Tom Brady (or someone like him) for Mayor!

Corpus Christi, Front Page, Government and Politics, Opinion/Editorial
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed the entire 2008–09 football season after he suffered a serious knee injury caused by the type of tackle that was banned in 2009 by the NFL’s new “Brady Rule.”
Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass during Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 (Jeff Haynes—AFP/Getty Images)


     As I watched Tom Brady lead the Patriots to yet another victory in a Super Bowl this year, I found that I wanted to know more about this man who pulled off the impossible.  My teacher brain saw a “kid” who had tapped into his potential.  My 40-year interest in how our brains work (which helped me tremendously as a teacher) made me wonder how he thinks and decides in the short and long term.  Even those football fans who aren’t Brady fans must surely recognize his ability to think and act under extreme pressure.  Maybe this is just the kind of leader our city needs.

     So, let’s take a look at ol’ Tom.  Brady was the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft.  The pre-draft report on Brady by Pro Football Weekly summarized: “Poor build. Very skinny and narrow.  Ended the ’99 season weighing 195 pounds, and still looks like a rail at 211. Lacks great physical stature and strength.  Can get pushed down more easily than you’d like.”  Before the big game this year, Brady said, “I am in the best shape of my life,” to which many old-timers laughed.  How can a 39-year-old athlete be in better shape than when he was 22?  As it turns out, Brady was right.  If you don’t believe it, search the internet for pictures from 2000 for the old Brady model and 2017 for the new and improved model. He actually IS more physically fit than when he was drafted.  But, Brady was actually quite successful even before he upgraded his body to the fit athlete he is today.  There must be something else.

     That same draft report listed “decision-making” as Brady’s positive attribute, something that he went on to prove was the most valuable aspect of his marketable skills.  In Coach Bill Belichick’s words regarding the hiring of Brady said, “Tom had been in situations–both in playing-time and game-management situations, tight games against good competition–and he’d handled all of them pretty well.”  From there, Brady started amassing knowledge about playing quarterback at the professional level, something that is frankly quite different than the college level game.  This increase in knowledge and experience coupled with a strong work ethic certainly must have played a role in Brady’s success. But, was thinking and working hard (and the better body) all that Brady needed to lead the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL) to five Super Bowl victories (2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, and 2017) and earn him the Most Valuable Player (MVP) four times (2002, 2004, 2015, and 2017)?  He seems to have been born with an incredible radar for finding the open man, the main problem every quarterback must solve — and solve it in a matter of seconds.  There’s just no time for deep, thoughtful contemplation about the math involved in getting the football to the right guy when a whole line of angry linebackers are bearing down on him.  Brady possesses something quite intangible, something that we know exists but can’t specifically identify, something that goes deeper than thought but is delicately intertwined with thought.  Brady has intuition.

    This ability is referred to by science types as intelligent intuition.  It’s certainly recognized in the business world. Bruce Kasanoff, Forbes writer, says that intuition is the highest form of intelligence but that having the instinct alone is not good enough.  Kasanoff says it must be harnessed and honed through research and self education. “You might say that I’m a believer in the power of disciplined intuition. Do your legwork, use your brain, share logical arguments, and I’ll trust and respect your intuitive powers.  But if you merely sit in your hammock and ask me to trust your intuition, I’ll quickly be out the door without saying goodbye. I say this from personal experience; the more research I do, the better my intuition works.”  This is how the Leonardo da Vincis, Benjamin Franklins, Albert Einsteins, and Tom Bradys of the world became masters in their fields, setting a mark so high that those that follow will have to work very hard just to reach it much less surpass it.

