Friday, August 28, 2009

What's up with Commissioner Conley's strange doings?

What the hey, last year Conley resurfaced Old Bumpy, a private road (by the city's accounting) up the hill from Flite Acres Road leading to the gated Summer Hills subdivision. So why not just top it off this year with a champagne toast on Flite Acres

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Update: Tuesday Sept. 1 – Public hearings on the proposed new tax rate and 2010 budget are scheduled at the county courthouse Wednesday Sept. 2, 9 a.m., Wednesday Sept. 9, 6 p.m., and Wednesday Sept. 16, 9 a.m.

By Bob Ochoa
RoundUp Editor

Word's getting around that Precinct 3 County Commissioner Will Conley – who represents Wimberley, Woodcreek and some of the biggest and prettiest open stretches in Hays County – is having delusions of grandeur fit for a Saudi prince.

Some have started to wonder about his, well, strange behavior. Insiders are asking, "How many promises has Conley made?"

Is he shooting for an early lock on a third term in 2012, or setting himself up with some big donors for a shot at the county judge's seat next year? Sadly, in Hays County we have seen all too often that public service and public largess come with a price.

Commissioners court has just adopted a very tight, stripped to the bone, proposed budget for the new fiscal year, 2010. The budget will go into effect on Oct. 1, after citizens get another shot at commenting, complaining, and asking questions at a series of upcoming public hearings (see dates and times above in the update).

Last week, commissioners voted to increase the property tax rate to support the proposed budget. Conley, surprisingly enough, voted in favor of the tax hike (his very first vote for a tax increase, we believe), but lately has been out talking tough, promising constituents he intends to fight to reduce the tax rate he supported.

Here's the strange part: Conley also is promising certain constituents he will deliver on some very expensive projects, some for which there is no money earmarked in the proposed budget
. We've reached a point where we're not sure if Conley's a spoiled spendthrift or a conservative bean-counting Republican. He certainly seems to enjoy playing both roles.

Here are a few cases to consider:

– Conley wants to resurface moderately traveled Flite Acres Road, not with the standard chip seal process but with high dollar asphalt. We hear the cost could run upwards of a quarter million dollars. Lucky residents. Perhaps Flite Acres Road should be renamed Little Hollywood Boulevard. The road weaves in and out of the city limits, but the impoverished City of Wimberley will not be able to help finance this deal. What the hey, last year Conley resurfaced Old Bumpy, a private road (by the city's accounting) up the hill from Flite Acres Road leading in to the gated Summer Hills subdivision. (It earned Conley a lot of new fans). So why not just top it off this year with a champagne toast on Flite Acres.

– Conley wants to widen the low water bridge on
Green Acres Drive at an estimated cost of between $200,000 and $300,000. Savvy sources are saying it doesn't make sense to spend so much of the taxpayers' money to widen the bridge if it doesn't also raise the bridge to the 25-year flood stage standard. I.E., it would be a waste of our money to widen the bridge and then have to return later to raise it, let's say, after the next flash flood washes it out. So, should Conley up the ante or take a rain check on this one?

– Conley wants to spend between $200,000 and $300,000 to expand and enhance the county's dispatch system for fire departments and EMS. This one could be the Camel's Nose Under the Tent. A very excellent and long time fire chief informed the RoundUp the ideal solution would be a multi-million dollar Hays County Dispatch Center.

The quick fix would be to add a new dispatcher or two and new console or two to handle fire and EMS calls exclusively. This proposal appears to have some merit, but the problem is the money is currently not in the proposed 2010 budget. Conley may have to fight for this added expenditure and find cuts of equal amounts if he's going to stick with his pledge to reduce the tax rate.

Hays County Fire Chiefs Association vice president David Smith says a proposal has been forwarded to commissioners and that a presentation will be made at a budget workshop in September. Smith declined to discuss dollar amounts – says they're a non-profit group not subject to public information requests. He suggested we talk to our county commissioners.

Old Baptist Church is up for sale. Will the taxpayers take the bait?

– Conley is still pushing one of his biggest flights of fancy – to have the county and City of Wimberley purchase the old Baptist Church buildings and property (located next to the entrance to Blue Hole) for use as a shared government center. This one has worn various monikers: White Elephant, Private Investor Bailout, Special Interest Bonanza, Profit Heaven, Ol' Clunker.

