Supreme Court won’t rehear well case

The Texas Supreme Court has refused to rehear a case involving a commercial injection well opposed by a group of citizens in Greenwood.

Jim Popp, chairman of the group Texas Citizens for a Safe Future and Clean Water, said he received confirmation from his attorney Wednesday that the Texas Supreme Court had denied a request to rehear the case that involved the Texas Railroad Commission and the citizens’ group.

The court ruled in March in favor of the Railroad Commission, allowing Pioneer Exploration to move forward with plans to build a saltwater injection well near the intersection of County Roads 2625 and 2735.

The ruling essentially means the end of a six-year crusade by the citizen’s group to keep the well out of their neighborhood.

Although disappointed, Popp said he hopes that the group’s efforts have inspired people to stand up against the Railroad Commission and the oil and gas industry.

“When the ‘powers to be’ in Texas finally wake up to the fact that this is about the future health and well-being of all Texas citizens and not just the financial gain of the oil and gas industry, and that both of those goals can be successfully accomplished at the same time, with just a few changes in the system as it is today, we will all be much safer and better off,” Popp said. “Our fight will have been a major part of getting the end fight off the ground and accomplishing that ultimate goal, when it is finally reached.

“As I’ve said before many times, all of us want a very prosperous oil and gas industry in our area, but we also want it to be safe for all Texas citizens, too, and not just mean financial gain for that industry at the expense of the health and well being of present and future generations of Texans.”

Pioneer filed an application for a permit to build a commercial saltwater injection well in the spring of 2005. The citizen’s group was formed to protest the application.

After the Railroad Commission approved Pioneer’s permit in February of 2006, the group filed a lawsuit, claiming Pioneer had made errors in the original application, was given extra time by the Railroad Commission to correct those errors and had not considered the traffic dangers as part of the public interest.

In December of 2006, 126th District Judge Gisela Triana affirmed the Railroad Commission’s decision to issue the injection well permit.

In 2007, an appeals court reversed Triana’s decision, and the Railroad Commission appealed that ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

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Middleton joins honor society

Dawna Middleton of Springfield, Mo., was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa honor society at Ozark Technology College March 13.

The daughter of Garland and Francene Middleton of Greenwood, she is studying graphic design.

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Carving artist: Charlie Cole’s whittling art to be featured at Greenwood show

WHITTLING AWAY - Charlie Cole prepares to show his work at the Greenwood Art Festival April 9 at the pavilion. Cole will show pieces along with his sons who make arrowheads. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Pulling a simple pocket knife out of a belt holster, Charlie Cole whittles animal faces from knots he sees in polished wood canes. Cole’s work, along with several others, will be displayed at the Greenwood Art Show April 9.

”Several years ago, my daughter wanted to give her teacher a stick,” Cole said. “At that time, I was whittling, but I was making fishing lures out of cypress.”

When Cole asked what kind of designs his daughter wanted on the stick, she said anything. For inspiration, Cole uses the natural design of the wood to make characters such as snakes, owls and monkeys.

“All my children have one, several of my grandchildren and a lot of my friends, and I have a few,” he said.

Cole works on his art for as long as necessary with a particularly intricate one taking him nine months. However, he does go through dry spells.

“Sometimes I’ll go for a long time without opening my knife,” Cole said.

Cole has been a part of the art show for almost a decade and now his sons join him making arrowheads.

Art show organizer Dale Burks, said the show begins at 9 a.m., and it will also feature the works of Clark and Mark Cole, Bill Laster, Jodie and AnnMarie Wells, Archie Fairies, Wyatt Smithers and others. The Masonic Lodge will serve free lunch at noon and have been doing so for the 12 years the exhibit has taken place.

Art pieces are only available for viewing, and they will be set up at the pavillion. If the weather is bad, everything will be moved to the fire hall.

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Department to receive grant

Greenwood/Slidell Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $47,367 grant from the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

The funding can be used for training and support operations and to purchase safety and rescue equipment.

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Bomb threat leads to grand jury indictment

A grand jury indicted a woman who called in a bomb threat last month to the Wise County Courthouse.

