1. Do you support the addition of two new nuclear power plants to the South Texas Project to meet our future energy needs? If not, please describe the alternatives you favor. If so, please explain your position or philosophy on the long-term storage of nuclear-fuel waste.
Due to the cost; the potential for irresponsible harm to our environment; and the possibility of danger to employees and surrounding communities, at the moment I do not support the nuclear option. Building and management costs alone are tremendous and while there may be present short-term benefits; it would be irresponsible for anyone to ignore the administration of the toxic waste to include the price thereof. In the long run these plants will prove to cost more to all citizens.
A more viable solution is a focus on consumer conservation followed by upgrading existing infrastructure to maximize energy efficiencies. In an effort to improve our environment; reduce our consumption footprint; preserve the beauty of our city for future generations; and become a beacon of innovation to our nation we should expand opportunities for both new energy mediums and employment by implementing and combining alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal.
2. Do you support Mayor Hardberger's Mission Verde initiative in its entirety? If so, what do you see as the most critical steps council must take to implement it successfully? If not, do you support any of its provisions, and why (not)?
While some of the tenets proposed are a sound beginning to reaching a “greener” city in addition to saving money, I believe that there needs to be a more diverse multilateral approach. The overarching goal of the Mission Verde initiative is good however we could all benefit from modifications to its processes.
For instance, while I am in support of a Light Rail System in the future I find the very dialogue at the moment to be a waste of time for all San Antonians. We should focus on methods on improving our existing transportation system, the VIA. Our attention should be on VIA buses which, at the moment, are in need of mechanical correction.
Analysis of the current routes should be evaluated and opportunities to expand throughout more of San Antonio and improve effectiveness thereof should be addressed. In our current national economical climate the focus should not be on spend or cut, rather on how to spend wisely and where to improve effectively by redirecting or reducing. Investment should be promoted on reducing the environmental footprint of each bus in our existing fleet. With a model VIA system for all other cities to appreciate we will have prepared for a future Light Rail System hailed as second to none.
3. What is the right mix of public-transit options for San Antonio’s future, and what do you think is the best method to fund/maintain each element?
I learned very early in my professional military career that before spending on new methods, why not improve existing ones. An evaluation of existing routes, for instance, to find opportunities to improve the system on behalf of the citizens is a very cost effective way to make the system a viable option for more users. The return on investment (ROI) is quantifiable and almost immediate.
Furthermore, for the low investment of around $5,000.00 USD per VIA bus we can move our fleet from an environmentally unfriendly one to a cost effective, “greener,” and innovative one. This investment would convert the existing fleet from using fossil fuels to vegetable oil. The same fuel source largely available throughout our many dining business establishments; in fact it would reduce business overhead by allowing us to retrieve this fuel source at no charge to them. If there is more money in the pocket of our local businesses then there will be more opportunity for expanded employment for our citizens adding to the initial ROI. Once we have a model VIA system; we can then expand to a model future Light Rail System (i.e., VIA Rail), building on positive lessons learned.
A good example of an innovate mix, which would attract more users, is City of Atlanta’s MARTA, which has a combination of light rail and surface transportation. We should address all facets of the service provided and include the information on the VIA website. We can expand the trip planner found on the VIA website to include light rail.
4. If San Antonio faces a budget shortfall, where would you be willing to make budget cuts?
Review, Improve, and Reduce.
Leadership must do an immediate review of the budget during those times, line for line. Each existing line item should be evaluated for return on investment (ROI). All waste and unneeded spending should be purged immediately. Contracts would be reviewed in this manor as well. Oversight should drive-out overages and re-contracting would be utilized as a tool for the protection and benefit of the community’s assets.
A good example of the process in which the cost exceeds the budget is a quote my community HOA has received for one set of speed bumps. The estimates range at around $17k to $20k per speed bumps. An amazing amount especially when you think about what it is for, a mere geometrical shape running horizontal upon asphalt. Such findings should be scrutinized and options presented for contractors to compete driving the price down.
