Monday, November 11, 2013

Clarifying Muddy Issues

There seem to be some issues about that are pretty muddy. Some of them are recent, some are old and some of the muddiness is from confusion about the old and new issues. Probably won't clear away all the mud but can at least make a start and point to references that can help make the mud transparent.

Good place to start is with the SMD-2 City Council Seat, currently held by Marty Self. For those who haven't been paying attention I ran against Mr.Self and lost. He ran a pretty good campaign and I, for reasons not for here, didn't. I say this in the interest of full disclosure. I also need to say that when I was on the charter review committee in 2007, we looked at section 9 of the City Charter dealing with qualifications for city council and found several problems with it. The amendment that we ended up getting on the ballot was defeated so those problems are still there, which brings us to the issue at hand.

Marty Self's company, Automatic Fire Protection, is a subcontractor to another company on an airport contract. Not real surprise there. They are one of the few companies in Texas that does that type of work. This is on a contract that predates Marty's current term on council by a few years. Not likely any political favoritism was part of how Templeton selected AFP. Still, a strict interpretation of the city charter could lead one to the opinion that Mr. Self is not qualified. This brings us to the first problem with the charter section. It's very broad. There are several past council members and candidates that probably wouldn't pass such a zero tolerance interpretation. And that might be the proper interpretation, which brings us to the second problem. The one that the city attorney, among others including 3 on the charter review committee, found was that there was no real enforcement provision. No teeth. The city could, if it chose, cancel it's contract with Templeton (can't cancel a contract with AFP because the city doesn't have a contract with AFP, only with Templeton) but they didn't seem to want to start that contract over. They might even be able to force Templeton to fire AFP but that would only create delays and higher project costs. A lawsuit might be able to do it that would be expensive and divisive and divert attention from critical matters like water, etc.. An attorney generals opinion might also clarify the situation but no one within the city government can officially ask for an attorney generals opinion (here's the list of those who can). Best bet would be to convince the county or one of the district attorneys to ask for us. They would probably tell us that a local district judge could do it much quicker. In the best of circumstances OAG opinions take 3 to 6 months and will probably take a bit longer now since our current attorney general is busy getting his campaign for Governor up to speed. This approach seems unlikely to give us a timely resolution.

So what can the city do if there might be a conflict of interest or unethical conduct? Might want to look at the state law. On the AG's publications site there are pamphlets such as Traps for the Unwary, Conflict of Interest Laws Made Easy, Nepotism Laws Made Easy, and Ethics, Gifts and Honorarium Laws Made Easy. Important point is these are state level laws that all have enforcement provisions, etc. AKA TEETH. They have well defined limits and several levels of remedies. Even if our city charter had no section on ethics or qualifications Texas State law does and is enforceable.

Now I bet you're asking yourself a couple questions. You probably are wondering why the city council doesn't just put before the voters. You know, ask for a recall election. Really simple answer. The city can't. By the Texas Constitution and State election code, the city council council can't put anything before the voters unless it's specifically authorized by the US Constitution, Texas Constitution, Texas Statutes or our own City Charter. None of the allow the the city to do a recall election. Our city charter does allow for a citizen generated recall election with petitions and everything but the process is long and drawn out and the bar is set pretty high so it's unlikely that a successful recall campaign could happen before the seat is up for election again. What about a lawsuit you say? Yes, that could force the issue. Of course your tax dollars would end up paying for the lawsuit and much as I'd like another shot at that council seat real soon I'd rather San Angelo's tax dollars (my tax dollars) be spent on streets instead of lawyers. Unless Mr. Self is using his position on council to promote his business interests, I can't see wasting time on this matter. So far no such evidence has been presented.

