Archive for the ‘eminent domain’ Category
For Immediate Release
Texas Populists Building Independent Rural-Urban Alliance
to Protect Water, Land and Elections
Bastrop, TX, 6:00 am: Leaders of the non-partisan, non-profit League of Independent Voters of Texas (LIV) put out the call for Texans to help disengage citizens from partisan warfare and to unite across urban and rural Texas to protect their common and vital interests -- water, land, and elections. They will be joining hands at the Texas Capital on Friday, March 24th for “Our Water, Our Land, Our Elections Lobby Day”, followed the next day by the “Texas Populism Conference: Building the Independent Rural-Urban Alliance” at McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Cedar Creek.
Samantha “Sam” Davis, a former senior staffer for the Bernie Sanders Presidential campaign and new to the LIV Board, said, “The power of populism lies in our ability to unite people to take the power away from those who are set to do real and permanent harm to future generations. Protests are a show of people power, but chances are that you’re still going to have limited or no choice when you walk into the voting booth. That is what we need to change.”
Simsboro Aquifer activist and LIV Board member, Michele Gangnes, said, “The water grid that we called Gridzilla in the last session is back on steroids. At the same time opposition to mass transport of groundwater, also known as the California Water Model, is mounting among ordinary citizens. Landowners don’t want their water taken on the cheap for real estate deals and urbanites don’t want to be saddled with more and more costs of growth. It’s time to unite, regardless of who we voted for last November.”
Calvin Tillman, City Council member of the small town of Aubrey and LIV Board Member said, “Eminent domain for private gain has rural Texans fit to be tied with 9,000 entities that can seize private land. Though we strongly support the reforms carried in this session by Texans for Property Rights, they are not near enough to deal with the cronyism in state agencies that has put rural and urban citizens in the crosshairs of the war between the two parties.”
Both events will cover signature issues at the League of Independent Voters and Texans for Electoral Competition – an ad hoc coalition involving LIV, the Libertarian, Green and Constitution parties, Left Up to Us and Texans for Accountable Government dedicated to:
- Ending the water grabs,
- Stopping eminent domain for private gain, and
- Opening up our electoral process to competitive elections, thereby freeing the millions of Texans who call themselves simply "independent" to exercise their power as voters for change.
More information can be found at IndependentLeagueTX.org or by calling LIV at 512-213.4511.
Timing is everything. And the time is nigh.
You must be watching the presidential follies. Whatever you think about the candidates, it’s pretty darned clear that voters are looking for – no, are desperate for -- change. Let’s make sure the change comes from the people, not from the political parties or their partners in perpetual purse, water and land-snatching.
What can you do? Join the League. If you have already, donate more or donate some time. Read on.
Monthly Conference Calls. LIV will have monthly conference calls for the remainder of 2016 on the second Monday of the month at 8 pm. Next call is Monday, April 11. Reply for details.
Volunteers Wanted: for this event in Caldwell (Burleson County) on April 22 Reply or call us at 512-213-4511.
“The risks of Vista Ridge…the California Water Model”, Caldwell Civic Center, Friday, April 22, 6:30 pm. Former Edwards Aquifer Authority Board member and respected hydrologist George Rice will explain the dangers facing the Simsboro aquifer relied upon by hundreds of thousands of Texans in Burleson, Milam, Lee, Brazos, Robertson and Bastrop counties. Reserve a seat here.
Who’s Hosing Whom?
- The San Antonio City Council failed to stand up to the Vista Ridge/developer coalition that is redoing the deal for the San Antone Hose, now that Abengoa is bankrupt. Despite being reminded that they foolishly ceded too much control to San Antonio Water System (SAWS) over the Vista Ridge contract from the get go, the SA Council allowed SAWS to call the shots once again. It appears that the project has been given new life by SAWS’ unilateral approval of replacing Abengoa with Garney Construction, another SAWS’ crony special interest. Moreover, SAWS and Central Texas Regional Water Supply Corporation have jointly applied to the Texas Water Development Board for state funding for Vista Ridge. CTRWSC was formed and controlled by Abengoa exclusively to grab land for and build the pipeline. Was the TWDB rigged from the get go in the 2013 session to facilitate the California Model (aka Gridzilla, aka Vista Ridge) and use Prop 6 public funding to line the pockets of private interests? Read this and don’t worry, organize! (We still think SAWS should be worried – more soon.)
- Thanks ever-so-much to the efforts of San Antonio Firefighters and Police associations, especially Greg Brockhouse, a ratepayer petition was filed last Wednesday challenging the water rates associated with Vista Ridge. San Antonio Water System has 30 days to invalidate the signatures before the Public Utility Commission must review the rates. We have no doubt that the out-of-control public water utility – SAWS – will try. Details here.
