Sunday, February 28, 2010

March 2nd primary gives the few a chance to make a big difference

Time has proven those early fears correct as Patrick Rose has become one of the largest money grubbers in Texas House history, raising millions for his war chest these past few years. And with every dollar he seems to raise, there is an inverse price we seem to pay

Note: Mr. Baxter is a co-founder of the Friendship Alliance, a consortium of Hays County neighborhoods that banded together years ago out of necessity to defend their property rights against the expansionist aims of the city of Dripping Springs. We rather prefer the views and endorsements of On-The-Ground Hays County citizens who've been around for awhile and have fought the good fight, over the views and endorsements of outsiders – the Austin American-Statesman being one case in point, and all the money pouring in from outside Hays County and District 45 being the other. The Statesman's recent endorsements of Messrs. Rose and Barton was a clear example of editorial prostitution, as well as a crock. As we approach Election Day March 2nd and Texas Independence Day, we re-channel the call of the freedom fighter – "Remember the Alamo!" In this election, we say: "Valor over BS!" If you haven't already, please vote Tuesday March 2nd and urge your friends and neighbors to do the same.

Send your comments and news tips to, to Mr. Baxter at, or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

By Rob Baxter

Guest Commentary

This year especially, whether you usually vote Republican, Democrat or Independent, as you likely already know, the primaries are where incumbents can sometimes face the toughest odds due to turnout mainly of the "base." Thus, the primaries are often our best chance as voters to affect change with the least numbers of voters.

We have two particular primary races in Hays that truly warrant everyone voting who can...the Democratic primary races for County Judge and State Rep. Dist. 45. (FYI, voters can crossover in a primary and vote in either party, just not in both.)

Oddly, in the Judge race, Pct. #2 Commissioner Jeff Barton has chosen to attack the incumbent Judge Liz Sumter.

By most accounts, Liz Sumter has done truly admirable and positive work in her first term. Frankly, this race makes no sense, so I don't want to waste time on Jeff Barton's attempted power grab for his special interests.

For those of you who don't know the local political scene that well, regardless of Barton's tasteful "green" campaign signs, don't be fooled. Jeff is basically lined up with laissez faire developers, corporate road and engineering interests, while Liz stands for managed, thoughtful and sustainable growth in the county. For some reason, Barton seems to think that now is his big chance not so much to topple Liz, but to grab the Judgeship for his interests. Unfortunately for him, Liz is not weak and with good reason. Please vote that one accordingly.

The District 45 State Rep. Rose. v. Backus race is another game entirely. It is clearly reminiscent of 8 years ago when Patrick Rose was running to topple Rick Green, only this year the two adversaries, Backus and Rose, are in the same party.

So, what makes this similar? Back then, Rick Green played the part of corrupt politician; under ethics investigation clouds, shooting infomercials for clients (Focus Factor) in his Capital office or seeking "donations" to his "foundation" as he wrapped himself in the US flag for the cameras out front, while his foundation's wallet was open off camera. Consequently developers lined up to have him legislate development and municipal districts for them.

Fortunately, we caught wind of this as did Patrick's father Mike Rose and also Charlotte Rhodes, Rose's first major benefactress to the tune of $25K (God rest her beautiful soul). Seeing the opening, wunderkind Patrick Rose stepped up, now flush with cash, fresh from Princeton and en route to UT-Law. Unfortunately for us, this time Patrick Rose gets to play the Rick Green role and Andrew Backus the spoiler (or white knight, depending on your point of view).

How things have changed in 8 years...or have they?

Early on in his first campaign Patrick sought mine and many other's support, and we gave it to him – anything to see Green's conflicted ineptitude gone. So when Patrick called me the morning after his first major fund-raising event to chew the fat and crow a bit, the first words out of this understandably excited 22 year old's mouth were, "I raised $20,000 last night!" I thought, "Oh no...he's too young and is awed by money. This can't be good." Time has proven those early fears correct as he has become one of the largest money grubbers in Texas House history, raising millions for his war chest these past few years. And with every dollar he seems to raise, there is an inverse price we seem to pay.

What we have before us this Tuesday is a similar, but far more transparent choice than 8 years ago. The reason I say this is because eight years ago, we had the youthful, right-winger, with a track record strewn with conflicts of interest up against an unknown man-child in Rose. Well, the man-child's a man now and and the difference this time is that what we now have is another youthful and sometimes right-wing incumbent, playing the part of the corrupt politician.

This time Rose is going up against a known and proven entity, Andrew Backus, former President of the Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD). Unlike Patrick at 22, Andrew at 50 has a track record, a well known and defensible one at the HTGCD. However, unlike our former Rep. Rick Green, Patrick on the surface has an apparently competent record, but scratch below the veneer and we'll find a record heavily strewn with conflicts of interest and special interest dollars. Dollars laid about in $5,000 to $50,000 chunks are collected before the legislation gets proposed that then benefit the benefactor at the expense of the district's constituents.

These $50,000 chunks have cost Hays County dearly and they will continue to cost Hays County should Patrick stay in office. I could elaborate, but with minimal digging you can find the donor list and cross reference it to the relevant legislation and it becomes apparent how and why Patrick has the just about largest war chest out there. What's not so apparent is what Patrick actively does to kill legislation or get it stalled for some of those same contributions from Insurance PACs, developers, Business PAC's, you name it. What's also not apparent is what Patrick intends to do with that war chest when he's had enough of District 45 and heads for higher office, because that folks, is what this is about for Rose, ambition, not District 45.

Please go out and vote accordingly.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Republicans lead Democrats in early voting turnout: 3,410 to 2,607

Carol Wilder, the Democratic precinct chair for voting Precinct 448, Driftwood area, forwarded the early voting totals in the Republican and Democratic primaries. Thank you Carol. Early voting concluded Friday Feb. 26. The Republican primary seems to have generated more enthusiasm thus far, with 3,410 ballots cast. The Democratic primary has seen 2,607 ballots cast thus far.