One other point of confusion has been brought up trying to compare this situation to what we saw earlier in with Blake Wilde, son of the former head of the Water Utility. There really is no comparison. First off Mr. Wilde was not an elected official or even senior staff so the city charter rules don't apply. Second Mr. Wilde was "terminate for cause with no rehire" from working for the city. He was a direct hire of the city, not working on contract or subcontract when he was fired. We don't know if there was a conflict of interest or what caused his termination but it wasn't because he was a "subcontractor". I doubt it was because he had another, outside job. Many city employees have second (sometimes third) jobs. Normally not a problem. In fact it's often what allows some city employees to keep working for the city. We don't overpay most city workers. The questions about young Mr. Wilde were how did someone who got so totally terminated from directly working for the city end up indirectly working for the city as a subcontractor. There was, technically, no legal reason that he couldn't work for Corrallo but at the same time it kind of makes you wonder how it all happened, especially if the rumor mongers got some of  it right. Still, this is a very different situation then what we have with Mr. Self.

The other issue that seems to be a bit muddy is why SAISD didn't get their variance to water their baseball fields. From the beginning of the discussion it seemed like SAISD had chosen the losing negotiating strategy of  "Give me what I want or I'll do something you won't like." They did it with a tone deafness that came across as bullying little short of blackmail. Mr. Fleming gave the SAISD team many clues and chances to re-frame their request into something more cooperating and more sensitive to local water needs. I, in my public comments, stated I was sympathetic to the need to water the baseball fields but found their approach counterproductive and it came across to me as pretty much a poor attempt at blackmail. If they had changed there approach and reframed their request just slightly, they would have probably secured the one vote they needed to get their variance. As I've stated on another site I really think Mr. Elson from ISD needs to spend more time reading books like "How to Win Friends and Influence People" or maybe "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" and less time learning how to negotiate on school playgrounds. After all, nobody likes a bully. And the real point is we all have to make sacrifices in a drought starting with all government organizations including the city, school district, state and federal agencies, universities, etc.. Former councils may have been generous with variances but this one seems to be very serious about conserving water and doesn't respond well to poorly framed threats.

Things are probably still a bit muddy but hopefully just a little bit clearer after I've stirred things up. Or not.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I have a confession to make. An issue was on the last council meeting's agenda that makes my confession important. My name is Jim and I am a blogger. I'm sure some of you suspected this. There are clues all over the place. Being hosted by and having blogspot in the name probably made some of you suspicious but it's time to come clean. Yes, it's true. I am a blogger.

So why is this important? Well, at the last council meeting during discussion on press releases and the media it was made clear that blogs and bloggers aren't real media. They don't really provide quality information or news. They are after all only "a Web site on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences" according to merriam-webster. So blogs don't need to be taken seriously and the city shouldn't waste time with simple services like emailing press releases. The fact that they acknowledge the existence of  blogs at all should be enough. After all, it's not like they're serious news or information providers. Blogs can't be taken seriously. And this is a blog and I am a blogger.

Time to correct the record here. First off, the definition that Merriam webster has online is seriously out of date.'s definition is much closer to current usage with "a Web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites". Even there it doesn't take in the diversity of blogs. Yes, many are just personal diaries or journals with random thoughts and pictures once in a while that share personal experiences with the world. That function is largely moving to social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter with the personal blog on internet now seen as quaint. Some blogs have grown into full grown activist sites with political impact and 501-c3 status., no matter what you think of their politics, shows what can grow from just a simple blog. 

This blog as never been just about our personal experiences. There is a lot of our personal observations, opinions, and analysis here but that is very much a part of standard news and journalism. We have provided significant coverage to many elections in the past and were the first to provide internet video coverage of local political campaigns. Other news sites have since started doing that. We were the first to start covering the PILOT transfer from the water fund and no, it wasn't stopped in 2004 as some current council discussions have erroneously said. Pilot and what's on the water bill was a significant issue when Ms Farmer first ran for city council in 2005. At that time just over $700,000 was being transferred  under the name of PILOT. It took a further 3 years to phase out the PILOT transfer. We  have broke a few major news stories and been influential in several elections. We helped defeat a private prison project that could have cost the county millions of dollars. We've had lively discussions, presented many sides to many issues and been involved and had an impact on the local area mostly by being just a blog.

