Monday, April 30, 2012

Commissioners Court's consideration of Jacob's Well master plan delayed

To all interested: Hays County Commissioners Court will NOT take up consideration of the Jacob's Well Natural Area Master Plan at its Tuesday May 1 meeting. Previously, the RoundUp reported the plan most likely would be on the court's May 1 agenda, according to county grants administrator Jeff Hauff. Hauff told the RoundUp, "I can almost assure you it would be the May 1 meeting." Alas, it did not make it on the agenda. We have a note in to Mr. Hauff and Commissioner Will Conley asking for the reason for the delay.

The master plan, with its estimated cost of $3.6 million, lately has taken on renewed interest from alert citizens. Some are expressing concerns that the master plan, as drafted, will lead to over-development of Jacob's Well and contradicts basic preservation principles for natural areas.

Go to this link ( to download the JWNA master plan presentation, including proposed projects and expenditures, as presented at a March 28 public meeting in Wimberley.

House Public Education Committee hearing on ticketing of students

Update: Hearing was adjourned at 4 pm

A public hearing of the Texas House Public Education Committee is now being held. Subject is school district ticketing of students . . . some as young as 6 years of age . . . largest number of tickets issued are for disruption of class, disruption of transportation, disorderly conduct. Teacher from Austin High School: "Sometimes it takes a citation to drive home the point of the seriousness of education . . . grades don't motivate a lot of kids." Now livestreaming. Anyone interested, go to this link: click on realplayer video under Committee on Public Education.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rally aims to reignite women's rights movement; panel says Texas education is falling on the job

Rachael Stuhr, 18, came to the rally from Houston with her mother – a veteran of the women's rights battles of yesteryear – and left with a greater understanding of the need for younger women to get involved, she said

Send your comments to the story links or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the post

By Kate Alexander
Austin American-Statesman, Texas (MCT)

Read the complete story

AUSTIN, TX (Saturday, April 29) – Thirty-five years ago, Ann Merritt was one of the 20,000 people at the National Women's Conference in Houston for the glory days of the women's rights movement.

On Saturday, the 75-year-old Merritt came to a rally at the Texas Capitol to protest what she said is the erosion of those hard-fought rights in recent years.

"We were asleep at the switch," said Merritt, who lives in Wimberley.

And the recent political fights over funding for Planned Parenthood, women's access to contraception and new restrictions on abortion have been a "wake-up call to women," Merritt added.

The rally drew, according to law enforcement estimates, about 1,500 people to the south steps of the Capitol with the aim of reigniting a political movement. United Against the War on Women events were held Saturday in almost every state and Washington, organizers said.

Leaders say Texas isn't educating a modern workforce 

San Antonio Express-News | By Jennifer R. Lloyd (Friday April 28) – Asked whether Texas is appropriately educating enough future professionals to meet workforce needs, some speakers at the Texas Lyceum on Friday responded with a resounding “no.”

The Texas Lyceum, a nonprofit organization aimed at addressing big-picture issues, gathered about 75 opinion leaders in downtown San Antonio this week to troubleshoot the question “Education, the Workforce and our Economy: Is Texas on a Path to Prosperity or Peril?”

“The state of the state is dire, and it surprises me that more people among the leadership of the state ... aren't urgently concerned about it,” said panelist Kay McClenney, director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. “Texas is leading the way in precisely the wrong direction.”

McClenney pointed to America's shrinking middle class as an example of that direction. She said a large percentage of the jobs that will be available in Texas in future years will require a post-secondary credential. “That gap in terms of our preparation of (future workers) and what the state will need is growing wider, not narrower,” McClenney said.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

In Pct. 3 commissioner's race, Conley takes a rain check at latest 2 candidate forums

Brannon: "Voters want a Commissioner willing to stand and face them, rather than ducking and running . . . "

Just 30 days away from the May 29 Republican primary election, some political odds-makers are placing the race between incumbent Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley and challenger Sam Brannon at about even. Brannon continues to plug away at the high debt and spending incurred by the county during Conley's two terms in office and Conley continues to avoid debating Brannon one-on-one. After fumbling his first debate with Brannon in March, Conley decided to take a rain check at two more recent candidate forums – April 22 hosted by the San Marcos Area Republicans and April 26 hosted by the Wimberley League of Women Voters. It's no surprise, really. Campaign playbooks clearly warn that if your candidate can not honestly account for his record, you avoid debates and facetime with roomfuls of likely voters as much as possible. 

Brannon released this statement after Conley's no-show at the April 26 League forum: "He doesn't want to have to defend his record in front of his constituents. That's understandable given his record, but avoidance and attack campaigns won't help him get re-elected. Voters want a Commissioner willing to stand and face them, rather than ducking and running. The nasty attacks from his camp are actually bringing people our way. We're picking up voters every day, and are building the momentum for a win on May 29th." 

