Thursday, April 29, 2010

Obama subject to twice the rumors in 2 years than Bush in 8 years

We'll take a quick break from the local political rumor mill for this interesting report on rumors about our presidents. This post originally appeared on J.L. Bell's blog Oz and Ends.

By J. L. Bell

American right-wing leaders are responding to complaints about their adherents’ insults, threats, and acts of violence by claiming that such problems occur on the left as well. Of course, they don’t dare to compare and quantify such behavior. That would mean acknowledging that, for example, Congressional historians find no precedent for Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., shouting at the president during a joint session of Congress. Or that there was a disturbing spike in death threats to the president in the months after President Barack Obama took office.

To keep on top of urban myths of all kinds, I subscribe to the update list, and I noticed a pattern there that I thought deserved to be examined more arithmetically. It struck me I was seeing a lot more rumors about President Obama, and a lot more false rumors, than I remembered from earlier years. So I ran the numbers, as of this week.

After eight years in the White House (with around all that time), George W. Bush has been the subject of 47 internet rumors. After less than two years in office, Barack Obama has been the subject of 87, or nearly twice as many.

Even more telling is the relative accuracy of those stories. For Bush, 20 rumors, or 43%, are true. Only 17, or 36%, are false. The remainder are of mixed veracity (4), undetermined (4), or unclassifiable (2).

In contrast, for Obama only 8 of the 87 rumors, or 9%, are true, and a whopping 59, or 68%, are whoppers. There are 17 of mixed veracity and 3 undetermined.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who ARE these guys running for the HTGCD Board, The Three Horsemen??

One of the candidates said we could 'use a whole lot more of the water in the aquifer if they just pumped it down so the springs quit leaking.'

Click on district map to enlarge
Update, Thursday afternoon, April 29 – Well, we called District 1 candidate Jimmy Skipton again and asked him about the rumor that he and another candidate had threatened to fire the groundwater district staff if they win the May 8 election. Here's what Mr. Skipton said: "I'll tell you straight up, there's only one thing I got, that's my word. At the end of the day, no, I will not fire any staff member . . . anybody that's doing their job will have a job; I don't know anybody that's not doing their job. They're all good employees."

Early voting is under way for three seats (1, 3 & 5) on the District's 5-member board.
Ms. Ford, author of the commentary below, resides inside District 3 of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. She doesn't have a very positive view of three of the candidates. Messrs. Key, Skipton and Reitz are welcome to send their responses. We were very disturbed to hear very recently that two of the candidates above have personally threatened to fire the hard working staff of the HTGCD if they get elected to the board. For what we are not informed. We'll ask around. Maybe it's for the outstanding job the staff is doing under difficult financial circumstances. What a demoralizing effect that must be having on the staff! We did not hear this from any staff member. But if it's true (and we're hoping it's not), there's an old cowboy term used to describe characters who are threatening and disrespectful toward others: Dirty birds.

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

Click on this link to the Hays County Elections Office for the voting schedule and locations:

Visit the groundwater district website,,
for all the candidates' bios and information about the district.

By Catherine Ford

Guest Co

There is a group of quick profit speculators operating without concern for the long term quality of life of our community, trying to take over the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District board. The positions they take put them squarely in favor of tearing away the fabric of our water supply and conservation management efforts we've all worked so hard for.

The initiatives they favor grant Eminent Domain powers to a small group of developers that would be sitting on the board. They propose to submerge Wimberley residential properties under a lake, drain the Hays-Trinity "so it doesn't leak," and use taxpayer money for legal maneuvering when they find the law is not in their favor. In short, this group of irresponsible greedy speculators is a danger to our community and it is critical that our community stand against them.

Mark Key (District 3 candidate, Dripping Springs) - He's running against incumbent Andrew Backus. Mark owns a utility construction business, making his money from developments. He lives in a subdivision that does not have anything to do with Hays-Trinity groundwater. During a candidates forum in Dripping Spring on April 8 he proudly announced that he was 'not the smartest candidate and had graduated in the lower half of his Dripping Springs class.'

Mark believes he has the whole groundwater budget figured out and has a solution to preserving wasted water. On April 6 when Mark spoke at Commissioners Court he said that 'the aquifer was like a leaky bucket, and the natural springs are the leaks in that aquifer bucket.' He said we could 'use a whole lot more of the water in the aquifer if they just pumped it down so the springs quit leaking.'

He went on to do some math on how much water flowed down the San Marcos River as a result of spring flow at San Marcos Springs. He did the same for Jacob's Well Spring and Cypress Creek, and Barton Springs and the Colorado River. It seems so simple and he figured it all out on his own! His thought process reflects a total lack of understanding of the interconnected natural systems, and law associated with spring flow. Is this who you want to elect to the water board? An uninformed developers' contractor?

Jimmy Skipton (District 1 candidate, Henly/Dripping) – He has been attending groundwater district meetings for about a year and criticizing everything they do. Despite no obvious means of income, Mr. Skipton has filed a lawsuit against the County over its new subdivision rules – rules that were designed to promote some measure of aquifer conservation and water management.

At candidate forums, Mr. Skipton has suggested all the pressure can be taken off the aquifer if everyone collected rainwater. There is certainly truth in that, but then everyone would be running out of water at the same time during the next drought. Increased rainwater collection is an important part of a diversified water supply solution but it's not the total solution. Collected rainwater would be the first thing to dry up in the periodic droughts we experience in Central Texas. Using the logic he proposes, we all had better ask ourselves, "then what?"

Craig 'Nevada' Reitz (District 5 candidate, Wimberley) – He has recently moved into the Wimberley area. With no background in hydro-geology, he has declared that 'there is only a problem with the aquifer during periods of drought.'

Mr. Reitz has suggested that a reservoir in the Wimberley Valley on the Blanco River would be a good idea. This simple sounding solution has a couple problems – most important is that the rights to the river flow are spoken for, and secondly the eminent domain (forced) taking of expensive river front homes would not be politically or financially feasible and shows no concern for the property rights of Texans.

Mr. Reitz has been proud to say at the candidate forums that 'with every rule the groundwater district makes, property owners lose a right.' He'd rather just use Eminent Domain to rip people's personal property out from under them. He's come up with no suggestions about how to pay for it all but it seems obvious the Hays-Trinity board would need Eminent Domain power to build a lake. Such powers have been rejected as unnecessary by the current board. Conversely, he has stated at both candidate forums that he believes 'the conservation district is an unnecessary layer of government,' yet without it there is no local management of the aquifer. He should probably make up his mind. Is it too much government? Or is he just saying that while he plans new taxes to pay for a new lake and a board with the power to rip private homes away from their owners?

