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Kyle, Texas
January 2, 2013     Hays Free Press
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January 2, 2013

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THEY REALLY SAID THAT? "I just am not afraid. I feel really fortunate to feel that oay. Dying is a part of living- it all goes together." -Adell Hurst, speaking about her hospice care experience, page 1C Hays Free Press Janua 2,2013 Page3A Ode to 2012 RAGING nd so we bid a not-so- nd farewell to the bow another large un- wieldy year as it sinks slowly over the horizon wobbling un- steadily towards the graveyard of memory. And cheers erupt from we folks on shore wav- ing the double-handed "L for loser" sign above our heads. "So long. See ya. Don't let the door slam you in the butt on the way out. And if you got any brothers or sisters, don't give them this address." Normally there's some small sense of nostalgia for a departing annum. An iota of regret for the calendar dis- carded. Not this one. Getting through the past 12 months was like navigating a Black Diamond ski run in roller skates with the wheels rusted shut. While wearing a crib. It was an oil-soaked pelican of years. The Year of Living Stu- pidly. Had the same connec- tion to constructive change that Vladimir Putin has to the editorial board of Crochet Monthly. The Chinese need a new Zodiac sign: Year of the Flatulent Weasel. But in the interest of keep- ing this particular piece of puffery positive it might be best if we confine our remarks to reflecting on the good that emerged from 2012. Okay. Well, that was quick. Wait- got one: At least the presidential election is over. Of course, people are already running for 2016, so we got that to look forward to. Which is real similar to looking for- ward to having five-year-old twins playing in the back seat of a cross-country drive with a new set of drums and an unlimited supply of metal- lic sticks. And tambourines. Tons of tambourines. For four years. You'd think even your aver- age run-of-the-miil politician would possess the simple common human decency to wait till the current president was re-inaugurated, but nooo. These early birds are intent on stockpiling worms. You know what they say: Early money is like yeast. And very early money is like baking soda. And extremely early money is an egg wash brushed deli- cately across a pan full of hot cross buns. When you think about it, the only thing that really went right with 2012 was we misread the Mayan Calen- dar. Everything else is either worse than we found it or the same. Middle East a mess? Check. Crazy people with guns? Check. Weather get- ting weird? Check. Congress unable to accomplish any sort of worthwhile task, including differentiating between their gluteus maximus and yellow paint? Double check. Face it. These days, simple survival has become the goal. Continuing existence is the new victory dance. And then for a half a second you ruminate on how good we got it here. What kind of state the rest of the world is in. And most of our problems just kind of fade away, don't they? Sure, with great potential comes great responsibility. But it's an exciting time. Fifteen years ago, the only people with GPS units were NASA. Now we got them in our cars and phones. We're also in the middle of a cheeseburger renaissance and pretty good coffee is available almost ev- erywhere. Not half bad perks. So, what do you say? Shall we give another a year a shot? But just 365 days this time around. Don't know about you but that extra day this year kicked my butt. Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. Budget questions hover above Capitol s Congress jousts with itself and the White House in the closing --., ays of 2012 overthe federal budget, the Texas Legislature and other state legislatures can only guess what federal dollars will be coming when budget-writing time comes. Every two years, the Texas Legislature's main job is to write and pass a state budget. Now, with the governor signaling his intention to stick with an austerity plan that won't necessarily be in step with the state's rapidly growing population, historically bad drought and a long list of other critical concerns, suspense about the budget increases day by day. The budget-adoption process is a session- long affair, and the 140-day session commences on Jan. 8, at high noon. In 2011, the 82nd Texas Legislature adopted a 2012-2013 budget (the General Appropriations Act) featuring across-the-board spending cuts, per the governor's directives. Texans can see a roadmap to those cuts, and may imagine the debating that went on before the budget ultimately