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!

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

Broken Not Beaten

Submitted by Jim Huntington:

HiromiOn Friday Feb 15,2014  a sculpture that had stood in the sculpture garden for 7 years, was attacked by testosterone poisoned, alcohol fueled feral punks, doing their white trash version of the knockout game. They left behind little evidence save empty beer can and bottle and the destroyed sculpture. The sculpture was titled “Hiromi, Mon Amour” a takeoff on a 60s film title and dedicated to Hiromi Uehara, a brilliant young Japanese pianist.  One of the stones was anchored on a stainless anchor pin, like most of my vertical pieces and the other one was nested against it, with no anchor pin (my mistake). However, it took purposeful malevolent intent and work to knock it over and it broke when it hit the ground.

Of course it was heartbreaking to see one of my favorite pieces destroyed by miscreants, living a pathetic mutated existence at the expense of others but I strive to learn from mistakes and vicissitudes of life.

Refusing to be bowed by these maggots, I set about to reclaim and transform it into a horizontal piece and worked on it for several weeks. The new incarnation is titled “Broken Not Beaten”. I have always felt that my work has a life of its own and that I am merely the messenger, so I deal with what is given.

Broken

Of course, I hope for posterity’s sake that all the work I have at Huntington Sculpture Foundation survives me but the level of cultural insouciance, intellectual dissolution and moral degeneracy permeating society in general, leaves me to wonder about the fate of my life’s work. There is little I can do but make my sculpture and, as I always have, leave it in God’s hands.

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

Funding Essential Government Functions with Bonds? – It’s Your Choice on November 5

I received a flyer in the mail from “Citizens for Better Williamson County Transportation/2013.” If you live in Williamson County, you probably received one also. What grabbed my attention were the big, bold letters: WILL NOT RAISE OUR TAXES!

It’s time for a reality check. The development and maintenance of roads and parks costs money. I think we can all agree on that. Public roads and public parks are most likely going to be paid for with the public’s money. I think we can all agree on that, too. Now where’s that money going to come from? Probably from your taxes, agreed? So how can they say that these projects will not raise our taxes?

Before we go further, let’s look at bonds. A bond is essentially a promissory note that governments issue to buyers in exchange for cash up front . Bonds are sold in auctions. The buyer can expect repayment plus tax free interest according to the terms of the bond agreement. Sweet deal for them, especially considering they get the money for almost nothing from the Federal Reserve (which is not federal at all but a consortium of privately-owned banks). Where does the money come from to repay those bonds plus interest? You got it! The payments come from your taxes. Learn more here: Bonds

It is misleading to say that our taxes will not be raised. The flyer says, “by selling the road bonds incrementally over the next two years and leveraging the debt we have paid off, there will be no increase in the tax rate.”

What they mean by “leveraging the debt we have paid off” is that we will add new debt as we pay off old debt. So, instead of your taxes going down, they remain the same. It’s like constantly adding new charges to a credit card at the same time as you pay it down. You will never get it paid off and way too much of your payment is going to interest. The only people that benefit from interest payments are the big banks (and corporations owned or controlled by big banks) that buy and sell municipal bonds. If the county’s old debt was paid off, then the money that had been going to that debt service could either be returned back to the citizens in the form of reduced taxes (don’t hold your breath) or it could be used to begin building up a fund to pay for future projects. Those projects could be paid for with money that we are not having to pay interest upon. Now there’s a radical concept.

We have a debt-based economy. It doesn’t have to be that way but that, like the Federal Reserve, is a much larger topic. Let’s just stick to the immediate issue. I have a few concerns about the current campaign to put us further into debt to build or improve county infrastructure.

First, the flyer includes the Williamson County logo, such as you may have seen on official press releases from the county, which I have posted on this site. However, the flyer is not from the county but from an advocacy group. Who are these “citizens?” Take a look at who has donated money to the campaign and you will get the idea. Take a look at this Campaign Finance Report. It looks to me as though many of the principal contributors are the kinds of people and companies who might benefit from large construction projects. Many are not even residents of Williamson County. Maybe they really are well-meaning citizens — I’m not saying they aren’t — but it doesn’t smell right to me.

