“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” — Harry Truman

The purpose of a city manager form of government is that the government hires professionals to run the city efficiently. The highest paid officials in Galveston are the city manager and CEO of the Park Board of Trustees. If two professionals making over a combined $500,000 a year are unable to advise, guide and mediate the appointed and elected leaders through a process that has been working well for many years, why are they making that much money?

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(44) comments

Charlotte O'rourke

“Anyone with common sense understands the hotel tax issue is easily solved with another interlocal agreement.”

How does that help? They already admit to NOT following the interlocals already in place.

David Collins

Ron, clearly you didn't watch Park Board meetings. I saw plenty wrong at the upper management level and said so. And it got me nowhere. It's why I resigned as a trustee. And until he was elected chair and drank the koolaid, the current chair agreed with me.

As to good accounting practice, state law requires that the entity that imposes the tax keep the tax and only pay it out by contract. Which we aren't doing and don't have. This isn't so much about the Park Board as about following state law.

Ron Woody

Mr. Collins, my main point is how the two highest paid professionals in the City allowed an issue that was a non-factor to reach this level. An incredible amount of time and money has been wasted creating an issue where there is not one.

The City Council has a member on the Board that gives approval to the budget and operations and serves as "the watchdog". To say the Council has not approved the budget when they have a member on the Board is disingenuous (?).

If this is the issue that you say it is, why did you wait til you were no longer on the Board to identify and publicly air the issue?

Classic example of solution looking for a problem.

We wonder why DC doesn't work when two highly paid professionals that make more than Congress are not able to do their jobs and mediate the solution.

As for watching the meeting that is not necessary. I can watch children play on the beach everyday, it is the beauty of living in Galveston.

Bill Broussard

Ron. I can’t help but think that the real issue not talked about here and explains the sudden spurt of interest in who keeps the funds is the blank hole in the approved city budget council passed this past year under the city’s promise to find the money somewhere. I think the reason it took so long to get this far is a function of both city debt and increasing city budget spend. If Collins wants to undo the mistakes Yarborough made when he pushed the funds to the park board Collins should also claw back the Seawall parking Jim shoved over there cause what we approved had the city and GPD managing it…but they apparently couldn’t

Ron Woody

Mr. Broussard thus the elephant in the room is announced. Add in the apparent disdain between City and Park Board staff and one realizes this has little to do with law.

Per capita income in Galveston County is approximately $40,000. Two professionals making six times that amount (over $250,000) can not mediate a solution.

Sign a new Inter Local Agreement and move on to more important issues.

Valerie Beverly

Completely agree with your comment. Does beg to question what is the real story behind Mr. Collins pursuit of the PB when he was surely “drinking the kool aide” during his tenure on PB?

Norman Pappous

Unelected officials should not have the power to distribute tax funds without specific approval from elected officials -.but that's just me....

Ron Woody

Mr. Pappous, unlike many taxes the law states how the HOT must be spent. The Park Board submits an annual audit to the City and an elected official sits on the Park Board and is involved in the Budget Approval process.

No one has even implied the Park Board has spent money inappropriately (although I would question an apparent private event, held recently at the Bryan Museum).

How much more oversight would you require. Unpaid elected officials can not do everything, thus the City Manager form of government.

I know you know all of this just responded for others benefit.

Bill Broussard

Corpus Christi has has a manager government and the city manager gets paid about what ours gets paid. Corpus Christi has a resident population of about 300,000 and we have 50,000. That kinda works out to $1.00 per citizen in manager salary in Corpus $6.00 in Galveston. IMO: the main argument is that in Galveston, it’s cause we have these visitor serges with 8MM in total per year. I think the tourist industry ( HOT taxes) could pay a larger share of city expenses sine they benefit greatly from 8MM people a year. I just hate to see the polarization between two good institutions. It serves no one well and some of the folks on this blog use it to attack because they have a big stake in the park board loosing credibility. If particular note, with these folks you could change Park Board to Wharf Board if a few years ago and each attack would sound the same—mishandled finances, closed meetings. There is nothing new in their invectives. Same ok stuff recycled

Bill Cochrane

Bill, would you please elaborate on - "they have a big stake in the park board loosing credibility".?