There are several hotly contested local and statewide races in both primaries, but it appears the three-way Republican contest for governor between Perry, Hutchison and Medina is drawing most of the attention.

Of interest to Democrats is the local race for State Representative, District 45, between 8-year incumbent Democrat Patrick Rose of Dripping Springs and campaign newcomer Andrew Backus, a Driftwood area resident; also the contest for Hays County Judge between incumbent Judge Liz Sumter of Wimberley and challenger Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton of Mountain City.

Don't miss your chance to vote and help determine the outcomes of these important races. Election Day is Tuesday, March 2, which is also Texas Independence Day. Happy Texas (and Hays County) 136th Birthday! Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Find your voting location at this link to the county elections office web site:

Here's the early voting breakdown by location:

Elections Office San Marcos: 923
Kyle City hall: 370
DSISD Admin: 441
Wimberley Community Center: 743
Buda City Hall: 626
TSU: 92
Mail in ballot: 110
FPCA: 105

Elections Office San Marcos: 701
Kyle CityHall: 221
DSISD Admin: 203
Wimberley Community Center: 322
Buda City Hall: 350
TSU: 118
Mail in ballot: 625
FPCA: 67

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's time to trash the junk mail!


Even the least interested citizen knows when election season has arrived by the avalanche of junk mail that starts pouring into the mailbox. These colorful mail outs were collected at one residence inside a two week period. Whew! The mind wanders through fruitless attempts to compute all the time, ink, money and trees that go into producing them . . . then to that poor postal carrier who has to lug 'em around to everybody's mailboxes. What are we supposed to do with them all!? Are the best candidates the ones with the most mailers with pretty pictures, or are they the ones with the biggest campaign bankrolls and thus suspicious from the get-go? Then we realize that it becomes our responsibility, as good citizens, to recycle every last piece. Well that's just another danged unfunded mandate on the public. Maybe, as an act of civil disobedience, we decide to throw them on the burn pile out back and set all the chemicals adrift into the air we all share and breathe. "Hah ha," we think, "a few of those airborne molecules are sure to drift into the nostrils of those smiling politicians. That'll teach 'em to pollute our air and mailboxes." Lest we blow a fuse, we try not imagining the thousands more political yard signs that will join the mailers on the burn pile. Hope springs eternal, however. There's a lonely candidate out there who has declined to play the political yard sign game. Said he favors less clutter, clean air, and would campaign by e-mail. Now that's a true 21st century candidate, and hopefully the beginning of a trend in our parts. For that alone, he certainly has our support.

–B. Ochoa

Thursday, February 25, 2010

PEC scores low on trustworthiness

Members like service, but they and employees are displeased about management

Note: We wonder if the survey asked if anybody's happy with their eye-popping electric bills lately. Our power co-op unfortunately continues to score near rock bottom in providing members with the incentives needed to convert their homes and businesses to renewable energy systems.
For starters, PEC should look at revamping its net metering policies to allow for far more customer-avoided costs (click here and type in net metering in the search box . . . more info here). More broadly, PEC would do well to enthusiastically embrace the movement towards energy independence for all its members.

Take a look at one of the fascinating possibilities in this video segment from a recent CBS "60 Minutes" report on the Bloom Box:

Send your comments and news tips to, to PEC board president Larry Landadker,, or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Read the complete story here:

By Patrick George /
Published: 8:41 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010

A survey of Pedernales Electric Cooperative members and employees reveals that although about three-quarters of the co-op's members are satisfied with their electrical service, many co-op employees remain critical of management's openness, leadership and treatment of personnel.

Among the findings: Only 1 in 3 employee respondents agree that "PEC's leadership can be trusted to do what it says it is going to do."

Even fewer — 26 percent — think that their pay is linked to performance, and only 28 percent feel confident that management is working to serve members or that the board is doing a good job.

The low numbers might seem surprising, given the avowed determination of the co-op's leadership to turn over a new leaf after the tumult of recent years, when disclosures of questionable practices forced out many top officials. But they also reflect a common criticism of Pedernales employees: Many distrusted managers who were part of the co-op's old culture remain at their jobs.

The survey, compiled by Austin-based research firm SomersetGuild, was released at Monday's regular meeting of the co-op board of directors. It took about nine months to survey or interview 900 co-op members, 700 employees, local officials, a co-op watchdog group and all but one board member.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

County reviews proposed conservation properties and hires real estate manager

Remaining $8.4 million 2007 parks bond funds tagged to supplement County’s Regional Habitat Conservation Plan

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – The Hays County Commissioners Court announced Tuesday that it has reviewed recommendations made by the County’s Parks and Open Space Advisory Board (POSAB) regarding 15 properties submitted to the County for conservation use and has authorized The Nature Conservancy to act as its real estate advisor for parks bond properties going forward.

While all 15 properties are still under consideration, The Nature Conservancy will use POSAB’s rankings as a guide.

“Because of the complex and sensitive nature of real estate negotiations, The Nature Conservancy will work privately with owners of submitted land whose properties most closely match the goals set forward in acquiring land for conservation use,” Mark Kennedy, legal counsel to the Commissioners Court, said. “The Nature Conservancy is highly experienced in acquiring real estate for conservation purposes and will help maximize the return on the parks bonds approved by voters in 2007.”

The bonds were approved to fund parks, natural areas, open space and related projects, and the preservation of water quality, aquifer recharge areas and wildlife habitat. Guided by the bond language and input from a citizen’s committee, the Commissioners Court has already provided grants to support numerous park projects throughout the County as well as funded other projects, including a partnership in a conservation easement, to support water quality and aquifer recharge values.

In October 2009 the Commissioners Court announced it was seeking properties that fit the intent of the parks bonds for purchase, partnership or conservation easements. The 15 properties submitted range up to nearly 3,300 acres.

