San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

May 4th, 2009
Letter to the Editor: Roark wrong on Texas State funds

Dear Editor:

In response to Rob Roark’s letter to the editor of April 27, 2009, I would like to provide some clarifying information.

First, the $400,000 referred to in the letter to the editor is not stimulus money, but a request submitted by Rep. Lloyd Doggett to a House of Representatives’ subcommittee in support of a project at Texas State University-San Marcos (Texas State). To date, a decision has not been made by the U. S. Congress with regard to providing these funds to Texas State. If funded, The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education, a nationally recognized program on our campus, will use the funds to enhance an initiative to educate people across Texas about our watersheds. To characterize the program as Mr. Roark has done as “a program to teach children how to use the Internet and Google maps” is inaccurate. The program is certainly designed to use technology to teach individuals that watersheds are important and have a profound effect on both the quantity and quality of water in their lives. Texas State believes that this is important as do a large majority of Texans who repeatedly indicate in polling data that water is the most important natural resource issue facing Texas in the years ahead. Watershed management is critical to Texas and is particularly critical in San Marcos, where the local economy is dependent to a certain extent on the San Marcos River.

Texas State is not aware of the event referred to by Mr. Roark when he states, “Mr. Doggett was a guest of the University on Saturday to a special Alumni dinner in honor of the award to the Grosvenor Institute.” To the best of our knowledge, there was no such event involving Mr. Doggett.

Finally, I want to state that Texas State is very concerned about the local economy and believes that the university contributes significantly to that economy. If Texas State is fortunate enough to receive the $400,000 in question, it will be used in ways, such as salaries for faculty and students, that will ultimately benefit the local economy. Contrary to what Mr. Roark states, this type of award does help us locally in many ways. Texas State greatly appreciates Mr. Doggett’s support of this program.

Billy C. Covington, PhD
Associate Vice President for Research and Federal Relations
Texas State University-San Marcos  

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0 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor: Roark wrong on Texas State funds

  1. I think the point Mr. Roark made was that we don’t need $400,000 being spent on nonense like this. I agree, and point taken. I find it interesting that Texas State even needs someone for “federal relations” at all. In addition, I don’t take kindly to the university touting each year about how many millions and billions in revenue it brings to the economy in central Texas. Does anyone else not find it absolutely ridiculous that it was our money in the first place? It takes a lot of salt to take someone’s money away from them, then shove back in their face just exactly how much money they took and how they gave it away to someone else. And one wonders why people are upset? Do the math, do the right thing, and get rid of the waste. Bravo Mr. Roark.

  2. Not only no, be HELL NO! Every time they buy up a new piece of property in town, it also gets taken off the tax rolls.

  3. Yeah. You guys are right. I would much rather our tax dollars be returned to some other state, like maybe California. We just don’t need the money here in Texas. And certainly not for programs that might improve our water quality.

    And as for the University paying taxes? – sure. why not. Then tuition could cost even more. And what we really need in Central Texas – is fewer jobs. We don’t need those stinking jobs that the University provides!

    Don’t you people have a brain? Guess you missed Civics 101. Or you slept through it.

    I a sick of hearing this garbage from people who are obviously in need of some anger management. Stop blaming the rest of the world for your problems. Get over it.

  4. Hey Lila, I think what they’re saying is that they’d rather have our own tax dollars returned to US. We don’t need any more so-called “programs” to help us and we don’t need the university or governmental offices taking up prime space in this town. And as far as tuition, maybe we could just take tuition (and fees, mind you) back to where it should be and stop paying 20% toward grants and scholarships. How does that sound? Sick of hearing this “garbage?” Then wake up and realize that the government is not your mommy and there’s no mystical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I mean, why stand by and contribute to the problem when your country is being systematically destroyed? Anger management classes, indeed.