Send your comments and questions to, Mr. Brannon at, Mr. Conley at or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the video

Sam Brannon campaign website:
Will Conley campaign website:

Here's a video of Brannon speaking at the Sunday April 22 San Marcos Republican forum . . .

Remember to check your voting precinct, location – and no, there are NO constitutional amendments on the ballot

Early voting starts April 30 for city, school elections; May 14 for primaries
Contact: Laureen Chernow
Hays County Communications Specialist
Office: 512.393.2296, Internal 1-2296

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – Hays County Elections Administrator and Voter Registrar Joyce Cowan is reminding voters to check their precinct numbers and polling places before heading to the polls for early voting.

“Because of redistricting, many precincts have changed boundaries, and you may not be in the same precinct you were in during the last election,” Cowan said. “The delay in finalizing redistricting has also caused several elections throughout the county to be held almost back-to-back, with each election having different locations for early voting. This could cause some confusion among voters.”

In addition, the County Elections Department, which was previously on Broadway Street in San Marcos, is now at the Government Center at 712 South Stagecoach Trail in San Marcos (more info/map), on the north side of Wonder World Drive. At the Government Center, voters should follow signs directing them to the entrance designated for voting.

The County has complete voting information, including sample ballots, at The Elections Department can also be reached at 512.393.7310.

Upcoming elections include city and school districts on May 12 (early voting April 30 through May 8) and primary party elections May 29 (early voting May 14-25). Primary runoff elections will be held July 31 (early voting July 23-27) unless changed by federal courts. The Secretary of State Office also has information at

No Homestead Amendment on May Ballot;
Old Email to Blame for Causing Confusion

As May elections approach, Hays County Elections Administrator and Voter Registrar Joyce Cowan said that her office is already getting calls about an out-of-date email erroneously urging voters to take action on a statewide constitutional amendment on homestead exemptions.

“There are no constitutional amendments at all on the May ballot,” Cowan said. “An old email from 2007 is circulating again misinforming voters that there is a constitutional amendment on the ballot that could change the homestead exemption. That amendment was passed in 2007 and has been in effect since then and is not part of the May elections.”

Hays County has posted sample ballots on its website at as well as additional helpful information about the elections. The Elections Department staff is available to answer questions at 512.393.7310 or in person at 712 South Stagecoach Trail, San Marcos. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Four from Wimberley are candidates for PEC board of directors

Ballots, candidates’ biographical information and voting instructions will be mailed to all PEC members by May 9

Press Release
Pedernales Electric Cooperative
CONTACT: Kay Jarvis (830) 868-4961

At its April 16 Board meeting in Johnson City, Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors announced that eight PEC members will run for director positions in the 2012 Board election.

The Cooperative’s membership will elect directors for Board districts 1, 6 and 7. There are three candidates running for the district 1 position, four candidates running for the district 6 position, and one candidate running for the district 7 position.

The following candidates, listed in the order they will appear on the ballot, achieved nomination by getting the required 100 member signatures and completing other official paperwork:

–  Director, District 1: Mark Mayfield, Marble Falls; Cristi Clement, Marble Falls; James P. Halbert, Burnet
–  Director, District 6: Larry Landaker, Wimberley; Linda Kaye Rogers, Wimberley; Mike (Doc) Cantu-Withoff, Canyon Lake; Michael Donegan, Wimberley
–  Director, District 7: Dr. Patrick Cox, Wimberley

Ballots, candidates’ biographical information and voting instructions will be mailed to all PEC members by May 9. The order of candidates on the ballot was determined by a random drawing conducted by representatives of Survey & Ballot Systems (SBS), the independent company managing PEC’s balloting.

PEC will be holding five events where members can meet Board candidates and hear them communicate their credentials, experience and views. The first event will be held Thursday, May 3, at 5:30 p.m. at PEC headquarters, located at 201 S. Ave. F in Johnson City. Each candidate will have four minutes to address topics of their choice, and video of the May 3 presentations will be posted to PEC’s website. Members in attendance will have the opportunity to speak with candidates after the presentation portion of the forum. 

Four additional “meet the candidates” events will be held at PEC’s offices in Kyle (May 15), Bertram (May 16), Marble Falls (June 5) and Sattler (June 6). Each of these events also will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Also on the ballot this year is a member vote on amendments to Article VIII of the Co-op’s Articles of Incorporation. Article VIII, Section 1 requires PEC to set aside funds each year in a reserve to pay any interest and principle that may be owed during the next year. This reserve is to be set aside after PEC pays all costs — including principle and interest on borrowed funds.