The request for proposals sought properties that could preserve endangered species and habitat, protect water quality, allow access to water by the public and provide potential for hike-and-bike trails and other recreational activities. One specific requirement is that the land must contain at least 250 acres of endangered habitat that would address the goals of the Hays County Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (

Here is the list of projects and the applicants under consideration:

Barton Creek Watershed / Trust for Public Land
Craddock Park/Friends of Craddock Park
Devil’s Backbone Habitat Preserve/Sam Houston Area Council - BSA
Headwaters at Barton Creek/Land Advisors Organization
Hillert Tract/Rick Anderson/Bob Mayo
Jacob’s Well Natural Area Expansion/Wimberley Valley Watershed Association
Lazy Oaks /Lazy Oaks Ranch, LP
Millican Ranch/ Joe Bob Millican
Nance Pasture/Mary Lee Nance
Nicholson Ranch Partners, Ltd./Adkins and Associates, Inc.
Purgatory Creek/Trust for Public Land
Rodgers Ranch/Land Advisors Organization
San Marcos River Watershed/Trust for Public Land
Shannon/Hudson/Roberson-Bob Shannon
Sink Creek Habitat & Water Protection Zone/San Marcos River Foundation For San Marcos Springs

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bylaw changes fail to clear co-op board

The board unanimously approved a separate measure, a proposed bill of rights for Pedernales members, outlining their rights to fair elections, access to co-op meetings and open records, or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story


— In a contentious meeting Monday, the Pedernales Electric Cooperative board fell short of the number of votes needed to pass new bylaws touted as solidifying reforms the co-op has made over the past 18 months.

The proposed bylaws needed a two-thirds majority of the board's seven voting members to pass. The last two remaining voting members of the old guard — directors O.C. Harmon and R.B. Felps — voted no. Director James Williams abstained, effectively blocking passage.

Board President Larry Landaker (of Wimberley) said the proposed bylaws may be revived in a few months, after the June general membership meeting and election.

"There's a lot of stress over this, and I don't know what the source is," an agitated Landaker said at the meeting. "This is a strategy ... to torpedo a sincere effort."

Larry Landaker

One snowy day in Central Texas

Thanks to Peter Stern for these gorgeous photos taken this morning out around the Driftwood area. Enjoy, and drive safely!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Race for House seat and Hays County posts offer clear choices

Read the entire editorial published by the Statesman on Sunday at this link:

Send your comments and news tips to or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story


State Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, continues to be a forceful advocate for District 45, with a leadership style that focuses on building consensus at the Legislature. As a result, Rose has an impressive list of accomplishments that has helped improve the quality of life for district residents and all Texans. He is the best choice for the March 2 Democratic primary.

The District 45 seat represents a swing district split between Democrats and Republicans.


There is a clear contrast between candidates seeking the District 45 House seat and the Hays County Commissioners Court's top leadership post. We urge voters to choose Rose, Barton and Cobb.


Here's a sampling of comments the Stateman's endorsements has stirred. (None of the commenters, so far, are happy with the paper's far-fetched picks):

–– If Representative Pat Rose spent less time in the Warehouse District of Austin and more time really representing his constituents - in the way we need representation - Hays, Blanco, and Caldwell counties will remain livable.

If he's re-elected, hello urban sprawl. – Nell 786

–– Sorry after years of supporting Rose I can't do it any longer. He had his chance to be A Democrat and instead has become another pathetic Republican lite. I am active with the Hays Dems and I am working hard to make sure Rose loses this primary. – Texan by Marriage

–– Dear AAs editorial board, Disclaimer to your endorsement should state that you are in the business of selling houses, cars and cheap trinkets from China.

If you were to read your letters to your editor, John Sharp briefly and thoroughly made your case for you. You don’t read your own paper. You’ve been ‘rosed’ to. District 45 has been ‘rosed’ to and now you want us to believe your big fat ’rose’ – your endorsement.

Since you currently have readers out in Hays county, you should not ‘rose’ to them and should stick to mercantile. Your endorsements are the kiss of death to those that receive them, it’s history – read it. Thanks for the endorsements, say goodnight to young prince Pinocchio Ro$e and developer wanna-be baby Barton. Hays county will thank you for helping to elect Andrew Backus and re-elect county judge Sumter. You endorsed Jim Powers over Sumter the last go around. Thanks for that too.

By the way FYI Pinocchio Ro$e is claiming credit for the cure of breast cancer – now that’s real news! – Les

PEC ready to cement new rules

Perhaps the clearest signal of that new culture is the proposed bill of rights for Pedernales members, outlining their rights to fair elections, access to co-op meetings and open records

Send your comments and news tip to or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Read the complete story at this link:

Published Sunday, February 21, 2010/Austin American-Statesman

By Patrick George/American-Statesman Staff

Over the past few years, Pedernales Electric Cooperative has become associated less with its historical role of supplying power to the Texas Hill Country and more with lavish spending, secretive management and legal woes.

Bennie Fuelberg , who was its general manager for more than 30 years, was indicted last summer in the felony theft of money from the co-op. Fuelberg and the co-op's former general counsel, Walter Demond , are accused of arranging for thousands of dollars of co-op money to be paid to relatives of Pedernales executives between the mid-1990s and 2007.

The charges followed disclosures that stemmed from a member-led lawsuit and detailed questionable dealings by Pedernales officials, lack of oversight by its board and closed-door practices that kept the co-op's 200,000-plus members largely in the dark about its operations.

That was then. After beginning a series of reforms in 2008, the Pedernales board is poised today to enact new bylaws and proposed amendments to the organization's articles of incorporation that will make the changes permanent.

The board hopes the policies will also make Pedernales — already the largest member-owned cooperative in the country — a national model for open management.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Texas Supreme Court case has big implications for groundwater management

The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week for a case that some knowledgeable people are saying could have significant implications for landowners and groundwater water regulators

NPR's Morning Edition aired an informative report on the case Tuesday of this week. Here's the audio link:

Here's a statement we received from the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District:

"Principles in this action feel this is the most important water rights ruling to ever appear before the court and could significantly impact a Groundwater District’s ability to effectively manage this precious resource and change the way state water planning is performed. Lawyers representing landowners argue the property owner’s full rights are at stake."

