San Antonio is about to come on hard times, given major budget cuts at a state and federal level. What programs do you think can be trimmed back? What should we not touch?
According to Senator Leticia Van De Putte, the $27 Billion dollar shortfall in the State of Texas was not based on last year’s numbers, but the year before that. That only means that the initial numbers will grow. As to San Antonio, City Manager Scully projects in the next 5 years a $49 to $69 million dollar shortfall.
It is clearly a time to cut the fat in the budget. Sports programs or initiatives other than basic services have to go. But it is also time to shore up Basic Services. There are services that our citizens expect and deserve. Fire and Police service, as well as the maintaining of our sidewalks, streets, curbs and drainage issues and the employees that service them are a few we cannot touch.
Are there programs you plan to champion to ease the impact of those outside funding cuts on our community? Are you committed to continuing the SA2020 process?
I plan to promote the development and facilitation of what I call the “San Antonio City Walk”. It is the development of a tourist and citizen based facility that is city owned and operated. It would encompass 100 acres and sufficient infrastructure to facilitate crowds of 80 to 100,000 people including parking. It would also lend itself towards private investment such as happened with Landry’s and the Tower of the Americas with extended leases, for the development of an entertainment such a bowling alleys, galleries, restaurants., cinemas and music venues for Country, Jazz, French, German, Tejano and others all simultaneously coordinated.
Simply said, imagine a family of four with twenty five dollars to spend. After a home dinner, you can still pay $5.00 parking and enjoy soft drinks or ice cream to listen to you favorite band. If you had 100,000 parking spaces at $5.00 each would quickly create $500.000.00 daily, not to mention the $2 million in revenue for refreshments. It would not be long before infrastructure was reimbursed and on a profit mode for the city. This can leads towards the expansion of existing income generators such as more hotel rooms creating additional revenue though the visitor surcharge and CPS. An expanded version of this concept is available.
The first step to SA2020 was “Dream it”. I am committed toward the next series of meetings for the “Map It” phase. This is the planning phase that will layout our future potential. From community safety, economic development, family, health and fitness, our natural environment and transportation will all be areas that will clearly benefit our Citizens, and I will clearly support and facilitate its direction.
What is your position on the city’s investment in two proposed nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project? CPS Energy plans for early retirement of the Deeley coal plant? Renewable energy development?
One of the points quickly learned from the Japanese Nuclear plant was the harmful proximity of the towers not in trouble. We should persue a moratorium on any further investment on the two additional towers until which time assessments are made as to recommended “safe” distances to each other as well as the additional costs these changes may incur.
Clearly, CPS CEO Doyle Benneby is on the right track. The costs to refurbish an old plant are not as cost effective as applying our fiscal resources towards a plant that will comply with new federal regulations concerning emission controls. In august of last year, we have already realized a $45 million in savings or slightly under $4.00 dollars a month savings per customer.
Renewable energy continues to be a viable source of energy for San Antonio. While we have coal and natural gas, we must continue to keep our future development planning towards the development of cost effective choices of renewables such as windtricity and solar options.
How could the city better support public education? Do you support efforts to allow Mayor Julián Castro to be able to appoint some school board members?
a.) We as a city should seek to facilitate and consolidate educational programs that will quickly affect our workforce. I favor “re-education” first to those 80,000 people in San Antonio that are unemployed as to provide work for individuals re-invigorate families that are struggling. Secondly, we should pursue educational training that can offer opportunity for the young that are about to enter the workforce for the first time, and facilitate programs for our under-age youth that offer part-time and summer jobs.
b.) It is not the obligation nor responsibility of city officials to educate. We should continue to seek the direction of our voting citizens to select school board representatives.
Given the EPA is planning on toughening national air quality standards, what steps do you think the city can take to make sure our skies are healthy (and federal transportation keeps flowing to San Antonio)?
We barely passed our air quality pollutant levels on our last review, and restrictions are about to get tougher. Re-education on how we use our vehicles, or any vehicle with carbon emissions, will be key. Professionals in marketing can be hired as to how we re-educate a city on extending time limitations to maintain schedules. Mass transportation days, as well as carpooling are other avenues encouraged by HOV lanes. We must also encourage growing more trees to counter carbon as our population increases.
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?
Many high capacity transit alternatives are currently being considered for our region including bus rapid transit, electric streetcar, light rail, commuter rail, HOV lanes and others. We must continue to study other cities public transit systems that have 10 to 20 million in population to see what works for their cities. We should learn also from what does not work. I would like to see high speed rail incorporated in the ongoing projects such as highway expansions, so as to prevent additional expense to tear down new expansions. Typically a project does not begin because the entire project fund is not available. I propose using funds that we do have and incrementally build. We should also consider other funding alternatives such as business based initiatives (such as shipping by private companies on light rail or rapid transit).
What life experiences make you uniquely qualified to serve on the city council?
With 25 years of community service in San Antonio, I have been a part of many solutions for a multiple of community challenges. I bring a fresh approach to the current issues we face in District 7 and I am confident I can resolve them.
Secondly, I have bee part of our business community consistently for over 30 years and began my Design-Build business over 20 years ago. I now have partners that run the business availing full time to serve our District.
I therefore bring Strong community service background and a strong business background to solve our community challenges and bring business common sense to solve our current shortfalls in the state and our wonderful city.
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?
According to Keith Phillips leading economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, we hit bottom last year and have begun the way to recovery from our recession. San Antonio has fared well in that the recession came to San Antonio later than most cities. Our Medical, Military, and our tourist economy play a large role in keeping our economy strong. A weakness however is that much of our labor force survives on week to week pay. This can quickly affect consumption, then next our local markets when unemployment is on the rise.
I propose that we consider New revenue generators that will create new investment opportunity as well as provide jobs. Additional revenue, plus rebuild our existing generators is a clear goal. One project that I can expand on later is what I call the “San Antonio City Walk”. See number 2.
How do 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?
I own my business, which though partnerships avail me time to serve council fulltime, and still receive income. I do not see a conflict with neither time, nor special interests as a small businessman that does Design-Build, as my partners will run the business. We do not contract work with the City, therefore the position will not pose a conflict. Should in any rare instance issues arise between my clients and city clients, I will gladly abstain from the approval process, by reclusing myself from any approval process.
Should service on the San Antonio City Council provide a living wage? Why or why not?
I do not seek personally a wage from service at City Council. Other cities in the nation offer a wage to aldermen and mayor. We should be open to the voice of the constituents should they elect to provide wages. I do not believe this would happen on a downturn economy.
Find out what district you live in, how to register to vote, information on the the other districts and more in our 2011 City Council Election Guide.