Monday, March 28, 2011
These comments were presented at the March 28th Bastrop County Commissioners Court session. Thankfully, Mr. Miller was not present this time ’round.
Steve Miller’s passionate and rather outrageous outburst at the last Court session proved once again that ‘truth’ is both relative and subjective.
Data on the other hand, is impersonal. Like the data in your campaign contribution records, Judge McDonald, for which you and Steve Miller are ultimately responsible. There is no way to deny that the data in question was entered, signed and submitted to the Bastrop County Elections Administrator by Mr. Miller. He can rail and bluster all he wants but nothing is going to change those facts.
A comment left on the StopCTA.info blog by someone who was present that morning summarizes the events quite eloquently:
“Like any good campaign operative, Miller kept going back to his basic point about whether or not there was actually any improper influence associated with the October 2009 fundraiser at Threadgill’s and the Court’s approval of the 381 Agreement. He insisted that there was no such improper influence and he called that the ‘truth’, even though such influence cannot be conclusively proven or disproven, only alleged and admitted or denied.”
“. . . the ‘truth’ is just an interpretation of the facts, and the most salient fact in this case is that the Judge egregiously failed to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”
The fact that those contributions were ACCEPTED opens the door to speculation that there was indeed some funny business going on. The fact that neither you, Judge nor Mr. Miller, saw any impropriety in doing so is both puzzling and disturbing. How could you NOT anticipate this scenario”?
Bottom line . . . there is no way to ever know whether the questionable contributions affected the Court’s decision. But with that data on record the possibility can never be completely excluded.
In any case, attacking the messenger is just predictable political spin and posturing. On the other hand, accepting responsibility might at least earn a modicum of respect. That’s something Mr. Miller should consider doing.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
UPDATE: SB1257 has been referred to the Natural Resources Committee chaired by Sen. Fraser.
The saga of the Cottonwood Creek WCID#3 is not yet over despite the fact that the bill drafted by Rep. Strama’s office at Jim Carpenter’s request was not filed this Legislative session. StopCTA has obtained a copy of the draft for those who want to compare it to the 2009 bill which also was never filed.
Senator Hegar responded to the Cottonwood Creek controversy by sponsoring SB1257 which would provide deterrents to developers attempting to annex non-contiguous land without the blessings of the community who would suffer the consequences of unwanted, potentially harmful development. The joint Press Release with Sen. Watson explains the possible annexation scenarios that could still come to haunt Bastrop County.
The strongly worded joint letter to the Board of Directors of Cottonwood Creek WCID#3 mentioned in this Press Release puts the Board on notice to tread thoughtfully before taking any action should a proposal be submitted to them.
Hopefully SB1257 which will give some control to communities facing annexation, will work its way through the Legislature quickly. But even if it passes a major player in the final decision will be the Bastrop County Commissioners Court which has a less than stellar record regarding the Central Texas Airport.
So it looks like the Cottonwood Creek WCID#3 issue isn’t going away any time soon. We can only hope that the final denouement won’t leave Bastrop County up a creek.
Monday, March 14, 2011
These comments were presented at the Bastrop County Commissioners Court on Monday, March 14, 2011. Also, be sure to read the excellent comment posted below describing this morning’s events
Today we’re going to revisit the troublesome October 13, 2009 fundraiser that brought in over $8,000 in contributions to your campaign, Judge McDonald.
In the Bastrop Advertiser Steve Miller, your campaign treasurer, defended the windfall saying, “The filing deadline was December 31, 2009. The campaigning starts in earnest on January 1, 2010, so it’s best to prepare early.”
At first glance that sounds reasonable. However, the numbers just don’t support that defense. Before the December 31 filing deadline, before you knew you would be unopposed, almost ALL of the funds in your account had already been spent! Then in the new year, the remaining $3,250 took a big hit of $2,200 for a loan repayment on February 1.
The fundraiser which took place at Threadgill’s in Austin is a bit of deja vu reminiscent of the big Eco-Merge unveiling at the Bullock Museum far away from the actual location of the project. Just why is a Bastrop County candidate doing election business in Austin and not on his home turf?
That is possibly explained by the fact that of the 33 contributions collected at that event, only 2 came from Bastrop County. The other 31 flowed in from Austin and elsewhere in the state. In fact, of all the contributions from 2008, 09 and 10, only 4 came from Bastrop county.
The contributors roster tells yet another story. There are corporate donors, attorneys, politicians, and plenty of contractors who just might benefit from the proposed Central Texas Airport project that was under consideration at the time.
In addition to the previously mentioned $500 check from Jim Carpenter, there was another donation from Walter Tacquard the VP of Development & Construction on Carpenter’s ‘team’ and one ‘unnamed’ contribution. Mr. Miller eventually identified this ‘mystery contribution’ as coming from Klotz Associates, who according to their website ‘builds the airports that build our communities’.
All in all, it looks suspiciously like ‘outside interests’ who attended that fundraiser might have bought and paid for the County’s consideration.
The ‘funny business’ that went on that evening is quite enough to question how and why the 381 Agreement was negotiated and approved. In a perfect world it should be grounds for invalidation of any and all instruments relating to the Central Texas Airport.
There’s no better time than now to pull the plug on this ill-conceived and tainted project.
Just do it!
Friday, March 11, 2011
Sen. Hegar’s office confirmed today that no legislation for the Cottonwood Creek WCID #3 was going to be filed. The deadline for filing bills was today, March 11.
Cyndi Wight has provided an excellent discussion of the MUD issue in “Here’s MUD in your eye” immediately below this post. It is important that citizens ask their legislators to support S.B. 1257 which will require any annexation of water districts to undergo scrutiny and approvals from the annexing county. Get active and get vocal NOW!!
This may be a small victory along the way but we’re still not out of the woods. As long as the ill-conceived and tainted 381 Agreement that was signed in June of 2010 remains on the books, the county will have a sword hanging over its head. It’s time for the Commissioners Court to invalidate this instrument and to pull the plug on the proposed Central Texas Airport once and for all.
Here’s MUD in your eye
By Cyndi Wright
March 11, 2011
For Jim Carpenter, developer of the proposed Central Texas Airport, it seems like its been one stumbling block after another in his quest to establish a taxing district, or municipal utility district (MUD), to help pay for an airport, multi-renewable energy power plant and ‘green’ corporate center in western Bastrop County.
And now, because of Carpenter’s efforts to annex land in Bastrop County through an existing water control improvement district (WCID) 12 miles away in Travis County, Sens. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) and Kirk Watson (D-Austin) filed S.B. 1257 on Tuesday, March 8 – just four days before this Legislative session’s bill filing deadline – to try and tighten up the legal standard of existing Texas law that allows a district to annex other property.
In his press release, Hegar says S.B. 1257 stems from an ongoing issue in Bastrop and Travis counties, where “an entity is exploring the idea of annexing land in Bastrop County for development of the Central Texas Airport project, despite the fact that the entirety of the existing district is located in Travis County and an estimated 12 miles from the proposed annexed property.” The release goes on to say the bill was filed in an attempt to protect landowners from developments encroaching into a community without first seeking local input and support.
“There is absolutely no reason why a district should have the authority to develop land in another county before first working with surrounding landowners and the county to make certain that all of their concerns are addressed,” Senator Hegar said.