Tuesday, October 30, 2012


By Judge Steve Walker

     With less than two weeks until the November General Election, voters will begin seriously looking and evaluating the candidates on the ballot who will represent them at all levels from President of the United States to the down ballot for Justice of the Peace and Constable.
     With so many candidates to choose from, independent voters who are not affiliated with either party will make the difference in which candidate will go home and those that will be sworn into office, January 1st. 
      Looking at the number of primary voters who voted in the Republican Primary versus the Democratic Party in 2012, an objective and astute observer would conclude, the Republicans will repeat their impressive win in 2010 that ousted 12 Democratic Judges in Bexar County, one Congressman (Ciro Rodriguez) and one State Rep. (David Leibowitz)
      District 23 Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canesco and State Rep. John V. Garza took those seats from the Democrats.  Previously District 117 was considered a safe Democratic stronghold. It is now a swing district as is Congressional District 23 being contested by Democratic State Rep. Pete Gallego who recently stopped the political comeback of Ciro Rodriguez. 
     When all was said and done in 2010, one Democratic Commissioner, (Tommy Adkisson) one Congressman (Charlie Gonzalez) and one State Board of Education candidate (Dr. Michael Soto) survived the onslaught. Every other Democrat candidate lost. It was one of the largest political tsunamis in many a year. State School Board of Education Member (SBOE) Dr. Michael Soto recently lost his bid for a second term in the Democratic Primary, while Congressman Charlie Gonzalez chose to retire after seven terms in the House.
      And now we are heading into the election looking like it will be a repeat of 2010 unless unforeseen circumstances prevail and change the political landscape causing what has commonly been labeled, “the October Surprise.”
      The Republican primary races between Senatorial candidate Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz and State Senator Jeff Wentworth and Tea Party candidate Dr. Donna Campbell totally energized the turnout in comparison to the dismal Democratic primary turnout. Again barring some glitch, we will see Ted Cruz elected US Senator over former State Rep. Paul Sadler, and Dr. Donna Campbell elected State Senator over Progressive Democrat John Courage.
     The question arises, what is the incentive to vote Republican versus Democratic or visa versa? To the independent voter, one has to answer some basic questions. First of all the independent voter should ask “how do Republicans differ from Democrats in representing my best interest.” Although it is generally perceived that Republicans tend to be conservative and Democrats tend to be liberal leaning, the question needs to be addressed.
      It must be pointed out that historically most party members on both sides do not follow in lockstep on every issue that affects everyday citizens. It is not unusual for candidates on both sides to ignore party platforms as well. Presidential candidates do it all the time. Less than 60 percent give or take, from both parties, vote straight party ticket. That gives a candidate on the opposing party ticket a chance to receive crossover votes in their perspective race. However, they must work diligently to convince the “other side” why they should vote for them.
      The informed voter usually makes their decisions on particular candidates based on what they know about the candidate, good or bad. It is not unusual that a less than qualified candidate or one who has baggage or personal history that would adversely affect their judgment is elected because the voter was not well informed on that candidate. Familiar names tend to do well even though they are not the best qualified to serve. Case in point, the Congress has a 10 percent favorability rating. What does that tell you?
      The next question to consider for the independent voter is “What are some of the issues that are important to me and which party can best reflect my position?  Some voters are one issue voters. If the abortion issue for example is a major issue that you care deeply about and you are pro-life you more than likely will vote Republican while if you are Pro-choice you will more likely vote Democratic. Currently the national poll shows that 51 percent polled said they are pro-life, while 42 percent polled say they are pro-choice. Not all 51 percent of Republicans are pro-life anymore than 42 percent of all Democrats are pro-choice.
      Looking to some of the local races to watch, the first one that comes to mind is that hotly contested Sheriff’s race. The incumbent Democrat Amadeo Ortiz is currently coming under fire over number of issues to include handling of the jail budget due to among other things a personnel shortage. Ret. Air Force General Susan Pamerleau has vast experience overseeing multimillion dollar budgets during her military career as well as commanding thousands of troops under her command. While she has that in her favor, Sheriff Ortiz has over 30 years of peace officer experience at many levels having been an SAPD officer before transferring to the Sheriff’s Department. Since the Sheriff’s job is primarily an administrative position, you can decide which of those qualifications will better serve the community.
      Another race to look at is the Bexar County Tax Assessor Collector. Democrat Albert Uresti is facing Republican Robert Stovall. The position was vacated when longtime Tax Assessor Collector Sylvia Romo declined to run for re-election and opted to run for the newly created Congressional District 35.
      Uresti is the older brother of longtime State Senator Carlos Uresti and has been a former City Manager of a number of small towns around Bexar County. Republican Robert Stovall who beat former Councilman John Clamp in the primary is a certified financial adviser with years of experience.  Running a city or working as a financial adviser are both good experiences to serve as Tax Assessor Collector.
     Obviously the most important duty of the voter be they Republican, Democrat or Independent is to turnout at the polls and cast your ballot for your candidate or candidates that best represent your views. If you don’t, someone one will decide for you. That may not be in your best interest.

Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist, and Reagan Democrat. Check out his photo blog at http://www.walkerreport.net/


VON ORMY— Rural voters will head to polls soon to decide who will represent them in the upcoming Texas Legislature. The choices are clear as to which candidates will stand up for the rural residents of Bexar and Atascosa Counties.
     In House District 117, incumbent John V. Garza is clearly distinguishable from his opponent, former San Antonio City Councilman Phil Cortez, for being independent of the City of San Antonio and having a record of supporting rural and suburban residents of his district.  In 2011, Garza was the only Bexar County State Rep. to stand up for rural voting rights in the Bexar Met/SAWS merger. The measure was ultimately opposed by over 70% of Somerset, Atascosa and Von Ormy voters due to the loss of voting rights.  Cortez has openly criticized Garza for his position, demonstrating that he is out of touch with the rural areas of the district.  Garza was able to put together a broad coalition in defense of rural voting rights that included such diverse organizations as LULAC, Atascosa County Commissioners Court, City of Von Ormy and the Texas Farm Bureau.  Garza is also notable for being the first elected official to place a district office in Von Ormy.
      In order to keep a voice in Austin, rural voters should return John Garza to the State Legislature. 
     State Sen. Carlos Uresti, District 19, wrote the bill which stripped voting rights for Von Ormy, Somerset and Atascosa residents.  Texas LULAC unanimously condemned Uresti’s bill for “eliminating the voting rights of Hispanic citizens.”  Despite vigorous appeals from rural leadership and overwhelming opposition from rural voters in the election, Sen. Uresti did not defend rural voting rights.
    Rural voters should not support officials who do not respect our voting rights, or lack the backbone to defend the little guys against the big city. 


VON ORMY—Von Ormy City Council unanimously passed Mayor Art Martinez de Vara's proposed 10% property tax cut at its September 19, 2012 meeting. This
marks the third year in a row that Von Ormy taxpayers will receive
double digit tax relief. Mayor Martinez de Vara said, "We have
focused our efforts on essential municipal services, creating a
business friendly environment and sharing the success of our economic
development with our residents via tax relief."
     The economic upturn in Von Ormy is reflected in its rising sales tax revenue.  2012 sales tax receipts surpassed 2011 in September of this year, despite the temporary closure of the city’s largest sales tax producing business for remodeling.  In fact, the city received the largest sales tax receipt in its history in October 2012 (for sales conducted in Sept. 2012). 
     Due to increased activity in the Eagle Ford Shale oil field, Von Ormy is partially shielded from national unemployment rates.  However, the national economic crisis is still being felt locally, most noticeably in the rising cost of everyday goods.  The value of the dollar is falling noticeably due to a sharp increase in the number of dollars being printed by the federal government to pay for its massive increases in deficit spending over the last three years.
     Simply put, when the government puts more dollars in circulation, the value of each dollar is diminished.  In order to receive the same value as before, sellers increase prices.   And when salary increases do not keep pace with the devaluation of the dollar, working families carry the burden of federal deficit spending through diminished spending capacity.  Mayor Martinez de Vara noted, “Most of our residents are tightening their household budgets due to the rising costs of food,
gas and other necessaries. Responsive government understands the need to tax less during such times and return as many dollars as it can go into family budgets, where it can do the most good."
     Despite a weak dollar, prospects for future increases in city revenue are bright.  Three new restaurants opened in early October, as well as, an expanded Pilot Travel Center.   Mayor Martinez de Vara said, “increasing revenue will allow us to enact further property tax relief in the future, exactly how much remains to be seen.  This year we roughly split the increase between tax relief and increased budget expenditures.”
     Von Ormy has one of the lowest property tax rates in Bexar County, yet the 2012 budget includes expanded city services such as fire
protection, regular litter control, street lighting on I-35 and the
continued construction of the new city park and a municipal building/community center.
      The 2013 city budget is focused on a series of building projects, particularly a municipal building, park and fire station.  
    In preparation for a year of building, the city created a capital improvement fund in early 2012 to save for and large one time expenses. The fund was seeded with $100,00 from past city surpluses.  Additionally, the City ended fiscal year 2011 with $96,000 in carry over (surplus).  The city maintains additional reserves slightly in excess of a $100,000 in its emergency reserve fund. 


VON ORMY– Construction of the Southwest Bexar Sewer Pipeline (SBSP) has reached Quesenberry Road in Von Ormy.  The SBSP is approximately 32 miles of large diameter sewer pipeline (96 inch) which runs along the north side of the Medina River from a point in far west Bexar County to Dos Rios Water Recycling Center in southeast Bexar County.  
     SAWS’s master plan states that the SBSP will provide a backbone for service in the Far West and South sewersheds, ultimately capable of providing service to over a quarter of a million people.
     Current plans do not include service for Von Ormy. The City has been on negotiation with SAWS to develop a financing  mechanism to construct a  sewer collection system for the city.  The proximity of the SBSP to Von Ormy gives the city the option of providing sewer without constructing a treatment facility.
    Actual construction of the first project segments began in late 2010. The entire pipeline is expected to enter service by December 2013.

City Notes: October 2012

VON ORMY– The City of Von Ormy has taken the following actions recently:

SOMERSET/VON ORMY COALITION—Somerset and Von Ormy have passed identical resolutions  to form a regional development coalition to work in partnership on regional  issues effecting both cities.

PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION– Jacqueline Goede was appointed to fill a vacancy on the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission.  The Commission met on Oct 17th and is tasked with beginning the process of developing a zoning ordinance and map for the city.

ANIMAL CONTROL-City Council voted to enter into a contract with Hope for Dogs to reestablish animal control services in the city.

MUNICIPAL BUILDING– City Council has asked staff for estimated costs of various options for the construction of a municipal building on or near the city park.

PARK—CDBG grants for walking trails, drainage and Quarterhorse street improvements have moved into the engineering phase.


Bulldogs Balanced Offense Impressive!
Brett Wilson Sr.

     The Somerset Bulldogs beat the Kingsville King team Friday, September 28th to bring their record to 4 wins with only 1 loss! One more game to go against Hondo before starting District play against Poteet on October 12th! Poteet is also ending this week with a 4–1 record, and Pleasanton is looking good at 5–0.
     The Bulldogs looked like they had the game sewed up twice before Kingsville came roaring back at the end of the first half, then again at the end of the game. Somerset was ahead 28 to 7 with about 5 minutes to go in the first half when King scored twice to close the gap to 28-21 at halftime. A failed onside kick attempt helped give up field position on one possession. In the second half the Bulldogs surged ahead 42-21 before King again pulled back to make it a close game.
     The Bulldog offense piled up over 500 yards, with 219 in the air and over 300 on the ground! Koy Detmer was 10-14 passing, throwing for 4 touchdowns. Donny Perez ran the ball 30 times, going over 200 yards for the second time this year! Josh Ramos had 3 catches for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns, with Rocky Reyna and Eden Rodriguez each getting 2 receptions.
Donny Perez has 600 rushing yards for the season so far, with 4 rushing touchdowns! Most of Perez's yards have come from busting through defenders up the middle.      Koy Detmer has over 1100 yards passing, 13 passes going for touchdowns!
     Justin Guerra has 14 receptions, 3 for touchdowns. Rocky Reyna has 13 catches with 5 going in for the score. Josh Ramos has 11 catches with 3 also going in for the score. Eden Rodriguez has almost 400 yards rushing and receiving with 3 touchdowns.
     Josh Ramos made, a catch in the second quarter at the 5 yard line, and was hit at the goal line. Josh pushed all 3 defenders back to score the touchdown. Great determination!

Dallas Cowboys 2-1
Face the Bears Tomorrow
     As I write this, the Dallas Cowboys are sitting at 2-1, and facing the Chicago Bears tomorrow on Monday Night Football. Tony Romo has taken some big hits this year and the Bears have a good pass rush. This game will be a tough test for an offensive line that has not been great so far this year. However, I think they will start to put things together and this could be a turning point for this season. Go Cowboys!


