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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Excellent new resource for Marfans and visitors

Hello, folks-

The good local folks at BBgun productions have started a great resource for folks who live in, visit, or own property in or near Marfa. Since we are way too small for Craigslist and the nearest CL cities are El Paso and Odessa, we have not really had an accessible method of sharing info, posting classifieds, et al. Now we have www.marfalist.org - a pint sized version of CL with no fees and a Marfa-style honor system. It is fabulous- visit it!!!

www.marfalist.org

-DB

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Picture of Murgatroyd- 2006


Here's a nice rear view photo of Murgatroyd from Nov of 2006- beside the Continental Club in Houston. Murg is doing great out here in Marfa. I ran out of gas Tuesday night after my radio show, but that was my fault for ignoring the mileage.- DB

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Texans beat GB at Lambeau?!

Incredible- the Houston Texans win by a field goal with a 40 yard field goal at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. THAT is shocking. - DB

Friday, November 07, 2008

The soda policy at Padre's



Actually, we'll also have St Arnold's Root Beer and some strawberry soda as well, but you catch my drift. Also, Chick O Sticks will be the official candy. -DWB

Announcers at Battle Royale- Houston Roller Derby hosts WFTDA Westerns

Here's some typically ridiculous photos of some of the more famous (infamous) roller derby announcers in the nation at Battle Royale. There are others that aren't fit for viewing- either in a "family" setting or in the supposed safety of your own confines, so I'll spare you.

First off, here's HRD announcer Mario "Mangler" Martinez with Moose Ondaluce from the Derby News Network



Next we have Jeffrey Calmer, Howie Felterbottom, Dumptruck and Chip Queso all sampling some delicious pickles from The Colonel's pickle jar.



Dumptruck, in keeping with his theme of "everything all the way and more" gets down with the pickle jar at the announcers' table. "They ain't got no Del Dixi Polish pickles in Colorado!"




Howie Felterbottom and Dumptruck taking a "break" in the Derby Brothers' tent. By Day 3 we were all there at least 50% of the time. Great job, brothers! And especially thanks to all the girls and refs that came together to make an incredible weekend of Roller Derby happen. Visit www.houstonrollerderby.com for literally thousands of pictures of this event take by real photographers.

West Texas Roller Girls are now a WFTDA certified team

Tonight, after working in the yard most of the day planting cacti, hauling broken concrete and rocks and sorting scrap wood, I ventured to the computer to try to figure out how to use the Google Reader feature. One of the few things I subscribed to is the feed from the West Texas Rollergirls out of Lubbock. Anyway, I found out that not only did they beat Assassination City last month in a bout, but now they have received official WFTDA certification. Amazing, considering they had their very first bout about 6 months ago (according to their page). Lubbock is 5 and a half hours away- too far. However, if I need to make a big trip next year for supplies maybe I can arrange a motel room and an extra four hours for the round trip to go to the Lubbock Municipal Auditorium and see them play (That's right they're skating in a REAL venue and not a rink!)
Cool deal. - DB

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A short one

There's a little much to talk about right now and not nearly enough time to do so, but I feel like it's important to say a couple of short things about the Presidential election. First off, John McCain's consolation speech was the best I've ever heard and I really appreciate his candidacy. Secondly, I tuned into www.kcohradio.com before I went to bed on Tuesday night after wiring circuits during the NPR election reports on Marfa Public Radio and heard three old school former civil rights advocates speaking some amazingly intense words about what it all meant to them. That, plus some Sam Cooke and some Amazing Grace interspersed between comments. I only lasted about 20 minutes, it was so intense, but I gave thanks for that and them, plus the fact that AM KCOH 1430 is still on the air in Houston. - David

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Marfa City Council 10/30 & public hearing

I have some extra energy tonight, despite another marathon City Council meeting. Hopefully it'll be enough to post up the whole nine yards with regard to what went on tonight.

The first order of business was the Public Hearing on the proposed noise ordinance. A short preview- Marfa currently has a noise ordinance that is basically unenforceable unless we want to turn off the amplified church bells at the Catholic church. forgo having any music at the Marfa Lights Festival, and basically prohibit any outdoor noise. It was clear from the response at the hearing that nobody wants to restrict local culture and entertainment to that extent.
I was very pleased with the turnout at the hearing; the room was full and the comments never broke down into name calling and insults, minus a reference by a citizen regarding the (somewhat legendary but not applicable to Marfa) drinking habits of Irish Catholics. That comment was rebuked by others and was not pertinent to the topic at hand anyway, so I will ignore it here.
Some highlights of the public comment period included Fred Martinez' plea for cooperation and limiting the scope of a proposed ordinance to something that will work for Marfa. This was a recurring theme as many citizens agreed that what is good for Fredericksburg, Austin, Houston et al does not necessarily apply to our community, with our unique traditions and mix of cultures. Adobe Moon BBQ property owner (not operator) Jon Johnson passed out a revised proposal for a noise ordinance that would be based on a cut-off time (clock-based) and communication between neighbors. Lineaus Lorette, the major force behind the initial complaint(s) stated that he would be happy with enforcement of the current ordinance with an exemption for the church bells and perhaps some limited special events. Lucy Garcia stated that, through the years, Marfans had cooperated in turning off the music at 11PM on weeknights, midnight on Fridays, and 1 AM on Saturday nights. She went on to state that dances have always been held in Marfa and that this has never caused a problem in the past. Rosie Garcia stated that she believes the new noise ordinance would preclude her and other older Marfans from enjoying music outside while doing chores and that some of the "newer" Marfans would like to regulate the fun out of our lives. Maria Williams pointed out that Conchita's restaurant, across the street from Adobe Moon and cater-cornered to the church, has been a liquor store and that a bar called the Six-Two Inn had been next door and hosted loud music and drinking for years back in the past and had never been an issue. Mary "Tita" Nunez, an active member of St Mary's Catholic Church mentioned that a Rosary service had been disrupted recently by the band at Adobe Moon on a Saturday evening and that she was in favor of a compromise much like what most members who spoke had mentioned- a mixture between our old ordinance and the proposal that Jon Johnson presented to the group. Other comments along the same lines were made throughout the meeting, with communication and cooperation being the major themes. Jon Johnson made an apology to St Mary's about the rosary issue and stated that he would like to communicate better in the future so that something like that won't ever occur again. His apology was accepted by Mrs Nunez and an apparent peace looks like it will be forthcoming.
Other sections of the hearing got somewhat off topic when the subject of whether the Adobe Moon is a bona-fide family restaurant or merely a "honky-tonk". Differing opinions plus a protestation of the Adobe Moon having ever been issued a beer license were brought forward, with customers of the Adobe Moon defending the place (including Joni Marginot from the Marfa Chamber of Commerce) as a great place for groups like high school football teams and Boy Scout troops to meet for a large=group dinner of relatively fast and good food. Sales tax revenue plus the fact that they are actually open quite often were mentioned, countered with the allegation that beer and wine sales have become the focus of the business. I stated that, by Texas law, the place is classified as a restaurant first and a bar second as long as alcohol sales make up less than 50% of gross sales. Period. This was an attempt to steer the conversation back to noise and the noise ordinance. Lastly on speakers, the Rev Connors from the Baptist church spoke twice and had some excellent homespun wisdom of coming together and remaining positive. He scolded several in the audience, including the mayor, for using unnecessarily divisive language at times during the hearing. It was pleasant commentary from a man of conservative cloth who has certainly seen a lot and clearly cares for the future of Marfa as a true community. Kudos to him from me. Later in the city council meeting portion of the meeting, we agreed to postpone the matter and study a potential noise ordinance further. Councilman Manny Baeza proposed the idea of creating a seven person special panel of volunteers, 2 councilmen and the city administrator to draft an ordinance for Marfa. The motion was approved with the commission being made up of Manny, myself, city administrator James Mustard, David Hance, Burt Compton, Rosie Garcia, and Mike Calvert. We will meet sometime next week to discuss. I am open to suggestions in person or by telephone. I am listed in national information here in Marfa under my name. If you have an older phone book my number is under Memorial Funeral Home. No emails please.
I was very happy with both the turnout and the spirit of community at the public hearing. Thanks so much to all those who participated and shared their thoughts. It is great to see Marfans speak and listen to each other.

And now, break for random photograph-



Here's a picture of Adam Bork and Ross Cashiola at the El Cosmico Festival a few weeks back. I played the bass and took the picture from the stage. We were all violating the current unenforced and practically unenforceable noise ordinance currently on the books.



City council meeting- we started the meeting at 6:05 PM after a short break following the public hearing, which started at 5PM.

All members, including Scott May, who had missed the public hearing due to work, were present for this meeting.
After the Pledge of Allegiance the floor was open for the citizen comment period. No citizen comments. Following that we unanimously approved last meeting's minutes, with a few small changes to the text.

Next, Mayor Dan Dunlap gave his report, in which he stated that he attended the Rio Grande Council of Governments meeting and that Big Bend Community Action, based in Marfa and serving over 21,000 square miles of territory in 5 counties won the award for RGCOG Organization of the Year. He went into a summary of the wide scope of social services they provide, mostly to elderly and infirm residents of this part of Texas and gave a status report on their many projects. This is a great organization and one of my neighbors here on the block.