     So, let’s turn to the problem of electing a mayor for Corpus Christi.  In our pool of candidates thus far, is there a Brady in the bunch?  No doubt, we have some with the knowledge and experience necessary to get the job done to a reasonable degree.  Some have limited knowledge and experience but are good people who want to serve the citizens and work to get the city back on track.  Others have very little to offer in any of these areas.   Which one of them has depth of knowledge in city matters, experience in getting to the root of a problem, courage in the face of a crisis, intuitive intelligence, an ability to connect with the stakeholders, a willingness to see failure as part of the problem-solving process, and an ego that is in check?  A resume’ and campaign speech will never offer that information. Perhaps instead of a candidate forum where questions are asked and answered, our city manager should hand them a real city problem to solve between now and election day, give them the access to the same resources as an elected council member, and let them go to work.  The one who does the most research and comes up with the best solution to the problem would get my vote.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

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Flour Bluff Firefighters: The Beginning

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Personal History
Jim Coffman, chief, and Bill Mocherman, volunteer, July 21, 1963



     The Flour Bluff Volunteer Fire Department (now the Nueces County ESD #2) is connected to Benjamin Franklin in a way that many may not know.  Franklin and other members of the Junto (a group of men from diverse occupations and backgrounds who shared a spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves and their community and to help others) saw a need in their community, and like the citizens of Flour Bluff set out to solve the problem.

Joe Essig (left) built the pump truck pictured

     “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” wrote Benjamin Franklin.  Most of us have heard it and quoted it.  But, to what was ol’ Ben referring?  It turns out that it had to do with firefighting. The full quote appeared February 4, 1735, in The Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin sent an anonymous letter to his own newspaper entitled “Protection of Towns from Fire.” Writing as an “old citizen” he admonished:

“In the first Place, as an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure, I would advise ’em to take care how they suffer living Coals in a full Shovel, to be carried out of one Room into another, or up or down Stairs, unless in a Warming pan shut; for Scraps of Fire may fall into Chinks and make no Appearance until Midnight; when your Stairs being in Flames, you may be forced, (as I once was) to leap out of your Windows, and hazard your Necks to avoid being oven-roasted.”

     He had seen the city government’s response to the destructive waterfront fire of 1730, in which the old pumper had proven almost worthless, and he was inspired to make a change.  In 1736, with Franklin as its chief, the Union Fire Company was born as a volunteer organization, independent of the city government. Its members were civic-minded men who took no pay. So many locals volunteered that Franklin urged them to set up their own fire companies in their neighborhoods.  Though this wasn’t the first attempt to organize firefighters, it was an important part of firefighting history.

Josephine Essig serves her husband, Joe Essig, and other volunteers coffee.  Circa 1957

The Flour Bluff Fire Department started unofficially in 1952 as a group of volunteers who wanted to help Flour Bluff, then an unincorporated area outside of Corpus Christi.  According to a Caller-Times article from “It was to help make our town a safer place,” said Josephine Essig, wife of Jay Essig, the first chief of the department, concerning the formation of the volunteer group.  “You just felt better in getting out and helping people.”


     According to a letter written to the citizens of Flour Bluff from Chief Chuck Taylor, the Flour Bluff Volunteer Fire Department was organized in May of 1958.

“It was chartered by the State of Texas for fifty years in that same year.  Since that time, the department has responded to a myriad of circumstances.  Under the charter, the Nueces County Rural Fire Prevention District #2 had the authority to levee a tax up to .03 cents per hundred dollar valuation on property to purchase/maintain equipment and for expenses of the department.  When Flour Bluff was annexed by the City of Corpus Christi, the commissioners lost that taxing authority.  The department has been contracted by the city as a “back-up force” for fire station #13 on Waldron Road since 1974.”

     The little fire department continued to serve the communities of Flour Bluff and North Padre Island, but not without fear of disbandment. This is the first in a series of stories about the Flour Bluff Volunteer Fire Department.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

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A Day Well-Spent

Front Page, Opinion/Editorial

     Throughout Benjamin Franklin’s life, he consistently devoted about an hour each day to deliberate learning. He woke up early to read and write; he set personal growth goals (which he later shaped into 13 Virtues); he created clubs for like minds to share ideas toward collective improvement; he did experiments; and he opened and closed each day with reflection questions. Without a doubt, Ben Franklin was a lifelong learner. However, by giving an hour of time to self-education, he sacrificed an hour that could otherwise be used to work and complete some other daily task. Therefore, over the course of a week, one might find that Ben did not accomplish as much as he would have had he spent those extra 5 hours in labor. To carry the math further, if he completed 5 fewer hours of work per week, then he completed 20 fewer hours per month, and 240 fewer hours per year. Yet, in the course of his lifetime, he completed so much quality work that he is today known as a Renaissance Man and one of the most accomplished geniuses the world has ever produced. Needless to say, his investment paid off in a far greater way than the simple sum of hours he seemingly lost to study. Ironically (or perhaps not), he produced more in the long-term by producing less in the short-term, validating such truisms as “think before you act…” and “less can often be more.”

