Thursday, September 18, 2014

CAVA: REGISTER AND VOTE: IT REALLY MATTERS

By Mary Helen Flores
Citizens Against Voter Abuse
As we enter September, it is the perfect time to make sure you and your family members are registered to vote. Oct. 6 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general elections. These elections will determine who wins at key positions in our county and in our state. We can all do our part by being informed and ready to vote when the time comes.
Mary Helen FloresThe following are the election code requirements (Sec.11.002) to be a qualified voter in the state of Texas: “1) A qualified voter is 18 years of age or older. 2) A qualified voter is a United States citizen. 3) A qualified voter has not been determined by a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be: (a) totally mentally impaired; or (b) partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote. 4) A qualified voter has not been finally convicted of a felony or, if so convicted, has: (a) fully discharged the person’s sentence, including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by any court; or (b) been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disability to vote. 5) A qualified voter is a resident of this state. 6) A qualified voter is a registered voter.” (www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us)

Registering to vote is free and easy. Contact the Cameron County elections office at (956) 544-0809 (www.co.cameron.tx.us/election/) to find out the most convenient way for you to get registered. For all high school seniors out there, the election code requires all high schools to offer their students eligible to vote an opportunity to register to vote on his or her campus. If your campus does not offer this service, please report it to the Texas Secretary of State at (800) 252-8683 (www.sos.state.tx.us).

To cast an informed ballot, go directly to the source by questioning each candidate about your concerns or interests. Research their websites, Facebook pages, or call their campaign treasurers to find out when you can attend the next meet and greet they may be hosting. By law, contact information must be made available on each candidate’s campaign sign or push card. It is our civic duty to hold a standard of quality for the people who wish to represent us in public office. They should be responsive to their potential constituents at all times. If one is not responsive as a candidate they certainly won’t be responsive as a public official.

Your vote is your personal seal of approval on the candidate of your choice. You are entrusting this person to do the best job on behalf of the greater good. Each informed vote submitted should help our county move out of the category as the poorest county in the nation. It is in our hands to make a brighter future for the next generations in our communities. And please never forget that – YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN SECRET AND FREE FROM INTIMIDATION.

Retaliation is a form of voter intimidation and is a federal crime. Please make sure that you document any instance if you are made to fear for your job, your home, your safety or any public service you are receiving because of the way you may wish to vote. Report voter intimidation to the FBI at (956) 546-6922 (www.fbi.gov).

Each and every registered voter is a powerful part of improving our county. As our voter turnout increases, so will our funding by state and federal entities which will benefit things such as infrastructure, schools and small businesses. So I encourage everyone to get out there, get registered, get informed and VOTE. Do not ever be fooled into thinking that your vote does not count because it counts now more than ever.

Please join Citizens Against Voter Abuse on Facebook. We have a LIKE page and a Group page. CAVA would like to hear from anyone turned away from voting in the May 10th San Benito school board or city elections to contact us.

God bless America!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CANDIDATES FOLD THEIR ARMS AND DON'T COMPLY ON SIGNS

By Juan Montoya
Just what about City of Brownsville Permitting Director Evaristo Gamez's determination that signs violating the size restrictions contained in the municipal ordinance must come down don't some candidates understand?
On Sept. 8, nine days ago, Gamez emailed complainant Cris Valadez and said : "Mr. Valadez, all political signs must comply with the maximum 36 square feet area as per Ordinance 2012-1452-D. Any other political sign that is larger must be removed by tomorrow morning."
That would have been the next day, Sept. 9.
It's Sept. 17th. Ride around town.
Over by Duran's Foreign Car shop stood (and still stands) a larger than legal campaign sign belonging to 357th District Court judge candidate Juan Magallanes.  And a couple of our readers have told us of other, even larger signs, are up over by the 77 Highway Flea Market, still inside the city and coming under the ordinance.
Joe Rivera, over whom the initial complaint was filed with Gamez, has removed his and placed them elsewhere in the county where there are no restrictions on sizes. But so far, Magallanes and at least one Brownsville Independent School District candidate (Cesar Lopez, see graphic), continue to have the oversized signs by public thoroughfares.
The Lopez sign is along Ruben Torres Blvd. (FM 802). It's tilted to the left a bit and it might not be  a bad idea to remove it if simply for that cause.
One thing we do notice is that both of these candidates chose to have their campaign pictures depicting them with folded arms.
Was that a circumstantial indication that they are going to continue with their arms folded and not comply?

NASA'S SPACEX CHOICE DOES NOT INCLUDE BOCA CHICA

By Juan Montoya
Before City commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa dons her SpaceX jumpsuit to get on board a spacecraft to go to Mars from Boca Chica, we will repeat what we have said time and time again.
There are no plans for manned space flights to take off from the Boca Chica launch pad that will be used by SpaceX to launch private satellites into orbit.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden named the winners of the competition at the Kennedy Space Center, next door to where the launches should occur in a few years.
NASA will pay the companies $6.8 billion — $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.6 billion to SpaceX. The manned SpaceX capsule would use the company's own Falcon 9 rocket. Cape Canaveral will be the sole launch site.
That should put an end to the fairy tale that was perpetrated during the Federal Aviation Administration's 2013 Environmental Impact Statement hearing  held at the ITEC that the SpaceX site will see astronauts taking off to interplanetary travel.
Remember Bob Lancaster, President of the Texas Space Alliance during the cheerleading session?
"It is exciting to think that you will be able to see the launch of a manned space mission to Mars," Lancaster said to wild applause.
But this did not stop the Brownsville Herald and the Brownsville Economic Development Council's Gilbert Salinas from repeating this impossibility as an opportunity for Brownsville to send off astronauts from Boca Chica.
"Musk," the Herald stated in an editorial, "whose dreams of space flight were inspired by the 'Star Wars' films, is not content to merely shoot satellites into space and supply space stations. His goal, according to the company, is to 'revolutionize space transportation and ultimately make it possible for people to live on other planets.'”
"Now that the shuttle program is history and the way has been cleared for private space transport — with SpaceX leading the way — NASA has more time to spend on exploring Mars and beyond.
“What’s funny is that Elon Musk wants to do the same thing,” Salinas said. “It’s just a matter of who you think is going to get there first. Imagine, if we could do that from here.”

In fact, just today, Pct. 1 Commissioner Sofie Benavides – a strong SpaceX suporter and in whose jurisdiction the Boca Chica launch site is located – said she was told at a meeting this morning that "for the next several years NASA will require any manned space launches to the International Space Station to be launched from governmental space launch facilities and thnat Boca Chica would handle only private payloads."
Believe it or not, those of us here at El Rrun-Rrun are space exploration enthusiasts. But the fact is that those NASA millions for manned space travel are not coming to Boca Chica Beach. It's better to foster dreams of space launches from here with our feet firmly planted on real ground.

VOLUNTEERS ON THE RIO GRANDE: IT'S DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN


By Juan Montoya
The news reports that one so-called volunteer militia member had been jailed for lying to Cameron County Sheriff Department investigators about a 9mm handgun forgotten in a convenience store bathroom Sept. 9 on Southmost and another with carrying a handgun into a place where alcohol is sold strikes an odd historical chord.

