Saturday, November 26, 2011

Update: Federal panel refuses to suspend interim map

The crux of the dispute is whether the Legislature created enough majority-minority districts to reflect the state's minority-driven population boom

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

By Nolan Hicks
San Antonio Express-News
Published Nov. 25, 2011

Read the complete story
Texas AG Greg Abbott
A three-judge federal court in San Antonio on Friday rejected Attorney General Greg Abbott's request, made Wednesday, to suspend enforcement of its own interim Texas House and Senate redistricting plans.

The majority in the 2-1 vote wrote that the state's lawyers had confused key points of the Voting Rights Act and “misinterpreted” key case law throughout the map-drawing process.

“You have to show irreparable harm, and it's really pretty hard to show irreparable harm in an election,” said Michael Li, an elections law expert who has been closely tracking the redistricting trial. “The state's argument is the same argument that Democrats tried to use in 2004,” which the Supreme Court rejected.

Abbott said he would ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay.

Earlier Friday, Abbott slammed changes proposed by the same federal panel to the congressional map in a legal filing, claiming the court overstepped its bounds. Abbott accused it of “undermining the democratic process.”

The panel, which oversaw a key redistricting trial in San Antonio, proposed significant changes to the Legislature's congressional redistricting plan that could give Democrats three more congressional seats and put another three seats in play.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Proposed Texas map a blow to GOP

The interim plan was released just ahead of Monday’s opening of the filing period for candidates to declare their intentions to run in Texas races

Scroll down two stories for a view of the San Antonio federal court-proposed map.

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

Read the complete story

Politico | By Alex Isenstadt (Nov. 23, 2011) – A federal court-proposed map positions Democrats to gain as many as three congressional seats in Texas, dealing a sharp blow to Republicans who had hoped the state would help solidify their new majority.

Under the plan, Democrats could capture three of the four new seats Texas is gaining in the current round of reapportionment, and would be positioned to compete against one of the state’s freshman Republicans, Rep. Quico Canseco, whose southwestern Texas district would become considerably less GOP-friendly.

The interim plan was crafted by a San Antonio court, which was tasked with providing a congressional map until a Washington, D.C.-based court determines whether a Republican-drawn plan, approved by the state legislature earlier this year, adequately accommodates the state’s exploding Hispanic population. The Justice Department, along with several minority groups, instigated legal action earlier this year, alleging that the GOP blueprint dilutes minority voting strength.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stories of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come
nurture grace. Stories teach and inspire . . . tell your children and grandchildren

Commentary: A story on Thanksgiving

By Fabiola Santiago
Miami Herald
Published Nov. 24, 2011 | Sacramento Bee

Read the complete story

In difficult times, in a country divided by petty partisan politics without any goodwill in sight, it’s tough to muster enough reasons to feel grateful this Thanksgiving. When we’ve become so estranged from each other that Congress can’t even agree on what to serve our children during the school lunch, it’s tough to sit at the table in harmony.

But more than ever we must, individually and collectively, carry out an inventory of all that’s right in our midst, and perhaps Thursday, when we kick off the holiday season with a plump turkey (or a budget turkey) and trimmings, there won’t be room at the table for the frown of ingratitude.

As an antidote for the times, I offer this thought I recite like a mantra and carry with me like a shield: We are a metropolis of survivors.

That is our strength, our point of connection.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Democrats put casino gambling on primary ballot

The Democratic Party also voted to include two other referendums regarding education. These include policies that would free moneys from the Dream Act for in-state tuition and making college more affordable for middle-class Americans


The San Antonio federal court's proposed new map keeps most of Hays County inside the 25th District. Courtesy Tx Legislative Council. Click on map to enlarge

Austin American-Statesman | By Tim Eaton Court ends Doggett-Castro fight – When a panel of three federal judges in San Antonio released its redrawn congressional map today, it put an end to the anticipated race between U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who have been battling each other in an acrimonious fight for a proposed congressional district that would have extended from Austin to San Antonio.
Send your comments and news tips to, click on the story links or click on the "comments" below the story

Houston Chronicle
By Clay Thorp
Published Nov. 21, 2011

Read the complete story

The Texas Democratic Party will include a ballot measure asking if Texans support casino gambling to fund public education.

The non-binding question will appear on the party’s March 6 primary election ballot.

“We want to see where Texans stand on this issue,” said Anthony Gutierrez, a party spokesperson.

Gutierrez said after the Republican-controlled legislature “decimated” education in Texas, the state will have to come up with new ways to fund our children’s future.

– Also In the News –

Politico | By Maggie Haberman The GOP Debate: 6 Takeaways (Nov. 23, 2011) –
The GOP debate on national security Tuesday night raised far more questions — and exposed far more divisions — than it resolved. While the topic isn’t central to the 2012 nomination battle, it was nevertheless critical for candidates to meet a modest threshold to remain viable — at least a minimal level of fluency in international affairs.

LA Times | By Paul West, Washington Bureau | Reporting from Austin, Texas Perry's leadership is sometimes costly (Nov. 21, 2011) Rick Perry launched his Texas gubernatorial campaign in 2002 with an idea that he hoped would become his legacy: a 4,000-mile-long, 21st century transit network on which motorists would drive 90 mph on toll roads 10 lanes wide, high-speed trains would hum alongside, and there would be room for electric power lines, broadband fiber and pipes to pump oil, natural gas and water to a rapidly growing state.