One of the things that upsets most is that this whole issue started because the city stopped sending out emails on press releases to an online information site that really doesn't claim to be or fit the definition of a blog. They may not interact with the cities public information office like the local news paper and tv stations do and the certainly have their own "agenda" and way of providing information and reporting and they are online but that doesn't make them a blog. Much of the same criticism could be leveled against almost any site on the internet that deals in issues and politics. That doesn't automatically make them a blog. The city certainly has the right to decide who it automatically sends press releases to but to say that some online site is "just a blog" and therefore unworthy offends me as a blogger.

Let me make something very clear here. I very much appreciate the work that Anthony Wilson and the rest of the public information staff do. They are doing a great job of getting a lot of information out to the public and making the operation of the city more transparent and most information more accessible. They've managed to work around several major limitations of the current city website design and provide information on various social media sites like FaceBook, Twitter, and youtube. They have won some well deserved awards. I have been and will continue to be critical of some of the way they interact with non-traditional and citizen journalist type of news and information providers (bloggers fit in there) and I still have some questions on how and when the new website will be online and ready. Still, they are doing a good job most of the time. It's hard not to get caught up in the normal city hall type of culture of us vs. them and insiders vs. outsiders and sometimes they slip. Still, there are good people there and I just wish they would be more careful with how they try to categorize sites on the internet. Using their logic their own website could be dismissed as just a blog. Not sure I like that at all. But then again, I'm just a blogger.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

About Time

I owe my readers (those of you left) an apology for not writing for so long. I could say I've been busy with moving into a new home and working on light electric vehicles but that's only part of the problem. I've been overwhelmed with topics and issues to write about recently. I've been stumped trying to figure out where to start. So today I'm just going to start writing about what I've seen and heard recently and what I feel needs to be talked about. Don't expect a lot of depth today. This will just set the groundwork for a lot more to come.

For now let me just say I'm disappointed in what's going on about water. First off, we still don't have a system or a city hall culture that keeps council in the loop on major expenditures and policy directions. First, the $100,000 cap on the Tri-Cities partnership payments should have been caught several different ways and wasn't. Next, the cap was put on there to ensure that council was briefed before expenses got too far out of hand and they're just now getting briefed. Furthermore, it looks like the San Angelo is probably going to get dragged into what seems to me to be a misguided project of Abilene's, the Cedar Ridge reservoir. I'm all for partnerships to deal with water (and other problems) in the region but what I fear will happen is that San Angelo, Midland, and Abilene will end up being seen as ganging up on the rest of the water users in the area. I also think it's a bit naive to think that any new reservoir or surface water source will help the water situation in the area. New reservoirs will just increase the surface area for evaporation losses and will also interfere with the natural flow to downstream water users and will likely make some water lawyers very wealthy while the rest of us water users see costs go through the roof.

I'm also not happy about the ground water treatment facility. I've heard them address at length and in detail the buildings and facilities they will build and I'm sure that when they are installed and started up they will produce safe water in a safe manner and there will be no problems with toxic waste or radiation today. What about the future? What happens in 10 years when our contract with WRT ends? What happens when a future council decides to cut costs and lower taxes by "deferring" maintenance on the treatment facility? What about the fact that we won't know the level of radiation and many other contaminants in the water until months after we've taken the samples. The iron and concrete and pipes and filters will do their jobs. What about the rest of the system, especially the human part of the system? That part that depends on the culture of city hall and future city councils?

It's said that the best predictor of future actions is past performance. Based on what we've seen so far how confident do you feel? Do I need to say more?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Report From the Eighth Seat

Well it's been an interesting week and I'm awake very early. Can't get back to sleep so I'll blog a bit and see if that doesn't help.

