MAYOR ED GARZA'S STATE of the CITY ADDRESS
City of San Antonio
January 17, 2003
Today, I'm reminded of the first sentence in Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities. You may recall it began, "It was the best of times it was the worst of times."
It is certainly an extraordinary time for San Antonio. At the beginning of 2003, we have made much progress and our city holds remarkable promise and opportunity. In many ways, it is the best of times. There are new businesses, new jobs, new hospitals and soon a new four-year university.
In the near term, I believe there are two extraordinary opportunities where San Antonio has a strategic advantage over other cities: homeland security and demographic positioning. Number one, our long-standing ties to the military leave us well positioned in the new arena of homeland security. Second, our demographics serve as a model of "what's to come" for the rest of the country.
That's the San Antonio of tomorrow, and I want to talk more about that in a few minutes. First, let's talk about the San Antonio of today. When we consider our demographic opportunities, we have in sight the chance to fundamentally change the economy of our city-Toyota. " Toyota trucks built in San Antonio" sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
I don't have to tell anyone how important Toyota would be to the future of San Antonio. As Governor Rick Perry said, "If the Toyota motor company decides to build a new manufacturing plant in San Antonio it will have a dramatic impact on your city and the entire state of Texas. There has been a coordinated effort-beginning on the local level with the leadership of Mayor Ed Garza through to my office on the state level-to ensure that San Antonio, Bexar County and the State of Texas will have the best opportunity to gain Toyota's business. I am proud to work with Mayor Garza as we lay the foundations for a better tomorrow."
We expect to hear Toyota's decision very soon and if we get good news, 2003 will be a very busy year. The City of San Antonio, Bexar County, CPS, and SAWS would work together building roads, utility lines, and if necessary, a railroad spur. All this to support the fastest growing car company in America, a company that will come to our city with an investment of almost one billion dollars.
Toyota's decision to locate here would mean more than four thousand new jobs, with wages starting at about $20/hour. It would mean other companies moving to San Antonio as well. Auto supply companies wanting to be close to the new plant would bring even more skilled manufacturing jobs and more income to our city. As incredible as it seems, auto manufacturing would become the fourth-most important industry in San Antonio almost overnight.
Toyota would deliver a terrific boost toward Kelly USA reaching its full potential Kelly USA is poised to further develop its manufacturing sites. Already, 4.4 million square feet of space is leased and more than 5,400 jobs have been created. San Antonio would emerge as a manufacturing center, taking advantage of our strategic location and our low cost of living. Kelly USA has the runways, the railroad and highway connections to become a center for international trade, the cornerstone of our logistics and transportation industry.
Not only does Kelly USA anchor our international trade, its success has helped San Antonio become recognized as a national leader in converting military installations. Aside from Kelly, consider what's been accomplished at Brooks and Fort Sam Houston. An Army command moving from Puerto Rico to Ft. Sam, new high-tech labs, businesses and research programs at Brooks City Base. At the Brooks Energy Lab several universities and the military are working on futuristic new sources of energy. In conjunction with our own City Public Service they soon will carry out the first practical application of fuel cell technology in South Texas. Just ten years ago this would have been science fiction, but next month, they'll debut a home that is powered entirely by hydrogen. In fact, there may be excess power created which would then be returned to the city's power grid.
Just a few miles away from Brooks City Base, Kelly USA, and the Toyota site, Texas A&M University will be taking the first steps to build a four-year campus in San Antonio. The exact location is yet to be chosen but groundbreaking could begin as early as the fall of 2005, with the first buildings opening just two years later. Already hundreds of students have enrolled in classes at A&M through an arrangement with Palo Alto College, and more than 100 have already graduated with four-year degrees.
Excellence in education at all levels is critical to developing a skilled workforce. This year San Antonio will lead the country when we graduate the first class of seniors from the Information Technology Security Academy. The ITSA joins the Alamo Aerospace Academy in a program that combines class work with workplace experience. No other public schools in the country have the long-term commitment to industry and economic development that San Antonio has created through these academies. ITSA's high school graduates will be better qualified than any other in the country for top-level jobs in the field of cyber-security, another critical component in homeland defense.
A third high school academy is also being talked about, to train young men and women for careers in the healthcare and bioscience industry-economically, the most important industry in our city. Our medical community contributes in so many ways, with nearly 100,000 jobs and an $11.5 billion economic impact before any multiplier effect. The South Texas medical center will see more than 3.5 million patients this year, and the pharmaceutical industry in San Antonio has grown 33% over the past four years. A local company is ready to begin testing an oral vaccine for smallpox. Such a breakthrough would revolutionize the strategy for preventing that disease as well as making the company, Incell, and our city global players in the critical area of bioterrorism response and prevention.