Because PEC already pays all owed interest and principle each year, the Co-op’s Board and management propose eliminating the Article VIII, Section 1 mandate and adding the payment of interest and principle as an allowable use of the general reserve required by Section 2. This would give PEC the flexibility to use extra funds to pay back or avoid debt, distribute capital credits to members, or to use toward other necessary Co-op expenses.

Members will be able to vote by returning completed ballots to SBS by mail using the included prepaid return envelopes or by voting online through SBS’s secure website. Mail-in and online voting must be completed by June 15. Ballots will not be accepted at PEC’s offices. Members also will be able to vote in person at PEC’s annual meeting June 23 in Kyle, where election results will be announced.

More information about the PEC election is available at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Voter registration cards arriving in the mail; make sure to check your voting precinct

The new cards will show registered voters their new voting precincts for city, county, school and special districts as well as congressional and senatorial precincts

Courtesy ramparts360
Contact: Laureen Chernow
Hays County Communications Specialist
Office: 512.393.2296, Internal 1-2296

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan has announced that new voter registration cards have been mailed out to Hays County registered voters, beating the April 25 deadline set by court order. The new cards will show registered voters their new voting precincts for city, county, school and special districts as well as congressional and senatorial precincts. Mail-in ballots were also placed in the mail prior to their April 14 deadline.

“Hays County has undergone redistricting in just about all of its voter precincts,” Cowan said. “Voters should pay close attention to their new voter precinct numbers because in many cases at least one and possibly more of their precinct numbers have changed.

“You might find yourself with a slate of candidates different from the one you expected because you are in a different precinct than you were prior to redistricting,” Cowan said. “In some cases, incumbents and challengers have decided to seek election in different or newly created precincts rather than the ones they’ve been associated with previously.”

Cowan noted that polling sites will be changing in many instances. “Remember that polling places selected by the County are for County office elections as well as congressional and senatorial elections. Cities, school districts and special districts (such as emergency services and groundwater districts) have also undergone redistricting, and you may find yourself in new districts for those elections, with different polling places than you have previously used.”

Upcoming elections include city and school districts on May 12 (early voting April 30 through May 8) and primary party elections May 29 (early voting May 14-25). Primary runoff elections will be held July 31 (early voting July 23-27) unless changed by federal courts.

Sample ballots, polling locations, and precinct maps will soon be online at

If you are a registered voter but don’t have your voter registration card, you will be able to vote by presenting one of the following:

– A driver's license or personal identification card issued to you by the Texas Department of Public Safety. You may also bring a similar document issued to you by an agency of another state, even if the license or card has expired;
– A form of identification that contains your photograph and establishes your identity;
– A birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the person’s identity;
– Your United States citizenship papers;
– Your United States passport;
– Official mail addressed to you by a governmental entity; or
– A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.

The Hays County Elections Department is at 512.393.7310 or For additional voter information from the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, please visit

Early voting for May 12 city election begins April 30; resurfacing of Mill Race Ln to proceed after mediation fails

Wayne Acton, a sergeant with the Morgan's Point, Texas, police department will begin his duties as Wimberley city marshall on May 1

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).

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

Early voting for Wimberley's May 12 municipal election begins Monday, April 30. The voting schedule is as follows: Monday April 30 2012 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.; Tuesday May 1 through Friday May 4 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.; Saturday, May 5 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.; Monday May 7 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.; and Tuesday, May 8 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. On Election Day, Saturday, May 12, voting is from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. All voting will take place at the Wimberley Community Center. Places 2 and 4 on the council currently held by Mac McCullough and Steve Thurber and the Mayor's seat currently held by Bob Flocke are up for election. 

April sales tax receipts up 28 percent

Wimberley's April sales tax receipts from the state comptroller's office were $37,187.65, up 28 percent from the same period last year. ApriI sales tax receipts represent sales in February. Seven months into the current fiscal year, the city's sales tax receipts are up six percent from the same period in FY 2011. 

Council votes to resurface Mill Race Lane

At a special meeting on March 22, the Wimberley City Council unanimously voted to direct the city staff to develop a plan for resurfacing Mill Race Lane in the downtown area. The council also directed the staff to brief residents on the street on the plan before beginning work.

The vote came in open session following an executive session in which the council met with its attorney to discuss recent mediation efforts among the city and two opposing groups of residents. Because the mediation led by an outside mediator hadn't drawn the parties any closer to a solution, the council decided in its open session to proceed with plans for resurfacing.

Place 2 Councilman Mac McCullough was present at the beginning of the session but opted not to participate in the executive session and did not return for the following open session in which discussion and the vote took place. The vote to proceed was 4-0. 

