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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
March 18, 2015     Hays Free Press
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March 18, 2015

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THEY SAID THAT "There couM be more attempts to slow it down or stop it, but I don't know if they'll be successful. I don't think they will." -- Hays County Commissioner Pct. 2 Mark Jones on efforts to halt progress on the proposed SH 45SW toll road from northern Hays County to southern Travis County Hays Free Press 18, 2015 Page 3A SUNSHINE WEEK 15-21 Events show on- going fight to keep government open COURTESTY OF THE BROWnSWZZE HERALD CARLOS A. RODRIGUEZ Recent news about former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decision to use her personal emall account exclusively for government business shows the ongoing battle over the public's right to know what our offi- cials are doing, and those officials' con- stant efforts to hide their actions from the light of public scrutiny. That is why we welcome the annual Sunshine Week, which begins today. The American Society of Newspaper Editors began the week 10 years ago, with help from a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to highlight the importance of keeping our government's activities and information open to the public. The Reporters Com- mittee for Freedom of the Press helps organize the week, and Bloomberg, Gridiron Club and others also provide support. Freedom Week is held each year to coincide with the March 16 birthday of James Madison, the Father of our Con- stitution and co-author of the Federalist Papers, which promoted the open-gov- ernment ideals of our governing docu- ment. Despite the clear intent of Madison and other U.S. founders, the struggle to keep government accountable to the people continues. Clinton's efforts to bypass public forums is only the latest and most prominent attempt to escape the intent, if not the letter of our open-government laws. It's hardly better at the state and local level. Texas has some of the strongest open government laws in the country, and that's a good thing. Unfortunately, most of those laws have no teeth and enforcement is weak, giving officials relative impunity to defy them. The Texas Legislature, which cur- renfly is in session, frequently sees proposed legislation that would close off public access to public records and proceedings. And despite the constant battle against corruption, some bills actually seek to make it easier for crimi- nals to get elected by sealing or expung- ing criminal records. Some bills would enable them to continue their crimes in office, by eliminating current mandates that governmental bodies' bidding and budgeting processes be published in their local newspapers of record. Fortunately, the Texas Press Associa- tion, Texas Association of Broadcasters and other groups monitor such bills, and actively support those that keep government open while opposing those that would hurt the public's access to information about their government and taxes. We applaud such efforts, and pray for the day that public officials, and the voters who elect them, show higher re- gard for the value of open government. LOCAL COMMENTS "My daughter said its a great experience! I'm grateful since so many teen drivers now days!" - Barbara Salazar on Facebook post about Shattered Dreams at Lehman High "What a diverse group ........ " - Omar Baca on Facebook post about Hays Constitutional Republications host second amendment rally "1 raised and paid every single penny of my children's camp, uniform, travel and competi- tion costs and upgrades for 6 years. We DID get specific costs of Varsity bills, including upgrades. To the penny. So frustrating there couldn't be more conclusive findings. This is more alarming than I imagined." -. Leah Fuller-Workman Kelly on Lobo cheer fund unmanaged OF Debates over the Texas House and Senate versions of the state budget lie ahead, and move- ment toward setting budget controls to blend into a final, agreed-upon budget for 2016- 2017 emerged in low-num- bered bills filed last week SB 20 by Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson, R-Grape- vine, would strengthen state agency contract reporting requirements, require agency heads to sign off on contracts worth more than $1 million and require agencies to post a list of all contracts on their state website, according to a report posted by the Sen- ate's in-house news service. "These contracts are paid for with taxpayer dollars," Nelson said. "We must ensure that they are awarded with the highest degree of ethics and transparency." Nelson said her committee would~ vote on SB 20 this week SB 9 by Sen. Kelly Han- cock, R-North Richland Capitol Highlights by Ed Sterling Hills, would tie the state spending cap to population growth, plus inflation, rather than stick with the current benchmark, personal income growth, to devise a boundary for state spending. The state constitution limits the growth of the state budget to no more than the growth of the state economy. In other news, the Senate Select Committee on Gov- ernment Fa6flities examined deferred maintenance at state agencies, meaning the costs of upkeep that get put off due to lack of funding. Select Committee Chair Kevin Eltife, R- Tyler, said state agencies need $1.5 billion to fix state facilities, up from $400 million in 2006. "If you don't fix the roof, it's not just the cost of the roof five years out, it's the cost of the walls. It's the cost of the carpet and repairs." Elfife said, and called for a four-year plan, including a special account, to catch up with deferred main- tenance. doadHno passes Friday, March 13, marked the 60th day of the 84th regular session of the Texas Legislature and was the final day for State lawmakers to file nondocal legislative bills and proposed constitutional amendments. True to