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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
March 13, 2013     Hays Free Press
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March 13, 2013

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Hays Free Press THEY REALLY SAID THAT? "The Friday letter is an integralpart of our attempt to make city government in Kyle transparent." -Lanny Lambert, Kyle City Manager Page 3A r,ng uns Reprinted courtesy of the Brownsville Herald Today (March 10) begins Sun- shine Week. No, it has nothing to do with Spring Break; it's an annual time to highlight the importance of maintaining open government. Our nation's founders created a form of government in which those who make decisions are not only elected from the public at large, but they must answer to those who elected them. We constantly hear complaints about corruption, grid- lock and political grandstanding, and it does occur, but compared to other nations around the world- particularly those under autocratic and dictatorial rule- the United States remains one of the freest na- tions on earth, and is still the envy of people worldwide. Unlike countries where despots or strong single-party rule restricts the flow of information, we often learn about corruption and malfea- sance here and are able to address it by voting out and even prosecut- ing the bad guys. It is our ability to learn about of- ficials' misdeeds that keeps most of them honest, and helps protect our rights and freedoms. An informed public keeps the pressure on of- ficials to maintain policies that will keep them in office ~- policies that the public will support or at least accept, rather than oppose. That's why it's so important for the American public to know what their elected officials are doing~ and how they are spending taxpayers' money. Many officials chafe at that pres- sure. As we have seen far too often in the Rio GrandeValley, some offi- cials see their positions-- and their access to taxpayers' money-- as an opportunity to benefit themselves, friends or relatives through with contracts, jobs and appointments at taxpayers' expense. Obviously it's easier to do such things when the public doesn't know about them. As a result, many officials seek to weaken or even repeal laws that protect the public's right to know their activities. Some of those efforts are being made right now in the Texas Legislature. Several bills already filed would remove the requirement that re- quests for bids, notices of proposed tax increases and other impor- tant information be published in general-circulation newspapers. One bill would even remove lists of polling places from election no- tices. That's an obvious hindrance to the democratic process and at least one public advocacy group already has threatened a lawsuit if the bill should pass. Several groups, ranging from media to consumer groups and traditional government watchdogs, are fighting efforts to close the window into government actions, and working to keep the public aware of them., sponsored by the John S, and James L. Knight Foundation, American Society of Newspaper Editors and other groups, has much informa- tion on open government issues. In addition, the Texas Press As~- sociation, which represents most print media in the state, has built several databases on its website,, for cities and counties to post public notices. It also features a legislative "bill watch" list of proposed legisla- tion relating to open government and public disclosure. Each bill includes the position that has been taken by a statewide advisory com- mittee of newspapers and other media outlets. TPA and other groups also are working together to maintain an- other site,, to keep the public informed of open government issues, including bills that might affect public access and knowledge of officials' actions. Supporters of that effort range from the traditionally liberal Public Citi- zen and League of United Latino American Citizens to the conserva- tive Americans for Prosperity. These websites also offer links to other sites and efforts supporting open government. We applaud such efforts, and encourage everyone to take advan- tage of them and learn more about the importance of keeping the dis- infectant light of public disclosure shining on all government bodies. "ovement toward passing a state budget for the 2014-2015 . fiscal biennium continued in committees of both chambers of the Texas Legislature last week. After two months of hearings, the Senate Finance Committee on March 7 approved workshop recommendations for a two-year budget of about $90 billion, paving the way to a final committee vote before moving to the full Senate for consideration. On March 8, the House Committee on Appropriations absorbed information on Medicaid expansion pursuant to the federal Affordable Care Act, including a presentation showing the rise in Medicaid as percent of state resources, including during dry periods of slow or negative revenue growth, and briefs on similar issues in the states of Arizona and Maine. Appropriations Committee members also viewed slides from the state