Thursday, January 4, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities

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"I’ve always had a great working relationship with the members of Congress. This is an unusual situation." U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas
Ortiz, Hutchison cross swords

Local representative lobs criticism at senator over Packery Channel, Valley

By BRAD Olson and Tara Copp Caller-Times
March 6, 2005

Three angry letters Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison never received speak volumes about the discord between her and U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz.

The letters attack her for favoring a Corpus Christi project at the expense of one in Brownsville. One letter plays the ethnicity card:

"I know it's not because there's mostly Hispanics in the Valley is it? No, surely that's not it. I am, however, curious."

The "I" was supposed to be a Valley constituent. Ortiz's chief of staff, Florencio "Lencho" Rendon, distributed the letters, intending to find others to sign and mail them in a letter-writing campaign. Rendon says he did not write the letters.

They shed light on the difficulties between Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, and Hutchison, Texas' senior Republican U.S. senator.

Neither say they want a bad relationship. Both lawmakers are frustrated by the other's actions, which each sees as going against the areas' constituents.

Says Hutchison: "I've always had a great working relationship with the members of Congress. This is an unusual situation."

Says Ortiz: "Courtesy is a two-way street. It doesn't run just one way."

Relations improved

Ortiz does say the relationship has improved recently.

"Sometimes the dynamic between lawmakers includes peaks and valleys," he said in a written statement. "Currently, my relationship with Sen. Hutchison is one of great respect. We have a good working relationship."

In recent examples: The Corpus Christi Packery Channel and Brownsville's Brazos Island Harbor dredging projects; Brownsville's upcoming West Rail Project, and the Intracoastal Waterway; Ortiz pushed one way, Hutchison pushed another. Both say they were helping residents who reached out to them, and that the other is out of touch.

Each of the three projects shares something else in common - they also in some way involve Randy DeLay, a lobbyist, and his brother, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. In each case, either Tom DeLay, one of the nation's most powerful Republicans, or his brother Randy, or both, pushed the projects on behalf of the South Texas Democrat, in opposition to the Republican senator. One environmental advocate for the Intracoastal Waterway, Walter Kittelberger, said dealing with Ortiz on coastal issues was the same "as if it was Tom DeLay wearing an Ortiz mask."

Ortiz said he and DeLay have worked together on "important matters of economic development." A spokeswoman for Tom DeLay did not respond to questions for this story, saying only: "Mr. DeLay does have a very good working relationship with Mr. Ortiz." Randy DeLay did not return calls seeking comment. A spokesman for Hutchison declined to comment about why Tom DeLay would side with Ortiz over her.

Situation no surprise

Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, said Hutchison's being at odds with Tom DeLay comes as no surprise, given her possible candidacy for governor. Tom DeLay's loyalties would lie with Gov. Rick Perry and Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick.

"If you think of Tom DeLay, Craddick and Perry, they constitute the conservative Republican governing structure in Texas," Jillson said. "They worked together on redistricting and drove that through. Hutchison is challenging that, in the shape of preparing for the governor's race. It's possible that Perry's colleagues, meaning Craddick and DeLay, are rallying around him and finding ways to get in the way."

Jillson said a rift between Hutchison and Ortiz was much more unusual in Texas politics than cooperation between Ortiz and Tom DeLay.

"Historically, the Texas congressional delegation has worked together on local projects," he said. "You don't get in my way, I don't get in your way. Here, Ortiz gets what he wants and Tom DeLay helps his Texas colleague. What is not so easily explained is why there would be a series of conflicts between Solomon Ortiz, who is a moderate Democrat, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is a moderate Texas Republican."

In the first example, Hutchison and Ortiz got entangled over two similar dredging projects, in Corpus Christi and in Brownsville.

Under construction

Corpus Christi's Packery Channel is in the construction phase, after having met all of the Army Corps of Engineers' due diligence tests, and obtaining federal construction money in 2001. In the four years since it got started, Hutchison has been able to secure approximately another $3 million each year. But she has done so through congressional process because the funding hasn't been listed in the president's budget.

