Letters: Elected official raises, 1115 Waiver, yard sales and more

Commissioner discusses ‘Raises on top of raises’

To the Editor:

Why would Judge Bonn and Commissioner Buchholtz be against the pay raises for District Clerk, Tina Morgan – $1,493; County Clerk, Carol Holcomb – $1,403; and Treasurer, Lori Rangel-Pompa – $1,087? Actually these were raises on top of raises.

On Aug. 6, last month, Commissioners Court unanimously adopted a Salary Plan for all elected officials based upon the average salaries of 35 counties in Texas with population between 25,000 and 50,000. Caldwell County has a population of 38,000. Hopefully within five years based upon this Salary Plan the District Clerk, Tina Morgan’s salary will go from her present salary of $34,194 to $50,277. County Clerk, Carol Holcomb’s salary will go from her present salary of $34,194 to $50,114. And County Treasurer, Lori Rangel-Pompa’s salary will go from her present salary of $34,194 to $49,540. Commissioners Court would like to take the elected officials from their present salaries to the Salary Plan figures within five years provided there is money in the budget and there is no requirement to raise taxes.

At this same Commissioners Court meeting on Aug. 6, all elected officials received record-breaking raises effective Oct. 1, 2012 based off of the Salary Plan. The approved pay raises were: Tina Morgan – $4,097; Carol Holcomb – $4,061; and Lori Rangel-Pompa – $3,949.

Never in the history of our county has such bold moves been made to start bringing our elected official salaries up to counties our size in Texas. So these three elected officials together were already receiving over $12,000 in raises but they were not happy. They wanted raises on top of raises. Talk about being ungrateful to the taxpayers.

Is it appropriate for an elected official to take part in a grievance pay request after receiving a record breaking pay raise?

On Aug. 30, County Commissioners Neto Madrigal, Joe Roland and John Cyrier voted for the additional raises on top of raises (referenced in Paragraph 1), which means that Morgan, Holcomb and Rangel-Pompa together will receive over $16,000 in total raises and will be proportionally ahead of all the other elected officials.

This is liberal politics at its best or worst, depending upon your view. Rewarding this behavior with raises on top of raises will create problems for our Salary Plan’s implementation next year.

These elected officials work directly for you because you vote them into office and you pay their salaries. How would you label their behavior?

With Respect,

Fred Buchholtz

County Commissioner Pct. 2

 

Reader speaks to EMS, 1115 Waiver

To the Editor:

What will the 1115 Waiver (aka takeover of our EMS to ‘regionalism’) mean for us? According to Judge Bonn, this Waiver will save the Caldwell County taxpayer $250,000 a year. But wait…it will cost the taxpayer $1.47 for each $1.00 spent.  If the indigent’s hospital bill is $30,000; it will cost taxpayers $44,100. This Waiver is but another “stimulus” program with additional (taxpayers’) monies (state and Federal) going to the “anchor” hospital. If passed, Caldwell County will join other states’ counties to further increase our current $16 trillion in national debt.

Regarding the $250,000 per year the County won’t have to spend upon eliminating our EMS; Judge Bonn made a point of saying that the regional EMS will take us to the hospital of our choice. Does he write hospital policy? What about for next year and the year after? Also the hospital given our EMS can’t guarantee their employment.

And once again, the objections of the people (including two of our prominent local physicians who spoke during city council) are being ignored. Is this court more knowledgeable than are our professional medical physicians in determining our best emergency care?

Although the Waiver was defeated, Judge Bonn put it back on the agenda. Never mind that this Waiver, cited as a gap-filler until Obamacare in 2014, may be eliminated in the November General Election.  But even if Obama is defeated, it will be too late to retrieve our EMS. “Regionalism” is a form of Soviet-Style Government and designed to render the peoples’ vote immaterial. Even the replacement of our entire court won’t allow us to retrieve our EMS.

Obviously, Judge Bonn’s “wants” matter more than ours. The $250,000 could easily be recovered by simply determining “wants” versus “needs.”

Are the following expenditures initiated by our county administrator(s) “wants” or “needs?”

