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June 23, 2010     Hays Free Press
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June 23, 2010
 

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Page 4A THEY REALLY SAID THAT? # "Basically, ohen "we ,were given the cost estimates, oe said, "That's 82 million ,we ought to be spending on something else. " -Buda Mayor Bobby Lane, on the city's decision to kill the Goforth connector road Hays Free Press * June 23, 2010 EDITORIAL PEG officials address Garza firing he general membership meeting of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative this weekend was really an introduction of the newly elected members of the board. But the actions taken by the board last week, which still included the two outgoing members, hung over the meeting. PEC President Larry Landaker and newly fired General Manager Juan Garza both gave statements at the meeting. While the two statements are too long to print in total, relevant passages from their statements are reprinted here for our readers. LANDAKER: I wish I were at liberty to share some of the many and varied reasons for this action, but for reasons of confidentiality, I cannot. I can tell you this decision was carefully consid- ered by the Board. It was not made rashly or impulsively. It was not made in anger. The debate was respectful and considerate at all times... Our decision was based on informa- tion, reasoning and judgment... Some have suggested that this action lacked transparency, that the board met in secret. In truth, the word secret is not ap- propriate. The appropriate word is confiden- tial... Even with PEC's Open Meeting policy, personnel matters are explicitly addressed in private .... Some have made this out to be the venge- ful act of two departing directors and that we should have waited for the new board members to decide ..... The fact of the matter is that the initiative to terminate Mr. Garza began with me. I introduced this action based on my firm conviction that our coop- erative needed new leadership to meet its challenges .... I am sorry things did not work out with Mr. Garza and the Board. The Board must accept. its share of the blame in that failure. Juan is an honorable man with a human touch. With his own unique leadership style, he guided the cooperative over some very troubled wa- ters and his work is truly appreciated .... The Board acted in what it considered the Cooperative's best interests. When the Board considers the best interests of the coopera- tive, we are considering the best interests of our members and our employees .... The duty of the Board is to insure that PEC will survive so that our employees have jobs - now and in the future. Our task is to take steps to make sure.we are not gobbled up by a giant Wall Street public utility interest .... Change is coming and it is coming faster than many of us are moving. Yesterday, some- one suggested to me that it could take 5-7 years to bring about change in an operation like PEC. Ladies and gentlemen, we do not have 5-7 years. The wolf is on his way to our door and our challenge is to get our financial house in order now .... We value our labor force - from the . linemen to the IT department to the call centers... We have never engaged in any discussion of layoffs - ever... We have never discussed changing our basic benefits pack- age - ever... We are committed to maintain- ing exceptional customer care. We are com- mitted to sustaining the same high standard of providing safe,, reliable electricity to our members... We intend to continue support- ing the local communities we serve and help- ing those who can least afford electricity.... If we are to sustain all of these things, we must find smarter and better ways of operat- ing. We must be innovators and we must be creative .... PEC must not be imprisoned by its circum- stances or its history. The path to our good health lies "&ithin our own hands. We must control our own destiny.... This is a detour, not an abyss. Change is See PEG FIRING, pg. 5A LETTER TO THE EDITOR WHAT MARS BUDA'S GATEWAY? I got a good laugh from this week's Free Press article entitled "U.S. Foods Passes Go". In the article it referred to the "outcry from a group of citizens who said that the devel- opment would...mar the gateway to Buda." Please correct me if I'm wrongbut my understanding is that the land on the north side of Main Street that is now home to that dilapidated rust bucket of a barn and other ramshackle buildings is owned by the chief opponent of the U.S. Foods project and financier of BudaFirst. Surely nothing could "mar the gateway to Buda" as much as that eyesore has done for going on years now. What I heard was that those buildings were somehow going to be incorporated into the Heep "upscale development". That kind of turns the meaning of upscale on its head. If that is the case I think the city 'should prod the developers