San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 29th, 2009
Rose draws Democratic primary opponent


Four-term State Representative Patrick Rose, left, has drawn an opponent for the 2010 Democratic Primary in Andrew Backus, right, a board member of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. Photo by Sean Batura.

News Reporter

Four-term State Representative Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs) has drawn an opponent in the March primary.
Andrew Backus of Driftwood, a long-time Rose opponent in matters of local groundwater management, filed his intention to run with the Texas Secretary of State on Dec. 15.
Backus is a member of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) board, which is responsible for water conservation in the western portions of Hays County. HTGCD and Rose have been at odds over the kind of authority the board should be granted by the state.
Backus has expressed support for ad valorem taxation authority for the district and increased metering of non-exempt wells, while Rose has cited “property rights concerns” about more HTGCD authority and has publicly stated his opposition to the district having the power to tax property.
Backus did not answer numerous requests for comment.
Rose campaign representative Randy Thompson said he would not speculate on Backus’s platform beyond the HTGCD matter, adding that Rose has high approval in legislative District 45 on a broad range of issues.
“I’m just saying that (HTGCD authority is) one policy debate about one issue, and the district as a whole is concerned about not only water, but it’s concerned about jobs, transportation, healthcare, the budget, education,” Thompson said. “And that’s what this election is going to be determined on, and whether or not Representative Rose has done a good job and should be reelected. And I think history has shown that he has a good job.”
Rose originally won the seat in a tightly contested 2002 election against then-incumbent Rick Green (R-Dripping Springs). Rose has won three elections since in notoriously purple Hays County, which anchors his district. The district also includes Caldwell and Blanco Counties.
During the 2009 state legislative session, HTGCD attempted to get Rose’s and State Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) to support a bill allowing the groundwater district to hold an election so residents within its jurisdiction could determine whether to allow the district to tax property. 
HTGCD’s legislation also proposed to allow its board members, who are elected officials, to vote on whether to institute other funding mechanisms, such as an increase of the new well construction and utility connection fees to $400 each from $300. 
The two fees now constitute the groundwater district’s only sources of funding other than grants. HTGCD’s proposed legislation would have allowed board members to implement a new well owner registration fee of up to $125 and a well production fee of 17 cents per thousand gallons of pumped groundwater.
Wentworth and Rose declined to support HTGCD’s legislation, offering a bill that would have allowed HTGCD to generate up to $100,000 per year for two years by charging utility customers served by wells pumping more than 25,000 gallons per day a $2.00 per month fee to finance a study of the aquifer. Rose and Wentworth disagreed with the district’s assessment that it needs at least $400,000 per year to effectively manage groundwater production. 
HTGCD’s enabling legislation, which lacked a provision for the district to collect ad valorem taxes, charge well production fees, or require permitting of domestic wells pumping less than 25,000 gallons, was ratified by the 77th Legislature in 2001. The residents of the proposed district then confirmed its existence in an election on May 3, 2003, by a vote of 1,702 to 883.
Backus’ wife Jean is campaign treasurer for Hays County Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford (D-Dripping Springs), who has supported the maximum amount of authority for the district as allowable under Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code. Ford said in March that full Chapter 36 authority for HTGCD was politically impossible before voting for a resolution in support of more limited authority for the groundwater district.
At HTGCD’s Dec. 10 board meeting, Rose announced that he and Wentworth intend to support more funding authority and power for HTGCD, including full Chapter 36 authority, if a stakeholder group recommends it. The individuals and entities Rose and Wentworth chose to be in the stakeholder group are intended to represent the conservation community, the community-at-large, the realtor or the business community, water suppliers and elected officials. 
Texas State’s River Systems Institute Executive Director Andrew Sansom, who the legislators chose to direct the stakeholder process, said he hopes the stakeholders can reach a consensus by Fall 2010.

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23 thoughts on “Rose draws Democratic primary opponent

  1. Great, a single issue candidate who ignores the media…didn’t we just see this in the city elections? Sounds like this guy only cares about one small portion of a district which runs thru three counties! Think I’ll stick with Rose who realizes there is more than just ONE issue facing our THREE counties!

  2. Water is the foundational issue for our entire state.

    If water is to remain available to citizens at affordable prices and in quantities that keep our faucets running and our streams and rivers flowing, then we need to take seriously the overwhelming political and financial resources that are working to make water private (and increasingly expensive) in this state.

