San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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October 24th, 2008
Letter to the Editor: Newman wrong on law enforcement

Dear Editor,

Mayoral candidate David Newman has made numerous public comments outlining his platform for reducing taxes and his opinion regarding the relationship between University students and local law enforcement. Recent comments made by Mr. Newman concern members of the San Marcos Police Officers Association. We believe Mr. Newman is creating a divisive environment and dialogue between the University and the Police Department. Additionally, we strongly believe Mr. Newman’s plan for cutting the Police Department’s budget is fiscally irresponsible and undermines the work our current Mayor and Council have been diligently working on for the past two years.

Specifically, Mr. Newman has repeatedly stated that he will cut each City Department’s budget by 10%. Mr. Newman has recently amended his earlier statements indicating that he is now in favor of cutting the budgets by 10%, but not including salaries. In an interview with the University Star on September 25 regarding his budget cut proposal, Newman stated “nobody has challenged me on that in any way. There’s been no reaction. To me, silence is consent.”

The City Council recently approved the 2008-2009 budget which includes the San Marcos Police Department (available at www.ci.san-marcos.tx.us). Within the Police Department budget, 87.7% is personnel expenses which includes salaries. In order to meet Mr. Newman’s goal of cutting 10%, the Chief of Police would need to cut over $1,000,000 from the current budget. Under Mr. Newman’s plan, this could only be accomplished by laying off police officers and reducing the number of police officers on the street.

Under Mr. Newman’s amended proposal, the Chief of Police would need to cut over $130,000 from the operating budget. This would have to include cuts to the 911 Emergency Communications Center, fuel for patrol vehicles, vehicle repairs, contracted services such as medical exams for sexual assault victims, as well as training for police officers and emergency communications personnel.

After years of not hiring new police officers while the City and University continued to grow, the current Mayor and City Council have made great strides over the past two years making public safety a priority. New officers have been added as well as a full-time motorcycle traffic unit and an authorized mental health officer. There is still work to be done and it will take a continued commitment to public safety to bring Police Department staffing to where it needs to be.

During a presentation to the Associated Student Government (ASG) at Texas State University on Monday, October 6, Mr. Newman stated that the San Marcos Police Department was an “embarrassment” and that Police Officers treated students differently than other residents. These comments come from a candidate who has never attended a Citizen’s Police Academy (offered twice a year) and had, at that time, never been on a police ride-along.

Over the past twelve months, the Police Department has been working closer than ever with the University to address noise related complaints by numerous neighborhood groups, some of which are affiliated with the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA). While Mr. Newman complains to the students that the Police Department is treating them differently, some of his supporters, including leading members of CONA, are the same people who have been demanding that the Police Department take a very strong enforcement stance on noise, specifically students in the Sagewood area. This same group is also the strongest supporters of R-1 zoning enforcement.

In order to address the historical noise related issues in neighborhoods, The Police Department and the Vice President of Student Affairs at Texas State University, along with several other key groups, created the Achieving Community Together (ACT) campaign. This campaign has brought the Police Department and University together to address a longstanding conflict in our community. Positive things are happening almost daily with ACT and it will take a long term commitment from both the City and the University to truly make a lasting change.

Mr. Newman’s comments to the ASG on October 6 go against everything ACT stands for. His comments are divisive, not inclusive. He wants to move backwards to the “us versus them” days where residents complain about students and the work we have done together over the past year gets lost in the finger-pointing.

Mr. Newman came out and participated in one of the ACT neighborhood walks and stated that he “got the shirt.” He should be commended for participating. However, ACT and positive long term change is more than a “shirt”. It is about establishing personal relationships and working together for a common cause, not building walls and name calling.

Now is not the time for creating barriers between the University and the Police Department, nor is it the time to cut the budgets of emergency services. Mr. Newman’s plan for cutting the Police Department budget will move our City back in time. His plan will adversely affect public safety by reducing the number of police officers as well as the equipment and training available to them. The SMPOA is challenging Mr. Newman on his failed plan and his reckless, uniformed public comments. We are not consenting to this ill-conceived plan and will not support any candidate who advocates endangering the public by cutting police services.

Sincerely submitted,

Daniel E. Arredondo
President – San Marcos Police Officers Association

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32 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor: Newman wrong on law enforcement

  1. The city has worked too long and too hard to keep officers on patrol and with newman cutting the budget it will take more officers off of the road. In my opinion, we dont have enough officers as it is! Lets make it stronger and bigger by not agreeing with this plan!

  2. No reason to take officers off patrol. Have them patrol on foot downtown and on bikes elsewhere. NO, not all of them. We’ll have better community relations and healthier cops. Targeting Newman on cutbacks is stupid. Anyone who doesn’t realize large cutbacks are going to happen is ignoring reality.

  3. I highly doubt Dave Newman was advocating laying off peace officers. If roughly 90% of your budget is salaries etc., and Mr. Newman wants a 10% cut on everything but salaries, I think he’s asking the SMPD to cut 1% off your budget. With the city council (Including Mayor Clifford Narvaiz) just three days ago voting to spend 4 million to give to developers, a 1% cut to the PD’s budget is miniscule and an unfortunately nessessary action given the Mayor’s reckless spending (roughly 44 million dollars of debt per year, according to another editorial on Newstreamz).

  4. Mr. Arredondo has capably served on SMPD for many years. The police have a very challenging, dangerous, and stressful job. I thank them for their efforts.

