At the March 13 meeting of the governing body of Blanco, members approved an ordinance declaring unopposed candidates in the May 12, 2012, election, therefore canceling the election. There are three candidates for the three slots: Martin Sauceda is running for his seat, Al Turner is running for his seat, and Bob McClung is running for the seat being vacated by longtime council member Rebecca Howerton. Mayor Chuck Homan said in his comments that the city will save between $2,000 and $3,000 in election expenses. He also announced that the renovation of city hall will resume the first week in April.
Loree Vandewater, speaking in place of her husband Kenneth, who was unable to attend, asked why Blanco Avenue is closed off east of Loop Road 163. She questioned why a public street is fenced off by property owners. City attorney Eddy Rogers said he would look into the matter and present his findings to her at the April city council meeting. Mrs. Vandewater also asked for relief from loose animals—cows, horses, chickens, goats, and dogs—which get loose from a nearby ranch and come into her yard and onto her porch. Maria Guerrero asked if the animals all come from the same ranch and was told that they do. Council member Al Turner joked that the owner of the animals, who is employed at a ranch, should know how to build a fence strong enough to keep his animals on his property. In the absence of an animal control officer, Police Chief Milton Willmann is called to the scene to remove the animals. He explained that the Blanco County sheriff’s department is responsible for dealing with loose livestock. He has issued numerous fines to the property owner, he explained. Eddy Rogers asked, “Why can’t we fine him until the pain gets to him?” He added, “Milton needs to stop being so nice.” Vandewater said, “It’s a waste of resources for us to have to call the county.” She also expressed fear that dogs running loose without tags may carry rabies. The possibility of calling “contract cowboys” to round up livestock and billing the owner was also discussed. Chief Willmann said he is not sure that there is a stock law in Blanco County that would allow him to file charges, and Rogers said he would look into it. “I’m about ready to start shooting animals,” concluded Vandewater, “but I know I can’t do that.”
After some discussion and differing opinions, council voted 3-2 to renew the contract of code compliance officer Pete McKinney. Al Turner said he had heard complaints that McKinney never showed up after people had paid a fee for his services. Council member Danny Ray, defending McKinney, said he has made a huge difference in making sure buildings are built and repaired to code. “Pete has been a great addition to this town; he has all the trades,” he said, adding, “We’ve got a good deal with Pete.” McKinney works 10 hours a week for Blanco and is paid $1500 per month. Rebecca Howerton complained that there are still many buildings in Blanco that are not up to code, especially around 13th Street. Maria Guerrero questioned if McKinney turns in monthly reports that the city has requested, and was asked by Ray if she wants McKinney mired down in paperwork. Howerton and Guerrero cast the two dissenting votes.
Amos Ramirez, Executive Director of the Blanco Chamber of Commerce, reported that the Chamber Visitor Center was open 21 days in February and received 123 calls for information. Forty-three in-state guests visited and 44 from out of state. The chamber sent out seven Blanco City information packets and six relocation packets. On March 20 there will be a meeting of the steering committee for the Blanco Lavender Festival, which any interested parties are welcome to attend. Ramirez said the chamber is reaching out to non-profits and churches in the community to promote cooperation. He praised the work of the Leo Club at Blanco High School, saying, “We should be proud of those young people.”
Police chief Milton Willmann presented the annual Racial Profiling Report, which has a partial exemption because police vehicles are equipped with video cameras. Videos are kept for 90 days. The city’s written policy defines acts constituting racial profiling and strictly prohibits peace officers employed by the Blanco Police Department from engaging in racial profiling. Data is collected from each citation issued at a traffic stop, including the race/ethnicity of the individual detained, whether a search was conducted, and, if so, whether the individual detained consented to the search, whether the police officer knew the race or ethnicity of the individual detained before detaining that individual, and the submission of this information in an annual report.
Chief Willmann also presented a proposal for the purchase of additional police vehicles, both sedan and sport-utility-vehicle information, new or used, with or without the special equipment needed. Eddy Rogers agreed with the chief on the need for upgraded video equipment because of the use of videos for evidence in court. Maria Guerrero, who is employed as a police officer in Boerne, said she would review the proposal and report back to council. No action was taken on the information presented. Chief also reported that the call volume was down in February, as were arrests, but citations were up slightly.
As there were no items to be discussed in Executive Session, the meeting was adjourned.