If you have a sign and wish for me to pick it up, please let me know either by sending an email to IndianSpringsGuy@sbcglobal.net or calling 281-292-2925.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Special Tribute to special people

I would like to thank my core campaign team for their efforts in this past election. I am proud to have had an excellent team at my side. I hope they are around to help if I run again in the future. I had full confidence in their sincerity as demonstrated by their participation and support. I want to especially thank Lorna Acuña for her unswerving and exceptional dedication to seek what is right and good for this community. She fought to the end with her winning spirit. Hats off to great people like her who understand the issues and want The Woodlands to be an excellent place to live. Our core team as well as our core supporters knew we were the underdogs and needed support from the masses, but the masses did not show up. All of us tried to get them to the polls. Despite the overwhelming odds, my team managed to run a quality, positive and focused campaign on a relatively low budget. I believe we had the best quality and innovative ideas deployed of all campaigns in this election.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Special thanks to my supporters

Over the last twelve years, I have gained many friends through volunteering, networking and just pure friendship. With your support, I managed to garner only 10% of the vote, but that did not truly reflect what I was hearing from you throughout the campaign. The people wanted change in the neighborhoods that I canvassed. Those who voted were primarily voting on loyalty, not issue. My campaign was for the ordinary citizen, like myself, who worries about high taxes, who struggles with budgets, who simply wants someone to represent them in government and make life better for them, while they live their lives  without hassle. I could have done that. I know the system and know the people running it.

Our community remains at risk, so I will not lay down my arms. The risk is from those who continue to prioritize their own agendas over those of the public.

My apology to those who voted for and were hoping for change. I will try to make impact wherever I have the opportunity.  We know that George Mitchell does not live here, so I would never call him for an endorsement. He does not pay your taxes,  put up with loud traffic or worry about the crime happening around him. I understand the political machine and will work into it more as time goes on. You were not consulted in the past on many decisions made on your behalf. That is why I need to be there.

Many thanks to those who listened, even if you did not make it to the polls.

Please understand that likely I cannot help you in my current position. I had to be voted into office to have direct influence and leverage your will. However, I am here and available and will continue to do what I can to help you. You are The Woodlands, not the concrete and steel. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The $1.5 million dollar question

Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end), the name of the mounted courtesy company that you know by the red uniformed guards on horses in Town Center. Each hour for one mounted horse costs the tax payers $39.10. When you go pet a horse and talk to a trooper, you can now appreciate its cost. When you pay your taxes, you can say, thank you Township Board of Directors for the opportunity to pet a horse. One day, I went to Walmart and thought, wow! Walmart is upgrading their services to mounted police. Not so! Not police even. The Township is paying for it - part of Zone 9. In certain areas, like Green Park or along the waterway, this is a nice amenity for families, visiting or residents,  but we need to ask ourselves, how much money do these mounted help service people draw?  How useful are they? Your will get rhetoric. Yes, they count the number of times they talk to people. That is because they are there.

I believe in spending money judiciously. That money could buy a number of policemen patrolling our streets. It might be used to replace a few trees that were torn down during the development of our new communities. It could also be returned to the taxpayers. Normally commercial interests would pay for such patrol amenities, not residents. Commercial interests deal with security. Taxpayers are not responsible for mall or large commercial enterprise security. This seems way over done to me, doesn't it to you also? I would be cutting back on this service and using it only for a novelty in select locations for tourism. For a start, how about a $200,000 budget instead of a $1.5 million one? 