– Non-requested radios for the VFD (they requested repeaters and a tower);

– High salaried additional personnel and new departments not employed in other counties comparable in size and revenue;

– Commercial lawn service and maintenance employee solely for the courthouse  (we have a maintenance department);

– Purchase and refurbishing the old Wal-Mart after taxpayers’ money was used reroofing and buying new air conditioners for the present Judicial Center. Remember its facelift approximately six years ago? Upon completion, this building can then be added to the array of vacant buildings scattered throughout the county;

– New vehicles (car and truck) and new trailer for emergency command center;

– Subjective salary increases being based on questionable data;

– Subdivision Ordinance we didn’t want and were given erroneous information as to its necessity; and

– The Plum Creek Protection Plan, assigning a steering committee (including numerous individuals receiving salaries/grant monies from various federal environmental entities), with voting power determining possible elimination of nearly a dozen of our private property rights;

When the county administrator(s) want; our county is “rich.” When the people want; our county “needs to save.”

Cindy Johnson

McMahan

 

**** Editor’s Note: A joint meeting of the Lockhart City Council and the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court has been scheduled on Sept. 19, 2012, at 7 p.m. in Room 200 (the main Courtroom) of the Caldwell County Courthouse to discuss and receive further information about a possible 1115 Waiver project for Lockhart/Caldwell County EMS. A third tentative meeting is scheduled for Sept. 26.

 

Yard Sale in Tyrantville’

To the Editor:

Having a garage/yard sale in Lockhart?

Be sure your dishes are done, dirty socks in the hamper, and the dead bodies are well hidden.

By putting your old clothes and Tupperware in the driveway, you have just given “Right of entry and inspection” to anyone whom City Manager Vance Rodgers designates to snoop around your crib-or your garage, or any place on your property.

Section 24-3 (a) of the City Code of Ordinances: “The building official, authorized representative or other city official as may be designated by the city manager is hereby authorized to enter any property, structure, building, or premises at all reasonable times to make an inspection or enforce any of the provisions of this chapter.”

Unfortunately, this law does not clarify exactly what Mr. Inspector is looking for. Since “this chapter” only covers garage/yard sales, one would think his search would be related to said old clothes and Tupperware. But that is not clear. Good law is always clear and specific, ergo, this is not good law. In fact, this law violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It’s been awhile since 10th grade Civics, but I’m pretty sure Constitutional rights trump City Code. It’s hard to believe that a yard sale provides city officials with a blanket “probable cause.” In fact, I don’t believe it at all. What I do believe is that this was a nice try by num-nut control freaks to trick me out of my unalienable rights.

If the city invites itself to my yard sale, I will demand to see a Warrant. I will ask to see what they are looking for. If they have no Warrant with a judge’s wet signature, they are welcome to negotiate on the size 8 Levis or the stained “That’s a Bowl,” but to come into my house? I do not consent.

Donna Voetee

Lockhart

 

Does Caldwell County have money to burn?

To the Editor:

I used to drive to Austin every weekday to go to work, and every day, a billboard just south of Highway 21 would tell us the Caldwell County Republican Party was conservative; I assume they meant “fiscally responsible.”

Once upon a time, the Caldwell County Courthouse grounds were maintained by the residents from the Pegasus Schools, Inc.

The county has since changed to a landscaping company or service. The question that begs to be asked is, “if we have pay issues and deputy sheriffs on food stamps, and sheriff’s department cars with extra-high mileage, then why do we spend money the county apparently doesn’t have on landscaping and mowing the County Courthouse lawn, when Pegasus will do it for free?”

I know some people will say, “you get what you pay for,” but Pegasus used to mow and trim the lawn and these young men can do a fine job, and have in the past. I would just think it is a good move for the County, for the county taxpayers, and for the young men at Pegasus to give them another opportunity to do a productive job and give back to the county where they live. This might also free up some funds, so they could be spent and used elsewhere when the county budget is stretched thin.

Democrat or Republican is irrelevant; it makes sense to be fiscally responsible with our tax dollars!

Clint Mohle

Lockhart

 

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