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  1. Last week
  2. Business Insider No free speech for you if you support Facebook/Meta. I quit Facebook some 4-5 years ago, deleted all my data on there and have been extremely happy about that choice.
  3. Sheesh. Makes it even more important for parents to take an active part in their children's education, read and consider what the children are being taught and make sure to teach them the truth. The slave trade should not be glossed over with such a ridiculous phrase.
  4. I try, I really try, NOT to read anything about Lauren Boebert, who seems like an exceptionally terrible Republican. And that's saying something. But she apparently is clueless about not only the constitution but the history of this country. She thinks the *church is supposed to direct the government". Oh, yeah, which church? Which sect? Which flavor? Does that mean Jews? which Jews? Muslims? Buddhists? Even within the bounds of the general term christianity, which she is probably referring to, there is not one standard for the religion. Plus, the constitution is godless.
  5. I was actually surprised that Ken Paxton won the Republican primary in Texas but guess that shows how many Republicans are perfectly fine with a known crook being, of all things, the state's lawyer. Anyway, got to wondering what the fool was going on with this man, who cheated on his wife, and the indictment and why the heck this has NOT gone to trial yet. I mean, if you or I had some felony indictment against us, doubt it would take seven years for it to get heard. According to KHOU, "special prosecutors are waiting on Texas top criminal court to rule on an appeal to address payment issues and keep Paxton's case in Houston." How can anyone have confidence in a person who supposedly is upholding the law when there is a serious felony case still pending against him? And of course, that's not the only one. There is also the whistleblower case from people who worked in his AG office that is now at the Supreme Court of Texas. (Supreme Court wants a brief on the merits of the case, with deadline of the end of August 2022. What's also interesting about this case is And not only that. Ken Paxton was cheating on his wife, Angela Paxton, with a woman whom AND, Paxton is under review from the Texas bar, which has filed a professional misconduct lawsuit against Paxton for the stupid and clearly partisan stunt he tried to pull re: Trump's attempt to overthrow the election. (Not forgetting that the Texas Supreme Court had thrown out Paxton's lawsuit contesting the 2000 election results) Texas Tribune Republicans are just not good people, but more than that, makes me personally sick that there is a different standard, apparently for average citizens than people with power and influence. Again, rolled my eyes when I saw that Paxton won the Republican primary against George P Bush. Have to admit I laughed at at least one George P Bush commercial where he was driving a little cart along the Texas border saying he would keep our borders safe. Hah. Would he have done better NOT to follow along with these rabid Republican nuts? Really didn[t make any difference because the people who voted for Paxton WANT A CROOK.
  6. Should be interesting. At the last Jan 6 hearing last week, she testified from a deposition video that there were a number of Republicans, including Matt Gaetz and Mo Brooks, who sought pardons from Trump. Question is, why would you seek a pardon if you did nothing wrong? The Jan 6 committee had originally said last week they were taking a break until mid-July. Makes you wonder what is going to be said today.
  7. Earlier
  8. Back in 2011 when Rick Perry had aspirations to be president, Texas had a major drought. At one point, Rick Perry told people that "Only God Can Help" and told them to pray for rain. Well, looks like god was busy when Perry was asking so finally Perry had to give up and ask then-President Obama for federal help in August. We had another drought year a few years back and it was one main factor on why I decided not to keep yard birds anymore. That brings us to this year, 2022. I got a lot of wild flower seed, as well as bluebonnet seed which I started planting last year in anticipation that we would have a glorious display all spring and summer like we did last year (maybe part of that was because of the Texas freeze in the winter) But nope, it has been extremely dry and I have been working hard to keep the trees and bushes alive. Got a load of mulch from the dump and plan to get another one this week to get more of the trees surrounded, as well as add a layer to ones there. It's funny how much, when it's dry all the time, any clue that some rain might come by and bring even a little relief is pored over, at least by me. And so it is today. If it does not rain late this afternoon, I need to go out again and water the yard. And it's still only June. The other day, on a day when the weather service told us there was a Heat Advisory until 7:00 and also Somervell County is under a burn ban, the phone rang a couple of times. Didn't recognize the number, we get a lot of spam calls, but the person calling didn't leave a message. Hub and I decided to go to town about then, and as we drove down the county road, we saw a huge amount of smoke from the adjoining property. As we got closer, we saw there were two large fires going, but even more horrific, as we watched, the fire jumped the road onto the property of the neighbor's across the street, who have a log home. Hub immediately called 911 for the fire department and we decided not to drive through the fire and smoke but return home. The people whose property had the fire are not living there yet, with a home, so I texted the neighbor to let her know in case she didn't realize it, that the fire was now coming her direction, following a strong wind. She was not home at the time. Over the next hour, from my own property, I listened and watched a bunch of different fire vehicles, most from Somervell County, one from Bosque (Walnut Springs) and was happy to see how quickly they were on the scene and worked to put all the fires out. The Walnut Springs fireman told us the adjoining property owner had been spot welding, started a fire which got out of control. I thank the speed and professionalism of all involved as it could easily have been a very bad situation, due to the dry brush and grass from this drought and the wind speed. There have been a few fires over the years on this road. One, towards the end, burned down a mobile home. The second happened at a lovely home across the street the other way, also a case of a very stiff wind, small fire which got out of control and burned a significant part of the house, making it unlivable. That family ended up razing it to the ground, selling the property and moving to another state. Some kids living in one of the properties on a nearby county road burned down their whole front yard field over fireworks. One time I was talking with a former Somervell County Commissioner who told me he had started a fire which fortunately did not get out of control when doing spot welding to repair a fence. I also found out at one county meeting I attended that you can't burn stuff in a barrel. Anyway, my point is that the whole thing was terrifying and exhausting, the wind shifted at one point towards our direction. The good news there was that there were so many fire personnel that they had the fire under control at that point at the two places they were. Suggesting that until we have a really good rain, it is a better idea for people to refrain from doing anything that can start a fire, OR if there is something necessary to be done, have a hose or other running water available to put it out quickly. Again, Somervell County has a burn ban going on, and when there is also an extended drought and a heat advisory, what a great idea to be inside somewhere sipping a cold drink and watching a movie.