Doug Wierman, president of the board of the HTGCD said this: "There are huge implications whether or not groundwater under your property is your vested right and you can withdraw as much as you want and basically throws out management of the aquifers. Locally it would pretty much dash any opportunity to manage the Trinity Aquifer (if the court rules in a sweeping decision for the petitioners Day/McDaniel). This is clearly something worth watching."

The case is titled "The Edwards Aquifer Authority and The State of Texas v. Burrell Day and Joel McDaniel." Docket No. 08-0964

You can read the Day/McDaniel petition for review in down-loadable pdf format here:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Early voting is under way . . . make sure to vote!

RoundUp Photo

Clark Regan has taken the early lead in the nomination for Best Costume during early voting. Regan spent some time electioneering outside the Wimberley Community Center today. It was the first day of early voting in Wimberley, where more than 260 voters had cast their ballots by 4 p.m. in the Republican and Democratic primaries. Mr. Regan and Kent "Bud" Wymore are vying for the position of County Chair of the Hays County Republican Party. Regan promises that if elected he will call for a joint session of county Dem and Republican leaders to discuss issues and areas of common interest.

For the schedule of early voting, go to this link at the county elections office web site :

Buda area community leader endorses Sumter for County Judge

Note: Mr. Patterson resides near Buda in County Precinct 2, Commissioner Jeff Barton's home turf. One could argue that Mr. Patterson's support for Liz Sumter in the Democratic Primary for County Judge is a case of sour grapes for Barton having turned a deaf ear to the wishes of 800 Buda-area constituents. One could argue, too, that's reason enough – but there's more to it than that, as Patterson explains.

Send your comments and news tips to, to Mr. Patterson at, or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

By David Patterson
Guest Commentary

The most important Hays County Primary in recent history is upon us. It is important because we’re being shut out of the process and we have public officials who will not listen to us.

Let me explain.

I was involved in the BudaFirst fight to stop the land use amendment that will allow an industrial park to be built in an area that was designated for commercial and retail by Buda’s Comprehensive Development Plan. Nearly 800 Buda voters signed a petition in July to put this land use amendment to the vote of the citizenry. By comparison, only 528 Buda citizens voted in last May’s election.

Patterson, on left, with former Buda mayor Jim Hollis
Clearly the majority will of Buda’s voters was to stop this industrial park. Despite the clear showing of the will of the people, some public officials were working behind the scenes to stop any citizen who might get in the way. Chief among those was County Commissioner Jeff Barton.

Barton’s actions deserve close scrutiny.

Jeff Barton tried to straddle the fence on this issue. While giving lip service to the idea of allowing the citizens to settle the issue, he received campaign contributions from Howard Faulkenberg. It is Faulkenberg’s public relations firm that represents US Foods, the first tenant in the industrial park that BudaFirst was fighting.

At the request of US Foods, Barton also placed $1.75 million in road improvements on the County Commissioner’s agenda. These road improvements were required by US Foods as a condition to relocate in Buda. Later Barton voted to spend $1.75 million of our tax dollars for these road improvements.

Apart from his involvement with the US Food scandal, there are some other things you should know about Barton. For example, he is still actively involved in his family’s paper the Free Press, and maintains a part time position with Doucette and Associates, an engineering firm that does business in Hays County.

An elected official should eliminate conflicts of interest and even the appearance of any conflicts of interest. Barton has done neither. If elected County Judge, Barton will favor developers, big business, and his family business, and he will do so at the expense of our quality of life.

Judge Liz Sumter has stood up against Barton. She voted against spending our tax money on special interest road improvements. She supported the voice and desires of Buda’s citizens, even after Barton criticized her for doing so. Liz has and will continue to represent the voters of Hays County. She has been and will continue to be provident with our tax dollars. Judge Liz Sumter has earned a reputation of listening to the citizens of Hays County and representing their will. Without Judge Sumter at the helm, our quality of life is in jeopardy.

If we don’t have responsible growth in our county, it is not a matter of if, but when there will be a collision between irresponsible growth and limited water resources. We cannot count on people like Commissioner Jeff Barton to serve our interests. And that’s why each and every one of us should support the re-election of Judge Liz Sumter.

Please talk to your friends and neighbors and get out to vote early.
Friday, February 19th, Buda City Hall, 11am to 7pm
Saturday, February 20th, Buda City Hall, 10am to 4pm
Friday, February 26th, Buda City Hall, 11am to 7pm

Plane crashes into Northwest Austin office building

Read the updates in the
Austin American-Statesman. Video reports are also available at the KVUE web site:

Claudia Grisales/Statesman
Austin police say a plane has crashed into a building in the 9400 block of Research Boulevard.

Austin-Travis County EMS Assistant Director James Shamard said smoke is visible for at least a mile and that paramedics have set up a triage center at the scene. “We have no idea right now if there are any patients, or how many.”

EMS officials said it was a seven-story building and that two people were unaccounted for. A witness said it was the Echelon I building.

According to an FBI agent who asked not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to release information, the incident is being investigated as an accident, although eyewitnesses said the plane seemed to come in at full throttle. He said the plane was out of Waco and that Federal Aviation Administration officials are en route to the scene.

Former Democratic Party Chair Whitehead endorses Sumter for re-election

It was a proud moment for us all when Judge Sumter took office and I encourage each of you to support her in this contested Democrat Primary election

As a former President and a Founding Member of WimDems, a former Chair of the Hays County Democratic Party and immediate past Mayor of the City of Woodcreek, it has been my pleasure to have worked with Judge Sumter on many projects benefiting all citizens of Hays County. We, along with so many of you have shared the goal of bringing good government to Hays County. Judge Sumter has worked tirelessly in that effort her entire professional career and most recently as our County Judge. Liz Sumter made history in Hays County as the first woman elected County Judge in our county. It was a proud moment for us all when Judge Sumter took office and I encourage each of you to support her in this contested Democrat Primary election.

