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Page 8A Weekend Edition, February 24 - 27, 2012

The Highlander

LCRA: OKs new water plan From Page 1A

Judge Donna Klaeger said. Wharton County’s Scott Arbuckle proposed an amendment that would have eased impacts on rice farmers, but it was voted down, 9-6. Lakes interests were disappointed by some of the changes to the stakeholders committee plan and some behind the scenes maneuvering that brought them about, but acknowledged the new plan better protects the lakes and the Highland Lakes water supply in times of extreme drought. “I’m happy it’s over,” said Jo Karr Tedder, an East Lake Buchanan resident who was a member of the stakeholders advisory committee and the president of the Central Texas Water Coalition. “Now it’s time to move on and find new water supply resources. That’s what it’s going to take to solve the problem we face and I assure you the lakes interests will definitely be involved in the process.” Among the changes in the plan that lakes interests stakeholders said would be beneficial to the Highland Lakes region: • Using two trigger points during the year to determine

how much stored water from the lakes is available for rice farmers. One trigger point, Jan. 1, would be used for the first rice crop and a second, June 1, would be used for the second crop. The current plan contains only a Jan. 1 trigger point. • Eliminating open supply, which is the practice of making unlimited water from the Highland Lakes available for downstream agriculture when the lakes are above a defined trigger point. In the future, the amount of stored water available from the lakes for downstream agricultural operations would have an upper limit at all times. • Asking firm water customers, mostly cities and industry, to reduce water use consistent with their drought plans only after interruptible water from the Highland Lakes for agriculture is restricted. Current practice can result in LCRA requesting firm customers implement voluntary conservation before agricultural water is restricted. Firm customers pay considerably more for their water than farmers and other “interruptible” customers. Wednesday’s vote indicates the devastation of

From the mother of John Boy Garcia We would like to say thank you for everything that was done during the loss of a son, brother, uncle, and friend. A very special thanks goes to my son-in law who, without him, it couldn’t of happened. And to the people who made a donation, Thank You! We will miss you always. We love you.

Marble Falls, Texas

News

lakes Buchanan and Travis, with the resulting fallout on residents and business owners and their employees during the months-long dry spell that is the worst in centuries, was not lost on the directors. “We have never been at this juncture before,” LCRA board Chairman Timothy Timmerman said. “We have always been able to serve all of our customers. Under the present water management plan we are not set up to handle this kind of a drought. “This is one of the most important decisions we will make this year and maybe in our careers at board members.” Rice farmer backers on the board voted against the changes and took the loss hard. “I believe this water management plan is not adaptive enough and it is too restrictive and is too difficult to understand and operate,” said board member John Dickerson from Matagorda County, who voted against it. “The water management plan is about managing firm and interruptible water supply and is not about protecting recreational water supply on the reservoirs.”

BCSO makes substantial pot bust From

staff reports

A Spicewood resident has been arrested on a warrant for possession of marijuana, according to information from the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). Acting on a Crime Stoppers tip, investigators with the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Unit executed a search warrant Feb. 17 at 501 Want-AHideaway Dr. in Spicewood. The search resulted in the seizure of 61 marijuana plants and the arrest of Uzziel Fernandez, 34, for possession of marijuana, not less than five but no more than 50 pounds, a third-degree felony. Fernandez posted bond and was released from the Burnet County Jail Tuesday, with bond set at $7,500, according to Smith. “It’s hard to compare this with other busts in the county, although the quantity seized was significant for us,” BCSO Special Operations Unit (SOU) Capt. Dwight Hardin said. The investigation of Fernandez began two months ago after the SOU received the tip from the Austin Police Department. The information alleged

that Fernandez was growing marijuana at the residence, and the tipster indicated Fernandez had a sophisticated indoor growing operation complete with an elaborate venting system and grow lights on timers that traveled across the ceilings on tracks, according to information from the BCSO. SOU investigators were able to corroborate the information from the tip and developed additional information, which led investigators to stop a vehicle occupied by Fernandez as he was leaving his residence last Friday. Fernandez was also arrested on outstanding traffic warrants and was found to be in possession of marijuana at the time of his arrest. Investigators obtained a search warrant for the residence, and upon entering, they discovered the marijuana growing in two inside rooms and in a shed behind the residence. Most of the plants were between six to eight feet tall, and according to Hardin, each plant could harvest between one to two pounds with an estimated street value of $1,000 per pound. Investigators also recovered two handguns at the residence; however, Fernan-

-John’s mother, Nell Garcia and family.

dez has not been charged for possession of the weapons at this time. “It was definitely a yearround operation,” Hardin said. State law requires someone be charged by the weight of the marijuana, and the plants have to be processed to determine weight. Hardin said no local connection has been made regarding distribution from Fernandez’s alleged operation. “Our investigation indicated that he was dealing primarily to people he knew in the Austin area,” Hardin said. Burnet County Sheriff W.T. Smith said the investigation into the case is ongoing and other charges are possible.

LCRA hosts Spicewood Spicewood : Voice Beach open house From Page 1A

John Boy Garcia

Uzziel Fernandez

The Lower Colorado River Authority will host a “come and go” open house for customers of the Spicewood Beach Regional Water System on Tuesday, Feb.28. Customers can visit with LCRA representatives about the Spicewood Beach system, conserving water during this extreme drought, and the future water supply for Spicewood Beach. Customer service representa-

tives will be available to discuss accounts, offer tips on how to monitor daily water use, and ensure LCRA has up-to-date contact information for customers. The open house will be at the Spicewood Beach Recreation Hall, 207 Golf Course Drive, in Spicewood Beach from 5 to 8 p.m. Spicewood Beach remains under Stage 4 emergency drought restrictions. Outdoor water use is banned and residents are encouraged to eliminate all but essential water use.

Also, their voices can be trained more easily when they are older, she said. March 8, the choir will perform for par ents at Spicewood’s Open House. On March 31, they will travel to Round Rock to per form “God Bless Amer ica” at the Texas Star’s hockey game. The game begins at 7 p.m. and they will sing at intermission. David Schafer, another fifth grader in the

choir, said he loves going on the field trips and singing in a group. May 16, they will compete in a choir festival in Austin. Last year, they performed so well in the festival that they received a large trophy for their excellence. “We got all 1s at contest last year so we got the big trophy,” Lane laughed. May 19, the choir will make its last perfor mance of the year at the local Buzzard Bump in Spicewood.

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Index

Tuesday November 6, 2012

Calendar........................ 5A Classified........................7A Obituaries................. 4, 13A Opinion.......................... 6A Records........................ 14A Sports...........................15A TV Listings.....................11A

Volume 54, Number 89 1 Section, 16 Pages

BEST Newspaper Winner – Texas Press Association

MARBLE FALLS’ PAPER OF RECORD SINCE 1959

SERVING THE HIGHLAND LAKES REGION

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Water skirmish brewing Turnout mixed By James Walker Highland Lakes Newspapers Stakeholders and proponents of preserving the water in the Highland Lakes are gearing up for another fight with downstream rice farmers and their powerful backers on the Lower Colorado River Authority board of directors. The LCRA Water Operations Committee meets Nov. 13 and the full board of directors Nov. 14 in Fredericksburg and the board is likely to have to rule on an expected plan setting forth how much, if any, water will be sent downstream to the farmers next year.