  9. Pretty clear to me after watching the video that anyone who cosigns the beliefs below does not believe in the concept of the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, since they want their branch of christian sect to take over the world. Gives some new meaning to evangelism, with added pressure to build more churches and pressure everybody to join. Is the seven mountains mandate biblical? Ridiculously, one  of the proponents of Seven Mountains Dominionism linked his theory to QAnon. Takes all kinds of kooks in the world and luckily, despite Stonewater's weird obsession to run everything, if they haven't already changed course from this bizarre concept, we still live in the United States with a constitution that is in charge. Looks like this cult is all about power, amazingly, and one has to laugh about this, the 7 Mountainers somehow believe that former president Trump was god's shepherd. Also explains why Ted Cruz might be such a horrible person. All about the power while ignoring moral and ethical principles. Ugh
  10. I saw after SCOTUS decision re: Roe V Wade, the Greg Abbott crowed about Texas being a pro-life state. Not only does he not speak for EVERY citizen of Texas, he isn't actually pro-life nor is the person who has the real power in this state, Dan Patrick. Remember that Patrick was quite willing to tell people to sacrifice themselves for the economy. And Greg Abbott has shown he does not care about people's lives, including all the ones that died in the Texas freeze last year. Further, I've had quite enough of ANYONE calling themselves pro-life while allowing children to be treated like potential targets in schools. I have guns, but dang, I see nothing wrong with having restrictions on carrying them in public, having to have lessons in safety, making sure people can't just up and buy them without restriction at a gunshow, Schools have become militarized and, rather than putting restrictions on people carrying guns, some Republicans want to *harden* the schools which to me equates to making them more like prisons. I also personally don't like the idea of people carrying guns in holsters and hanging out at, say, public parades. And what about the military or capital punishment or even something as mundane as a hospital deciding who to allow to die by cutting off treatment? Heck, even god was not against abortion and certainly in the Bible killed his share of pregnant women.. Southern Baptists used to be, and some Jews are as well, believing that life begins with the breath of life. So why should women be seen as some type of incubator, forced to carry, say, a rapist's baby for 9 months, all for some hypocrites who want to push control of other people's lives. (Christian Nationalists such as the ones in cult churches such as Stonewater are the worst because they want to control everything and thus do not even believe in our system of govt)
  11. I know that there are some women who revel in being second class citizens, who like govt prying into their business and deciding their health issues for them, or who, religious-style, want the men in their lives to decide for them. There are many more of us who see what SCOTUS did the other day with Roe v Wade as being a direct hit on women's autonomy and right, up until this was overturned, to decide in conjunction with their health-care provider what needed to be done about situations unwanted pregnancies, miscarriage, or, more generally, just privacy when it comes to health. This is the first time I can recall in my lifetime that a right has been taken away, and of course, Alito and the rest of the kooks who sided with him on SCOTUS are not only cruel but ill-reasoned. The cruelty part includes consigning women with birth issues to illness and possible death, for example, what happens if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy? What if she miscarries and, in order to avoid an infection, is required to have a D&C (essentially a surgical abortion). Will doctors no longer help in these situations? Women should just go home, get sick and die? This also says nothing about if a girl or women is raped and cannot get an abortion. Govt that does not make any exceptions for rape or incest are essentially not profile but pro forced birth. Elected officials that endorse this are morally unfit and should not only be avoided, but voted out of office. On a related note, by making this a states rights issue, women are kicked out from being full citizens, who did have rights but no longer. *United* States of America no longer means anything if a women is only in control of her private health in a state she may have to travel to because she is not considered an adult in her own. From Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post I spoke with my sister about this. She is religious and is appalled by what has happened. For a large percentage of our lifetimes, we have taken for granted that, even though women were not full citizens at the time of this country's founding and, as we all know, we only gained the right to vote in 1920, Roe v Wade allowed us to be autonomous. And now, gone. I feel powerless to stop this, except possibly in not financially supporting, vacationing in, or working in states that are all in on treating women this way. I also am resolved not only to speak up much more often about these things, lest anyone believe that every single person in Somervell County agrees with Scotus. Certainly forced birthers have spent a lot of time protesting at abortion clinics before and harassing women who were legally exercising their rights. I liked when Ted Cruz was called out for being a baby killer after the Uvalde murders. Even though this is a different topic, public elected officials who so egregiously and blithely take away womene's rights need to also, on every opportunity, in every venue, be called out. Now, it hurts to feel powerless in a country that I thought was United. I already know Ted Cruz and John Cornyn do not give a hoot what I think. Nor are there, in this district, alternatives besides Shelby Slawson, Brian Birdwell and Roger Williams. I do not want to be *otherized* just because some nosey parkers who want control over other's private business made it their point to fight against women in general. For me, I intend to vote, of course, against these monsters, which may or may not work, and if it doesn't, I will fight to protect women's rights, even if they can[t be treated equitably in Texas, to do so in the remaining states, with the hope that Republican Monsters do not try to make this whole country into a dictatorship. This is not the only time I am going to write about this.