2012 Team 3-2, Already Matching Last Years Win Total
Brett Wilson Sr.
     The Southwest Dragons Athletic Director and Head Coach Pete Wagner took some time to talk to the Von Ormy Star about the 2012 football team. The words on this page can not fully express Coach Wagner's intensity, confidence and pride in his players as they prepare to begin district play against South San on October 12th. The Dragons already have 3 wins heading into district competition, matching last years win total with 5 games left on the schedule.
     Coach Wagner talked about one of the main reasons for this years success “We have great senior leadership. Our senior class is very good. We have Lorenzo Gonzalez, Cesar Serrano, Efrain Martinez, Ryan Bernal and a host of others.” You can tell when speaking with Coach Wagner he enjoys what he does, and likes to give the kids credit, “Our kids have such high character, they work hard. They do what's expected and it shows in how they play.”
     I asked Coach about Erin Mack, who already has almost 800 yards rushing this year. “Erin is very talented, but his success also has a lot to do with the offensive line. They can take pride in the number of yards Erin has this year. The offensive line's success starts with Ryan Bernal (1st team all academic, top 5% in his class), and goes all the way across with Chance Moehring, Brandon LaGrange, and obviously Kris Salinas, a 3 year starter.” Coach Wagner talked about the TE play, and named about 15 more players I don't have room to enter here, “I can't attribute success to just one player, because they have all played well, along with others who have come in and stepped up”
     On defense, Coach talked about the some of the same players that play on both sides of the ball, and about the backfield being a little young. “Our front line on defense is seniors, our backfield is juniors. That is where we will continue to improve and get better. Taylor Rodriguez got hurt, then Bryan Donnell came back and filled in. Erin Mack also plays on defense. We have Josh Huron, Alex Quesada, Jaedon Johnson and Cody Johnson. Some kids may be bigger than ours, but we have a quick, fast team this year.”
     Coach Wagner talked about how he looks at coaching “We go into every game expecting to win. However, if we don't win, it won't end our season because our number one goal is to get better every day, and to get ready for district play.“ It seems Coach Wagner has these kids heading in the right direction.
SW Tennis Team Expecting Big Year
Brett Wilson Sr.
     Head Tennis Coach Mike Martinez is excited about this years tennis team. “We are coming into this year riding off last years success. Our mixed doubles team came in first place in District, and our boys double team came in second. We have 11 seniors this year leading a group of very dedicated kids. Corpus Christi Carroll and King always have strong teams, but I think this year we have a shot and we should compete.”
     Coach Martinez talked about a couple of his top players this year “Orlando Saenz is our #1 boy player. He has been on a hot streak, winning the last 4 matches. Orlando has really been playing well. Marissa Renteria is our #1 girl player and we are expecting big things from her this year as well.”
     Coach Martinez pointed out that 4 of his kids were in the top 10 of their class academically. “KSAT 12 recently selected Adriana Gonzalez as Scholar Athlete of the week.” Tennis doubles season is from July to October, Singles season begins in January. Go Dragon Tennis Team!

Disney's Magic by Janie Cadena

 By Janie Cadena
     Okay, I know I was going to finish up with Canada this month, but I just had to write this article because I just returned from the first sailing of a Disney ship from Galveston and the excitement is still with me.
     The magic begins when you enter the ship and you are announced over the public address system. The Disney Magic is the flagship in the Disney fleet. Disney created their cruise line with the same eye to detail that goes into every Disney project. Of course one of the most important things is putting children first. As an example, almost one whole deck on each of their 4 ships is devoted to children’s programs. And do they have programs; for children 3 and up they have programs from 9:00 AM until midnight. They also have programs for the Tween-agers from 11 – 13 years old and for the older teens, as well as family activities. There are also activities for adults only.
     I mentioned Disney’s eye to detail – following are just examples. All rooms accommodate at least 3 people and up to 7 in the 2-bedroom suite. They also, have more connecting rooms than other ships. In all the rooms, except the Standard Inside, they have a split bathroom – one room with a toilet and sink and another room with a shower and a sink, which is very good when you have little ones who need to go to the potty or wash their hands while someone is in the shower. Each room is provided with Wave Phones to keep in touch with each other while on board the ship. On the deck with the children’s programs they have lowered the ceilings so the children feel bigger, more empowered.
     For all you parents and grandparents there are sooo many photo opportunities with the Disney characters. There are listings on the daily agenda showing which character will be where and at what time; sometimes they just show up in one of the lounges to dance with the kids. The children are so adorable, many of them dress up like their favorite character – it looks like Halloween.
     The evening shows are all well done and entertaining and, of course, most of them are based on Disney shows. There is entertainment for adults as well in an area called “Beat Street”. In the evening it becomes a place for 18 and older with dancing and entertainment without the little ones.
     One night during the cruise is “Pirate’s Night”- arrgh. Passengers are encouraged to dress up like pirates for the evening. There is a big deck party with singing and dancing and characters. For a grand finale there are fireworks, real fireworks, the only ships sailing that have been given permission to set off fireworks at sea. Yes, many of the little ones are still awake!
     Lest you think this cruise is only for those with kids there were many adults without children on board. Disney has thought of this, too, with a pool, hot tubs, a café and spa area just for those 18 and older. But I wouldn’t recommend this cruise line if you don’t like to be around kids or if you want to gamble as there are no casinos.
     Disney will be sailing from Galveston until May, 2013. On this itinerary our ports of call were: Grand Cayman; Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico. In 2013 they will be adding an itinerary going to Key West, Port Canaveral and Disney’s Private Island in the Bahamas. Texas is happy to welcome Disney Cruise Line to the Lone Star State.

Janie Cadena, CTC, CPG has been a certified travel counselor for over 20 years and has traveled or lived in over 40 countries. She owns Your Travel Guide, a travel agency located right here in Von Ormy. For more information go to: www.yourtravelguideco.com or email her at travelguide@sbcglobal.net.