An Emergency Drought Order that has been in place most of this year ends Dec. 31 and the rice farmers and their allies on the board are expected to push for a return to LCRA’s present Water Management Plan as the basis for managing the water in the Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis reservoirs. Highland Lakes stakeholders are expecting a large contingent of supporters at the two meetings and plan to urge board members to not only keep the emergency order in place, but to strengthen it. The LCRA staff, which said last month it did not recom-

mend seeking emergency relief from the Water Management Plan at that time, said in a news release Friday afternoon that since then conditions have not improved and forecasts call for drier conditions. Accordingly, the staff will recommend the board consider seeking emergency relief from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the LCRA release said. It is expected the staff will recommend an emergency order based on the new Water LCRA ... see Page 13A

Staff Photo by Adam Troxtell

Show-n-Shine Car Show

Classic cars lined Marble Falls’ Main Street on Saturday for the Lions Club Show-n-Shine car show. All proceeds from the show will go to charitable organizations, and 80 percent will stay with local organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes, Meals on Wheels, the Helping Center and the Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center.

as voters head to polls today From Staff Reports

Get the results:

Early voting totals in Burnet County came in slightly under 2008 numbers, while Llano County officials are anticipating a record turnout of voters for the general election. Llano recorded 7,072 early voters, up from 6,421 in 2008. That represents half of the county’s electorate, with just over 14,000 registered to vote there. Election Administrator Cindy Ware is expecting a busy Election Day and for the amount of voters in Llano County to exceed 10,000, setting a new record. In Burnet County, early voting numbers came in just under the 2008 mark. The county recorded 9,554 ballots at the end of the day on Friday. Last election, 9,938 made it to the polls early. In addition to the presidential and state elections, communities in both Llano and Burnet counties have unique items on the ballot. Two charter amendments are up for a vote in Horseshoe Bay, both of which deal with the city’s ability and freedom regarding the local airport. Deerhaven and the Llano County Municipal Utilities District have put bonds up for a vote, and Oak Ridge Estates residents will be asked if they wish to create an emergency services district, making it easier for them to receive fire protection. In addition to the presidential and state campaigns, Burnet City Council also holds importance for that city’s voters. The four-way race pits former council member Pat Riddell against Mary Jane Shanes, Michelle Devaney and George Banks to fill a seat vacated earlier this year.

Tuesday night Election Results will be posted online at highlandernews.com, burnetbulletin.com and llanocj. com and in the Burnet Bulletin and Llano County Journal Wednesday morning in the Marble Falls H-E-B and WalMart stores. The polling hours on Election Day are 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Burnet County polls: First Lutheran Church, 133 Apollo Dr., Burnet Main Courthouse, 220 S. Pierce, Burnet Grace United Methodist Church, 4007 Valley View, Granite Shoals Spicewood Community Center, 7901 CR 404, Spicewood Silver Creek Fire Hall and Community Center, 101 CR 128, Burnet Smithwick Community Center, 10800 E. FM 1431, Marble Falls Cassie Subdivision Community Center, 3920 FM 690, Burnet Hoover Valley Volunteer Fire Department, 303 Sherwood Dr., Burnet Highland Haven Community Center, 118 Blackbird Dr., Burnet Iglesia Bautista Emanuel Church Fellowship Hall, 4000 W. FM 243, Bertram Naruna Church Building, 9170 FM 1478, Burnet Joann Cole Mitte Memorial Library, 170 N. Gabriel St., Bertram Ambassadors for Christ Church, 4030 E. SH 29, Bertram Lake Victor Community Center, 200 Lake Ave., Burnet (Lake Victor) Briggs Schoolhouse, 215 Loop 308, Briggs Oakalla Schoolhouse, 29011 FM 963, Oakalla Burnet North Annex, 1701 E. Polk, Burnet

Voters ... see Page 5A

Conference center shows business boom, owner says

DA removed from Rogers case

By Adam Troxtell Highland Lakes Newspapers

By Adam Troxtell Highland Lakes Newspapers

The pull of business to Marble Falls is strong, so much that James “Rocky” Reese decided to move his hotel chain company here and opened up a new attraction designed to solidify the town’s destination hub atmosphere. The Riverbend Conference Center sits right next to the Hampton Inn On the Lake, which Reese owns through his company Live Oak Lodging. Since early October, it’s already hosted three business retreats, bringing people to the Hampton and, subsequently, to the local shops and restaurants. Its grand opening and ribbon cutting is today, Nov. 6, at 4:30 p.m. followed by an Election Day watch party. “We think it’s going to work really well,” Reese said. “One of the things we didn’t have is a conference space for hotel guests. We would market the Hampton and Marble Falls, and come up short. These people are [staying] for two nights, and they’re downtown. So, when they take a break, they go shopping or eat” locally. The conference center,

which used to be Riverbend Art Gallery, has three meeting rooms, the biggest of which is the Guadalupe room. The grand opening watch party will be held, mainly, within its 2,167 square feet of space, with results streaming in on one of the major news networks projected onto a large screen. The Frio room is the medium sized room, with 421 suare feet and the ability to seat up to 50 people. Flat screen televisions with cable access sit in both this room and the San Saba room, which is designed more like a business meeting space with a long table and eight chairs at its center. For Reese, adding a conference center to Marble Falls goes beyond bringing in more hotel customers. Reese has high expectations for the town economically, citing its prime location and friendly business climate. For that reason, and to cut down on employees’ drive times, Reese moved Live Oak Lodging to Marble Falls from Horseshoe Bay in March. “Marble Falls is different from a lot of cities,” Reese said. “There’s the water feature, there’s proximity to large cities. You don’t have to live in Austin or San Antonio to access them. The pace of life here is more desirable.” Reese also noted two major economic contributors Center ... see Page 13A

A San Antonio judge appointed to hear a felony assault charge against a former state Republican leader has removed District Attorney Sam Oatman from the case and will appoint a special prosecutor. Judge Robert Richardson – who was appointed to the case after 33rd District Judge Guilford Jones recused himself – granted defense attorney Richard Davis’s motion to disqualify Oatman based on past statements the DA made and the “speed in

which the defendant was indicted.” Former state Republican committeeman Johnnie B. Rogers is accused of assaulting a Burnet Bulletin reporter in front of a number of witnesses, including Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson, at a primary watch party at the Burnet County Republican headquarters. Oatman was not present at the Monday morning meeting, but was represented by Assistant DA Gary Bunyard. “Our wish is not to agree with the merit of the motion,” Bunyard said.

“We think it is outrageous, but to ensure things go forward, we do not oppose the decision.” Last Friday, Oatman’s office asked the State Attorney General’s office to take over prosecuting duties, but they declined. The trial was set to begin Dec. 10, but that could change. Richardson said once a special prosecutor was brought in, all parties would meet to determine whether or not that date is acceptable. The only qualification for a special prosecutor is they be an attorney with a license to practice law in Texas.

