New Independent Citizens Lobby Responds to Times Square
Simultaneously with an ad campaign in Times Square intended to lure more people to Hays County and partially paid for with public money, a new non-profit, non-partisan citizens lobby – the League of Independent Voters of Texas -- is throwing down in Bastrop, Texas. Citizens from throughout central Texas are coming to Bastrop this Saturday evening to join forces to “Stop the Water Grab” and “Protect Our Land, Our Water and Our Homes with Local Control” at the League’s first “Regional Round Up” from 6 to 8 pm at the American Legion next to Bastrop State Park. Details here.
Michele Gangnes, Lee County water activist and League interim board member, said, “It is the height of arrogance for the Greater San Marcos Partnership to waste taxpayer money on jumbotron ads in New York City, while back at home Hays County officials are busy grabbing groundwater from Lee and Bastrop counties and loading ever more debt on to Hays County residents to pay for what they call 'inevitable growth'. Do they think anyone is fooled by this con game?”
Gangnes cited the refusal of the Texas Attorney General to bless Hays County’s multi-million dollar contract with Forestar Real Estate Group to reserve vast amounts of Lee County water that Forestar has so far failed to secure. She said, “Until now, Forestar’s latest brazen move against our counties was to sue not only our local Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, but also the individual volunteer members of the district’s board to get either a permit for the water or millions of dollars in damages. If there were any doubt the ‘growth lobby’ is calling the shots in how public dollars are spent in this state, the teamwork of Forestar, Hays County and now the GSMP leaves no doubt.”
The keynote speaker in Bastrop on Saturday is former North Texas small town Mayor Calvin Tillman, another interim board member of the new League of Independent Voters. Tillman is known throughout Texas and nationally for his work to enact genuine eminent domain reform and other private property protections, to secure more local control over pipeline routing and to assure responsible and respectful operations by the natural gas industry. In so doing, Tillman has worked with hundreds of local Texas officials. Tillman said, “The State of Texas has taken away more and more rights from local governments, but small towns are the purest form of democracy and should have the power to protect their citizens’ land, water and air. Partisanship is not the answer, and citizens need to unite across party lines to join the battle for local control of their lives and property.”
The League’s volunteer Executive Director is Linda Curtis, a Bastrop resident who in 2012 helped lead a cross-partisan voter revolt via citizens petition in the city of Austin for passage of a charter amendment known as “10-1” for district City Council elections and the first independent citizens redistricting commission in the state of Texas. Curtis said, “Austinites used the power of local control through the citizens petition process so effectively that this November Austin voters will have the opportunity to give the central Texas ‘growth machine’ a big swift kick in the pants by electing an entirely new Council to represent each area of the City. Texans must unite now across party lines and prepare to go into the 2015 legislative session with a statewide movement for local control." Click here for details on the costs of growth.
Like Hays County officials, many Central Texas officials have claimed that they can do nothing to take the foot off the gas pedal of unfettered growth in the midst of historic drought. Meanwhile, public-private partnerships like the Greater San Marcos Partnership, the Governor, and many legislators and other officials, on both sides of the aisle, are doing the bidding of the large-scale real estate lobby. The oil and gas lobby, which is supposedly regulated by the Railroad Commission, continues to allow frackers to use potable water for fracking and to risk contamination of groundwater, including the same water from Lee and Bastrop counties that is so coveted by the real estate developers. Click here for more on fracking risks.
Also reporting at this meeting are: James Abshier on Caldwell County citizens’ efforts against a landfill and John Mikus of Texans for Responsible Water and Energy on efforts to protect land, air and water against coal and fracking activities in Fayette County. The remainder of this event is designed for citizens to strategize on what actions they can take to rein in the lobbies that are running roughshod over citizens and local communities.
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