  12. In 2018, I wrote, in an article about Southern Baptists and separation of church and state, about how the hard right took over the Southern Baptist Convention with a URL of an article by Rick McClatchy and Bruce Prescott. The URL became invalid but today I came across the original article and going to repost here
  13. In previous Somervell County Commissioners Court administrations, a citizen attending the Commissioners Court meeting was given a handout that included the budget transfers. That is, when money is used from one account to pay for another, it generated a line item, like 00001 X Dept Training Seminar to 00003 General Fund. In other words, although sometimes it was a heck of a lot of moves, you could easily follow what moneys were being moved around between different accounts. The overhead system to display the agenda was put in sometime during Mike Ford's court time, and all the items were displayed for the attendees to read. At some point after Danny Chambers became judge, that practice stopped. I asked several different commissioners about it and was told that the auditor, who at that time was Brian Watts, had not finished preparing the transfers in time for them to go out with the agenda, the list was emailed to the commissioners and judge before the meeting. I further heard that Chambers was the one in charge of displaying the agenda on the overhead, and requested that this be done. To my knowledge, it has not been done so since at least 2016. Here is a post on my archive site which contains a discussion between Brian Watts and myself. He said that he sent out the transfers via email on a Friday afternoon. I asked that the reports be made part of the agenda packet or that Mr Chambers include the budget transfers in the overhead. At the time, pre-covid, I attended a lot of meetings and this was never done. What is the procedure right now? Budget transfers are handed out to the commissioners at the time of the meeting, and later, sometime after the meeting, scanned in by Michelle Reynolds office to be posted on the Somervell County website as part of the minutes agenda. They are not made available via a handout to the citizen attendees, nor are they displayed on the overhead. According to Nikki Weeden, the information comes in after the agenda is posted and can be fluid during the weekend, so is only available at the time of the commissioners meeting, so not available through email. Why even care about this? Because the money is being transferred between multiple bank accounts now. Some years back the Enterprise Fund was created, most recently the new Assistance District account. Wouldn't you like to know, for example, what moneys from either are being transferred from any other account or even transferred within the same account? I would! (Side note that budget transfers were how I discovered during the frivolous lawsuit brought by Andy Lucas against my hub that Andy Lucas had hired a law firm to do his work since he apparently could not do so himself and Somervell County taxpayers paid for it. There was a mention of the transfers during the meeting, they were NOT shown, but I did an open records request looking for the receipts and contracts, etc.) So, you all know the adage "Follow the money". Budget transfers as well as bills to pay allow taxpayers to see how the money is being accounted for. Right now, the budget transfers can be, at the least, included in the agenda minutes packet that goes in after meetings. You can see what I mean by going to the Somervell County agenda site, where there are columns for the agenda, the agenda packet, minutes and the minutes packet. The Somervell County clerk, who is Michelle Reynolds currently, scans in the relevant information afterwards, so that the info might not be part of the agenda itself but can be found later in the agenda packet or the minutes packet. Upshot is that the transfers are manually handed out right before the meeting by the Auditor's department and are not displayed for the benefit of citizens attending the meeting as they were in previous administrations. Since there are no handouts available of the agendas at the meetings, if a person wants a copy, he or she would need to go before the meeting to the auditor's office and ask for a copy. Otherwise, the budget transfers, if done and voted upon during the meeting, will be in the Minutes Agenda sometime after the meeting.
  14. At least before 2018 Dwyane Johnson has a business Johnson Electric. located on CR 2010 in Somervell County The DBA for this was filed in April 2008, so presumably he has been doing business since that time, and surely just like other businesses that have personal property used in business, he has been subject to paying taxes on it, specifically rendering tax. BUT for some reason Mr Johnson has not paid rendering tax on his business property UNTIL 2018, when coincidentally, I'm sure, he ran for County Commissioner, taking a position that requires him to spend your tax money that you pay on items such as property tax and personal tax wisely. Here's what it looks like from the Somervell County Appraisal District. The legal description of his personal property is "Equipment Used in the Production of Income". Compare that to Howard Electric (who is the great company that did ours when we had this house built some years back) I also looked at a couple of other businesses with personal tax and both had paid their rendering taxes every year. Was Johnson required to pay this tax? From the Somervell CAD What if someone fails to file the rendering tax? So, at least on paper, or digitally from the Appraisal district site, while others diligently filed their personal property taxes every year they were in business, Johnson did not. Perhaps he has a very good reason for being an exception to this law.
  15. From time to time, Somervell County Salon has published a list of the salaries of both Somervell County and Glen Rose Medical Center. Both, of course, are public entities so we get to know what our tax money is going for and to what jobs. The following information is from an open records request to Somervell County. Please keep in mind as you read that these numbers might not represent the full compensation for a given person. I have in process another open records request for the full amounts, which can include other sources of revenue, pensions, government money, etc, and will update this post OR put in a new one if too long after I receive.
  16. Had to laugh when I saw this. Just wrote about the 5/9/2022 Somervell County Commissioners Court meeting in which Judge Danny Chambers argued with the presenter regarding somervell county sheriff's department salaries. Dwayne Johnson notably stayed pretty quiet during this and one might think that he also had respect for TOMA (Texas Open Meetings Act) and would have refrained from discussing non-agenda items. But oh, no, there's a run off election coming so Johnson needed to find a way to toot his own horn. He not only made mention of some meeting that he apparently attended the "other night" (???) but said he had ideas about a whole new way of looking at things. Okay. So if he had something he wanted to present himself, it should have been his own agenda item, instead of a vague reference to some meeting that had occurred with some magical new ways of looking at things OR, BETTER, saved up that stuff for the budget hearings.
