Monday, June 29, 2009

SURPRISE: Wimberleyite Larry Landaker will serve as new president of PEC's Board of Directors

This just in from PEC headquarters in Johnson City, Tx – Larry Landaker, 58, a Wimberley resident and Realtor, was elected to serve as president of the board by the members of Pedernales Electric's Board of Directors in a special meeting today.

Landaker's quick elevation to the top spot came as a surprise, being that he virtually came out of nowhere and won a position on the board barely a week ago, after outrunning several other candidates for the District 6 seat.

In his campaign, Landaker promised to
develop actionable plans for meeting PEC's 30% renewable and 20% efficiency goals by 2020, limit board director terms, and requiring continued open meetings and open records transparency.

Here's some great reporting from Johnson City resident, corporate management expert, and close follower of the PEC, Dave Collins, who was present at today's meeting for the historic change of leadership. It's been a long time comin'. Let's see what we get.

To read the comments or add your own, click on the "comments" button below the story.

A New Day Dawns at Pedernales Electric

By Dave Collins

Johnson City, Tx – The Board of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative met Monday, June 29th in a Special Organizational Meeting. The purpose of the meeting was the seating of new Board Directors elected by PEC members in a very competitive election that was concluded at the Annual Meeting on June 20th.

Board President R. B. Felps called the meeting to order at 2:00 pm.

The first item on the agenda was member comments. Several members addressed the Board and audience of about 50. Some congratulated the new Board members; others - including one unsuccessful candidate - bemoaned what was termed domination of the election by "Special Interests."

One member suggested changes to the oath of office while another called on the PEC to better educate the members about financial aspects of conservation programs. Another member announced the award, by a group of members, of a copy of Roberts Rules of Order to the new Board President that would be selected later in the meeting, urging "a true beginning of proper order and the rule of law in the conduct of PEC member business."

O. C. Harmon, Board Secretary/Treasurer then read the certified election results as supplied by the election contractor, Election Services Corporation. The Board voted unanimously to accept the results: District 1 Director Cristi Clement, District 6 Director Larry Landaker, and District 7 Director Patrick Cox, unopposed in the election after winning last year's race to fill out the unexpired term of Bud Burnett, who had been forced to resign.

The PEC General Counsel Luis Garcia read an affirmation of duties and responsibilities. Each board member - new and incumbent - then signed the lengthy list of specifics.

Next came the ceremonial passing of resolutions acknowledging the service of departing Directors and Advisory Directors. Each resolution passed by unanimous vote.

Finally came the meat of the meeting - election of Board officers for the coming year.

Those accustomed to surprising developments at PEC Board meetings were not disappointed. Director Cox nominated Director Landaker for President. This was the first surprise for most as many had long assumed that Director Cox, with a newly constituted Board, would seek that position himself.

The next surprise - after it became clear that Landaker would be the only nominee - was the action of then current Vice President James Williams. Turning to face Director Landaker, Williams stated that he had reservations about Landaker's leadership abilities and had questions for him.

Discussion ensued as to the appropriateness of this action. President Felps asked for Board permission to call a 5 minute recess so that the two Directors could talk. About 10 minutes later the two men returned and the vote was taken. Landaker was elected by 5 votes, hold-over Director Harmon, showing reluctance, voting with Clement, Cox, Landaker, and Scanlon. Felps and Williams abstained.

The final two votes proceeded without drama. Cristi Clement was elected on a 4-0 vote as Vice President and Kathy Scanlon was elected Secretary/Treasurer by unanimous vote.

Vice-President Clement and President Landaker then each delivered brief statements. Clement stressed continuation of openness and transparency, aggressive pursuit of conservation and renewable goals established last year and fiscal responsibility. She emphasized her last point by calling for another examination of Director compensation.

President Landaker touched on similar themes but, drawing on a story about FDR and his wife Eleanor, explained that he is looking to the membership to push this board, to be active and demanding. He pledged to seek greater roles for members in policy development, in particular a "Members Bill of Rights" that would place certain policy directly under the control of members.

Friday, June 26, 2009

From today's NY Times: The House and Global Warming

By any measure — drought, famine, coastal devastation — the costs of inaction, of clinging to a broken energy policy, will dwarf the costs of acting now

Update, approximately 6:15 p.m., Hays County Time: The House of Representatives has just passed The American Clean Energy and Security Act
with a vote of 219 to 212. The bill now heads to the Senate. Democrats are calling it historic legislation. Republicans are calling it a boondoggle. Congressman Doggett's Washington phone number is currently busy. We'll try later to see how the congressman voted.

Editor's Note: The RoundUp contacted the office of Congressman Lloyd Doggett, our U. S. rep in Washington D.C., 25th District, for a quick check on his position on the bill referred to in the editorial below. Debate over the bill was under way on the floor of the House of Representatives when we called. We were informed by Mr. Doggett's press secretary Sarah Dohl that the congressman had not yet decided whether he would be voting yea or nay.

Here's a short excerpt from a speech Congressman Doggett delivered earlier today on the House floor which strongly hints where he might finally go with his vote: “This energy bill’s fine print betrays its laudable purpose. The real cap is on the public interest and the trade is the billions from the public to polluters. It is too weak to greatly spur new technologies and green jobs. An Administration analysis shows that doing nothing actually results in more new renewable electricity generation capacity than approving this bill . . ."

Send your comments and news tips to
or to the congressman,



Published: June 25, 2009

American politicians, from both parties, insist that they want to combat global warming and reduce this country’s dependence on fossil fuels. Members of the House will soon have a chance to show they mean it. Voters should watch carefully to see what they do.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act would, for the first time, put a price on carbon emissions. The bill has shortcomings. But we believe that it is an important beginning to the urgent task of averting the worst damage from climate change. Approval would show that the United States is ready to lead and would pressure other countries to follow. Rejection could mean more wasted years and more damage to the planet.

The outcome depends on perhaps 30 Democrats who fear higher energy costs for businesses and consumers, and a dozen or so Republican moderates who also worry about costs and who have been pressed by their leadership not to give President Obama a victory.

We urge all to examine several recent studies showing the costs of the legislation to be minimal. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects average costs of $175 a year per American household by 2020 — vastly lower than the $3,000-plus figure bandied about by Republican leaders. We also urge them to read the scientific analysis forecasting the catastrophic costs to the planet, this country’s security and its economy if global warming is left unchecked.

