Most of those at the table were members of the Tea Party Patriots of Beeville. Their special guest was former mayor and current City Councilman Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez. The four-time mayor carefully explained what the council is facing these days in changes in top personnel at City Hall and potential water problems.
Before the session ended almost an hour later, one Tea Party member, Mike Keeney, was discussing the possibilities of a recall vote for current Mayor David Carabajal.
Keeney said his main concern about Carabajal was that he seems to have a conflict of interest by serving as one of the board members of the Bee Development Authority.
Keeney said anyone organizing a recall election must follow the rules established in the City Charter. The charter requires a certain percentage of the electorate in a ward to sign a petition calling for either a resignation or a recall election on the part of a City Council member.
He said recall organizers would need only 200 registered of voters who live in that ward to initiate an election.
“I don’t know who he represents, the city or the BDA,” Keeney said. He pointed out that if the City Council votes to purchase water from a well at the BDA’s property at the Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex, city taxpayers would end up subsidizing the authority to the tune of more than $300,000 a year.
That, said Keeney, would solve apparent revenue problems the authority has been experiencing in recent years.
The BDA, Keeney said, is broke. He said the authority reportedly is in the hole for thousands of dollars. He blamed poor management of the organization and the fact that the leaders on the BDA board had been in their positions for years.
“I want to see them succeed,” Keeney continued. Then he criticized the Beeville Independent School District, saying the reports on student results are disappointing every year. He called the BISD a “failing school.”
Keeney said that if Beeville wants to attract high tech jobs to the area, it must have better schools.
Martinez agreed with the problems of the local schools and said he has recently considered running for a position on the BISD Board of Trustees.
The former mayor also criticized the BDA for not providing information he wanted about the number of employees that were employed at Chase Field by Sikorsky Maintenance and Kay and Associates, two companies who recently abandoned the former naval air station after the federal government allowed a sequestration to take effect, ending government contracts the companies had depended on for the local operation.
The BDA had spent considerable sums of money on improving the facilities at Chase to keep the two companies.
Keeney said Beeville needs to grow, just as any city must grow.
“The BDA needs to live off its own resources and not off city taxpayers,” Keeney said.
The retired Internal Revenue Service supervisor also brought up a recent auditor’s report to the City Council that criticized the way the city’s financial books had been maintained.
Keeney then said he opposes possible plans by the City Council to provide as much as $400,000 a year to the Bee County Chamber of Commerce. He said the chamber should handle its own fund raising.
“Are we at the point of a recall?” Keeney asked the gathering. Martinez did not comment on Keeney’s recall idea. But he did criticize the fact that the City Council had fired three city managers in about three years. He reminded those at the table that he was the only council member to vote against a motion to fire City Manager Deborah Ballí recently.
Martinez was somewhat critical of the fact that the BDA had not tried to recruit some of the oil companies which have operations in the Eagle Ford Shale formation north of the county.
The former mayor said he also supported a reduction in property taxes for city residents and criticized the way meetings were held to approve the city property tax rate and its proposed budget for the next fiscal year.
He also defended the City Council’s original plan to drill water wells in the deep but plentiful water source, the Jasper aquifer. He said the only drawback to that plan was the need for a reverse osmosis filtering system to remove chlorides and dissolved solids from the brackish water in the aquifer.
Martinez said getting water from the shallower but less prolific Evangeline aquifer would require the drilling of numerous wells along State Highway 202. And even then, there was no guarantee how long that aquifer could provide sufficient water supplies and how long the quality of that water would last.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.