UHV lobbying money stays untouched
By By Brian M. Cuaron
May 3, 2011 at 12:03 a.m.
Updated May 4, 2011 at 12:04 a.m.
CITY SPEAKS OUT ON STORM SEWER
City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz gave the city's position on Tuesday regarding the Keith Redburn case that involved a five-ton concrete wall in front of a storm sewer culvert.
On Feb. 4, 1941, the former property owner wrote to the city council that he would assume responsibility for all damage to his property from the storm sewer when he got the right to build a fence. Since Redburn bought the property "as is," he assumed that responsibility also, Gwosdz said.
State law won't allow the city to use public funds to benefit a private individual. So the city can't "cosmetically" cleanup of the storm sewer, historically known as "Phillip's ditch," Gwosdz said.
The city also has tried to work with Redburn in maintaining it, Gwosdz said. However, according to Gwosdz, Redburn hasn't followed up on those offers. Former city attorney David Smith offered in a letter dated March 28, 2008, to look into cleaning some of the trees and brush in the storm sewer. Gwosdz said he, too, made a similar offer to Redburn's attorney Norman Jones last summer.
Money set aside to lobby for legislation changing the University of Houston-Victoria into a Texas A&M University school has remained untouched, politically and fiscally.
Victoria Councilman David Hagan tried to pass a motion Tuesday that would've rescinded the unspent $100,000 the city and the Victoria Sales Tax Development board allocated for the lobbying. Yet that money can't be rescinded unless the development board also votes to do so.
Hagan acknowledged that point after the council meeting and said his motion was all about sending a message.
"I don't want to throw good money at an issue that's dead," Hagan said. "(The legislation) will never be passed in the current form it's drafted."
Hagan was referring to comments made by state Sen. Glenn Hegar, whose district includes Victoria County. Those comments included that he didn't support the legislation. He also cited Rep. Dan Branch, chairman of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education, who said the Legislature currently doesn't have time to deal with the proposed changeover.
Not all agreed that the legislation was dead. Mayor Will Armstrong said the scheduled visits by the chancellors of the University of Houston and Texas A&M systems in June showed that the issue was still alive.
Armstrong and other supporters of the changeover said they also wanted to send a message by keeping the $100,000 available to the Victoria Economic Development Corp.
"It's a symbol or message to those in Austin that we are serious about this," Councilman Paul Polasek said.
Hagan's motion failed 5-2, with he and Councilman Gabriel Soliz supporting the measure.