These three candidates have mutually beneficial interests in allowing a free-for-all of development and exploitation of our water. One is an anti-regulation finance and banking guy that is a newcomer to the area. Another is a big utility contractor who stands to personally benefit through unregulated subdivision development. The other is mystery man who is suing our county for conservation rules for no obvious reason. He's not disclosed his purpose for running or his vision for our community.

There is no big aquifer bailout option. There is no opportunity for these special interest agents to mess up and get a "do-over." Our entire Hays-Trinity community stands to suffer greatly if these guys get their way. This is about conserving safe and clean drinking water. We cannot allow this group to put us all at risk so their big companies can rob hard working Texans of their property or their Water. Help us fight back!

Monday, April 26, 2010

On the matter of choosing new board members for the HTGCD

Scare tactics and attempts to stir extreme emotions will not yield the kinds of results we need, and are, in fact, an insult to our citizens

Update, Tuesday morning April 27 –
We spoke with Mr. Skipton about his overheard comment that he wants to disband the groundwater district. Here's what he said: "Rusty was sitting right next to us. The point of what I told the guy in front of me, he said how's the election going. I said it would be going a lot better if my opponent would stop telling people that I want to disband the district . . . there's a chance he (Rusty) heard bits and pieces of the conversation." We asked Mr. Skipton directly if he wants the district to disband. "Hell no," he said, "you can take that to the bank. The district is great. We need the district . . . I've already asked the judge (Hays County Judge Liz Sumter) about how to get more money for the district, is there money. She said there is." Skipton said if anybody ever hears him say he wants to shut down the HTGCD, they can throw a stick or a beer bottle at him.

Update, this afternoon –
Here's a dispatch from Rusty Middleton, very active in stream, creek and groundwater conservation efforts around Wimberley. We spoke with Rusty on the phone. He says he'll vouch for this chance encounter . . . "Just to add to the fun, I want to let you all know that I was sitting next to a couple of men in Creek Road Cafe in Dripping Springs earlier today and to my astonishment overheard one of them say rather loudly, "Yeah I want to get elected to that Board and then disband it." I then realized that this big talking guy was Jimmy Skipton, District 1 candidate (Henly/Dripping Springs) for the Board of Directors of The HTGCD. I looked at his candidate's statement on the HTGCD website and he doesn't mention anything about disbanding the organization. I wonder how many voters know about this hidden agenda? Skipton also recently sued Hays County over its new water conservation related land-use restrictions. Maybe he wants to disband Hays County too...."

Jack Hollon, known to many in the Wimberley Valley as the 'Groundwater Guru' and for his long and tireless voluntary work on the board of the HTGCD sent this letter. See the post below for more on this subject. We've known Mr. Hollon for a long time and know him to be an honest man, and totally without hype. He is stepping down from his District 5 (Wimberley) seat on the HTGCD. Two candidates are vying for the position – Joan Jernigan and Craig Reitz, both of Wimberley. Early voting has started. Election Day is May 8. Thanks, Jack, for all your contributions to our community and to the district.

Here are the 7 "powers" candidate Reitz says the groundwater district wants to impose on well owners:

1. Allow levying “property taxes” on your home (up to $1500 on a $300,000 value home)
2. Allow putting meters on your wells
3. Allow putting water use limits on your home domestic well in conflict with state law
4. Allow entering your property without your permission to see if you are wasting water
5. Allow issuing fines up to $10,000 per day for wasting water in their opinion
6. Allow the use of eminent domain to take part of your property if they deemed needed
7. Allow banning the drilling of all new wells on private property

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

'We can have no
real community without mutual respect and trust'

I had hoped this election would turn on real substantive issues – and there are many – instead of on ideology and misrepresentation. This "letter" from Craig Reitz, who I've considered a friend I'm getting to know (since his move here from FL in 2005) pulls me off the sidelines and onto the field where the emails are now flying.

As to the seven "powers" listed by CR, three are outright false, Nos. 1, 3, and 7:

1. There can be no ad valorem tax to provide revenue for the District without an election to give the people a chance to vote on the question – and that would most certainly come with a cap, in the 1 to 5 cents (per $100 evaluation) range, not the 50-cent max he uses in the illustration. So, Chap. 36 gives no automatic tax levying authority to the District. Even if requested, the citizens could say "no."

3. I don't know where this comes from. Chapter 36 is state law! This statement contradicts itself.

7. More nonsense. Where this comes from, I know not. (It might possibly apply to a dense development on surface water where having wells on half-acre lots would create a huge well spacing problem . . . another argument for having some management process.)

Each of the other statements (on meters, entry, fines, and eminent domain) involves some element of water management and law – possibly applicable somewhere – in partial form, out of context, w/o qualifying requirements.

They incorporate gross exaggeration and misrepresentation evidently designed to stir fear and anxiety – this at precisely the time we face extreme water resource challenges in the face of exploding population in the Hill Country, and so need calm judgment.

We need people on this board who will manage our water resources intelligently, fairly, and with an eye on the long term consequences for present and future generations. Scare tactics and attempts to stir extreme emotions will not yield the kinds of results we need, and are, in fact, an insult to our citizens.

The truth is that Chapter 36 of the Water Code provides a legal basis for local management of groundwater by the people who live here. And the people, through their elected reps, have the final say about this important community resource. But such a process does not happen by some "auto-pilot magic." It requires study, discussion, and decision making, based on keen attention, good information, the application of the best science and a public process that provides input on community values, needs and preferences.

The upshot: In my opinion, this kind of campaign tactic disqualifies the person who runs on such a platform. Craig does not deserve our support for Place 5 on the HTGCD Board.

Fortunately, there is another well-qualified choice, a person who has articulated a good understanding of our situation, who has a rich backgound in education and management, and who is certainly a fast learner – one of the prime requirements to be a successful member of this board. That person is Joan (jo-ann) Jernigan. Joan's contact info: 512-847-8567 and

One final thought: There is no real community without mutual respect and trust. And the tactics of fear, exaggeration, and misrepresentation undermine both – and thus community – by creating dissention, false antagonisms, and distractions. This drains the creative energy that needs to be used in solving problems, diverts that energy to destructive ends opposing each other.

