Letters to the Editor for 10-06-2016

Special to the PRESS

Dear Editor,

During October, The Art Gallery, located across from the Lighthouse on Maxan Street in Port Isabel, is displaying artwork related to the Días de los Muertos or the Days of the Dead celebration.

This event was not celebrated in Northern Mexico until the Mexican government made it a national

holiday in the 21st century.  The government’s intent was to unite the people of Mexico by honoring this tradition, which had been historically only celebrated in the south of Mexico.

The “Day of the Dead” is Nov. 2,  but the “Days of the Dead” are October 31, November 1 and

November 2.  October 31 is “All Hallows Eve” or Halloween.  November 1 is the day of the children or All Saints Day and November 2 is all Souls Day.

During Days of the Dead,  family and friends gather to pray and remember family and friends who died and to support them on the spiritual journey in the afterlife.  The traditions associated with this holiday include making altars and sugar skulls, displaying marigolds and cooking the favorite foods and beverages of the deceased family members and friends.

Another tradition is visiting the graves of family and friends and bringing gifts for these favorite foods and beverages and leaving possessions of the deceased at the graves.

The Art Gallery will be displaying art related to the “Days of the Dead” including paintings and drawings

of skulls, skeletons, Catrinas, marigolds and related subject matter.  The gallery is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m.

Do make plans to stop by and enjoy the Days of the Dead artwork.

Virginia R. Eggert

Port Isabel

Dear Editor,

This is an open letter to the 4 members of the PIISD Board of Trustees who voted against the motion to allow Rio Grande LNG to submit an application to the Texas Comptroller for a conditional Chapter 313 value limitation agreement with the PIISD. Why did you vote against the motion to allow this application (made by Trustees Diane O’Leary and Mickey Furcron) at the last meeting?

Do you understand what your “No” vote did? You deprived the students and community you are supposed to be serving of the following:

  • If LNG actually comes here and a Ch. 313 agreement is in place, in a 16 year period[i] the PIISD would get $1 million more per year from LNG during most of those 16 years[ii] than it nets under the “Robin Hood” program currently enforced against the PIISD. In addition, because the value limitation is effective for only for 10 years, the PIISD would not be losing any property tax dollars after that initial 16-year period. By refusing to even allow the application, there can never be any Ch. 313 agreement. If LNG comes, you have effectively deprived our students of the opportunities that an additional $1 million per year for most of the next 16 years would bring to them if LNG comes to our community.
  • If you had allowed Rio Grande LNG to make the application, Rio Grande LNG would be forced to provide details on the project and the application to the public. By refusing to even allow the application, you have deprived us of the opportunity to obtain additional information about this LNG project and its impact on our community. There is so much information we simply don’t know yet. You have deprived us of an opportunity to learn more.

What were you thinking? That you were voting against LNG coming to our community? You weren’t. Neither you, nor I, nor a bunch of people carrying signs are going to decide whether LNG locates in our community. Although we may wish we did, we don’t have that power. Whether LNG comes involves a complex, sophisticated balancing of dynamics and decisions made by people other than us.

Did you think that you were voting on granting a Ch. 313 application? You weren’t. Only the Texas Comptroller decides whether any Ch. 313 applications can be granted.

Did you think that it is unfair for LNG to “get a break” through an economic incentive program? I’ll tell you what’s unfair: the “Robin Hood” school funding program that has been forced on us. A school district like PIISD has to provide so much more for its students than other “property rich” school districts because of the demographics of our community. Our students don’t have the resources that students in other property rich school districts get from resources other than the school. Yet PIISD has to give away millions of dollars of its property tax revenue under the State “Robin Hood” program – millions of dollars that could be used to “even the playing field” for our students.

To counter-balance that, there are economic incentive programs the State provides to “even the playing field” for communities like ours – a Ch. 313 agreement being among them. Why would you not want to take advantage of this State economic incentive program that goes directly towards “evening the playing field” for our students? Why do you want to deprive our students of the opportunities an additional $1 million per year, paid directly to our school district, would bring under a Ch. 313 agreement?

You were elected as a trustee because we trusted you to do what is right for our kids and our school district, regardless of your personal feelings about or interest in a matter. Since you have no real control over the dynamics or decisions that dictate whether LNG comes to our community, why would you vote against something that – if LNG comes – provides a tremendous benefit to our children and our schools?


Ramona Kantack Alcántara

[i]The value limitation is only for the first 10 years of operation; however, the Rio Grande LNG project is large enough to warrant 4 separate Ch. 313 applications, each tied to a different development phase of the project. Hence, the Rio Grande LNG payments to PIISD will continue over an approximate 16 year period.

[ii] The PIISD would keep roughly $250K per year per application. Thus, if the 4 applications were granted, PIISD would get $1million per year during most of those 16 years.

Dear Editor,

Let’s keep property tax dollars in Port Isabel

We all know that voices of opposition are louder than voices of support. That certainly was the case at the recent Point Isabel Independent School District board meeting to consider taking the first step in considering a Chapter 313 agreement with Rio Grande LNG.

After hearing several speakers from each side, a majority of board members voted not to take the next step – to ask the state comptroller to conduct an economic evaluation of the project.

I was left wondering why they would vote not to seek the evaluation needed to make a fully informed decision about whether to move forward with the Chapter 313 agreement.

Established by the Texas Legislature in 2002, Chapter 313 is an economic development tool used to attract large capital projects to Texas.

Projects like Rio Grande LNG are desirable because they bring an abundance of long-term jobs, jobs that would last far beyond the length of these agreements. The project would also significantly increase the property tax base and generate huge property tax revenue for local taxing entities.  Rio Grande LNG could invest up to $20 billion in our economy, create 4,000-6,000 construction jobs and generate more than 200 permanent jobs at the facility for decades.

With a Chapter 313 agreement, school districts receive millions of dollars that would otherwise be taken by the state. What would be the harm in knowing what the state comptroller’s economic evaluation shows?

From what I’ve learned, the LNG industry has a strong track record of safety, a record that stands above many other industries that we live in and around without a second thought. So as a district parent it appears that, if Rio Grande LNG will be coming to our district anyway, we should keep that tax money in-house instead of sending it all to Austin.

P.D. Swink

Port Isabel

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