Thursday, January 30, 2014

TTU Up for Reaccreditation: Sending SACSCOC Feral Cat Documentation?

The Daily Toreador reported:

Every 10 years, Texas Tech undergoes an accreditation process by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The Office of Planning and Assessment is responsible for creating documentation to send to SACSCOC in order to be accredited.

Catherine Parsoneault, associate vice provost for planning and assessment, acts as the liaison for the university and SACSCOC.
“The goal of accreditation is for institutions of higher education to meet a standard of quality and to demonstrate continuous improvement,” she said.

I have a suggestion as to a document worth SACSCOC time and highly reflective of TTU's commitment to a standard of quality and continuous improvement.  I'd love to hear reviewers assessment of Tech's response to ethical concerns shared three times with administration.  The full document is below:

Ttu ethics point complaints 1 3 from jepysdad

If anyone believes Tech's responses qualify as less than a competent investigation or continuous stonewalling, feel free to report your concerns to SACSCOC via the instructions and form embedded in their Complaint Procedures document.

For those who like immediate access see the SACS complaint information below:

Sacs complaintpolicy from jepysdad

It seems the more complaints filed could be beneficial:

Should a number of individual complaints suggest a pattern of concern which may evidence a significant lack of compliance with the Principle that was not evident from any one individual complaint, the Commission may renew its consideration of the matter for whatever action may be appropriate. 
 I filed three complaints through EthicsPoint and felt a pattern of concern.  One, no "investigation" addressed the concerns I shared which included failed promises, abusive management behavior, outright lying and appropriation of property that did not belong to the university.  Two, the investigator offered promises of future collaboration that Tech repeatedly did not act upon.  This behavior was repetitive and egregious in my mind.  And three, Tech administrators repeatedly refused to respond to members of the public making complaints via e-mail.

Oddly, these investigations were conducted by a certified public accountant, a profession committed to impartial investigation and truth telling.  This highly decorated CPA did neither.   

She also serves as a frequent speaker for ACUA, TSCPA, Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, Texas Association of College & University Auditors, and other groups on topics ranging from fraud to ethics.
If anyone has a concern about Tech's top down, heavy handed treatment of staff or students over a seven month period, now would be the time to file a SACSCOC complaint.  The ball is in the court of those with status to file.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

City Council to Face the Grindstaff Conundrum

San Angelo Development Corporation approved an economic incentive for Texas Pacifico Transportation Ltd. for 33 jobs at $7,500 per job for the year 2013-2014.  The only Texas Pacifico representative to speak at the January 21 meeting was Vice President Elizabeth Grindstaff, a former Assistant City Manager.

Texas Pacifico's business is booming according to Progressive Railroading, which reported in July 2013:

Since frac sand and crude oil now account for 60 percent and 20 percent of total traffic, respectively, Texas Pacifico's volume figures to keep booming right along with the basin.

"I get a call a day. It's the sand people and the oil people and the pipe people and the hydrochloric acid people — pretty much the people involved in every aspect of drilling," says Federico Díaz-Page, the short line's executive vice president.

The inquiries about rail-served sites for crude or frac sand operations poured in so frequently last year, Díaz-Page in October 2012 hired Elizabeth Miller Grindstaff as vice president of sales and marketing. Formerly San Angelo's assistant city manager, Grindstaff now fields the calls and handles business development.

"We're not really out there selling. We're in reactive mode," she says. "My role is to react to the interest shown, to answer the questions and to find the real estate that suits customers."

As reflected in the motion this action will need City Council approval.  The last time Elizabeth Grindstaff spoke before Council she defended her role in the unauthorized purchase of over $100,000 in furniture for the City's Water Department.

Grindstaff had already moved on to Texas Pacifico when she publicly stated:

The furniture budget Council approved for the project was over $200,000....   At some time "they" decided to change the furniture in their suite....  At no time did Mr. Wilde and I have a discussion over new furniture for the Water Department.  Another city employee worked with Will on this.

