Category Archives: Opinion & Commentary

The Coupland Times welcomes the opinions of its readers. However, no anonymous postings will be allowed. if you are afraid of what people think of your opinion, you should probably keep it to yourself. Be honest but mind your manners. Make your momma proud!

Before You Vote on Tuesday . . .

. . . check out the 2014 VOTERS GUIDE from the League of Women Voters of Texas and the League of Women Voters in the Austin Area.

Click here to view or download it.

Be advised that ALL of the  incumbent Senators and Representatives for both the Federal Government and the State Government did not respond to the questions submitted to them by the League of Women Voters.

I'vd had just about enoughThe non-responsive government officials are:

  • Federal Senator John Cornyn
  • Federal Representative John Carter (District 31 – for most people in the Coupland area)
  • Federal Representative Bill Flores (District 17 for some Coupland area voters)
  • State Senator Charles Schwertner (District 5)
  • State Representative Larry Gonzales (District 52)

Evidently, our County Judge, Dan Gattis, and our County Commission, Ron Morrison, are concerned enough about keeping their jobs that they took the time to respond to the League of Women Voters’ questions.




  • A Case for Saying No

    Submitted by M. M. Marasco

    Site 32

    Site 32 – East of Coupland

    With the November 2014 election rapidly approaching, you may have seen a recent advertisement in the Taylor Press newspaper soliciting votes for the passage of a tax in the amount of $.02 per $100 property appraisal value for maintenance and upkeep of the rural floodwater retarding dams on Lower Brushy Creek.  There was also a notice of an October 21, 2014 public meeting in Coupland concerning the same subject. In nut shell: These dams were originally funded and built some 50+ years ago by the USDA’s Soil Conservation Service (now, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)) with the alleged stipulation that local funds would be secured for the upkeep of the dams.  A few years ago, this maintenance and upkeep tax issue came up for a vote among all those in the Brushy Creek watershed. Real estate developers in the upper reaches of Brushy Creek built houses below some of these rural dams and, with concern over liability in the event of a dam failure, they pushed to have the dams upgraded and have the taxpayers along all of Brushy Creek pay for it (i.e., bail them out).  The taxpayers in the lower part of that watershed said no and the Lower Brushy Creek Water Control & Improvement District (WCID) was formed as a consequence.

    The solicitation advertisement is misleading on several counts:  It’s subtitle is “our rural dams are old and out of shape” and shows a photo of what appears to be a much smaller breached dam in a California desert-like landscape setting — certainly not southeast Williamson County. The dams were funded and constructed by the USDA; however, the implication of the advertisement is that they were built with non-taxpayer funds.  Wonder where the USDA got its funding if not from the US taxpayer (you and me). These dams may be 50+ years old but not one of them has ever been breached and most have not even had water flow over their emergency spillway.  WCID states that its dams require $6.8M for maintenance and upgrade and that the WCID has secured $6.5M in Federal and State funds, needing only a small amount of local money to round out the cost.  Actually, it turns out that receiving the $6.5M is contingent upon having the missing $300K made up from local “matching” funds. Hence, they haven’t secured any funding, they just have a pledge that if WCID comes up with about 4% of the “needed” $6.8M, then they’ll have access to the $6.5M — bit of a shell game.  And for a lot of taxpayers, the claim that the tax will only amount to a “pizza a year” is also a grossly misleading statement.  That figure came from the city of Taylor’s current average home appraisal of around $100K.  That is an average, which means for many the tax will be much higher. Continue reading




  • Letter From Concerned Citizens to Wilco Sheriff’s Office & Commissioner Morrison: “Unacceptable”

    Shared at the request of Kent Hubbard and Cheryl Aker:

    September 17, 2014

    Jim Wilson, Williamson County, Sheriff
    L.C. (Tony) Marshall, Chief Deputy
    Mike Gleason, Patrol Division Captain
    Commissioner Ron Morrison

    Sirs,

    Unacceptable.

    That’s a word we want to use with specific resolve in order to describe the event(s) that fate engaged us to participate in this morning at 6:45am – Unacceptable.

    As the Sheriff’s vehicle accident report from this morning will certainly attest, there was an accident early this morning on Highway 95, in Coupland. We know that accidents are a matter-of-fact to you all, but this one entwined us.  As we turned on our way to work in Austin, we just happened to be first-hand witnesses to a car accident right at the bridge on Highway 95.  In the southbound lane, a small BMW hit a large passenger truck, careened into the concrete guards over the bridge and then attempted to continue in the southbound lane with one tire missing.

