borne out in a GAO study on regional airline pilot low pay. Some regional carriers are choosing to shutter capacity rather than raise wage rates. American Eagle is one of them.
The Star Telegram recently reported:
American Eagle, the regional subsidiary of Fort Worth-based American Airlines Group, may get smaller after a pilots union rejected a proposed 10-year contract agreement.
American will look for other regional carriers to fly its new aircraft on short-haul flights after the leaders of Eagle’s pilots union decided late Wednesday not to send a proposed contract to members for a vote, a top executive said Thursday.
In a letter sent to all 14,000 Eagle employees, the regional carrier’s president, Pedro Fabregas, said American has “no choice but to begin looking for another regional carrier.”
“I have no reason to believe American will offer us new large regional jet flying after these unsuccessful negotiations,” Fabregas wrote.
Tensions are running high between American Eagle’s management and the Air Line Pilots Association.
The union said American has threatened to shrink and eventually liquidate Eagle, which is being renamed Envoy this spring as American expands its use of outside carriers to fly routes under the Eagle brand. As a result, the union said, it will help its pilots find other careers at a time when the industry has a shortage of qualified pilots.
San Angelo was mentioned in the piece as a feeder city:
With its hub network, analysts say, American needs the passengers whom Eagle feeds into its hubs to fill up the larger planes it’s buying for transcontinental and international flights. Analysts also question how fast American can reach a deal with other regional carriers that are also dealing with pilot shortages.We may be a pawn in the regional airline war.
“I don’t know how seriously intended this is, nor do I know how seriously American has considered how quickly it could re-create the lift it needs for their hubs,” Mann said.
But aviation consultant Mike Boyd disagrees that American would be hurt if Eagle is downsized.
“It’s an entity that has declining value in the marketplace, and with the pilot shortage, they should have shut it down in bankruptcy,” Boyd said.
In an analysis of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, Boyd said Eagle brings in about 4 percent of the passengers. If Eagle were liquidated, the passenger traffic would likely be picked up from other markets, since American is running relatively full flights at its largest hub.
“The feed you’re getting from San Angelo, if it went away, it’s not going to kill the airline,” Boyd said.
During labor negotiations, it’s difficult to know whether threats by the company or the union are going to come true.
Time will tell.
Update 3-7-14: Dallas Morning News reported the pilot union will vote on the contract after all.
ead more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/02/13/5568251/american-will-look-to-other-regional.html#storylink=cpy
by PEU Report/State of the Division at 9:56 PM
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Chelsea McCullough, Executive Director of Texans for Economic Progress, authored two pieces on MedHab's signature product, a recreational device known as RPM2. On January 23rd McCullough ran a post on Texans for Economic Progress' Blog. Here's the intro:
TEP was fortunate to meet RPM2 Co-Founder and CEO, Johnny Ross at our recent MedTech event with Tech Fort Worth. This technology combines the latest advances in wearables and mobile applications to let athletes know exactly when, where and how they step. Amazing innovation and made possible by our robust broadband infrastructure. This is tech policy at work and we’re happy they’re making it all happen here in the great State of Texas. Please enjoy this blog post from RPM2 that highlights their latest innovation.The second piece conjured up visions of Olympians using high tech training devices at the Sochi Winter Games. The Push reported:
Whether you were casually watching the Sochi Olympics from your living room sofa or live streaming every second on a mobile device, I’m willing to bet there’s one aspect of the winter games you completely overlooked — wearable tech.
The first two products were actually used at the Winter Olympics by snowboarders and ice skaters. McCullough squeezed in MedHab, before returning to another device used by an Olympic mogul skier. She wrote the following about MedHab:
Another wearable manufacturer focused on keeping athletes healthy is the Dallas-based company, MedHab. MedHab is responsible for a shoe insert called RPM2 (Remote Performance Measurement/Monitoring), that provides detailed, real-time analytics for athletes who put a lot of strain on their feet.
The article closed with needing ubiquitous access to the internet so these devices could provide real time feedback.
As our phones, cars, home appliances, and now shoes and workout clothes get “smarter,” the pressure is mounting to ensure that modern policies are in place to provide an infrastructure that keeps our devices well-connected. After all, our future Olympians depend on it.
Wow, that statement is packed full of public subsidy, at least that's my take. Stay tuned for more from Texans for Economic Prosperity and MedHab.
by PEU Report/State of the Division at 9:37 PM
The City of San Angelo Development Corporation approved the hiring of a consultant, Alicia Cook LLC, at their recent meeting. Economic Development Director Roland Pena recommended using a facilitator for the four hour planning meeting scheduled for the morning of March 5. The cost would be $1,000 plus travel and hotel. Pena has worked with Alicia Cook in the past.
