Letters to the Editor for April 20, 2017

Special to the PRESS


The Friends of the Port Isabel Public Library wish to thank the local business community for being supportive of our fundraising efforts during the past year.  This assistance has allowed us to successfully raise funds to provide programming and resources for the Port Isabel Public Library, particularly in services to children and their families.

Laurie Magee

Dear Editor,
I find myself writing this letter to set straight those who deny that the LVRA receives subsidies in it’s operation of the Town’s marina. There are two types of subsidies, one is a “direct” and the other “indirect.” If an individual qualifies for Section 8 housing, that person does not receive any direct monies to pay the difference in the rent they are paying and the market rent rate. The difference is made up by taxpayers, when we pay our taxes, and the government then pays the developer the difference, this is an “indirect” subsidy for the benefit of the tenant. Or perhaps you can look at it this way. Our Town requires a certain amount of money to run its operations. But what would happen, if that big house around the block, did not pay any taxes. Well you and I would see an increase in our taxes, to make up that difference. Again the big house owner is not receiving any direct monies, but if you and I have to pay the shortage in the town’s tax revenues, that big house owner is getting an “indirect” subsidy, at our expense. There is nothing wrong, if a municipality offers a tax abatement or other incentive to get a new business to locate within its city limits. New businesses can bring jobs and other economic stimulus to a city. Make no mistake, the LVRA for the last 46 years has not paid a dime in tax revenues to the town. The taxpayers of Laguna Vista, have made up that lost revenue and have been subsidizing the LVRA.

In fact, the LVRA could not exist without being subsidized. Had the town, last year, sold the marina (with a reversion clause if the property ceased being operated as a marina) for $1, the LVRA could have easily incurred a property tax bill for approximately $10,000. That could make those very reasonable yearly memberships have to be increased to an approximate $800 per year. With that kind of increase, you would definitely see a decrease in memberships, yearly membership fees would have to be increased even more and the death spiral of the LVRA would commence. So please, don’t tell me that the citizens of Laguna Vista don’t subsidize their marina operations.

Those that deny that the town is subsidizing the LVRA want to distract the overwhelming taxpaying majority of Laguna Vista. If they were honest, they would recognize the sweet deal they got from the town 46 years ago and be thankful. Most LVRA members, I have spoken to, think the bayfront property should be shared. It is just a few, who want to keep “their” bayfront property private and not opened to the rest of us. Laguna Vista’s town slogan is” Gateway to the Bay,” but in reality only to those who have a “key.”

Herb Houston
Laguna Vista

Dear Editor,

I recently answered a written call from the Southern Poverty Law Center for Anglo Saxon or White people to volunteer to combat white racism. It seemed to be an excellent idea. I have an opportunity now to combat racism and deconstruct the arguments put forth by the LVRA on why they should continue to lease the entire area that they control now. They should not.

During the April 11 workshop, I asked the representatives of the LVRA Why they did not build a 100 foot lighted pier to attract members who do not own boats. My question went unanswered; but it is obvious why they never have. They do not want any members who do not own boats. The LVRA needs to remember that they will never get title to the area that they lease. They need to remember that Robert Moore is no longer mayor and the opposition to them is growing.

The unlimited public comment period at the workshop where supporters of the LVRA and the letter in the April 13 issue of the PRESS were loaded with racism. Contrary to what modern racists want people to believe, a person does not have to belong to the KKK or openly advocate the superiority of the white race to be a racist. Modern racism manifests itself in a myriad of different forms, but I’ll confine the scope of racism to what the supporters of the LVRA said at the workshop and Elizabeth Etheridge’s letter published in last week’s PRESS.

Every supporter of the LVRA at the workshop spoke of the horde of outsiders, even MEXICANS, would come to use our little proposed park. The proposed park could easily be designated as a viewing and recreational area for Laguna Vista residents. Any attempt to differentiate your group from “the others” is racism as you are white. It is cultural chauvinism if you are a member of a minority group; but the vast majority of speakers who spoke in support of the LVRA were white; therefore those were racist expressions. Whether anything is racism or cultural chauvinism has to do with whatever group is dominate in any given society. We are talking about the USA where Anglo society is dominate.

The supporters of LVRA also used a lot of phony narratives and doomsday scenarios to support their basic racist underpinnings. This is quite similar to what the Steve Bannon wing of Trump supporters do. Hordes of outsiders are not going to come to Laguna Vista to use our little park, shop at all our stores or dine in our fine restaurants. People from other areas actually come here to visit South Padre Island.

Some of the LVRA supporters need to go visit the Laguna Heights Park that has access to the Laguna Madre; that is if they are not afraid to rub shoulders with a lot of Mexican Americans and EVEN MEXICANS. There is nothing but parking space there.

There were a whole lot of LVRA supporters at the workshop who said that they live on Beach and would move out of the area if our little park is opened. I hope that they do; it is always good when racists leave your community.

I went into the meeting with an open mind if the LVRA would have built a lighted and covered pier. They ignored my question and subsequently showed their true colors. I totally support our little park and want to see the influence of the LVRA on public life in Laguna Vista dwindle down to nothing. I want to thank the majority of the Town Council for conducting the workshop in a fair and impartial manner.

Walter Birdwell
Laguna Vista


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1 comment

    • Norm Rourke on December 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm
    • Reply

    We attended the Port Isabel Youth Center fund raiser dance Dec 7. Because of the weather, the crowd was not as large as it might have been. However, those who did come out were enthusiastic and supportive with their generosity. It was interesting that those who attended, like those who seemed to be the greater supporters, were NOT from Port Isabel, nor did they have kids who would benefit from the youth center. Most were winter Texans and a few from Brownsville. Where were the locals who will benefit from this center? Where were those who supposedly are on the board and have other responsibilities? They were gone missing….as usual as it always is it seems. Port Isabel and other communities like it should take note of this and realize the support that comes from “outsiders” and without these people, projects such as the youth center would flounder. Every year at this time there is a flurry of “fund raisers” for one thing or another. The reason is clear: It’s the giving season. But an even more significant reason is the generosity of those who do not live here or have those who benefit from these projects. The community leaders, board members and others who conjure up these projects and don’t physically support them or show their appreciation by at least dropping by a saying “Thanks” should be ashamed of themselves. Don’t count on us again to be a part of something that THEY should be involved in.

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