Grindstaff led the City Hall renovation project, the basement of which the new Water Department Furniture was to fill.  On May 12, 2012 Grindstaff sent an e-mail to Mr. Wilde:

Subject:  City Hall Furniture


The guy at West Office Supply says that y'all have not ordered your furniture yet.  Is there an issue that I can help you with?  The order needs to be placed ASAP so we don't expend any additional funds on rent and utilities at WTU.

Please let me know ASAP.



Does that fit with Grindstaff's public testimony of no discussion over new furniture?  Hardly. 

The Furniture Fiasco gobsmacked new City Manager Daniel Valenzuela in his first City Council meeting.  Grindstaff and Interim City Manager Michael Dane clearly had significant roles in the city's public humiliation.  For that, Dane got promoted to Assistant City Manager.

Now the City may give nearly $250,000 to Grindstaff's employer to "bring jobs" to San Angelo.  Guess what, they were already coming:

Since early 2012, the short line's number of employees has ballooned from eight to 80.  

Recruitment has been problematic, too. The short line is competing for candidates with local oil and sand companies, which can offer a starting wage of $21 to $23 per hour compared with TXPF's $17, says Arias.

Recruiting will be more of a challenge next year because the short line will need 300 to 350 more workers — or four-fold the current number of employees — after the Presidio-Ojinaga bridge is replaced, he says.
The San Angelo Development Corporation approved an economic incentive for a booming company that turned its first profit of $1.5 million in 2012, the same year Texas Pacifico hired Elizabeth Grindstaff.  A quick look at their volume reveals:

2010  -  1,000 carloads
2011  -  4,000 carloads
2012  -12,000 carloads ($1.5 million profit)
2013  -30,000 carloads
2014  -40,000 to 50,000 carloads (projected)
Their ownership is:

Texas Pacifico is owned by Grupo México S.A. de C.V., a Mexican mining conglomerate that also controls 74 percent of Ferrocarril Mexicano S.A. de C.V. (Ferromex), the other 26 percent of which is owned by Union Pacific Railroad.

Does this sound like a company that needs $250,000 from San Angelo citizens?  Add that a major player in Texas Pacifico is one who had a clear role in a matter that caused council serious integrity concerns.  I hope Grindstaff reappears before council for the first time since the city's Furniture Fiasco.  Someone needs to make a public case for Texas Pacifico to get city economic development dollars.

Update 1-31-14:  Economic Development Coordinator Bob Schneeman is charged with selling the nearly $250,000.  How many jobs did Texas Pacifico add in 2013 that could get taxpayer money?   How much profit did the railroad earn in 2013, the first year for which they want incentive money?  We'll find out near the end of the meeting:

15. Consideration and possible action regarding an economic incentive agreement with Texas Pacifico Railroad - (Presentation by Economic Development Coordinator Bob Schneeman)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Retiree Health: Communication Flashback

City Councilman Don Vardeman, himself a city retiree, asked about providing wellness incentives to city retirees.  Human Resources Lisa Marley gave several excuses as to why the city has not offered discounts to Community Health Club to retirees.  One of those is communication:

Councilman Vardeman:  How do you get that information out to them?

Human Resources Director Marley:  If they come into the clinic discount cards are present for them to pick up and use.  We don't have a database to contact our retirees at this point.  We've been working to establish that, but not all retirees have e-mail addresses.  We don't have a real good method of getting that word out.
Councilman Vardeman:  Personally, as a retiree, I didn't realize I could even use the clinic. 
Flashback to summer 2011 when clinic use and retiree communication was the hot topic.  Note the political speech and commitment to develop a system 

Marley:  At no time did I conclude that retirees were not informed of this change.

Marley: Human Resources does not have a master list of emails for retirees, neither does it have an accurate listing of mailing addresses for retirees.  Any mass mailings to retirees result in one-third being returned for bad addresses.  I have spoken this week to an employee who is going to approach the Retiree Association to either get a complete list of emails or identify someone who can be the contact with HR for these types of notices in the future.

