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Thursday, February 24, 2011

City Council 2/24

All in attendance
Minutes from last meeting approved unanimously

City Admin report- USO building - men's bathroom- holes punched in the wall, but otherwise a success.

Old Business:

SWTMGC-
SWTMGC passed a resolution to dissolve the corp. Appointed 4 member board to assess and appraise the company.
Rudy Garcia, Diana Asgiersson, Randy and another company employee.

City of Marfa's counsel (see last meeting's notes) will wait until Gas co's assets are assessed by the gas co.

2) Request by Project Grad to use a building for graduation night
Robert Lujan- parent rep
18 seniors-
USO building? MAC building?
May 27th
MAC building construction is a big question- MAC preferable.
Play it by ear---name down on both buildings. Use kitchenfor snacks, etc
Waive fee and require deposit for cleaning, vandalism
Josie makes the motion to allow either building; waive fee, require deposit.
Unanimous

New Business:
Proposed legislation relating to Presidio County Water District (including Marfa and Presidio in not participating in teh "midland exemption")

Original district approved in 1999. Midland exemption made Marfa and Presidio exempt from regulation by a water district.

With regard to participation- 2 issues:
1) Funding- here water district is funded by Presidio County and production fees that produce over 25,000 gallons per minute. Includes Marfa City water supply- roughly $5500 per year to pay for Marfa's use.
2) Representation- board is appointed by commissioner's court- 3 rural members and 2 urban. Cities of Presidio and Marfa have insisted on direct representation.
Third issue was two years ago when this was proposed, time was very short.

Mustard has been attending the meetings. Country Judge Paul Hunt wants to add Marfa and Presidio- Dunlap began some talks.
One way approach it is to take a water district ad valorem tax to the voters.
Ad Valorem taxation means the board would need to be elected, resolving representation issues.

Proposed legilation/interlocal agreement would be good for 2 years- trial period of removal of Midland exemption.
2.1- general agreement
2.2 Urban representatives would come from Marfa and Presidio and would show up to meetings.
2.3 Water district agrees to waive the producation fees for Marfa and Presidio. During this time period cities and county wouold pursue an ad valorem tax to fund the district.

Theresa supports and wrote the agreement
Mustard opposes:

Mustard mentions that city council unanimously opposed the legislation.
City was also concerned about maintaining current production.
Water district misrepresented the cities' positions in presenting case to legislature last time- did not let cities know they were still presenting it.
District is currently underfunded. Thinks they are looking to cities for cash.
Mustard was sent by the city last time to negotiate some sort of relationship/compromise. Water district was very closed to the idea of talking.
Mustard sees not entering into the interlocal agreement as a way to maintain the power to shape the issue in the future. Also, if taxpayers opt not to pass the ad valorem tax then we will be paying more than our fair share.
Also, even is cities pay the fee, without a property tax add-on there still won't be enough money to pay for the district to operate properly- only $15,000 extra and they have virtually nothing now.
Marfa Well #3 has a problem- defective, broken but still functioning. Existing regulations would preclude us from re-drilling the well. Over 1400 feet away would be our next option.
2nd problem- our wells are way to close together and produce too much for the spacing. Any exceptions to the rules would have to be applied district-wide.
Mustard thinks we're jumping the gun on giving away our exemption.
Paul Hunt speaks--
Great points- presents both sides of arguement.
Mustard claims to have been rebuffed by district in beginning discussions. Teresa disagrees

Fannin makes motion to accept interlocal. I second in order to discuss further.
Dunlap pushes for agreement.

Vote-
Beebe in favor, Fannin, Baeza and Simpson opposed. Brijalba left eary (ill)
Adjourn.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Radio show tonight- every Tuesday www.marfapublicradio.org

YES
11Pm to 2 AM- nearly 3 years running for my radio show- a mixture of soul music mnew and old, R&B, blues and Texas music. Live streaming at marfapublicradio.org
Email in requests at nighttrain(at)marfapublicradio.org or call them in at 432-729-4578. I also monitor Facebook on Facebook ID Gringo at Padre's- take requests there too...

I was thinking just a few weeks ago about how we,a s a nation, were freaked out by and vilified Moammar Qaddafi about 10-15 years ago but how, up until a few days ago, we rarely heard about him anymore.
Well, he is more insane than I ever thought he was- wow. Vows to go down in flames and take as many of his countrymen down with him as possible.
These last 2 weeks have been some of the most important in recent history- who knows what will come of it all- WOW

Focsuing on work this year- again- just volunteered to be on the board of a tri-county recycling non-profit corporation forming out of Alpine... More unpaid work. I was chosen because Padre's recycles more aggregate than any other business in Marfa- cardboard, aluminum and glass bottles- takes a lot of time and some resources- we are committed.