The centerpiece of the legislation is a provision that aims to cut America’s production of greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by midcentury — the minimum reductions scientists say are necessary to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

Its mechanism for doing so is a cap-and-trade system that would place a steadily declining ceiling on emissions while allowing emitters to trade permits, or allowances, to give them flexibility in meeting their targets. The point is to raise the cost of older, dirtier fuels while steering investments to cleaner ones.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Oppre$$ive Texa$ Electric Indu$try: "Phony-Baloney" lawmakers feigning outrage?

As far as Texans are concerned, by their long-time legislative inaction, Sen. Fraser, Rep. Rose and Sen. Wentworth are part of the ongoing problem re: PEC and other electric coops and companies overcharging and scamming hardworking Texans

Editor's Note: PEC's board of directors recently authorized a settlement totaling $4.1 million for claims against Pedernales Electric's former law firm from Austin – Clark, Thomas & Winters. Houston attorney Jimmy Williamson, who was hired by PEC's new management to pursue the claim, reportedly
will receive $1.4 million for his legal services. The explosive Navigant audit, which uncovered many and serious financial irregularities under PEC's past management, including its dealings with Clark, Thomas & Winters, cost PEC in the neighborhood of $3 million. The math says we member/ratepayers and our power co-op come up on the short end of this deal by about $300,000.

Some alert members over at the pec4u watchdog group have been scrutinizing another recent expenditure by the co-op's new management of between $65,000 and $70,000 for an employee training retreat. The retreat reportedly was held over in Burnet County at a Lake Buchanan resort lodge called The Canyon of the Eagles. Among the questions being posed are, why couldn't the retreat have been held at the training center right there in Johnson City, and where will the invoice(s) for the retreat show up in accounting? Hopefully not under "office supplies" like they used to in the good ol' days.

Update, morning of June 26: From PEC member/customer Al St. Louis – Yesterday we lost power in Oak Hill for about 90 minutes at a time when the temperature hit 107 and the air quality was at 104, well above the 75 limit for healthy breathing. We are all going to have be Watchdogs of the new, reform minded PEC to get energy programs going to conserve electricity.

Send your comments and news tips to
or to

*** Read the comments or add your own by clicking on the "comments" button below the story

By Peter Stern

In December, 2008 Sen. Troy Fraser and Rep. Patrick Rose jointly wrote a release of their "outrage" with Pedernales Electric Cooperative, that its "...Board of Directors would agree to indemnify its former law firm by agreeing to a settlement the same week that the Blanco County Grand Jury indicted a principal partner with that firm." The release resurfaced recently and has been circulating in local news media and blogs.

The two lawmakers further highlight that "We believe that further misdeeds of the PEC Board of Directors and former General Manager will be uncovered – including the possibility that there were other misapplications of funds to the law firm. As long as a criminal case is ongoing against Walter Demond, the former outside counsel, we would ask the cooperative board to not settle this matter. It is in the best interest of the members that PEC wait until it has all information necessary in order to make the best deal possible."

Being "outraged" does NOT absolve these 2 lawmakers from their own "soiled hands."

These two [and other] legislators did nothing during the past 6 years to provide any significant oversight to the electric industry, especially cooperatives — especially PEC. In fact, Sen. Fraser serves as the co-chairman of the Electric Utility Restructuring Legislative Oversight Committee that monitors the state's shift to a deregulated electric industry.

Governor Rick Perry, who pushed for the deregulation of the electric industry, also stood at the sidelines doing little to protect Texans from the scheming electric industry.

During the past several years after writing Rep. Patrick Rose regarding PEC I never received a response to my many emails of concern.

Senator Jeff Wentworth, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Natural Resources Foundation of Texas, is another lackluster lawmaker who opted to do nothing re: PEC oversight. Unlike Rep. Rose, I did receive a response from Sen. Wentworth. Unfortunately, Wentworth simply stated that the legislature “is watching carefully” the new PEC Director. Wentworth and other lawmakers continue to do little for the people they are supposed to serve and protect. In fact, how this guy gets reelected again and again boggles my mind.

In addition, when Gov. Rick “Deregulate Electricity or Bust” Perry pushed through his special interest bill neither Fraser, Rose or Wentworth stood up for the people of Texas. They approved the bill to provide the electric industry with more clout and less oversight, which resulted in higher electric costs for financially overburdened Texans.

As far as Texans are concerned, by their long-time legislative inaction, Sen. Fraser, Rep. Rose and Sen. Wentworth are part of the ongoing problem re: PEC and other electric coops and companies overcharging and scamming hardworking Texans.

Texans will continue to pay top dollar for their electric needs as long as special interests continue to buy our lawmakers via campaign contributions, perks and gifts.

So, Sen. Fraser and Rep. Rose, et. al., stop feigning "outrage" and do something about it. Poop, or git-off the potty!

FYI, Pedernales Electric Cooperative just sent out notices to its members that it will be changing its rates. One can only imagine what THAT means.

Peter Stern of Driftwood, Texas, a former Director of Information Services, university professor and public school administrator, is a political writer published frequently throughout the Texas community and nationwide. Mr. Stern is a Disabled Vietnam Veteran. He holds three post-graduate degrees.

Monday, June 22, 2009

From the San Marcos Record: Hays foreclosure listings hit all-time high

“This marked the first time that year-to-date postings have exceeded 800 in Hays County. Over the past year, year-to-date postings have climbed 47 percent from the 566 notices recorded for this same period last year.”

Send your comments and news tips to,
to or to County Judge Liz Sumter,

* Read the comments or add your own by clicking on the "comments" button below the story.

Editor's Note:
In her re-election campaign kick-off held Sunday at the Wimberley Brewing Co., Hays County Judge Liz Sumter said two things of import to Hays County taxpayers. First, she said, the $207 million road bond voters approved last November and the parks bond approved in a previous election will necessitate a tax rate increase of between 2 cents and 5 cents. Second, Sumter says she will likely oppose any additional tax rate increases in the new budget beyond what has already been approved by the voters, despite the pressing need for additional high-dollar capital improvement projects. What say ye Commissioners Conley, Ford, Barton and Ingalsbe? All it takes is a majority vote of three to place more pressure on home and business owners and keep the foreclosure rate on a roll.