I do hope and trust that the good people of this Valley will come together and provide the leadership we need at this critical time. So, as I leave the Board of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, I resolve to stay involved in these important issues, as a citizen and friend, and with great affection for this extraordinary place. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Jack Hollon
HTGCD Place 5

Some HTGCD candidates are playing loose with the facts; don't be fooled

Click on map to enlarge
Editor's Note: We received the e-mail letter below yesterday. Early voting begins today in a critical election for three seats on the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. Election Day is May 8. Check your voter registration card to see if you can vote in this election. Look for the HT-1, HT-3 or HT-5 box in your voter card. The three seats represent two north and central Hays groundwater districts (Districts 1 and 3) around Dripping Springs and one in Wimberley (District 5). If you haven't got your card handy, call the Hays County Elections Office at 393.7310. The staff say they will be glad to assist.

Much is at stake in this election. It is unfortunate that some candidates are playing loose with the facts and using scare tactics. We should NOT be playing loose with the management of our groundwater in western Hays County nor allow ourselves to play into the hidden agendas of some of the candidates. Mr. Reitz (District 5), is a prime example of a candidate who will use false and misleading information to unnecessarily frighten the voters. The claims he makes about the super powers the district will impose on home and well owners are imagined, at best. Neighboring groundwater districts (like those in Blanco County and the Barton Springs district in east Hays County) have far more authority than our Hays Trinity District and they have never imposed such draconian regulations on the people as Reitz would have us believe.

Mr. Reitz says he is "working to protect your rights." Near as we can tell, Mr. Reitz will work to protect the rights only of the big water companies and groundwater wasters in the county, and less so the rights of the little well owners and users who depend on their groundwater being there when they need it.

Please be smart in how you vote and PLEASE VOTE. Every vote will count. We would welcome hearing from the other candidate for the District 5 seat, Joan Jernigan, of Wimberley.

Click here, for the candidates' bios and more information about the groundwater district.

Dear Friends,

My name is in the list of peope to whom Mr. Reitz sent this email, but I am NOT supporting him. I urge you to vote for his opponent, Joan Jernigan, for HTGCD District 5.

Mr. Reitz tells you that HTGCD could impose taxes if it has Chapter 36 authority of the Texas Water Code. What he conveniently does NOT tell you is that you get to VOTE for or against any such proposed tax.

Almost all other Groundwater Districts in Texas have the Chapter 36 authority which he opposes, but the judge (Powers) and commissioners in office at the time the GCDs were set up did not want Hays County to have any real power to oversee water planning, and so they saw to it that Hays County did not get Chapter 36 authority.

I won't go through Mr. Reitz's email point by point to detail his inaccuracies and/or omissions, but, trust me, they are many.

Especially laughable is Mr. Reitz's assertion that he will solve our water shortage problem by "finding new sources of water!" Really?


Dear Friends

I am running for the Hays Trinity Ground Water District position for the Wimberley area, District 5. I would appreciate your support in this effort.

This is not a “City” election but a County election so even if you’re not in the city of Wimberley you can still cast you vote for me. Early voting starts this Monday 4/26 at the Community Center and lasts all week. Election day is May 8th.

This is a very important position on a Board that is not well known in our community. I would be one of a five member Board. The current duties of the Board are to monitor the ground water aquifer and to educate the public on conservation of water.

My opponent and I differ over giving the District Full Chapter 36 Authority to the District. I am against giving Full Chapter 36 Authority to the District. She has publicly stated she is in favor of such a change.

Full Chapter 36 Authority would allow the District the following power.

Allow levying “property taxes” on your home (up to $1500 on a $300,000 value home).
Allow putting meters on your wells.
Allow putting water use limits on your home domestic well in conflict with state law.
Allow entering your property without your permission to see if you are wasting water.
Allow issuing fines up to $10,000 per day for wasting water in their opinion.
Allow the use of eminent domain to take part of your property if they deemed needed.
Allow banning the drilling of all new wells on private property.

If I am elected to the District 5 position I will promote the following for our community.
Solving our water shortage problem by finding new sources of water for the District.
Take action to stop private and public water companies from wasting our groundwater.
Find practical ways to solve our water shortage problems that are financially responsible.
Promote conservation and Rainwater Collection education of homebuilders and new residents
Find ways to store our surface water that passes through our area for future use by private and municipal water companies.
Provide proper fiscal management of the District funds and not waste it on lawyers and lobbyist.

I need your vote. More importantly I need you to spread the word about this election. Even if you are not voting in the city election you can still vote to protect your water rights and your access to water for your home or business. This is a County election and voting starts this Monday at the Community Center.

Thank you for your support and help. Feel free to pass this along to your friends and email list. I am working to protect your rights.

Craig N Reitz FOR HGTCD #5

Friday, April 23, 2010

County strategic plan: Will it survive the politics?

Click on photo to enlarge

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

Cobb gives qualified 'ok' to plan; no telling where Barton is

By Bob Ochoa
RoundUp Editor

Numerous elected officials and public servants met April 16 at the Wimberley Community Center for their latest roundtable in the drafting of the Hays County Strategic Plan. Representatives were present from the cities of Wimberley, Woodcreek, Dripping Springs, Kyle, and Buda, Texas State University, LCRA, the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, and Emergency Services Districts from Wimberley, Buda, Kyle and South Hays.

The plan is in final draft form. County Judge Liz Sumter (center left in photo) launched the project over a year ago. She said
she expects to place it on the commissioners court's agenda for discussion and possible adoption in May.

Sumter said the plan has two underlying purposes – to improve coordination of the functions of all governmental bodies in the county and to reduce redundancy and expenditures. Standardizing software, centralizing 9-1-1 calls/dispatch and centralizing purchasing, collections and compliance are some of the recommendations in the plan. Rainwater collection incentives, working with cities to focus development in existing urban areas, seeking additional county authority to regulate land use, and a push for Scenic Road designations for county roads to minimize billboards, are others.

There are more than 70 recommendations in the plan listed under five major components: Internal (city/county government) objectives, water and wastewater, transportation, growth management, economic development and quality of life.

We were struck by a comment Judge Sumter made that speaks to the need for consistency in planning. "As elected officials come and go, and we all do," she said, "it's important we have a plan (that can) survive politics and politicians."

Sumter no doubt was alluding to her losing bid in the March 2 Democratic Primary to run for a second term in next fall's election. Without a chance to shepherd the plan through its implementation in the next three to five years, Sumter can now only hope to have it adopted by the court. Time will tell if the next county judge shelves it or puts it to good use.

There's no telling where Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (now the Democratic nominee for county judge) stands on the question of planning and continuity. Early on, as the strategic planning process was getting under way, Barton reportedly refused to be a lead partner with Sumter. It's always tough getting a simple and direct answer from Barton, in any event.
Dr. Bert Cobb
Republican County Judge nominee and candidate Dr. Bert Cobb of San Marcos said he is not familiar with the details of the plan. "I cannot sign off on something I haven't seen," he said. But he told the RoundUp today, "If we put all our time and effort and money into such an effort, I think it ought to be followed. Once a plan is developed and people concur, we ought to stick with it until something better comes along . . . it gives continuity to government. We have problems in Hays County that supersede party or interest groups but we have to work together for what is best for the community."