After bio-medical and military, tourism is our most important industry. I want to thank everyone who helped us secure one of the most prestigious developments in the sporting world, the PGA training facility and resort. You may have heard that the PGA Village provoked some mild controversy. "It was the worst of times!" Or was it?
Over the past year, hundreds of people packed city hall to argue passionately about water quality and economic development. When a Westside landmark was threatened, hundreds more told us how important historic preservation and San Antonio's cultural heritage were to them. While we lost La Gloria, we were all winners on PGA. I want to thank everyone--and I do mean everyone--who participated in the public debates over the PGA Village. From the fervent arguments of the Save Our Aquifer organization to the steadfast reasoning of Councilman Julian Castro, the city benefited from the vigorous and robust public discussions. In the end, we were able to secure an important sporting facility, obtain environmental protections for that land that otherwise would not exist, and we have an agreement so the workers there will get paid a living wage.
Now, our city faces a new test. Many citizens are disillusioned and disappointed, and again, our success depends on the participation of many. In the Mayor's office, we are working hard to rebuild trust in the Council. Yesterday, David Garcia agreed with me that his continued presence on the Council was a roadblock to helping restore trust. He resigned. We cannot allow public officials to behave in a way that would not be tolerated in the business world.
It may sound hollow to some, but not all public officials have their hand in the cookie jar. Some very fine former public officials are serving on the Mayor's Commission on Integrity and Trust in Local Government. The commission, under the very capable leadership of Mayor Lila Cockrell, will soon make recommendations on how we can continue to rebuild confidence in city hall. They've listened to hundreds of you bring forth ideas and I look forward to their suggestions. It is imperative that their recommendations contain strong campaign finance reform--specifically, limits on the amounts of contributions and easy-to-access public disclosure.
There are some who are skeptical about the commission. They believe ordinary people don't have a voice in city government. They believe there will always be two cities... the developers and the environmentalists...the haves and the have-nots...the northside and everyone else. I don't believe that. As I stated in my State of the City address last year, "in omni uno." All for one and one for all. I truly believe it is the breadth and diversity of our city that actually gives us great strength.
Our current demographic profile allows us an exceptional advantage. We are the future of the United States and the gateway to expanding markets in Latin America. Our Hispanic heritage, our ties to Mexico and Latin American and our bilingual workforce mean companies everywhere are looking to San Antonio as a portrait of the America to come and as a source for the leadership America will need in the next century. I've been doing some traveling recently--you may have read about that--because I believe it is important to spread the good news of what San Antonio has to offer. What I'm finding is eagerness on the part of others to find out about San Antonio and to understand how we've taken our diversity and made it one city, our source of strength. They're looking to us for ideas, for leadership, and for opportunities.
Geographically as well as demographically, we enjoy remarkable advantages. We are perfectly positioned to serve as a conduit of trade, both north-south and east-west. We are 2 1/2 hours from the border and we are the closest major US city to Monterrey, Mexico City, and Guadalajara, economically the three most important cities in Mexico.
Our location, however, plays only a small role in the additional opportunities to make San Antonio the world leader in national security and homeland defense. During my trip to Washington D.C. next week I'll be meeting at the White House to discuss San Antonio's tremendous potential in this area. San Antonio has long been known as "Military City USA." Already we train language specialists from around the world at the Defense Language Institute, as well as flight surgeons at Brook Army Medical Center.
Yet much of any future conflict will more than likely involve cyber-attacks, using computers to disable a country's communication systems and power grids, and alter sensitive electronic data. Of course, we will also have to defend our own country against such attacks. At the moment, there is no one central entity that trains all our nation's cyber-warriors, but there could be, right here in Cyber City USA.
We can build on the strengths of Brooks City Base, where a new computer security company and a bioscience company opened just this week. The University of Texas at San Antonio has established the Center for Information Assurance and Security, which is the first program in Texas to offer undergraduate and graduate classes in information security. It is a program that has already established working relationships with security forces inside the US military.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has said, "The San Antonio area leads the nation in military and business network security and information warfare," and Congressman Ciro Rodriguez envisions "San Antonio emerging as Cyber City USA, leading the nation in the development of infrastructure security education."
We should explore the additional partnerships necessary to further position San Antonio to be the leader in this growth industry. Already we've built a strong and innovative partnership to encourage technology transfer and entrepreneurship, the San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative. Randy Goldsmith and SATAI have hit the ground running and will help us become Cyber City USA.