Jack Reeves

[thumbup][thumbup]

Bill Broussard

Sure. It’s a matter of public knowledge that charlotte and husband Ted have a dispute with the PB about the sand that was laid on completley eroded property they own such that it is now ( for the first time in years) usable and they are granting leases to rent floats on it. Was up to the brick brak until about a year ago. Taxes paid for the sand and now it’s being claimed as private property. So far, the GLO has not jumped in but it was an election year so things do change. Casting dispersions on the PB while their private matter is under dispute serves their private agenda well. Same ok stuff recycled from the Wharf Board when they had an agenda there also, Bill

I’ve lived here now for 74 years and have gotten a bit smarter as to what islanders are capable of doing.

Charlotte O'rourke

Bill Broussard, the Park Board needs to stop digging and burying themselves, and any negative comments would not be necessary. It sounded like they were considering bonds with money they don’t really own. As to the port, they have about $12.5 million in FEMA liabilities not reported in their ACFRs. What you believe to be true isn’t on my list of concerns as to my knowledge it’s been resolved. What does concern me is having votes in open meetings, obeying contracts and the charter and laws, and providing accurate financial statements as required by law.

You on the other hand try and make it personal to deflect from the issue.

Bill Cochrane

Bill, are you talking about land Charlotte and Ted own and have been paying taxes on for years? Land that the PB (without checking who owned the land) mistakenly dumped sand on?

And now the PB says THEY own the land? Cast dispersions? I think everyone, including the O'Rourkes agree the Parks Board Trustees have done a good job. Me too. But we just want accountability and City oversight and the law followed. What was the so-called Wharves agenda. Seems I remember one of their big complaints about the wharves board was they operated without an agenda themselves and let Reese handle wharves business like a mini-de Schaun.

And just for the record. My agenda is common sense government. And, if de Schaun put on the "gathering" at the Bryan Museum to get support under the guise of a name change gathering she should be fired.

Bill Broussard

Well my oh my, you knew already you Fox. Shoulda known you asked a question you already had an answer for. Stupid me. I’ll be more careful next time

Charlotte O'rourke

If a very legitimate criticism is made, a finger is always pointed and stated that it!s some how PERSONAL. Hence the claims against David Collins for bringing forth the issue.. The lawsuit against some but not all private property owners and vendors was dismissed months ago as the Park Board did not have the authority to sue. Nor does the Park Board have the authority to take private land or give away city property. But that hasn’t stopped them from overstepping their voted upon proposition in 1962 which is attached. But hey it’s much easier to make it personal than to look at each individual issue and determine what’s legal and what’s not. What is good government and what’s not.

Recently, the Crosby School District was sanctioned by the SEC for false financials. So why would anyone thinks it’s ok to claim Money that’s not yours or fail to list liabilities?

PROPOSITION

SHALL THE CITY OF GALVESTON, TEXAS BE AUTHORIZED AND

EMPOWERED TO CREATE A BOARD TO BE DESIGNATED "BEACH

PARK BOARD OF TRUSTEES", FOR THE PURPOSE OF IMPROVING

EQUIPPING, MAINTAINING, FINANCING AND OPERATING A PUB-

LIC BEACH PARK OR PARKS, OR FACILITIES OWNED BY SUCH

CITY OF TO BE ACQUIRED BY SUCH CITY, UNDER AND PURSUANT

TO AND AS AUTHORIZED BY THE CONSTITUTION AND LAWS OF

THE STATE OF TEXAS, PARTICULARLY CHAPTER 33, SENATE

BILL NO. 45, ACTS OF THE 57TH LEGISLATURE OF TEXAS,

THIRD CALLED SESSION, 1962?

Bill Broussard

I don’t think I mentioned David Collins. I for sure didn’t mention the Collins school district. What I said is you and Ted are in a dispute with the PB. And I also said that the whining was the same whining that came at the Wharf Board -same tune, same lyrics- and your last post proved that, Charlotte

I’m pretty sure the park board will not make that mistake with their sand again so enjoy it while you can. Best as I can tell, babes beach is eroding quickly

Charlotte O'rourke

Bill Broussard, Yes. You mentioned Collins and the Port. I didn’t start that conversation …. You did. And I won’t stop saying what I believe to be true based on your false perceptions.

In 1993, sales tax was approved to help pay for beach renourishment. First phase was to renourish to 61 st street. 2nd phase was supposed to be 61 st to end of seawall and the 3rd phase was west of terminus of seawall. It was interesting to hear the Park Board claim they had no idea the property west of Babe’s beach was privately owned. All of the beaches from east to west are a mixture of public and private land, and it was disingenuous to plead ignorance and sue only SOME of those private property owners. And they surely did not sue the people on their board or the rich ones in the same position of owning beach property. Go figure.

