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Posts published in June 2003

Governor calls special legislative session on Redistricting

Governor Rick Perry issued a call for a Special Session of the Legislature to start June 30. The only item on the agenda is the Redistricting of congressional boundaries.

This contentious issue was the reason that 51 Democratic legislators fled from Austin to the safety of Ardmore, Oklahoma during the regular session, a tactic that kept the legislature from having a quorum and being able to take a vote on the issue.

Republicans, under the leadership of U.S. Congressman Tom DeLay, are pushing for redistricting because the legislature in the last session did not agree on new boundaries, which are required every 10 years when there is a new census count, and the issue was decided by the courts instead. If the Republicans can get a vote on new lines, they believe that it will create more Republican districts for the next congress, at the expense of the Democrat’s current seats. Thus, the issue is highly political as well as constitutionally questionable.

Democrats at this session are not expected to disappear, because Perry could keep calling special sessions until they agree to show up. Instead, they are counting on the Texas Senate, where rules say that a 2/3 majority is required to bring the issue to a vote, and the Republicans do not have that many seats. However, swing votes could alter the outcome when votes are counted.

To prepare for the special session, Representative Joe Crabb, Atascocita, who is Chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, has scheduled public hearings in six cities around the state of Texas prior to the June 30th call.

Congressman Gene Green says:
“Expressing Disappointment that Governor Perry calls Special Session”


“By calling for a special session today on Congressional Redistricting, Governor Perry has shown that he is more interested in playing partisan politics like in Washington. A special session will cost at least $1.7 million when the state is reducing health care for seniors, children and education funding.

“We have a Congressional plan that has been approved by a bipartisan three judge panel, it has been ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court to be constitutional and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act, and elections have been held using these lines. While the districts created by the court elected 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans in 2002, statewide Republican candidates carried 20 of the 32 Congressional districts. Democrats have prevailed in these districts only because they can and do win the votes of ticket-splitters.

“The main premise for redrawing Congressional Districts is that Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives receive more votes than their Democratic counterparts. Their argument is wrong and is unconstitutional. Districts are drawn based on population, not on voters.

“After the 2000 Census, each Congressional District in Texas has a population of 651,620. Among the 32 districts, the number of registered voters, as well as those who exercise the right to vote, varies.

“Some districts, for example the 29th Congressional District, has a little more than 223,000 registered voters with about 72,000 having participated in the last election. By contrast, the 8th Congressional District has about 368,000 registered voters and more than 157,000 voted in the last election. Both districts have equal population.

“The United States Constitution requires that states establish congressional districts that are equal in population, under the ‘one man, one vote’ principle. This means that everyone, regardless of whether they are registered to vote or actually vote, deserves to be represented in the United States Congress.

“Redistricting is a serious constitutional matter. It is not a childish ‘do-over’ when it does not meet your partisan whims. In a democracy, voters should choose their representatives; representatives should never choose voters.”

Republican State Chair S. Waddington says:
“We commend Governor Perry for showing courageous leadership”


“We commend Governor Perry for showing courageous leadership by calling a special session and not allowing Democrats to continue to disenfranchise Texas voters.

“Texans have elected their lawmakers to do a job, including the task of congressional redistricting. Texans want their elected leaders to live up to their responsibilities, not abdicate them to appointed federal judges.

“The legislature has failed to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to draw new congressional districts for the past two legislative sessions. The federal court admitted that the interim map it imposed was not intended to reflect Texans’ voting behavior or minority growth across the state. In fact, the court stated that creating additional minority or Republican districts, in accordance with population and electoral changes since the last census, is ‘a quintessentially legislative decision.’

“There is a critical public need for lawmakers to draw new congressional districts that can be implemented before the next election. The current congressional map drawn by the federal court does not accurately reflect the will of Texas voters. Fifty-six percent of Texans voted for the GOP congressional candidate in the 2002 elections, yet Republicans received less than 47% of the seats. In effect, 10% of votes cast by Texans in congressional races are being thrown away.

“The only responsible course of action for lawmakers to take is to return to Austin immediately and do their job by passing a fair redistricting plan that respects Texans’ votes, their will and their views.