We have a three-year agreement with Alpha and Omega. Our government chose them as a supplier using a point system to evaluate their services and company. The high bidder won out; there was about a $150,000 difference between the bids. Provisions in the three-year contract allow it to be canceled or renegotiated.  A board member stated once, "You sir would just let contracts to the low bidder." I certainly would if I thought the company could do the job to my satisfaction. It does not have to be the best in class. I would be spending but saving taxpayer money. In decades of working for a corporation, I sometimes chose the low bid and sometimes a higher one. A methodology could determine the winner, but often I found the systematic selection criteria fairly trite and unreliable, but went along with them anyway.
Is the1.5 million dollar question part of what Dr Robb was referring to when he said in his letter to the editor on April 14th, 2010? -  
"Some of the results I’m most proud of include:
6. Bringing Market Street and Waterway Square from an idea to reality"

The development company brought the idea to reality, but the amenities came from TCID, now The Woodlands Township.  Not all board members voted YES for this contract, but Dr Robb did by being absent! This was one of the motions he relegated to the others in his 37% absenteeism. I would have voted NO to this amount and to the extent of service proposed. Does he know that he is spending your money? Where is the return on the investment? I grant you, it is a novelty for visitors, providing a better experience and some million dollar photo opportunities.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I am most proud of lowering taxes to 32.8 cents

The incumbent in position 4 is Ed Robb. Are you as dumbfounded as I am on his claims to have lowered taxes to 32.8 cents per $100?   There is a huge problem in this claim, as I see it. It cannot be related to the return on sales taxes, but must be related to his specific accomplishments. Let's see if we can find them.

On Aug 29th, 2007, in a presentation on the feasibility of annexing The Woodlands into the TCID tax district, a forecast of 29.7 cents was presented to the residents of The Woodlands. This became the expectation behind the ad valorem proposition for the expanded tax district, to be called The Woodlands Township. Voters went to the polls with that tax rate expectation. Some say there was an assumption that the reserves collected by WCA would be transferred to the Township and instead, the WCA gave it back to the residents before formation of the Township and thus the higher tax rate. Even if this is the truth, it still makes no difference to the accomplishment claim of Dr Robb. He should be held accountable for the mistake, since he was on the board of TCID and adopted this rate based on sound analysis. Generally the incumbents have not yet all faced up to the fact that they are held accountable for mistakes as well as bad decisions. 

Now let's take a look at how our current tax rate came to be. Budget workshops of the directors had been conducted to determine the proposed budget for consideration before the final budget meeting. Going into the last budget meeting, there were several pending issues including financial reserves and what could be removed from the budget.

The final budget meeting was conducted just last year as part of  the Township Board meeting of August 26th 2009 when our tax rate was also established.  To establish a tax rate,  the Township Directors first had to set the budget.  The proposed 2010 budget was presented and a motion to adopt it opened up discussion. An amendment was made to raise spending on outside (Shenandoah and Oak Ridge) police enforcement in The Woodlands by $92,000, but no vote was required. That became part of a previously approved amendment. Then a motion for funding the Indian Springs Fire Station was discussed and approved.  

An amendment motion was put on the floor to remove certain items from the budget to enable a lower tax rate. Dr Robb voted against that, choosing to join the same group he always seems to vote with, against a lowered budget. As a result, the budget was approved with the additional funding of the outside police contracts. That satisfied the requirements for funding the budget through taxation.

The stage was set for a motion and discussion on the tax rate. A motion for a 32-cent rate was put on the floor for discussion.  Dr Robb voted against this motion  that failed. Next, a motion for 32.8 cents was put on the floor. Director Sutton (Development Co) amended the motion to be 33.8 cents, because the Tax Assessor recommended 33.5 cents. Dr Robb voted for this higher tax rate. That also failed. Then Directors Richmond and Tough were the swing votes, not Dr Robb, to establish the lower tax rate of 32.8 cents. If other budget items would have been cut, the tax rate probably would have been even lower.  

Now I compare this to the article in The Villager where Dr Robb says -

" During my service on The Woodlands Township Board, I’ve worked for real results for residents. Some of the results I’m most proud of include:
1. ...
2. ...
3. ... 
4. Lowering property taxes to 32.8 cents per $100 valuation"

If he was responsible for lowering taxes, why did others have to vote against him to lower the tax rate?

Now I suppose you know where I stand on excessive budgeting, spending and taxing! In a corporate environment, we would have assumed there was fluff in the budget. Departments tend to add fluff and hide it in specific projects. When you come from a background that does not emphasize fiscal responsibility to stockholders, then there is excess budgeting and waste. From what is visible to us, the stockholders, we have budget excess, and therefore we have higher taxes than required, but Dr Robb is not the person pushing those buttons, at least not from anything visible. If invisible ... well, we would have an even bigger problem.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Crime in The Woodlands

My position has always been to determine spending based on metrics. For crime, I feel no different. This subject is not simple and takes considerable analysis and thought to optimize the use of  resources and manage our taxes realistically.  My position is to staff according to our needs based on the right metrics and to communicate crime and safety issues accordingly. Our police force will soon be staffed according to the plan for 2010. We likely will need to add additional staff next year. Staffing and communication are independent but of course related. One is real crime; the other is mostly psychology. For staffing, we need to determine what we want to be and how much we want to pay for it. I advocate several metrics to govern our budget and practices.

For communication, we need to follow best practices. Our current notification system is good, but we can also automate availability of information through a GIS system. Every city I know of uses a GIS system for residents to understand where and what crimes are being committed in their area. I have been working on this issue for two years. We can also deploy a GIS system. We have the technology, but we have never taken the steps to deploy it as public information.

With permission from the data source, below you will find comparisons which indicate that we are not the best in mitigating crime in our neighborhoods, but not near what is considered a problem. These numbers are risk factors, based on crime incidents, criminal opportunities, and several other criteria. Everything is relative. A 100 is the national average. 100 is considered quite low. As you can see, our crime risk is generally half of the national average and less than 1/4 that of Houston. Contrast that to Sugarland which is considered a competitor by the developer here. People moving to the Houston area often compare Sugarland and The Woodlands as potential locations to live.  Again, these numbers are
not incidents but risk, a way to compare the effect of crime on life in various areas.   

Houston vs The Woodlands

The Woodlands   Houston    United States
Total Crime Risk  46 219 100
Personal Crime Risk  46 216 100
Murder Risk  51 229 100
Rape Risk  70 127 100
Robbery Risk  22 327 100
Assault Risk  31 205 100
Property Crime Risk  41 204 100
Burglary Risk   21 186 100
Larceny Risk  69 152 100
Motor Vehicle Theft Risk  30 238 100 

The Woodlands vs Sugarland

The Woodlands   Sugarland  United States
Personal Crime Risk  46 22 100
Murder Risk  51 21 100
Rape Risk  70 33 100
Robbery Risk  22 16 100
Assault Risk  31 17 100
Property Crime Risk  41 33 100
Burglary Risk  21 42 100
Larceny Risk  69 39 100
Motor Vehicle Theft Risk  30 13 100
Total Crime Risk  46 29 100

Data courtesy of CLRSearch.com

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Early Voting - responsibility to the public

How important is it to understand the residents in the community for which you volunteer to serve? I have always advocated that real residents should occupy seats in our government. Can a real resident be a part of the governing body and make a difference? What do I mean by a "real" resident? I mean one who lives among his neighbors, talks with them regularly and reaches out into the community to listen. Over the past few days, most of the candidates or their volunteers have been at the community center trying to be the last voice heard before entering the voting booth. That effort is the name recognition game of politicians. When I go vote, I do my homework in advance and abhor being approached by people waving signs and approaching me. That is just me. You may like it, but I could tell when I was there, that most people do not. It is a circus.

I have been canvassing people at their homes, seeking to get them to the polls and exchanging ideas and thoughts. I will continue doing that until election day. Representation entails knowledge first and action second. One resident stated "I will vote for you just because no one else knocked on my door." I am not seeking such endorsements and that sounds rather trite, but the statement came from a person who just learned that there is an election, and there are real residents offering their skills and value system to the public.

Yes, we are not as slick in our approach to the voters. I do not represent the financial and Montgomery county elite, but I do certainly represent the normal resident. This is an unpaid position, but there are apparent trails of money and power involved behind this, when you look into it closely. If you voted in the last election, you likely know what I mean. I just seek responsible spending for the majority of residents. The campaign finances of the incumbent tells much of his story. Look even beyond that and more will be revealed. The middle class economics of The Woodlands is under stress. Don't you think those elected to the board should be sensitive to that?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Voting history on key issues

Courtesy of Adrian Heath.

Attendance Record
Attendance at Board Meetings
Attendance at April 19 League of Women’s Voters Forum  Attendance at April 16 Woodlands Chamber of Commerce and Hispanic Chamber Candidate Presentations

Voting Record
Did you support the request by Director Hausman to have two meetings per month of the Board, one in the morning and one in the evening so more residents could attend such meetings?
Did you support setting the new property tax rate at 32.8 cents?
Did you support the proposed 2010 budget amendment to reduce Township spending?
Did you support developing site plans for a new ice rink?
Did you support donating $250,000 to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in return for an option to use land for three months out of the year for the construction of an ice rink?
Did you support posting the voting record of the Township Board on the Township web site?
Did you support amending the 2010 Parks Budget to allocate surplus funds to Town Center projects rather than allowing such funds to be used to build up needed operating and capital reserves?
Did you vote in favor of the Water Taxis Bail-Out?
Did you support deferring the Water Taxi decision until after the Town Hall Meeting in order to get input from residents?
Did you support extending the law enforcement agreements with the City of Shenandoah, the City of Oak Ridge North and the Alpha and Omega Mounted Patrol in lieu of putting such money into additional Sherriff patrols?
Did you support selecting DSC members through an appointed Committee composed of elected WCA Board members instead of having the Committee on Governance and Nominations bring forth recommendations?
In light of new duties being transferred to the DSC, have you supported changing the composition of the DSC to include TWA property owners as well as WCA property owners?

I'd like to add that the attendance numbers are incorrect on this chart. I recalculated the number for Ed Robb and the result was 37% absenteeism.

Covenant Management Staff have a tough job

I have a great deal of appreciation for the people who manage the covenants in our government. They have to do their daily chores, trying to get the wash out as people complain and others submit change proposals. They move many changes through the Fast Track process, because the requested changes conform to the standards. They issue routine letters to advise residents when they are observed breaking the covenants. One letter often wakes up a resident to take action. We rely on our covenant staff to do that. Elected members of the Resident Design Review Committees would be overwhelmed without the professional help of these folks. Like they say, "That is my job."

Yet sometimes very significant issues arise between neighbors, often due to neglect of the inspection process. or misinterpretation of the covenants. I recently experienced one missed inspection in Grogans Mill. Two residents in one Grogans Mill neighborhood pointed out a problem with a neighbor using his home as a business. The yard is very unsightly and definitely violates the covenants. On my request, the issue is now being formally addressed. The homeowners in that neighborhood will be assisted in mitigating the problem. I wonder how this came about. Based on this case and many other covenant issues in the neighborhoods, it is apparent that we have some gaps in process and even in covenant content.

For that reason, we will have some covenant suggestions this year for the DSC. We must be fair, but we must stay current in technology and make the community a better place to live. It is time to go GREEN and support GREEN in our covenants. For example, we do not allow wind or sun power generators. Technology is emerging now that will bring the capability of solar power to many more residents; new innovations bring the price way down! Should we be preventing the deployment of solar panels? I doubt it. We must change with the times.  On the other side of the coin, we do not manage TV dishes. We have alternative sources of cable in our neighborhoods. Should we have dishes in the front of homes, visible from the street? Then again, we have people putting rocks in the grass to prevent cars from going into their yards and (teenagers) damaging their turf.  All of those cases need to use landscaping methods as stated in the covenants. The result of using rocks in the grass usually looks bad, although in one or two cases, placement and orientation of the rocks tend to make the viewing much better than those rocks placed near the road accompanied by grass growing around it. Sometimes I would swear we live in Pasadena rather than The Woodlands, when these situations are allowed to go uncontested. Another area of need is to strongly encourage residents to remove the weeds in landscaped areas; some leave the weeds for extended periods of time. Landscape maintenance should be required, at least quarterly. The trellis rule also needs to be reviewed for patio homes. These are REAL concerns of residents and need attention. Since the DSC is appointed and not elected, there is little reason and accountability to seek out these issues themselves.We have to think about that.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Township Advisory Meetings

I established a position a few weeks ago that the Policing Advisory Committee should be open. Folks who do volunteer work for the Township and villages, generally do not like Texas open meetings, because nothing off the agenda can take place at the meeting. The idea here is to open the meetings to the residents and allow a wider level of participation. The public needs to be able to listen, speak and be heard. They need to know. It is important for many reasons. I am hearing other candidates begin to speak out also now. An open government is essential for public confidence and ultimately budget control. The Open Meetings Act is designed to give the public more control over the outcome.  This particular subject is even more important than the other advisory committees in that respect. 

Although the current process was recommended by the Village Liaison Committee and endorsed by the Township Board, I believe the process falls way short on what is actually needed. Establishing a village representative to ensure all villages are represented and there is consistent attendance is important, but those representatives will not represent the public in general. Those elected to the villages are not diverse enough for this subject. They are typically entrenched in their own perspectives. Those people normally represent informed residents and those who have skills and confidence enough to run for a village office.

Those residents behind closed doors who are afraid to step out will step out to attend police advisory meetings! That is evident from the first Watch meeting.

Representation is not through villages. It is by personal involvement. Conduct these meetings openly with published agendas and give people an opportunity to speak. There is no need in my mind to confine the agenda, but perhaps it would better serve the public anyway. Make the minutes available to the public. This is no longer an association. It is a government that needs to be transparent in every way possible. This is possible!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Quotable Quotes on the Campaign Trail

“I am so glad I talked to you! I as a UMC member would have probably voted for Ed Robb.”  Flea market
“I am going to vote for you just because you (personally) came and asked me to. “  Indian Springs
“I know your wife. She is very convincing."  Sterling Ridge
“My primary issue is our high tax. I need anything lower that you can get me.“  Indian Springs
 “Try to fix the problem with outsiders coming into The Woodlands. This crime issue started with 2978 and Gosling opening up to the outside.”… Indian Springs
“Let us know when something is occurring. Too much crime information is kept from us.“  Panther Creek
“Ants are eating up the kids on the Hike and Bike trails. Help our children be safe. Some are allergic to the bites.”  Panther Creek
“There was way too much confusion in the transition to the tax. Taxes are getting too high and I got a sudden bill from my bank for escrow that I did not expect. Please do a better job of informing the public.  Panther Creek
“The Middle Class is now on fixed income. When will the government get on a fixed income?” Alden Bridge
“Don’t contractors have supervisors? They came and trimmed the trees on a project in the green areas and left their mess to stop water drainage and now we have a standing water problem.” Grogan’s Mill
“When are you going to slow the traffic down? I have a difficult time using Woodlands Parkway. People try run me over going way over the speed limit” Grogan’s Mill

"Are you a communist?"  Grogan's Mill

Let's get these hypocrites out of our government." Grogan's Mill

Famous last words ... "He doesn't bite"  Grogan's Mill (and others)

"He (Robb) has to go" Grogan's Mill
“The Township cited me for breaking the covenants with my beautiful blooming vines on a trellis on my front patio when my neighbor house sits there with two satellite dishes, one in the front of the house and one in the back. If I sit outside in the morning I have to look at one and in the evening in the back I have to look at the other. Does this sound fair? Just look!”  Cochran’s Crossing
“Hey, don’t expect me to vote against my own church pastor.” Creekside Park
“No puedo votar” Creekside Park
“My kids have to go to school in Alden Bridge, a far ride from here. We have plenty of children to have a school over here”  College Park

You are wasting your time. I will vote for Ed Robb because he is my pastor." Sterling Ridge
"I will consider you even though Dr Robb is my pastor." Sterling Ridge
“Look at the weeds in my neighbor’s flower beds. That is the way it always looks, yet to change something on my home, I have to get permission. This does not make any sense.”  College Park
“You are trespassing. I am going to call the cops.”  … College Park
“We are retired and on fixed income. Suddenly we get a tax increase of more than $1000. No one around here uses the amenities of The Woodlands, so why should we be taxed?”  Windsor Hills