Sam Oatman

Once appointed, the special prosecutor will work the case to its conclusion. Rogers ... see Page 13A

Sports complex study: Local needs come first By Adam Troxtell Highland Lakes Newspapers The Parks and Recreation Commission is asking Marble Falls City Council to consider information in a sports complex feasibility study based only on local needs and not on the ability to attract out-of-towners. The study, which began last spring, will now go before council members, who will make the ultimate decision of whether or not to move ahead with constructing a sports complex. The commissioners said while they believe the feasibility study was comprehensive and they don’t completely oppose building any kind of new recreational facility, some questioned the exact figures regarding how much money would

come to the city by hosting soccer or baseball tournaments. “The study is thorough and very optimistic,” commissioner Bob Fallis said. “I don’t trust those figures. I don’t believe we can put on that many tournaments in a year. If we’re looking to satisfy our own needs, our needs are not that great. As far as numbers go, I’m willing to accept most, but not all, of the feasibility study.” The results from surveying company Baker-Aicklen and Associates’ feasibility study showed just the first two phases of the sports complex project – which includes building baseball, soccer and tennis playing surfaces – would cost close to $10 million and produce between $41,000 and $56,000 of net income by 2014, but only under optimal

conditions. This includes hosting 26 camps or clinics, as well as tournaments that would bring in tourists. The study also estimates the influx of out-of-towners would help pump between $291 to $393 million into the local economy. Commissioners are skeptical about that many people being drawn to Marble Falls, and instead want to focus on the recreational needs for the community. “It should be phased in such a manner that the immediate needs of local recreational activities are met,” Fallis said. Commissioner Steve Manley, who made the motion to recommend council use the feasibility study with local needs in mind, has favored the Study ... see Page 5A


Page 6A Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Highlander

Marble Falls, Texas

Opinion

Water for drinking and thriving, not fighting www.highlandernews.com Marble Falls’ Newspaper of Record Since 1959 Serving the Highland Lakes Region The Highlander is published twice weekly at 304 A Gateway Loop, Marble Falls, TX 78654, by Highland Lakes Newspapers, Inc. Periodicals postage paid at Marble Falls, TX, 78654, USPS 579-180. ISSN 1084-5410. Member of Texas Press Assoc., South Texas Press Assoc., Gulf Coast Press Assoc., West Texas Newspaper Assoc., and Suburban Newspapers of America. POSTMASTER Send address changes to The Highlander P. O. Box 1000 Marble Falls, Texas 78654 Corrections The Highlander will gladly correct any error found in the newspaper. To request a correction or clarification, please call 830.693.4367 and ask for the editor. A correction or clarification will appear in the next available issue. Subscriptions Subscription rates for The Highlander are $52 annually in Burnet and Llano counties; $90 in other Texas counties; and $130 outside of Texas. Semiannual rates are: $30 in Burnet and Llano counties, $50 elsewhere in Texas and $75 outside of Texas. Call 830.693.4367 to order by phone. Contact us: Publisher and Editor Roy E. Bode

830.693.4367 x224

Associate Publisher Ellen Bode

830.693.4367

Executive Editor/General Manager Phil Schoch 830.693.4367 x226 newscopy@highlandernews.com Christy Clardy 830.693.4367 x222 Adam Troxtell 830.693.4367 x221 Alexandria Randolph 830.693.4367 x219 Sports Editor mgoodson@highlandernews.com Mark Goodson 830.693.4367x220 Retail advertising Tina Mullins Sally McBryde

830.693.4367 x206 830.693.4367 x213

Classified advertising Christa Delz 830.693.4367 x211 christa.delz@highlandernews.com classifieds@highlandernews.com Business Manager Sharon Pelky

830.693.4367 x217

Circulation Audra Ratliff

830.693.4367 x216

Production advertising@highlandernews.com Mark Persyn Sarah Randle Jeremie Fletcher Jill Steinle

830.693.4367 x218 830.693.4367 x218 830.693.4367 x218 830.693.4367 x218

The LCRA Staff has recommended that the LCRA Board NOT renew the Emergency Drought Order. Central Texas Water Coalition is asking the LCRA Board to support the renewal or re-authorization of the Emergency Drought Order so we do not further jeopardize the drinking water and likelihoods of Central Texas businesses, industries, residences, tourism, and local and state revenues on the Highland Lakes. Why is this so important? Here are the Facts: Lake Travis level is at 634 feet, 32 feet below average this time of year, Lake Buchanan is at 993 feet, or 18 below average. If the LCRA releases up to 209,000 acre feet (AF) of water to the “interruptible” rice industry (183,000 AF diverted and an additional 36,000 AF with evaporation +), or 68 million gallons, enough for 500,000 households for a year, Lake Travis could drop 16-20 more

Jo Karr Tedder, President Central Texas Water Coalition Guest Column feet, and Lake Buchanan 2-4 more feet, down to BELOW 600,000 AF, triggering a mandatory 20 percent curtailment of water usage, and effectively bankrupting many area businesses and negatively impacting municipalities. By LCRA estimates, if the 25 percent chance of a drought worse that the drought of record occurs, and the 183,000/209,000 AF is released for the rice industry, the two lakes could contain less than 12 months of water supply for the 1.5 million people who rely on the lakes for water. Is this a prudent gamble? The rice industry pays on average $6.50 per “acre foot” of water, everyone else pays $151. Where is the incentive for the rice farmers to conserve water?

In 2011, the four rice industry districts poured four to six feet of water on land that Ron Gertson (rice farmer and spokesman for the Big 4 Rice Districts/Corporations) recently described on national television as a “barren wasteland.” Texas agricultural irrigation averages less than 18 inches per acre annually (a figure that includes the rice farmers 48-60 inches), and central pivot sprinklers are used on 80 percent of Texas irrigated acres. There are opportunities for continued improvements in Ag water use efficiency through drought-tolerant crop varieties, and updated irrigation techniques, instead of flooding to kill weeds. Lake Buchanan has not been full since June 2007. The Highland Lakes region suffered greatly in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, and continues to do so. Hundreds of jobs have been lost, hundreds of millions in revenue and property values have been lost, and many

service, hospitality, marina, resort, fishing guides, and restaurant businesses are bankrupt, and will not reopen. “Alternating” water between the lakes and the rice industry is flawed reasoning and a lack of fiduciary responsibility. The idea that reservoir drinking water should be “alternated” between the rice industry and Central Texas residents and businesses is also counter to the 1989 Adjudication Order concerning the LCRA: “The supply of stored water pursuant to non-firm, interruptible commitments should be interrupted or curtailed to the extent necessary to allow the LCRA to satisfy all existing and projected demands for stored water pursuant to all firm uninterruptible commitments.” The Big 4 Rice Districts/Corporations have received billions of dollars in government subsides over the last decade, and they have crop insurance. Even LCRA has paid Water ... see Page 13A

Benghazi, Libya catastrophe needs to be probed Dear Editor: “We’re under attack.” The State Department received Ambassador Stevens’ cry for help at 4 p.m., on 9/11/12. By 4:20 p.m. Secretary of State Clinton had been informed. She reportedly then moved to the Operations Center to maintain communications with the Tripoli Embassy by video conference until midnight, over 7 hours later. By then the US Diplomatic Mission had been destroyed and the ambassador and three other American heroes were dead. As a minimum, it would appear, some person or persons were negligent for failing to respond appropriately to Ambassador Stevens repeated requests for additional security, for months preceding the attack. If so, the person or persons must be held accountable for the entirely avoidable deaths of the four Americans. Further, it would appear that there was a flagrant, avoidable failure to assist/rescue the besieged ambassador and his personnel at the Mission build-

Letter to the Editor ing and then later at the CIA Safe House, once the attack became known in real time in Washington DC. The Wall St. Journal reports (10/25/12) that since the Benghazi catastrophe, the President and Secretary of State confer daily and are “on the phone daily with his national security advisor, Tom Donilon, to review embassy security at vulnerable countries.” Is this to manage damage control or is it simply a classic closing of the barn doors after the cow got out? An objective group of media representatives should be allowed to observe and participate in the Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC) hearings (scheduled to begin Nov. 15) to question officials and supervisors from the State Dept, CIA, DOD and White House who were on duty at the time of the Benghazi attacks to determine exactly how those agencies responded to the attack reports and how that informa-

tion was communicated up their respective chains of command. The media participation in the hearings would allow the American people to confidently understand: 1) What was the timeline for each attack related communication received, along with who and how each communication was handled? 2) Was any communication delayed in being routed to the next appropriate authority, and if so, why? 3) Were any emergency conditions/ alerts initiated due to the attacks and which authorities were notified and when? 4) When were the Secretary of State, CIA Director, Secretary of Defense and the President personally informed of the developing situation and what were their subsequent actions? 5) What assets were available to assist the besieged site within a three hour time frame and how and why were those assets utilized/not utilized? 6) Was there any request from the attack site for assistance or fire support and if so, how was each handled and why? 7) When were post attack investigations ordered and teams dispatched

to secure the attack site? 8) Who approved and who coordinated the administration’s post attack information releases and why was the information incorrect and misleading? 9) What role, if any, did political damage control play in the post attack misinformation and slow attack scene investigation? The SIC investigation should be conducted as a possible criminal investigation because lives were lost due to actions taken or not taken by persons in positions of responsibility. Whether intentional or not, any dereliction of duty must be punished and victims and their families compensated appropriately. Likewise, any cover up, intentional public misinformation, or attempts to deflect and defer the facts until after the 2012 elections, must be punished. If there is any indication of managed damage control by the SIC, an independent prosecutor investigation should be required.

PUZZLES Find today’s Answers on page

12A

Trevor Dupuy Horseshoe Bay


Page 6A Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Highlander

Marble Falls, Texas

Opinion

DEPLORABLE! What does LCRA stand for? www.highlandernews.com Marble Falls’ Newspaper of Record Since 1959 Serving the Highland Lakes Region The Highlander is published twice weekly at 304 A Gateway Loop, Marble Falls, TX 78654, by Highland Lakes Newspapers, Inc. Periodicals postage paid at Marble Falls, TX, 78654, USPS 579-180. ISSN 1084-5410. Member of Texas Press Assoc., South Texas Press Assoc., Gulf Coast Press Assoc., West Texas Newspaper Assoc., and Suburban Newspapers of America. POSTMASTER Send address changes to The Highlander P. O. Box 1000 Marble Falls, Texas 78654 Corrections The Highlander will gladly correct any error found in the newspaper. To request a correction or clarification, please call 830.693.4367 and ask for the editor. A correction or clarification will appear in the next available issue. Subscriptions Subscription rates for The Highlander are $52 annually in Burnet and Llano counties; $90 in other Texas counties; and $130 outside of Texas. Semiannual rates are: $30 in Burnet and Llano counties, $50 elsewhere in Texas and $75 outside of Texas. Call 830.693.4367 to order by phone. Contact us: Publisher and Editor Roy E. Bode

830.693.4367 x224

Associate Publisher Ellen Bode

830.693.4367

Executive Editor/General Manager Phil Schoch 830.693.4367 x226 Assistant Editor Christy Clardy 830.693.4367 x222 newscopy@highlandernews.com Adam Troxtell 830.693.4367 x221 Alexandria Randolph 830.693.4367 x219 Sports Editor mgoodson@highlandernews.com Mark Goodson 830.693.4367x220 Retail advertising Tina Mullins Sally McBryde

830.693.4367 x206 830.693.4367 x213

Classified advertising Christa Delz 830.693.4367 x211 christa.delz@highlandernews.com classifieds@highlandernews.com Business Manager Sharon Pelky

830.693.4367 x217

Circulation Audra Ratliff

830.693.4367 x216

Production advertising@highlandernews.com Melanie Hogan Jeremie Fletcher Sarah Randle

830.693.4367 x218 830.693.4367 x218 830.693.4367 x218

With its vote to fill the bottomless trough of the rice industry with water from the ever-shrinking Highland Lakes, the LCRA cleared up any misunderstanding about exactly what its acronym represents. It is not the Lower Colorado River Authority. It is the Lower Colorado Rice Authority. Helped along by the weaselly votes of three upstream directors who turned their backs on the people they pretend to represent, the “rice farmers” – as these downstream water welfare recipients like to call themselves – narrowly killed a compromise that would have given them a little less than what they wanted. But traditions die hard, and pouring dirt-cheap water onto a crop that apparently can’t be raised in Texas without a flood of government assistance has been an unquestioned entitlement for nearly a century. Only eight months ago, the LCRA declared that the storage capacity of Lakes Buchanan and Travis had fallen so alarmingly low that emergency measures were needed to help them recover. For the first time in the history of the organization, its directors adopted a plan that actually interrupted water supplies to the rice hogs, though they have paid next to nothing for 80 years because their service could be interrupted. So what changed between March and November? Did the “storage buckets” – as a rice industry lawyer likes to call the lakes – fill up? Nope. Lake Buchanan was at 41 percent of capacity then. It’s at 43 percent now. We’ve put 12,000 acre feet in the bank over the past eight months. Meanwhile, the drought is digging in again, forecasters see no improvement near, and we’re losing water at the rate of 1,000 acre feet per day. What changed is that the “rice farmers” – mostly a collection of agribusinesses and large landowners who are used to running governors and legislators like cattle – fired up their jets, headed for Austin, revved up their political pals and whipped their LCRA houseboys into line. A few closed door meetings later, the Rice Authority board was back on the leash. When the day of decision arrived, few of the “farmers” troubled themselves to attend the director’s meeting in Fredericksburg, apparently assured they had the votes to end the board’s short but pesky flirtation with science and common sense. The crucial vote came on a compromise offered by Burnet County director John Franklin, who clearly saw the industry’s political thresher bearing down on the lakes. His plan would have set a trigger