Considerable effort indeed has gone into the proposed strategic plan.
The planning process over many months has included several community workshops across the county, a county wide survey of citizens and input from more than two dozen elected officials and public servants (the leadership group).

Some great ideas have come out of it as well. Buda's Fire Chief Clay Huckaby said his Emergency Services District 8 board had imposed a fire safety code inside their district to cover unincorporated areas where building regulations are far and few between. Sumter said a draft fire code has been sent to commissioners for their review and for possible adoption county wide. These measures could help in reducing insurance rates.

County commissioners should see the wisdom in adopting a well hashed out strategic road map to future development. It has been pointed out, correctly, that our commissioners often act independently inside their own precinct "fiefdoms" without considering the full effects of their actions on other jurisdictions and taxpayers. Things like approving subdivisions or any type of development result in more traffic, more noise, more infrastructure needs, oftentimes more new schools. All these actions, if not properly planned, bring along higher costs and taxes, more consumption of our natural resources, and generally higher anxiety levels for the entire community. The strategic plan takes aim at many of these issues in a comprehensive and inclusive fashion.

It's time commissioners started viewing their offices and actions as part of the whole. They should follow the lead of
several city leaders present at last week's meeting who said they would enthusiastically endorse the strategic planning document and its goals.

Judge Sumter said the draft strategic plan will be up soon for all to read on the Hays County web site.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


See what's going on at the Earth Day network. Planting trees and SOLAR POWER are biggies. How 'bout it, PEC? Other sites and activites: and the Hill Country Conservancy's cool partnership with HEB

Forty years after the first Earth Day, the world is in greater peril than ever. While climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, it also presents the greatest opportunity – an unprecedented opportunity to build a healthy, prosperous, clean energy economy now and for the future.

Earth Day 2010 can be a turning point to advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. Earth Day Network is galvanizing millions who make personal commitments to sustainability. Earth Day 2010 is a pivotal opportunity for individuals, corporations and governments to join together and create a global green economy. Join the more than one billion people in 190 countries that are taking action for Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PEC announces slate of 13 for Board of Directors election

Information about the election, including maps outlining directors’ district boundaries, is available on

Note: PEC's Board of Directors approved a 2010 operating budget and received the 2009 fiscal year audit at their Monday April 19 meeting. “This is a pretty clean bill of health and the staff deserves credit for that,” said Board President and District 6 Director Larry Landaker, of Wimberley, before the Board unanimously accepted the audit. See the whole story at this link:

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

At its April 19 Board meeting in Johnson City, Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors announced that 13 PEC members will run for Director positions in the upcoming Board election. Members will elect directors for District 4 and District 5.

The following candidates, listed in the order they will appear on the ballot, were nominated by members’ petitions:

Director, District 4: Dr. Ted Lehr, Austin; Dr. Geoffrey VanderPal, Driftwood; Ken Rigsbee, Austin; Deborah (Deb) Ballew, Austin; Dan W. Pedersen, PE, Lakeway; Tom Griebel, Austin; Chris Perry, Dripping Springs; Bob Driscoll, Austin Director.

District 5: Joe Summy, Johnson City; Ross Fischer, Kendalia; Steven Carriker, Dripping Springs; Thornton Keel, Spicewood; Don Casey, Cypress Mill.

The order of candidates on the ballot was determined by a random drawing conducted by representatives of Election Services Corporation, the independent company conducting PEC’s election.

PEC is holding a public forum on April 27 where members can meet Board candidates and hear them communicate their credentials, experience and views. The event will begin at 5 p.m. at PEC headquarters, located at 201 S. Ave. F in Johnson City, and also will be live-streamed over the Cooperative’s website.

Ballots, candidates’ biography information and voting instructions will be mailed by ESC to all PEC members by May 5. Members may return completed ballots by mail using the included prepaid return envelopes or vote online through ESC’s secure website. Mail-in and online voting must be completed by June 11. Members also can vote in person at the annual membership meeting June 19 in Johnson City, where election winners will be announced.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Requests for peace & quiet in Dripping Springs turns into a lawsuit threat

"Your actions probably have already damaged Memory Lane's business and may result in a lawsuit. However, to maximize your chance of avoiding litigation, you are hereby requested to cease and desist your disruptive campaign . . .

Note: Ordinary citizen, mother and author Kimly West started out just wanting some peace and serenity in her family's life – to find some way to reduce the traffic and disruptive noise emanating from the neighboring Memory Lane Event Center in Dripping Springs. She is concerned about the effects on her own health and business pursuits. Local and state officials, she says, are at wits end. No help there, so far. Then she received a letter from the Dripping Springs law firm of Baker & Associates, threatening her with a lawsuit if she doesn't "cease and desist" from her "disruptive campaign of false information."

We're not sure if Kimly has been targeted, to silence her and to serve as an example to other neighbors who've also complained about the noise from Memory Lane.
We have a call in to Mr. Robertson's office to check if other neighbors have received a similar letter from his law firm.

There has been at least one encouraging development, however. The county's mediation center has contacted West to offer its services to the warring parties. We're told the offer was made at the suggestion of the Sheriff's Department. West says she'll gladly take up the center's offer of mediation. Scroll down two stories for more background and comments.

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

Below are excerpts from the e-mailed letter West received from attorney Thomas W. Robertson of Baker & Associates. It is followed by Kimly's response.

Kimly West

Dripping Springs, Texas 78620

Re: Memory Lane Event Center, LLC

Dear Mrs. West:

Baker & Associates has been hired by Memory Lane Event Center, LLC ("Memory Lane") and Mike Morgan to address the dispute you are having regarding the noise level at Memory Lane. We respectfully recommend you consult an attorney. If you have one, you should send this letter to your attorney.

. . . During the permitting process, adjacent property owners were notified and given an opportunity to be heard. For example, Judianne Ambrosio, who we think lives closer to the venue than you, spoke in favor of Memory Lane. At the end of the process, Memory Lane was permitted. While any one has the right to speak truthfully about a business, you do not have the right to publish falsehoods. Your accounts of the noise level are false, and appear to be motivated my malice.