"We are on fixed income and suddenly we were annexed by The Woodlands. Our taxes rose from $300 per year to $1500." Grogan's Mill
“This is so cool that you came by to talk to me.” Alden Bridge
“Hey, say no more. You definitely have MY vote.” Alden Bridge
“Yes, I am moving but The Woodlands is a great place to live. I am not moving because I don’t like it here! I do like it.“  Alden Bridge
“Big government is a big problem. Glad to see you doing this. Keep pounding the trail.” Alden Bridge

"More wildflowers! "  ... non-resident, Health and Business Showcase

"I fear that some day, The Woodlands will be considered a high tax community, where no one will want to live, and valuations will decrease."   Resident, Health and Business Showcase

"Do you know what it means to be born again?" Grogan's Mill

"There's a communist there, an Indian over there, a fagot over there. Be careful!" Grogan's Mill

"Deborah Sergeant was responsible for a restraining order served against us on Christmas Eve, and it was based on the lie of a lawyer." Panther Creek
"Ed Robb once walked into a WCA meeting, interrupting it and demanded to be heard. He wanted to buy a Woodlands Park to expand his church. He was denied because it was public property. He had to be thrown out of the meeting for disorderly conduct."  Panther Creek

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Here it is - Easter already!

We attended the service at the Pavilion this morning. The experience moved me to write an article in the commentary: "Easter at the Pavilion".

Yesterday, I also added an article in the commentary on the election. I invite you to read that as well. I was inspired by residents of Alden Bridge to write this article titled "Woodlands Township Election 2010 - select four candidates to govern our township".

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Meaning of Campaign Integrity

We have such a variety of interpretations of integrity, don't we? However, I believe the essence of one's real integrity is more than keeping their word, it's one step further. It's putting words into action and practicing what you preach. With that goes integrity of purpose, obeying the law, respecting others and a whole host of characteristics that make up genuine integrity

In a campaign, and especially this one, all candidates including myself agreed to run positive campaigns and to not personally attack other candidates. One has to consider, however, personal motivations and why each of us is running for office. For me, that motivation is that I am only concerned about what is best for The Woodlands, positive progress for The Woodlands, and which candidates are really able to give themselves wholly to this endeavor.  I am founded in the Christian principals of honesty and trust.  I support others who adhere to these critical traits, and those who put their best foot forward in everything they do, including this race.  

I am about real integrity, real representation, and real commitment. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In more debt but at a low cost

The Woodlands Township Board approved a new bond issuance yesterday at a rate of 3.82%. If there ever was a good time to issue bonds, it was now. I am told bonds could continue downward, but nobody seems to have high confidence that we have not bottomed out. Considering risk factors, I believe this is the right time to execute such an issuance. We came close to a AA+ rating which would have given us an even lower rate. The MUD and school debt held us back. Our MUD debts will remain for a while before disappearing. Each MUD district's debt declines every year. Our staff and consultant worked hard to get the rate we got. Not a terrific investment for buyers, but not too shabby, considering the market. I support this method of financing capital assets for 20 years, most of which will have a useful life of 30+ years. Municipal bonds are great tools to spread the tax burden over 20 years to a population that tends to be mobile, moving every 3-6 years.  There could be 3-4 owners of any one home over 20 years.
Commentary -  Bond 2010 Announced
Commentary - Bond 2010 Details

Monday, March 22, 2010

A shared experience from a time investment in our community

A couple of weeks ago, we had an incident in our neighborhood. It confirmed my intuition on how we as citizens should be the first responders to many incidents that happen around us. When I found out about the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program last year, I immediately signed up for the first course. I felt this national program had considerable merit, and I should become part of it. CERT came about as a result of the lack of trained first responders in the community when Hurricane Ike struck our town. This program is not specific to hurricanes. It is for general emergencies. I suggest readers look it up. I will not get into any details here. I am a member of The Woodlands CERT Council, a leadership group consisting of one CERT graduate from each village. This council was elected from within the CERT graduates for one year terms. That team now promotes new classes and organizes promotions of the program. 