comptroller's office about the Major Events Trust Fund as a way to stimulate the economy through sports playoffs and other high-profile events. Members also looked at "major economic development programs" such as the Texas Enterprise Fund, the Texas EmergingTechnology Fund, the Moving Image Industry Incentive Program and the Major Events Trust Fund. JUSTICE SPEECH IS GIVEN In his State of the Judiciary address to the Texas Legislature on March 6, the Honorable Wallace Jefferson, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, said, "The question is not 'How is the judiciary?' We must ask instead whether our system of justice is working for the people it has promised to serve." Nearly six million Texans qualify for legal aid and many are "forced to go it alone in our courts," he said, adding that Texas ranks 48th in the nation in per capita funding for indigent defense, and suggested the Legislature can do more to increase access to legal services and attorney representation for poor and middle class citizens. Jefferson encouraged use of the rulemaking process to reduce the expense and delay of litigation. At the Legislature's direction, he said, the Supreme Court recently adopted rules to simplify proceedings in cases involving claims for monetary relief of less than $100,000. "Discovery is limited; the cases are expedited. Now, a case that is vital to the success of a small business owner can actually be tried, to a verdict. A remedy for a legal injury, even for a litigant who cannot afford to pay a lawyer $500 an hour." Jefferson noted that Texas courts are making progress in overturning wrongful convictions with DNA or other means and exonerating innocent people. He praised legislation offered by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, to create an exoneration commission. Jefferson also praised: Increases in electronic filing of court papers. Efforts to keep youths out of court and in school. Guardianship of elders who are at risk of abuse. Ed Sterling works for the Texas Press Association and follows the Legislature for the association. ) Have you ever had a pet peeve, one that just eats at your gut like a chocolate-dipped jalapeno every time you see it occurring smack-dab in front ofyou? I'm sure everybody has one. Some of us may have more than one. Personally, I have enough pet peeves that ifI were to start griping about them all in one column, this newspaper would be thick as a Houston phone book, so I try to string'em out over time. My current pet peeve is just that, a peeve about pets. Whoa, no~ Don't get all riled up and start cussin' me for disliking pets. That's not what I'm fixin' to fuss about. I love animals and have even owned a mess of critters over my time. I don't have a problem about folks hav- ing pets, no matter how ugly or ill-mannered they might be. The thing that chaps my hide like a gritty Speedo in a game of beach volleyball is seeing folks tote their pets into certain establishments, specifically home improvement stores. I reckon part of my displeasure of seeing people bringing their dogs into Home Depot is due to my occupation in a vet clinic. After putting in 40 hours a week working around cats and dogs, I like to go home and relax, and what's more relaxing than strolling down the aisles at Lowes looking at hardware and taking in the sweet aroma of freshly cut white pine? The last thing I want to see on my day off is some ugly mutt in a knitted sweater leading its owner around the garden section at my weekend retreat. I don't spend Saturdays going to Home Depot to see dogs. That's kinda like a proctologist going spelunking on his day off. I'm a tolerant fella most of the llrne, but FROM THE last weekend I witnessed not one but two acts of insanity that set me offlike a fire in a bottle rocket facto~ While in Lowe's, admir- ing the new 2014 John Deere lawn tractors with dual cup holders, in walks a young woman with a Babe in her arms. Oh, no, I didn't mistakenly capitalize the word "babe". This gal was carrying a miniature pig against her bosom, all wrapped up in a baby blanket. And if that wasn't bad enough, this little piggy was wearing a sweater. Give me a breald The only appmpriate wrapping for swine should have "Oscar Meyer" printed on it. I was so disgusted at seeing Lowe's turned into a petting zoo that I jumped in my truck and sped offto Home Depot. I was hop- ing that a few minutes looking at exterior lighting would calm my nerves, but upon entering the store, I see an older fella with a rather large, shaggy dog. Now, I knowthere are some wonderful service dogs out there. Some highly-trained dogs assist folks with physical disabilities, so I was hoping this was the case. But later, as I.was looking at PVC pipe, that fella came around the comer with a shopping cart filled with one large, shaggy dog and nothing else. Dude, people put pipe fittings in those buggies! I don't want stinkin' dog hair in my new plumbing. I drink from those pipes! What makes people think hardware stores are appropriate places to take their dogs and pigs for a morning walk? What would hap- pen if I'm carrying several planks of decking on my