“Democrats have stifled Texans’ voices for their own political gain for too long. Democrats refused to pass a fair congressional redistricting plan in 2001, and they ran away to Oklahoma to prevent one from passing in 2003. To allow Democrats to continue to disenfranchise Texas voters would be an absolutely irresponsible travesty of our democratic system. The legislature must enact a fair redistricting plan now, before the next election, so that Texans’ voices are finally heard and respected.”

Pests

We have them at the house and at work. They are truly a pest and most bothersome not to mention nasty. Actually they are fruit flies.

They seem more prevalent this time of year for some reason and I assume it is because of all the fresh fruit available at the market and that one has brought home i.e., bananas, peaches, grapes, onions, etc. I think they get in potted plants also.

I managed to get three of them last night in the kitchen by popping them with a wet dish rag. Most folks use a dish cloth but it’s a dish rag to me. They were on the kitchen window and it was near dusk with the window providing the only light coming inside the house.

One can use insecticides but I do not care to spray that stuff in my kitchen. ##M:[more]#

The fruit fly is common around food that can rot, spoil, or ferment. They breed in drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles, trash cans, sour mops and even yeast products.

You’ve seen the cartoons of drunks with the little flies flying around? That is the fruit fly going for the yeast in the alcohol fumes…yuck.

Go to the grocery store and check out the numerous fruit flies around the onions, potatoes and other products. One can lay about 500 eggs and go from egg to adult in a week. They are most plentiful as they breed like a virus. These creatures lay eggs that hatch into what is known as little maggots.

When your produce is ripened, it should be eaten, discarded or refrigerated. Now you know why you want to wash your fruit before you eat it.

You can make a trap for the little creatures by making a paper funnel and place it over a jar with bait consisting of cider vinegar or a slice of banana in the bottom.

Or tape a clear plastic bag over the sink hole over night. If any are breeding in the drain, the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag.

Enough already.

As usual, Four Dog was resting on his belly watching out the sliding glass door as I sat in my rocker and read. The first growl is usually not something that causes me to look but he did it again. Shortly, he did it again so I couldn’t stand it, I had to look. I looked hard too and could not find out what was causing him to take notice.

Finally I looked down close to the door and by the mower. There was a plastic bag of bird seed and inside the bag was a dove. Not one dove but two. I was going to wait until the Mrs. came home and let her see, but thought maybe I’d better let them out. Sure enough they fluttered their wings wildly but could not escape the bag as I picked it up slowly.

Not wanting them to break a wing or anything, I tore the bag and reached in grabbing one of the dove.

As I got the second dove out of the bag I put it down and let Four Dog take a sniff. He had no interest so I gently tossed the dove into flight.

This is Texas, you know…

Boy, I am one lucky cowboy! I traveled all over Texas in the last nine days with my wife and daughter and son-in-law, and saw some of the prettiest country and the best people in the world. After all, this is Texas, you know!

We left Friday, June 6th, and drove to ol San Antone where we did the tourist thing, (something I’m not cut out for), and did the Riverwalk. We also payed tribute to my ancestor, Davy Crockett and the Alamo. By the way, did you know Alamo means, cottonwood? I sure didn’t.

Well, we also got to visit the Texan Days Festival at the Museum of Texan Cultures and went up in that “Hemisphere” thing where you can see for about eighty miles. While we were waitin’ at the entrance, I took off my boots, rolled up my jeans and waded in the fountain. Some local folks musta liked that cause they made me pose for pictures. Only after I got out did someone show me the sign that said, “NO WADING”. I’m sure glad they didn’t catch me!

It was really nice to slow down. We then drove to Galveston and stayed in a friends “little beach house”. Turns out it was one of the biggest places on West End with all the best of everything. Sure is nice to have friends, ain’t it?!

Miss Judy and I caught a plane on Thursday and flew to Amarillo where we were picked up by the fine folks from the Cal Farley Boys Ranch. In case you didn’t know, Cal Farley’s Boys ranch is an amazing place. It is home to over 400 boys and girls who have been abandoned or who’s parents have given them up. They are the best young people I have ever met and the Ranch is a city in itself. They grow most of their beef and much of their vegetables as well as have their own school district. The “town” was formed in 1939 by Cal Farley on the old Tascosa townsite.