  17. Tony Riker from the Texas Municipal Police Association was asked by the Somervell County Sheriff's Office Association to come do a presentation to the Somervell County Commissioners Court on 5/9/2022 specifically about how there are salaries paid within the Sheriff's department that are markedly lower than what other counties pay, and that there is a danger of losing professional employees to areas that pay equitably. Astonishingly, Mr. Riker was treated with arguments from, primarily, Judge Danny Chambers, as well as insulted and *judge-splained* to. This is besides the fact that the discussions brought up by Chambers and Tammy Ray were about the budget process, which was NOT on the agenda. Who knew as a citizen they would be treated to a rude argument that included telling Mr. Riker that he needed to 1. Come do his presentation prepared to say what other departments should trim their budget 2. Be the expert on how the Sheriff's department is run 3. Be told he needed to get explanations from others. 4. Be asked, despite the fact he introduced himself as being from Frisco, whether he was a lobbyist OR if he was from Austin. 5. Be told he shouldn't be coming with his *hands out*. Ugh. As Mr Riker repeatedly told Chambers, his presentation was to inform and bring up the problem of some employees getting low pay for a job others in the state of Texas get paid significantly more for. Since it was a presentation and NOT a budget hearing, it was not Riker's job nor, clearly, his intention, to beg for money or tell other departments to cut back for these salary jumps. He did mention that because Somervell County has a huge surplus of money, other govt areas have used that to give their sheriff's departments raises. Chambers whole attitude made it sound like he was giving the back of the hand to the employees. Whose responsibility is it to decide to cut one department's budget versus another's? Is it the responsibility of the department who wants additional money for, say, equitable raises in line with other government entities across Texas, or is it the responsibility of the elected officials who represent the citizens? Certainly there is a budget process every year in which each department in Somervell County has already looked at their own expenses and presents their, hopefully carefully thought out and researched, budget during the budget meetings that typically occur in. It is NOT the job of a department who is not controlling the budget to oversee somebody else's and decide what should be cut. That is the JOB of the commissioners, as presided over by Judge Danny Chambers to do. Instead, Chambers shows that what he wants is for others to do work FOR him and the commissioners, bring solutions to them. As Riker said "So what you're saying is you want us to do y'all's work for you". Chambers even tries to draw Rikers into a discussion about what other departments should do to come up with this money!!!!! Chambers "So you do not have a recommendation at this point to help me find the money". The funny (?) part is that Chambers already knows that these people are underpaid. Riker" It's not our job to do your work for you". It is also, incidentally, Judge Chambers or whoever is preparing the agenda, to clearly set out WHAT the agenda item represents so that citizens can go if they want to hear the presentation and/or discussion, as it may impact them. The agenda item does NOT say that this is a presentation about some salaries in the sheriff's department nor does it have Mr. Tony Riker as the presenter. Do you think you would know from THIS what this item was about? Nope. Let's hope Chambers didn't do that on purpose, to keep it quiet from the public. Also, why the fool was all this stuff which properly belonged in an item on the agenda called Discuss the budget, or better, part of the Budget Hearing meetings coming up soon. In fact, Jeff Harris, county commissioner, Precinct 1, was the smartest one on the dais because he said "I agree with everything you're saying ... I feel like, at this point, we're going to have to have this conversation with the budget process". Now, the new county attorney, Trey Brown, (seen on photo at left in front of Mr Harris, attending this meeting) whose job it is to enforce the Texas Open Meetings Act, said nothing when all this was going on. Neither did the other commissioners speak up to say that this was not a hearing on the budget, and Tammy Ray went farther to argue about what Mr Riker would do about other departments that also want raises, etc. In other words, if it was going to be an agenda item that dealt not merely with a presentation but also involved discussion on the budget process with all departments and salaries in general, that should have said so. It did not, and it was rude of Chambers to interrupt and challenge Riker instead of just saying "Thank you, we will be taking this up at the budget hearing. Appreciate your input". The full video, sans Riker's introduction, was recorded by someone in the audience at the commissioners meeting (might have to turn the sound up a bit), I have made a chop of the video to take out some of the repetitiveness, as well as extraneous information spouted by Chambers which should rightly have been in a budget meeting. First minute or so is from audio, recorded by the Somervell County Commissioners Court, of Riker introducing himself and then goes into edited video. Note that Riker says he is from Frisco; when Chambers asked him if he was a lobbyist or from Austin, did he not hear where Riker was from or was he wanting to subtly make some kind of comment to make Riker feel like an outsider or challenge his information? Certainly Chambers used his argumentativeness to tell Riker that to get information from other people, and worst of all, insinuated that Riker was there with his *hand out*- I saw Riker gulp on the video. Go count how much Chambers wants to argue with Riker on this video, again, it's just astonishing how unprofessional Chambers is. One more example of hubris is when Chambers tells Ray "Let's don't argue, we got a court reporter here", pointing to whoever was recording this video. Do as I say, not as I do.
  18. Got to thinking about this the other day because Dwayne Johnson, who is in a runoff for Precinct 2 County Commissioner, came by the house bragging about how the golf course and other businesses are essentially self-paying without using any county money. The idea is that all profits and expenses come, not from line items in the general Somervell County budget, but from the Enterprise fund. In the past, the golf club did not make enough money to run without additional moneys from the general budget. The way the County Commissioners have proposed to fix it is by selling booze and pushing through grills and restaurants run as businesses by Somervell County, pushed through with minimal public involvement and costing lots of money. But does that include spending tons of money on projects such as the pavilion/grill? I mean, if you're going to brag about money coming in, shouldn't all money going out be factored in? That includes what is now a restaurant at Squaw Valley Golf Club called Rooster Bar & Grill. How exactly did it come about and what was the process for building it:? Setting the stage that anything the commissioners court does is with YOUR (and MY) tax money. The agendas for the commissioners court need to be specific enough so that any citizen can look at them, see what is going on and make at least somewhat of an informed decision whether they would like to attend. The problem with this Pavilion Remodel, to me, is not that the initial Hey, Fix the Roof and add a wall around it, plus let's fix the bathrooms, was not a good move to make, but that actions after that were made without a clear, voted on-plan, on the basis of commissioners talking about changes, vaguely, in meetings, and without an RFP for additional changes, including restaurant equipment, television sets, etc, but instead *change orders". Imagine that you were having something remodeled in your property and the contractors just up and decided they would add some stuff, didn't let you know explicitly what was going to happen, had no drawing of the changes where you could confirm (or were difficult to find) and okay them, and then you got the bill. It is not enough to say that Somervell County residents voted these people in, so anything they do after that requires them not to inform the public or make decisions without real transparency. The taxpaying public gets to KNOW that our money is being spent on and how much, etc. Maybe everyone would want to have a