What happened to the most controversial initiative of his 11 years as governor provides a window into a style of management that doomed not only the transit corridor but has contributed to the severe turbulence that has wracked his presidential candidacy. It is the sometimes lethal combination of inattention to detail and an insularity that blunts opposing views until it's too late.

Tulsa World | By Janet Pearson, Associate Editor Texas ratchets up efforts to obtain Oklahoma water (Nov. 20, 2011) – The Fort Worth-area water district serves 1.7 million customers in 11 fast-growing counties, and wants to buy billions of gallons of water from the tributaries that feed into the Red River. Under an old compact agreement, Texas and three other states have an arrangement to draw water from the Red River - a pact that has proven to be a major obstacle to the Texas case. The Texans could access Red River water, but they don't want to because the river is very salty and would require expensive treatment to be usable. It's much easier, they figure, to just tap into water flowing throughout southeastern Oklahoma.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wimberley: Animal control ordinance passes first reading, interviews for city marshall after Thanksgiving

The proposed ordinance bans roadside animal sales within the city and requires health and vaccination disclosures to be made when animals are properly traded

Note: City Hall Briefs, written and edited by Bob Flocke to inform the citizens of Wimberley about city activities, is neither an official nor an authorized publication of the City of Wimberley. City Hall Briefs is distributed by email to anyone who wishes to receive it. Anyone who wishes to be added to the distribution list should send their email address to Mayor Flocke (below). The RoundUp has edited the Briefs for length and style.

Send your comments and questions to, to Mr. Flocke at, 512.847.5421, or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the report

Citizens' ordinance review process is under way

The group of citizens reviewing Wimberley's City Code of Ordinances will continue its work at a meeting Tuesday, November 22 at 9 a.m. at City Hall. The public is invited and encouraged to attend all meetings of this group which is tasked with reviewing ordinances and recommending changes to the city council. A public meeting earlier this month was well-attended with many constructive suggestions put forth. The city's Planning and Zoning Commission is reviewing the city's land-use and subdivision ordinances for suggested changes. City Administrator Don Ferguson estimates that the review process will take 11-12 months.

Public participation urged in Hays County transportation plan process

Hays County has begun the process for creating a countywide transportation plan. Throughout this process, the County is seeking participation and input from community members. We are holding a public workshop on December 1, 2011, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the San Marcos Activity Center (501 E. Hopkins).

Public involvement is a large part of this planning process and we would like to see as many Hays County residents at this meeting as possible.

The planning team will send project updates and notices of meetings, surveys, and other ways to participate throughout the planning process. To sign up to receive the updates directly, please email, with HCTP Email Update in the subject line.

For more information visit:

Sales tax revenue down for November

The city of Wimberley received its November sales tax check from the Texas Comptroller's Office. Wimberley's check in the amount of $68,556.82 is down one percent from the same period last year. The November sales tax receipt checks represent sales in September.

Interviews for city marshal, judge positions to begin after Thanksgiving

The city of Wimberley is seeking applicants for city marshal and for city judge. To date, the city has received more than 40 applicants for the marshal position, and interviews will begin the week after Thanksgiving. The city judge presides over Wimberley's municipal court. Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Andy Cable has served as interim municipal judge since the resignation of former Municipal Judge Don Campbell.

November 17 Wimberley City Council actions

Passed on first of two readings a proposed animal control ordinance. The proposed ordinance bans roadside animal sales within the city and requires health and vaccination disclosures to be made when animals are properly traded. In addition, the ordinance prohibits animals from being left unattended in vehicles under certain conditions and places limits on the tethering of dogs and the intentional feeding of feral animals on public property (feeding of feral cats on private property is not affected by the ordinance). City staff is working with volunteers to establish a program to manage the city's feral cat population. The second and final reading and vote for approval will be at the December 1 council meeting.

- In a unanimous vote, the council approved a city staff proposal to execute a contract with Blackboard Connect to provide mass communication services for the city. The agreement with Blackboard Connect will offer a wide range of communication options to reach members of the community, from recorded voice, text-to-speech, email, TTY, Facebook, Twitter, fax, pager and common alerting protocol (CAP). The city will have the ability to use the service at any time to deliver both emergency and general information to residents. A link will be placed on the city's web site where residents can sign up for the service and indicate the way they would like to be informed. The cost of the services to the city is $1.91 per household enrolled along with a $957 annual support fee.

Instructed city staff to look for opportunities to post notices of city activities at various locations throughout the community. Potential locations are the Wimberley Community Library, Wimberley Ace Hardware, Brookshire Brothers, the Post Office, King Feed and others. City staff will seek approval of the business owners to post information at their facilities. These sites will not replace the "official" site for posting such information which will remain at City Hall. In 2002, a city commission for improving communication with residents initiated a similar project. At that time, notices of city actions were posted at the Village Library, Wimberley Ace Hardware, the Post Office and Brookshire Brothers. The commission also initiated a quarterly city newsletter that was mailed to every voter in the city. Both programs were discontinued after a year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Department of Justice approves county's redistricting plan

County commissioners whose precincts were affected by the redistricting are currently determining when and how they will operate satellite offices for residents who are not located conveniently to permanent precinct offices

New DOJ-approved county precinct map,
good until 2020. Click on map to enlarge

Note: Here's news we completely missed, sorry 'bout that. There are lots of changes in the new county precinct map that voters and taxpayers should be paying attention to. A prediction made by the RoundUp in the late stages of the redistricting process looks like it will indeed likely occur, costing taxpayers extra dollars due to the changes in commissioners' precinct boundaries – the addition of satellite offices.