    As prepared and willing citizens, we and several others stopped immediately to render aid where we could.  As we called 9-1-1, we got out to try to direct traffic around the accident while not getting run over.  We were told multiple times that “help was on the way.” Well, no, actually it wasn’t.  Thankfully, EMS from Taylor, a Taylor Volunteer Fire Dept truck and a Coupland Volunteer Fire Dept truck arrived to help – but no sign of Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.

    As others tried to help the driver, we quite literally stood in the middle of Highway 95 stopping and directing highway-level traffic with little more with us than an orange vest from Sportsman’s Warehouse and a small flashlight.  At one point, a reckless, thoughtless driver made an unconscionable decision to maneuver through the crowded road and very narrowly missed running over another bystander trying to help. We called 9-1-1 yet again, because at this point, tempers were flaring, people were upset and at risk.

    And as we worked the accident scene, we discovered a laundry basket full of alcohol which led the driver to flee the scene and was picked up by an accomplice in a grey truck and escaped.  So, now what was at the time, an accident, was now a hit and run crime scene, a felony – but no sign of Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.

    We called 9-1-1 a minimum of three times asking for assistance.  As a 9-1-1 recording would surely prove, we described the criminal to 9-1-1 operators and requested that law enforcement get there ASAP, yet no one came.  Taylor PD arrived, but informed us that

    it was Williamson County’s jurisdiction or Texas DPS.  Almost an hour after our initial call, one single bike patrol deputy arrived to work the scene.  One.  One single deputy to work a crime scene?  Don’t tell me you didn’t have information – we gave it to you in full color, real-time, with our own boots-on-the-highway detail.

    Sheriff Wilson, what exactly has to happen for everyday citizens in distress to get assistance from our law enforcement?  How can we call for a “Broken Arrow”?  How many times can we call 9-1-1 just to have them tell us that help is on the way?  In fact, help was not on the way, so we had to fend for ourselves.  An hour, Sheriff, an hour – that’s how long it took for help from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept to arrive.

    We realize that over in Precinct 4, we don’t get the share of resources allocated our way that the rest of the county gets – we understand that.  But we pay our taxes every bit as must as citizens around Round Rock, Leander and Cedar Park do.  This wasn’t just another car accident, as we told our emergency operators, multiple times.  We didn’t call 9-1-1 to get our cat out of our damned tree.  We needed help.  We called.  We yelled.  We yelled at 9-1-1.  We screamed at other drivers who swerved around us as we stood in the road trying to help – but still, no sign of Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.

    Please know that we work in the public sector; we understand.  We have the utmost respect for law enforcement and fully recognize you can’t be everywhere at once and you don’t have a magic resource transporter.  But this accident was 8.4 miles from the county’s “fully staffed” East substation in Taylor that, per your website, claims: “While patrolling their districts, uniformed deputies answer calls for service, assist motorists, and protect citizens through community policing.”  Not only were they not patrolling this district, they were not answering multiple calls for service, not assisting motorists at a time of need, and not protecting citizens – it took almost an hour to get a single uniformed deputy on the scene.

    The irony that September is National Preparedness Month isn’t lost on us with this morning’s events that unfolded before us.  We don’t want credits or kudos for our participation.  We are, and will continue to be, prepared for anything, at home and away.  And thankfully, we and other everyday citizens were prepared – and willing – to help this morning.

    We don’t know that we can say the same is true for our county’s law enforcement.

    Concerned citizens,
    Kent Hubbard and Cheryl Aker




  • Saving the Old Iron Brushy Creek Bridge on CR 456

    BridgeClosed2 Submitted by Karen Marosko:

    The truly historical iron bridge crossing Brushy Creek on CR 456 has been closed due to safety concerns.  The state and Williamson County are studying whether to repair and put it back in service or tear it down and replace it with a new bridge.  With the long wonderful history of this good old bridge in this Coupland area, it would be a shame to not have it put back in service.  The bridge was completely renovated in 2006 with additional repairs in 2008 and in 2013 a completely new bridge flooring was installed.  So, there has been recent substantial investment in preserving and maintaining the bridge.  We need to keep this bridge in service and not unnecessarily spend massive extra tax dollars building a new bridge.

    The bridge, originally built in 1912 by the now famous Brown and Root Company, goes back many generations of friends and neighbors who have spent time standing on that bridge, as a youngster or elder, looking at Brushy Creek. Once this type of truss bridge was very common but now, according to the Texas Department of Transportation’s culture resources department, as of 2008 there were only 21 such bridges remaining in all of Texas.  With very few people living on CR 456 and so very little daily traffic on the road as welI, it is hoped that by writing a letter to the Williamson County Commissioner’s Court and the Williamson County Historical Commission asking for their support, and enclosing a petition showing broad positive community interest, we can obtain their help once again to save our rare local beauty.  They both were of great help in preserving the bridge back in 2006 when it was renovated and hopefully they can do so again now. The bridge “begs” to be kept in daily service.

    To try to make this happen, we are asking for your help. Please send an email with your thought(s) such as: “Please repair the historical iron bridge over Brushy Creek on CR 456 and return it to service.”  Any other comments you desire to include would be most welcome.  Send your email to: {This email is obscured. Your must have javascript enabled to see it}.  We will assemble all the petition comments and include them with the appeal letter.

    Together we can help maintain history here in the Coupland area.

     




  • Coupland Election 2014 – The Incumbents

    your_vote_matters_logo

    Especially in Coupland!

    Three Alderman positions are up for consideration in November. Interestingly, this is a majority of what is formally known as the Board of Aldermen, which — together with the Mayor — form what we know as the Coupland City Council. So, if you like the course of the city government so far in its young life, this is your chance to keep it moving in that direction. If you’re not happy with its performance to date, this is your chance to make a change. Regardless of where you stand on the issues faced by Coupland as a community, get informed and get involved. The city council needs your input and your participation to have a fair chance at representing all of Coupland.

    The Aldermen whose terms expire in November responded to a questionnaire sent by The Coupland Times. Here are the questions:

    1. Do you intend to run for a second term as an Alderman? If not, please share your reason for not running.

    2. What would you say was your most important contribution(s) to the City in your first term?

    3. If you intend to stand for re-election, what issue(s) do you propose to focus upon in your second term? 

    Here are their responses, in the order received: Continue reading




  • Williamson County Goes After the Little Guys

    Williamson County is going to a lot of trouble to publicize its crackdown on hot check writers. You may have seen the press releases. They even went modern and posted YouTube videos. Click here to see them.

    When ordinary people write checks in excess of their deposits, and don’t make good on them, it’s a crime and they should be punished. They are stealing from people and businesses who relied upon their promise to pay.

    Besides, the government doesn’t like competition.

    monopoly_bankerWhen the major banks do it, in collusion with the privately-owned banking cartel euphemistically called “The Federal Reserve,” the government says nothing. That’s because this is how government lives beyond its means. The result to you and me is inflation, which is, in effect, a hidden tax. So whenever you hear government say they are going to increase spending but that it won’t result in increased taxes, they are lying.

    Wait. That’s too harsh. Let’s just say they are being less than honest. That sounds nicer, doesn’t it?

    Government counts on your ignorance of how the modern, debt-based financial system works. Get educated folks. Except in certain situations, prices don’t go up because things are worth more. They go up because the currency is worth less and sooner or later it becomes worthless. Noticed any inflation lately?

    To be fair to Williamson County, they are suing banks that used the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) but only because that is how mortgage lenders have avoided paying fees for recording property transfers with the counties. Oh, and lots of homeowners were subjected to improper foreclosures but if they really cared about that, it wouldn’t be a lawsuit but a Grand Jury indictment.

    Related story: Funding Essential Government Services With Bonds

    Stay tuned. Class will resume in future stories.

     




  • Mess and Weeds vs. Messy Freedom

    Submitted by Jim Huntington:

    Mess and weeds vs. messy freedom….or manicuring, by ordinance, the “wild” out of the wild west.

    Coupland has not been incorporated for even one year, yet much of the content addressed by and concomitant action of the board has been to establish strictures regarding what people can or cannot do.

    Coupland seems to be gripped in a “what-if” scenario, that it is better to enact a whole passel of ordinances and restrictions as a putative risk averse, protective bubble around us based on fears, prejudices and projections as to what might happen, along with what they think should happen. In my opinion we are on a dangerous trajectory down the proverbial ignominious slope.

    I am more distressed by the imposition of official ordinance on people’s benign actions or inactions than I am by the putative aesthetic offense of weeds and mess.

    Freedom is often messy. I’ll opt for messy freedom any day over imposed constriction and intrusion, having lived both.

    As I keep stressing, our ostensible reason for incorporation was to preserve the hands-off attitude that held sway in Coupland since its inception. Wm’son County’s ample laws worked fine for us for years yet gave us room to breathe.

    Virtually every advance of government is usually at the expense of personal liberty. We have seen the most egregious governmental intrusion in history, over the six years of emperor 0’s reign of coercive terror.

    If the City of Coupland wants to clean up the messiness, I strongly suggest we first do what was done in the past and that is solicit volunteers who will work in concert with those who are offending certain sensibilities, to help clean their properties, persuading rather than compelling.

    From The Tao:

    “When taxes are too high, people go hungry.

    When the government is too intrusive, people lose their spirit.

    Act for the people’s benefit. Trust them; leave them alone.

    Jim2