Thursday, September 10, 2015

Citizens Speak Out Against $25,000,000 Tax Abatement for LNG; Issue Tabled

Interim County Judge Pete Sepulveda, like nearly all Cameron County politicos, does not like it when lowly taxpayers get in the way.  Pete used his role as moderator to force a full courtroom house of angry folk from South Padre Island, Port Isabel, etc. to effectively "cool their heals," while he played games with the agenda.

While public comment was scheduled right off the bat at 8:30 AM, Sepulveda pulled a switcheroo by calling first an item from Page 5 of the agenda from ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION AND ACTION, Item "D," to establish a property assessed clean energy program(PACE).  That discussion took 90 minutes.

Next, the appointed, temporary judge asked for those with public comment NOT about Annova LNG's request for tax abatement to go first.  Those three comments were allowed to considerably transgress the 3 minute limit, taking another half hour.

Finally, well past 10:30 AM, public comment about Annova's request could begin, but Sepulveda had another trick up his sleeve. He suggested that the 20 who had signed up to speak against the tax abatement be reduced to "3 or 4" to avoid "repetition of ideas." Sepulveda found no enthusiasm for his gimmick and proceeded as planned.

A Port Isabel resident in the bait business explained that Coast Guard regulations required LNG transport ships be given a wide birth of 2 miles in front, 1 mile behind and 1,000 feet on either side. He explained that during the entrance or exit of an LNG vessel into the ship canal, bait fishing and shrimping would be interfered with for up to 5 hours.
  
Josh Ballenger Reads Pro-Annova Testimonials
A young man in an ill-fitting suit, Josh Ballenger, attempted to read three spontaneous letters saved on his I-pad from the "youth" of Cameron County in support of Annova LNG's request for the $25,000,000 tax abatement.  We were partially spared the amateurish, fake PR attempt by Annova as Ballenger ran out of time.   Flowery "review" letters by "a high school student,"  a "homemaker," or even "Juan," "George" or "Sally" are typically a waste of bandwidth.


2nd Floor Courtroom, Dancy Building for Public Comment
The commissioners, in what may simply be a stall technique, decided to table the item, indicating it required more "study." Considering the nearly full house, primarily filled by residents of Cameron County's eastern coast, opposition to Annova LNG's tax abatement request will be ready.

24 comments:

  1. I don't understand why the anti's have to make personal attacks about a persons dress or demeanor. It only cheapens your image. Bring cold hard facts to your discussion, not suppositions and the chicken little the sky is falling to your argument and you might be taken seriously. The word yokel comes to mind when petty shallow comments are made about a person's attire.

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    1. If you're looking for cold hard facts I would start on looking for those from a source that is looking to give you facts. Clearly this is an opinion piece, and the writer has a right to insult on his page, even though it is sort of rude. At this point I think we are all tired of being politically correct. It is an opinion piece and you happen to be the one offended here. I don't think the writer had the intention of informing you with the facts that your "anti's" have been actively informing themselves with from the very beginning of this tax abatement situation. If you are more upset at the writer choice of words and tone then the actual content of this article, then perhaps you would be best suited to google what you are actually looking for. There is a SAVE RVG from LNG that should answer some of your questions.

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    2. first of all ellen, they are NOT anti's. they are pro environment and pro community. secondly, comment time is not meant as an opportunity to read in a bunch of text messages. if the individual commenting can not on their own, in their own words make statements, they are wasting the time of everyone involved. your digression into chicken little childishness is neither helpful, nor does it bolster your supposed indignation at slurs, since you are slurring everyone who disagrees with you. the word hypocrite comes to mind when you call everyone yokels. you whine that the no facts are presented. here is one fact. a company worth billions wants a free hand out at taxpayer expense. here is another fact. part of their argument to bringing their plant is the tax benefits the plant will bring while simultaneously seeking to have those very benefits annulled with an abatement. another fact. claiming nearly 200 jobs at 70k to the public while in their sworn official statement to ferc they state about a dozen jobs at less than 40k. another fact.by claiming liquid natural gas will not burn, they intentionally misdirect safety concerns. LIQUID gasoline will not burn either. the problem is when it becomes a vapor. natural gas is heavier than air. it pools in low areas. in case of a leak, mild onshore breezes would move the vapor into the community, where it would pool unnoticed (odorless and colorless) until an ignition source triggers it. another fact. it will come from fracking. fracking has been repeatedly identified as dangerous to the water in every region it is used extensively. it is also a very water use intensive procedure, in areas that are already having issues with depleted water resources. the oil companies justify this claiming it will make us energy independent for decades. how does shipping it overseas help our energy interdependence? natural gas is a limited resource. why should we squander it overseas to make rich people richer? from just these facts you can see that an lng plant is a bad idea. so maybe you can reply with some facts as to why taxpayers should subsidize it.

