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November 30, 2004



I don't live in Helotes, but I live in San Antonio and have driven past Helotes and it is a beautiful town. To see another huge ugly Wal-Mart in the middle of the Helotes landscape would anger me. There are so many Wal-Marts around here, it's ridiculous. They keep building more and more, and that is not necessary. There are already plenty of them around within a reasonable distance and the people have spoken. If they really continue after Helotes residents have made up their mind, the only thing would be to not shop there at all, protest by the parking lot/construction site, and spread the word to relatives and friends not to shop at the "Wal-Mart Loop" store and ban it.

Bill Hunger

Questions Seeking Answers, I mean, …

- I’ll bet at least someone (perhaps Mr. Balous Miller) knows…

An Open Letter to ….I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows…

For 20 years our family yearned to move to Helotes, thwarted by one obstacle after another, mostly financial. 20 years. Finally, through the wonderful real estate support of Stevie Seitz, we were able to find the home of our dreams on Star Cross Trail in Helotes Park Estates – where we have lived for the past five years, loving every moment of it (Even the hail – Shucks, when we were moving in a hail storm came and enabled us to have a very nice roof installed! We never need to get insurance on it, the hail comes and has enabled us to have it redone from time to time…all within the warranty period!) But, I digress…

We stop what we are doing outside, and listen – nothing but the sound of birds or ‘country silence.’ You know, when a person comes to visit, I always stop our conversation and ask if he hears ‘it.’ “What?” is the response. I just say that ‘it’ is – the silence! Wouldn’t change it for the world! Even have a web site for years – Super place to raise our Boston Terrier, three adopted ex-racing Greyhounds, and a Greyhound/Catahoula mix. (Did you know the Catahoula, has been the state dog of Louisiana since 1979 – long before we came to Helotes, or San Antonio, for that matter?) The Catahoula’s a cattle-herding dog, called also the Leopard Cur – a kind of one man dog, loyal and trusting. Same thing with me, no cattle, but that kind of trusting feeling of where we now live. The best I can get to Heaven in Texas, as far as I see it. But, is this life being challenged by politics and the desire for money? Well, I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows…

Now, more questions without answers…

Will our family lose what we have saved, and searched for for years to benefit the coffers of a few (or one person, a person I have never met, doubt if I were to be able to recognize, yet have eaten in his ‘home’ several times, enduring poor service and poorly prepared food?) Mr. Miller, I’ll just bet you don’t ‘suffer’ the same low level of service when you come to visit your ‘home’ do you? Do you? I wish you would come with me, and not be recognized and just see what the rest of us experience…) Cheap food: No, not cheap at all, especially the no free refill charge for ice tea. It’s almost anti-Texan to even attempt to do such a thing. (Heck I’ll bet it’s changed since I last stopped going there. No one would have the (fill in the appropriate word) to charge for ice tea refills. No one. ) Almost the same as charging for the air we breath. But, that won’t come to pass in Helotes, will it? But I digress. Cheap service – well, let’s go on. Tell you one thing, after being mistreated there oh, about three times (two times too many. Trusting fool that I am) I’ve slowly come to realize my money’s appreciated, but the line is drawn there. How about you? Do you feel money is the essence and the people aspect, well, let’s move on…You know, that Bill Miller’s over at the corner of O’Connor High School and Bandera, which was once, I believe, school property. I mean, whenever does a school not need land for expansion, yet sells it? I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows why…