Our View

for the release of irrigation water halfway between the current emergency level of 850,000 acre feet in storage and the LCRA staff recommendation of 750,000. Equally important, it would have allowed only one measurement date to determine whether irrigation water would be released in 2013. Three upstream directors – Rice Authority chairman Tim Timmerman of Austin; Scott Spears, also of Austin, and Michael McHenry of San Saba, an oddly reliable sycophant for the “rice farmers,” provided the margin necessary to swiftly kill the measure. Franklin, Jett Johnson of Mills County, and Ray Gill and Buddy Schrader, both of Llano County, were then the only opponents of dropping the threshold another 25,000 acre feet and giving the rice interests two shots at qualification. While Gov. Rick Perry has denied involvement in the decision, it surpasses credulity to believe the prints of his cloven hooves are not on a supremely sensitive political vote involving one of Austin’s most powerful lobbies and the 15 members he’s appointed to the LCRA’s 15member board. The bottom line is that the Rice Authority decided to gamble with the ability to provide adequate water supplies to people, animals and diversified business and industry in one of the state’s most populous and robust economies in favor of subsidizing special interests producing a crop that can’t stand on its own. This is how we see it: • The “rice farmers” will pay about $729,000 for their expected entitlement next year. • Upstream cities like Marble Falls, Burnet and Austin would pay $18.3 million for the same amount of water. • In 2011, the single worst drought

year in recorded Texas history, more than three times the water required by the entire City of Austin was poured on the four downstream rice districts. As legendary Texas businessman and rancher Red McCombs observed recently, “These rice farmers harvested a bumper crop while the rest of Texas suffered the brunt of the devastation.” • This year, “farmers” who were unable to produce just turned from subsidized water to federal crop insurance payments to cover their losses. • Besides giveaway water, “Rice farmers” in Wharton, Matagorda and Colorado counties apparently need plenty of help from the federal government to grow a crop that’s less than ideal for the place and time. Between 1995 and 2000, they took over $700 million from 17 different Washington subsidy programs for their crop. With government clamoring to support the Texas rice industry by every available means it certainly must be the most important agricultural product springing from the farms and ranches of South Texas, right? No, not even in downstream Wharton County – the state’s top place for rice farming. In fact, it ranks number four there, falling behind livestock, corn, cotton and sorghum, all of which manage to survive without monstrous quantities of subsidized water and some with a fraction of the government programs available for rice growing. As conservatives, we have a hard time understanding why the government and upstream consumers should support an industry that would rather rely on others rather than adapt. If their supposedly interruptible supplies were realistically priced, would they begin to plant more water efficient crops or drill their own wells? The Legislature should review the wisdom of providing preferential treatment to this special interest and – at a minimum – require reasonable compensation from those who now squander a precious resource vital to the future of Texas. Perhaps that will encourage them, like the rest of us, to deal with the economic realities of capitalism. Meanwhile, should you come across those two Travis County directors at a spot favored by Austin lounge lizards and lobbyists, please send them a glass of water and tell them to drink up now. It might all be gone next summer.

PUZZLES Find today’s Answers on page

7B

Roy E. Bode President and Publisher


Page 6A Weekend Edition, December 7 - 10, 2012

The Highlander

Marble Falls, Texas

Opinion

We have a Middle East Obamanation www.highlandernews.com Marble Falls’ Newspaper of Record Since 1959 Serving the Highland Lakes Region The Highlander is published twice weekly at 304 A Gateway Loop, Marble Falls, TX 78654, by Highland Lakes Newspapers, Inc. Periodicals postage paid at Marble Falls, TX, 78654, USPS 579-180. ISSN 1084-5410. Member of Texas Press Assoc., South Texas Press Assoc., Gulf Coast Press Assoc., West Texas Newspaper Assoc., and Suburban Newspapers of America. POSTMASTER Send address changes to The Highlander P. O. Box 1000 Marble Falls, Texas 78654 Corrections The Highlander will gladly correct any error found in the newspaper. To request a correction or clarification, please call 830.693.4367 and ask for the editor. A correction or clarification will appear in the next available issue. Subscriptions Subscription rates for The Highlander are $52 annually in Burnet and Llano counties; $90 in other Texas counties; and $130 outside of Texas. Semiannual rates are: $30 in Burnet and Llano counties, $50 elsewhere in Texas and $75 outside of Texas. Call 830.693.4367 to order by phone. Contact us: Publisher and Editor Roy E. Bode

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Associate Publisher Ellen Bode

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Executive Editor/General Manager Phil Schoch 830.693.4367 x226 Assistant Editor Christy Clardy 830.693.4367 x222 newscopy@highlandernews.com Adam Troxtell 830.693.4367 x221 Alexandria Randolph 830.693.4367 x219 Sports Editor mgoodson@highlandernews.com Mark Goodson 830.693.4367x220 Retail advertising Tina Mullins Sally McBryde

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Classified advertising Christa Delz 830.693.4367 x211 christa.delz@highlandernews.com classifieds@highlandernews.com Business Manager Sharon Pelky

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Circulation Audra Ratliff

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Dear Editor: It is important to understand that President Obama personally played a pivotal role in Egypt’s “Arab Spring” revolution in 2010. When the anti-President Mubarak protests broke out, Obama publicly called for the Egyptian dictator to step down. Mubarak, for all his many defects, had been receiving American aide because of his cooperation in guaranteeing the Arab peace with Israel and thus providing a modicum of stability in the strategic, but volatile, Middle East. In 2011, as Mubarak was on his way out and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was increasing its role in the revolution, U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper testified to Congress that the MB is, “[a] largely secular [group], which has eschewed violence and has

Letters to the Editor decried al-Qaida as a perversion of Islam. They have pursued social ends, betterment of the political order in Egypt,” etc. At the time many pointed out, this doesn’t square with the Brotherhood’s slogan, “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Koran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the path of Allah is our highest hope.” This contradiction is more glaring today as we witness the recent seizure of dictatorial powers by Brotherhood leader and new Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi. While the Brotherhood’s mask slips, the White House is currently planning a $1 billion debt forgiveness for Egypt and is leading an effort for the IMF to loan the country nearly $5 billion – all without

conditions. Morsi’s recent role in brokering a cease-fire in Gaza may have earned him praise by some, but if past history repeats, it’s nothing more than the Brotherhood buying time to consolidate its own power before facilitating a coordinated attack to eliminate Israel and the pursuit of a United Arab Caliphate. By any objective criteria, the Obama Administration has simply mishandled the situation in Egypt and the Middle East. The Muslim Brotherhood is, and has always been, clear about its goal to impose Sharia Law and eliminate Israel. The most charitable excuse is unintentional incompetence – the same incompetence that caused the White House to turn its back on Iranian protestors in 2009; fail to slow Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons; declare Syria’s murderous dictator a “reformer” and then support