I've talked about two areas where San Antonio has a competitive advantage: our demographic and geographic position, and our perfect head start to be the center for homeland security. What will it take to fully realize our potential? It will take four ingredients ...vision, leadership, planning and investment, and--perhaps most importantly--citizen involvement.
For example, it is the vision of people like Mary Pat Moyer, the president of Incell, which will soon test that oral vaccine for smallpox. It is the vision of the President of the University of Texas Health Science Center, Dr. Francisco Cigarroa. They and others like them see a bright future for themselves, their companies, and their community, and they work hard to achieve it. That's vision-and leadership.
That kind of leadership has characterized the effort to land Toyota. Thanks to the entire community for their support, and believe me, our friends at Toyota are well aware of the warm welcome they've received Thanks to Governor Rick Perry, outgoing speaker Pete Laney, incoming speaker Tom Craddick, and most especially to Jeff Mosley at the Texas Department of Economic Development. Thanks to some specific people that are here today: Joe McKinney and Mario Hernandez at the Economic Development Foundation; our own Ramiro Cavazos and the City of San Antonio Economic Development Department; and to Judge Nelson Wolff for his strong contributions and his willingness to always speak out about what Toyota would mean for this community. During his terms as mayor, it was Henry Cisneros who lead our efforts to cultivate ties to Japan. His efforts and Toyota's interest in San Antonio have really demonstrated the value of planning and long-term investment.
Planning and investment have paid off in many ways, for example with the San Antonio Mobility Coalition. With SAMCO, the city and the county now speak with one voice at the state capital on our transportation needs. And that means more state money to rebuild our roads and highways. Thanks to the Chamber, Lyle Larson, Sam Dawson and Tom Griebel for the success of SAMCO. I also wish to thank Councilman Carroll Schubert for his commitment to the Austin-San Antonio rail corridor, which would support commuter traffic but may also help us attract Toyota.
It was planning and investment that helped our city adopt an Early Action Compact with the Environmental Protection Agency, making us the first region in the country to gain the right to make our own decisions regarding air quality. The decisions were being made in Washington D.C. The San Antonio Water System has displayed long-term planning by securing new water sources and reducing water consumption. Not only have they negotiated for transfer and storage of reliable water sources, but their conservation programs have helped us achieve the lowest per capita water consumption of any major city in the state.
If it's not a lack of water, it's too much. For the first time ever San Antonio, Bexar County and the San Antonio River Authority are cooperating on a regional storm water management plan. That's long-range planning that pays off for all of us.
It also takes citizen involvement, the kind of citizen involvement shown by people like Elaine Mendoza. She guided the turnaround of the Alamo Workforce Development Board. She's a great example of a businesswoman who has balanced her work with civic commitment. The AWD Board was an institution that had difficulties but was recently named as the top-performing workforce development board in the state. Much of the Credit goes to Elaine and her fellow volunteer board members.
I'm always impressed by the energy San Antonians invest in their neighborhoods. George Byrd and Jody Sherrill saw a proposed park plan that would have removed trees and paved over open space. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work, meeting with Parks and Recreation Director Malcolm Mathews. Together, they produced a great plan that saved habitat and won't cost citizens any more money. Very appropriate for a park honoring longtime neighborhood activist Nani Falcone, whom we lost last year.
I want to challenge everyone to give of their time and energy and channel their concerns toward improving our city in all areas It's not just city government that needs you. The trust in some of our religious institutions and in many of our professions has been severely undermined recently. I ask each of you to get involved, volunteer, serve on a board, vote-or run for office.
Our city elections are coming up soon. It has been suggested by some that I should recruit a slate of candidates for City Council. I will not do that because I prefer a debate over ideas rather than a debate over personalities. Today I am declaring that I will work for and support the following eleven initiatives over the next two years. If candidates for City Council also support these eleven initiatives, they will get my enthusiastic endorsement.
First, we must take a hard look at our current form of city government. It is a system that was designed in 1951. As Woody Sanders said recently, he used to drive a car that was built in 1951, but he's glad he's not still driving it today. In looking to modernize city government, there can be no sacred cows. We've already started the process, transferring the audit function to provide for greater public accountability, and City Manager Terry Brechtel has been very helpful in this realignment. Now it's time to do much more. Term limits must be modified and City Council members must be paid for their service. Only then can we escape from what others have called "Amateur Hour" at City Hall. I'm going to look to Councilwoman Bonnie Conner and the City Council's Governance Committee to help me address these issues.
