Ed Sterling

AUSTIN - With thousands of families still unable to return to their homes because of Hurricane Ike, Gov. Rick Perry on Oct. 8 extended is disaster declaration through Nov. 6 for 90 Texas counties.

Also, at Perry’s request, the Federal Emergency Management Agency extended Hurricane Ike assistance through Nov. 1.

FEMA reimburses citizens for protective measures such as the removal of hurricane debris and continues its temporary lodging program with participating hotels and motels.

Since Ike hit Texas Sept. 13-14, the Office of the Attorney General has received price-gouging complaints on gas and lodging, price hikes on food, water and power generators.

Texans can continue to report allegations of price gouging to the AG’s consumer complaint hotline, (800) 252-8011. Attorney General Greg Abbott suggested Texans in hurricane-affected areas keep written records and receipts of any transaction they believe constitutes price gouging.

Ike’s storm surge exposed timbers that underpin the 10-mile long Galveston seawall, which is 17 feet high and 16 feet wide at its base.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced a $6 million emergency project to reinforce the 104-year-old seawall by restoring a length of beach in front of the massive concrete structure with trucked-in sand. Sand will be placed on beaches from Galveston’s 10th Street to 61st Street. Patterson said the project should be completed by next summer. A current estimate of the cost of Ike is more than $11 billion.

Perry speaks of energy diversity

At an Oct. 9 forum hosted by the Clean Coal Technology Foundation of Texas, Gov. Perry said that as a matter of foreign and economic policy, the nation must reduce its dependence on foreign oil by building a deeper, more diverse energy portfolio.

Perry said Texas must foster collaboration among government, industry and academia to promote clean coal and other energy technologies, such as natural gas, wind, solar and nuclear.

He spoke in opposition to bills in Congress that would tighten pollution controls on carbon dioxide emissions.

Energy guru Pickens speaks

Dallas billionaire T. Boone Pickens Jr. spoke at the University of Texas on Oct. 9 to promote his plan to reduce America’s dependence on imported oil.

Pickens is exerting a national effort to add more natural gas and wind energy to the mix of energy sources that America uses.

Senate hopefuls engage in debate

Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn joined in the first of two scheduled debates with challengers state Rep. Rick Noriega, D-

Houston, and Libertarian Yvonne Adams Schick of Spicewood.

Topics included Cornyn’s Oct. 1 vote in favor of the $700 billion “Wall Street bailout” legislation, taxes, health care coverage for Texas children, Iraq, energy and immigration.

Agency rules out fish pedicures

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation on Oct. 8 ruled that a procedure known as “fish pedicure” — the use of a school of tiny fish to nibble dead skin cells off of the feet — is not permitted under Texas health and safety rules.

According to a statement issued by the agency, the procedure could transmit infectious diseases because the same fish are used on multiple customers, and the use of live fish does not allow for the

footbaths and the holding tank for the fish to be adequately cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the rules.

Base school enrollments to grow

The Texas Education Agency on Oct. 10 reported military base realignments and closures will bring thousands of new families to Texas and trigger an enrollment surge in school districts in the El Paso, San Antonio and Killeen areas.

Education Commissioner Robert Scott announced his intent to transfer up to $300,000 to three Education Service centers to fund additional field service agents who serve as liaisons between service centers and school districts.

UT ends ban on political signs

The University of Texas at Austin stopped enforcing a prohibition on the display of political signs in dormitory windows. UT President William Powers Jr. said a committee of students and staff members will review the policy.