I was privileged to be invited to perform, teach and assist in their Second Annual Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering. I worked with the best of the best. Folks like Red Steagall, R.W. Hampton, Don Dane, J.W. Beeson, Jeff Gore, Trudy Fair, Trey Allen and Stephanie Davis, just to name a few.

I am changed by my time spent at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch and you can find out more at their website.

We flew back Sunday and went directly into rehearsal with the Baytown Little Theater for the August presentation of “Annie Get Your Gun”. It’s gonna be a humdinger! I’ll let you know more, later on.

Finally, I’m lookin’ forward to seein’ a bunch of you all who like great Texas music on Saturday evening at Lyin’ Larry’s. None other than Doug Supernaw, one of my fav-or-ites, will be on stage. Cost is about $15, a real bargain. But you might want to get your tickets asap, since there’s only room for about 400 or so. Hope to see y’all there! Be sure and say howdy, if’n you see me.

Lotsa other good things happenin, but I’ll tell ya when I see ya next.

Gotta go slog through the mud and feed my babies, so I’d appreciate it if you’d shut the gate and I’ll see ya down the trail.

Just a Ridin’,
Lloyd

Aldine District considers tax increase

By P.J. Williams

A four cent tax increase may be needed to meet the $358.9 million budget for the 2003-2004 school year even though it is $18.3 million less than last year’s budget.

According to AISD financial superintendent Keith Clark the tax increase will be decided on in August after the Harris County Appraisal District releases the new appraisals for property values. “At this time, this is the rate we think we will need for the budget we’ve approved,” Clark said. “If property values go up over what we projected, then we won’t have to raise taxes as much.”

According to Clark, the average property value in the Aldine district is $79,000. Even if the 4 cent increase is needed, the average homeowner would see an increase of only $25 a year, or $2.13 a month.

Freeport Exemption adopted by taxing agencies

By P.J. Williams and Gilbert Hoffman

A tax-free industrial zone, which has been promoted by the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce as an important economic stimulus for the Northeast Houston area, received another boost as the Aldine ISD Board voted to adopt the freeport amendment. This action joined with other area taxing districts, including Houston and the Aldine Improvement District, in extending the exemption to certain businesses in the area to exclude their goods in storage or processing from local property taxes.

The Aldine School Board recently struck a deal with local businesses and voted to approve the Freeport Tax Exemption. According to district financial officers, this move should encourage economic activity in the Aldine area without costing the school district.

“We’re not going to lose any money on it,” said Keith Clark, Aldine financial superintendent.

Local companies who will benefit from the tax exemption agreed to pay the school district 1.33 times what they would have paid in taxes up to the 6.5 million dollars the school district will lose the first year from the tax revenue.

Clark said that the state will equalize funding after the first year to make up for the loss.

Clark also suggested that the exemption may boost the local economy and eventually increase property values and in turn increase school funds.

A 1989 constitutional amendment authorized property tax exemption for Freeport property. In 1990, Aldine decided to override the Freeport exemption and continue taxing the property. Now that the Aldine board has chosen to exempt Freeport property, it will remain exempt forever.

Freeport property includes goods, wares, merchandise, ores, and certain aircraft parts. It does not include oil, natural gas, and other petroleum products.

Freeport property qualifies for an exemption only if it has been detained in the state for 175 days or less for the purpose of assembly, storage, manufacturing, processing, or fabricating.

Even when goods are sold to an in-state purchaser rather than shipped directly out of state, they may qualify for the Freeport exemption. To receive the exemption in such a case, the property must qualify under the above requirements as Freeport property and must be transported out of the state within 175 days after it was first acquired in or imported into the state.

Some types of companies currently receiving Freeport tax exemptions include automakers, computer manufacturers, beverage producers, iron works, warehousing and distribution facilities, and medical supply companies.

Juneteenth Celebrations

In remembrance of Juneteenth, the following groups and associations held fun-filled festivals and celebrations.

Independence Heights will host its second annual Juneteenth Parade and Festival on June 21.

The parade will begin at Kennedy Elementary, 306 Crosstimbers at 10 a.m. It will proceed southeast on North Main to East 35th and then to Independence Park . The Booker T. Washington band will be featured along with antique cars, dignitaries and students from Kennedy Elementary. A day-long festival including food booths, a hat contest, a track meet and a raffle drawing will follow the parade.