A lot happened at the last council meeting. Started out with a good airing of citizen concerns on the feral cat issues and a challenge to the city's sudden change of policy towards Trap, Neuter, and Release. More can be found at State of the Division. In addition during public comment, I expressed my concerns about one of the items for executive session. The third item was supposedly there "to deliberate the appointment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of the San Angelo City Manager, Assistant City Managers, all the Department Directors, and Acting or Interim Department Directors". Major problems with it as stated. First off, this appears to be a direct challenge to what is in the city charter. The city manager the council can hire and fire and discipline at will. Beyond that, the council does not do the appointment, evaluation, reassignment, etc. for the rest of the city staff and work force except for the Municipal court Judge. All of that is among the duties and responsibilities of the city manager as spelled out in sections 28 & 28a of the City Charter. In addition, this item appeared to be a discussion of personnel policy and as such personnel policy has to be discussed in open session, not behind closed doors. There are several Texas Attorney General opinions on this but the simplest place to find it is in the Open Meetings Handbook, Page #43 (49 in the pdf). There ended up being quite a bit of discussion which has been covered pretty well by the SAST and State of the Division. I will be expanding on this more in a bit. Once we got into the regular agenda, Mr. Wardlaw's two items that were mishandled on the previous meetings agenda were there as requested. They dealt with Carollo engineering and the Hickory water project.

I will be among the first to say there are problems with the Hickory project. It's expensive. It probably won't supply us with nearly as much water as they claim, and there are likely some improprieties in how this has been done. There is probably a lot there that should be looked at and investigated. So what was it that was on the agenda? An item to fire and replace our current project engineer when the project is almost completely engineered. The pipeline is almost done. The treatment plant has plans. Over 90% of the engineering has been done. And all of this was done with the recommendation of city staff, the Water Advisory Board, and approving votes from past city councils. The engineering costs are high. That's right. Just like they told previous councils and previous councils voted to approve those high costs. There are problems with the single source for the filter system. True again, but approved in open session by a previous council after staff recommendation. Mr. Wardlaw said he had 14 issues with Carollo, and he well might but only a very few were ever put forward and those that were had all been discussed and argued before previous councils and approved by majority votes. For example, the concerns with treating the ground water at the current treatment plant were discussed many times in the past but council, in May of last year, voted to go forward with Carollos recommendation and put an Ion Exchange treatment system at the current treatment plant location. The rest of his issues are probably similar but it's hard to say because he refused to give anyone a copy of his 14 issues. Not a good way to get issues dealt with.

Much of the rest of the agenda was relatively routine, but the meeting was very long and the third item for the executive session was delayed until almost the very end of the meeting, and the results were not very satisfying. We did get a short briefing from the Mayor after they reconvened in open session but there is a lot more that needs to be discussed.

It's clear that many people don't quite understand that the city manager is responsible for the day to day operation and management of the city. He is, by city charter, the CEO and runs the operation on a daily basis. He doesn't need the city council bypassing him and giving conflicting direction to staff or workers.There are very few people the council should be dealing directly with and in the end, they need to make sure the city manager can do the job, is doing the job, and not get in his way. At the same time, there is a key section of the city charter that has been ignored as of late. When it comes to staff appointments the charter says the city manager "shall appoint all appointive officers or employees (who report directly to the city manager) of the City (except the Municipal Judges) with the advice and consent of the Council (such appointments to be made upon merit and fitness alone)." They have ignored the advice and consent part of the appointment process and that needs to stop. City council has the right, and the duty to give an up or down vote of approval for every appointment that reports to the city manager directly. That's all senior staff, department directors and similar positions. Our new finance director needs to be introduced to city council and voted on instead just showing up at a meeting to give a presentation after a press release to the local paper. The city manager has an obligation to ensure that the council has enough information that they can be sure that these appointments are based on merit and fitness alone. Needs to be done. No excuses. There are a number of recent appointments that have yet to be brought before council and that needs to be corrected.

There is probably more I could be reporting on but that will have to wait for later. For now, I finally think I can get a little more sleep.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Short Observation and Question

In my ongoing research I noticed that according to the city website, there have been no scheduled meetings of the Water Advisory Board this year. The last meeting scheduled was for August of last year and the last meeting we have minutes on is from January, 2011. This has been a very important board in the past and deeply involved in the search for new water sources and planning long range water solutions. What are they doing now? Shouldn't they be very involved with the City Councils review of drought restrictions, water use and re-use and long term policies and solutions? By ordinance, the membership has special skills and input from the Chamber of Commerce that would and should be used for any water decisions. Something for the current council to look at.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Eighth Council Member

The elections are over and the results will be interesting to watch. This will be a very different council then the one we've had for the past few years.