Next we had the City Administrator's Report.
City administrator Jim Mustard gave us his amended interpretation (based on documentation received from the AG) of the new opinion essentially restricting all councilmember comments to items specifically listed on the official agenda, minus statements of fact or clarification of specific policy in response to citizen comments or questions. All other comments of any sort are now supposed to be listed as a specific agenda item. It is my opinion that this is restrictive to productive and transparent government, as minutes are available on the public record and no item not on an agenda will be voted upon. That's my opinion, and I'm sure the opinion of other local officials from around the state. It is a widely accepted opinion of local governments that this interpretation of the Open Meetings Act will be challenged in court soon. In the meantime, we have to accept this opinion as the basis for (unwritten) law.
Next Jim discussed an agenda item for later- commercial trash rates. There will be a difference in treatment for smaller commercial customers and the city is clarifying the size and frequency of dumpster collections on the commercial basis. This item is further discussed later as an official agenda item. (I was not permitted to ask a question at this point under the new rules!)
Next, the sewer plant project. No change in status, as the TCEQ has still not issued us an acceptance or rejection of our application.
Next, a response as to Rudy Garcia's inquiry as to whether we have a program in place for maintenance of our city owned vehicles and heavy equipment. The police department already has a detailed process of keeping track of and scheduling routine maintenance and the Dept of Public Works will now have similar worksheets to fill out and keep track of in order to keep their equipment maintained. It is my opinion that this is a major step in the right direction, given the price of things like backhoes, 3/4 Ton trucks, bulldozers and road graders these days and that a little routine maintenance can really save us a lot of time, trouble and money over the long term.
Lastly, Mr. Mustard let us know that an organizational meeting regarding the new volunteer fire fighters pension plan will occur on Nov 10th. At that meeting a Pension board will begin to be organized and the administrators of the plan will relate to the city what type of board will be assembled and what duties and responsibilities it will have. The goal is to have the program organized, in place and active by January 1st. I am 100% in favor of this plan over the former benefit the fire dept volunteers received, which was free water (no water bill). Pension plans make for benefits that can be received post mortem by surviving spouses and offer disability payments as well, should that occur. Fortunately, the requirements for volunteer fire fighters in Texas these days are so stringent that we have a very safe and qualified volunteer force and injuries on the job, even minor ones, are close to none. Disclosure- I am a vested member of the American Federation of Musicians Pension Fund and it was well worth the work and time to earn in. I have no spouse to survive me if I pass, but if I live, I have a consistent minor source of income. If I become disabled and unable to work my benefits kick in early and last through my death.

Councilmember Comments:
Since no comments from council members were listed in advance on the agenda there were to be no comments from councilmembers. Rudy Garcia piped in with a reference to an agenda item (police force status report) that he had requested. I then piped in with an update on the MAC building planting with a reference that a general statement of fact, with no action or debate, should be permitted, although apparently illegal under the new AG opinion. I stated that the 1st phase of the plants is in and doing fine and that the drip irrigation system will be installed in the beds the weekend of Nov 17th when the TPWD has its meeting there. All this at no cost to the city. I was then informed that several of the new plants will have to be moved in order to facilitate the renovation of the swimming pool bathrooms and locker rooms. I offered to safeguard those plants in the meantime. Anyway, I guess I still can't help challenging laws I think restrict our freedom (to speak of all things!) so, although my mother will cringe, I did it again.

Next: we heard from Marfa Police Chief J.D Wilbourn. He gave us a comprehensive police dept report on activities the dept has conducted for the whole year, to this point. It was broken down into regular police business and/or calls, animal control calls/service and code enforcement calls. The information was very detailed and it is clear to me that J.D. has a good grip on his paperwork, reporting and exactly what is going on in his office and with his deputies. I won't go into much more detail, but he also showed councilmembers a breakdown of a state audit of the police/sheriff's dept books and response/arrest of all agencies in Presidio County and it's clear that our force has more focus, at the very least. 24 hour on call service, which we have never had before (and it's a good thing we do, since the Presidio County Sheriff's Office's phones have been disconnected) is now in place thanks to call forwarding to the officer on duty from the main police number. He also went into detail on some of the non-police (well, not required) work the police force takes on, including welfare check on elderly residents, watch programs for people's properties who are out of town for extended periods, community service programs, and much more. It was clear that J.D. was prepared for this presentation and I was glad there was a fairly large group of citizens there to see it.
The last part of the conversation between councilmembers and the police chief alluded to a supposed meeting that may not have actually occurred between the chief, the city administrator, the mayor and the municipal court judge regarding the types of tickets/citations that could be given out to maximize revenue to the city. I remember vividly when this was brought up during the budget process and I was very upset about law enforcement being used as a potential revenue source. Rudy Garcia is the councilman who brought this up tonight and myself, Rudy and Manny Baeza (possible Rusty too) remember this moment from the meeting a few months back and were eager for clarification, as I said before, this was disturbing to all of us (definitely to me, as I get pulled over by DPS at least twice a month for various reasons- "safety check", "obstructed" license plate, etc. We received clarification satisfactory to me from the chief, the city administrator and the mayor on the issue and I am glad that we did.

Now, finally we get to the point in the meeting where we address action items! These meetings are getting longer every month.

Ist item is "Old Business"
We had tabled the proposed noise ordinance until after the Public Hearing and now we addressed it again in official debate. See above public hearing statement to see the action we took. Long and short- we did not adopt it and have appointed a commission to draft an ordinance explicitly for Marfa to present to council at a later date for consideration. Theoretically we will create an ordinance that reflects the will of the citizens that was expressed during the Public Hearing

NEW BUSINESS:

Discussion with action as appropriate to address the city's obligations under certain forms of government.
After we raised the garbage rates to an astronomically ridiculous level based on the bill we get from our provider (Duncan Disposal- parent company Republic Disposal- poor corporate citizens in my estimation and I'm being kind) talk at the last meeting and around town was that there was a petition going around to force an election on changing our form of government back to the three man system we once had. That is the same system that resulted in our selling our city owned garbage collection to a private outsider for a song and also our forfeiture of a minimum of 10% of our ownership of the SWTMG gas corp for apparently no money- at least not money that went into city coffers.

Anyway, the city administrator, although he has no vote and no say in city policy, is able to put items on the agenda and he used this opportunity to explain the city's required service obligations and non-required service obligations. The point was made that a change in form of government would not be required to eliminate the MAC building, the Nutrition Center, the golf course, EMS service, the Police dept, the city administrator's position and other smaller items (we are required to have municipal court.) The current council could address and eliminate these items if need be (minus some basic police service on the far west end (west Heights) since they were annexed later). The mayor provided us with a breakdown of how much individual city services cost the citizens after expenses and revenues are factored in.
Here's the breakdown in this year's budget dollars. I read this out loud for the audience (loudly).
Administration: $90,085
Police/Animal control/code enforcement: 146,761
Fire Dept: 0
Municipal Court: 9,234
EMS service: 183,285
Library: 95,395
Golf Course: 28,208
MAC/swimming pool: 18,598
Seniors' Nutrition Center: 49,038
Recycling: 20,388
Public Works: 259,121

Total: 900,113
Minus property tax revenue: 184,499

Total shortfall that is made up through sales tax revenue, water, sewer, permitting and garbage fees: 715,614


I could go on and on on this matter, as we did at the meeting (for nearly an hour) but I will say that this shortfall would be MUCH larger if not for the various grants our city applies for and receives, mostly because we are a poor border community and are eligible for funds relating to Homeland Security and low income community grant funds from various agencies. Another note: the recycling deficit can be turned into NOTHING aka ZERO is businesses and the majority of homeowners were to make the effort to utilize the recycling center. Stay turned here for more info on our upcoming cardboard recycling effort, to be implemented once the county renews our lease at the composting/recycling area next to the golf course. This item appears further down tonight's agenda.

Lastly, certain citizens are intent on seeing the police dept cut down to one officer. More than 65% of the police dept's funding comes from Border Star grants through the Dept of Homeland Security; this is money from outside our area being funneled into our community in the form of wages, benefits, and money to spend maintaining our equipment. I personally feel that 24 hour police protection is an absolute necessity, more so than a golf course, library, MAC center, and/or Parks and Rec dept. I find it ironic that several of the same citizens who want greater code enforcement and to have every single streetlight turned back on NOW as an issue of public safety want us to go to 8 hour per day, 5 days a week police protection with one officer on the force. Think about that for a minute.

Finally, ITEM 2, under new business. Most of the audience hhad retired to the saner streets of Marfa and their homes by now, as we were getting tired with a mere 7 more items to consider tonight.

Item 2- discussion with action as appropriate concerning Ordinance 08-08 revising the rates for commercial trash pickup.
This is kind of a complicated issue, as the city records and billing process for commercial accounts were very hodgepodge, to say the least and have been found to be extremely inaccurate. Since we have only approved new trash rates based on the new Duncan Disposal rates (we have not yet approved their contract and are operating month to month until a new contract is ratified by both parties)we are going to reclassify the commercial customers based on actual usage, with dumpsters being marked for individual commercial users and send Duncan a new revised proposal using fewer pickups and fewer commercial customers. I would like to congratulate the citizens for being so aggressive and outspoken regarding the new rates last meeting and forcing the executive branch of city government to further investigate our own billing practices and how it relates or doesn't relate to what Duncan charges the city for each customer and/or pick up. There are many confusing details to go into, but I can give a personal example of a change in billing/service that will save some money to the customer and potentially reduce the Duncan bill to the city. It turns out that I found out from Saarin Keck, who did some extensive research on what Duncan charges the city and what the city charges the customers in relation to the aforementioned. She also did some investigation into whether certain individuals in the city (government and otherwise) were receiving favorable treatment that may or may not have influenced the negotiations with Duncan and the corresponding city rates. it turns out that I have been paying for a Medium sized commercial dumpster since I set up my water service last year when, in fact, I have a small (residential) dumpster that I "share" with my absentee neighbor next door. No biggie for me, since I generate very little garbage being that we re-use 90% of the old building materials and save most of the rest for future projects and also that I am not open and generally recycle nearly all the trash I generate. My dumpster has only been full once and that was when I cleared my neighbor's property of trash and brush once he received a citation for tall grass last month. Anyway. they are going to automatically reduce my rate to a "not in use" commercial rate, aka small commercial, once a week pickup, which should save me about $100 a month. This was the measure we voted on tonight- to basically reclassify some super small businesses as residential (like law offices, etc) in order to get a better rate from Duncan and also to reduce some pickups for other commercial customers in order to get ours and the businesses' costs down. Next month your bill, if you are commercial, may be lower. I would visit the city in person to confirm that your dumpster size and # of pickups per week has been clarified. Hopefully Duncan will accept our new pickup schedule and classifications and will lower their bid in accordance with what they claim their rates are for each type of customer and number of pickups. This will be a great test to see if Duncan is really a straightforward, honest company that negotiates in good faith. The city still stands to lost about $2000 per month with the new reduced rates, but I think it will be worth it to relieve the stress on local businesses during this challenging economic time. Passed unanimously.