It is without hesitation that I wholeheartedly endorse the re-election of Judge Sumter. However, FIRST she needs your support and VOTE in the Democrat Primary election. If ever it was necessary for you to get out and vote and vote early now is the time. We need the opportunity to Re-Elect Judge Sumter. She is the person who does the job now and does it full time with proven results.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Statesman letter, Sharp calls Rose essentially a liar

When people around the Capitol use the phrase "I've been Rosed" to mean they've been lied to, there's a problem

Note: In case you hadn't seen this letter to the editor in today's Statesman, here's the link to the letter and the story referred to in the editor's note below: . . . scroll down to the fourth letter. And here's the link to the story that prompted Sharp's letter:

Mr. Sharp, a Democrat, is running for the U. S. Senate seat now held by Kay Bailey Hutchison. As always, Mr. Rose is welcome to send us his comments.

Send your comments and news tips to or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Sharp retort

Re: Feb. 5 article "Rose faces first test in Democratic primary."

State Rep. Patrick Rose's suggestion that I got mad at him for not doing what two friends wanted on water legislation is false, and he knows it.

Rose asked me to get the developers together with him, and I did. He then agreed to everything they wanted — even signing off on the legislation. Then, without telling anyone, he did the opposite.

I had no interest in — and could care less about — this legislation. My problem with Rose is he can't seem to tell the truth.

When people around the Capitol use the phrase "I've been Rosed" to mean they've been lied to, there's a problem. I wish Rose the best in all the does, but having a reputation for constantly misrepresenting the facts and not telling the truth is not the way to treat anyone, much less friends trying to help you.

John Sharp

Former Texas comptroller


Editor's note: Obviously, there's some history here, and we urge readers to read an American-Statesman article published in October 2007 about the bill that triggered Sharp's letter. The article can be found below, after the letters.

County announces subcontractor bidding opportunities for government center construction

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX
– Hays County has announced that its design-builder, Balfour Beatty Construction Company, will begin the solicitation for subcontractor bids for work on the Hays County Government Center. Documents will be available for interested bidders on Feb. 19 on

“This is another exciting step in bringing a unified, one-stop government center to the people of Hays County and an opportunity during these challenging economic times to bring jobs to our county,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe, whose precinct will be home to the center.

Interested subcontractors, even if they are already registered with, should email Jason Cagle at to be added to the subcontractor listing on Include the following information in the email: company name and contact, trade the company is performing, address, phone and fax.

There will be a pre-bid meeting at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos. For more information on the pre-bid meeting, call Dan O’Shea at 214-451-1098.

Media Contact: 512-393-2296

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What was Kirk Watson thinking!?

I have finally decided that I have seen his true colors – nothing blindingly good or different is going to emerge from him

Note: Seems like Ms. Hopson, of Wimberley, is on a roll and we couldn't help but share her letter to State Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin, the former Mayor of Austin and darling of Central Texas liberals and environmentalists. So, we ask, "What is Kirk thinking endorsing Patrick Rose?" seeing as how so many liberals and environmentalists inside District 45 are backing Rose's primary opponent, Andrew Backus. This is sure to plant another quill into the already well splintered local Dem Party. Anyone who thinks they can bring this picture into focus, or put on a good defense of Rose's actual record of accomplishments inside his own district, is welcome to give it a shot. Maybe it's a testament to how diverse Democrats' interests are and how they tend to lose focus on what it is they are trying to achieve. Or, in Sen. Watson's case, maybe he sees gold in them thar hills.

Send your comments and news tips to, to Sen. Watson at, or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dear Kirk,

Sen. Watson

I received your email newsletter and almost always agree with what you say. However, today at home I had a robo-call from you to endorse Patrick Rose for re-election as State Rep for House District 45 (in which I reside). I was surprised that you endorsed Patrick, and I can only think that you are not aware of what he stands for and whom he truly represents.

Patrick Rose is an ambitious young man who told at least some of his teachers as far back as elementary school that he wanted to be president some day. I've no doubt that that is still his ultimate goal. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but Patrick seems very single-minded, and he seems also to be one who believes it's okay to use questionable means to achieve what he considers a good end result.

I have voted for Patrick every time he has run for the HD 45 seat. Disappointments upon disappointments in him have piled up, and, like many others, I have finally decided that I have seen his true colors – nothing blindingly good or different is going to emerge from him.

Patrick does not represent his constituents, but instead is the water boy for powerful interests who contribute grandly to his campaigns. (By the way, Patrick said at the beginning of his first re-election campaign in 2004 that he was going to raise over a million dollars for that campaign, and he did. He raised over $900,000 for the 2006 campaign and over $1,000,000 for the 2008 campaign. As I say, he is a determined and single-minded young man. Don't get in his way.)

Hays County (which Patrick represents and where I live) was the most drought-stricken county in the entire state of Texas this past summer. The U.S. Weather Service had to invent a new description for the severity of our plight – "exceptional drought." But in the midst of that condition, Patrick did all he could to prevent Hays County from having the Chapter 36 authority (of the Texas Water Code) which almost all other water conservation districts in the state have. Patrick is in the pockets of land developers who helped him raise those millions of campaign dollars. I can tell you more about Patrick and his efforts to block rational water conservation, but I need to wind up this letter.

Suffice it to say that merely looking at a list of Patrick Rose's most generous campaign donors is very telling in itself. Some of them are:

Texas Land Developers Assn.
Texans for Lawsuit Reform (anti-consumer business group)
Texas Association of Realtors
Texas Assn. of Mortgage Bankers
Real Estate Council of Austin
Texas Land Title Association
Randall Morris (real estate offices in several Central Texas cities)
Wimberley Quicksand Partners (Wimberley Springs)
Richard Weekley (real estate)
Scott Roberts (Salt Lick Barbecue in Driftwood)
Rex Baker (owns title co. and water interests in Dripping Springs)
Bob J. (Bobby Jack) Perry (Houston land developer who also has interests in Colorado, Louisiana, and elsewhere).