was called to a vote, signed by the governor and certified by the comptroller. Actually, the debating does not have to be imagined. It is preserved at Texans with access to a relatively recently manufactured personal computer updated with the current software for viewing archived video, can - if they pay fora speedy Internet connection or visit their local library- download, view and hear the parts of the budget-writing process conducted in Capitol committee rooms and on the floors of the state House and state Senate. Furthermore, to provide Texas taxpayers "with a more complete understanding of how their tax dollars are being used," the staff of the Legislative Budget Board has posted a 668-page document, titled "Fiscal Size- : CAPITAL HIGHLtGH i i up" for the current 2012-2013 budget. Anyone with a library card or a relatively recently manufactured personal computer, updated with the current software for viewing documents, can, with a fast-enough Internet connection, download the lengthy document and read it at their leisure. But owing to the lack of space here, and in deference to readers who choose the printed-pgge version of their community newspaper, let's skip to the summary of the "Fiscal Size-up." It says the 2012-13 budget included appropriations for state operations that total $173.5 billion - an amount composed of $81.3 billion from General Revenue Funds, $54.7 billion from Federal Funds, $31.2 billion from Other Funds and $6.4 billion from General Revenue-Dedicated Funds. Although the Fiscal Size-up was published only months after the end of the 2011 legislative session, it foretells something that has remained true since its publication: revenue then was above expectations. See the paragraphs labeled "Recent Trends and Fiscal Horizon" at the end of the summary. They contain information that forms a more complete picture. And much more recently, on Dec. 21, Comptroller Susan Combs said, "Job growth, sales tax collections - both from business and consumer purchases - as well as automobile sales, signal that the Texas economy has emerged from the recent recession. Another indicator that the state's economy has been comparatively healthy was the U.S. Census Bureau report that Texas added more people (421,000) than any other state from 2010 to 2011. Although Texas has only 8 percent of the nation's population, the state added nearly 19 percent of the nation's population growth for the year." Looking back a full year ago, Combs said: "By December 2011, Texas employers replaced all 427,600 jobs shed during the recession as our economy rebounded more quickly than the U.S. as a whole, and continues to add jobs." And finally, Combs said, "Texas and the nation returned to economic growth in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, Texas' real gross domestic product grew by 2.4 percent, compared with 1.6 percent GDP growth for the nation." These official analyses may point to a he althy fiscal condition for the state as 2013 begins, but as elders among us warn, you never know what's going to happen when the Texas Legislature is in session. 14 RECEIVE CLEMENCY As is customary at the end of each year, the governor grants clemency to a list of Texans who were convicted of certain offenses. Gov. Rick Perry on Dec. 21 announced he had granted clemency to 14 individuals after each of their cases was recommended for clemency by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. A description of each is available at governor, state, tx. us. Black's Law Dictionary defines clemency as "Mercy or leniency, especially, the power of the President or a governor to pardon a criminal or commute a criminal sentence." Ed Sterling works for the Texas Press Association and foUows the Legislature for the association. In 2012, something money couldn't buy review of 2012 finds reality televi- sion continuing to consume the .., edium like typhoid. Or, more ap- propriately, like mononucleosis ravaging a freshman dorm. You might call it all flotsam-- but I'm here to report that one reality show truly proved instructive. I speak of"The Really Biggest Loser." Not to be confused with the show about how obese people sweat their cares away, "The Really Biggest Loser" featured a short stack of fat cats who spent mil- lions on an election. To their astonish- ment, they found that they couldn't buy America. Not you, Sheldon Adelson. Not you, Harold Simmons. You neither, Bob Perry. Nor you, Bill Koch, or David Koch, or Charles Koch. In our system, we're told that every- thing has a price, even the American system itself. These contestants set out to prove it. Each competed valiantly. They shed dollars, not