Tag Archives: Travis County

Valdosta Vimeo

I've been nagging Valdosta for years about putting some of their cable TV station content on the web. Turns out they are already doing some of that, which is a step towards acting like a modern metropolitan area. Received Wednesday via Tim Carroll; I added the links and the [clarification].

From: Sementha Mathews
Sent: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 11:48 AM
To: Tim Carroll
Subject: RE: "The rest of the story"

Councilman Carroll,

Thank you for the recent phone call. As a result, I will research the Austin, Tx media practices to see if they can be implemented in any way here at Metro 17. We used to include a council wrap segment in each show, and I'll ask Shemeeka [Johnson, Valdosta Channel 17 Media Coordinator] why we took that out. But we can easily add that back in.

City of Austin posts Continue reading

Agendas with board packet items: Lowndes County Board of Education

The Lowndes County Board of Education (LCBOE) often includes along with its agendas detailed information from its board packets. The Lowndes County Commission could do the same.

Here’s their November FY2012 Finance Report in their 12 December 2012 agenda. Sometimes they even include details of items for their executive sessions, as in Personnel recommendations attached to that same agenda.

The Valdosta Board of Education (VBOE) does the same thing. Here’s a football ticket proposal and a Coke contract from VBOE’s 27 February 2012 agenda; also health insurance cost information. That particular agenda has several more financial documents attached.

Both LCBOE and VBOE use eboardsolutions.com. Other companies sell other products that facilitate posting board agendas and minutes.

Travis County, Texas, which includes packet items with its agendas, appears to have constructed its own website. Travis County adds videos after the meetings. I bet they’d tell other local governments how they do it.

So there’s part of a spectrum of solutions to posting board packet items online with agendas: use a turnkey cloud solution, or roll your own.

The Lowndes County Commission could pick a solution, and inform the public about what they are doing by putting agenda packets online with their agendas.








Where could we put utility solar in south Georgia?

Where could we find 380 acres for a 30 Megawatt solar plant in south Georgia? Here’s a clue from Texas.

Citizen Carol wrote for Texas Vox 6 January 2012, Austin Energy drought proofs its energy with new Webberville Solar Project

A number of years ago, the City of Austin purchased this land planning to install a new coal-fired power plant. When those plans fell through, a landfill was proposed for the site that now boasts 280 acres of solar panels with a view of downtown Austin along its horizon.
How about on the proposed coal plant site in Ben Hill County?

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that big, or all in one place. How about on top of a landfill? How about on the cotton fields next to Valdosta’s Sallas Mahone Elementary School? Energy to air condition the school instead of drifting pesticides, and profit to the landowner! How about at the airport? At the mall parking lot? On top of the new county palace? On the warehouses in Hahira?


30 Megawatt solar plant opens near Austin

While Georgia Power continues to block solar deployment in Georgia, Austin Energy forges ahead in Texas with a utility-scale solar plant.

Here’s their PR, Austin Energy Activates 30 MW Solar Farm,

AUSTIN, Texas , Jan. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Austin Energy along with Austin City Mayor Lee Leffingwell , and Village of Webberville Mayor Hector Gonzales today announced the activation of a 30 megawatt (MW) solar power plant located within the Village of Webberville, Texas . The activation of the power plant marks the first utility-scale solar deployment for Austin Energy and helps bring the utility one step closer to achieving a 35% renewable energy mix by 2020. It is the largest active solar project of any public power utility in the country, the largest active project in Texas and among the largest of all operating solar projects in America. The project was activated on December 20, 2011

The key was a PPA:

The utility-scale solar project was made possible through a 25-year solar power purchase agreement in which Austin Energy will purchase the energy at a fixed rate along with the renewable energy credits.
In Georgia, PPAs can be made with municipal governments, universities, companies, or even individuals, if SB 401 passes.

An opportunity for EMCs: Continue reading

Georgia takes steps towards more open government; could take more

The state of Georgia may improve open government with HB 397. While the steps it takes are welcome, the bill could go farther.