    Water is the new gold, so they say, and Patrick Rose has made political alliances with people like former Governor Dolph Briscoe and his business associates who are fast becoming the biggest holders of water rights in the state, certainly the biggest in the Edwards Aquifer.

    Is it any wonder that Wentworth and Rose do not want to see effective local control of groundwater resources? You certainly cannot trust local people to make decisions about something as important (and as lucrative) as this.

    Sansom’s “stakeholder” committee is stacked with water companies, realtors and developers, the ordinary citizens would have barely a say as to how their water will be managed. Who told Rose and Wentworth to form a committee like this anyway and where did they get the notion that water privateers should have more say than residents?

    This entire proposal is an outrage. How about we just have a vote like the HTGCD asked for. Voters as stakeholders? What a concept.

    There is big money nowadays in making water private and making the selling of water a big business. We need someone who will represent the water and the people who rely on it for their daily existences and not someone actively involved with mining the “new gold” for profit.

    If they sell all our water rights out from under us, how much we will we have to pay to buy that water back?

  3. right now there is a lot of water falling out of the sky for free.. I am getting more than I want right now, is the somewhere I can cash it in for that “new gold” prior poster was ranting about. Since my county taxes have been going to support the H-T the other residents of the Edwards zone and I ought to get to vote on any proposals from htgcd.

    Do you get the idea that Backus is part of the Odell crowd ? He is not a licensed geologist but has portrayed himself as one at commissioners court. He is famous in some circles for his statement that while the calculations for water availibility came out to about 4.5 acres he felt like that wasnt enough and doubled it to 9 acres. I doubt the kind of whining politics we saw from him on the H-T board would prove to be very effective at the Ledge. There is a responsibility of elected officials to put their own agendas aside and to work for the good of all of the people they represent. something very lacking with a number of the folks who have managed to get elected here in Hays county.

  4. One candidate wants more of your tax money (Backus) and the other has stated publicly he is against increased taxes.(Rose) Seems like an easy choice for voters who are already sick and tired of government intervention into their lives. From Federal to State to Local, we’re being raped by our leaders and the authorities they lean on to impose their taxes.

  5. Django, the words “effective local control” and “Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District” shouldn’t appear together, unless the topic is antonyms.

  6. Rose didn’t seem to mind wasting our tax dollars when he took a taxpayer-funded vacation to Ardmore, OK a few years back…..for that reason, he will never have my vote.

  7. Dano you obviously have never been to Ardmore or you’d know that’s NO vacation…and your “facts” are wrong. Taxpayers did not, and could not, pay for that trip. Perhaps you should educate yourself and find the truth before spouting garbage, or have you just been watching Fox news too much???

  8. Taxpayers may not have paid for the trip buy we sure as heck paid for the time that they walked off their jobs and ran away like school children that did not get their way. If I did that to my boss, I would be fired!

  9. I am as disgusted as any of the rest of yall by that “run away” strategem they pulled when it was obvious that the Dems were not going to get what they wanted during redistricting. Cartagraphic science should be used to do redistricting, it should be done by neutral parties. Techocrat staff personnel or outside consultants. That is no reason to vote for someone infinitely worse…….but then this is about the Democratic primary, so maybe it is not that big of a deal to a lot of us.

  10. The main thing I recall from the 2008 race was how Patrick Rose stayed away from the name “Democrat”. Of all the campaign ads, signs, fliers, etc that I saw they either didn’t mention he was a Democrat or tried to hide it among more politically neutral words. He campaigned as a moderate and it worked; he won every single precinct in Hays County and won reelection with a cushy margin, by virtue of picking up several thousand McCain voters.

    Backus has a SLIM outside chance if he is able to convince Democratic primary voters that Rose is too conservative. But don’t bet on it, Rose has an uncanny appeal to the technophillic Kossack-type progressives that transcends voting records.

  11. We could always redistrict based on hydrological boundaries. Keep the people who live in one watershed/aquifer in the same voting district. This would at least provide us with one actual common concern based on some sort of reality.

  12. The goal of government is not common sense or what’s best for the community… it’s just about power and influence, nothing more, nothing less.

  13. Too funny!! Always amazed how blindly people believe the “party line” stuff as if there is really any difference in what people do once elected. Get a reality check because NEITHER the republicans nor democrats really care about the people, only about getting themselves re-elected. Duh, why else do we still have the same problems and no solutions after decades of EACH party having been in total control in Washington or Austin?? That’s why all the poltical talk and promises are meaningless ’cause there is never any action to back it up.

  14. I think that it is great that Rose has a primary contender, if for no other reason that no one person (Republican or Democrat) should go uncontested for too long (if ever). There are more issues than just water that they disagree on, and I wish that Backus would respond to media inquires so that he can get his view point out there.
    That being said, yes, Rose is a conservative Democrat BUT he represents a liberally conservative or a conservatively liberal county (depending on the day and issue). The water issue should not be underplayed here, it is HUGE in the county and the state, but I’m not convinced yet that Rose hasn’t done as much as he can to work towards a solution on this issue (but on the state level I’m not very well versed). As a Democrat I hope to hear more from Backus and hope for a great race that brings up important issues for our county (and for Texas State students).

  15. While I disagree with Patrick at times and find that he sometimes seems to forget that he represents Hays County rather than a Senate district-i.e. siding with the Comal County downtown establishment in some judicial redistricting, I agree with Amanda, he is a conservative democrat that does a great job of representing the center core of the districts values. I will be open to hear from Mr. Backus but I doubt that he would move me from voting for Patrick. That being said I think that Patrick needs to consider that there are some far more serious Republicans looking at his race in 2012 and if he does not step up to the plate for Hays County during this session then he may have more of a problem in 2012.

  16. Maybe the taxpayers didn’t pay for their hotels or meals, but we paid all right……who do you think paid for the salaries of the law enforcement officers who had to go up there are retrieve the runaway legislators? How much money was wasted by having to have not one but several special sessions that year to catch up on the work that they were supposed to be doing while they were hiding out in OK instead?

    Regardless, I expect more from our legislative bodies than cheap publicity stunts when a vote isn’t going to go their way. I’m sure within the Democratic party, these people were held up as heroes, but to the rest of us, they became a laughingstock.

  17. First of all “Dano” , again let’s review the facts: Those special sessions were called by republicans in an effort to gerrymander political districts, and NOT in connection with the normal “every ten year redistricting” under the Census. It was a power grap attempt when republicans took control, again NOT the normal redistricting that takes place in a regular session following the Census every ten years. Thus the real culprit in wasting money was the republican leadership team of Perry, Dewhurst and Craddock. And now that they have set the precedent, don’t be surprised when democrats do the exact same thing if and when they take control again. Thus back to my original point–both parties are just alike, don’t be fooled.

  18. Patrick Rose is a political creature beyond mere Democrat or Republican labels. He is working for his corporate and special interest donors, big water rights holders, pipeline contractors, real estate developers, road contractors, lobbyists of various and sundry stripes and the lawyers that make all this finagling possible.

    Young Mr. Rose is open for business and if you look at who fills his million dollar “war chest”, it is not people or interests in his District, but money from outside sources.

    Patrick Rose has voted time and again to minimize the influence of local residents over their own land and resources and instead hand over control to outside developers.

    The reason for this is simple: He is paid handsomely to do this by financial backers outside this District for whom our land and water are sources of revenue. He is working with water moguls like the Briscoe and Zachry families (Patrick is Dolph Briscoe’s largest recipient of political contributions and the Zachrys own Capitol Aggregates and Cintra-Zachry, the international road building company) to enable water pipelines out of a watershed to become a legal reality, thus making it possible to pipe water OUT of this District, bypassing the needs of local residents altogether. He consistently refuses to allow local control of groundwater resources and considers water profiteers to have equal footing with local residents when considering management goals and funding. This is clearly because he opposes local control of water in favor of corporate control. Water for profit is always at someone’s expense.

    Young Mr. Rose has a much bigger, far-reaching agenda and the voters in District 45 are merely pawns in this game of his. Rose is using this little District as a steppingstone to higher political office and we would be very wise not to allow this trend to continue or next thing we know, the whole state of Texas will be up for sale at Patrick Rose’s Land and Water Auction. Bidder, bidder, bidder…..?

  19. Yep dejango, you are right… and he’s no different from Perry. Remember how Perry told that state trooper giving his driver a ticket, “do you know who I am”. Yea, it’s on video (thank God for dash cameras!). And how Perry has used TxDot to benefit his backers? Again, people need to look beyond the political parties and not vote lock-step blindly. Insist on intergrity, honesty, and accountability. And someone who will pay attention to the needs of people in their district, especially the middle class which has suffered mightily at the hands of BOTH parties!