New city marshal to begin work on May 1

At a special meeting on April 10, the city council agreed to hire Wayne Acton as the city's new marshal. Acton, a sergeant with the Morgan's Point, Texas, police department will begin his duties on May 1. The search for Wimberley's second marshal included more than 50 applicants and two rounds of interviews. 

Plant The Park II set for Saturday, April 28

The City of Wimberley and Friends of Blue Hole are planning a second Plant The Park Day, Saturday April 28th, from 8:30 – 2:30. Please volunteer if you are able, and let your gardening friends know about this opportunity to see improvements to the upper level of Blue Hole Regional Park. Bring work gloves, a cold drink, and garden tools to the park. Work involves planting new plants as well as removing non-native invasive species. Horticulturalists will be on hand to supervise and help.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

County, city of San Marcos joint meeting set April 19 – roads, water and health services on the agenda

Discuss transportation projects and opportunities in Hays County including but not limited to the City Transportation Master Plan, Hays County road projects, and issues related to the Lone Star Rail District . . . 

Note: Attendance and feedback are encouraged for this special meeting. 

Press release from Hays County | Tuesday April 17, 2012  2:12 pm
Contact: Laureen Chernow
Hays County Communications Specialist
Office: 512.393.2296, Internal 1-2296

Notice is posted pursuant to the Texas Open Meetings Act. (VERNONS TEXAS CODES ANN. GOV. CODE CH.551). The Hays County Commissioners Court will hold a meeting at 5:30 P.M. on the 19th day of April 2012, at the Hays County Government Center, Room 1001-1004, 712 S. Stagecoach Trail, San Marcos, Texas. An Open Meeting will be held concerning the following subjects:


Joint meeting of the Hays County Commissioners Court and the City of San Marcos City Council
1. Discuss opportunities regarding Services offered and/or performed by the City and County including, but not limited to: Vitals Statistics, Health Services, and Regional Dispatch.
2. Discuss the San Marcos Comprehensive Plan, Downtown San Marcos, and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) No. 5.
3. Discuss transportation projects and opportunities in Hays County including but not limited to the City Transportation Master Plan, Hays County road projects, and issues related to the Lone Star Rail District and the proposed LSTAR commuter rail service in Central Texas.
4. Discuss water-related issues for the City of San Marcos and Hays County including but not limited to the City’s participation in the Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA), Hays County’s participation in the West Travis County Public Utility Agency (WTCPUA), and activities of the Hays County Water and Sewer Authority.
5. Question and Answer Session with Press and Public. This is an opportunity for the Press and Public to ask questions related to items on this agenda.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jacob's Well master plan expected to go before commissioners court at May 1 meeting

Altogether, the plan estimates total expenditures topping $3.6 million. Where the money will come from is anybody's guess

Send your comments and questions to, to Jeff Hauff at or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the post

Hays County Commissioners Court is expected to take up consideration of the much anticipated Jacob's Well Natural Area Master Plan at either its Tuesday, April 24, meeting or its Tuesday, May 1, meeting, according to county grants administrator Jeff Hauff.

Overall site plan (click to enlarge)
"I can almost assure you it will be the May 1 meeting," Hauff told the RoundUp Monday.

Commissioners will vote to accept the master plan as proposed or postpone action for later consideration. Citizens may have their last opportunity to weigh in during the public comments portion of the meeting.

"Right now this is just kind of the first step for the concept, kind of a guideline," Hauf said. "We fully expect phasing (in) over the years to come, and fundraising."

The master plan includes cost estimates for development of a north tract and a south tract of the Jacob's Well Natural Area, comprising about 81 acres. The larger north tract is where most of the development would occur with a parking lot and driveways, structures (including interpretive center), hardscapes, a play scape, furnishing, signage, planting and irrigation, site work and utilities, mobilization, insurance, 10% contingency, etc., for an estimated cost of $3,374,250.00. Similar work is proposed on the smaller south tract at an estimated cost of $273,581.00. Altogether, the plan estimates total expenditures topping $3.6 million. Where the money will come from is anybody's guess. Sources say selling the voters another round of parks and open space bonds is not likely to happen any time soon and taking money from already tight county general revenues will be a hard sell on commissioners court.

Last August, commissioners hired RVI Planning and Landscape Architecture of Austin to lead the master plan effort. Commissioners placed a cap of $94,500 for the consultant's cost. Hauff, whose office is acting as overall planning coordinator for the county, said the total cost should come in just under the cap.

Two public input meetings were held this year in January and March. You can find the links here for a summary of the January meeting and the March 28 Jacob's Well Master Plan presentation.