Speaking of taxes, we will once again point out the oh-so-close to the edge the City of Wimberley is to imposing a city property tax. Two of the biggest reasons why are the city's operational takeover of the costly community center (running in the red by about $50,000 annually), and some council members' (Haley, Flocke & Roccaforte) unexplained chumminess with Pct. 3 County Commissioner Will Conley and Conley's scheme to acquire the old Baptist church for a joint city-county government center, at a very high cost to the city. Why Conley continues to pursue this larger than life White Elephant is dumbfounding (ludricous really), but some pretty good guesses already have been advanced in the RoundUp. Any way you look at it, it would be a local government bailout for a group of private investors. Next, watch out for the city's pursuit of a 4 million dollar central wastewater system. Not. Affordable.

We add this comment from Peter Stern, who is a regular contributor to the RoundUp: Keeping on with property tax increases based on excessive expenditures, appraisal value creep, road/school bond issues, county salary increases and/or increased tax rates is going to force more foreclosures, will continue to overburden homeowners and will keep out new residents from buying homes in Hays County.

For the past several years I have been communicating such concerns and various suggestions with commissioners, as well as providing local media with commentaries on these urgent issues. I still am concerned that little progress has been made in this area and advise commissioners to consider holding back on raises, freezing property taxes for the short term and cutting costs and excessive waste in county management and operations as a more active and ongoing [recovery] plan until the economy becomes less financially oppressive. As I have forewarned almost 3 years ago [but few listened] home foreclosures continue to increase dramatically to record highs.

I am hopeful that you may now accept the proven and acknowledged reality of hard financial times and will act in the best interests of the entire community. Hays County residents are officially part of the nation's economic malaise. You may want to reevaluate how Hays County manages and operates its daily business, trimming down the fat in county government and to resist excessive expenditures that increase county debt and hardship on residents. Hays County residents need your intelligent leadership, sensitivity to their financial burdens and practical direction during these difficult times. Please continue to rise-up to the occasion.

The foreclosures

Read the full story here:

By Anita Miller

News Editor

San Marcos — Record numbers of properties have been listed for foreclosure in July in three counties in the Austin Metro area including Hays County, the Foreclosure Listing Service said this week.

Hays, Travis and Williamson counties all had record numbers of listings for the current foreclosure cycle, said the FLS, which is based in Addison.

“Hays County monthly postings topped 140 for the first time in this foreclosure cycle and probably for the first time on record,” said FLS President George Roddy. He said, “143 postings were filed for foreclosure at the July auction, which was 104 percent higher than for the July auction of 2008 when just 70 postings were recorded.”

Roddy noted that Hays has had 100 or more listings each month for the past six months, and that year-to-date postings also show a sharp increase.

HTGCD reports wells going dry in northern Hays and steady declines throughout the district

"Non officially . . . we're probably getting two or three calls a week from people whose wells are going dry or their pumps are shutting off at more frequent intervals . . . "

Send your comments and news tips to or to Dana Carmean, HTGCD manager,

Visit the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District web site here: Click on "Well Information" under the Quick Links menu for live updates on the district's well monitoring network.

By Bob Ochoa
RoundUp Editor

A friend e-mailed me the other day from the Hwy 290 Lube Express. She's new to the area and wanted to share information she had overheard of people talking with alarm about the spate of water wells going dry.

My friend is a bona fide "metro girl," a transplant from Dallas, where recent heavy rains have turned the landscape a lush green. Up there, "water well" and "aquifer" are not household words. Interestingly, the same Trinity Aquifer (mas or menos) that supplies groundwater to thousands of settlers and their families in Western Hays County, meanders its way in a fairly wide subterranean swath from here all the way to north Texas.

The tip from my friend was not surprising, considering our bone-dry drought conditions, and the hotter 'n heck summer heat that is only making things worse.

I called the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, a place, by the way, with a wealth of information about our blessed Trinity Aquifer. Wes Schumacher, a young UT-Austin grad and hydro geology major, answered the phone.

Wes and the district are on top of things, as I figured they would be.

So I asked, what's the latest with wells going dry in Hays County?

"Non officially, we're probably getting two or three calls a week from people whose wells are going dry or their pumps are shutting off at more frequent intervals," Wes allowed. "It all seems to be located in the triangle between Henley and the northern corner of Hays County – basically north of 290."

"If the wells are registered with us," he said, "then we will make note of the depth of the wells going dry and pinpoint which aquifers they were drawing from.

"Basically it's a progression of water use in the district. A long time ago when it was just ranch land and there were not a lot of drilling companies, people dug shallow wells, 90 to 100 feet deep. They are less common and tend to be in the upper Trinity Aquifer. All of the newer wells have been going into the middle (Trinity), 400 to 600 feet.

Continuous monitoring of 38 wells throughout
the district helps in measuring aquifer levels.

"The middle conditions are dropping. That's where most of the use is in the county, in the middle Trinity, where we try to focus because that's the primary use. It's those in the middle Trinity that are calling and saying, 'what's going on?'"

Wes went on to explain that the northern portion of our groundwater district where all these wells are going dry "is a separate subsurface flow from the groundwater flow that feeds the southern portion of the district."

Long story short, there's an "up dip" configuration of the aquifer – it slopes down from west to east and north to south. So as use continues or increases in the north/west, without plentiful recharge from rain, the water table in that region will drop below a home owner's well there first. The decline progresses southward and eastward.

"We are finding slow steady declines in wells throughout the district," Wes said.

Hello Wimberley valley.

Wes agreed, "they're doing a lot of business, the well drillers and water truckers" up there in the northwestern part of the county.

Thanks for the update, Wes.

It's an interesting aside, but not so strange coincidence, that a well known water well service and drilling company owner in Dripping Springs is making a run for county commissioner in Precinct 4. He's so enthusiastic about wanting to serve on the commissioners court, which has a fair amount of say over groundwater use and conservation (by way of subdivision rules), that he has officially announced his candidacy 18 months ahead of the election in November of 2010. Yes, he's running on the Republican ticket.