(An advisory sent this morning by the county says the county's website, email and online services will be down from noon today to about 4 p.m. as equipment is moved to the new $60 million county government center at Hunter Rd. & Wonder World Dr. in San Marcos.)

Send your comments and questions to, to county elections administrator Joyce Cowan at, to your (new) county commissioner, or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

Press Release
Contact: Laureen Chernow
Hays County Communications Specialist
Office: 512.393.2296

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX (Nov. 10, 2011) – The Hays County Commissioners Court has been notified by the Department of Justice that it has approved the County’s redistricting plan. The approval means that the County can schedule elections as needed for 2012, since the redistricting plan goes into effect January 1, 2012.

Redistricting in Hays County was required when 2010 Census figures showed that Precinct 2 had grown considerably since the 2000 Census. By law, there can be no more than a 10 percent deviation between the most heavily and least heavily populated precincts. Redrawing precinct lines also must be done in accordance with the Federal Voting Rights Act, which ensures that groups covered by the Act maintain their voting strength and representation.

From a number of proposed plans, the Hays County Commissioners Court selected the map known as M2 following several public meetings and hearings. The M2 map has a population deviation of 9.44 percent.

County commissioners whose precincts were affected by the redistricting are currently determining when and how they will operate satellite offices for residents who are not located conveniently to permanent precinct offices.

Under the new map, some of the areas that will move into Precinct 3 include H&H Industrial Park, Lowman Ranch, Hunters Hill, Hunters Glen, Lost River Ranches, Preserve at La Ventana, La Ventana West, Vineyard Ridge, Shepley Ranch and Gracy Meadows.

Also moving from Precinct 4 into Precinct 3 are York Creek Meadows and Ranch, Las Lomas, Sierra West, Running Rope, White Wings, Fox Hole, Highlands B, Northwest Hills, Morningwood and Gonzales Estates. The subdivisions of Rainbow Ranch, River Mountain Ranch and Rolling Oaks, which are currently divided between Precincts 3 and 4, will now be entirely in Precinct 3. Old Ranch Road 12 will remain in Precinct 3.

Precinct 2 subdivisions Arroyo Ranch and Hometown Kyle will move into Precinct 4 and the Amberwood, Steeplechase and The Trails subdivisions will move to Precinct 1.

In Precinct 1 the area between Aquarena Springs Drive and Hopkins Street moves to Precinct 4, and West Wonder World Drive, now shared between Precincts 1 and 3, will be completely in Precinct 3.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hays County, coalition will get their 290 water line & West Travis water system

Under the terms approved by the Board, LCRA and the coalition have until Jan. 17 to negotiate the purchase and sale agreements

LCRA's Hwy 290 water line serves several thousand
north Hays County
customers and supplies water
to the
Dripping Springs Water Supply Corp.

The persistence of a coalition of Travis County cities, Hays County and other entities seems to have paid off. We should soon see the details of the sale of the West Travis water system, which includes the Hwy 290/north Hays County water pipeline, to the Coalition of Central Texas UDC. Hays County Commissioner Ray Whisenant, vice president of the coalition's board of directors, has promised that the purchase price and other details involving the 290 system (heretofore shrouded in official negotiating secrecy agreements) will be made public once the ink dries on the sale. If Whisenant makes good on his promise, many other questions hopefully will be answered relating to the county's short & long term plans for the 290 line.

Send your comments and questions to the LCRA at, to Commissioner Whisenant at, to the CCTUDC at, or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

Here's a portion of a press release distributed late last week by the Lower Colorado River Authority.

(Nov. 17, 2011) – LCRA's Board of Directors Wednesday unanimously authorized General Manager Becky Motal to negotiate the sale of the West Travis County Regional Water and Wastewater System to the Coalition of Central Texas Utilities Development Corporation.

Under the terms approved by the Board, LCRA and the coalition have until Jan. 17 to negotiate the purchase and sale agreements.
Service area of the West Travis system
Click on map to enlarge
"The Board's decision represents an opportunity for local communities to exercise their wishes," said Motal. "This decision is in the best interest of the communities served by the West Travis county systems and LCRA."

Wednesday's decision was an important step in LCRA's efforts to sell its retail water and wastewater systems. The Board decided in November 2010 to seek buyers for the systems, pointing out that a water utility made up of multiple systems does not leverage the strengths of LCRA as a regional supplier of raw water and wholesale power.

LCRA purchased and developed community water systems in the Hill Country and along the Colorado River, mostly in the past 10 to 15 years, and has since invested more than $300 million to improve the systems' infrastructure. However, despite cutting costs and raising rates, these systems do not cover their costs and are subsidized by more than $3 million a year.

The Board Wednesday also considered authorizing LCRA to negotiate the sale of 12 systems in the Hill Country and six in LCRA's southeast service area to Corix, an international company that provides service to more than 220 water and wastewater systems that serve 650,000 people in North America.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

News briefs: More schools to sue state; lawmaker suggests $50 hike in vehicle registration fee

Texas . . . saw the third-highest number of people leave the state for other states, with 411,641, meaning it had a net in-migration of about 75,000
Statesman | By Juan Castillo complete story

Dallas, TX (KERA) | By Bill Zeeble Hundreds of school districts sue state over funding – Thirty percent of Texas school districts that floated bond or tax measures this month lost at the polls. To many, that was like insult on top of injury, because school districts statewide say funding cuts approved in June will hurt their students. Many are fighting back. 319 districts assembled in one group sued the state, with at least two more groups expected to file soon.

