Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A SUICIDAL CITY COMMISSION AND SPORTS PARK


Brownsville is blessed with the kind of weather needed to make a Sports Park a money maker for the city. No one who is interested in facts can dispute that sports tourism is good for Brownsville. And it is not just the sports tourism. On occasion a businessman or woman will come with their child for a sports event and discover Brownsville. Such visits could result in even more business for Brownsville as outsiders discover new business opportunities.

An argument can always be made for spending money - everything one way or the other benefits the city and in fact the county. Sports parks, gyms, pools etc actually reduce crime. This helps to save taxpayers money on the back end when the kids end-up in the juvenile system. Near my house a peewee little league has been practicing in a field. It makes me remember how lucky I was a local business was willing to sponsor our team. This gave me a life long love of baseball - although it eventually lead to me sneaking onto trains to get to the Mets games at Shea stadium.

I can write for pages about the benefits which come to a community from such facilities as the Sports Park - but that is not the question.

Senator John Cornyn loves to get on TV to complain about spending by the Democrats. He was silent about the spending when Bush II spent like a drunken sailor. But here is the reality, when President Obama proposed cutting NASA’s budget, Cornyn was “spending is good, deficits are good, screw our grandchildren let them pay for today’s reckless spending.”

Anyone who claims the Sports Part is not good for Brownsville is misguided. The Sports Park is truly a bright light in a city of extreme darkness and sadness.

But at this time all over the US the people are removing from office any politician who votes for more spending. Times are tight. I do understand that at some point the Sports Park will generate income for the city. Income generating projects are always good and better than taxes. The short term problems which may come from higher taxes are made up for in the long run when the entity becomes a profit maker. BUT, do we forget the port? - it has been mismanaged since day one and continues to be a drain on the taxpayers. The retort is always the same - it brings jobs.

While I may understand all the benefits of the Sports Part and believe they are good for communities like Brownsville, the taxpayers will not. They are simple minded and will just see more spending at a time they struggle to pay their bills.

They will also see a downtown going nowhere. I believe in Brownsville. I was elated over the latest news about the airport. Those managing the airport appear to be serving the city well. But the fact remains, its location stinks. In the morning it takes me some 20 minutes to get from the airport to 77. The city needs to find land to build a new airport adjacent to 77. Because I live in Southmost, I would prefer the jobs come to Southmost. There is more than ample land to build an airport adjacent to 77 and East.

So now see what I did, now is not the time to incur more debt and then I came up with my own pet project. This is how politics work.

I am not faulting the City Commission for their vote on the issue. I get the need for the Sports Park. Most people do not think of the total big picture, but Brownsville’s parks actually help to reduce crime because it gives the kids a place to go and play basketball, for example. But the voters do not get this. This vote will be a campaign issue against - Troiani, Longoria, and Atkinson. The problem these three face is simple - it is impossible in a campaign slogan to explain the true benefits of the Sports Park to the people. It is easy for their opponents to print campaign flyers denouncing the new debt.

What people do understand is something they can all see and believe in. Money is cheap at this time. While I understand there are issues related to our bond rating and total debt, if it can be done, now is the time for the city to borrow the money for a new airport and convention center. This would be a great project for Imagine Brownsville. Maybe the county, city and port can jointly own the airport. The city and county jointly built a bridge.

People can ignore the additional debt if they finally see a greater vision for Brownsville. A new airport, convention center, and Sports Park could easily generated the revenue to pay for themselves and the rejuvenation of downtown. But it is hard for the people of Brownsville to believe its city commission is anything but a bunch of self-serving politicos when they continue to see Iowa, the first street visitors to Brownsville via the airport see, looks like a street in a bombed out city. It is hard for the people to believe the objective of the city leaders is a better Brownsville.

So no I am not against additional debt if that additional debt is an investment which eventually will pay back dividends to the city. The Sports Part has such a potential. But we need something more - a greater vision. Other than a lack of will I see no reason why the port, the city and the county cannot join forces to borrow the money to buy the land for a new airport.

Harlingen’s lack of commonsense when they chose to place their airport in the middle of nowhere has benefitted Brownsville. But had they had the good sense to build the airport along 77 on the south side of town, Brownsville today would not even have an airport. For most people in Brownsville it is a shorter trip to the south end of Harlingen along 77, than it is to our airport. A new airport will certainly mean non-stop flights between Brownsville and other cities other than Dallas and Houston. It will also mean non-stop flights to Mexico City and other industrial centers within Mexico.

So my message to this city commission is, if you are going to have vision have a complete vision which includes a new airport and convention center. Although the mood in the country is no more spending and no more debt, the people of Brownsville can understand a campaign slogan of “Building a Better Brownsville.”

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