I’d like to invite you to come and visit with us in a few years; to sit out front of our home, our retirement home and notice when an infrequent vehicle passes, and know who’s driving it, and wave back and forth. I’m sure nothing will change in the next 5-10 years after Wal-Mart comes to inhabit an area about 1-2 miles away from us, I mean, what could possibly change. Well, I’ll bet you know… Or, for that matter, you might want to stay a spell in the late afternoon and listen to the birds, and maybe even see a deer actually going down the road or a Roadrunner walking by and ‘taking’ to us, and realizing we’ve learned his/her language, enough to get a response. Wouldn’t that be fun, to do in 5-10 years? I’ll bet you know the answer already…. Ok, how about staying a little longer, and have a nice quiet HungerHollow barbeque on us! We could listen to the quiet and, just sit back as it gets darker and watch the stars and the San Antonio skyline…. I mean, we will be able to do that, the stars and the skyline. I mean, nothing will ‘pollute’ the night darkness, will it? I mean, really, only you really know, don’t you? You do care, don’t you? Of course you do! It is your responsibility as a ‘person of means.’ Something about that centuries old feeling of responsibility the landed gentry have for the less fortunate, powerless few, what is it called? Noblese oblige, or something like that? Of course, I don’t have to tell you that. I mean, you’ve known and followed it for years, haven’t you? I mean, shouldering the responsibility, the caring for others less fortunate, the trusting, needing your care, awareness, and support. This is just one of those ‘thangs’ that just happen to come with money and power. Don’t even have to ask for or earn it, just kind of spontaneous, like winning the lottery. It happens, and the burden, the mantle is placed by fate on your shoulders, whether you like it or not. But, I really don’t think it’s quite the same thing as having a large gigantic structure threatening you and your lifestyle, and not being able to do a thing about it, to just have to lie back and take it? You do feel this historic burden, don’t you, Mr. Balous Miller, don’t you…? You are the savior, not the other, aren’t you? Aren’t you?

But, Mr. Balous Miller, just what, I mean just what if it (you know, the “W-word.”)does come - the noise, the traffic and pollution – both light and sounds. We all have rights, don’t we, I mean both of us – you as well as I? We do have recourse, don’t we? I didn’t ask for this, want this, need or feel I’m ‘entitled’ to this. What did I do to you or your family to possibly deserve this (the consequences of a really huge business with a rather questionable reputation coming and living near to me?) We have all kind of rules and regulations regarding criminals and sex offenders, as far as awareness, reporting, and checks and balances. But, what sanctions do we have against a known repeat offender as far as small towns, traffic patterns, pollution of all different kinds, and not-too-spotless human rights record. Surely, your family is aware and has considered the moral and ethical implications the arrival of what some call the true essence, the personification of the corporate ugly American. And, Mr. Miller, I mean, how does it feel to be in total, complete control of whether or not it, and all its fury are unleashed on small town Helotes and the surrounding communities. Awesome, is it not? The power, influence, consequence. I mean, only you, Mr. Balous Miller know…

Now, it seems to me that everyone has the right to do with his property as he sees fit. Stevie, of the Helotes Council on Economic Development (or some name similar to that) would certainly vouch for that, and has mentioned that to me several times. As you will recall, Stevie and I go back several years, and she has done wonders for me, in real estate sales and purchases. I mean, I think the world of her, and do listen to her. Ought not to try to tell a person how to use or divest himself of his own property. I mean, that’s one of the great aspects of our country, our economy. Arguing against that is quite the same as not eating apple pie and never going to a ball game. It’s a part of America, and the great American Dream. Hands off when it comes to my property (or suffer the consequences?) I mean there are lots of laws and rules and jurisdictions, and regulations, and just about every legal name that will support property ownership, awfully close to that of owning a handgun, except there are no concealed handgun classes when it comes to property management and sale. With the legal guidance of lawyers and the like, no other personal training is required – to sell land to whomever you want, as long as it doesn’t violate a law that is specifically written, saying it’s absolutely illegal to sell in a certain manner. I mean, a person can actually shoot and kill a person, let’s say, at night who is seen to be removing (stealing) a property from that person’s property. Property ownership is, indeed, a big deal – as far as the law is concerned; and, the consequence of violating a property-focused law, such as mentioned in the handgun classes, can lead to an officially sanctioned execution. From what I understand, if I see someone taking something that is my property, from my property, I can actually track him down and kill him. Property ownership and the rights that come with it have been obvious throughout our English legal heritage and our early history as a developing country in the 17-18, even the pre-Civil War 19th- centuries. I mean, as you know, Mr. Miller, property ownership transcends the simple enjoyment of having it - it literally can influence a mindset and a course of action.

