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October 20, 2010     Hays Free Press
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Hays Free Press October 20, 2010 OPINION Page 5A CONSIDER THIS We're told all politics is local. At a time when our national problems seem to grab everyone's attention, we need to reflect on how fortunate we have been here in Hays County. We have had excellent county gov- ernment. At a time when the 'vote the rascals' out sentiment is as strong as it has ever been, I'd warn against 'throw- ing the baby out with the bath water' - and I promise no more clich6s! Hays County continues to grow and attract business (like Grifols, HEBs and U.S. Foods) and industry (such as Seton Medical). Growth is vital, but care must be taken to manage it. Successful bond programs have im- proved and will continue to improve road safety in the eastern part of the county, while taking a more measured approach to the western part out of concern over the environment. The environment concern for our children's future has been demon- strated by the leadership our county government demonstrated by provid- ing for the creation or preservation of the Dahlstrom Ranch outside Buda, Jacob's Well in Wimberley and Harri- son Park Ranch in Dripping Springs. We have been fortunate to have an excellent county government working for us. I ask myself- what 3 terrible things have happened that would make someone want to change the direction our county government is leading us? I can't think of anything. I hope people separate national problems from local successes when they vote. I hope they elect Jeff Barton Hays County Judge. John Adams Dripping Springs RATLIFF UNDERSTANDS GROWTH I have been in law enforcement for almost 35 years and I have served as a municipal police officer, county Sher- iff, and presently as Chief Deputy with the Hays County Sheriff's Office for over 20 years. Sheriff Ratliff makes the fourth sheriff I have served under. I understand what it takes to operate a sheriff's'office in a growing county, i.e., having to meet the needs of our citizens, understanding a mas- sive operational budget, and manag- ing an overcrowded jail. The appointment of Tommy Ratliff as Sheriff was probably the wisest decision made by the Hays County Commissioners' Court in some time. At the time of SheriffAllen Bridges death in 2008, he had an excellent staff in place and the progress made by the Sheriff's Office was outstand- ing. Sheriff Ratliff came into office and carried the department forward, keeping the staff in place, and making it a smooth transition not only for him for the employees as well. Sheriff Ratliff is an outstanding law enforcement officer, with vast experi- ence. He has concern for each em- ployee and expects them to do their job in a professional manner. He took office with major problems in the jail, which had been there for some time. His direction has resulted in repairs and upgrades that were needed and has resulted in a certificate of compli- ance with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Having worked with and for Sheriff Bridges, I know that ]he would be pleased that his close friend and fel- low law enforcement officer would continue to lead and direct the Sher- iff's Office. I am pleased to have the honor to serve under a great leader with the integrity, honesty and knowl- edge as that of SheriffTommy Ratliff. Sherman L. Brodbeck Wimberley ACC BRINGS US PLUSSES Mark Twain said something about if you don't read the newspaper you're uninformed but if you do you're mis- informed. I'll try not to misinform. The ques- tion of ACC in Hays County needs some facts. The U.S. has fallen from first place in percent of college gradu- ates in the world to twelveth while China has quadrupled their gradu- ates in the same period. Singapore, South Korea and Finland have the best schools in the world. They recruit from the top one third of students to become teachers. The U.S. recruits the top for WaU Street and gives them mil- lions of dollars in bonuses. Could this possibly be a clue to something? Because of the lack of tax money from the people with the funds to pay, the infrastructure is crumbling. This is most evident in transportation but probably more detrimental in educa- tion. The loss of teachers because of lack of funding for education is only one symptom. A lack of dedication by parents and the general public may be more devastating. Yes, it will cost some money to get local ACC classes but there are a lot of plusses. Some of the people complaining no doubt made a lot of money from the previous infastruc- ture. Eisenhower's interstate highways or Roosevelt's PWA school houses were paid for by tax money. The top tax bracket under Eisenhower was 90 percent and the payers still accumu- lated more money. One in about 12 college graduates are unemployed but it's about one in 4 high school drop outs. Let's build up the educatiom system not cheapen it. Hays has wonderful schools. Let's keep up the good work on the collage level also. Albert Busse Uhland CONSIDER THIS A new jail will cost between $51MM and $76MM. Ratliff's oppo- nent, Gary Cutler, said he would favor a refurbishment of the jail at a little LETTERS TO THE EDITOR over $33MM. These figures came from Broadus & Assoc. Ratliffis on record favoring the "green field" option - going to a completely new site and building a new jail for $51-$76MM. Clearly, the most efficient option is refurbishment. Refurbishing the jail Will add 96 beds - what it would take to get us through the next 10 years. Included would be a complete renova- tion of the existing structure. Also included would be expansion of the Law Enforcement Center. Contrary to what Haverda said about Cutler bringing in a "whole new staff", I was at the FOP debate when Cutler said "if I am elected all Sheriff's Dept. employees' jobs are secure." Since 2000 the jail only failed inspection once and that was for over- crowding- not maintenance. The jail has failed inspections 3 times since Ratliff took office - all for mainte- nance reasons. Go figure. Sheriff Bridges was aware we had an old jail and had discussed the pos- sibility of a refurbished jail "at some point" and he did what any good administrator does and tried to get as much mileage out of the existing jail as possible until the climate was conducive for a major upgrade. Ratliff and Haverda say "we need a new jail because this one has lived out its life." So maybe Ratliff thought he could convince the Commissioners to give him a new jail if the current one failed several inspections. Fortunately, the Commissioners forced Ratliff to do his job and get the jail up to speed, which he finally did WITHOUT the millions of dollars Haverda said it would take. It's interesting to me that the jail failed to pass inspection 3 times under Rat.lift in his first year and a half on the job, and then passed this year just prior to the election. Mary Clarkson Dripping Springs BARTON DESERVES YOUR SUPPORT As a well-qualified candidate, left Barton needs and deserves your sup- port for Hays County Judge. In his present work as a Hays County Com- missioner, he has provided outstand- ing Ieadership in economic develop- ment efforts. Commissioner Barton has exhibited competence in getting Seton Medical Center to provide qual- ity hospital services to the public and in getting Grifols, a medical device maker, to establish a facility in San Marcos. He has helped boost the Hays County economy in getting the commitment of U.S. Foods to move to Buda and in securing major improve- ments to IH 35 on schedule and under budget. Hays county residents need a di- verse economy providing valuable job opportunities, quality medical care, and improved highways. Additionally, in his service to the people, Commis- sioner Barton led the way in preserv- ing the Dahlstrom Ranch near Buda and Jacob's Well in Wimberley. As the developments progress, the public will have access to these facilities. Commissioner Barton has the experience and integrity to be the next Hays County Judge. Support his candidacy and encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. Georgie Cunningham Buda RATLIFF UNDERSTANDS GROWTH I find it interesting that anyone would bring in unproven allegations against any candidate, especially a man retired from the Texas Rangers, the most prestigious law in the State of Texas! And have no documented proof?Whoa! How much did you pay that friend of a friend to convince her to give you such info? That makes me believe Gary Cutler felt he was fighting a losing battle and had to resort to lies to make his opponent look bad! Could that be grounds for a lawsuit? (i.e. Defamation of character, Slander) ? I learned Gary Cutler sued the Travis County Civil Service Commis- sion and the Sheriff. (Court document May 26, 1998, Item #36) I investigated the reason of the suit and found he was demoted from his Captain status to patrol due to lack of qualifications, training, and schooling by the newly elected Sheriff. Obviously, he and the previous sheriff must have been good friends for Cutler to advance to that status without necessary qualifica- tions. Cutler said in the LWV forum he'd never been reprimanded in his 35 years of law enforcement! What would you call this? I read a letter from Bruce Boardman in the Free Press stating our Sheriff is to blame for the lawsuit between an ex Lieutenant and the County. Sherri Tibbe, the District Attorney is to blame for this suit. I, too, found out he was not 'fired,' 'he resigned' under pressure of Tibbe. Isn't she the one that let UT football player offwith an 'obstruction of roadway' charge instead of a DWI? Video showed he was obviously drunk! Think this had anything to do with her wanting him available for national championship game? Do you really want Gary Cutler for you Sheriff?. Nell Fin lay Buda GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT In reference to a letter in the Hays Free Press from Mr. Bruce Boardman stating that Sheriff Tommy Ratliff was forced to fire the Lieutenant over CID is not true. Said Lieutenant resigned his position at Hays County. Mr. Boardman should have the facts before writing a letter about the