Little Lucas reminds us that it’s really about the little things that people do — the phone calls, emails, donated hours of time and money, and feedback you guys give to us all year for which we are most thankful. And it’s about the little things in life that we’re fighting for so that the little Lucas’ of this world can thrive.
Now, read on for our VERY special thanks and recognitions!
Thanks must always go first to those behind the scenes:
Chris Hauboldt, independent super-geek!
Thank you Chris Hauboldt for the countless hours you gave to our website, data base and all things “geeky” — and sticking with us since 2008!
Thank you Lea Silvernail, who recently moved out of state, for keeping our administration on course. We already miss you!
Michele Gangnes, Neighbors for Neighbors
Independent Citizen Activist of the Year:
Thank you Michele Gangnes for volunteering your considerable legal skills for over a decade to defend Lee County landowners and the Simsboro Aquifer. We owe you very special thanks for giving 100s of hours of research, writing and speaking about Proposition 6, knowing that the odds were strongly against us to defeat it.
Thank you, Debra Medina, for your dedication to protect the property rights of all Texans. We wish you the best of luck in your race for Texas Comptroller in the March 2014 Republican primary.
Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview
Legislator of the Year:
Thank you Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) for being one of the few people in politics today who honestly listens and who listens honestly to anyone regardless of party affiliation. Thank you for speaking at the Independent Texans’ convention, stepping out against Prop 6 and listening to citizens of your district about threats to their property, land and water.
Tom "Smitty" Smith, Public Citizen
Progressive Leader of the Year:
We thank Public Citizen’s, Tom “Smitty” Smith, for his vision to find common ground with conservatives for the common good focusing on eminent domain abuse, public safety and protection of waterways in East Texas.
Born and raised on an Iowa farm, we thank Rita Beving for her years of very hard work and her passion for the land, water and people of East Texas.
Calvin Tillman, former DISH Mayor, former Republican, now an independent!
Independent of the Year:
Thank you Calvin Tillman, former Mayor of DISH, who recently became a true purple independent. Calvin is currently honing his considerable organizing acumen on reforming eminent domain in Texas. You property rights abusers out there better look out in 2014!
Julia Trigg Crawford (standing tall, back left), second from left is Joan Escamilla and Bob and Martha Strawn next to Joan, Grimes County citizen hearing, November 21, 2013
Citizen Leader of the Year:
The last person to call herself a leader, in fact, is one. That would be Julia Trigg Crawford, who calls herself “just a farmer.” She is one helluva a farmer who continues to stand tall against TransCanada/Keystone XL pipeline. Julia has always been there to support other landowners and citizens, as she did pictured here at the successful citizens hearing in Roans Prairie.
Kathleen Hubbard, Brazos River Bottom Alliance
Rookies of the Year:
Thank you Kathleen Hubbard of the Brazos River Bottom Alliance who helps lead the fight to move a rail classification yard, requiring the taking of 1800 acres of prime farm out the richest farm soil in Texas!
Thank you Jasheka Lee for holding the first meeting in Houston to begin organizing young independents and personally donating all the funds to produce a well-organized and informative event.
Thank you Attorney Malcolm Harris of Hays County for stepping up to build a regional alliance to protect the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer with landowners of Bastrop and Lee counties.
Steve Box, Environmental Stewardship
Educator of the Year
Thank you, Steve Box, Environmental Stewardship, who continues to teach citizens about the complex and broken system of groundwater management and its harmful impact on surface water in Texas.
Gutsy Campaign of the Year — Nix 6!
Thank you to all who stood up to a super-majority of the Texas Legislature and the Speaker of the House, Joe Straus, who successfully pushed Proposition 6 — the water amendment — on Texans. Our Nix 6 forces won in 18 counties, notably at ground zero for the groundwater war (Bastrop and Lee counties) and in most rural counties where we organized. This was a wild cross-partisan coalition that has a future, if we keep building at the grassroots.
Nix 6 Houston, Tom & Kathy Glass (Libertarian Party for Governor), Tom Sherman (CCTWR), Heidi Theiss (Raging Elephants Radio), Barry Klein (Houston Property Rights)
Nix 6 Austin, Bill Bunch (SOS), Roger Baker, Heather Fazio (TAG), Lenee Lovejoy, (Hays Co. Republicans), Michele Gangnes, Neighbors for Neighbors
Nix 6 in DFW Press Conference with Rep. Simpson, Debra Medina, Linda Curtis, Jerry Pilulinski (Ft. Worth) & Shirley Shumake (NE Texas landowner)
Not yet pictured – San Antonio Nix 6 press conference with Alyssa Burgin (Texas Drought Project), Terri Hall (Texas TURF), Sam Brannon (Hays County Republicans), Jake Tucker, UTSA student activist and Rachell Tucker, Bexar County Green Party.