Following are members of the JWNA stakeholder group:

Winton Porterfield, appointed by County Judge Bert Cobb; Naomi Narvaiz, appointed by Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe; Jim Camp, appointed by Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones; Sara Dishman, appointed by Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley; and Pamela McAfee, appointed by Pct. 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant; David Baker and Jeff Vasgaard with the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, Jimmy Skipton and Dr. Joan Jernigan with the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, Andrew Sansom with Texas State University River Systems Institute, Rachael Ranft with The Nature Conservancy, Wimberley Mayor Bob Flocke, Eric Eskelund with the City of Woodcreek, Commissioner Will Conley (Woodcreek North), and Gary Amaon with the Hays County Parks and Open Space Advisory Board.
Bob Ochoa

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hollon answers Mark Key's 'attack piece' on the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association

. . . somehow, we must come together to work on the goals we have in common. We are dealing with REAL STUFF here, our community’s extraordinary groundwater and flowing spring resources

Cypress Creek
Editor's note: Jack Hollon has served a combined 26 years on the boards of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. He currently serves as president of the WVWA board. He retired from the HTGCD board in the spring of 2010. Hollon is a much respected voice on water conservation. His response to Mark Key's article (scroll down to "The story that won't go away") is, hands down, an excellent and eloquent defense of Jacob's Well, Cypress Creek and Blue Hole and their importance to the local ecology and economy. But there's another side to this coin relating to the details of the county's and the WVWA's funding and contractual relationship over the years, details still not fully reported nor explained. Perhaps Hollon or the WVWA can address the flip side of the coin in a follow up. A long range development plan for the Jacob's Well Natural Area is expected to go before commissioners court soon for consideration. The plan may come with a price tag of more than $3 million – over and above the nearly $5 million already contributed by the county. According to Hollon, the sources for possible future funding for Jacob's Well have yet to be identified. We have a feeling this story will linger large for a while longer.

Send your comments and questions to, to Mr. Hollon at or click on the "comments" below the post

Guest commentary 

By Jack Hollon

On April 3, RoundUp Editor Bob Ochoa posted an article by Mark Key, a board member of the HTGCD. The piece attacks the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and its Executive Director David Baker for working with Hays County to direct some of the County’s Parks and Open Space Bond Fund toward purchasing and protecting land around Jacob’s Well, the great Trinity Aquifer spring that is the source of Cypress Creek.

For background we should note that the bond fund received a huge majority vote from Hays residents when it was proposed, and the Jacob’s Well Natural Area was later ranked one of the top projects in the county to receive a portion of the funds. Add in the Blue Hole Regional Park and swimming hole downstream and the value of these iconic water resources goes off the chart. 

The cool clear spring-fed creek, winding its way through Woodcreek and Wimberley between cypress-lined banks, accounts for a good share of the Valley’s quality of life: beauty, culture, economy, recreation, property values, and the very identity of those who live here. Wimberley without the Creek is unthinkable. At least it was before the last couple of decades, when the combination of pumping demand for development and recurrent periods of drought began to shut down the flow:  2000, 2009, and 2011 saw the worst episodes.

In Ochoa’s introduction there is a puzzling quote from the piece, comparing some WVWA expenses for legal and environmental categories, without any context. This renders the comparison meaningless unless one is going for a knee-jerk reaction to “legal.” He also comments that the story “won’t go away.” That does seem true for Mr. Key and his obsession with the project and with Mr. Baker, who used to serve with Mark on the HTGCD Board, where they had substantial disagreements on policy. The idea that the non-profit WVWA actually pays Mr. Baker for his work as executive director seems to upset Mr. Key. I have also served on both those boards: for WVWA since its creation in response to drought in 1996, and on the HTGCD Board for the first ten years of its existence. 

I am confident of two things. First, Mr. Baker is justly paid for the excellent work he does for all of us here in protecting our water resources. He holds one of the most complicated and demanding jobs I have ever observed closely. Those who attended last November’s hearing (before the Texas Water Development Board Examiner, in Wimberley) concerning WVWA’s appeal of the decision by GMA-9 to allow a 30 ft. drawdown in the Hill Country Trinity Aquifer over the next 50 years will know what I am speaking about. You saw the result of David’s organization and hard work – arranging for the presentation of local history, law, hydrogeology and other scientific evidence, community leader testimony, and computer modeling results – to help us make sense of the “desired future conditions” process and what that DFC would mean for this specific area.

Second, Mr. Baker’s salary comes entirely from funds raised by the WVWA in grants and member donations. None of it is taxpayer money from Hays County; that goes to purchase the land and for certain maintenance expenses at the new Jacob’s Well Natural Area.