On the morning of Feb. 14, Shauna Lee Teague, 41, of Greenwood, allegedly called in the threat.

Shauna Teague

She was indicted with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony that carries a two to 10-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said a 911 call was received from a pay phone at Walmart around 9:30 a.m.

“A woman said her boyfriend was upset and had put a bomb in the Wise County Courthouse,” Hoskins said. “She refused to give his name or her name.”

The courthouse was evacuated and investigators searched for a bomb. The building was deemed safe later that morning.

Teague was identified using surveillance video from Walmart and arrested the same afternoon.

She was scheduled to appear in court that day for probation violations. The state and her attorney had reached an agreement. Those charges are still pending.

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Citizens fought good fight

I just wanted to openly tell my neighbors in the Greenwood area, who were members of Texas Citizens For a Safe Future and Clean Water, how much I truly appreciated their support these past six years, during our long fight against The Railroad Commission of Texas and Pioneer Exploration, Ltd, and their permitting of a commercial salt water injection well in our immediate area. You all know who you are, and I’m proud to know, and be associated with, each and every one of you.

When we started our fight six years ago, we stood completely alone. We received no support from anyone, including the Wise County Messenger, our state representative, Phil King, or our state senator, Craig Estes. In fact, not only were we not supported, but in certain cases just mentioned, they worked against us for quite some time. We were called names by our fellow citizens, and in some cases ridiculed, until they too finally realized what we were stating was the truth.

Still, through it all, we stuck together as a small group of citizens and neighbors against overwhelming and incredible odds, and we finally won our case in the Appeals Court in Austin. After winning our case and handing The Railroad Commission their worst defeat in decades, the RRC could not allow that defeat to stand, and they took our case to the Supreme Court of Texas where a decision was finally handed down March 11 siding with the RRC’s position and reversing our winning appeals court decision.

Basically, the Supreme Court of Texas decided that “public interest” means, at this time, whatever is good for the oil and gas industry is good for the public interest of Texas citizens, and no other circumstances or safety concerns can or do really matter. I guess that wasn’t a great surprise to any of us since approximately 60 to 70 percent of the re-election campaign funds for most of our judges and legislators comes from the oil and gas industry.

We all can stand tall because in the six years since we started our fight we taught thousands of other Texas citizens the truth about these so-called salt water injection wells and the fact that they are, in actuality, liquid toxic waste injection dumps that contain over 27 different types of toxic waste, including benzene. We taught people that they do poison private water wells and stock tanks in the area, along with lowering property values around them by about 50 to 80 percent, along with possibly causing many other public health risks. We let “the cat out of the bag,” and the truth is now out there, thanks to our efforts in this long fight.

Hopefully, sometime in the near future, our Texas Legislature will do what is right to protect our state’s citizens from this liquid, toxic waste and change some of our present laws. All of us really do want them to “drill here, drill now”, but we just want the oil and gas industry to do it in a safe manner for all concerned and not just in the cheapest way possible for oil and gas with the overall public safety, for generations to come, be damned.

Jim Popp

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Tiffany McLain and James Crisp Jr.

Tiffany McLain and James Crisp Jr.

Tiffany McLain, daughter of Roger and Rachel McLain, all of Krum, will marry James Crisp Jr. of Greenwood, son of James and Pam Crisp Sr. of Rhome, June 11, 2011, at Greenwood Baptist Church.

The bride-elect is a graduate of Krum High School and is a senior at Midwestern State University where she is studying special education and early childhood through sixth grade education.

The prospective groom is a graduate of Aubrey High School and is a volunteer firefighter with the Greenwood/Slidell department.

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Court rules against group fighting injection well

It appears a group of Greenwood residents have lost their six-year battle to keep a commercial injection well out of their neighborhood.

On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Texas Railroad Commission, essentially paving the way for Pioneer Exploration to build a saltwater injection well near the intersection of County Roads 2625 and 2735.

The case of the Railroad Commission vs. Texas Citizens for a Safe Future and Clean Water and James G. Popp centered around the Railroad Commission’s interpretation of “in the public interest” when considering the application of an injection well. The citizen group argued that the commission had not considered the traffic dangers that the increased tank truck traffic on county roads would pose to the area.

