Letters to the Editor: November 3

Editor,

In last week’s Sentinel there were some direct and indirect commentaries about my rookie mistakes, and for the record they are all true. I missed my finance report filing, and I didn’t put the correct “political ad paid by…”  disclaimer on my ads. In the opinion section, Kate Hand did a good job of bringing me up to speed on the campaign advertising rules and even referred to my ad as “clever”; that made me smile. Thanks, Kate.  

Sentinel reporter Sam Karas penned an article on campaign finance which provided a solid overview of how campaign financial reporting has worked and how it should work in the state and in our county. Although not criticized by name (thanks, Sam), I was definitely in the group of candidates that didn’t do it right.

Campaign finance is an appropriate topic and I want my friends and neighbors to know that I have accepted only one actual donation which was not cash but in the form of free signs from a group called Project Red Texas. I thought that they did a nice job designing my signs and was happy to receive them. The value was slightly less than $800. Any other expense for my campaign I have paid out of my pocket — in my case, all pretty boring stuff. 

Much more interesting was David Beebe’s well thought-out and well-articulated philosophy on campaign fundraising and his use of his campaign funds. All quite clearly described in Sam Karas’ article last week. 

David explained:

“I started only accepting donations from outside the area — none of those people have business in front of the JP.” 

The article goes on to say:

“Beebe raised some serious cash, but not all of it went to his own campaign. His campaign made donations to larger state-wide candidates like Beto O’Rourke for Governor and Luke Warford for Texas Railroad Commissioner.” 

This seems odd to me in several ways. First, I struggle to understand why donors from outside of our community have a need to contribute to our county officials, and I just cannot think of a single explanation as to how this is healthy or positive for our county. 

Then David takes the money from outside of our community and redistributes it to candidates in the larger statewide race. I asked myself, why wouldn’t David’s donors just give the money directly to O’Rourke and Warford? And, how does it help the people of Presidio County when David’s “county commissioner campaign fund” gives money to these other statewide campaigns? It all appears to be part of a well thought-out plan, I just don’t understand the objective and how it connects back to us here in Marfa. In any case, I thank Sam Karas and The Sentinel for this article finding it all very thought provoking. 

This strategy of finance and influence that Beebe is orchestrating is very different from my simple desire to serve my neighbors here in Marfa as county commissioner. I guess each voter will decide what they are looking for in a local leader. 

Your neighbor,

Garey Willbanks 

Editor:

Hasta la próxima Karen!

Our dear friend and neighbor Karen Williams is moving to Oregon!

There will be a come and go reception in her honor November 11 from 4-6 p.m. at the Galleria Sibley in Alpine.

Karen moved to Alpine in 1976 and is the last member of  the Williams family still living here in Alpine. The Williams/Weyerts clan are area pioneers who settled here in the mid 1880s and early 1900s.  

Karen received her BFA from Sul Ross in 1978, and later taught art at Alpine Elementary for seven years. She then worked at the Sunshine House as director of the meals program for several years and later opened Morning Star Stained Glass on historic Murphy Street in the early ‘80s. After meeting her soulmate, local boy Scott Williams, they married in 1981 and welcomed their daughters Jessica in 1982 and Mariah in 1986.  

The family moved to Chihuahua City in 1992 where Karen taught at the American School and Scott worked as a builder.  

Upon their return to Alpine in 1993, Karen and Scott opened Quetzal, selling imported handicrafts from Mexico. In 1995 they purchased the historic Storey-Whiteside Lumber building in the heart of downtown Alpine. Together they ran several successful businesses from this location including Quetzal, Rancho Nopal Construction and Home Elements.

Karen was a founding member of and served on the board of the Big Bend Food Co-op (a natural foods buying club) that started in the mid-70’s and operated for over 25 years. 

Another accomplishment of Karen’s was serving on the Historic Alpine Board as treasurer and assisting with Wall of Pioneers and Gallery Night. Quetzal Imports participated in the first Gallery Night and remained a popular location each year until the retail store closed in 2011. 

Karen and her late husband also were founding members of Alpine Montessori School.  

After Scott’s passing, Karen sold the business and retired in July 2021. She will be moving to the Oregon coast to be near her daughters. Karen has been a vital member of our community for 46 years and will be dearly missed, although Oregon is a wonderful place to visit!  

Please come by Galleria Sibley November 11 from 4-6 to wish Karen the best as she enters this new chapter of her life.

