Constitutional amendment poll

Relevant bills filed and their status

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srothstein
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby srothstein » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:48 pm

Purplehood wrote:With the option of "the military should buy the buffer zone", any existing community would have to be physically displaced. Do you want to be the victim of some sort of eminent domain act?


The real question is who should buy the buffer zone, the local community or the federal government. Either way, the property owners are subject to getting the "market value" of the land through eminent domain procedures and parts of the community may be subject to being displaced.

The way I see it, the advantage of the military doing it is that they seem to have a little more respect from the community and the land in the buffer zone would stay there.

The advantage of the city buying the zone is that the land would be used by the city for other purposes. For example, San Antonio has a small city park (Eisenhower Park) outside one of the gates to Camp Bullis. If they bought the land, this park could be expanded and city residents could get some use out of it while the military still gets its protected buffer zone.

I, personally, am of mixed thoughts on this. As a US citizen, I see the need for a strong military with proper training sites. This means I see the need for the buffer zones. I would support the Army BUYING the land for the zone. At the same time, as someone who no longer lives in San Antonio, I can argue that the city is trying to benefit from the zone by protecting their economy. This means I would rather see the city use its money and not have my tax dollars used to protect the San Antonio economy.

And I also noted that the amendment is permissive and not mandatory. It means San Antonio (and other cities where this will come up) may decide to buy the zone and they may decide not to. There is something to be said for the local decision option.
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ELB
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby ELB » Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:58 pm

srothstein and a couple others hit on the key reason -- when development around a base starts causing problems for the military, either via complaints about noise or actual impingement on activities, the military starts considering moving missions, and eventually bases, and all the jobs and money that go with them. Why doesn't the military buy buffer zones? I believe it has in some cases, but looking at it strictly from the feds point of view, why should they? They will get all tangled up in court cases, eminent domain, etc -- let the city figure out all that stuff. BRAC showed people that bases actually can close -- and even ones that survive the BRAC, or get cherry-picked for special treatment (e.g. Brooks City-Base), can close as well, or be diminished so much through movement of missions that they might as well be gone. (The Air Force decided years ago to close Brooks, and for all practical purposes, they did.)

Even before BRAC, this went on. At Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City, the city bought out a subdivision that was being constructed just north of the base, which put it directly in line with the north-south runway. Was kind of interesting -- there were paved streets with no houses up there. While I was stationed there, one of the local mega-churches decided to build an even bigger building directly in line with the other runway that ran NW to SE -- according to the plans, the top of the spire would either intrude or be very close, I forget which, to the glide path for some aircraft. That church threw a fit when the church went to the city for its building permits (after it bought the land and made its plans), the USAF was asked to comment on it, said "bad idea," and the city balked on the permits. The church raised cane for months, accused the Air Force of all kinds of underhanded stuff. It was solved when a rich anonymous donor gave the church more land on the same street, but farther south, out of the path of runways.

So some some cities like to avoid all the drama and restrict the zoning around the bases. As long as they are in the zoning business, this makes sense to me, and if the locals want to vote for it, fine. Like srothstein I can't figure out people who move next to a military or civilian airport and then complain about the noise. :banghead: )
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby seamusTX » Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:57 am

All the propositions passed with wide margins, but voter turnout was under 10%:

http://enr.sos.state.tx.us/enr/results/ ... _state.htm

This means that 1% of the population of Texas -- about 200,000 voters -- decides on a constitutional amendment.

- Jim
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Purplehood
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby Purplehood » Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:06 am

Why doesn't the military buy buffer zones?

Because the surrounding community encroaches and it no longer becomes a buffer. What you are proposing is that the Military buy land essentially so that it cannot use it. That is why almost every Military reservation is first sited out in the middle of nowhere, in order to avoid that issue. Eventually a nearby town results and grows.
If the community creates the buffer-zone, it protects its own interests, not those of the Military. It can create wildlife refuges, landfills or shooting ranges. Anything that it considers compatible with the nearby base that will not compel the Military to consider moving elsewhere.

Come to think of it, election day was yesterday. Why am I beating a dead-horse?
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby seamusTX » Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:15 am

Purplehood wrote:Why am I beating a dead-horse?

