Regarding The Election
I vote, and so should you. I consider it both a privilege and a duty, being a part of this great nation. I have been voting for over 50 years in each of the states I have resided in, and when I started you had to be at least age 21, missing only one election due to sudden illness and hospitalization. You should vote and make your decision count in all elections, be they local, state or national.
I know it has become increasingly difficult to make yourself go to the polls as the years have gone by, primarily because those who wish to become our leaders and/or voice seem to have lost the ability to let we the people know what they hope to accomplish for us if successful in their bids for office. Instead, campaigning seems to have become a game of discovering the most negative things they can find regarding their opponents.
I, for one, oppose all the negative campaigning and prefer to find positive reasons for marking each box. With study, one can make a valued decision based on their own heart and wishes, ignoring party lines.
Consider the issues, the candidates, and above all, do not be lured into the thought that you should vote a straight ticket. Not every candidate from a particular party is the right candidate for the position they are seeking.
Above all, get out and vote! It really only takes a short amount of time, plus you have an opportunity to meet and visit with your fellow neighbors and friends. If you choose not to do so, you do not have the right to complain about how our city, our state, and our country is being run.
Let's make this one of the most successful elections percentage-wise that Blanco County has ever seen.
I am writing about the decision to build a new 48-bed jail in Blanco County. As a retired businessman and Blanco County resident, I grew concerned about the controversy over this project and tried to determine for myself whether this was a good or bad use of taxpayer money.
Here is what I learned: Currently, Blanco County spends about $72,000 per year renting jail space from other counties due to our insufficient capacity. In addition, we use the equivalent of one full-time officer to transport our prisoners to and from these other facilities. This problem is not unique to Blanco County. Several other counties, including Gillespie County, are forced to rent space for their prisoners due to a lack of jail capacity.
A new jail is clearly needed to solve our space problem. It seems to be a good time to build one, because interest rates are low and construction companies are competing hard for business to avoid laying people off during the economic slowdown. Our sheriff’s department was advised by counties that added jail space in recent years to build enough capacity to meet our needs for at least as long as it takes to pay off the construction costs (i.e., 20 years). Doing this meant that Blanco County would have excess capacity for a while in our new facility until we “grew into” the new space. However, instead of being wasteful in the short run, this excess capacity can actually help us offset our building costs by renting jail space to other counties. Our sheriff’s department believes that by doing this Blanco County can generate several hundred thousand dollars per year in revenue, which is more than enough to pay the interest for both the new jail and the new courthouse annex. When you add the fact that it costs about the same to operate a 48-bed jail as a 30-bed jail, building the larger facility seems to be a no-brainer.
So when I look at the business rationale for this project, it seems to be a good decision that will benefit the county financially and help keep future tax rates as low as possible.
I received the BISD brochure in the mail last week regarding the proposed “School Bond.” At first glance I was excited to see a remedy for the elementary campus. You had made your case in the local paper and I think most everyone has known for a long time that much work is needed on that campus. I was very pleased to see that care was taken to preserve the history of the school by including the façade with its original look. So far, so good. BUT….then I re-read the details of the proposal. Five Million dollars to renovate the elementary campus. Sounds like a lot of money to me but I know things cost more than I like to admit. Then another two million dollars for “Other Improvements;” things listed were “add a running trail to the campus (where five million dollars has just been allocated?) Alter the middle school science lab, air condition the middle school gym, repair the paving and modify the stage” at the high school. Then district wide “add security cameras, new maintenance barn, paving at the stadium, relocate the tennis courts? And Technology???”
Oh yeah, and a further one point six million for “one school bus, insurance on the bond (which could not have been an after thought,) equipment, furnishings, professional fees,” and my personal favorite “contingencies” and oops, of course “legal.” I am very sorry to say that I cannot in good conscience vote for this bond in its current state.
I hope the board will try again to pass a bond for the much needed work at the “Elementary Campus.”
I appreciate BCN posting Mr. Fojtasek letter last week. There are always 2 sides to a story, and after talking to people and the propaganda that BISD had put out, I now have a viable list of pros and cons on which to base my decision regarding our bond election.