We are told Conley intends to take his latest church plan to commissioners court on Sept. 15. Earth to Commissioner Conley: a) the money's not in the budget, not even for the original asking price of $2.6 million; b) a soon-to-come capital investment review will show a $5 million total price tag to purchase and rehab the old church property; c) the city has other options for a permanent city hall that offer potentially much better deals for the taxpayers, and could accommodate county offices, when and if commissioners court finally gives your church puppy a rest.

The list could go on but time is short. We've got a call in to the commissioner to help explain some of these bizarro positions of his.

We'll leave on this quick note – it's another very strange thing that has Commissioner Conley's name attached to it. Not long ago, the state highway department made a sudden road sign change along FM 3237 that surprised and angered many residents. One day the green highway sign said Red Hawk Rd. The next day, as if beamed down from space, a larger green highway sign appeared replacing Red Hawk with Woodcreek Ranch Rd. It stirred up a little hornets nest among Red Hawk residents and upset members of a nearby hilltop church, all of whom had for years instructed visitors to turn on Red Hawk.

An enterprising Red Hawk resident has set out to get to the bottom of this mysterious sign change. He has documented some interesting information. Here's part of an e-mail he recently sent around to interested parties:

1) The process for changing our road signs took place over nine months. During this time there was no notice or consultation with the residents on Red Hawk Road.

2) Will Conley was involved every step of the way, despite his apparent assurances that this was all a TXDOT project.

3) There were two residents on Woodcreek Ranch Road that seemed to be behind this. Interestingly, they seem independent of one another and both of them made efforts to urge the county NOT to take down our signs. They expressed a desire to just add their sign in addition to our own. Unfortunately, TXDOT rules do not allow for two street names to be on the same sign if the directional arrow for them points the same way.

4) The key to Conley's ability to remove the signs depended upon some change at the 911 Hays County mapping office. I have an October 24, 2008 email from TXDOT to Will Conley that states the following, "As you may recall, the sign on 3237 reads Red Hawk Road because we were told last year that this was the designation that the 911 services used....... Sean Wright from our office has recently clarified this further with the 911 service and they now recognize it as Woodcreek Ranch Road."

Strange indeed.


Anonymous said...

MMMMMMMMM....whisperings in Woodcreek North have it that Conley wants to take over roads there and strongly politicking for it; whisperings also have it that he is in conversations with Wimberley Springs GM regarding same....

"love the photo" said...

In Jan. of '09 he got the new court to allow the HC Sherriff's Dept. to take over traffic control of the several hundred gated neighborhoods in the county. Very expensive proposition, and for some reason the court voted unanimously "aye".

All summer long motorcyle cops (they're now called "cedar creepers", for they hide behind the cedars, and then pop out) have been writing tickets for slow rolling stops, and coming down large hills with too much momentum. Minimum $145 a pop in their own gated neighborhood. I think our money would be better spent patrolling the merchants' parking lots in our town, looking for tourists with expired inspection stickers.

Last summer with gas over $4+ per gallon he had the Sherriffs on patrol, patrol, patrol- all day, everyday, cruising in and out of town ,in their their thirsty V-8 supercharged cars- very expensive.

We've allowed Conley to embed himself here and relected him. Some must feel he's a valuable asset to our community.

Anonymous said...

All of the roads in Woodcreek North and Wimberley Springs are presently private roads. The signs (speed limits, stop, etc.) were placed there by the WPOA members and they “tried” to conform to standards. So, they are not officially placed by any government source. This begs the question, is it a violation of law to not heed them? Most of the roads there are not up to County standards.

The Woodcreek Home Owners Association has long wanted the county to take over their roads and they seem to have been in negotiations with Conley for the last week or so. They have been hush-hush about this, and went so far as to discuss this in so-called closed sessions.

Wimberley Springs Partners (Winton Porterfield) has for about a year, openly stated they wanted the county to take over the maintenance of their portion of Woodcreek North. They have been waiting patiently for this.