In 2005, Packery's supporters expected no different, especially since increased defense spending cut into federal budgets across the board.

Nor did they expect a $10 million request by President Bush to begin construction for Brownsville's Brazos Island Harbor project - a dredging project that has not undergone the Corps' due diligence requirements.

The project was pushed by Ortiz, who was working closely with Randy DeLay and Glenn LeMunyon, whom the Brownsville port had hired to lobby. A series of memos from DeLay and LeMun-yon obtained through a Texas Open Records Request show that the two lobbyists, as well as Ortiz, had been trying to get the project approved and funded since mid-2001.

On Nov. 8, 2001, that effort got a noted boost. According to an e-mail sent by Randy DeLay to former Port of Brownsville Director Raul Besteiro:

'An opportunity'

"We have an opportunity to get into the Corp (Army Corps of Engineers) budget and have President be the one urging," DeLay wrote. "Need to know what it is we need for that year. Please advise."

The project raised several eyebrows in Congress once it was in the 2005 budget. Hutchison voiced reservations, particularly because Brownsville had never approached her office or Sen. John Cornyn's office about it. In an April 2004 Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations subcommittee hearing with Army Corps of Engineers chief Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., took notice.

Reid: "This is astounding, in light of the fact that the administration is holding up funding for numerous projects that have been fully vetted by the Corps."

Murray: "Did the Corps request funding for Brazos Island?"

Flowers: "No M'am. We - I would not request funds for a project that did not have a favorable chiefs report."

Murray: "Well, who put the money in then, for Brazos Island?"

Flowers: "I do not know."

The money was removed.

Rendon responded by attempting to start a letter-writing campaign against Hutchison, furnishing letters that Rendon wanted Besteiro to distribute.

Letters urgent

In an e-mail sent from his Hotmail account, Rendon created three potential letters and instructed Besteiro's secretary: "Get these letters to Mr. B ASAP."

The e-mails were obtained through a Texas Open Records request.

"The damage you do . . . instead of focusing rare federal investments, in a place to leverage jobs for the working poor in the Rio Grande Valley, you're endorsing a resort community further up the coast," the first letter said.

The "resort community further up the coast" is the community around Packery Channel in Corpus Christi.

In the second letter, in stronger words, the draft from Rendon for Besteiro reads: "A Senator, who represents both areas of the state (purportedly equally) seems to be playing one community off the other . . . I know it's not because there's mostly Hispanics in the Valley is it? No, surely that's not it. I am, however, curious."

Besteiro didn't send the letters, and on one of the e-mail paper copies, wrote a memo in response: "Lencho sent letters . . . Cannot send out this type of letter to a Senator."

Besteiro died in November.

Written response

In a written response to questions from the Caller-Times, Rendon said the letters were written and sent to him by "people who believed the Port of Brownsville was being neglected" and that he only forwarded them to the port. The letters, including drafts with comments about how each draft had improved from the previous draft, are not signed and were sent together in one document as an e-mailed attachment from Rendon's private e-mail account

Rendon said the letters "were mutually rejected and no one ever considered sending them."

"Earlier this year, a number of discussions took place with the port regarding the loss of federal money," Rendon said in the statement. "At Congressman Ortiz's request President Bush included in his budget to the Congress ($)10 million for the Port of Brownsville. The money was so utterly important to the port and their future, and by extension, the economic future of Cameron County. During those discussions, a number of ideas and drafts of letters were exchanged, some good and some bad, in order to try to save that money for the 27th District."

When Hutchison saw the letters, she sighed. The letters "are troubling, there's no doubt about it," she said. Of Texas' 32 congressional districts, Hutchison said, she has strong relationships with all the rest.

"I have two general policies - one, I always try to work with the congressman from every district, with the issues of concern from that district. Secondly, I always work with the local people and their wishes. And almost 100 percent of the time, the congressman is also representing the local community's wants."