Item 3 - I'm getting tired of typing.
Discussion w/ action as appropriate to turn on various streetlights along the state highways within the city limits. I immediately moved that we accept this proposal , which will cost the city $1726.00 for the fiscal year, including conversion of several lights to the new, more efficient and environmentally friendly standard. This is a total of 22 streetlights and includes all along Dean and Highland on the highway right of way and many on HWY 90 (San Antonio) excluding some I excluded from my streetlight study, based on privately owned lighting that adequately lights the roadway in certain areas. Re-lighting the public lighting in those specific areas would be redundant and a waste of valuable funds for the city. Passed unanimously with Rusty and Manny abstaining.
By the way, this is the 2nd batch of streetlights we have authorized to be re-lit. AEP is currently busy with another large electrical installation project, so the lighting is lagging behind. That being said, AEP has been a good corporate citizen and worked with us to help us reduce our exposure to rising rates with help installing better and more efficient technology at no additional charge. The lights will be on sooner than later and we are making progress. More to come as well.

Item 4- Discussion w/ action as appropriate to designate the Big Bend Sentinel as the official paper for the City of Marfa.
This is a yearly exercise for Public Notice purposes. Unanimous.
By the way, Mercer Black is the new webmaster for the BBS and the new website for the paper is under construction. I know that part-time residents and loyal tourists are looking forward to having the paper back online, but I would remind everyone that a by-mail subscription to the print issue is a mere $40 and money well-spent for anyone with a financial stake or otherwise in the future of Marfa. I gave my mother one for her birthday and my parents, who have not been to Marfa since well before I decided to move here, now follow the local Marfa news loyally.

Item 5- Discussion w/ action as appropriate concerning the lease w/ Presidio County for the recycling and composting area. No action taken. We merely reviewed and discussed our draft of a lease with the cash strapped and currently telephone-less county for our former landfill, where we operate a composting area. animal shelter and the recycling center. We must have a new valid lease in order to receive our previously approved grant monies to purchase our cardboard baler and extend three phase power to the metal building out there to operate same and other future industrial recycling equipment. By the way, when we get that baler operational I will be pushing all local businesses of any size to please recycle that cardboard from your delivery boxes and help conserve resources and also make our recycling program a break-even proposition for the city. We will be recycling glass, cans, cardboard, plastic and using washable dishwares only here at Padre's once we open next year. I have two trailers and special trash receptacles for pre-sorting our waste and I will be saving money for the city and my business by integrating aggressive recycling into our daily routine. I can and will be happy to advise other local business folks on how to do the same.

Item 6- Discussion w/ action as appropriate concerning review of bids and award contract for new software and hardware for new accounting system.
Boring techie talk. Councilmember Scott May is a good geek and had some good input on the 2 different bids, both from reputable local companies in Alpine. Councilmember Rudy Garcia had a negative service call experience with the low-bid company on his personal computer. I weighed in on some basics that I know from personal experience with my machines and also advice from some super Houston geeks like Jay Lee of the Houston Chronicle and KPFT FM 90.1's Wednesday night Geek Show.
We approved the slightly higher bid for a slightly more detailed and marginally more sophisticated system from Compucare in Alpine. The free non-warranty and software support as opposed to the $70/hour from the other bidder for same sold me, especially given that this is a three computer Windows XP Pro system and is not set-up right to begin with could be troublesome. Rudy's negative experience was, in my mind, also pertinent, and Scott's geek meter pointed him to recommend this package from Compucare over the nearly $800 cheaper alternative (with fewer specifics). Anyway, we are coming in several thousand dollars under budget for this new system and our old hardware (printers, etc) will work with it no problem, saving us quite a bit on that side, as well. Hopefully the new system will be in place and the old one mostly on the way out by Dec 1. Possibly Jan 1, knowing how December is for the labor force out here on the island. Unanimous passed for Compucare- $3824.97.


Item 7- Discussion w/ action as appropriate concerning review of bids and award contract for Water Plant backup Generator project:

We tabled this item given that our engineer (Keith) from our water quality experts Parkhill-Smith had not yet had a chance to review the single bid we received from the sealed bid opening. That bid was from local firm Rockpoint Construction Inc, also dba Calvert Electric. Cheryl and Mike Calvert were present in the audience and to me the bid looks good and reasonable, but the opinion of our knowledgeable advisor Keith from P-S will shed light on the details. We opted not to re-open bidding but to table action until more information is received. We have no mandated deadline for project implementation.

Item 8- Discussion w/ action as appropriate concerning Ordinance # 08-10 implementing FTC requirement for Identity Theft Program.

This is another example of the Feds requiring local entities to take on more paperwork and responsibilities without giving us additional funding of any sort. We must adopt by Nov 1st or be in clear violation of federal statutes. No question that we would adopt, but I wanted to know the approximate initial and ongoing costs associated with implementation. City admin. Mustard said estimated $1000 in training and misc costs at first and then minimal costs for ongoing. Unanimous except Scott May abstains (no reason given)

Item 9 - Adjourn!!! Finally.

Thanks for reading. If you wish to leave a comment, please leave at least your first name and preferably contact me directly. - David

Friday, October 17, 2008

Levi Stubbs, RIP

Levi Stubbs, the incredible lead singer of the Four Tops, is dead at 72.
He was my favorite Motown singer. Roughed edged, singing urban sounding songs mostly in minor keys with great chord progressions. As the Temptations were to become the biggest guy group Motown had with their crossover appeal, the Four Tops were Berry Gordy's more earthy complement. In other words, although both acts enjoyed multiple pop and R&B hits, the Four Tops were more geared directly towards black audiences and the Tempts were pointed towards whites. Both were aimed at up and coming metropolitan folks of the 60's. Genius.
The coolest thing about the Four Tops over the Tempts, though, is that the Four Tops stayed together in their original line-up through their entire career until the death of one member several years back (I forget the name). The Tempts always had a rotating cast of stars coming through. Both acts are great and I have developed a greater appreciation for Berry Gordy's production quality over the years, mostly due to the incredible feel of songs like "Bernadette" from the Tops. No one could top Levi Stubbs in singing that song. Nobody anywhere- ever. Rest in peace, Levi Stubbs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

City Council recap 8/28/08

This will be basic recap of this meeting since it occurred nearly 2 months ago and since then we've been knee deep in budget writing since. I will keep it short. It is based on my notes I took during the meeting and does not include the official minutes or any additional handout information within the following text.

1) Citizen comments

School board president Teloa Swinney commented on the successful implementation of the new one-way signs and additional related safety signage by the police dept around the school. Additionally, she requested that the city turn on and pay for the streetlights surrounding the school.

Lineaus Lorette commented at length on the music at the Adobe Moon BBQ restaurant.

Lucy Garcia voiced her concerns about the lack of streetlights.

Juan Licon commented about the streetlights, the dog park and the dumpsters.

2) Council approved minutes of prior meeting

3) Mayor's Report- Dan Dunlap appraised council of the shortage of EMS officers and that hopefully there will be a training class at some point to augment staff. Reminded us that even with our temporary exemption from having to carry 2 EMT's per call we are still running short.

4) City Administrator's Report- James Mustard let us know that we applied for and received the Lone Star Library Grant, ( a yearly grant) for $4236.00 and that on August 18th ORCA did their walk-through to begin the conclusion phase of the major library renovation grant. Completion survey included HVAC, bathrooms, electrical. Our grant administrator will close out the grant since we passed.
Mustard gave a short update on the ongoing USDA grant for renovation of the MAC bathrooms and other facilities at the MAC to make it ADA compliant. USDA wants the architect to revise and review the documents. Bidding for project potentially in October. Grant funds amount to $249,000.

5) Councilmember Comments-
Myself and Rudy Garcia had comments. No notes taken. No other comments.

6) New Business

A) Resolution 08-16 to submit for the ORCA grant for sewer system rebuild and improvement, southwest side of Marfa.
Mayor and city admin spent some time with ORCA folks and determined we should receive this grant if we apply. We may have to decide on a shortening of the replacement line. City crews to handle all installation of replacement lines, etc. Matching funds from city will be $11,473. That's cash funds. Time and equipment maint & dep. not reimbursable. * inch line to be connected to existing relatively new line @ Waco St. New line should run from Waco to Sligo St minimum distance.
Passed unanimously
B) Presidio County Appraisal District budget. Submitted for approval Passed unanimously.
C) Gas Board Director: Appoint Gas Board Director. We could have chosen a councilmember. No volunteers. Rudy already serves. I declined. We re-appointed citizen Esther Ann White. Unanimous
D) Gas Corp Inter-Local Agreement- After much, much confusion about how the original by-laws and revised by-laws were or weren't written, approved , etc, etc there is finally some clarification to the issue. The original documents were finally found in Reeves County where the SWTMGC once owned some infrastructure. Sure enough, Marfa and Alpine both own 100% of the infrastructure within their own territories and split the rest 60/40 on the Alpine side. That was a revision signed by former Marfa mayor Fritz Kahl in 1998. So, overall the infrastructure location breakdown is as follows: Marfa 28%, Alpine 62%, and Ft. Davis 10%. It's clear that Alpine owns a significantly larger share of our gas corp than we do. Fortunately, as a not for profit, the gas corp board operates in the interest of the company as a whole and not individual shareholders. Based on this current reality, we approved a 10 year contract unanimously.
E) EMS mileage rates: EMS chief Bert LaGarde asks for an increase in the mileage rates for transport from $7 to $15. This is the covered Medicare rate and as covered by private insurance as well. Medicaid covers indigents (apparently). Approving this offsets the rising fuel costs with no direct increase to the patient. Approved 4-1 Manny Baeza dissents.
F) Ordincance 08-06- Wind Energy Systems- This ordinance was brought to us by the city administrator at the behest of a wind energy turbine dealer and several Marfa residents who are considering investing in wind power for their homes. After a lengthy demonstration of systems, back and forth on details regarding height, etc we resolved to table the issue until more information is gathered and presented. No action taken.
G) Golf Course budgeting request from Jay Foster representing Marfa Golf Association. Coach Foster responded to mine and others request for detailed information on what items the golf course requests for the 2009 fiscal budget. This is an ongoing issues, as the golf pro's salary is partially covered by the city and partially covered by MGA. Municipal laws prohibit the Marfa Parks and Rec dept from paying salaries, so some MGA salary cost has been traditionally offset by a Parks and Rec equipment contribution. Basically it's a messy situation, for more reasons than stated here. Coach Foster presented a bid for a commercial riding mower for $5,500 and council and the coach went through the basics of the MGA's membership, basic books, etc. Information is quite detailed when it comes to players, dues, youth programs, etc. Impressive presentation, in my opinion. I will not bother to post all the numbers here, as they are available from the MGA.
Council approved budget item Unanimously.
H) Discussion with action as appropriate to adopt new Duncan proposed contract rates. I won't get into this here as my information from this meeting is incomplete. This was a budget proposal adoption and not an actual contract signing. Unanimous.
More on this later as it's the biggest single issue this city will face over the next 5-10 years.
No further budget discussion
Adjourn

