Notice regarding Letters to the Editor

Notice regarding Letters to the Editor

The Coleman Chronicle and Democrat-Voice encourages citizens to voice their opinions and concerns by writing letters to the editor.  As publishers of the newspaper, we promise to provide fair access and opportunities for citizens to express themselves publicly in the newspaper.  Nevertheless, when letters to the editor become more frequent and are aimed at an ongoing political subject or debate, they become political advertising.  When submitting a letter to the editor, please be advised that publication is not guaranteed.

Evan Autry and Leah Autry Biddle

Electrical petitions are on the agenda

Electrical petitions are on the agenda

The two petitions are once again on the city council agenda to be discussed by the council this Thursday, May 21st, 2015.

The agenda also introduces some parallel discussions, including a request by the city manager asking the council to allow the City Manager to seek and advertise for proposals from a Professional CPA who is properly qualified, to perform the following studies.

Examine the City’s current Electrical Rates, expenditures, and City Revenues to determine the adequacy of the current electrical rate structure relative to the City’s budget requirements.

Examine the City’s current costs and/or expenses associated with the City’s Electrical Distribution System and Electrical Production System along with other departments which may contain electrical line items costs as compared to the electrical rates charged to the customers of the Electrical Distribution System.

Examine the short term and long term financial impact of the City’s budget with regards to the potential divestiture of the City’s Electrical Distribution System and/or reduction in electrical rates as required by the proposed ordinances and petitions.

Examine the alternative sources of revenues required to make up the estimated shortfall should the City Of Coleman be required to lower electrical rates and or divest the City of the Electrical Distribution System.

Although I certainly welcome studies to determine the profitability of the electrical system and of course recognition of the alternate sources of revenue, this agenda item does beg the question: Why now?

We have been asking for such studies since October. Multiple people have performed similar studies (at no charge) and submitted the results to the city manager, council members as well multiple others in the position to make or help make executive decisions for the city.  When I asked Mr. Jeffery Gay (expert hired by city on several occasions to give advice relating to the electrical issues) if he had seen the studies, he stated he had never seen them, yet reiterated during the town hall meeting that selling the system would be detrimental to the city. When I asked Mr. Pat Chesser, city attorney, after the May 7th, council meeting if he had ever reviewed the documentation that myself and others had prepared on the profitability (or lack thereof) of the system, he also answered no, but I trust Geoffrey Gay, who is an expert in the field.

I am glad that there will be a study, but just who do you think will be doing the study?
And again, why now?
The city must make one of 3 decisions within 30 days of May 7th  (June 6th)

(a)     Pass the initiated ordinance, without amendment, within thirty (30) days after the date of the certification to the Council; or
(b)     Submit said initiated ordinance, without amendment, to a vote of the registered voters of the City at a regular or special election to be held within ninety (90) days after the date of the certification to the Council; or
(c)     At such election, submit to a vote of the registered voters of the City said initiated ordinance without amendment, and an alternative ordinance on the same subject proposed by the Council.

Now there is actually a 4th option and that is to call the petitions “inappropriate” and therefore not subject to initiative.  Basically, this means they may try to say they don't have to honor these petitions because they believe they deal with subject matters that citizens do not have the right to petition against or for.  This fourth option is not really a very good option and will end up costing EVERYONE a lot of time and money and we are very certain the city will lose in the long run as they find the courts will uphold our right to petition.

So again why now? This study cannot be done within 14 days. And it cannot alter the opinion of any judge, nor can it change whether the petitions are appropriate or not.

Of note, I had actually hoped that the city council would have put on last weeks special called May 14th, agenda some discussions on this electrical issue (as I mentioned during the discussions May 7th, that there is a limited amount of time.) but this was not the case. So here we are, already running out of time to make informed decisions. Multiple requests for studies since October, multiple attempts to help them with the decision process by providing as much information as we could garner and multiple attempts to sit down and talk with the council members and not a single member has actually read any of the studies. Now with only a few days left to go … there is a request for a study -- that cannot be used in this particular decision process!

So again, why now?

My hope, is that the city leaders have actually decided they want to honor the pleas of the people and do the right thing by allowing these petitions to make it to the ballot in November.  The study of course will be used later to show you, the citizens of Coleman, who now pay the highest electrical rate in Texas, just how much the city will lose if we should sell the system (all in an attempt to get you to vote to keep the high rates).

Yes, this is just my opinion and yes it is a bit poignant, but call me a bit skeptical that these studies are in the best interest of the citizens.