Sheriff Omar Lucio said Richard Coonie Smith, 22,tried to claim ownership of the weapon. Videotape from the store indicated it had not been him who entered the bathroom when the gun was left there. He said he had a gun license from Indiana. Instead, the tape showed one Kurt Brooks, 44, address unknown, and who did not have a license to carry weapons, was the individual who left the weapon. Smith later admitted he had lied to protect Brooks.
This comes on the heels of an incident now under investigation by the FBI of an armed encounter by agents of the Border Patrol with an armed militia member who appeared in his path carrying a weapon.
In late August, a U.S. Border Patrol agent pursuing a group of immigrants in a wooded area fired four shots at an armed man who later identified himself as a militia member.
According to news reports, the Border Patrol agent had lost the group of immigrants when he turned around and saw the armed man holding the weapon. Bullets fired by the federal agent did not hit the man, who dropped his weapon and “identified himself as a member of a militia,” Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora told a wire service at the time.
The man, whose identity and hometown weren’t released, was wearing camouflage and carrying either a rifle or shotgun, Lucio said.
The private property is none other's than that of Rusty Monsees, who lives along the Rio Grande River past Esperanza Road. Rumors abound in the neighboring barrios that immigrants in the past may  have been shot at and even killed passing through his ranch. Monsees, an outspoken property rights advocate, is housing a number of militia members on his ranch.
At least one local resident – Larry Smith, candidate for  Congress – said the incident had been distorted to smear the militiamen and said that he was not only displeased with the way the media had covered the encounter, but that "I am also highly disgruntled over the handling of the situation by both the Border Patrol and the Cameron County Sherriff’s Department whose actions resulted in attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and civil rights violations."
Smith wrote that the militia members had been working in conjunction with the Border Patrol to apprehend a "tattooed" suspect who had crossed the river and was carryign a handgun instead of a rifle
The presence of these "volunteer' militia members along the river has brought back memories of other volunteers who flocked to the river in the past saying they want to help to secure the new border.
After Zachary Taylor defeated the Mexican forces at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in May 8 and 9, 1846, thousands of "volunteers" streamed into northern Mexico to join him and fight against the Mexicans who had "shed American blood on American soil."
Taylor had to wait until May 18 for boats to move his army across the Rio Grande.
When Taylor and his army  moved into Matamoros, they found that the Mexican force had disappeared into the interior. It wasn't until August that the U.S. army could move upriver to Camargo on the Mexican side on steamboats which finally arrived then.
 Meanwhile thousands of volunteers had poured into Matamoros. Historians are unanimous in documenting that "the conduct of the U.S. volunteers left much to be desired. After an area was occupied, and there was little left to do, they often resorted to theft and treated the Mexicans abusively. This was plain from the outset of the war, when Texas volunteers preyed on the ranches in northern Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon."
Although Jerry D. Thompson has documented the atrocities committed against civilians by these "volunteers" in Matamoros in numerous books, more current students of the times such as Randy L.Yoder, in his 2006  Master's thesis for the faculty of the Graduate College of Oklahoma State University, summed it up succinctly.
"The presence of volunteer units had a significantly adverse effect on the inhabitants of northern Mexico throughout the conflict. American volunteers serving in the United States Army during the Mexican War – many of them motivated by a thirst for adventure, and at times, personal vengeance – committed numerous atrocities against the civilians and non-combatants of northern Mexico."
Lucio has stated publicly that the presence of these "volunteers" pose a threat to pubic safety and local law enforcement.
He told the Brownsville Herald that: "We don't know who is here or where they come from. But they were on private property and have a right to be there."
As Yogi Berra said: "It's deja vu all over again."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

HINOJOSA CARRYING COUNTY MAIL-IN TRICKS STATEWIDE

By Juan  Montoya
If you have a 65-plus family member who's registered to vote, chances are he or she has been targeted by the Texas Democratic Party and received an unsolicited application to cast their vote by mail.
Based on the longstanding Cameron County practises of candidates who had their politiqueras comb the barrios and adult-day care centers foisting themselves on the unsuspecting elderly to assist them – unsolicited – to apply for a mail-in ballot and then going to their homes to assist them in filling them out when they arrived, this is state chairman Gilberto Hinojosa's plan of spreading this strategy across the state.
For years, the mail-in ballots have been manipulated here and probably helped Hinojosa and his friends to get elected year after year. Some politicians have finessed this manipulative practice to a fine science such as  Ernie and Norma Hernandez and their cardre of politiqueras.
In fact, there are few races that Hernandez would have won were it not for the upsurge in mail-in ballots in his favor every time.
The Democratic Party announced way back when that they were going to launch a statewide effort to bring out the mail-in voting to try to garner wins for Democratic candidates. Well, they were as good as their threats.
The front of the envelope, as you can see in the graphic, states that your "official" vote-by-mail application is attached and in the rear of the mail-out is an actual pre-printed application that the recipient is to mail in using a 49-cent stamp that they are themselves required to provide.
The critical parts of the application are translated into Spanish for our English-challenged friends.
Now, we are aware that there are state rules that require that a voter voluntarily solicit an application for a mail-in ballot. Does this apply also to political parties that sent unsolicited applications to them over the mail?
There is nothing "official" about the solicitation. In fact, there is a small disclaimer at the lower right side (upside down) of the mailer that states that it was paid by the Texas Democratic Party and was not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
What is the aim here?
Will elderly persons believe they are required to fill it out and then be surprised at home when a Democratic party politiquera (political campaign worker) shows up to assist them and show them how to vote (some call it harvesting)?
Of course, if you need assistance, or have any questions, you can call the Democratic Party at their 855- number.
Now, knowing Hinojosa and his lieutenants, not only will the elderly be solicited to fill out their applications, but probably so will the disabled and the clients of adult day-care centers around the state.
Why contain the mail-in ballots fraud plague to South Texas, hey Gilbert? Fraud for every Texan, B'Gawd!

OH, YEAH, WE LOVE OUR CHEAP LABOR HERE IN THE VALLE

Wetback-Valley Beautiful Magazine 1947

Monday, September 15, 2014

DUCKY WEATHER WE'RE HAVING, ISN'T IT?


LUIS BIASI: THE FACE OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN MATA

By TMP News Service
Sept. 12, 2014
To the officials in the National Chamber of Commerce in Matamoros, the mental stability of Matamoros mayor Leticia Salazar Vásquez is starting to become a matter of serious debate now that she has staged another "show" after she delivered her first state of the city address and  announced the formation of the paramilitary Grupo Operativo Policiaco “Hércules”.
Enrique Mena Sáenz, president of the CANACO questioned the mayor's appearance in the garb of a paramilitary fatigues and a beret in which she administered the oath of the newly-created military-type group.
Present among them was her Secretary for Social Development Luis Alfredo Biasi, also attired in his paramilitary duds complete with a bullet-proof vest and leather gloves. (That's Mr. Social Development in graphic at right.)
The group was formed, according to the mayor's press release, to carry out duties related to public security and to combat delinquency.
The public function has unleashed a barrage of ridicule toward the mayor and she has been compared to the late Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela.
The wearing of the national colors on the uniforms – which have no basis in national or local government law – has been widely seen as a show of disrespect toward the national military and security forces.

BROWNTOWN COPS OVERSTEPPED RIGHT TO REMOVE CAMPAIGNERS AT MAIN LIBRARY ON CENTRAL BLVD.

By Juan Montoya
Remember when the Brownsville Police Department sent officers to the city's Main Library on Central Boulevard and they ordered the campaign workers to move across the street even though they were well past the 100-foot zone where electioneering is prohibited by state law?
Well, it seems like the boys in blue were well outside their official right to enforce that dictum emanating from the cops shop on Jackson Street.
A regular contributor to El Rrun-Rrun alerted us to a bill passed in the state legislature that prohibits "an entity that owns or controls a public building being used as a polling place from prohibiting electioneering on the premises outside the 100-foot zone..."
That bill, HB 259, was passed in June of 2013. According to the press release of its author, Rep Ron Simmons (R) of Lewisville, its intent was to assure that individuals' right to political speech was protected.
"This change in law protects First Amendment rights of individuals that protects political speech. Specifically, HB 259 clarifies that electioneering (political speech) must be allowed at polling places. The bill prohibits an entity that owns or controls a public building being used as a polling place from prohibiting electioneering on the premises outside of the 100-foot zone where electioneering is prohibited by state law. 
"This change protects First Amendment rights by assuring that people are able to express their political views without fear of prosecution or persecution. No longer will people across the state be ticketed or arrested for acts such as holding campaign signs at polling locations. 
"Language was specifically included in the bill to authorize reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on electioneering conducted outside of the 100-foot marker, so long as electioneering is not prohibited altogether. HB 259 protects some of our nation’s most fundamental rights: the freedom of speech and the right to vote.”
For Mary Helen Flores, the local director of the Citizens Against Voter Abuse (CAVA), the law seems to be pretty clear: cops can't violate campaigners' rights to electioneer as long as they're not electioneering within the 100-foot zone.
"From what I can tell, it seems that now an entity in control of the public polling location facility may not prohibit electioneering outside the 100 ft perimeter established by state law," she said. "Apparently this was being done, for example when the BPD moved the electioneering parties from the library side of Central Blvd. to the other side of the street a few times in the recent past. They can't do that anymore."
Will the BPD honchos now tell the cops on the street not to harass the campaign workers once early voting starts in October? We'll be watching.