Hays County Sheriff. The Lieutenant was licensed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards (TCLEOSE) and had all legal qualifica- tions to serve in law enforcemgnt and the Hays County Sheriffs Department. Sherrie Tibbe, the District Attorney, felt he wasn't trustworthy to work there due to a reprimand some 20 plus years ago. Where she got the idea she had power over TCLEOSE is beyond me. She's the blame for the County being sued, not the Sheriff. The Sheriff did all background checks prio,r to hir- ing him and found him to be licensed, capable, and qualified for the job. Blame Tibbe, not the Sheriff for the suit against the County. Your ties with Gary Cutler are pretty tight. So, is it reasonable for me to believe Cutler intends to bring your expertise into Hays County, should he be elected? I would hope not. You left Austin Police Department with a'dark cloud' over your head. Hays County doesn't need that 'dark cloud' brought here! Mark G. Hanna Lockhart RATLIFF DID RIGHT FOR THE JAIL I am employed by the Hay County Sheriff's Department to maintain and repair any problems within the jail. I have worked under Sheriffs Don Mon- tague, Alan Bridges, and now Tommy Ratliff. All attempted to get heir from the Commissioners for jail repairs. Tommy Ratliff is the only one that got the Commissioners to do something about all its problems. Right after Ratliffwas appointed he went to the Commissioners with a list of things needing attention in the jail. Not until he brought in the Jail Commission did the Commissioners intend to do any- thing. The lail Commission informed us what was needed and it was up to Ratliff to get the Commissioners to finance the repairs, and he did. The roof had been leaking for years, there were plumbing problems, electrical problems, the list goes on and on. Sheriff llatliff has been the only Sheriff to get the finances available to do all necessary repairs. In the short time Ratliff has been there, the jail has a new roof, remodeled kitchen, and several other issues taken care of, i.e. painting, polishing, etc. Listening to Cutler talk in one of the debates, he speaks of floor tiles coming loose. I don't know where he got this informa- tion. The floors are all concrete and terrazzo. He's never been in the jail to my knowledge. Before he speaks he needs to be certain he has facts and can back them up. Thanks to Sheriff Ratliff the funds became available to repair and pass the inspection. Gilbert Hernandez San Marcos HAYS COUNTY ESERVES ,, .,.,,, BARTON Hays Counes and needs Jeff Barton a.its judge. A proven, caring leader, Commissioner Barton has proved himself for Hays County residents. He's proven he cares about our safety, our livelihoods, and our environment. During his service as a county commissioner, he has pushed for good jobs for us - U.S. Foods in Buda, Seton Hospital in Kyle. The hospital in Kyle not only created jobs, it provides quality health care access to residents who do not live near Aus- tin. Commissioner Barton tirelessly advocates to expand FM 1626 so that it is a safe road for us to travel, and he strives to keep alive the possibility of access from northern Hays County to Mo-Pac. He cares deeply about the environment, as evidenced by the conservation easement at Dahlstrom Ranch and the recent improvements for Jacob's Well. And, Commissioner Barton and his staff are responsive to us. We couldn't have a better judge than Jeff Barton. Please join me in supporting him. Renee Mauzy Buda RATLIFF IS EXCELLENT LEADER I have been volunteering at Hays County Law Enforcement Center for almost three years. I've Witnessed an extensive transition taking place. I noticed how well the staffworked together to bring about finishing the clean up of the cells, the finishing of the new kitchen and completion of the roof repairs. The projects were well planned and this is a tribute to good use of tax dollars and also tight oversight in the maintenance depart- ment. The overall remodeling of the kitchen was a major task when at the same time everyone needed to eat. The transition did not in any way hamper the presentation of meals for the inmates and staff nor jeopardize security. Careful attention to a strict budget from man hours, to materials and food purchases enabled contin- ued, varied, and plentiful nutritious food. Good leadership always begins at the top. Sheriff Tommy Rafliiff has demonstrated excellent leadership, he is respected and approachable. These are good character qualiities for someone with so much responsibility. He has been observed talking lto vol- unteers, visiting with inmates, making rounds and visiting work stations. He shows concern for the welfiare of others and is open to consider: their suggestions. He made me feel that my comments were important. I had the preconceived idea of a sheriff ibeing tough, grouchy and controlling. The administrative staff works closely together under his leadership. This leadership and teamwork en- able deputies to make the best use of their time and my time as a voilunteer teaching Bible Studies. The deputies maintain strict attention