Packery off budget

When the Corps of Engineers' fiscal 2006 budget came out this year, Packery Channel received no funding and the Port of Brownsville received $2.5 million for a multi-year feasibility study. Tom Utter, a lobbyist for the City of Corpus Christi, has said that Packery Channel needs no additional federal funding to be completed because the Corps has diverted money to the local dredging from other projects. Hutchison's office has said the project lacks about $5.5 million in federal monies, and getting money for the project is "a top priority for the senator."

The Port of Brownsville funding is closely packaged with another Brownsville issue that Ortiz and Hutchison have sparred about: where to relocate rail in downtown Brownsville and where to push for an international bridge to Mexico.

The bridge pushed by Ortiz is known locally as the "Rail/Truck Bridge" for the Port of Brownsville. It has cost $21.4 million, including more than $200,000 to Randy DeLay - in addition to his $15,000 monthly retainer - with no construction under way and no official green light yet obtained from the Mexican government.

Although local, state and federal officials in Mexico have said they favor the West Rail project over the port's bridge plan, business and community leaders in Brownsville are mixed: Some say both projects are essential to the city's future, and others say the port bridge isn't necessary.

second bridge plan

The second bridge, a joint effort between Cameron County and the City of Brownsville, is known there as the West Rail Relocation Plan. The reason the two plans are competing is that Mexico seldom approves construction of two international bridge crossings at once.

Cameron County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa, a Democrat and potential political rival to Ortiz, said he sought Hutchison's help when he believed Ortiz was working against the West Rail plan, because it competed with the bridge plan Ortiz favored.

Hinojosa said members of Ortiz's staff have asked him to stop the West Rail project because it could impede the progress of the Port of Brownsville's bridge. He would not name the Ortiz staffers.

Ortiz said he has wholeheartedly supported the West Rail project, working to secure an $850,000 appropriation for it.

"We wrote letters for them, we worked with the city of Brownsville, but if he (Hinojosa) doesn't want to recognize what I have done, hey, that's fine with me. I am just doing my job."

Hinojosa said an additional $2 million was originally appropriated for the project along with the $850,000, money that Hutchison had put in the appropriations bill. Hinojosa said Tom DeLay's staff had the appropriation designated for the Port of Brownsville for rail relocation instead of for his West Rail project.

Pete Sepulveda, director of Cameron County's international bridge system, said a lobbyist from Meyers and Associates, a firm that represents the city of Brownsville and Corpus Christi, called him and told him the $2 million was originally appropriated for West Rail, but DeLay's staff had the conference committee specify that the money would go to the Port of Brownsville.

Lobbyist unnamed

Sepulveda declined to name the lobbyist who called him. Larry Meyers, senior partner of Meyers and Associates, declined to comment.

Hinojosa also said Ortiz's staff called and told him the $2 million was not for West Rail, but for the Port of Brownsville. That port, through Ortiz and lobbyists, also was seeking railroad relocation funding.

"How do you think that made us feel?" Hinojosa said. "We are the largest county in his (Ortiz's) district, the second largest city in his district."

A May 22, 2002, internal memo obtained by the Caller-Times from a Texas Open Records request indicates that Tom DeLay was aware of the Port of Brownsville's need for railroad relocation funding and gave them "a favorable response" when asked for $3 million in addition to the $2 million already appropriated for 2003.

According to the memo, written by Port of Brownsville lobbyist and former Tom DeLay staffer LeMunyon:

"I met with and provided extensive background information to Majority Whip Tom DeLay and his staff regarding the need for the additional $3 million. I also provided Congressman Ortiz specific points and a request that he call Mr. DeLay. To my knowledge, Mr. Ortiz received a very favorable response to his request from Tom DeLay for the additional $3 million. I will be working with both offices to secure this additional funding."

Answered request

Hutchison said she began helping with the project when Brownsville officials asked for help.

"I can honestly say I don't know what was happening," Hutchison said. "I just know they (advocates for West Rail) were held up. I was concerned that might be indicative there was another force out there, and I stepped in for the local community. I wanted to make sure that if there was something, I smoothed it out."

