Friday, February 29, 2008

It's All About Truth And Transparency

Editor's Note:
Charles O'Dell is a longtime observer of the workings of the Hays County Commissioners Court. He is well known for his investigative skills and laser-like focus on the details of the court's proceedings. Mr. O'Dell will be a frequent contributor to this site. In upcoming columns, he will examine recent questionable moves by the court to increase road costs by nearly $15 million for I-35 and US 290 construction, possible open meetings and open records violations, media control in the county, and much more. Below, a note from Mr. O'Dell and a short bio.

By Charles O'Dell, PhD

I believe that an informed electorate is the foundation of our democratic form of government and that too much of current reporting and discussion about issues in Hays County is biased and incomplete. The publisher of this site has agreed to broaden the spectrum of public discussion and debate in Hays County without censorship but retains the rights of a responsible editor. This column will strive to inform readers with factual and targeted information on important local issues. You won’t find this information or opinion in the other Hays County print or online newspapers. Opinions are labeled. No compensation of any kind has or will trade hands, no quid pro quo, except this window to the public in return for accurate reporting, analysis and informed opinion. I will strive to be fair.


Texas born and raised on a family farm, O’Dell developed an early and abiding love of the natural world, and an independent streak. As high school Future Farmers of America chapter president and District Vice Chair, he learned the importance of leadership and public service. He earned a degree in Agricultural Education and a Masters in Ag Economics at Texas Tech, and, later, a Ph.D. at The University of Maryland while employed as a Research Economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C..

While at the USDA, O’Dell wrote the job description for Federal Liaison Officers at 13 black land grant colleges and was assigned that position at Prairie View A&M College near Houston. Following that assignment he was later detailed to the Cost of Living Council as a Food Policy Analyst where he made recommendations on major price control policies.

After 12 years of federal government employment, O’Dell joined the Anheuser-Busch Company as Manager of Materials Planning and was the de facto corporate economist. Four years later The Kroger Company hired O’Dell as Director of Research. He worked for Kroger for two years, and then formed his own company.

As CEO of a startup company in Washington D.C. (AgriShip International Systems Inc.), O’Dell successfully lobbied USAID, USDA and the Congress to change national shipping polices by demonstrating the enormous benefits of his company’s unique equipment. AgriShip changed the way commodities are shipped to developing countries.

O’Dell and his wife Susan moved from Virginia to Hays County in 1999 to assist his parents in their final years. Charles and Susan quickly grew to love the natural wonders of this county and its people. As co-founder of Hays Community Action Network (HaysCAN) in 2003, O’Dell strives to carry out the mission of ensuring open, accessible and accountable government.

O’Dell is a Hays County Master Naturalist and a board member of the Ethical Society of Austin.