  5. Hmmm. And you think I wasn’t being civil? How odd. But I am amused that you took the bait. I am not, however, impressed, by your comebacks. You are not capable of having an intelligible conversation about these issues. Perhaps if you turned off your radios from the Rush Limbaugh program and started thinking for yourselves, you might have have a chance at a real dialogue. But until you stop allowing yourselves to be the puppets of others, I don’t think so…

  6. I must admit, in the light of the current economic situation – all new programs and even existing programs that are requesting additional monies be scrutinized to the nth degree. While $400,000 may not seem like a lot of money in the grand scheme of the trillions of dollars that are being proposed as “stimulus”. But the fact is, the country is broke. We are borrowing money hand over fist from other countries (China, does anyone have a problem with that?) to fund these special interest requests – that are just that, special interests. These are not items of interest to the general public – but a select group of individuals who deem themselves “special”.

    I’m not going to argue the points of the project – I am going to argue that it is not a viable project for the US Taxpayers to pay for. How much will it end up costing? Really, add in the interest that we’ll have to pay back on this loan to China.

    And I’m sorry – please stop throwing in our faces how much $ the University brings to this city. Believe me, as former public servant, it costs us way more than what it brings in! Wear and tear on our streets, congestion and traffic, need for additional emergency services because of the drunken college students,etc. Nope, you’re not going to get me on that. The University uses that arguement with the (pardon me) idiots that keep getting elected to public office around here – and they fall for it hook, line and sinker. And yes, the University continues to buy up land which is then removed from the property tax rolls. The community no longer receives any taxes to contribute toward city, county, emergency service or school district funding. But yet the university utilizes all of those services and then some.

    No, the nation does not want to contrbute $400,000 additional dollars PLUS interest for this project. If it’s something the university wants – then let the university fund it, raise tuition, or get a contribution from some wealthy alumni.

    Thank you Rob – for opening this up for discussion!

  7. If you want to know what a wonderful place San Marcos would be without Texas State, drive 20 miles esst amd take a good long look at Lockhart, except we would have the river, but not the bar-b-que. I do not understand this argument that the university contibutes nothing to this city.
    Would you seirouly argue that State Govenment or The Untiveristy of Texas contibutes nothing to Austin, or that the military contributes nothing to San Antonio? Yet they to pay no taxes, and put strains on city services, just like Texas State.

  8. The last two purchases by the university were awful apartments that weren’t contributing much to start with. Before that, their purchase of Bobcat Village was due to major mismanagement issues by the private sector owner, which had contracted with the university to construct the apartments. It has been far from aggressive with land acquisition, even when they’ve had great opportunities to do so.

    As someone that worked directly with both the university and city, I can tell you that the university contributes far more than it takes. Cities would kill to be in San Marcos’ position, with a major university in the center of town. Being a former public servant doesn’t make you a credible expert… For the record, I am a current public servant working in… wait for it… community & economic development.

  9. If I’m not mistaken, Texas State has the largest Geography program in the nation. Considering the fact, then it comes to me as no surprise that they would be employing a staff for Federal relations.

    Also, considering that the department is as large as it is, then as Shannon mentioned they could be getting the funding from somewhere else. The athletics department just got a one MILLION dollar donation from a couple in Houston after all.

    Eat ’em up cats!

  10. Larry, your statement is ridiculous. The university represents about 20% of our economy. To equate San Marcos without the university to Lockhart is preposterous.

    From 1990 to 2009, the university increased enrollment by about 8,000 students and the city grew by about 21,000 people. Much of the city’s growth comes from our proximity to Austin and San Antonio and our location on IH35. This is evident elsewhere along the corridor as well.

    It might be more reasonable to look at New Braunfels, which also has a river and is also situated on IH35 between Austin and San Antonio.

    One could just as easily say that we should take a good long look at College Station, to see what San Marcos would look like without the river, the Hill Country, IH35, Austin, San Antonio and the Outlet Mall.

    The reality is that without the university, it is impossible to know what direction the city leaders would have taken us or how successful they would have been. It is only possible to say that things would be different.

    Statements that the city would be nowhere without the university, or that the university contributes nothing to the city, are inflammatory and unproductive and they smack of laziness and lack of understanding or interest in San Marcos in general.

  11. Also, with a median household income of $41,700, to our $31,500 and a home ownership rate of 59%, to our 30%, it appears there may be one or two things we can learn from Lockhart.

    Perhaps you should heed your own advise and take a good long look yourself.

  12. Worry not children, by the close of the year 2010 the United States economy will be 75% melted down and both city and university employees will be standing in soup lines.