The supreme court ruled that the commission, in this context, does not have to consider traffic safety factors in its decision. The action reversed a 2007 appeals court decision that had ruled in favor of the citizen group.

Popp, whose home is located next door to the injection well site and is chairman of the citizen group, said he was surprised by the ruling.

“It’s good for oil and gas – that’s what the public interest is,” he said.

In the opinion published by Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, the court points out that the Railroad Commission is charged with permitting injection wells for the disposal of oil and gas waste and must consider what is “in the public interest.”

“The [Railroad] Commission is directed to consider a number of other factors, all of which has to do with the protection of natural resources and the regulation of the oil and gas industry,” Jefferson wrote.

Popp said he plans to speak with the group’s attorneys this week to consider what to do next.

“It seems like it is out of our hands,” Popp said. “The supreme court has ruled, and we’re law-abiding citizens.”

He said it was likely the group would seek a rehearing before the Texas Supreme Court, but he acknowledged that those are rarely granted.

Pioneer filed an application for a permit to build a commercial saltwater injection well in the spring of 2005. The citizen group was formed to protest the application.

After the Railroad Commission approved Pioneer’s permit in February of 2006, the group filed a lawsuit, claiming Pioneer had made errors in the original application, was given extra time by the Railroad Commission to correct those errors and had not considered the traffic dangers as part of the public interest.

In December of 2006, 126th District Judge Gisela Triana affirmed the Railroad Commission’s decision to issue the injection well permit. In 2007, an appeals court reversed Triana’s decision, and the Railroad Commission appealed that ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

Popp said that since the case has been in court, no work has been done at the well site.

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Thursday fire destroys home

Thursday fire destroys home

THE SPARK - A fire that is believed to have started in the carport of a home off County Road 2644 spread and destroyed the entire structure just after 11 Thursday night. The home's two occupants and their two dogs and two horses escaped without injury. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Before the slew of fires that plagued the county Friday, two Greenwood men lost their home in a blaze the night before.

Just after 11 p.m. Thursday, Greenwood-Slidell, Decatur and Alvord fire departments responded to a single-story brick house fire on County Road 2644.

One of the home’s occupants awoke to the sound of smoke alarms. He ran down a smoke-filled hallway and saw flames shooting from under the back door by the carport.

He asked to not be named.

The home’s second occupant was not at home at the time.

The fire rekindled shortly after 7 Friday morning, and Greenwood-Slidell, Decatur and Alvord departments responded again.

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Bill insult to women’s suffrage

March is National Women’s History Month in America. Women’s history is the culmination of the struggle for recognition of women in America that actually began with the Woman’s Suffrage Movement and Susan B. Anthony in 1837 when she asked for equal pay for women teachers and then was later tried for illegally voting. In a mighty effort that spanned almost 200 years, it took till 1981 for the U.S. Congress to establish March as a month to recognize these women among many and their contribution to this great nation of ours.

It’s unbelievable that Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas GOP legislators chose to celebrate this month by letting the first house bill to be heard on the floor to be HB 15, the sonogram bill.

The sonogram bill, one of five given “emergency” status directives by Perry in order to speed consideration by lawmakers, requires doctors to perform sonograms on women before performing abortions, to explain in detail the results of the sonograms, and to offer video and audio from the sonograms to the woman affected by the choice to terminate a pregnancy.

In a sneaky tactic, the State Affairs Committee decided not to take testimony on the bill itself, but to hear from witnesses about the general ideas of the bill. The State Affairs Committee bypassed the traditional way of using formal written testimony for a bill and brought up the bill themselves. Why? Because that’s a way of taking testimony without risking a record filled with incorrect witness forms. No mistakes, no points of order, no debate on the floor and the bill is voted on.

Importantly, the GOP backed down and the traditional way of hearing testimony, with witness forms, potential mistakes and all, became the rules of the new game. When asked about why he agreed to hear it in committee the traditional way, Rep. Bryon Cook, the Corsicana Republican who chairs the State Affairs panel, said he was just trying to be efficient with the testimony and wasn’t trying to pull a fast one. Asked about it a day later, he was being judicious by saying, “This is a place where tradition is very important.”