by the bucket but by the tanker truck-- and they lost. They did, however, provide America with first-rate television, or a least the part of America in all those battleground states Mitt Roumey lost-- billions of dollars worth of attack ads, so well-spun, so grip- ping so futile. Karl Rove didn't spend his own money but he has to be considered in his own category. His super PAC American Cross- roads spent $300 million to buyAmerica, and it got? Squat. The lineup for "The Really Biggest Loser," was set early in the game. USA Today reported last February that 25 percent of the super PAC money amassed to influence the 2012 elections came from five individuals. All were Republican. At the time, No. 1 was Simmons, the DallaS billionaire who had donated $12 million to Roves group. Back in 2004 it was Simmons who spent $3 million to get the claims of the Swift BoatVeterans for Truth before the public in a bid to torpedo the presidential run of John Kerry. Bob Perry, the Houston homebuilder and another "Swift Boat" bankroller, was listed as No. 3 of the super PAC super donors by USA Today. It is entirely understandable that these individuals figured they could buyAmer- ica. After all, Simmons and Perry pretty much have had Texas tied in a shiny red bow for those they've supported over the last 18 years. Rick Perry owes builder Perry (no relation) a lot for last-second bundles that set him on his governor- for-life path, give or take a presidential dalliance or two. So, in 2012, all of these big guns had a bead on Barack Obama, and what did his campaign have? It had its own deep-pocket donors like labor unions and movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg. But here's the odd thing: As Time magazine reported in naming Obama its Person of theYear, the presi- dent's campaign did a sttmning job of raising money in small increments. That's right- $690 million of Obama's $1 billion in donations came not in drawing rooms, ski chalets or boardrooms but online. "In a campaign that super PACs were supposed to dominate, Obama's operation proved that many small efforts were more powerful than a few big ones. No one in either party thinks campaign finance will ever be the same," the artide read. So, who is "The Really Biggest Loser"? That's actually an easy call. Not only did Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino owner, rank No. 1 in donat- ing $34.2 million to Romney and support- ive groups according to Politico, he gave $10million to the PAC that bankrolled Newt Gingrich in the primaries. Adelson's money allowed Gingrich to float a host of attacks on Roumey, includ- ing the line of questioning about the activities of Bain Capital, something that Democrats would employ. In roulette terms, Adelson let it ride on the wrong number, and then tried to win it all back with house money. Yes, Mr. Adelson, you are "The Really Biggest Loser." Wumer? The American political system. Longtime Texas newspaperman ]ohn Young lives in Colorado. COMMENTS FROM THE WEBSITE IlnJRlL _._ They started work for a couple days and patched a few spots. In true Kyle style, the equip- ment and road materials have sat unused since. Do we need the state to pitch in since the county and city can't seem to get it done???? - PissedOffKyleResident on "Expect some traffic delays: Repairs to begin on Bunton/ Goforth roads" Adell Hurst is an amazing woman who has done so much for the Seniors in Kyle. Her energy, and her enthusiasm is contagious. She is the epitome of what a volunteer should be. Thank you for all you have done ! I will remember your special day each year. You make people want to make Kyle a better place. God Bless youll - Jane Passno on "KyleCity council proclaims Adell Hurst Day" We loved the Trail of Lights this yeafi Thanks to all of the volun- teers and community members who made the event possible. - Tanna on "Buda's Trail of Lights, a true spectacular" MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. Co-publishers Bob Barton Cyndy Slovak-Barton NEWSROOM Editor Veronica Gordon Sports Editor Jason Gordon Features & Education Editor Kim Hilsenbeck Staff Reporter Andy Sevilla Community Columnists Sandra Grizzle Myrtle Heideman Pauline Tom Columnists Bob Barton Bartee Haile Clint Younts Will Durst John Young Proofreaders Jane Kirkham Shermakaye Bass OFFICE MANAGER Connie Brewer ADVERTISING Tracy Mack Dioni Gomez ads@ CIRCULATION/CLASSIFIEDS Suzanne Hallam PRODUCTION Production Mgr. David White Assistant Designer Melinda Helt Distribution Gigi Hayes Pete Sizemore Contact Us: FAX: 512-268-0262 BUDA 512-295-9760 KYLE 512-268-7862 METRO AUSTIN 512-262-6397 113 W. Center Street Ky|e, Texas 78640