Charlotte O'rourke

But no longer an issue which you would know if you followed the news as the suit was DISMISSED.

Bill Broussard

The suite claiming the pb had exclusive rights to lease on the beach and asking for an injunction was dismissed. The suit about whether your nowvrestored beach is public or a gift from the taxpayers is yet to come. And , while they did ask for IDC funds to sand the area you mentioned, I’m pretty sure that if the IDC had known there was so much private property they would have balked. That’s exactly why I said enjoy it while you can.

Charlotte O'rourke

The IDC has always known it places sand on private beaches. It’s a matter of just looking up the tax rolls. The IDC and Park Board have been funding sand on private beaches since 1993. Again the PB - by legislation - is prevented from trying to take private property for its own gain. The last thing property owners need - living on a barrier island with rising sea levels - is a vulture of a Park Board waiting to pick the bones of its constituents properties after weather disasters. I believe it was Rush Limbaugh who made this type of comment.

I’m out of the discussion to eat more pie - not that I need it. Have a good Thanksgiving.

Charlotte O'rourke

https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2022-43

Lisa Blair

Bill, come on now. I get that’s it’s easier to attack the O’Rourkes than it is to analyze the sad predicament we have put ourselves in by allowing the two entities (Park Board and Wharves Board) to operate as if they are imperial and the city administrators are subordinate to them. Do you really believe that the WB hid millions in their new budget for a fourth terminal by “mistake”?

Or that the PB should spend millions on projects greenlighted by unelected persons who have no accountability to taxpayers for their actions?

That the party at the Bryan Museum was not a taxpayer funded full tilt lobbying push to persuade our elected councilpersons to see things their way, in spite of the legality?

Just the tip of the iceburg of where we are. It’s not a O’Rourke problem or a Collins problem and I’m grateful that we have folks who care enough and have the backbone to tell the truth. Now we need the rest of our CC and the Mayor to follow the law and bring these two entities in line.

Don Schlessinger

[thumbup]

Bill Cochrane

Lisa, I heard from one CC member that said he didn't know about the "gathering" at the museum and did not know about PB wanting to change it's name with "authority" in it. I'm guessing de Schaun would like authority all in caps as AUTHORITY so the CC would know just who is in authority.

Ya just can't make this **** up.

Lisa Blair

No we can’t. Lol. But anyone who’s been here for very long knows that nothing weighs on the CC more than a barrage of calls and e-mails followed up by a room full of angry folks and hours of public comment. The PB knows this is their best weapon. CC has made more than one bad decision because of this tactic.

Bill Broussard

Lisa. I’m very well aware of what an unelected board can do.

As Charlotte pointed out, the IDC has been granting our sales tax in large sums to keep private braces from going back to the sea with no thought given to how to make the distribution of those funds equitable

Your Planning Commission enacted the rules that allowed short term rentals to speed like Civid amount the neighborhoods despite numerous pleas from residents to be more conservative

It was your planning commission that set standards to bar short term rentals for neighborhoods that are punitively higher than state of Texas if Texas ordinances for homeowner organizations to do the same thing

It was your planning commission that claimed a zoning near our neighborhood was a “mistake” and should have been open to everything from a dollar store to a strip club instead of single family. To quote you “ do you really think that was a mistake?” No mistake if Sullivan owned the disputed land

That decision by an “unelected board” was promptly overturned by city council but the degree of poor conduct and indifference to a hundred taxpayers that showed up ( including having one ejected by police) really convinced me that I had finally seen Galveston at its worst and just what felonious conduct an unelected board can perpetrate

Little surprised to see you this morning. I thought you only came out at night?

Charlotte O'rourke

Bill, you can criticize the Park Board, but no one else can? https://www.galvnews.com/opinion/guest_columns/article_64952a02-07c8-5076-8dbf-0f0cb571412a.html

You keep blaming people that weren’t on city council when these drastic changes occurred. The Park Board had no money, now it appears to have loads of money, because it is keeping the city’s money as the value of the penny has risen. To stop complaints and the vitriol of blaming the messenger, the Park Board needs to return the money it has kept inappropriately and start following the law,

City council could have stopped this ongoing fiasco by simply making the decision to comply with the law in October.