Acres Homes will hold its 11th Annual Juneteenth Zydeco Rhythm & Blues Festival June 21 from 2-8 p.m. at 6130 Wheatley near Tidwell.

Entertainment will include Nooney & the Zydeco Floaters, the rhythm & blues band Something Unique and the Booker T. Washington band nicknamed “Baby Ocean of Soul.”

There will be a Zydeco dance contest, food booths, vendors and live broadcasts by KRWP-FM Power 97.5 and KBXX-FM 97.9.



The National Emancipation Association’s free Juneteenth Freedom Festival will be held June 19th at Miller Theater in Hermann Park. The 13th anniversary festivities begin at 2 p.m. with a program and introduction of Miss Juneteenth and Court plus recognition of senior citizens. Those who attend the program may then have free barbecue at 3:45. The rest of the evening will feature a talent extravaganza at 4:30 p.m. At 8:00 p.m., four bands, a soloist, and a main feature will entertain the crowd. The Theme is “May the light of history guide our footsteps.”



Acres Home Branch Library will feature Beulah Shepherd as guest speaker on June 19 from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Shepherd is a local activist who will speak on the importance of Juneteenth. The African ensemble Zeitor, face painting, and refreshments will also entertain participants. Admission is free. The library is located at 8501 W. Montgomery. Call 832-393-1700 for more information.

Rep. Gene Green hosts annual Citizens Day workshop

Rep. Gene Green hosts annual Citizenship Day Workshop

On Saturday, June 14, Rep. Gene Green hosted his annual Citizenship Day Workshop in conjunction with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ National Citizenship Day.

This is a one-stop application processing opportunity for legal residents interested in obtaining their American citizenship.

The Workshop was held at the Houston Community College Northeast Campus at Northline Mall, I-45 at Crosstimbers.This is the 9th year Rep. Green will host the workshop with the help of numerous volunteers, representatives from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), Constable Victor Trevino, the National Association of the Latino Elected Officials, the League of United American Citizens, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and the United States Postal Service. Approximately 300 applications were processed during the workshop. The process consisted of completing form N400, taking photographs, and purchasing money orders for the application fee. When this process is completed, applications will be mailed to the BCIS. For additional information, contact Green’s office.

Legislature finished, may return: Budget balanced, but redistricting, Robin Hood unresolved

By BOBBY HORN JR.

AUSTIN— Chicken Ds/ Killer Ds, Robin Hood and budget crisis. While these are the areas which the 78th State Legislature will most be remembered, there were literally hundreds of bills filed this session which will go unnoticed by most residents.

Hanging like a shadow over legislators was the worst budget crisis that the state has faced in a half century, with a $9+ billion budget shortfall that had to be reconciled.

Two of the biggest issues, redistricting and the “Robin Hood” funding of school districts, were not acted on by the time the session closed, and likely the Governor will call a special session later in the year to deal with one or both of these issues.

Our local Representative, Joe Crabb, is chairman of the committee that must deal with redistricting. However, he was not involved in the so-called Chicken D flight of 51 Democratic legislators, who fled to Oklahoma to avoid a vote on the issue, until it was too late.

Proponents of gambling won a major victory in Austin this session with a bill that will allow Texas to enter multi-state lotteries such as Powerball. This action, say backers, will bring in approximately $101 million to the state coffers. The legislature, did, however, give a thumbs-down to letting the Texas Lottery Commissioner operate keno games.

Family-related issues were popular among legislators. Among bills to pass was an abortion waiting period, which requires women seeking abortion to wait 24 hours and to receive printed material about fetal development.

The legislature also issued a legal definition of the term “embryo” and “fetus” as an individual that would allow prosecution of a person who deliberately harms and kills the fetus. This issue had gain nation-wide attention since the death of Laci Peterson and her unborn son in California. There is also an effort in Washington D.C. to pass legislation that would allow prosecution on the federal level and provide consistent enforcement across the country.

Another local legislator, Kevin Bailey, was deeply involved in investigating the Houston Crime Lab, and it’s failure to process DNA and other evidence properly. His bill requires licensing of these labs, which was not currently the practive in Houston.

