Recently I came across an article with the headline Cities Have Become the Gatekeepers of Democracy. Citing studies globally as well as recent Gallup Polls, the Trust in Government has been sinking for the last 13 years and in the United States has dropped to an all time low of 38%. While this figure is alarming these same studies have shown that the trust in local government has remained high, 70%, since the 1970s.
Why do people find cities more trustworthy than other government entities? Part of it is proximity. People can see and feel how democracy works for them. But it is also attributable to cities’ efforts to address Quality of Life issues head on, that left unattended, can become major stressors to democratic institutions.
Also cities don’t usually get tied up in partisan gridlock that is corrosive to democratic governance. City leaders seem to be able to set political differences aside and work together for the common good of the community. City leaders have shown repeatedly that partisanship takes a back seat to finding workable solutions that are in the best interest of the people.
But cities are not just serving as democracy’s staunchest defenders, they are also championing democratic principles like civic engagement and involving all people in solutions and getting results on everyday problems.
Most importantly, city leaders recognize that their power comes from the people and, as such, their fundamental role is to act in their best interest. This is how democracy should work, and in many people’s minds, sharply contrasts with what they perceive at other levels of government.
In reading this I couldn’t help but think of my past years on Council and my experience has reinforced my belief in these democratic principles. At times it can be cumbersome but keeping in mind the concepts of transparency and inclusiveness as guiding fundamentals, Galveston can continue to represent the best Democracy has to offer.
Wishing You A Carefree February Full Of Input And Choices.
What an exciting time! In January, I officially filed for the Office of Galveston Mayor and we kicked off the campaign with a spectacular event in The Conservatory at The Bryan Museum
Please join us as we work to continue to build on our past accomplishments and introduce new policies that will shape Galveston's future. Check out the website and like and share our Facebook page.
The following are just a few of the topics discussed recently at the Industrial Development Corporation ( IDC ) meeting that will affect the Economic Vitality of the City:
Economic Development Assistance: The IDC was informed of a Economic Analysis that will be performed by the International Economic Development Council this month to assist Galveston in becoming Pro Active in their Economic Planning and make recommendations as to the most efficient Economic Development Process and prioritized Issues. The program is at no cost to the City and will be finalized in the next few months.
Port of Galveston Walkway: The Port has made a request of the IDC for sharing the costs of revitalizing the Walkway between the Port and Shearn Moody parking garage. The 1.35 million dollar request would cover one half of the costs with the Port providing the remaining funding. The IDC will deliberate the request at their February 4th meeting.
The Cultural Arts Commission has been meeting regularly to finalize the process for the awarding of the City’s Annual Grants for Public Art. Public Art has been defined as any artwork that exists in the public sphere, which can be visual arts, literary arts, performing arts or media arts.
The call for projects is planned for March 1st with submission to Council for approval at their August meeting and awarding of the contracts to the Artists in September.
The selection process for a City Flag will be discussed at the Commission’s February 11th meeting.
I will keep you updated on both of these topics as more definite information is available.
Sandpiper Cove: The City has been getting complaints concerning the living conditions in the Sandpiper Cove Housing Complex. These housing units are a location based housing program privately managed and under the direct authority of HUD. Because of this, neither the City nor the Galveston Housing Authority have any oversight over this complex. Saying that, the City and GHA have facilitated meetings with the responsible parties to address the issues and a solution seems forthcoming.
Pelican Island Bridge: Negotiations are still underway to build a new bridge to Pelican Island. County and State elected officials have stepped up to facilitate a resolution to the funding question. Currently discussions with the County, Tx Dot, Texas A&M, the Port of Houston and the City have been ongoing and hopefully a solution that will allow for a new Bridge, that will bypass the A&M Campus, will happen soon.
Of course, I will keep you updated as I hear more details
One of the most important activities of the year will begin in March and that is the 2020 Census. Occurring every ten years the Census Count is the basis for many funding opportunities for the City that directly affect your quality of life. In 2010 Galveston lost a great deal of State and Federal funding due to our population dropping below 50,000. What made this even more alarming was that there were areas of the Island that did not report and therefore lowered which could have been a count in excess of the Magic 50,000 number.
This year’s Census is so important that the City has established a Complete Count Committee which is composed of residents that have volunteered to get the most accurate counts possible.
District 2’s own Joan Oelze has been a guiding force on this Committee and requests your participation in the Census Count.
To learn more from Joan on the Census please CLICK HERE.
Mardi Gras !
At Council’s January 23rd meeting Mardi Gras was officially kicked off with a proclamation declaring February 22nd as Z Krew Day !
“ Laissez les bons temps rouler “
Port of Galveston
As has been the case for a little while now, the Port of Galveston has been extremely active. With the signing of the Royal Caribbean Contract the City will receive a payment in lieu of property tax and that concept will be considered in all future Cruise Contracts.
The Wharves Board is also assisting Staff in the development of a prioritized list of projects that can be presented to the Industrial Development Corporation for possible funding and as mentioned earlier the Port Walkway will be included in this list.
The ratio of Cruise Business to Cargo Business is also a point of discussion and discussions are underway to improve the Cargo side of the Port to maintain a diversified revenue stream.
And finally,The Wharves Board received a presentation from Pilot LNG,LLC about their desire to place a small floating LNG facility on Pelican Island. This will be discussed more at upcoming Wharves Board meetings. Please CLICK HERE for more details.
This and other Port Business can be reviewed in more detail in the most recent Port Director’s Report, please CLICK HERE.
At the Park Board’s last meeting the Board discussed making a proposal for Galveston to serve as the home of the U.S.S. Texas. Many different sites have been discussed and the Park Board and City feel that the best site would be at Seawolf Park. Included with hosting the famed ship is also the cost of the preparation of the berth which needs to be considered in the proposal. Because of time constraints, The Park Board has elected to not submit a proposal and request an extension of the process. PleaseCLICK HERE for more details.
At that meeting, addressing the drainage at Stewart Beach Park was also discussed. The management of drainage is a precursor to making decisions concerning a new Pavilion at Stewart Beach and in response to this the Park Board applied for a grant from the GLO for financial assistance. Unfortunately the GLO did not approve the grant and the Park Board is now going out for bids to fund the project with their funds.
Construction to address flooding at Stewart Beach is scheduled to begin in October of ‘20.
For more details of the Park Board’s approach to flooding please CLICK HERE.
Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program
At Council’s January meeting the transfer of more than $650,000 for Rental Assistance for those in need in Galveston was approved unanimously by Council. The Program is designed to assist individuals in lower income categories to rent affordable homes in Galveston.
Please CLICK HERE for more details of the program.
BeachMaintenance Permits and Beach Access
At Council’s January 23rd meeting the status of Beach Maintenance Permits and the Beach Access and Dune Protection Committee’s recommendations were discussed. The Committee had met for 15 months and have developed very workable recommendations for our Beach Access Plan which allows the City to come into compliance with the GLO.
After much discussion the topic was placed on Council’s February agenda for further action.
To view the recommendations of the Committee please CLICK HERE. A very Big Thank You to the Committee Members for their expertise and hard work !
City Council Snippets
Don’t Forget FeatherFest April 16-19. Please CLICK HERE for more information.
The Latest City Manager’s Report For Your Viewing Pleasure, Please CLICK HERE.
Crime Statistics Will Follow A New Reporting Method, To Be In Compliance With New Federal Standards.
Funding Approved For New Playground Equipment For Menard, San Jacinto And Wright Cuney Parks.
Congratulations To Jane Swanson, Of The Silk Stocking District, For Being Selected For The Landmark Commission !
Redevelopment Authority Changed To Be A True Economic Development Arm Of The City.
Recent Presentation to City Council On The Construction Of A Bernardo De Galvez Statue.