Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hays Free Press – Jeff Barton's propaganda arm?

"Instead of shunning political involvement or public office while publishing a newspaper, Barton has been drawn to politics like a moth to a flame."

Note: Anyone that knows Sally Caldwell knows that she's a long time political activist and she can get pretty feisty at times. Ms. Caldwell, until recently, served as Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Woodcreek. She is an associate professor at Texas State University. The RoundUp contacted Caldwell to confirm her letter and her information. She vouched for both. We're not out to pick a fight here. What we are out to do is get information out that is important for voters to know as we size up the candidates for Hays County Judge. Barton's opponent is Dr. Bert Cobb of San Marcos. If unsavory verifiable information emerges about Dr. Cobb, we'll let you know.

Here's a link to a story in the Bartons' Free Press newspaper reporting on the recent dust up between the local Democratic Party and Dr. Cobb. The headline reads: "Democratic Party chief says Cobb behind "lies" in e-mail." Judge for yourself if the headline and story are not slanted heavily against Cobb, and misleading. Notice, too, how the article goes to great length to justify the pay raises for Barton and county commissioners – tantamount to a royal, in house CYA.

Send your comments and news tips to, to Ms. Caldwell at or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story. You can contact Barton's campaign here

An Open Letter from Dr. Sally Caldwell

Commissioner Jeff Barton, currently running for Hays County Judge, has a well-documented record as a journalist. His reputation as a liberal journalist was cemented when he was the editor of the school newspaper at Baylor University. The university administration didn’t see eye-to-eye with some of Barton’s editorial content, so the administration revoked his scholarship. The same fate fell to Barton’s fellow journalist and then future wife, Cyndi Slovak.
Jeff Barton
As a result, Jeff sought an outlet for his journalistic interest elsewhere. He and Cyndi left Baylor and returned to central Texas where they worked for the community newspaper owned by Jeff’s father, Bob Barton.

Before this tale goes any further, let’s take a look at the Code of Ethics for the Society of Journalists because that’s where this commentary leads. As the code notes, journalists should:

… Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office (emphasis added) and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.

Back to Barton and his journalistic career. Simply put, Barton has never let the Journalists’ Code of Ethics get in the way of his political career. Instead of shunning political involvement or public office while publishing a newspaper, Barton has been drawn to politics like a moth to a flame.

Barton served as vice president of Barton Publications, the publisher of the Hays Free Press, from its inception until 2008. Despite the Code of Ethics, Barton served as County Commissioner for seven of those eight years. His father served as president; Barton’s wife was the treasurer. Barton only relinquished the vice presidency of the publishing company to his mother in May of 2008, just before he presented his credentials as an Obama delegate at the 2008 State Democratic Convention. Barton’s wife, Cyndi, currently holds the title of Publisher.

Barton will tell you that his part-ownership of The Free Press doesn’t qualify him as a journalist. If he can convince you of that, then he can avoid the charge that he’s lacking in ethics. But when he tries to do that, just ask yourself: Does he really think that he can put that one over on you?

For as long as Barton has been a County Commissioner, we’ve been treated to a near weekly dose of Jeff Barton did this wonderful thing and Jeff Barton did that wonderful thing through the ink of the Barton family’s newspaper.

When it comes to The Hays Free Press, the paper is little more than a Central Texas version of the Russian Federation’s Pravda, and the Barton family — Jeff Barton, father Bob Barton, mother Wynette “Tutta” Barton and wife Cyndi Slovak-Barton — act as the Ministry of Propaganda.

Barton has a problem with ethics. He shouldn’t be in public office. We can do much better.


Anonymous said...

Well, I guess we know who is behind the email that was attributed to Cobb. Perhaps an apology is in order from the Hays County Democratic Party.

As an aside, WHERE THE HELL IS THE PRESS ON THIS ISSUE? We have to get this information from a democrat? Is there any wonder our local government is out-of-control? The Bartons are both the wolf and chicken ranchers, it would appear.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet the Free Press won't print that letter.

Fredo said...

Old Bob, the paper's owner, has been heavily steeped in county politics for years, written about it, always a delegate to county and state democrat conventions and one of the head party strategerizers. I think his favorites were Eddy Etheridge and Don Montague or maybe Jim Powers. Not Liz Sumter that's for sure. Now his boy is running for county judge for east Hays County. What a team they will make inside their newspaper circulation area. I can see the headline now, Jeff Barton voted best county judge in the universe!

Anonymous said...

"seventh generation Hays County resident"
"crosses burned in my front yard"
"I teach the class on urban planning"
-All from Jefferson Barton-

What he leaves out
"my daddy owns the paper"
"my daddy (through Ethridge) got me the job"
"all my money comes from consultants and engineers"
"I don't have a college degree"
"remember the cell phone to the nose"

Leaning for Dr. Cobb said...

I read a comment from a Peter Stern that he queried Barton's campaign whether Barton ever graduated from college and received a degree. Has Stern received a reply?

Anonymous said...

Go to this site:

In the space on the right side of the screen, enter the name as follows:
Barton, Jefferson Word

The names of about ten individuals will come up on the screen. You will see the dates of attendance at UT and degrees, if any, for each person on the list.

Jeff Barton is there (he's the first on the list), and he's shown as in attendance from the Fall of 1980 through the Summer of 1981. But alas, no degree.

Anonymous said...