The legislature also banned state recognition of same sex marriages or civil unions formed in other states. In a compromise with Gay rights advocates, legislators voted down a bill that would have prevented gay couples from serving as foster parents.

Tackling the issue of campaign reform, legislators passed a bill that would stiffen identification requirements for campaign contributors and would require office holders to report not only contributions and expenditures but cash on hand.

One bill, which has been attacked by family rights advocates, is the deregulation of college and universities’ tuition rates. This bill allows schools to set their own rates, which Texas A&M and the University of Texas officials say will likely rise as much as 40 percent. Locally, Lee College raised their rate a modest $4 per credit hour.

While literally hundreds of bills were passed by the joint houses this session, a similar number fell by the wayside. Among these not to pass muster was an initiative to raise cigarette tax as much as a $1 per pack, and a bill that would have banned drivers from using cell phones while operating a vehicle unless using a hands-free device.

Criminal Justice-related bills took a hit from legislators this session with three main bills failing, the first would have allowed juries the option of sentencing defendants to life in prison without parole for capital offenses. Currently, the choices given to juries are the death penalty or life with the possibility of parole.

Two other bills directly related to the death penalty were also defeated. The first would have placed a ban on sentencing someone to death if they committed the crime before they were 18 years old. The second would have created a pre-trial hearing to determine if a capital murder defendant is mentally retarded. The Supreme Court has already ruled that the mentally retarded cannot be executed.

Now you’ll know what an acrostic is

Well, this is the day that so many of you have been waitin’ for, the naming of the winners of the Northeast News “Why I like Horsefeathers” contest. Believe me. I had no idea so m any of you were such creative folks It was not easy, in fact I could hardly make up my mind, so I am givin’ the first place prize, plus five CD’s to the top five places. Sor-ry, I couldn’t give every one of you who entered a CD but I do consider every one of you winners! You are the best folks in the world

Alright already! The winner is (are)…Michael and Jan Gucker of Crosby. Their winning entry was an acrostic using Horsefeathers, vertically. Now, the first time I saw an acrostic, I had to ask what is was, so here is the winning entry:

Honest writing
Outstanding stories
Really Interesting
Super talker
Equine reading
Full of cowboy poetry
Exciting to read
All-American
Today’s news
Historical tidbits
Entertaining Tales
Real Cowboy Way
Sensational article

Now that’s a great “acrostic” folks! Thanks to Michael and Jan for their support and to all the rest who sent in entries.

Winners of the autographed CD’s are:
Laura Kidder, Crosby; Joe Hausberger, Sr., Highlands; Janice Koopman. Houston; Ma-vis Jones, Houston: and Betty Jo Wisegerber. Dayton. Thanks!

On to some important happenin’s. I want to wish a happy anniversary to my pards Lindy and Amanda Murf of Crosby. I don’t know how he landed such a pretty gal, but he did and he must be behaving’ himself.

Thanks to Granny Gladys Adcox for her letter and support. Also, Laura Kidder of Crosby for sharin’ her story of a fine Crosby boy, Cody Bennett, who was killed by a drunk driver this Memorial Day.

I don’t even want to get started about drinkin’ and drivin’ cause I think that they should put them in jail for the rest of their natural lives and then ten years after they die. I’ll shut up though.

The lovely and charmin’ ‘Miss Judy” will be movin’ to the Rancho Pequito this week per-manently. We’re building, so she will have a new home and not have to sleep with the horses anymore. I know they’ll miss her, but that’s the breaks!

I’ll be on a short break with my family next week and then flying to Amarillo to teach and perform at the Cal Farley Box’s Ranch along with my friends, Red Steagall, R.W. Hampton, Elmer Kelton, Bob Campbell, Trey Allen and a whole passel of other talented folks,

After we return, I may be getting’ to work with the Baytown Little Theater (they mis-placed the Big Theater) on “Annie Get Your Gun”. It’s a sto-ry about women’s rights and how to train up a man! I will have a very important part. That’s right, I will be collecting tickets and cleanin’ up after the show! So stay tuned for more info.