It's been a busy couple of months for me. In addition to running for election, I've been moving into a new home. House hunting took up more time then I figured, and for a while I wasn't sure if I would still be in SMD 2. Still getting settled and I'm still in Lakeview, SMD-2.

I enjoyed my campaign although I didn't have the time to put in the effort needed to win. I enjoyed the forums and meeting voters and my supporters. I will do better if I run again. I learned a lot, especially from the news coverage, write ups and letters. I especially liked that the Standard times called me the eighth council member. Quite a compliment but it got me thinking.

It's common to refer to the press as the fourth branch of government or sometimes the fourth estate. That's because the press has the function and responsibility of keeping the public informed about the what, where, why, how and who of government and politics. It's seen as a watchdog that helps citizens keep their government under control and in check. Among the keys to open, honest, good government are the press functions information, communication, research and reporting. At the local level, that function could be called the eighth council member. I like that because the main reason I attend so many council and other local government meetings is so I can provide information and reporting. Need to do more of that then I have been lately. ConchoInfo and the other bloggers and the posters on facebook and twitter, etc. are truly an eighth council member. Wish I could say the same about our local press.

Right before early voting started the Standard Times changed the rules. With little advanced notice, SAST put up a paywall. All of a sudden content that was freely available was only available to paid subscribers. An active and popular online community of posters was effectively shutdown because even many ink on dead trees subscribers, as my fried Jim Ryan calls them, didn't have their subscription linked to their online presence for one reason or another. The online comments went from hundred each day to single digits in the middle of one of the most important local election campaigns we've ever had. This limited the access local citizens had to election information for a while until the paper move all the campaign coverage back outside the paywall. It also cut off most of the discussion and online feedback we had seen in past elections and were seeing until the paywall was erected. I realize that papers are struggling to stay in business, not to mention make a profit. I know that changes had to be made just to keep the paper in business but I do have to question the timing and wisdom of what I see from my perspective.

If I was a conspiracy buff, I could probably make a compelling case that the timing of the change was partly to influence the election. The papers editorial view point and the regular letters would still be readable but the online discussion and feedback were effectively silenced. I'm sure this change had been planned for months in advance but there is no doubt that this change directly affected the election discussion and had an impact on the outcome. Would online discussions like we had in previous elections have changed the outcomes? Would a greater participation in online discussions have affected voter turnout? Probably yes to both questions but we will never really know.

I also have to wonder about how Scripps determined what to charge for their newspaper subscriptions. I went to the scripps home page and checked the new subscriber rate for almost all the papers they have. At $15.99 for printed and $14.99 for online only, the Standard Times is the most expensive paper to subscribe to in their chain. The next highest one was Memphis, TN Commercial Appeal at $14.99 and $13.99. The rest ranged from $10.99 to $12.99 for the dead tree edition, and charged $9.99 for online only access. San Angelo has one of the lowest per-capita pay rates of any newspaper market, and yet the Standard Times charges one of the highest rates of any paper for online access. I'm afraid they are pricing themselves out of the majority of the local market. This change in subscriber model and recent price hikes could actually hurt their bottom line. I'd be willing to bet that online traffic whether measured by page views or click thru's or what ever measure you choose are down and when the traffic goes down advertiser revenue goes down and advertising dollars are still the dominate way a paper make money.Same thing applies to the printed edition.

At a more fundamental level though, it seems the paper is resigning from participation as part of the eighth council membership in favor of being mostly about marketing and entertainment. Seems to me there were many ways the paper could have derived revenue from online services and still had a free, open forum and information exchange on the political and government issues of today. Until they figure out how to do that ConchoInfo and the rest of the local bloggers and online community will be happy to fill the need for the eighth council member.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Apology ,etc

Just to lighten the moment, I have been home day hours for two days. I had been up all night, does this happen to everybody? Every twenty minutes the phone is going off!

