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Court Blocks EPA Plan To Take Over Permits & Midday Roundup

By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-943668.mp3

Dallas, TX – A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from taking over greenhouse gas permits in Texas.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued the stay Thursday, pending further action by the court.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had asked the federal appeals court in Washington to block the EPA from taking over greenhouse gas permits starting Sunday until the court could review the case.

The appeals court noted that order issuing the stay "should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits" of Abbott's motion.

Earlier last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had declined to issue a stay that would delay the EPA's plans as Texas' lawsuit against the federal agency moved forward.

Feds investigate Arlington Heights High School

The U.S. Education Department is investigating allegations of discrimination against minority students at Arlington Heights High School.

Agency spokesman Jim Bradshaw told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Monday that the department's Office of Civil Rights will investigate whether school officials discriminated against black and Hispanic students in disciplinary action and in opportunities to make up absences.

Bradshaw notes though that opening a complaint for an investigation does not mean the office has made a determination of the case's merits.

Clint Bond, spokesman for the Fort Worth school district, says local officials have not been asked for information concerning the investigation.

He says the district does not tolerate racism.

After allegations of wrongdoing surfaced at the school this summer, a principal and assistant superintendent resigned.

New Dallas County Commissioners Court

The Dallas County Commissioners Court is re-inventing itself in a kinder-gentler way, after some rancorous meetings over the past couple of years.

The first meeting with a newly-elected Democratic majority was yesterday. Clay Jenkins took the gavel as the new County Judge. And former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Elba Garcia took the District 4 seat, formerly held by Republican Ken Mayfield.

Garcia says there's a new cooperative tone and a lot of work to be done.

Garcia: public safety, air quality, transportation, quality of life issues, the jail, you know we're going through another jail inspection soon. Definitely we need to work at a fast pace on many different fronts. But I think that everybody's ready. And I feel confident we're ready to work together.

Garcia announced she is paying to videotape the meetings and will put them on her website. She says it's in the interest of transparency. County officials say they are studying a proposal for live video recording of the meetings.

New roof for fire-damaged Texas Governor's Mansion

The arson-damaged Texas Governor's Mansion is getting a new roof as part of $26 million in renovations.

Project manager Dealey Herndon says restoration officials had some surprises over the front windows.

The Austin American-Statesman reported, for its Wednesday editions, that the tall windows were built to lift about 18 inches into a pocket built into the mansion's exterior walls, apparently so people could walk out on to the porch, on both the first and second floors.

Herndon calls it "a fun find." She also says the new roof could be done by April.

No one has been charged over the June 2008 fire that damaged the unoccupied residence during renovations. Gov. Rick Perry and his wife are living in a rental property.

The mansion is expected to reopen in 2012.