If you do decide to attend the meeting this Thursday (May 21st, 6:00 pm) and would like to speak, please be sure to fill out the new form. You cannot speak without filling out the form. Personally, I'm not sure if it is worth the effort as there is going to be an executive session (behind closed doors) where the decision will be made without citizen participation.

We'll let you know what happened Friday and give you an update on the next steps in the legal process (which is dependent on the council decision) of setting Coleman free of this horrific burden.  Once Coleman votes to shed this weight we can begin to grow and be the city we once were.

Thank you to all who have taking the time to get informed and have been a constant support during this important process. To those who have not taken the time to actually become educated with the actual numbers behind the electrical system, I encourage you to do so. You will find that there is no financial justification for keeping the system. It costs both the city and the citizens dearly. No jobs need to be lost, no services need to be cut and no bankruptcy is even remotely likely.  The numbers confirm this!  If they did not, the people you see supporting this movement could not and would not have done so!

Think about it! Those who have not studied the documentation are against the sale, those that have actually looked into this in any depth have all come to the same conclusion --- the system does not make a real profit and the citizens and businesses pay a premium that is destroying the town from the inside out.

The studies I have referred to are in the forum. More updated figures will be released soon and of course we now have an “expert study” just around the corner which we look forward to with eagerness and will certainly review. There is just no reason you cannot know the truth about this subject, unless of course you have decided you just don't want to know, since if you did, you might just be forced to accept “a different truth”

May our Lord give us much more grace and mercy than any of us, myself in particular, deserve as we walk though this complex time in Coleman's future.

Craig Allen
Coleman

To the Editor,

To the Editor,

There’s nothing quite as alarming as the blaring siren of an ambulance or fire truck fast approaching. Whether you’re in your car or safely in your home, knowing that someone—somewhere—may be in a life-threatening situation automatically increases our level of alertness.

Simultaneously, that siren is also reassuring:  we are relieved to know that the “right” people are rushing to whoever is in distress. We count on the professionals in the ambulances, fire trucks and medevac helicopters to get to the scene quickly and to know what to do in a thousand different scenarios—and, thankfully, they do.

This year we will honor these professionals May 17-23 during National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week. Hospitals all across the country will show their appreciation to first responders, EMTs (emergency medicine technicians) and paramedics, and also to registered nurses involved in air-ambulance transport.  Their commitment to providing care at the scene of both accidents and fast-onset illnesses, as well as during transport, saves lives. Any person or family who has been on the receiving end of EMS knows the difference these individuals make in our communities and across the country.

Brownwood Regional Medical Center is privileged to honor all hard hardworking caring Emergency Medical Service personnel with a come and go breakfast on May 22 and provide refreshments throughout the week.

If you have the opportunity to thank an EMS provider May 17-23, please do. Their dedication should never be taken for granted.

Lexie Feist, RN
Brownwood Regional Medical Center

I Want A Second Opinion, Doctor

I Want A Second Opinion, Doctor

I’m voting against on Saturday. Gosh, that sounds negative. I’ve been personally besmirched and demeaned both personally and as a “Group”. It saddens me, but I can handle it.  I’ll address that issue in later and through other public communication tools. This letter to the Editor is to explain why I’m voting against and why I think my decision is nothing but positive for the long term future of a community I love so much.

One would be really short sighted to fight against a good medical facility for our community. I want a facility that’s well managed with great equipment, personnel and capable of meeting the future changing environment dictated by national healthcare policy called the Affordable Patient Care Act.  I was against the passage of that legislation but it is here and we have to deal with it wisely and with smart decisions on how to spend our limited resources. We are a poor community and lots of us continually try to reverse that pattern, but that’s another subject.

By voting against, I’m trying to give our community a chance to get a second opinion.  I want a 21stcentury facility. One that is financially stable. One that is adaptable to meet the demands of both the patient and the government dictates.  I, from hours and hours of reading about the future of rural healthcare feel that the independent, stand alone, inpatient facility faces long odds to just survive. I believe that the ACA, known as Obamacare, will frown on a rural facility without a strong direct tie in to a larger provider like Hendricks, Shannon, Scott and White or someone similar. I can almost assure you the authorities approving expenditures under Medicare’s Critical Access Status won’t approve funding for a Labor and Delivery room and a Surgical Suite. By definition, Critical Access status patients must stay less than 96 hours to receive the special 101% of cost reimbursement.  It defies credulity to think that Medicare will pay for something devoted to childbirth.