Couple of comments there, I will at least be polite to people but the recorded voice is telling me "This is an important call for" That's about far as that conversation goes; if it were an "important call" there would be a live human on the other end. I don't talk to machines.

Mr. Turner came close to pulling my last comment, and I would not have blamed him if he had. He runs this shop, I just write once in a while. It has been our policy not to endorse candidates.

I thought the election exceptional enough to break the rules. I should not have. We discussed and agreed on those rules for good reasons.

And just for fun, vehicles used to run into one another. What is this new thing about running into buildings?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


My last post, too long ago, I dodged endorsements. I had not met all candidates then.

The Standard-Times editorial committee reminds me why there is the old saying, "A camel is a horse designed by a committee".

Starting with SMD 1, Mr Aguirre seems to have that. Banskter has effectively withdrawn, Richardson is not really running and Fleming is about the only candidate I have not met at one of the many forums.

SMD2; the S-T endorsement of Self puzzles me. Yes, I am a long time friend of Jim Turner, but over the last 11-12 years, he has attended more Council meetings than a good number of elected Councilmen. His current knowledge of issues is way past anyone else's. I'm not bashful about speaking to Council when my day job allows it, but Turner could move from the comment podium to the dias seamlessly. I do not recall tripping over Mr. Self at many Council meetings. Turner and I do Capital Improvements meetings, budget meetings, if ANYONE reads that raw data dump the Council Agenda Packet has turned into, it's us. I know damned well Council doesn't read 300- 500 pages of mostly crap. Possible run-off here.

SMD4; Here I part with the Tea Party. Sally has been a consistent spokesperson for an under-represented segment of San Angelo voters. I do NOT see a pinko-leftist conspiracy, I do see people who have done a lot of good, especially in home building and renovations. Sally deserves a seat at the Table.

SMD5: Here I must disclose, I have been both friend and treasurer to Pratt. Her first effort a year ago, she was a rookie, seemed to think a fresh face would carry the day. Whole new world. She has a good grasp of issues, was the first candidate to mention Street Maintenance Sales tax, which other candidates seem to be jumping on like a starving chicken on a fat Junebug. Pratt is better prepared this year and asks advice when she does not know. Pratt is retired early, and it wasn't a Lotto ticket. She offers a 24/7 Councilmember. I see this as a likely runoff in a 4 way race.

SMD6: Two years ago, I think I surprised Farmer by commending her decision to run again. We had had some disagreements, but she competently represented her District by and large. This time I have to go with Don Barnhart. The Tea Party Forum, Farmer dropped the name of "Val Verde" as a possible water source. It had been agreed in Council Executive Session that no one mention that until negotiations were concluded. That mere mention might run up the price. Farmer is odds on favorite, but I have to go with Don.

Mayor: again for disclosure Dwain Morrison is a personal friend and I attend Church with him. He is not the "oldest rat in the Council Barn" for no reason. Dwain has consistently tried to defend the "little" guy against the city staff. Yes, he has often been the only dissenter, but I view it that he is trying to manage City money as carefully as he does his own. If we get fat on the oil boom, maybe we talk about a river fountain then. Meantime, I want good streets, good pipes, maybe even moving down in our property tax ratings statewide! What a concept. I have already voted for Dwain because he shares those basics. Might get a runoff here.

The turnout for early election has been, oh disssapointing would be an understatement. Now I chewed out Shoemaker for her DOJ election suit on details, BUT one point I totally agree with: Voters should vote in the same polling place in May as they vote in November. You have them jumping from one foot to the other every 6 months, it's hard enough to get 20% when voters knew where to vote. Of course the result has been to supress the vote!

If we are very lucky and a lot of voters stir off their buns, we might, I stress MIGHT see 10,000+ votes, about 20%, and that's 20% of registered voters, not the 95,000 residents.

I confess, I am a lifelong political junkie, and I don't expect all voters to be that wrapped up in an election.

