Special to the PRESS
Dear South Padre Island and RGV Friends,
As I prepare to begin my position as City Manager in Beeville, Texas, I want to extend my thanks and gratitude for your support and friendship over the time I served as South Padre Island City Manager. It is comforting to return to the consistency of a community that is not faced with annual population swings, and planning for and managing through hurricanes and tropical storms, as was the case in my past three assignments.
My focus on South Padre Island was to grow the economy, improve infrastructure, build relationships with the County and build community. I think I was able to find successes in each of these areas. We have brought new business to the City (both large and small). Our connections with the County have improved; the recently adopted TIRZ is an example of that. We have received grants for sidewalks and medians along Padre Boulevard. We have worked to expand eco –tourism and Bay access working with Skipjack properties and through Restore Act grant proposals.
Of greatest importance to me was to provide for the needs of the City residents. Recently, the City held a ribbon-cutting for the John L. Tompkins City Park (with a skate park soon to come), and the opening of a Community Center in the old City Hall. I am most proud of these two accomplishments.
Many years ago the Miami City Manager told our class that, a good public administrator always keeps his bags packed. Over more than thirty years in public service, I have found this to be true. It is challenging to step into a new position, particularly at the chief executive level, and take over the operations of City government. It is more challenging to build new friendships. Thank you to the local officials, clubs and organizations, arts community, work colleagues and their families, and close friends for making me a part of your community. It has truly been a great experience.
Two weeks ago there was a pro-Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) meeting at the Port Isabel Event and Cultural Center that was advertised as being open to the public. It was organized and sponsored by the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce. It attracted a large number of opponents of LNG development in this area, even though it was held early in the morning on a weekday. Opponents, including me, spread out and I was on Hwy 100. All the passing traffic that responded to our anti-LNG signs gave positive responses except for ONE vehicle. This is what can be expected in this area along the Rio Grande Gulf Coast.
I had to use the restroom and I walked up to the single police officer on duty and told him I wanted to use the restroom. He stated that the event organizer gave him specific instructions that no demonstrators were to be permitted into the Event and Cultural Center for any reason. I was very surprised since public monies were used to construct the Center. I offered to remove my NO LNG tee shirt and go shirtless into the building to use the restroom. My offer was turned down. A lady with no identifying clothing came up and asked to use the restroom and she was turned down as well because the police officer said that he knew she opposed LNGs.
A kindly shop owner on Hwy 100 permitted us to use their private restroom. Later that morning I went to talk to three Port Isabel city officials I know. They told me that they thought that we should have been allowed to use the restroom and would contact the City Manager and/or the City Attorney.
The next morning I talked to an executive at the Event and Cultural Center. He told me that he had been contacted by the City Manager and that since the head of the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce paid $500 to rent the building, she could exclude whoever she wanted to. The printed rules concerning the use of hallways and restrooms when one rents the building are very ambiguous. The event was held during the posted hours that the Center is purported to be open, according to signs on the door.
The rules governing the use of the Center need to be written so that only rented rooms can be closed and not public areas during the normal business hours of the center. Public figures who support LNGs have not fared well at all when their terms have ended. Advocates for LNGs have been defeated at all public meetings where a vote has been taken. All of them in the Laguna Madre area who have not stood 100 percent against LNGs have been replaced. There is no reason to suppose that this trend will not continue.
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