It seems to give a certain grim satisfaction. Sports fans are still arguing about some century-ago World Series games.

The measure passed, so presumably San Antonio can now do what it wants.

- Jim

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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby ELB » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:14 am

seamusTX wrote: This means that 1% of the population of Texas -- about 200,000 voters -- decides on a constitutional amendment.
- Jim


All of Texas voters decided. Most, through inattention or apathy, just decided to let someone else decide. ;-)
Besides, remember that the last time we got high turnout, we got Obama. :shock:

I worked early voting and election day for this election and for last November's General, and the primary before that. The people coming in for this Constitutional Amendment election clearly knew what was on the ballot and what they wanted to vote for or against. Almost everyone of them had their voter registration certificates, which I see as one of the marks of a dedicated voter -- very few used their DL (or CHL!) as ID to vote. I didn't have anyone who wasn't currently registered to vote (which happened a lot in the other elections), only one guy who had moved from another county to here and hadn't changed registration, and one who had moved within the county and hadn't changed registration address. A good portion of them had notes in had as to which prop to vote for or against. Hardly anyone needed help using the voting machines. They had all done this before.

In other words, these were engaged, educated, competent people who take voting seriously.

During the November election I had people who had to dig a utility bill out from under the sofa for ID. Which meant they had to leave the polling place to do, because they didn't have any ID on them. I was asked more than once which party Obama was in. You don't know hard I had to bite my tongue to avoid saying "Communist." When I told them, then they wanted a Democrat ballot, and I had to explain how a General Election has all the parties' candidates. There were lots of people who had not voted before, had no idea what they were doing, nor knew what else was on the ballot, nor really cared. I would bet some hope and change that if you asked any of them what Obama actually stood for, what his policies were going to be or do to the US etc, they would have had no clue.
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby seamusTX » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:23 am

ELB wrote:All of Texas voters decided. Most, through inattention or apathy, just decided to let someone else decide. ;-)

IMHO, "I don't care" is not a morally acceptable choice.

A non-voter may never feel the effects of some of these obscure amendments, but low turnout has resulted in some kooks and incompetents being elected.

- Jim

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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby Purplehood » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:42 am

seamusTX wrote:
ELB wrote:All of Texas voters decided. Most, through inattention or apathy, just decided to let someone else decide. ;-)

IMHO, "I don't care" is not a morally acceptable choice.

A non-voter may never feel the effects of some of these obscure amendments, but low turnout has resulted in some kooks and incompetents being elected.

- Jim


So as Jim Carrey said to the redhead, "So you are saying that I have a chance".
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby seamusTX » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:00 am

Purplehood wrote:... "So you are saying that I have a chance".

If you get a nominating petition for a school board position signed, then put a modest effort into campaigning, and get your entire extended family to vote for you, yeah.

It helps to have a recognizable name, but as last year's election showed, that's not an absolute requirement.

- Jim

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ChuckW
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby ChuckW » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:31 am

Thanks to the members here for posting some of the reasons behind the various constitutional amendments, particularly the one about buffer zones around military bases. A personal rant of mine is that none of the 'official' explanations ever actually tell us who is behind the push for the amendment. Knowing the story behind who and why the amendment is sought is often much more revealing than the 'official' explanation.

Do any of these amendments ever fail? It seems that they often are offered for vote during very low turnout elections.

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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby seamusTX » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:41 am

ChuckW wrote:Do any of these amendments ever fail? It seems that they often are offered for vote during very low turnout elections.

Two failed in 2005. None has failed since then. You can see the data here: http://elections.sos.state.tx.us/elchist.exe

Usually they pass by remarkable margins, like 85-15.

I tend to vote in favor of them, figuring that the Legislature knows what it is doing; and the Texas Constitution is so detailed and restrictive that it does require frequent amendment.

I vote against one only when someone convinces me that it is a bad idea. For example, Proposition 6 this year would have allowed the Texas Veterans Land Board to issue bonds without voter approval. I think public debt should always be subject to direct voter approval.

The timing is an accident. Amendments are put to a vote the November after the legislative session ends, and state representatives and the governor are elected the November before the legislative session. Our legislative sessions are in odd-numbered years, so they are out of sync with the national elections.

- Jim

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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby The Annoyed Man » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:16 pm

Well this was an interesting event for me as a still relatively new (3.5 years now) Texas voter. I tended to vote conservatively wherever additional spending was involved, and as I best understood the issues. I hope I don't live to regret my votes.

In California, we had a "Proposition" process where citizens can get issues onto the ballot when the legislature simply won't consider them. Unfortunately, a lot of what has been passed by that means is crap. However, Californians seldom get a chance to vote on amendments to the state's constitution. Am I correct in assuming that doing so is fairly common place in Texas?

I had a visceral reaction to proposition 9 on this ballot and voted "No." Back in 1969, before the California Coastal Commission had begun to express its toxic nature and appointed itself the sole arbiter of who gets to do what (unless you're politically well-connected), when the state of California still made at least a show of respecting private property rights, my parents bought an undeveloped lot right on the coast — 1.2 acres on the clifftop at Point Dume, which included 108 feet of beach front.

Her house is in this picture, taken in 2006, the year I moved out here. It's the smaller snow-white house with a dome roof, 3rd from the end on the left along the cliff, nestled between two monstrosities that look like hotels. My wife and I were married at the edge of that cliff.

In any case, in order to get their permit to build this home, my parents had to pay a lobbyist to represent them in Sacramento for twelve years, before the Coastal Commission decreed that they had to cede 25 ft of lateral access to the state, measured from the mean high-tide line back to the cliff, in exchange for the permit. As you can see in this picture, the beach has pretty much washed away, so between what the state took from them and the weather, my mom owns no more beach now, but in the past when they bought that land, there was a substantial beach there. In future years, storms may replace that sand, and she may have a strip of beach she can call her own — after the state asserts its blackmailed "right" to their 25 feet of it. None of the other previously existing homes along that cliff had to cede their portions of the beach to the Coastal Commission.

Before the Coastal Commission commissariat extorted beach front land from the private land-owners, those beaches were kept pristine. Now that anyone can access them, what sand is left is littered with empty beer cans, used condoms, and dirty diapers... ...and they didn't just wash up there. When you stand at the top of the cliff on my mother's property and look over the edge, even in broad daylight, you can often see couples "engaged" fully in the open, with no shame whatsoever, in "extra curricular" activities, and they aren't always hetero couples. Children don't need to be seeing that stuff.

THAT is what happens when the proletariat insists on being able to take your land away from you by fiat under some kind of warm and fuzzy dictate of "right of access." They take what is private, and turn it over to scumbags who wreck it for everyone. So, I'm not sympathetic to the Proposition 9 that was on yesterday's ballot.

...just my 2¢.
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby The Annoyed Man » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:18 pm

seamusTX wrote:Our legislative sessions are in odd-numbered years, so they are out of sync with the national elections.

- Jim

I wonder if that might not be for the best. Perhaps it forces voters to focus on state issues instead of dividing their attention between national and state issues?
Give me Liberty, or I'll get up and get it myself.—Hookalakah Meshobbab
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby Purplehood » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:20 pm

The Annoyed Man wrote:
seamusTX wrote:Our legislative sessions are in odd-numbered years, so they are out of sync with the national elections.

- Jim

I wonder if that might not be for the best. Perhaps it forces voters to focus on state issues instead of dividing their attention between national and state issues?


Also lends itself to low voter turnouts...take that as you will.
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Re: Constitutional amendment poll

Postby seamusTX » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:28 pm

Proposition 9 effectively made the Texas Open Beaches Act part of the Constitution, so a future legislature cannot change it by a simple majority.

The TOBA has been law for 40 years and survived challenges in the Texas Supreme Court.

It is based on Spanish-Mexican common law, which made access to beaches a right.

People who own beachfront property can still own the beach (and pay taxes on it), but they cannot build a structure or limit public access to it.

I have mixed feelings about it myself, but if the majority of Texans accepted it for 25 years before I moved here, I can't complain.

- Jim


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