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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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May 13, 2015     Hays Free Press
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May 13, 2015
 

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+ TffEY SAiD THAT '7 can trace every bad decisionthe city has made to being in some sort of a hurry." + -Todd Webster, Kyle mayor Hays Free Press May 13, 2015 Page 3A water project- stories, a guest column opposed to the project and a paid advertisement in favor of EP Several readers com- plained about the Hays Free Press accepting the ad, with some calling it unethical. Our policy for news, opinions and advertising is straightfor- ward, and the decisions to print these were in keeping with journalistic standards, our guidelines and community ethics. We've been running news stories on EP for months. These are writ- ten by Hays Free Press staffwriters, with the goal to provide unvar- nished truth about what's happening, presented in a "neutral," or at least a fairway. Our reporters have no direct financial in- terest in the outcome of the story, nor does the Hays Free Press. We've also run letter to the editor from folks on both sides of the issue, showing that there is no neutral ground when it comes to EP These columns and letters, of course, ap- peared on the Opinion page, as they were definitely opinions of the writers, but neither were they paid adver- tisements. Some readers might not understand that we run a wide range of letters to the editor, and guest views, not because there is any law that says we must, but because we believe printing a wide range of relatively unedited views is good both for the newspaper and the com- munity. We publish these free of charge, even though it sometimes puts us in the awkward position of pay- ing good money to print and distribute a product that prominently fea- tures opinions possibly contrary to our own - or contrary to the opinions of advertisers who foot 80 percent of our bills. The one item that some readers particularly were opposed to was the full-page ad in the B Section. In fact, that ad caused quite a bit of consternation for some readers. This ad, which ran in the print and online "e-edition" edition, pre- sented a number of facts and assertions that differ from- or, depending on your view, perhaps elaborate beyond - the anti-EP sentiments that are on display on anti-EP websites. The ad suggests that people interested in learning more should visit a website, www.Hay- sWaterFacts.com. Anyone who visits the site find a geologic report which clearly states that it was paid for by EP, and a series of Several readers con- tacted us to say it was 1) wrong and unethical of the Hays Free Press to accept the ad, and 2) unethical on the part of both the Hays Free Press and EP to run the ad without disclosing who paid for it. While we are high-minded and ideal- istic about the newspa- per, we are in business, and the main business is to offer a respected medium through which advertisers expose their products. Sometimes that product is a widget, or a taco; often it is a brand or a service. EP believes it has a service to offer, Welcome and that its ideas are not to 'Ihomas beingfully Jefferson'sheard. Not only are we in busi- marl-^t-lacer.cpt ness to offer a medium to of ideas: we think readers are capable of share services and ideas, we see nothing here that con- flcts with our journalistic trust. In fact, it's critical to judging for democracy that voices are themselves, heard. We reserve the right to refuse hate speech, or ads so vulgar that they are sure to of- fend readers. But EP is an important public issue here. Two public bodies have voted in support of it, while many other boards and politicians have criticized it. What some readers seem to object to is not that we accepted an ad, but that we accepted an ad that runs contrary to their opinions. Welcome to Thomas lefferson's mar- ketplace of ideas: we think readers are capable of judging for them- selves. It's not as if the other side is not being presented here. As for the question Of "disclosure." This is not a political campaign. EP is not running for office. They are un- der no obligation to include a tagline. As a matter of policy, we try to prevent misleading advertisements, ads that obfuscate who might be behind it. But clearly this is being paid for by EP or a supporter. The issue of exactly who paid for it may be relevant to EP stockholders, but the immediate question is - are the facts intended to mislead readers who would think differently if they knew who paid for it. The ad makes a pretty straightforward case for the EP project, and on its website notes the EP cor- porate offices for more information. That's pretty straightforward. Most ads don't disclose who paid for them. BP doesn't on TE. None of the rest in the entire edition of the Hays Free Press do this. All in all, we stand by our actions. We support democracy in all its gritty form, and that includes giving all parties a medium to voice their opinions. - oceans John (Publisher's Note: Last week's guest column by Tim Dot)/was anti-ER This week the discussion contin- ues with pro-EP remarks.) Imagine the Texas Legislature is meeting. Two bills are up for consideration. One bill creates a Groundwater Conservation District to oversee areas that up until now are only regulated by state law- known as white zones. What began more than three years ago and taking a huge financial filli..amble, a group spends ons of dollars to le- gaily drill wells as allowed under current state law into the Trinity aquifer with plans to pump mil- lions of gallons of water to take care of thousands of citizens and businesses that Hill need water. Those citizens already get water from the Edwards Aquifer and the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority and now will also get water from the Trinity. The water Hill come from the county and will stay to serve people in that county. There has been a great deal of controversy with groups on both sides - one claiming there is more than enough water to provide for their