restaurant, maybe citizens would like to weigh in about what kind of windows or other facets of the construction, but until this was basically a done deal, NOTHING apparently used the word restaurant in any public agenda or minutes until into 2020. Keep in mind that the county is deciding to be in business on property that is tax exempt and if, say, a business or restaurant was built across the street from the golf course, that business (suppose a restaurant) would be in competition with the grill, and would have to pay property taxes. (Much the same situation that Oakdale was in when the City of Glen Rose decided to buy it and run it as a business. There were a number of businesses that were unhappy with Oakdale's plans to add additional RV spots to adjoining property, particularly since they operated the park at a lower rate than other businesses. For example, Danny Chambers at that point had an RV site business on Hwy 67 that was put in competition with Oakdale and also spoke out at the Somervell Commissioners meeting about the RV spaces being put in at the Expo Center in 2010) Feb 2010 April 2010 First time I could find any reference to a grill/restaurant was with regard, not to a restaurant, but to an open air pavilion and bathroom. The open air pavilion, as I understand it, was falling into disrepair, plus there was a desire on the previous manager's part to add some sort of semi-walls around it to help keep the wind off since it was outside. Saying that the original bid to fix the pavilion was to add some walls to the pavilion and some restrooms. Starting out with a definition of what a pavilion is: The idea of fixing up the pavilion seems to have been first put on the Somervell County agenda on May 14, 2018. Item #6 was "Discussion on RFP's related to the Pavillion at the Golf Course. Renovations will include metal removed and new metal added on the north wall; five double pane windows and two roll up doors will be added. No action taken". So no vote to actually start the RFP at this time, but had they done so, it would NOT have been to make a restaurant but fix the roof, put some metal, presumably for a roof on one side, add some windows and a couple of doors. There is no audio available for meetings in the year 2018. Following is walking through the agendas and RFPs to try to find where the restaurant was explicitly discussed (not a vague Golf Course Projects) on the agenda, what the plans looked like, how the public could see them and weigh in, etc. May 14, 2018 11/8/2018 Summit Construction Group submits scope of work for pavillion "Looking forward to doing business with you" Nov 19, 2018 Item 3 was "Discuss take action on construction of new rest room facilities at the golf course". Clearly this took priority over the pavilion, but again, no mention of any restaurant. Dec 3, 2018 #2 "Discuss/Take Action on Selection and Engagement of Construction Manager for Project at Golf Course". Stopping for a moment to say that this is a terrible description for the public. It possibly violates the Texas Open Meetings Act by not being explicit about *what* project at the golf course. Since there was also something involving a pump station at one point, no one who might want to attend a meeting based on the description would know exactly what was being referred to. Which project was this construction manager being engaged for? All of them? Only one or two? Which ones:? Dec 3 2018 #1 - "Discuss/Take Action on Authorizing RFP for Project at Golf Course". Again, what project? Dec 3 2018 -Notice on the page where the commissioners signed the motion to get RFPs that the motion explicitly says "Solicit RFPs for Pavillion and the restrooms;. The Pavillion Project". Note again, nothing about a restaurant According to this page within the Dec 31 2018 meeting, a copy of the specifications for this were available from Lesley Jameson of the County Auditor's office. So I have done an open records request to the Auditor's office asking for that. Bid in the newspaper for the Golf Course Pavillion Remodel and Renovation 11/8/2018-here is the bid from Summit Construction Group-does not include anything about a grill Dec 17, 2018-Last day for bids to come in, which would be opened at Commissioners Court Dec 31, 2018 - "Award Bid for Pavillion Remodel and Renovation" Don Gill recommended accepting the bid from Two Brother's Construction for -Vote was 5-0. Also doing an open records request to see this winning bid and what it entailed. So.. at this point in 2018, the Pavillon remodel has been awarded to a company with a specific price of over $93k. 1/21/2019 Item 17 Fence for Golf Course, #18 Equipment Rental, #19 Rates and Fees for the Golf Course, #20 Expo Rates and Fees. Mentioning this here because this is a project for the Golf Course, right? Fixing or replacing the fence? So if there is something on the agenda that vaguely says Golf Course projects without specification, it might include the fence. 1/28/2019- a project pertaining to a fence at the golf course contract on the agenda. This is actually good because it is clear reading this that this particular project isn't about, say, the restrooms or the pavilion, but about the fence. 11 Feb 2019 #5 Discuss and Receive Updates on Golf Course Projects. C'mon. If you're looking at this, do you know WHICH projects these are? Would it have been too much effort for whoever drew up this agenda (was it Danny Chambers?) to add a short description of the projects, like Fence, Pavilion, Pump Station, Buying more land for the golf course, etc. Maybe you would only be interested in attending if it was about the pump station. Rough Transcript: 19 Feb 2019 #8 Discuss/Take Action on Future Improvements at Golf Course . Dwayne brought this up. Apparently he went out and conferred with Jeff and Duff to get them for buy in with making part of the pavilion into a grill. Note again that there is NOTHING about a restaurant or grill or making changes to the original RFP to add a food area. Apparently Johnson brought in a scribbled doc where he sort of laid out what he would do, on a piece of paper. Also, looks like Hulsey is concerned that Johnson is running ahead on his own to make plans that might possibly confuse the contractor (Don). So, Johnson was running around talking to the contractor, to Jeff and to Duff and did not make sure even that the agenda had what he was doing disclosed to the public ahead of time. Rough transcript: 3/6/2019. Here, as apparently done by Don Gill is a printed plan for the grill area, including seating and restaurants. Keep in mind no one had voted for this BEFORE this document. (Summit Construction Group)This was before the March 11 2029 meeting in which Johnson broached the idea of adding a grill area. Who asked Summmit Construction for this and were taxpayers charged for this BEFORE it was voted on? Mar 11 2019 - #21 Discussion take action on Demo of Bell Tower and Canopy at Golf Course #22 Discuss/Take Action on Approving Bid for Pavillion Remodel at Golf Course Rough transcript: That was bizarre. They did not do an RFP or RFQ FIRST after deciding and voting on exactly what would happen in the future and instead were going to pay the contractor Don to receive *bids* on an action that had not been decided and voted upon, ie, wouldn't that actually be an RFP? This action certainly was not approving any bid because they dang well had not decided, besides Johnsons efforts to bully his own viewpoint through, on what should happen with the Pavilion. Can you imagine trying to get people to bid out a job you have with costs on your house where you have not yet decided what exactly you are going to do? Mar 14 2019 - #6 Discuss/Take Action on Approving Bid for Pavilion Remodel at Golf Course . From the minutes "Motion was made by Dwayne Johnson and seconded by Larry Hulsey to approve the change order on the contract on the pavilion remodel at the golf course. Motion carried. All voting aye". Rough transcript: Wait Wait Wait. Is this approving a bid for a pavilion remodel or a change order for contract? What specifically was in the change order? Not in the minutes packet and there was nothing on the agenda about a change order for presumably existing contract from 2018. I believe that this did not accurately reflect what was actually going to happen and should have been put on the agenda as a change order for the next meeting. Also, what exactly was in this proposal? Last meeting was a disagreement between Hulsey and Johnson but I heard nothing here that specified that the disagreement was solved and one view or the other was going to be used. Cost? Materials? Mar 28 2019- Item 