DO YOU REALLY WANT TO LIVE IN
A. J. HONORE’S ‘STAFFORD NEXT’?
BY MAYOR LEONARD SCARCELLA
Based on U.S. Census information, Stafford is one of the most racially diverse cities in the nation. Asians, Blacks, Hispanics and Whites, each compose about 25% of our population. For decades this City has emphasized the importance, and benefits, of our citizens of all races and cultures working, playing, learning and worshipping together, thus contributing to the evolution and transformation of Stafford from an agrarian village to a flourishing urban municipality!
Over the past nearly half century this City, under my leadership, and with the strong contribution from all segments of our diverse population, has made incredible achievements—creation of the Stafford Municipal School District, abolition of the property tax, implementation of zoning, development of the Stafford Centre and expansion of U.S 90A by adding underpasses, among many others.
But that progress has recently been impeded when A. J. Honore became a member of City Council over three years ago. While accomplishing little of significance in that post, which is reflective of his ineptitude illustrated by his unimpressive personal record during his more than 30 years living in this City, he has consistently attempted to distract and divert attention from his failings by advocating programs that diminish opportunities for people he does not favor. One very clear example: Working in concert with the former president of the SMSD Board while openly lauding the Districts’ prejudicial maneuvering, they used this perspective and influence to collaborate in the reduction of students of Asian descent in the District to only 1 in 14, as he and some of his supporters view these children as particularly threatening to students he does like in that despite the small percentage of Asians they continually garner the large majority of scholarships and honor awards, including those of Valedictorian and Salutatorian. Equally egregious, and even more dramatic, has been the systematic reduction and marginalization of the white student population of the District, which once exceeded a solid one in four, is unbelievably, now down to less than 1 in 25.
And his quest grows. A.J. Honore has announced he will be a candidate for Mayor of Stafford in May. And will refer to his campaign as ‘Stafford Next’! While he claims he will, through change, improve the City’s connectivity, design, and revitalization, he completely ignores and glosses over his inadequacies and prejudicial approach, which has been so glaring in his short tenure on Council. Nothing could better illustrate this than his actions or lack thereof, and his virtual disappearance during the horrendous Hurricane Harvey. While I successfully presided over the nine day ordeal of around the clock emergency operations during this most trying and difficult challenge, Councilman Honore, who was then mayor pro tem, was rarely seen, except occasionally, at the shelter set up at SMSD to allegedly benefit those of our citizens whose homes incurred damages of the two tornadoes to hit us and high water from the 40 inches of rain during the storm. Somewhat incredibly, and inexplicably, when the danger had passed, instead of distributing, as all assumed, the school full of household and personal items to our needy citizens who incurred damage to their homes, he had them removed from the City and transported to a church in Houston he supports. This is exacerbated by his audacity to claim support through a political action committee entitled, “I Love Stafford”. What a fraud! Then in an even more unbelievable display of hypocrisy, he admonished me over the flooding in the City resulting from the inundating downpours. Totally rebutting his asinine assertion, all credible accounts and supporting data confirm that Stafford, due to our extensive flood control planning and improvements under my leadership over the past forty plus years survived Harvey better than any city in the region, as we were the only one hit by the full-force of this historic hurricane that did not have a single house damaged by flooding to the degree required by FEMA to qualify for either a grant or loan. In contrast, our neighboring municipalities had hundreds, and some, even thousands of homes devastated to that level.
J. Honore expounds on the need for change. So lets take a look at his simple, and devastating, prescription for changing Stafford. He, together with a handful of supporters, have devised a scheme for ‘Stafford Next’ where they can take control of the City and SMSD. They believe Stafford is ripe for a takeover, just like what occurred with our next door neighbor, Missouri City. They have assessed that the whites, hispanics, Asians, and yes, the many outstanding blacks in our City who do not buy into this sinister scheme, are complacent and lacking in motivation. A. J. Honore and his supporters strongly believe that with an aggressive campaign in this May election they can gain complete domination of both our city and school.