Austin Statesman | By Ben Wear A fee by any other name smells sweeter than a gas tax[W]hat Williams (State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-Woodlands) suggested last week was increasing the vehicle registration fee on the state's 21 million cars and trucks by about $50 each. That would raise about $1.2 billion each year, according to Texas Transportation Institute figures provided by Williams' office . . . kudos to Williams for openly acknowledging that the Legislature, one way or the other, is going to have raise revenue for transportation in the 2013 session.

Houston Chronicle | Texas Politics blog Jones and Wentworth duel over Texas Senate seat, new polling – Wentworth (State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, represents Hays County), a 35-year incumbent in the race, is a senior member of the Texas Senate. Jones (Elizabeth Ames Jones, Houston), chair of the Texas Railroad Commission, recently announced she’s challenging him. Recent polling conducted by Wentworth’s long-time consulting firm, Lighthouse Opinion Polling and Research, shows Jones behind among Republican voters.

Texas Tribune | By Kate Galbraith Texas Congressman a top water user despite drought
In Texas House and Senate hearings this week, state lawmakers heard repeatedly about the crisis created by the record-breaking drought — and the need for Texans to conserve water. One elected official who has lagged on this front is U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin. From October 2010 through September 2011 — a time period that corresponds almost exactly to the first 12 months of the drought — a property belonging to McCaul and his wife was the sixth-largest water user among all Austin residential customers, according to records obtained from Austin's water utility. The McCauls' water consumption, 1.4 million gallons over those 12 months, comes to about 15 times the consumption of the average Austin home over that time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkeys, hams, and pie, Oh My!

All proceeds from the race go back into the community to support local charities and youth programs

Contact Judy Aswell, Bluebonnet Lions Club, 512.805.7848 ...

San Marcos, Tx – The 9th Annual Bluebonnet Lions Thankful Turkey 5K Run/Walk event is Saturday, Nov. 19, 8am, at River Ridge Business Park located at IH-35 and River Ridge Parkway just north of Aquarena Springs Drive.

The race route is flat, fast and traffic free winding through the business park where Grande Communications and Butler Manufacturing are located. You can view the race map at

Registration on race day will begin at 7am and the fee is $25. There is a student discount of $3 with a valid ID from any school.

All pre-registered participants will receive a Thankful Turkey 5K T-shirt and goody bag. If you register by Wednesday, Nov. 16, your first name will be printed on your race number. Register online here. Race day shirts will be available as long as quantities last.

Divisions available include ages 17 and under, 18-27, 28-37, 38-47, 48-57, 58-67, 68 and over, and a wheel chair division. The unique awards, turkey, hams and pies, attract people from all over the Central Texas area.

Race Director David Alexander along with the San Marcos Runners Club will be managing the race. “We are so fortunate to have David and SMRC. Their expertise is invaluable when putting on this kind of event,” Bluebonnet Lions Club Event Organizer Liz Sumter said. “This kind of support makes it possible to have a successful fundraiser in the community that is not only fun but provides winners of the race with thanksgiving dinner.”

The Bluebonnet Lions Club is a nonprofit community service organization that has been serving the San Marcos community for over 27 years. All proceeds from the race go back into the community to support local charities and youth programs.

To learn more about the Bluebonnet Lions Club visit

Monday, November 14, 2011

An excellent video, a simple picture of the aquifer and lifeblood of our region

The video below, about 7 minutes in length, was produced by Wimberley resident Bob Currie (a world-class video producer) as his project to become a Master Naturalist in Hays County. It is an excellent picture of the Trinity Aquifer and its relationship to Jacob's Well and our aquifer water supply.

Thanks to Bob C. and members of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District board of directors for their collaboration in creating this very simple to understand story in what has become an excessively complicated debate over a very fragile and finite underground source of drinking water in our region. We hope many more residents of western Hays County will be able to understand "the picture" that this is an irreplaceable resource, vulnerable to overuse and toxic pollutants. Enjoy.

Send your comments and questions to, to Bob Currie at, to the HTGCD at or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the video

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Citizen advisory: Big public hearing Nov. 16 on future decline of Trinity Aquifer

Hydrogeologists, local government and community leaders and many residents will be there to explain why this officially supported 30-foot drop in the Trinity Aquifer will be devastating to our property values . . .

Note: We were unable to attach the letter of concern. From a commenter,
here's a link to the TWDB where data from BOTH groups can be reviewed:
GMA 9: Petitions Appealing the Reasonableness of a Desired Future Condition

Send your comments and questions to Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development coordinator Jim McMeans at, to the TWDB at, to the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District at, or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the letter

Dear Water-Aware Neighbors,

Map of Hill Country Trinity Aquifer

Many of you know that The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association has filed a petition to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), appealing the proposed 30-foot “decline” (in water level) for the Trinity Group Aquifers, which was adopted in July 2010 by the Groundwater Management Area 9 (GMA-9) as a so-called “Desired Future Condition” (DFC).

There is a public TWDB hearing on this petition and issue scheduled for: 10 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 16, Wimberley Community Center, 14068 Ranch Road 12

You have a right to be there.

Hydrogeologists, local government and community leaders and many residents will be there to explain why this officially supported 30-foot drop in the Trinity Aquifer will be devastating to our property values, will accelerate the already-in-progress drying-up of our local springs and creeks, and will have a detrimental effect on the local economy and this area’s natural beauty.