It is unfortunate the proposed tennis courts mean spending over half a million dollars, I feel our schools do need the other line items in the bond, and would be more supportive of the bond if the budget numbers for the courts were more conservative.
Also, I was a bit confused as to why BISD decided to spend money on doing an advertising type mail out to our community voters when, through the web, paper and meetings, they had pretty much all the bases covered and question answered. I thought this was odd because at the beginning of school, both my 11th and 1st grader made a comment about the school(s) said they didn’t have money for (copy) paper this year. So we have budget money for advertising but, not for the kids school work? The mail out also wasn’t very clear on where to vote, it made it sound like you could vote on the bond AND nationals both at the school.
At any rate, I really do urge everyone to get out and vote on this bond, it truly effects each of us, and in this case, it will take a village to school a child. I have faith in our community and know that we will make a good sound decision, but you have to get out and make that decision on paper.
Regarding Carl Bragg
I try to attend most City Council meetings to stay knowledgeable of the happenings in Blanco. The Special Meeting on October 22 at 3pm was an appalling meeting. I never thought our Mayor and council would not listen to the people of Blanco. But at this meeting it became obvious that no citizen could have any input in the firing of Assistant Police Chief Bragg. And for our city attorney to address Ms. Howerton the way he did was a total embarrassment. It was nice to see that the Police department will be getting a couple “used” police cars. My question to Council, why do you not acknowledge all the hard work our police department does and reward them? The Masonic Lodge even had to buy a couple safety vests for our officers. And what was the real reason behind the firing of Assistant Police Chief Bragg? Again, I ask our Council to listen to the concerned citizens and business owners of Blanco.
I know Carl Bragg well! And he will be a great loss to your community and Police Dept.
How do I know him?...He worked for me in Gilmer, Texas while I was the Police Chief there and he did an excellent job.
It's a shame that your city has some vested interests and did in fact railroad Carl Bragg. But I suspect the courts will soon advise your city officials they were wrong... and i'm sure the next election will also show them they were very wrong in firing this man.
Regarding the Special Council Meeting last Friday at 3:00 in the afternoon - I have some questions and comments for the Blanco Councilmen:
1. Why at 3pm on a Friday with an out-of-town game? Why not any evening when citizens have a chance to attend without taking off work?
2. Since the items on the agenda are not "new", why not post the meeting in advance rather than wait until just after the paper has been published to post it on City Hall?
3. If, as was stated by the City Attorney, this meeting was to answer the citizens' questions about the firing of Officer Carl Bragg, why was there no "Public Comments" as allowed for in all other Council Meetings?
4. If, Mr. Rogers, you make a comment directed to me that you were confident that Mr. Bragg had shown me his one and only written evaluation in his 4+ years on the force in Blanco, then why did you call me down as being out of order when I responded?
5. When you did call me down, and Mayor Hohmann repeated that I did not have the floor, why would you tell me and the citizens that I would be heard when I DID have the floor, and you neither one would then allow me, or all the other more than 30 citizens that I would be heard when I did have the floor, and you neither one would then allow me, or all the other more than 30 citizens present to speak?
6. When will you men on the council realize that you are voted into office to represent, not silence, the citizens of Blanco?
7. Did you hear the many citizens who spoke after the meeting of impeaching you?
Christina M. Gourley
Former City of Blanco Mayor and council person
On Friday afternoon, October 22, I attended a special meeting called by the City Council at 3 pm, along with a large group of concerned citizens. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss police business, namely, the purchase of two used police cruisers and the "ratification" of Officer Carl Bragg's termination. The meeting lasted less than 20 minutes. A number of us wanted to speak on behalf of Officer Bragg, who served our community honorably for a number of years. But the citizens were not allowed to speak! What I witnessed seemed to me like a mean-spirited done deal, and I left feeling very frustrated. I hope the City Council will be more willing to listen to what the people of Blanco (the community the City Council serves) have to say at their next regular meeting. Officer Bragg, we will miss you and wish you the very best.