Category Archives: Government Policy

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




  • 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




  • Coupland Zoning . . . Why?

    Submitted by Jim Huntington:

    Coupland Zoning Why ?

    I have stated before that if our primary impetus to incorporate has been to “keep Coupland, Coupland” as well as to prevent annexation by outside community forces, curtailing our freedom with imposition of ordinances and regulations, why are we now considering shooting ourselves in the feet by doing the same thing volitionally?

    If Coupland has not had or needed zoning in its whole history, what is the justification for imposing it now?

    We have had ample evidence of government intrusion, coercion and over reach in our faces every day since 2009, from an out of control federal regime, run by the most corrupt, coercive, intrusive anti-constitutional president in American history.

    We will be ostensibly creating the same situation here by introducing unnecessary circumscription of property rights and the right of individuals to live with a minimum of governmental intrusion at the community level, the first and last bastion for preservation of individual freedom.

    Today, it’s zoning but how long till it’s decided that Coupland can dictate what color your house may be or what vehicles you can or cannot park on your own property or what height your grass must be trimmed…. you get the idea.

    Once we start down the slippery slope of imposing controls, constraints and proscriptions on personal liberty and private property rights, there is no end to the potential damage and mutation which may accrue, to obviate what we supposedly incorporated to preserve: the basic freedom to be left alone by government.

    As a dear old friend of mine, who was born in Quanah, TX said, “I want my government to sound like a mosquito doing pushups on a ball of cotton” and my apostrophe to that is, “… not like Jabba the Hutt , wheezing and belching as he consumes the landscape…”

    Jim Huntington Feb 2014

    [Publisher’s Note: Jim Huntington presented this statement to the Coupland City Council at its February meeting. He requested that it be published here. The Coupland Times welcomes opinions from other citizens on this and other issues of the day.]

    ZoningLaw




  • The Coupland Post Office Needs a Few Secret Santas

    Submitted by Karen Marosko:

    IMG_3350I originally created the email account “save78615@aol.com” in an effort to get signatures on the petition to help save our Coupland Post Office. While it was successful in getting a large number of supporting signatures, as it turned out, the United States Postal Service had already made its decision to reduce or eliminate postal service to 78615 and totally dismissed our efforts to show how important it was for Coupland to retain a full time, full service post office. The Postal Service spokesmen at the community meeting (one was the Postmaster from Pflugerville, who knew NOTHING about Coupland) claimed the main issue was that the Coupland Post Office did not generate enough revenue to cover its operation costs, yet many of the things that would help generate revenue were denied to the post office. For example, our post office lacked a trained Postmaster and a postal tape machine. In addition, there was a period when we experienced “Postmaster of the month” and, while stamps were ordered by the temporary Postmaster, they were not sent to the Coupland Post Office in any thing resembling a timely manner — it took weeks (if ever) rather than days. You can’t buy stamps if there aren’t any for sale.

    The solution of the Postal Service was to cut service, which in reality will further cut revenue making for an unending spiral with the ultimate goal of discontinuing postal services at 78615 and placing Coupland into the Taylor or Elgin domain. We might keep the same zip code but lose the Coupland address and any postal needs (certified mailing, etc) will require going to one of those other post offices.

    The reason I am going back over that brief history is that during this holiday season with all the Christmas mailings, this would be a good time for Coupland Post Office patrons to utilize the local post office to buy their stamps and ask their nearby friends in other zip codes to do the same. Such a spurt in increased revenue might be enough to help keep the post office operational for a while longer.

    There are many benefits to the Coupland Post Office such as no long waiting lines, helpful service, convenient highway location, etc. We either use it or lose it. Limited hours are better than no hours.

    From another angle, if you buy and print stamps on your computer, be sure to use the 78615 zip code so the Coupland Post Office will get the credit for the sale. The Postal Service is concerned only with the amount of revenue the post office generates, not the number of mail items that it processes.

    If you shop at HEB, or any other store where they ask you if you need any stamps, let that be a reminder to you to just say no and head to your friendly, local Post Office to buy your stamps. Say hello to Christie while you’re there. She knows all her customers and she goes the extra mile to provide great service to her patrons.

    ~Karen Marosko