AM Update 7/25/12
8:13 am
Wed July 25, 2012

AM Update: The Future of The Colorado, TaxMasters Client Information, Border Fences Get Green Light

Stakeholders Consider Colorado River's Future

A public meeting today will focus on the future of the Colorado River in Travis and Bastrop Counties.

Data released by Austin Youth River Watch earlier this month suggests that the health of the river’s ecosystem might be in jeopardy. The group discovered low levels of oxygen in the water and that could be bad for fish and other wildlife.

Along with AYRW, representatives from the City of Austin and Lost Pines Habitat Conservation Plan will also be on hand.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. at Bastrop State Park.

Former TaxMasters Clients Get Closer to A Resolution

The Texas Attorney General’s Office says former clients of TaxMasters, Inc. will soon receive letters detailing information about the case and their rights.

The now defunct tax assistance company declared bankruptcy earlier this year as a Travis County jury returned a $195 million dollar verdict against its founder and CEO, Patrick Cox, the company itself, and its predecessor companies. The jury also found over 100,000 violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Abbott says his office has been working closely with the bankruptcy court, the Chapter 7 Trustee, the IRS and other stakeholders to "ensure that anyone defrauded by TaxMasters has easy access to information about the resources that are available to help them.”

Abbott also says his office has worked successfully to keep former client names under seal and to make the IRS aware that former clients may have outstanding issues because of the company’s conduct.

For more information, contact the University of Houston Center for Consumer Law or call (877) 839-8422. Other resources include IRS and the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

Border Fences on South Texas Flood Plain

After a long debate, the Associated Press reports that the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) has agreed to a proposal to build border fence segments in South Texas. The border fences will be along a Rio Grande flood plain. The Texas Observer reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been trying to convince the USIBWC to unilaterally make this decision for three years.

CPB has argued that the fences will help counter illegal immigration. But USIBWC and its Mexican counterpart have worried that the fences will act as dams and flood towns on both sides of the border. 

The USIBWC monitors U.S.-Mexico water relations and tries to find solutions for problems like flood control in the border region. Mexico argues that the construction of this fence will violate a treaty between the two countries. The Texas Observer obtained a memorandum from a Mexican engineer to the USIBWC citing worries about the deflection of water to the Mexican side of the fence.

Concerns over potential flooding in the U.S. are grounded in the July, 2012 effects of Hurricane Alex. The Observer says the border towns of Rio Grande City, Roma, and Los Ebanos were underwater for around eight days. These are the cities where the isolated sections of border fences will be erected.

Mexico also has a history of riverside towns flooding. In 2008, the Observer reports, sister cities of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico received heavy rain. The border wall acted like a dam. The water was only ankle deep on the U.S. side. In Mexico, the water got as high as the door frames and two people drowned. 

The commission now says its analysis shows the proposed areas for the fence would not cause significant obstruction to Rio Grande waters.