Affidavit/click to enlarge & print
If you care about the near future of this precious area, not to mention our economy and property values, we are asking you to do three things.

1. Come to the meeting 10 a.m. Nov. 16 and make your voice heard, if only by being present to show your concern for this absurdly wrong-headed GMA-9 proposal. We need to pack the room with concerned citizens.

2. Print out the attached letter of concern (document 2) and either sign your name and address, or use it to write your own short letter of concern. Take it to the Nov. 16 hearing.

3. Print out the attached affidavit (document 3) and bring it and your letter to the Nov. 16 hearing. We hope to have a notary at the meeting to help notarize letters for persons wishing to comment. (The TWDB is requiring notarization for each letter on this issue.)

If you cannot attend the Nov. 16 hearing, you can just have this affidavit notarized on your own (your local bank will supply this service for free), and mail it along with your letter to the address on the letter, so that it arrives by Friday, Nov. 25.

Thank you for caring about Hays County and the Trinity Aquifer. Please forward this email to your friends and neighbors.

Steering Committee of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development

Friday, November 11, 2011

Another big lie: Environmental regulations destroy jobs

Environmental regulations do affect jobs. But contrary to claims by polluting industries and their bought and sold congressional Republican politicians, efforts to protect our environment will actually create jobs

Send your comments and news tips to, to Rocky at or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the column

By Rocky Boschert
Financial Editor

America’s worse polluting industries, along with the Republican legislators (and some Democrats) that are in their pockets, consistently claim that environmental regulations will be a “job killer.” They deviously counter efforts to control harmful pollution and to protect a growingly fragile environment by claiming that any such measures would increase costs and destroy jobs. But as educated citizens understand, these are empty threats. In fact, the bulk of the evidence shows that environmental regulations do not hinder employment or economic growth - and may actually stimulate both.

The allegation that environmental regulation is a job-killer is based on a mischaracterization of costs, both by firms and by right wing economists. Firms often frame spending on environmental controls or energy-efficient machinery as a pure cost—wasted spending that reduces profitability. But such expenses should instead be seen as investments that enhance productivity and in turn promote economic development.

Not only can these investments lead to lower costs for energy use and waste disposal, they may also direct innovations in the production process itself that could increase the firm’s long-run profits. This benefit is based on the Porter Hypothesis, named after Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. According to studies conducted by Porter, properly and flexibly designed environmental regulation can trigger innovation that partly or completely offsets the costs of complying with the regulation.

The positive aspects of environmental regulation are often overlooked not only by American industry, but also by economists who model the costs of compliance without including its widespread benefits.

In fact, lazy economists refuse to analyze and integrate into their economic benefits the following: 1) reduced mortality, 2) fewer sick days for workers and school children, 3) reduced health-care costs, 4) increased biodiversity, and 5) mitigating the cost-effectiveness of climate change on public safety and disaster relief efforts.

Most mainstream economic models leave these benefits out of their calculations. Even the Environmental Protection Agency, the current scapegoat of fear mongering right wing politicians and their voting flock, which recently released a study of the impacts of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020, compared the effects of a “cost-only” model with those of a more complete model. In the corporate promoted version - which only incorporated the costs of compliance, both GDP and overall economic welfare were projected to decline by 2020 due to Clean Air Act regulations.

However, once the costs of regulatory compliance were coupled with the economic benefits, the same model showed that both GDP and economic growth would increase over time, and that by 2020 the economic benefits would outweigh the costs. Likewise, the Office of Management and Budget found that to date the benefits of the law have far exceeded the cost, with an economic return of between $4 and $8 for every $1 invested in compliance.

Environmental regulations do affect jobs. But contrary to claims by polluting industries and their bought and sold congressional Republican politicians, efforts to protect our environment will actually create jobs. For example, in order to reduce harmful pollution such as dioxins from power plants, an electric company would have to equip plants with scrubbers and other technologies. These technologies would need to be manufactured and installed, creating jobs for people in the manufacturing and construction industries.

The official unemployment rate in the United States is still quite high, by conservative estimates hovering around 9%. In this economic climate, cowering politicians are more sensitive than ever to claims that environmental regulation could be a job-killer. By framing investments as wasted costs and relying on incomplete economic models, polluting industries have consistently – and successfully – fought environmental standards.

It’s time that citizens and scientific experts force politicians to change the terms of the environmental debate. We need to move beyond the lies and ignorant fear-mongering about the costs of environmental regulations and start intelligently identifying and capturing the economic benefits to our nation.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grassroots celebrate defeat of Prop 4, issue warning about Prop 2

Texas voters said a resounding 'NO' to expanding Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Transportation Reinvestment Zone (or TRZ) authority to counties by defeating Prop 4 November 8

Written by Terri Hall

Thursday, Nov 10
Immediate Release

Read the complete analysis here

(AUSTIN, TX - November 10, 2011) – In reflecting upon the mixed results of yesterday's Constitutional Amendment election, grassroots groups We Texans, Independent Texans, and Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) are celebrating victory over the defeat of Prop 4 and gearing up to take the opposition to the mat to defeat any attempt at a Trans Texas Water heist by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) through its newfound revolving bond authority.

"Rather than providing solutions to the water needs facing Texas, the additional debt imposed on Texans by Prop 2 compounds the problem," warned Debra Medina, Founder, We Texans. " put out information playing on voters' fears about the drought and wildfires. Many Texans believed this money was going to fund needed water projects with no cost to them. H204Texas PAC put out an email saying Prop 2 would cost the taxpayers NOTHING. But we know better and we'll be watching TWDB's every move to ensure taxpayers and Texans' water rights are protected." concluded H2O4Texas' claim was a half truth.

