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Old 02-04-2011, 11:01 PM
Bo Bo won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Tenth Edition (Apr-May 2014). 

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Location: Ohio
16,813 posts, read 33,118,467 times
Reputation: 13587

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ged_782 View Post
Over the years, the population, as well as the geographic size of the City of San Antonio grew, with the bulk of that growth occurring in Districts 8, 9, & 10. In situations where resources were evenly distributed to each district, those three districts, in particular, were receiving less on a per-capita basis than other districts. So, the boundaries of the ten council districts were re-drawn several years ago, to account for annexation & population shifts that had taken place.
So 8, 9 and 10 probably have 200,000+ people in them apiece. That's too many. IIRC, when I was a kid, Congressional districts weren't much bigger than that.
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:25 PM
Bo Bo won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Tenth Edition (Apr-May 2014). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Ohio
16,813 posts, read 33,118,467 times
Reputation: 13587
Elisa Chan's office sent out an email this evening. with the subject "The Real Story About Ridgestone."

Quote:
[LEFT][LEFT]Dear District 9 Residents & Friends,[/LEFT]
[/LEFT]
[LEFT][LEFT]I'm sending you this special e-mail because recently my integrity has been called into question and as your Councilmember, I believe you deserve a response from me.

[/LEFT]
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[LEFT][LEFT]I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 20 months serving as your representative at City Hall. However, I am really disappointed in the outcome of the Ridgestone drainage issue, where hard work and good intentions were translated into backroom dealing and payoffs. [/LEFT]
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As we know, a Planned Unit Development (PUD) is a community, often gated, that is private. They are allowed by state code to bypass the normal development standards, such as street width or drainage, and all areas are owned privately by the Homeowners Association (HOA). The development issues in a PUD are a city wide problem. My office has had countless requests from different PUD boards to fix problems in their communities. Many of my Council Colleagues deal with the same issues, and they are never easy.
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Ridgestone HOA Board members, including Mae Ashton, contacted me almost immediately after I took office in June 2009. The HOA was asking for help with a drainage project. They gave me a copy of a letter dated Feb. 2001 from a previous Councilman who stated the restrictive covenants of the HOA were silent on the drainage ownership and therefore he felt that the City was responsible for the drainage problem and tasked Public Works to fix the problem. The letter also mentioned concurrence by the then City Attorney that the City was responsible. The next Councilmember in June of 2001 got a cost estimate of $480,000 for a full rebuild. With the limited allocation of $200,000 a year from the Neighborhood Access and Mobility Fund (NAMP), braces were paid for and installed to try to alleviate the problem instead. The expense of public funds was deemed legal by the former City Attorney for this project.
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This is an issue that for a decade the Councilmembers from District 9, Public Works, and the City Attorney's office have been trying to resolve. Based on the actions of the previous four Councilmembers, three Public Works Directors, and two City Attorneys, I believe this drainage issue went above and beyond the normal circumstances concerning a PUD's drainage. I felt compelled to resolve the issue. Discussions have been ongoing for over a year in my office with over 20 meetings involving the HOA, the City Attorney's office, Public Works, and the City's Finance departments.
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The two hurdles to fix the problem were legal and funding. The legal issue is that two City Attorneys, one from 2001 and our current City Attorney, had different opinions about whether it was a public or a private project. The final decision from the current City Attorney was that based on previous actions, we could fix the problem if we used a third party contractor and the HOA would sign an agreement to remove the responsibility from the city in the future. The previous documents and legal opinions created a basis whereby the HOA could have sued the City into doing the project since previous City officials had stated it was a public project. I decided that I would work with the HOA while protecting the City from a potential lawsuit and tax payers from covering future costs.
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The funding issue also created many problems and meetings. The original cost from 2001 was $480,000 and in today's dollars, with the same proposed solution, it would cost over one million. Our Stormwater engineers developed an alternative solution that was estimated to be around $340,000 if performed in house. District 9 still only receives annually the budget of $200,000 for NAMP funds to do projects in the district. All of our speed humps, light signals, and turn lanes are paid for through this money. The Ridgestone HOA board always knew that I would not be able to fund the entire project. The most I could potentially offer would be between $250,000 and $300,000 which is the most anyone has ever offered to help resolve the problem. And the legal need for a third party contractor adds to the unpredictability of the true cost.
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On January 26th, I had a status update meeting with Ridgestone HOA, where Mae Ashton was secretly recording without letting anyone else on the board or I know. I explained that I had some money but had a funding gap, and that I also would need the HOA to agree to release the City from any further liability after the proposed project is completed. Ms. Ashton made her displeasure known and in the past has stated that she wanted the City to pay for the entire project and be responsible for all future maintenance. She was fixated on what she was going to explain to the residents at the HOA meeting on March 8th. Since we were not finalized and still had more issues to work through, I felt it appropriate that they say what they have been saying for the past 10 years. What was another month after 10 years of waiting?
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Just as I have done with many other HOA's, I asked them to stay quiet about details for essentially two reasons. One, I don't want to promise anything to constituents and then have to take it back, and two, there was still going to be a bid process. Normally, in a bid process, if you announce that you can afford to pay $250,000 for a project, most likely the bid would come in at $250,000 or more. Our City Purchasing department, per our ethics, code requires a code of silence when a bid process is being used in order to receive the most favorable bid. Also, I asked that they not advertise or discuss the details because nothing had been officially decided.
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The final decision not to fund the project comes from the two original hurdles. Members of the HOA board disagreed about whether or not to sign the agreement removing the City from any future liability. I was advised that such an agreement was necessary to protect the City from possible future litigation and maintenance responsibilities based on former councilmembers promises. Secondly, we still had a funding gap.
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Throughout the entire process, I was open and had constant communication with the City Attorney's office and have always strived to be transparent and honest with my constituents. I feel I was keeping the City out of a potential lawsuit, helping my constituents, legally protecting the City and creatively trying to solve a problem that has been ongoing for over 10 years.
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In the end, I was unable to resolve this issue. While disappointing, I believe the time was well spent. I know that through out my public service career, I will encounter many more trying situations such as this, but I promise you that I will never back down from making tough decisions.
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Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you ever need any assistance.[/LEFT]
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[LEFT][LEFT]Respectfully,[/LEFT]
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[LEFT][LEFT]Elisa Chan[/LEFT]
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Old 02-05-2011, 07:24 AM
 
