Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

City Council Considers Smoking Ban in Bars and Other Public Places

The cartoon is one I did in 2001 about the first attempt by the city council to ban smoking in restaurants. They created a situation with smoking and non-smoking areas in the same buildings. That didn't work.

The Corpus Christi City Council has passed a second reading of a new city ordinance that will ban smoking in bars and some other public places. Bingo parlors are excluded.
Of course many bar owners, and others are in strong opposition claiming property owner's rights and individual rights are threatened. The bingo parlors were able to gain their exclusion citing the fear that they provide a considerable amount of charitable donations from their proceeds and, my goodness, they don't want to deprive these charities of their money! They cited studies that indicate such bingo games in places with smoking bans have shown a decrease in funds. The bar owners also claim they will lose money as well.
These claims are largely unsubstantiated. A look at such studies indicates that those that show a loss of revenue were financed by tobacco companies and smokers' rights groups, No objectivity here!
It also seems that studies that show no substantial loss in incomes have been produced by anti-smoking groups. Probably not much objectivity here either. It doesn't seem that there have been any scientific, objective studies done so far.
That shouldn't matter. There are no longer questions about the health threat posed by smoking and inhalation of second hand smoke. The evidence is conclusive and show real health hazards.
Tobacco smoke is a hazardous material. Courts in all jurisdictions have upheld the concept that it is illegal and prohibited to allow hazardous, carcinogenic materials to be released in the atmosphere. The rights of smokers and bar owners are trumped by the rights of the public to breath clean air. It's just that simple.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Escobar Fires Smith

Corpus Christi City Manager Angel Escobar has demonstrated that his whim is a law unto itself. He fired Police Chief Bryan Smith on trumped up, phony charges totally unrelated to the original cause of Escobar's so-called investigation. It is a sad day for accountable, responsible city government.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New City Manger Makes First Official Action: Suspends Police Chief!

So the interim city manager's first act, after finally agreeing to be the real city manager, is to place Corpus Christi Police Chief Bryan Smith on paid suspension. Why? Because Chief Smith allegedly made "disparaging" remarks about the city manager, some council members and other public officials during a private conversation that was recorded.
Does one lose the right of freedom of speech because he is the chief of police? Since when is making "disparaging" remarks, in private or otherwise, a punishable offense?
The naming of Angel Escobar as the new city manager has not been one of the city council's brightest moments. Quite frankly, the history of city managers here in Corpus Christi has been a sorry narrative of ineptness, incompetence and sometimes out right crookedness and makes one ask how long do we need to continue with this sort of city government.
If making "disparaging" remarks about elected and other public officials is a crime then many in our community are multiple offenders!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

City To Give $1 Million To TAMUCC

Today's local newspaper featured an article which reports that the Corpus Christi City Council has agreed to give $1 million to Texas A&M University Corpus Christi to help develop a new mechanical engineering program.

The article:

By Sara Foley
November 12, 2008

CORPUS CHRISTI — The City Council will give $1 million in sales tax revenue
toward Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi's proposed mechanical engineering
The funding, which the council approved 7-2 Tuesday, only can be used to reimburse
the university for money it spends on retrofitting laboratories and buying equipment
while establishing a mechanical engineering major. It won't pay for marketing,
scholarships or professors' salaries.
Councilmen Michael McCutchon and Mike Hummell voted against the funding, in part
because they questioned if helping the program was an appropriate use of sales tax
money earmarked for economic development.
"I have strong reservations using local taxpayer money to underwrite a program at a
university," Hummell said. "There are engineering programs all over the state that aren't
getting this kind of money. They just step up and get it done."
The new engineering major has yet to get final approval from the Texas Higher
Education Coordinating Board and the Texas A&M University System Board of
Trent Hill, A&M-Corpus Christi's vice president, said the university wouldn't take the
city's money unless the program is approved. The coordinating board and the regents
gave the program preliminary approval, but the university has to finalize its degree plan
to get final approval, Hill said.
The money comes from a one-eighth-cent sales tax that goes toward economic
development in the city. The city's business and job development corporation
recommends to the council how to spend that money.
Councilman Larry Elizondo said he initially had trouble seeing the program as
economic development, but now sees it as an investment in the economy.
"If we want long-term results, we're going to have to see these types of long-term
efforts," he said.
Corporation board chairman Eloy Salazar pointed to Amarillo as an example of another
city that used sales tax revenues to help higher education.
Amarillo's economic development corporation gave $6 million toward Texas Tech
University's pharmacy school and more than $1 million for an engineering program at
West Texas A&M University.
Hummell also questioned if there was sufficient demand for an engineering program.
Whether South Texas could support engineering programs at the Corpus Christi campus
and nearby Texas A&M University-Kingsville has been debated in the past year.
Hummell brought up a letter from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that
said the university shouldn't set up an engineering school because engineering programs
at other Texas universities didn't have enough students to fill their seats. That letter was
written about the university getting an engineering school, which is different than the
scaled-down plans to set up a major.
"Having an engineering school that is empty in Corpus Christi isn't going to help us any
more than having any of the other empty engineering schools in the state," Hummell
Councilman Bill Kelly disagreed.
"I realize the goal of economic development is to increase the size of the pie," he said.
"It's just as legitimate to help Corpus Christi get a bigger slice of the existing pie."
The $1 million pledge from the city is a third of what the university told the state it
would raise to cover the program's startup costs.
If the university raises the $3 million, then state Rep. Solomon Ortiz Jr., D-Corpus
Christi, said he will ask the state to pay for the remaining startup costs.
He said his negotiations with state officials led him to believe the state will pay the
remaining cost.
Hill said the total cost to set up the program isn't clear.

Kudos to Councilmen Michael McCutchon and Mike Hummell who had the good sense and courage to vote against this proposal.
Certainly higher education is important and the city should do what it can to help promote local colleges and universities but is the City of Corpus Christi able to give up public lands and tax revenues for TAMUCC? What about Del Mar? Should we not help them with some city tax revenue? Does the city have this kind of money laying around that we can afford to donate all this?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Judge Carl Lewis Has Died

Yesterday came the news that local Juvenile Court Judge Carl Lewis had died of a heart attack. This was shocking news.
Carl was a good judge in a difficult job and he handled it very well.
I knew him in quite a different light. He was also a blues man, a singer and a harp player. He and his band, Carl Lewis and the Dead Beats, have entertained around here for years. Accompanied by lawyer buddies David Bright and Tyner Little on guitars, they were always crowd favorites.
Carl had a fabulous voice and probably would have had a future in the music business should he have dropped his day job!
Condolences to his family and his many friends and to all he had offered a helping hand or who loved his music. Rest in peace.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nueces County GOP Gets Down In The Muck With Ads

The Nueces County GOP recently produced a political ad so dirty, deceptive and untrue that two of our local TV stations refused to air it. Congratulations and thanks are due for KZTV channel 12 and KRIS TV channel 6 for having the good sense to turn down such political muck.
KIII TV channel 3 ran the ad.
The ads were attacking local Democrats Abel Herrero and Juan Garcia who each represent districts in the state house of representatives.

Postscript: Oct. 1, 2008; These ads are now appearing frequently on cable TV. I subscribe to Time Warner, which apparently has no standards which must be met by political advertising.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ortiz Skips Dem Convention

Congressman Solomon Ortiz said, in a report on KIII TV, that he will stay home and not attend the Democratic National Convention this week.
Ortiz says he supports Obama but his support seems a bit tepid. Ortiz was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and now he seems to be suffering from a big case of sour grapes. He said the local Hispanics would now have a hard time voting for Obama. Oh? So they are going to vote for McCain?
Ortiz said he had some personal commitments to fulfill and he had a fractured foot so he would not be able to travel the 25 mile distance from the hotel housing the Texas delegation. Really? He was going to walk? Give me a break…
Ortiz is being disingenuous at best. You can bet that if Hillary was the nominee nothing would stop him from going.
This sulking petulance shows a distinct lack of leadership and class. That will not serve his constituents well if Obama goes on to victory.
As Alexander Pope said in his satirical “Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot”
“Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer
And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.”