That's it for me tonight, folks. I'll try to get the rest of the meetings up to the current (Oct 14) up before this time next week. - David

First, a short general update

Construction is coming along handily now, and I am way overdue on taking some video. So, I will take some at some point over the next week and post that up. Last weekend was Chinati/El Cosmico weekend out here and I had the pleasure of playing bass with Adam Bork, seeing Alejandro Escovedo play, swimming in the Dutch tubs at Cosmico, hosting my friend Marc DeClerq (aka H.O.T. Rink Sweeper of HRD fame), playing sandlot baseball broadcast live over the radio, seeing Amy Cook play, enjoying beer and golf at the Marfa Golf Course, and hosting more than 3 dozen folks over the course of Sunday night here at the place for pool, shuffleboard, jukebox, food and drinks into the wee hours.
After all that, I am dead.
Especially after the Houston Roller Derby Western Regionals tournament 2 weekends ago in Houston. That was so wild I basically saw and talked to nobody outside of derby while I was in Houston (sorry!!!- and I feel bad) since I had a giant truck to load up with pool tables and restaurant equipment. Stopover in Austin for more gear and back to Marfa in time for the Parks and Rec meeting last Thursday.
Enough of that- I'll be in here in Marfa until Christmas break and I have plenty to do and only a little time to do it.
Cool other stuff- the Desert Surfer Mercedes is back as my main mode of transport when I have to drive. A real pleasure. My tree and native plant planting initiative is getting under way (with the help of Marfa Rotary) this Saturday at 9 AM. We'll be planting 4 trees in front of the MAC and some other native bushes and agaves.
My radio show is going well and next week is the Marfa Public Radio pledge drive. I'll be needing calls and support during my program from 11PM to 1 AM and later on Tuesday and also may be doing an additional shift of the "night Train Express" on Wednesday night- same late hours.
I'm playing bass with the Dry Creek Diggers Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Saturday is a benefit for the new private pre-K school being formed here in Marfa. Sunday will be at Harry's Tinaja in Alpine for their regular set. Their bass player is out of town this weekend.
Other than that, if you read the council stuff I post, you see how much work and stress that's been. Times are tough for everyone and most city costs are energy related, so we've had a tough job to do and few people are even remotely pleased.
That's it! - David

Right on time

It's Thursday night, the 16th of October and I am listening to Cornyn vs Noriega debating over Marfa Public Radio. They are both competing for the junior Senatorial seat in the U.S. Senate here in Texas. Cornyn is the incumbent, Noriega is the underfunded challenger who may actually have half a chance.

I had planned on finally getting into some of my (late) city council updates (and will at least get something done tonight on that) when I received another anonymous reply to this blog regarding the garbage/landfill situation here in Marfa. Without getting into it right here in this post, I must PLEAD with readers who feel they need to make comments to please SIGN them. This particular person believes that we can easily renew our landfill permit here in Marfa and potentially solve our garbage collection problem. I believe this would have already been done, if at all possible, and inquired about it myself long before I became a councilman. If what this person says is true, this person, by remaining anonymous, is part of the problem. I would solve this problem if I had more information and that information was correct. So, I ask, once again, please leave your name or contact me directly if you have any constructive criticism.
Oh yes, actually, better yet- take it to the newspaper and let's get the word out if you have a real solution. Thank you. - David

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My favorite band from 1985 through 1990

The Fabulous Thunderbirds, in all their incarnations prior to Fran Christina leaving the band, were just about my favorite of all time from about '85 through '90 or later. NRBQ supplanted them for a short time and then Doug Sahm took off on a ten year-plus run. Johnny Guitar Watson currently rules the roost for super-favorite. There are actually a bunch of artists and groups I am "addicted" to now, but back around '86-89 it was T-Birds all the way. My friends (and band-mates) and I would sneak into places to see them. We would attend every show possible as underage kids. Our band, instead of covering U2, Peter Gabriel, the Rolling Stones and all, focused on the T-Birds. I bought my first Hohner Golden Melody harmonica at H&H Music on Caroline in downtown Houston around Christmas of '85. For the next fiver years I focused on becoming a Kim Wilson quality harmonica player by apeing his chops and those of Little Walter, James Cotton and Jimmy reed. I never succeeded at playing half as well as any of those cats, but by the sheer grace of God, I figured out that playing other instruments as a complement to harmonica was a good way to imrove my singing, harmonica playing and overall musicality, so I went back to piano sort of and picked up guitar, bass and drums towards the end of college (92-93). I barely play harmonica at all anymore but still get a huge kick out of vintage T-Birds music and videos. The best video they ever had is a video for "How Do You Spell Love" off 1982's "T-Bird Rhythm" which stars little kid Charlie Sexton as a school kid. There's some great ominous pans of my bass playing idol Keith Ferguson (RIP) smiling the "smile of death" in that one as well. I would love it if someone could find that one and post it up on YouTube. Give it to me and I'll do it.
Anyway, here's a 1980 European performance of "She's Tuff", a song I started covering as a junior in high school with me band. Nobody does it as well as Kim Wilson. This video has another guitar player filling in for Jimmie Vaughan, but Mike Buck and Keith Ferguson hold down the groove behind Kim. - David

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jackie in NYC

Here's a video shot at the end of the night of Jackie Pepper's private VIP Manhattan show at Billymark's. By this time Jackie, after exhausting the packed house with a veritable cornucopia of talent and memorable entertainment moments, was near the end of the line (and the end of the tequila bottle). Sorry for the video cutting out before the song starts, but I had to play the bass. - David


Monday, August 25, 2008

It's ironic- and more pics

That I just heard Joni Mitchell on Marfa Public Radio and hearing her always reminds me of a girlfriend I had back in the mid 90's who couldn't sing to save here life. Whereas Joni Mitchell, despite her begrudging attitude and countless coffin nails, can still sing. I still can't believe that the Counting Crows guy redid the Paved Paradise song. That's like about as rough as a Safeway soundtrack can be.

I noticed that me new Mozilla browser screws up my picture posts. I guess I'll have to plus in my lemon Apple laptop and post up with that. My IE Explorer got attacked by a Trojan. It's fixed now but all my homepages, etc are rest and I no longer trust it. Besides, open source is the more democratic way.

More pics-
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One of my very best buddies of all time Drew Willis and I at my first and last Yankees game at the real Yankee stadium this past July. I was in NYC for close to five full days for the Jackie Pepper show at Billymarks- a huge success, of course. DI stayed with Drew for a few days after my Chelsea Hotel reservations expired. It was great, as always. I am seriously blessed to be still playing shows in places like SF and NYC over a year and a half after my retirement as a full time musician. Still a card carrying Union member, of course.


Well, that's the only pic from NYC for now. For some reason my computer or blogger continues to duplicate the same pic after I upload others. Next time... - DWB/Colonel

Various recent photos




Tex Offender (HRD) and Bruisie Q (former SSRD and current TXRD banked track)
Two killer roller derby skaters groovin' at the last HRD bout- HRD's Machete Betties vs the South Side Roller Derby's all stars. Great burying of the "hatchet" by our two rival Houston area leagues. Yes, some girls are still holding grudges, but what do you expect when you put 100 assertive, athletic girls in one room?!



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The Southside girls warming up- first time on our track and in our venue. They are planning to become a full time banked track league by Jan 1. Check 'em out on myspace or by searching southside roller derby. They are based out of Pearwood skating rink in Pearland.



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Audiomind and her husband Duck celebrate their 6th (I thin that's right) anniversary at the after party at The Boondocks. Duck helps with lineups for the Brawlers. Audiomind is a star derby jammer for the Burlesque Brawlers in HRD.




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Early Friday night set at the Continental by the Octanes. Adam Burchfield on lead vocals and excellent guitar work. Kevin "Snit" Fitzpatrick on drums (formerly of Hollisters back in the day and also leader of Snit's Dog and Pony Show. Snit is a killer shuffle drummer.

Marfa City Council Meeting Tuesday August 12th

It's been a very hectic couple of weeks for me with travel, construction, volunteer work, and taking possession of my new "extra" Airstream, which will be ready to go in time for the Terlingua Chili Cookoff in November. So, I am a little late in posting this council meeting update. Since this meeting took place there have been 2 specila meetings (which I will not cover here) regarding the planning and adoption of our 2009 city budget. There is much hand wringing and bargaining back and forth, and the finished results will boil down to a Public Hearing at 5 PM Sept 18th followed by a meeting with the intent to amend, modify, refine and adopt a 2009 budget. The City of Marfa's fiscal year begins in October.
I would encourage any who can to attend this Thursday's (8/28) council meeting at 6PM to see where we are at on the current budget. Highlights (lowlights) include discussion, dissent and failure to agree on the contentious streetlight issue, and agreement yet bitter resignation at the fact that our garbage rates from the provider(s) [Duncan Disposal and West Texas Disposal are the only two options in the area]will go up a MINIMUM of 68% this year; all that will be passed on directly to the citizens unless streetlight concessions can damper the blow. Also adressed are several issues concerning using citation revenue to cover Municipal court and other city costs, golf course expenditures (still losing money) and no proactive action (in fact surrender) of efforts to create and fund a youth program. On the brighter side, our woefully underpaid city employees won't fall further behind the cost of living curve (at least if they're not buying gas) and we will actually likely increase slightly funding for employees in our dangerously understaffed EMS department. More later, but it sure would be nice to have a few more concerned citizens show up and tell the other council members what I hear on the streets (and here at the funeral home/dancehall) every day. Tomorrow I will be performing a short 50's rock and roll tribute at the Marfa Nutrition Center for lunchtime (11:30-1) and I'm sure that, once again, I'll get an earful. All in all, though it's good for me to get hassled and hear everyone's complaints. I can handle it and it's making me more and more resilient to criticism. One thing I can say for sure- I am doing my best and working hard every day on the tough issues that face our citizenry and city government. I will come out of this experience stronger and ready to rock, even if I wind up being a one-term councilman.