Over thirty months later and little has changed, except the number of retirees covered by the city.  That keeps dropping.  In 2011 the city provided coverage for 276 early retirees.  It expects to cover 215 in the current year, a decline of 60 people or 22%.  How many will be left when the communication system is finally developed?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Scripps ClubMed Investor Presention

E.W. Scripps presented today at Noble Financial Equity Conference at Club Med Sandpiper Bay.  The San Angelo Standard Times is an E.W. Scripps newspaper.

CEO Richard Boehne spoke of changes in the newspaper business:

So broadening the newspaper brand, if you follow the newspaper industry at all, newspapers are going through a dramatic season of transformation from a business that was about 80% advertising for many years to one that has become more and more reliant upon subscription revenues.  Like many of the other companies we've put up what's technically called a paywall.  We're training people to pay for digital content very successfully.  The newspaper industry has been sort of rolled into the operating room.  It's being rebuilt.  It's getting a tummy tuck and a chin tuck and having some other work done.  It'll come out the other side as a very different business.  There's absolutely no going back, a business that's much more dependent on direct subscriber revenue.
Scripps profits are driven by political advertising and local television news.

Boehne spoke of Scripps niche in political ads:

Nobody does political quite the way we do.  We have a dedicated political advertising office in Washington, D.C.   We're in that business 365 days a year, year in and year out.  Nobody brokers political advertising better than we do.  It's just a way we take out more than our share each time these races come up.
Political advertising works because of targeting.  Here's what Scripps doesn't want you, the subscriber to know.

Scripps's strategy is "fusion of internal consumer/advertising data with 3rd party data" like property tax records, voting records, social data, subscription/viewing data & more. Who knew that paying for digital content would give your newspaper provider more information to package and sell about you?

Sales is the company's major focus for digital.

That dedicated sales force will market fusion data to advertisers.  Subscribers are being double sold, first as the primary revenue source for newspapers and second as the recipient of multiple targeted ads, the nauseating political kind and otherwise.  What's it like being trained? 

Following the money, the newspaper division provides 17% of Scripps profits and 20% of cash flow.  Scripps froze their pension in the aftermath of the financial crisis and successfully reduced a $100 million underfunded pension liability.  Oddly, $100 million is also the amount the company set aside to buy back stock. 

Does this sound like light or blight?  Will any Scripps paper quote their CEO on any of these topics shared at ClubMed Sandpiper Bay?  Doubtful.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Texas Tech's 3rd Promise to Collaborate on Feral Cats

Will Texas Tech's third promise to collaborate in seven months produce one tangible step on behalf of the university's long standing feral cat program?  Given the first two promises resulted in lies, theft and intimidation vs. collaboration, I have my doubts.  Here's the record of broken promises:

June 3, 2013 via Tech press release - In conjunction with the The Humane Society of West Texas, the City of Lubbock Animal Services and the TTU Feral Cat Program to promote a healthier environment for our faculty, staff, students and visitors to campus, the university will begin implementing a safe and humane plan to better control the feral cat population on campus in the coming weeks. With the assistance of these organizations, we will begin relocating the cats to more suitable, safe off-campus locations. While this process will take some time and will not result in the removal of all cats, it will allow the university to bring the number down to a manageable level. 
Texas Tech University Administration.

No collaboration occurred with either the Humane Society of West Texas or the TTU Feral Cat Program after Tech administrators published their initial commitment.  When challenged on this failure months later, Tech replied: 
Sep 14, 2013, 3:53 PM -  Hugh Cronin is no longer with the university. After his departure, administration continued to seek opportunities to partner with the campus and the student organization in an effort to strengthen the viability of the program intended to relocate the feral cats away from residence halls, dining halls, and child development center.

Texas Tech University Administration

Really?  What did administration do, what concrete acts did they take to partner after their September 14 commitment?  Apparently nothing: 

1/9/2014 8:30 AM -  Texas Tech administrators have planned to initiate a meeting with the President of TTU’s Feral Cat Association, a student organization registered with SGA in Fall 2013. The purpose of this meeting will be to jointly complete the City of Lubbock’s required Feral Cat Caretaker Application. This will appropriately document TTU’s feral cat colony, including number of animals, identification, and appropriate feeding locations. Quarterly meetings will continue between TTU administrators and the President of TTU’s Feral Cat Association.

