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Another Parkland Departure

Parkland Hospital
Parkland Hospital

Parkland Hospital’s chief financial officer is leaving. John Dragovits says he has a new job: president and chief financial officer of a healthcare information technology company in Dallas.

His last day at Parkland will be in mid-July. But Dragovits says he will voluntarily advise the Parkland Board should the need arise.

He’s been at Parkland since 2006, and is credited with maintaining two AAA bond ratings, as well as making Parkland a leader in the transition to electronic medical records.

Dragovits is the latest in half-a-dozen high level departures as Parkland struggles to correct a number of patient care and safety failures in a critical inspection. The hospital has 10 months to make a big turnaround or lose federal funding.

BJ Austin, KERA News

ERCOT Warns First Heat Wave Could Tax Grid

ERCOT, the Texas electrical grid operator, says the anticipated triple-digit heat Monday could put some strain on supply. Peak electric demand is expected to top 65,000 megawatts Monday and Tuesday.

That’s close to the record levels of demand last August when ERCOT asked some commercial users to voluntarily shut down to avoid rolling black outs.

ERCOT expects to meet that without issuing an Energy Emergency Alert. But officials say it’s important to conserve, especially between the hours of 3 and 7pm.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Skimmer Convicted in DFW Credit Card Theft

A Tarrant County jury has convicted a man charged with using illegal devices called “skimmers” inside gas pumps to steal debit and credit card information.

52 year old Aleksandr Goukasin will be sentenced later. He faces life in prison.

Prosecutors say Goukasin was part of a theft ring out of Glendale, California. The group intercepted thousands of credit or debit card numbers and stole more than $100,000 in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Nevada and California.

The “skimmer” would grab the card number, zip code and pin. Goukasin would transfer the data to gift cards, then use the altered gift cards to withdraw cash from ATM machines.

Two other suspects await trial in Houston. Two more are being sought.

BJ Austin, KERA News

100-year-old Battleship Texas to reopen after leak

A temporary patch has halted a leak that shut down the 100-year-old Battleship Texas, and the relic from World Wars I and II is set to reopen.

Ship manager Andy Smith told the Houston Chronicle the public will have access to the ship again Saturday. He says workers are determining whether to upgrade a rubber patch, but the "emergency is controlled."

The ship was turned into a museum in 1948 and is the last remaining dreadnought from that era. It sprang a leak two weeks ago, when staff with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the ship's caretaker, found it listing and discovered flooded areas.

Before pumping out the water, workers removed oil left from when the ship was still used in battle.


'Trusted traveler' driver allegedly had marijuana

A driver in the "trusted traveler" lane at a Texas border crossing allegedly was not after officers confiscated 186 pounds of marijuana.

Customs and Border Protection in Laredo on Friday announced the driver has been taken into custody. The CBP trusted traveler programs allow expedited travel for preapproved, low-risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks.

The search happened Wednesday at the Laredo Port of Entry. An officer at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge referred the vehicle for an additional examination.

Agents found three dozen packages of what investigators say added up to $186,000 worth of marijuana.

Customs authorities did not immediately provide further details on the 27-year-old driver from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.


Houston man charged with vandalizing 1929 Picasso

Houston police are searching for a man now charged with vandalizing a 1929 Pablo Picasso painting in an act that was caught on video.

Uriel Landeros of Houston was charged Friday with felony graffiti and criminal mischief for spray painting the artwork titled "Woman in a Red Armchair" at the city's Menil Collection. Crime Stoppers says it's offering a $5,000 reward for tips leading to the 22-year-old's arrest.

The painting was damaged June 13. The act of vandalism was caught in a 24-second video taken by a bystander and posted on YouTube. It shows a man dressed in black holding a stencil up to the work of art and spray-painting it.

He left behind an image of a bullfighter, a bull and the word "conquista," the Spanish word for conquest.