Friday, August 08, 2008

Juan Garcia Should Be Re-Elected To His District 32 Seat

Democrat Juan Garcia should be returned to his District 32 seat in the Texas House of Representatives. Garcia has done a good job representing his constituents even in the face of a dirty, vicious, slander campaign waged against him by local and state Republicans. His opponents have gone so far as to create a phony web site used to try and spread lies and discredit him. They have engaged in a steady and deliberate smear campaign in the local daily, the Corpus Christi Caller/Times and other local news outlets.
His opponent, Todd Hunter, is a class guy and formerly served in the state legislature, though he was then a Democrat. In the years following his stint in the legislature he has worked as a lobbyist and switched parties to join the Republicans.
We don't need any more Republicans in the state house. It is imperative to oust Tom Craddick as the Speaker of the House and sending another Republican into that body would not be a good idea.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

City Ball Park Plan

The city of Corpus Christi is now trying to figure out what to do about replacing the ball parks which will be lost when the Oso complex is donated to Texas A&M Corpus Christi. It seems the property under consideration wont have as much room as the old location. There wont be room for as many playing fields. So some new ideas are being considered.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Toll Lanes For Corpus Christi?

A recent story in our local daily said that "officials" are considering building toll lanes on South Padre Island Drive, which is our main thoroughfare.
What a lousy idea! I am against any toll roads, anywhere, that are now or have been built with public taxpayer money. As far as that goes, I am not sure there is any justification for toll roads.
Our elected officials seem to be continuously consumed with finding new ways to reach into our wallets. They are afraid to just come out say they want to raise taxes so they nickle and dime us to death with fees, charges, sur-charges, licensing and so forth. Then they start upping the ante on these things regularly.
It also is yet another way to further divide society between the haves and the have-nots. Those that can afford it will travel in unencumbered ease while the hoi polloi will just have to eat cake!
We have a lot of problems but toll roads are not the answer!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Goodbye Skip!

The hapless Skip Noe is nearing the end of the line as Corpus Christi City Manager.
Noe's resignation was accepted and he will be given a 90 day period to wrap up his stay in office. He will, of course, leave with a rather comfortable severance package as he leaves his $178,000 + ,with perks, a year job.
In accepting Noe's resgination, during a rare Sunday meeting, the City Council also announced that the mayor and the council will do the ground work in the next city manager search.
That's a good idea. In past years the city has spent tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money hiring search firms to seek and vet city manager candidates. These high priced firms have had a lousy track record.
Frankly, it might be time once again to start looking at the City Charter and reconsider our form of city government. The city manger-weak mayor form which we have had had for years isn't working well. It is time to go to a strong mayor type of governemnt in which the mayor is the chief executive of the city and is accountable to the voters.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Peggy Banales Funnels $118,000 From Her District To Remodel Husband's New 105th District Court Office!

Just doesn't pass the smell test!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mayor Henry Garrett Walking The Plank!
(click on pic for larger image)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Texas International Boat Show

(click on pic for larger view)

The Texas International Boat Show is under way right now in and along the city marina. Huge, expensive yachts are among the craft on display along with other craft.
The event means that many boat stall renters have been displaced while the show is going on. Now this was no surprise, this was included in the contract the stall renters signed.
Also much of Shoreline drive and some sections of adjacent streets are closed during the show.
Basically the average citizen will be inconvenienced by this event for billionaire boat sellers and millionaire customers.
It's all done to attract dollars and to create an image.
The question is, does it benefit the city as a whole?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ghost Of Councils Past

The proposal by City Councilman Michael McCutchon to ban vehicular traffic from the 4,200 foot stretch of beach in front of the sea wall on Padre Island is reminiscent of the original proposal introduced in 2005 by then Councilman Mark Scott.
If Scott had been satisfied with the original proposal it likely would have passed the City Council then.
But, as locals know, Scott got greedy and tacked on an additional 3,600 feet and most of the local population was outraged. The measure was forced to a vote by a referendum and the proposal went down in flames.
In addition a requirement was voted in place which would require another referendum before any section of the beach within the city limits could be closed to vehicular access.
Now the proposal from Councilman McCutchon is likely to be met with a big dose of healthy skepticism. The best outcome would be for this measure to die in the City Council. There is no need for a repeat of the heated controversy engendered by the first attempt to, in effect, close large sections of the beach to public access.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Qualifications! I Don't Need No Stinkin' Qualifications!

The appointment of an unqualified person to an unneccessary post, for an exorbitant salary, may prove to be Corpus Christi City manager Skip Noe's undoing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tortuga Dunes Project; Bad For Turtles, Bad For Dunes!!