Ortiz said he has been working with the State Department on the West Rail plan and was frustrated Hutchison didn't contact him about her intentions to help secure approval for it.

"She knew I was talking to the State Department on both bridges," he said. "But do you think she had the courtesy to call me and tell me about it? No."

Asked if the port's bridge was still on track, Ortiz said: "Well, not when you have a United States senator fighting in there, saying, 'No, the West Railroad bridge, no.' "

The third South Texas issue that has found the two lawmakers at odds recently is the Intracoastal Waterway.

The dispute revolved around a section of the Laguna Madre between Padre Island National Seashore and the King Ranch that is currently being dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Hutchison wanted to prevent dredged sediment from being dumped on private property in certain sections of the waterway between Corpus Christi and Brownsville, including parts of the King Ranch. Ortiz said Hutchison's requirements would have led to the shutdown of the Intracoastal Waterway, which serves as a major shipping canal and transportation corridor in the area. Hutchison said she was only trying to find a compromise that would allow the dredging to continue but preserve private property rights.

Walter Kittelberger, chairman of the Lower Laguna Madre Foundation, an environmental advocacy group that focuses on the Intracoastal Waterway, said many environmentalists believed that Ortiz's assertion that Hutchison's move would shut down the waterway originated with Tom and Randy DeLay.

more fruitful

Frank Feild, former president and CEO of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, said Rendon called him and asked him to write a letter to Hutchison about the issue. After speaking to Hutchison aides and coming to understand her position, Feild decided against writing a letter. Rendon also called and asked him to write a letter to Hutchison admonishing her for blocking the Brazos Island funding, Feild said.

Kittelberger said dealing with Hutchison on environmental issues has been more fruitful than dealing with Ortiz.

"I'm more likely to go up against the DeLay brothers if my point of contact is Ortiz's office than if I go to Kay Bailey Hutchison's office," he said. "I know that's paradoxical, but that's just the reality of it. I look at Ortiz as if it was Tom DeLay wearing an Ortiz mask. It just bears no fruit to deal with Ortiz down here when it comes to coastal issues."

Raymond Butler, executive director of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, an organization dedicated to keeping the waterway operational and mitigating environmental and economic concerns, said Ortiz had played a huge role in the compromise that was finally reached.

Ortiz helped out

"When that language first came out, it posed a very serious risk," he said. "It posed an unacceptable risk to the waterway the way it was originally drafted. If it wouldn't have been for his (Ortiz's) help, I'm not sure we would have reached the agreement we did reach."

Butler said the likelihood of the waterway ever shutting down, however, was remote, "if not impossible."

Both lawmakers bristle at the idea that they are pitting one community against the other, and point to numerous examples of work they've accomplished in both cities. Both have expressed hopes that the recent conflicts are in the past.

"I have gone to the mat for both Corpus Christi and Brownsville when their projects were in jeopardy, and both of them have had problems that I have stepped in to smooth over," Hutchison said. "I never pick between cities in Texas. Not ever. I take care of all of my cities. I fight for them when they need extra help and that is exactly what I have done with Corpus Christi and Brownsville."

Ortiz said he has worked hard for Brownsville, but was not concerned about being credited.

"I don't need to go out there with a band and honk horns and stuff to let them know what I've done," he said. "I think people know. But I think this can be very divisive. We don't need to fight like this. We need people to work together. We are now facing a global economy, global competition. It doesn't do a darned thing for us to be fighting when we should be working together.

"And that's my message to the senator."

Contact Scripps-Howard correspondent Tara Copp at Staff writer Brad Olson can be reached at 886-3764 or

Copyright 2005, All Rights Reserved.


Jaime Kenedeño said...