LCRA water release tied to electricity Dear Editor: It seems that LCRA intends to release water to the rice farmers next year. Not really a surprise. I halfway expected it. I had heard earlier in the year that the utility companies were considering cancellation of their contracts with LCRA. Today KBEY announced that LCRA was going to take the utility companies to court to recoup loses (I wonder what will come out in court if everyone has to tell the truth?). As a result, LCRA’s credit rating has taken a hit (downgraded by Standard & Poors). I am sure that the utility companies have recognized that there isn’t enough water for LCRA to fulfill their contract and probably want to secure the power elsewhere while they still can. They are being realistic about the lake levels. It’s pretty obvious that LCRA is starting to feel the financial loss due to not being able to generate this year. Another year of no generation of electricity may be enough to put a monkey wrench in their works. I am pretty sure they have gigantic outflow of cash with not enough

coming in to sustain them. Grandpa would say they have gotten too big for their britches. Not enough income to sustain the outgo! When the outgo exceeds the income, the upkeep becomes the downfall. LCRA will do anything it can to generate electricity and keep and fulfill those contracts. They can not release water solely for the purpose of generation of electricity except in an emergency. Like I have said from the beginning. They have been releasing water solely for the purpose of generating electricity for decades. The rice farmers are only a feeble excuse which allows them to release water. The lakes have not recovered enough for the release of any water to interruptable customers. Every one knows that. LCRA just doesn’t care much if there is not enough water to go around. A self-serving organization should not control a life-sustaining water supply. They answer to no one. Something has to change. Looks like they will not stop until they go broke and no one has enough water. Wayne Nehring, President Cassie Community Association

rebels trying to oust him; facilitate Muslim Brotherhood advances area-wide; fail to secure a “Status of Forces” agreement with Iraq; call for impossible to defend borders for Israel; and, finally, ignore the pleas for help from our people before and during the murderous attacks in Libya. In his first term, President Obama said he should be judged on his results after four years. Let’s evaluate. He visited a relatively stable Egypt and Middle East a few years ago speaking of justice, progress, tolerance and human dignity. Now, after four years of his policies, an exploding Middle East has less of each and Americans are more uniformly mistrusted, hated and at risk in the Arab world and worldwide. Trevor Dupuy Horseshoe Bay

Casualties of water war Dear Editor: Rice farmers vs. LCRA vs. county commissioners, and senators are in conflict over dwindling Lake Buchanan water. Who will win? I couldn’t speculate, but the unsaid losers probably are the property taxpayers. An example is the land value of an acre on the lake (currently a wet weather mud puddle) is assessed in excess of $100,000. Water view lots also have “value added tax.” Other properties are also over-valued just by being in the area. However, this over taxation is based on the lake being full and the touristas dropping their dollars here. Since the lake has been half full the last 3-4 years (currently, 44 percent full or 56 percent empty) should not the assessed

tax valuation of the land be adjusted downward by say 56 percent so that the $100,000 lot now be valued at $44,000? I call on the tax overlords to address this over-taxation in these pages. Please join me in an appeal for intervention to raise the water level of Lake Buchanan to “The One” that controls all human destiny, can raise or lower sea levels (can walk on water) has an unspeakable name (or two) and is your “guiding light.” Say it with me now! Obama Claus, Obama Claus, Obama Claus, Obama Claus, Obama Claus. You are now between a “Barack and a hard place.” Congratulations, Y’all! Nick Soika Burnet

How to Reach Our Representatives Pres. Barack Hussein Obama White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, DC 20500 E-mail: president@whitehouse.gov Fax: 202.456.2461 Gov. Rick Perry P.O. Box 12428 Austin, TX 78711 Phone: 512.463.2000 Fax: 512.463.1849

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison 284 Russell Senate Office Bldg. Washington, DC 20510 Phone: 202.224.5922 Fax: 202.224.0776 Or 961 Federal Bldg. 300 E. Eighth St. Austin, TX 78701 Phone: 512.916.5834 Fax: 512.916.5839

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn 517 Hart Senate Office Bldg. Washington, DC 20510 Phone: 202.224.2934 Fax: 202.228.2856 Or Chase Tower 221 W. Sixth St. Austin, TX 78701 Phone: 512.469.6034 Fax: 512.469.6020

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway 511 Cannon House Office Bldg. Washington, DC 20515 Phone: 202.225.3605 Email: mconaway@mikeconaway.com Or Llano Regional Office 104 W. Sandstone Llano, TX 78643 Phone: 325.247.2826 Fax: 325.247.2676

PUZZLES Find today’s Answers

Page 5B

State Sen. Troy Fraser P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station Austin, TX 78711 Phone: 512.463.0124 Or 101 US 281 N., Suite 203 Marble Falls, TX 78654 Phone: 830.693.9900 Fax: 830.693.9603

State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran 125 Lehrmann Drive Kerrville, TX 78028 Phone: 830.257.2333 Fax: 830.792.4289 E-mail: Harvey@harveyhilderbran.com State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock Room EXT E2.506 P.O. Box 2910 Austin, TX 78768 Phone: 512.463.0684


Page 6A Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Highlander

Marble Falls, Texas

Opinion

A better way to protect Social Security www.highlandernews.com Marble Falls’ Newspaper of Record Since 1959 Serving the Highland Lakes Region The Highlander is published twice weekly at 304 A Gateway Loop, Marble Falls, TX 78654, by Highland Lakes Newspapers, Inc. Periodicals postage paid at Marble Falls, TX, 78654, USPS 579-180. ISSN 1084-5410. Member of Texas Press Assoc., South Texas Press Assoc., Gulf Coast Press Assoc., West Texas Newspaper Assoc., and Suburban Newspapers of America. POSTMASTER Send address changes to The Highlander P. O. Box 1000 Marble Falls, Texas 78654 Corrections The Highlander will gladly correct any error found in the newspaper. To request a correction or clarification, please call 830.693.4367 and ask for the editor. A correction or clarification will appear in the next available issue. Subscriptions Subscription rates for The Highlander are $52 annually in Burnet and Llano counties; $90 in other Texas counties; and $130 outside of Texas. Semiannual rates are: $30 in Burnet and Llano counties, $50 elsewhere in Texas and $75 outside of Texas. Call 830.693.4367 to order by phone. Contact us: Publisher and Editor Roy E. Bode

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Associate Publisher Ellen Bode

830.693.4367

Executive Editor/General Manager Phil Schoch 830.693.4367 x226 Assistant Editor Christy Clardy 830.693.4367 x222 newscopy@highlandernews.com Adam Troxtell 830.693.4367 x221 Alexandria Randolph 830.693.4367 x219 Sports Editor mgoodson@highlandernews.com Mark Goodson 830.693.4367x220 Retail advertising Tina Mullins Sally McBryde

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Classified advertising Christa Delz 830.693.4367 x211 christa.delz@highlandernews.com classifieds@highlandernews.com Business Manager Sharon Pelky

830.693.4367 x217

Circulation Audra Ratliff

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Production advertising@highlandernews.com Melanie Hogan Mark Persyn Sarah Randle

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Going over the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1 would mean huge income tax increases for all Americans and across-the-board cuts in most federal programs (except Social Security). I believe Congress and the White House will do all that must be done to avoid such a shock to our economy. But the reason for the fiscal cliff – an exploding national debt – won’t go away until Congress and the White House reach agreement on a long-term deficit-reduction solution.  Although there are differences over the details, there is broad agreement in Washington that this should consist of comprehensive, pro-growth tax reform and common-sense spending reforms that include shoring up the finances of Social Security and other entitlement programs.   More than 60 percent of current federal spending goes to entitlement programs, mostly Social Security and Medicare. To put that in perspective, if we eliminated all federal spending except entitlements – that is, if we spent no money on highways, national defense, medical research, food safety, etc. – this year’s federal budget would be just barely balanced and would not affect the debt at all.

Kay Bailey Hutchison U.S. Senator In a few more years, eliminating all non-entitlement spending wouldn’t be enough to balance the budget. That’s because both Social Security and Medicare costs will grow faster than our economy for the next several decades, as the largest generation in our nation’s history gets ready to retire.  At the same time, there are fewer Americans in the workforce to contribute payroll taxes to cover those benefits. Some have pointed out that both programs are financed by payroll taxes and have accumulated surpluses in previous decades (essentially IOUs from the U.S. Treasury). But payroll taxes no longer cover the costs of benefits, and surpluses are dwindling.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) currently

estimates a payroll tax shortfall in Social Security of $59 billion in 2012, $76 billion in 2013, and $86 billion for both 2014 and 2015. Social Security’s situation is on course to run out of money for full retirement benefits in 2033. Although that seems a long way off, waiting until then to address Social Security’s finances probably would require a big payroll tax increase or a cut in benefits – or both. But modest, incremental changes over the next few years will protect benefits for current retirees and for those who are about to retire, as well as preserving Social Security for the next generation. I have put forth a plan, the Defend and Save Social Security Act, to preserve and strengthen Social Security. My approach is sensible, fair, and easy to implement. First, as Americans live longer, it makes sense to increase the retirement age gradually – without impacting those who are about to retire. Under my bill, anyone who is currently 59 years or older would not be affected.   For everyone else, both the normal retirement age and early retirement age would increase by three months each year, starting in 2016. That means the normal retirement age would reach 67 by

LCRA needs an official watchdog Dear Editor: Last week the opinion that I sent in for consideration was published. It dealt with Lower Colorado River Authority using the release of water for the rice farmers as a feeble excuse to generate electricity with that same water. LCRA is not supposed to release water solely for the purpose of the generation of electricity except in an emergency. Recently, the news media has been covering contracts between LCRA and utility companies. The question that comes to mind is: “How can LCRA enter into contracts to generate electricity if they have no way of knowing whether or not there will be enough water

Letter to the Editor in the lakes to fulfill those contracts?” Hydroelectric obviously pays a huge role in the supply of electricity from LCRA. One must question the wisdom of whoever made this decision. Either these decision makers think they have Devine powers or they do not care how much water is in the lakes. LCRA appears to be only concerned with taking care of LCRA. They have contracts to fulfill. It is quite obvious that the rules LCRA is obligated to follow are being ignored. At the very least, the rules are being severely bent and twisted to serve LCRA’s purposes.

I’m not exactly sure who may be in the best position to force LCRA to follow the rules? They have no one watching over them. Maybe the Governor, Attorney General, our legislators, or all of them? It appears many of these people are asleep at the wheel. Our loyal watchdogs who are trying to solve the problem need the rest of the pack to join in. Take note of elected officials who are active in correcting this travesty and support them. The rest of them are replaceable if they don’t wake up. We need to rattle their cage. Wayne Nehring President, Cassie Community Association

2019, 68 by 2023, 69 by 2027, and 70 by 2031. The early retirement age would also be gradually increased to 63 by 2019 and 64 by 2023. Second, the annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, would be computed as it is under current law. However, my bill would shave off 1 percent of the COLA in any year it exceeded 1 percent. (If an annual COLA adjustment is less than 1 percent, there would be no change.) Social Security’s Chief Actuary calculates that my legislation would ensure full retirement benefits for at least 50 years – as well as reducing deficits by $631 billion over the next 10 years. In its current form, Social Security is headed for insolvency. The question isn’t whether to act, it’s when. I believe it is better to act now, while there is time to gradually implement changes, over the course of several years, rather than suffering a massive disruption to the program all at once.  By doing this, there would be no cuts in Social Security’s core benefits and no payroll tax increase on workers today.   Hutchison, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Texas.

Letter policy The Highlander welcomes and encourages letters from readers. Please sign your letter and include your address and telephone number for verification of authorship. Letters should not exceed 300 words. The Highlander reserves the right to edit letters for style, brevity and clarity and to limit publication to one letter per author per 30day period. Longer letters that involve complicated topics will be considered. Guest columns of 500 words from those with a particular area of expertise are welcomed. Anonymous letters will not be published. Letters endorsing or opposing political candidates are political advertising and should be taken to the advertising department. Letters of complaint about private businesses will be forwarded to the business and will not be published. Address your letter to: The Highlander, Letter to the Editor, PO Box 1000, Marble Falls, TX 78654. Letters can be accepted by e-mail and must also include an address and telephone number. E-mail us at: newscopy@ highlandernews.com.

PUZZLES Find today’s Answers on page

7B


Page 6A Weekend Edition, December 28 - 31, 2012

The Highlander

Marble Falls, Texas

Opinion

Reduced tax rates came on backs of senior citizens www.highlandernews.com Marble Falls’ Newspaper of Record Since 1959 Serving the Highland Lakes Region The Highlander is published twice weekly at 304 A Gateway Loop, Marble Falls, TX 78654, by Highland Lakes Newspapers, Inc. Periodicals postage paid at Marble Falls, TX, 78654, USPS 579-180. ISSN 1084-5410. Member of Texas Press Assoc., South Texas Press Assoc., Gulf Coast Press Assoc., West Texas Newspaper Assoc., and Suburban Newspapers of America. POSTMASTER Send address changes to The Highlander P. O. Box 1000 Marble Falls, Texas 78654 Corrections The Highlander will gladly correct any error found in the newspaper. To request a correction or clarification, please call 830.693.4367 and ask for the editor. A correction or clarification will appear in the next available issue. Subscriptions Subscription rates for The Highlander are $52 annually in Burnet and Llano counties; $90 in other Texas counties; and $130 outside of Texas. Semiannual rates are: $30 in Burnet and Llano counties, $50 elsewhere in Texas and $75 outside of Texas. Call 830.693.4367 to order by phone. Contact us: Publisher and Editor Roy E. Bode

830.693.4367 x224

Associate Publisher Ellen Bode

830.693.4367

Executive Editor/General Manager Phil Schoch 830.693.4367 x226 Assistant Editor Christy Clardy 830.693.4367 x222 newscopy@highlandernews.com Adam Troxtell 830.693.4367 x221 Alexandria Randolph 830.693.4367 x219 Sports Editor mgoodson@highlandernews.com Mark Goodson 830.693.4367x220 Retail advertising Tina Mullins Sally McBryde

830.693.4367 x206 830.693.4367 x213

Classified advertising Christa Delz 830.693.4367 x211 christa.delz@highlandernews.com classifieds@highlandernews.com Business Manager Sharon Pelky

830.693.4367 x217

Circulation Audra Ratliff

830.693.4367 x216

Production advertising@highlandernews.com Melanie Hogan Mark Persyn Sarah Randle Eric Betancourt