I want a facility that addresses the needs of the elderly.  A facility that perhaps could have a gerontologist (old age care specialist) available one or two days a week.  Maybe one that deals with Alzheimer’s. I want a facility geared to provide rehab services and wellness classes and teaching.  I want a top notch Emergency Room.  I want one affiliated with a great partner that can expand our access to a variety of specialties.

Look at Brady’s hospital and what they have accomplished on much less tax dollars.  Look at Granbury or Athens or Eastland or dozens of rural hospitals that are miles ahead of us at present. Voting “for” leads us down the same old path but, with an enormous new mortgage.  Voting “against” is the positive action. Vote 21st century. Vote to get a second opinion.

Bennie Flynn
Coleman County

Dead Editor,

Dead Editor,

I have recently had a blood transfusion of 4 units by Dr. Reynolds who noticed I did not look like myself after being seen at Hidalgo’s for lunch in town. He told me to come see him in the clinic that afternoon. On April 30, 2015, I received two more pints of blood. The nursing staff were great help, Brice never left my side. We definitely need a hospital up here, if it had not been here I would have had to go out of town to receive care. Please vote “FOR” the hospital, it was here when I needed it. There are many people who need it as well.

LaVerne Stark
Coleman, Texas

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

Public libraries cultivate literacy, learning and imagination.  They are the one place in the community that any person can visit to use the internet, research any topic of their choosing, or travel to anywhere in the world through reading.  Libraries serve as a critical public resource for career and job skills information and training, especially during these tough economic times.  Coleman Public Library is a vital community resource and one that deserves every bit of support we can give it.

That’s why we are grateful to the Texas book Festival for awarding Coleman Public Library a collections enhancement grant.  Because of their funding, we are able to provide our county students with new Accelerated Reading eBook titles via our MackinVIA portal located on the libraries web sitewww.colemanlibrary.com.

Thank you to the Texas Book Festival, its patrons and its sponsors.  The people of Coleman appreciate your support and we look forward to visiting Austin on October 17th and 18th for the 20th annual Texas Book Festival.

Sincerely,
Sue Dossey, Librarian
Coleman

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

Currently there are two intertwined electrical issues before this community: Two petitions and two State of Texas House Bills.  Because the petitions have an end date of Friday, April 10, 2015, I think it is vital for the citizens to understand the true thoughts behind the petitions.

There is no doubt that the citizens of Coleman have an electrical problem.  As a county dweller, I chose to stay out of this battle until a recent city council meeting where it was obvious to me that even the council is unaware of what all is occurring with the confidentiality of these electrical contracts.

While I have accepted, in my opinion, the best plan is now to sit out the AEPEP contract, it does not mean the city or its citizens need to sit on their hands either.  The two petitions are NOT promoting a single issue.  They are promoting an idea.  The idea is to give the citizens and taxpayers an option to have their voices heard and help the city council make decisions about what is best for this community.

I can only tell you what I want:  I don’t want services cut.  I want services improved.  I would never support a cut in the budget for either the swimming pool or the library or the police department; however, I am willing to look at alternative funding/budgeting that would allow for their funding plus more.  I want a jail even if it means collaboration with another county.  I want this community to thrive and move forward.  I want the City of Coleman and the Coleman City Council to listen to what its citizens want.  That, folks, is why I signed a petition as an interested county resident.  I want my voice and YOUR VOICE heard.

It is my opinion this community needs to start planning on its future now by voicing their opinion to the city council and the administration.  It is my opinion that the only way your voice is going to be heard is to have an active role in deciding the process of this next electrical contract.  Certainly, it is not too early to start now!  Signing the petition is not saying you support the sell of the lines.  It is saying:  I want to investigate and look at alternatives to what we have now.  Because I am so dedicated to the library and the pool, I have repeatedly refused to even look at the option, but I do want alternatives.  Does Coleman need to put in a wind farm?  Would solar be an option?  Is our local electrical coop interested?  At least with the coop, we are supporting a local business and putting Coleman people to work plus the coop donates to our community.  Even LCRA, also an electrical provider, supports the Coleman Public Library, the City of Coleman Park, and Heritage Hall through various grants.  What has AEPEP donated to this community?  I want to see alternatives, don’t you?

If you want a voice, sign the petition at 112 South Concho (the old cable office).  All it is saying is you want your voice to be heard!  Next week, I’m going to be telling you about the house bills currently introduced in the Texas Legislation about the confidentiality of electric contracts.  It is really a hum dinger!