On with the re-cap of August 12.
Meeting called to order, 6 PM. All council members (Baeza, Garlick, Beebe, May and Garcia) in attendance. Mayor Dan Dunlap presided. City Administrator Mustard in attendance.

Citizen Comments- Citizen Bill White complained about tractor trailers and other large trucks cutting through from Highland to 17 via Oak St in front of the Post Office. Councilman Scott May commented that he had witnessed this as well. My thoughts are- the truckers haven't figured out that this doesn't actually save them any time. Anyway, signs, etc may eventually be posted. I wouldn't be surprised to see Scott May bring an action item before council at some point banning Jake Brakes (engine braking) and further regulating large trucks in the city. We are at the intersection of three relatively (for the area) major highways and this is not the first time concern about thru trucks has been brought up.
Next up, citizen Lineaus Lorette (sp?) brought up a complaint about the live music (most Saturday nights until about midnight) at Adobe Moon BBQ. A general complaint, he then went into detail about the offense it causes to the neighbors, especially the Catholic church. Anyway, I referred him to the TABC agent in Alpine, as the TABC controls most general law enforcement complaints regarding license holders. I also contradicted his claim about Adobe Moon being now a "honky-tonk" instead of being classified as a restaurant. I am certain they still do more than 50% of their business in food, and until they do more than 50% on beer and wine they will always be classified as a restaurant first before a bar. This situation will take some give and take on both sides, as I, myself, despite occasionally sitting in with the Moondogs band over there on drums, have questioned how long it would take until the ax would come down on their late night outdoor music scene. For those of you who do not live in Marfa, you would not BELIEVE how the sound travels out here on a clear night. You can hear people speak in a normal voice from blocks away- not make out exactly what they're saying, usually, but it sounds like they are 15 feet away. Citizens can hear (and either enjoy or not- I've heard more of the enjoy factor) the Moondogs from clear across town, especially on the higher ground near Marfa High School.
I was pleased that we had some citizen comments, by the way. Thanks for participating!
Next we approved the minutes from the last council meeting. Rudy Garcia wanted more attention brought into the streets and alleyways discussion he had brought up. We approved minutes unanimously.

Mayor's Report-

Mayor Dan Dunlap submits to the council the proposed budget for 2009 (Oct 2008-Sept 2009). We discuss scheduling of workshops and public hearing(s) related to same.

City Administrator's Report-

James Mustard announces that he and the Mayor will travel on Wed 8/13 to El Paso to the Rio Grande Council of Governments (COG) meeting in support of our recycling center grant application. UPDATE- the grant was approved and we will receive the money to buy a new cardboard baler and to extend three phase power out to the recycling center. Baler and power should be operational by Oct 1. Marfans- RECYCLE YOUR CARDBOARD! Besides aluminum cans it's the only recycling Marfa makes any measurable money from- plus it saves major dumpster and landfill space.

Mustard says we also filed for an extension of the sewer system replacement grant application (SW side of city) from TWDB (Texas Water Development Board). Surveys for the income-related aspect (low to moderate income neighborhood requirement) were accomplished with volunteer citizen labor (THANKS!!!)

More news- although the library renovation project is not yet finished, the portion using the ORCA grant is done. ORCA will make a visit and inspect with a walk-through before releasing final funding.


Councilmember Comments-

Councilman Manny Baeza inquired about eliminating our Municipal Court. City Admin Mustard informed him that AG Abbott had ruled that Muni Court is required in cities of our size and greater (at least)by the state Constitution.

Councilman Scott May wanted an update on the Gas Board's (SWTMGC) franchise agreement

No other councilman comments

NEW BUSINESS:

Discussion with action as appropriate to convert Gonzales St between Columbia & Lincoln as a one-way street running north during construction of the new Marfa I.S.D. gymnasiums.
Estimated cost for signage and traffic control devices= +/- $3000. We discussed, with school and police chief input and agreed unanimously to approve the change in traffic designation and split the cost 50/50 with the school district. Change expected to be permanent, but to be re-evaluated, if necessary, following conclusion of construction one year from now.

Next- a controversial and emotionally charged discussion with action as appropriate measure to waive and/or reduce building permit fees for the two new gym projects at Marfa I.S.D. Total cost= $2385.90.
We were given information by superintendent Teola Swinney (sp?) that the previous contractor had been relieved of his duties and that the City of Marfa had refunded the original permit fees at that time. Further information given was that neighboring communities of Alpine and Presidio had all granted exemptions to permit fees, etc to The local school districts for their projects. Additional info requested from me and other councilmembers- amount of bond for gym projects= 2.9 Million dollars. Funding for permits/city fees are built into current bid. After some discussion mostly focusing on the fact that Ms Swinney felt that she had a fiduciary duty to ask us for a refund of less than 1% of 1% of their budget for the gyms and my agreeing and asking more questions regarding funding in general and the fact that, despite her protestations that tax money is all one big ball and we should let them have it back, tax money IS NOT ALL THE SAME (we don't have a 2.9 million $ bond for city services, for starters, the council voted 4 to 1 to reject a refund. Councilman Baeza voted in favor of a refund. There was some sharp language on both sides of this issue, and I have fielded some in-person and telephone vehement criticism on my vote, I stand behind it for these reasons:
Despite many protestations, I do not see this as double taxation, No promises or even remote suggestions of a refund to taxpayers or early bond pay-down of this money was made by the rep for Marfa I.S.D. despite my baiting with suggestions/mention and borderline parody of refund checks of $1.40 or so top each school tax paying citizen.
Secondly, part of my job is to ensure that the city is run like a business and also that there are no "special favors" to any one or more groups- community based or not. The special favors mentality is part of why the city had incurred so much debt several years ago that we are now just barely paying off.
Thirdly, the simple fact that $2385.90 is a lot of money for the city at this point (we being broke) and that it is less that 1% of 1% of the gym budget AND had been funded in the design/build bid. I feel like since no assurances were made or even implied about paying down the bond note early or refunding to taxpayers otherwise by the school district that this money they would have "saved" would have been spent on design accents or the like.
My final comments before voting Nay on the measure was that I respected the school's position in the community and also the traditional cooperation between the I.S.D. and the city, but that everyone is subject to these fees, and given the low rates plus the city's granting a parking variance to the project in order to reduce the parking lot burden issue (a different council/BOA session) we will stick to our original fees.

Since that vote, as I mentioned, I have been chided for "not caring about the kids". "not doing what you promised by representing all of Marfa", "not understanding double taxation", and "not caring about the Mexicans, since all the kids are Mexican" I kid you not. I hope the citizens will understand that not only do I have nothing to gain by standing my ground and requiring all my votes to objective based on what's fair, coupled with what's best to keep city taxes and services as low as they can be. There is no other way I can vote with clear conscience since I feel that this city needs honest, unbiased leadership with high integrity more than anything else. I can say that I have been and will continue to operate at the highest level of integrity I am capable of and that, being fairly new to this town, I owe nobody anything - STILL. Surely this will keep getting me into trouble, but I am doing my best, and working hard to be the best councilman I can be.

Next- we discussed the BOA appointments. Carolyn Duncan has resigned for health reasons. We moved Ralph McKay to the position of full board member, from alternate. We appointed former city councilwoman Maria Williams as alternate (yay!) There is still one alternate position available. Please contact me via telephone or in person if you qualify as an honest, objective Marfa citizen willing to serve your community in a very important role. I served as an alternate for about 5 months on the BOA before being elected to council and wound up voting every time due to absences of full time members. The BOA meets once a month or less. My phone number is in the telephone book and also national information.

Item 4- we reviewed the Chamber of Commerce budget. No action taken

Item 5- We considered a resolution to create a donations funded bank account for Police Dept renovations, including the remodeling of a Evidence room (by state mandate) and also the creation of a "Safe Lobby", a generally accepted lobby format for law enforcement encouraged (if not required) by the state. Currently the Marfa Police Dept has received $2400 in donations. Renovations will total between $3000-$6000 when complete as estimated by chief J.D. Wilbourn.
Approved Unanimously

Item 6- We move to create a bank account for a City contingency fund. This was a stated goal of the previous council, We are very near full solvency at this point and are no later than 30 days out on all of our bills. That means we are incurring no finance or service charges. The hard work begins now, as we will have to work to keep all floodgates closed...
Unanimous adoption of resolution

Item 7- this meeting is getting long... Approve a Tobacco Compliance Grant Bank Account. thank goodness Marfa National Bank doesn't charge us any service charges for all these bank accounts. I guarantee that is the city was an individual the I.R.S. would be after us for having so many. Approved- approximate value of this tobacco compliance and preventive education grant is between $1500 and $2000. Police dept will administer program.

Item 8- Resolution to create a bank account for the construction fund of a new sewer facility. This is the $1.265 million dollar interest free loan from the TWDB. Parkhill Smith engineering is 60% complete and they would like to receive partial payment. Unanimous.

Item 9 - We analyze and vote on construction bids for renovations of the city-owned USO building. The idea on this one is that the Chamber of Commerce will reimburse us for all or part of these renovations once they make the Amvets/USO building their permanent home and the official city convention center. The building is a grand old dame that needs total and complete restoration, inside and out. Worst case scenario, which I have been assured will not occur, is that we have to absorb these costs ourselves (city gov). The way I see it, the Amvets Hall is a major community asset and must be restored, at least to basic usage standards. Without that it's worth nothing to the citizens or the city gov (as owners). So basically, it needs to be fixed and hopefully all will go as planned. Bids for 400 AMP single phase power (for the whole place but built out only to the front office/greeting.bathroom and kitchen areas) is around $15,000. An Additional $9,800 considered for installation of air conditioning system with three zones for same part of building (but not exhibition hall). Unanimous vote minus Scott May who protested the inclusion or 7M services for the A/C work based on their reportedly shoddy and untimely work on the library project.
Side note- I hired 7M for the flashing/tin job here at Padre's and they did a seriously crappy job. They had not finished (or so I thought) before this vote. Turns out they had. I do not recommend. I still do not understand why supposed craftsmen don't take enough pride in whatever they spent 8 hours plus of every weekday doing during their life to do it right, or at least make the effort to do their best. I guess some people just never learned that work can make you really happy.