NAVARRETTE: "THERE IS A STAGGERING AMOUNT OF DISHONESTY IN THE IMMIGRATION DEBATE."

(Ed's. Note: The following is an interview with Ruben Navarrette, by the Midland Reporter-Telegram published Sept. 14. Navarrette, who has a twice-weekly column which is syndicated worldwide by the Washington Post Writers Group, touches on issues he will discuss this Sept. 16 with former Mexican President Vicente Fox and his wife Mata at Midland College’s Beal Plaza, located outside the Scharbauer Student Center during Mexican Independence Day celebrations there.)

MRT: When talking about dealing with these kids, you’ve been really critical of President Barack Obama and laid out in a June column five things he could do to improve the situation, one of which was sending the National Guard to assist Border Patrol. You also wrote in July that Gov. Rick Perry sending National Guard troops to the border was the right thing to do, but for the wrong reasons. Do you stick with your other points of improvement going forward?

Navarrette: I want to go back to the Perry plan for a second. What often happens in this business, because you’re writing columns in the moment, and then things might happen and they get overwritten or you find out more information. At the very beginning, the perception I had was that the Perry use of the National Guard on the border was going to mirror what Bush did twice as president, which was to support Border Control. That I wholeheartedly agree with. And then a couple of weeks later, I learned the border National Guard troops were still being trained, they were not adequately trained, and that they were in fact going to have the ability to detain these people, while they called Border Control to come to the scene. Now we have a different thing. We have an evolving role for the National Guard. I’m reserving the right to come back to that and say, ‘You know what? There was a blueprint and you guys didn’t follow it.’ For that reason, I’m sort of held hostage by what Gov. Perry does. He could implement this in a way that’s different from a way President Bush did.

In terms of the rest of my points in the plan holding true, I think the immediate action has to be to provide better care for these kids. The most disgraceful part of the story has been that they were not given adequate food, blankets. It took Glenn Beck, really, who now lives outside Dallas, to take $2 million of aid down to McAllen to the churches down there to give them food and clothing and the like. When you’re in a position as liberal Democrats to be embarrassed by Glenn Beck, to be shown up by Glenn Beck because he’s coming off as more compassionate than you are, then you have a problem. I think that for all the talk, the main priority is to take better care of those kids while we have them here, and then like I’ve said all along, you have to concede that those who want to get rid of all 65,000 are wrong, and those who want to keep all 65,000 are wrong.

Everybody now needs to come around to the idea and go case-by-case and see who might have a legitimate claim to credible fear applications for asylum. The Obama administration has been very quietly tightening those requirements and has been making it harder to apply the credit fear and therefore turning down less asylum claims.


I’m concerned about stories that they’re going back to threats of death or certain death and some of them may have already perished. The thing I deal with a lot in the immigration debate, and after 25 years of writing about it — and this is an offshoot, more about refugees but a lot of it’s getting wrapped up in the immigration debate — but after 25 years, the clearest thing in my mind is that there is a profound, a staggering amount of dishonesty in this debate. In the immigration debate in America, everybody lies about everything all the time. And a lot of the lies coming out about these border kids is the lie that President Obama has put forward that he is this compassionate person who wants to give them due process and everybody’s going to get a hearing. When the facts on the ground say that’s not true, that they’re being shipped back and that some are dying in the process. For me, the No. 1 agenda item is the same. This is the strongest item I could say to you: No matter what the individual issue is, my No. 1 agenda item is clarity. And the way you get to clarity is the truth.

MRT: Does either party get it more right than the other? Or are there parts they get right?

Navarrette: No. There are elements of the Democratic Party that have the right idea, and there are elements of the Republican Party that have the right idea. Ironically, someone [recently] asked me on a radio show about what do I think the Republican version of immigration reform looks like? I said, I think it looks like a three-legged stool and the same model that George W. Bush put forward when he was president. That is: guest workers for companies that can’t find Americans to do these jobs, which, by the way, is going to speak to the audience in Midland. There’s a lot of folks in Midland who are business owners in that audience and they are first-hand knowledgeable about the fact that Americans will not do these jobs. And they are first-hand knowledgeable about the fact that it’s not about wages. They live in the real world. They don’t live in New York City in some TV studio. So that’s the first thing. That’s the favorite Republican part of it. That’s what the Republicans get right.

What the Democrats get right is the second leg of the stool, which is you’ve got to do something to legalize some of the 11 million that are here. Some from the far left say, ‘Yeah, legalize them all.’ And some of the far right say, ‘You can’t legalize a single person because then it’s amnesty.’ And again, the answer is in the middle somewhere. Five, six, seven, eight, some number of them have to be legalized, either the ones who have been here the longest, who have the cleanest records, and it can’t be a cakewalk. It’s got to be difficult. That’s the part the Democrats get right.

The last one is something I think both parties do agree on, and that is border security. That’s the low hanging fruit. Every single time we do immigration reform in Congress, the only thing these two parties can agree on, because they fight over the first two legs of the stool, is more border security. Which I used to believe, when I lived in Dallas for those five years, and I wrote a column for The Dallas Morning News, I was part of that huge camp of Americans that thought, ‘Yeah, spend more on border security. The more, the better. Higher fences. It’s all good. More Border Control agents.’

And then I came to San Diego and I live now in a border city, and living in a border city and seeing from this perspective for the last eight or nine years, I now see how wrong I was before, and how wrong most members of Congress who are Republican, who think that you can spend your way to border security, by putting dollars at the border; they’re just stuck on stupid. They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. When you get down here and you actually see it, you realize we’re playing this twisted game with the human smugglers and the drug smugglers, where every single time we spend $10 on the border, it allows them to raise their prices by $100 to bring people across. We’re fighting an enemy that we empower every time we fire a shot. We haven’t figured this out yet. We keep saying we have 20,000 Border Control agents. We need 40,000 and we need more fences, and then they build more tunnels. I just have a much different perspective living in San Diego than I did when I was in Dallas.

MRT: What do you think the solution is, as far as border security?


Navarrette: I’ll tell you what the Border Patrol agents tell me. People ask when we’re going to solve the border protection issue. I’ll tell you when: We’re going to solve it when you get 100 members of Congress from both parties, 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, and we send them down to the border, and when they get to the border, they shut the hell up. They don’t say anything. They don’t do what congressmen typically do at the border, which is open their mouth and start talking about what the border needs. What I want them to do, those 100 congressmen from two parties, is to ask the border patrolmen who are there, and the bosses and the supervisors, two questions: What do you need? And how can I help?

So I did that. I took my own advice. I went to the head of Border Patrol, and I asked those people at the top levels, What do you need? And they did not say, ‘Build me more fences.’ They said, ‘Those don’t work and they have tunnels.’ They said, ‘Don’t build me fences but build me roads. Come down here with the Army Corps of Engineers and build me roads because there are parts of the border that my vehicles can’t even get to because there’s no roads. So No. 1, build me roads.’ Not sexy. Doesn’t look good on a bumper sticker, but the experts who know what they’re talking about say they want it.

Two, if you look at the border from San Diego to Brownsville, it’s true that Texas has half of it. But in San Diego we have a phenomena that’s unique to San Diego, and that’s the border tunnels. You build a barrier, they go under it. There are an estimated, they say dozens, could be hundreds, of these tunnels. But they’re not in the Rio Grande Valley or Laredo or Brownsville, they’re here. So consequently the border patrolmen who are here say they want tunnel detection equipment. The military has it but they haven’t shared it with Border Control.

The third thing he said, well it must be more agents? He said, ‘No. Do not send me any more agents, because I’ve got 20,000 already and I don’t have infrastructure to train the ones I have. The last thing you need to send me is more computer surveillance equipment for the War Room so we can see these people coming across the border and we have a better sense of what’s going on.’ This is a very high-tech war, and they need high-tech equipment. Those three things are what the experts want and we’ve got some really stupid politicians who think they know a lot and they really don’t know anything. They’re getting in the way, because instead of meeting the experts and asking the questions I asked, they would rather go down there and tell them what they think they need.


(To read the entire interview, click on the link below)
http://www.mrt.com/news/article_ba731b52-3c7e-11e4-9587-43e16d4d6751.html

Sunday, September 14, 2014

JUST WHAT DID RODRIGUEZ "LEADERSHIP" MAKE HAPPEN?