- Did you know that Save Our Springs Alliance, whose mission is to protect the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, filed suit against the Central Texas Regional Water Supply Corporation? Wholly controlled by the now bankrupted Abengoa (and probably soon to be controlled by Garney Construction), CTRWSC’s status as a Texas non-profit water supply corporation allows it to seize easements for the Vista Ridge pipeline, for the benefit of the pipeline’s for-profit owners. If Garney takes over CTRWSC, use of this form of “eminent domain for private gain” will continue. Stay tuned for where SOS’s lawsuit goes from here.
- VERY BIG NEWS on another form of “eminent domain for private gain” came last week. The Texas Supreme Court announced it will review – for the third time -- the all-important Denbury Green case which challenges the abuse in eminent domain condemnations of “common carrier” status bestowed on privately-owned pipelines that fall under the jurisdiction of the Texas Railroad Commission. Texas Supreme Court action on this biggest abuse of eminent domain in Texas won’t happen any earlier than this coming winter.
- LIV board member and Aubrey City Councilman, Calvin Tillman, posted this about last Tuesday’s Senate Committee on State Affairs hearing on one needed reform of eminent domain (attorney’s fees for landowners given lowball offers, a bill introduced by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst in the last session). Watch the testimony on video here. Or, read the minutes soon to be posted soon on the March 29th hearing.
- State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) is promising to “look at” the abuse of eminent domain and common carrier status now that he’s on the Sunset Commission. The Railroad Commission is up for sunset review in the 2017 legislative session. Nichols voted against “Gridzilla” in the last session – a good sign.
- Did you hear the one about the Ethics Complaint against San Antonio Mayor Taylor on Vista Ridge contributors? Thanks to Alamo Sierra Club leader, Gay Wright, who filed the complaint, many more San Antonians are beginning to smell the stench of the hogs at the trough on The Hose.
- Austinites are trying to get the Austin City Council to replace their City Manager, Marc Ott – a tad less difficult a task than getting rid of a King. Developer whistle-blower Brian Rodgers laid out why Ott is Austin’s “Gentrifier-in-Chief”, leading the city off an affordability cliff by incentivizing growth – and making current residents pay for those costs. Longtime and former State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos says Austin city management has “a culture of mismanagement” that remains unbroken. Lots more here.
Get your friends to sign up to get our email alerts and invite us to your community.
Thanks y’all! Join the League and get involved and send us all your money in prep for a rip-roaring legislative session in 2017!
PS Do you know a landowner facing the pipeline for Vista Ridge? Help us get them to Lockhart on Saturday.
We are holding a eminent domain session THIS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, AT 10 AM IN LOCKHART (details below) on eminent domain for landowners facing pipeline easement demands by Central Texas Regional Water Supply Corporation (or Abengoa Vista Ridge LLC) for San Antonio's Vista Ridge project.
Others of you are also welcome to join us. Because seating is limited, we ask you to reserve a seat by replying to this message with a request for number of seats.
This session will be led by Luke Ellis, a partner in the Austin law firm Johns, Mars, Ellis and Hodge LLP. His firm has a statewide reputation for representing landowners in eminent domain proceedings -- not the companies and governmental bodies that condemn the property of landowners.
THIS SATURDAY, 10 AM
Learning Session on Eminent Domain in the City of Lockhart
First Lockhart National Bank, 111 S. Main, Lockhart, Texas
This is a free event. Reply to reserve a seat as seating is limited.
NOTE: Any persons affiliated with proponents of water supply permits are not welcome at this meeting.
Remember, tonight at 7 pm the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District will deliberate at the Bastrop Convention Center (1408 Chestnut) on one of the three mega-permit demands on the same aquifer. Tonight is about End Op LP. A court hearing took place this morning with landowners asking the court to stop the End Op negotiations until their appeal for party status (a seat at the table) has its day in court. The court will rule on Friday. Stay tuned!
Thank you, Lockhart. Next stop Milam County! Thanks also to the Lockhart Post-Register newspaper too!: Pipeline project raises water fears
Caldwell County meeting at the beautiful historic Clark Library in Lockhart.
Next Tuesday, Sept. 8, we'll be in in Milano (Milam County) 6:30 pm, at the Milano Civic Center, 120 West Avenue E., Milano, TX. Details here. Remember, Milam is at ground zero, along with Burleson County, for the Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose.
Note: A Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District meeting is the same night, starting at 5:30, so we encourage you to come early to their meeting at 310 East Avenue C in Milano, then mosey on over to our meeting at 6:30 pm.
