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Mertzon City Council June 3 2024

A short cactus with mean thorns
Echinocactus texensis

The Horse Crippler Cactus is common in Irion County, though they are hard to spot because of their low profile of just an inch or two. Yes, their thorns can cripple a horse. Horses are aware of their danger as they will break stride or hop to avoid stepping on one. Here is more information about the plant at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.


Here is the agenda for this meeting, with my Agenda Analysis and Meeting Analysis below. Here are the meeting documents for this meeting.

Agenda for public meeting
Mertzon City Council Agenda

A. Agenda Analysis 1. Meeting Time: Note this meeting is on June 3, 2024 at 6:30 and conflicts with the ICISD Board meeting at the same time. 2. Municipal Alleys, item 5: Municipalities under Texas law regulate the streets and alleys. If a property owner wants to run an underground pipeline across an alley, they must receive permission by the municipality. And, if a governmental body wishes to close an alley, it too must receive permission from the municipality. That's City Gym in a nutshell. ICISD never received proper approval from the City of Mertzon when it closed an alley to build the new gym with the 2019 bond funds. And, that failure is what makes the Tort Claims Act (see this page at A.4.a. ) relevant even today for the governmental employees and elected officials of both ICISD and the City of Mertzon. Government employees and elected officials cannot build off a foundational error of an improperly closed alley and a structure that floods a community and expect to enjoy the protection of governmental immunity, especially if they continue to take actions that flood the community with additional construction. It is a good sign that the City is regulating the alley in this agenda item. That is Texas law. The question is looming, however, about how the City and ICISD will interpret these same laws as ICISD moves forward with more construction with the 2024 bond funds. Political firestorms have unanticipated consequences. They create messes for the rest of us to clean up.


Photo of a horse crippler cactus with a pad lock key hanging from one of its thorns.
Horse Crippler Cactus with a padlock key to put its meanness in context.

B. Meeting Analysis (meeting documents here) 1. Crossing alley with water well line, item 5: The James' sought and received permission from the Council to cross an alley between their lots with a water well line. The significance for my purposes is as stated above - the City Council controls and regulates our city streets as well as alleys. The concept that municipalities regulate alleys is central to understanding my City Gym argument that the gym built with 2019 bond funds sits on top of an alley that was not properly closed. 2. Administrative Report, b. Other announcements: At the last page of the documents for this meeting you'll see the request to abandon a street and alley that runs through the Elkins' property. This was not a matter listed specifically on the agenda and so was not voted on. The consensus from Council Members Crutchfield and Councilman was that the Council had been advised by their attorney to not abandon streets or alleys because it would created a bad precedent. Indeed, Council Member Crutchfield attempted to re-write history by saying, "We were told by our attorney to never do it. Once we do it sets bad precedent. Never have before." Council Member Crutchfield, of course, was responsible for making the motion to abandon 4th Street for the new gym.

3. Items from the Council, b. Other announcements: In a fascinating exchange about how council members should respond to people complaining about W. Fleming being closed, Council Member Crutchfield made a jaw dropping reveal that it was ICISD Principal Jessica Parker who complained to him that the street should be re-opened. See B.4. on this page for more context. Principal Parker has been a longtime advocate for the new gym, the closure of 4th Street and the alley. (This guy!!!!!) She has never expressed publicly any concern about the flooding, though her father's business offices are in the direct path of the flood waters. (Supt. Gray even publicly exclaimed her support for the new gym during the pre-bond election public meetings in April 2019. )

So, ICISD was silent on the matter of the recent closure of W. Fleming because they wanted it open, floodwaters and debris on my property and those beneath me be damned. This position would be consistent with their view, as described to me by Supt. Moore, that 3rd street can be closed independently of W. Fleming Ave. There's a reason I can't let my advocacy would obviously be cheaper for ICISD if it could de-couple their request to close 3rd Street with the ongoing flooding of W. Fleming Ave. and its lower elevations. (Football field.)

By the way, Mayor Stewart's recommendation to the Council members who hear complaints about the street being closed? Complainers should take it up with the ICISD. The problem started with them.

4. Decorum, please: During the discussion about how to respond to complainers Council Member Holland, apparently taking the opportunity to speak her mind since I was not present in the meeting, said that I should "grow up" and "get a life." Such words were unnecessary in a public meeting. Actually, I'm working on a pretty cool website these days, thank you. Best I can tell, no one else is doing what I am doing on this site. In my youth at ICISD, you bet, I was immature and needed to grow up. But, I was of course young then. As I've aged, I've learned that I especially enjoy owning my words and speaking my mind. I'm also more at ease than ever at allowing those around me to be responsible for their own discomfort with my presence. Aging has few benefits, and I'm going squeeze this one as long as I can speak and type!

I've just charged up the battery to my RadRover 6 Plus fat tire ebike - with my own diy solar panels no less - and its time to celebrate the conclusion of this day with a bike ride around Mertzon!

This Horse Crippler keeps company with the ants in this ant bed. The ants devour its flowers and seeds each Spring.

Here is a photo of this same Horse Crippler in full bloom last year.


Horse Crippler Cactus in front of two headstones
Horse Crippler in the cemetery plot of Alice Patterson Blackwell Noelke and Ferdnand Noelke, my Great Great Grandparents, in the Mertzon Cemetery.


Copyright 2024 G Noelke


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