into getting that accomplished immediately or condemn those buildings and remove them. Do they have a permit to store those buildings on that lot permanently? Bob CaldweU Buda I r Civil servants? Some are not Wy in the world can't we handle emergencies ef- , ficiently? What has hap- pened to our vaunted pride in the government agencies that were established to come to our rescue? Where and why have they failed to prevent catastrophe? There was a time when civil servants, as we called them, were honored. Work- ing for the civil service was a sought after job. It meant good pay, secu- rity, and,excellent benefits. When we hear the complaint that private business can do a better job than the government, we are forced to admit that neither seem able to do a good job. How did this happen? All sound governments have a strong civil service. We only have to look at England at the height of its powers when its civil service was the backbone of its worldwide rule. We only have to look at our own past in my lifetime when the post office delivered the mail in rain or shine, and you didn't even need a full street address to know thatthe postmaster would get your letter delivered. Not too long ago, you could depend on FEMA to act quickly and fairly in an emergency. Along about the time of the Rea- gan Administration when people had already begun complaining about FDR's many new govern- ment agencies, the idea grew that private business could do a bet- ter job than government, and it began to be applied to government through outsourcing, often without bids. This idea was very profit- able for business resulting in large government contracts not only for the manufacture of goods but for services formerly provided by a A i SQUEEZIN, disciplined civil service. Eventually, these contracts were not regulated and "the foxes began to guard the hen house." This was possible for a " number of reasons. The purpose of business is to make a profit for its owners. The purpose of government is to protect and serve the people. When these became at odds, which was inevi- table with the ideology that private business can do a better job of gov- erning, there is a breakdown in gov- ernment and a rise in a ruling cadre of the rich who are less and less concerned about the poor. And it happened this way. The outsourced employees received a much higher pay than the civil servant working at the next desk. The civil servants' unions were attacked. The rifles for one employee Would be deter- mined by the contractor. The nfles for the other might be determined by the government. Morale in the civil service was broken by what could almost be called an invasion. In the meantime, the civil service employee who could provide help to a contractor in getting a contract or other benefits would be guaran- teed a good job in the private sector at higher pay, even though our tax money in either case was being used to reward him. The venal civil servant was just one more morale breaker to an efficient organization. Politics was used effectively to break the civil service by placing cronies of the president or con- gress person in top positions. ("You dida good job, Brownie."! Today, despite President Obamas at- tempt to change government back to its original purpose to protect the people, we still have holdovers as heads of government agencies who formerly worked as lobbyists against the very laws they are now Supposedly defending. We have a serious shortage in the number of inspectors where rules are still upheld by law. We depend on integrity in the workplace more than on inspection. Even with an adequate number of inspectors, we cannot cope with the deliberate corruption of agencies like Miner- als Management Service which had oversight of British Petroleum in the United States. We must support President Obama in restoring government to its true purpose of serving the people, not just the aspirations of those who seek money and power. Government, in its turn; must have flourishing businesses providing goods and services at a profit, for o the fiation to be strong. It istime they learned to work together with- out revolving door lobbyists and corporate campaign funding, so all of us will prosper. Do away with outsourcing. Reanimate the civil service to its former strong morale. Put people in charge who know what they are doing instead of who they know. And maybe, just maybe, something will get done on ,time. (For the . facts, read "The Wrecking Crew" by Thomas Frank.) sveasauer@gmail.com Is the ER the way to American healthcare? I A7 "e don't know this to be /1 unprecedented. The girls generally have demurred in the public eye. But one of the Bush twins now stands guilty of committing truth. Or heresy, to those who think health care is a privilege of being born on a proper plot of ground. Those people also will say health care is to be earned with hard work. Tell that to uninsured, hard-work- ing Americans. The