  13. My husband and I are fortunate to know a number of staff at TSU. And we frequently eat in local restaurants staffed by TSU students as waiters and waitresses and enjoy visiting with them. We are proud of our university, its contributions and our city.

    But I must say that though the proposed watershed project seems to be a worthy undertaking, it still does not compute in my mind as being worthy of federal monies. I agree with Shannon and many others, when they made the point that no matter how you look at it, when it comes to federal taxpayers having to pay for something back in the states, it is still pork. TSU is a Texas university, and the money should come from Texas, if it is so important.

    I object strongly to the direction in which our country is going with government takeovers etc., and I’ve always objected to pork. We can’t have it two ways–not wanting the other states to request federal money for pet projects, but request federal dollars for pork in our own state. I say absolutely no pork. We are drowning in taxes already, and we’re about to sink, much sooner than most people realize. NO, NO, NO to pork…and that includes the $400,000 for our own TSU project.

  14. So now all of you who agree that this request for federal funds by Texas State University – let’s stop talking about it and let’s take some action.

    Join us – The San Marcos 912 Patriots for our next meeting on June 1, 2009 at 6pm. There we can discuss a course of action to take with our local entities who have requested and are receiving funds from our bankrupted federal governemnt!

  15. The link in Shannon’s comment has been deleted. Newstreamz does not accept off-site links in comments.

  16. Coming from Ann Arbor Michigan, home of the University of Michigan, Universities can have a BIG impact on local economy. But where they may contribute to the community is lost in high taxes to the people. Because U/M owns half of AA the tax base for that entire county is extremely high to make up for what they loose in not taxing the University.

    As for their endowments they are worth billions across the Universities yet tuition keeps going up. When my kids lived in student housing at Eastern Michigan University these buildings should have been condemned. My SIL was constantly sick just to have their ceiling cave in and found black mold all through the walls. Yet 3 years ago they build a multi-million dollar bungalow for the President of the University to live in and party. So this is where a great deal of the monies go.

  17. So does this San Marcos 912 Patriot group expect to not drive on the new Wonderworld Drive since the city needed federal money to build it?

  18. Sorry Voter but there is absolutely no logic to your statement!! Infrastructure that benefits all is totally different from pet projects that only benefit a few!

  19. I agree Debbie. I am not against SM getting all the federal money possible. Just wondering what this “patriot” group thinks about federal earmarks. All bad pork or some good?

  20. I went back over her statements and still don’t understand why you question her patriotism. Maybe she’s new to this political thing but we all have to start someplace. If you are calling the bridge over the tracks pork FYI it’s the only bridge that will get you over the tracks if a train is coming. Just pray you aren’t in an ambulance when that happens at any other place in SM.

  21. Actually I am speaking about the extension of Wonderworld DR to RR 12. Built partly with federal $$ and would be delayed another decade without. I can’t figure out why you think I was questioning her patriotism, (she called her group the SM Patriots) rather the hypocrisy of some who claim all federal earmarks are wasteful spending. I hope her group (the SM Partiots) have coherent and constructive suggestions for local officials (her stated reason for them meeting) when to request federal money if they are going to benefit from those projects.

  22. I think the point is we are all addicted to benifiting from federal spending, and have been for years. After all, who built the Interstate Highway system back in the 50s. I am alarmed by the huge deficit we are running up too. But if we are serious about balancing the budget through spending cuts alone we are going to have to be in favor even agreeing to spending cuts that hurt, like accepting money on badly needed roadway extensions.

  23. Our federal government is broke. Period.

    We are borrowing money from China to pay for all of this spending. I disapproved of the TARP last fall, I disapproved of the bailouts of the banks and the car manufacturers and I believe there is more going on with that than the American people are willing to open their eyes and see – but that’s a totally different topic.

    There is no money to support any projects. Yet, local entities keep asking for more. Have you seen the City of San Marcos web page? They are asking for ideas from the citizens on how to spend the funds they are getting. They are receiving money and they have no idea what they are going to do with it all. That’s waste and excess.

    Hays County is receiving funds to repair a bridge and for some project in Plum Creek. Really, a project inside a subdivision?