And, of course, both Patrick and his father, Mike Rose, are licensed real estate brokers. They likely will haul in fat commissions when they are agents for Scott Roberts as he develops the Salt Lick area.

Rose has also pushed through several MUD districts for developers in Hays and other Texas counties. Most mind-boggling of all is that he got the Legislature to pass a bill in 2009 which created a single-member taxing district of land owned solely by Scott Roberts, the owner of Salt Lick Barbecue. Roberts gets to collect and keep part of the sales tax he takes in at the Salt Lick. People who eat there are helping Roberts pay for the big development plans he has for his many acres.

If you aren't dubious about just whom it is that Patrick Rose works for, I don't know what to say. I hope you will cease supporting Patrick Rose in his bid again for the HD 45 seat. His Democrat opponent in the primary, Andrew Backus, has my vote and the vote of all who are concerned about water issues in Hays County and the rest of Texas.

Barbara Hopson,

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How Christian were the Founders?

The injection of partisan politics into education went so far that at one point another Republican board member burst out in seemingly embarrassed exasperation, “Guys, you’re rewriting history now!”

This is a lengthy article published in today's New York Times, well worth the read. For the complete article, click on this link:

Update, Monday, Feb. 15 – The link to the county elections office was down temporarily today . . . we are now informed it's back up.

Several seats on the Texas State Board of Education are up for election, including the District 5 seat that represents Hays County on the Board.
Two Republican candidates and four Democrats are squaring off in their respective primaries March 2. You can see the sample ballots at the Hays County Elections Office web site here.
The Texas League of Women Voters has a down-loadable pdf voters guide on their web site with short bios of the candidates and their positions. Look for it near the top of the page: 2010 Primary Election Voters Guide. You have to scroll down to get to the District 5 State Board of Education candidates.

By Russell Shorto
Published February 11, 2010

before the Senate seat of the liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy fell into Republican hands, his legacy suffered another blow that was perhaps just as damaging, if less noticed. It happened during what has become an annual spectacle in the culture wars.

Over two days, more than a hundred people — Christians, Jews, housewives, naval officers, professors; people outfitted in everything from business suits to military fatigues to turbans to baseball caps — streamed through the halls of the William B. Travis Building in Austin, Tex., waiting for a chance to stand before the semicircle of 15 high-backed chairs whose occupants made up the Texas State Board of Education. Each petitioner had three minutes to say his or her piece.
A rally outside of the Texas State Board of Education
hearings on textbooks in Austin, Tex., on Jan. 13, 2010.
Larry Kolvoord/Austin American-Statesman
“Please keep César Chávez” was the message of an elderly Hispanic man with a floppy gray mustache.

“Sikhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world and should be included in the curriculum,” a woman declared.

Following the appeals from the public, the members of what is the most influential state board of education in the country, and one of the most politically conservative, submitted their own proposed changes to the new social-studies curriculum guidelines, whose adoption was the subject of all the attention — guidelines that will affect students around the country, from
kindergarten to 12th grade, for the next 10 years. Gail Lowe — who publishes a twice-a-week newspaper when she is not grappling with divisive education issues — is the official chairwoman, but the meeting was dominated by another member. Don McLeroy, a small, vigorous man with a shiny pate and bristling mustache, proposed amendment after amendment on social issues to the document that teams of professional educators had drawn up over 12 months, in what would have to be described as a single-handed display of arch-conservative political strong-arming.

McLeroy moved that Margaret Sanger, the birth-control pioneer, be included because she “and her followers promoted eugenics,” that language be inserted about Ronald Reagan’s “leadership in restoring national confidence” following Jimmy Carter’s presidency and that students be instructed to “describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.” The injection of partisan politics into education went so far that at one point another Republican board member burst out in seemingly embarrassed exasperation, “Guys, you’re rewriting history now!” Nevertheless, most of McLeroy’s proposed amendments passed by a show of hands.

Finally, the board considered an amendment to require students to evaluate the contributions of significant Americans. The names proposed included Thurgood Marshall, Billy Graham, Newt Gingrich, William F. Buckley Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton and Edward Kennedy. All passed muster except Kennedy, who was voted down. This is how history is made — or rather, how the hue and cry of the present and near past gets lodged into the long-term cultural memory or else is allowed to quietly fade into an inaudible whisper.

Friday, February 12, 2010

TCEQ meeting tonight to discuss concerns regarding Aqua Texas

Send your comments and news tips to or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Note: Concerned citizen Jim McMeans forwarded the notice below.
And we have this note from another concerned citizen: "Today, 2/11 Aqua Texas issued another "Notice" that E-coli was found yesterday in the untreated water from one of their wells supplying Woodcreek North. Yuck!" We're checking with the WNPOA. Folks attending tonight's meeting may want to ask TCEQ if anyone is checking for leaks in Aqua's wastewater system and possible infiltration into the surrounding groundwater table.

Hello, Friends. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has called a public Informational Meeting for this coming Friday, February 12th at 7:00 pm at Woodcreek City Hall, 41 Champions Circle, to "answer questions and discuss concerns regarding Aqua Texas' water and wastewater service provided within its certificated service area." You may want to notify others who have concerns about ATI to attend the meeting.

Additionally, you may know that Aqua Texas had applied for a CCN to serve the 50+ acre Westridge property (proposed River Rock development) on Mt. Sharp Road. This application has been withdrawn by ATI since they can legally serve that area under their existing CCN # 11157. The TCEQ rule (TAC 291.103) states that if their CCN is within 1/4 mile of the area to be served, a formal CCN amendment is not required to provide service to that area. The current ATI CCN ends at Persimmon Drive which is within 1/4 mile of the property in question.

Hope to see you Friday evening at Woodcreek City Hall. Parking is limited so you may want to carpool.