6- Commissioners Precinct 2 (Dwayne Johnson). Discussion/Take Action on Approving Bid for Pavilion Remodel at Golf Course. Item #7 - Approve County invoices for Golf Course Pavilion Work. No audio for this., however, there is nothing that shows Approving Bid in the minutes. There is "Motion was made by Kenneth Wood and seconded by Wade Busch to approve payment of two invoices from Two Brother's Construction for $25,978.37 and Summit Construction for $5,437.50 for the golf course pavilion remodel. Motion carried. All voting Aye April 8 2019 - #10 - Discuss/Take Action on Kitchen Equipment for the Pavillon at the Golf Course #11 Discuss/Take Action on Approving Bids for Pavilion Remodel at Golf Course. #12 Moving money from contingency account to 010-429 for expenses? Minutes show that Motion was made by Wade Busch and seconded by dwayne Johnson to obtain prices for kitchen equipment for the Golf Course Pavilion Project. Discoveries will be brought back to court for review before purchase. Motion carried all voting aye. Motion was made by Dwayne Johnson and seconded by Larry Hulsey to accept bids from Comfort Pros in the amount of #31,212.00 for the air conditioning system and Howard's Electric in the amount of $22, 375.00 for the electrical work for the pavillion remodel at the golf course. Motion carried. All voting aye. April 29, 2019 #3 Discuss/Take action on budgetary items dealing with golf course- VAGUE May 6, 2019 #5 Discussion/Take Action on purchasing equipment for the Pavilion. Minutes show "Motion was made by Wade Busch and seconded by Dwayne Johnson to move forward with purchasing the pavilion kitchen equipment from Cowtown Restaurant Supply in the amount of $20,236.92. Motion carried. All voting aye. What was odd about this agenda item is not just that it was unnecssarily vague but that the commissioners and Chambers talked about other stuff THAN the restaurant equipment. If the purpose of the agenda item was to discuss restaurant equipment for the Pavilion, that should have said so, but instead other related topics were also discussed. Watts, former auditor, reminded Chambers that talking about TexPac was not on the agenda. Also, and I do not know much about the process of buying equipment, but this seemed odd to me, maybe someone that can refer to what the law says can cite a source. The original project for the pavilion, which did not include any type of grill, was put out for a bid, won and came in with a number somewhere around $90,000. There was even a contractor hired for this. In this particular instance, about restaurant equipment (see invoice below) which totaled around $20,000, Dwayne Johnson and Wade Busch drove around the metroplex to some suppliers to get quotes, and settled on Cowton Restaurant Supply. They decided between themselves, apparently that Cowtown had the best prices, and they brought that to the court, rather than, say, getting an RFP. Now, bids only have to go out for projects, etc above $50,000 BUT if this is considered part of the Pavilion project, did the new items that were changes to the original contract also have to go out for bids, since they were part of the overall price? Also, and maybe this is how it is done, but it seems strange to me to have commissioners go out and sort of decide on their own what equipment to buy without bringing it to ALL the commissioners. Also, in what world were either Johnson or Busch considered to be restaurant and cooking equipment experts? Since taxpayers were already paying for a contractor for the project, why was he not in charge of investigating additional restaurant equipment and then bring his suggestions to the court? 7/15/2019 Cowtown invoice for restaurant equipment Aug 26 2019 Item 8 "Discuss Take Action on repairs to rest rooms at the Golf Course 12 Nov 2019 Wild Hog issue at golf course #18 Discuss Take Action on Tables and Chairs for Golf Course Pavilion 1/9/2020/1/13/2020 #11 Discuss Take Action on purchasing equipment for Golf Course Pavilion Item #11 Motion was made by Wade Busch and seconded by Dwayne Johnson to approve purchasing television equipment for the Golf Court Pavilion from vendor SLG for $5,162.97. Motion carried, all voting Aye. May 11 2020- Discuss Take Action on Job Description for New Rooster Manager Position. Discuss Take Action on creating a cook position for the Rooster at the Golf Course. /********************Documents *******************************
  19. Towards the end of this last year (2021) two things happened. First, Turn and Burn's concession contract was not renewed, and second, Somervell County applied for, first, a private club license with TABC and then Mixed Beverage. The ostensible reason for Somervell County to kick out a private contractor who by Dwayne Johnson's indirect admission below, was making money for the county through concessions, was to help the golf course and other businesses be self-sustaining by running everything out of the Enterprise Fund of the County. And apparently one major way for the County to do this was by getting their own liquor license for the Expo, while continuing to use the Squaw Valley Club license for the golf club. I am not religious, but I find it a little humorous that a county that is so imbued with The Promise, Methodist Church Camp, Riverbend, conferences for religious organizations, etc, decided to go for liquor. Pretty much everyone knows that, for example, Mary Simpson with Turn and Burn had the private club license for the expo, and was cut out of her contract by Somervell County not renewing it late last year (2021), at which time Somervell County applied for a liquor license so they can be in the booze business. Have to wonder how much of the break-even success of the Expo, etc, assuming that is true, is due to selling booze. Certainly there is no requirement that Somervell County use a private contractor rather than just running a business themselves She told me she is in process of doing an open records request for all her receipts and profits of the last year(s) in order to show that, in her view, she was doing a great job for the county. But the county wanted to be in the alcohol business directly. The process seems to be that Veronica Welch orders the booze for the restaurants at the Expo and Rooster Bar & Grill at the golf club. What account do the monies come from and who reconciles them? Are the receipts being examined to be sure there are no charge backs? Since the new restaurant at the golf course allows cash and not strictly checks and credit cards, seems like citizens who care about how the money is flowing should pay close attention. Shades of going back to the origins of Somervell County as the Moonshine Capital of Texas, except this time it is government openly selling booze in order to build up their coffers while running businesses. I plan to do an open records request in the near future to find out the breakdown of how much booze is being sold versus other food items. If I was a business owner, I would also like a level playing field running a business so that I was not competing with government businesses run by taxpayers. If I, for example, were a business owner that wanted to run a restaurant across the street from the golf course, would I appreciate, first, the competition, and second, the fact that my competition was an entity that paid no property tax and thus had a finger on the scale of equitableness? Here is Dwayne Johnson talking about this when he came by our house. recently while trolling for votes in the runoff. That is not me on the video but my hub Rough Transcript On that Pecan Plantation example, in case there are people in Somervell County who do not know. Pecan Plantation, being in Hood County, is NOT in our Somervell County Hospital District but rather in Hood County' s hospital district, for which residents of Hood County PAY NO TAX. And, because it is a gated community, Somervell County residents cannot simply go in, as they would into a public clinic, and use the clinic facilities. Essentially, we are paying taxes for our own hospital district AND paying additional monies for a clinic in a different hospital district when the property requires upgrades. Ray Reynolds on this in 2016. If we are saying that Somervell County MUST run businesses and that liquor apparently is a major piece of it, along with the possibility that taxpayers paid for the restaurant building as an offset to profits, then something has definitely gone wrong, in my view, with the idea of government being something that does fire, police and roads and leaves private enterprise to those citizens who want to make their own living from it.
  20. As a citizen who is trying to keep up on what is going on, but covid and other factors getting in the way, I wondered about what the fool the Somervell County Special Assistance District is, when it was passed, what it is for, etc. Did some research the last couple of weeks. First, this special assistance district brings in additional taxes through extra sales taxes levied through businesses and the money is put into a separate county bank account. The sales tax cannot exceed the # set by the State of Texas comptroller, and it is not a tax like property taxes but on anyone who buys anything from a county business. The supposition is that tourist businesses such as Fossil Rim would provide additional revenue, but because it's sales, also means that if I, as a citizen, go to a county business and buy something, I am not exempted from paying the additional tax. The legal code for this is at Chapter 387 County Assistance District. This Somervell County Assistance District was placed on the ballot, approved on November 2, 2021 and results certified by Somervell County Commissioners Court, which members include Dwayne Johnson, Jeff Harris, Tammy Ray, and Wade Busch. Levying an additional tax required that this be on the ballot for Somervell County residents to vote on. Because the City of Glen Rose already has a sales tax that goes to the maximum and, although the City is contained within Somervell County, city residents could not vote on this because the tax would not affect them in any way. SAMPLE BALLOTS PCT 1, 2, 3, 3 GISD, 4.pdf The problem, as you see on the sample ballot at left, is that both Texas State props as well as the Somervell County Assistance District were both on the same ballott, so that if a city resident who of course lives in the county went to vote, there was nothing to indicate they could NOT vote on the Assistance District. VOTRING HISTORY FOR NOV 2, 2021 GENERAL ELECTION.pdf Notice on the list of people who voted in this election that there is no way to know how they voted, County vs City. But... City of Glen Rose residents did... which made the passing of this special assistance district illegal.. Also, not good is that Somervell County apparently made no effort to speak with and coordinate efforts with the City of Glen Rose, which left the city administrator *disappointed* when he found out about what Somervell County had done, and that, because city residents should not vote on any ballot item that does not affect them, it was essentially voting to lay a burden on other people that they would not experience. Gee, that's what the colonists went to war against in early America, taxation without representation. Adding to this, notifying the City of Glen Rose that Somervell County was considering a special assistance district wasn't simply a nice, polite idea but was part of the law regarding formation of same. Actually was merely a polite idea to notify the City of Glen Rose, since the proposed territory would be no part of the city territory. Really a shame, even so, that in the second smallest county in Texas, no one could be bothered to let the City know what was planned. As above, Michael Leamon said the City had heard nothing from the County, so I did an open records request to the City asking for a copy of the certified letter-they had no records responsive to this request. When Brian Watts, who was formerly the Somervell County auditor, saw what was going on, he wrote a letter, as a taxpayer, to County Judge Danny Chambers on Nov 22, 2021 Letter to Somervell County 11.22.2021.pdf So, that was on November 22, 2021 that Watts sent this latter to County Judge Danny Chambers. For reference, here is the agenda for July 12, 2021 #5 of commissioners court. on the resolution for a special election on creation of county assistance district. From Open Records, in image format -see screenshots of emails farther down below-bolding is mine. . This is from July 12, 2021 Commissioners Court meeting where the commissioners voted to commissioners voted on an order for a special election. Note that the order CLEARLY SAYS that this does not include the city. Dwayne Johnson made the motion for this, seconded by Tammy Ray The election was scheduled for November 2 2021. On November 11, Watts wrote Chambers about the issue. The Comptroller's office was aware there were problems with the election and yet Aubrey Mashburn of the Comptroller's office told Chambers to go ahead and then if there was a complaint filed, do something. On 12/16, Watts tells Chambers he is filing an official criminal complaint with SOS. On Jan 12, he writes Heger the Comptroller and mentions that the Commissioners actually sent a letter to city residents telling them to come vote in this election. It's not clear to me in looking at all of this whether the Comptroller's office did anything about what is clearly an illegal election. Or maybe, as Mr Leamon told me, there is a deadline under which if you want to complain about an election, you must do so. What is disturbing about this from my point of view is that Danny Chambers knew, every commissioner voted to say that the election was ONLY for the unincorporated parts of the county, and yet apparently sent out a letter to City residents telling them to come vote. Did they not understand what this means? And once it was known for sure that city residents voted on the assistance election, Chambers should have done the right thing and have REDONE THE ELECTION to make sure it was proper and legal. He did not because his haste, apparently to get this pushed through clouded his judgement. Since Dwayne Johnson was the one who made the motion, was he also the one that wanted the district? it is disheartening as well that, in the name of doing their job, the Comptrollers office completely glossed over the fact that this was illegal and instead hung their hat on whether someone would complain; So, the law is only to be obeyed as long as someone complains WHEN IT IS NOT FOLLOWED? But even then, as in this case, they came up with reasons to ignore valid issues. As a side note, notice again that we as county taxpayers not only paid Andy Lucas (now deceased) as county attorney['s salary but also a more expensive legal firm. From the hallway in City of Glen Rose, downtown, that shows the boundaries of the City of Glen Rose versus outside the city to the county Further, with regard to the city. The City of Glen Rose already has a sales tax within its limits and should the city decide they would like to annex land, they would not be able to extend that sales tax collection to what is now taken by an assistance district. A little disgusting that the county did not apparently make any attempt to talk to the city administrator about what they were doing so that the city would be informed. Seems that, at least so far as I can tell, the restitution for this illegal election is to plan to vote out people who do not care about following the law. Also, according to one of the commissioners I spoke with yesterday, the money would only be used for things such as police, fire, roads, etc. BUT Have to wonder if this would include maintenance of the expo, amphitheater and golf course. AND would this be an open ticket for the Somervell County Tourism/Promotions, EDC office that Kelly Harris is in charge of? Since the businesses that Somervell County runs now, which include liquor sales, are funded from the Enterprise account, and, further that this is supposed to be self-sustaining without taking money from other accounts, one hopes that the Assistance District account would not actually be earmarked FOR those businesses and tourism, etc instead of for what, at least in my opinion, is more important, roads, law enforcement, fires, etc. Why does this matter in this election? For one reason, and I think readers know I am not a fan of Dwayne Johnson, when anyone running for election wants to run around and brag how well the golf course is doing, when the Enterprise account was set up long before his term in office, and when there might even be the slightest possibility that actually these entities might not be self-sustaining (ie monies coming in versus monies going out ONLY from the expo, golf course, etc ) but with the backup AD account, it needs to be examined and challenged.
