Archive for January, 2017

Sweet Little Victory…TX Water Board opens conference, y’all come!

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The Texas Water Development Board heeded our insistence that their two-day conference starting tomorrow at UT’s AT&T Conference Center is a public meeting. That means the door is open (without the $525 charge!) so long as you do not eat or drink. We hear there are plenty of public water fountains!

If you’re going, just check in with the lovely people at the Registration Desk, get your badge and packet, and enjoy.

Click here to the Conference Page

We can use some help taping some of the sessions and have extra tape recorders.

Text us at 512.657.2089 or call the main number at 512.213.4511 and leave a message –- the message is then sent to us -- or reply to this email for more information.

We owe a huge thank you to the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, and one of their volunteer attorneys who happened to be on call that day, while on vacation mind you – Austin’s own open government watchdog, Bill Aleshire. No doubt, Aleshire’s finesse and knowledge of the law made a huge difference. FOIFT is a non-profit organization dedicated to transparency in Texas government.

Reminder! Join the Conference CALL this Wednesday night at 8 pm. We’ll report on the TWDB Conference – and LIV’s legislative agenda and tactics -- and give you a head start on the expected chaos at the 2017 Texas legislative session.

Call your Dial-In Number: (515) 739-1544
Enter your Access Code: 276555

LIV Board Member Jeff Harper will be in Arlington THIS Saturday with Linda Curtis of Independent Texans PAC. Linda will speak at 1:15 on “Petition Rights: The Source of Citizen Power to Take Back Their Towns”. More here

Here's today's Statesman story on the TWDB open government tussle.

Here's today's Austin Monitor story too!

Take back your towns and Texas, join the LIV and get involved!

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Release: Texas Water Developmet Board Violating Open Government Laws

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For Immediate Release                                                                        January 23, 2017

League of Independent Voters of Texas Claims Texas Water Development Board
in Violation of Texas Open Meetings Act

The people of Texas have a vital interest in water.  Yet, the Texas Water Development Board is, in essence, holding a secret meeting--what they call a "unique opportunity" available only to their invited presenters and those who pay $525 to attend--to set their course on water allocation issues.  If there was ever an issue where transparency should rule and dissenting opinions ought to be heard, it is the big issue of water.

The Texas Water Development Board, the state agency responsible for water planning, and financial and technical assistance services to the citizens of Texas, is holding a “closed meeting” in violation of six sections of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA), according to the non-profit League of Independent Voters of Texas (LIV). LIV members are active in water planning and preservation in Central Texas, and, along with other interested persons, desired to attend the Water for Texas 2017 meeting being hosted by TWDB on January 23-25, 2017, only to discover that the meeting is not open to the public unless they pay $525.

Attorney and Texas open government expert Bill Aleshire issued this warning letter to TWDB on behalf of LIV late Sunday afternoon, stating:

“Upon review of the information available on the TWDB website about this meeting, it appears to me that it constitutes a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA), Tex. Gov’t Code sections 551.002 (open meetings requirement); 551.023 (right of attendee to record the meeting); 551.041, 551.044, and 551.048 (meeting notice requirements); 551.144 (closed meeting criminal offense).”

Further, Aleshire suggested the following remedy:

“We encourage the TWDB to reconsider the way this event is being handled and, at a minimum, announce that the meeting is open to any member of the public who desires to attend and exercise their rights provided by the Texas Open Meetings Act.”

LIV Board member Michele Gangnes is a landowner and attorney who has fought for the last seventeen years to protect the coveted Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer underlying Lee, Burleson, Milam and Bastrop counties. Gangnes said,

“This event is an extension of the way the public was treated during the interim session by State Senator Charles Perry, reappointed by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to chair the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs. Those most personally affected by the battles over groundwater were rebuffed when they requested the opportunity to testify with other invited witnesses at Perry’s interim committee hearings. Now those same rural landowners who want both to conserve the groundwater they own and protect our aquifers from being drained by profiteers, to the detriment of all Texans, are effectively excluded once again. TWDB’s high dollar event will provide access to decision-makers by those same water purveyors, municipalities and special interests already favored by Senator Perry.”

LIV Board member, Samantha Davis, of Cedar Park said,

"Rural landowners and suburbanites have common interests. We cannot allow slick special interests to sip champagne and deal away what belongs to us. These big shots want to drain our wallets as dry as they want to drain the aquifers. Folks must have access to meetings. That’s the law.”

The Water for Texas conference, hosted by TWDB, features two statewide officials, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and five members of the Texas Senate and House. Additional participants include Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith and a host of leaders from business, large-scale agriculture, local government and environmentalists. Noticeably missing are representatives of small farming interests and those who opposed the Constitutional Amendment known as Proposition 6 on the 2013 statewide ballot. Prop 6 set up a funding mechanism, run by the new Governor-appointed, paid TWDB Board, for financing the billions of dollars worth of projects in the state water plan.

For more information:

LIV Office: 512-213-4511

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Breaking…TWDB Violating Texas Open Meeting Laws

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The people of Texas have a vital interest in water.  Yet, the Texas Water Development Board is, in essence, holding a secret meeting—what they call a "unique opportunity" available only to their invited presenters and those who pay $525 to attend--to set their course on water allocation issues.  If there was ever an issue where transparency should rule and dissenting opinions ought to be heard, it is the big issue of water.

