Local News

Oct 7, 2013 5:33 PM by Janine Reyes

Taxpayer Watchdog Leaves Behind Local Legacy

CORPUS CHRISTI - A man who made quite an impact on our community has died. You may not know the name Joe O'Brien, butthose who sat on city council did and they say he held them accountable when it came to your tax dollars.

O'Brien was 89 years old.

It's hard to fit all that he did into one story. Those who knew him says he spent countless years making a big difference in our community.

O'Brien led the Corpus Christi Taxpayers Association and even though perhaps you've never heard of that group, or O'Brien, he more than likely had a big impact on your taxes and how they were spent.

Just a few months ago, Joe O'Brien spent much of his time working for you.

"The amount of interest that we have to pay as of today is $567 million," explained O'Brien in a show he taped from his living room, "hey, that's enough to fix the streets for the next ten years," he went on to drive his point home.

O'Brien did not serve as an elected official, but, perhaps just as important, he was someone who questioned them for decades.

Former Corpus Christi City Councilman Joe McComb served in the 80's and 90's, he remembers O'Brien fondly. Even though, most times O'Brien argued his and the council's position.

"At least he made you think and be prepared to defend your position and if you couldn't do it, then you better get yourself on the right side of the issue," McComb recalled.

Friend and colleague Jack Gordy called O'Brien an inspiration. The two first met the 70's when Gordy questioned the city on illegal use of a city car. "He's the one that got the senior citizens and disabled a tax freeze," Gordy said.

Many will agree, the role O'Brien played in local government is essential. Gordy says he'll try to fill it. "I'll remember him as long as I live, I guess, and I'll try to follow in his footsteps," he said.

While many remember O'Brien in his role questioning local government, O'Brien also spent time in the Navy. He even went national with his connection to Flight 19. The plane and crew mysteriously disappeared in 1945, starting the Bermuda Triangle myth.

So, perhaps you have never heard the name, But, there is no doubt Joe O'Brien certainly left behind a legacy in the Coastal Bend.

"There should be more people like him," Gordy told us.

Gordy says about 60 people attended O'Brien's funeral. There is no doubt, though, he impacted many, many more lives.

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