Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Moore Is Less

The unfortunate debacle today (12/27/10) of Planning and Development Director Moore and Judge McDonald continuing the ’spin’ that the citizens and tax-payers of Bastrop do not deserve a public hearing on the CTA/Eco-Merge fiasco should be considered the low-point on the ‘Democratic’ process in our county.

They would have us believe that Texas Civil Statutes exist which differentiates on what subject matter may be discussed in a public hearing.

Show us, or shut up about it . . . period.

The argument is moot anyway, because when Director Moore placed a restrictive covenant within the 381 Agreement with Carpenter & Associates that will allow the facility to be built and operated in a unsafe manner, this disagreement is no longer about financial or utility concerns, it’s a public safety issue . . . period.

Just ask yourself this: Is a low-flying tax-abatement, water, or wastewater line going to impact your home at 200 MPH?

Of course not.

But a 737 that just sucked ducks or geese into its engines, and is now falling out of the sky will.

Now, when your Bastrop County Commissioners Court tells you that you may not question their decisions in a public hearing upon this issue, they are not acting in the public interest in any form, shape, or fashion, regardless of what their new ‘Mission (of Desperation)’ statement says.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Bastrop County legal team of Dewy, Cheatham, and Howe will come up with to justify the ’spin’ of that ‘August’ body to the public safety issue.

The truth would be nice. . . for a change.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

These comments were presented at the December 27th session of the Bastrop County Commissioners Court. FOX 7 News said they were going to be there but stood us up!! Maybe next time . . .

There’s a lot going on in Bastrop County these days and its becoming more and more surreal. It’s as though the County has fallen down the rabbit hole to another dimension where up is down, left is right and nothing is quite what is seems. Obviously we’re not in Mayberry anymore.

First we had the whole eco-merge, greeny goodness spin coming from Carpenter & Associates.

Now the County is trying it’s hand at the art of spin. Let’s take a look at the the newly penned ‘Mission, Values and Objectives’ statement that now graces the wall outside this courtroom. It’s right up there at the top of the the spin-o-meter chart. Just how do all those noble ideals line up with the reality of what’s gone on with regard to the Central Texas Airport? Let’s take a look.

The ‘MISSION’ statement opens with these words:

‘To promote the health, safety and welfare of our citizens . . .’ In light of the 381 Agreement with Carpenter & Associates for the Central Texas Airport, perhaps a better rendering would be ‘to promote the health, safety and welfare of our corporate financial partners’.

Then comes the treasure trove of spin titled ‘VALUES’:

‘ACCOUNTABILITY’ promises ‘. . . accepting responsibility for our actions . . .’ OK, Judge McDonald . . . if you practice what the Mission statement preaches, just when are we gonna have that public hearing?

‘STEWARDSHIP’ suggests ’striving to make the most efficient and effective use of our natural resources’. The focus on using rather than preserving is very telling and disturbing.

Onward to ‘COLLABORATION’, which’ extols ‘Actively seeking citizen participation . . .’ You have got to be kidding!! Not one ordinary taxpaying citizen was consulted or asked to participate in any part of the CTA approval process. Instead, this airport has been imposed on us unilaterally by this very Court via the 381 Agreement.

The ‘MISSION’ statement closes with a list of ‘PRIMARY OBJECTIVES’ which offers more unkept promises:

Just how does an airport located within a Wildlife Hazard Zone ‘Provide for the safety and security of our citizens’?

Just how do toxic chemicals, acres of tarmac, screaming jets, increased traffic, plummeting property values etc. ‘Protect the environment and our quality of life’?

The entire ‘Mission’ statement reeks of strategy from a corporate attorney or clever marketing consultant. Just who are you trying to convince? Well, we see right through all of it and we’re not buying what you’re selling. Actions do speak louder than words.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mission spin: part 2

Let’s continue an examination of the ‘Bastrop County Mission, Values, and Objectives’ by considering the ‘Our Values’ section.

‘Integrity’, ‘Accountability’, and ‘Respect’ deserve special attention because without these three, the remaining five ‘Values’ are just window dressing.

INTEGRITY: ‘Practicing honesty and ethical behavior in our dealings with one another and with those who entrust us with the governance of the County’.

