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.

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.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Airport proponents silent

Private airport proponents fall silent
By Davis McAuley
December 16, 2010

Bastrop, TX - When the Bastrop City Council met Nov. 9 it heard a presentation from developers of the proposed Central Texas Airport, planned for some 1,500 acres west of the city between the Colorado River and the intersection of FM 969 and FM 1704 south of Elgin. City officials have heard nothing from the developers since, however.

Developers, led by Austin-based Carpenter and Associates, asked for Bastrop’s consent to annex the tract to an existing water control district and for support to change state law to give the water district additional powers when Texas lawmakers meet in Austin next year. Proponents said the airport will create thousands of jobs and boost tax revenues of the Bastrop and Elgin school districts.

After hearing from the Carpenter group and a number of opponents who live in the proposed airport area, the council decided it would consider the project only on certain conditions, including a requirement that proponents pay the city’s cost to engage expert consultants to evaluate the proposals.

In an interview today Bastrop City Manager Michael Talbot said the city has heard nothing from the Carpenter airport group since the November meeting. He declined to speculate on what that silence might mean.

Under current state law, the city’s consent is required for the creation of new taxing districts in Bastrop’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ), which includes the proposed airport site. The Legislature, of course, could decide to revise or revoke the city’s ETJ powers in some future session.

Talbot said the city would “respond appropriately” to any such effort in the upcoming legislative session beginning in January.

Friday, December 24, 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?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The city’s responsibility

Part 2: The city’s responsibility
By Cyndi Wright
Bastrop Advertiser
December 20, 2010

Part 2 of this series examines what the City of Bastrop can do regarding regulating development, such as the proposed Central Texas Airport, inside its extra-territorial jurisdiction.

The City of Bastrop’s ETJ stretches west from the city almost to the Travis County line. That’s a lot of area for hungry developers to contemplate turning into profitable growth.

For Mayor Terry Orr, there are many things to consider when a developer comes knocking – much of it revolving around compatibility.

“Is it compatible with the area around it – as far as other businesses and residential?” he asked. “Is it compatible with federal, state, county and city regulations? And last, but not least, is it compatible with the environment?”

And another important part of the equation is getting as much input as possible from the citizens who might be impacted by the development.

“The city does not do its business in a back room,” he said. “We would have full public hearings about something of any magnitude.”

[Read More…]

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