Mike Kueber's Blog

March 18, 2013

San Antonio Express-News questionnaire

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 1:03 am
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The San Antonio Express-News asked each candidate for the City Council to respond to the attached questionnaire.  They advised that the questionnaire not only would be used in decided which candidate the newspaper would endorse, but also would be published on-line for the voters’ consideration.  The following contains the questions and my responses:

S.A. Express-News Editorial Board City Council Questionnaire

Name: Michael Alyn Kueber

Date of birth: September 24, 1953

Position sought: City Council District #8

How long have you lived in the district you are seeking to represent?  Twenty-five years

Do you support providing tax abatements or incentives to companies bringing new facilities and jobs to San Antonio as an economic development tool?  Yes, provided their cost-effectiveness can be shown.  Although this is not a traditional governmental activity, it is now, ironically, a part of the free market and something that the City of San Antonio needs to do to compete with other cities.  But I reject Mayor Castro’s position that it is appropriate for the City to provide more generous abatements/incentives for Southside locations, which he admitted doing a few months ago with Nexolon.     

How would you rate City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s job performance?  Sculley has been a competent professional, but she would perform much better if the City Council provided her with better direction.      

Have you signed or would you sign a pledge not to raise taxes?  No.  The level of taxation can’t be determined in a vacuum; rather, it must take into consideration the level of necessary services/spending.  If additional services are deemed necessary, and we can’t find cuts elsewhere in the budget, then taxes would need to be raised.  Pre-K 4 SA is an example of the citizens wanting their government to provide an additional service and being willing to pay for it (although the Pre-K sales pitch of $8 per year was shamefully misleading).  

What would be your top priority as a member of City Council?  A lean government that focuses on doing the basics really well, but also facilitates equal opportunity for the disadvantaged without encouraging a culture of dependency.  Facilitating equal opportunity is why I support Pre-K, but we shouldn’t have created a 17th school district.  Instead the program should have been delegated by the City Council via block grants to the school districts.  With respect to a lean government, I am incredulous that Ron Nirenberg, a self-described fiscal conservative, declares in his campaign’s Vision brochure, “Emergency services are the single largest investment of our tax dollars, and we need to make sure that we don’t cut them in an effort to ‘get lean’ during the budget process.”  I can’t imagine what he could say that would make it more obvious that he isn’t a fiscal conservative.  Since when is “getting lean” a negative term?  Millions of dollars can be saved in the police and fire budgets by getting lean.  Another example of the City getting lean would be to rescind the ridiculous policy recently adopted by the City Council for granting preferences to minority contractors.  The City should be able to save millions by awarding bids to the best contractors, regardless of race, ethnicity, or sex. 

Do you support increased pay for council members?   No, I believe in the concept of public service from citizen volunteers, and that is what the voters clearly want.  Ditto for the Texas state legislature, although their extravagant pension plan contradicts their status as volunteers. 

What is your philosophy on balancing economic growth and the environment?  Economic growth is essential for a vibrant San Antonio, but within the constraints created by the free market and other governmental entities, San Antonio’s objective should be an improving environment, not a deteriorating one.  Those who do damage to the environment need to be restrained, and cost-effective measures to protect the environment should be effected. 

Do you feel the city should pursue pro-growth policies? Would you support any annexations?  Yes, yes.  Economic growth is essential for a vibrant San Antonio.  Although the in-fill of existing territory and the development of transit corridors should be encouraged, any heavy-handed attempt by the city to redirect the free market will create waste and is doomed to failure.  

What regulations do you support, if any, to protect the Edwards Aquifer Recharge zone?  San Antonio needs to work with the Edwards Aquifer Authority and the legislature regarding appropriate statutes and regulations to ensure the quantity and quality of aquifer water.  We should explore the possibility of coordinating with other jurisdictions regarding impervious-cover regulations and the purchase of conservation easements.

How would you address the city’s future water needs?  SAWS needs to continue developing alternative sources of water, the city of San Antonio needs to improve on its robust water-conservation efforts, and the legislature needs to fund its Water programs. 

Do you think a rail system should be part of the city’s public transportation network?  Public transportation is an important core function for the city, so this is an area in which we need to excel.  But our network needs to be based on satisfying known needs, not on the speculative concept of, “If you build it, they will come.”  For the foreseeable future, light rail will not be cost-effective in San Antonio.  And, although historic streetcars in the downtown may be potentially viable and can be an important contributor to the revitalization of downtown, the current VIA proposal, with two lengthy modern-streetcar routes, reeks of developer speculation. 

Why are you running for City Council?  Because I have the time, energy, finances, and inclination to serve and because my background, critical-thinking skills, and governing values (fiscal conservative and equal-opportunity advocate) will enable me to effectively represent the residents of District 8.  Furthermore, both of the other candidates are afflicted with serious conflicts of interest, and their histories of living off the government – Briones has a career as a government contractor and Nirenberg has a career as a community organizer – do not comport with someone who is going to work for a lean city government.  Briones is described by Plaza de Armas as “politically connected and a prolific contributor to City and County candidates” and Nirenberg’s profligacy is exemplified, not only by his refusal to “get lean” with police and fire costs, but by his promise to expand the City’s patronage of the arts, an expansion that would coincide with his employer KTRU’s mission to “enrich the cultural vitality of San Antonio.”  Clearly a conflict of interest. 

Please list noteworthy professional or personal accomplishments.  Despite graduating from a high school with only nine kids in my senior class, I achieved a high level of college success, which resulted in my admission as an out-of-state student into the University of Texas Law School (state law limited out-of-state positions to 15% of the class); I was an executive attorney at USAA who was responsible for ensuring that Auto Insurance operations (Claims, Underwriting, and Actuary) complied with ever-changing statutes, regulations, and caselaw in 50 states; I am the father of four fine young men – an army captain (UTSA), a Mayo Clinic doctor (UT), an oilfield-acquisitions guy (UTSA), and a college student (Franciscan of Ohio); I have written a public-interest blog for three years called Mike Kueber’s blog. 

Describe your civic activities and community involvement.  I ran for Congress in the 2010 Republican primary for the 23rd District and was formerly a member of the Woods of Shavano Homeowners Association.

Describe your education.  Law Degree from the University of Texas in 1979 and a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from the University of North Dakota in 1975

Do you or your spouse have any business relationships or contracts with the City Of San Antonio?  No

Have you or your spouse ever filed bankruptcy or has a tax lien ever been placed on you or your spouse?  No

Have you ever been arrested? Have you ever been convicted of a crime other than minor traffic violations? If the answer is yes, please explain.  No

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