Item 10- Schedule budget workshops (open to public). Some of these have already occurred, but we made an effort to be sure that all council members could be present for each meeting.
Here's the results- 8/19 5PM; 8/21- 5 or 6PM; more discussion Thursday 8/28 at council meeting (regular meeting scheduled). Public hearing- YOUR LAST CHANCE TO RAISE HELL- 9/18. Followed by council budget adoption hearing- 6PM 8/18.
Please speak to your various councilmembers regarding your concerns. Once again they are
Manny Baeza
Rusty Garlick
Me- David Beebe
Rudy Garcia
Scott May

Also, Mayor Dan Dunlap and City Administrator James Mustard. Other useful ears are Police Chief J.D. Wilbourn and all three of the ladies (Ramona, Lori and Laura) at the front desk. The more you take this stuff around too us, the higher your success level has potential to be. I do not possess everyone's phone number, nor would I publish them here, but Marfa City Hall can assist. Nationwide information has their number as well as local phone books.
Thanks for reading- David Beebe

Sammie Relford- totally awesome and no one there!



"So, I have a quick update on Sammie Relford and The Real Sammie's club. Sammie and his band were so good that I went back the next night (Sat)- mostly to pick up a CD of Sammie's originals, but also to see the show again. I'll speak about Friday's show since I saw the complete show and was there by myself.
I got to The Real Sammie's around 9:30 or ten and there were probably about ten people ion there. I made a note on the way (I took the rail) to see how busy (the fake) Sammy's was (at 2016 Main) and it was pretty busy. Faye Robinson and her band play there most every weekend night.
The real Sammie's is a nice place with seating, a tall bandstand and plenty of room for dancing. The Friends band (Sammie's band) opened up the set with a rocking selection of great covers ranging from Motown to 80's soul-pop. Led by Mr. Slim on drums and lead vocals, the band also features Spider on 7 string (yes) bass, Brucie on guitar, and Maestro on keys. Both Maestro and Spider sing a lot of backup vocals. Sammie finally came out and there were less than 20 customers in the room. I was shocked. I can't remember seeing Sammie with fewer than a full house since about '91 over at the Gallant Knight back when they had a Shure Vocal Master P.A. hanging from the ceiling over the band in the middle of the room and $9 Old Milwaukee pitchers (very pricey in those days). I can hoenstly say that Sammie sounded absolutely great, complete with falsetto, deep bass and everything in between. He basically put on a show where he gave 110%. I could feel him going for it and I know how he felt, singing to a nearly empty room and trying to conquer it. He succeeded and everyone there had a great time with most folks dancing. He certainly turned the tables on me and I am grateful for it. It had been a while since I had seen him and last time he wasn't at his best (thinking back he might have been sick at the time goven how much energy he gave two weekends ago). Anyway, here's a few photos of Sammie with the Friends band. Catch them NOW at The real Sammie's- next door to the Brewery Tap in the Magnolia Brewery building on Franklin downtown in Houston. I couldn't believe there were even fewer folks there on Saturday so I'm thinking unless something changes The real Sammie's may not last. By the way, it just opened in mid-July. I think all of Sammie's fans must still think he's at Sammy's, although it's been well over a year since I've seen him listed there. Oh yeah, also, I ordered the Sammie Relford documentary online (just came out) and have just received it. I'll probably get to watch it in the next few weeks. I can't remember the last time I was this busy and overwhelmed with work of all kinds.
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Friday, August 08, 2008

Sammie Relford

I am in Houston- got in on the Amtrak this morning at 6:30 AM. Breakfast at James Coney Island downtown was nice. Bus 82 took me to within three blocks of my parents' house. Although I still have my phone number I've had since '93 here in Houston, it's in my apartment, which is no longer mine and is occupied by Greg Henkel. That number will be disconnected next month. Since I have noc ell phone, I am not reachable (vacation!) Roller Derby is this Sunday at the Verizon, 4 PM doors, 5:00 game time. That's my primary reason for being here.
Sammie Relford's new club, "The Real Sammie's" is now finally open. It's located in the Magnolia Brewery building on Franklin at the Bayou (Power Tools, Urban Art Bar, Brewery Tap, etc). I am going to try to see Sammie tonight, as he plays every Friday and Saturday. Without going into much detail, the last time I saw this Houston soul icon was a few years back at "Sammy's, the club in the bottom of 2016 Main that was supposedly his, but actually wasn't. I must say, his voice was in very bad form that night and I felt sorry for him. Having experienced vocal pain on a daily basis for years I could feel his physical pain. Hopefully tonight will be different. Oh yeah, one caveat about that night at Sammy's was that Little joe Washington came in, wasted (kinda rare) and brought the house down. It was awesome.
Sammie Relford is the subject of a new documentary that I just ordered on DVD, with shipping, for about $18. If anyone out there has seen him perform over the years (about 20 years nearly every night at the former Gallant Knight that was on Holcombe) I recommend the documentary, just knowing what I know about his talent and personality. Google search him t get to the DVD order page. i am excited about seeing this Houston soul legend again, for better or worse. -DB

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My policy on comments, etc

Here's a quick post to let any readers know how I may receive your comments or questions. recently there were a few questions posted in the "comments" area following a council post asking about our EMS care here in Marfa and what I plan to do about the general lack of super fast, ultra premium emergency medical facilities (including ultra-modern ambulance service).
If you would like a reply to a question, please call me. I am in the telephone book. If you want results, set up a personal meeting with me and plan to attend some council meetings. Also, the Big Bend Sentinel is good about publishing well-written letters to the editor. A multi-faceted approach to drawing attention to complex issues is always a better method of getting something done and people more powerful than I am to listen.
Thanks!- David

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Radio show playlist through 7/31

As I've written about here before, I have a radio show on Marfa's 50,000 watt public radio station for Far West Texas. That would be on the web at www.marfapublicradio.org
Anyway, my format is as follows: 60% 70's to current R&B (southern style), 25% Texas music of all styles, and 15% of anything else I feel like playing. I write down most of what I plan to play before I do each show and play it in no particular pre-planned order, but instead by feel.
The show is every Tuesday night from 11PM to 1AM (with commentary) and until 2 AM (without comment but still spinning records and inside the studio). That's Central time and I take requests as well. I have been diligent about loading material from my personal collection into the station's master computer so the other DJ's can access it permanently.
Here is a list (in no particular order) of most of the songs and artists I have played since my show began May 20th. I missed one Tuesday and station manager Tom Michael was kind enough to stay up late and sub in for me using mostly tracks off my I.D. (ones I programmed in- about 580 so far).

Many of these artists are currently performing around the U.S.- especially the ones you may not have heard of. I recommend some further research for any artists that catch your attention.


