NOVEMBER NEWS 2000
CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI DOUBLE STANDARD READY TO UNFOLD by Pat Suter - see below
ABOUT THE ELECTION by Bill Alling
KEMPS RIDLEY TURTLE UPDATE by Mina Williams &Venice Scheurich
The Corpus Christi Experiment VX Nerve Agent Disposal by Bill Alling
Should This City Be the Waste Dump
for Chemical Weapons Residue??
Bill Alling's Letter to The Caller-Times
COASTAL DEVELOPMENT by Pat Suter
Email Paul Hammerschmidt to facilitate proposed Southern Closure Regulations
Governor George Bush: His Environmental Legacy by Pat Suter
EARTH DAY 2000 by Pat Suter
Packery Channel News: See September News
PLEASE EMAIL SENATOR KAY BAILEY HUTCHINSON TO EXPRESS YOUR UNFAVORABLE OPINION
ON HER BILL TO DO BEACH RESTORATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENHANCEMENT BY DREDGING PACKERY CHANNEL
COASTAL BEND GROUP
- EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
* Pat Suter 852-7938 Chairman
PHSUTER@aol.com * Randy Berryhill 883-0586 Vice Chairman * Judy Tor 241-2605 Treasurer * Dorothy McLaren 883-0435 Secretary
* Henry Berryhill 883-0586 Conservation
* Elaine Giessel 578-5291 Conservation (mid coast)
* Randy Berryhill 883-0586 Membership
* Ken Jobe 993-3737 Recycling
* Edith Cosgrove 241-2960 Air Quality
* Frank Hankins 991-4637 Coastal
* Cheryl McGrath 883-9778 Web Master
Next Meeting: Tuesday November 21, 2000
- The next meeting is scheduled for November 21, and will be held at the
Art Community Center as usual.
TOPIC: ELECTION AFTERMATH; WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Art Community Center, 100 Shoreline
Lunch, 11:15 a.m., Business meeting, 12:15 p.m.
(You may bring your lunch to the business meeting if your
time is limited.)
COMMENTS FROM THE CHAIR
As this is being written, we still do not know who the next president of the United States will be. We are really living one for the history books. But regardless who is finally crowned, our work must still go on. We will need to be especially vigilant so that the hard earned environmental gains not be lost.
And speaking of elections..next month is the time when we elect our local ex-com leaders. Please give this some thought and come to the meeting this month with some nominations for ALL positions. Some of us have held office for a long time and we would be happy to give over the responsibility to new people. If you cannot be present at the meeting, but have a person you know who is willing to serve, call me with the name. The person should have consented, of course.
Aside from the elected positions, we have openings for OUTINGS CHAIRMAN and NEWSLETTER EDITOR. There are other chairmanships also open, but these two are the most needed. What sort of things are you interested in? We have the areas of forests, wetlands, population, recycling, beaches, endangered species, pollution, and others. If you will let me know of your interest, then we can find just the right place for you.
We have about 325 members in the Coastal Bend Group. Some 10 percent are active either as committee chairmen, officers, or helpers with garage sales or donations, etc. That seems like a very few, but 10 percent is on the high side of membership participation as groups go. Some of the larger regional groups in the Lone Star Chapter have well over 1000 members and so their 10 percent is a comfortably large number. Actually their active participation is sometimes less than 10 percent so we must no get discouraged. But it would still be a good feeling to have enough of us who have similar concern for the environment be more active.
This past month we did have a great time entertaining our friends from around the state while they were here for the SIERRA CLUB CELEBRATION. We met at the home of Bill Alling on Padre Island for an evening of fun and good food. Some 45 people were there and we were able to enjoy a wonderful sunset from the deck overlooking Laguna Madre. The weather cooperated, but the red tide was present which interfered with swimming in the surf.
The city council is poised to exercise their version of a double standard. Since the Tuesday election they have been all over the TV screens expressing their elation over the results of the local bond and sales tax election. And they can rightly be happy that most did pass. What the public did was approve the infrastructure portion of the seven issues on the ballot. The voters approved numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 7. All these issues represent the efforts of this city council to correct bad practices which former city councils had allowed to develop. And everything which has been approved is supposed to be substandually completed in three years or so. Happy construction!! The proposition which did not pass is the only one which gave the voters a chance to express their view of the vision of the future which the city council uses. This is one which would have given the city council a blank check to proceed to encourage economic development. True, this particular sales tax issue only narrowly failed. With only 49 percent of the registered voters actually voting. just a percent or so of the vote separated the final tally. So about 25 percent of the voters in the city actually told the city council that they either did not agree with their vision of the city growing to become another Houston, Austin or even San Antonio. Or one could say they did not like the composition of the board which would oversee the expenditure of the monies. At any rate, there was something about the whole issue which caused a slim majority of the voters to reject the hopes of the city. One wonders why? And now to the DOUBLE STANDARD issue. Last year the voters rejected a bond package of much less actual money out of their pockets which contained three proposals on a single ballot. The vote was 54 to 46 against. Yet both the city council and the county immediately made plans to go ahead and do two of the projects anyway. They found that both could raise the local match for the raising of the Kennedy causeway. I am for this project but not done this way. For 40 years the environmental communnity has been trying to get the portion of the causeway raised closest to Flour Bluff for circulation purposes. Some of the residents are still on septic tanks and in times of high water the odor is pretty high. But I do not think this should not be done without voter approval, especially since they actually voted against this last year. But what is most disturbing is the emphasis being placed on the effort in the name of safety. If one is really truthful, raising the causeway will give only the APPEARENCE OF SAFETY. The residents of Padre Isles and Port Aransas will still have to get off the island at the same early time because the crossings are below even the current level of the causeway. PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE TOLD THAT THEY ARE NOW SAFE because the situation is not changed until all the crossings are also raised. Residents will still have to get off the island at the same time as before. But the primary issue which concerns me is the determination of the city council to go ahead with the dredging of Packery Channel...again in the guise of SAFETY. They say their purpose is to get sand to put in front of the seawall to protect the many people who live behind the wall. Who are they kidding? There are only a few homes directly behind the wall and that wall will protect those homes only against a hurricane which hits head on. The two hurricanes which have damaged the wall in the past came from the south. Hurricane Allen nearly destroyed the wall in 1980 and Hurricane Gilbert did considerable damage in the late 1980's even though it hit Mexico some 250 miles away. Putting sand in front of the wall will only cause the loss of sand from this area with every norther we get because the major movement of sand from this area is to the south. Again the main purpose of this exercise is to give the perception of safety and for the purpose of giving exclusive use of this portion of the beach to the owners of the land immediately behind the beach. Scientists tell us that opening the channel will give the fish and shrimp another outlet to the Gulf but, if one can judge from Cedar Bayou opening between St. Joe Island and Matagorda Island, the number of fish landed will not change. Scientists also tell us that opening the channel may well increase the danger from hurricane surge to Flour Bluff and other parts of the mainland. They tell us that there will be a net loss of sand from what is really a sandstarved coast. And because the bridge over the channel will NOT be raised, people in Padre Isles will not be able to get their large boats to the Gulf. All sailboats will not be able to go to the Gulf unless they can lower their masts. So one must ask why is the city council so anxious to go against the vote of the citizens of this area and proceed with the Packery Channel project? They are set to pass the second reading of an ordinance for the creation of a Tax Increment Finance District which they claim will not use any tax money. Again one must realize that this will be true only in a very narrow sense. Only if development takes place as hoped and only if one discounts the usual tax expenses for infrastructure is this possiblly true. And one must assume that the city is right that enough development will come to off set the cost of the bonds to cover the city's cost for dredging. If in fact the development does not come, the bond purchaser will suffer the first loss, but the city will have to step in to finish the job or let the channel be half done. Can you imagine the city allowing this to occur? And remember the other Tax Increment Finance District the city has...this one is downtown and was to finance the aquarium bonds. Well, the development has NOT happened so the city must cover the debt.
What makes Packery Channel different is the wishful thinking of the city for more development on the island. This is really too bad for Padre Island and Mustang Island are barrier islands and should not be densely developed. In the long run, development on such islands is a losing battle from hurricanes and rising sea level. The city council should respect the will of the voters and not go ahead to thwart the vote. The other possibility is to resubmit the issue to the voters. Let us not have a DOUBLE STANDARD. - by Pat Suter