By Juan Montoya
Former "Coach" Joe Rodriguez is asking the voters of the Brownsville Independent School District for their vote under the slogan "Leadership that Will Make It Happen."
He faces two opponents in Place 4; Shirley La Bowman and Mary Rey.
It's a catchy slogan. But the voters are entitled to know just what Rodriguez will make "happen." 
Former BISD administrators and trustees still remember the costs that had to be paid to district employees who complained about having to work for former Athletic Director Joe Rodriguez for the benefit of his private non-profit.
"We had to pay about $28,000 as a result of their grievances in 2008," recalled one. "Coach Joe would use them at his fundraiser as well as BISD vehicles and other equipment. He used to have BISD coolers full of Coors beer at those functions against the policies of the district. There was never a full accounting of the amount taken in and the scholarships given out to students."
Another part of the Joe Rodriguez legacy came back to bite the district in the rear its fund balance. Just as Coach Joe would make use of district employees for his functions, the U.S. Dept. of Labor Wage and Hour Division assessed fines totalling $45,920 against the district for using minors against the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The fines come under two provisions of the FLSA; hours standards and under legal age employment.
The Department of Labor probe covers only two years (2010 through 2012) but some BISD administrators say the district was fortunate it payed only the fines for two years instead of the larger amounts if investigators had go back even further.
"We lucked out," said an administrator. "If the Dept. of Labor had gone back to 2008 or before we'd be looking at perhaps $100,000s instead of the $45,000 they assessed in penalties for the last two years."
The fines were assessed because of the continued use by Rodriguez of BISD students (some as young as 12 or 13) to move the chains, chase balls, help with the setting up of the fields and other assorted tasks during football games and other sporting events. Others dealt with the violation of hours standards for 14 and 15 year olds.
In a report that Superintendent Carl Montoya gave the trustees, he informed them of the Dept. of Labor findings but did not give specifics on the locations and the amounts per site.
However, he did say that the money would have to come from the district's fund balance that had recently taken a hit from the settlement with former superintendent Hector Gonzales and former CFO Tony Juarez.
Below is a list of the sites and violations and the fines assessed.
1. Sam's Stadium – Hours standards, 1 violation (14-15): $1,150
Under Legal Age for Employment (12-13): $6,000
Total: $7,150
2. Pace High School – Hours standards, 5 minors (14-15)
Total: $2,795
3. Lopez High School– Hours standards, 5 violations (14-15)
Total: $1,725
4. Veterans High School – Hours standards, 8 violations
Total: $4,600
5. Besteiro Middle School – Hours standards, Under Legal Age for Employment, 7 minors (12-13)
Total: $20,220
6. Garcia Middle School – Hours standards, 5 violations, $2,875
Under Legal Age for Employment, 1 violation, $6,000
Total: $8,875
7. Hanna High School – Hours standards, 1 violation
Total: $575
Total Fines: $45,920

Rodriguez is asking the voters of the BISD to allow him to exercise his "Leadership That Will Make It Happen." They have to ask themselves: "Can the BISD really afford it?

COMANDANTE LETY IN MILITARY DUDS: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

By Juan Montoya
A charismatic politician comes in on a wave of approval from an electorate which is tired of the widespread corruption and lawlessness.
He or she promises a firm hand and an end to the corrupt bureaucracy that is eating away at the life's blood of the people.
He or she places her trusted lieutenants in positions of influence and power. The ministry of this, the ministry of that is filled with her acolytes.
Slowly, a cult develops. Word soon spreads that if you want to be in the inner circle, his or her every whim must be obeyed. Small transgressions from the inner circle are overlooked. They (and the leader) can do no wrong. And if they do, the government apparatus will make it all right.
In an unstable economy, perilous security situation, and a chaotic societal setting, there is need for order, or at least a semblance of it.
Order, we must have order.
And so, if it isn't brownshirts, or SS, or a paramilitary force to secure the safety and well-being of the leader and her cadre, a similar force is invented and established.
And so, in Matamoros, we have seen the rise of such a leader in the person of Mayor Leticia Vasquez Salazar, elected on July 2013 by an overwhelming popular vote.
It didn't take long for her to raise the ire of the national government by her autocratic edicts.
Mexico's interior minister, Miguel Osorio Chong in November 2013 dismissed claims made by Salazar that criminal groups were terrorizing the city.
According to a news account which appeared in the online edition of Milenio news daily, Osorio Chong said that he regretted the Matamoros mayor's for a curfew, characterizing the call as unneeded.
Because of the federalization of internal security in Mexico, the only other official who can impose curfew is the president of the republic, but only after votes by the council of ministers and the Mexican national legislature.
But she soon followed with other, more draconian measures:
According to sources in our sister city, Comandante Vasquez was taped in a conversation where she tells her listeners that – as far as Matamoros goes – there is no holier power there after God than her. She further said that she would allow no one to take over the city aside from her.
Now, given the power of the cartels, the presence of the Mexican Marines, and the pervasive "Maña" that control most activity in that city, this claim may be nothing more than a bit of bravado on Herroner's part.
Herroner has done her best to remove the evil secular bent of Matamorenses with such edicts such as the destruction of Santa Muerte altars in the city, closing bars and taverns featuring table dances, and even prohibiting women from promoting alcoholic sales in convenience stores under the pretext that the practice promoted prostitution (?).
How these edicts are going to help the people in Matamoros make a living seems to have escaped Da mayor.
However, one of her ministers – Luis Biasi, the Secretaty of Social Development – was linked to a warehouse full of liquor and cigarettes allegedly smuggled into Matamoros without the benefit of paying tariffs to local customs. The merchandise was seized and the matter quickly taken care and he continued his social development work unhindered
 He is even sent to represent the city in neighboring Brownsville to push for the BiNationael Economic Development (BiNED) scam perpetrated by the likes of Carlos Marin, IBC's Fred Rusteberg and Imagina Matamoros Sergio Arguelles. (That's him with the white open shirt on the right. Rusteberg is the bald guy at top left.)
Then, in order to convey a message of security and safety in this violence-wracked city, Da mayor and her cadre decide to form a sort of Praetorian Guard unit to reassure the population that all is well. She forms the Grupo Táctico Operativo Hércules under the justification that it will "guarantee individual rights, the conservation of order (we must have order) and domestic tranquility."
She ( al a George W. Bush) even dons a paramilitary jumpsuit and strides into the spotlight to give legitimacy to the paramilitary group. Most observers say that the Grupo Hercules amounts to nothing more than a personal security guard for Salzar and her inner circle.
Is the mission to bring social order and domestic tranquility a "mission accomplished" in Matamoros then? Or is there a greater evil than the cartels and "La Maña" underway in our sister city?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

PORT'S LNG PROJECT AN ENVIRONMENTAL TROJAN HORSE?

By David Robledo
Ft. Worth Weekly
I’m kayaking the bay that separates Port Isabel and South Padre Island when a large dorsal fin breaks the water. Another fin surfaces, and several more. My heart skips a few beats. And it looks like I’m surrounded … by one of the Lone Star State’s most lovable economic resources, a tribe of bottle-nose dolphins that inhabit Dolphin Cove, a rocky and deep sanctuary that slopes to the Port of Brownsville’s 45-foot-deep cargo-ship channel. Hundreds of sightseers visit this cove each summer day, hoping to get a glimpse of these animals that live at the southernmost tip of Texas’ most-visited beach.
The dolphins seem happy and ready to play. Anglers wade a few yards away on a sandy shelf that quickly drops off to become the cove’s edge. One fisherman hooks a fighter as I paddle past him.
There aren’t many places in the world where people can be surrounded by archaic wildlife and habitat as they are on this beach that helps etch the United States’ southwestern boundary. There are even fewer such places juxtaposed with notable restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and hotel and condominium rentals like those of South Padre Island.
The combination of natural attractions and first-world amenities has been a lucrative one on this island, which leads the state in per capita revenues generated by regular tourism, nature tourism, sport-fishing, and hotel-motel taxes. These revenues are hugely important to the economic zone that the island is a part of, a region that routinely posts the nation’s highest poverty rate.
Precisely because this area is poor, corporations that want to ship liquefied natural gas from the port of Brownsville — the Valley’s largest city and the nation’s poorest of its size — have found eager audiences for their sales pitch about the jobs and prosperity that their industry could bring. Government agencies and quasi-public corporations have already spent millions, and plan to spend upward of a billion dollars, to create infrastructure here for LNG development, including a power plant, a pipeline, a deepened ship channel, and highway spurs.
But those job-creation claims appear to be overblown, and while the LNG locomotive is picking up steam, authorities and industry spokespeople are sidestepping the question of damage to the environment and to the existing tourism economy that could far outlast any jobs that will be created.
If the public entities involved were to take the money they are spending to underwrite LNG export development and simply give it to the 1,000 or so employees who might end up with semi-permanent jobs, those workers would be millionaires.
This is the other end of the shale drilling story, extending from places like the Barnett Shale in North Texas and the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, where drillers have caused huge damage to the environment and to people’s health and lives — and reaching now to the Texas coast, where the industry is rushing to get its product to an enormously lucrative foreign market. That market window may not be open for long, so the drive is on to get in and make money now, a process likely to drive up gas prices in this country and use up the United States’ shale gas supplies much more rapidly than had been predicted.
To help sell America’s natural gas reserves to China and other countries, the U.S. House passed a legislative package this summer that is now awaiting consideration by the Senate.
As with, it seems, every other highly lucrative but potentially polluting and dangerous development in the petroleum industry, Texas is poised to play a major role in the LNG export business, with more coastal sites being groomed for LNG shipment than in any other state. Four of those are planned for Brownsville, with federal permits already granted, pending environmental review.
(To read the rest of the article, click on link below)
http://www.fwweekly.com/2014/09/10/the-other-end-of-the-pipeline/

