Sunday, April 24, 2011


It was interesting to note Judge Barkemeyer’s comments on redistricting in his weekly column titled Redistricting Getting Complex. Where was he 10 years or 20 years ago? It has always been complex or maybe a better adjective would be political.

Anyone that has been around Texas politics for very long knows the rules when it comes to redistricting. The party in power draws the lines. While redistricting is intended to keep a level playing field at the polls, the exact opposite occurs.

It has been awhile since my high school government class, but they did teach us about gerrymandering. Current federal laws sometimes force gerrymandering to balance out districts based on racial make-up. When you add the political influence you get to see real gerrymandering in action.

Judge Barkemeyer made mention in his article of his suggestion to try to straighten out some of the “crossed up/mixed up precinct lines that currently exist in our towns.” I wonder why he would want to pursue something that is a result of federal laws and racial make up of the county and not be pursuing Milam County’s best interest in another crossed up mixed up state redistricting issue that is based purely on politics.

The current redistricting plans have Milam County remaining in a district with Williamson County. I do not see any like issues between one of the fastest growing counties in the state and one of the poorest with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Yet the redistricting plans snake the district from Milam County taking in a chunk of eastern Williamson County taking a narrow strip through the city of Georgetown and then flaring out to include all of Burnet County.

Burnet County is also one of the fastest growing counties in Texas with just over a 32% increase in population since 2000. However, still being somewhat rural it does have something in common with Milam County.

If you round up the latest population figures for Burnet County to 46,000 and Milam County to 26,000 you get a total of 72,000 population. The target size for Texas House Districts is 167,637. Do the math again and you will find there will be 95,637 people making up the new proposed district from Williamson County.

It should be about grouping populations with like issues and concerns. There is still a long way to go before the districts are finalized and approved. If the Judge is so concerned about straightening things out he needs to look towards Austin, or is it just politics to him?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Blogging can be hard to do. Especially when every time you start to blog your biggest problem is selecting a topic to blog on. With all the current happenings in Washington DC and Austin that will be affecting Milam County in the future it can be difficult too chose a topic. Unless of course you do nothing but blog.

This time I am going with something a little bit closer to home. This week’s Commissioners Court meeting had an interesting topic. To open bids for surveillance of courthouse, agenda item number nine.

Courthouse security certainly should be a priority for any county. Even though we might consider our rural county atmosphere somewhat safer than other more urban areas do not fool yourself. County courthouses, especially those with minimal security, have been identified by Homeland Security groups as a target for terrorist groups.

In 2010 the Commissioners Court took action to provide for an armed bailiff to serve in the District Court courtroom. This would and still can be provided with no use of county tax dollars. The courthouse security fund that is financed by the courts through a courthouse security fee provides adequate funding for the position.

For some reason even though previously approved by the court the subject was brought before the court again by Judge Barkemeyer. For reason or reasons unknown he seems opposed to the idea, and he has had difficulty in vocalizing any specific reason that he opposes an armed constable. Instead he is pushing the idea of surveillance cameras.

Now I cannot tell you why he feels the need to spend county dollars on something that while taking pictures of the deed can do little to intervene. A good example of this is last year’s school board incident in Florida. The video is on the internet and shows great footage of the incident. However, no one was killed because there was an armed security guard there to intervene. Without the armed intervention there would be dead school board members.

Lack of inability to intervene in the situation is one specific reason I oppose the security camera idea. Another specific reason the idea should be opposed is the question of who is going to watch the camera feed? To give surveillance cameras even a slight chance of providing real time security someone has to be watching. Cameras are just not a cost effective solution for the return in real time security in a courthouse situation.

Hopefully the Commissioners will see this as a waste of money and stick to their original decision in 2010 and hire a full time Bailiff for courthouse security. No, an armed Bailiff might not stop someone from hurting a member of the public, but you can be sure that on scene armed security can do a lot more than produce another video for You-tube.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Charley Reese's final column for the Orlando Sentinel...

He has been a journalist for 49 years. He is retiring and this is HIS LAST COLUMN.

This is about as clear and easy to understand as it can be. The article below is completely neutral, neither anti-republican or democrat. Charlie Reese, a retired reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, has hit the nail directly on the head, defining clearly who it is that in the final analysis must assume responsibility for the judgments made that impact each one of us every day. It's a short but good read. Worth the time. Worth remembering!

545 vs. 300,000,000 People

-By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts – of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it's because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan .

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees. We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.