Saturday is the deal. Last chance. Even if your candidate loses, voting is your license to bitch about it. You don't bother to vote, don't even tell me about it next year.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Sunday Ramble

First I guess has to be the upcoming elections. Rather interesting don't you think? we have 19 candidates for six of the seven seats on Council. Sunday the Standard-Times will finally put about that we have a School Board race, district 4, the first time since 2007 we have even had a contestant or an election. I want to thank every candidate. I know better than most the commitment of not only money but personal time running a race requires. I am one of the locals who will have only one vote, for Mayor, I live in Johnny Silvas' SMD3 and he simply continues in office.

At this time I withhold endorsements; well you might reasonably guess I support my friend Jim Turner; but aside from the obvious, I'm just happy to see well contested races all around. I hope the usual candidate forums come up with some way to accomodate the sheer numbers, give them each a chance to speak and take questions and not last until 2:00AM!

In a rare nod to government efficiency: I just recieved my first ever passport. Never needed one before, but I applied Feb. 9 and was told it would be 6-8 weeks. It came in the mail yesterday, call it 3 weeks, a pat on the back to the State Department.

Speaking of the mail. USPS is running unsupportable deficits and has announced it will drop Saturday regular delivery. It will not be enough. I gotta ask; if it came to it could you live with 3 day a week delivery? Now think, how much of your daily mail ends up in File 13, and how much regular mail is next-day critical? The Post Office is a critical binder. Constitution Article 1, Sec 8, right under counterfeiting, "to establish Post Offices and postal roads". I believe the very first Act of an American Congress was to fund this. It's one thing to talk about private competition, and that works well in populated areas, but what Congress had in mind was the remote farmer 10 miles outside East Undershirt Kentucky; he should be served as well. One of the few "subsidies" I support. I don't want to pay that farmer to grow or not grow corn, but I'll help get the letter from USDA telling him the corn check ain't coming in his mailbox. Then he'll know it's time to start moonshining his corn. That assumes he isn't already.

The first internal military action,1794, was to supress the "Whisky Rebellion", actually in western Pennsylvania, at the time the edge of the wilderness. A cash-strapped Congress had had the temerity to impose a tax on booze! An economic reality of the time, it was more efficient for farmers on the edge of the new nation to turn corn into ethanol and ship a couple barrels east than to sack up the raw corn and pay freight for several wagonloads. They were understandably honked off. It really didn't amount to much, a few shots fired here and there, and a revenooers house burned. Still unclear whether anyone was actually killed. In the face of 13,000 Federal militia, it did not take long for the frontiersmen to realize  it was cheaper to melt away, and duck the revenooer on the black market than to go to war. What it did do was establish Federal authority. Today's world, you decide whether that was a good thing or not.

As to the moonshiner/revenoorer dispute, it was the great-great-great granddaddy of a sport we call NASCAR.

Just in case you think San Angelo streets are bad (OK, they are) you should read the original specs for a postal road. No stumps higher than 14 inches left between the ruts among others. Could be a challenge for a Humvee!

Enough for now, but Coming Attractions...I hope by then to have met more candidates and in the history part I will explain something you didn't learn in high school civics: The War of 1812, the only time we have been invaded by a foreign power, was in part over marijuana. OK, hemp, but..

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Very New Year

We are at the beginning of a brand new year and it promises to be very different. We will end up with a new Mayor and we might just have a real election in the process. Councilman Morrison is going to run for Mayor, which means someone else will have to fill the SMD 2 seat. I will be running for that seat. This blog will still be active, and I will be posting on issues from time to time but in keeping with our policy of focusing on issues not candidates I will not be using this blog for my campaign. I will set up a separate website/blog for that purpose. This blog will not endorse candidates, even me, for office. ConchoInfo will be a part of the election because the reality is my platform and issues and reasons for running have been stated on this site since 2004. What I campaign on will include what I've been saying here from the beginning. That won't change.

This will be an exciting, eventful year and the upcoming elections promises to be very important for the future of our city. Change is in the air.

A side note to Buffalo. I didn't approve your last comment yet because I thought you might want to publish it here after a little tweaking and editing. This is where it would be the most appropriate and on topic. Let me know if you want it here or there.

Again, this promises to be an interesting and exciting new year. Have a great one.

Jim Turner