Howdy Will Conley, Republican County Commissioner of Precinct 3, Wimberley. Conley runs a car wash and detail business in San Marcos.

And to his buddy, State Representative Patrick Rose, a Democrat and Dripping Springs hometown boy no less, who plays the role of the horse in the "you can lead a horse to a dry hole but you can't make him see it" story.

Rose dabbles in real estate when he's not introducing special deal legislation for municipal utility districts in the county, usually for large high-end subdivision developments. He passed up an excellent opportunity to support our groundwater conservation district in the recently ended legislative session.

Can we ask, "Is the Precinct 4 commissioner candidate from Dripping (who is probably flush with cash from the up tick in business) running for county commissioner to represent the best interests of well owners and our aquifer, or the best interests of the water well drillers?"

Pray for rain :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

23,125 ballots cast in PEC director election; Landaker, Cox and Clement come out on top

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Add your comment by clicking on the "comments" button below the story.

Editor's Note: Folks, meet three of your new board members of Pedernales Electric – the place that sends you your monthly electric bill and is planning our energy future. Send them a quick congrats, if you like, and by all means, remind them who they'll be representing on the board. Larry Landaker,, Patrick Cox, Ph.D. (center in photo),, and Cristi Clement,

By Bob Ochoa
RoundUp Editor

Johnson City, Tx – Larry Landaker and Patrick Cox, two Wimberley area residents, and Cristi Clement of Marble Falls were announced as the winners in Pedernales Electric's board of directors election Saturday afternoon at the co-op's annual meeting here in LBJ's hometown.

Hays Countians will now have two representatives at the table on the 7-member PEC board, in Landaker and Cox.

Mr. Landaker and Ms. Clement will represent PEC service Districts 6 and 1, respectively, for three year terms. Mr. Cox beat out several candidates last year to fill a one-year unexpired term on the board and ran unopposed this year for a full three-year term in District 7.

Landaker, 58, a Realtor associated with Keller Williams Realty in Wimberley, received 5,152 member votes to second place finisher San Marcos resident David Bethancourt, with 4,488 votes, and third place finisher Linda Kaye Rogers of Woodcreek, with 4,285 votes. This was Ms. Rogers second run for a director position, and Landaker's first. Landaker ran on a campaign to develop actionable plans for meeting PEC's 30% renewable and 20% efficiency goals by 2020, limit board director terms, and requiring continued open meetings and open records transparency.

Ms. Clement, 67, a retired 24-year United States Air Force veteran, collected 7,713 votes. Mark A. Mayfield, 51, placed second in this PEC District 1 race with 7,603 votes. Clement ran on a strong reform platform. She pledged to "put members first, improve cost efficiencies, deliver energy at lower rates . . . and reward conservation."

Cox, 57, associate director of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT-Austin, ran on a platform of expanding PEC's efforts to increase renewable energy and conservation, improving the power co-op's financial structure and eliminating unnecessary expenses. He received 16,637 member votes.

With about 194,000 PEC member/owners eligible to vote, the 23,125 ballots cast represents a turnout of 11.8 percent, about equal to last year's (and first) truly open board election. This year, members cast 19,315 ballots by mail, 3,723 electronically, and 87 in person at Saturday's annual meeting.

This comment from John A. Worrall of Round Mountain on the pec4u watchdog discussion group: What a week...! ...Clark Thomas coughs up $4 million (back into the hoppers of PEC)...Bennie gets the first three of his richly-deserved indictments...PEC has a majority of elected directors, for the first time ever. Every member/owner of PEC and everyone @ should be proud of all that has been accomplished in such a short period of time.

Moments after voting concluded at 2:30 p.m., the ballots were counted inside a room at the back of the PEC training center hall where the annual meeting was held. Election Services Corporation, a Ronkonkoma, New York, firm conducted the count. At right, ESC president Frank Fatone oversees the counting. Assisting, at back, is ESC vice president Ingrid Veidis.

RoundUp Photo/Bob Ochoa

From today's Statesman: Former PEC exec Fuelberg, top attorney Demond surrender to authorities

Editor's Note:
This comment from pec4u watchdog member Paul Langston, To the four NON-ELECTED, appointed directors on the PEC Board: I was here on Monday, June 15 and I watched you make hash out of business order and ethics. You nixed the Re-Elected Director, Mr Patrick Cox. We saw the emergence of James Williams as a true member of THE FUELBERG UTILITY COOP. James will be the new President of the Board, no election, appointed by you. You are not going to seat the newly elected Directors, till later. Much Later.

Good Work, boys and girls, Bennie would be proud of you. Now that we mention Bennie, we note that he has been indicted by the Grand Jury. We note that if Bennie comes to trial, he has an almost perfect defense. You directors were in charge you called the shots and he was just an employee!

It is like this: A Special Director's meeting was held, in secret, in San Antonio on Dec. 13, 2004. You people unanimously approved a gift to Fuelberg of $2,050,521.60. You gave him the two million dollars to retain his services. At his trial, Bennie will show the Court that it was your idea, not his.

You people are on the Board Minutes for buying the Kimble County Co-op on July 17, 2000, $14.550 millions for a money loser. You people bought the defunct Soft Ware company out in Santa Fe as a party resort for the Fuelberg Family. You also bought the money-losing "Texas Skies."

Bennie Fuelburg and his platoon of lawyers will have no problem proving that you guys ran the whole show and he was just a faithful employee. You all have a fine summer!



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Indictments unsealed Friday against the former general manager and top outside lawyer at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative say they arranged for thousands of dollars of co-op money to be paid to relatives of PEC executives.

According to the indictments, Bennie Fuelberg, who ran the Johnson City-based co-op for more than 30 years, and lawyer Walter Demond, directed payments exceeding $200,000 to Curtis Fuelberg, who is Fuelberg's brother, and William Price, who is the son of former Director E.B. Price.

The indictments don't say what happened to the money. Curtis Fuelberg, a lobbyist, has said the payments were legitimate. William Price's lawyer has said his client did nothing wrong.

Both Fuelberg and Demond are named in the indictments on three identical felony counts — misapplication of fiduciary property, theft and money laundering.

The second count of the indictment, theft, stated that Fuelberg and Demond "unlawfully appropriated" more than $200,000 of PEC money between Nov. 14, 1996, and March 13, 2007, and made the payments to Curtis Fuelberg and Price.