Tortuga Dunes Project Destroys Sand Dunes

A new development has begun on Padre Island and it is off to a bad start.
The project has actively destroyed many sand dunes on the development property. According to news reports they have permits to do so but this seems directly in contradiction to the Dunes Protection Act.
The project director Barrett Allison says they are not destroying the dunes but “restoring them.” A rather dubious claim. This is a poor practice to allow. If every developer in the future has the ability to destroy sand dunes and then “restore” them it will mean the destruction of the natural habitat and the sand dunes. This will lead to increased beach erosion and more rapid dune deplenishment.
The $200 million resort, Tortuga Dunes, is being created near Zahn Road on the island.
This is planned as a high end (which means no po’ folks wanted) resort and an exclusive gated community.
This is the kind of thing that makes mayors and other elected officials plumb giddy! They see money, money, money and they hope some of it will find its way into the city or county coffers. They often imply that property taxes will go down and local school boards will have all of their money problems taken care of because of the new taxable properties.
It doesn’t always work out that way though. Sometimes so many tax abatements and TIF designations and other breaks are showered on such a project that these benefits for local taxing entities may never materialize to the point projected.
The developer is a company by the name of Forestar Real Estate Group, which is part of Temple Inland Company.
Temple Inland is a Fortune 400 company which specializes in forestry, banks and investments, and real estate development.
According to the company’s profile, Forestar spun off from Temple-Inland in 2006 and became one of the largest publicly-traded development companies in the country. (source: Wikipedia)
Below: Wikipedia entry for Forestar and associated companies

Temple-Inland, Inc. NYSE: TIN is an American paper, building products and financial services company based in Austin, Texas. It has approximately 19,500 employees. Its paper group operates under the name Inland Paperboard and Packaging Group, its building products group under the name Temple-Inland Forest Products, and its financial services group under the name Guaranty Financial Services.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have identified Temple–Inland as the 24th-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States.[1] Major pollutants reported by the study included acrolein, manganese compounds, sulfuric acid, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde.[2]

Here is a report from Bill Churchwell, aired on local Channel 3 KIII-TV News
$200-million development planned for The Island
Gated community along Zahn Road to be the first new beachfront construction on North Padre in two decades
February 8, 2008
There's been some new developments in the aftermath of a story you saw here earlier this week on Tortuga Dunes, a 200 million dollar resort project going up. Island residents are concerned about crews cutting into the vegetation and several dunes. We checked it out for ourselves and it's clear to see construction crews going right up to the vegetation line. County regulations are supposed to keep the project from building any homes or condos 350 feet from the line. So whats going on? Project manager Barrett Allison says what people are seeing is not the destruction of the dunes, but the restoration of them. The project manager says when they are done, the dunes will be 20-30 feet high and new vegetation will be added. Allison says, "I think once people see it and realize the extent we've gone to protect the environment and the beach setting, its probably going to become a standard in the regulatory for folks minds down there in Nueces County and the city of Corpus on how to do it right."
It will take crews three months to finish the restoration of the dunes. Construction on Tortuga Dunes is expected to begin this summer.

Below is info from a web site for Forestar.