to many detailed rules. Those directly involved with inmates are courteous and professional treating inmates Ilike they would like to be treated; like people not criminals. During my time work- ing directly with inmates there have been no complaints to me about poor treatment. The job of a deputy is less stressful when there is a contented- ness among the inmates. My hours as a volunteer at the law enforcement center have been very satisfying. To me personally, I attri- bute my contentedness to outstand- ing leadership. The community can be very proud of Hays County Law Enforcement Center and feel safe and secure it is being operated by top quality personnel. Roger NebergaU Volunteer for Chaplain R.C. Hicks WILL VOTE FOR BARTON I usually vote Democratic but have been known to vote for a Republican if the candidate was well qualified. I have worked and paid taxes for over 45 years and believe that government can be efficiently and effectively run, without reward to special interests. That's why I'm supporting Jeff Barton for Hays County Judge. Because I'm now retired and on a fixed income (but still paying taxes), I pay close attention to where the money in our County is going. I've been impressed with Jeff's ability to look for long- range solutions and not just the quick fix. He's helped bring much needed highway improvements on schedule and under budget; he's protected our citizens by working to upgrade the jail without throwing money away on wasted projects; he's negotiated part- nerships with landowners to conserve water for all county residents and future generations; plus he's refused to accept any pay increase for himself. I wouldn't ask my physician to work on our cars or ask my dentist to fix a plugged up toilet. Hays County certainly doesn't need a doctor to take charge of transportation, economic development, environmental matters, or the myriad of other issues facing civil servants in these times of eco- nomic uncertainty. Please join me in electing Jeff Barton as County Judge. Pam Nelson Buda BARTON IS ADVOCATE FOR SAFER ROADS I pledge my whole-hearted sup- port for Jeff Barton as county judge. Among the many good things Jeff has done for Hays County, the two that resonate with me are his advocacy for better, safer roads and the work he's done for the environment. I drive FM 1626 Monday through Friday from my home in Buda to San Marcos and 2-3 times every weekend into Austin. Every time I return home safely, I sigh with relief. Jeff has fought for years to improve 1626. He pushes TXDOT J constantly to get them moving on a contract so work on the road can begin. Jeff realizes that the sooner that happens, the better we will be able to take advantage of lower construction costs in the current economy. Jeff cares deeply about the land in Hays County. I was extremely pleased with left's leadership in preserving the Dahlstrom Ranch, which is just a few miles from my house, and I'm looking forward to enjoying walks in the park when it opens to the public, left's strong commitment to helping make Hays County a great place to live is ev- ident in his untiring efforts to improve roads, bring in jobs and investment, and preserve natural areas. Liz Strand Buda CUTLER BUNCH RESORTED TO LIES This letter is in reference to the al- legations made toward Sheriff Tommy Ratliff. I guess the Cutler bunch realized their chance of winning an election wasn't good so they decided to resort to lies to ruin the character of the man he is running against. It was in very poor taste to accuse a man of family violence without any proven facts. I know Tommy Ratliff and his family. They are involved in all sorts of organizations throughout the county and have been for years, and very well liked. How degrading it is on your part to accuse him of this. But, I guess when you're being pushed into a corner, you're just like criminal. You get mean. I don't claim being Republican, or Democrat for that matter. I vote for the person I think will do a better job. If that is the way Republicans run their campaigns, I don't approve. Which reminds me. I heard Commis- sioner Will Conley verbally attacked Judge Sumter during a Commis- sioners Court meeting. I don't have a computer but they say you can see it on 'you tube.' He's a Republican. Do ya'll approve of that? And you say Tommy can't control his temper? I was raised to never curse a woman and I'd NEVER curse a woman that is a Judge. I think these actions will have a big impact on how the votes will go this election. Well, I hope the voters of Hays County will take this into consider- ation when casting their vote. I believe Tommy Ratliff to be the best qualified, and obviously the only honest man running for Sheriff. ].D. Sturdivant rile RAINWATER REVIVAL A GREAT SUCCESS On Oct. 9, the first ever Rainwater Revival (a celebration of collection, conservation & common sense) was held in Dripping Springs at Roger Hanks Park. The Rainwater Revival, the idea of Commissioner Karen Ford and the Water Conservation Working Group she put together, was a rous- ing success, with 800-1000 people in attendance, over 60 companies represented as vendors, great speak- ers giving educational talks about rainwater, from doing it yourself, to waterin stock out on the open range with collection systems, to using rain- water in the garden, to the nitty gritty of exactly how it works. Our tents were packed with each speaker, our booths were shopped, and the music was enjoyed. We had great support from many Hays County & area sponsors, who made it possible to have this event free to the public and we deeply appreciate that support. We raised over $3,000 which will be for grants for Hays County Schools to apply for doing rainwater type projects, thanks to generous donations of time and talent from Hays County artists & the .barrels. All in all, we look forward to next year's Rainwater Revival II and seeing even more of you learning about what a viable way rainwater harvesting is for our homes and businesses. Kathi Thomas Dripping Springs IN FAVOR OF COBB I am writing concerning numer- ous statements made by Hays County Commissioner Jeff Barton asserting that he refused a pay raise during the most recent county budgeting session. Commissioner Barton publicly stated that he would not accept a proposed pay raise for elected officials, but he concealed the fact that he is the one who proposed the pay raise in the first place. If you check Commissioners Court meeting minutes, you will find that Commissioner Barton is the one who made the motion to raise his own elected official salary. After the budget was published, citizens began to complain that Com- missioner Barton would raise his own salary at the expense of raising taxes on homeowners in order to pay for it. So only then did Mr. Barton publicly" refuse the pay raise. This seems to be a trend with Commissioner Barton. Two years ago, Commissioner Bar- ton was successful 1 raising his own taxpayer-funded salary by more than $8,600. He also voted to give himself almost $10,000 ayear as a personal car allowance. At the same time, he twice voted to raise taxes on homeowners in order to fund these increases against the backdrop of a serious, nation-wide economic recession. Now, Commis- sioner Barton wants Hays County taxpayers to "promote" him to County Judge. I think Hays County deserves better. So on election day, I will not vote to give Commissioner Barton his promo- tion. Instead, I will vote for Dr. Bert Cobb, a common sense conservative, to serve as our Hays County Judge. Dr. Cobb is not a career politician. He is a former chief of surgery and longtime medical doctor. He understands our community and knows what public service and fiscal responsibility are all about. I encourage you to join me in firing self-serving career politicians like Mr. Jeff Barton and hiring Dr. Bert Cobb. Charles O. Walts San Marcos SUPPORTING BARTON I am writing to express my sup- port to the candidacy of Jeff Barton for Hays Co. Judge. I have lived and worked in Hays County for 30 years, and I have known Mr. Barton for most of that time. He has always impressed me one of those people who is to be admired for his commitment to his community and the world at large. He has demonstrated his abilities to work with the citizens in an open and honest manner. Jeff is someone we can trust to carryout the duties of his position with fairness and serious consideration. I firmly believe that our county would be a better place with Mr. Barton working for us all. Ken Wilson Dripping Springs TEXAS' BUDGET IS BALANCED I received a candidate's mailer recently. The mailer says (in bright red ink) "The Texas budget deficit has soared to 18 billion dollars". No! That is wrong and people need to know the truth. We have no deficit in Texas. The Texas constitution requires the legislature to pass a balanced bud- get. The current budget is balanced. The one before it was balanced, and regardless of who is elected to the legislature in November, next year's budget will be balanced- because the constitution requires it. Tax revenue is projected to be down for the next couple of years. That is a revenue shortfall, not a budget deficit and someone running for office ought to know the difference. But we will have a balanced budget in Texas next year, just like every year. To say we have a budget deficit is at the very best, misleading. The mailer says "Out-of-control Liberal spending has put our budget in the red". Two points; (1) the budget, again, is not, and has not, and will not be in the red. Can't say the same about the federal budget of course, but the Texas budget is balanced - it is most assur- edly in the black. (2) Governor Perry, Lt. Governor Dewhurst and Speakers Craddick and Straus have led a Repub- lican controlled Texas government for the last 8 years. I can accuse them of many things, but I can not accuse them of "out-of-control Liberal spend- ing". And they are certainly the ones who have been setting the budget for the last 8 years. So I am not sure what budget and budget process this candidate is talk- ing about, but it isn't Texas. Maybe he has not been in the state long enough to check his facts. Amanda Wyszkowski Dripping Springs