In the third count, money laundering, the indictment said the defendants did "transfer the proceeds of a criminal activity" involving the theft of $100,000 to less than $200,000 of PEC money from Sept. 1, 2005, to March 13, 2007.

The third count doesn't name anyone else.

Attorneys for Fuelberg and Demond have said their clients would not take money they did not earn.

The Texas attorney general's office, which is overseeing the grand jury investigation, declined to comment.

Fuelberg turned himself in Thursday night to the Blanco County sheriff's department and was released on $30,000 bail. Demond did the same Friday, said Julie Theriot, dispatcher at the Blanco County Jail.

Both men are expected to be arraigned next month.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PEC's "Old Guard" vote in bylaw changes; one will delay seating of new directors

“Changing the bylaws five days before the annual meeting is both inappropriate and gives the appearance of ‘the hand reaching from the grave’ to impact the future of PEC.”

Send your comments and news tips to

Editor's Note: The story below was forwarded to the RoundUp. It has been edited for length.

Fyi, from a pec4u watchdog commenter: The rate increase once again punishes small users like myself, well under 500 KW per month. I'll get a $2.50 increase per month, which is almost 5% of my total bill of $59.00, for using less electricity by conserving energy. The average energy hog at 1200+ KW per month will get a .5 % reduction of 77 cents per month. Why are we paying this management team so well? They do not understand conservation. – Alfred St.Louis

By Jodi Lehman
Horseshoe Bay Beacon
June 18, 2009

With five days left on their long tenures as directors of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Vi Cloud and Val Smith joined with three other directors to leave a final imprint by amending select provisions of the co-op’s bylaws at Monday’s (June 15) board of directors’ meeting in Johnson City
, Tx.

PEC Governance Officer Pete Slover explained that PEC normally reviews its bylaws in the fall of each year, but that the Bylaws Committee “felt we needed to address some areas earlier than normal.” President R.B. Felps, Secretary Treasurer O.C. Harmon and Vice President James Williams sit on the Bylaws Committee.

Slover introduced the proposed amendments by saying they are “not an attempt to leave departing directors in place.”

One new bylaw amendment adopted Monday made it more difficult to remove an Advisory Director at Large once he or she is appointed to the position. The new provision requires a 2/3’s vote of the board, rather than a simple majority, to remove an Advisory Director at Large. Advisory Directors at Large receive the pay and benefits of elected directors but “serve until they are removed or replaced.”

At their January meeting, the board voted to eliminate the terms of all elected Advisory Directors as of June 18, two days before the 2009 annual meeting, but did not eliminate the terms of appointed Advisory Directors at Large. Three of the four longtime Advisory Directors at Large had resigned previously, leaving only Lamont Ramage, former Buda Justice of the Peace, as the lone Advisory Director at Large currently sitting on the board and the only person immediately affected by the bylaw change.

PEC member Robbi Boone of Canyon Lake asked the board to delay any vote on bylaw changes until the new directors are announced at Saturday’s annual meeting. “Changing the bylaws five days before the annual meeting is both inappropriate and gives the appearance of ‘the hand reaching from the grave’ to impact the future of PEC.”

She said the requirement of a “super-majority” vote to remove Advisory Directors at Large is “ill advised” and would limit future boards’ ability to do the cooperative’s work on the basis of a simple majority vote.
Advisory Director Dr. Charles Tesar in this his last meeting before his position is eliminated told the board that adopting the 2/3’s majority vote requirement to remove an appointed Advisory Director at Large “cuts off the notion of the democratic process” and breeds “cronyism.”

After several members in the audience applauded Tesar’s remarks, Felps called for the vote, then recessed the meeting “so we can compose ourselves.”

A second bylaw amendment changed the date when newly elected directors are sworn in and take office. Rather than taking office at the annual meeting as they have historically done, newly elected directors will be in limbo until a “Special Organizational Meeting” is called by the board “as soon as practical after the annual meeting.”

The board set June 29 as the date for the Special Organizational Meeting this year. Between June 20 when the terms of Cloud, Smith and Patrick Cox expire and June 29, the PEC board will consist of only four voting members: Felps, Harmon, Williams and Kathy Scanlon.

Some PEC members questioned whether the amendment delaying the empaneling of newly elected directors meshes with other provisions in the bylaws and the cooperative’s Articles of Incorporation that refer to directors serving a term of three years.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From today's Statesman: Grand jury indicts former PEC General Manager Bennie Fuelberg

Read the comments or add your own by clicking on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story.

Update, Thursday morning, June 18, 2009
, by Claudia Grisales, Austin American-Statesman Staff:
See the full story here. "The indictments are a watershed moment in a saga that began two years ago, when a core group of PEC members launched a protest of the secretive way that Fuelberg and the board were running the co-op. That led to the lawsuit and a wave of disclosures about how PEC operated. There was an undisclosed bank account, employees who did no work but got paid, and millions of dollars lost in a failed software venture in New Mexico. Fuelberg and some other top executives resigned early last year, but the revelations kept coming . . . The criminal investigation is continuing, said Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the attorney general's office."

Update, Wednesday afternoon, June 17 from commenter Peter Stern, quoting from a statement released today from the state Attorney General's Office:
“The grand jury charged both defendants with the following three felony charges: misapplication of fiduciary property in excess of $200,000, theft of property in excess of $200,000, and money laundering between $100,000 and $200,000.”

“Misapplication of fiduciary property in excess of $200,000 and theft of property in excess of $200,000 are both first-degree felonies, which carry punishment of up to 99 years or life in prison and penalties of up to $10,000. Laundering between $100,000 and $200,000 is a second-degree felony, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.”

Austin American-Statesman

See the full story here.

Claudia Grisales | Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 04:28 PM


The indictments are against Bennie Fuelberg, Pedernales’ former general manager, and Walter Demond, who works for PEC’s former longtime law firm, their lawyers confirmed.

“Bennie Fuelberg put his heart and soul into PEC for 30 years. He never stole one penny,” said Chris Gunter, Fuelberg’s lawyer.

Gerry Morris, who represents Demond, said there is “no question that they will be here to answer the charges.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

PEC Board authorizes attorney to pursue settlement with Austin law firm; adopts new rate plan

Read the comments or add your own by clicking on the "comments" button below the story.