    First, Mr. Arredondo does not disclose that his association has an official endorsement in this election. The SM Police Officers Association publicly endorsed Susan Narvaiz for mayor last summer. I can submit a copy of her first campaign ad to Newstreamz if anyone would like to see it.

    The members of the Association may of course exercise their First Amendment right of political speech and endorse someone.

    It is almost an American tradition that people CURRENTLY employed by a city will endorse the CURRENT mayor when he or she runs for reelection.

    Second, Mr. Arredondo misquotes Dave Newman, who made this statement in his campaign literature (posted on 78666.com weeks ago): “Aim for 10% off of each city department budget, NOT to include salaries.” The phrase is “aim for” reductions. That sets a desired goal, but leaves room for a thoughtful evaluation of each department.

    Mr. Arredondo’s speculation about changes in the police budget if Mr. Newman becomes mayor, are just that, speculations. It is also Mr. Arredondo’s First Amendment right to speculate.

    Mr. Newman is for “transparent accounting.” State agencies are beginning to post their expenses and expenditures online, and he wants to do the same with our city finances.

    I do know that Mr. Newman would not be buying fancy furniture for the lobby of city hall in these hard times. The chairs appear to be leather, and the tables and accessories look like reproductions of antiques.

    The long bench between the doors to the council chamber has also been removed.

    Why waste money on these changes? The lobby was fine as it was.

    The lobby is less friendly to the public now than it used to be, and it looks like the lobby of some big corporation.

    Third, Mr. Newman did not call the SMPD an “embarrassment.” He referred to something that was “embarrassing” to the city, and we all know what that was.

    Fourth, and I am sorry to say this, but some of my friends who are undergraduates do feel that they are treated differently by the police.

    Again, I appreciate the dangerous work that SMPD does every day. I hope we all make their job easier and safer by honoring the laws of Texas and our city ordinances.

  5. What a load of BS. Newman isn’t creating a divisive environment or urging students to be hostile toward the police in this city. The fact of the matter is our police ARE an embarrassment & they’ve RIGHTLY been made a mockery of not only recently (The dead dog debacle) but also when they wrongly & unjustly arrested a man for jumping into the river & saving another mans life. The charges were obviously dropped, after the ridiculousness was all over the national news. I think the police department is well aware of who that man was that they wrongly arrested & were forced to drop all charges on: David Newman. I highly doubt their inability to endorse him is anything more than the personal vendetta they still hold. David Newman is a hero. Funny how they didn’t put full disclosure in this “editorial.” Funny how they try & say it is Newman who is creating a divisive environment– looks to me it is THEM who are unwilling to compromise & work together for the good of the city.

  6. Too bad it was the UNIVERSITY police that arrested Newman at the dam back in 2005, NOT SMPD. Gotta come up with some better lies than that to fuel your imagined vendettas.

  7. Well I think PD all PD includig sheriff, should not be allowed to drive city vehicles for personal use or home. Cut that fuel bill and save some $.

  8. While Newman’s’ comments may be good copy they are far from the truth. As an attorney working in the trenches in the Courts I can tell you that that Police has come a long way. Many of the problems that they faced in the past was as a result of over work and under staffing. Camille with all due respect you are so wrong on so many levels. I don’t see Danny speak about furniture in his comments. He spoke about the dangerous business of policing

  9. I adamantly believe that ALL PD officers should be able to drive their cars for whatever personal use they see fit. They are already under paid and over worked and put their lives on the line EVERYDAY for us. The least we can do is let them drive the car to the grocery store.

    And to my fellow students:

    Its time to stop treating our Police officers like enemies and start treating them like our protectors…because thats what they are.

  10. Wow you girls and guys are cerrtainly trying to put a spin on this. Thank you for the entertainment. Our police officers have shot and killed how many children and men over the last couple of years. We get global attention from one of our recently hired officers because was most certainly a jerk at the time. and yes , sigh she was too. I do not believe they act like that in every situation they run into it was very bad judgement on both those officers part. Someone needs to take a lead on what actions are going to be used when dealing with less than perfect circumstances. We should not be recieving news over someone saving someone elses life. Our officers need to put their heads together and coem up with some other alternatives for our little city that is getting swallowed up along I-35. Again how many people have Died at the hands of our local law enforcement? Does anyone know. altough we could add one more if that man wasn’t saved by the river. For the guys that do think well under pressure I commend them. good job.

  11. First of all, my comment above was not responding to the letter, but rather to a previous comment. But with that said, I agree that there are problems with our police force, just like there are with any police force. Our officers for the most part do their job extremely well and any problems we have with the performance of the department as a whole should be dealt with, all the while remembering just how much of a sacrifice our officers make for us every day.

    I agree with Mr. Newman on a lot, and I believe his statement regarding budget cuts for the police force were taken out of context. Instead of cutting the budget to our police by even 1%, lets take a close look at where the allocated money is going within the police force. We need to take a look at where our priorities are when it comes to that spending, and if an increase of spending for law enforcement is necessary, then there are places within the budget where that money could be taken from.

    Case in point, cutting spending is a must in this city, but Law Enforcement is not the place to do it.

  12. Hello Everyone;

    Thanks again for taking an interest in our city.

    I have held back with my comments on the blogs here on-line in San Marcos, but in reading Mr. Arredondo’s letter, and the comments and misunderstandings that it has generated, I feel that I must make an attempt to clear this up.