To quote my ol pard, “Buf-falo Bob”, Hey kids, what time is it?” That’s right, it’s Crosby Fair and Rodeo time, folks. One of the best Fair and Rodeos in three counties is held in Juno every year so don’t you dare miss it! June 12th, 13th, 14’, every night. No Shuttle is needed here, so you can park pretty close.

I got to go shut the gate cause Charlie is feelin’ better and left ‘er open again. Stay cool.

Just a Ridin’, Lloyd

How to prepare for this wet and wild summer

Tis June and hurricane season is upon us again. Are we going to have a big one this year or just get the remnants of one that hits someplace else?

Are you prepared? Will you stay here and ride it out or be one of the many in the massive traffic jam should one head our direction?

Having gone to the grocery store prior to one coming before, I will advise you strongly to go now and buy your water and canned goods because the stores shelves will be empty.

I am preparing our list and checking it twice. Water will be on my next few shopping trips as well as a few other items like instant coffee. Yuck you say but it’s better than nothing.

A few bottles of propane are on the list and I’ll keep the big one filled also.

How are you going to cook? Wal-Mart has the small propane grills over in the garden section for $29.95 and I bought one. Best grill for the money that I found and you will need something to cook any thawed out meat you’ll have when your freezer finally cools down.

We have candles and they are old but still useable. There are a couple of hurricane lamps in the attic and I may well drag them out. Of course it takes kerosene to make them work and I’ve had a gallon of it for several years now. I wonder it is still any good?

A manual can opener is a must because the electric ones are hard to operate manually, I guarantee it.

What will you eat? Canned beans get old quick. Fresh fruit does not stay fresh long.
One year we stocked up on canned goods and it took us what seemed like forever to finally go through and eat all of it.

The Mrs. ain’t much on canned tuna. We ate so much of it when we first got married, seems like she got her fill; that and Spam. Can you relate to something like that?

If you think you might need some plywood, best to get a few sheets now because there will not be any available afterwards; that or sheetrock.

Of course a roll of plastic would be useful and a heavy duty stapler to secure it with. That is something you gals can get yours truly for Fathers Day or an early Christmas gift.

Rubber boots will come in handy afterwards but they are not of much use when water is up to your belly button.

Saltine crackers keep a lot longer than loaf bread as do cookies and other crackers.

Best to take a count on your batteries. We keep all fresh batteries in a shoebox and have an assortment available for immediate use.

Flashlights are a must but the ones that use three or more batteries have a longer life and provide more light than the two cell flashlights. Rechargeable flashlights are great but once it runs down, how will you recharge it unless you have electricity, a generator or other means?

Load up on bug spray for you as well as for the house. The air conditioner will not be running and if you keep the doors open, flies, skeets and other insects will surely come in the house. The bug candles in bucket form are great for repelling the skeets.

Keep your cell phone charged because normal phone service is generally knocked out with down lines.

Hope this little bit of advice helps you and hope you never have to go through something that will huff and puff and blow your house down.

Mayoral candidates propose alternate to METRO vote

At least two mayoral candidates have listened to the voters, and have suggested that an alternative to the funding and spending proposals that are proposed by METRO should be on the ballot next November.

METRO is planning on a referendum, on the November 4 ballot, to get voter approval for a Mobility Plan that would include light rail lines, increased bus service, expanded HOV lanes, and general mobility improvements. However, in the year 2009 the plan calls for METRO to stop funding road improvements to the local communities it serves. Presumably these costs would revert to local municipal budgets, and either not be funded, or require additional taxes to maintain the street improvements that now are paid for by METRO money.

Candidates Bill White and Orlando Sanchez so far have publicly sought to have METRO continue funding for local street work after the 2009 date. Sanchez wants a second referendum item to be voted upon, and White wants METRO to propose cutting the rail component of the budget, and seek funds from other sources than the sales tax and rider revenue.

Metro chairman Art Schechter indicated he would take these suggestions into consideration, just as he is also planning to incorporate come of the comments and suggestions made at other public meetings that have been held all over the city for the last two months.

However, likely mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner has suggested that an alternative proposal may harm the rail interests, and make voters more likely to reject the plan.

The Metro board is expected to vote on a final plan on July 31st that would include some public input items. However, in Hispanic communities, the sentiment has been that more needs to be done for them than presently is outlined in the Mobility Plan.