We understand you have done the following things. If you in fact did not perform any of the actions listed below, we request that you state in writing so the misunderstanding may be investigated:

1) You have called and complained to both Karen Ford and Jon Thompson.
2) You presented to Jon Thompson a list of things you are intending to do to try to disrupt wedding ceremonies and receptions so word will get out to future brides that this is a bad place to get married.
3) You have told neighbors that you are on a mission to disrupt or destroy Memory Lane's legitimate business.
4) You have asked neighbors to sign a petition to join your cause.

[snip . . . there are 8 alledged actions]

Your actions probably have already damaged Memory Lane's business and may result in a lawsuit. However, to maximize your chance of avoiding litigation, you are hereby requested to cease and desist your disruptive campaign of false information (and particularly the outrageous blow horn tactics) or a lawsuit may be filed against you in which Memory Lane will seek all available damages and remedies against you for business defamation, tortious interference with existing contracts, and tortious interference with prospective business relations.

Do not call Memory Lane to discuss this matter. All communications about this matter from this point forward should be made to my office in writing . . .

Very truly yours,

Thomas W. Robertson

cc: clients
"complaints board" attachment



please email a receipt acknowledge response.


Thomas W. Robertson, P.C.

Baker & Association

Dripping Springs, Texas

Dear sir,

Mike Morgan is a bully. Instead of working with his neighbors so all find peace again, he has contacted you with malicious and false accusations against me. We used to live in a ‘peaceful and quiet atmosphere,' but since they have built their outdoor pavilion, all kinds of justified complaints have arisen.

After numerous requests to turn the noise down to both Mike and Janet, I now find myself in a chronic health condition due to their inconsiderate and loud ways. (please see sleep deprivation attachments).

#1 is correct. Regarding your issues of whether I’ve talked with our county commissioner, Karen Ford, and Jon Thompson at the City of Dripping Springs, I have every right to speak to my local representatives; especially when it is to voice my concerns over an intrusive and offensive business practice. For Mike to imply that I spoke inappropriately or destructively with either official says more about Mike Morgan than myself. Karen Ford has shown me, in all of our conversations, compassion and understanding about the situation over here. (see below #8 of the Texas Constitution/Article 1/Bill Of Rights).

For your info, since you haven’t researched the issue to the depth that I have, we have no noise ordinance in this county for unincorporated areas. It is a major problem far and wide. As Hays County becomes more suburbanized, these noise concerns will become more prevalent, with more and more homeowners voicing complaints about inappropriate locations for business ventures. As soon as our county officials are able to, I have been informed that a county-wide noise ordinance will be written and enforced. (see attached noise ordinance for the City of San Marcos).

State law does have a noise ordinance and it states that measurements are to be taken at the property line of the owner who is making the noise. Not on any one complainant’s property.

My meeting with Jon was to voice my concerns and to see if the City could help me; especially since I am a close neighbor and was not contacted prior to their new business venture, as stated by law. I viewed the open records file the City of Dripping Springs has compiled on this property. It is a very thick file with many complaints and concerns from numerous neighbors. You should read it as well. Your comments in #2 are totally inaccurate and false.

Again, let me re-iterate that I wasn’t invited or included in that meeting, which is against the law when improving residential to commercial properties. The law states that ALL neighbors are to be notified.

For your information, the Morgan’s built their new pavilion and upgraded their residence to a commercial venture without the proper city permits or approval. The City of Dripping Springs found out about this new venture through neighbor complaints. They were fined by the city. They city had no other option than to approve this venture; it was already built. The city has jurisdiction over septic, signage, and impervious cover only. (fyi: the Morgan’s are built out to their 15% impervious cover. No new construction can occur).

Your comments in #3 are ridiculous. What I say in a private conversation, pro or con, is no one’s concern but the parties privy to said conversation.

#4 is incorrect. I have not seen a completed petition for signage.

#5 is correct. Justin stated that wedding centers and noise vibrations are a problem for neighbors. It’s not the ceremonies. It’s the party afterwards. He has received numerous complaints about a venue in north Austin. Nothing illegal about speaking with Justin.

Regarding the Ambrosios…..they live in a straw bale house that has 12” thick walls. That’s 1 foot thick walls. You cannot credit any inside noise levels at their house due to this fact. Also re: Judy’s comments from that city council meeting are as follows: “people could come up with something else to do on those nights like take their wife out to dinner and movie if the noise bothers them. Or have their own party.” When outside, she hears the noise, just like everyone else.

#6 is ridiculous. I don’t even know what a bull horn is. I did state to Mike that I have had a problem with my car alarm. My son broke my remote and I plan on replacing it. If the Morgan’s still lived in our area, they would have heard this broken alarm a few times. Besides my broken alarm, I did hear a horn in the neighborhood. I have no idea where it was coming from, nor who did it. There are many other neighbors in the area. And there are no noise ordinances.

Regarding Mike’s ridiculous comments that his noise meter has measured 0 decibels, he should hire an acoustical consultant to take accurate and recorded measurements at different locations around his property line. Wind and directional speeds would be measured and recorded. Cheap hand held devices do not accurately measure decibel levels. Mike needs to check his hearing.

The Morgan’s built on top of a hill, surrounded by small acreage homeowners, just like themselves. Their 14 acres is nowhere near big enough for what they are trying to do. It’s not an optimum location.

Mike and Janet need to recognize that the world is full of other people. They aren’t the only ones who live here. There are over 40 families impacted by their activities. I am not the only one to complain. (again, refer to the complaints in the city file.)

#7 is correct. Regarding the complaints at the complaints board in Austin; this is the very reason there is a complaints board. It is for folks who have legitimate complaints – which many of us do. (again, refer to #8 of the Texas Constitution/Article 1/Bill of Rights).

#8 Last November when I last spoke with Mike with a noise complaint, he offered to come to my property to hear their noise vibration. I agreed, and he never showed up. The next weekend they had 3 parties, a fri/sat/sun whopper, which were louder than before, with much cheering and clapping. He never showed that weekend either. In fact, he never got back with me, not once (until yesterday that is). Regarding whether he may come now, the answer is no. I do not want him at my home. Please advise your client that he must take sound measurements when the music is playing, with a device that accurately records noise levels at his property line!

During my conversation with him this morning I stated, “why would I care what he does on his property unless it impacts me in a negative way.” He had no comment to this. Our State of Texas law regarding unincorporated areas states that we have the right, by law, to do what we will on our individual properties. Mike needs to realize that others have the same rights as he does. And I have no reason to exaggerate the noise vibration problem.

During our conversation this morning, I shared with Mike that the owner of Nutty Brown Café has offered to the neighbors, who have filed a TABC suit against Nutty Brown Café for excessive noise, that Nutty Brown will limit concerts to one a month. Mike had no comment to this. (all of that mess is on the net – just google Nutty Brown Café).

