Monday, May 23, 2011
These comments were presented during the citizen’s comment period of the May 23th Commissioners Court session. Shortly after, Judge McDonald appointed Lee Dildy’s widow to fill the empty Precinct 4 Commissioner’s seat.
This courtroom seems really empty today . . .
I knew Lee Dildy for over a decade, not as my precinct commissioner but as a member of this Court. We met when the County was dealing with the Alcoa situation which dragged on for years. The Commissioner and I developed a friendly, working relationship during that time.
After that intense period, I was not seen much around these parts until the airport issue raised it’s nasty little head. When I got back on the horse, there were familiar faces around county government. One of them was Commissioner Dildy.
He called me about ten days before he died. It was a call that had been promised last October but not made all fall or winter. Over those months, that overdue phone call became quite an amusement that he and I shared before the Commissioners Court sessions.
We talked for a long time that afternoon . . . about an hour. We reminisced and shared personal thoughts. He said he considered me to be a friend and I assured him I felt the same. I can’t say that we cleared the air because, at least from my perspective, there was no air to clear. I did give him a message which he promised to pass on to the the other members of this Court. I hope he kept his word to do so.
When that cordial conversation ended, I felt a sense of peace and closure. In retrospect, it was a call that seemed to be putting things in order and saying goodby. I am very grateful that he finally picked up the phone and dialed my number.
The last of months of his life, the Commissioner had not been looking well so in a way, I was not all that surprised to hear the news but his final exit certainly left a mark! Undoubtedly for the rest of my years, I’ll be thinking of him whenever a Friday the 13th rolls around.
Unfortunately, the Commissioner’s sudden departure leaves many unanswered questions regarding the proposed Central Texas Airport project - questions that only he could answer. That is a great loss to those of us who will suffer the consequences if the project should ever move from pipe-dream to reality.
Oh well, there are other questions and other answers that will help us stop this project in its tracks. Then there’s the 2012 election when the people will have an opportunity to elect new representation for Precinct 4. We may have lost a key player but the game is far from over.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Recently, this blog has been silent and with good reason. It was finally time to tackle a hardware and operating system (OS) challenge that has been looming on the horizon for months. By the time I got through, I realized I have more skills than I give myself credit for.
Hardware is really not my thing. I even get nervous when I open the case to blow out the dust bunnies so it was pretty stressful to switch the graphics card and rearrange the hard drives. But it got done and everything works. Hallelujah!
Then came the fun part . . . installing ‘Squeeze’, the latest stable version of Debian, a Linux based OS. It’s only been a few days but so far, ‘Squeeze’ has performed nearly flawlessly and I’m LOVING it!
I started my Linux adventures in February of 2005. The first steps were daunting but it didn’t take long for Linux to became my preferred operating system. Bye, bye Windows and good riddance!!
Over the years, I tried many of the major Linux-based distributions but eventually settled on Ubuntu which is one of the many distros based on Debian code. After a few years, Ubuntu started to go places that didn’t work too well for me so, I decided the next time I upgraded my OS, I’d go to the source - pure Debian.
Just what’s so great about Linux? Well, for starts, it not Microsoft or Apple! If issues of top-down corporate control and proprietary software trouble you, welcome to the world of free and open source alternatives that are for the most part developed by a community of volunteers from around the globe. If you value cooperation, community and transparency, Linux is a perfect fit for you.
Idealism, not often in evidence in these days of money grubbing corporate rule, is a cornerstone of the Debian community as illustrated by their ’social contract’.
But apart from philosophy, a properly configured Linux system is rock solid and much more secure than the popular commercial alternatives. In fact, while Linux has not yet taken over the desktop market, Linux servers dominate and power the hosting market.
Should you decide to take the plunge, be prepared – Linux is a whole new world. You WILL be challenged! But the rewards are well worth it.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
StopCTA has posted several online responses to T. R. Reid’s op ed propaganda published in the Bastrop Advertiser on April 30. But not one of those comments has been released for public viewing.