Update, Wednesday morning, June 17: From the Austin American-Statesman: It's a busy week for the co-op. A Blanco County grand jury investigating its former top executives will meet today, and its membership will elect new directors to its board Saturday.

Update, afternoon, June 16:
An alert commenter, Richard, has pointed us to this breaking news from the PEC web site. Check the comments, below, for the link to the full story. The new rates, which go into effect with your August bill, include an increase in the amount paid for running a water well. You might want to check out the full story.

June 16, 2009

PEC Board approves new rate structure

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors voted unanimously at its June 15 meeting to implement a revised rate structure based on recommendations submitted by C.H. Guernsey & Company. “This is the most open and transparent process for setting a new rate structure in the history of PEC,” said PEC General Manager Juan Garza. “It has included the involvement of the membership, the Board and the staff in an unprecedented way, and with the passage of these recommendations, PEC will be conforming to more common industry standards.”

Garza said the average PEC member will see a decrease in their bills with the revised rates, which are effective with members’ August 2009 bills. The new rates structure is intended to clearly reflect the Cooperative’s service availability charge, delivery charge and power supply costs.


Editor's Note:
The press release below was released Monday by the PEC public information office following the much awaited board of directors meeting that was to include consideration of, and a vote on, a newly proposed rate plan.

The press release makes no mention of the rate plan or its implications for ratepayers, but a close observer of the PEC has sent the following dispatch: "The rate proposal passed as presented; the proposed bylaws passed 5 -1, with Scanlon voting against, and Cox (of Wimberley-District 7) absent for his daughter's wedding (his being there would have made no difference, since 5 votes is the 2/3's majority required for bylaws amendments); and James Spellman, an outgoing advisory director, and a second person, recommended by Kathy Scanlon, were nominated for advisory director-at-large positions. The nominations now go the the so-called executive committee for consideration and recommendation to the full board later."

Wimberleyite Merle Moden
,, who has carefully studied the Guernsey rate plan, says he will have a report in to the RoundUp soon. For now, here's what he has to share: "There is something going on at PEC regarding electric rates and I can't tell if its incompetence or corruption, or both. You can't get any candor out of the PEC management or the Board members. They defer to C. H. Guernsey & Company which seems to provide the answers that PEC wants in this lousy cost of service study and rate design. As a colleague of mine used to say, 'they tortured the numbers and they confessed.'"

And this from another well informed observer,
Dave Collins of Johnson City, "The rate study (Guernsey) was ill-timed as it puts the cart before the horse. I make this assertion based on 30 years of "fixing" broken organizations, public and private, and helping senior executives of large corporations establish various aspects of business strategy.

"The PEC has no operating or expense budget, it has no capital expenditure plan or budget. We know that General and Administrative (or Management and Administrative, if one prefers) expenses are dramatically out of control, per the Navigant report. We have no plan or strategy for managing capital credits. Finally, and the first task that should have been undertaken to form a foundation for all of the financial considerations, the board and management have not set any strategic direction for the business. The closest thing that could even remotely be called a strategy is to increase the number of members, as that is the only performance metric routinely reported to the board (expressed as net new members)."

JUNE 15, 2009

MEDIA CONTACT: Anne Harvey, (830) 868-4933; Austin line, (512) 219-2602

Johnson City, Tx
The Pedernales Electric Board of Directors authorized attorney Jimmy Williamson to work with PEC General Manager Juan Garza in settlement of claims against former Cooperative legal partner Clark, Thomas & Winters. “Discussions have reached a critical point,” Garza said, “and I remain committed to upholding our fiduciary responsibility to the membership while pursuing actions that will allow us to focus on our core business: providing safe, reliable electric service at the fairest rates possible.”

The action was unanimously ratified at the Cooperative’s June 15 Board meeting through a resolution authorizing Williamson to: “… settle any claims Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Inc. may have against Clark, Thomas & Winters, including former partner Walter Demond, on such terms as have been set forth by the Board with final settlement documentation to be approved and executed by General Manager, Juan Garza, as the authorized representative of Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Inc.” Said Williamson, “I have received my instructions and will work vigorously to obtain a result in the best interest of the Cooperative.”

Williamson, principal of Houston law firm Williamson & Rusnak, was retained by PEC in January to lead a formal investigation of questionable payments made by Clark, Thomas & Winters while the firm served as the Cooperative’s legal counsel. Williamson has focused on alleged improper payments made by Clark, Thomas & Winters to Curtis Fuelberg, a Texas lobbyist and brother of former PEC general manager Bennie Fuelberg, and attorney William Price, son of former Board Director E.B. Price. The allegations arose following the December 2008 release of the PEC-commissioned investigative report by Navigant Consulting, Inc.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Drought persists in Central Texas; 2008 was most severe since 1917-18

LCRA: Drought Monitor -
Updated June 11 Despite near to above normal rainfall in March and April, a very serious drought remains in place over all of Central Texas, including the Texas Hill Country.

In April, rain totals of 6 to 8 inches occurred over parts of the Hill Country while totals of 10 to 15 inches occurred over parts of Fayette and Colorado counties. Elsewhere, totals were generally between 2 and 4 inches.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, these rains eased drought conditions enough to show small improvement in our classification, but the rains weren’t nearly enough to have a significant impact on the overall drought.

So far in 2009, rainfall has been near normal across the Hill Country but totals have been below normal at most other locations. With soils dry from a year and a half of drought, much of the recent rains soaked into the ground, producing little runoff into area lakes and aquifers. As a result, their levels remain low and mostly unchanged from a month ago. Although the landscape is green from recent rains, soil moisture is still low, lake and aquifer levels are low, and large long-term rainfall deficits persist.

The year 2008 turned out to be one of the driest years on record and the driest year experienced since the mid-1950s. Rainfall was generally 16 to 20 inches below normal. According to the state climatologist, drought conditions across Central Texas during 2008 were the most severe since the drought of 1917-1918. It is estimated it will take several periods of heavy, soaking rain to cause a significant improvement in drought conditions.

As shown in the map above from the National Drought Monitor, most of Central Texas, the eastern Hill Country and the coastal plains region are now experiencing “extreme” drought (the red area), the third worst of the four categories of drought. Across the western and northern Hill Country, drought conditions have generally improved to the moderate to severe categories.

The latest from Bob Rose, LCRA Chief Meteorologist

Weather trends and long-range weather forecasts indicate the persistent dry pattern that has gripped the region for so long may be easing. More frequent periods of rain and storms are expected the remainder of May and into June. The recent weak La Niña weather phenomenon, which typically causes drier than normal weather conditions across most of Texas in the fall and winter, has ended and conditions in the tropical Pacific have returned to neutral. Periods of rain and storms should continue across the region over the next couple of months. Still, there’s no clear end to the drought expected in the near future. Recent forecast data shows a trend toward El Niño late summer into fall. El Niño patterns typically cause wetter than normal conditions across most of Texas during the fall and winter months. More information is available at Bob Rose's weather blog.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

From the Houston Chronicle: "Associate registrar moonlights by selling voter data"

“Harris County had 70,000 voter registration applications rejected,” said Texas Democratic Party attorney Chad Dunn. “That’s exponentially higher than anywhere else in the state.”

See the full story here:



June 10, 2009, 11:10 PM

A high-ranking employee in Harris County’s voter registration office also moonlights for a company that sold nearly $60,000 worth of information on those voters to Republican candidates during the last election cycle, records show, angering Democratic activists.

Ed Johnson is associate voter registrar at the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office, where he’s worked since 1999. He’s also a paid director for Computer Data Systems, a venture started in 2003 with state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston. The company sells the same voter information Johnson is paid by taxpayers to manage in a nonpolitical manner.

“No question this doesn’t smell,” said Harold Cook, a Democratic political consultant in Austin. “It’s a government official who has duties involving the election process who is a political consultant who has clients who are on the same ballots he is handling.”

Neither Johnson nor Bohac returned calls for comment.

According to a recently dismantled Web site, CDS sells voter data to Republican candidates. No records indicating information was sold to Democrats could be found. Secretary of state records show Bohac as the registered agent and Johnson as a director.

Johnson’s party affiliation was not known on Wednesday, but he is known in political circles as a Republican consultant.

Complaints dismissed

Leo Vasquez, Harris County tax assessor-collector and voter registrar, issued a statement that dismissed complaints that Johnson’s job, which can include approving or rejecting voter applications, conflicts with his side business.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Candidates for PEC board Landaker and Rogers respond to rate plan questions

Remember to vote! Voting continues thru Friday, June 12

Send your comments and news tips to,
or to Mr. Landaker, and Ms. Rogers,

* Read the comments or add your own by clicking on the "comments" button below the story.

Editor's Note:
A new rate plan is expected to be voted on at a special meeting of the PEC board on Monday, June 15. Most of us want to know what our electric bill will be at the end of the month (some of us, maybe not), so the RoundUp asked the two Hays County (Wimberley area) candidates for the District 6 seat on the PEC board of directors to respond to two questions: 1) Based on your knowledge of PEC operations and the Guernsey rate study, do you believe a rate increase is justifiable, and if you were a sitting member of the board today, would you (speak honestly here, please) vote for a rate increase? 2) Would you support a change in the current PEC rate structure in favor of a tiered structure, i.e., lower rates for lower consumption?

Mr. Landaker's and Ms. Rogers' responses are presented below in alphabetical order.

Voting is still open thru June 12 by mail and electronically for three new full term board members. For a look at all the candidates go to this PEC web site: Vote electronically here, Or take the plunge, and attend PEC's annual meeting Saturday, June 20, in Johnson City. You can meet the candidates there and vote in person. Please do not miss your chance to vote in this important election.

Larry Landaker
Candidate, PEC Board, District 6

Wimberley, Tx

I do not support a rate increase for residential or commercial consumers who conserve energy.

In fact, we should be looking at ways to lower most utility bills. We must break the cycle of automatic, across the board rate increases which will never end. If we do not break that cycle now, then when will we do it? Higher rates are so easy to pass in the comfort of a board room but they wreak havoc around kitchen tables for people and businesses struggling to make ends meet. I will not be stampeded into an increase for all the usual excuses including "area growth and inflation."

I have studied the Guernsey Report. It may be adequate but its real purpose is to provide political cover to the board. The board owes a duty to the members to postpone any vote on rate schemes until the new board is seated and can reasonably debate it as well as alternative viewpoints. Why should three new board members have to defend a rate change without participating in its final design?

I do favor a tiered structure but want to be certain that PEC selects aggressive options
which are equitable and which strongly reward residential and commercial conservation. In the past the PEC way has been to thank its customers for conserving energy by raising their rates. We should consider offering conservation credits for people who respond to energy audits with real investment in more efficient appliances, weatherization and renewable energy sources such as small scale solar panels. I also favor something called, time of use (TOU). If, for example, people knew they could save on their utility bill by doing laundry during off peak demand times, I believe many people would plan accordingly.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy represent our future in central Texas. People are ready and willing to respond. Other cooperatives are doing these things. So must PEC.

Linda Kaye Rogers
Candidate, PEC Board, District 6
Wimberley, Tx

The newest rate proposal has a service fee rate increase of $2.50 per month. Costs for providing service have increased since the last rate structure was initiated. Many expenses have doubled. PEC is a business and must recover costs to “keep the lights on." The (proposed) new rate structure DECREASES rates by $.002579 per KWH for residential members.


Current Rate

500KWH – $25.34
-20.00 (base fee) = $ 5.34
1000KWH – $126.78
-20.00 = $106.78

New Rate:
500KWH – $27.71
-22.50 (new base fee) = $5.21
1000KWH – $126.70
-22.50 = $104.20

Approximately 87% of PEC members are Residential. They use approximately 69% of purchased power. Approximately 13% of PEC members are non-residential (small & large commercial and industrial). They use approximately 31% of purchased power. The new rate structure sends a very strong pricing signal to the non-residential members to reduce their peak usage. This is an energy efficiency incentive and could reduce the need for additional power plants and infrastructure, cutting overall costs to the coop/members. GM Juan Garza has said the current rates overcharge the members. The new rate structure has a net reduction overall.

I would vote for the new rate structure.

A tiered rate structure would punish those members who simply have greater need.