It states: "The group's claim sidesteps the fact that taxpayers of jurisdictions benefiting from the bonds will face bond-related costs. And while the additional bond authority sought in the proposition would not cost state taxpayers–up front–state lawmakers could still exploit their standing authority, as before, to spend state revenue on related debt."

"We're encouraged by the near defeat of Prop 2 – a big giveaway to Rick Perry's water boys on the Texas Water Development Board. Citizens are wising up to the fix between large-scale developer friends of the Governor, and Republican and Democratic politicians who are in on these deals," notes Linda Curtis, Founder of Independent Texans. "Democratic State Senator Kirk Watson got a taste of what is to come last week, when he faced suspicions of otherwise supportive citizens in Bastrop when he was pushing Prop 2 at a water forum. When politicians on both sides come together, so must we citizens. The Texas water war – a transpartisan phenomenon like the fight to stop the TTC – is now officially on."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hays County Commissioners Court accepts donation of land for Jacob’s Well Natural Area

Press Release: Nov. 7, 2011
Contact: Laureen Chernow
Hays County Communications Specialist
Office: 512.393.2296

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – The Hays County Commissioners Court voted unanimously Tuesday, November 1, to accept the donation of a tract of land from Wimberley Springs Partners (WSP) that will add .839 acres to the Jacob’s Well Natural Area. The triangular-shaped property, which currently holds a tennis court, is adjacent to the Jacob’s Well property acquired by the County in 2010 through 2007 voter-approved park bond funds.

“The County appreciates the opportunity to add to this sensitive recharge zone without cost to the County,” said Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley. “The timing is excellent for the addition of this piece of property as we are forming a countywide steering committee to help direct the planning effort for the entire park, which is some 81 acres total. Now this property can be included from the start of our master planning.”

“We are excited about the potential the park has for our neighborhood and for the entire Wimberley Valley,” said Winton Porterfield, Vice President of WSP. “As the County moves forward with a master plan for the park, there is a possibility we will make future donations, whether for parkland or perhaps an associated trail system.”

Jacob’s Well, a perpetual artesian spring, is considered one of the longest underwater caves in Texas. It is the headwaters for Cypress Creek and its waters flow through the City of Wimberley, forms Blue Hole Regional Park and ultimately reaches the Blanco and San Marcos rivers.

WSP, which owns and operates the Quicksand Golf Course in Woodcreek, also has extensive real estate holdings in the area.

DSISD tax rate increase voted down, 74% opposed; bond proposal passes

Without participation by a broad swath of people, results can be determined in favor of small, organized voting blocks which may or may not represent the true will of the electorate

Read the press release on the results from DSISD's website:

Send your comments and questions to Val Asensio at, to the school district's public information office at, or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

Guest Commentary

By Val Asensio, Founder
Stop the Hays Tax Increase
Tuesday, Nov. 8th was election day for the Constitutional Amendments as well as the DSISD tax increase and bond issuance measures.

Here are the unofficial, but final results as of 10:00 pm Tuesday from the Hays County Elections Office

Proposition DSISD Tax Ratification
FOR 694 25.98%
AGAINST 1,977 74.02%
Votes Cast 2,671

Proposition DSISD Bond
FOR 1,420 53.28%
AGAINST 1,245 46.72%
Votes Cast 2,665

If you've been following the Hays County Roundup recently, you know the DSISD tax rate increase has been a contentious issue, with a lot of public discourse taking place. I don't think there's been quite so vigorous and open debate for past DSISD tax rate increases and new bond issuance proposals. But this discussion was a very important one to have.

Thank you to all of you who voted and who participated in the online discussions. You help make our democratic system work. Without participation by a broad swath of people, results can be determined in favor of small, organized voting blocks which may or may not represent the true will of the electorate.

I want to personally thank Hays County RoundUp's Editor Bob Ochoa for providing this platform for discussing important issues affecting this community. On behalf of his constituents in this district, I want to thank Rep. Jason Isaac for stepping up in support of taxpayers. I'd also like to thank everyone who stepped forward to assist in my efforts to more fully inform voters via Stop the Hays Tax Increase. The voters have spoken. No new DSISD taxes for 2011.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tuesday, Nov. 8 is election day

Ten proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution are on the ballot. San Marcos voters will decide races for two city council seats. Voters in Buda will decide on an increase of the sales and use tax from a half penny to 1.5-cents for the Emergency Services District. And voters in the Dripping Springs ISD will decide the fate of a controversial 13-cent increase in the property tax rate, to the highest level allowed under state law.

Polling places will be open 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Click on this link t0 download the voting locations for your voting precinct:

Click here for a map of voting locations.

Please take the time to vote. The more the merrier. Our men and women in uniform will appreciate it.

Council denies Johnson request for disanexation

Note: City Hall Briefs, written and edited by Bob Flocke to inform the citizens of Wimberley about city activities, is neither an official nor an authorized publication of the City of Wimberley. City Hall Briefs is distributed by email to anyone who wishes to receive it. Anyone who wishes to be added to the distribution list should send their email address to Mayor Flocke (below). The RoundUp has edited the Briefs for length and style.

Send your comments and questions to, to Mr. Flocke at, 512.847.5421, or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the report

The Wimberley City Council Thursday evening Nov. 3 unanimously rejected a local family's request to disannex that family's 96-acre tract of land.