  20. The only way I know to really stop career politicians is term limits. Then the big lobbyists and campaign contributors would have a harder time controlling the votes.

  21. Understand what the problem is. When someone is in office for 15-20 years they are able to build an insurmountable name recognition lead and war chest. The interest groups have figured out how they vote and the ones who like their record hand out thousands to keep their interests secured. If you look at the 5 term+ incumbents who have lost, nearly always:

    1. The opponent has significant name recognition and personal money to spend on the campaign,
    2. Had an affair/took a bribe/etc and got caught close to the election, or
    3. They where gerrymandered into an unfriendly district

    Term limits seems like the quick-fix solution. But understand that a politician who is term-limited and isn’t seeking higher office is unaccountable. If the people don’t like what the Congressman/State Senator/whatever does, the people have no recourse since there is no election to boot them out of office. There is one state with a 2-term limit on state assemblymen; after they win that second term they have free reign to take all the hidden bribes and vote however they want, and their constituents have to bite their lips until the next election in two years.

    At least Patrick Rose has to look like he’s listening to us, and on the key votes there are tangible negative consequences for voting against his constituents. If Patrick Rose was term-limited and forbidden to run in 2010, he wouldn’t give a damn about what anyone in Hays County thinks about the HTGCD. It’s up to us to vote out the people who don’t represent us. So those of you who have a problem with Patrick Rose, either get him to listen, or elect someone who will.

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  23. Wow django, you obviously didn’t read the legislation that Backus was trying to whine through. Just like an HOA, the only people that supported it were the board members – they were the primary beneficiaries .

    Let’s see, Backus wanted to take away all exempt wells. Whenever your home was sold, your well would lose its exemption and the next person would have to get a permit from HTGCD which could refuse to grant with impunity. This would have given Backus and his minions rather significant control over a lot of real estate in Hays County. In addition, you were going to have to pay him for the privilege via transfer fees.

    Backus wanted to force everyone onto investor owned central water utilities. In fact, he and Ford colluded to get the subdivision rules changed to provide this result. Those investor owned utilities aren’t municipal water supplies. Who now do you think is supporting the interests you accused Rose of catering to?

    The homeowners would not be compensated for being prohibited from capturing any water and they wouldn’t be compensated for the water drawn from beneath their lots either. Indeed they would now have to pay someone else for the water they could have otherwise drawn for themselves. Whose the beneficiary? The investor owned utility is certainly one. The HTGCD and its board members are the other. As an investor owned utility the water system would be a commercial operation requiring a permit from HTGCD. This would entitle HTGCD to production fees to provide for the salaries and retirement benefits that Backus was ALSO seeking to get from his legislation.

    How about Backus wanting the right to enter onto your property at any time, without a warrant, without probable cause, and without your consent? I don’t really care if 99% of the “locals” support such a proposition. I expect the district to respect my constitutional rights and my interest in my own property. If they have a legitimate reason to enter then they can ask for consent or get a warrant. Backus’ desire to engage in warrantless searches in order to look for “violations” of rules that he promulgates is the type of mentality that isn’t going to be tolerated. That’s the type of “property rights” that Rose sought to protect from the likes of Backus.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” The type of tyrannical rule that Backus sought for himself under the pretext of water conservation when he was “presiding” over the HTGCD was beyond offensive. Regardless of who wins, the type of control that Backus continues to seek to exert over people’s lives and property will be resisted mightily. Certainly there are plenty who don’t want to give Backus the opportunity to expand his sphere of influence and desire to control other aspects of life by putting him the legislature. It’s difficult to guarantee what any politician will do. However, the people on this blog are actually faulting Rose for resisting Backus’ outrageous interference with fundamental property rights. Rose has a history of protecting them. In contrast, Backus has a history of trying to take them away or re-define them to the detriment of the owner.

    As to the stakeholder group – it already has zero representation of the constituents. There is not a homeowner representative on the list. Every representative is on behalf of a corporation or Realtor group. Not one is there to represent the actual voter and property owner. How can this “group” even purport to be a reasonable representation of the citizens of Hays county (who can vote) when no one having the right to vote is permitted to be on the stakeholder group.

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