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February 25th, 2008
Sumter meets another hostile crowd at hearing

Senior Correspondent

KYLE — Hays County Judge Liz Sumter, a Wimberley Democrat, kept her appointment to meet with Kyle citizens from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday. And, at the crack of four, she said, “It’s 4 o’clock,” and she was out of there.

As Sumter wheeled out of town after a round of hostile questioning, Kylites found her composure every bit as baffling as her explanations. Sumter raised more than one eyebrow for indicating that she wants to dedicate $8 million to U.S. 290.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) pulled teeth two weeks ago to win a vote for $19.5 million in revenue bonds, with $4 million going to U.S. 290 and much of the remainder dedicated to improvements on Interstate-35. If, indeed, Sumter can move another $4 million to U.S. 290, Kylites wished to know what would become of the I-35 projects, which also face May letting deadlines.

With about 15 minutes left in the session, Sumter asked to talk about other projects besides roads, saying it seemed as if all anyone wanted to talk about was road issues.

Almost in unison, many of the 40 people assembled said, “There’s a reason for that.”

So, when Sumter managed to turn the crowd away from roads, the crowd began peppering her about the January case of Florinda Martinez, who wanted a variance from the county commissioners court to install a septic system. When Martinez and her husband built their modest home on the east side of the county, they didn’t know the man from whom they bought the land hadn’t filed a subdivision plat with the county.

By the letter of the law, the county doesn’t have to issue a permit. But it’s not really the letter of the law that compelled the commissioners to deny the permit. After all, the letter of the law also allows variances for special cases, such as the Martinez case, in which the county’s department heads recommended the variance.

But this commissioners court has a political problem with septic systems ever since Sumter, Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos) and Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford (D-Dripping Springs) voted to revoke a septic permit for San Marcos resident Nick Ramus, who has since filed to run for Ingalsbe’s seat as a Republican in November.

A foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds, the same court majority figured it couldn’t very well grant a variance for Martinez. Sumter told the Kyle throng that the commissioners simply didn’t have enough information to grant a variance for Martinez, prompting residents to protest that a competent county judge could develop that information quickly and come back with the right decision.

The session continued with Kyle residents disparaging Sumter’s leadership and Sumter arguing her case. But then 4 o’clock came along, and that was quittin’ time.

BILL PETERSON is editor of where this article was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership with 

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One thought on “Sumter meets another hostile crowd at hearing

  1. Well, the judge needs to know that she doesn’t just serve the needs of the Wimberley citizens and the Charles Odell’s of the county. Although those people are the most outspoken, everyone deserves the same attention.

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