I do thank Mr. Key for pointing out that my individual share (as a resident of Hays Co) of the bond funds going to purchase the JWNA is $29.91. I consider that an excellent investment and am willing to pitch in a few more dollars each year to support staffing and programs there, so we can bring school groups, conduct tours, continue restoration, and maintain this extraordinary place. Many potential partners are also willing to help in this way.

I must observe that the two organizations, HTGCD and WVWA, have a huge area of overlap in their missions. The “GC” is for “Groundwater Conservation,” a central part of the very name of the District. And that idea/goal is central also to the mission of WVWA. So, somehow, we must come together to work on the goals we have in common. We are dealing with REAL STUFF here, our community’s extraordinary groundwater and flowing spring resources. These treasures are under extreme threat and in dire need of intelligent and considered investment and management. Mark Key’s article had not one word to say about these special places and resources that need our attention and protection.  He seemed totally focused on imagined motives, law suits, enemies, division, and most of all money.

We need to meet in respectful conversation, to work on these water supply and “creek problems,” aimed at insuring that in future summers our grand kids can still have the experience of “flying across Blue Hole” on a long rope swing suspended from a well-watered cypress, and splashing into cool clear flowing water.

That is our Vision and our Hope.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Letter: Why would the sheriff spend $100,000 to bulletproof his office?

"I have been told it will be the only bulletproof sheriffs office in Texas . . ."

Sheriff Gary Cutler
Editor's note: Well, we're knee deep into primary election campaign politics so it's no surprise that unpleasant stuff about the candidates is going to start hitting the fan. Here's a letter to the editor from Frank Morgan of Buda who verified to the RoundUp he is the author and his information is well sourced. We clearly remember back in the 2010 election for sheriff, then Sheriff Tommy Ratliff received a few well-timed low blows himself. That's not to say Mr. Morgan's letter constitutes a low blow, it certainly raises some legitimate questions. Current Sheriff Gary Cutler beat Ratliff in 2010. Ratliff is back and challenging Cutler in the May 29 Republican primary election. The winner will become the next Sheriff of Hays County since there is no Democrat in the race. The alleged incidents involving the San Marcos businessman and the Ratliff for Sheriff sign are worrisome, not the kind of behavior we expect from our top law enforcement officers. And the alleged $100,000 bulletproofed sheriff's office? It makes you wonder what security issue the sheriff has to justify such a large expenditure. We welcome a response from Sheriff Cutler or his spokesman. 

Send your comments and questions to, to Sheriff Cutler at or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the letter.

To the Editor: 

What is going on at the Hays County Sheriff's Office?

I have been told by a San Marcos businessman that Sheriff Cutler and Captain Davenport of his office asked the businessman's employees to remove a Tommy Ratliff for Sheriff sign from his property. Captain Davenport also approached a relative of the businessman at a ball game and told him his relative needed to remove the sign and replace it with a Cutler sign. What is this about, are they trying to intimidate people or are they feeling worried about their re-election? Either way this is unprecedented. I have been involved in political campaigns for nearly forty years and I have never heard of anything like this.

More disturbing is the fact that recently Sheriff Cutler had all the sheet rock around his office replaced with Kevlar sheetrock to bulletproof his office. When the bulletproof glass is installed the taxpayers of Hays County will have spent over $100,000 to bulletproof his office. I have been told it will be the only bulletproof sheriffs office in Texas. What is he afraid of? He took an oath of office to protect the people of Hays County, not for the taxpayers of Hays County to protect him. No other Hays County Sheriff has wasted the taxpayer's money in such a ridiculous fashion. I hope everyone remembers this on Election Day.

Frank Morgan
Buda, Texas

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Texas primary loses influence with Santorum's exit

Now, Santorum's exit from the race "make(s) the Texas presidential primary moot," said Allan Saxe, associate professor of government at the University of Texas in Arlington. "It is set: Gov. Mitt Romney vs President Obama for the heavyweight championship."

Read more here:

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
via Pushjunction
By Anna M. Tinsley
Published April 10, 2012

Read the complete story

Texas could have been a king maker.

If the stars had aligned at the right place and the right time, Texas – and its 155 Republican delegate votes – could have made a big impact in the presidential race.

But now that Rick Santorum is out of the race, the Lone Star State and its May 29 primary election date may simply be relegated to a mere footnote in the story about the 2012 presidential election.

. . .  "Dr. Paul is now the last – and real – conservative alternative to Mitt Romney," Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton said in a statement. "We plan to continue running hard, secure delegates and press the fight for limited, constitutional government."

Gingrich, who landed Texas Gov. Rick Perry's endorsement, praised Santorum's bid and asked Santorum supporters to join his campaign.

