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Chad’s Morning Brief: Texas Water Wars, Ellerbrook Case in Lubbock, & More

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of March 19, 2012. Give us your feedback below and tune in to Lubbock’s First News with Chad Hasty for these and many more topics from 6-9 am.

Scott Olson, Getty Images

1. Farmers Battle Ogallala Pumping Limits (link)

This might be one of the most important stories that you read today. Property rights, State lawmakers, and water. It will be an ongoing battle and a very important battle to watch in the legislature. Here are a few selections from the Texas Tribune story:

Water is a contentious issue across Texas, but tensions have been especially high in a 16-county groundwater conservation district stretching from south of Lubbock into the Panhandle, an area considered part of America’s “breadbasket.” There, farmers reliant on the slowly diminishing Ogallala are fighting to maintain their right to pump unrestricted amounts of water. The issue gained urgency last month when a landmark Texas Supreme Court opinion confirmed that landowners own the water beneath their property, in the same way they own the oil and gas.

The ruling opens up water districts like the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District, which covers the 16-county West Texas area and is the largest such district, to litigation from landowners, said Amy Hardberger, a water expert with the Environmental Defense Fund and a visiting professor at Texas Tech University’s School of Law. The West Texas clash, she added, is a “micro-sample of what could be happening all across Texas.”

State Senator Robert Duncan is also quoted in the story.

State Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, whose constituency includes many High Plains farmers, said he viewed the district’s actions as “necessary to make sure that we preserve irrigated agriculture out in the High Plains for as long as possible.”

The state has essentially encouraged groundwater districts to be active, especially in aquifers like the Ogallala that are being depleted, Duncan said, and “I believe the groundwater district has worked hard to try to accommodate the concerns and interests of the different producers and commodity groups that exist and that operate on the Ogallala.”

Again, keep an eye on this story.

2. The Ellerbrook Case Could Cost Lubbock Over $400k (link)

Last week the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Lubbock did retaliate against Martha Ellerbrook. According to the local paper, Ellerbrook’s attorney said Lubbock could pay more than the $243,000 judgement.

On Friday, Dent said at the time of the jury’s decision in U.S. District Court in Lubbock, fees for Ellerbrook totaled a little more than the $243,000 the jury awarded to her.

Now, after the appeal, Dent said he wouldn’t be surprised if the number they submit is double the $243,000 judgment, or $486,000.

As I said last week, don’t be surprised if the City keeps fighting this. As they should. I don’t understand why Martha Ellerbrook is owed anything. Maybe I’m missing something, but it just seems like this whole deal was a set-up from the beginning. Follow me here.

Martha Ellerbrook worked for the City from 1989 until 2003 when he position was eliminated as part of a reduction in force. Her husband, Terry, worked for the City from 1985 until 2005 when he was told he was going to be fired. Terry filed a grievance and the city changed his job title.

In 2006, Terry filed a lawsuit against the City of Lubbock. His wife, Martha, helped her husband with his claims against the city. Martha then decided to apply for a job in which she eventually was told she didn’t get. She files a lawsuit at that point claiming the city didn’t hire her because she helped her husband sue the city.

Am I missing something? Why do the Ellerbrook’s think they are entitled to jobs at the City of Lubbock? Why would Martha Ellerbrook try and get a job with an employer her husband is suing? It doesn’t make sense unless the Ellerbrooks knew that they could get money out of the City of Lubbock by suing them.

3. Eric Holder Wants to Brainwash People (link)

A video from 1995 has come to light showing Attorney General Eric Holder calling for people to be brainwashed against guns.

“What we need to do is change the way in which people think about guns, especially young people, and make it something that’s not cool, that it’s not acceptable, it’s not hip to carry a gun anymore, in the way in which we changed our attitudes about cigarettes.”

Holder added that he had asked advertising agencies in the nation’s capital to assist by making anti-gun ads rather than commercials “that make me buy things that I don’t really need.” He had also approached local newspapers and television stations, he said, asking them to devote prime space and time, respectively, to his anti-gun campaign.

Local political leaders and celebrities, Holder said, including Mayor Marion Barry and Jesse Jackson, had been asked to help. In addition, he reported, he had asked the local school board to make the anti-gun message a part of “every day, every school, and every level.”

Check out the story and video about how our Attorney General feels about a constitutional right.

4. Occupy Wall St. is Back. Sorta. (link)

The six month anniversary of OWS was held over the weekend. Instead of really having a message, protestors just walked around and got arrested.

The park remained closed on Sunday with a sprinkling of police surrounding it, keeping the area clear while crews cleaned up following Saturday night’s protests. A sweep just before midnight, when roughly 300 demonstrators had gathered in the park, capped a day of protests and marching in lower Manhattan.

The New York Police Department said it arrested 73 protesters between Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning.

Ed Needham, one of several members of the leaderless movement’s press team, said the weekend’s flare-up could draw renewed attention to Occupy Wall Street.

5. Dumb story of the morning (link)

Take a left, into the Ocean.

Three Japanese tourists in Australia found themselves in an embarrassing situation after their GPS navigation system lured them down the wrong path.

The three, who are students from Tokyo, set out to drive to North Stradbroke Island on the Australian coast Thursday morning, and mapped out their path on their GPS system.

The road looked clear, at low tide – but the map forgot to show the 9 miles of water and mud between the island and the mainland.

As the three drove their rented Hyundai Getz into Moreton Bay, they found the GPS device guiding them from a gravel road into thick mud.  They tried to get back to solid ground, but as the tide rose they were forced to abandon their car.  Passengers on passing ferries watched in amazement.

“It told us we could drive down there,” Yuzu Noda, 21, told the local Bayside Bulletin. “It kept saying it would navigate us to a road. We got stuck . . . there’s lots of mud.”

Noda and her friends made it about 50 yards offshore before they realized they were stranded. A tow truck driver eventually gave them a lift back to the mainland. The students decided not to have the car repaired because of the damage. The car was insured, though Noda will still have to pay about $1,500 that was not covered.

 

6. Good Brews Good News of the Day (link)

The New York Daily News was able to get exclusive pictures from the all new World Trade Center in NYC. The building will be the tallest in the country when it’s completed. You can check out the pictures on the link above. Great to see progress is being made on the tower.

Everyday, Good Brews Coffee & Tea Lounge brings you the Good News of the Day! Join LFN on Tuesday, March 20, from 7-9am at Good Brews! Details!

Other Top Stories:

Abbott Seeking Higher Office?

A Battle for Congressional District 25 in Texas

Romney Wins Puerto Rico

Who Gets Deported?

LFN LIVE at Good Brews on Tuesday!

Guests Appearing on LFN Today:

Congressman Randy Neugebauer at 7:37am

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of Lubbock’s First News with Chad Hasty. Tune in mornings 6-9am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.

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