I've tried to deal with the Hays Free Press on some slanted reporting they did on some other issues...they pretty much just laugh in your face when you urge them to practice objective and fact-based reporting standards. Hacks and paid-for mouthpieces is all they are. Hilarious that Barton never got his degree...that explains a lot.

c said...


According to the Sheriff Department report, Barton's assistant threw her cell phone and bloodied Barton's lip.

Unfortunately, the injury did nothing to impair Barton's incessant talking.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Caldwell is a hypocrite. What does she know about ethics? "Those who can't teach"; I feel sorry for the students at Texas State.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this blog just a mouthpiece for the bitter Sumter supporters who have a crazy obsession with anything Barton related?

Charles O'Dell said...

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Caldwell is a hypocrite. I feel sorry for the students at Texas State."

Dr. Caldwell posted under her real name---you posted anonymously.

Dr. Caldwell has won Teacher of the Year award---you are just anonymous.

Dr. Caldwell is in the fourth edition of her Statistics Unplugged, a text book that is used at many colleges and universities across our nation---you are just anonymous

What value could your ignorant words have?

Isn't America a great place to live!

Anonymous said...

Since we're speaking of hypocrites and "practice objective and fact-based reporting standards" - what about this blog's loose standards for reporting when it comes to Charles O'Dell's rants? Bob, do you verify any of his nonsense? If so, we need to talk - aside from his inane interpretation on law as Charles see's it, or his swipes at local politicians when he sees an opening based on his assumptions as to what HE thinks their intentions were, that is not reporting, that is editorializing passing as reporting. In other words, what this blog accuses the Hays County Free Press of doing it does the same by publishing the tripe of Charles O'Dell.

So, Bob, you want to be taken serious as a news organization? Edit Charles. Require that he submit his stories to you for editing before publishing. Same goes for some of the other nitwits that you have posting "stories" (assumption is that they are journalists - what did I read about journalistic ethics on another post?), such as the CARD guy from Wimberley, what garbage as evidenced by his b.s. recently at the Hays-Trinity's board meeting.

Justin Thyme said...

The point here is not Dr. Caldwell or Dr. O'Dell, but the candidate, Jeff Barton.

The point here is that Jeff Barton and his family's newspaper are used to hammer home the Barton Family line to the residents of Kyle and Buda for whom this is their hometown paper. This is yellow journalism at its worst and the people of this County deserve better.

Jeff Barton is disliked and distrusted by many in Hays County, Democrats and Republicans alike.

What the young lady who heads up the Hays County Democratic Party just did in accusing the Bert Cobb campaign of sending out a humorous email containing The Truth about Jeff Barton's lies really needs to be addressed, too. She needs to publicly and privately apologize to Dr. Cobb. I would not be surprised to find out that Jeff Barton was behind that whole accusation, putting her up to it, embarrassing herself and the local Democrats.

Back to who is who and what is what. Jeff Barton is a bought and paid for politician and Hays County residents would be wise not to let this man have any power over their lives or their pocketbooks. Watch out if his version of development in this County ever comes to pass. It will be ugly and expensive. Let's just not, how about?

He lied about getting 1626 widened, he lied about that pay raise, he has lied to audiences and on his website that he has sufficient education to call himself an "urban planner", something students in Universities work very hard to call themselves and have to get Masters Degrees to do so. He never even got a Bachelor's and never studied urban planning at all. He was on the student newspaper staff, that's his credentials to call himself an urban planner?

At least Dr. Cobb finished college, medical school, has run businesses, is a Master Gardener and isn't in anyone's pocket and doesn't want in yours.

Give us all a break, Jeff, we are not this stupid!

Tired of the Bartons said...

Does Lila Knight have to get approval from the Barton Newspaper Empire every time she writes something defending them or do they just write her stuff for her?


Rocky B. said...

Hey last Anonymous. If Bob should edit the articles by O'Dell and the other writers - who use their real name and put themselves out there for harsh criticism, then he should also edit or omit the comments from Anonymous submitters who offer nothing but superfuous and insipidness mean spirited statements.

Personally, I prefer the Roundup exhibit bias and diversity of opinion - as well as comments that are pure stupidity and "anonymous" rantings, rather than boring objectivity from hack writers who want to please everyone.

Ideally, writers and bloggers "are entitled to their own opinions, just not their own facts." Unfortunately, Fox News has blown that ideal all to hell. So we take the best of what we get.

Peter Stern said...

At least candidate Bert Cobb has a college and medical degree. Barton claims to be an engineer, but has no college or university degree.

Barton also is a long-time lobbyist with a family history in politics.

Barton may be very proud of pushing the road bond package "to improve Hays County roads" but the truth is that the bond package is too expensive and extravagant, especially during these hard economic times.

We do need a fiscally conservative approach to managing our county and Cobb may be the man to do that. Certainly, Jeff Barton has proven during his political career that he is NOT a fiscal conservative.

Anonymous said...

As a followup to Stern's comment:

Barton has no business calling himself an engineer and the next time he does it you should call him on the carpet and report him to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.

If Barton had a degree in engineering he could refer to himself as a "graduate engineer" but not just "engineer". Of course without a degree he obviously cannot make a claim to being a "graduate engineer" either. The term "engineer" is otherwise reserved for those that are licensed professional engineers. Misuse of the "engineer" designation is a criminal offense and the TBPE can and will pursue those misusing the term "engineer".

Next time Barton claims to have been a "partner" in a civil engineering firm just remind him that corporations aren't partnerships. He couldn't have been a "partner" in an incorporated engineering firm.