Guest Column by TJ. Gilmore, Lewisville City Councilman
"The Government is us; we are the government, you and I" - Theodore Roosevelt, Republican.
This morning, First United Methodist, my church, let everyone cut out of service fifteen minutes early to purchase items for the Christian Community Action (CCA) pantry. The church community filled a CCA van, floor to ceiling, with food and cleaning supplies. As a community we cooperated to help CCA achieve their mission.
During service, the example of a grandmother having to unexpectedly raise four grandchildren and how CCA was helping her make sure they are raised to be productive members of society was shared. Quite often, situations arise that people can't plan for. That's when the community steps up.
For many years, the City of Lewisville's council has approved somewhere around $150,000 a year. Some years less; some, like this past year's $170,000, more. I'm proud that the community has repeatedly said yes to funding social service agencies to help our most needy residents.
Having served on the Community Development Block Grant committee for several years, I know these organizations go through rigorous checks to ensure that funds are spent appropriately and not wasted. Many times the city funds capital expenses like new conference and education space. We also fund services like psychological and physical evaluations of abused children, wellness checks at PediPlace, and day care for disabled adults so residents can get a couple hours for running errands. These agencies do a tremendous amount with these dollars.
It is my nature to want more information on an issue than I find in a few news releases and briefings. Knowledge enables better decision-making. As with many issues that come before our City Council, I often dig in much deeper for information that can be invaluable in wisely directing our city’s future. At the same time, I often have to plow through a mountain of information just to find a few paragraphs or sentences of useful material.
If the first part of what you read below seems more like a school classroom report, it is because basic facts are often the ideal starting point for better understanding of an issue. I know not every reader desires this much information. By comparison, you should see all the material I read through and distilled down to create this summary. Some of the better sources are noted at the end if you want to dig more for yourself. Hopefully this provides the level of understanding that informed citizens can use to grasp the big picture, yet understand what lies underneath to separate fact from fiction.
One legal notice I am compelled to add: The information and opinions included in this document reflect my personal opinions and beliefs and are not necessarily those of the Lewisville City Council or the City of Lewisville.
Basic Facts about The Trinity River
In all of Texas, no other single river basin serves more people than the Trinity. It is a massive basin covering almost 18,000 square miles and parts of 34 counties. Its headwaters begin in four counties: Cooke (East Fork), Montague (Elm Fork), Archer (West Fork) and Parker (Clear Fork) Counties. That flow continues all the way to the Gulf of Mexico -- another 423 miles from where its three principal tributaries (East, Elm, and West Fork) have all joined to form the Trinity River just south of us on the west side of Dallas County. In total length, it is some 512 miles long, but when you count in tributaries, add nearly 2000 more miles.
While it is not Texas’ longest river, the Trinity nevertheless comes in third place for annual flow: some 5.7 million acre-feet measured near the mouth on Trinity Bay. As such, it outranks the much longer Rio Grande, Red, Pecos, Canadian, and Colorado Rivers in annual flow. Only the Brazos and Sabine Rivers flow more in a year. It is a massive water supply.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot? How 'bout the presidential campaign, the 112th Congress and Newsweek magazine? Journalists usually favor year-end recaps of news but as a public service I'm going to focus instead on the glorious months ahead, in this handy precap of 2013:
JAN. 1: At a New Year's breakfast with Congressional leaders, President Obama outlines goals for his second term: creating jobs, reducing the deficit and ending war. House Speaker John Boehner tells reporters, "It sounds like the president is still campaigning."
JAN. 31: Congressional Republicans introduce legislation to make Jackie Robinson's birthday a federal holiday.
FEB. 3: Super Bowl XLVII is held in New Orleans and immediately establishes an NFL record for a Roman numeral that fewest fans are able to decipher.
FEB. 8: Hurricane Baby Girl threatens the Florida coast. Meteorologists explain that due to climate change, storms are arriving too prematurely to have proper names.
FEB. 15: Political guru Dick Morris tells Fox News that his analysis of the presidential election is "virtually complete," and shows that low turnout among Mitt Romney's family members hurt him in swing states.
There are two types of politicians in Texas: statewide elected officials and everyone else.
The reason is that being elected statewide in a state of 25 million people with 20 media markets that each have at least one television station and daily newspaper is a tall task.
Democrats, basking in the glow of the 51.5 to 47.5 percent national election victory, including an eight point improvement with Hispanics, now boast that Texas (which Mitt Romney won 57-40) will be in play in 2016.
There is one major problem with that: the Texas Democratic Party.
Many longtime Lewisville residents know that when their drains make that familiar gurgling sound, it may mean a sewer line stoppage between their house and the city's sewer lines. A quick call to the City, and a truck would show up with a worker to clear the blockage. Residents could get several free cleanouts per year this way, with escalating fees for subsequent cleanouts if the blockage was under the customer's property. But the cost of keeping workers on staff and on call to provide this service is less money to spend elsewhere maintaining the city's infrastructure. And the liability cost from possible damage to a customer's pipes or dwelling is also a concern. The City Council agreed this year to discontinue the service, effective March 1st, 2013. You can watch the video of a discussion of this topic at the Feburary 2012 Council Retreat, which LTJ filmed.
For stoppages that occur after that date, residents can either try their hand at clearing the blockage themselves, call a plumber or "rooter" service and pay their fee, or find a third party to warranty their service line and provide that service free when needed. Water and sewer service lines and stoppages are not covered by any homeowners insurance, according to City Councilman T.J. Gilmore, who said he called numerous insurers to see if they offered such coverage.
As a way to provide residents with access to that third option, The City of Lewisville will enter into an agreement with Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA) to offer that service to Lewisville residents at a discounted rate in exchange for the City informing residents about it. The City of Lewisville is not receiving any payment for this promotion. The nearby City of Plano recently came under fire when word got out that they were accepting a commission from SLWA in exchange for promoting the same service.
During a trip to Washington, D.C., last month, Lindsey Stone posed for a snapshot while making crude gestures. She posted it on Facebook, and soon her life turned upside down.
The incident — and to even call it that is part of the story — serves to underscore the power of social media. Moreover, it exposes the extent to which mainstream media have become obsessed with whatever is echoing online.
Stone, 30, and a co-worker visited Arlington National Cemetery, where they noticed a small sign near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier advising "Silence and Respect." As Stone had done earlier on the trip when she posed with a cigarette in front of a No Smoking sign, she mocked the cemetery advisory by opening her mouth as if yelling and raised her middle finger to convey disrespect. The behavior was juvenile, and posting the photo on Facebook was offensive, but what happened next was unexpected.
Saturday, December 1st is the Holiday at the Hall Festival in Old Town Lewisville. Festivities begin at 8 a.m. with the "Breakfast with Santa", at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater, where the Lewisville Kiwanis Club will serve pancakes and sausage.
There will also be live music, a motorcycle toy run, a parade at 12:30, and the Old Town Holiday Stroll with the merchants on Main Street.
The Christmas Tree lighting and lighting of Old Town is at 5:30 p.m.
The great American conservative thinker Russell Kirk once observed that some disasters are so catastrophic they require a re-examination of first principles. On Election Day, the Republican Party suffered such an existential shock.
The corporate wing of the GOP was decisively rejected by the voters because it offered nothing but obsolete ideas driven by a bankrupt libertarian ideology that would actually exacerbate the problems America is facing. It cravenly serves the interests of the rich through an agenda composed of tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation for large corporations, crony capitalism, and climate change denial coupled with attacks on the existing social contract. These outmoded, unappealing, elite-friendly policies are marketed to mainstream Americans mixed with a toxic stew of nativism, misogyny, racism, and fear.
by R Neil Ferguson Lewisville City Council Place 2
It likely is not on your calendar, but this is National Recycling Day, aka America Recycles Day. So the idea is to become better informed about recycling. And I encourage you to do just that. Here are some thoughts from me, meaning I did not get it from some website. In fact, it is just common sense if you understand the recycling line.
When your recycling materials hit the sorters (a mix of equipment, technology and humans), you can help streamline the process by making sure you are not sending mixed materials -- that is, paper with plastic attached, or vice versa, or a box you have stuffed with mixed materials.
For example, that Kleenex box that has a plastic film to make the tissues come out one at a time is mixed material. If you will pull the plastic film out, you make the paper ready to use. Another example is the hard plastic "clamshell" cases with cardboard inserts. Pull them apart, and you make the plastic and the paper ready to go their separate directions. It really does reduce the human labor to make things ready for their different piles.
BTW, those cardboard boxes? Spend a little time cutting cardboard boxes into panels instead of sending the whole box. That makes them ready to bundle.
Also, look carefully at what you throw into the recycle bin. Styrofoam is not accepted, including packing peanuts. Neither is the results of your document shredder, unfortunately. Putting these item into the recycle bin just slow the process down.
That is my 2¢. Now, if we could just get the City of Farmers Branch to do curbside pickup, maybe they would not need to expand the Camelot landfill . . . .