Bill Broussard

I don’t think I criticized the park board. Not like others on this blog. I think HOT should be given to the city, btw and with it comes it comes the liability of state law to put “heads in beds.” As the only legal way to spend HOT and that small clause I. Think the PB missed where they have to sign that no sand will be put on private beaches. I think it’s gonna be interesting at least

To your point, Craig was on council then. But to mine-Brian and the city attorney who we pay to know the law were also and we do not have a strong Mayor last time I checked. I like your statement above “start following the law”. Start? How about even when we have a Yarborough as mayor?

HOT tax has very clear legal guidelines. Dumping sand in front of hotels meets the law and there is much, much more technical expertise to doing it than you could ever hope to get with city hall as it’s currently staffed. The might get away with a few police, perhaps even their charter obligation to the library under the preservation clause and be able to retrieve a bond or two for street construct that leads to the beach but after that, the city list gets short and every single hotel operator will have something to say about erosion. It’s a can of worms the city is getting “for a few dollars more”. Like a friend of mine once said, “you can’t make this stuff up”. A cut lawyer that did t know the law “back when” is assuring us that he suddenly knows hot tax law today?

Get your popcorn out.

Bill Broussard

Please excuse the typos. I was using my phone and all the pop up advertisements the GDN permits block a lot out of view

Charlotte O'rourke

Bill B., in your editorial you claimed the Park Board:

1). Didn’t know the city was the boss. Lol.

2). Wouldn’t pay back the money it owed the city which was considerably less than the $14 million owed now. Lol

3). Didn't follow the law. Lol

4). Needed more supervision and needed to keep expenses down. Lol

All complaints the people on the forum are currently making. So why are our SAME complaints impure with hidden motives and your same complaints somehow are special and not really complaints at all. Geez … read your own editorial.

Bill Broussard

Charlotte. What editorial are you referencing. If it’s the one below I said no such thing. What I said was the GLO was glazed over and the city walked away from the simple decision to certify the park board has leasing rights on the beach. From reports I got, the GLO certainly understood what I wrote. Give them a call and they’ll explain it to you

By BILL BROUSSARD Aug

Texans love a good boondoggle. It’s been a while since we’ve had one locally, but as a state, we are versatile and can create one just about anywhere.

Galveston is about to reclaim its title as boondoggle capital because several forces have converged and we’re getting all the boondoggle help we need from Austin.

Our land commissioner has resigned in place without announcing it. Not that he was much more than a placeholder anyway, but he’s really missing in action these days. Defeat to Ken Paxton has George P. Bush appearing like he suffers from long-term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Without guidance, our General Land Office seems like a confused branch of a confused government. I was never certain just what guidance Bush provided, but it must have been some since the inmates obviously cannot run the asylum.

Switch the lens to Galveston. The cruise business and the beachfront business are economically life sustaining. It used to be that the medical services sector and the medical and nursing schools were the heavy hitters, but my information leads me to think good faculty are leaving with entire departments understaffed. Our medical center seems as fragile as it was after Ike, but for a very different reason.

So, our economy has become dependent on two entities that, in the recent past, didn’t carry much weight: the Wharves Board of Trustees and the Park Board of Trustees. After reading coverage last week of city council creating a conundrum over beach vendor licenses, I don’t think our council recognizes the importance of those two economic engines.

The confusion in two layers of our government sets the stage for our reclaiming the boondoggle championship. Over recent years, the state and federal governments, the Industrial Development Corporation, which oversees sales tax funds, and the park board have invested over $75 million in beach renourishment.

New hotels are popping up like prairie dogs, while paying customers line the beach even during off seasons.

Sounds great until you realize that millions of tax dollars were spent to recover land privately owned but previously under water. As I understand from the Severance Texas Supreme Court decree, land under water because of erosion belongs to the state, recovered or not.

At least one plot, and probably several, privately owned plots disappeared up to the bric-a-brac but have now been recovered and reclaimed with our tax dollars.

Tax money to recover private land has long-term implications for the island’s sustainability. My point is the city council panicked and walked away from a simple decision and the General Land Office is, to be polite, distressed. Both should be vitally interested.

This boondoggle is made for the pages of Texas Monthly. At the very least, we’re owed a Bum Steer award. If I were the Galveston park board, I’d walk away from all renourishment contracts until the city and the state realize how vital renourishment is to our economy.

When the builders of new hotels cannot meet occupancy loan covenants, we might wake up.

Bill Broussard lives in Galveston

Bill Broussard

That’s a 2011 editorial just a few months after their director Mr Muller was fired and they were in search mode. It was a valid opinion then but is very outdated now with one exception: they should never have put sand on your beach, Mam, then as now. The environmental concerns I had them have been more than been cured by a standard of excellence. Just what’s your point? It’s not the same park board. Just like you pointing out the council only has one or two carry-overs from Yarborough. If you want or if it helps make any of your points, I can retrieve the paper I wrote in fifth grade where I said I wanted to be a priest

Charlotte O'rourke

The point is there has been no change in certain areas. The PB is holding $14 million of city money INSTEAD OF $500 k …. The Park Board still doesn’t know the city is boss, still trying to hold city money without permission, and still not following the law.

Improvements in other areas though. But my financials would look great as well if i was keeping other people’s money and claiming it’s MINE. Obviously your 5th grade paper would make more sense than your current comments.

You can’t make this up. So true ….

Bill Broussard

“ The point is there has been no change in certain areas”. Interesting. That was my point several entry’s ago about the color, tone and timber of your complaints over the years toward a variety of public entities. You spot it, you got it I guess

Gonna pass in something to think about:

I was once told by a mentor “ you seem interested in enlightenment. Here’s all you need to know-

The un-enlightened person walks through the world and thinks “man, this place is full of s@&?” The only difference between an un-enlightened person and an enlightened person is that the enlightened person-one day- realized that whenever there was s@&! In the world, they were there too and that may not be an accident!”

Charlotte O'rourke

The saying is your complaints (shxt) about unelected boards smell like roses, but anyone else’s (even the same type of complaints) smells like shxt. Lol. Basically your shxt doesn’t stink. Catch you next time as no telling what this city council will do …. Including delaying some more.

Charlotte O'rourke

https://www.galvnews.com/opinion/guest_columns/article_64952a02-07c8-5076-8dbf-0f0cb571412a.html

Bill B., This editorial. Same complaints and around the time these egregious changes started. You ended with this sentence.

Cutting costs, lowering fees, following the law, and practicing preservation just makes sense.

Notice -FOLLOW THE LAW.

And this gem -

Legally the park board reports to the city. I would think most folks would follow their boss’s example when conducting business. Apparently the board’s not sure who the boss is.

Honestly, Bill, I’m not sure why you are so worked up about this blogs comments … they are spot on to yours 10 years later …. Just millions more owed back to the city.

No one is asking for anything that is not required by law. It should be a no brainer.

Bill Broussard

Putting tax money ( from several pots) sand on private beaches is currently forbidden by the legal constraints placed ion tax funds. You may yet get what you wish for, Mam

Charlotte O'rourke

This island was raised/created on dredge spoils and tax dollars. The state has a soft coastal protection plan (no more seawalls or rock groins) for over 20 years which means placing sand on beaches for protection.

Ron Shelby

The Parks Board has “forgotten” that it has any kind of Boss. This has become a real mess on multiple levels. It feels like we’re reaching the point where the entire structure needs to be scrapped and rebooted.

Bill Broussard

Ron. Any restructuring would probably have to take place at the State level. The pb entity like GISDvwas birthed in Austin. I think only the port is subject to local restructuring

Charlotte O'rourke

And herein, this BB statement repeated over and over and on the PB website is where the ethics commission for the city should kick in. Anyone that lobbies and tells a falsehood is guilty of violating the ethics policy.

The city needs to get a backbone and tell both the Park Board and Wharves Board that the accuracy of statements - especially financial statements - weighs on the city and it’s elected representatives.

Ordinance on Lobbying

(a) False statements. A person who lobbies or engages another person to lobby, or any other person acting on behalf of such persons, shall not intentionally or knowingly make any false or misleading statement of fact to any city official, or, knowing a document to contain a false statement, cause a copy of such document to be received by a city official without notifying such official in writing of the truth.

Truth

The PB was created by the city. The PB was approved by voters for limited functions in operating city parks. Time to put the city and residents first with a PB and WB that doesn’t believe it’s AUTHORITY is greater than the city’s elected officials.

Don Schlessinger

[thumbup]

Charlotte O'rourke

From PB website - no wonder board members and everyone else is confused based on false and misleading statements,

False statement below.

About the Park Board of Trustees

The Park Board of Trustees of the City of Galveston, is a governmental entity created by a special act of the Texas Legislature in 1962 for the purpose of directing all tourism efforts for Galveston.

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