REMINDER: saveRGVfromLNG general meeting this Monday evening, Sept 15, 6:30 pm at Galeria 409 Art Gallery. 409 E 13th Street, Brownsville.

Friday, September 12, 2014

RODRIGUEZ CAMPAIGN STRATEGY: REMEMBER MY GLORY DAYS, PLEASE!

By Juan Montoya
Brownsville is famous for recycling old warships, tires, clothes, and politicians.
So we weren't totally surprised when old warhorse Joe Rodriguez was painfully trotted out from the pasture to vie for the Place 4 position on the board.

What did surprise is is that Rodriguez – given his tumultuous past with the BISD – would still agree to get on the ballot.
He faces Shirley La Bowman and Mary Rey.
Rodriguez has proven masterful over the decades of milking his 15 minutes of fame (actually, it was 60) and creating a cult-personality industry of it.
He will not allow anyone to forget that drizzly night of Dec. 3, 1969 at Sams Stadium when his Brownsville H.S. Golden Eagles football team was beaten like they had been caught stealing chickens 47-14 by the Seguin Matadors for the regional title. It was the highest level the team ever reached.
Rodriguez has ridden that 10-2 season for all it's worth and has made it a cottage industry.
Now his personal blogger – and longtime BISD protege – has started to run snippets of the 1969 season all the way up to the fateful Seguin game when the Matadores sliced and diced the Eagles and roasted them on a skewer.
Like Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days," Jerry is replaying the eight-track tapes to see if the old magic still works.
You remember the names: Desi Najera, Ruben Fernandez, Charlie Hernandez, Johnny "O" Olvera,  Alberto Treviño, Lonnie Robinson, Danny Salinas, Lonny Robinson, Mike Goode, and Mike Adams, Leal, etc..
And locals remembered them, too. 
Najera went on to be fire chief, and later emergency coordinator for the county while the others were found suitable positions by a thankful city.
Rodriguez went on to become a trustee at the BISD, then Athletic Director, and then a vendor where he made princely sums as a result of the connections he made with his compadres and the patronage he dispensed through his position when AD and trustee.
At least three audits and a forensic audit have shown that Big Joe has served himself well at the public trough while cloaking himself in a mantle of sainthood and benevolence. An idol with feet of clay.
Bowman remembers when she was ready to collect payment for the four games she worked and A.D. Joe told her that the way it worked was, three for you, one for me. She told him, Bowman said, that it was not the way she worked and demanded – and got – her pay.
We, in Brownsville, have nurtured a vice that allows people like Big Joe and others to milk that fleeting moment of fame for decades to come. Just when you think there's no more juice left in the turnip, another squeeze gets the juice flowing again.
Now that he's thrown his coach's cap in the arena, the research for the details of his performance as a "public servant" which has made him wealthy has started. Let the game begin.
Second half, anyone?

LUCIO DIGS HOLE DEEPER FOR CHIEF DEPUTY REYNA

"Sheriff Omar Lucio said the accident occurred Aug. 24 in a parking lot of a restaurant on the 3000 block of Pablo Kisel Boulevard while Reyna was driving a 2011 Ford Expedition, a county-issued vehicle." Brownsville Herald

By Juan Montoya
Ok, everybody. Check your calendars.
Sheriff Lucio told the Brownsville Herald that his chief deputy Gus Reyna was driving the county-issued vehicle on Aug. 24 in the parking lot of a restaurant in Brownsville.
According to my calendar, Aug. 24 was a Sunday.
Further, Lucio said that the accident happened in the evening. Was Gus handling a call from the restaurant? Or was he having a late lunch when he inadvertently crashed into another car?
Lucio also didn't mention that Reyna had another passenger with him in the car, identified as a former sheriff's department deputy who then went on to work for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement before he retired.
We understand investigators have already interviewed that passenger.
What he did say is that instead of filing a police report as is required of anyone who in involved in an accident, Reyna reached an arrangement with the driver of the other car (a woman), that she not file a report and that he would fix her car. Then they had the cars pulled all  the way to San Benito to the body shop of his friend Ramiro Partida.
Lucio also told the newspaper that Reyna had called him since he was out of town and reported that he had an accident.
This also doesn't make sense. If you didn't file a police report to keep anyone from knowing about the accident, would you call your boss who was out of town? A simple check of their phone records would settle that little matter.
This was no mere fender bender, as some accounts would have us believe. The cost of the work on the county-issued 2011 Ford Expedition was some $7,000, according to Lucio. We had heard $5,700 before Lucio made it official. Does that mean that the total for fixing both cars was $7,000?
If so, it was no mere fender bender. We have learned that investigators with the Cameron County District Attorney's Office Government Integrity Unit have found the damaged part of both cars. They also fund the female motorist who was involved in the crash.
She told them that there was, indeed, alcohol involved, although we don't know if it was just Reyna and his passenger, or her as well. That would make sense. If Reyna lighted the vehicle, told her who he was, and then talked her into not calling the cops because both of them would be charged with DWIs, it is easy to see how she might have agreed. She would have been amenable to not reporting the accident if he and his passenger exerted a bit of persuasion because of Reyna's position.
Whichever way you cut it, things do not look good for Reyna's aspirations to become the next sheriff of Cameron County. We were told that the anonymous person who reported Reyna's accident and failure to follow county policy was someone inside the sheriff's department, perhaps someone who knew things first-hand.
We finally got in a word edge-wise with Cameron County District Attorneny Luis Saenz to see whether – like Lucio – he considered the matter closed and got a firm response.
"Oh, no," he said. "If it had been me or you, do you think that things would have happened the way they did with Mr. Reyna? We're following through with this." 