So I guess Texas leaders forgot about the tradition of women and the rights they fought for here in America. So much for women suffrage! In addition, children in Texas are having to overcome a less than average education, no healthcare and less food to eat so I’m only left to assume that with the current state congress, life begins at conception and ends at birth.

So what does Texas have in mind to celebrate National Women’s History Month next?

Tracy Smith

Posted in Letters to the Editor2 Comments

Willie Clyde Cole

Cole WillieFuneral for Willie Clyde Cole, 85, of Greenwood was March 3 at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home with Bob Ross officiating. Burial followed at Greenwood Cemetery.

Cole died Tuesday, March 1, 2011, in Decatur.

Born Feb. 11, 1926, in Martha, Okla., to Walter Samuel and Nettie Mae (Bledsoe) Cole, he married Jessie Mae Hardee Sept. 6, 1947, in Decatur. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II on the U.S.S. Hopewell and was a member of Greenwood Church of Christ.

Cole was preceded in death by brothers Milliard Cole, Bob Cole and George Cole; and sister Lucille Grimes.

He is survived by his wife; sons Sammy Cole and Clyde Cole, both of Greenwood; sisters Ruth Phillips of Corsicana and Edna Windsor of Florida; granddaughter Courtney Fletcher and husband, Chris, of Greenwood; grandson Bodie Cole and wife, Shannon, of Greenwood; great-grandchildren Mylee Fletcher and Cash Cole, both of Greenwood; and nieces and nephews.

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Woman arrested for bomb threat

A bomb threat caused the evacuation of the county courthouse in Decatur Monday morning and later led to the arrest of a Greenwood woman.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said Shauna Lee Teague, who court records also list as having the last name of Gordon, 41, was arrested Monday afternoon for making a terroristic threat of a government entity.

Hoskins said a 911 call was received from a pay phone at Walmart around 9:30 Monday morning.

“A woman said her boyfriend was upset and had put a bomb in the Wise County Courthouse,” Hoskins said. “She refused to give his name or her name.”

Decatur police, Wise County Sheriff’s officers and the Decatur Fire Department evacuated the building and searched for a possible bomb.

Wise County Commissioners were meeting on the third floor when Sheriff David Walker was called out of the room. A few moments later, he came in and told everyone that they needed to leave the building due to a bomb threat. Once everyone was evacuated, officers began searching the entire building.

Courthouse employees, lawyers and citizens who were scheduled to appear in court stood on the sidewalks outside businesses on the square. A florist delivering Valentine’s Day flowers to the courthouse had to turn around when met by officers on the sidewalk outside the courthouse.

Around 10:30, the building was declared safe and everyone was allowed back inside.

While the search was going on, Hoskins said officers were sent to Walmart to try to figure out who made the bomb threat call. The officers were able to view surveillance video.

The video proved successful, and the suspect turned out to be very close.

“Through surveillance, we found a lady there [at Walmart] who was on the phone,” Hoskins said. “We watched her walk around the store, buy a drink, walk outside, get in a flat bed pickup and drive off as a passenger. We gave that information to our patrol officers, and we happened to find a pickup that matched the description parked at the courthouse.”

Around 11:15 a.m., a woman was found matching the clothing description, and she walked out of the building to the truck seen in the video. At that point, Hoskins said officers detained Teague.

Teague had been scheduled to be in district court that morning for a motion to proceed with adjudication.

According to district court records, Teague was indicted for credit card or debit card abuse and two counts of possession of a controlled substance by fraud in December of 2008. In April of 2009, she pleaded guilty to the charges in exchange for five years of deferred adjudication and five years of community supervision.

In February of 2010, court records indicate that Teague was indicted on two counts of forgery of a financial instrument. Two months later, prosecutors filed a motion to proceed with adjudication on the 2009 conviction. It was that motion that was expected to be resolved at Monday’s court hearing.

Terroristic threat of a government entity is a third degree felony, punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

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White disappoints taxpayer

I’ve lived and voted in Wise County Precinct 1 for almost 18 years. In these years, I’ve dealt with most of the various elected officials that represented me.

In all of my dealings with elected officials, only two have ever outright lied to me, and all but one has been respectful when we spoke. My present county commissioner, Danny White, is the one politician guilty of both of the infractions I mentioned.

Last spring, I called Mr. White and asked point blank, “When is my County Road 2625 scheduled for paving?” Mr. White responded, “The spring of 2011.” I was very relieved when I heard him tell me that.

My vehicle was wearing out way before its time, as several have done in the past, but I knew I could hold on until then to replace it. With various repairs, I could push it to its limits. I looked forward to the days when I could travel down my road without the fear of my vehicle dying because the battery cables had worked their way free from literally vibrating loose as I traveled up and down my county road. I thought to myself, “gone would be the days of having to air up my tires every day because of stone bruises and potholes and oversize chunk rock.” Apparently, I was wrong!

A few days ago, after another frustrating, rough county road day, my husband contacted Danny White for an update on the schedule for paving and was told, “I got beat up pretty bad on my budget, and it’s just not gonna happen this year. I can’t guarantee it next year either.”

My husband responded, “There sure are going to be a lot of disappointed people.” To which Danny White responded in a typical political fashion, “I don’t believe I ever promised anything. I know I didn’t use the word promise.”

OK, Mr. White, you never “promised,” I’ll give you that, but what do you have to say about your lack of advocacy skills for the taxpayers of Precinct 1? After the long years of paying taxes, that have increased annually without any return, I’m tired of waiting.

Traditionally, voters of Precinct 1 have little patience for a non-productive county commissioner, and they show it at the polls. I think White needs to start looking for a new job, and Precinct 1 constituents need a better advocate who’ll fight for the budget money needed to take care of us. In the meantime, there will be no more apathy, and we’ll be watching you Mr. White!

I might also add that it’s kind of strange that the only three-mile section of our county road that hasn’t been paved yet, is the three-mile section where the residents live that supported your opponent in the last election almost unanimously and where your former opponent himself resides. Could this be a dirty type of political payback, Mr. White?

Tracy Smith

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Joseph Robert England

England JosephFuneral for Joseph Robert England, 93, of Greenwood was to be 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, at Greenwood Church of Christ with Bob Ross officiating. Burial is at Greenwood Cemetery.

England died Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Decatur.

Born Oct. 11, 1917, in Greenwood to Felix Johnson and Danny Brewer England, he retired from General Dynamics after 32 years of service. He married Wilema Howard Dec. 24, 1941, and served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. England was an aircraft assembly man, farmer, rancher and a member of the Greenwood Church of Christ.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Alma Allen.

England is survived by his wife; sons Robert Thurman England and wife, Janie, of Denton and Terry Don England and wife, Pat, of Ponder; sisters Nina Robinson, Marie Hill and Fern Mann, all of Decatur; grandchildren Wesley Don England and wife, Rhonda, Paige Wells and husband, Todd, and Joel England; great-grandchildren Randall England and Taylor, Tate and Ryder Wells.

Pallbearers were to be Wesley England, Todd Wells, Joel England, Harold Ray Robinson, Rick Duwe, Roland Walker, Wayne East and Frank Robinson.

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Joseph England

FUNERAL for Joseph England, 93, of Greenwood is 11 a.m. Saturday at Greenwood Church of Christ with burial at Greenwood Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 tonight at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

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Joseph England

SERVICE for Joseph England, 93, of Greenwood is pending at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

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Joseph England

SERVICE for Joseph England, 93, of Greenwood is pending at Coker-Hawkins.

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Republicans ruined state finances

Our Texas budget is facing its biggest crisis in Texas history. Despite a $27 billion shortfall, Rick Perry and the GOP campaigned that Texas was in better shape than any “so-called” liberal states.

The truth is that Texas owes more debt per citizen than California as a result of the Republicans’ short gain approach to our state government. Texans need to wake up and see what Republican leaders have actually done for us.

As a consequence of Texas’ financial disaster, funding for public schools will be slashed, dangerous criminals will be released early from prison, there will be massive cuts to Medicaid payment for doctors, which means they will see fewer patients, college tuition will continue to skyrocket and major transportation projects needed for economic growth will grind to a halt.

Republicans have been playing a Ponzi scheme with the resources handed to them by Democratic leaders like Anne Richards, Mark White, Bob Bullock and Pete Laney, but the scheme is up this session because the money is all gone. As Bill White said, you cannot just harvest and never plant.

Under Republican leadership, funds have been directed and redirected to cover things they were never intended to cover. For example, the fuel tax that is designed to pay for road construction and maintenance is raided to cover numerous other programs that are in no way related to road construction.

To make matters worse, the fuel tax has not been indexed for inflation since 1991. So, we have a 1991 revenue model funding a 2011 construction cost model. No business can run that way, and neither can our state.

For that reason, and many other similar reasons, the gig is up. There is not enough money to shuffle around and fill budget holes anymore, and as a result, school funding will be gutted, prisons will be closed and essential Medicaid services will be eliminated.

Even border security is getting gutted by Republicans despite their assurances to voters in the last few election cycles that border security was a priority. In addition, the governor’s “rainy day” fund is now being raided to cover other budget holes, so shouldn’t that tell Texans that it’s raining?

It’s time Texans change the oil that is running the car; stop relying on bumper sticker politics and believing those politicians that say they are conservative all while wrapping themselves in the Constitution and the flag. We Texans are about to suffer more than ever before, and since there hasn’t been a Democrat in power for more than 10 years, only Republicans are to blame.

Wise County citizens, I know you care about things that affect you like schools, affordable insurance, electricity, college tuition, safer streets, a sound financial infrastructure and adequate Medicaid health services for loved ones, just to name a few – so please start taking a look at voting for Democrats to send to Austin in 2012. In the meantime, wear your boots, and don’t forget to bring your umbrellas.

Tracy Smith

Posted in Letters to the Editor0 Comments

Perry misuses state money

With the state Congress going into this next legislative session with the largest budget shortfall in state history, Gov. Rick Perry on Dec. 31 announced a $4.5 million investment of taxpayer dollars to a friend’s company. This happened no more than two months after the award program called the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, managed by the governor’s office, became a campaign issue in the governor’s race of 2010.

The governor had already awarded Convergen Lifesciences Inc. half the money in mid-August, the day the contract was signed, and the remainder at the end of the year. Perry acknowledged the grant as an investment (a.k.a. a risk that may not return taxpayer money).

The company awarded this grant is led by Austin entrepreneur David Nance, who is a major contributor to the Perry campaign fund and has been on multiple state advisory boards to the Perry administration.

At the time that Convergen was awarded the grant, Nance was found to have ignored or sidestepped lower reviewing panels. Nance’s application for grant money was not handled by the usual channels for approval. Initially, an Austin-area screening board rejected the application. Then Nance took his application to another board focusing on Life Sciences, a 17-member statewide advisory board, made up mostly of Perry appointees, and asked Alan Kirchhoff, Perry’s director of economic development at the time, to intervene.

Kirchhoff has since resigned his appointed position. But apparently he still has a powerful influence as a lobbyist to the governor’s office because he was hired by Mr. Nance, and they are now pitching another investment idea to state officials meant to benefit Nance’s company.

Meanwhile, the fish rots from the head down. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus approved the $4.5 million investment when the advisory board Nance manipulated recommended it.

During the time of the re-election campaign for governor when this was first discovered, Perry denied any wrongdoing, but he continued his resistance to offer contract details before the Nov. 2 election. Then three days after the election, Perry released the contract after first contending it should be kept secret.

Facing a $24 billion budget shortfall, the legislature this month is expected to debate whether to continue economic incentives, such as the technology fund, and whether Perry should continue to manage hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives. While I acknowledge that these grants are supportive in boosting research for Texas universities, I can’t help but ponder whether Perry is using the incentives to reward friends and donors of private corporations, and so should you.

Tracy Smith

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Ruby Wyatt

MEMORIAL service for Ruby Wyatt of Greenwood is 2 p.m. today at Greenwood Baptist Church.

Posted in Funerals0 Comments




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