Peck Young, the reformer
Brian Rodgers, ChangeAustin.org
Winners of the Year:
Thank you Peck Young, retired longtime Democratic political consultant for paying your dues, donating 1000s of hours for reform by playing the most instrumental role in the city of Austin voters’ passage of geographic representation “10-1” (single-member districts) and the first citizens redistricting commission in the state of Texas. Yes, sometimes old (party) dogs learn new tricks.
Thank you Brian Rodgers, co-founder of ChangeAustin.org for your work as an Austin City Council appointee to the Impact Advisory Committee, winning over the Council to implementing full impact fees for water and wastewater on new developments — a step in the right direction for Austin’s affordability. (Disclosure: Brian, for years, has also put his money where his mouth is financially supporting Linda Curtis to do her political organizing work.)
Though the passage of the new 10-1 geographic representation voting system in the city of Austin was in 2012, it was just this year that the first independent citizens redistricting commission actually drew the lines. Hats off to the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (14 volunteer commissioners) and adios to the coalition behind all this — Austinites for Georgraphic Representation – involving hundreds of volunteers. Note: the Austin Chronicle calls the already busy field of candidates shaping up for the 2014 Austin Council election a “free-for-all”. We, independents, call it good ol’ electoral competition — what it’s all about!
Simsboro Aquifer Defenders: (l to r) Eric Allmon, Michelle Gangnes, Andy Meyer, Darwyn Hanna, Ernie Bogart, Betz Brown, Don Grissom, Steve Box and Phil Cook (not pictured)
Community Effort of the Year:
Thanks to the people of the Lost Pines (Bastrop & Lee counties), led by these individuals who stepped up in 2013, to protect one of the most important aquifers in Texas from the worst kind of profiteers — water speculators. There’s lots more to come on the water front in 2014 folks, so stay tuned!
Biggest Challenge for 2014
East Texas is ground zero for the transport of hazardous tar sands crude via three pipelines (Keystone XL, Pegasus and Seaway) and rail and, with increased fracking, there are many new LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) lines expected. They all pose very serious hazards to land, water, air and/or public safety. We must all ask if there is serious oversight of these facilities or has the oil and gas industry become an appendage of Texas government? We have a lot more work to do in 2014 to answer the questions.
Thank you to the audience and speakers who came out to 9 citizen hearings in November and December 2013. Lots of discussion is taking place now about what’s the next step, so please be sure to join the League of Independent Voters of Texas — the new membership organization for independent voters, for just $20 for the year. The League’s site is here.
These are pictures from just some of the hearings. Additional thanks are to Connie & Jessica Ellison (Big Sandy hearing), Pastor Aubrey Vaughan, Beulaland Baptist Church (Cleveland Hearing), NAC Stop & SafeCommunityAlliance.org (Nacogdoches hearing), Amy Goodwin (Lufkin hearing) and Alec Johnson and a team of volunteers who produced TexasPipelineWatch.org.
Bryan Citizens Hearing, December 3, 2013 - (l to r) Kathleen Hubbard (Brazos River Bottom Alliance), Linda Curtis (League of Independent Voters), Tom "Smitty" Smith (Public Citizen), Mike Hathorn, Cherokee County landowner
Beaumont Citizens Hearing, December 6, 2013 (l to r) Attorney Dewayne Layfield, Isom Ramsey (Beaumont resident/community organizer), Linda Curtis, Jim Williams (Public Safety), Beaumont Deputy Fire Marshall Jeff McNeal
Fairfield Citizens Hearing, December 4, 2013 (l to r) Barbara Lawrence, Linda Curtis, Debra Medina, Charles Morgan, Tom "Smitty" Smith, Helen Pickett
Roans Prairie Citizens Hearing, Nov. 21, 2013
Art Olbert, Austinites for Georgraphic Representation
Eric Grose (l) and Andy Meyer, new farmers in Paige, TX
Volunteers and Donors of the Year:
Thank you, Art Olbert, for entertaining us by speaking at our convention, hammering home your points so well. Art donated so many hours developing the super-website and as well as lots of funds to Austinites for Geographic Representation, we had to thank him here.
Thank you Henry Urban (waving at you above), Lee Dustman (not pictured), Eric Grose, The Scouras Family (not pictured) Miriam Hall (not pictured), Andy Meyer, Jeff Harper (not pictured) and Thomas Beatty and Max Anderson & Vanessa Ramos & Patrick McDonald (not pictured) for your donations of great film and video work for us! We are very grateful to you guys and gals for your volunteerism, your donations, your shared expertise and your moral support in 2013!
Independent Texans' First State Convention - thanks to all who attended, as far away as Paris and McAllen
And finally, thanks to the Rat Pack - you know who you are!