    Texas State is requesting the $400,000 for an on-campus project, which they could get by charging each student an additional $10 next semester. It’s wasteful.

    Do you want your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren paying for a project in Plum Creek or this project at Texas State? I’m guessing not.

    Spending isn’t going to solve the economic crisis/ recession/depression (whatever you want to call it). Really – does spending more reduce your personal debt?

    We have to demand that our government be responsible with the money we provide them. If that means the Wonderworld extension needs to be put off a few years until the economy recovers, the deficit is reduced and these loans are paid back – fine – put it off.

    I am against any and all spending that is in excess of necessity, especially right now. And I am against any and all requests from special interests to receive federal funds. No saving the salamander or the fuzzy field rats, etc. If you want to save something – have a fund raiser. Sorry, I do not approve of my tax dollars being used in that way. I want to decide which charities I give money to. I don’t want it being dictated to me, yet that is exactly what is happening.

    Funding – such as what Texas State has requested – is special interest.

    The Wonderworld extension, though not necessity would benefit a great majority – but at the same time, it does not benefit the people of the United States – it benefits the people that need to get from Wonderworld to RR 12 – the citizens of this area and passersby. So, no, the federal government should not be funding this project. Does it really make sense to have the federal government paying for any of that? We are a rourceful people, surely we can wean ourselves from dependency on the federal government.

    It’s not Democrats or Republicans – it’s everyone pretty much across the board. And we, as the people of the United States, have to start telling them what we expect of them. They were elected to represent WE THE PEOPLE and they’re not doing that. It’s not happening at the local, state or national level. We must be vocal and active, that is the only way to affect change.

    Thank you for the lively and intellectual discussions – and for allowing the opportunity for open discourse – even if we disagree in the long run – we have to be able to maturely discuss the issues and concerns we face daily.

  24. Bravo! Well said! While the ink is still drying on the bailouts and bills Obama is now lecturing us on how we must restrain from going into debt which will only burden our children and grandchildren.
    What blatant arrogance and hypocrisy this man has.

  25. It seems obvious to me that the corrupt government in Washington has no interest in our future and the future of our children and grandchildren. The Obama regime seems to be determined to bring the country to an overburdaned state of socialism and debt. The local governments and institutions are joining in the insane party as if there is no tomorrow to repay this debt load. The overtaxation of everyone is a tragedy. As Margaret Thatcher said” The Problem with Socialism,is that you soon run out of everyone else’s Money”

  26. Thank you for having the courage of your convictions Shannon and admitting that you would rather NOT have the WW Dr extension nearing completion because it received $10 million in Federal Funds earmarked by a Republican Senator. I read up on your 9-12 group and it is organized by the nut job Glen Beck. Question: is the candidate for Council LMC, running against Pam Couch part of this group? As a voter I would like to know her views on accepting Federal $$ for WW Dr.

  27. O.K., I agree, lets not accept any more federal highway funds, let build our highways only using funds raised in Texas. After all, federal highway funds come with strings attached. For many years we were stuck with a 55 MPH speedlimit because of federal mandates attached to highway funds. Today these fund dictate the minimum age at which we can sell alcohol. So let’s ween our selves from it.

    O.K. then, are you willing to accept the increase in our state gasoline tax that would be necessary to make up the difference?

  28. My apologies to Shannon and Debbie. It is clear we just disagree on an important policy issue. I mean no disrespect to you or your group. Larry your point is well taken. Sometimes we need to be realistic and admit that we need certain things like transportation projects, food and airline safety, flood control dams, banking regulation, etc. Things that our community could never afford to pay for or accomplish through local taxes. I actually think the system we have works. The stupid pork projects are a small fraction of total federal earmarks for legitimate and necessary ones. They get all the headlines and generate all the outrage. It is just that we never stop to examine the benefits that come with highly regarded projects that have their genesis in the same system, which was my only reason for bringing up a road which is a local example. IMO, there are others I would defend and promote as well.

  29. Shannon: The federal Funds for the Plum Creek project are to rehabilitate a DAM on Plum Creek, it is not funding for the subdivision. This dam is part of the Plum Creek Conservation District that prevents flooding along Plum Creek. The dam is very old and in need of repairs.