Sunday, October 29, 2000
Little Rock, Bossier City offer examples of C.C.
By Lee Goddard
Little Rock, Ark., once faced the same dilemma as Corpus Christi. The city had an old arena, the local university was a force in trying to get a new one, and the voters went to the polls to settle the issue.
That was five years ago.
The ballot issue - a one-cent sales tax imposed for one year- passed in August 1995 and four years later, Little Rock opened the doors at Alltel Arena, which seats 18,000. It served as a modern alternative to Barton Coliseum, built in 1949.
According to Bill Walker, the Vice Chancellor for Advancement at Arkansas-Little Rock, the arena has been a boon for the university.
"Our attendance probably doubled the first year," Walker said. "We hired (Little Rock native) Sidney Moncrief as coach then, so undoubtedly that played a role in it. But the facility, once people saw it, they were so excited about it that it was certainly a big part of it.
"I do know that the arena was in the black after one year, which was an amazing success as far as the university was concerned."
That's the scenario those at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi want to mimic. While the sales tax increase is different in Corpus - one-eighth of a cent for a 25-year period - Little Rock's success has drawn admirers at the Island University.
"It is, I think, a very good model to start from," said Dan Viola, the athletics director at A&M-Corpus Christi. "That's why I'm confident if this passes, this can be a very positive thing for Corpus Christi, because it has been done in other cities."
It is being done in Bossier City, La., where, according to city coordinator Pam Glorioso, the city council renewed a sales tax bond that resulted in $28 million dollars in funding, and added $32.5 million from the Riverboat Gaming Fund. The funds went toward a replacement for Shreveport's 46-year old Hirsch Coliseum.
The CenturyTel Center, which can seat up to 14,000, opened its doors Saturday afternoon for a public walk-through. On Thursday, the Western Professional Hockey League's Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs will inaugurate the center. The center's "grand opening" will come a month later when Elton John plays Bossier City, and CenturyTel's other major tenant, the af2 (arena football) Bossier Battlewings, will begin play next spring.
While no studies have been conducted in terms of economic impact, there is, according to Glorioso, an expectation of out-of-town dollars flowing into the area.
"We have events coming here that we would never have had before," Glorioso said. "Elton John would never have come here. We expect to draw from western and south Louisiana, as well as southern Arkansas. People are going to come and, hopefully, spend on gas, food, shopping and maybe spend the night in town."
Like Little Rock, Bossier City's new arena will be managed by SMG, a company that specializes in managing public facilities. Should Corpus Christi voters approve the sales tax, the city manager would negotiate a management contract with SMG, said city councilman Mark Scott.
Justin White, a vice president for business development at SMG, adds that arenas can create job opportunities.
"It's typical to have a full-time staff of 35," White said. "But there is also approximately 100 part-time jobs that will open up. These would be local people brought in."
So, as was the case at Little Rock five years ago, it's up to the voters to make the decision. Walker has some experience with these issues.
"I would say a straight-forward campaign that assured people their money was going to be well-invested," he said. "And help people to realize there is something almost magical about this type of facility. Little Rock is going through a rejuvenation right now. A lot of things are happening, but the arena has been the centerpiece of it."