Attorney and Texas open government expert Bill Aleshire, issued a warning letter to TWDB on behalf of the League of Independent Voters (LIV) late Sunday afternoon. LIV is demanding the TWDB follow the Texas Open Meetings Act by allowing the public into this public event at no charge. Contact us if you'd like to attend this event on Tuesday or Wednesday AND..

Most important! Plan to join us on a statewide conference call this coming Wednesday night at 8 pm. Call instructions below:

Call your Dial-In Number: (515) 739-1544
Enter your Access Code: 276555

For Immediate Release                                                            January 23, 2017

League of Independent Voters of Texas Claims Texas Water Development Board
in Violation of Texas Open Meetings Act

The people of Texas have a vital interest in Water.  Yet, the Texas Water Development Board is, in essence, holding a secret meeting--what

they call a "unique opportunity" available only to their invited presenters and those who pay $525 to attend--to set their course on water allocation issues.  If there was ever an issue where transparency should rule and dissenting opinions ought to be heard, it is the big issue of Water.

The Texas Water Development Board, the state agency responsible for water planning, and financial and technical assistance services to the citizens of Texas, is holding a “closed meeting” in violation of six sections of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA), according to the non-profit League of Independent Voters of Texas (LIV). LIV members are active in water planning and preservation in Central Texas, and, along with other interested persons, desired to attend the Water for Texas 2017 meeting being hosted by TWDB on January 23-25, 2017, only to discover that the meeting is not open to the public unless they pay $525.

Attorney and Texas open government expert Bill Aleshire issued this warning letter to TWDB on behalf of LIV late Sunday afternoon, stating:

“Upon review of the information available on the TWDB website about this meeting, it appears to me that it constitutes a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA), Tex. Gov’t Code sections 551.002 (open meetings requirement); 551.023 (right of attendee to record the meeting); 551.041, 551.044, and 551.048 (meeting notice requirements); 551.144 (closed meeting criminal offense).”

Further, Aleshire suggested the following remedy:

“We encourage the TWDB to reconsider the way this event is being handled and, at a minimum, announce that the meeting is open to any member of the public who desires to attend and exercise their rights provided by the Texas Open Meetings Act.”

LIV Board member Michele Gangnes is a landowner and attorney who has fought for the last seventeen years to protect the coveted Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer underlying Lee, Burleson, Milam and Bastrop counties. Gangnes said,

“This event is an extension of the way the public was treated during the interim session by State Senator Charles Perry, reappointed by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to chair the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs. Those most personally affected by the battles over groundwater were rebuffed when they requested the opportunity to testify with other invited witnesses at Perry’s interim committee hearings. Now those same rural landowners who want both to conserve the groundwater they own and protect our aquifers from being drained by profiteers, to the detriment of all Texans, are effectively excluded once again. TWDB’s high dollar event will provide access to decision-makers by those same water purveyors, municipalities and special interests already favored by Senator Perry.”

LIV Board member, Samantha Davis, of Cedar Park said,

“Rural landowners and suburbanites have common interests. We cannot allow slick special interests to sip champagne and deal away what belongs to us. These big shots want to drain our wallets as dry as they want to drain the aquifers. Folks must have access to meetings. That’s the law.”

The Water for Texas conference, hosted by TWDB, features two statewide officials, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and five members of the Texas Senate and House. Additional participants include Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith and a host of leaders from business, large-scale agriculture, local government and environmentalists. Noticeably missing are representatives of small farming interests and those who opposed the Constitutional Amendment known as Proposition 6 on the 2013 statewide ballot. Prop 6 set up a funding mechanism, run by the new Governor-appointed, paid TWDB Board, for financing the billions of dollars worth of projects in the state water plan.

For more information:

LIV Office: 512-213-4511

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Back in the Saddle Again…in Jeddo

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This message is a community alert involving an area where these four counties converge -- Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette & Gonzales (in the Jeddo community). (This late notice was unavoidable, sorry!)

We here at the non-profit League of Independent Voters of Texas are back in the saddle again both in Jeddo and getting ready for the 2017 legislative session. The session just started yesterday!

A groundwater permit hearing has been called by the Plum Creek Conservation District for 1 pm on Tuesday, January 17, at 1101 W. San Antonio, Lockhart, Texas. The hearing is about two planned wells in the Jeddo area to move 4700 acre-feet of groundwater to the San Marcos and Kyle areas.

Join us THIS Saturday at 10 am at the Delhi Community Center
6108 Highway 304, Rosanky, TX 78953 (just south of Hwy. 713, on TX-304)
If you cannot make it Saturday, call us or join us at the hearing Tuesday.
Please help us reach these landowners or anyone interested.

Are you or do you know any of these 500 landowners who could be affected?  Click here for Bastrop here for Caldwell, here for Gonzales and here for Fayette counties.

Remember, the League is an all-volunteer membership organization. We do not endorse candidates, though we do hold candidate forums and we do engage in citizen engagement in policy and legislative decisions. Our key goals this year are the same -- to protect water and land resources and to increase electoral competition. This session, on the heels of this highly contentious election, may provide some surprising openings IF we organize ourselves together outside the warring parties.

Mark Your Calendars for the first statewide conference call:  Wednesday, January 25, 8 pm. Reply for call-in instructions.

Watch for more real news real soon and please share this message from our website here or here from our Facebook page. Thank you!

New Years resolutions you might really keep: join or re-up your membership in the League and ask your friends to join our email list or facebook network.

Saddle up or be saddled, y'all.

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