Location: New Braunfels, TX
6,256 posts, read 8,983,551 times
Reputation: 6340
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo View Post
So 8, 9 and 10 probably have 200,000+ people in them apiece. That's too many. IIRC, when I was a kid, Congressional districts weren't much bigger than that.
Sorry - but so what? Senatorial populations are MUCH higher. You wanna see REAL polictical highjinks? Have SO many council members that it's hard to keep up w/them all....then watch the mayhem.
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Old 02-05-2011, 07:58 AM
Bo Bo won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Tenth Edition (Apr-May 2014). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Ohio
16,813 posts, read 33,118,467 times
Reputation: 13587
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasRedneck View Post
Sorry - but so what? Senatorial populations are MUCH higher. You wanna see REAL polictical highjinks? Have SO many council members that it's hard to keep up w/them all....then watch the mayhem.
I used to live in a smaller city that had 20 council districts and it was great. I could send an email to my rep and get an answer from the rep, rather than a staffer, within a day or two. When I lived in a neighborhood that had a zoning issue, we got very personal service from our rep on the council. In the same situation here in SA, we'd be lucky to get 5 minutes of our rep's time. They're just spread too thinly across these massive districts.

As for "keeping up with them all," at the city level of government, IMO it shouldn't matter so much who represents other districts. It's not a beauty contest nor should it be so much the audition for the job of mayor that service on the council is now. If council reps had fewer people to represent, they could provide higher quality service.

I know that there's no broad interest in this kind of change. It was never even mentioned in the last round of charter reform. It's just my view that smaller districts would make council members more attentive to issues in their districts and less focused on the next election.
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:55 AM
 
6,998 posts, read 10,232,430 times
Reputation: 5381
I emailed two different council members before and never got an answer. I also didn't get an answer from my state representative. I did get answers from my state senator, one of the Texas senators, the governor's office, and my U.S. representative.
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Old 02-05-2011, 11:12 AM
 
Location: San Antonio Texas
11,435 posts, read 16,424,207 times
Reputation: 5224
Quote:
Originally Posted by L210 View Post
I emailed two different council members before and never got an answer. I also didn't get an answer from my state representative. I did get answers from my state senator, one of the Texas senators, the governor's office, and my U.S. representative.
I e-mailed to my city council rep (Reed) recently and have not received anything back from him yet. it's going on 2 weeks.
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:56 PM
 
6,998 posts, read 10,232,430 times
Reputation: 5381
Quote:
Originally Posted by wehotex View Post
I e-mailed to my city council rep (Reed) recently and have not received anything back from him yet. it's going on 2 weeks.
I emailed them a few months ago, so I'm not planning on getting an answer anymore. I don't care if the answer is from a staffer; I just want one. If the governors and senators can answer, then a city council rep can definitely answer. I sent emails to districts 3 and 4 on the south side where I work.
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:32 AM
Bo Bo won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Tenth Edition (Apr-May 2014). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Ohio
16,813 posts, read 33,118,467 times
Reputation: 13587
Quote:
Originally Posted by L210 View Post
I emailed them a few months ago, so I'm not planning on getting an answer anymore. I don't care if the answer is from a staffer; I just want one. If the governors and senators can answer, then a city council rep can definitely answer. I sent emails to districts 3 and 4 on the south side where I work.
If you contact reps outside the district you live and vote in, those reps probably won't feel obligated to reply. It's not worth their time because they can never get your vote.
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:37 AM
 
6,998 posts, read 10,232,430 times
Reputation: 5381
They don't know which district I live in. There is not a form to fill out your name and address; all there is is an email address on their website.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:52 PM
 
3,669 posts, read 5,897,197 times
Reputation: 1788
My city councilperson has one official website which is part of the official City of San Antonio government website. As stated there is no form to fill out your name and address.

There are official addresses, both to their City Hall Office, which is a P.O. Box, and their Constituent Office, which is located in our district.

There is also an e-mail address. Regardless of which method is used one should practice proper letter etiquette and fully identify themselves which includes giving your own name and address. One cannot expect to be taken seriously without offering this.

There is also a phone number and if one were to call they would also have to fully identify themselves which includes giving your name and address.
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