More upcoming events --
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- Are you a libertarian? On Saturday, Sept. 12, we're speaking at Liberty Fest in Houston. Details here.
- The Stop Vista Ridge wagon train is now scheduled for College Station on Monday, September 21st. Details here.
- The next night, September 22, the Stop Vista Ridge train stops in San Marcos. Details here.
- Are you coming to the 9th annual conference of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance? It's September 25-26, in Bryan and we'll be there too! League Board member, Michele Gangnes, is on the ever-important water panel on Friday, Sept. 25, at 1:30 pm. Get all the FARFA dish right here.
The water marketers are paying close attention to us and even attending our meetings. Maybe we should ask to attend theirs, eh?
Happy Labor Day, y'all!
This legislative session ends on June 1. Until then, your land, water and even your right to petition, are up for grabs OR reform. Translation: It's up to YOU, Texans!
We need your help to set the bulldog loose on two bad bills ("Gridzilla" - HB 3298 & the anti-petition bill, HB 2595) & to PASS a GOOD bill on eminent domain - SB 474 by reaching the TOP DOG -- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. More below.
Here's what you can do:
- Email or call Lt. Governor Dan Patrick by clicking here. Note: Dan Patrick supports property and petition rights, just ask him to oppose HB 2595 (anti-petition rights), to oppose HB 3298 (the statewide water "gridzilla") and to support SB 474 for eminent domain reform.
- Please, if at all possible, come to Austin on Monday before 2 pm hearings can begin on "Gridzilla" AND eminent domain reform. Click these links for details on the bills & hearing info: for HB 3298 and here for SB 474. We will also visit Senate offices on HB 2595 to stop any notions of erasing our petition rights.
- Join the conference call tomorrow at 9 am sharp for one hour -- here's the number (530) 881-1000, PIN106940#. We will have new updates by then.
If you can't make the call email us, call us or send us or otherwise git along you little dogies and do some herding to get your friends and family to do the same.
We were remiss in not congratulating Calvin Tillman on his election to the Aubrey City Council. Calvin is our most famous board member.!
PS This is one of those rare, but historic moments, when all forces come together for the few things we agree on.
Join our conference call tomorrow at 9 am before you have to hide your water, your wives and your children. Seriously...contact us for details.
Sometimes even those with perhaps a little too much power unwittingly expose themselves in the wee hours of the morning. We were there Wednesday night, until 1:15 am, at the House Natural Resources Committee hearing.
Representatives Jim Keffer (R-Granbury), Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) and Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) led the charge. Vice-Chair Ashby found it necessary to interogate Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Hays & Blanco counties), and even tried (unsuccessfully) to cross-examine a Hays County citizen like a witness on the witness stand. (More below.)
Watch my testimony and you'll see why I was simply ignored...then keep reading.
The unmasking escalated about 11 pm, with House Bill 200 -- Chairman Keffer's bill. That's when Lyle Larson used anti-lawyer remarks against a respected attorney who represents groundwater districts. This provided cover for lawyers in the room representing water marketers who went unchallenged. We left when -- for about the 4th time -- Chairman Keffer called the Groundwater Conservation Districts, "Groundwater Municipal Districts." Was that a Freudian slip? Or is HB 200 going to be the ambush we've all been dreading? Watch for an update at the top of our water bills webpage here, as the battle lines are getting drawn. Stand ready to volunteer -- we'll explain on tomorrow's call.
Some other things we'll touch on tomorrow:
- Yesterday, Caldwell County citizens had a successful first hearing on the dump.
- San Antonians keep fighting to stop the Vista Ridge...but just how will they go at it?
- What about good water bills, including Rep. Cyrier's HB 3163 and Rep. Simpson's HB 632?
- Quick updates on attacks on home rule and eminent domain reform bills.
The most important thing you can do is to volunteer from home...though..we may really need you on Wednesday at 2 pm (keep in touch on the time)
in the Natural Resources Committee.
Our 9 am conference call this Saturday will focus on Texas Election Reform and led by Tom
Glass. Reply for the conference call details.
We hope to see you this coming Monday, in Austin, in Cedar Creek on Wednesday and in Lockhart on Thursday...all detailed below.
Use these new pages on our site to do what you can from home in this legislative session -- keep checkin' back as it's about to get VERY busy with hearings:
- Did you know that 92 bills have been filed on groundwater? Use our new page on Water Bills -- do the action requests!
- Eminent Domain -- Sen. Lois Kolkhorst's SB 474 can use your push to get it out of the State Affairs Committee.