    First of all, our city spending is out of control. Our city debt has doubled since 2004, and in round numbers it has increased from 40 million to 80 million dollars during these last four years. We just expanded this figure by another 4 million dollar corporate bailout at our last city council meeting, although it was by a 4 to 3 vote on city council with our current mayor breaking the tie, in favor of the giveaway. When it comes to our streets and sidewalks and neighborhoods, we have a hard time finding the money, but when it comes to padding the pockets of millionaire corporations and/or helping them out with their “mistakes” we always seem to be able to scrape up another million or two, to slide their way.

    The point is that we need to cut back on our city spending.

    In proposing a workable solution to this, when I began my campaign at the end of August of this year, I suggested a ten percent target budget cut from each department, NOT to include salaries. This was to be from EACH city department (water/wastewater, electric utility, public works, parks, etc.). In no way was I singling out the police department, and in addition, it is my intent to “AIM FOR” this ten percent figure, but use logic, good judgment, and common sense as the guide. Endangering the public or “cutting medical services for sexual assault victims” was certainly not part of my program, nor will it be. That is absurd. As I said, the spending cuts in ALL DEPARTMENTS will be made in terms of cutting the waste and excess, not the necessary public services. I hope that is clear to everyone.

    The San Marcos Police Officers Association endorsed Susan Narvaiz in the late spring/early summer of this year, before I announced my candidacy in late August, so in light of that alone, there was never a question of whether they would back me over Ms. Narvaiz in this mayor’s race. I view the contents of Mr. Arredondo’s letter more in the context of a politically motivated letter, rather than one written out of true concern for the “issues” that are mentioned.

    I say this exactly because I spoke with Mr. Arredondo face-to-face at a neighborhood meeting on Franklin Street on October 19th, and answered these (his) exact questions on the issues of neighborhood safety, and his perceived concern of patrol officer cutbacks. At that time I ASSURED him that there WOULD BE NO POLICE OFFICER CUTBACKS, and that clean, quiet, safe, neighborhoods were at the VERY TOP of my priority list. He seemed to register this information, and yet the same queries are repeated here in his letter to the editor. I can now only speculate as to the underlying motive, and reason for ignoring my statement to him and conjuring up these unfounded concerns which are essentially at this point, non-issues.

    I have the feeling that in addition to endorsing the current mayor, the San Marcos Police Officers Association reacted sensitively to my remarks at the ASG meeting. I was speaking in a context on specific issues that would be of particular interest to the 200 or so university students that were present in that auditorium. These topics included professional career opportunities for university graduates here in San Marcos, the 2:00AM bar hour non-binding referendum which Ms. Narvaiz put on the Nov. 4th ballot, the critically overdue need for bike lanes, sidewalks, and pedestrian friendly streets, as well as the subject of neighborhood relations between our university students and the established homeowners and residents. I told the students in attendance there, that I would hold them as citizens and adults, accountable for their actions while they are living here in San Marcos, but on the other hand, they deserve equal treatment when they have contact with the police and our city departments and offices. I mentioned that I would emphasize a high level of professionalism to be adhered to, and I think that in most cases we have that here in San Marcos already. I mentioned in contrast however that when one of our departments does something that makes national news, it does not make us look good as a city, and can be embarrassing. Again, the concept of PROFESSIONALISM AT ALL TIMES is the key. When a remark is made to the respectful reply to a police officer’s question as to one’s occupation as being a college student, as in namely “that figures…”, it is a breach of police bearing and professionalism, and those types of attitudes and actions should be addressed and corrected as a department philosophy, coming from the top down. In the incident that I am referring to, I DO indeed support the officer’s handling of the situation up to that point with the circumstances leading into that particular incident. We are all human and we can, and do make mistakes. I do feel however that professionalism is akin to body armor when it comes to one’s career. If a mistake is made, and one maintains a high degree of professionalism along the way, then that will go a long way in the forgiveness of that mistake. If however, the incident takes place in an atmosphere of unprofessional behavior, then that opens a multitude of opportunities for criticism.

    And,…please understand; it is not my objective to criticize the San Marcos Police Department, nor any other department. It is my duty as a candidate for mayor to identify areas for improvement in the workings of our city processes, and bring them to light in accordance with the discussions and concerns of those constituents out there that I have been talking with at length over the past two months.

    I would make the request that the readers of this letter use their own common sense and judgment about what is really at issue here, and take that information and knowledge to the polls. We DO need to make some extensive course corrections in our city government process. As I have said repeatedly, we are at a critical juncture in our city development. Our spending and our public debt are sky-rocketing, we as a city are now committing the equivalent of living on our credit cards, and we MUST tighten our belts now as a community. We are ALL doing this at the present on a personal level, and as a city we MUST resolve to take this measure that we all know in our hearts and in our overall conscience, that it is now time to face. This issue is crucial, and it is growing critically overdue, and is compounding daily and in fact at this very moment.

    This in contrast and in reality is the clear and present danger that we now see, staring us squarely in the face.

    Thank you for your time in reading this, and I ask for your vote and your support on election day.

    Sincerely,

    David M. Newman
    Candidate for Mayor of San Marcos, Texas

  13. I would like to know how a TAX ABATEMENT of $4 mil is increasing the city debt, Mr. Newman. The city did not vote to give $4 mil to the developer, it voted to give a $4 mil tax abatement. If the project folded and sat there as a partially completed project, then there would be virtually NO tax revenue from the project. If the land would have stayed in its previous form, it would still be owned by a government entity and off the tax rolls completely. So giving a corporation a TAX ABATEMENT is certainly not corporate welfare and makes really good sense. Did you not see the sales tax rebate story where we were WAY ahead of any other city in Hays County in August even in an slowing economy? Where do you think that sale tax revenue comes from, cow in an empty field???