At a glance:

500KWH - (Me) single member household
1000KWH - Elderly, fixed income, 2 member household
1450KWH - Single mom, 2 children
2000KWH - 6 member household

In addition, tiered rates ask larger users to subsidize smaller users. This is because the cost of service has to be recovered, and it costs the same to provide service to a small user as a large user. This would be an unfair practice and against PURPA Standards. Tiered rates have not been shown to improve conservation. It would be a rate increase for some, and not justifiable. “No” to tiered rates.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A letter to Willie: Thanks for everything you do, can you lend a hand with our creeks and streams?

It would be a pleasure and an honor to have you and Ray along side as we continue our fight to protect the beloved Hill Country


Most folks think of you as an American country singer-songwriter, author, poet, actor and music icon. While I enjoy your wide range of music and appreciate your special talent, I think of you more as someone who cares about people and the world around you, and who uses your talents to benefit both...such as Farm Aid, UNICEF and your many other efforts.

I grew up on a farm not far from Abbott (Lancaster), where I played a guitar, sort of, and sang to the cows. It really is a small world.

I believe the only mistake you made was supporting Kinky Friedman's campaign in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial election. It helped get Rick Perry reelected governor.

You are three years older than me, but I have quietly thought of you as a compadre who represents the best of mankind.

I know you can't help everyone, but I also know how much you love the Hill Country, so I'm bringing a special local tragedy in the making to your attention.

The Belterra 2,000 home subdivision along US 290 out toward Dripping Springs has managed to obtain a precedent setting permit to discharge treated sewage effluent directly into a Hill Country stream, Bear Creek, instead of using subsurface drip irrigation as originally permitted.

For more than three years, many who cherish our Hill Country have petitioned the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (including a contested case hearing) not to issue such a precedent setting permit, but Perry's developer friends got their way. This permit was challenged by downstream property owners, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, the cities of Austin and Dripping Springs, Hays County and numerous non-profit organizations like ours and many individuals. We made a strong and expensive scientific case but politics prevailed.

We are now taking the TCEQ decision to district court (see attached petition) on behalf of all Hill Country residents, and expect to incur additional legal fees of about $15,000.

Can you help us? What a public statement it would be to have Willie Nelson and your buddy Ray Benson perform a benefit concert at the Nutty Brown Cafe, or in an open field adjoining Bear Creek to help cover legal costs and draw wider public attention to this precedent setting permit. First Bear Creek, then our other Hill Country streams will be polluted. What a new dimension you and Ray would bring to this grassroots effort of saying, "Welcome to Hill Country, but don't spoil it."

It would be a pleasure and an honor to have you and Ray along side us as we continue our fight to protect the beloved Hill Country. It's about saving our Hill Country. Please consider helping in any way that you can.

Charles O'Dell, Ph.D.


Hays Community Action Network (HaysCAN)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More from the pec4u watchdog discussion group . . . rate increase is a-comin'

My point is that the Board continues to give the ratepayers' money (our money) away without so much as a "by your leave"

Send your comments and news tips to or to Mr. Hawkins,

* To read the comments or add your own, click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story.

Editor's Note: To get the skinny on what the board's thinking might be, contact board member and Wimberley resident Patrick Cox, Mr. Cox is running unopposed for a full term on the District 7 board seat. Cox told the RoundUp he is expecting a new rate proposal will be brought up and voted on at a June 15 special meeting of the PEC board. Asked if he would support a rate increase, Cox stated flatly, "No, I will not." Of course, Mr. Cox is only one vote on the board of directors. The old guard board members still comprise a majority. They will soon be replaced but not before the June 15 meeting. The question on the streets is: Will the old guard push through, as their final parting shot, a plan that unfairly hits the little guy?

Voting by mail and internet is now underway thru June 12 for three new full term board members, including Mr. Cox.
Of particular interest is the District 6 seat which represents a big chunk of western Hays County. For a look at the candidates go to this PEC web site: Vote electronically here,

Please take the time to get as informed as possible, and vote! If you would like to meet the candidates and cast your vote in person, plan on attending this year's annual meeting of the PEC in Johnson City on June 20, a Saturday. It promises to be an interesting and fun affair. The winners of the board election will be announced there.


If you think, as some folks must, that the PEC Board's handouts and
giveaways (over a million dollars a year) don't affect rates, consider this, from (Wimberleyite) Merle Moden's most recent letter to the Board:

Guernsey allocated charitable contributions and donations to the rate
classes using cost allocation factor 107 (AF 107) which is the cost allocator for total plant. . . . Since the ability of PEC to make charitable contributions and donations is a function of the revenue received, these expenses should be allocated on the basis of revenue using cost allocation factor 26 (AF 26).

Merle goes on to make his point here: "Guernsey (PEC rate study) failed to follow basic
principles of cost causation by misallocating these expenses." This is just one point among the many he assembles in his critique of the rate study in order to demonstrate flaws that "are significant and require correction."

I hope that Merle's entire letter will be in the Public Board Package for
the June 15th Board meeting, when the Board will probably act on the matter. I think he makes a compelling case for serious revisions in the study's recommendations and offers a number of very reasonable suggestions for cutting costs. If you're interested, you might ask him for a copy now.

My point is that the Board continues to give the ratepayers' money – our
money – away without so much as a "by your leave." I trust this will change when we get a "new" Board.

Milton Hawkins

(Edited for length & style)

Dear Joe: No, I probably do not understand it all. I am learning new things every day.

I do understand a lot about PEC. Some of the old crowd are out but the bulk of the iceberg stays the same . . . This band of merry men didn't happen in a day, it took about 60 years to fashion and perfect our PEC and it is not going to change over night. Do you know that the near-by co-op that used to be a part of Pec, this is Cen Tex Co-op, they have a fine party to celebrate their independence from PEC some 60 years ago and they still celebrate the day every year.

PEC is cocked and primed to whack the small user-owners with a hefty price increase. This is going to get the attention of a lot of folks. This increase will probably be announced at the special Board meeting on June 15.

If you plan to attend, be prompt, this is going to be (quick) and they will be going home by 10:15 AM. Remember, this will be the LAST chance for the old crowd to really shaft the new crowd.

Thanks for writing, Joseph....Paul Langston