Tomorrow- working on cleaning out my Airstream- the one I used to live in- goin g to try to have it fixed up and moved out to Barry Tubb's property as my vacation "home" by this Friday!

DB

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cooking on the grill outside

At work today- all day and night- new 2011 Monday method---
Cooking riceyes and baked potatoes, plus I made more veggie lasagna- it takes forever- too much cheese grating and veggie cutting!

There's a way to make it faster, I know. I used the Mandoline slicer for veggies last time and it was a bit faster, but messier and not even that much more efficient.

Tonight we have an acoustic folk duo that plays music they say harkens back to the 20's and 30's- true retro-- They're called Hungrytown- www.hungrytown.net. 8PM show, Free
D

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day dinner

I spent this year's Valentine's Day cooking dinner for up to 60 people at Padre's. Actually, I also spent most of Sunday the 13th prepping and cooking for the meal- it was fun!

We actually served about 40 people, leaving me with about 25 ribeyes extra, about 16 of which I went ahead and cooked since I had the pecan in the smoker and the temp was still up around 400 at the end of the night. So what's cool about that is we have steak andwiches now until they're gone- I had one for dinner a bit earlier and it was delicious!

Here's what we served and the ridiculously excellent pricing we offered (I was glad to undercut the white tablecloth restaurants in town!)

Entree: your choice of either a grilled 16 oz bone-in ribeye steak or a healthy portion of three cheese vegetarian lasagna

Sides: Baked potato how you like it, loaded or not; small side romaine salad with choice of Bleu Cheese dressing or ranch; small side of rice smothered in mushroom/onion brown gravy

Wine: one glass of either ValVerde Chardonnay or Mouton Cadet Bordeaux

All this for $25 for a single or $40 per couple!
By the way, the vegetarian lasagna took me as long as anything to make, and it's excellent. there's still some left here on sale- it's really good. I cooked it Sunday in the "plate warmer" - my grnadmother's old 1954 Chambers copper-clad oven. the thermostat is wonky, so to use it it's best if it's monitored. Anyway, I didn't burn it. Yum!

Anyway, it was a great way to spend a Valentine's Day alone, and I wore an apron with a big red heart on it that says "Cultivate Love" and "David". Hilarious. I think it may have been given to me as a suggestion (just kidding- ha ha!)

Anyway, tonight is The Night Train Express radio show, my soul/R&B show on KRTS FM 93.5, Marfa Public Radio- live streaming at www.marfapublicradio.org
It's coming up on three years since I started this weekly Tuesday radio show (11PM to 2AM) and the station is about to bump power up from 50,000 watts to 100,000 watts. We'll be audible well past Crane and down into Sanderson, past Sierra Blanca and partly towards Ozona- also well into Mexico. Think "Heard It on the X" but NPR. Even funnier than me in a red heart apron.

Alpine tomorrow, possibly Ojinaga, MEX Thursday...
David

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Marfa City Council Live blog 2/8

City Council meeting 2/8- 6 PM
All members present minus Corrina Brijalba, who is undergoing cancer treatments.

City admin Jim Mustard and Mayor Dan Dunlap present

Pledge

Citizen Comments:None

Approve minutes of prior meetings: approved unannimous

Mayor's Report: Weather issues had a major impact. 10-15 water meters replaced. ERCOT has asked that people conserve energy tomorrow- high of 39.

City admin's report:
Broken pipe at USO building nehind wall. Already repaired. Building renovation of phase 1 complete next week. 1st tenant- Queens of Hearts Coronation Feb 19. Tables and chairs from MAC will be relocated to USO building during renovation of the MAC building. USDA have apparently approved. Master Builders of Midland should begin construction shortly. Construction plan dn timeline will be formulated.
Library has applied for a $12,000 grant to repair the roof of the Gervaisi building.

County has 3 city related items on their agenda tonight- Sheriff's inter-local agreement; parking spaces at library; possibly changing time of their meeting so as not to be at the same time as ours.