But, something keeps gnawing at me when I think about this, which seems to me to be more of a legal backup than an ethical or moral guideline. I mean, it seems to me that the main reason Mr. Balous Miller is selling is that somehow Wal-Mart found out he wanted to sell his land, and fortunately for them, it’s in an area just outside the law – in the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction of Helotes – where the locals (Quite an undefined term if you speak to the mayor and to the people who have businesses in and pay taxes to Helotes – the outsiders.) can’t even get what appears to be a either clear answer from the mayor; as he seems to view the impending Wal-Mart incursion as a ‘love ‘em or don’t get their money’ scenario. I wonder if, indeed this issue would have progressed at all if a property within the limits of Helotes were to be available and desired by Wal-Mart. I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows…

But, unfortunately, it now appears to be the mayor vs. the insiders and outsiders. The line appears to be drawn quite clearly. Friends and relatives are divided over this issue. A riff is developing that is threatening to interfere with the social structure of Helotes. Seems to me as if it’s a kind of theatrical smoke screen with the mayor and his ‘up for re-election signs all grouped together, against those with the green signs who are not really thrilled about the apparent incursion of the “W-word.” But what about that historical ownership issue. I mean: What about the cause of the issue – the landowner, Mr. Balous Miller? Is it money or morals/ethics here? Is there more than just selling out and pocketing a small amount of money (Just how much is there to gain from the sale, really, how much, Mr Miller. Or, really, is it none of my business? Surely, don’t mean to offend, really. Just curious.) Seriously, in your heart of hearts, are there times when you ask yourself why this is happening? Not the resistance, rather why you have chosen to do this, and only you. How does it feel to have created such a schism, a division of an entire town, which may well result in the overthrow of one of the longest political regimes in small town history, surrounding San Antonio. You have exercised the power of political overthrow, and still will make, perhaps, an enormous profit, I’ll bet. Of course, if I’m mistaken, just let me know you’re exercising that obligation to enrich the coffers of the Helotes treasury. You know. Something like that responsibility of the wealthy to support and help out the less fortunate, the insiders as well as the outsiders who, in their own, small, way, contribute to the coffers, albeit financially small, of the Helotes city government.. What is the real reason for the sale, Mr. Miller. Long time no buyers? No other interest of others in buying. Not considerable for a wildlife refuge? Oh, about the wildlife aspect: Wasn’t (or, rather, isn’t) there an issue with pollution, endangered species. Something like that? Really, how did that get resolved? I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows…

And then there’s the issue with the Master Plan. Is it binding or even significant, or just the result of a politically correct “I will” on someone’s evaluation sheet checklist. Is it binding in any way at all, or just a collection of nice-to-read words on a piece of worthless enforcement paper? If, indeed, the giant is looming, looming as a black mantle, ready to engulf the basic fiber Helotes, both inside and out, where is the enforcement? Where to we poor folk go for help, if not to the government responsible for creating it? Yes, I already know, …I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows…

We seem to lose out on the seller, without whom there would be no issue. I mean, it seems to me that without Mr. Balous Miller and his ownership of the property in question, would there be an issue? Of course not! (It appears to me. I mean I’m not a real estate agent/lawyer. Just a military retiree with 30 years of service, mostly outside the states. Just a Vietnam era vet with a 30% disability, a low-paying computer trainer job, and lots of accumulated bills to pay.) I mean, I’ve been away/outside the ‘box’ and most likely have no real idea about all those causes and effects. So, maybe it really isn’t Wal-Mart, or even poor Mayor Hodges, who has successfully reigned over Helotes more than the tenure of four mayors of San Antonio, with no term limit in the local laws. (Is that really true, eight years, no term limit. I mean, just what all has been accomplished during this time? I mean, what a political feather to have the largest, most influential company to come to your town, although there are how many, many, Mr. Mayor, Wal-Marts, within 10 miles – 1, 2, 3, should I keep counting?) And, just what if a reelection were just around the corner to bolster a chance for reelection over a rather unsterling past tenure, something to really blow your horn, financially? Could the arrival of the giant not be a political plus in a rather negative term? (You know, that issue over trash collection that has the insiders paying more for less, the birding trails that have been awaiting the construction of the ‘new’ fire station for how many years? Would not the emergence of a giant next door – right where we have no absolute control, so they could ‘do it their way’ would absolve you and your government of one heck of a lot of responsibility? I mean, other than the unwanted and harmful effects, it’s kind of like getting the entire enchilada without having to pay the bill, and have someone else take care of the tab for you. In other words, a free ride? But, my argument is not against you. We don’t even know each other, although I’ve watched your mayoral actions from afar and through the eyes of The Echo. An excellent article in the Echo by Ms Barb Galland recently appeared, addressing some of your actions, by a former member of the council who was, indeed, privy to a lot of your efforts. Excellent article – from my point of view. But, if I were to want to select one person who would really, really know the history, the causes, the movers and shakers, the rationale, I mean, EVERYTHING – well, I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows…