Back In Stride- Frankie Beverly and Maze
It's Not Easy - ? and the Mysterians
Love Ain't Nothing But a Business- Junior Parker
The Madison Time (Part 1)- Ray Bryant
Just Because- Lloyd Price
Dancing in the Streets- Martha and the Vandellas
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy- Johnny Guitar Watson and Larry Williams
Barn Door- Johnny Guitar Watson
I'm Talking About You- Chuck Berry
What You See Is What You Get- The Dramatics
Sally Go 'Round the Roses- The Jaynetts
Love Bones- Johnnie Taylor
Chicken, Gravy and Biscuits- L'il Ed & the Blues Imperials
Home Cookin' - Ronnie Dawson
Jeannine- Horace Grigsby
Marked Deck- Fabulous Thunderbirds
Can You Handle It? - Johnny Guitar Watson
High Sheriff of Calhoun Parish- Tony Joe White
The Chokin' Kind- Buddy Ace
Put Me in Jail- Sunny Ozuna
General Dollar General- Flying Fish Sailors
Colossal Head- Los Lobos
Hello Mary Ann- Ronnie Millsap
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue- Dion
Mighty, Mighty, Spade and Whitey- Curtis Mayfield
Do It Again- The Kinks
Take Some, Leave Some- James Brown
Little Fox- The Krayolas
Cumbia Del Sol- The Blazers
One More Chance- Little Johnny Taylor
You Never Get Too Big... - Sir Douglas Quintet
Can I Change My Mind- Tyrone Davis
More Bounce to the Ounce- ZAPP
Grandma's Hands- Bill Withers
Turn Back the Hands of Time- Tyrone Davis
A Nice Song- Sir Douglas Quintet
Happy Feelings- Frankie Beverly and Maze
Quarter to Three- Gary U.S. Bonds
Jody Got Your Woman and Gone- Johnnie Taylor
It's Raining- Irma Thomas
Baby Workout- Jackie Wilson
Veronica- Ronnie Dawson
You're Not My Girl- The Krayolas
No One Else Will Do- The Tail Gators
Good Friend- Grady Gaines and Paul David Roberts
Born to Wander- Rare Earth
Up, Up and Away- The 5th Dimension
Wiggle- Willie Clayton
Stairway to Heaven- The O'Jays
Hoochie Momma- Marvin Sease
Sometimes- Gene Thomas
Tragic Magic- NRBQ
Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind- John Sebastian w/ NRBQ
Night and Day- Frank Sinatra and Red Norvo
Fox River- Waco Brothers
Hug a Jug- Loco Gringos
Baby's in Love with the Radio- Johnny Guitar Watson
Heaven Sent- Oscar Perry
Pay at the Pump- Soul Hat
The Bigg Woman Song- Bigg Robb
On Broadway- Lou Rawls
96 Tears- ? and the Mysterians
Come and Dance With Me- Johnny Guitar Watson
Put It Where You Want It- The Crusaders
Working Together- Frankie Beverly and Maze
I Don't Wanna Make It Too Funky- Roy Head
60 Minutes of Your love- Sir Douglas Quintet
Who's Making Love- Johnnie Taylor
Fish Out of Water- Ronnie Dawson
Benny's Cadillac- The Iguanas
The look of Love- Isaac Hayes
Love Rollercoaster- Ohio Players
Oliver's Gone- Georgie Fame
Girls with Glasses- The Dishes
I Ain't Never Loved Nobody Like This Before- Paul David Roberts
I Know I'm Losing You- Rare Earth
Please Be Kind- Frank Sinatra
Dream in Blue- Los Lobos
What's Your Pleasure?- Billy Ray Charles
Please, Please, Please (espanol) - James Brown
Lester the Clown- Adam Bork
Bernadette- Four Tops
Doo Wah Ditty- ZAPP
How's Gary?- The Judy's
Bossa Nova #2- Little Joe Washington
Peanuts- The Sunglows
Ooh Poo Pah Doo- Jessie Hill
We're Rolling- The Impressions
Wham! Bam!- The Road Kings
Golly Gee- Sunny Ozuna
High Society- The Judy's
My Love- Dion
River's Invitation- Georgie Fame
One More Time- Roy Head
Do the Boomerang- Jr. Walker & the All Stars
My Big Cat- Flying Fish Sailors
Radiation Squirm- The Judy's
Telephone Bill- Johnny Guitar Watson
Just a Little Bit- Big Robert Smith
Sweetest Girl in California- Swamp Dogg
You Got It- NRBQ
Mama- B.J. Thomas
River's Invitation- James Cotton
Lover's Crime- Fabulous Thunderbirds
Ju Ju Hand- Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
Not With Her Man- Little Sister
She Comes Round- Fastball
Don't Keep Me Hanging On- Jin Henkel
Land of 1000 Dances- Cannibal & the Headhunters
Feel the Spirit of My Guitar- Johnny Guitar Watson
Simply Beautiful- Willie Clayton
Stoned Soul Picnic- The 5th Dimension
Hole in the Wall- Mel Waiters
For the Love of Money- The O'Jays
Tainted Love- Gloria Jones
Never Can Say Goodbye- Isaac Hayes
Close the Door- Georgie Fame
Fraulein- Chuck Berry
Git to Gittin'- Big Walter the Thunderbird
We're a Winner- Curtis Mayfield
Let's Go Baby- Robert Parker
U.R. Walking on Shakie Ground- Billy Ray Charles
Glow in the Dark- David Garza
Take Care of your Homework- Johnnie Taylor
Touch- Con Funk Sun
Cheatin' Game- Willie Clayton
All Night Worker- Tail Gators
The Food Chain- Flying Fish Sailors
Old Folks- Tod Vullo
You Never Get Too Old to Boogie- Swamp Dogg
The Making of You- Curtis Mayfield
Aicha- Khaled
Straighten It Out- Latimore
That's Neat That's Nice- NRBQ
Underwater Fun- The Judy's
Party Like We Used To- Willie Clayton
Baby Face- Johnny Guitar Watson
Plenty Tuff and Union Made- Waco Brothers
Ibuprofen- Scratch Daly
Lone Ranger- Johnny Guitar Watson
Shining Star- Earth Wind and Fire
I Sure Love to Ball (and You Do Too)- Swamp Dogg
Don't You Know- NRBQ
Are You Ready for the Fallout- Fastball
We Gotta Get Out of this Place- The Animals
Ramble Tamble- Creedence Clearwater Revival
Since I Met You- Johnny Guitar Watson
Rich Woman- Fabulous Thunderbirds
Blues Pass Me By- Sir Douglas Quintet
Felicia No Capiche- Sunny Ozuna
I Just Want to Celebrate- Rare Earth
Fallin' For You- Hadden Sayers
I'm a Road Runner- Jr. Walker & the All Stars
New York- Little Joe Washington
By the Time I Get to Phoenix- Isaac Hayes
Way Back Home- The Crusaders
If There's a Hell Down Below We're All Going to Go- Curtis Mayfield
Luck Be a Lady- Frank Sinatra w/ Count Basie
Can't Get Over You- Frankie Beverly and Maze
Impression- The Suspects
Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop- Little Anthony & the Imperials
Oh Pretty Woman- Albert King
Sundown Is Coming/ Hold Back the Night- The Dramatics
A Natural Man- Lou Rawls
It's September- Johnnie Taylor
Funky Blues- Johnny Guitar Watson
Giving It Up for Your love- Z.Z. Hill
That's the Way of the World- Earth Wind and Fire
Niki Hoeky- The LeRoi Brothers
Night Train- Buddy Morrow
Good Lovin' It'll Make You Cry- Carl Marshall
Funky President- James Brown
A Woman Want a Man, She Don't Want No Punk- Carl Marshall
So Life Goes On- The Dreambreakers
Jackie Pepper Died- Adam Bork
Record Shoppin' - Bigg Robb
How Do You Spell Love- Fabulous Thunderbirds
The Other Man- Swamp Dogg
Neighbor, Neighbor- Jimmy Hughes
Sit Down On It- Marvin Sease
Roswell/ Hangar 18- Flying Fish Sailors
Dear Dad- Chuck Berry
Big Robert's Strokin' Too- Big Robert Smith
Mexican Radio- Wall of Voodoo
Good Times- Chic
The Look in Your Eyes- Frankie Beverly and Maze
Speed Racer Theme- Speed Racer
The Streetbeater- Quincy Jones
Jack Rabbit- Zydeco Joe
Bigg Man Love/Good Love- Bigg Robb
This Is For Grown Folks- Carl Marshall
Right Place, Wrong Time- Dr. John
My Radio Sure Sounds Good to Me- Graham Central Station
I'm a Midnight Mover- Bobby Womack
Spill the Wine- Eric Burdon and WAR
Be Still- Bobby Rush
You Bring Love- Johnny Guitar Watson
Fact of Life- Bobby Womack
I Believe to My Soul- Donny Hathaway
Satin Doll- Ella Fitzgerald
That Ain't My Wife- Swamp Dogg
The Rains Came- Big Sambo and the Housewreckers
Too Tight- Con Funk Shun
Sara Smile- Latimore
The Only Thing That's Real- Sister 7
Solomon Grundy- The Foundations
Hold On to What You've Got- Joe Tex
Hard Way- Sir Douglas Band
So Excited- B.B. King
Fire- Ohio Players
I Just Wanna Stop- Gino Vanelli
I'm Not in Love- 10cc
Sleepy Women- Herschel Berry
Free- Chicago
Some Else is Steppin' In- Z.Z. Hill
Texas Rose Cafe- Little Feat
Jeannine- Tod Vullo
You Made Me Love You- Ray Charles
Shining Star- The Manhattans
The Soulful Strut- Young Holt Unlimited
Having So Much Fun- Huey Piano Smith
Cheaper to Keep Her- Johnnie Taylor
Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu- Huey Piano Smith
Turn on Your Love Light- Bobby Bland
Wrap It up- Archie Bell and the Drells
All Night Long- Kinny Abair
Lady Madonna- Junior Parker
Part Time Love- Little Johnny Taylor


I am certain that this list is incomplete and I am missing at least one or two weeks' worth of prep sheets, but you get the drift. I'll try to publish songlists from the radio show (called The Night Train Express) every few months as it builds up. Most of this stuff I load into the system is from CD's but probably about 40% is from my record collection- 45's and LP's. It takes substantially longer to transfer the vinyl, and I needed some content fast at first. I should be able to tip the balance over to the vinyl side fairly soon.
Thanks for listening if you are- Tuesday nights 11PM to 2 AM Central time. www.marfapublicradio.org

Friday, July 18, 2008

Marfa City Council meeting wrap-up 7/8/08

Meeting came to order at 6 PM on Tuesday July 8th, city hall, Marfa. By the way, all of these meetings are open to the public. Photography and recording are allowed.
In attendance were councilmen Rudy Garcia, Scott May, Manny Baeza, and David Beebe. Absent was Rusty Garlick. Mayor Dan Dunlap presided. City Administrator James Mustard was in attendance.

Citizens' comment period- no citizen comments

Minutes of the meeting of 6/26 were approved.

Mayor's Report-
Mayor Dunlap informed council that our computer software support and designer Mike Gearing will be retiring in Decemeber and will no longer be available in that capacity. He had also done the systems for Alpine, Van Horn, and Presidio. Those cities are looking at options and a new software firm will be chosen. This is bad news from the financial side of things, since we'll need to reprogram our systems, but the newer technology should allow us to integrate all our city systems. The goal is to implement a new provider and begin the process by Oct 1.

City Administrator's Report-
Marfa EMS has received a $29,697 grant due to the efforts that our EMS director, Burt, put into completing training and paperwork (voluntary work on his part).
The Rio Grande Council of Governments recycling grant application has been submitted (by Marfa). This will provide funding for our "Cram-A-Lot" cardboard baler and also will get 3 phase power over to the recycling center to run the baler and other machinery.
The city is requesting additional options for pickup and/or dumpster number reduction from Duncan Disposal in preparation for the new contract. No response from our request for numbers from West Texas Disposal yet.
The USO building/ Amvets Hall- the building has developed some serious roof leaks and also some of the electrical problems are severe enough that the hallneeds to be renovated starting ASAP. The conditions are so bad that we may not be able to rent it out anymore. The Chamber of Commerce is proceeding with studies as to how to renovate it into a proper convention center.

Councilmember Comments-

Rudy Garcia mentioned the new Rotary Club weekly targeted city cleanup. Rotary Club now cleans up a 2-3 block area of their choosing after every Wednesday night meeting, weather permitting. Rudy also wanted to know if city alleyways were open to cleaning without contacting neighboring property owners (yes). Also, the metal recycling firm that conducted the steel pickup program last month will be leaving roll-offs at the old landfill (composting area) for use by citizens to dispose of appliances and steel refuse at no cost to the city or individuals.
By the way, speaking of Rotary, Marfa Rotary meets every Wed at 5:30 PM in the tipi behind Adobe Moon BBQ. All are welcome- and anyone is welcome to assist with the targeted neighborhood cleanup after the meetings.- David
Councilman May mentioned that the roll-offs for non-steel large trash at the composting area are full. Mayor Dunlap responded that Duncan Disposal had been contacted to remove and replace them with empties.
No comments from Baeza or Beebe

Next we had a presentation from Southwest Municipal Gas Corp on the new increase in gas rates. We had this presentation because the cities of Marfa and Alpine co-own the gas company. The gas company in a non-profit, so all extra monies collected have to go back into maintenance and/or improvement of the system. The system itself covers Alpine, Marfa and Ft Davis.
Basically, director Hal Craig gave us a detailed description of the company's overhead, gas costs, and efforts to increase the use of gas appliances in homes locally. The more gas SWMGC can sell, the better the price is that they can buy it for.
Here's a basic breakdown of the plan for the next several years with the new increase in wholesale rates to SWMGC taken into account.
1) the gas comany plans to hold expenses per year at 1.2 million dollars. this is even with a gasoline and diesel fuel increase in cost.
2) the Gas corp plans to add zero dollars to it's already empty contingency fund.
3) There will no longer be a tap fee to hook up a gas meter to your home or business.
4) the company will promote rebates to your gas bill for customers who replace and electric appliance and install a new gas water heater, heater, etc to new or remodel construction projects.
5) the gas corp will encourage people to switch from propane to natural gas. Propane is roughly 2-4 times more expensive per BTU.
6) the new contract for natural gas to SWMGC from WTG will be for $12 per MCF (old was $9.29)
7) New consumer rate will rise from $14.11 per MCF to $19.29 per MCF.