Jim McMeans

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Candidates' forum in Wimberley offers a lesson in learning

Commissioner Ingalsbe, we are informed, is fuming over Barton's repeated fibbing and has a mind to wash his mouth out with soap

Send your comments and news tips to or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Early voting starts Tuesday, Feb. 16. Click here for the voting schedule and sample ballots in both the GOP and Democratic primaries. Click here for a look at all the local candidates' latest campaign finance reports.

By Bob Ochoa
RoundUp Editor

Last night's candidates forum hosted by the Wimberley Chapter-League of Women Voters was fun and informative.

The well attended event at the community center coincided with the national League's 90th birthday. Happy B'Day League! Thanks for all you do to educate voters on the issues and candidates.

The forum featured candidates in three March 2nd primary races: Bert Cobb and Peggy Jones in the GOP primary for county judge (Cobb is in the center . . . Jones was absent); Jeff Barton and Judge Liz Sumter (on left and right) in the Democratic primary for county judge; and Tommy Ratliff and Bill Huddleston in the Democratic primary for sheriff.

Time permitting, we'll get to the reporting of "what they said" later. First, here are some of the things we learned about the candidates themselves.

– We learned that Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton appears to be one of the few people
remaining who believe everything he says. For example, Barton repeated a concocted story line that he has been using on the stump, accusing County Judge Sumter of trying to get the DA, Sherri Tibbe, to indict Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe. The story stems from an old complaint related to county repairs on an alleged private road in Pct. 1. No indictment was ever pursued, not even close. Tibbe issued a finding that the road was not private. Reportedly, Commissioner Ingalsbe is fuming over Barton's repeated fibbing and has a mind to wash his mouth out with soap. This is not helping Barton in his quest for votes in the San Marcos area where Ingalsbe has a loyal following.

Barton also is a good shadow boxer. He did not answer a question from the audience about who his largest campaign contributors are. Instead, he waxed on evasively about the large number of small donors to his campaign and that he has significantly out-raised Sumter. (Sumter said she is restricted in the number and amounts of contributions she can receive because of her dual role as a probate judge.) Here's what we know of Barton's top contributors, according to his latest campaign finance report: There are numerous out-of-towners, for example, from Elsa, Tx ($2,500), McAllen ($2,500), Austin ($2,000), Waco ($2,000). Barton has taken nearly $30,000 from non-Hays County sources, more than half of his total fund raising.

– We learned that Dr. Cobb, who has an allergy practice and clinic in San Marcos, can get a little testy when you ask too many questions about his practice, like "How on earth do you make $100,000 a year working 13 hours a week!?" He's likely to poke his finger in your chest. Other than that he likes to tell jokes, and promises that he'll sell his practice if he is elected county judge.

– We learned that Judge Sumter doesn't seem to want to waste her time rebutting the yarns that Barton spins. She was on point with her answers and left the solid impression that she knew a lot more about the county's operations than anybody in the room.

Sheriff Ratliff
– We learned that Bill Huddleston has tons of managerial and law enforcement experience and really wants to be sheriff. Says he'll be a leader in his own right and won't have to learn on the job like his non-elected primary opponent Tommy Ratliff.

– We learned that Tommy Ratliff just has that look of a friendly and honest sheriff. A former Highway Patrol Trooper and Texas Ranger (retired), Ratliff was appointed sheriff by commissioners court last year after the sudden death of everybody's friend and sheriff, Allen Bridges. Ratliff says he's on top of things and has the Sheriff's Department moving on the offense against crime and not on the defense.

In the audience, we learned that County Court at Law No. 1 Judge Anna Martinez Boling (appointed to the position following the death of Judge Howard Warner) is as upbeat as ever about her full time judge job and campaign – only she wishes she had as much time to campaign as her primary opponent David Mendoza. We are told that Mr. Mendoza is on a "campaign leave of absence" (hopefully unpaid) from his job as a Hays County Assistant DA. If Assistant DA Mendoza can take an extended leave of absence, what does that say about the work load in the DA's office? Maybe it's the slow season.

We also learned that Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley has a genuinely nice smile not often seen at commissioners court meetings (he gave a thumbs up after the photo was snapped), and that State Rep. Patrick Rose likes wearing high heel boots. He seemed a little irritated that his photo was being taken. Rose (looking awfully detached) and his entourage were at the forum presumably as a show of support for his friend Jeff Barton.

We learned many things at last night's forum, mostly after the candidates spoke. That's the thing about stump speeches and candidate forums, you can't tell fact from fiction. You almost have to get up close and personal to get a feel for a candidate's true character.

Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley

State Rep. Patrick Rose

PEC committee sends recommendations on bylaws, bill of rights to board

Feb. 9, 2010
TO: All PEC-area newspapers
MEDIA CONTACT: Anne Harvey, (830) 868-4933; Austin line, (512) 219-2602

Go to this link to read the complete press release and to review the proposed revisions to PEC's bylaws:

Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s Governance, Bylaws and Legal Committee met on Wednesday, Feb. 3 and voted to send key governing documents to the Cooperative’s full Board of Directors for consideration.

When the Board meets on Feb. 22, it will consider approving revisions to PEC’s bylaws, and whether or not to put a revised articles of incorporation, which would include the Co-op’s first member bill of rights, up for a member vote.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Texas GOP wants more control over our lives


The problem with all 5 propositions is that once again the GOP is looking to control the public in ways that currently are illegal according the Constitution of the United States of America and the Texas Constitution

Send your comments and news tips to, to Mr. Stern at, or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

By Peter Stern

Guest Commentary

The whole point of a Democracy is to permit people to control and determine their own lives, to limit and prevent government from becoming a Dictatorship, in which the people would have no rights and freedom to live as they choose.

A mainstay of the Republican Party from its inception to this present day is to ensure less government in our daily lives. It is one of the main reasons why I became a member of the GOP back in the 1950's during the Eisenhower administration. President Eisenhower managed our nation with intelligence and promoted actions for the well-being of the entire community.

Back then, when businesses prospered, so did the majority of Americans. These days, greed overshadows the actions and inactions of our leaders and a significant number of hard-working citizens have become hardly-working Americans, suffering in this leader-imposed economic depression.

So, whatever happened to the GOP platform of less government interference into our lives? Instead, every few years the Republican party tries to invade our lives with more government control in the form of what often appears to be oppressive and/or racist ballot proposals to change the Constitution.

As with previous Republican Primary propositions or ballot initiatives, the five propositions below are non-binding; they are designed to determine how the electorate feels on certain issues. Overwhelming support for a proposition may lead to legislation being introduced in the future. This year the GOP is trying to push 5 propositions that further dissolve or impede our inalienable rights. In brief, they are:

Proposition 1. Each registered voter must present a photo ID to vote
Proposition 2. GOP says we need to control government growth via additional budget restrictions
Proposition 3. Stop government stimulus and instead cut Federal Income Taxes
Proposition 4. The GOP wants to force all of us to acknowledge God at public events
Proposition 5. The party wants to demand sonograms be shown to every woman who elects to have an abortion.

The propositions are NOT on the ballot of the Democrat Primary.

To read the propositions in entirety you may review them on the site of any county election office. The link below is to the Hays County Election Office. The propositions are cited at the end of the sample ballot:

The problem with all 5 propositions is that once again the GOP is looking to control the public in ways that currently are illegal according the Constitution of the United States of America and the Texas Constitution.

If they were not illegal, there would be no need for the GOP to push for these propositions.

In the U.S. each citizen has the right to determine his/her own lifestyle, religious worship (or not) and medical determinations.

Whether or not members of the GOP believe it, the government has no right to demand people to follow directives that do NOT concern government and which actually would impede the rights of all American citizens.

Consequently, even though the propositions are not binding, voters should mark a big "No" on the GOP primary ballot for each one of the five propositions. We need less government intervention, NOT more.

Peter Stern, a former director of information services, university professor and public school administrator, is a disabled Vietnam veteran who lives in Driftwood, Texas.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Take a Ride On The Perry Go Round!

Rick Perry Claims To Have Lowered Taxes But Under His Watch, Taxes Have Gone Up Nearly $1.6 Billion

Note: A web site paid for by Texans for Kay Bailey Hutchison pokes some animated fun at Gov. Cowpoke Perry:
Interestingly enough, we found the advertisement posted momentarily on the lefty blog, Daily Kos.

. . . . Rick Perry has turned the Governor’s Office into a Revolving Door of Money and Influence for his friends.

When you take a closer look at some of the worst decisions to come out of Perry’s office, they all seem to have one thing in common: A former or future Perry staffer was lobbying for them and giving big bucks to Perry’s campaigns.

Letter writer expresses concerns over unplanned growth, and Barton

To the editor:

I am writing to express my support for County Judge Liz Sumter in her campaign for re-election. Her opponent in the Democratic Primary, Jeff Barton, is not someone that I, or anyone in Hays County, can depend on to help us conserve the natural resources that are so becoming more and more scarce as the population grows.

Barton’s record reflects his unqualified support for the rapid and unplanned growth in the western part of Hays County and his reluctance to support the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District charged with protecting the use of groundwater.

I attended the Commissioner’s Court meeting where the court was considering granting a sum of $200,000 to the HTGCD for operating expenses in the coming year (a mere pittance in comparison the budget for most GCDs).

Barton’s comments and questions reflected an under the table acceptance of Rep. Patrick Rose’s political deal that left the GCD high and dry in a time of drought. His thinly veiled gloating over the fact that his precinct in Eastern Hays County had water restrictions in place months ago and were not facing the lack of water that was apparent in Western Hays County was misleading and downright fallacious. His comments did not address the fact that the Edwards Aquifer is the source of groundwater for his precinct while the Hays Trinity Aquifer (a smaller and less rechargeable aquifer) is the source of groundwater for Western Hays County. How can he represent the whole county with this kind of ignorance and arrogance?

Please consider carefully the future of all of Hays County when voting in the primary and vote for someone who listens to and considers the needs of all residents.

Dorothy Knight

For Texans and TxDOT, the 'cake and eat it too' isn't working

If TxDOT is as broke as they claim, and demand is flat, then why would they worry so much about anything beyond maintaining the Texas roads we already have?

We received this timely commentary via an alert Driftwood area resident. Much appreciated. It certainly brings the question home to Hays County, i.e., the need for more road construction from the 2008 road bond and beyond, and the mounting cost of maintenance. Makes one wonder what kind of baloney we're all being fed.

Send your comments and news tips to or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Everyone knows that TxDOT loves to build roads. And so do the contractors that TxDOT hires. And not only do these contractors love to build the roads, but they are generously willing to help elect the politicians who decide to build these roads.

But at some point, somebody really needs to ask if we need more roads in Texas than we already have. The answer is that we probably don't. How do we know that? The most recent Federal Highway Administration data shows that from Nov. 2008 to Nov. 2009, the actual use of roads in Texas only increased by .1%, as we see here:

In other words, taking the best data for travel on all the roads in Texas combined over the last year, we see that it would take about 100 years for the level of traffic to go up by even 10%.

Consider the implications. The legislature is not willing to raise the gas tax, so this necessarily causes the gas tax revenue, both the state and federal portions, to be about flat. Which situation then makes it really really hard for TxDOT to borrow against this revenue stream, which is falling short of even keeping up with inflation. Even though the travel demand on their current roads is flat, they still want to build more roads, which would obviously cause TxDOT's maintenance funding shortfall to get even bigger.

If TxDOT is as broke as they claim, and demand is flat, then why would they worry so much about anything beyond maintaining the Texas roads we already have? At least not until someday when the economy recovers and/or we discover a new supply of cheap oil, causing people to start driving more and needing lots of new road capacity, right?

TxDOT likes to complain that they can barely afford to maintain their current Texas roads. But the way they chose to deal with the problem is in a way that may be nice for their contractors, but is practically guaranteed to make TxDOT's maintenance problem worse.

Like they say, when things can't go on any longer, they won't. - Roger