And, poor, current mayor, Steve Hodges, who acknowledges there is really nothing he can do; that he is really opposed to Wal-Mart, but doesn’t want to say so because it might anger the giant and his domain (talking Wal-Mart, here, not Mr. Balous Miller), Helotes, might be financially ignored when Wal-Mart comes to pass. Poor Mayor Hodges is, indeed, in a dilemma. What can he do? Better to get behind the giant and gather the political and financial fallout – for the city (A lways for the benefit of the city – Right?,) than to incur the wrath of the giant. Hmmmm. I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows…

The same situation must assuredly apply to the landowner. (And just how many acres does Mr. Balous Miller own? As well as just how many larger acre tracts does he own throughout Helotes as well as San Antonio?) Have we encountered this man before relative to an attempt to sell land to build houses on small size lots near the Toyota? Just what is the rest of the story here? (Maybe another Miller family?) Again, many question needing answers. Just might there be some kind of pattern, plan, design? I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller must know.

Historically, there has been a lot of publicity, years ago, concerning the philanthropic endeavors of the Miller family. But, that was years before our family, as so many others, arrived with the military, and just saw fit to remain. I am sure there have been many other community support projects by the Miller family and Mr. Balous Miller, it’s just that I am unaware of them. I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows…

So, never met the man, Mr. Balous Miller. Would like to, and sit down with this article, and just ask him, face to face, mano a mano – Texas style, what gives? Really. I mean, is it just the money; the opportunity to enable what some people say might not be the largest supporter of the interests in human rights and employee support into an area that is hard-pressed to handle the ever-growing population; or perhaps, is it something else, something that eludes me, the foreigner, who relatively long ago discovered a land of our dreams, uncluttered, friendly, supportive, where there was no other place on earth even remotely like it. Will this entrance of Wal-Mart, solely facilitated by the humanitarian/ philanthropic (?) efforts of Mr. Balous Miller enable me to continue my existence, living the rest of my days in the best place in God’s earth? Will I be able to experience the joy of taking my time on Scenic Loop Road, to wander around in the woods, to look up at the stars in any direction, to feel as if I don’t have to be on my guard when cars pass. (Yes, we even look up as a car passes – not a common happening, and get a wave in return. Will that continue, people driving at a safe speed (30 mph) and waving as they pass.) I think we wanted to buy into and live within a certain, wonderful culture. Really felt we’d found peace on earth, a place for the rest of our lives, a place where we were in control of the rest of our lives – all under our very small piece of earth (1 acre). Will this be taken away from us? Will we have any legal recourse? What guarantee will we have? What will happen if our lives are affected? Where do we have to go when this is taken from us in the name of monetary profile for a person? Mr. Balous Miller, you really do not know me, but I know you would want to. Really! Wouldn’t you? (or, really, do you care to care?)

I’ll bet Mr. Balous Miller knows…..

Come on now, let’s sit down at my place – outback at HungerHollow and have a little snack, listening and talking. Maybe have a little free tea to drink. Then, we could go to a local establishment. Why not to that maligned emporium, Bill Miller’s for a sweeter snack. My treat. Really!

Totally on me!

Will even pay for the extra ice tea refills. Seriously.

Come on, now, it’s before the election and I just know it’ll be a wonderfully-rewarding, truth-filled experience. Won’t it?

I know, only Mr. Balous Miller knows……

Thank you for reading this, Mr Balous Miller.

Bill Hunger

HungerHollow -a small piece of God’s green earth
Star Cross Trail
Helotes, TX


Dear Bill Hunger,

You are doing your part to stop Walmart by spreading the word about your own experiences. I'm very sorry that your dreams for a peaceful life in Helotes are being thoughtlessly dashed by individual and corporate greed. I will certainly never shop at Walmart again!


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