I speak for the City of Galveston when I say the following: League City Council member Andy Mann has ignorantly stereotyped Galveston, his good neighbor, as an “entitlement community.”
Galveston, like League City and like all Texas communities, has evidence of wealth and need. The challenge in today’s society is how we, in our respective communities, address these opposites. One way not to address them is to insult a valued neighbor.
Council member Mann recently voted against an $8,500 local match to help fund a regional service that provides transportation to medical appointments for the elderly and disabled and to jobs for those with low income and no automobile. League City’s transportation consultant, arguing for the match, explained “it’s not a lot of money, but the people who would benefit from the service would benefit greatly.”
Mann’s reply: “What you do here is give poor folk taxi service?”
It’s the Council member’s prerogative to vote his politics, lump veterans in with “poor folk” and forfeit the $200,000 in federal match; that’s entirely his call. But his reasoning was unfortunate because it went too far. Council member Mann continued: “If you need those other services, then you go to Galveston. That’s where you live because that community has already made the choice.” He then mocks our most difficult issue: “‘We want to build public housing; we want people to have free rides everywhere.’”
Council member Mann does not know Galveston.
Free rides everywhere? I challenge him to explain that false characterization to the thousands of Galveston residents who, literally the day after Ike’s landfall, started rebuilding their homes and lives. We – Galveston - truly showed our will to endure, and it was one of our proudest moments, as neighbor helped neighbor, and our community came together to rebuild our unique, great City. Our local bankers – some of the best in the business – made loans on the spot, knowing that their insured customers would be good for it. Restaurants and small, locally-owned businesses opened within days; every time a sign turned back on announcing “Open” was like a soldier returning alive from the chaos of war. In a remarkable victory of Galveston’s community will, our citizens, our Sealy & Smith Foundation and our political leadership saved the County’s largest employer, UTMB. We came back.
Today, UTMB is solidly positioned with a $3 billion dollar redevelopment plan, and we’ve broken ground on a $450 million best-in-class, twin-tower surgical hospital. Texas A&M at Galveston is showing double digit growth annually. Our $60 million Galveston Historic Pleasure Pier opens this summer, built by Galveston native Tilman Fertitta. Best in fleet cruise ships home port at the Galveston Wharves, bringing hundreds of thousands of passengers to Galveston annually. Moody Gardens Hotel is undergoing a $20 million upgrade, and the City has launched a $250 million public works overhaul, along with over $400 million to repair and rebuild our historic neighborhood homes.
We have wealth, and we have need. We make it work. We are Galveston.