Kay Harris wrote for the VDT today, Georgia AG works to boost Sunshine Laws, quoting State Attorney General Sam Olens:

“The legislature has given the Attorney General’s office the jurisdiction to enforce the Open Records law and this bill will give us the tools to do so.”

Olens said the AG’s office receives an average of 400 complaints each year of Open Records violations by governmental entities in the state. The bill strengthens penalties and gives the AG more tools to use to prosecute violators.

Subsection 50-14-6 changes the fine for knowingly violating the law from $100 to $1,000 and allows the court to impose a civil penalty as well.

The bill also strengthens the guidelines for posting notices on websites and clarifies the rules for social events that may attract a quorum of officials. Also, destroying public records can be prosecuted as a felony.

The bill ( Here’s HB 397 on the legislature’s website) includes some welcome requirements about meeting times and public records officers having to be posted on a body’s website, but builds in a huge loophole: Continue reading

Public hearing doesn’t mean the public gets to know anything

Jane Osborn wrote:
Requesting such a hearing before January 24 would give the opportunity to have all this information presented and for questions to be asked and answered.
Except that’s not the way it works around here. Public hearing locally means the chairman or mayor or whoever says “Who wants to speak for?” and maybe somebody speaks. And then “Who wants to speak against?” and maybe somebody speaks. It doesn’t mean that the Commission or the Council or the Authority presents anything for the public to consider.

Witness the hearing the Lowndes County Commission held in December on the documents related to the Comprehensive Plan. The only reason the public knew anything about what was in those documents was that Gretchen got them from somewhere else after the Commission refused to supply them in response to an open records request. The Commission never distributed any of the relevant documents to the public. Only one citizen spoke, perhaps because nobody else knew what to speak about.

Almost none of the local municipalities or boards or authorities routinely present to the public the information that is in the packets they see before the discuss or vote. There are rare exceptions, such as the VLMPO and other organizations or projects administered by the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC). SGRC is a state agency, not a local agency. Why does Lowndes County and all its municipalities and boards avoid transparency?

Why can’t you, the public, see what’s in a rezoning request before Continue reading

Cloudy transparency on RFP & bidding —Barbara Stratton

Received today on Transparency by a County Commission. -jsq
I don’t know how you found this example, but good work & thanks for the research. This is a real genuine effort to produce government transparency. Anything short of this is faux transparancy. Can you find out how the citizens were able to get this good faith transparancy enacted?

I am expecially concerned with the cloudy transparancy on RFP & bidding procedures within our county. Having spent 12 years in government construction contracting I know the detailed safeguards that have been enacted to protect the taxpayers from contracting fraud & crony capitalist back door agreements. It is my observation that these safeguards are being bypassed by end around tactics & the current popularity of public/private partnerships has a plethora of possiblities for good old boy system abuses.

Recently a local contractor started work on an unfunded, unawarded government project that was exposed by the local newspaper. The city’s answer to the illegal contracting procedures was to issue a contract change order for $143,807 with a 10% contingency. It has been my experience that anytime a contractor starts work on an unfunded project said contractor eats the cost of any work completed & all contractors are aware of this rule.

In addition it is a dis-service to taxpayers for that amount of money to be

Continue reading

Transparency by a County Commission

Here’s what local government transparency via the web looks like. Our county commission could do this.

Here’s how the Commissioners of Travis County, Texas do it:

Video files of commissioners court meetings are available online. Agenda items are available by noon the day after the meeting.
For example:
Voting Session Agenda
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 Complete Agenda Backup Materials, 120 MB

This web page version is derived from a manual conversion of the official document of record for the convenience of the user. Travis County has posted this notice and agenda in good faith, in compliance with Government Code section 551.056. Please note that, in the event of a technical problem beyond the county’s control that prevents the county from posting here or that results in an erroneous posting, notice of this meeting and agenda posted at the courthouse remains valid

By “Backup Materials” they mean the packet the Commissioners got.

The rest of that web page fior their 13 December 2011 meeting has video and text for ciizens communications and consent items, plus each item that had its backup information in the Commissioners’ packet is separated out with video, text, and backup links.

And for next week’s meeting, 20 December 2011, the complete agenda with links to Continue reading