shoulder and slip in some poodle pee? I don't want to be carrying a bag of DiUo Dirt out to my truck and step in collie crap. He~ I don't take my prize heifer into Kohl's. What makes you think you can walk Fifi through the aisles of my favorite stores? And now we have pet pigs entering our harbor of hardware. What's next? Pet pythons? Where is a man supposed to go to get away from his Honey-do list and get a few minutes of androgenic asylum? I'm sorry for all this ranting about pets in- vading my favorite stores, my weekend sanc- tuaries, but, he~ in this dog-eat-dog world, I need a safe haven to relax and dream of a peaceful meadow, filled with tall grass and dandelions and me sitting behind the wheel of a beaulLful John Deere lawn tractor with cold beer in each of the two cup holders. Please, leave your dogs at home or I'll have to resort to taking my business elsewhere, like ql"actor Supply, where the only animals you'll see inside may one day lay eggs to be scrambled and served on a platter alongside some little, sweater-wearing pig. Clint Younts does work at a vet clinic, so he understands animals. His own cattle love him so much that they chase his truck, wanting to go with him to his favorite eating establishment. They just haven't figured out that the restaurants serves.., wait for it... beef. CHALLENGES FACING NEW SUPERINTENDBfr The new superintendent must earn the trust of EVERYONE in an increasingly diverse constituency after years of temporary occupants in the same position merely putting window dressing on academic decline ~vhlle they chase their career aspirations. This will be a tall order. Most superintendents have no experience managing for sustainable long term improvement. Our traditions that instilled pride in our schools are increasingly under attack. We're selling out our future in howwe handle debt instruments. Isn't it ironic to be dedicated to our youth in education but we have no qualms saddling them with mountains of debt for our needless extravagances! A good first step would be to offer in- district school choice for all students, not just for students of employees. Taxpayers should not be stuck with their children in underpefforming schools while we offer school choice for staff, including tuition-free school choice for non-resident staff. (The majority of the professional staff are non- residents.) It is hypocritical for educators to oppose vouchers when their children are not subject to our captivity. Overspending on facilities by deferring bond principal repayments on debt for over 22 years while advising taxpayers they should support (the 2008) bonds because of no tax increase is pathetic. We should have $30 million left over from the 2008 bonds because construction costs dropped by one third after the bond election. Academic decline is accelerating. Smaller class sizes were not the answer. All that does is increase cost, taking money from instruction. Preliminary results for the spring 2012 end of course exams have been published. In Chemistry 46.1% of students were rated unsatisfactory; 35.3% in Physics, 28.7% in English Reading I, 46.8% on English Writing I, 69.4% in English Reading III, 86.5% in English Writing Ill, 42.6% inWofld History and 45.3% in U.S. History were unsatisfactory on first testing. No wonder so many educators hate this new test. If you want to continue doing the same thing, you don't need a $200,000 plus superintendent and $70,000-plus spouse administrator employed at Hays CISD on another four-year gig. We are desperate for an inspiring leader. Bryce Bales Manchaca COMMENTS FROM THE WEBSITE I realize that this article is about Head Start, but I very much appreciate the picture of Riso Millhollan. Miss Riso was my teacher for a short time. "She may have been the last of the Mountain City schoolteachers to be teaching. In a throwback to a different time, her students called her Miss Riso. She deserved this little bit of publicity and more. - Donn Brooks on "How effective is Head Start?." LOL!!! You mean the fire department can't afford that huge building they're in and now they have to raise taxes?!?! It's like my kids spending their their lunch money on toys and then claiming that they're starving at lunch and need more money. - Kyle resident on "ESD 5 looks for more money" There are too many cases in this district alone of employees abusing children. I'm not sure what kind of background check is being performed but they need to be better than what's in place now. I hope this guy gets the full punishment allowed by the state as this victim will never be the same. - Unda on "Sexual assault arrestee was HCISD bus driver" MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. Publisher Cyndy Slovak-Barton NEWSROOM Editor Cyndy Slovak-Barton Sports Reporter Moses Leos III Features & Education Editor Kim Hilsenbeck Staff Reporter Andy Sevilla Community Columnists Sandra Grizzle Pauline Tom Columnists Bartee Halle Clint Younts Will Durst John Young Danny Tyree Proofreaders Jane Kirkham OFFICE MANAGER Connie Brewer ADVERTISING Tracy Mack Dioni Gomez 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 Kyle, Texas 78640