Respectfully submitted,
Doodie Taylor-Knox
Coleman

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

In 2009, $800,000,000.00 in tax dollars was spent on stimulus for the economy hoping for recovery from the recession.  What if a greater amount of money was available for this stimulus without spending tax dollars? If the IRS and the Income tax system were replaced with the Fair Tax, the 2.5 trillion dollars collected by the IRS during fiscal year 2013 would be left in the hands of the taxpayers of this country to stimulate the economy by spending and investing it.  This is true stimulus and would not involve the graft and missmanagement that came with the 2009 waste of taxes.

The first year the Fair Tax is enacted is projected  bring a 10% (or more) growth in the economy.  No more IRS, income or payroll taxes or April 15th deadline.  All that money the IRS would have collected will be left in the hands of the people and businesses to pump up the economy without government help.

Companies that have left this country will return to do business in the most prosperous nation in the world.  For more info see: www.fairtax.org.

Roy T. Newsom
Grandbury

Redemption?

Redemption?

By Ronnie McBrayer, Syndicated Columnist, Pastor and Author

Daryl showed up at my friend’s home carrying about thirty extra pounds and the weight of the world on his shoulders. Daryl was there to fix the malfunctioning cable. As he huff-and-puffed his way through the crooks and crannies of attics and crawl spaces, the mid-life tire roll he was wearing was obvious. The other weight – the real weight – took a bit longer to recognize.

When Daryl finished his work he said to my friend, “I noticed the Christian books in your office. Are you a minister?” And barely waiting for the answer, Daryl began unloading his weight pound by pound. My friend listened as Daryl spoke of his father’s death, his financial struggles, and the eviction notice nailed to his apartment door.

Daryl finally unloaded his real baggage with the admission that he too was a pastor; at least that was what he used to be. An extramarital affair had ended that career posthaste, and he had been recently expelled from the church and lost his marriage. When Daryl finished, he gathered his burdens and moved on to the next service call.

My friend shared that story with me a few days ago, and when our conversation ended I flipped on my own cable box, Daryl’s heaviness still hanging in the air. Greeting me on my flickering screen was a politician, explaining his most recent legalities and apologizing profusely for a laundry list of well-publicized immoralities.

Daryl the Cable Guy and the politician had a lot in common, and it was more than a bit ironic that I heard their stories within seconds of each other. Both fouled up in a very public way. Both violated the trust that good people had placed in them. Both weaved their webs of deceit, harming those closest to them. And both stand in need of redemption.

That’s a remarkable word, redemption. The Christian books on my own shelves tell me that redemption means “to buy.” The word carries the idea of freeing a person who has been enslaved; cutting the chains that bind; lifting away the weights that one carries. Thus, anything – or anyone – worthy of redemption is exactly that: Worthy and worth the price.

All human beings, even those with abysmal moral records of failure, have worth. To God. To the greater community. To those they will come to love and love them. They can (and should) be redeemed because they have intrinsic value.

The objections at this point are obvious. Philandering preachers? Vile and despicable acts by national politicians? Redemption? You can’t be serious! Well, people exactly like this seem to have been Jesus’ best pals. Let it never be forgotten that the accusation the religious community always hurled against Jesus was that he “was a friend to sinners.”

Prostitutes, tax collectors (easily substituted today with words like mafia or extortionists), Zealots (political radicals), lepers (the untouchables), oddballs, weirdoes, outsiders, and all manner of “notorious sinners” found a home in the presence of Christ. Can this same sordid bunch find a home in the congregations that carry Christ’s name? After all, if these can’t come to Jesus’ house of love and grace, where else are they going to go?

I concede that redemption doesn’t necessarily mean putting Daryl the Cable Guy back in a pulpit. The intoxicating authority found in such a position may be no good for him. The apologizing politician will likely never hold public office again – and that’s probably a good thing for him – such offices are often more poisonous than profitable anyway. But this does not change the fact that all of us sinners need safe, accessible communities of faith that will challenge our selfishness, point us to a hope-filled contrition, teach us what it means to love others and be loved by God, and yes, redeem us.

It is impossible to know the hearts of others, but Jesus thought that those considered the worst transgressors were worth having an open heart toward. Maybe his church will think so as well.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

FROM THE EDITOR

FROM THE EDITOR

Everyone reading this has an “opinion” about something that I personally won’t agree with.  That gives me no less right of expressing mine than anyone else.  I’ve received much grief over my “opinion” in this week’s “Cheers and Jeers”.  Let me recap it here for anyone who hasn’t read it…
Cheers – to CCMC for printing a weekly Q&A series.  For those who’d prefer to fuel the rumor mill, perhaps this will enlighten you on what is “opinion” and what is “factual”.

