Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rockwall PD will not be appearing in any grainy cell phone videos anytime soon. And that's a good thing.


Date: March 23, 2011



Sgt. Jeff Welch

Public Information Officer

Rockwall Police Department

Rockwall Police Department is Awarded “Recognized” Status

The Rockwall Police Department is the 42nd police agency, out of over 2,800 agencies in the state (less than 2%) to be awarded “Recognized” status by the Texas Police Chiefs Association. The “Recognition Program” was developed a few years ago by the Texas Police Chiefs Association to assist Texas police agencies in meeting their professional obligations to their citizens. This is a voluntary process where police agencies prove their compliance with law enforcement’s current Best Practices.

Being “Recognized” means that the agency meets or exceeds all of the 164 identified Best Practices, which cover every aspect of law enforcement from pursuits, use of force, protection of citizen rights, evidence and property management, and other patrol and investigative operations. This “Recognized” status ensures that an agency has carefully planned for these critical issues, has developed policies and procedures to address them, as well as put systems in place to identify and correct problems.

Police officers exercise government’s highest powers – the power to stop and question an individual; the power to arrest and seize a person and his property; and the power to use force, including deadly force, in that process. Police agencies direct and control an officer’s activity through supervision, training, and written policies and procedures. Since supervisors cannot always be present, officers often operate alone. This means training and policies, along with the appropriate equipment, are even more critical to ensure proper performance.

The Recognition Program assures city management and the citizens that their Police Department is operating within the best practices of law enforcement. The review process of policies, the on-site visit to inspect equipment and facilities, interviews of staff, and proof of compliance in all areas took over a year. The Rockwall Police Department was approved for “Recognized” status by the committee on March 3, 2011. At last night’s City Council meeting Rockwall Police Chief Mark Moeller was presented the Certificate of Recognition by TPCA committee members.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

May the best candidates win.

Or the least worst depending on your level of cynicism.

Yesterday at 5pm was the filing deadline for the May 14th election for city council.

I filed for Place 1.

Pretty full slate this year - 3 people have filed for each of the three open seats and 3 have filed for Mayor.

Quick brief on me:

My family moved to Rockwall in 1987 when I was a wee lad (slang used in honor of St Patrick's Day tomorrow) of 12 years old. I graduated from Rockwall High in 1993 - way back when everyone in every school was a Yellow Jacket. Much of my family still lives in town - my parents, my sister (1996 RHS Grad) and her family, and my cousin (1994 RHS Grad) and her family.

Our business, Rockwall Controls, is located in Rockwall and has been for 25 years.

Needless to say, I spend most of my time in Rockwall. I want Rockwall to be the greatest city it can be.

It will achieve this not by the actions one person, nor has it been a great city because of the actions one person or of city councils - past or present. Rockwall is a great city because of the people who live here who want Rockwall to be a great city.

Government action is government interference. This extends from what goes on in your home, your neighborhood, or local businesses. One of the great dangers we face from government action is the Law of Unintended Consequences. Meddling into affairs of which one is not expert or educated always creates consequences that often do more harm than good.

Government at all levels has perfected this.

Who knows more about your neighborhood? You or city council?

Who knows what's best for your business? You or city council?

Who knows what's best for Rockwall? You or city council?

There has been far too much disconnect between council and citizens. Much of which is council induced. Opinions counter to what council believes are not welcomed. Hostility to differing views has been common. Citizens are expected to be cheerleaders to government - not the coach.

I have been repeatedly accused of spreading "misinformation" on countless occasions. I spread "information" that was given. Any "mis" part was the fault of council not producing the information either willfully or negligently.

Rockwall needs open government that is truly representative of the citizens of Rockwall. Council's number one job is to be us. Their job is to protect our rights, our property, and our taxes from the machine designed to rob us of our rights, property, and taxes.

Rockwall is not business friendly. You will hear from some that it is. Ask a business person. Ask a business that has tried to open here. Ask a business that is here and needs to make changes.

I have witnessed meddling and micromanaging of million and billion dollar companies wishing to do business in Rockwall. Was the goal to make citizens' lives better? No. Was the goal to give the business the best opportunity to be prosperous? No.

Nitpicking and meddling in business was done because one or more persons serving "don't like" some aspect of the business.

Example: Ice machines, propane, or Red Box offend one of our officials, so a business must do without in order to jump through a hoop to have the chance to operate in Rockwall. Heck, just read the sign ordinance for a taste of business hostility.

Good businesses are good for the citizens. Sales taxes make it possible to have good services without having to pay for services solely through fees or high property taxes.

Without a good business environment, you either give up services or you pay high property taxes.

And what to do with those taxes? First and foremost, provide essential services: police, fire, roads, water, sewer. These are priorities.

But debt is the real priority. Debt must be paid. Debt obligations carry a moral, ethical, and legal requirement to be paid.

In a budget crisis, no one every says, "Well, lets stop paying the debt, that would solve our deficit!". You can't not pay debt! (Apologies for the grammar.) Having the ability via a good credit rating to borrow makes it possible to buy large needed projects like police stations or fire stations.

Large debt comes with large risk. But in most cases almost everyone can agree that the risk is worth it - roads, police stations, etc.

However, in many cases there is disagreement over the debt risk and the reason for the debt.

We will have a very large bond package in November - somewhere between $25 -$60 million depending on with whom you talk. None of the items are for what I have described as priorities for citizens. All are for recreational desires.

We need a council and councilmen who will be good stewards of the bond money if it passes.

On the issuance of debt or general fund budgeting Rockwall must be fiscally responsible.

We must also be realistic when it comes to forecasting the tax income. A rosy picture is painted by many who believe Rockwall is immune to those problems facing the Federal government, the State government, the County government, and the School District, and most municipal governments.

Rockwall is not immune.

That is not to paint a picture of doom and gloom. But, rather the viewpoint that council must be
realistic in planning for the future.

I have no hidden agenda. I have no pet projects I want done. No one has put me up to run. I have no ties to city boards or commissions. The Republican Party of Rockwall (of which I am the treasurer) does not trump my allegiance to the citizens of Rockwall.

My loyalty always lies with the citizens of Rockwall and I will always take the position of a citizen and advocate for the citizen - not the "government".

Council represents the people, the bureaucracy represents the government.

I will always represent the people.

Rockwall City Council 7 March

III. Proclamations.

Supposed to be two, but both were postponed.

IV. Open Forum.

No one spoke, guess everyone in town in perfectly content with government!

V. Consent Agenda.

None pulled, passed 7-0.

2nd reading of the anti-bumming ordinance.

VI. Appointments.

Two scheduled, P&Z either no show or had nothing to report, and the other was tabled.

VII. Action Items.

1. Starting process to issue Certificates of Obligation. Fancy word for taking on big debt without the hassel and inconvenience of a bond election where the opportunity for citizens to actually have the chance to say yea or nay is bypassed.

Looks like the maximum amount of the CO will be $7.7 million. Also, some refinancing of the current TIF was included.

Mayoral Candidate Farris wanted some explanation from the city manager regarding PD-32 - to clear up "misinformation". Also, Mr Farris asked who pays for the debt if the REDC defaults.

COs being issued will be used for infrastructure and improvements. The TIF pays for the debt service on the COs.

The answer about who is responsible for the debt once again went unanswered.

Here is the answer the CEO of the REDC gave:

The City of Rockwall issues the debt, and if sales tax revenues were not sufficient to cover the debt repayments, it would be the city council’s responsibility to balance the budget. The Sales Tax Revenue Bonds are issued with a first priority lien on sales tax revenues of the corporation and the CO debt repayment is a second priority lien.

2. More TIF stuff.

Passed 6-1, Councilman Sevier opposed.

VII. City Manager's Report.

-Turn lane at Ralph Hall and 3097 is complete.
-Drainage improvements on 740 are complete.

Mr Farris wanted to clear up rumors that the In-N-Out Burger, who he gave a hard time about the sign they needed, is still coming to Rockwall.

Mr LaCroix spoke the project architect who said "yes".

The response In-N-Out gave me to my inquiry was "tentative".


2.unsure; uncertain; not definite or positive)

Here's hoping.

-Bills in State House and Senate to help out LRE with water has been introduced. Relief finally coming to LRE?


2.unsure; uncertain; not definite or positive)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rockwall City Council 21 February

I can't seem to find my notes on this meeting, so I'll be relying solely on my memory for the content. This shouldn't affect the accuracy, or inaccuracy as I have been repeatedly accused of from sitting councilmen during multiple council sessions.

Exectuive session items:

Some money was spent, was it 3 things? Only one I remember was hiring a lobbyist to get a bill passed that has something to do with private water service providers in municipal boundaries, or something like that.

IV. Consent Agenda.

I think the anti-bum ordinances were pulled.

(1)It will be ok for Shriners and Firemen to hold up traffic and distract drivers, but not others. (1st reading)

(2)Camping in public places passed on 2nd reading.

V. Appointments.

1. P&Z Vice Chair Connie Jackson, also current candidate for city council, coincidentally gave the P&Z report for the second week in a row. Not as much verbosity or micromanaging this time.

2. Police Chief Moeller gave his racial profiling report (as mandated by state law, I think). No reports of racial profiling for the past year against police officers. Against code enforcement in Lake Rockwall Estates however....

3. Lady who wants fees waived at Harbor so she can have a fundraiser got it. ($400 rental fee plus other fees waived.)

VI. Public Hearings.

1. Guy wants a large accessory building to replace two existing. Passed.

2. Kroger wanted to add a gas station. This would have shorted the parking lot 8 spaces that would be required. City council decided that Kroger doesn't know anything about customers' needs and are more knowledgeable than Kroger about the retail business and denied the request 4-2-1. (Russo and Nielsen supported Kroger, Sweet abstained.)

3. Church needed an SUP to engage in their first amendment rights of religion and peaceable assembly. Was some discussion about adding a parking ban that hasn't been a problem for the empty lot adjacent to the building, don't know if that was removed in the final motion. Either way, the church will be able to continue practicing their natural rights - with government's permission. Passed 6-1, Scott opposed.

VII. Action Items.

1. AquaTexas (Water service provider in LRE) isn't getting the green light to raise water rates, yet.

2. City staff thought it would be a good idea to tack on a 5% fee for absolutely no good reason to citizens natural gas bills (Atmos). Council was like, "Oh, no you din't". Failed 7-0.

3. Big-ass trashcans will not be forced upon citizens. Several, if not all, council received over 100 emails opposed to the idea of giant trash cans and recycling bins as well as the reduction in services while increase the cost.

Mayor Pro Tem/ Mayoral Candidate Glen Farris was the only one who did not support the motion to keep the current, perfect trash service exactly the way it is. Basically he stated the 100 emails were not enough to sway him as the 34,900 people who didn't convey opinion one way or the other to council mattered more.

FYI, absolutely nothing prevents one citizen in Rockwall from having big-ass trashcans or big-ass recycle bins if so desires. Anyone can have big-ass cans, all you have to do is call the city and request one (or both). The difference between the failed plan and current situation is that (1) robots won't pick up your big-ass trashcans, (2) You have have to pay a couple bucks more a month, but only if you rent them from Allied. You can go to Home Depot or Lowe's and get big-ass trashcans if you want, and (3) No one is forced by the city to have big-ass trashcans.

4. Item about creating a PR position tabled.

5. Art in Public Places - on all future bonds passed, 1% of the money will go to an art project. (THIS IS HOW IT WAS EXPLAINED TO ME: If we pass a bond, 1% of the amount will go to fund an art project, but only at the site of the bond passed. The money will not be used to fund any art project or other art related projects throughout the city.) Passed 7-0.

6. City creating a citizen cheer leading citizen committee to promote passage of the c.$40,000,000 bond package election in November.

7. The new Mi Cocina restaurant needs a sign variance - passed WITHOUT any discussion.

8. Police department is buying a SWAT Rapid Deployment Vehicle - around $50,000, but it won't cost taxpayers anything as the money comes out of seized property.

9. City once again talking about somehow broadcasting meetings over the internet. I think they are going to start out doing what the county has done, basic audio streaming.

If I find my notebook, I may edit this with some snarky comments. But then again, Black Ops calling my name...