In other news:

Read more here:

By Peggy Fikac
San Antonio Express-News

AUSTIN (April 10, 2012) — The Texas Ethics Commission spends too much time focusing on small mistakes at the expense of big violations that warrant audits and investigations, government watchdogs told a panel reviewing the agency Tuesday. “You're catching the minnows and letting the sharks go by,” Tom Smith of Public Citizen told the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission of the current system, faulting not the Ethics Commission but impediments including a lack of funding.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

FUN break: How 'Saturday Night Live' and other comedy shows influence the political narrative

[I]t reinforces the prevailing conventional wisdom about Romney — (that he will believe in anything you want him to) . . .

Join in on the comments at the 'complete post' link or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the video 

Posted by Chris Cillizza
Washington Post | The Fix
Published April 9, 2012

Read the complete post

Yes, this is a comedy show. And yes, it airs at 11:30 p.m. (10:30 central) on Saturday night when many people — including, often, the Fix — are already long asleep. But, it would be a major mistake to underestimate the influence “SNL” and other comedy/news shows can have on the perception of Romney (or any other politician).

The obvious example of the influence of these shows on politicians’ images is the Tina Fey impression of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin during the 2008 race. Fey’s take on Palin — as a flighty, political gunslinger, proud of what she didn’t know — became who the former Alaska governor was to many Americans. Fey’s Palin became a sort of cultural icon — so much so that Palin herself referenced the impression during her stint as a co-host on the “Today Show” last week.
Most people in the country still have little sense of who Romney really is. The process of the next few months will be for his side to introduce him in a positive light even as President Obama’s campaign seeks to cast him in a negative light.
Shows like “Saturday Night Live” will participate in that introduction process too.

 SNL's spoof on Romney from its Saturday night April 7 show, for sh*ts & grins. We can think of a number of local politicians who would make great characters for an SNL skit. (If it's slow to load, let it play to the end and replay. Viewer discretion.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

happy Easter

In the news: 

GEORGETOWN, Texas | Huffington Post By Jim Vertuno (Sunday, April 8 2012) – Thousands of worshipers turned out for an outdoor Easter morning service featuring an appearance by New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow at a central Texas church. Tebow was scheduled to speak Sunday at Celebration Church's "Easter on the Hill" service on a rolling grassy field about 20 miles north of Austin. The event had the feeling of a rock concert with hundreds of school buses shuttling crowds to the sprawling megachurch from nearby shopping malls. The church invited people to bring lawn chairs and blankets for the two-hour service under sunny skies. Read the complete story. 

Mega Millions: Do Lotteries Really Benefit Public Schools? Washington Post By Valerie Strauss – State lotteries that participate in games such as Mega Millions were sold to the public as enterprises that would benefit schools with millions of dollars in proceeds a year. So has public education really received a windfall?

If you look at the payouts from lotteries to schools, you might be impressed by the numbers. In California, for example, all lottery donations to public schools from kindergarten through college, total $24,018,713,472 since 1985. Yes, that’s $24 billion. K-12 schools alone have received a total of $19.3 billion. It makes you wonder how some California public schools have had to hold bake sales to keep the lights on, doesn’t it?

In fact, in state after state, where lotteries send millions of dollars to public education, schools are still starved. Why? Because instead of using the money as additional funding, legislatures have used the lottery money to pay for the education budget and spent the money that would have been used had there been no lottery cash on other things. Public school budgets, as a result, haven’t gotten a boost because of the lottery funding.

In Texas, where the lottery was sold to the public, as in other places, as a fun game that would reap big rewards for public education, according to the American-Statesman, in 1996, “lottery proceeds paid for about two weeks of schooling for Texas students.” By 2010, the money covered barely three days.

Forty two states plus the District of Columbia and the U. S. Virgin Islands participate in the Mega Millions game. So, yes, a lot of money goes to public schools from the lotteries. But no, the money doesn’t do what it was promised it would by any means.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The story that won't go away: Jacob's Well, the county and 5 million bucks

In 2010 the WVWA spent $48,317 on legal fees, but just $29,741 on environmental education 

Jacob's Well
Note: We had pretty much consigned digging any further into the county's generous contributions to the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association/Jacob's Well & Co. to the dead horse pile – until this e-mailed update arrived a few days ago. It is written by Mark Key of Dripping Springs, a member of the board of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. Mr. Key told the RoundUp he spent considerable time doing his own research on the subject (and can vouch for his information) before sending his report and accompanying commentary to a handful of people and county officials. It seems this story just won't die. Over the years, commissioners court has approved expenditures of nearly $5 million for preservation and expansion of the Jacob's Well Natural Area. After the last $1.7 million grant in 2010, critics began to take notice. Questions were raised of possible contract fraud and sweetheart deals for the WVWA and others. Some questions have been answered, many remain unanswered. And we have yet to see an independent accounting of the county's transactions or the WVWA's use of the public funds. County Judge Bert Cobb rejected the idea of an independent investigation soon after he was elected to office. We welcome comments from any of the parties mentioned. 

