Letter to Statesman 3-24-05

To the left is my letter to the Editor of the Austin American Statesman newspaper, which was published March 24, 2005. I wrote to comment on an article that appeared in the paper on March 19th.

Below is an email from Graham Keever, who works for Senator Gonzalo Barrientos. The email was not sent directly to me but, rather, to Gene Lowenthal, Smitty and a few others who are concerned about the Hill Country. Gene forwarded it to me.

It looks to me like Keever is threatening the email's recipients that if they don't shut people like me up, the Senator might not want to play with them anymore. My comments are in red.

From: Graham Keever [mailto:Graham.Keever@senate.state.tx.us]
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2005 12:11 PM
To: Gene Lowenthal; Tom Smitty Smith; Pam Reese; Christy Muse; colin clark I doubt that he couldn't find me. This is a tactic.
Subject: RE: AA-S letter

It might be useful to remind Mr. Sternberg, and others, of a few things, much of which you already know I am sure:

1) That property is owned by Robert Baldwin and something is going to be built there - it will not be a nature preserve of some kind. As a matter of fact, I'll bet something a lot worse than the Hill Country Galleria could be built there under HB 1704 from the 76th Session. Perhaps the best thing to happen in a bad situation is to have us in control of the bill. And just how does having them "in control" prevent "something a lot worse than the Hill Country Galleria"? Hill Country Galleria is Chris Milam's long-standing wet dream. That is what's probably going to happen there. But why should the state subsidize it?

2) Senator Barrientos has filed the following bills of interest to someone of an environmental/responsible growth bent:

SB 123, relating to air quality control measures proposed pursuant to an early action compact;
SB 369, relating to the prohibition of signs on Farm-to-Market Road 3238;
SB 484, relating to restrictions on the imposition of the operating permit fee under the Clean Air Act;
SB 564, relating to the establishment of a program for the disposition of electronic equipment in a manner that protects the water and other natural resources of the state; providing a criminal penalty;
SB 645, relating to the authority of certain counties to regulate the use of outdoor lighting;
SB 1225, relating to the regulation of rainwater harvested for domestic use;
SB 1674, relating to the authority of the Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Conservation District to charge certain fees; and
SB 1678, relating to the powers of the Lower Colorado River Authority to adopt and implement certain environmental conservation measures.Yes, the good Senator has filed some good bills and has, as I said in my email, acted quite often as "champion of the people". On the other hand, this is not one of those times. Neither was his going to bat for the unbearably awful Lazy 9 MUD.

I have the Hill Country Conservation and Reclamation District bill sitting on my desk but quite honestly it's filing becomes less likely with each published remark in a news story or letter to the editor about how the senator has become a champion of big developers or unresponsive to his constituents. This is a shameless threat, plain and simple. He knows that the "district" is a project that we who love the Hill Country want to see happen. This represents the worst sort of political BS.

This session we've also filed bills to encourage mass transit (SB 129, relating to certain exceptions to the requirement that the operator of a motor vehicle operated on a turnpike project pay the proper toll or the full amount of the toll);

reduce the use of tolls in transportation funding (SB 478, relating to the authority of certain counties to impose a local tax on the sale of gasoline and to the use of the tax revenue by a regional mobility authority);
save the lives of kids playing high school sports (SB 474, relating to safety regulations for certain extracurricular school activities);
and require HMOs to pay for a life-saving cancer treatment that costs less than other treatment options (SB 218, relating to the coverage of certain treatments for multiple myeloma and Hodgkin's disease under an evidence of coverage issued by a health maintenance organization).
In which part of the "dark side" do those bills reside?

3) He lives in Troy Fraser's district. I may not live in Barrientos' district but, according to this map, it looks like neither the Galleria nor the Lazy 9 MUD is in his district either.

My boss may try to talk to him by telephone but I am really tired of this stuff. Did anyone write the Statesman thanking us for fighting the water lines? Anyone write in favor of any of our bills? Does everyone realize there are now 11 members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee and on a really good day we might get 4 votes against a really bad bill and one of those votes is ALWAYS us?

There are 750,000 people in each senatorial district. Thanks to the 2001 state redistricting plan, District 14 has a more diverse political orientation than it once did. The senator strives for balance. Balance? Seems to me more like you toss the citizens a bone then, when they bend over to pick it up, you bop them on the head and kick them in the behind.

Just a few things to think about. Does "think about" mean "be afraid, be very afraid"???


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