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Frisco To Consider Measures Limiting Exide Operations

Exide plant in Frisco
Exide plant in Frisco

The Frisco City Council will tonight consider several measures that could limit the ability of Exide’s lead battery plant to meet clean air requirements and continue operating.

The Exide plant has faced growing citizen opposition since the EPA said the air near the plant contains a dangerous amount of lead. Lead can affect learning in children. State inspections also found lead contamination around the plant.

The council will consider denying building permits Exide needs to meet federal air requirements. Council members will also consider steps that could designate the plant as out-of-compliance with current zoning standards. That step could begin the amortization process opponents want the City to use to shut down the Exide operation.

The Exide plant has operated from its current location since the 1960’s and the company says it has followed the law. Exide has threatened legal action against Frisco if the City attempts to disrupt its operation.

Shelley Kofler, KERA News

House GOP chair got discounted loan

House Republican campaign chairman Pete Sessions of Texas is the fourth House member who has been notified he received a discounted loan from the former Countrywide Financial Corp.

Sessions' spokeswoman, Torrie Miller, confirmed the notification Tuesday. The mortgage records of the four lawmakers have been sent to the House Ethics Committee by a separate investigative panel. 

Three of the four are Republicans, and two play prominent roles: Sessions, as the person responsible for Republican efforts to maintain control of the House, and Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Miller, Sessions' spokeswoman, said Sessions requested that Countrywide not give him any special benefits or treatment. She said he was treated like any other customer. 


North Texas Job Losses

Two North Texas companies are handing out layoff notices to start the New Year.

Nuconsteel in Denton, is shutting down operations entirely. 116 employees are slated for layoff Friday.

In Roanoke, 127 workers at DSC Logistics will get pink slips in March.  A company spokesman told the Workforce Commission of Texas that a loss of business affecting the Roanoke facility is to blame. 

BJ Austin, KERA News

AirTran must reinstate pilot who reported problems

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered AirTran Airways to reinstate a former pilot who was fired after reporting mechanical problems.

OSHA officials say the airline violated whistleblower protection laws when it terminated the pilot after a sudden spike in the number of his reports detailing mechanical failures.

The agency also is requiring the airline to pay more than $1 million to the pilot in back wages, plus interest and compensatory damages.

A company spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AirTran is a subsidiary of Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co.


Paul: State rights to trump federal law would help

White House hopeful Ron Paul says he likes the idea of states deciding which federal laws they shouldn't have to follow because they deem them unconstitutional.

The libertarian-leaning congressman from Texas says nullification could be a helpful check on the federal government and that it would be a lot smaller if that principle were part of the Constitution.

Paul is in South Carolina making his final pitch to voters ahead of Saturday's first-in-the-South primary there. He spoke Tuesday at the South Carolina Statehouse, surrounded by icons of the Civil War.


Turkey reacts to Rick Perry's terrorist accusation

United States Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has drawn Turkey's ire after the Texas Gov. said the country was ruled by Islamic terrorists.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry released a statement Tuesday saying Perry's comments were "baseless and inappropriate" and the U.S. should not waste its time with candidates "who do not even know their allies."

In a debate ahead of the South Carolina primaries, Perry said Turkey was ruled by "what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists," questioned the country's NATO membership and said it should not receive U.S. aid.

Turkey defended its contribution to NATO in the statement, and said it has been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.

It says Perry's low standings in polls were proof the GOP does not endorse his opinions.


Border Patrol to toughen policy

The U.S. Border Patrol is overhauling its approach on migrants caught illegally crossing the 1,954-mile border that the United States shares with Mexico.

Years of growth and new technology are enabling the federal agency to do more than send border-crossers back to Mexico after fingerprinting them, but without any punishment.

The new national strategy will be announced in weeks. It relies on programs already in effect in some areas, such as prosecution or transfer to a border city hundreds of miles before being sent back to Mexico.

A key portion is a new color-coded system that categorizes detained migrants based on their number of crossing attempts or criminal history. That's been in use in the patrol's busiest corridor for illegal crossings, and Tucson, Ariz., sector officials say it's working.


Pilot tried to warn Plano passenger away from prop

A pilot has told investigators that he warned a Dallas-area woman away from the front of the small plane before she walked into the propeller. The National Transportation Safety Board on Monday released a preliminary report on the Dec. 3 accident in McKinney that injured online fashion editor Lauren Scruggs.

The Plano woman, who lost an eye and her left hand, continues in rehabilitation. The NTSB report says the pilot, whose name wasn't listed, landed and left the engine running while awaiting his next passenger to view holiday lights.

The pilot says he saw Scruggs exiting in front of the strut, he put out his right arm to divert her and said walk behind the plane. He looked away, heard someone yell "stop, stop" and Scruggs was on the ground.


Plan “B” For Dallas Trinity River Project “Horse Park” 

A Dallas City Council committee wants to jumpstart a stalled Trinity River development project.

The Texas Horse Park, planned near the river in southeast Dallas, was supposed to open in 2007.  Private fundraising to design, build and operate it faltered.

Now, the Parks Department wants to see if a private operator would take over the project. The city would provide the initial funding, some 12 million dollars in bond money. Texas Horse Park Inc. would play a support role, and continue efforts to raise the other 15 million dollars needed.  

City Councilmember Jerry Allen says that’s a good idea to get the project back on track.

Allen: I have no doubt that ten years from now people will be clapping and saying this is a good thing.  I have no doubt of that.

But Council member Ann Margolin isn’t so sure.  She says if the private company goes bust, the city would have to run the horse park.  

The full council must still approve.  

BJ Austin, KERA News

Orion Spacecraft To Land In Dallas

NASA announced today that the Orion spacecraft … the next generation that will take humans into deep space … is on a “road trip” with a stop in Dallas.

The “test version” is making a trip from White Sands in New Mexico to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  It’ll make stops in Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Huntsville Alabama.

The public will get a chance to see the crew module and talk to engineers and astronauts January 27-29 at Victory Park/American Airlines Center.    

BJ Austin, KERA News

Death Sentence Changed To “Life”

Chelsea Richardson’s death sentence has been reduced to life in prison.  The sentence, overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct, was “converted” to life today.  

Richardson and her boyfriend, Andrew Walmsley were convicted of killing his parents in their Mansfield home in 2003.  Prosecutors said the teenagers killed Rick and Susana Walmsley so Andrew could inherit more than a million dollars.  

In a statement, the Walmsley family expressed support for the “life” sentence, saying a new penalty phase of the trial would be too emotionally painful.  

Chelsea Richardson will serve 40 years, and get credit for time already served. 

BJ Austin, KERA News

Guilty Verdict In FW Convenience Store Shooting

After two weeks of testimony, it took a Tarrant County jury 2 ½ hours  to find Kwame Rockwell guilty of capital murder in a convenience store robbery last year that left the store manager and a Mrs.Baird’s deliveryman dead.

The punishment phase of the trial begins tomorrow morning. Prosecutors are asking for the death penalty.

BJ Austin, KERA News