Staff writer Lee Goddard can be reached at 886-3613 or by e-mail at
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Sunday, October 22, 2000
Opponents doubt ability to fill bigger arena
Supporters say replacing aging Memorial Coliseum would create excitement, draw more people
By Jason Ma
Arena facts · Memorial Coliseum was dedicated in 1953. It seats up to 5,400. · The IceRays have three years left on their lease with the city for the use of Memorial Coliseum. · The proposed arena would cost about $35 million and take about two years to build. · The proposed arena would seat between 8,000 and 10,000. · The proposed arena would include retractable floor seating and premium box seating. · A professional management company would operate the arena, not the city. Source: City of Corpus Christi
Voters will decide Nov. 7 whether to build a multipurpose arena near the convention center and pay for it with a one-eighth cent sales tax increase. The project would cost about $35 million and the sales tax increase would be in effect for up to 25 years.
The arena could be home to IceRays hockey games, concerts, rodeos, graduation ceremonies, conventions and other large events, said John Longoria, City Councilman for District 3.
"There will be a lot of opportunities for the community there," he said. "It's not being built for an NBA or NHL team, it's for the community."
The community - or at least about 200 friends and family members of the Carroll High School class of 1998 - was locked out of the city's existing coliseum when it filled to capacity during a graduation ceremony two years ago.
But other kinds of events have failed to fill the 5,400 seat venue over the years.
Music performances, for example, regularly fall short of selling out.
For a Nov. 13, 1998 concert that featured country singer Tim McGraw, 3,576 people attended. Sammy Hagar drew 2,435 in 1997 and Willie Nelson drew 1,741 the same year. Melissa Etheridge brought in 1,721 in 1996 and Juan Gabriel drew 3,921, also in the same year.
The Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi men's basketball team brought in an average of 2,200 per game last year. The capacity for basketball games is 3,500.
And while all IceRays games so far have sold out, many seats remain empty on weeknights. The coliseum seats about 3,500 for hockey games.
"I just don't know whether Corpus Christi can support an arena," said local resident Buddy Sparks, a retired Navy veteran. "It won't be profitable because there's not the population."
Sparks said Corpus Christi is too far away from other large population centers, like San Antonio, to boost arena attendance. Still, he's no fan of Memorial Coliseum either.
"It's the best we've got, but it's an eyesore," he said.
City officials are confident that a new arena will draw enough people to fill 8,000 to 10,000 seats. A new facility, city officials say, creates interest and excitement among people.
Consultants hired by the city estimate that the arena would have an annual attendance of 450,000. If the arena is approved, the city would continue to operate Memorial Coliseum, said Skip Noe, deputy city manager.
Dan Viola, the athletic director for A&M-Corpus Christi, said that a new arena would help the school's basketball teams to obtain an NCAA Division I conference affiliation.

Ralph Bennett, a committee member for political action committee pushing for the city's proposals, Forward Corpus Christi, said a new arena could attract people from surrounding counties in addition to those in Corpus Christi.
"If it's a unique design and something on the bayfront, it's going to draw people," said Bennett, a retired architect. "A town of this size deserves an arena like that."
Attendance for IceRays and Islander games is crucial to the proposed arena. Those teams' games would account for almost half the expected revenues from tickets.
According to a study, paid for by the city and done by PKF Consulting, the proposed arena is estimated to generate $3 million in revenue for 2003. Of that $3 million, about $456,000 is projected to come from ticket sales, according to the study. The remaining $2.6 million is expected to come from other sources, such as premium seating, advertising, parking, concessions, naming rights and souvenirs.
The consulting firm estimated that $300,000 could be made from naming rights on the arena. It also stated that the arena would run a surplus in operating revenue of $618,999 in 2003. That profit is expected to steadily increase to $867,070 by 2012.
But Noe said the share of the surplus that goes to the city would depend on what kind of contract the city negotiates with any arena tenants and the firm that manages the facility.
On Oct. 10, the City Council authorized the city manager to begin contract negotiations with Philadelphia-based SMG to manage the arena. But no money will be spent and nothing will be signed unless voters approve the proposal.
SMG manages 150 facilities around the country, including the Astrodome in Houston and the Superdome in New Orleans. SMG would be responsible for marketing the arena, selling tickets, cleaning, selling concessions and booking acts. But Justin White, SMG vice president of business development, said some of those duties could be contracted out.
With performers such as Ricky Martin and Elton John playing arenas similar to the one being proposed, White said Memorial Coliseum's lack of space has hampered its ability to cash in on similar events.
"Without having something, you can't get them," he said.
IceRays director of ticket sales, Pat Dunn, said there are good and bad points about the Memorial Coliseum.
He said the 3,500 seating capacity is the smallest in the Western Professional Hockey League. The size prevents the sale of lucrative corporate or luxury box seats, he said. And with more capacity, the IceRays would be able to hold more group nights.
But a shorter neutral zone on the ice means players hit each other more. And the venue's size also encourages more excitement from the crowd.
"It's right on the action," he said. "It's loud. There's a great atmosphere in that building.
"The players are pumped when they go out there."