Texas Tech University Administration

How hapless or evil are Tech administrators who can't find a way to communicate with people on campus the last six months?  It's clear administrators had no intention of collaborating, choosing to hide and obfuscate behind political language.  Their pattern of arrogance and hubris remains unbroken.


Addendum:  The record of complaints on this issue is below:

Report #3 Submission Date 1/4/2014
Reported Company/Branch Information
Name Texas Tech University
Location Texas Tech University - Lubbock
150 Administration Bldg.
Box 42005
City/State/Zip Lubbock, TX, 79409

Violation Information
Issue Type

Conflict of Interest
Relationship to Institution

What is the general nature of this matter?

Tech leaders promised to collaborate with the student run Feral Cat organization on reducing the number of feral cats on campus. Tech leaders never delivered on this promise, a huge ethical failure.
How did you become aware of this possible violation?

If other, how?

Reports from Tech students and staff involved in Feral Cats as well as Lubbock animal service organization representatives.
Where did this incident or possible violation occur?

Repeatedly in the top administrative offices and facilities management. Tech's Chris Cook in marketing and communications outright lied numerous times on this subject. That is also an ethics violation.
Please provide the specific or approximate time this incident occurred.

Over Christmas break Tech leaders again ramped up cat removal without contacting any Tech Feral students or supporting staff. Tech used university owned traps to catch the cats. Facilities staff stole the feeding bowls provided by Tech Feral and used them in the traps. Earlier this semester Tech staff stole cat shelters.
How long do you think this problem has been going on?

3 months to a year
What leads you to believe the problem has been ongoing?

The University began removing the cats in the summer. It chose to ramp up trapping again while students were gone for Christmas break.
Please identify the person(s) you feel are engaged in this behavior.

Kent Meredith - Facilities Management
Duane Nellis - President
For the persons named above please indicate whether or not they are affiliated with Texas Tech.

Yes, both are affiliated with Texas Tech. Also, staff members who stole food bowls and cat shelters, although I do not know their names.
Have you or someone else previously reported this problem to your supervisor or management? If so, by whom, to whom, when, and how?

Yes, I reported Tech's failure to deliver on its promise to collaborate two times via EthicsPoint. One response stated "Hugh Cronin is no longer with the university. After his departure, administration continued to seek opportunities to partner with the campus and the student organization in an effort to strengthen the viability of the program intended to relocate the feral cats away from residence halls, dining halls, and child development center." Administration did no such thing.
Do you suspect or know that a supervisor or management is involved?

If yes, then who?

Kent Meredith and Duane Nellis.
What leads you to believe that a supervisor or management is involved?

Numerous contacts were made by e-mail with both parties. Nellis never responded to any concerns shared, while Meredith conducted the latest round of cat removal without contacting TechFeral students or staff.
Please identify any persons who have attempted to conceal this problem and the steps they took to conceal it.

Kent Meredith ignored concerns that staff were stealing food bowls and cat shelters. He was not the least bit forthcoming about the renewed strategy to remove cats from campus.
      Texas Tech University committed to collaborating with local animal service organizations on reducing the number of cats in the university's longstanding feral cat colony. Here's what collaboration looks like.

"Plan - Involve feral cat caretakers, TTU students and staff, in ascertaining the feral cat population on campus. Determine solutions to identified concerns in conjunction with caretakers. Test those strategies to see their impact. Identify who is responsible for various parts of the plan. Meet regularly to share feedback on actions taken and course correct. Have agreed upon measures for success and methods for communicating when surprises arise. Be forthright, open and honest in dealings with one another and the public."

Tech did none of the above with the university's feral cat caretakers. Facilities Chief Hugh Cronin and Marketing's Chris Cook started Tech's Feral Cat War in the heat of summer, which has been ably continued by new Facilities Chief Chief Kent Meredith.

TTU accelerated cat trapping and removal during the Winter break. The university had the audacity to steal bowls provided by cat caretakers and use those inside their traps. This move came after Tech staff removed shelters donated by cat caretakers.

Tech repeatedly shut out the very groups it promised to work with, thus it's clear the university's intent was never to collaborate. At every turn Tech acted unilaterally with arrogance and hubris.

Top administrators ignored expressed objections, breaking their silence only with worthless replies to EthicsPoint complaints. I queried EthicsPoint on Tech's non-investigation and hapless response, which reiterated on September 14, 2013:

"Hugh Cronin is no longer with the university. After his departure, administration continued to seek opportunities to partner with the campus and the student organization in an effort to strengthen the viability of the program intended to relocate the feral cats away from residence halls, dining halls, and child development center. "

Over three months later Tech's collaboration mantra remains unfulfilled. EthicsPoint advised me to submit the concerns yet again. I may do so next year.

Might TTU actually fulfill it's longstanding promise to collaborate with feral cat caretakers in 2014? Might it look like the Plan picture painted above? The ball is in (and has always been) in Tech's court.

Follow-Up Questions/Comments from TTU
Jan 09, 2014, 8:30 AM
Comment: TTU administration is working toward a cooperative and successful feral cat population on TTU’s campus that takes into consideration the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students. Texas Tech administrators have planned to initiate a meeting with the President of TTU’s Feral Cat Association, a student organization registered with SGA in Fall 2013. The purpose of this meeting will be to jointly complete the City of Lubbock’s required Feral Cat Caretaker Application. This will appropriately document TTU’s feral cat colony, including number of animals, identification, and appropriate feeding locations. Quarterly meetings will continue between TTU administrators and the President of TTU’s Feral Cat Association.

Texas Tech University Administration

Jan 11, 2014, 11:17 PM from Reporting Person
Reply: This is the third promise to collaborate since June 3rd, 2013. "Planned to initiate a meeting" comes after "continued to seek opportunities to partner" which followed "in conjunction with" and "with the assistance of these organizations." The longer it goes the less University administrators are willing to commit.

So why didn't Tech administrators fulfill their prior commitments to collaborate, made on June 3rd and September 14th? You can say it, "because they didn't feel like it." Arrogance and hubris are alive and well at the top of Texas Tech.
Jan 16, 2014, 11:15 PM from Reporting Person
So why didn't Tech administrators fulfill their prior commitments to collaborate, made on June 3rd and September 14th?

It's a simple question and deserves an answer.
Report #2
Report #1
What real collaboration might look like

Note:  Texas Tech's Administrators and Facilities Management Department have not behaved in an ethical manner, much less in an "award winning" fashion.  Three e-mails to APPA staff produced no response.  Apparently APPA's quality control is as ineffective as EthicsPoint's.

Update 1-20-14:  TTU administrators are silent to date on why they did not fulfill prior commitments to collaborate.  I would say cat got their tongue, but I don't think any are left.

Jan 21, 2014, 1:22 PM from TTU
Comment: The meeting between University officials and Feral Cat Association officials is scheduled for this week.

Jan 21, 2014, 11:00 PM
My Reply: That's not an answer as to why Tech officials did not fulfill their twice offered promise to collaborate.

Also, there was a trap outside Drane Hall this morning. The trap stated it was property of Texas Tech Operations Division. Speaking of property, your reply never addressed TTU's theft of bowls and shelters provided by TechFeral and staff cat caregivers. It seems the university owes them an official apology, at the least, and even remuneration.

It's amazing how educated people cannot answer the simplest why questions. It's sad university leadership has sunk to the lowest common denominator alongside political language.

Monday, January 06, 2014

MedHab in Midst of $1.1 million Capital Raise

SEC filings show MedHab aims to raise over $1 million and is nearly three quarters of the way to its goal with $773,000 from investors thus far.  The form was submitted on January 2, 2014.  The date of the first sale was December 27, 2013.  It looks like a MedHabulous New Year, investment wise.

The International CES kicks off in Las Vegas this week and it's the year of the sensor. 

This "Age of Autonomy" is the result of the costs of sensors plunging, leading manufacturers to place them in every product imaginable.

MedHab is not listed as participating at CES, but several competitors will show their wares.

3L Labs' Footlogger has an activity tracker that lives in your shoe's insole.  

Zephyr has an athletic performance tracker for coaches, teams and athletes.

Sensoria is bringing fitness tracking to socks. 

MedHab's Johnny Ross is listed as Sole Manager in the latest filing.  It's clear MedHab isn't the sole seller in this space.  My guess is Ross' true interest is selling the company.  Repeated capital raises effectively sell the founders' stakes one chunk at a time. 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Standard Times Mea Culpa on J.W.'s Wonderful Life

Standard Times Editor Michael Kelly wrote a note to readers offended by the series of stories on former Mayor J.W. Lown's life in Mexico and same sex marriage to his younger husband, a Mexican citizen.  Kelly explained the story intersected two current issues, immigration and same sex marriage.  He compared these controversial issues to the FLDS Ranch and Warren Jeffs.

I don't see the connection.  The Standard Times never romanticized Warren Jeffs.  It conducted investigative reporting on the raid at their Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado.  It didn't send a wedding photographer and reporter to write what read like a fairy tale, one that excluded the face and name of half of the married couple, albeit at their request.

This lack of balance bothered me, not their same sex marital commitment or their desires to get the unnamed spouse U.S. citizenship.  It felt like the next public chapter in J.W.'s "Great Man" story, where only his handlers facts and talking points come through.

It was a concluding step in an epic journey of love, personal turmoil and drastic choices that had begun four and a half years ago for Lown, San Angelo's mayor. 
Lown's lobbyist godfather Mario Castillo knows a good narrative sells at the ballot box and in our nation's capital.

"This is not the end," Lown said after the emotional ceremony. "This is the beginning."

Coupled with a new legal development in the United States that expanded the federal rights of same-sex couples, the nuptials could also mean a way out of Lown's self-imposed exile a way back to the West Texas city he still considers home.
I expect the Standard Times thought the series would be the ground floor of J.W.'s heroic return to the city he spurned for undocumented, same sex love and a bonus if it sold papers.  As a story of two whole people in love, it felt grossly incomplete.

J.W. dropped politics when he left town.  We'll see how he returns.  In the meantime I wish J.W. and his spouse much love, peace, happiness and the ability to live where they wish.

Rating Energy Demand Bids for Water Department

The City of San Angelo received five bids for energy demand services. It sent out twenty requests for proposal for the following need.

The intent and purpose of this Request for Proposal (RFP) is to establish a term contract with one qualified firm to provide Demand Response Services to The City of San Angelo – Water Utilities Department. 

The City of San Angelo has the ability to curtail consumption of electricity or utilize on-site electricity generation capabilities for a few hours during the year and in so doing can provide a demand side resource to the local grid. The City of San Angelo seeks a qualified Demand Response Provider (“Provider”) to provide a mechanism for successful participation in demand response and a gateway to improved energy management at The City of San Angelo. 

Initially, The City of San Angelo would like to enroll into demand response the facility outlined in the Appendix A to this RFP (Water Treatment Department). The City of San Angelo will be open to enrolling additional capacity with the winning Respondent should the need or opportunity arise. 

Additionally, the City may consider expanding the services to other facilities, e.g., City Hall, CD Building, Annex, Convention Center, Coliseum, Business Resource Center, etc.;
Texas electrical generators pay energy users to cut demand during peak hours when electricity use is at or over capacity.  The City wants to participate in this program and will share a percent of revenue with the successful bidder.  The highest rated bidder is Energy Curtailment Specialists.  Their video (embedded above) shares how energy demand programs work.  The lowest rated bidder is the Texas General Land Office.

San Angelo is in the area served by the Energy Reliability Council of Texas.  Their website states:

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to 23 million Texas customers - representing 85 percent of the state's electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects 40,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 550 generation units. ERCOT also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market.
Competitive is not what comes to mind when peak wholesale energy prices will soar to $9,000 per megawatt hour in 2015 from $5,000 today.  They went from $3,000 to $4,500 in 2012.    A 200% increase in three years doesn't sound competitive at all.   

It does produce money, some of which could slosh around to the City's Water Treatment Department
This is a revenue sharing agreement vs. the shared savings proposal from ACAP Health.  I look forward to hearing the City Council presentation, especially any expected tradeoffs from participating in the program.

Update 4-12-14:  City Council will consider "awarding RFP: WU-20-13 Energy Demand Response Services to Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc. of Buffalo, New York for a period of 5 years for a potential revenue of $163,720.30 annually and authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute contract documents."  That's nearly $820,000 over five years.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Bailey's Street Plan Recommendation to Go External

The Standard Times reported:

The city will request quotes for a comprehensive survey of all San Angelo streets, proposed by former city engineer Clinton Bailey before he left the city, in 2014.

Clinton Bailey spoke to City Council on February 26, 2013 about his recommendation to create a comprehensive street maintenance program for the City of San Angelo.  He did so by describing the life cycle of a street and the City's abysmal performance in maintaining streets.  His presentation effectively damned Ricky Dickson, the longtime operations leader responsible for San Angelo's maintenance, including streets and bridges.   

Bailey stated his department had already done an analysis of the top 55 streets in San Angelo and projected the cost of upgrading each.  He wanted to spread this effort to all city streets.  Bailey mentioned the specific software his department would use to create such a plan.  Not once did he use the word consultant.   City Council's discussion revealed TXDOT conducts such an analysis every three years for its streets.

One month after Bailey presented his proposed plan, City Manager Daniel Valenzuela named Ricky Dickson the permanent Water Utilities Chief.  Valenzuela waived the engineering degree requirement for Dickson to occupy this top job.

In May 2013 Clinton Bailey left San Angelo for the top public works position in Fredericksburg, Texas.  Ironically, Bailey's replacement has a strong street background.  A September 2013 City press release stated:

Karl Bednarz, who has more than 30 years of engineering experience with the Texas Department of Transportation, has joined the City of San Angelo as its new City Engineer.

Bednarz replaces Clinton Bailey, who joined the City of Fredericksburg as its public works director in May. 

What changed that an internal study will now be an external one?  I'd guess Bailey would've needed to replace engineering staff to conduct the study.  After Bailey fired engineer Blake Wilde for poor performance, the engineering department lost two employees to Will Wilde's Water Department.

Blake went on to work as a contractor for the Hickory Water pipeline and father Will suddenly retired when a series of events erupted into a public firestorm.  The events included:

1)  Outrageously high, seemingly unexplainable water bills for a number of area citizens
2)  Buying and installing over $100,000 in Water Department furniture without required City Council approval
3)  His son's hiring by Carollo Engineering to work on the Hickory pipeline after Blake had been fired by the city, designated ineligible for rehire.

Both Blake and Will Wilde formed Wilde Engineering.  Blake had the street background, but lacked customer service skills.  While Will knew water inside and out, he also had hubris in spades.  It would be more than ironic if Wilde Engineering got the comprehensive street survey job.  It'd be the latest twist in Surprising San Angelo. 

Update 2-2-14:  Oddly the minutes from the 2-26-13 City Council meeting don't mention Clinton's presentation. 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

San Angelo's New Economic Development Director from LCRA

Roland A. Peña, a public affairs specialist with the Lower Colorado River Authority, has been hired as the City of San Angelo’s Economic Development director.

“Not only do I get to return to West Texas, but I’ll be honing in on the work I love most – economic development."--Roland Pena.

Pena served in board level positions in Economic Development in several Texas Hill Country communities.  From 1993-96, he was an economic development specialist in El Paso and in Abilene.  Since then he worked for WTU and American Electric Power.  Peña has worked for the LCRA, the last four years as a public affairs specialist based in Austin.

Interim Economic Development Director Bob Schneeman put his name in the hat for the job.  Schneeman served as interim for nearly a year after Shawn Lewis moved to Longmont, Colorado to join former City Manager Harold Dominguez.  Lewis built quite an economic development empire before leaving for higher elevations.  It will be interesting to see what Roland Pena builds now that he's returned to his first love after seventeen years.