Regarding the direct impact upon me and my family – I am under extreme and chronic sleep deprivation due to this problem. For every party they have, it takes me 1-2 days to recover. They have had over 50+ parties last year which means that I have lost 100+ nights of sleep; that’s 3+ months or ¼+ of the year! Have you ever tried sleeping next to a car with subwoofers blaring full blast. You should try it.

And the bottom line on my personal reaction. I wrote a book back in 2004 called ‘"SpiritualGuideToBumperStickers, vol 1." You may still find a copy on line; read it and then judge my character. I’m currently working on vol.2 and it isn’t going very well. I can’t concentrate, and am barely able to meditate. They are impacting my business 100%. This cumulative lack of sleep is awful.

There is a solution to this problem. All they have to do is turn the volume down to 60 decibels and stop the music at 9pm. (see noise attachment). This was my suggestion to Mike this morning.

And my last point is: I have spoken with an attorney and his advice is as follows: sue the Morgan’s in small claims court for ‘abatement of nuisance’. My enjoyment of my home is being affected. I’m considering this possibility. Before I choose this route, I want to make sure I’ve explored all of the city and county avenues. Of course, there’s always mediation.

In conclusion, the Morgan’s have neighbors who are still angry and upset. As long as the noise vibrations continue, so does everyone’s anger. The Morgan’s can fix this major problem. They can turn this situation around by ending their parties at a decent hour and by turning down the music. It’s that easy.

Please feel free to share this letter with all concerned parties.


Kimly west

Was the U.S. founded as a Christian Nation? And is our Board of Education the 'Decider?'

Note: The letter below is from JC Dufresne of Cibolo in Guadalupe County, near Schertz. Mr. Dufresne is a close watcher of the State Board of Education and board member Ken Mercer. The Board has stirred quite a lot of public interest lately with its proposed controversial changes to our public schools' history textbooks and curriculum – changes like replacing Thomas Jefferson in the history books with Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan. Mr. Mercer, a San Antonio conservative, has been a driving force behind some of the changes. He is the District 5 rep on the SBOE, which includes Hays County. The District 5 seat is up for election in November. Mercer's challenger is Rebecca Bell-Metereau of Hays County, a Texas State University professor.

It may be that Mercer is in for a tough challenge and that the Christian Right has reached the point of overstaying its welcome. An ally of Mercer's on the board who "
had the blessing of Christian conservatives" lost his bid for re-election in the March 2nd primary. Also, local yocal former state rep and public speaker Rick Green (Dripping Springs) lost his bid big time in last week's run-off election for the Texas Supreme Court. Green was backed heavily by social and religious conservatives.

Meanwhile, the Tea Partiers aren't exactly storming the ramparts in every region of the state. See this interesting
local analysis from the San Angelo Standard-Times. Angelo State University, coincidentally, is Rick Green's alma mater.

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

To the editor:

Ken Mercer and the other extremist members of the State Board of Education claim that the United States was established as a Christian nation and seek to bring down the wall of separation between church and state. This extremist cabal seems to have forgotten their history lessons regarding one of the primary reasons that many European colonists came to America. We all learned that the Pilgrims came here seeking to escape religious persecution.

The Founding Fathers were not so far removed from the European religious wars between Catholics and Protestant sects all over Europe that they could fail to understand the value of separating religion and the state. In the years 1553 to 1660 there was religiously inspired violence or war between Christian sects somewhere in Europe each year almost without exception.

Mary I, Queen of England (1553-1558), restored Catholicism and in the process had almost 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian Persecutions.

In France between 1562 and 1598, there were eight civil wars and other outbreaks of violence that were clearly motivated by religious differences.

The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), began in Bohemia when Ferdinand II became the king in 1617 over Protestant fears he would recatholicize it.

The English Civil War (1640-1660) involved various Protestant denominations and Catholics and included the beheading of Charles I in 1649.

Ken Mercer doesn’t understand that separation of Church and State protects his freedom of religion and our children’s, but our founders did.
JC Dufresne
141 Lindy Hills
Cibolo, TX 78108

Friday, April 16, 2010

Memory Lane, in this case, not a peaceful place for neighbors

Send your comments, questions and news tips to, to:

- Pct. 4 County Commissioner Karen Ford,
- Ray Whisenant, Ford's Republican opponent in November's election at
- City of Dripping Springs at
- State Rep. Patrick Rose at
- Memory Lane Event Center at,
- the Willises at
- or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

This, from a RoundUp reader in the Dripping Springs area:

To the roundup,

sure enjoy all of your writings. i especially appreciate the news that isn't shared through the traditional outlets. thanks!

below is a 'letter to the editor' i've submitted for publication. thought you might want to investigate further. noise is a growing issue and is now impacting more than just the nutty brown crowd.

thanks again for the 'good stuff'.

April 1, 2010

Our Letter to the Editor:

We moved to Hays County in 1992. We moved onto our property in 1994 (lease/option), and purchased our 7.5 acres in 1996. We have owned clear title to our land since 2006.

We love our property and have created a peaceful and lovely home for us, our children, and many pets and wildlife. (please call before visiting!).

That is until 2008 when the Memory Lane Event Center opened their 4000 sq. foot outdoor pavilion. These folks are the noisiest and most obnoxious bunch I have ever lived near.

Polite requests for abatement of their party noise have fallen on deaf ears (maybe because Mike and Janet Morgan have fallen deaf due to the excessive noise!).

We need county Land Use Regulations, NOW. If we had these regs, then the commissioners would have the power to regulate where such businesses could locate, buffer zones included. It wouldn’t be on such a small parcel located in close proximity to others.

Memory Lane Event Center has 18 acres – not near enough for what they are perpetrating upon their neighbors. I don’t care if they are ‘such nice people,’ or that their facility is ‘just gorgeous.’ Nor do I care if their guests had a ‘wonderful event.’ These things are immaterial to the noise. If the Morgans were really nice folks, then they would consider their neighbors (we all have complained!) and turn their low noise vibration and excessive partying down to a reasonable and considerate level. (During the wedding season they have parties every single weekend!).

It’s not about them, nor about their business. It’s about the EFFECTS their activities have on the surrounding neighbors and countryside. It’s obnoxious, offensive, and incredibly loud (rattles my windows and shakes my floor).

The law of the country used to be – DO NO DISTURB YOUR NEIGHBORS, and KEEP YOUR NOISE TO YOURSELF. Before, if a neighbor was disturbed, a simple and polite phone call would remedy the situation. Boy, have times changed in Hays County.

