Special to the PRESS
Some opponents of the proposed Rio Grande LNG project assert that the project would harm the environment and threaten South Padre Island tourism.
As a longtime area resident and businessman interested in tourism, environmental conservation and economic growth, I have thoroughly studied the project with great interest. Here is what I learned:
– The liquefied natural gas industry is highly regulated by more than a dozen local, state and federal agencies to ensure compliance with safety, environmental, maritime and engineering standards.
– The Rio Grande LNG project will use proven, reliable, safe technology that reduces construction and operational risk.
– This project will bring badly needed skilled jobs to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It will employ 4,000-6,000 workers during construction and about 200 full-time workers when it is operational.
– The additional property taxes, worker income and indirect economic benefits will bring huge economic growth and improved quality of life.
– After thorough review, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality confirmed that the project would meet or exceed state and federal air quality standards.
As a businessman with restaurants and tourist-related businesses in Port Isabel and South Padre Island, I see only benefits for our area. The project will be built in an industrial area on the Brownsville Ship Channel. Visual models show that it will be barely visible from Port Isabel and SPI.
For all of these reasons, I am supporting the proposed Rio Grande LNG project.
By the time this “Letter to the Editor” of the Port Isabel Press is published, the election will be over and the signs will be down. My hope for our island is that the election will not have been decided based on size or quantity of signs but rather proven leadership.
I cannot let this one go into the history books without adding facts that I know personally about the story published in the Press October 26, “Allegations Fly as Campaign Heats Up.” I am a resident, broker and business owner on South Padre Island and in the interest of full disclosure, the treasurer for the Paul Munarriz campaign. I have known Troy Giles personally for over 12 years.
Troy Giles is an icon of South Padre Island and as a volunteer has played a vital role in the growth and development of our island from the creation of the original Town Charter in 1974, to the Laguna Madre area Chamber of Commerce, and the original South Padre Island Volunteer Fire Department. Troy served as a member of the Town Board of Alderman (the predecessor to the City Council position for which Kerry Schwartz is campaigning) and helped establish the current Beach Management Program and the EDC. As a realtor and broker, Troy has participated as a director and committee member in the SPI Board of Realtors. His commitment to our community continues as a member of the Board of Directors of Chapel by the Sea and a member of the Shoreline Task Force. And he is a loyal friend to many. Hardly the résumé of a thief!
Here are the additional facts that tell the “other side of the story”:
This story reports that Kerry Schwartz accused Troy Giles of stealing political signs — signs that were on vacant lots that I have listed for sale as the broker for Padre Getaways LLC. What Kerry Schwartz may not know is that it has long been customary and ethical for brokers, as agent for property owners, to allow political signs on properties that they have listed for sale. So, although Kerry Schwartz maintains that he obtained the owner’s permission for the signs in question, he did not give me the professional courtesy of asking before he placed signs on the lots where my “for sale” signs were clearly installed — and he is my office neighbor. The alleged incident occurred because I asked Troy Giles to remove political signs from these lots. Kerry Schwartz drove up and retrieved his signs from Troy Giles as he was removing them — Troy Giles reported this by text at the time of the incident and even offered more sturdy stakes to Schwartz to reinstall the signs elsewhere. From this evolved a story of theft, a call to me by an SPI police detective and contact with my client to assure the police that I was authorized to act on their behalf. A true waste of our police resources.
In response to the incident, Kerry Schwartz replaced the standard signs with a huge sign installed on the property in a position that obscures my real estate sign. To avoid any further conflict, I requested that all political signs be removed from these lots. Paul Munarriz and Brandy Buntin complied but Kerry Schwartz refused.
And yes, Troy Giles did have two Eva Jean Dalton signs in the back of his vehicle — but he also produced for police the email from his client asking that all political signs be removed from his property.
And yes, many campaigns signs disappeared — sadly they always do. In this case we had wind storms that contributed but the usual antics took place as well. I can speak for the Paul Munarriz campaign where sign count went from 100 to less than 25.
So, while the sign scandal may have seemed like a good front page story during an important election, the story missed a lot of facts and only served to smear the name of an island icon and encourage cruel antics over Halloween. A better choice for the article might have been a comparison of candidates to help voters determine who has proven by their actions both during a campaign and otherwise, the qualities of a real leader. Troy Giles has been that and he did not deserve this.
Eleana Jones, CPA, broker
Padre Getaways LLC
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