A publicly-traded real estate development company has announced plans to build a 146-acre gated community on Zahn Road near the north Packery jetty with landscape work set to begin in early 2008, construction set to begin in the summer of 2008 and completion in the spring of 2009.
The project will be named Tortuga Dunes and will include 139 villa home sties and approximately 97 luxury townhomes and condos. It will also include a pool and clubhouse, 37,000 square feet of retail space, and a walkover to take residents from the development over the dunes to the beach.
The total acreage of the tract is 146 acres with development on only 30 acres. The remainder of the acreage will be preserved as a wetland area with conservation and education programs.
The development is being done by the Forestar Real Estate Group which is a Temple Inland Company. Temple Inland is a Fortune 400 company which specializes in forestry, banks and investments, and real estate development.
According to the company’s profile, Forestar spun off from Temple-Inland in 2006 and became one of the largest publicly-traded development companies in the country. It trades on the NYSE under the symbol FOR. According to the NYSE website the company’s stock has traded between $20-$25 for the past year.
Forestar currently has one-hundred development projects located in twelve markets spread across nine states. They currently have large holdings around Atlanta as well as projects in Austin and Houston.
Plans call for the architecture in the Tortuga Dunes project to feature a theme derived from Caribbean and West Indies designs. Roofs will be of hipped or gabled varieties with cantilevered balconies and enclosed side yards.
Streets will be designed to be pedestrian friendly with view corridors. There will also be parks embedded in the design. Lot sizes will vary between fifty and sixty feet in width.
The company estimates the development will bring more than $200 million in added tax base and infrastructure to the Island economy.
Once the development is complete and all the units are sold the estimated annual tax revenue to local entities is $4.5 million with the bulk of that, $10.6 million going to the Flour Bluff ISD, $5.6 to the city of Corpus Christi and $3.5 to Nueces County.
The development was done without tax incentives from any of the taxing entities involved and is not expected to effect vehicular passage along the beach.
According to documents supplied by Forestar the company picked North Padre for the development after looking at coastal property from Galveston to South Padre.
Other partners in the project include: Watermark Land from Houston, Environmental and Planning Associates of Austin, land planning by Bosse & Turner of Austin, engineering by Naismith Engineering of Corpus Christi, Landscaping by Keith Morrow at Wilson Miller of Naples, Florida, and sales by Kuper Sotheby’s of San Antonio.
The site is located across Zahn Road from the recently constructed boat ramp and the planned city park. A welcome center is currently located at the site.
A Sizzling Market on America's 'Third Coast'
The Wall Street Journal
By Julie Bennett
October 10th 2007
"We've designed a high-end coastal community surrounded by a lagoon system. You can walk out your back door, get into your boat, and zip straight into the Gulf of Mexico."
Second-home buyers priced out of the East and West Coast housing markets are discovering an affordable "Third Coast," the 367-mile Texas coastline on the Gulf of Mexico.
The area is so hot that buyers are snapping up condos and single-family lots on the state's barrier islands and near it's fishing villages long before the units are built or the lots are available.
Dr. James Gaines, research economist at the Real Estate Center of Texas A&M University in College Station, says the state's evolving popularity reminds him of the Georgia and South Carolina coastlines in the 1970s, "when buying there was still affordable." Today, he says, you have to pay over $1 million for a seaside cottage there and $2 million to $3 million for oceanfront property in Florida or California. In Texas, you can still buy a lot or a condo on the water for around $300,000. If you can find them, that is.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Paul Schexnailder Has A New Plan For Corpus Christi Beaches!!

(pic) Wolf in sheep's clothing!

Schexy…He’s Baaaack!

Austin developer Paul Schexnailder is back in the news in Corpus Christi once again and with a new coastal development scheme.
Schexnailder once said he would sell off his holdings in small parcels following the defeat in 2006 of his attempt to close of part of the public beach to traffic for the benefit of a grandiose development he wanted to place on Padre Island.
According to an article in today’s Corpus Christi Caller/Times Schexnailder has hired a consulting company, I.d.e.a.s., to help him make his plans more palatable to local voters who rejected his project two years ago.
This process has a long way to go but some local politicos are bound to be ready to jump on such a project.
According to today’s article Corpus Christi Mayor Henry Garrett is eager to look into this.
"I'd like to see something like we talked about before, a resort-type project," Garrett said as quoted in the story.
"We'd still protect the beaches, of course, but any type of development that would help us with our tax base would be more than welcome."
According to the newspaper story the group will be meeting with people selected by Schexnailder to represent the “community.“
This will be, according to the story, “…people who have something at stake in the project, either emotionally or financially.”
Hold on to your hats folks!
Buzzards Circling Over Corpus Christi

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Perry, GOP Has Big Plans For Texans; Toll Roads!

(click on pic for larger image)

Governor Rick Perry and his cohorts in the legislature are proceeding full speed ahead with their plans to cram toll roads down our throats!
It is time now for Texans to make their voices heard and send a message, loud and clear, about how you feel about creating a toll road system across Texas, the so-called Trans Texas Corridor. In reality it should be called the Rick Perry, G. W. Bush, Karl Rove, GOP Rip Off Roadway!
Texans must resist such a blatant scheme to hand over our roads to private companies.
How would you feel if the principle of eminent domain was used to take your property which would then be handed over to a giant corporation to build roads on which you would have to pay to drive upon?
How will you feel if state owned lands are given up to this massive boondoggle?
All of this to be financed with taxpayer money!
Texans, don't let this happen!

For up to date toll road and other info check this link: