Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Smith County's bogus "public input" meetings = free campaign advertising for incumbents

7-12-17 Correction:  When I originally published this post, I thought the "public input" meeting was on Monday, July 10.  It actually occurred Tuesday, July 11.  But my comments about it are still the same.


Now I'm going through one of those phases when I think that I'm wasting my time on this blog, because it seems little has changed in Smith County in the past 4 years.  Yesterday your kownty klownishioners held the first of a series of meetings ostensibly seeking "public input" for a master road plan.  I didn't go because it would have been a waste of time.  The paper hasn't reported how it went yet, but I don't really care.  I just have one word to say about this:
 
Bogus.
 
Anybody remember late 2013 as the 2014 elections approached?  Joel Baker and Commissioner Cary Nix made a big show of holding "town hall" style meetings seeking "public input" about a special taxation zone to fund an extension of Loop 49.  Well the "public input" they received was that the "public" didn't want to "input" any more county money into the project.  Did Baker and Nix care?  No!  in December of 2014 they passed a proposal to create the taxation zone.  The whole "town-hall" meeting thing was a public relations ploy to get free campaign advertising for Baker and Nix.
 
So here we are, four years later.  I'm still on the fence about Judge Nathaniel Moran.  But Cary Nix has been in office since 2011 and JoAnn Hampton has been in office since 2003.  Except during their campaigns for re-election, have either of them shown any substantial interest in developing a plan to repair the county's roads and bridges?
 
And look at the proposed 2018 budget.  If I'm understanding this article in the Telegraph correctly, it looks like the road budget, including funding for "special projects" is going to be $3.2 million less than the previous year.  With the total road and bridges budget for 2018, we will be able to repair a whopping 50 MILES out of our approximately 1,200 miles of county roads!  Why?  The clownishioners' reasoning is that we need to develop this imaginary "plan" before we spend more money.  Is it really necessary to have a full-blown 10-year comprehensive plan in place before you adequately fund the roads budget so that at least basic repairs and maintenance can get done?
 
Bogus.
 
Here's why I think it's bogus:  MOST of the "plan" is going to have to be how to repair and maintain our EXISTING roads.  It was my understanding that since the 1950's the county has used a "unit system" to determine what roads get serviced and when.  That means the county engineer makes repairs to roads without regard to whose precinct the roads are in and who lives there.  The system is designed for the purpose of keeping politics out of the process.  So, when a road needs repair, it shouldn't matter whose precinct it's in and how many rich people have sent e-mails to the county judge.  I wonder what they are going for here.  Are they going to dramatically throw up their hands and say, well, looks like we're going to have to borrow $100 million?  Then we can have a bond election and the public would likely vote it down.  That would give them the excuse of claiming the public rejected the plan, then they could go back to business as usual.
 
So have you looked at the "input" form they want people to fill out?  They want your name and what precinct you live in, etc.  Seems pretty innocent, but...
 
THIS IS A CONVENIENT WAY FOR THE INCUMBENT CANDIDATES TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET THE MOST POLITICAL TRACTION OUT OF PRETENDING TO WANT TO DEVELOP A "PLAN:" FOR THE COUNTY'S ROADS.
 
Don't fall for it, sheeple.

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