OLD BUSINESS:
SWTMGC- (gas company)
City of Alpine has voted to dissolve the corporation.
Mustard: Consider that the board of directors of SWTMG may dissolve corp- not us. We can request that this be done, along with itemization of assets, etc. Citizens have relayed to Mustard that we should keep the Gas Corp publically owned. Mustard has requested a proposal from a group to analyze infrastructure, risks, scope of operations. etc. Coler and Colantonio- engineering assessment for SWTMGC. $13,500 would be the cost.
SWTMGC never responded to Mustard's letter from July about the breach of inter-local agreement (on behalf of City of Marfa). Gas Board did vote and acknowledge they were in breach of agreement. Did provide an audit for the FY ending Sept 2009. No further audits. Mustard believes that Marfa should receive credit or compensation for all the major infrastructure improvements in Alpine this past year with the rebuilding of Holland Ave/HWY 90 in Alpine and the replacement of the gas infrastructure.
Fanninf believes tha Alpine's motion may seal the dissolution of the gas corp. Now we have to decide what to do with our assets. Safety issues, responsibilities, aging infrastructure, - do we take it on? If selling to WTG, we need to not be too quick to sell.
Mustard: 2 elements to running a Gas Corp- 1) physical plant staffing- may have that covered with current local staffers. 2) Dealing with TXRRC regulations- lots of work, will need professional help. Could be a steep learning curve. Will have to have outside help.
Teresa Todd: Lots of due diligence required when wrapping up non-profits. Must have an up to date, audit, for one. Pay off all debts, claimants, collect all A/R's, etc. a shell corporation would have to exist for minimum of 3 years.

Dunlap: SWTMGC has selected an auditor for 2010's books.

Beebe voices my opinion that taking this into the city's fold only achieves getting Alpine out of the deal- not lower prices, not different service. I wish the current corp agreement could be re-structured to function properly.

Rudy Garcia: Alpine is looking at taking their gas in-house as a profit line item. Also says Marfa needs to decide whether cheap gas is the motivator or not. Also clarifies that SWTMGC is a dead deal since Alpine's interests are not our own. Recommends to dissolve corporation no matter what.
Randy Guzman: Makes an offer that Marfa's employees are qualified and eady to work.
Beebe makes motion to ask the SWTMGC gas board to pursue dissolution of the company, provide a list of assets, an independent appraisal of inventory, list of liabilities, and an up to date audit. Beebe & Fannin for, Baeza and Simpson against. Dunlap breaks tie with a yea. Measure passes.
2nd item- Beebe makes motion to hire Coler and Colantonio for no more than $13,500 to conduct an enginnering assessment. Fannin seconds. Beebe Fannin and Simpson vote yea, Baeza opposed. Passes.

NEW BUSINESS:

Permit for 7/15 Coffield Park Pulmonary Fibrosis Fundraiser. Ban on alcohol waived. Unanimous approval

Bird Parrot light bars: don't work. He renovated one and has made it available to the city. "Trash them at Bird's wrecker service" Unanimous.

Renewal of deposit agreement with MNB. Simpson makes motion. Fannin seconds. Unanimous.

Review of minor curfew Ordinance 10-05. Requirerd by ordinance to look at it every 6 months. Sheriff in favor. Unanimous.

2009-2010 city audit. Auditors here to present. SWTMGC audit not available so it reflects on us. "Except for" clause in analysis of city's finances. Also, library must be added into city's budget and statements (already happening). Audit accepted unanimously.

Presidio County Law Enforcement Contract- contradct has been amended to include enforcement of no drinking in city parks, minors ordinance, use of the old Police Dept space, noise ordinance, ban on cell phone usage in school zones. Sheriff will pay electric bill for polcie dept space and pay a share of gas and water to city. City is obligated to form a joint committee to oversee the actions of the Sheriff Dept. Dollar amount has gone up slightly to reflect our budget, which added a few bucks this year. Went from $87,570.42 to $91,178.16. We also allow them to use our city law enforcement (brand new) truck. Baeza askes for a written document reflecting all tickets and citations issued in 2010. County allowed Dominguez to hire more officers- 2 deputies dedictaed to Marfa as of this FY. Approved unanimously

Nutrition Center Van- Van is dead- all kinds of problems. Rogers Ford determined the part to fix the Propane fuel system is no longer available and the system is flawed as it is. Big Bend Community Action may have a used "end of usable life" van for us for cheap. Without a van at all we can apply for a new TXDOT van grant. Mustard wants approval to sell old van and apply for agrant for a new van. Unanimously approved.

2008 Tax Note funds. Funds must be expended before May 1 2011.
$28,628.00 in tax note account. Of course, city departments have a long wish list. Provided a list of expeditures to date.
Pipe laser level for rebuilding sewers- $2900
1/2 ton or 3/4 ton truck for PW
New (used) RT36 ditch witch- we have no fuctioning trench channeler. used- $15,000 Silva would rather have the Ditch Witch than a new truck.
Leaking valves and valves that won't shut off- have plenty in the water system. Silva has a supply list. ($9000)
CT adapters for sewage- ($900)
Simpson makes motion- all but trucks- unanimous


Ordinance 11-01- Election for May 14, 2011 jointly held with MISD for mayor and two councilpersons (Simpson and Fannin up for re-election)
Early voting May 2-May 10 at city hall. Election Sat May 14th. Unanimous

JAN revenue/expenditure report. Accounts payable report.
Simpson makes motion to accept both. Unanimous.