form, bill filing reached tsunami proportions in the last week of bill filing, with more than one third of the total rolling in a matter of days. Statistics kept by Texas Legislative Council show 4,I14 House bills, 1,226 Sen- ate bills, and 133 House and 65 Senate joint resolutions (proposed constitutional amendments) were filed. And those, in addition to concur- rent resolutions and congrat- ulatory and memorial resolu- tions submitted by members of both bodies came to a grand total of 7,989 bills. With 80 days left in the 140-day session, lawmakers must move with all possi- ble speed to get their bills assigned to committees for consideration. An intensive schedule of committee hear- ings has begun. From here on, it's a race against the clock. In the second week of May, a string of deadlines ensue that will cut down the number of bills that have some chance of entering the final stages of the maze be- fore June 1, the 140th and fi- nal day of the regular session. Ed Sterling works for the Texas Press Association and follows the Legislature for the organization. I +a compl ma+ o.,s pasts we'd just soon forget except, perhaps, the resurrection of some episodes might serve as cautions and detours to others. This piece is written in that hope. Those in creative profes- sions, it seems, tend to be more susceptible to the mis- guided notion that the "pres- sures" of such endeavors call for induced relaxation. That becomes a"cause celebre" that leads most often to alco- hol although, unfortunately, in more recent times it seems to point toward some more harmful, and illegal, drugs as a means to unwind. The term, "more harm- ful" is used advisedly while, though I consider alcohol a drug and thus addictive, the immediate effects of other, usually illegal, drugs often bririg about more destructive personal damage. A significant segment of society engages in what most call "social drinking," in and of itself a harmless enough undertaking. Alcohol's ad- dictive qualifies are usually underplayed. People fall into the trap of regularly over-im- bibing. If you go beyond one drink, you're probably going to be over the legal limit on a Breathalyzer test. Webb's Wisdom by Willis Webb Heavy drinking and addic- tion are a serious health threat, not to mention a public safety issue when an over-imbiber gets behind the wheel of a car. Uh-oh, Soul Bubba (self-chosen nickname), you done stopped preaching and started meddling. Bear with me. I don't speak without some experience and understanding of alcohol's addictive qualities and dan- gers. Thankfully, I came to that realization before it became a long-term, life-threatening habit. I still can enjoy a glass of wine with a good meal or I may nurse or sip one highball through a long reception at some convention or meeting. The effects beyond that are not appealing to me. Believe me, I'm relaxed enough at my age, a threat to fall asleep on my own at any minute. Any driving on such trips, where there is a convention/ reception/meal, only requires pushing my floor button on the hotel elevator to retire at an hour conducive to my age and sleep needs. My usual newsman social imbibing, after some'normal' " collegiate shenanigans, took an upixn'n when I entered the sales field. This was in 1970a-80s Houston, which, after liquor-by-the-drink got Texas voters approval, seemed to have bars everywhere a "thirsty" man looked. Often, the job involved entertaining clients at a two- hour (minimum) lunch that included drinks before the meal and cognac or some sim- ilar after-meal imbibing. To compound the sit- uation, while I worked in Houston those six years, I lived in Conroe, a minimum hour's (often two) drive in afternoon rush traffic. There were plenty of bars lining the homeward bound route, so if traffic got too heavy, and/or a barstool called with a "Soul Bubba" label on it, I got off clogged IH-45. Alongtime friend, known only by his self-anointed nick- name of Freddy Fudpucker III, also worked in a graphics-re- lated sales job. He and I usual- ly coordinated our departures so we could socialize and make "new acquaintances" in those wholesome establish- ments. We also knew that ff one had car trouble, the other could come to his aid. Ultimately, I came to the realization I was making part of the drive home without re- membering how I got there. That's when I decided the friendly small town confines with a lessening of tempta- tions, where one could again publish country newspapers, were screaming "Soul Bubba." I took a job publishing The Lockhart Post-Register, which tumed out to be a for- tuitous move. There was a ra- ven-haired beauty on the staff, and she ultimately became my Life Partner and my complete Soul Mate (LP-SM) as well. While the move was the beginning of my "recycling" into the newspaper business, it was also a life-saving ex- traction from drowning in al- cohol. LP-SM played no small role in that. Now, bymy ordained family rule, "driving" after imbibing my healthy one glass of white wine (I'm allergic to red), in- volves only a short walk to our master bedroom or punching the button on the elevator ride to our hotel room at a meeting or convention. Willis Webb is a retired com- munity newspaper editor-pub- lisher of more than 50years experience. Barton Publications, Inc. News tips: Opinions: 113 W. Center St., Kyle, TX 78640 512-268-7862 122 Main St., Buda, TX 78610 512-295-9760 Publisher Cyndy Slovak-Barton Editor Kim Hilsenbeck Moses Leos III, Sports Editor, News Reporter Andy Sevilla, Senior Reporter Ashley Sava, Reporter Columnists Ed Sterling, Chris Winslow, Bartee Halle, Willis Webb Proofreaders Jane Kirkham, Travis Wilson Tracy Mack, Marketing Director Debbie Hall, Marketing Specialist Connie Brewer, Office Manager Suzanne Hallam, Circulation/ Classifieds David White, Production Manager Christine Thorpe, Production Asst. Distribution Pete Sizemore, Cosme Cuellar /, t " :[ + I I IIII li+ II= 111 ii B Ii I