The last 48 hours have been an interesting and exciting time in the struggle to end the tyranny of forced annexation.  First, the Texas House Committee on Defense and Veterans Affairs held a hearing in the San Antonio City Council Chambers.  Then, the Governor’s office called on us to help push his special session legislative agenda through to passage!
Monday, Chairman Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat from San Antonio, called a hearing to discuss annexation reform and military.  From the outset, the Chairman framed to hearing as a discussion on encroachment to military bases that could negatively impact their ability to conduct the mission.  However, from the first of a dozen “invited” guests to testify, the claims of limiting the annexation power of cities will result in base closures through out Texas were the Kool-Aid of the day.
For over three (3) hours, these invited witnesses gave testimony that the City has to annex our area in order to protect the mission at Camp Bullis.  While no uniformed military member gave testimony, a letter from BGen Heather Pringle, Commander JBSA was read into the record reiterating the fake news that limiting municipal annexation power would make it more difficult to mitigate encroachment; several civilians from the military gave testimony making the same claim.  The rest of the invited testimony was from City of San Antonio staff and other municipal employees from the surrounding area.
Finally, resident testimony began.  The first two (2) to speak where residents I had not met before and spoke in favor of annexation…was that order a coincidence?  I’ll let you draw your own conclusion.
Next, we got to over 35 residents that signed up to talk on supporting the right to vote on who governs us AND supporting the military mission.  One by one, residents gave testimony the refuted every bit of smoke screen the invited witnesses put forth.  From the egregious development and encroachment at the Rim compared to the modest and mostly residential development in the County.  From the special delayed annexation deals granted to the communities on the east side of Camp Bullis that border the post to the armageddon of not annexing the I10 West area that does not even abut Camp Bullis.
While encroachment and the right to vote on annexation are two different issues, we believe the City has asked the military to come out on their side of the issue.  We demonstrated numerous tools the County has to mitigate encroachment so we just need to keep saying the same message.  It is clear the City has not been a good steward of reducing encroachment as evidenced by the dense development on the southern border of Camp Bullis while the County side of Camp Bullis has mostly less dense residential development.  How many four (4) story building are in the County near or around Camp Bullis?  That’s right, none.  How many of the buildings at the Rim look down into Camp Bullis?  That’s right, many.
The Committee claimed they would support our right to vote on annexation as long as the military mission is protected.  While I think we demonstrated that, we will need to continue to drive this point home.  Mostly we need facts on the encroachment so please reach out to us if you have data to refute the City claims.
I would acknowledge that Chairman Gutierrez was gracious with the time he allowed each resident to speak.  He could have limited our testimony to two (2) minutes but allowed people to speak as much as they wanted.  Of course, this came after hours of “invited” witnesses on the other side of the issue.
My hat goes off to Representative Terry Wilson, Republican from Georgetown.  He asked insightful questions and appears to be on the side of liberty!  Representative Phil Cortez, Democrat from the Alamo Ranch was also on the dais and is very supportive of our cause.
Tuesday, the Governor’s office reached out to us and we were able to have a conference call with high level staff members.  The Governor is asking for our help to get the special session agenda through the legislative process.  Private property rights are a top item on his list and he has vowed to support annexation reform and our right to vote!  We are looking forward to working with the Governor to get annexation reform done so we can end the tyranny of forced annexation once and for all!
During the next few weeks we will be finalizing the strategy for the special session and begin emails, calls and visits to the Capitol.  Please prepare yourself for trips to Austin about the end of July to give testimony.
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Other coverage is available at the Texas Tribune, The San Antonio Express News and Texas Public Radio.