I was impressed with the presentation from Hal and even more impressed with the information and Q&A froom system foreman Melvin (last name not written down- sorry). I would absolutely encourage citizens to inquire about the reabtes for gas appliance installation, as they are substantial.

NEW BUSINESS:
1) Council unanimously approved a contract with Warren CAT to supply a new backhoe. Total out from city to Warren will be $57,290, including extended warranty and trade-in for our old unit. This funding is part of the tax note, which came in a net to us, $260,000. This means our somewhat slippery tax note man only took $10,000 for administration, which is on the low side. Looks like he's honest! Whew- a sigh of relief from me.

2) Water Well Grant- Passed unanimously to add some amendments based on discussion of topic from last meeting, 6/26

3) City Ordinance 08-05- Ordinance to Define Changeable Electronic Variable Message Sign (CEVMS), to prohibit same, et al.
This was my only piece of legislation I wanted to pass as a new city coouncilman. After seeing the worst-case scenario involving these new LED message signs in the form of Berdoll's Pecan Farm ouotside of Bastrop (what were they thinking- Jeez!) I felt it was important to regulate and prohibit these signs in Marfa, since we rely so much on tourism and our appeal as a secluded town "in the middle of nowhere" is an integral part of that. There are already several of these signs running 24/7 in Alpine (Sonic, True Value, Sul Ross University, The Prescription Depot(?). I could, in my nightmares, see both Town and Country Food Stores on either end of town running (2 BURRITOS, $1.19!!!) all night long for eternity. I made a short presentation to council about these signs and why I oppose them for our area. City Administrator James Mustard refined an existing ordinance from Castroville (I think) to fit our town. The ordinance does not create a sign ordinance, but is narrowly written to prohibit signs that flash, use motion or color changing technology to get attention. This would actually also include incandescant and neon signs in some of their forms. Existing signs are exempt. Also, there was discussion about the Open/Abierto LED sign in the window of Adobe Moon BBQ. As an existing sign, it is exempt, but I made the point that as a sign inside a plate glass window of the dining room, it can easily be argued that it is not actually a sign. It would not be considered one in Houston, that I know.
Ordinance passed unanimously.
Whew- I was actually really stressed out about doing this.

Next we appointed a councilmember to the Parks and Rec Board to fill the empty council position that had been held by former council member Lionel Salgado. Rudy Garcia nominated me. Passed unanimously!

Resolution 08-11- Create a Library Donation Bank Account-

This was a great news item- the Lannon Foundation has donated $75,000 to assist with the ongoing library renovation. for complex reasons, this money has to be used after the grant monies are exhausted. Carl Robinson made a presentation relating the library board's situation and library funding in general. In a nutshell, here is the scoop.
The total cost of complete renovations is around $454,000
The ORCA grant that expires and must be spent by the end of July covers $216,000
The Library Board has raised an additional $97,000
The Friends of the Library has raised $19,000
That leaves the library still $156,000 short on funding. Lannon is now contributing $75,000, nearly halving the deficit. The Board expects this donation may prompt others, as the finish line is near.
The Council approved the formation of a specialized bank account under the city name for this purpose unanimously.

Thanks goes to Carl Robinson for his work and a very informative presentation.

Next we discussed, as the request of Rudy Garcia, the city's policy on streets and alley ways. Without going into too much detail, the city does control and own all alley ways, even those people have built on, landscaped on, and/or tried to hide. None have been officially or unofficially abandoned. It is a crime to block access to these alley ways. Regular traffic laws apply, including parking laws. We actually have no parking ordinance, so there is gray area; however, blocking an alley is not considered a parking violation- it is a ingress/egress violation. I predict we'll have a parking ordinance come about before the end of the year. There was some heated discussion about points of detail, etc. There have also been accusations around town of police activity that has been targeted towards certain people and/or businesses. Surely there will be additional discussion at some point on these matters. No action taken by council following council and citizen comments and discussion.

Next we approved unanimously the payrolland expenditure reports for June.

Finally we adjourned. Thanks for reading!- David Beebe

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wrap up: Marfa City Council Meeting 6/26/08

City Council met at 6 PM Thursday June 26th. Following the pledge the citizen comment period was opened. By the way, the council is prohibited to discuss or take action on anything discussed during the citizen comment period, but may opt to place an item brought up by a citizen on a future council agenda. Citizen Bill White spoke during the comment period. He had compaints about lack of enforcement of specific parking regulations such as parking facing the wrong way on the street, an illegally parked travel trailer (not mine!), and city officials, including police officers, breaking these same parking regulations. City Administrator Jim Mustard responded that Marfa has no city parking ordinance, so technically officers can't enforce parking restrictions that are not on state highways. by the way, all our major thoroughfares through Marfa are state highways.
More discussion was had, no resolutions or items placed on future agendas, although Mustard did say that council could opt to create a parking ordinance at some point.

Next, last meeting's minutes were approved unanimously. Oh yes, by the way, members absent from the meeting were Rudy Garcia and Rusty Garlick. In attendance were Scott May, David Beebe, Manny Baeza and Mayor Dan Dunlap.

Mayor's Report- None


City Administrator's Report- Jim Mustard announced that the pool at the MAC is open for business. We have 7 lifeguards. Also, the ORCA grant for the library is on schedule, as is construction. The project that includes the grant must be completed before August 1 or we lose the remaining unspent money. Next, the sewer plant grant update was given. We have unofficially passed the environmental study and the engineering firm we hired should be finished with the drawings and specs by April. They have provided us a timeline in writing. This is also a project that must be finished before the end of the grant funding deadline.
Next, Jim Mustard talked about the ORCA Water Well grant. This was to repair and/or replace Water Well #3, one of our larger wells that is making some major noise. Previous attempts at normal service have failed. No change this time with the giant crew pulling on it with drilling muds and heavy equipment. The well is still working, and may for quite some time, but is unrepairable. We have to spend the rest of this $295,000 grant by the end of Sept in order not to lose it. Plan B is to bid on a backup generator for the Water Plant and to spend the remainder on Water Well #4, which can pump 400 gallons perminute but is not hooked up to a chlorinator or the city system. Also, we will abandon Water Well #5, which is not hooked up to either the system or a chlorinator and can only pump 60 gallons per minute.
Mustard also mentioned that the steel recycling program was very successful (all agree). Also, the school district is applying for a parking variance from the zoning board for the new school gyms they will be building. More discussion about lack of parking rules in our city, etc.

Council member comments:
Scott May applauded the steel recycling program. He also brought up possible rules for "Jake brake" usage by rigs in the city. Citizens have complained and most cities, small and large, in Texas have "No Engine Brake" ordinances on the books. Ironically, as he spoke, an 18 wheeler outsid city hall at 90 & 67 used its Engine brake to stop at the light.
No other comments from Manny or myself.

New Business:
2009 TCDP Block Grant- the had been a public hearing prior to the council meetingdiscussing this grant and its potential application. Also discussed was how the TCDP was prioritizing grant monies by differing "point values" for projects. Projects more likely to get maximum monies and priority treatment are water and sewer projects, rather than parks, libraries or transportation issues. We voted unanimously to apply for the grant ($240,000-$250,000) and to use it for sewer line replacement for the SW quadrant of the city (W Waco, Dallas Sts, etc). Rocbert Silva, water dept head, consulted on this as the "most needed" repair to our system. Pipes are small, collapsed and generally 80-plus years old.

Duncan Disposal Contract fopr garbage collection- 2008-2009

I have not a lot to say about this except for that we discussed it at length and it is an exhausting subject. We are getting jacked, in my opinion, by a garbage service that is highly inefficient and priced as such. Our nearest landfill is in Presidio (we can't use Alipne's which is nearly full as it is). That is a 120 mile round-trip. Fuel costs are skyrocketing and we will have to shoulder those regardless. Duncan has been our garbage collection provider for a long time and doesn't want to have to have our contract go out for bid. It is my impression that they want us to sign a deal that's "good today, but not if we contact anyone else". They have stated that their price, if bidded out formally, will be much higher. As is, it's already a 60% plus ncrease over the last contract. We just raised rates (and they are HIGH) to cover costs last year. West Texas Disposal (who serves Alpine) seems to do a much better job of servicing their customers needs and wants, and also operates a bona fide recycling program. Their rates are higher than Duncan's per capita, and will be evene higher is they have to set up new service here. We are stuck, regardless. it is my opinion that city hall is ready to sign with Duncan now (for ease of contract, lower price and also because Duncan let us pay late interest free for the last year), but I just HATE this "here's our price- take it now, but if you bid it out, this price is off the table". Like a used car salesman. A bad way of doing business.
By the way, this is my opinion and may not reflect facts altogether accurately. This is an emotional issue for me as I see rates going higher for all of us, and I know that those who can least afford it will really be hurting.
The conclusion of our discussion was that we would solicit informal rates from West Texas Disposal to see how they compare and buy us some time.

Somebody PLEASE! form a group that can get us a local landfill and landfill permit! You will make a profit and we will use you!


Next, Big Bend Community Action requested permission to use the MAC building parking lot for a bus stop for their new commuter service to nneighboring cities and Midland/Odessa. After discussion, we opted to give permission for 10 parking spaces and a bus stop for their vans as long as they took care of trash with a trash can and pickup of same. Manny and I voted yes, Scott May abstained based on his 'Marfa Flyer" business, but stated his support.

Meeting adjourned.