Friday, December 3, 2010

The REAL Culprits

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents obtained from Bastrop County regarding the Central Texas Airport have revealed an unsettling truth. One so unthinkable it was never even considered.

This is a bit complicated so let’s get up to speed. In Section 1(b) of Bastrop County’s 381 Agreement with Carpenter & Associates, the Central Texas Airport is exempted from having to adhere to the FAA’s 14 CFR Part 139 rules. These rules contain guidelines for safe operation of airports. Since airplane collisions with birds or other wildlife can cause planes to crash, these rules contain Wildlife Hazard Zone management recommendations which help to protect the safety of those in the air and on the ground. Bottom line is that the exemption says the Central Texas Airport doesn’t have to follow them. And that’s very dangerous.

For weeks we have been hammering the Court about this exemption to the 14 CFR Part 139 that puts the safety and security of Bastrop County citizens at risk. We just couldn’t understand how the vetting process missed the exemption! We tried to rationalize that Carpenter’s attorney must have slipped it in at the last minute. Or how it was overlooked in the excitement of giving away that huge tax subsidy to an operation run by someone with a less than stellar development track record.

Well, here’s the shocker. You might want to sit down.

Carpenter’s attorney sent the first draft of the 381 Agreement to the Court on August 31, 2009. There was no exemption to the 14 CFR Part 139 rules in this draft.

It took three months for the Court to complete their first revisions. The December 07, 2009 cover letter to the revisions sent to Carpenter’s attorney, explains:

“These changes are based on comments we received from the members of the Commissioners Court and other County officials. Please let me know if you have any questions concerning the County’s suggested changes and I will be glad to explain the basis for the requested change.”

A quick look at the infamous Section 1(b) in the revised document revealed an unthinkable but undeniable truth. THE PASSAGE CONTAINING THE EXEMPTION WAS ONE OF THE REVISIONS ADDED AT THE COUNTY’S REQUEST! Our very own Commissioners are the culprits responsible for the exemption!!! Do they care so little for the safety and security of the County’s citizens? Are we that expendable?

It is unimaginable that the County has said NOTHING to set the record straight in all the months this exemption has been front and center during the Citizen’s Comments at the Court sessions, in conversation with individual Court members, in the press and online. Did they really think they could keep this a secret?

We are hoping the the County or their attorney will be kind enough to offer those of us put at risk by this exemption the same courtesy offered in the cover letter - an explanation of the basis for this addition.

Then it will be time for the Court to ‘man up’ . . . to apologize to the citizens endangered by this exemption and finally, to void the 381 Agreement. That’s really the only way to make things right.

The the documents referred to above can be accessed on the FOIA page

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