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Dear Editor:

Kay Bailey Hutchison has done more for the average Texan than Sen. John Cornyn; but her last two letters to your newspaper leave a lot to be desired.  In her comments about reforming the American tax system, she wrote about our economy growing when income tax and capital gains tax rates were dramatically reduced; but this was done on the backs of senior citizens.  Those receiving Social Security income benefits had to start paying income taxes on some of these benefits even after they had already paid income taxes on their contributions into Social Security and Medicare.  And Congress implemented the Government Pension Offset program which reduced Social Security income by no less than 60 percent if seniors had another pension. It didn’t matter if they were fully qualified to receive Social Security. I know this as it happened to me.    Hutchison also wrote the 2003 Bush tax cuts were followed by 52 consecutive months

Letters to the Editor of healthy economic growth but failed to mention that the government went from healthy budget surpluses to massive budget deficits. She went on to add that most Americans understand that raising taxes is bad for economic growth. Well, my dear, so is adding to the Federal Debt!  She left out the part that eliminating the 17,000 pages of loopholes written by her and her cohorts in the IRS Tax Code would add at least $1.2 trillion to the Federal Budget every year. She left out the part about giving $4 billion of subsidies to the oil companies every year. She left out the part about giving corporations the opportunity to establish offshore offices to avoid paying income taxes which is used by over 60 percent of American corporations today. When citizens try to do this, guess what?  They end up in jail for tax evasion.    And then her comments about protecting Social

Security are all wrong. She wants to raise the eligible age to 67 and to reduce cost-of-living raises for senior citizens. She stated doing this would reduce deficits by $631 billion over 10 years, which amounts to only $6.31 billion per year. Again, what she didn’t mention was making all people, regardless of annual income, to pay into Social Security would eliminate any future deficits in the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. However, she has always protected the rich by helping them to opt out of any mandatory obligations.  She was in office when Congress decided, over the public’s objection, to place the incomes derived from Social Security and Medicare in the Federal Budget and to call the benefits “entitlements.” Entitlements, my foot! Congress did this to make their deficits not look so bad.  Social Security and Medicare contributions are paid separately by the average American and should be placed back in their respective trust funds and not touched by Congress.  But I admit that I made a terrible mistake during the Reagan years

when I recommended that Congress borrow these funds and pay them back with interest. Oh, yes, I did.  I thought it was a win-win situation. Not only would this help with President Reagan’s “voodoo economics” but allow these funds to grow even more. What I didn’t see coming was Congress decided that they would have to pay these funds back someday and “with interest.” So, to get out of paying, they did what they did the unthinkable and called the benefits from Social Security and Medicare “entitlements.”  Well, my friends and my dear Senator Lady, Social Security and Medicare benefits are NOT entitlements. Welfare benefits are entitlements, and there are big differences.  I like it when politicians state their opinions; but they should be held to the same obligation as when one take the witness’ stand to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”  Edward Lindsay  Fort Worth

LCRA, conflicts of interest — you be the judge? Dear Editor: Consider this: LCRA has a huge amount of income from the production of electrical power. Hydro electric fuel (the water in Lakes Buchanan and Travis) is basically free. LCRA is prohibited from releasing water solely for the production of electricity, except in an emergency. Rice farmers (interruptible customers) pay barely over $5 an acre foot for the same water that non interruptible customers pay over $160. Rice farmers received well over 400,000 acre feet of water during the recent drought of record, which is not over. LCRA recently presented a water management plan to TCEQ that, if approved, will almost certainly guarantee that the rice farmers will

receive water for a crop in 2013. The lakes will be very much lower than they were at their most recent lowest level. Non interruptible customers required to conserve water due to the low lake levels. More of the water released to rice farmers is lost in route to rice farmers than the amount of water conserved by non interruptible customers. Rice farmers use several times the amount of water that non interruptible customers use. Is this an oxymoron or what? People with rice farming connections serve on the LCRA board of directors while past employees of electric power and light, telephone or utility companies are not allowed. Apparently it would be considered a conflict of interest if these companies served on the board since they are customers of LCRA. Are not the rice farmers considered customers since

they purchase water from LCRA? Certain members of the LCRA board of directors have already confirmed that they usually follow the recommendations of LCRA staff. LCRA staff historically favors the rice farmers with little regards for the lake area and non interruptible customers, consistently requiring non interruptible customers to conserve. LCRA has rice farming interests and thereby a customer of itself. Several board members have business connections amongst themselves. Can you imagine what would happen if our judges and juries were allowed to conduct business in the same manner? Wayne Nehring President, Cassie Community Association

Letter policy The Highlander welcomes and encourages letters from readers. Please sign your letter and include your address and telephone number for verification of authorship. Letters should not exceed 300 words. The Highlander reserves the right to edit letters for style, brevity and clarity and to limit publication to one letter per author per 30-day period. Longer letters that involve complicated topics will be considered. Guest columns of 500 words from those with a particular area of expertise are welcomed. Anonymous letters will not be published. Letters endorsing or opposing political candidates are political advertising and should be taken to the advertising department. Letters of complaint about private businesses will be forwarded to the business and will not be published. Address your letter to: The Highlander, Letter to the Editor, PO Box 1000, Marble Falls, TX 78654. Letters can be accepted by e-mail and must also include an address and telephone number. E-mail us at: newscopy@highlandernews.com.

How to Reach Our Representatives Pres. Barack Hussein Obama White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, DC 20500 E-mail: president@whitehouse.gov Fax: 202.456.2461 Gov. Rick Perry P.O. Box 12428 Austin, TX 78711 Phone: 512.463.2000 Fax: 512.463.1849

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison 284 Russell Senate Office Bldg. Washington, DC 20510 Phone: 202.224.5922 Fax: 202.224.0776 Or 961 Federal Bldg. 300 E. Eighth St. Austin, TX 78701 Phone: 512.916.5834 Fax: 512.916.5839

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn 517 Hart Senate Office Bldg. Washington, DC 20510 Phone: 202.224.2934 Fax: 202.228.2856 Or Chase Tower 221 W. Sixth St. Austin, TX 78701 Phone: 512.469.6034 Fax: 512.469.6020

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway 511 Cannon House Office Bldg. Washington, DC 20515 Phone: 202.225.3605 Email: mconaway@mikeconaway.com Or Llano Regional Office 104 W. Sandstone Llano, TX 78643 Phone: 325.247.2826 Fax: 325.247.2676

PUZZLES Find today’s Answers

Page 11A

State Sen. Troy Fraser P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station Austin, TX 78711 Phone: 512.463.0124 Or 101 US 281 N., Suite 203 Marble Falls, TX 78654 Phone: 830.693.9900 Fax: 830.693.9603

State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran 125 Lehrmann Drive Kerrville, TX 78028 Phone: 830.257.2333 Fax: 830.792.4289 E-mail: Harvey@harveyhilderbran.com State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock Room EXT E2.506 P.O. Box 2910 Austin, TX 78768 Phone: 512.463.0684


Highlander-Community Service LCRA