deniers are wrong, and young Barbara Bush is right. She said in a Fox News interview that "health care is a right" and she's glad President Obama managed to pass health care reform. Undoubt- edly it triggered a Level Orange security alarm at Fox Roger Ailes Party Line Plaza. After graduating from Yale, young Barbara helped found Global Health Corps, whose mission is to bring "health equity" to the U.S. and across the globe. Regardless of what antigovern- ment types will say, health care - immediate, quality care - is treated as a fight in our country, at least in the ER and at scenes where am- bulances converge. If not, bodies would bloat on our streets unat- tended after car accidents. So too, with those who would suffer car- diac arrest on the sidewalk but who couldn't produce an insurance card in their moment of mortal peril. Health care also is treated as a right for anyone who shows up with less- than-emergency needs at the ER. Our problem, until Obama, is what little we'd done to help the millions of uninsured Americans stay on top of their needs through doctors' visits and preventive care. Until Obama pressed toward meeting his biggest campaign promise, the ER was our answer to the problem of health care for the uninsured. The result? With much help from Fox News's rogues gallery, it is much misunderstood. AARP, aware of how many people have swallowed salty foam as truth, has done a great job explaining this' to anyone else wishing to examine it. Check it out at aarp.org. Click on "health care reform." In an exhaustive Q&A using questions from the public, AARP shoots down silly canards andpo- litically juiced overstatements. For instance, will this legislation let some bureaucrat decide if one is too old for surgery? If that were possible, says AARP, the American Medical Associa- tion would not have endorsed it. It quotes AMA president ]ames Rohack, a Texas cardiologist, as saying the organization "was very firm that we don't want someone making decisions who.., does not know the patient." How will the law affect taxes? Nothing of this magnitude comes free, explains AARE, but most of the taxes fall on wealthier Americans - an extra 0.9 percent (for a total of 2.3 percent) in Medicare payroll taxes on earned'income above $200,000 a year or above $250,000 for married couples. Very modest. tn fact, the bill already is ad- dressing a health-care equity issue. Seniors whose Medicare prescrip- tion benefits were zeroed out by the so-called doughnut hole are receiving $250 checks to make up the difference. No one, Obama included, was completely satisfied with what emerged from the legislative pro- cess and became law as health care reform. But one thing leaders in Washington did, to their everlast- ing Credit, was pronbnnce what we already knew to be true: Health careis a right. Either we provide for it the wrong and most cos@ way, the ER way- up to now the ".American way" - or W e make it possible for all Ameri- cans to get ahead of their needs the smart and more cost-effective way. : The other option, of course, is to just use a street sweeper to remove the bodies fallen by the wayside when the free market fails them. John Young writes for Cox News- papers. jyoungcolumn@gmail.com POLL QUESTION THIS WEEK'S POLL QUESTION Do you agree  Buda coun- cilmembers' decision to kill a $2,1 million road that had been slated to connect Goforth Rd, to northbound IH-35? A, Yes. The road really wasn't necessary. B. Sort of. I would have liked the road to be built, but not at that price. C. No. That road is badly need- ed by commuters now that the access roads are one-way. LAST WEEK'S POLL QUESTION Do you agree with the move of the PEC board of directors to fire General Manager Juan Garza? A. Yes. He wasn't making reforms fast enough. 10% B. Maybe, but they should have waited until after the new board members were elected this weekend. 53% C. No. He was a good leader and his loss will hurt the co-op, 37% TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WEEKLY POLL GO TO rWWW. HAYSFREEPRESS.COM MANAGEMENT Barton Publications, Inc. CO-PUBLISHERS Bob Barton and Cyndy Slovak-Barton OFFICE MANAGER Connie Brewer business@haysfreepress.com NEWSROOM Managing Editor Jen Biundo news@haysfreepress.com STAFF FIEPORTERS Sean Kimmons Brad Rollins School Reporter Jim Cullen Community Reporters Sandra Grizzle Myrtle Heideman Pauline Tom Brenda Stewart Sports Editor Jason Gordon Sports Reporter Mark Caul COLUMNISTS Bob Barton Bartee Haile Phil Jones Svea Sauer Clint Younts Donn Brooks John Young Brenda Stewart PROOFREADERS .Jane Kirkham Brenda Stewart ADVERTISING ]racy Mack tracy@haysfreepress.com CIRCULATION Circulation Mgr Suzanne Hallam paPer@haysfreepress.com CLASSIFIEDS Suzanne Hallam paper@haysfreepress.com DISTRIBUTION Gigi Hayes Carolyn Harkins Pete Sizemore PRODUCTION Production Mgr David White Assistant Designer Jorge J. 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