The first languished ‘awaiting moderation’ for several days before being unceremoniously deleted.
Additional comments summarizing recent events at the Bastrop County Commissioners Court were posted on May 4th. One was an announcement that StopCTA had just received a copy of the letter that the BCCC sent to the USACE and that it would soon be posted on this very site (which it was). Those very informative comments are also still ‘awaiting moderation’ at the Advertiser but you can read a slightly different version here!
Just what is going on with the Advertiser?? Aren’t newspapers supposed to publish the news? Evidently, not in this county.
Today, two weeks after the fact, a summary of the April 25th agenda item concerning the proposed Central Texas Airport’s permit application to the USACE finally made it into the online Advertiser - Airport developers seek permit. Included in the article is all the information citizens would need to submit comments themselves. A lot of good that’s going to do because the deadline for submitting comments was yesterday!!
A conspiracy buff might think the timing was calculated to stymie citizen participation while cynics might just chalk it up to garden variety incompetence.
Maybe it’s time for heads to roll at the local rag . . .
Since first posting this we have learned that the article was actually published in the print version on May 5th. That was still considerably after the permit application filing date and it is unlikely anyone seeing that information for the first time would have been able to write comments on such short notice. Of course, there was no mention that the Commissioners didn’t learn about the application from Ronnie Moore but rather from StopCTA.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Selected comments regarding the proposed Central Texas Airport’s permit application to the USACE are posted below. Some of these documents were obtained through a May 11 FOIA request to the USACE. Others were secured independently prior to the FOIA. Only selected documents are posted. A more detailed discussion of the responsive comments is available at USACE FOIA factoids
Concerned citizens by location
Cedar Creek 1
Cedar Creek 2
Cedar Creek 3
Cedar Creek 4
Cedar Creek 5
Cedar Creek 6
Cedar Creek 7
Elgin 2 (USACE)
Elgin 2 (TCEQ)
These comments were presented during the citizen’s comment period of the May 9th Commissioners Court session.
I’d like to begin by thanking Ronnie Moore for the timely forwarding of the letter that Bastrop County prepared in response to the permit application filed by developers of the proposed Central Texas Airport. For a fleeting moment, there was a glimmer of hope that the Court might finally advocate for the people of this County. But that glow didn’t last for long.
The first reading was a bit of a shocker. The bulk of the letter is a reiteration of the County’s position as a supporting agent and primary cheerleader for the proposed project that leaves no doubt where the County’s allegiance lies. The inclusions addressing water quality approved at the last Court session were tucked in at the end - almost an after thought from which the Court safely distanced itself.
But the nugget that really got me going was the request that the Corps follow ’sound science’ in making its determination.
There are certain catch phrases that are red flags to any activist who has engaged corporate America and their regulatory henchmen. One of the most often heard is the mantra of ’sound science’. That phrase is often intoned to justify rulings harmful to the public interest or to rationalize approval of risky and unproven technologies. Of course, the ’sound science’ referred to is usually generated by the perpetrators. Hence the lack of trust when that phrase pops up.
I’m not exactly a newbie to the regulatory charade that passes for public protection. Those of you who have been at this Court for a while are aware of my ongoing mission regarding genetically modified foods (GMOs). In fact, in February 2001 this very Court sent official letters to Senators Phil Gramm and Kay Baily Hutchison, Representative Ron Paul and the FDA in support of “mandatory labeling, independent long-term health and environmental safety testing, industry product liability and more critical oversight of the technology”.
Most of my experience has been with federal agencies that supposedly regulate agriculture and food safety. While I have no experience with the Corps, just seeing the phrase ’sound science’ tells me that the County is conversant in corporate/regulatory catch-phrase lingo. Seems that you’ve been taking lessons from Monsanto and other corporate baddies that are destroying this planet and poisoning us for profit. That mentality does not bode well for the future of Bastrop County.
Perhaps the Army Corps will actually do the right thing. Or perhaps it will follow the pattern all too familiar to those of us in the trenches trying to stem the tide. Time will tell.