Monday, June 13, 2011
These comments were presented during the citizen’s comment period of the June 13th Commissioners Court session. Once again StopCTA was alone in representing opposition to the airport. That’s unfortunate because today provided a significant milestone for reflection and commentary - the infamous 381 Agreement was approved exactly one year ago!
After nearly seventy years on this planet there isn’t much that doesn’t qualify as ‘been there, done that’. Over decades, cyclical patterns become familiar and a ‘big picture’ that can help put what’s happening in Bastrop County into perspective begins to emerge.
There are a lot of folks who are frustrated with the reality that an airport, about which they have no say, might destroy both their personal lives as well as a peaceful river valley. But those of us who’ve been around for a while have observed this kind of displacement and destruction for decades at home in the US and around the globe. It’s just that this time we’re on the receiving end. It’s euphemistically called ‘progress’ or in our case, ‘economic development’.
One way of dealing with the fear and anger is to target the perceived perpetrator. The object of choice in this county is currently the airport’s developer, Jim Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter’s colorful history certainly has all the makings of tabloid fodder. But that kind of titillation isn’t gonna put the brakes on the airport. So what’s the point . . .
Besides, Mr. Carpenter’s resume certainly didn’t stop this Court from partnering with him to the tune of a 30 year 75% tax rebate via the 381 Agreement signed exactly one year ago. Targeting the Commissioners Court is a more logical choice since you not only inked the deal but are supposedly representing your constituent’s best interests, the operative word being ’supposedly’.
Here’s the lesson. The nightly news is filled with stories of corporate scoundrels and the political, legal, administrative and media flacks that serve them. They are definitely running the show and we have very little to say about it. In a few choice words . . . ‘it’s the system, stupid’.
An even broader perspective would point the finger at ‘human nature’ which all too often turns down the wrong path out of greed, emotion or confusion leaving a wake of misery and destruction. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon either.
So what can be done when all too often imperfect decisions are made for imperfect reasons by imperfect beings? Acceptance that the world and its inhabitants will always be unpredictable, fraught with suffering and stubbornly deaf to our wishes. Detachment from the whole contaminated mess is a logical conclusion that not only reduces stress but opens a space within which well-thought-out actions just might make a difference.
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.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Well, the Carpenter team has managed to score yet another chance to present their well-worn arguments in an unchallenged format. Their first opportunity was the infamous April 2009 presentation at the Bastrop County Commissioners Court. When the opposition asked to be heard, they were promised an opportunity in some nebulous future that never materialized. We are still waiting. Now we have requested equal time at the Advertiser. It looks like that’s not going to happen either.
Everything in Mr. Reid’s infomercial has been debunked repeatedly by well-informed citizens so no need to do that again.
In addition to the sheer size and intensity, the most obvious aspect of Mr. Reid’s spiel is the timing which makes it appear to be more an act of desperation than any thing else.
As readers of this blog are aware, on March 25, a permit application was submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers for work on the proposed Central Texas Airport. Thanks to Tom Thompson’s vigilance, we all knew about it on the day it was posted.
However, the Bastrop County Planning Department kept it quietly tucked away and under wraps for nearly two weeks. We were also told the County had no plans to submit comments on the application. Outrageous!
Interestingly, neither the Commissioners nor the Judge had been informed that the permit application even existed until StopCTA let the cat out of the bag. Copies of the document were immediately distributed to all concerned.
At the Court session on April 11th, StopCTA challenged the Court to defend the public’s interest by submitting CRITICAL comments to both the USACE and the TCEQ. It was an offer they couldn’t refuse.
At the next Court session on April 25th, The Commissioners agreed not only to submit comments but we were under the impression that those comments would include information that could make the approval process more troublesome for the proposed CTA.
In addition to the Court, StopCTA has been networking to get word out to all stakeholders in the County’s future none of whom were aware of the permit application. So now comments seriously challenging every aspect of the application are flowing in to the regulatory agencies.
The Carpenter crew and their friends in the Planning Department might have thought this was going to be a slam-dunk but watchful citizens and other entities aren’t going to let that happen.
Note that none of the above events were considered to be newsworthy by the Bastrop Advertiser.
Friday, February 18, 2011
It’s more than laughable that Judge McDonald has the nerve to say that he bases his decisions on ‘community input’ when there was ZERO opportunity for the public to participate in decisions regarding the CTA.
Airport opponents lob questions
By Cyndi Wright
February 18, 2011
Opponents of the proposed Central Texas Airport project voiced their concerns in commissioners court on Monday, including one who pointed out that County Judge Ronnie McDonald accepted a campaign contribution from CTA developer Jim Carpenter and another who spoke of a 2009 lawsuit in which Carpenter and two businesses he was associated with were found guilty in a jury trial of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.
In a prepared statement, Candace “Sister” Boheme called it “funny business” that, according to campaign records, McDonald’s campaign accepted $500 from Carpenter.
“Among the list of notable contributors is the one and only Jim Carpenter, who donated $500 to the cause,” she said during citizens comments at the meeting. “The question is, whose cause? Yours or his? Or are they the same?”
She also pointed out that from January 2008 to the end of June 2009, McDonald’s campaign received $1,700 and all of 2010 brought in roughly $2,000.
“But something very strange happened in the last six months of 2009,” Boheme said. “Nearly $12,000 worth of strange. Those contributions started flowing in just weeks after the 381 agreement had been delivered to the county.”