Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Galveston, Texas—Still Above Water

Yesterday I drove to Galveston, Texas. Galveston is 50 miles south of my home in Houston.

Galveston is where a hurricane killed 6,000 people in 1900. The city never really recovered from that storm or from the construction of the Houston Ship Channel 90 years ago. When Houston became a salt water port, ships that once stopped at the Port of Galveston went to Houston instead.  

In recent years however, Galveston has seen some “upscale” development. Taking my walk on the Galveston Sea Wall yesterday, I saw that the Mayflower Hotel, constructed in the shape of an ocean liner, is being converted to condos that will sell for as much as $500,000. There are also at least three high-rise apartment or condo buildings being built at the moment.   

While I cannot say for 100%, the odds are against Galveston’s many unemployed or underemployed residents actually getting construction work in this mini-boom.   

The pattern in Texas is that the foremen and job bosses are Anglos who live anywhere but the community where the construction is taking place, while the workers are low-paid Hispanic immigrants.  

Politicians from both parties will do nothing to provide training for the people of
Galveston who could use new skills and a job. Instead, the politicians will kiss the ass of any developer who makes pie-in-the-sky promises about alleged future benefits from whatever the project of the moment is. (That is if the developer could only get a tax abatement.)   

It is interesting to see these buildings going up when just a few months ago the near-destruction of Galveston was being forecast as Hurricane Rita approached. Rita turned away from Galveston at the last moment. It did significant damage to the
Beaumont, Texas area and to much of the western Louisiana coast.

Galveston has now gone 106 years without a hurricane doing big damage. This is in large part due to the Sea Wall which keeps the city safe from a storm-whipped Gulf of Mexico. I’m sure investors calculate the risks before they build high-rise condos and figure they can make their profit before the next big storm arrives. What does it matter if the city sinks into the sea so long as they get a return?

Galveston is a nice quiet place to spend an off-day from work or a vacation day. You can have a pleasant walk along the water and find an inexpensive place for lunch. I’d suggest a day in Galveston to anyone.

August 2, 2006 - Posted by | Galveston, Texas

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