Do not think any of us are immune from noisy business neighbors. It could happen to you too if you live in the unincorporated areas of Hays County. I am requesting that each and every one of us call our representatives, local and state, to have laws passed and enacted that will prevent this from happening again.

Thanks for your time and attention. Peace and quiet to all, The Willis Family.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

UP SH*T CREEK: How Texas wants to allow more water pollution

TCEQ and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board have devised a process to decide what level of bacteria protection to assign the state’s creeks, rivers and lakes

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

Read the whole story here:

By Forrest Wilder

Published on Wednesday April 14, 2010
Texas Observer

IN MARCH, THE TEXAS COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY unveiled a sweeping proposal to overhaul the state's water quality standards that would allow up to 100 times more bacteria in some of the state's creeks, rivers and lakes. Environmental groups are excoriating the plan as a gift to wastewater dischargers and big agricultural interests.

The EPA must still sign off on the proposal, a lengthy process.

For environmental groups the most troubling change is a wholesale loosening of bacteria pollution standards for virtually every body of water in Texas. If the revisions go through, a total of 293 stream segments would have less stringent bacteria standards, according to TCEQ's analysis.

Here's how it would work: Currently, the vast majority of Texas rivers and lakes are classified as "contact recreation" waters, where activities such as swimming and kayaking are presumed to take place.

The standard for these waters is 126 colonies of E. coli bacteria per 100 milliliters of water. (E. coli is an indicator of shit in the water, which - as you can imagine - can make people sick if ingested.) A handful of places, like the profoundly-polluted Houston Ship Channel, are allowed up to 605 colonies.

TCEQ now wants to create a tiered system, dividing Texas streams into four different categories. The most stringent category, called "primary contact recreation," would be reserved for rivers and lakes where people swim, water-ski, tube, etc. The bacteria standard for these waters would be loosened from 126 to 206 bacteria colonies per 100 ml. Lakes and rivers where people frequently fish or boat but don't swim could have as many as 630 colonies. Other places with infrequent use, such as small creeks with limited public access, would be allowed up to 1,030 colonies. Finally, the standard for "non-contact" water would rise to 2,060 colonies.

TCEQ refused to make someone available for an interview despite repeated requests, instead responding to questions by email. Agency spokeswoman Andrea Morrow said the current water quality standards were "optimistically assigned" at a time when little data was available on many bodies of waters. Even for tiny, perennial streams the agency assumes that fishing and swimming are taking place, for example.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

O'Quinn Ranch is on the market for sale

Charles Soechting of San Marcos, a partner in the John O'Quinn law firm, today confirmed rumors that have been circulating for some time that the fabled O'Quinn River Ranch on the Blanco River in Hays County is on the market for sale. Soechting declined to state the asking price for the ranch.
John O'Quinn
"I know a fair number of people and entities that have expressed an interest in (the ranch) and it is no secret that it will be sold," Soechting said. "A number of contracts have been presented but not accepted."

Mr. O'Quinn died in an auto accident in Houston in October of 2009. He was known as one of the most talented trial lawyers of his time and for his generous donations to the University of Houston, Texas Medical Center institutions and other charitable organizations.

Soechting assured that the 5,000-plus acre ranch is not likely to be subdivided into small tracts. "It was always Mr. O'Quinn's intention to keep his ranch intact . . . whoever buys this property will continue to own it and care for it in the same way John O'Quinn did during his life."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Private meetings on major public water issues are 'typical protocol,' says Conley

We are beginning to suspect that this big push for the importation of water is nothing more than a cover for making the Growth Explosion story a self fulfilling prophecy. "You bring the water and we'll bring the growth."

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

Update, Thursday April 15 – We finally made contact with Mr. Bagwell. We'll report more on our conversation later. As to how the meeting was convened and who convened it, here's the short of it, according to Bagwell: Kent Acord, member of the board of the Wimberley Water Supply Corporation called Bagwell, for an update on water planning in the region. Bagwell sent Acord information from the Region L state water planning document (pdf). Acord called Bagwell back a month or two later and asked Bagwell to set up a meeting. (That would be Conley's bailiwick). Acord then called Conley who then called Bagwell who then called the parties together for a meeting at Wimberley city hall. City of Woodcreek was unintentionally not included. Mr. Acord, we are informed, was unable to attend the meeting as he was on a cruise in the Mediterranean.

Update, Wednesday April 14 –
Second day running, and still no call back from Mr. Bagwell of HDR. Commissioner Conley says Bagwell set up the April 5 meeting referenced below. We're trying to get a confirmation on that and who was invited and attended, since Conley says he doesn't remember who all was on the list.

By Bob Ochoa
RoundUp Editor

Precinct 3 County Commissioner Will Conley yesterday confirmed that he has been holding a series of private and invitation-only meetings dealing with some very weighty public matters.

One set of meetings involves a county water and wastewater study for western Hays County that is nearing completion. The other involves the problems that beset Aqua Texas and its Woodcreek area customers.

An attendee of one of the Aqua Texas meetings held in February recently told the RoundUp, "I thought it was going to be a meeting to help preserve water in the area . . . after the first thirty minutes it was basically a PR (show) for Aqua Texas."

Another attendee at an April 5 meeting on the county water/wastewater study said, "it ended up discussing bringing water supplies to the Wimberley Valley and the various steps that would be needed."

The RoundUp got wind of these meetings in late February and we have since picked up bits and pieces
of the discussions held. The latest meeting was held Monday, April 5. Conley says more will be scheduled and they will continue to be held behind closed doors and by invitation only. So don't expect any press releases or an invitation unless you have a VIP pass from Conley.

Will Conley
This is the "typical protocol for when you're working with these types of projects," Conley explained. "We've got a lot of work to do . . . when we get all the information down, then we're going to have a public discussion."

A local official who has heard of the meetings disagrees with Conley's "who needs the public" understanding of the process: "(He) is using county tax dollars. When you are using county tax dollars there's no need for private meetings."

According to Commissioner Conley, the April 5 meeting involved the status of a study being done by the HDR engineering consulting firm of the county's water and waste water needs and infrastructure, mostly in the western region. "I asked the consultant where they were and they said we were at that place where (we could meet), and asked them to put together (a meeting)," said Conley. "We're starting to come down to figuring out what our water needs are for the future . . . we definitely are looking at a shortfall of water to take us into the future."

Conley said once the study is completed (or after all the ducks are lined up, and is presumably followed by a proforma public meeting and comments), then a more serious effort will ensue on finding solutions. "We left the last meeting deciding to (contact) the water development board to see what partnerships we could develop with them and talk to potential water providers to see what if anything they would be willing to do."

