Saturday, April 28, 2012

Master Developer for Downtown San Angelo

The City of San Angelo has a Request for Proposal (RFP) out for a Master Developer.  It states:

The City is looking to reach an arrangement with a Master Developer who will assemble a team acceptable to the City, capable of planning, assembling property, designing, privately financing, and developing the Downtown District into a revitalized mixed-use redevelopment area. The development team will include the private financial resources and urban development experience necessary to secure appropriate properties, negotiate with requisite public and private entities such as the City, utility companies, and state agencies, and design, construct, market, and manage or sell the real estate improvements necessary to fulfill the Downtown Development Master Plan.
Are there any Angel developers out there, given the numerous economic gaps to cover?  The report repeatedly states "Quantify economic 'gap' between project costs and revenues."  Who makes that up? 

New City of San Angelo Web Site

San Angelo City Council will vote on a new vendor for the city's web site, according to the City Council agenda for May 1. 

Consideration of approving a recommendation from the Evaluation Team to award RFP: PI-01-11/Website Design contract to Vision Internet, in an amount not to exceed $40,000.00 for design of a new, custom website for the City of San Angelo, and authorizing the City Manager to negotiate and execute a contract with the recommended vendor.
Recently the city hemmed and hawed about paying SlideShare to house the Council agenda packet and presentations.  The packet remains on SlideShare, however presentations are few and far between. 

Maybe by the time the city has a new website by Vision Internet, they'll also have an updated budget for city provided health insurance.  One can dream...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


The San Angelo Standard Times resurfaced the Concho River fountain in an opinion piece.

The proper response to the fountain proposal would have been, "That plan doesn't seem right, but here's another.

How about letting the current $13.5 million plan run first?  Here are three elements of the City's river revitalization effort, currently underway.

The City has a large land based fountain in the area the Standard Times suggested for the river spectacular. 

A Game Area is in the works, complete with Putt Putt and a Cafe.
Add an underlit bridge and the draws increase.
The city already has significant plans to make the river a focal point.  I suggest those be executed before offering another $500,000 surprise with a significant maintenance burden. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Search Committee Picks May, Rallo Endorses

Angelo State University President Dr. Joseph Rallo announced Dr. Brian May the new Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. 

May is the second perfect choice for the job under Dr. Rallo.  Dr. Anthony Blose was perfectly suited for the position in April 2010.

The system did what it was designed to do, put Brian May in the Provost/VP Academic Affairs slot.  Certain affairs should go unmentioned, but it helps when the lead candidate gets to name their search committee.

The perfectly designed search committee produced the predicted result, which Dr. Rallo rubber stamped.  Perfect in its simplicity and execution. 

The promotion from Provost-in-Waiting is effective immediately.  Toss down a Coers, kiss the Limbaugh stone, shout till your blue in the nose (Blose), it's May!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Rallo Legacy?

Angelo State University's Center for Security Studies has more oddities than its unusual degree titles.  Reader Taxpayer in Texas researched the ASU salary database.  After noting a number of CSS professors were hired after this information was made public, Taxpayer offered: 

- I used the search string "prof" in the title and came up with 182 full-time results.  This includes professors who are also deans, department heads, vice provosts, etc.

- Salaries range from $44,880 (Assistant Clinical Professor) to $172,000 (then Provost, Anthony Blose).

- Total payroll was $12,450,678 yielding an average salary of $68,410.32

- The highest paid Associate Professor is Bruce Bechtol (US Marines, Retired) at $91k, interestingly enough, Dr. (Col, Ret) Ehler's first-hire.

- Susan Williams makes $100k.  Only 13 professors make six figures - why is ASU paying the "deputy" so well?  Is her value-added truly that significant to improving the academic strength of ASU?

- Director Ehlers comes in at $120k... not too shabby considering our Provost-in-Waiting is making just $5k more at $125,108.

Anyway, you get the idea.  The disparity in salaries seems quite evident to me.  And of course that doesn't include the army of support personnel associated with the CSS.  What is true cost of Rallo's CSS legacy?  At best, a LOT of money - at worst, accreditation. 
ASU Insiders noted the split between Provost Blose and President Rallo over CSS during Texas Legislature imposed budget cuts.  Despite being the perfect match, Blose lasted a mere year before stepping down.