All of this would be a gift to the two HOAs, they would still collect their fees but would no longer have to pay for any road maintenance. In the case of the WPOA that is their single biggest expenditure, currently about $200,000 per year. I wonder if the WPOA will lower its maintenance fees after the gift.

Anonymous said...

In the face of argument after argument against it (translation ---- it is one really expensive and dumb idea) Conley's still pushing the church deal. Makes me wonder if he promised somtehing to the less than astute investors who bought the church. Makes me wonder if he promised the big wigs at the Baptist church that he's bail them out. After all, the guys who purchased the property still owe the Baptist church around a million dollars. Conley the "Bail out King."

you get what you pay for said...

No. 2, I can agree with you on your ending point that somehow Conley has become a valuable ASSet to the community. People around here, with the deep pockets and pull, seem to appreciate ASSets who will take care of their particular wishes rather than an honest and fair broker who will represent the needs of our region and community, underscored, someone who can rise above petty politics, gimmicks and quid pro quo. Are our standards so low? I am not surprised by the closed door talks on the county taking over WC North and Valley Springs roads. That would be political horse trading, Conley's Ace Game. You voted for him, you own him.

Eat My Shorts said...

So, if Conley is such a "bad a$$" then why do voters reelect him?

Apparently many residents want him to do exactly what he is doing.

We keep recycling the same "dirty" politicians. Aren't there any ethical and significant leaders out there?

weatherman said...


Anonymous said...

If you don't think there are ethical elected officials or you aren't happy with the job they are doing, then why don't you run for political office? It's not like Conley is something special. He's just an ordinary man like you. So PLEASE get involved and stop complaining.

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't have to run for office in order to get ethical people.

Not everyone wants a career in the political arena.

We "regular" people should not have to search for our elected officials like going clamming or something like that.

Seems as though most who go into politics aren't interested in working for the majority, only for their wealthy special interests.

I see a RINO said...

Conley is openly practicing more government control using the taxpayers' money, exactly what Republicans constantly harp against. The guy is an outright fraud, working against his own kind. Where are the Republicans of precinct 3. They should be demanding his resignation!

Anonymous said...

RINO, Gov. Perry does the same thing and so do many GOP politicos.

The days of little government in our daily lives has flown out the window since the Eisenhower days and even the Reagan administration.

These days Capitalism is great until something happens and corporations lose money, profits and are ready for bankruptcy. Then the government steps in and becomes socialist!

Conley is just another little man working his way up the political and money ladder, doing what others are doing all around us.

Democrats do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like from 1&3 that the "private sector" maintenance of roads in WC North and Valley Springs ain't working out so well. Is this another private sector bailout in the works by Conley? These are private developer projects. Woodcreek North just voted down incorporation, the backers saying they didn't want a local government entity messing with them. It's looking like they're about to get their cake and eat it too. County taxpayers will be picking up the tab. That's pretty shrewd of them, not to mention two-faced.

Anonymous said...

An educated rumor is that the WPOA is meeting with Will Conley behind closed doors to get all of the major roads in Woodcreek North to be County maintained. A little bird told me it is a done deal. BTW, The WPOA supported the incorporation move. The ordinary homeowners are in the dark about this. The WPOA has spent thousands on “chip n seal” of many major roads this year. I think this was prelude to all of this. Conley could improve his reputation by operating out in the open. If he were bringing home the bacon, I’d suspect he’d want us to know. I guess something is wrong here.

Anonymous said...

Again, if Conley is such a "dog" then vote him out in the next election. So far, he seems to be desired by the voters in his district.

Anonymous said...

It seems that the Woodcreek Ranch Road residents certainly have the ear of Conley. The reason that Conley had "Old Bumpy" paved is that the residents of Woodcreek Ranch put a permanent fence across the end of Little Ranches Road, thus forcing the residents of Summer Hills to exit their subdivision via Little Ranches and Flite Acres, rather than use Woodcreek Ranch Road. Local residents have expressed concern that the permanent fence poses a safety hazard by diminishing exit options in the case of flood or fire, but the county has been non-responsive--indicating that they will send someone out to take down the fence if we all get trapped by fire. Makes me wonder why the residents of Woodcreek Ranch Road want their road name on the highway, if they're so opposed to the small trickle of traffic from their neighbors...