Tabling request by Project Graduation to use a city building on graduation night (no rep available).

Following meeting Mustard distributed a job description for the TOURISM DIRECTOR for the new Marfa city Convention and Visitors bureau. Drop by City Hall for more information.


Meeting adjourned.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Monday kitchen duty...

I am boycotting Chick-Fil-A too, but mainly because their food is crap. Their beingf anti-gay is pointless and foolish, but I know plenty of gay cowboys who drink Coors Light, and the Coors family is about as bad as it gets...

Today's specials: BBQ pork and brisket sandwich served with beans, pickles and onions. Really good- almost sold it all. Also, grilled Poblano burger- Padre burger with mayo, lettuce, onion, grated white cheddar cheese and grilled poblano. Mmm Mmm good. Salads too, today- a rare item at Padre's- got Food Shark's leftovers from them since they're out of town for a month.

Tigie Lancaster's order- 2 minuetes ago- "Patty Melt- medium rare, dammit! Cut into quarters" Can't make this place up...

Friday, February 04, 2011

Back on the horse, this time for real

OK, I'm back onto this blog- hopefully I'll be able to live blog the city council meetings if I can pick up a signal around city hall (fingers crossed Pizza Foundation's signal reaches my seat at the table).
Anyway, after a fair amount of time to process an extremely disappointing and, moreover, altogether LAME breakup of the relationship I was in with my former girlfriend, it's time to put the pen back to paper and write about things that matter. One thought about long-term relationships gone bad- love makes people stupid- this time it was me. I would be angry about some things, but the bottom line is I know that the girl has created a place for herself where she just wouldn't know any better. So I resolve not to be angry, and to forgive. No forgetting, of course, otherwise I might repeat my mistakes! That hurts, but I will live. And live I will.

It's been below freezing here in Marfa for well over 60 hours until the last 2 hours. Padre's has been closed since Monday at midnight and it's now Friday at 4. I've been trying to unfreeze the pipes here today and it's finally about 35 outside. Water still freezes in the wind out of the direct sunlight, so it may be a lost cause. We'll open tomorrow even if I have to bring in gallon jugs of fresh water from Alpine and 5 gallon buckets for toilet flushing from the one working spigot outside. The cool thing is we have not only a Scrabble tournament at 2 PM here at Padre's, but also a rock band from Australia called bug Girl at night. Super Bowl on Sunday- I was to be tending bar, but gave it up so another employee since I thought I would be in Houston. The weather and the fact I have been slightly sick (after being really sick last week) kept me from traveling back home for my Dad's 70th b-day, which was yesterday.

Otherwise, this Tuesday we have Grupo Fantasma here at Padre's- hopefully will be well-attended, as those guys play to big houses elsewhere. This is Marfa in feb, though, so it's a crapshoot...
Tuesday night we have council and on the agenda is a council vote to potentially disband the inter-local agreeement between Alpine and Marfa, who jointly own the public utility that is Southwest Texas Municipal Gas Corp. Too many problems and issues to go into here in one writing with that company and the nature of its ownership and operations, but I would venture to guess that some actgion will be taken, as Alpine has already resolved to dissolve.

Lastly, business here has been slow enough this year that I am morphing back into club manager/cook/bartender from last year's stint as merely manager. I definitely won't be traveling as much this year and, thus far, I have found renewed energy to kick things up a notch here myself, as I realized, once again, that I am pretty much the only person capable of making things overall better at this business. That's always true of the owner, unless you have a really, really unique manager (like Keith Coit at Satellite Lounge- who taught me how to do the same). My old boss Butch Gregory always said never to build a business around one person's identity, but I look at the independent club business (and restaurant business as well) and all the great ones center around the person truly in charge. Continental Club= Steve Wertheimer; Antone's= Clifford and Susan Antone; Black Cat Lounge= Paul Sessums; Local Charm= Rory Miggins; Continental Club Houston= Pete Gordon; Stubb's= Charles Attal; Mucky Duck= Rusty and Theresa; Ninfa's on Navigation= the Laurenzo family; too many others to list...
That's this year's game plan- focus on what I have and how to make it better, more of what it is and less of what it isn't.
That and I'm focusing as well on The City of Marfa and Presidio County. Life can be better here for all; I'm going to do my best to try to make that happen.

Happy New Year, folks!
David