Letters to the Editor 02/10/16


The Sugar Land Mayor and City Council changed the Zoning Regulations to make it easier to gain approval for high density apartment developments.

Currently, there are no limits on the number of apartments that can be built in “Planned Developments”.

Soon after the regulations are changed, a Developer submits a plan to build 900 apartments.

The people of Sugar Land didn’t like that and put together two different petitions with over 4,000 signatures between them to stop the development, and change the regulations to prohibit such large developments.

City Council members react negatively to the one petition that actually collected enough signatures to require a recall on the changes to the Zoning Regulations, calling the petition illegal and those who signed it misinformed.

The developers plans are turned down. Proposals to limit the size of future developments are submitted and discussed, but the Council takes no action to limit the size of future developments: they want to have flexibility.

So now the Mayor and City Council want to triple the number of signatures needed to submit a petition for referendum, if we choose to question their decisions, and increase City Council member’s terms from 2 to 3 years.

Tell me, do you think this sounds like the Sugar Land City Council is going to be more, or less responsive to resident’s interests in the future?

What massive developments will get submitted soon after they get the changes they want? The election on May 7 is really about the future of Sugar Land: whose home is this: ours, or the developers?

Get informed, get involved, get out to question the candidates, and then get to the election booth.

Save our Sugar Land Democracy.

— John Torgensen
Sugar Land


In his Feb. 3 Opinion editorial entitled “Scarcella’s temper tantrum divides Stafford”, Star Editor Mike Sudhalter castigates me, calling my State of the City an “angry” speech that is dividing Stafford.

While Mr. Sudhalter says that interviewing me, “has been a journalist’s dream,” he then proceeds to further categorize my message as an “embarrassment.” He elevates the observations and criticisms of some council members, then concludes that I have a “growing list of political opponents” thus illustrating a “Scarcella-versus-everyone approach.”

In response, a few points are proper.

Specifically, referencing the last allegation, it may be the majority of council is against me, even adamantly. But that is a long way from everyone in Stafford, as Mr. Sudhalter suggests. In his call for an interview after the Town Meeting, he sounded disturbed that he was unable to refute my statement that I have at least as much support among the voters and taxpayers of Stafford now as I had in last May’s election. And they – not the politicos – are the ones to whom I make my commitment.

Although there were “7,000 words and 22 pages” in the speech, allegations by council members and others of factual inaccuracies have been proven baseless. There were none, and this, Mr. Sudhalter reluctantly acknowledges.

The strong disagreement between me and certain council members is to a large extent, but not entirely, political. While I deplore the underhanded tactics used and being expanded by certain council members, this is beneath what I, and others, have experienced from all the previous City of Stafford councils over the past four decades.

Clearly, a large portion revolves around the growing divide between the conservative and socialistic political philosophies so clearly being demonstrated in the current presidential campaigns. In this regard, I – now and throughout my mayoral tenure – have intently advocated fiscal responsibility.For that reason and many more, I deplore the give away mentality advocated by socialism, which is increasingly being embraced by many on our council.

Unquestionably, I was disappointed that council changed the Town Meeting format that had been employed for two decades, a week before the meeting. Thus, it deprived the public of an abundance of most insightful information about the status of the city by department heads – something the majority of the council opined was unnecessary. In spite of this, the opinions expressed by council members substituted for the reports were anything but clear and enlightening.

Mr. Sudhalter goes further in his condemnation of me by saying the problem is that I’ve seldom been challenged in my 46 years as Mayor. That assertion is grossly erroneous – something he could readily ascertain by reviewing city records, or even the archives of his own newspaper. Although I haven’t known him for that long, it is my impression that research is not one of his strongest attributes. While there is an abundance of examples demonstrating the ludicracy of his statement, let’s take one of the most vivid ones: passing a zoning ordinance in Stafford. When I proposed zoning for the city in 1984, the opposition was at least as strong as any of my recommendations today. It took 13 years, and many bruising verbal battles, before City Council passed a zoning ordinance in 1997. What would Stafford be today without zoning? A junkyard. And if anyone needs support for how difficult and vicious disputes over zoning can be, just remember both Houston and Rosenberg have each – over the many years – tried several times to enact zoning and have always failed. Ironically, my opponents criticize me over their desire to strengthen zoning. Where were they and their supporters when the battle was in full fury?

Finally, the editorial attempts to drive home the point that it is my temper that divides Stafford. I have fought for Stafford, and especially its children throughout my tenure in office. This city has had highly-recognized accomplishments, led by something no other city in the nation was able to achieve, even though nearly 300 tried. It created a break-away school district implemented by order of the federal courts.

My ancestors come primarily from Sicily where passion and fervor is a way of life. Many don’t like the Sicilian culture and demonize it. I apologize to no one for my actions, fervor and passion – and certainly not for my culture and heritage. To classify these characteristics as anger is simply wrong. These traits have served me well. They have served the City of Stafford very well. The record is clear, irrefutable, most distinguished and I stand on it proudly!

— Leonard Scarcella
Stafford Mayor

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