I have been going through some audio archives from my past years in broadcast journalism; and recently reviewed a recording of a speech attorney Buddy Herz gave to the Rotary Club of Galveston Island in early 1994, when he was chair of the Galveston Economic Development Corporation.
“The members of our board are a cross-section of what some of you all might call the power block in Galveston,” Herz said, naming Orson Clay, head of American National Insurance Company; Don Gartman, head of the Galveston District of HL&P; Dr. Thomas James, president of the University of Texas Medical Branch; Shrub Kempner, president of Kempner Capital Management; Gene Lucas, president of Gal-Tex Hotel Corporation; Bill Merrell, former president of Texas A&M University at Galveston; Dr. Bernard Milstein, president of The Eye Clinic of Texas and George Mitchell, president of Mitchell Energy and the major developer of Galveston’s renaissance following Hurricane Alicia.
I was a member of the Island Rotary Club and had recently been hired by the GEDC; and introduced Herz at the meeting. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Herz reviewed the first years of the GEDC’s life, acknowledging its failures while expressing hope for future prospects. Of course, the future is now past and the GEDC is history. It is interesting to compare the problems facing the region then and now.
Funding for education was an issue facing the Texas Legislature in 1994 and was a topic at the Rotary meeting.
“The legislature is meeting right now,” Herz said. “There could be, and let’s hope and pray that there (are) not, cutbacks in higher education.”
Of course, funding for education also competed with other needs in Texas in 2011.
Herz talked about another issue that was a problem then and continues today, red tape at City Hall.
“One of the reasons we hired Jim Guidry is that local businesses and new businesses coming here couldn’t get through the red tape at City Hall, he said, “One of the things Jim does for existing businesses and future businesses is to try to cut through the red tape at City Hall.”
Earlier this year Galveston City Council retained the services of former county judge Jim Yarbrough, in part to work on ways to cut through the red tape at City Hall.
The more some things change the more they stay the same.