Monday, February 27, 2006

Back Up and Write Your County Commissioner!

A cautionary tale:
My desktop computer died last week with NO WARNING.
While it is taking some time to get things up and running on my laptop, it surely could have been much worse as my last full backup was just three weeks ago. Also, I had purchased Applecare extended warranty and have been told that parts and an authorized technician are on the way.... we shall see.

In the meantime, here's what Fred the Alderdude has to say about tomorrow's county commissioners meeting regarding the proposed development of Isla Blanca Park:

Tommorrow's commissioners court meeting:
>Please note item 19 F. Executive session. If action is taken it
>would be after executive session, though i am not sure that action
>_can be taken since it is not directly listed as an action item, only
>'confer with legal council' regarding the sublease agreement.
> Still, if you have any concerns you would like our County
>Commissioner to hear, today would be a good time to do so.
> Pete Benevides is our precinct commissioner:
(spi BOA)

I wrote Pete an e-mail. Maybe you should too...?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sandsational! and Sandblasters!

My good friends Jill and Thomas got some great press for a recent Presidents Day project they did in Florida. I sure wish the story had featured photos....

At the end the article mentions the two will be appearing on a Travel Channel show entitled "Sandblasters" on March 12. The show features 16 master sand sculptors, including yours truly, and lots of explosions. I am hoping I can get the nice people at Louies or Kellys to put it on one of their big screen TVS - stay posted for details!


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Surfrider to the Rescue

What defines a "Park"?
There are lots of possible answers to that question but I am pretty sure that "a place where there are 1000 private condos and no public parking for the county residents" would not be part of anyone's definition.

See the local chapter of the Surfrider foundation's take on the issue and follow the links from their website to learn more about what is happening in Isla Blanca Park. Concerned residents especially need to let the county commissioners hear what we think about this plan.... they are our elected officials and they cannot ignore us.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pave paradise and put up a highrise

With land values steadily rising, the town will soon need to build upward in the B and C Districts to accommodate future growth, Island developer Clayton Brashear said.

“What we see is that the town is headed in the direction of more retirees moving here,” Brashear said. “And as more retirees move here, they’re going to want places to live. With the amount of property we have that’s built on, how do we provide them with places to live?”

Um.... when did it become our responsibility to provide the world with cheap island dwellings? Especially when the town is expanding northward. Why fuck up existing residential neighborhoods by throwing up sun-eating high-rises on the few remaining undeveloped lots? These condos will sit empty for much of the year like most of the existing condos. At least, we best hope they do because we already know what it is like when those units are all occupied -- we see it every year at Texas Week and the 4th of July.

Clearly this is all about money and the developers getting nervous about running out of land to exploit.

Their plan to cover up this island with skyscrapers is utterly insane and I can't believe that our Board of Aldermen would want anything to do with it.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Doing Business on the Island

Workshops and meetings galore this Thursday!

Starting with two EDC workshops (8:30 and 4:00, both at Club Padre, open to the public but specifically seeking the input of local business people) - the sole agenda item of which is "Discussion regarding current business environment and proposals for improvement. Topics include infrastructure, communications, marketing, role of local government, local regulations and ordinances, emergency services, transportation, parking, taxes and zoning."

I reckon we ought to be able to wrap this up in half an hour or less, hey?

It might be worth going just to get to hear everyone shout and watch them turn all red and shit. But some of us might have other things we would like to accomplish that day.

Moving right along to the ever-popular DPRB meeting at 3:30 (City Hall) - check out the agenda! Some heavy duty items including the following:

        - Discussion and possible action regarding the Development Plan Review Board to stop looking at anything other then Padre Blvd. Buildings (???! )

        - Discussion and possible action regarding the proposed medians (everyone is eager to jump into that barrel, aren't they?)

        - Discussion and possible action regarding color pallet (seems to me that people who don't even know how to spell "palette" ought not to be in charge of determining one, but what do I know?)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Surfriders Chat with the Judge

Just got back from Louie's where Cameron County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa met with members of the local branch of the Surfrider Foundation regarding concerns about the proposed Isla Blanca Park development. These folks are primarily concerned with losing access to what is arguably the best surfing beach in Texas -- the idea of displacing the trailer park was also a concern. The room was packed and I saw 4 of the 5 aldermen in attendance, as well as Joann Evens, who has filed for the May election.

Some personal observations:

1. There are two proposed projects on the table: one only swings into play if/when the state legislature decides to put casino gambling to a state referendum. Since that did not happen in the most recent session, this is not part of the current discussion. Furthermore, the county commissioners have already signed off on this and have a contract. Should gambling pass in the next session, we are very likely to get a casino. The Judge says he did not hear any negative comments before the county commissioners did this. (Okay, he may have gotten one phone call.)

2. The other proposed project is limited in scope to an aquarium and some other smaller concessions and possibly condos. It is still in the discussion phase with nothing signed. The judge says that just how this aquarium is going to pay for itself has not been fully explained to his satisfaction. He also expressed some personal reservations about using county property for condos.

3. Neither project would affect the beach access areas currently being utilized by the public. Parking seems to be a gray area. The trailer spaces would be relocated to a spot in Isla Blanca someplace north of where they are now.

4. Since I am one of the "permanent" park dwellers who was kicked out of the park (about 15 years ago, and yes, I am still pissed off about it) to make room for the current "temporary" residents, I have a hard time working up any great amount of sympathy for them.(I know this contradicts a previous post. I ahve had more time to think about it.)

5. The judge seemed very open to public comment and has stated repeatedly the the town of SPi needs to be involved in the decision-making process.

6. If you don't want gambling to come to SPI, you need to talk to your state legislators - loudly and often.

7. The judge made reference to the fact that after the surfrider grilling he needed a beer. However, when I tried to buy him one he turned it down. How this reflects upon him is open to speculation/discussion.

If I got something wrong or left out anything important, please feel free to correct me.

Island Traffic

Well, I am back from my Hawaii adventure and it was truly wonderful. Folks warned me that I would fall in love with the big island and not want to come back, and to a certain extent they were right. However, Hawaii has at least one really big problem that all by itself would keep me from moving there --

!@#@$# traffic.

Texas week-like.
All hours of the day.
Every day of the week.
All year round.

To get anywhere at all -- including the nearest convenience store -- you must plan in the extra time it will take to hang on a side street until some kind soul takes pity upon you and lets you turn onto the main street, where you will get in line to creep along with the rest of the the cars full of pissed off people: locals trying to get to or from work and tourists mentally tabulating how many of their precious vacation hours are being spent stewing in traffic.

Sadly, I believe this is the future of South Padre Island. Unless we make some serious changes right now. There is absolutely NO WAY to make Padre Blvd. so pretty that people are going to enjoy sitting and and staring at little bits of it for long periods of time.

Before one more dollar is spent on improving Padre Blvd., we must be absolutely certain that we are getting maximum effective use of the amount of space we have to work with, with particular attention paid to alternative forms of transportation. We need space for bikes and pedestrians because at some point in the not so distant future, those are going to be the only viable ways for running quick errands. We need bike racks. We need shoulders for the WAVE to pull over and for emergency vehicles to get through and we need to allot space for massive parking structures to encourage people to leave their cars parked once they get here.

Did I mention that we need to do this NOW?

Seriously. I have seen our future and it really really sucks.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Hawaii Connection

My island hop (from Padre to Oahu to Hawaii ["Big Island"] to Maui to Oahu to Padre) has been completed -- but I'm not finished with that state just yet. I am working on my trip report and organizing my photos, of course and getting ready for Saturday's Hawaiian-themed Isle-Ditter-Dog fundraiser for the Humane Society at Louie's (where I may or may not be serenading puppies at the K-9 Cafe with my new ukulele, depending on how much practice time I can get in between now and then.)

Finally, here is the latest update from Balde "Toby Beau" Silva who I missed getting to see in Kona by just a couple of days.... drat! At any rate, the attached photo is one I shot of my own whale encounter near Kaleakukua Bay. This was my first close-up whale siting and it was way cool....

Aloha Buccaneers!

These last few weeks have seen some amazing developments in my travels abroad. Man! I’m starting to believe my own crap! There’s whales everywhere, huge humpbacks spraying and breaching out of the water. Just beautiful!!!
It’s there summer migration from Alaska similar to the old Wisconsin people fleeing to their refuge at “Outdoor Resorts.”
Rennetta and I had to leave Hawaii last week to attend an entertainment showcase in Miami on February 12th, put on by my booking agent. When I mentioned to all my friends that we would spend a week in Miami, there were so excited about us going to Miami Beach and doing the night life on South Beach… We went to Disney World! Jeez, get me a walker and a diaper-I’m getting old.
The showcase went great. Rennetta and I did our show at the North Miami Municipal Theater along with many other great acts. We met Robert Shields of “Shields and Yarnell” fame. I want to thank my big brother, Tom Drake, “The Best Damn Comic, Period!” for putting up with me for the last 3 years. Tom is responsible for writing and producing my show for theater. I don’t know how I will ever be able to thank you Tom, except to say that the Bob Seger joke doesn’t work… FIX IT! I love you, Tom.
Flying back to Hawaii we were on the same plane from Washington DC to LA with Newt Gingridge, and they upgrade us to 1st. What a treat that was!! The upgrade part.
All and all it has been a good month, but I miss my family and my friends at the beach. So Joe and Dan, hope Spring Break goes over big at Louie’s Backyard, Sammy and Christy hope you make a lot of money at Palmetto, Jake, I hope Sammy and Christy spend a lot of money at Jake’s, Sandy Feet and Vern, keep stoking those web page fires in SPI and Austin, Margie and Mo say hello to all the barflies for us
Sue and Rob, “YO HO, YO HO a pirates life for me.”

Happy Valentines Day!
Balde Silva/Toby Beau

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

hawaiiblog 1

For the first time in a very long time I feel like I am truly on vacation -- too busy having fun to check e-mail, write bloggy stuff, etc. etc. I feel so very lucky to be here with a group of people who know the island, who like to have fun and who know lots and lots of ways to have fun right here. We have snorkeled, we have cruised, we have lounged, we have mingled with sea turtles, and we have partied in multiple dramatically beautiful locations. We have played music on the lanaii and today I am going to buy a ukulele of my own so I can be more that just an observer. We haven't sandcastled yet but that is on the agenda as well -- we still have a full week of fun ahead of us!

I wish we had easier internet access but perhaps it is just as well that we don't as I am spending more time living my life and less time writing about it. At any rate, I can still send pictures to flickr from my cell phone so mom - and anyone else who is interested - can see how much fun I am having. (As well as the drama - if you were watching yesterday you saw Kirk's headwound ordeal - no more snorkeling for him!)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Poor, Tired Port Mansfield

Re: "Port Mansfield residents weary of county’s plans"

Maybe I am oversensitive but it really cheeses me when the local newspaper uses a word really wrongly in a headline.

Are Port Mansfieldites wandering around all bleary-eyed? Are they working too hard? Not getting enough snooze-time? Or are they perhaps WARY of Willacy county's plan to seize a bunch of property on Padre Island?

Hey! Fernando!

Thank you.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

more sad news - Jeff Wheeler

I got a call last night from Scott Wheeler telling me the news of his brother Jeff's passing. Apparently he went out in a blaze of glory -- a shootout in Costa Rica where several others lost their lives as well.

If you are scratching your collective heads wondering why the names Jeff & Scott Wheeler sound so familiar, let me refresh your memory: The Brothers Wheeler opened the first true palapa bar on the island called "Rumrunners" - located on the bay where Tequila Sunset now resides. It was wildly successful and very popular with the local crowd back in the late 80's/early 90's (?is that right?)

Our condolences to Scott and the rest of Jeff's extended family.

Will the rest of you please be careful out there? There has been entirely too much death on this blog of late....

Update: Max Reed (aka IBHooked) has written a great column about Jeff - read it here