Ellen Weed                                         

Alpine, Texas                                                                      

Editor,

It appears that, based on Texas Republican talking points, getting campaign assistance from Governor Abbott’s Project Red TX comes with attached propaganda for recipients to promote. With all due respect to Judge Guevara, a pretense of moral superiority by anti-abortion Republicans over pro-choice Democrats falls flat. Perhaps because the word “Democrat” derives from “demos” which means “people,” we Democrats focus on the already-living human beings of child-bearing age and place highest priority on their health, their wellbeing and their own choices about their lives and families. We would never force anyone to have an abortion, but we would also never force anyone to have a child. We would never force others to follow our own religious beliefs. This is a country of freedom of and from religious dogma.

Another common theme of Republican propaganda is election denial. Sometimes it’s a direct refusal to accept free and fair election results, but it also is seen in questioning election processes such as voter registration, voting by mail, and reporting of results. Project Red’s preferred candidate for governor, Greg Abbott, is about restricting voting, especially voting by “those people” deemed unworthy. It’s about making it harder even for Republicans to vote. Yet the core of our society is democracy — there’s that “people” word again. We Democrats believe that the government exists to provide for the people and the people choose their government leaders for that purpose. To mumble “I don’t know” when the people have spoken and the results have been verified is undemocratic and un-American.

One more theme of propaganda from Project Red candidates is the myth that we’re being “invaded” and suffering a “disaster” because a large number of people, aka human beings, are coming to the U.S. for help. To be clear, “invasion” is what Russia is doing to Ukraine. And to call the influx of immigrants a “disaster” flies in the face of real disasters that may need to be declared to obtain state assistance. Sending legal asylum seekers (not undocumented immigrants) to other states only interferes with their asylum process and does nothing to discourage people from coming here.

One thing Project Red is NOT about is making any concrete proposals for government to actually improve the lives of people and protect the planet from the real ongoing disaster of climate change. The talking points promoted by Republican candidates bear more resemblance to Russian propaganda than to anything heretofore promoted by Americans. Please consider this as you vote in the ongoing General Election.

Mary Bell Lockhart

Alpine

Dear Editor,

I need to correct some misinformation in regard to a letter to the editor published on October 20, 2022, in response to Allegra Hobbs’ article regarding the Dollar Store on October 12, 2022. 

The first incorrect point made in this letter is that the Alpine City Council took up the issue of annexing the land Dollar General had bought. The request to annex the land was not made by Dollar General, it was made prior to their purchase by the original property owners, known as, “Horse Apple 118, LLC.” 

The author of the letter stated they found out about the annexation from Allegra Hobbs’ October 12 article and that it was a surprise to them that the city annexed this property. This should not be a surprise to any resident of Alpine, let alone the chair of the P&Z Commission who is expected to do their due diligence and stay informed in regards to what is on the city council agendas that involves the board they chair. 

Regarding the transparency the author calls into question, this is the official sequence of notification that the City of Alpine followed in this matter. It is what is required by law in order to notify residents in order to maintain governmental transparency:

“Resolution 2022-07-02: A resolution initiating annexation proceedings. The resolution contained a step-by-step process that the City would follow. It even included that a notice would be sent to AISD in accordance with the Local Gov. Code. This was approved unanimously by the City Council on July 5th. All City Council meetings are recorded and placed on the City YouTube Channel. Minutes are also uploaded to the City Website. 

July 14, 2022: Annexation notice was sent to AISD in accordance with the Local Gov. Code. 

July 14, 2022: Notice on City Website regarding Annexation Public Hearing.

July 14, 2022: Notice appeared in Alpine Avalanche regarding the second and final hearing that would take place on August 2. 

July 19, 2022: City Council Public Hearing 1

August 2, 2022: City Council Public Hearing 2

August 11, 2022: Notice that the Annexation ordinance finally passed was published in the Alpine Avalanche

As can be seen from the sequence above, notices were published in the newspaper and on the city website as required in order to keep the public informed. The item was also readily visible on several city council meeting agendas, which are not only posted on various social media pages by me but also on the city website and the door of City Hall.  

The author of the letter states that if the annexation had gone to P&Z first, which is not standard procedure for annexations since it delays the process, then “the citizens surrounding the proposed site would have been properly notified and invited to attend their meeting.” 

This is misleading because all boards follow the same procedures for notification that are required by law. The procedures are as follows: “Agendas for board meetings are posted a minimum of 72 hours in advance and are always posted in three places: the board page on the website, in the front lobby of City Hall, and on the City Council Chambers doors.” There would have been no additional invitation on social media or radio.  

The intent of this letter is to say that the city was not informative, transparent or receptive to resident concerns. As mentioned in the paragraphs above, not only was the information posted as required by law but also on various Facebook pages.

The owner of the land, Horse Apple 118, LLC, located in the county, asked the city to annex the property. Suppose the city had not annexed the property, once sold to Dollar General. In that case, the store could still be built on the property, but the city would not be able to enforce any restrictions, building codes, or environmental codes on the location if it were not in the city. With annexation, the city can enforce city codes, in addition to receiving property tax and sales tax revenue. 

The author of the letter is correct in agreeing with the Alpine city attorney that the property would need to be annexed in order for the city to enforce city codes. A quick search of Google answers that question by leading you to many websites, including this one, https://law.justia.com/cases/texas/fifth-court-of-appeals/2018/05-17-00546-cv.html, which details the court cases the author described at length in the letter that requires the property to be within city limits for city codes to be enforced on it. 

However, when the author disagreed with the city attorney stating that the land could only be annexed with the approval of the owner, he was incorrect. H.B. 347 passed in 2019 made it clear that the city attorney is correct.  

The author of the letter went on to say that the Alpine City Charter allows for annexations without owner consent, which is outdated and incorrect. This is what is written in the Alpine City Charter of 2005 regarding annexations, “Section 2.04 Annexation Procedures: All annexations by the City, whether by the action of the City Council or by petition shall be undertaken in strict compliance with State law, including Chapter 43 of the Texas Local Government Code.” 

State law under 2019 H.B. 347 requires that the owner approves the annexation or if it is more than one property, for example, a subdivision, then an election has to be held in which a majority of those property owners approve the annexation. The Texas Constitution and state laws always supersede a city charter. 

On the city website, there is a tab that describes the procedure for voluntary annexation which includes the form that needs to be completed as well as the procedures and steps that need to be followed. All of these steps were followed as outlined by law for the annexation of Horse Apple 118, LLC’s property. You can find voluntary annexation information at: https://cityofalpine.com/departments/building_services/planning/annexations.php

To clarify, nothing in the government code or the Alpine Code of Ordinances indicates that annexations go to the Planning & Zoning Commission. None of our previous annexations have gone through P&Z, and when city staff researched the process in other cities, they did not find any instances where P&Z would be responsible for annexation.  

Sincerely,

Catherine Eaves

Mayor of Alpine

Letter to the Editor,

To the residents of this true gem of our great state, Presidio County, it has been my greatest honor to serve as your county judge for the past eight years and as an elected official for 24 years prior to 2015. I am asking for your support to be re-elected as your county judge. I have 32 years of judicial experience and my record reflects that I am thoroughly prepared to continue as your leader. I will continue to work for you. I like to finish what I start. There are many started projects yet unfinished. I went to Washington, D.C. to personally request the presidential permit for the expansion of the Presidio/Ojinaga bridge; I have supported and will continue to support the reconstruction of the Presidio/Ojinaga rail bridge because it will bring agriculture, industrial, automotive, and energy marketing opportunities.  

I cannot itemize each and every board I chair or serve on to be a ready voice on our local issues. I cannot itemize every state and federal grant we have received to put Presidio County in a robust position that will ensure the needs of YOU, the constituents, come FIRST. I can assure you Presidio County remains ready to better respond to your needs in case of an emergency, ready for clean water distribution throughout the whole county, ready to maintain both our airports, ready to better equip our law enforcement through Operation Stone Garden and Lone Star grants, ready to better equip our transportation needs through transportation grants. All the meanwhile, Presidio County has not raised taxes, offered first time homestead exemption, and continually operates with financial stability of no less than 4-6 months of reserves. I am proud to say that ALL OF US at the county have worked hard to get to this place. 

These are unprecedented times and we have worked through some very tough and confusing times.  As a leader, it has been my responsibility to work with the appropriate authorities to find working solutions to problems that have arisen. Presidio County remains the #1 most vaccinated county in the state and the U.S. When awarded Elected Official of the Year for this region, that award was truly yours. You did your part to get us through the pandemic safely.

Residents of Presidio County, you are strong, you are proud, hardworking people that believe in family and unity. We will need each other to get through the uncertain times we live in. May we continue to work together to make Presidio County better and stronger, and I ask that you re-elect me for continued, dedicated, proven leadership.

God Bless You Presidio County and the United States Of America!

Cinderela Guevara

Presidio County Judge


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