     On the contrary, if Franklin is proof that learning opens our minds in ways that better our chances of making an impact over the long haul, then how do we explain those folks who are as cantankerous and self-righteous as they are educated? We’ve all encountered “know-it-alls” whose knowledge we are forced to respect in spite of their tunnel-vision. Unfortunately, learning for many exists on a Bell curve; it is good until it isn’t good anymore. In its early stages, new knowledge opens the mind, broadens the horizon of possibility, and eventually allows the learner to form well-researched opinions. While this process is both natural and admirable, the learning stages that follow strong opinions can become a hindrance to free thought and openness. For so many, any learning that occurs after opinions are firm is done so as a method for validating said opinions. Therefore, real life-long learning must be deliberately sought out as a matter of self-reflection and as a method for challenging the validity of current beliefs. Franklin’s 13 Virtues, after all, were created as a means for explaining and overcoming his shortcomings rather than a simple recipe for all his great success.

          In life, we are forced each day to choose how we will spend our time. What will we do and what will we avoid? What is worthy and what isn’t? If you have never taken the time to read and interpret Franklin’s 13 Virtues, I encourage everyone to do so. I would also like to conclude by sharing my own simple and general checklist for what I call, A Day Well-Spent.

      A Day Well-Spent:

      Time is spent wisely if it accomplishes one or any combination of the following:

  1. Builds Your Knowledge and Free Thought
    • Learn, apply, reflect, and repeat.
  2. Builds Your Bank Account
    • Money is very simply a problem everyone needs to solve in order to afford themselves time and opportunity.
  3. Builds Your Health
    • You can live to be 100 if you give up all of the things that make you want to be 100.” – Woody Allen
  4. Feeds Your Soul
    • Spirituality matters. Period. “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” – Gandhi
  5. Create, Share, Inspire
    • In one way or another, building things, contributing to bettering the world, and inspiring others to do the same is what we are all meant to do.

For now, farewell, and may your day be well-spent!

Matthew Thornton is an Austin-based artist and a history teacher. Originally from Corpus Christi, his wide-sweeping artistic interests range from writing and film-making to photography and painting. His work and studies explore patterns within the endless nuance of life as he remains constantly in search of the so-called, “big picture”.

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$1.7 Million Savings Is the Really Good News of April 19 Council Meeting

Front Page

City Hall

     Good news! The new harbor bridge presentation was an exciting moment for the citizens of Corpus Christi.  Our beloved Napoleon’s Cap will fade into the past as a record-breaking, cable-stayed bridge – one of only 31 in the world and 9 in the United States – spans 1655′ at the widest point between towers across the Corpus Christi ship channel. It, like the current bridge, will be a work of art of which Corpus Christians can be proud.  Groundbreaking is expected to take place in July 2016.


     Good news!  Councilman Rudy Garza went to bat for Nancy Sibley and her neighbors in their effort to save Ridgewood Park from being sold.  Council members Carolyn Vaughn and Michael Hunter joined Garza at a neighborhood meeting where the citizens voiced their concerns.  In the end, the neighbors stepped up, spoke up, and saved their park for the children and grandchildren of citizens all over Corpus Christi.

Ridgewood Park

     Good news!  The ordinance governing ride share and taxi companies is moving forward, though maybe not as fast as some would like.  The council looked at what other cities in Texas are doing as part of their research.

TNC in Texas

     Now, for the REALLY good news!  Item 27 on the Council agenda SAVES the city $776,638 actual dollars this year on the same or better coverage in property insurance claims. These dollars will go into Residential Streets if Councilman Magill’s proposal to do so is welcomed by his fellow council members.  Carlisle Insurance and the City Legal Department staff worked hard to save city funds on premiums.  Item 29 refinances six eligible series outstanding notes and bonds payments to SAVE the city over $1.7 million in net present value. Those savings lessen the annual debt financing burden and free up debt capacity for future bond projects. Benjamin Franklin would approve.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us: