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Breaking News in Bastrop!

The City of Bastrop just filed an amended agenda item for tomorrow’s

City of Bastrop, Texas

(Tuesday, August 15) meeting at 6:30 pm at City Hall.

THE Bastrop City Council will hold an Executive Session to deliberate on the possible reassignment, disciplinary action or dismissal of the City Attorney. Whether this has anything to do with the Ethics Ordinance changes is something that we do not know.

There is also a budget workshop tomorrow night. Bastropians need to pay attention to the possibility of a tax increase. The Bastrop Advertiser, in it’s August 10th edition, did this very helpful review of a long presentation by City Manager Lynda Humble.

Got questions? Call us or see you there tomorrow. You should also be able to watch the proceedings on the City of Bastrop’s Facebook page.

YOUR CALENDARS! The Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will hold a meeting about the proposed Transfer Station slated for Highways 21 and 812 in the Cedar Creek Area. We will be calling a community meeting soon to prepare for the TCEQ meeting. For more information, please call Steve Chamberlain at (817) 360-0678. You can also read more about this and sign a petition online here.

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Ethics: City of Bastrop Test Case

Ethics Reform, Not Deform

Our commentary below is in today’s Bastrop Advertiser and is an important update on the battles over the Ethics Ordinance in the City of Bastrop. Please read and share it, and post a comment if so moved.

We hereby urge your attendance at Tuesday’s City Council meeting starting at 6:30 pm at Bastrop City Hall, especially if you are a city resident.

The significance of the ethics battles in the City of Bastrop is beyond the city’s borders. It matters to everyone living in Bastrop County because what the city does impacts on the quality of life and cost of living of all.

The Bastrop Ethics Ordinance could also become a great test case for citizens working to rein in local government from the “good ole’ boys” — aka cronyism that taxpayers can no longer afford. This is especially true in cities and counties experiencing fast growth like Bastrop and struggling to meet the infrastructure demands (roads, water, schools, etc.) for new residents. Bastrop has the extra added asset (and pressure) of an aquifer currently under the eye of private marketers and municipalities as far away as San Antonio.

In 2012, to its credit, the city of Bastrop passed a very good ethics ordinance. It wasn’t perfect — no new ordinances are. Only one complaint has ever been filed under the ordinance. The complaint was  filed last October by then Council member Kay McAnally against two other members of the Council — Gary Schiff and Deborah Jones.

It seemed to us that McAnally’s complaint was a “no brainer” test of the ordinance. Anyone who follows any city hall in Texas knows that when members go into Executive Session to discuss litigation against the city, members are not to share that information with people who are suing the city. Both members did so claiming they had permission to do so. When the Ethics Commission deliberated it was presented with a dated Attorney General opinion and a set of facts. The Commission decided to call it a draw.

What happened after that is of most concern today as the Bastrop City Council proceeds with revamping the ordinance. Jones and Schiff have been quite vocal about weakening the ordinance, along with City Attorney David Bragg. Bragg has clear ties to the “good ole boys” in Bastrop who have been ethically challenged for years — some of them even attending Council meetings under the influence.

If you cannot make the meeting on Tuesday, please consider calling or emailing the Mayor and Council membersclick here for all their information. It’s a simple ask.  Ask them to please not weaken the ethics ordinance and to make sure that the Ethics Commission’s independent authority to police — and even to recommend removal of Council members — stays in place.

Here’s our commentary — enjoy:

Commentary: Bastrop Should Tread Cautiously in Rewriting Ethics Rules

Click here for the redlined comparison between the original Ethics Ordinance and the changes released earlier this week.

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Nip it in the Bud, Bastrop

Nip it in the bud, Bastrop!

Is the Bastrop City Council fast tracking a major revamp the city’s Ethics Ordinance?

We sure hope we’re wrong, but that is what it feels like to us. A  “final draft proposal” is on the agenda of the full Council meeting tomorrow night. It starts at 6:30 pm at Bastrop City Hall. You can also watch it on the city’s Facebook page.

At the last Council Ethics Workshop held on July 11th, City Attorney David Bragg brought up two important issues. In laying out one of them he said, “I’ve never encountered the ‘good ol’ boys’”. Mr. Bragg proceeded with a suggestion that the statute of limitations for filing an ethics complaint be reduced from 1 year to just 6 months.

We’re here to tell you that Mr. Bragg has apparently never looked in the mirror. Everyone in town knows he’s a poker buddy of former Mayor Ken Kesselus.

We’re considering bringing a very important proposal to be added to the Ethics Ordinance tomorrow night. Don’t you think that Council members who come drunk to meetings should be subject to ethics sanctions? Those of us who have witnessed this for the last few years know exactly what I’m writing about.

The remainder of this is background for you…and a little entertainment.

Soon the city is going to ask an attorney to rewrite the ordinance. We already asked that the city not spend money cutting up a perfectly good ordinance and only pay for review and “tweaks”.

The good news is this. Citizens still have the option to do a petition drive to put a citizen’s ethics ordinance before the voters. We here at Independent Texans will help make this happen, if necessary.

Unfortunately, we got an uncomfortable feeling about this at the Ethics Workshop held on June 13th when Councilmember Deborah Jones called the ethics complaint against her (the first in the city’s history) “a fiasco”. Excuse us, but when a member of the Council shares with the opposing side of litigation that the city is engaged in, information learned in an Executive Session, this is clear grounds for an ethics complaint. Moreover, the Ethics Commission ruled it a draw – nothing close to a “fiasco”. That the complainant was not present made Jones’ rant, in my mind at least, just one more ethical breach.

Then came Councilmember Gary Schiff who repeatedly complained about not being allowed to share information from Executive Session with others. Why would the City Council hold an Executive Session if not to protect the city when it is facing litigation? Folks, this is a no-brainer for anyone who observes any city hall in Texas. And, please do not forget that last September Schiff tried to access over $100,000 in Bastrop Economic Development Corporation funds, that was in our view a MAJOR ethics violation. He pulled it back due to citizen outcry.

You gotta hand it to the GOBN — at least they’re entertaining.

Nip it in the bud, Bastrop! Share this message and we’ll be back with a report soon.

Submitted by Linda Curtis

 

 

 

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Democratic Populist Who Ran Against Congressman Lamar Smith in 2016 Announces He is Running for Texas Governor

For Immediate Release
Press Conference
Scheduled for:   Saturday, July 22nd

Where:     Bexar County Democratic Party Headquarters, 3000 Interstate 10 Frontage Rd, San Antonio, TX 78201
Time:                                    11:00 am

July 18th, 2017

Wakely, a populist independent Democrat threw his hat in to run for Governor of Texas

– Tom Wakely, who ran against 30-yr. Congressional Republican Lamar Smith in 2016 announced today that he is running for Texas Governor. Wakely, an economic populist who ran on a progressive agenda in 2016, stated that he “entered the Congressional campaign on the heels of Senator Bernie Sanders bid to secure the 2016 Democratic Party nomination for President. Today, I enter the Texas Governor’s race on the heels of Gov. Abbott’s attacks on labor, on women, on refugees and immigrants, on Hispanics and other minorities, on the LBGTQ community, on the poor in our state, on our environment and on our great cities. His attacks on our fellow Texans need to be responded to with the most forceful weapon we have at our disposal – the ballot box.”

Wakely went on to say, “I am entering this race for Governor not because I want to but because I have to. When I was in seminary I learned about Martin Niemöller, the Lutheran minister who was an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. He summed up perfectly my feelings and why I am running for Texas Governor. Niemöller said: First they went after the Communists, and I did not stand up, because I was not a Communist. Then they went after the homosexual and infirm, and I did not stand up, because I was neither. Then they went after the Jews, and I did not stand up, because I was not a Jew. Then they went after the Catholics, and I did not stand up, because I was Protestant. Finally, they went after me, and there was no one left to stand up for me.”

According to Wakely, the defining principles of the 2018 Texas Governor’s race are moral issues: respect for the dignity of everyone living in Texas; respect for the dignity of work and the rights of workers; the call to family and to community; the rights and responsibilities of all Texans; a preferential option for the poor in our state; valuing our fellow Texans and respecting who they are as individuals; and caring for God’s creation – the air, water and land.

“With only a little more than 22% of the state’s registered voters supporting Gov. Abbott and his tea-party brethren, I have to ask myself why are over 60% of our state’s registered voters not voting.” Wakely asked. “The answer I believe to why so many Texans are not voting is because no serious candidate for Governor has ever talked to them about the issues that matter to them.

“Well, I intend to talk to the 60% about income inequality in our state and why raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour and repealing our state’s right to work laws, will help them. If we are serious about rebuilding the middle class in Texas we need to make it easier for people to join a union, not harder. I will talk to them about how I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment but I am also a strong supporter of common sense stuff, like the need for gun violence prevention programs like background checks at gun shows. I will explain to them why abolishing the death penalty in our state makes sense. I will reach out to the 60% and ask them a simple question, does your child or grandchild have child have asthma. I will then remind them that Texas is the number one source of oil and gas methane pollution in the country. I will tell them I want to ban fracking and flaring in our state. I will also tell them we can create tens of thousands of new jobs by moving our state from a fossil fuel economy to a renewal energy economy.

“I also want to know why Governor Abbott is not supporting Texas Representative Valoree Swanson’s (R-Spring) proposal to abolish school property taxes altogether and find new revenue streams. Well, I think it is a great idea and among the many revenue streams I see available to us are scraping the state’s franchise tax system in favor of a business income tax and the legalization and taxation of marijuana. The revenue from both sources would put a serious dent in the funds needed to make our public school system number one in the nation and at the same time lowering the personal property taxes that so many of us pay.”

Wakely went on to say,

“I am running for Governor because I want to make Texas Great. After decades of abuse, the women and children of our state need someone to stand up for them. When we see so many Texans hurt and killed by senseless gun violence, they need someone to stand up for them. When we see racist legislation like SB 4 signed into law by Gov. Abbott and his support of Lt. Governor’s Dan Patrick’s effort to regulate bathroom use by transgender people in public buildings, such things leave me fearful. Fearful of the word’s that Martin Niemöller spoke so long ago, ‘Finally, they went after me, and there was no one left to stand up for me.”

Contact:            Manuel Medina, (210) 430-7943
Email:               information@tom4governor.com

 

 

 

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Elections Have Consequences, Sometimes They’re Great!

George Washington, father of our country

If this newsletter inspires you to jump in we need volunteer writers, artists, programmers, policy wonks, researchers, fundraisers, attorneys and just good ol’ organizers…we need it all, so give us a call!

Note: Independent Texans is a political action committee with our mission best expressed in the following excerpt of George Washington’s farewell address in 1797:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

In this newsletter:

  • San Antonio, Hope is in the Wind!
  • Elections Have Consequences, Sometimes They’re Good!
  • On the Water Front: Handsome Dog or Nothin’ But a Water Houndog?
  • Cedar Creek Waste Transfer Station Petition — sign-it, Bastrop Countians.

Upcoming Events!

  • Austin: If you were a supporter of the 10-1 voting system and independent citizens redistricting commission, plans are developing for Austin. Call us right away to get involved at 512-535-0989.
  • Bastrop: Bastrop City Council Ethics Workshop, Tuesday, July 11, 5 pm, Bastrop City Hall
  • Texas! Hide your wives, the Special Session starts! Seriously, we have no dog in the hunt between and internal to both parties in this 30-day session, but we’ll be paying close attention.
  • Lee & Bastrop Counties: Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District Monthly Meeting, Wednesday, July 19, location TBA.

San Antonio, hope is in the wind!

The San Antonio city council and mayoral election resulted in the election of a new Mayor – Ron

Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio

Nirenberg. That’s right, Vista Ridge cheerleader Mayor Ivy Taylor got the boot! Much to his credit, Ron Nirenberg at least took the time to travel to Burleson County last year to hear landowners’ concerns about the effects of the San Antone Hose on their water and their lives. What’s more, a number of new council members have already been raising questions about the Hose, so there is hope in the wind.

Elections Have Consequences, Sometimes They’re Great!!!

Connie Schroeder, Bastrop’s new mayor

The historic election of Bastrop’s first woman Mayor, Connie Schroeder, brought another wonderful surprise when she decided not to reappoint water marketing ally Joe Beal to the Bastrop Economic Development Board. You might remember that Beal’s latest news coverage was about his association with End Op, LP, now “Recharge”. We defy you to discover anything about who is running this outfit on their website. Two months ago, their PR man was none other than former Austin Mayor Will Wynn, a downtown developer who helped the ongoing raid on the Austin’s affordability.

Read this article in today’s Bastrop Advertiser – the good Mayor does her homework!

It was also fun watching a grown man cry — newly elected Bastrop Councilman, Lyle Nelson. Watch his touching, and very brief, acceptance speech at the 8:15 in the video.

Suffice it to say, elections have consequences and sometimes they are good ones, especially when more regular folks like us get involved like we did with petition drives for recall and more reasonable petition requirements on July 4, 2016.

On the waterfront! Handsome Dog or
Nothin’ But a Water Hound Dog (Crying All the Time)

Hydrologist Michael Thornhill showed up at the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District last week as the sole representative for “A Dog aka A Handsome Dog LLC”, a 1,000+ acre ranch in Lee County. The ranch is owned by the heirs to the Enterprise Products pipeline and oil storage empire based in Houston. Because it probably has never happened, we can’t remember the time an applicant thought it sufficient not to show up to personally ask for the privilege of a commercial-sized permit, or at least send an attorney or other authorized representative to answer any and all questions of a governmental board. Instead, the Board tolerated the “I don’t know the answer, but you have to give them the permit” responses of Mr. Thornihill.

The Dog is looking for 444 acre-feet of water every year to keep its 100+ acre “recreational” lake brim-full year round, regardless of drought. Very quickly this dog started looking like just nothing but a Water Hound Dog. The already-drilled well is within 4,000 feet of two Forestar wells but Forestar’s attorney and the manager of the company (Archway – that has little information available about) that is buying out Forestar, sat silent in the audience. Keep in mind that, under Texas water law, all landowners own the groundwater under their land, no matter how many times they are told they are not “affected” by a neighbor’s pumping because they don’t have a well in the “right” place or even if they don’t have a well at all.

What made all the difference here is that a few neighboring landowners did their homework, especially Nancy McKee. McKee’s testimony here hit the nail on the head. Read it and come to the next Lost Pines Meeting!

Cedar Creek Transfer Station/Landfill Waste

News is getting out about a waste transfer station that is seeking approval from the TCEQ to be located near 812 and Highway 21 in Cedar Creek.

Landowners in the area are organizing and have asked us to share this petition to TCEQ with Bastrop County residents.

Both area representatives – Rep. John Cyrier and Sen. Kirk Watson – have asked for a public meeting by TCEQ. Rep. Cyrier also asked for a traffic study by TxDOT. There are very serious traffic and highway safety concerns. Cedar Creek a Lost Pines GCD to take a look at this. A TCEQ meeting asked for our legislative representatives will take place sometime after the comment period closes on July 31st. Go here to make comments by July 31. Again, Bastrop countians may sign this petition and contact the circulator, Steve Chamberlain at (817) 360-0678.

On July 4th, a year ago, we initiated a petition for recall and petition rights in the city of Bastrop. Today, Bastrop is finding itself. Though we are far from done, it’s a great start. We hope to see similar results across Texas in the coming year. YOU can help!

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Austin is Not Developers’ Monopoly Board

Sign it, if you live in Austin

Austin is Not Developers' Monopoly Board

Dear Mayor Adler and Austin City Council Members:

[signature]

Why don't you share this with your friends, please:

Make Growth Pay for Itself

No Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose

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