Achieving that, we address the ‘Stafford Next’ plan A. J. Honore has revealed while on Council. He would start by funneling substantial funds to himself through a large increase in the Mayor’s salary and benefits to supplement his inadequate personal resources. Next, he’d implement a series of taxes and assessments mainly aimed at business and property owners, starting with an onerous drainage assessment, a telecommunications tax and a draconian sidewalk assessment. Then in order to get him the rest of the way on this path he’d do something he’s long salivated over, but tried to use his flawed and failed budget ordinance to camouflage: reinstate the property tax. He would follow that with contracts and jobs for his friends and a host of programs that would favor his supporters. Stafford’s remaining citizens would get the crumbs.
With A. J. Honore in control the first to decline would be our excellent basics services—something on which this City has long prided herself, including as the recent recipient of a state heralded police department award, (as he has often sided with those criticizing and castigating police officers), and our nationally top ranked fire department bearing the distinction of an ISO rating of One for well over a decade. After these of his measures gained steam, and the disastrous downward path became clearly obvious, business and property owners, and ultimately residents, would want no part of it and start leaving the City in droves.
Since change is a most predominant issue in his plan, lets talk about change under my leadership! First and foremost, no city can lay claim to more dramatic change than Stafford–period. What other city in the U. S. has broken away from two school districts and created its own municipal school district with the action sanctioned by the federal courts? Correct: None! And if that isn’t enough, what other city abolished property taxes nearly a quarter of a century ago, (while the media led by the Wall Street Journal questioned its sustainability), and continues as one of the largest cities in this country not to impose a property tax? Yes, again: Stafford.
And for changes occurring a little more recently? There is no better illustration than the Stafford Centre! Nay Sayers claimed no one would come to a performing arts theatre and convention centre built in the middle of a Stafford cow pasture. I persevered! Willie Nelson, Steve Martin, Kevin Costner, the Russian Ballet–and four million guests have come.
Or what about moving the railroad tracks that had been in place since 1853 to allow for expansion and the placing of two underpasses on U.S. 90A so the motoring public—and emergency vehicles—can move through town while the trains are blocking intersections. A gigantic challenge—achieved! The substantial commercial benefits of this are now springing up all along this beautifully landscaped three mile stretch which carries 65,000 cars a day—and is in the process of exploding.
Recently approved is the much heralded Grid, a multi-use redevelopment of the old TI tract, supported by $52 million in public funds–$18 million from the City, which I still strongly assert was grossly excessive, (while Mr. Honore was advocating the City alone should give them $50 million)—will, according to its developers, transform Stafford and make it into a point of destination. Think about just what those words say! One thing for sure, it will increase our population by over 20% with 5,000 new apartment dwellers. We are most hopeful of its success so Stafford will, at a minimum, recoup our substantial cash outlays.
One project, that ironically Mr. Honore has had little praise, which will certainly have a profound impact on our future is the multi-million dollar endeavor of TxDoT and the City, currently in its initial stages, for the Revitalization of the FM 1092 Corridor into a Houston Westheimer type avenue. This will be a dramatic visual and commercial change that Stafford controls but which the state will be investing well in excess of $10 million.
Further, and in the last year, we have installed three major drainage projects–in Sugar Creek, Vaccaro Manor and Missouri City Estates. To put the frosting on the cake, a new police station annex as well as a new fire station/administrative complex will be starting construction as you read this. They will add immensely to our emergency services preparedness.
Change is inevitable, and done properly by those with well intentioned motivations, it is to be embraced. Under my leadership, Stafford has long been recognized as being far ahead of the curve with ingenious and unique achievements, as those cited, while being fiscally responsible, thus assuring our citizens and businesses the ability to keep more of their money than any other city.
So you the voters have a clear choice. Do you want a mayor who wants to tell you how great he is in spite of floundering through life, been one of the most disruptive members to ever sit on City Council, is a Socialist who has been to Venezuela to work with one of the world’s most despicable Communistic regimes, has a blatant prejudicial mentality, and who wants to suck all the blood from our truly wonderful City for the benefit of him and his supporters? OR, Do you want a proven leader as mayor who has guided Stafford over many decades on one of the most storied journeys of any small city in America with accomplishments other cities would not even dare to dream, including implementation of SMSD and maintaining the zero property tax, with the involvement of people of all races and cultures in these incredible pursuits, and has received an abundance of accolades from a host of high ranking officials, as well as thousands of men and women on the street, for achieving the unachievable.
Protect and preserve the greatness of Stafford!
ON SATURDAY, MAY 4, 2019
MAYOR LEONARD SCARCELLA
OF STAFFORD, TEXAS