Number two, we must do more to promote the health of our citizens. The Fitness Challenge and Walk San Antonio are working. I thank Councilman Enrique Barrera and Joan Miller of the Bexar County Health Collaborative for their efforts, but we must do more. Our citizens have a right to shop, to eat, and to conduct business in environments that are smoke-free. The dangers of second-hand smoke are real, and those dangers must be eliminated. We will do that in 2003.
This year we will create a unique agreement to promote balanced growth and economic development on our city's southside. The Southside Initiative will offer the chance for public-private partnerships between school districts, local government, and business. This team effort will offer new housing and innovative education programs to serve southside families and families who will move there to be close to work and to be near the open space, parks, creeks and lakes that make the southside special. This approach balances quality of life with economic development. I will work tirelessly to make the Southside initiative a success, a success for all of San Antonio.
Fourth, we must do more to protect the Edwards Aquifer. The City of San Antonio has already committed $500,000 to begin a thorough study of how development affects the Edwards aquifer. When completed, the sophisticated computer model will allow us to analyze and accurately predict the impact of development over the recharge zone. The Edwards Aquifer Authority must adopt stringent development controls over the recharge zone, and the city of San Antonio will oppose any attempt to undermine the authority of the EAA as it does so.
In the field of education, we should thank Tom Frost and the Employer Education Council for their efforts to insure that our students have the skills that business requires. We will keep supporting local school districts by continued financial support for student scholarships, but we must also explore recognizing and rewarding outstanding teachers (such as my wife, who is here today). We should consider how the City can help recruit and retain high quality math and science teachers for our public schools. That's just a beginning to the City and school district partnerships that are possible.
Number six, for ten years a broad cross-section of San Antonians worked to create, adopt, and implement a master plan for our city. The result was a code that is intended to be predictable yet flexible, and we at the City are working hard to make it just that. The revised UDC respects neighborhood plans, protects the environment, and encourages new development in many areas. I want to thank Councilman Bobby Perez for his efforts to enact the final components of the UDC, a revised tree preservation ordinance. This ordinance will come before the Council this February and I call on all Council members to vote for its adoption. It is critical that the Council respects the UDC and resists any effort to dilute the work of so many people for so many years.
Seventh, we should finally follow through on earlier promises to take a real quality-of-life bond issue to the voters. We should start with local streets and drainage and should include our libraries, our parks, our museums and other cultural facilities that enhance San Antonio for our residents as well as visitors. These organizations have all waited patiently for their turn. Their turn is now. Moreover, it's wrong that San Antonio, the most historic city in Texas, doesn't have a history center. Quality of life means making the most of our cultural heritage.
At the San Antonio International airport, we're working to increase the number of direct flights to major American cities as well as Canada and Mexico, and particularly those areas that serve our targeted industries. We are currently in the middle of a multi- year, $426 million improvement plan to the airport, funded with bonds and federal assistance. This plan will continue to be a top priority over the next two years. I want thank Councilman David Carpenter for his contributions and Tim Tuggey for his leadership of the Reach for the Sky Committee.
Number nine, we must capitalize on our demographic opportunities. San Antonio is the gateway to Mexico and Latin America. The city should fully leverage our demographic and geographic advantages and should foster development of local leadership and workforce training to help companies capitalize on emerging Hispanic markets.
As I spoke of earlier, our city is uniquely qualified to lead the nation in the field of homeland security. I want to thank former Mayor Howard Peak and Councilwoman Toni Moorhouse for the strong foundation they've helped build at Brooks City Base. Whether it's training cyber-warriors or developing new medicines against terroristic threats, city government should do what's necessary to enhance and promote our distinct position to lead the country in this field We'll begin with aggressively promoting the creation and location in San Antonio of a new federal vaccine facility which would produce millions of doses a year. Securing this facility will be a team effort with support from the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, the Texas Research Park Foundation, the Southwest Research Institute, our Metropolitan Health District, our military installations and our universities. We can all work together to make it happen.
Finally, I want to return to the idea that San Antonio is one city. Downtown is the heart of our community. It's our responsibility to protect and preserve a vibrant downtown. We should make sure that offices and apartments, galleries and restaurants all can find a home in downtown. The public sector, whether local or federal, must lead the way by keeping our facilities in the central city.
I challenge each of you-just as I challenge each Council candidate-to support these issues and to work for a better San Antonio tomorrow.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." In my own life, I can remember those dark days when it seemed impossible to think there would ever be better times. For me, the hardest time was the death of my mother when I was 17. But even in bad times, we learn, we grow and we are tempered against adversity. And the best of times return. In fact, it was the worst of times that brought me together with my future wife, Anna Laura. I am confident that through these tough times our city will learn and grow. There are just too many good people here, working very hard, for there to be any other outcome.