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    3. You didn't mind personal attacks on appearance when they were made against Morgan, so you are a bit selective are it you, Ellen? But the moment somebody said something positive about her looks you got argumentative.

      I think you should leave Jim alone because you are guilty of it too.

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  2. I didn't know Josh was on the LNG payroll? Are you sure about that? Or might he have his own opinion?

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    1. It looked staged. Who knows? Young people normally don't write testimonials for multi-billion dollar corporations unless. . . . . . . .

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    2. It does seem strange, and we know that Annova was paying students $20/hour to collect signatures on a petition, which is also strange. Across the board their PR tactics have been weird, amateurish and ineffectual, so it wouldn't surprise me if this were something they did.

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    3. well jim, if they are as you imply his own opinion, why does he need to read statements from others off his phone? that hardly sounds like he is expressing his own opinion. no, clearly he is NOT expressing his own opinion.

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    4. correction and apology to mr barton. i referenced my comments about personal opinions to him, when it should have been to anonymous. (why anyone would remain anonymous while commenting is kind of dubious in and of itself.)

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    5. Billion dollar Annova also recruits clueless Brownsville yuppies based in Austin and San Antonio as their advance team to chop up the thicker brush to clear the path for their toxic LNG plants. One would think that being Brownsville natives, these young professionals with supposedly deep roots and love for their hometown, would advise the LNG masters to at least be open and transparent with natives and educate them on what a great thing the LNG industry is. But they didn't because it was unsellable, like passing a skunk for a Persian cat. So instead of advising them to be a responsible corporate citizen and paying their fair share of taxes to one of the poorest areas in the nation, they want to win hearts and minds with free muffins and face painting for kiddies. No shit. Like them saying, "We're going to fuck up the air you breathe and the waters you fish and swim, we're going to try to stiff you on the millions in taxes, then we're going to take the millions and millions in profit back to New York or wherever, certainly not reinvested in Cameron County, and when the market for LNG shuts down, we'll leave a massive toxic footprint up your Ship Channel rectum you won't clean up for generations to come AND you get to watch us fuck you over while you're having a muffin and watching your kids run around the Events Center with tiny flowers and white clouds painted on their faces. The county needs to put its foot down and say "No tax breaks" to this dirty industry. bb

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    6. ... interesting that the Judge claims to need more time, more information, more research on the matter YET he had no problem sending a letter of support to the founder and CEO of NextDecade LLC one of the LNG projects ... so why send a letter of support if you dont have all the facts just yet .. #Hmmm .... You can reach NEXT DECADE here: http://next-decade.com

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  3. The hard, cold facts are that the natives are restless over the LNG companies and the County Commission did well to "table" the tax abatement issue. Hopefully they will "study" the issue and not use their action just to "kick the can" down the road to the next meeting; hoping that the public will not turn out. Don't think that will happen. Taxpayers are pissed that they must be burdened. Since most residents of Cameron County don't pay taxes....the same group is going to suffer again. First, we should not be paying taxes to the Port of Brownsville (BND) and then be asked to fund port expansion. Cameron County Commissioners seem to be out front of an issue that Eduardo Campriano and his Port Board should have to defend. Hopefully Sepulveda will have a public meeting on this issue and put the Port CEO and Board in front of the public. Let's hope there is a public hearing.....not just a "managed" public input period at a Commission meeting.

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  4. OK Ellen, why don't you tell us why the LNG plants are good for the taxpayers and good for the environment.

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  5. Ellen Tyma, (September 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM) the same way you dislike personal attacks about a persons dress or demeanor, we the anti's as you so describe your fellow citizens do not care to be painted by your broad paint stroke lumping everyone who is opposed to this industry as a party to such remarks, when in fact that is inaccurate.