We've got a call in to HDR project manager Tony Bagwell (912.5163), to ask for more details about the April 5 meeting and who his firm invited, and did not invite. Conley said he could not remember if the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District – one of the region's most vital sources of information about water supply – was on the list.

The $200,000 water/wastewater study, begun last year, is funded through a $100,000 grant from the Texas Water Development Board. Additional investments of $100,000 were made by Hays County, the cities of Wimberley and Woodcreek, Aqua Texas, both Wimberley and Dripping Springs water supply companies, GBRA, LCRA and Hays City. Clearly, the study is underwritten largely by taxpayer money.

We know that there are certain people in the county (Conley being one of the point men) who are trying mightily to form some sort of regional water entity to import expensive water. Wimberley Mayor Tom Haley has talked about it and so have others. Ostensibly, the reasons are to ease the strain on the over-used Trinity Aquifer (the region's dominant water source), and scary projections of a future explosion in growth in western Hays County – projections that seem to be coming off someone's wall. It's pretty evident growth is occurring at a rapid pace along the Hwy 290 and I-35 corridors, but not so much in the county's interior rural parts. Population projections seem to differ, depending on the source, the area and the motivation.

We are beginning to suspect that this big push for the importation of water is nothing more than a cover for making the Growth Explosion story a self fulfilling prophecy. "You bring the water and we'll bring the growth."

If you look at some basic numbers and other factors and questions, you will see that Conley and his scotch-'n-water klatsch have their work cut out for them: A) The cost of importing water (pipeline construction, transportation, distribution, etc.), say from Kyle, San Marcos or Canyon Lake (per Conley), could run in the range of $20 million to $40 million. B) If it's not a municipally-owned pipeline, no one can be mandated to purchase the water. C) If it's owned by a water company, say Wimberley WSC or Aqua, how will their meager number of customers, 3,000 to 5,000 combined, afford to pay for it? Much higher rates, that's how. D) To make it more affordable for water system customers, will the regional entity force groundwater users off their wells and on to the new system?

Perhaps State Rep. Patrick Rose will help answer some of these questions from his perch in the Legislature. Rose, you will remember, hastily appointed a water stakeholder group during his primary re-election campaign. We haven't heard a peep about it since. And we know that Rose, in his eight years in the Legislature, hasn't met a Big D-development he hasn't liked.

Conley says his private meetings with Aqua Texas President Bob Laughman and other stakeholders such as the City of Woodcreek, developers, "environmentalists," the HTGCD, and representatives from Woodcreek North, have zeroed in on issues like leaky pipes, customer service and rates. "We've had good conversations," Conley reported. "What we're hoping for is that we'll come out with short range and long term solutions that we agree need to be taken, before we stop meeting."

Maybe before Public Official Conley concludes his private meetings, he should get some input from Joe Citizen, seeing as how Joe and the rest of us will be stuck with the outcomes.

We're hoping, too, that while Conley has the ear of Aqua's big cheese, Laughman, he'll try to convince him it is not good community relations for Aqua to continue resisting efforts of our groundwater district to stop needless waste of our limited underground water resources. Aqua remains, by far, among the top wasters of groundwater in the county.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Groundwater district candidates' forum April 13 in Wimberley; election is May 8

This is one of those elections where only the highly-motivated will turn out to vote

Update, Wednesday April 14 – The RoundUp did not attend last night's forum. We are informed it was well attended. Said one attendee, "All in all it was a productive forum but won't come to much at election time. The election will turn on who gets their supporters to the polls."

Wimberley resident Rob Pitzer offered the following observations about the failed attempt to hear from all the candidates running for Wimberley City Council: An invitation was offered, and basically ignored by the slate of candidates – Carroll Czichos, Beth Mitchell and Catfish Pigg to participate in the LWV candidate forum. This brings up a simple question to me – why wouldn’t these candidates take the opportunity to voice their positions, ideas and goals for the City Council seats for which they are running? Their lack of even responding, much less not showing up last night only indicates to ME they don’t want those that are about to vote to know what they plan to do! (I did go, and they were not there – only representatives of their “camp”). Am I wrong? We will probably never know in a public meeting where ALL of the candidates are together to allow the voters all of the available information with which to make their decisions on election day. I have been taught, anything that is kept in the dark is usually not good or healthy; whereas things brought out into the light seem to flourish and are for good. So for me, this situation raises a big red flag.

Click on map to enlarge
Editor's Note: If you value your groundwater, you'll value getting to know who the candidates are for three seats on the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District that are up for election May 8. Those seats are for Districts 1 (Henly), 3 (East Dripping Springs/FM 1826) and 5 (Wimberley). The groundwater district is the only local entity that is specifically charged with monitoring, conserving and protecting our groundwater supply in western Hays County.

Word has it one group of candidates wants to usurp our private property & water rights through regulatory fiat, and the other group of candidates wants to usurp our private property & water rights through making the Groundwater District as ineffective as possible and allowing developers and water companies to suck our aquifer dry. Maybe somewhere there's a happy medium. Ya think?

And how in the world did the Glenn Beck 9.12 Project get involved in the affairs of our local groundwater management?? Who are those guys?

See the candidates' bios at the groundwater district's web site here:

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

Please join the Wimberley Valley League of Women Voters tomorrow night, April 13, at 7 pm at the Wimberley Community Center to hear from all the candidates running for the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD).

The Wimberley HTGCD seat currently held by Jack Hollon is being contested by Joan Jernigan and Craig Reitz. There are 2 other seats being vacated in DS and Henly.

This election is very important and will be held on May 8 with early voting beginning on April 26 and continuing through May 4.

We have had a strong supporter of groundwater conservation in Jack Hollon and we need to make sure that his successor is the same kind of representative for this precious shared resource.

Please come out Tuesday night to hear from all the candidates (including the ones from Drippin' and from the Henley area). There is a big difference in the views of these candidates and I know it will be helpful for all of us to see what is going on in this election.

Most importantly, mark May 8 on your calendar to VOTE in this election at the Community Center.

This is one of those elections where only the highly-motivated will turn out to vote. Those who really believe we should protect and preserve our groundwater, streams and springs for future generations and those who find this kind of conservation effort to be "government taking away our liberties." This is what is at stake in this election, as you will see and hear on Tuesday night.

There was a similar candidate forum last week in Dripping Springs hosted by the Glenn Beck 912 Project group that meets twice a month at the DS VFW Hall and it was quite informative about who is in favor of preserving our water and who thinks this is nothing but another government takeover.

Please come out Tuesday night and hear from these candidates. This is the first time this board election has been hotly contested, and with 3 board seats (out of 5) up for grabs, this will decide the majority opinion on the board.