This story is about having the right skills, tools and about the confidence needed to use those tools effectively in an emergency situation. Our neighborhood emergency was potentially a devastating one. I went outside on a Saturday afternoon and smelled smoke. That is normal when it is cold, especially on a weekend. However, something about the smell bothered me. Then I went into the house and to the back yard and observed a fire behind our home. I immediately called 911. The grass fire had already been reported. I went to assess the situation so I would know what action to take. The fire was subsiding on its own, but I noticed a grass fire about 60 yards away out of control, in the trees and could tell that it was probably going to threaten a neighbor's home. I ran there to find a six-foot or higher flame in two locations,  a back yard fence on fire, several tree stumps on fire and a grass fire moving rapidly in other locations among the trees, pushed by the wind.  My training in CERT taught me to be the first responder. First, were there any people or animals in the home? A neighbor and I assessed that there was no one at home and no pets on the premises. Next we had to put the fire out. I went into the backyard and found a garden hose, turned it on and managed to put out all flames except at one location where the hose would not reach. By now several neighbors had come to help, so I asked one neighbor to get a longer hose, which he did. I connected it and started dowsing the remainder of the fire with water. By the time the fire department arrived, there were only a few small  flames still burning. Then my job was finished, so I thought. I remained on the site and provided them with a rake. They made sure the fire would not return to threaten the home again later in the day. I was instructed to make sure the other fires were under control. So I went and watered them down, making sure no embers remained to rekindle a fire.

First responders can and will apply their training to emergency situations. This may have been rather simple, but many people do not feel comfortable entering a neighbors yard and will not respond themselves, just wait for the professionals. When you can enter an emergency situation with confidence because of your hands-on training, you get the job done without hesitation. You even direct the response. Neighbors worked as a team, and we got the job done. People tell me that I make real commitments. That is true. I like to think my involvement is real

I definitely felt good about my ability to help, but that is not why I tell this story. I tell it because I want others to take the training and learn to be ready to respond and protect their family and neighbor's possessions in such unexpected situations. This is the reality of life. We cannot depend on others to take action before we do. We cannot throw money at the solutions and expect everything to be better. For us in this neighborhood, a fire response averages 8 minutes. In 8 minutes, a home can be severely damaged by fire and lives lost. That is why I insisted that we build the new fire station here in Indian Springs as soon as possible, not wait until after the Creekside Village fire station was built.  Fortunately in this event, the wind was not strong, the ground was wet, the back yard was clean and did not have much fire kindling, and there was a first responder in the vicinity. It could have been the fall, with dead trees, leaves everywhere, dry and windy. I have to say also that the Parks Department arrived before the fire department and managed to put out out the embers of two other fires behind our homes. I am grateful for the ranger being there so quickly. I never had a chance to thank him, as he left while I was working on the larger fire. He did not go unnoticed.  

Watch what people say about spending priorities. Some say that the fire department costs are excessive and that policing requires a great more funding. I say that our first priority is the fire department and second is our police department. Our fire department operations may not be cost optimized yet, that is almost always the case in growth, but we do have the best. We must have our new stations built now. I will soon share my thoughts on what needs to be done for police protection and may bring forward some ideas for the fire department as well. 

Don't you want a first responder on your street?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Welcome to Randy Scott's REAL Campaign

Many know me as Indian Springs Guy. My REAL name is Randy Scott. I am running for Director Position 4, The Woodlands Township. The person elected to that position will be one of seven residents governing The Woodlands for the next two years.  

My campaign is real. It is simply a grass roots campaign, not politically motivated but issue motivated. What matters the most is how you vote in the booth. We start with residents, not getting endorsements from politicians or famous people, not churches or influential institutions. I am here because I am Randy, a very normal but very informed resident of The Woodlands who really cares about my neighbors and community.