Webster’s definition of integrity is: ‘Being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity’. Now, would anybody who has followed the CTA/Eco-Merge fiasco, and read the Freedom of Information documents which have been made partially available to us, really believe that any ‘moral principle’ was followed when the Commissioners negotiated and approved the 381 Agreement behind closed doors? How does a decision made without any public input and which may ruin hundreds of people’s lives uphold the integrity that is professed?

ACCOUNTABILITY: ‘Accepting responsibility for one’s actions.’

Just how does that phrase square with the video evidence of Judge McDonald promising a public hearing for citizens on the CTA, and then, after repeated requests from citizens for him to honor the promise, he tries to convince the people that he was speaking about a MUD, and not the entire project?

RESPECT: ‘Treating others the way we would like to be treated.’

How respectful is it to leave those who would be most affected by the CTA project completely out of the negotiating equation? Why weren’t the people of this County treated with the same consideration as Carpenter & Associates? The Court has given citizens of this County zero respect and endangered the future of many in the process. If only the Court practiced what it preached.

Bastrop County, as the rest of the United States, should operate on a system of representative Democracy which mandates that our elected officials carry out the wishes of the electorate and seek their input on issues that may materially affect their existence. Attempts to undermine this system are usually prefaced by ’spin’ designed to make you think you’re getting exactly that, when you’re only getting a corporate sow’s ear dressed up like a silk purse.

Are the ‘Bastrop County Mission, Values, and Objectives’ spinning too fast for you to read?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mission spin: part 1

Bastrop County recently approved an official ‘Bastrop County Mission, Values, and Objectives’ statement. It is now posted near the entrance to the Bastrop County Commissioners Court.


View larger image

Let’s examine the first paragraph: ‘Our Mission’ as it relates to the Central Texas Airport/Eco-Merge fiasco.

‘To promote the health, safety and general welfare of our citizens, to preserve the history, culture and natural resources; and to serve as trusted stewards, providing County services in a professional, courteous, ethical, and fiscally responsible manner.’

Would siting an airport within a FAA-recognized Wildlife Hazard Zone that may bring down aircraft on a school or subdivision due to bird-strikes be considered promoting ‘the health, safety, and general welfare of our citizens?’

Would siting an airport in the middle of twenty established subdivisions be considered promoting ‘the health, safety and general welfare’, when many residents may suffer condemnation and vastly reduced property valuation?

Would the removal of safety and environmental regulations by Bastrop County’s ‘trusted stewards’ to facilitate airport construction and operations be considered ‘professional’, or ‘ethical’?

The answer to these three questions is no, no, and a resounding NO!

The performance of the Commissioners Court on these, and many other aspects of the Central Texas Airport/Eco-Merge fiasco, does not live up to the standards of the ‘Mission’ statement, and should be viewed for what it really is.


And we all know what ’spin’ used to be called.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Public forum brouhaha

On April 13, 2009, the Bastrop County Commissioners Court granted Jim Carpenter an opportunity to present information about the proposed Central Texas Airport and possible legislation to create a Municipal Utility District (MUD) to support the project.

The County and City of Bastrop had been aware of the project for several months but the public had been kept out of the loop until just prior to the meeting. The citizens of Bastrop County were not pleased and many attended the SRO event.

At that presentation, someone from the audience asked the Court if citizens would have an opportunity to express their concerns publicly at a later time. The judge hemmed and hawed and conferred with Commissioner Dildy and when pressed, blurted YES, there would be an opportunity to do that.

Now fast forward to 2010. In June just over a year after that presentation, the Commissioners entered into a 381 Agreement with Jim Carpenter which included a 75% 30 year tax rebate for the airport. The good citizens of the County were never offered the opportunity to express their concerns about the deal in a public meeting as promised by the Judge.

However, demand for a public meeting has continued during the citizen’s comment period at the Commissioners Court sessions. On November 22, the demand prompted an impromptu hallway meeting with the Judge. He tried to explain that he MEANT that the meeting was for the MUD though MUD was not referenced in proximity to his 2009 promise. His fancy semantic two-step around the issue just doesn’t ring true in light of the recording of the presentation.

So the Judge didn’t keep his word and the 381 is a done deal. Do politicians ever keep their word? If the citizens who attended Carpenter’s presentation had pressured the Court immediately following that presentation, things might have been different. But they didn’t and now that ship has sailed. Let’s get over it, move on and not let another opportunity slip by.

The Bastrop Advertiser report of this Court session was never published online but you can see a scan of it here.

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