  

WIGHTMAN, DEFENDER OF OUR MORALS AND ETHICS ASSERTS: "FLASH: "LUCY LONGORIA IS NOT RUNNING FOR REELECTION"

By Juan Montoya
After all the vitriol and angst created by the publishing of a photograph of two Brownsville Independent School District trustees eating at a public restaurant with a board candidate and his firefighter friends, the truth behind it being posted in a local blog is finally emerging.
You've seen the photograph.
It shows Catalina Presas-Garcia (her back to the viewer) and Luci Longoria (left) talking with Carlos Elizondo (El Calvo on the right) and other firefighters.
Were they hiding in plain sight? Were they engaged in some conspiracy in  full view of the public? Could they have been (gasp!) freely associating as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution?  Oh, no! Not that!
It was taken surreptitiously by Christina Flores, the daughter of Robert Rodriguez, a candidate for the BISD who is running against firefighters union president Carlos Elizondo. She, in turn, is married to Arnold Flores, an administrator with Cameron County who ran for county clerk and was defeated by Sylvia Garza-Perez. That makes Arnold Flores son-in-law of Rodriguez, the BISD board candidate.
That Ms. Flores took the picture has been confirmed despite the denials from some quarters. But what was not so certain was who had sent Robert Wightman the photo and that he published in his blog hinting at some sinister motive behind the trustees meeting with Elizondo and his friends.
Wightman (in nun's habit, at bottom right) quickly dreamed up of some dark conspiracies such as:
He charged that Elizondo, Longoria and Presas-Garcia were bent on running for office and "just piss on law enforcement – calling them fools for putting their lives on the line to run down criminals," without providing a scintilla of proof.
And..."firefighters are willing to piss on the children and teachers, they now openly piss on law enforcement to insure their corruption prevails."
And.."I have filed a criminal complaint on Luci Longoria. The evidence is not disputed. What firefighters Carlos Elizondo and the other two num-nuts in the picture fail to understand is as firefighters you never, ever cross your compadres in law enforcement."
All this from a picture?
We must admit that we didn't foresee the thousand motives and words that were fancifully created in Wightman's fertile brain. Just what Presas-Garcia (the mother of two children from her ex, a policeman) and Longoria and Elizondo did against cops is never explained.
Now, we have learned that we were not correct when we said that Ms. Flores sent Wightman the photograph. No, it was Arnold, her husband. He simply used another internet address and sent it fully knowing that Wightman would – as he usually does – blow it out of all proportion. We understand that there is some domestic turmoil in the Flores household as a result of that little slip on Mr. Flores' part.
(The aim here was guilt by association. But if there is guilt by association with Elizondo, as some of Mr. Rodriguez's supporters assert, does this mean that they have thrown in their lot in with Wightman and support his squalid inclinations, be they what they may be?)
Wightman, of course – true to form – concocted  his usual fine crop of conspiracies.
Now we learn that he hasn't stopped there.
He has already tried to throw a wrench in the works of the BISD election by demanding that the district throw out the candidacies of Shirley Bowman and Joe Rodriguez because they want to use a nickname on the ballot. This, he said, will allow Mary Rey, the poster child on how not to raise your children (both are in prison for murder), to waltz in to take her place on the board and dispense her wisdom on childrearing to our children.
To the BISD administration's credit, they are taking this misanthrope's babble with a few tons of salt.
But wait, it doesn't stop there.
He has already complained to the Texas Ethics Commission that Longoria is deceiving the fine people of the BISD by announcing on her campaign signs that she is running for reelection. You see, the fine rapier-like legal mind of his figures that since Lucy is not running for the same seat on the board, she cannot be running for reelection to her old seat. So, the sage disbarred barrister figures, she is not running for reelection, but rather, her signs should read, "elect" instead of "reelect."
Are you still with me?
Let's see. Longoria is currently a trustee on the BISD board. She is running for reeection to the board, except for a different seat. But she is not running for a seat on the San Benito school district, or Los Fresnos, or even Mercedes. She is running for reelection to the same board on which she is now a trustee. The fact that she is not running for the same seat doesn't change that.
We would be willing to wager that if Longoria's signs said "elect" instead of "re-elect," Wightman would have argued the opposite.
Anyway, these legal contortions may distress some and distract others, but that is the whole purpose of Wigthman's diatribe. He has always opposed Longoria and others who ignore his high-falutin' legal dribble and hates it when he is ignored for the fool he is. So he resorts to the tried-and-true strategy of legal malingering to make his targets waste their time and money to address his non-issues.
The Texas Ethic Commission lawyers should reassess their approach to anything that originates in what's left of the medication-addled noodle of this wacko.

(OVERSIZED) SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE THE SIGNS

By Juan Montoya
On Sept. 8, the City of Brownsville stated that unless political campaign signs complied with the city's ordinances, they had to come down. But like the song that says in Spanish, "A todos diles que si, pero no les digas cuando," many oversized signs remain.
Cameron County Clerk Joe Rivera – the Democratic Party candidate for county judge – has already started to remove the large signs from the city and placing them in other towns in the county where no such ordinance exists, but there are a few of them left and even though we hear that other candidates have already been told they must remove the offending sings, they have not.
A cursory drive around town indicates that Rivera has at least one sign still standing over by the Veterans Bridge and that 357th District Court judge candidate Juan Magallanes is the biggest offender with numerous oversized signs still up in various parts of th city.
Even Brownsville Independent School District candidate Cesar Lopez has a few oversized signs still standing.
Now Permitting Director Evaristo Gamez did not put a deadline for the signs to be removed, but we expect that a candidate for a district judge's office would lead by example and adhere to the law.
Since this issue isn;t going to go away until all the illegal signs are removed, here's two so that the inspectors can see where they are.

EGamez [mailto:egamez@cob.us]
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2014 3:43 PM
To: Cris Valadez
Cc: Charlie Cabler
Subject: FW: Ordinance Chapter 328 -Signs

Good Afternoon:
Mr. Valadez, all political signs must comply with the maximum 36 square feet area as per Ordinance 2012-1452-D. Any other political sign that is larger must be removed by tomorrow morning.
If you have any other questions let me know. Thank You.

Evaristo Gamez
Permitting Director

RUN FOR OFFICE AND LOSE?: MEDIOCRITY REIGNS AT BISD

By Juan Montoya
The pattern is becoming all too clear.
If you work for the Brownsville Independent School District and run for public office and lose...you will be rewarded.
It happened with Martin Arambula when he ran for county judge and lost. Martin ended up getting a $15,000 raise to raise him over $90,000 a year. The justification was because Arambula said he was having to manage the BISD's recycling efforts and he was generating income for the district. Why, it hardly left him time to walk his dog on company time.
His new salary places him above 56 of the BISD's 58 campus principals. Martin can't lose for winning, unlike the principals.
And now we hear it's happened to J.J. De Leon, who ran an insipid race against Ed Rivera for Texas Southmost College trustee.
We under stand that De Leon, whose claim to fame was being an executive secretary to Betha Peña, will now be named to a supervisory position at Pay Grade 4 (somewhere over $50,000) in the Special Programs Department under Rachel Ayala.
Now, we understand that even before the decision has been made on which applicant will be given the position, De Leon is already announcing that he will get it. Does he know something no one else knows?
The shame of it is that many local residents have striven to acquire a higher education through the sweat of their brow and are bypassed for other applicants who – although they may lack the qualifications – have the right political connections in the district's bureaucracy.
Until that changes – or we elect people willing to change it – this district will remain in this sorry state, rewarding mediocrity.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO SPACEX FIESTA

By Juan Montoya
It's so hard to keep  social calendar nowadays.
Just ask City of Brownsville commissioners Jessica Tetreau, John Villarreal.
The duo were bent on showing SpaceX their gratitude for billionaire Elon Musk accepting the $15 million in "incentives" and tax abatements from satte and governmental entities to set up a commercial satellite launch site at Boca Chica beach that they organized a Welcome SpaceX Fiesta at 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at that other White Elephant, the Brownsville Sports Park.
The community was invited to attend the free Celebration SpaceX 2014 event Monday, September 22, at the park in Olmito.
But, hey wait a minute there, Wilbur!
It just so happens that no one told SpaceX about the Sports Park fiesta and they organized a fancy schmanzy get together at South Padre Island and invited all the VIP bigwigs in the valley on the very same day to show their appreciation for their fine considerations and support. That includes, of course, the $15 million in incentives and other tax abatements which induced them to come to South Texas.
Harlingen will be there of course, having anted up a considerable sum (about $500,000) in return for 10 percent of the jobs generated out in the tidal flats of Boca Chica. McAllen also chipped in to bring them here as did other economic local and state economic development entities across the valley.
Well, since the Brownsville Economic Development Corporation is hosting the party at the Sports Park, it is only proper that the city commissioners be there to entertain all the "little people" who showed SpaceX we luv 'em.
Now Tetreau, Villarreal are caught on the horns of a dilemma. What to do?
The Brownsville Public Utilities Board, the City of Brownsville,  the University of Texas at Brownsville , Texas Southmost College, the Visitors and Convention Bureau and other local companies were encouraged to participate and chip in $1,000 for the celebration.
It was, after all, billed as an event that was open to the public "to not only celebrate the arrival of the commercial space industry to the area, but also to recognize how the public’s support was a vital component and instrumental in the recruitment process of SpaceX. More than 1,100 people personally showed up at the two hearings, in 2013 and earlier this year, and overwhelmingly supported the project coming to the Brownsville area. Since then, SpaceX has received clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to construct a vertical rocket launch site and the company’s founder Elon Musk, in turn, announced Boca Chica Beach as the chosen site."
Well, if the water is coming over the bridge, simply lower the river, of course.
We understand that the duo is struggling mightily to reschedule (move up) the Sports Park party so that they may have the chance to rub elbows with the big shots at the Island. How can they hand out with the unwashed masses and waste an opportunity to make an impression ( or trade business cards) with the space industry movers and shakers.
We also understand that the move by the commissioners is not sitting well with the city staff who were induced to promote the event.
After all, why would the commissioners want to engage in "family-oriented atmosphere with games, activities and educational presentations" when they have a chance to rub elbows with VIPs?
Will they be successful and move the fiesta so they can cavort on the isle with the big shots? Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