In a letter to the city, Cedar Stump, LP--a Johnson family limited partnership--requested that the 96-acre Sabino Ranch be disannexed from the city. The lettter was signed by Cedar Stump LP president Scott Johnson and general partners Bill, MF and Lynn Johnson.

Provisions of the Texas Local Government Code permits general law municipalities such as Wimberley to disannex sparsely-populated areas of the city under certain conditions. The area a property owner asks to be disannexed must be at least 10 acres in size, be contiguous to the city limits, contain fewer than one occupied residence or business structure for every two acres and fewer than three occupied residences or business structures on any one acre.

Because of the property's significant size and critical location, Mayor Bob Flocke placed the item on Thursday's city council agenda for council action.

Monday's moon walk is the last of the year

The next Wimberley full moon walk will be on Monday, November 7, at 6:30 in the evening. Walkers and their pets meet at the Wimberley Cafe on the Square. This will be the last full moon walk for 2011. The walks will resume in March. The full moon walk is sponsored by the Wimberley Mayor’s Fitness Council as a fitness program for the community. All are invited to this non-competitive, family-oriented walk of about two miles. Bring your pets on leashes too.

The November full moon is the Full Beaver moon. This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty moon.

See you at the Wimberley Café on Monday evening.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

City task force begins review of ordinances, public hearing set Nov. 8

“This is the first comprehensive review of the City Code to occur since the incorporation of Wimberley more than 10 years ago.” -- Task Force Chair Steve White

Send your comments and news tips to Wimberley City Administrator Don Ferguson at or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

Wimberley residents will have an opportunity to let their feelings be known about the City’s various regulations at a public hearing coming up on Tuesday, November 8th at City Hall. Plans for the public meeting were announced this week by the City’s Code Review Task Force.

“We encourage residents to take advantage of this great opportunity to let City leaders know what they like and don’t like about the City’s various regulations,” said Task Force Chair Steve White. “We are very interested in hearing how the public feels.”

The public hearing will be the first in a series of meetings to be held by the Code Review Task Force over the next twelve months in its review of the City’s Code of Ordinances. As a result of these meetings, as well as research and other work undertaken between meetings, the Task Force is expected to make recommendations to the City Council regarding updates to the City Code.

“Many of our ordinances have been in place for almost ten years,” said White. “It is important to see what is working and what isn’t and to make the changes necessary to ensure that our regulations are working to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and guide growth and development in keeping with the City’s Comprehensive Plan.”

Members of the City Council-appointed Code Review Task Force include Steve White, Pat Rehmet, Charles Roccaforte, D’Anna Tindal and Steve Klepfer. The Task Force will be reviewing and making recommendations on the City’s existing ordinances relating to administration of the city, public works, business regulations, building regulations, and general regulations such as open burning and fireworks.

While the Task Force is conducting its review, the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission will be performing a review of the City’s zoning and subdivision codes and making recommendations to City Council regarding possible modifications to those sections of the City Code.

“This is the first comprehensive review of the City Code to occur since the incorporation of Wimberley more than 10 years ago,” said Chairman White. “It is important that the public take part in this very important process.”

The Code Review Task Force’s public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8th at City Hall located at 221 Stillwater. If you are unable to attend the hearing and would like to offer comments on the City’s regulations, interested persons can drop off written comments to City Hall or send them via email to

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stunner! State Rep. Jason Isaac says he can't support DSISD tax measure

Education is a priority for my family and the constituents I represent, but I cannot support giving more of our tax dollars to a district that should make better use of the money they already have

Note: We received this letter from Mr. Isaac earlier this afternoon. We say "Stunner!" in the headline because it is rare for a state rep to publicly step into a local tax election, especially a local school tax election. And again, because it's not considered to be smart politics. Give Isaac a hat tip for stepping forward to voice his opinion.

Send your comments and questions to State Rep. Isaac at or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the letter

Letter to the Editor

As a parent and a taxpayer in Dripping Springs, I am concerned about the 12.5 percent DSISD property tax increase on the November 8th ballot known as Proposition 2. Both of my children attend public school in Dripping Springs, and my wife and I are both actively involved in volunteering and coaching in the district. I understand the financial situation DSISD faces as well as the impact that higher taxes have on my family and the community, and I do not believe that a property tax increase is the necessary or appropriate course of action.

At a time when families and businesses across the state are spending their money carefully, it's only fair to ask school districts to examine their own expenses as well. In 2005, school districts were directed by the state to spend at least sixty-five percent of their budget in the classroom. Yet, according to Protect that Classroom, DSISD spends less than twenty-five percent of their money on teaching our students.

This means that over three-quarters of their funds are spent on administrative costs, debt and other non-classroom related expenses, way out of proportion with what the state and parents like myself expect from our schools. Although the District claims to spend close 54 percent in the classroom, that number ignores an entire sector of spending, such as repaying bond debt. Regardless of the math used, DSISD is still well below the statewide bar and should continue to strive to become a more efficient and effective district.

The district has recently laid off custodians and librarians while writing a check to the superintendent - who has voluntarily resigned - for $151,500 on his way out the door. Yet, instead of examining the imbalance between their classroom spending and administrative expenses, DSISD is turning to the taxpayers for a bailout.