Second, I found this little gem on the Wilco website: 2013 Road and Park Bond Election

“The estimated costs, proposed locations, proposed projects and proposed descriptions listed represent possible uses of such bond proceeds. The actual projects constructed with bond proceeds are subject to change based on future economic, market and other conditions.”

So you think you’re voting for one thing but the county can spend it on something else if it so chooses. I don’t know about you but if I am committing myself to future debt for specific purposes, I want to know it is going to those purposes.

Third, the county is sitting on enough money to significantly reduce the county debit. Prepare for an education about local government finances.

Most people only see the “Popular Annual Financial Report” (PAFR) issued by various governments. The Williamson County PAFR is short (24 pages) and is designed to highlight all the positive news without divulging the details — wherein the Devil is said to reside.

The real information is in the “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” (CAFR), which is 194 pages and contains a full disclosure of  government finances. I’m not an accountant but I can read and I know a little bit about how local government functions so I scanned through it. You can too.

Click on the links to see the PAFR and the CAFR for Williamson County for the fiscal year (FY) that ended on September 30, 2012 (the most recent year that has been audited). Here are a few interesting tidbits:

  • The recommended general fund balance is at least 30% of budgeted expenditures but at the end of FY 2012, the county had $73.8 million or 63% of budgeted expenditures for that year, so it’s not hurting for operating cash.
  • The county has investments (stocks, bonds, etc) that are not part of the general fund but which are “unassigned,” meaning they aren’t obligated to any specific purpose. At the end of FY 2012, the county’s total unassigned fund balance was just over $365 million.
  • The county’s long term liabilities (debt) total almost $855 million. That’s awful close to a BILLION dollars of debt already.
  • The county is paying interest on that debt in amounts ranging from 3% to 5.75%. That means the county is paying something north of about $36 million each year in interest before even touching the debt principal.

 

So what’s the bottom line (pun intended)? I look around and see county roads in need of maintenance. $36 million dollars would fill a lot of potholes but that money belongs to the big banks. It’s time for government to live like the rest of us. Start paying down the debt, don’t add new debt, maintain and expand roads and parks as best as you can but throw off the yoke of debt servitude as quickly as possible. I’m sure there is a bit of fat that can be trimmed here and there to make county government more lean.

0417_richtaxes_630x420It’s time to wean the government from living on debt. It will cry. That’s part of the weaning process. We may not be able to do anything about Washington D.C.’s addiction to debt (without staging massive acts of civil disobedience, that is) but we can do something about what goes on in our local governments. On November 5, send a clear message: NO MORE DEBT!

A Plea to the Coupland City Council

Submitted by Jim Huntington:

Resolution of honor/support

I realize the Coupland City Council has its plate quite full of business relating to our little community in its inaugural year but we are also part of the greater American community and what we are witnessing from the petty, vindictive, out of control tyrant, of questionable moral authority, posing as president/CIC is unconscionable.

This moral cretin has specifically directed some of his recent infantile attacks on the precious few living WWII veterans by punitively denying them access to their WW II Monument and at the same time has pointedly deprived volunteer Catholic priests from administering mass to active duty military personnel.

This is an outrage of epic proportions and our country and community forsakes its American heritage, reason and compassion if we do not take the time to raise our voice in formal resolution of support and honor for those who served and now serve, and also condemnation of the errant, repugnant actions of this spiritual dwarf who postures as a leader, while soiling himself, insulting the American people and profaning the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as those currently volunteering to do the same.

The time is way past due to push back against the outrages of the punk pretending to be president and it must start from the bottom up.

Jim Huntington

In Memoriam : U.S. Constitution BORN 1787. DIED 2012.

Vietnam Veterans being arrested in New York on October 7

Vietnam Veterans being arrested in New York on October 7