    While I appreciate that citizens are being spurred into activism as a result of the tea parties and the conservative groups behind them, it is really important that you educate yourself on the issues before you begin screeching about specific items. An educated populace is really key to a sound Democracy. Those are Jefferson’s sentiments, but I have to agree with him.

    I would hope that you might be for the prevention of flooding which actually saves money – not to mention lives.

  30. The dam is there to prevent flooding? The only way to prevent flooding is to not build in the flood plain.
    If someone, or some municipality wants to develop in flood-prone areas, why should I have to pay for that stupidity? Just wondering.

  31. Actually, Chris, flooding is a natural event. I don’t think there is any way to prevent flooding. It just happens. Especially when you live in Flash Flood Alley.

    The dams I’m speaking of were built as part of the soil conservation program back in the 1950s when the area around Kyle was all agricultural land. They were constructed to prevent the flooding and erosion of agricultural lands. It didn’t have anything to do with building in the flood plain. But today, subdivisions have sprung up downstream of these dams. And since they are much older now, the dams themselves could present a real hazard if they broke during a severe flooding event (or for some other reason).

    Stop jumping to conclusions. The City of Kyle does not allow building in the floodplain. Just like the City of San Marcos. You’re as bad as Shannon.

    By the way, there is also a series of dams in San Marcos. Kind of surprised you’re not aware of them.

  32. What are you talking about, Lila??? God you are crazy!
    You just said in the previous post the dam on Plum Creek was to prevent flooding!!!

    “This dam is part of the Plum Creek Conservation District that prevents flooding along Plum Creek. The dam is very old and in need of repairs.”

    And every city in Hays allows building in the floodplain. You just have to build UP with a special permit. The new Hays County government center is being built in the floodplain. That’s why the land was free, and that’s why the project is going to be so “dam” expensive. They are going to have to pour enough concrete to build it up out of the floodplain.
    Anyway, if you don’t want your stuff to get wet, don’t live where it floods.

    How somebody can be so arrogant and so wrong about so many topics is a mystery to me…

    Do you have any kids, Lila?

  33. You heard that up in Kyle?
    You are right. I’ve been marveling at the vindictive and bitter tone these posts have taken on over the last couple of months. And I just broke my own rule. Please forgive me. I’m totally ashamed, and will now put myself in a prolonged posting time-out.

  34. “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.” – Ronald Wilson Reagan

  35. This comment section is full of a bunch of conservative blowhards who seem to have lost touch with the reality of the last 8 years.

    Ronnie Reagan’s policies sure did help us out a lot in the last 29 years right? I mean shoot you have two of the worst economic depressions in US History in a 28 year span since Reaganism took over our politics. And both began while conservatives held control of the executive branch and thus the treasury dept. That’s quite the record of success.

    Maybe conservatives ought to realize something most liberals know at their core, you really don’t know as much about this world as you think you do.

  36. Thank you Mr. Roark for starting a conversation. This isn’t a left/right thing this is a informed citizen thing. END THE PORK!

  37. Right Big Dog – like your leader Gov. Perry. Right out there in front at your tea party talking about secession rather than taking money from the feds. Meanwhile, he’s taking $11 MILLION from economic stimulus money to rebuild his own Governor’s Mansion. Talk is so cheap. And so are cute phrases like end the pork and drill baby drill.

    If you truly are an informed citizen, then stop with the silly phrases that are promoted by websites. Have an intelligent discussion.

    Sorry Max, I’m on the job this Memorial Day weekend. Some of us liberals have to work weekends to make ends meet.

  38. So your moniker is Voltaire….
    “Voltaire perceived the French bourgeoisie to be too small and ineffective, the aristocracy to be parasitic and corrupt, the commoners as ignorant and superstitious, and the church as a static force useful only as a counterbalance since its “religious tax” or the tithe helped to create a strong backing for revolutionaries. Voltaire distrusted democracy, which he saw as propagating the idiocy of the masses. To Voltaire, only an enlightened monarch or an enlightened absolutist, advised by philosophers like himself, could bring about change as it was in the king’s rational interest to improve the power and wealth of his subjects and kingdom. Voltaire essentially believed enlightened despotism to be the key to progress and change.”

    Does this sum up what you believe in?

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