LOVE this time of year. One thing I always like to do is consider what, if anything, I would add or change to Somervell County Salon for the upcoming year. I have some external things I want to get done in 2017 which will, of necessity, change a lot of the things that I've enjoyed posting about, due to wanting to spend time in other areas.
What is Somervell County Salon blog about? I started this blog about 10-11 years ago to have a place to write about politics. At first, it was mostly national and state politics, but morphed into local politics. I have spent a lot of time over the years either video recording or acquiring audio of various local government entities, for the purpose of both making these meetings known and available to others, as well as providing me (and others) a platform to write about them. About page Technical background - Men who can't understand that a woman can have a blog (Gasp!)
Item #1 is adding a forum, which should be ready by January 2017. The forum, which anyone can post or comment on, will require registration. The way it will work is that would be registrars will need to go through a captcha, then an email will be sent to reply with which will confirm the registration. Then, for the first post, the post will be held pending approval. There are, as always, specific board rules that include no ad hominem attacks,etc. I will probably be using the forum as a way to list scanner events I happen to hear. I don't listen 24x7 but when I do, I have wanted a place for others to see as well as comment. For various reasons I am not enamoured of Facebook as a way to do that.
Item # 2 I've also changed the commenting on the blog to require registration, as over the years I have dealt with an unbelievable amount of spam, mainly because I have allowed guest/anonymous comments. When a guest posts, the post or comment is always held before posting, in order to ensure that a spammer bot is not posting crapola. Since I altered the posting to allow registered users only, the spam has dropped to zero, which is great for me!
Item #3 I'm going to continue to provide updates for local crime news, when I hear of it, as well as ongoing lawsuits. There are 2 lawsuits that are going on, into 2017. One is the Turk lawsuit against Ray Reynolds (CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center) and the Somervell County Hospital District board. That one has a tentative court date in Waco in the late spring of 2017. The other is the case that the State of Texas (ie, Andy Lucas) continues to pursue against former Somervell County Hospital District board member Paul Harper. That case has been resolved twice in the 10th Court of Appeals in Harper's favor, on freedom of speech and freedom of petition grounds but Lucas continues to fight the rulings. Currently the case is at the Texas Supreme Court going into 2017. (State of Texas ex rel George Darrell Best v Paul Harper)
Item #4 Going to increase efforts again to ask local government entities to post audio on government websites to make them easily available for others to hear. Somervell County Commissioners Court and the Somervell County Water District do an excellent job of this. Somervell County Hospital District posts video of meetings within 10 days on their youtube channel. Would like the City of Glen Rose (with all related departments such as P&Z, GREDC, etc), Glen Rose ISD, and Somervell CAD to also post their audio and make it available. People work. People have other critical things to do. Sometimes one meeting time and date conflicts with another meeting. Therefore, being able to hear or see for one self, even after the fact, is important for democracy.
Item #5- As always, my emphasis is on freedom of speech, open meetings and public information. When there are those, particularly in government, that seek to limit citizens right to know what their government is doing (looking at you, Ron Hankins), people should not only fight back against those limits, but actively share information that can only help to make informed decisions for what to converse with elected officials about. That cannot happen when govenrment actions are illegally done or attempts are made to shroud them in secrecy.