  21. In the last couple of months, I was interested to know about a subdivision going in off 144 near the Bosque County line. I called to speak to Tammy, who is not my commissioner, but, frankly, I had no desire to speak to Dwayne Johnson, who is. When I called, the admin for the commissioners told me Tammy was not in. After I hung up, after not asking to speak to Johnson, I was surprised to see him calling me within a few minutes of my call. (I have heard that Johnson's wife works as admin for the commissioners, so if that was true she must have told him right away even though my call was not for him. And, I do not know this but does Johnson's wife also work for the elections department? If so, then certainly she should recuse herself from any election that involves her husband, particularly if she assists in counting votes). I answered the phone, again was surprised to see it was Johnson since I had not called him, and one of the first things out of his mouth after noting that I had called in was to tell me he hoped he could count on my vote. I told him that I have never voted for a Republican, and that even if somehow I was going to, I wouldn't vote for him due to his negligence regarding the runaway, irresponsible lawsuit that Darrell Best and Andy Lucas lodged against my husband some 6 years ago, which said hub won, and then had to fight to get Somervell County, who was responsible for the judgement, to pay it. (You can read about that here if you like) I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, but what aggravated me about his apologia is that he said, basically, that he wasn't in office when that whole thing started, as if he had no responsibility for it. I said in response that he had been personally asked, and been given, documentation for this whole thing, and he chose to ignore it AND was in office at that point. We continued the conversation about the subdivision and I was still disturbed after I got off the phone with how little due diligence Johnson did about the plans. For example, he had told me that there was only one way in and out of the subdivision, onto CR 2008, which, if every one of those lots is sold and there are a lot of people living there, will certainly backup the road, including onto 144, or to get out there will be a line of people passing Fossil Rim and backing up traffic there. He said, oh, that won't happen for a long time. Right, that's sure a good excuse not to make sure about the structure of the roads in the first place. He also said that the water district cannot put in pipes there due to the topography and all the water would be from drilling wells, without the assurance on paper that they would be drilling at the lower Trinity river level. Just seemed careless. I had forgotten that I wrote about Johnson about 9 months ago, during the time that Danny Chambers and the commissioners voted to approve a budget without taking due diligence to make sure they were, first following the law and rules for how to publicize and run hearings, and second, without identifying an over one million dollar slush fund. Someone told me at the time that the restaurant at the golf club had been done without open meetings and proper bidding, and that this money, unaccountable for, might have been part of what was used, without public scrutiny, for the construction and/or remodeling. At the time, I thought about looking into it, as any citizen can do, but the fact that less than half of the citizens in Somervell County were vaccinated for covid stopped me from wanting to go into the courthouse, as an enclosed space, to research. Sometime around there, before this, I saw that Brian Watts was no longer the county auditor and wondered what happened. When this illegal budget was passed, Brian Watts, no longer the county auditor, wrote a letter to Danny Chambers in which he made the following main points. That the budget was illegal because the county failed to follow the law regarding posting of hearings and also identifying all monies in the budget. Especially egregious when the county was asking for a large tax increase without apparent justification. That whole section of the budget, with additional tax revenues, were over a million dollars, at least $1,345.768, and unidentified, thus amounting to a slush fund. Also at the time, the county was sitting on 17,334,508.52 plus $886,579.71 of unreserved cash (that second number was for covid) According to Watts, that would have been "over 17 months of expense coverage without the county receiving a single penny of tax or fee revenue" Even worse, a required form for the taxpayers and required by the Texas Comptrollers office that would explain the tax increase was not even posted on the Somervell County website. As a side note, Watts made reference to Danny Chambers and Dwayne Johnson sitting together and ridiculing citizens who complained or challenged them about an issue. That really makes you feel good about Danny and Dwayne, eh? The respect (NOT) they have for taxpayers who want to express themselves AS IS THEIR RIGHT. There are a couple of other items that I think Dwayne Johnson has handled inappropriately but I'll leave those to another message. Those will include the lack of transparency regarding the building of the restaurant at Squaw Valley Golf Course, the sneaky,creation of an *Assistance District*, and the shenanigans around Mary Simpson who had the concession contract at the Expo Center, including an illegal liquor license.
  22. Apparently one of the changes made by the Texas Lege this last session was to require a posted guard during counting of ballots But it appears that this was an unfunded mandate, ie, the county must pay for the guard (someone from sheriff's department) but how do they get paid and how much, etc. Interesting discussion.
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