I kept my promise to reign in inefficient government spending at the state level and pass a balanced budget without raising taxes this past legislative session. But, passing a significant local tax will undo any progress that we have made when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

Education is a priority for my family and the constituents I represent, but I cannot support giving more of our tax dollars to a district that should make better use of the money they already have. For this reason, I oppose the DSISD Proposition 2.

Jason Isaac
State Representative
House District 45 - Serving Blanco, Caldwell and Hays counties

Why some complain to the Travis County DA, and not the Texas Ethics Commission

Gregg Cox, director of the special prosecutions division in the Travis County district attorney office, acknowledged getting the complaint last week

Send your comments and news tip to Gary Scharrer's report (below) or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

From Texas Watchdog
Published Nov. 2 2011

More evidence today showcasing the ineffectiveness of the Texas Ethics Commission, this time from the Hearst Newspapers’ Austin bureau.

From the San Antonio Express-News’ Gary Scharrer:

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune
A typically dapper-looking member of the Texas state Senate, who often wears double-breasted suits, reimbursed his campaign after an ethics watchdog raised questions about Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay spending nearly $8,000 on clothing from political contributions.

Officeholders cannot use campaign money to buy clothing that can be used for general purpose occasions, according to a 2009 ruling by the Texas Ethics Commission.
Dave Palmer, who runs the Folsom, Calif.-based “Ethics Watchdawg,” filed a complaint against Fraser with the Travis County district attorney for allegedly violating Texas election law codes.
So why did Palmer file his complaint with the Travis County DA and not the Texas Ethics Commission? Well, he did, but it’s likely the complaint was thrown in the trash. Legislators changed the rules so that the Ethics Commission can only accept a complaint from a Texas resident or property owner.

Official: 956 Texas water systems on restrictions

The state tracks water levels at 109 of its 175 major water supply reservoirs and found that by the end of September, they were below 60 percent capacity -- the lowest level since 1978

In the meantime, Texas had its hottest summer ever recorded with an 86.8-degree average, which Nielsen-Gammon called a statistical tie with Oklahoma for the hottest in U.S. history.
Update: GBRA Gen Mgr Bill West tells the committee there is presently no water flow into Canyon Lake although the water supply is still in "pretty good" shape. Curtailments to customers will start at the end of the year if the drought persists. If the drought continues into 2012, the Guadalupe River basin will experience a new drought of record and Canyon Lake will drop below 50% of storage.

The Texas House Committee on Natural Resources began a public hearing on the drought this morning. LCRA's meteorologist Bob Rose testified the drought could last well into 2012. Other testimony: "At least for the next ten years we are going to see more dry years than wet years." Live stream broadcast of the hearing can be seen at this link:

Reprinted from Business Week
Published Tuesday Nov. 1, 2011

By Will Weissert/AP
Read the complete story

The historic drought punishing Texas has forced about a fifth of the state's water systems to ask or compel customers to follow water restrictions, while leaving 23 systems with either unknown supply levels or within six months of completely running out, a top expert told state senators Tuesday.

Carlos Rubinstein, one of three commissioners of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, testified before the Senate Natural Resources Committee that 91 percent of the state is now facing extreme or exceptional drought conditions and 956 public water systems have imposed voluntary or mandatory restrictions on water use. His commission lists 4,721 total community water systems across Texas.

Rubinstein said 55 of those have prohibited all outside watering and at least 23 are in such dire straits that officials can't determine the state of their water stocks, or believe they are within 180 days of drying up.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sam Brannon announces bid for Hays County Commissioners Court, names treasurer

"I'll keep county business in the public eye, and focused on the needs and desires of the people that call Hays County 'Home'. This community is ready for a higher standard of government."

Note: For more information, email Sam Brannon at or visit his website at

Send your comments and questions to Sam or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

For Immediate Release
October 31, 2011

Sam Brannon announced his candidacy for Hays County Commissioner Precinct 3 Sunday evening during a gathering of the Wimberley Valley Republican Group at the gracious home of Mr. and Mrs. Nick Edwards of Wimberley. Brannon is seeking the Republican nomination in the March 6, 2012 primary.

"This election is about replacing the status quo at the Hays County Commissioners Court with a new standard of fiscal responsibility, transparency and responsible development," he told the crowd of nearly 100.

Brannon successfully led community opposition against a tax rate increase in September of 2010, prompting the Commissioners Court to cut over $600,000 from its proposed 2011 budget, including eliminating the proposed elected official pay increase. A few months later he founded the Hays Citizens Budget Project, delivering numerous presentations around Hays County in order to educate taxpayers on the county's declining financial state.

Hays County's debt has risen 500% since 2006, to about $300 million today. "Our elected officials have been slow to react to prevailing economic conditions. This campaign is the next logical step on behalf of taxpayers, and so far the enthusiasm for our campaign has been very promising," Brannon added.

Brannon also explained that the Commissioners Court needs to spend more time discussing its many initiatives with members of the community before it acts. "We all value the natural beauty and quality of life that Wimberley and San Marcos offer. Unfortunately, there are a lot of decisions being made from outside of the county, and by special interests. If elected, I'll keep county business in the public eye, and focused on the needs and desires of the people that call Hays County 'Home'. This community is ready for a higher standard of government."

On Friday Brannon named Powell Hinson of San Marcos as Campaign Treasurer. Mr. Hinson, a retired CPA, also serves as Treasurer of the Friends of the San Marcos Public Library. Brannon expects to announce his campaign Steering Committee in the coming weeks.

Brannon earned his BBA in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin, and spent 17 years in business in the financial services and supply chain industries. He lives in San Marcos, Texas.