Thursday, April 14, 2016

Solutions to the Aubrey water system for all residents-

When the Aubrey mayor and city staff came to the city council with a proposal of 5.5 million dollars of additional debt to expand our current water system, I was understandably concerned. I hoped that other solutions would be considered, unfortunately that was not to be the case. My initial ideas centered on developing a relationship with Mustang Special Utility District. When I floated the idea of Aubrey completely getting out of the water business and selling our system to Mustang, I was surprised that most of the citizens I spoke with thought it was a good idea.

In light of what has come to our attention regarding the dilapidated sewer system in the old part of town, selling our system to Mustang may the only option that makes sense. This would prevent the spending of the 5.5 million dollars, as well as wiping out the 2.7 million that Aubrey already owes on the water/wastewater system. That’s a swing of 8.2 million dollars of debt that would be erased. Additionally, I feel that we could get more than that for our system, including money to repair the horrible Aubrey streets and negotiate the required upgrading of the aging sewer system, this appears to be the only way that these things will get repaired in our lifetimes anyway. Considering Mustang's water rates are almost 30% lower than Aubrey's, it would result in lower water bills for our citizens.

Under the current Aubrey plan, 5.5 million dollars of debt will be used to build new water infrastructure and over the next 4 years the rates will increase another 20%. However, there is no provisions to provide permanent repairs and upgrades to the existing water system. The city has known about these problems for decades but has never been able to “afford” to repair the sewer system in the older part of town. Yes, that is correct, we’re spending 5.5 million to expand the water system, when we can’t afford to maintain what we’re currently responsible for.

In 30 days this argument will be null and void. Once the bonds are issued there is virtually no turning back. Dramatic and courageous steps need to be taken by the Aubrey city council. Otherwise the citizens who live in the older part of town can expect to have raw sewage running through their yards for years to come, all the while their rates are growing higher and higher to make payments on the bond.  It makes no sense for us to spend 5.5 million dollars on one hand, and tell those who live on the older part of town that we cannot afford to repair their dilapidated sewer system on the other.

It seems that some of our council members have completely missed the point on this issue.   While the 5.5 million dollar expenditure is not insignificant, the most egregious act of the Aubrey City Council is not repairing the dilapidated sewer before expanding the system.  I know that some of those on Aubrey City Council have publicly declared that they have not made a decision that they cannot "live with”.  But I wonder if the people who have to deal with the raw sewage running through their yards can "live with" their decisions.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Thin Skin Politicos

I've often been surprised with the thin skin of most politicos. You'd think in order to get elected that most of them would have had to deal with some level of criticism. However, a lot of our public officials just simply cannot take criticism of any kind. I think that one of the biggest problems we have, no matter what level of government, is that officials do not fully understand the impact of their decisions, or how those decisions effect real people. 

Whether it's your local officials or higher level, every decision that an official makes has an effect on people. We would hope that more people were positively affected than negatively. However, with most laws, they seem to only benefit a few, and negatively affect the majority. We must remember that the Constitution applies to every American citizen, not just those who make large campaign contributions, or someone's buddy or brother-in-law.

Whenever you point out these blatant failures, the officials act you said something bad about their mama. While I realize that nobody likes to admit they've failed. They also cannot get any better unless they admit their faults. Making bad decisions on the podium is kind of like alcoholism, you have to first be willing to admit you have a problem, before you can begin a recovery plan. 

I have often said that if you don't like being treated like an idiot, then quit being an idiot.  Officials pass a law or ordinance that takes away people's property rights, peace and quiet, or in some instances their livelihood. However, when you speak out on these failures, the public officials act like you're the problem not them. Unfortunately, many of our public servants have either never learned or forgotten what public service is all about. They also seem to have forgotten who they work for.

Too many times I have seen elected officials make a mess, and when there's backlash for their failures, they simply walk away from the mess and leave it for someone else to clean up.  This not only shows lack of leadership, but is irresponsible and leaves our towns and cities under control of those who are only out to benefit themselves, not the community.  Whether the job is paid or not, you have an obligation to clean up the messes you create, or better yet, don’t make a mess to begin with. 

It also seems that many of our officials, won't own the decisions they've made, but rather make excuses for their poor decision making.  When they're confronted, they immediately take the role of the victim. However, for the most part the unsuspecting citizen who's had their lives impacted is the true victim. I know that most people who serve in public office, really want to do the right thing.  Unfortunately, some are either unwilling or unable to truly understand the impacts of what they’re voting on.  This practice of voting blind has got to stop, and we can no longer accept the excuse that they didn’t know or understand what they were voting for.  We have too many “I didn’t know” laws and ordinances in America.  If you don’t fully understand, either learn about it or vote no.  

I hope that everyone remembers that it's our jobs as citizens to correct our public officials whenever the need arises.  I also hope our public officials remember what their job really is and who they work for.  We also must remember that public officials are not usually the victims.  As a public official, I listen to everyone, not just to pacify them, but really listen to them. I may not agree with them, but I do truly listen.  Whether they voted for me or not, or are even a constituent, I listen.  I have found in most cases that means a lot to people.  We will all make mistakes, but true leaders accept and learn from those mistakes and work hard to not make them again. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Lawmakers Mull Tweaks to Eminent Domain Law to Favor Landowners | The Texas Tribune

State lawmakers next session may renew an age-old clash between two
intrinsically Texan values: property rights and energy interests. The Senate Committee on State Affairs heard testimony Tuesday on
whether to tighten eminent domain laws to benefit landowners battling
pipeline companies, electric utilities, public agencies or other
entities seeking to condemn land their land for public use. 

Lawmakers Mull Tweaks to Eminent Domain Law to Favor Landowners | The Texas Tribune