Board members expressed a desire to talk about the Business Retention Expansion Program (BREP) and trying to get money for local businesses to expand. I'd hoped to hear discussion on Texas Pacifico, in light of City Council's refusal of the Development Corp's recommendation of nearly $250,000 for moving their corporate headquarters and providing 35 jobs. That didn't happen in this meeting. We'll see if Alicia Cook facilitates such a conversation.
I find the Development Corporation's concern about using local vendors and helping local firms interesting as they approved hiring an outside facilitator. How many local facilitators had the opportunity to share their skills, background or abilities?
As for Alicia Cook's role Pena said her deliverable would be top strategic priorities for the Development Corporation for the coming fiscal year. Pena said the current strategic plan will be used in planning. It consists of three documents:
Since then City Council hired a Lake Nasworthy Master Planner and Downtown Master Developer. They presented their plans to Council last fall.
Add the plans authored and facilitated by Lauren Shrum of Texas Outdoors Consulting:
The Development Corp may need to consider other plans including:
8. San Angelo Cultural District Planning Study
9. City of San Angelo Capital Improvement Plan (underway)
10. West Texas Water Partnership
It may want to invite representatives from partner organizations:
11. San Angelo Chamber of Commerce
12. Downtown San Angelo
13. Concho Valley Angel Network
That's alot to consider prioritizing for the coming year. I look forward to seeing the process Roland Pena and Alicia Cook have devised via SATV's airing the meeting.
by PEU Report/State of the Division at 3:20 PM
Saturday, March 01, 2014
City Council approved an endorsement of Grand Court Residences, a low income housing project across from Sam's Club on Sherwood Way. City staff said at the time that Council was merely showing its support, nothing else. That changed with last week's Development Corporation meeting, which approved a $200,000 loan at 3% interest to the project's developers.
How many council members were aware of this next step when they made their vote? It not only seems pertinent for council, the public would benefit from city leaders painting a bigger picture.
by PEU Report/State of the Division at 11:44 PM
MedHab founder Johnny Ross shared his entrepreneurial wisdom with Angelo State University students in early November. RAM TV aired his talk, which I caught most of. He advised students:
- Make sure to have integrity
- Don't miss your milestones
- Under-promise and over-deliver to investors
- Don't be afraid to ask
- You set the standard
- Remember those who helped you
- Make sure you can speak to the finances
- Keep your balance sheet clean
- Don't give away your equity too quickly
Ross stated he'd raised $4 million from investors. He walked through his public capital raises. The first raise was $250,000 which cost Ross 7% of the company. Next he raised $1.8 million with investors getting just over 20% of MedHab. The third raise was $750,000 and investors received 5%. That totals $2.8 million for roughly a third of the company.
Ross didn't detail the remaining $1.2 million of "investment." He did describe needing $600,000 for working capital to buy Chinese components, but did not identify its source.
He gave great credit to Angelo State University as it served as MedHab's product development department. I never heard mention of the City of San Angelo's $3.6 million economic development package for MedHab. Ross did sing the praises of Tech Forth Worth and paying $1,250 a quarter for rent. The City of San Angelo did better providing rent for $1 a year, which he failed to note.
Oddly, Ross over-promised and under-delivered to the City on jobs and their timing. Interested City Council members wanted an update on MedHab's plans. They got a verbal sidestep, which paled in comparison to what Ross did for ASU students.
FDA approval is an expected 14 months away, according to Ross' talk, putting it at late 2014, early 2015. That's a big change from 2012. Two years late sounds like another over-promise and under-deliver. No wonder Ross won't show his face at City Council.
by PEU Report/State of the Division at 5:53 PM
Friday, February 28, 2014
The Standard Times reported:
Elizabeth Grindstaff files to run in Single Member District 5
The lady who lied to council on the Furniture Fiasco could soon occupy a seat on that very body. Should Grindstaff win she'll sit next to Councilwoman Charlotte Farmer. Even after Grindstaff's bald faced lie, Farmer nominated Grindstaff to serve on the Airport Board.
The Development Corporation recently tried to throw roughly $250,000 to Grindstaff's employer, but Councilman Winkie Wardlaw, the current occupant of SMD #5, moved to deny the request.
Things are starting to heat up in local politics.
by PEU Report/State of the Division at 12:10 AM