Oddly, Blose replacement shoe-in Brian May seemingly challenged Dr. Rallo for the CSS Legacy with his resume accomplishment.  Brian:

Secured funding through the Department of Defense for Center for Security Studies, Department of Defense, U.S Congress, FY 2009 and FY 2010, $5.4 million
This either speaks to Dr. May's lobbying or creative writing skills.  However, for now, CSS is Rallo's Legacy.

What will happen when the revenue shy Texas Legislature gathers in January 2013?  Will CSS generate enough students to justify its extravagant cost?  How will a Rallo-May tag team implement the next round of state budget cuts?  Is the future of ASU's Music Department tied to a new Military Band major?  Time will tell.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bachelor of ______ in Security Studies

Not another ASU dream?  Here's how it went:
Angelo State University's Provost-in-Waiting Brain May looked forward to his coronation, the adoring crowds, the flowers, the opportunity to wear his new title.  Yet, two things occupied his mind.  The first was how to thank his mentor, ASU President Dr. Joe Rallo.

May thought back on his good fortune, "Who gets to pick their search committee?  Not many people.. Dr. Rallo needs something big named after him, much more than campus yard art or a silly children's game, like 'Rallo, May I.'". 

The other thing bugging May was the missing words in nearly all the Center for Security Study (CSS) degrees.  Other universities' had words like "Arts" or "Science" in their Security Degree titles.  Of eight undergraduate degrees, six were art-less and science-lacking.  This ate at his academic craw.

Suddenly, a divine inspiration struck May.  He could honor Dr. Rallo and round out the names of wholly inadequate Security Study degrees.  They could be Bachelors of Rallo in Security Studies.

Border Security (Online and Hybrid)

  • Bachelor of Rallo in Security Studies (B.S.S.) in Border and Homeland Security
  • Bachelor of Rallo for Border Security (B.B.S.)  (AU-ABC Program)

Cultural Competence/Fluency and Security Studies (Online and Hybrid)

  • Bachelor of Rallo in Security Studies (B.S.S.) in Culture and Security Studies
  • Bachelor of Rallo in Cultural Competence and Security Studies (B.C.C.S.S.) (AU-ABC Program)
  • Bachelor of Rallo for Cultural Fluency and Security Studies (B.C.F.S.S.) (AU-ABC Program)

Intelligence, Security Studies, and Analysis (Online and Hybrid)

  • Bachelor of Rallo in Security Studies (B.S.S.) in Intelligence, Security Studies, and Analysis
Of course, the non-Rallo degrees would need to be taken down a notch.  May proposed:

Criminal Justice (On-Campus and Hybrid)

  • Bachelor of Demented Arts in Criminal Justice (B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Blasphemic Science in Criminal Justice (B.S.)

May pondered how this could be a fitting tribute to Dr. Rallo, given the Center for Security Studies is clearly his legacy.    May's mind wandered, "Provost-in-Waiting could turn into President-in-Waiting."  He liked the sound of "replacing Rallo" rolling off his tongue. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Re-requesting Budget Information

San Angelo City Council will recognize staff's award for pursuing financial transparency at the April 17 Council meeting.  I follow budget numbers for health insurance.  On November 17, 2011 I made the following information request:

When does Human Resources think they'll have updated health insurance budget numbers for 2011-2012 (based on council's recent decisions to make SACMC the exclusive provider under Aetna)?

Response on 11-17-11:

Adjusting the budget due to the Council’s Tuesday decisions will be handled during the budget mid-year presentation to Council. Finance generally does that around March of each year.
How does a four month wait factor into financial transparency?  As March passed, I re-requested updated health insurance budget numbers.

Update 4-20-12:  The City's initial response is "Our budget office said there has been no revised budget numbers for health insurance yet. I’m checking to see when or if there will be one."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lubbock Enticed by MedHab Story

The Lubbock Avalanche Journal reported:

A couple of weeks ago, we had a good lunch with Allen McInnes and a hundred or so of his best friends at the Chief Executives’ Roundtable, as ex-Red Raider baseball player Johnny Ross talked about his MedHab business.

That’s the special shoe inserts with accelerometers that assist patients who are rehabilitating knees.

Launch of the new product isn’t all that far away. Jim Wetherbe, chairman of the roundtable, told the audience Ross had gotten a call from the home office while waiting to be seated for lunch asking about colors for the product.

“You know you’re on the downhill slope then,” Ross said.

Through the grapevine, I’m hearing a couple of folks were sufficiently impressed with his product that they approached Ross about putting money into the deal.
Colors?  It sounds like Ross is buying a car.

MedHab hasn't finished its StepRite trademark application process.  It is yet to nail down a production site.  San Angelo city officials believe their $3.6 million package is MedHab's best offer, at least of those publicly made.

After the story ran, someone asked if I knew where the product would be manufactured, and expressed a hope that Ross would make it in the Hub City.

I haven’t asked. Perhaps I’m a little worried about what the answer will be.

After all, this city’s had a habit over the years of watching investors from other cities see the potential of ideas developed here. Ideas have a way of following money, and what’s developed here ends up creating jobs in the Metroplex or elsewhere in the state.

The intriguing part is that there is money here, but there seem to be some broken links keeping Lubbock people who could invest from connecting with the inventors who need the capital.

The reporter didn't have to go far to find out.  This blog, the San Angelo Standard Times and the Abilene Reporter News have numerous stories on MedHab's production site search.

Lubbock's Angel Investor community seems much less developed than San Angelo's.  It didn't hurt that San Angelo Mayor Alvin New is a MedHab equity investor and member of MedHab's Board of Directors.

Will MedHab CEO Johnny Ross follow Lubbock money, currently mobilizing on his behalf? MedHab's 40 day decision to pick a production site is almost 100 days old.  How many more tires does Ross have to kick?  Rest assured, Alvin New knows.

Update 9-7-15:  MedHab's Board now has three members from Lubbock.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Texas Transparency Means Not Available

I believed the Texas Transparency website, like Charlie Brown trying to kick a Lucy held football. This site would have information on Governor Perry's Texas Enterprise Grant funds for Vought Aircraft Industry. The Carlyle Group owned Vought when it received $35 million for a promised 3,000 new jobs.

OK, I tried Carlyle Group instead:

I tried another Carlyle subsidiary, Authentix, which received TEF funding.

Zero for three.  Clearly, Governor Perry is not accountable for economic development efforts, especially when corporate commitments fail to materialize.

Transparency over promises and under delivers, especially in Texas.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Medium Rain's Impact on Twin Buttes?

San Angelo City Councilman Paul Alexander defended his call to pump the South Pool dry with:

"One medium rain, and that lake will fill up overnight." 

Using the same logic, one medium rain will send nearly the equivalent of the South Pool volume through the Equalization Channel to the North Pool.  Let's hope it's overnight.

Update 4-9-12: The Middle Concho raged enough to wash away a pickup truck from someone determined to finish his job. It could've cost the man his life.  Turn around, don't drown.

Update 4-11-12:  No impact on the North Pool at Twin Buttes to date.

MedHab's StepRite is One of Many

Medhab's initial product, presumed to be manufactured in San Angelo, has a common name, StepRite. While MedHab has a trademark application for StepRite, at least three other organizations utilize it.  One sells orthopedic shoes, another diabetic shoes and the last is a youth leadership organization.

Jim Turner from ConchoInfo has concerns about MedHab's intellectual property and StepRite name rights.  The US Patent and Trademark Office received MedHab's trademark application on November 9, 2011.  Ironically, San Angelo Mayor Alvin New filed his second affidavit on his equity stake in MedHab on November 1, 2011. 

The City of San Angelo approved a $3.6 million economic incentive package for MedHab on January 3, 2012.  The USPTO finished reviewing MedHab's StepRite trademark on March 20, 2012.  It shows "Published for Opposition" with an April 24, 2012 date.