Send your comments and questions to, Mr. Key at, Mr. Conley at, Judge Cobb at, Mr. Baker at or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the post 
  Mark Key, center
When all is said and done, it appears the Solyndra environmental scandal will cost every single resident of Hays County around $1.69. The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) led by Executive Director David Baker has cost every resident of Hays County $29.91.

While most Americans have struggled the last several years, Mr. Baker has enjoyed a 68% pay increase from 2007 to 2010.

Brief catch-up for those who have not followed this:

One of the last acts of the lame duck commissioners court in late 2010 was to spend $1.7 million of our tax dollars to buy 50 acres to stop development of a condo project near Jacob's Well. They then appointed the WVWA to be the manager for three years. WVWA then agreed to "give" the County 31 acres where the well is located.

Wow this sounds great!! But once you look a little deeper the deal is rotten.

First off, we already paid for the "donated" 31 acres – in 2008 the same commissioners court voted to give the WVWA $3 million dollars (Feb. 26, 2008 Court minutes) $2.6 million went directly to the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association to retire debt and $400,000 for future management. The $2.6 million was to bail WVWA out after they could not repay a private $2 million dollar loan on 46 acres (31 acres included in this amount) that included Jacob's Well and Baker's hotel, Dancing Waters Inn.

WVWA did give the land with the well on it to the County but kept access easements for guests of Dancing Waters Inn. The 15 acres that the County already paid for in 2008 they kept. Does this seem strange to anyone? WVWA gave up all the liability and maintenance of the well property, but kept the Inn where rooms rent for $200 to $225 per night. Dancing Waters Inn is considered a nonprofit and does not pay property tax.

The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association is a non profit, seems like someone forgot to tell David Baker. In 2010 the WVWA reported paying him $77,962. David Baker lists his residence as 1405 Mount Sharp road (according to 2010 voting records), which according to County records is owned by the WVWA. WVWA also pays electric service, trash service, and water and sewer service. I know this because WVWA submitted bills to the County to try and be reimbursed for these expenses.

There is also $10,027 for insurance, employee benefits $6,980 and travel expenses to the tune of $4,684, which is funny because he (Baker) claimed to live at the well site.

Before Baker discovered the "Non Profit" route to riches, he tried the above-mentioned Inn and at one point filed paper work to bottle and sell Jacob's Well spring water.

The reason the County had to step in and buy the 50 acres was because David Baker was once again in danger of losing the well  property, for making commitments he could not honor. Tax records show in 2010 WVWA paid $50,500 to the plantiffs (Condo developers) and $35,962.00 to lawyer Malcom Harris. Malcom Harris also sits on the board of WVWA.

Of particular concern is that while David Baker was making money as an employee of WVWA he was also vice president of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD). He consistently voted against projects that would compete with his employer.

By far the most controversial decision was when David voted against Wimberley Spring Partners (WSP) re-opening an existing golf course in Wood Creek. It was learned during the HTGCD meeting that WSP had been seeking a permit for 6 years and David was the one who killed it. After a majority of the HTGCD board approved the WSP permit, WVWA filed a petition to protest. When the HTGCD denied that petition for not filing in a timely manner according to district rules, Baker and Jack Hollon (WVWA board president and long time HTGCD director) decided to sue the Groundwater district (HTGCD).

Folks, I kid you not, they are suing the district because they could not follow rules they helped write.

The $1.7 million dollar land purchase isn't the first time the County has come to the rescue.  The County had to help mediate another lawsuit in July of 2008 by providing special counsel Mark Kennedy, a member of (county) Environmental Health Department, Commissioner Will Conley and County Judge Liz Sumter. This was done in Executive Session and I could find no results of the mediation.

In 2010 the WVWA spent $48,317 on legal fees, but just $29,741 on environmental education.

Why, you ask, does Baker and the WVWA protest so many things and seem so eager to sue? Simple: donations. When they are not receiving millions from the County, they solicit donations. When things are going great people don't donate, but when they create an "enemy" or a "crisis" they are able to raise more money.

Here is the truly sad part of this whole story. As has been shown, WVWA has gotten a lot of tax payer money, HTGCD also receives tax payer money, $125,000 from Commissioners Court last year.

So....The people of Hays County are paying to sue themselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, please call or write your County Commissioner and ask them not to give another penny to the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, and to remove them from managing Jacob's Well.