- You gotta watch Tom Glass' testimony on our behalf last Monday, on our new Election Reform page. Glass puts both party leaders -- and their party machines -- to shame defending straight party ticket voting!
- Our main page for this legislative session -- 2015 Lege Session -- reviews our participation in a number of legislative coalitions and goals for this session. It includes things you can do, online or by phone, to help defend our water, local control, local foods and more.
Meet us in Austin this Monday for these statewide events!
Come to these local events!
Bastrop/Lee County Update:
The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, after months of due deliberation, made a decision to appoint Clifton Seidel to the seat vacated by Ken Daughtry -- who is missed! Mr. Seidel was born and raised in Bastrop County, is a landowner and has a committment to local control of groundwater. Though we regret that our highly qualified friend, Phil Cook, did not receive this appointment, we wish Mr. Seidel all the best. (Photo: l to r, Karen Seidel, wife, Clifton Seidel, Sharlotte Seidel, sister, Elaine Seidel, mother and former Bastrop County Commissioner, and Sharon Foerster, sister. Mr. Seidel owns property in Rosanky and lives in Tahitian Village.)
NOTICE!: Please join our "Good Bills, Bad Bills" Statewide Conference Call this Saturday, 3:30-4:30 pm. We will not be streaming this event. Call or email us for details at 512-213-4511 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's the deal on the 2015 legislative session. It's all about local control; instead of control by the King and Queen lobbies -- real estate and oil and gas.
Last fall, Denton voters passed a "frack ban" on future drilling within the city limits. It was a perfectly reasonable ordinance for a densely populated city, but the oil and gas industry had a tizzy. No one stands up to those guys -- except citizens. Now, there are concerted attacks going on in the legislature to curtail the citizens petition process AND the right of cities to even pass local ordinances. (Go here for more.)
Growing cronyism and corruption of state agencies is forcing a showdown -- sooner or later. The Governor and legislators are making lots of promises. We shall see.
The good news it that we just might see what the convergence of both political parties allows even those well-intentioned legislators, in either party, to deliver.
For us at the League, our case is being made for us. There are likely over 5 million Texas independents. Many of them are young folks who refuse to jump into the swamp of two-in-one party Texas politics. We don't blame them; we seek to provide them another option.
Invite us to your community. The legislative session gives us a great excuse to get folks together.
Check out these updates and take action!
Yesterday, the newly elected State Rep. John Cyrier (HD-17), introduced House Bill 3163 at our request! HB 3163 would protect groundwater district board members from harassment lawsuits against them as individuals -- like the one pending against members of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District by Forestar Real Estate Group. Please take a moment to send Rep. Cyrier an email to thank him.
On Monday, March 9, several League leaders and friends spoke at a hearing of the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee on Sen. Lois Kolkhorst's Senate Bill 474. This terrific bill will help level the playing field on eminent domain by awarding attorney's fees for those landowners who industry gives low ball offers to, hoping the landowner will not have the resources to go to court. Use this page to contact the Senate State Affairs Committee and to thank Lois now!
We hope you will participate with us in these important events!
* Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance Local Foods Day at the Capitol TOMORROW -- Friday. Details here.
* AGAIN, don't miss this Saturday, March 14, 3:30-4:30 pm LEAGUE CONFERENCE CALL on "Good Bills, Bad Bills". This event WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. Check our events section for meetings in your area or ask us to host one.
* Terri Hall and Texas TURF are calling out the grassroots for the Toll Free Texas Day at the Capitol on Monday, March 23rd. This is quite an extravaganza involving legislators and even the new Governor. Register here now!
Join us tomorrow at 9 am for a statewide conference call. Reply for details if you don't already have the conference number.
Topic: What Comes First, the Cart or the Horse -- building local chapters of the League of Independent Voters of Texas.
We'll also discuss this hearing on Monday at the Capitol on an important eminent domain reform bill. Read this blog piece by Calvin Tillman on Senate Bill 474. (Note: Please call the Committee Members to express your support, especially Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, the sponsor of the bill.)
Don't forget to mark your calendar for next Saturday's (March 14, 3 to 5 pm) "Good Bills, Bad Bills" event held in Bastrop (Neighbor's Restaurant, 601 Chestnut) and STREAMED online from 3:30 to 4:30. Details here.
Our credibility is based on numbers and roots across the state. Our point is you can't get there without the voters in front of the legislature -- not the other way around.
League of Independent Voters of Texas
PO Box 651 * Bastrop, TX 78602
512-213-4511* 512-535-0989 home office * 512-657-2089 cell
PS If you want to build a League Chapter, reply and we'll send you our by-laws.