Who else might object?  Steprite is also a brand of Irish Dance Shoes, a Scottish industrial floor installer, a collection of wood flooring products and a work platform ladder.

If MedHab gets the Steprite trademark, might they hire a StepRite Event Planner for their San Angelo plant grand opening?  That'd be beautiful.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

MedHab Decision: 91 Days and Counting

MedHab is yet to announce their decision on a production site.  While San Angelo appears to have the upper hand, MedHab remains silent.  In early January, MedHab President Johnny Ross said:

"I hope to have this done here in the next 35 to 40 days," Ross said of the pending decision.

It's Day 91 and counting.   Ross told Texas Tech's CEO Roundtable that production would be pushed back to Fall.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

April Oddities

City of San Angelo leaders want to pump all the water from the South Pool into the North Pool at Twin Buttes Reservoir.  This will raise the level of the North Pool by 5.15 feet, less than the 5.25 feet lost annually to evaporation.

Last November Angelo State Nursing leaders said the Registered Nurse Board passing rate for 2011 "will not be better" because steps to improve the rate have not yet taken effect.  Yet, Texas Tech and ASU published statistics showing the opposite.  ASU stated its RN pass rate rose from 71 to 75%, in direct contrast to the Texas Nursing Board's numbers, which indicated a precipitous drop to 60%, about the worst in the state.  Who surprised ASU's knowledgeable nursing leaders with a number reformulation?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

San Angelo City Council: April Fool's?

San Angelo City Council saved nearly $500,000 on health insurance by making employees and retirees utilize a single health care provider, San Angelo Community Medical Center and their affiliated physicians.  This move came after Council charged City Manager Harold Dominguez with finding operational savings that could be shifted to the City's capital budget. 

City Council will re-hear a proposal to spend $500,000 plus $35,000-$50,000 in annual maintenance fees on a Concho River fountain feature.  Councilman Paul Alexander sees revenue potential from the fountain.  Let's hope it works out better than selling naming rights to city facilities or the tournament beer concession at city softball fields.

Meanwhile, city parks and recreational areas at Lake Nasworthy are at risk for sale, privatization and public restriction. 

There also were many comments in support of city officials exploring potential public/private partnerships for future development on Lake Nasworthy, especially in visible areas such as Mary Lee Park

Council members already showed their annoyance at citizens walking a public street, Gun Club Road next to Lake Nasworthy.  Is the fountain a diversion for citizens no longer able to swim and walk for free around Lake Nasworthy?

Another Paul Alexander idea will be discussed on Tuesday.  It's pumping water from the South Pool of Twin Buttes.  Last summer Alexander suggested shifting water from the South Pool to the North Pool.  He said it would reduce the surface area for evaporation by four times. 

I find this hard to believe based on my knowledge of the bottom topography in the two pools.  The South Pool is like a bowl, the North Pool's bottom is much more varied.   I expect pumping South Pool water into the North would increase, not decrease the surface area of the water, and result in greater evaporation. 

Recall Paul Alexander ludicrously suggested adding a boat ramp on the South side of the North Pool, which has a very low grade. Staff waited a meeting to tell Alexander his idea was impractical to anyone who knew boat ramps needed a high grade for maximum usability, at least for a lake on the edge of a desert.

City workers and retirees already knew where they stood with this Council.  What might they think of health insurance savings funding a capital project the size of the river fountain?  The bright side could have a maintenance man coming out of retirement to keep the fountain running.  That would fit with Mayor New's vision of City early retirees returning to the workforce for an affordable health insurance benefit.

As for the City's $3.6 million economic incentive to MedHab, a rehabilitation device maker, MedHab President Johnny Ross indicated their product launch would be pushed back to Fall.  Council acted to legitimize Mayor New's equity investment in MedHab, such that the company could receive the proposed incentive without further machinations and Mayor New wouldn't have to dump his stake.  This item is not on the agenda and City leaders have been hush on MedHab since early January.

Council meets Tuesday, April 3rd.  Will an April Fool's feeling carry into the day?  Maybe so.