I came here 12 years ago because I simply fell in love with The Woodlands. It took me an entire year to find my home. I was very particular! I still love The Woodlands and want to stay here for all the same reasons that I elected to live here. So I give you a chance to elect a real resident to work for you.

Ah ha! "Who is a real resident?" you ask. It is someone concerned about the same issues as his neighbors, someone in the "norm" of local living standards, and someone who experiences the hustle and bustle of everyday life here. So how come I proclaim to be the norm? I worked in downtown Houston for years, commuting as many do. So I am very familiar with commuting issues. I flew internationally in the oil business for years, so I am aware of the issues people have in mobility and transportation. I live next to a park, so I am very familiar with safety issues in the woods and outside visitors. The park also connects me to the Recreation and Parks Department and the issues they deal with every day. I live next to The Woodlands Parkway and another major thoroughfare, so I am very familiar with noise, lights and the other issues around increased traffic. I have been representing other residents in my area, facing major issues with the county, Development Company, association and now township. I run, walk and bike on the Hike and Bike paths. My lifestyle is to use the amenities of The Woodlands. I spend most of my time right here. I am retired and get to appreciate the community as never before.

By being here day and night, I have become increasingly aware of local issues. There are many. I hope you read some of the articles in the Commentary. Over the past three years, I have written quite a few articles on specific topics I have chosen to dive into. I have talked face-to-face with management of the Development Company, Mayor of Tomball, Mayor of Conroe, everyone on the Township Board who bothered to understand a resident's point of view, the County Judge, our Texas Senator, our Texas Representative, and the list goes on. I have not asked anyone for their endorsement, because you are not voting for them. Who they vote for in the booth is their business. I am asking for your vote and asking them for their vote. Endorsements are often politically motivated. Local politicians and high profile personalities are usually not the guys next door, although I have a high respect for many of them.

My credentials include education and activities, but that will be presented elsewhere. I expect you will want to know where I stand on certain issues. I can assure you that I not only have a position on many of them, I seek dialogue with residents on how they stand as well. I have already picked up useful ideas from some individuals. I will publish where I stand on many issues but don't want to leave the impression that I know everything, because I certainly do not! That is why I have an open door policy. I love to talk and you will find me here and there talking to people. There are a jillion things to learn about in this world, and I have not even begun.

That is where diversity plays a strong role in my life. I would love to discuss with you why this is the case. I find some good traits in many of the candidates. I do not believe there is anyone with the credentials I have that can serve you as I can. I hope to give you my view of an ideal candidate. I would certainly like to hear your comments on it.

The strength of diversity is the resulting broadness of thought from embracing it. That brings tolerance and acceptance of others' ideas and customs, as well as helping to identify what needs to be communicated in order to include others in discussions and decisions. There are not enough hours to tell you all about all of the reasons that make people call me REAL. REAL RANDY is a phrase coined by a very good friend of mine, knowing where I come from on many subjects and being able to understand my heart. I am making a REAL commitment and willing to provide REAL representation.  I am the REAL choice for The Woodlands Township Board.

So I am offering you my services for two years and maybe more. This is strictly a volunteer job. Many hours will be expended working on projects and issues on your behalf. There will only be seven directors on The Woodlands Township Board, charged to manage a $78 million dollar budget. These seven directors will  have the services of the Township Manager to manage day-by-day activities of the Township. The organization of the board can be expected to change with the reduction to seven members. Committees need to be reviewed for efficient handling of matters.

I would personally like to work on the "final government". I want all residents and businesses to be represented as the next and final step as our governance model unfolds.

What is needed from you? Your support and vote for sure! Yet more than that. If you are a citizen and not registered in the county you live in, I want you to go to the county right now and register! Make a difference! You must register before April 8th These are the ways you can do it in Montgomery County:
  1. email: Request forms 
  2. Call: 936-539-7843
  3. Drive to:  
    9159 FM 1484
    Conroe, Texas 77303
  4. Visit Montgomery County Website