citizens while opponents claim the aquifer cannot possibly sustain that much water. Both have scientists armed with studies and charts 'proving their point'. Sound familiar? It should, but it's not Hays County. It's to our south, Comal County. NEW BRAUNFELS - GRANDFATHERED (SB 963 BY CAMPBELL) In 2011 New Braunfels Utilities drilled a test well to determine if the project was feasible. Roger Big- gers, NBU executive direc- tor, was quoted in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, "We would like to have some (water) production out of there inthe next 12 to 15 months." That was in March 2013. Thanks to opposition delays, the project is finally set to come on-line by June 2015 - more than a year after the project was originally slated to be finished. The City of New Braunfels did not own the land when the wells were drilled, but would later buy the land from the school district. The well field cost over $12 million and is slated to pump up to 4 million gallons a day from the Trinity. BUDA-GOFORTH - NOT GRANDFATHERED (SB 1440 BY CAMPBELL) The New Braunfels Project story reads iden- tical to the Buda-Goforth Groundwater Project. Affected aquifer: Trinity. White Zones: Covered. Cost of Project: $12 million New Braunfels, $15 million BuBa-Goforth. Projects began: 2011. But there is one import- ant difference. Sen. Donna Campbell is carrying both bills in the Legislature. Senate Bill 963 grandfathers the New Braunfels project and allows them to move for- ward, requiring the district to issue a permit. But in Senate Bill 1440, there is no such language for the Buda-Goforth bill. While Buda, Goforth and Electro Purification all agree in principal to the area being taken over by the Barton Springs/ Edwards Aquifer Conser- vation District, we feel the Buda-Goforth project deserves the same consid- eration as the City of New Bratmfels project. Mitigation requirements will be mandated in both Buda's and Goforth's con- tracts, requiring Electro Purification to pay for efforts needed to address negative effects of sur- rounding wells. The scope and depth of which wells could be affected Hill be determined after extensive aquifer tests performed later this smnmer. In a 2013 Herald-Zei- tung story about the first attempt to create the Comal CountyTrinity Groundwater District, Campbell stated, "When a businessman does some- thing in good faith and the city or a government re- neges or finds a loophole, I think that's wrong." Campbell, we agree and that is why we ask for the Buda-Goforth Project to be allowed to proceed so that Buda and Goforth can have water by 2017 -- just as the contracts already in place allow. John Hatch is a 20year resident of Hays Coun- ty and lives in the City of Buda He is the local spokesperson for Electro Purification. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR I' SUPPORTING LANDAKER I have been a Wimber- ley resident for 15 years now, so I think I can con- sider myself a local at this point. The longer I live in the Hill Country, the more people I get to know, and the more investedI become in this precious community I feel lucky to be a part of. Due to our water depletion issues and the growth we're experiencing, I'd like to let my friends and neighbors know there is someone on our side. When it comes time to vote starting on May 21st, I'd like to see Larry Landaker remain in his position at PEC as District 6 Director. I sup- port Larry because of his track record, and because I know he loves this com- munity as much as I do. Before PEC, he was on the Wimbefley Valley Water- shed Association, helping to acquire the land that is now the Jacob's Well Natural Area. He ran ini- tially in 2009 as a reform candidate at PEC to help clean up the corruption. As board President, Larry established their first stra- tegic plan and assembled a top-notch leadership team. PEC has become more transparent (online streaming of board meet- ings and clean audits for several years now), low- ered their rates, members started receiving divi- dends, and there has been an investment in tech- noiogy, which translates to fewer power outages and more consistency for us. Larry implemented whistleblower protection for employees and spon- sored a wage study that resulted in equitable and fair wages. He sponsored a resolution to protect local ground water and helped set renewable energy goals which PEC is on track to meet and exceed by 2020. We need Larry Landaker on board to continue to steer PEC in the right direction. I feel confident that Larry Hill fight for us and sup- port what PEC members want...what's best for our community. ]amie Hornbuckle Wimberley THANKS FOR THE COURTESY I would like to offer a heartfelt "thank you" to several courteous drivers on FM 967 lately. As you know this road is being widened and, for some dubious reason has a 50- mph speed limit posted on it. The speed, plus construction, makes it very difficult for those of us who live in the subdi- visions along 967 to enter the traffic whizzing by. On more than one occasio.n this past week, a driver west-bound on FM 967 has stopped to allow a string of cars on Garlic Creek Rd. entry to that busy road. With parents driving children to Elm Grove Elementary adding to the normal heavy traffic on 967 and 1626, getting out of subdivisions can be quite frustrating. I feel a sincere "thanks" is the least I can say to the drivers who illustrated the courtesy I mentioned. Marlene Bradford Buda Barton Publications, Inc. News tips: news@haysfreepress.com Opinions: csb@haysfreepress.com 113 W. Center St., Kyle, TX 78640 512-268-7862 122 Main St., Buda, "IX 78610 512-295-9760 www.haysfreepress.com Publisher Cyndy Slovak-Barton Editor Kim Hilsenbeck kim@haysfreepress.com Moses Lees III, Sports News Reporter Ashley Sava, Reporter Editor, Proofreaders Jane Kirkham, Travis Wilson Columnists Ed Sterling, Chris Winslow, Bartee Haile, Clint Younts Connie Brewer, Office Manager Suzanne Hallem, Circulation/ Classifieds Tracy Mack, Marketing Director Michael Weeks, Marketing Specialist Miles Hanson, Marketing Specialist David White, Production Manager Christine Thorpe, Production Asst. Distribution Pete Sizemore, Cosme Cuellar +