Programs, all programs, should be evaluated for ROI. Any finding that there is no positive return for all San Antonians should result in the elimination, modification and/or termination of that program; as a community there should be transparency as to what and how the communities funds are expended. All decisions should be visible and posted immediately allowing for citizens to concern aspects that may have not been considered in review.
5. What are your top spending priorities for the HOT tax? Would you support a recommendation to use some of those funds to expand the Convention Center?
San Antonio holds one of our nations highest hotel occupancy tax rate at 16.75% (SAHLA, 2008). This being said it is vital that this opportunity should be handled with responsible stewardship. The tourism and hospitality industry in our great city is one that can only exist with a mutual effort and investment by both the citizenry as well as the industry. If our city is unsafe, unclean, and promotes little attraction to the state, nation and world abroad then the industry suffers; if the industry is not funded, upgraded and/or protected properly then the city misses a great opportunity for return on investment. I support a large part of the priorities as stated by the San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association, Hotel Occupancy Tax and Consistency In Its Use statement, posted to their website on December 2008 (www.sanantonio-lodging.org/Position_Statements.php).
The expansion and improvement of the city’s Convention Center, in my humble opinion, is a vital investment; which would benefit both the city and the industry by attracting more and more events and tourism to our city.
6. Please briefly describe your conception of San Antonio’s economy, its strengths and weaknesses, and what you would do to build on the former and address the latter?
Understanding the current state of the overall economy one must be an adaptive analyst and responsible steward of our existing assets. For the most part we’ve prepared in advance and have not been hit as hard by the current recession as other major cities. The core strength of that stability in the current economical storm is a collaborative diverse portfolio of a strong military community presence; tourism; and the perception for opportunity that exists in our great city.
With such a strong portfolio where is the problem? The problem exists the both the process and approach that is used at all these difficult junctions along the way. As a city we should not simply throw money at the problem, as has been done, rather we must analyze the problem with complete transparency with the People and call on the People to take ownership in the process bring a collaborative spirit to the process. Our public transportation matter, covered earlier, is a great example; throwing money at developing a new system while the existing one isn’t being managed adequately is irresponsible stewardship.
Just because we have times of prosperity and surplus doesn’t mean turn around and spend on every idea that comes to mind. There has to be continuity in saving for the tough times. In this I find a fundamental American ideology summed up in one simple quote, “an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.”
7. Keeping in mind the playground scandal, the Healy-Murphy Park sale, and the El Mercado flap, how would you increase accountability and transparency at City Hall? Specifically, would you change the role or method of choosing a City Auditor, and his/her scope of authority?
This is a vital function of just government; from the smallest homeowners association to Washington D.C. Transparency and Accountability; big key words echoed all around us in the media. I unequivocally believe in both leadership by example and being held accountable by the People for failures in both ethics and duty. This is the bare minimum we all as citizens deserve. As a Councilman I would be held accountable of my district; the Mayor of the city; and so on.
Both appointment by the Mayor or election by the People gives way to various positives and negatives. To be fair I decline to fully respond to this question at this time so as to protect the integrity in various initiatives and proposals I will be revealing closer to election time.
8. Do you support extending the digital-billboard pilot program? If so, what restrictions, if any, would you recommend on their placement and use?
It is important to promote innovative ideas, especially when we are poised to be an example city of innovation for the nation at large. I am in support of the current program. For the most part this initiative is the future of this particular marketing media; however I would like to see an effort in reducing the conception of energy for these projects. As stated in previous responses, looking towards a “greener” solution should always be part of the dialogue. Solar or direct wind energy to power such marketing channels should be explored and implemented.
We should all be responsible stewards of both our monies and environment. On a smaller point, the brightness of these mediums should be evaluated thoroughly to prevent them from becoming both aesthetic eye sours as well as distractions posing potential driving hazards. I have no current recommendation on placement and use.
9. Do you support SAWS' current plans to secure San Antonio's water supply? If so, please explain why. If not, please explain what you believe they should be doing differently.