Some of those against the agenda that CCMC is presenting have taken my statement as being in favor of it.  This is where they are undeniably wrong.  My statement is cheering someone who is spending money to print something that is 100% factual, in order to just get the facts out there.  Not someone who takes a free platform and uses it over and over primarily to tear down anyone opposing their opinions.

A Q&A from the source is a GREAT thing.  It’s not swaying anyone to vote either way.  It’s not bashing anyone.  It’s not glorifying anyone.  It’s answering questions.  Of course I am going to CHEER for that.  It’s a breath of fresh air after many of the things we’ve been printing and will likely continue to see contributed in the future.
I am very happy to see an actual series of answers being published directly from the source as opposed to individuals with no affiliation printing their personal research.  If I have a problem with anything I generally go to the source for answers.  I personally do not take second hand knowledge as factual 100% of the time.  Especially in a debate.
You will continue to see me cheer these kinds of acts.  How you choose to bend my opinions is truly your personal agenda.

John Smiley

MEANDERINGS BY ANN: And We Complain?

MEANDERINGS BY ANN: And We Complain?

By Jo Ann Eddleman
A hospital tax district election, a school board election and a city council election are coming up. Election Day is Saturday, May 9, with early voting starting April 27.

I was shocked all over again to find that only 422 out of the 3,000 plus registered voters in the city voted in the last city election. And we have the nerve to complain about what happens with city government?!!

As of this writing, there have been four candidates filing for city council positions, one for each of the wards that have an opening and one for mayor. Incumbent Gary Payne has filed for East Ward, former councilwoman and mayor Carolyn Merriman for West Ward, and Gordon Ray Jeter for the vacated North Ward position. Former mayor Nick Poldrack has filed for Mayor.

School trustee incumbent Sue Sloan has announced she will not be running for reelection to the school board. Billy Bledsoe was elected County Judge last November and his position on the board is also open.

Keep in mind that the hospital tax district election is a county-wide election. However, the only polling place for voting in the tax district election is at the Coleman City Hall council chambers. If you are a registered voter and you don’t feel you will be able to vote in Coleman on Election Day or during early voting, you can request an application to vote by mail from the Coleman City Secretary 325-625-4116.

The hospital tax district election will be of particular importance since the Coleman County Medical Center hospital tax district board has ordered this election to ask for your approval of a $12 million bond to enable the district to renovate the hospital. The precise ballot language is not yet available, and the tax increase that will be necessary to float this bond was not mentioned in the announcement to the newspaper. However, it is my understanding that in order for the district to sell the bonds necessary for this major renovation project it will have to ask for a tax increase to cover the debt on the bond if it is approved by the voters. And, according to information presented by bond counsel at the January hospital district board meeting, approval of a 75₵ tax cap for the hospital district would enable the bond sales to attract the best rates. I’m just not sure why approval of this 75₵ cap was not mentioned in the announcement to the newspaper about the hospital district election, but perhaps there is more to come.
State law establishes the 75₵ cap on hospital tax district levies regardless of whether the assessment is used for maintenance and operations (M&O) or an interest and sinking fund (I&S).

Interestingly, state law also states that directors on the board of a voter approved hospital tax district; i.e., CCMC, serve 2-year terms. (Health & Safety Code, Sec. 286.042.) However, it seems the board is taking the position that its directors serve 4-year terms and no positions are open this year.  When questioned via my emails asking for an explanation for this seeming discrepancy, the board has, to date, not replied. So much for transparency by a tax-supported entity. The board has further refused to give a filing application to at least one interested party citing the same 4-year term argument.

An explanation for this disconnect between 4-year terms as opposed to the state law that requires 2-year terms is being pursued. We can hope that candidates for the hospital tax district board will be on the May ballot. The hospital tax district is governed solely by the elected 7-member board of directors and we need to take heed since that board, in addition to being responsible for oversight of hospital operations, is responsible for assessing the hospital tax that shows up on our annual tax statement.

Let’s get involved. I know I am certainly not the only one who takes local government and how our tax dollars are used seriously. Let’s show it by becoming informed on what both sides of the issues are, and then showing up to VOTE.

(This is the opinion of one person and may or may not reflect the opinion(s) of the Coleman Chronicle and D-V or www.colemannews.com.)