    Calling the people yokels and chicken little, etc. is also demeaning and petty. If you attended the county meetings you would know that the citizens speaking in opposition actually are using factual information. Cold hard facts which are far from supposition.

    Jim Barton is an individual citizen who spoke for himself. His blogs are his opinions and no one else's. Get your facts straight before you admonish an entire community for the words of one blogger.

    We do not want LNG in our front yard nor do thousands of us citizens want to hand out corporate welfare to multi-billion dollar corporations. Now that may be just fine for you to breath toxic air and maybe you admire blight in your community, but we citizens of Cameron county do not. We prefer fresh air, a pristine landscape world renowned birding, fishing and the gulf shrimp are fabulous. Our wildlife and ecotourism are not up for sacrifice for the likes of you and yours nor any LNG company offering a handful of jobs while asking the poor county in Texas for a handout.






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  6. Handouts from this County??? Really??? and our city Government is entertaining the idea???? Have they lost their minds?? Maybe they can afford it, but Most Citizens of Brownsville are barely making it. Our current city Gov. is known for making decisions that doesn't benefit our people, could this be another deal where they or there friends benefit once again??

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  7. sad thing is that our very very corrupted and greedy #$%$ politician's control's our money. so they can insider trade, except bribes under disguised has lobbying but we know it is 100% bribery. they can now spend their campaign fund's has they please but the real cash cow for them is defense spending . with their good ole boy kick back system they have in place and which every one knows that we spend 1000% more for anything purchase for defense. i always said that our politician's make the mafia look like a bunch of girl scout's.

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  8. All for a few jobs that will go to people who are not from here. These shit head politicians should be required to live near one of those plants to see how well they like it. But since the plant is not going to be built on Palm Boulevard, Treasure Hills Country Club, etc., they don't give a shit. Instead our short sighted and cheaply bought politicians would rather destroy the last clean bays on the Texas Gulf Coast in exchange for donations to their re-election campaigns and back room promises of favors and jobs for family members. And to add insult to injury, the poorest community in the United States will gladly abate taxes for the most powerful and profitable of industries. The Port Isabel - Laguna Vista - South Padre Island community will not forget you.

    "No more trees. No more Thneeds. No more work to be done. So, in time, my uncles and aunts, every one, all waved me good-bye. They jumped into my cars and drove away under the smoke-smuggered stars. Now all that was left 'neath the bad smelling-sky was my big empty factory...the Lorax...and I."

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    1. nice story, good to know someone speaks for the trees

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  9. David Garza is a mammon Barton. The wrap around kid said at meeting that he was pissed that they were asking for abatements when businesses like his were left to pay for them. Well David Garza is on record for voting for many tax abatements in his career....Tenaska, wind farms...etc, etc ...nothing like a little theater for the people huh David Garza?

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  10. I was there and i was not impressed. Why table this agenda item? Everyone of them sitting up there knows good and damn well why the place was full. The people, who will vote again, are saying we dont want them here much less give them tax abatements. What part of community consensus dont they understand? If Sofia Benavides truly represents precinct 1 then she should listen to the people from SPI and that portion of PI that is staunchly opposed. You have over 600 signature on a petition against, some 15-20 people that were to speak against and only 5 for lng at this meeting and all they did was lay an egg and table it. These "elected" representatives of the people have been sitting in place too long. How easy to sit back and say yes to LNG for Brownsville and so what if it affects SPI, PI and LV. Being born and raised in Brownsville i find it disturbing to see. I was bitterly amused when Sepulveda said that if those 15-20 speaking against LNG are just going to repeat ideas then we're just going to ask for 3 or 4. I raised my hand to ask him that if the 5 for LNG are just going to repeat their ideas could we just allow 1 or 2 of them to speak. The dude is out of touch. Some of us have worked in the petrochem industry and many have at least wholeheartedly researched in depth the dirty business of LNG from exploration to export. If they had done any due diligence on the matter they would have stepped up Thursdays morning. I say next election cycle the eggs they laid this week should hatch.

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  11. Ballenger is active in a number of local organizations. He is not on anybody's payroll- he just really believes what he believes and represents it.

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    1. Why is he reading letters of MINORS then??????
      Do the parents of those minors gave permission, or is this another violation of Annova's "vast experience"

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  12. Annova's knew he would be reading letters from MINORS, however, they allowed him to do it!!! Hellooo??

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