Tuesday, July 8, 2014


If I were to say people in Cameron county do not have the right to be distrustful of the endless organizations known by their acronyms - BEDC for example - I would be lying.  So many mistakes have been made.  But without these organizations we never will move forward.  If it is the wish of the majority of the people of Brownsville to remain as it is, then I would respect that.  But  I know enough people who want to see Brownsville grow to know that we need to find balance and stop this short sided nonsense that organizations like BEDC are always bad and every economic development project means the people are being robed.  This endless nonsense by other bloggers would have Brownsville without roads, public water, public sewage or electricity because it costs money.

I am a huge advocate of user taxes.  I fly a lot and do not mind all of the taxes and fees on my ticket.  Why should someone who will never get on a plane have to pay for airport security.  Charge the users - I have no problem paying all of the fees and taxes on my many, many plane tickets.

Brownsville has nothing which distinguishes it as an economic engine.  This is why I have been such a strong voice for the airport.  That is one public Board I would love to serve on.  I believe in Brownsville's airport.  I do not buy the argument the cost of moving the airport is over a billion dollars.  If we get Space X the feds will pay the $83 million for the 12,000 foot runway.  We already have millions ready to go to build a new terminal.  Brownsville can make the land deals on 511 to make it happen.  But the mind set is not there and excuses rule.

Having said all of that, I have been a big opponent of Space X for a variety of reasons.  Compromise worked out the closing of the beach so that launch dates along with their windows will not interfere with holiday weekends or fishing tournaments.  This was an important compromise.

But what really changed my mind was the promise of the 12,000 foot runway.  This will change Brownsville's airport.  It will mean Brownsville will be able to handle the largest cargo planes currently being used. This means jobs and money which have nothing to do with Space X.

The BEDC does get an "F" for how it handled its trip to Columbia to bring in trade to Brownsville's airport.  It was like Huck Finn and his friends sailing down to Columbia on a raft and trying to convince the authorities they were ready for the big times.  The BEDC had no business plan and failed to do their research. 

They should have gone to Peru.  Peru complains non-stop over the US being unable to process their perishable produce in time to get them to market.  American farmers who operate in Peru are ready to expand production, but have no way to get it processed fast enough in the US.  Brownsville is the logical choice, but no one at the BEDC understands the issue or knows how to put together a sales pitch with the trade agencies of the South American countries to make it happen.

While I want the airport moved and believe the excuses are all BS, I am being told the State is looking at widening Boca Chica to 4 lanes.  This will help with the flow of traffic on Boca Chica - well except on the highway exit.  That back up is already a nightmare.  The better option may be to make International from 77 to Boca Chica more of a highway than a road with endless lights. A couple of overpasses would move the traffic on International a lot faster.  Then 4 lanes from 4 Corners to the airport would make a big difference.

A couple of weeks ago something the president of Space X said convinced a lot of people Brownsville has been chosen.  I think we may get it, but I also believe his posturing was more to pressure Florida into a better deal.

If we get Space X it will give Brownsville a unique place in the LRGV in terms of economic development.  This will be good.  It will also mean more and better jobs at our airport which is also good.  It will be the beginning of building a strong economic engine at the airport and in the Space industry.  It could force UT to invest in its Brownsville campus.

Because of a few naysayers who know nothing about change and economic development, it would be sad to lose Space X and the 12,000 foot runway we will get.  Believe me, without that runway deal, I would still be  a very strong voice against Space X.  But a 12,000 runway changes Brownsville for the better.

The naysayers are the type people who would have opposed the Hoover dam.  California, Nevada and in fact the US would be a different place had people with vision and courage not moved forward on Hoover dam.  Today's radical environmentalists never would have allowed for Hoover dam.  The environment is important, but so too is compromise in the interest of progress.  True leaders find compromise and move the community forward.

On Tenaska, my house is not as cool this summer as last..  It was my response to the rate increase.  But I favor Tenaska because it is natural gas.  Brownsville's utility rates in the future will not be held hostage to the quagmire which is the Middle East.  Yes, today we pay more and my house is not as cool as it use to be, and it will be colder in the winter.  But I know that in time our rates will remain stable as other communities find their rate for heating oil and electricity remain hostage to the quagmire which is the Middle East.  Texas has so much natural gas we do not even know what to do with it.

Further up the gulf they are building facilities to turn Texas natural gas into liquid.  In time it will make its way to Europe. Europe wants Texas natural gas so as to not be dependent on imports from Russia.  With Texas as a major exporter of natural gas, Tenaska will never have to fear the impact geopolitics will have on the price it pays to run its electric generating plant.   In the long run this means more stable and cheaper rates for Brownsville.  You cannot progress without investment. 

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