DETAILS EMERGE IN UNREPORTED CRASH BY CHIEF DEPUTY


By Juan Montoya
A television news report of a collision involving Cameron County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Gus Reyna indicates that the crash that occurred about two weeks ago happened in Brownsville and other news media are reporting that there was another passenger in Reyna's county-issued 2011 Ford Expedition who was not a county employee.
Other reports indicate that the two crashed into the car of a woman who lives in Brownsville and that Reyna talked her out of calling the police by promising to fix her car and paying for the accident.
District Attorney investigators with the Public integrity Unit were said to have interviewed the woman who was involved in the collision today.
Sheriff Lucio told Action 4 News Sergio Chapa that Reyna told was involved in an accident in a Ford Expedition owned by Cameron County. Lucio would not release all the details of the accident – then time of day it occurred, where it took place, what the name of the woman was, whether she sustained any injuries, and why no police report was ever filed about the accident with the Brownsville police.
Sources say that initial interviews with the woman indicate that there was alcohol involved in the accident but did not specify whether it was the woman or the two occupants of Reyna's car, or both.
Meanwhile, the identity of the other occupant of Reyna's car has not been released other than it was a former deputy with the sheriff's department who had gone on to become an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in another part of the state.
Even though Cameron County policy states that any county employee that gets into an accident in a county vehicle must immediately be tested for drugs and alcohol, Reyna was never tested.
Lucio said he was out of town at the time of the accident and that Reyna notified him about the accident after the sheriff returned to the Rio Grande Valley and that Reyna was disciplined by being ordered to pay for the damages to both vehicles.
The repairs were made at Ramiro Partida's Auto Body Shop in San Benito where the damaged part of both vehicles were found and seized by investigators. Although an exact figure was not immediately available, sources say that the damages to the vehicles are estimated to be worth around $5,700.
“Accidents happen,” Lucio told Action 4 News. “For an employee of 30 years’ time who has had no other disciplinary problems, making him pay for the damages was enough punishment.”
Reyna was out of town on a training conference and could not be reached for comment. 

FINE ARTS LOVERS WING IT AS THEY LOSE THEIR HEADS

By Juan Montoya
Heads rolled today as the "Tres Cabezas Colosales" by Mexican artist Javier Marin said goodbye to Brownsville after a stay of about a year and a half.
But they aren't rolling far. They are being transported via truck to the grand opening this Friday Sept. 12 in collaboration with South Padre Island.
The three giant sculptures of heads will go on display in the median adjacent to the Queen Isabella Memorial Park on Friday, Sept. 12.These works, apparently, aren't the only ones flying out of Brownsville to other destinations. The "Wings of the City" exhibit by the same artist flew off to Houston where the sculptures will be exhibited.
To be perfectly truthful, I never quite figured out what the colossal heads were supposed to mean, other than perhaps some Greek or Roman gods losing their heads up in Olympus somewhere. But it was, well, interesting.
The "Wings" exhibit, on the other hand, was easier to fathom, something about man's flight of fancy. We're sure that the residents of these other cities will be thrilled to see these works by Marin. But we imagine that they, too, someday, will lose their heads when they fly off somewhere else.

BROWNSVILLE'S OBSERVES 13TH 9-11 ANNIVERSARY


CULTURE OF ASSAULTS BY GUARDS IN B'VILLE JAIL NOT NEW


By Juan Montoya
It was in September of 1995, the day that Julio Cesar Chavez won a lackluster fight against David Kamau.
My sister and her family were down from Corpus Christi and I had used their car to do some errands before I returned it and decided to walk from my parent's house off Coffee Port Road to the Tulane Apartments maybe a mile or so down the U.S. 77 Expressway.
It wasn't a long walk and I was wearing shorts, a T-shirt and tennis shoes when I took off down the frontage road. There was no sidewalk so I was walking on the path next to the frontage road when I was coming up to the Fruia Motors showroom. Two police units suddenly drove up behind me and stopped alongside. One of the officers alighted and asked me for identification. I showed him my driver's license and he asked where I was heading. I told him I was going to the Tulane Apartments down the road and he offered to give me a ride.
I politely refused and told him I wanted to walk. He was persistent and insisted that I climb into the front seat so he could take me. I told him I'd rather walk and he persisted until I climbed in the car. Once inside, we drove along the frontage road and he asked me why I didn't want to ride in the police car. I gave him some kind of answer that I didn't want people living in the apartment to think that I was some kind of informant or in trouble with the law.
He saw through it and kept asking me what the real reason was that I didn't want a ride.
Finally, in the apartments' parking lot, I got out of the car and was leaning through the open passenger's side door when I finally told him something to the effect that "You know, we give you guys everything; good pay, health insurance, retirement, and you still want us to kiss your butt."
That was a bit much for the officer and he ran around the front of the car, slapped handcuffs on me and threw me in the back seat telling me he was charging me with public intoxication and disorderly conduct.
We got to the booking desk where and me – still handcuffed – was asked to provide my identification by a burly jail guard behind the counter. I replied something to the effect that since they had taken me into custody for no good reason, that they find out who I was. The arresting officer standing behind me reached into my back pocket and removed my wallet. The guard then asked me if I had ever served in the military and I told him I had. 
"What service?" he asked. 
"The Marines," I replied.
I should have never said anything. This seemed to enrage the guard and he said: "Oh, so you think you're bad, hey?," and he ran out around the counter and lunged at me. At this time I felt the officer unlock the handcuffs and remove them.
I was able to dodge the blow from his fist but the  burly guard's momentum knocked me down on the concrete floor and he slammed me on the ground, coming  down hard on my ankle with his knee. I looked at the side door and saw the officer laughing as I lay there with the guard on top of me as he went out the door.
I didn't know it then, but he had fractured my ankle. I hobbled to the counter to fill out the information and get my fingerprints taken and my possessions confiscated.
"I thought you were a tough Marine," the guard laughed and took my stuff.
Then, since it was decided that I was being non-cooperative, I was placed in a padded isolation cell totally naked and I lay there that night as my ankle swelled like a balloon. Toward dawn, Randy Dunn – with his habitual pipe – looked into the cell and I heard him tell them to take me out of the cell. They waited until he left and left me there. 
In the morning, when they came to take me out, I told them I needed to get some medical care for my ankle and they called EMS. An ambulance took me to the hospital. I couldn't get my right foot into my tennis shoe. The form filled out at the Brownsville Medical Center listed the cause of my injury as an assault. The PI and disorderly conduct charges were dropped.
I recalled this incident because it has just been reported that a  federal jury on Tuesday awarded $2 million in damages to a Brownsville man wrongfully convicted of assaulting a public servant. He even served four years of eight-year sentence for a conviction of which he was later found innocent
The lawsuit named the city of Brownsville, former police chief Carlos Garcia, jailer Jesus Arias, Sgt. David Infante, Lt. Henry Etheridge, and former Cmdr. Robert Avita as defendants. The assault happened on Nov. 27, 2005, 10 years after my experience at hands of the jailers. According to that lawsuit, three jailers, went into the cell to remove him, and when he attempted to ask a question to the jailers, Arias lunged at him from behind, seized him by the neck and placed him in an illegal choke hold. The local newspaper reported that the jailer claimed that the prisoner had assaulted him while in jail custody and that reports filed by the BPD only obtained accounts from the jailers and not from Alvarez. 
An appeals court eventually cleared the prisoner of the charges, but not before he had served four years.
His lawyers said that they came upon the videotapes of the incident which disproved the police version when another attorney investigating another assault discovered their existence. Until then, it was his word against the police officers and the jail guards.
When I filed a lawsuit against the BPD and the jailer, no local attorneys were willing to take my case. I eventually found one from McAllen who took it. During discovery, there was no mention of videotapes by
Mark Sossi, now the attorney for the City of Brownsville, defended the city and police department from the lawsuit. I recall in federal court and in the court-ordered mediation soon after that Sossi loudly proclaimed that I was shouting to the jailers that I was "a Gyrenre" and that I was being combative. No such thing occurred. I was after all, handcuffed. A videotape of the booking process would have showed he lied. I told the mediator that if Sossi was going to continue making those assertions then we would go through to trial. It was obvious that Sossi would stop at nothing to gain his end, truth and justice notwithstanding.
We reached a settlement after that and the matter was closed.
The $2 million verdict award to the man whose civil right were violated by the police and jailers is poetic justice to me and a vindication of my convictions that Sossi and the upper echelon of the city's administration who keep him there are doing the public a gross disservice.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WAS COUNTY POLICY IGNORED IN GUS REYNA CAR CRASH?


By Juan Montoya
Cameron County District Attorney investigators are said to have found the damaged parts to a 2011 Ford Expedition used by Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Gus Reyna that had to be replaced after he allegedly crashed into another vehicle in an unreported accident about two weeks ago.
Late Wednesday, sources close to the probe asserted that the discarded parts to Reyna's county-issued vehicle had been recovered from the Ramiro Partida Auto Body Shop, 1555 S Sam Houston St., in San Benito.
They also confirmed that damaged parts from the other vehicle involved in the collision were also recovered.
Efforts to get documented confirmation from the D.A.'s office and the sheriff's department as to location, exact date and time, and the identity and condition of the occupants of the other vehicle were unsuccessful.
The discarded parts that were found, sources say, provide tangible proof that not only did Reyna sustain a collision with another vehicle, but that the $5,700 price tag to fix the vehicle indicated that the crash was severe.
Now investigators are trying to determine whether the failure by Reyna to file a police report at the time of the crash, his failure to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs after the collision, and his and the department's failure to follow county policy may result in disciplinary action or in charges being filed against the longtime lawman and sheriff department's second-in-command.
Sheriff Omar Lucio said that at the time Reyna collided with the other vehicle, he was away from the city and did not learn of the accident until days after it happened. As chief deputy, Lucio is Reyna's immediate supervisor.
"I was out of town and didn't find out about it until I came back," Lucio said. "But when we found out about it we read him the riot and and told him that if there were any future incidents like this it would be ground for suspension or for termination," Lucio said. 
According to the county's policy manual relating to Post-Incident Drug and Alcohol Testing Procedures:
An employee shall submit to drug and/or alcohol testing if he is involved in a vehicle incident, and whether or not he receives a citation for a traffic violation arising from the incident. (Click on graphic to enlarge)
The policy further states that the employee involved in the accident shall immediately notify an appropriate law enforcement agency of the incident (if one has not already been notified), and shall thereafter notify his departmental dispatch office or supervisor that an incident has occurred. A drivers supervisor shall direct the driver to submit to drug and/or alcohol testing within two (2) hours after the incident, provided that the testing will not adversely affect and/or interfere with the driver's medical treatment, if any. If a test was not administered on the driver at that time frame, his supervisor shall prepare and maintain a record stating the reasons the test was not properly administered." 
As far as he and his department are concerned, Lucio says the investigation and disciplinary action related to a two-car accident is history.
Lucio released few details on who Reyna had crashed into with his county-issued Ford Expedition or where it happened, but he did say that Reyna had paid the cost of fixing both vehicles from his own pocket and did not tap into the county's insurance policy.
Although the sheriff did not venture to mention a dollar amount, other sources say that the cost of the repairs to the county vehicle totaled more than $5,700. There was no information available on the payments made to the occupants of the other vehicle or what the extent of the damage it received as a result of the collision.
Other county sources indicate that after the collision with the identified motorist, neither Reyna nor county personnel notified law enforcement than themselves or filed a report, but instead made arrangements with the other motorist to pay for damages to the vehicle. They further state that Reyna and Lee Lozano, the county mechanic supervisor, originally requested and received a purchase order form the county auditor to pay for the repairs that they later withdrew.
Sources say that the county personnel did not require a tow truck to remove the county-owned vehicle from the scene of the accident, but pulled it instead to a county facility.

FANCY MEETING YOU HERE ABEL; LIKEWISE SHERIFF LUPITO!

By Juan Montoya
When convicted Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño walked into the Pensacola federal prison camp on Tuesday to begin his five-year sentence, he probably ran into his old buddy Abel Limas.
Limas, sentenced to six years at the Pensacola camp, was convicted of taking bribes and racketeering in a probe into judicial corruption in Cameron County.
Treviño was convicted of laundering money from a drug trafficker though his reelection campaign fund.
With any luck, both should be walking out of the "cushy" Pensacola facility arm in arm in five years.
Meanwhile, convicted Cameron County Sheriff Conrado Cantu will continue to rot in federal prison for another 20 years after these two gentlemen stride out the gates of the federal for committing crimes that are equally or less serious than these two.

IT'S NOT THE PICTURE; IT'S THE MOTIVE BEHIND POSTING IT

By Juan Montoya
Let's make this short and sweet.
1. Christina Flores, the daughter of Roberto Rodriguez who is Carlos Elizondo's opponent for a position on the board of the Brownsville Independent School District, took Elizondo's picture with two BISD board members at a local restaurant.
 2. Christina Flores is also the assistant to director Oscar Salinas at city's Human Resources Dept.
3. Elizondo is the president of the Firefighters Union and represents its members at mediation hearings held by HR and the union.
4. Salinas and the city contract attorneys have the obligation to defend the draconian disciplinary punishments handed out to local firefighters by hapless Fire Chief Lenny Perez...and lost the majority of the time to Elizondo.
5. Elizondo, BISD trustees Lucy Longoria and Catalina Presas-Garcia and the other firefighters present at the table saw Flores take the picture. In fact, Elizondo talked Presas-Garcia out of asking Flores if she wanted the group to face the camera so she could take a better picture.
6. Elizondo and the firefighters vigorously supported Arnold Flores – Christina Flores' husband and administrator with Cameron County – when he ran for county clerk in the runoff against Sylvia Garza-Perez. Arnold Flores told Elizondo he would not support is candidacy after his Robert Rodriguez, his father-in-law, declared himself a candidate for the same position.
7. The picture taken by Ms. Flores was emailed to Robert Wightman, a blogger with a longstanding and deep-seated hatred toward Longoria and Presas-Garcia. He has willingly acted as the attack dog against anyone who he imagines is against him or his candidates.
That much we know to be true.
Forget about the expectations of privacy in a public establishment by public figures. They have none.
The question, then, become one of motive.
What possible motive did Ms. Flores have to take the picture in the first place? Further, what possible motive was behind the sending of the photo to spite-filled blogger Wightman? Is it to somehow tarnish the candidacy of Elizondo and turn voters who might read something sinister (as Wightman does) into the lunch meeting of that group at the table?
Just last Aug.12, Ms. Flores and Mr. Salinas conducted a few seminars where they preached against bullying and harassment to city workers. By taking a photo that attempted to tie in Elizondo to the two trustees who have been targets of that blogger and sending it to Wightman, are we to pretend that there was no intent to smear them all for a political purpose?
Wightman quickly south to please his contributor by charging that Elizondo, Longoria and Presas-Garcia "just piss on law enforcement – calling them fools for putting their lives on the line to run down criminals," without providing a scintilla of proof.
And..."firefighters are willing to piss on the children and teachers, they now openly piss on law enforcement to insure their corruption prevails."
And.."I have filed a criminal complaint on Luci Longoria. The evidence is not disputed. What firefighters Carlos Elizondo and the other two num-nuts in the picture fail to understand is as firefighters you never, ever cross your compadres in law enforcement."
Just how they did that he does not explain, of course. You just hope it sticks.
It is interesting to note that Presas-Garcia's ex-husband (and father of her two children) is a policeman.
Wightman's hatred toward these two women (and now Elizondo) is unlimited. He even posts the infantile voodoo doll of Lucy with pins sticking out of it.
So are we to believe that there was no motive (political or otherwise) for Flores sending the photo to misanthrope Wightman?
Do you believe in the Easter Bunny?

rita