AM Update
8:04 am
Wed May 9, 2012

AM Update: Border Patrol Overhaul, Radioactive Texas Dump Questioned, Austin Budget Talks Continue

New Border Patrol Strategy Focuses on Intelligence

The U.S. Border Patrol unveiled a new plan for tightening America’s borders yesterday.

The 2012-2016 Border Patrol Strategic Plan includes tactics and technologies developed over the past few years like unmanned aircraft systems – aka, drones – but also more focus on preventing risk.

The past few years have been a period of unprecedented growth in resources for the Border Patrol. Right now, there are more law enforcement officers on the border – more than 21,000 – than at any time in Border Patrol history.

One major focus for the Border Patrol remains disrupting “transnational criminal organizations” – or gangs like Mexican drug cartels.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher addressed federal lawmakers on the House Committee on Homeland Security on Tuesday:

Through targeted enforcement against high priority threats and the expansion of programs that aim to reduce smuggling and associated crimes, the Border Patrol will increase the ability to disrupt and degrade the transnational criminal organizations along our borders.

Fronteras reporter Jose Luis Jimenez reports  the plan should be finalized in 2013.

Judge Calls for Hearing on a Texas Radioactive Site

A Texas district judge ruled on Tuesday that the state’s environmental agency should have allowed a hearing over a new radioactive waste site in West Texas before it licensed the site.

State District Judge Lora Livingston ruled that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality should have had an open forum on the site, which opened late last year. A hearing would have let residents express any concerns over potential contamination the area may have faced because of the site.

There’s an air of controversy over the matter because, as StateImpact Texas reports, one Texas representative says the commission approved the low-level radioactive site despite clear environmental risks.

Lawyers from the environmental group Sierra Club appealed the state’s decision for the West Texas site, which is owned by Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists.

WCS maintains that they will continue operations during the State’s appeal.

Austin Energy, Austin Water Budgets Under Microscope Today

The Austin City Council is continuing its slog through the proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

At a work session this morning, the council is looking at the city’s “enterprise departments:” revenue-generating departments including Austin Energy, Austin Water and Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services. According to its agenda, council is set for a “presentation and discussion of departmental conditions including horizon issues, unmet needs, key performance data and financial forecasts” for the three departments.

Separate from the budget talks, council has held several work sessions going over proposed rate increases for Austin Energy customers. Another item on council’s agenda today allows for “possible action regarding amendments to the Austin Energy rate work session schedule and topics.” Council has two additional AE work sessions scheduled this month.

Today’s work session begins at 9 a.m. at City Hall. You can watch the meeting online.  Council’s regular Thursday meeting this week is canceled, giving incumbents up for re-election more time to campaign leading up to Election Day this Saturday.