  14. Good point on the Tax Abatement of $4 million, it’s not directly given from the city, and like aforementioned, if this land weren’t developed, then no money would be generated for the city. Also, had Mayor Narvaiz not had this land removed as government property, this land would not have been on the tax rolls. So instead of highlighting misinterpretations of a 7-council member decision (Not just the mayor) lets get all the facts straight and mention them. Also, someone mention Mr. Newman as a hero for saving someone from the river, has that been entirely looked at, becuase I’ve heard there was another person there that did the saving, and Mr. Newman was there helping as well. So to being a hero – questionable? He might be, or he might not be, that’s for Mr. Newman to illustrate in, because the other gentleman that rescued the person drowning left the scene. Just my 2 cents.

  15. Mr. Newman, with all due respect. I mention all of this because you and I have not spoken in detail about anything at anytime even though I have been present to hear you speak. I did however shake your hand at the ground breaking ceremony for the Wonder World extension and at the League of Women Voters debate but I wasn’t present on Franklin St when the conversation that you speak of between you and I took place. In fact the only conversation you and I have had was when I told you at the debate that I would like to sit down and talk to you in detail and you gladly agreed.

    It is true that the San Marcos Police Officers Association endorsed Mayor Narvaiz long before any other candidate entered the race but this was because we were confident then and still are that this mayor and council has made great strides in trying to make this community safer not only with police but with EMS and Fire personnel.

    And let it be noted that my letter was written out of true comcern. Because unlike many others, not only have I served this community as a police officer for over 20 years but I was born and raised in San Marcos. For 43 years I have watched this community change. I have family that has served this community in many different capacities such as a former mayor, council members, firefighter,school teachers, local business owners, since the early 30’s(1930’s). I have had many opportunity to leave but chose not to.

    In closing, I absolutely respect the right to free speech and I hope that each one that reads this excersise your right to vote. I just hope that when you vote that you take into account what’s best for the city of San Marcos and not just yourself.

    Sincerly,

    Daniel Arredondo

  16. Justadog, Actually the ADDITIONAL $4 million the Mayor pushed through the council, was a Chapter 380 sales tax REBATE. True enough that it will only happen if the shopping center opens and makes sales. However, the center ALREADY received a $2 million incentive for all of the same reasons they came back to the city for and that you listed. Except that this time, they claimed their costs had risen and they mis-calculated their development costs. In my mind that sounds just like a bailout. It is just a matter of judgement. Did the city HAVE to give this additional money? Unlikely.

  17. This paragraph below is from an article posted on Newstreamz. It’s confusing because it references both ad valorem taxes and sales taxes. Either way, the money we keep is more than we have today. It’s a fact that because of the current economic conditions retailers like the ones likely to go into Stone Creek are scaling back on expansions. If we can make this market more attractive than others they might be considering we should do it. Otherwise we might be looking at a mighty fine parking lot for a long time with no businesses to fill it up.

    Posted on October 22, 2008 at 11:12 am • Print • Share

    San Marcos City Council approved a $4 million increase in its economic development agreement with Stone Creek Crossing, by amending the original request, by a 4-3 vote. Council members Gaylord Bose, Chris Jones, and John Thomaides voted no. With the amendment, the Council approved an ad valorem tax abatement for five years whereby the City will retain 20% of the increased taxes from the development and rebate 80% to Stone Creek. The City will retain the first $500,000 of sales tax collected and rebate 80% to Stone Creek up to a maximum of $1 million annually. The City and Stone Creek will split any amount in excess of $1 million. The total tax abatement shall not exceed $6 million over the five (5) year period of the abatement.

  18. Dan,

    We are still getting $500k that we did not have plus 1/2 of everything over $1 mil. Also, this is only for FIVE years. Are we so short sighted as Americans that we can not expect our politicians to plan longer than immediate results?

  19. City council elections used to be in May.

    Whoever was elected then took office and began their duties.
    Our fiscal year begins in October, so city council works a lot on the budget in the summer.

    City council votes on the budget in September.

    Now our city council election is in November.
    So the CURRENT city council works on the budget and votes on it in September.
    The city council campaigns and the city budget issues now happen at the same time.

    Our current mayor is running for reelection.

    If funding for your department were being decided on by the mayor, who would you endorse?

  20. Let me see if I understand this on the shopping mall…

    We are giving tax abatements and incentives to move a JC Penney, Target, and other stores from their current tax revenue paying locations five miles down the I-35, away from the city center, and all of the homeowners & renters that can currently walk or go a short distance to shopping, correct?
    We have taken road funds to move a functioning exit ramp between Wonder World and McCarty for better traffic flow for this shopping mall, but are asking more money from the county taxpayers for roads. Correct?
    This property was used to create what kind of high paying jobs that will attract people to live and stay in San Marcos? Oh yes, initial construction is good for some jobs, but long term, it’s just moving the jobs from Springtown, adding a few more jobs at less than a living wage, and adding more to the fuel bills of our residents.
    Somewhere this is making someone some money. Just hope the gamble pays off for the city of San Marcos as we enter into this scaling back of consumer spending, and that we are one of those parites.
    My view of the role of City Government does not include being a business entity that is creating development projects. Balance the budgets, and provide the services your citezens need. Encourage economic growth that creates jobs for your citizens.
    Let’s revisit this around this time next year. Subtract out the current value of Springtown tax revenue. Factor in a down turning economy. See what else pops up. I’m willing to bet Dave and Dan called this cost to the city pretty much right.

  21. To Mr. Daniel E. Arredondo and the Readers of Newstreamz:

    It is not my wish to further antagonize, or belabor a point, however since my good name and reputation are drawn into question by the topic of your letter to the editor, and by the title of this thread itself, I feel that it is important to respond, in order to set the record straight.

    I can only speculate as to the reason for your denial of your attendance at the Franklin Street neighborhood meeting on October 19th, 2008. It was confusing to me initially, and I thought that I had perhaps mis-spoken, and had addressed the wrong individual here,…but no,…you and I DID speak at the Franklin Street meeting. You did ask these questions concerning city department budgets and officer cutbacks, and I assured you that there would be no officers taken from the streets, and that any budget cuts would be made judiciously.

    The Franklin Street meeting was attended by approximately 20 neighborhood residents, as well as Susan Narvaiz, Chris Jones and Lisa Coppoletta who can attest to the fact that you were there, and also heard my responses to your public questions.

    I can make a personal speculation as to why these inaccuracies were (mistakenly?) posted in an article signed by you on Newstreamz, but that would be as subjective as the speculations that were contained in “your” letter.

    There were other comments made on Newstreamz by innocent readers, who might be trying to make some sense out of this mis-information, and I would like to make a comment to address their concern.

    As for bailouts versus tax abatements, and cash giveaways,….if you cut my paycheck,…or if you take money directly out of my pocket, the net result is the same next week. Also,…I do not believe for one moment that the developers of Stone Creek Crossing were going to walk away from their 100 million dollar project over not receiving a tax abatement.

    On the other hand, I do firmly believe that the attempt could have and should have been made to negotiate a BETTER deal for the taxpayers and citizens of San Marcos, who seem to usually get the short end of the stick on these giveaway deals.

    If elected, I will negotiate effectively for the benefit of our voters and taxpayers, over the usual interests of the wealthy developers.

    Thank you for your time and attention in reading this, and also for your vote on election day.

    Sincerely,
    David M. Newman
    Candidate for Mayor of San Marcos, Texas

  22. Come on, Newman, get real. Stop the class warfare. Wealthy developers? You know this how? How much money does one need to have in order to be considered wealthy? Who is the developer of Stone Creek? Do you have a copy of their financial statements in order to determine that they are wealthy by your random definition? You are beginning to sound like Obummer. In case you missed it, if it was not for the “wealthy developers” who developed the outlet mall, we would all be in a world of hurt here in SM.

    Stop the class warfare now! Wealth is not evil in America, at least not for another week or so.

  23. Besides, you are making promises you can not possibly keep. You may think you would have all this power as mayor but I hate to tell you, you are greatly mistaken. Concerned about…Education??? Since when does the mayor have ANY SAY whatsoever regarding the San Marcos Consolidated INDEPENDENT School District? I don’t think you really have a grasp of what the Mayor actually does.

    A slow economy is not the time for on-the-job training. I would rather have someone who is experienced and not perfect than someone who is PERFECT (such as you lead us to believe)with no experience or understanding of the job of mayor.

  24. Howdy folks
    I have never spoke on such forums as this… usually just content to “lurk” and see what’s going on, but today I feel moved to respond. David Newman, well, let’s just say I have some serious questions about his character. First of all to Newman, (in reference to above) I was there at Franklin square when you spoke to the police. Danny Arredondo WASN’T there as you have claimed he was. You spoke with Terry Nichols of SMPD not Danny. Try to keep them straight will ya?
    Now to respond to Jay and Eric in the above messages concerning Newman’s “hero” status as the “man who was arrested for saving another man’s life”. I happen to know ALOT about that indecent. One VERY important word has always been omitted from that quote. ATTEMPTED. You were “attempting” to save another man’s life. You were NOT the person who made the contact rescue of Abed Duamni on July 3, 2005 as you have constantly claimed. I know it isn’t as “sexy” or as impacting to say that you were arrested for “attempting” to save a man….Newman and I have discussed this several times but for those of you who don’t know the facts… let me expound.
    Newman is what I call a “river rat”. He’s been swimming at the river for decades. I’m a river rat too. I love that area. As young college kid (early ’70’s) I used to foolishly dive from the roof of the old Ice house (now the Salt grass) run down the water fall and dive in the froth. Then I grew up. I still swim there., but respect the private property no trespassing signs. I’ve scuba dived during the day and at night there over the years and now on occasion I teach swift water rescue classes there. You see, I’m a firefighter in San Marcos fire department. Texas leads the nation in swift water incidents…. and the Austin/San Antonio corridor area leads the state in the same events. (hill country run off and lots of low water road crossings… bad combo for significant rain events) arguably the highest risk area of the country. I’ve taught about a dozen water rescue classes at these falls over the years. I’m our agencies (and area) swift water rescue instructor. Let’s just say … I know the area well. And I , in fact, was NOT there the 3rd of July ’05. But as area agency instructor I toughly review all incidents as to what went right , what went wrong, how can we improve etc…etc… To say that this water incident was well documented is an under statement. Sunday July 3rd (4th of July extended holiday week end) 3:00 pm (arguably THE busiest day of the year at the river) Newman is with others “frolicking” at the falls, as he often does when he was not flying for ARAMCO (wealthy Saudi oil ministers) Abed Duamni born in Syria (and for 20 years now has made USA is his home) is on the deck of (then) Joe’s crab shack enjoying a meal with friends and co-workers from Houston. He sees the inviting water and declares that he wants to go swimming…. he does. He try’s twice to swim over the waterfall out flow, to reach the eddy next to the wall and fails… 3rd try he succeeds. Newman is already in this eddy hanging onto the tubes just above the water line… (which at this level of spring flow hide the 3 left-over chambers under Joe’s which once channeled water to turn the turbines that compressed ammonia that made the ice at the old ice house) Duamni made the swim this time and was rubbing the water from his eyes when the current swept him into… then under the 1st chamber. (closest to Sessoms St.) He tried to surface but was met with a solid concrete ceiling! About to run out of air he said his last prayers and suddenly his head went into an air pocket. (Approx. 3 foot diameter impeller shaft left over from the ice house days.) Here he could breath… so there he stayed. Feeling for anything with his feet (finding nothing) and holding onto the impeller blades.
    Several people at the river saw him disappear. Newman did (he was closest to him) as did a young man who was at the concrete bench just down stream of the falls. This young man dove into the falls and swam across and started looking for the missing man… so did Newman as he sounded an alarm to people on the bank that a man could be drowning! Someone with a cell phone dialed 911. Fire department, swift water rescue team, San Marcos police, University police, Fire Marshall and Park rangers all responded. The call report was inaccurate (as a lot are) and claimed that 3 or 4 people were in trouble in the eddy at the falls with one or two missing! (We had many calls for tired swimmers at this spot that year because of unusually high water flows and just 3 months earlier a young man drowned at this spot.) A large crowd had gathered at the bank to see what the excitement was. Newman successfully commandeered a dive mask and a length of rope from on lookers to aid him in his search for the missing man. Arriving emergency agencies scrambled to make sense of the scene and safeguard the bystanders as well as ascertain the true problem. A Water rescue team was formed and the donned life vests and grabbed ropes to set up a system if need be. They approached the river bank… police were in the process of clearing the area … information was sketchy and varied… people were VERY excited… some unruly (4th of July weekend…adult beverages?) In the water at the wall there was a “young man” (unknown at this point) who repeatedly took a deep breath and dove under to search and “an older man” (sorry Newman…. that’s how you were described in some reports… I know, I’m there too) Newman was thrown a rope to which he scoffed and replied that he was not in need of rescue! The current was fairly strong and he seemed spent and tired as he held onto the bar just above the water line. He took breaths and dunked his head under to look with the mask that he had borrowed. It was reported that while his head was under water his hand never left the bar. Upon resurfacing he would be repeatedly asked to come to shore. He repeatedly refused. He was then ORDERED from the water. He said, “He’d come out on his own… when he wanted to.” …” This is a navigable water way” … “Why should I come out?” …. things like that. The young man was told also, but he acted as if he couldn’t hear and was often gone again before the statement could be finished…. back underwater… back to searching. Newman who was still at the bar… drew the anger of emergency responders because of his blatant refusals to comply with numerous directives. Police were told by water rescuers to, “arrest that man.” Attention was focused on Newman at this point and many eyes were trained on him… trying to get him clear of the rescue scene when suddenly the young man popped to the surface and exclaimed loudly,” I got him!” a second later Duamni popped up to the surface as well.
    Here I’d like to pause and make a comment over what Newman SHOULD have done … what should YOU do in a similar situation? Should someone make a rescue attempt in a water situation… The answer is “depends”. That depends on YOUR swimming abilities and skills. IF (and that’s a big if) you can do it safely and without risk to yourself and bystanders by all means attempt the rescue. But be cautioned that moving water is a WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT than standing water. It is powerful and relentless. But bystanders have an advantage over trained professionals in the fact that you are right there and seconds count in drownings. We have a response time. But in the early ’80’s 46 percent of Americas annual drownings were well intended rescuers! That’s almost half. You have to know what you are doing. Was Newman and the young man doing a heroic act? You bet they were. But when emergency agencies respond you must clear the area so the can do their work. Or you may get arrested for interfering with public duties… as Newman was. Had he taken the first rescue rope offered to him and come ashore (or if the ego was a factor, and as not to seem to witnesses that he was being rescued) he had swam to shore on his own and told the incident commander what he knew…. “one male, average build, disappeared, right there, 5 minutes ago” my gosh what a help that would have been. Instead he refused and responders were “stuck in first gear” you see we can’t just “jump in with our rope systems” … we have SOP’S (standard operating procedures) where we have to stabilize the scene and remove ALL non essential personnel. If you (as a citizen) attempt a rescue that fails and the victim dies… well you are protected under the “good Samaritan act” you tried your best,and failed. If a trained professional tries to rescue the victim, he better know what he is doing ‘cuz if he touches that victim and looses him… that’s abandonment and guess who goes to court? So we HAVE to clear the area. Does no good to injure or kill a bystander while looking for a “possible salvageable victim”. now…. back to the river…
    The young man escorted the victim under the waterfall to the concrete bench to sit and rest awhile. Newman was still resting at the wall and holding the bar. He was thrown another rope, which he again refused. He was told again to come ashore. He said ,”Why…. problem solved” Well Newman…. I’ll tell ya why. When our services are called and agencies respond, we have forms and reports to fill out. We don’t just go away. We need names, addresses and phone numbers, people need to be offered emergency medical services. (You’d think a guy running for Mayor would know these things.) At this point with the happy ending of the victim being alive, I doubt if you’d have been arrested had you swam to shore and told your story to authorities having jurisdiction. (another term to familiarize yourself with you want to be mayor) but no, you continued to thumb your nose at the police and you succeeded in “re-enraging” them with your non compliance and “this is a navigable waterway” remarks. You were arrested when you FINALLY came ashore. The young man (real contact rescuer) saw this and fled the scene across the river. Leaving YOU the only rescue person involved to claim sole responsibility for the rescue. (my what an opportunist you are) even the victim (Duamni) didn’t know who you were when you were seated on the ground with handcuffs on. He asked a policeman “who is that” the policeman, not witnessing the rescue because he was involved in crowd control, told him that “you had pulled him out.” (boy, did that misspoken remark plant a seed in your head!) You then worked the crowd, “he thanked me and they are arresting me.” Well, not really….. but you were “attempting” the rescue. The crowd (some tipsy) rose to your defense at your efforts … you spent the night in jail. $2,000.00 got you out the next day… but then we saw “Newman the motivator of the partially informed” take the news media by storm. According to Andrew Crohn (manager of Joe’s crab shack) you “worked” the patrons of that restaurant for three,,,,, full,,,, days. From opening ’till he kicked you out at closing ….for three entire days.(You were heard saying,”I’m the hero you’ve heard about that saved a man under this very building) He said you had an “agent” following you around who was almost constantly on the phone enticing news agencies and film crews to come down to Joe’s where “the hero was granting interviews” Your “agent” also was trying to get you on any talk show that he could (Jay Leno, Letterman.. etc… ) Three days. The city was inundated with negative publicity. Fire department got many negative emails.. city police got negative publicity, University PD got HAMMERED and even death threats against the arresting officer. Hays co. sheriff’s dept got over 20 neg. emails ….. AND THEY WEREN’T EVEN THERE! The entire city of San Marcos and University took a BIG negative hit from your endeavors and antics. That’s why I find it insanely amusing your remarks above on Oct. 26 Par #7 ….”When one of our departments does something that makes national news it does not make us look good as a city and can be embarrassing.” …… NO kidding Newman! I guess you’d know alllllll about that wouldn’t you? Embarrassing… not make us look good. Then you went on above and later said,” it is not my objective to criticize the San Marcos police department, nor any other department….” well Newman … what do you call it when you referred to local police agencies (on TV news) as'”keystone cops”? (among other insults)
    I realize (and you admitted to me) that you were trying to get the charges dropped by this media blitz … but that seriously damaged local agencies and San Marcos in general, not only nationally but INTERNATIONALLY. Now, if elected mayor how do you plan to counter that negative damage that you created…. and mend the hard feeling that you garnished doing that? Local folks don’t forget that quickly Newman. I consider local police agencies (all of them) as my co- workers. I consider the fire departments of the area as part of my family. I know what they do, what they see, what they go through in their line of emergency work. The people they have to rescue, or the antics that they put up with when people are arrested. And YOU were one of them. Your actions were definitely heroic on 4/3/05 but your actions afterwords were despicable. You took the actions of another man and not only made them your own, but embellished them. The accounts of sworn witnesses of Police, fire, park rangers, riverside witnesses, the young rescuer (later identified as Chance Whited), and even the victim, all collaborate. Only you (and those who believe your “story” stand in contrast.) Now you want to be Mayor. Well sir, I think “character” means a lot in the selection of a public official. I guess it’s now clear to all who read this who I WONT be supporting for Mayor.
    I was present for your speech at the student government meeting on campus. I feel you WERE making remarks that are not conducive to good relations between police and students. You made several other misleading comments to the students.
    You were seen as recently as about a month ago STILL trespassing at the Spring lake dam. Yes, the river is navigable but the property is private. You’re running for the distinction and honor of position of mayor of this great city. When are you going to grow up or at least, act like it?

  25. Hello Mr. Horton;

    I am extremely busy here, this weekend just before Election Day Tuesday, but I thought I would just let you know that the location where Mr. Arredondo and I had our discussion, was a neighborhood meeting at a private residence on Franklin Street, not at the Neighborhood Night Out gathering, and not at Franklin Square.

    As for the rest of your article, there are so many inaccuracies contained in it, that I cannot expend the energy to address them all, and I believe that I have spoken with you personally on two occasions, if I do indeed have you identified correctly. That being the case, and in light of my explanation to you concerning the Spring Lake Dam incident, it is clear to me that in spite of your misunderstanding of what took place that day, you are intent on perpetuating this misconception of yours in any way that serves your purposes at this point.

    As I told you, I am still in touch with the Mr. Duamni, the subject of this rescue at the falls that July 3rd 2005, and as I offered to you there at the Neighborhood Night Out gathering, I would be more than happy to contact him for you,…for HIS account of all of that, and finally and hopefully put your misunderstanding to rest, as it still seems to be bothering you after three years.

    I would also like to point out to the public who may be reading this, that my opponent in this Mayor’s race, Susan Narvaiz, is endorsed by the SMPFFA (San Marcos Professional Fire Fighter’s Association) and they are actively campaigning for her. You, Mr. Horton are a member of that union, and thus I will view your letter as merely a politically motivated effort, rather than one of the several other less professional labels that I might have chosen.

    Thank you for your opinion though.

    That’s what makes our democracy work, and if elected, I will work with the same intensity for your interests, as I would for the interests of the next person.

    Sincerely,

    David M. Newman
    Candidate for Mayor of San Marcos, Texas

  26. Hello Mr. Newman
    Thanks for taking time from your busy campaign to respond.
    You have indeed talked to me twice about the rescue incident at Spring lake dam, but I have NO misconceptions of the happenings there that day. You were NOT the person that did the contact rescue of Abed Duamni. Plain and simple. Your rendition of the part that you played that day is nothing but PURE POPPYCOCK. I am indeed a proud member of the San Marcos professional fire fighters association. We openly support the council people who support our efforts to better serve the citizens of this great town. In my opinion Susan Narviaz has done a wonderful job as Mayor and I would support her even if I were NOT in the fire service. She simply is the best choice of the candidates who are currently running. This is no slight to Dan. He seems like a fine man, but I feel that there is more to this race than solar energy and bike lanes. Those are important issues and he shows great promise. In fact if Susan were not in this race, I’d be pulling for him. Neither Susan nor Dan have spent 3 days of energy slamming the good name of San Marcos, degrading the image of the emergency services. You state that ,” It still seems to be bothering me” after three years. Well sir, the things you did and the things you said will take much more than 3 years for myself and others to forget and forgive. In fact, I couldn’t believe it when I heard you were running for Mayor! To hold an elected position over the same organizations that you so callously degraded just several years ago. WOW
    You spoke of the time you called the victim, Abed Duamni, ( at Franklin Square )as if he would clear your good name and put an end to my “misunderstanding”. Well David I HAVE talked to Duamni. (nice guy and unlike your account of him he’s very articulate in English) I don’t need you to call him. And I still feel (as I tried to tell you…. but you wouldn’t listen) That Duamni would probably be the least person at the scene that would know who contacted him underwater. He was in a darkened, underwater area with solid concrete above him, with no dive mask on. How would HE know who tugged on his leg. He didn’t know WHO…. BUT…. He knows WHAT happened. (and here is where it gets worse for you)
    In your over dramatic depiction, you claim to have first pulled his leg. (No problem there. Both the victim and the real rescuer, Chance Whited, also claim the same thing.) Then the accounts differ dramatically. You claim to have pulled a lifeless body out against the great current, using your teeth to hold the rope while you get another grip with the one free hand! (the other grasping the victim).( this is where the crowd usually gasps!)
    Chance Whited modestly claimed that he tugged on the victim a “couple of times” and he followed him out from under the chamber. (what we call a self rescue… and that explains the 7 witnesses on the bank that saw the “young man” surface first and shouted “I got him” and a second or two later the victim appeared) Well David, this is where Duamni’s story perfectly aligns with Whited’s story. Duamni said, “someone pulled on my leg a few times…. I took a deep breath, dove down and followed the dark form out” There you have it, I heard it from the victim himself.It was a “SELF RESCUE”.
    Hey. I got a good idea. Let’s get as many witnesses as we can together, victim, you, the real rescuer police, fire fighters, park rangers and the fire marshal, the press…. and put all this to rest once and for all!
    Ya up for it?
    You know David, I saw in a San Antonio paper a sketch of you in the comic section. (amazing likeness too!) It was a “Ripley’s believe it or not”… It said,” In San Marcos Texas, a man was arrested for saving another mans life! believe it or not….. I’m telling ya folks, his efforts have made the town famous. (in a negative way of course)
    Then in the fall of 2005 there were the numerous articles in the paper… where one I remember and I believe the headlines read, “Local hero has answer to the problem at the falls” (or something similar) It had your picture at the top and stated how you (the hero) wanted the University to install hog wire over the entrance to the chambers to keep people from washing under. Grate plan. (except when some kid got his head or hand stuck in the hole in the wire… then the University would REALLY be sued!)
    I saw a lady from the Daily Record shortly after that and asked her ,”Why do you write articles about that guy? He didn’t really do the rescue.” She stated that they didn’t know that you were not the rescuer and that they didn’t submit the article….. YOU DID!!! OH….MY….GOSH!
    Everyone has their 15 min. of fame but YOU know how to really stretch every bit out of a pseudo rescue. Have you ever thought of working for the chamber of commerce and using your energy at POSITIVELY promoting San Marcos?
    I have other “Super Dave” stories but I’m tired of typing. More later. Jay

  27. All I can say is: the official rescuers should have gotten their hefty humps into the water and rescued the guy rather than stand ashore donning their life jackets and arguing with Mr. Newman. By the way, you can’t do an underwater rescue with a life jacket keeping you at the surface.

  28. sallyp
    Please re-read above article concerning sop’s. And because of Newman’s resistance to orders… plans were being formed for his “extraction”. Slowing down the real rescue and wasting valuable time that would have been used in victim attention. And remember, accurate information was very slow in forthcoming because none of the actual witnesses were cooperating. (again, covered in previous statements)

  29. There are more important issues in San Marcos than who rescued whom……and I have to question when one guy claims that the local news, national news, police, fire department, and everyone else I’ve ever talked to is part of some grand conspiracy to glorify Dave Newman. You’d make a good 9-11 Truther.

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