Water conservation and utilization is a very important matter for San Antonio. The more we expand, especially in our District, the higher the water towers have go up just to keep up with the demand. Fresh water is truly a commodity not fully respected and/or appreciated. There are many options in resolving this issue which should include open dialogue and collaboration.
The 2005 Water Resource Plan Update includes future water supply projects like the Recharge Initiative, Brackish Water Desalination, the Regional Carrizgo Project, etc. One I did not find in my research is community level initiatives like Rain Water Collection and Utilization. By using creative ideas for catching rain water, for instance, and intelligent filtration individual homeowners could collect months worth of water from just a few rainy days reducing the overall demand.
10. Please briefly describe how you financially support yourself. How will you balance your work demands with your council responsibilities? Do you foresee any conflicts of interest between your profession (or former profession, if you're retired) and a position on council? If so, how will you handle these?
The individual detail as to personal time management varies from person to person so there is no single right way, in my humble opinion. However I strongly believe a Life-Work Balance approach. Presently I work full time in the technology field and support myself only. However I believe and practice a concentrate 100% effort in both my job as well as any responsibility. My approach is simple, breaking tasks down into organized blocks of tasks and opportunities. I tackle each one at a time until the job is complete. I do not forsee conflicts of interest or ethics between my day-to-day job and the role of being the District 10 City Councilman. I work in my family’s business which provides retail mobile communication services to the military community of San Antonio.
I believe in standing by a clearly defined ethics standard and am always happy to work in coordination with our existing ethics and regulations committee or administrator.
11. What is your opinion regarding the Parade Ordinance that is the subject of the Free Speech Coalition lawsuit? Specifically, what fees, if any, should the city charge for parade permits? Should they distinguish between types of applicants and events, and if so, how and by whom should those decisions be made?
I stand on the side of our nations Constitution in so far as the debate on Free Speech; furthermore there should be no obstacles in place which would hinder the right to free speech. However, it is vital that there be a realistic dialogue in the management of such events and recovery thereafter; more specifically in regards to protecting the city and its People from damages or cleanup due to such events.
While I have no specific qualm with the existing process the oversight as to who gets a permit or which event is allowed to hold such events should be left up to the People. While we are elected through a majority and approach opportunities and issues from an ideological political party, at the end of the day we, as representatives, must keep in mind that we represent all citizens and the diversity thereof, even those who may not share our approach. This is the beauty of our nation and our Constitution.
If not by an elected position then a committee empowered and appointed by the People should be able to dialogue each proposed event openly and ethically with ultimate respect of all our citizens.
12. Please briefly describe your philosophy toward the maintenance and funding of publicly owned and/or operated spaces such as golf courses, libraries, parks, and El Mercado. Should these entities break even, make a profit, or be viewed as investments with tangible returns? Please propose a solution for the issues surrounding either Healy-Murphy Park, El Mercado, or La Villita.
In a free-market society we must, and I say this strongly, stand on the side of a free-market approach. The city is the largest business and should run as one that succeeds; is transparent; and benefits all its citizenry equally. Regardless of the economic climate we should have open and simplified balance sheets which break even, at bare minimum, but preferably result with a return on investment.
Profits resulting from intelligently executed projects should recycle into the business; expand working projects; cushion preventative savings; and more importantly reduce the burden of the citizens by returning or reducing subsequent year taxation.
13. If we've failed to raise a question or issue that you feel represents your values and priorities as a candidate, please discuss it here.
The elected leadership should work tirelessly for all People. Effective and successful representation should never be compromised. I simply ask for the opportunity to be a voice…a conduit for the success of San Antonio District 10. It is a personal norm that all things I undertake I give 100% of myself; always striving to successfully get the job done.
Accepting mediocrity and complacency is failure and I refuse to be on that side. It is time to innovate our City Council and make it work for us; business as usual is not a path toward success. I learned very early in my military profession that it is vital for every person to be of service to his/her community. A government of the People and by the People should be just that, a system which enables everyone to receive quality customer service equal to that which we all invest. As your city councilman I intend to do just that.