Staff writer Michael Hines contributed to this report. Jason Ma can be reached at 886-3778 or by e-mail at
Wednesday, October 11, 2000
City begins process to build arena
Nothing will happen unless voters approve $35 million project on Nov. 7
By Jason Ma

Courtesy of City of Corpus Christi
This is an artist's rendering of what the new $35 million local arena could look like. Negotiations have begun with a company that would service the facility, but only the community's OK on Nov. 7 would allow the process to continue.
The city will begin contract negotiations this week with a company to promote and manage a proposed arena that voters won't get to cast their ballots on until Nov. 7
The City Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to authorize City Manager David Garcia to negotiate with SMG, a private facilities management company. Council members Arnold Gonzales and Henry Garrett were absent.
Starting negotiations before the Nov. 7 election will provide voters with more information when they decide on the arena, city officials said.
"We hope if citizens better understand what opportunities there are, then I hope they will realize how important it is that we take this step," Mayor Loyd Neal said.
Neal said that the city will not spend any money and nothing will be signed unless voters pass the arena proposal.
"All we're asking the (city's) staff to do is to call on these professionals to help inform our citizens," he said.
The arena would cost an estimated $35 million and take approximately two years to complete. A one-eighth cent sales tax increase in effect for 25 years would finance the project.
The proposed arena would seat 8,000 to 10,000 and would be located near the Bayfront Convention Center. The Memorial Coliseum has a seating capacity of 5,400.
Garcia said the city would not have to buy property to build an arena because it owns the property for the proposed site and any needed parking spaces.
Justin White, SMG's vice president of business development, said early negotiations will shave three to four months off the arena's estimated completion. He said a 10,000-seat arena could be finished in 20 to 24 months.
SMG manages 150 facilities around the country, including the Astrodome in Houston and the Superdome in New Orleans.
In the time before the election, White said he will regularly visit Corpus Christi from Houston and answer questions people in the community have.
"I can be a resource to you or anyone else who wants facts," he told the City Council.
If the arena is approved and the city signs a contract with SMG, the management company would be responsible for marketing the arena, selling tickets, cleaning, selling concessions and booking acts. But White said some of those duties could be contracted out.
City officials said the city selected SMG because its connections with events and other venues would ensure that a new arena would have high booking rates.
An arena of the kind proposed on the ballot would typically hold events about 150 days of the year, White said, and could juggle sports events and other performances within short periods of time.
Within the last month, White said, several well-known acts that SMG has booked in the past performed in venues with 10,000 or fewer seats, the expected capacity of the proposed arena.
They include Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith Hill, Stone Temple Pilots, Britney Spears, Alan Jackson, Korn and AC/DC, among others.

Staff writer Jason Ma can be reached at _886-3778 or by e-mail at
Thursday, November 9, 2000
City gets to work on bond projects
Staff will give council estimates of when construction can begin
By Jason Ma

Kimiko Fieg/Caller-Times
Click image for larger version.
The City of Corpus Christi staff, fresh off Tuesday's successful bond election, got started Wednesday on refining timetables for the design, contract bidding and construction of the five projects approved by voters.
Timetables will be presented at next week's City Council meeting.
"We're going to try to move as quickly as we can," City Manager David Garcia said. "We're going to have to do a lot in a short period of time."
Seventy-three percent of voters approved general obligation bonds for street improvements. Sixty-six percent backed parks and museum projects, and 70 percent voted for public health and safety projects. The three bonds total $30.8 million.
To finance the bonds, property taxes will go up an estimated 4 cents per $100 valuation. The impact on the owner of a $67,278 home will be $26.91 annually.
Voters also approved sales tax increases to fund the construction of a new arena and repairs to the seawall. Sixty-one percent of voters supported the arena proposition, while 69 percent backed the seawall proposal. A sales tax increase for an economic development fund narrowly failed, 50 to 49 percent. The sales tax will increase from 7.88 percent to 8.13 percent, or about 25 cents more per $100 purchase.
In general, the first steps for all the projects include hiring architects, engineers and landscapers for design, Garcia said. The city then approves construction contracts, and the work can begin.
All contracts will go to private designers and construction companies, he said. And by law, contracts must go to the lowest bidder.
Construction on the arena will begin after the design process finishes, which could take 10 to 12 months. The arena is estimated to take about two years to build.
He said a proposal to award a design contract to an architect could come before the City Council by the end of the year.
The city selected SMG, a private facilities management company, in October to manage the arena for the city. Work on the seawall could begin a year from now, Garcia said, after design plans are finished and a contract awarded. The seawall is estimated to take four to five years to reconstruct.
The sales tax increases that will finance these projects go into effect on April 1. The state will start remitting revenue from the sales tax every month beginning in June. Skip Noe, deputy city manager, said the city has already received proposals from design firms for the arena. Planning for the arena will be coordinated with plans to expand the Bayfront Plaza Convention Center.
Noe said substantial analysis has been done on the seawall already.
"We are prepared to proceed expeditiously as we have promised," he said.
The city has promised to substantially complete the approved capital improvement projects within three years. Those include street improvements, public health and safety projects and parks and museum improvements.
Garcia said city staff is working on expected time frames for completing the designs and construction. He said the duration of the projects ranges from years for streets to several months for parks improvements.
The city will issue bonds as the money is needed through the course of the projects. The property tax increases don't go into effect until July next year, and tax money won't be collected until property owners are required to pay beginning in October 2001.
As a result, Garcia said the city must come up with plans for interim financing. Noe said the city engineering department has put out requests for design work on the general obligation bond projects. No firms have been selected.
As for the failed economic development fund, Garcia said the city is prohibited from putting another such proposal on the ballot for at least a year.

Jaime Kenedeño said...

but we need more this time! when I lay it on, come get to play it on
Posted on January 24, 2007 at 05:27:47 AM by Kenedeno

Come to decide that the things that I tried were in my life just to get high on.

When I sit alone, come get a little known but I need more than myself this time.

Step from the road to the sea to the sky, and I do believe that we rely on

when I lay it on, come get to play it on , all my life to sacrifice.

Hey oh...listen what I say oh

I got your hey oh, now listen what I say oh

When will I know that I really can't go to the well once more time to decide on.

When it's killing me, when will I really see, all that I need to look inside.

Come to believe that I better not leave before I get my chance to ride,

When it's killing me, when do I really need, all that I need to look inside.

Hey oh...listen what I say oh

come back and Hey oh lookin’ what I say oh

The more I see the less I know The more I like to let it go – hey oh, woah woah.

Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder where it's so white as snow,

Privately divided by a world so undecided and there’s nowhere to go

In between the cover of another perfect wonder where it’s so white as snow

Running through a field where all my tracks will be concealed and there's nowhere to go.


Went to descend to amend for a friend All the channels that have broken down.

Now you bring it up, I’m gonna ring it up

Just to hear you sing it out

Step from the road to the sea to the sky, and I do believe what we rely on

when I lay it on, come get to play it on all my life to sacrifice

Hey oh...Listen what I say oh

I got your hey oh...listen what I say oh

The more I see, the less I know The more I like to let it go - hey oh woah woah.

Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder where it's so white as snow,

Privately divided by a world so undecided and there’s nowhere to go

In between the cover of another perfect wonder where it’s so white as snow

Running through a field where all my tracks will be concealed and there's nowhere to go.

I said hey hey yeah oh yeah, tell my love now.

Hey hey yeah oh yeah, tell my love now.

Deep Beneath the cover of another perfect wonder where it's so white as snow,

Privately divided by a world so undecided and there’s nowhere to go

In between the cover of another perfect wonder where it’s so white as snow

Running through a field where all my tracks will be concealed and there's nowhere to go.

I said hey hey yeah oh yeah, tell my love now.

Hey hey yeah oh yeah

The Advocate said...

Texas Monthly Web Press

Jaime Kenedenos message to the Vatican: Apologize & Do the right thing!