Letters to the Editor for 7-13-2017

Special to the PRESS


The Answer to PIISD Budget Shortfall? Rio Grande LNG Chapter 313 Agreement.

Point Isabel Independent School District is wrestling with a $743,000 funding shortfall for the upcoming budget year after a state tax compression program known as Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) expires at the end of this fiscal year.

For every dollar the district collects in property taxes, a substantial amount must be paid to the state in recapture due to Robin Hood, also known as Chapter 41. Board Trustee Mickey Furcron was quoted in the July 6 issue of the Port Isabel Press as saying: “The easiest way to say it is for every dollar we collect, we give half of it (back).”

To make up for the budget shortfall, staff has run a number of models, including a tax increase and spending cuts. But I have a much better solution.

The school board should reconsider a Chapter 313 agreement with Rio Grande LNG, which would add millions of dollars in additional property tax revenue to its coffers over the course of the temporary agreement without raising its tax rate.

Chapter 313 is a state economic development tool that allows school districts to keep millions of local tax dollars rather than sending the money to Austin through the Robin Hood requirement.

If the agreement is put into place and the project moves forward, the district would keep approximately $1 million in additional property tax revenue a year during most of the 16 years that the agreement is in place.

When Rio Grande LNG representatives asked the school board to consider evaluating the benefits of an agreement last fall, four school board members – Alicia Baldovinos, Jennifer Pinkerton, Bertha Zamora, and Jimmy Vela – voted not to even consider it! They may be regretting that decision now that it’s even more clear that the district could use the revenues. Since the “no” vote, many Port Isabel residents have questioned the decision and expressed the desire for the board to reconsider.

If a Chapter 313 agreement with Rio Grande LNG is still an option, it would be a great solution to the school district’s budget shortfall. We can keep more tax dollars here, locally, to improve our children’s education, give teachers and staff well-deserved pay increases, and maintain and improve school facilities.

If, you, like me, feel that this agreement is the best option, ask PIISD board members to consider pursuing a Chapter 313 with Rio Grande LNG. Our children and our teachers deserve more.

Gary Snyder
Port Isabel

Editor’s Note: Gary Snyder is a Port Isabel resident and president of the Port Isabel Taxpayers League, Inc.

Dear Editor;

I don’t have to beg the newspaper to end my battle with Rasmussen.

The only way Rasmussen is going to end this exchange of letters is for him to get off his keyboard.  The only way he can find any acceptance for his arguments is to lump together contradictory economic systems, state “alternative facts” and hide his political history. I won’t cut and paste, but will deal with what new material Rasmussen has brought up.

Rasmussen is unaware of it but we studied in the same Army counter intelligence school.  It was in Ft. Holabird, MD.  We were both members of the 112th MI Group.  The difference is that Rasmussen is ten years or so older than I am, but that is not the primary difference.  The primary difference is that I learned from my experiences.  Rasmussen probably remembers the Delineations Agreement of 1948.  I learned very quickly that military intelligence violated this agreement.  They kept files on elected politicians that they didn’t like; Barbara Jordan and Curtis Graves come to mind.  They kept files on all Unitarian Church members in San Antonio, TX and even Supreme Court decisions that they did not agree with. Rasmussen swallowed all of this; I was a whistleblower before the term was popular.  I gave a press conference in Houston, TX  and exposed these illegal files among other violations of the Delineations Agreement.  I assume that we both have Honorable Discharges; I know that I do.

Having gone to Cuba is no big deal; I’ve been there, done that, got a tee shirt and a hat.  Foreign travel is no big deal unless you learn something from it.  Colonizers and settlers did a lot of foreign travel, imperialists still do.  Foreign travel is supposed to be to learn something not to reinforce what existing prejudices you might have.

One (there I didn’t use your name, happy?) should never set a trap for himself that he then steps into. The Declaration of Independence is only one page long and is easy to find on a search engine. “Creator” used once and “Nature’s God” is used once.  The Founding Fathers were definitely NOT Christians; they were Deists.  Deists believe that a Creator created the world and that was the end of it.  The first line of the first treaty that the USA signed with the Barbary Coast states, “The United States is not a Christian nation.” He Whose Name Must Not Be Said (not Lord Voldermort) probably has heard of the JEFFERSONIAN bible; or maybe not.  Thomas Jefferson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, rewrote the bible and eliminated the old testament and ALL references to Jesus’ divinity. The Jeffersonian bible was distributed to all new members of Congress throughout a great part of the nineteenth century.  This is not a Christian nation.  We have devolved quite a bit since then.

My opponent is a reactionary who wants to increase income inequality in the USA.  We will never have total income equality and it is not a desirable situation but income should be distributed according to a person’s work.  This leaves out the oligarchs who do not work; the vast majority inherited their wealth. Any government program that increases income inequality is not desirable. Think the economic policies of the Trump administration.

Rasmussen was trying to start a Tea Party Chapter in the area covered by the Port Isabel – South Padre Press when I first moved into this area.  Evidently it didn’t fly.  After Trump’s “election,”  our boy ran an ad castigating Representative Vela for not attending the inauguration.  We know how Trump turned out; he has never come close to a 50 percent approval rating and may not ever.  There are many different kinds of reactionaries, tea partiers, libertarians, alt rightists, white supremacists, and neo-facists come immediately to mind.  All of them have in common wanting to preserve our society with a huge income inequalities and one dominated by white men.  These ideas are on the losing side and I treat them all with equal contempt.

As long as I write anything at all about economics and political science it will be much more worth the readers’ time than anything Rasmussen might have to write on these subjects.  The only job I have to do is to attack and discredit reactionaries.  The only way Rasmussen is going to stop me from attacking what he advocates is to quit writing.

Walter Birdwell
Laguna Vista

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