Friday, March 27, 2015

"U KNOW IT AIN'T EASY...U KNOW HOW HARD IT CAN BE..."

"The way things are going, they're going to crucify me."

By Juan Montoya
As the race for mayor of the City of Brownsville heats up, one can't blame some candidates for feeling that they are being unjustly targeted for criticism.
Whether it's Pat Ahumada for doggedly defending his depositing of the famous $26,000 city check in his account, Willie Garza for his escapades au naturel, Capt. Bob Sanchez for his oversized signs, Brenda Joyas for her New World Order, Tony Martinez for his back-room deals, etc., everyone has something of which they would rather not be reminded.
So, we must say, does Head Cheez Erasmo Castro, who as we have pointed out before, fixed it up so that a felony forgery conviction was blurred over and then had his failure to complete his probation forgiven.
The candidates, to their credit, have learned how to weather the blows, grin and bear it, and continue to campaign.
But there are some signs that not all of them are dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with the same aplomb.
While Martinez has come under fire in the various blogs in town (this one included), no one has had an entire website dedicated to persecute any particular candidate. No one, that is, except Castro. An outfit calling itself nomorecheezmeh has vowed to pillage Castro for what they say is conduct unbecoming a Head Cheez. We don't know who these folks are, but it is probably not pleasant for Castro to come across their postings where they seek to derail his campaign and Internet claims.
For someone used to have his word accepted as Gospel, this might be a bit trying for the Le Gran Fromage.
We have come across some personal business cards handed out by Castro which sublimely insinuate that the bearer is feeling somewhat persecuted. His card, which carries an email address of lamasabactini@yahoo.com, gives an indication that Castro may feel folks are picking on him just as those nasties did with Jesus way back when.
Someone pointed out that Esasmo earned a degree in theology and in fact is head of a church. Do you believe it?
With Easter (and the crucifixion) just around the corner, the email address may come in very apropos. It may also be that perhaps the voters in the city election aren't receiving His message as well as he thought they would. Who knows?
We looked for a translation of the phrase "lamasabactini" and found out that the words were the ones spoken from the cross when Jesus was crucified, according to the Gospel of Matthew. 
Does Erasmo feel forsaken? And is it somewhat sacrilegious to compare oneself to God in our suffering?
Well, politics can sometimes be a onerous profession, and Castro is indeed carrying a heavy load without the added onus of wining over votes in the face of adversity. Es un verdadero calvario. But hey, once you're a candidate, get ready for anything, even carrying that cross. 

ONLY MIDDLE EAST "DEMOCRACY" RETURNS PALESTINIAN CASH

Reuters
JERUSALEM - Israel said on Friday it would release millions of dollars of tax income to the Palestinian Authority, three months after freezing the payments in protest at unilateral Palestinian moves towards statehood.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the funds would be sent for humanitarian reasons and "Israel's interests", without saying whether the transfer would be repeated.

The move may be seen as a bid to rebuild bridges, particularly with the White House which criticized hawkish comments about the Palestinians that Netanyahu made in the build-up to his election victory this month.
Israel stopped the monthly transfer of $130 million of tax and customs duties that it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in January after the organization applied to join the International Criminal Court.

Since then, more than $500 million has been withheld, prompting the Palestinian Authority, which administers the West Bank, to cut most of its employees' salaries by 40 percent and resort to an emergency budget.

With the deficit already at around 15 percent of GDP and the tax transfers accounting for two-thirds of income, the budget is falling into a deeper hole every month. Unemployment stands at 25 percent and output is set to contract this year, sharply increasing the threat of instability and violence.

There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian Authority.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-israel-says-to-transfer-frozen-tax-revenue-to-palestinians-2015-3#ixzz3VbV5HEVh

AIR FORCE CUT CORNERS TO GIVE SPACEX ADVANTAGE

Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force overstepped its bounds as it worked to certify privately held SpaceX to launch military satellites, undermining the benefit of working with a commercial provider, an independent review showed on Thursday.

The report cited a "stark disconnect" between the Air Force and SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies, about the purpose of the certification process and recommended changes.

Air Force Secretary Deborah James ordered the review after the service missed a December deadline for certifying SpaceX to compete for some launches now carried out solely by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.

The Pentagon is eager to certify SpaceX as a second launch provider, given mounting concerns in Congress about ULA's use of a Russian-built engine to power its Atlas 5 rocket.

The Air Force said on Monday it was revamping the certification process, but did not release the report on the review until Thursday and hoped to complete the work by June.

The report, prepared by former Air Force Chief of Staff General Larry Welch, said the Air Force treated the process like a detailed design review, dictating changes in SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and even the company's organizational structure.

That approach resulted in over 400 issues that needed to be resolved, which was "counterproductive" to a national policy aimed at encouraging competition in the sector.

In fact, the process was intended to show that SpaceX met overall requirements to launch military satellites, not carry out the more detailed review required for each launch on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-us-air-force-overstepped-bounds-in-spacex-certification-report-2015-3#ixzz3VbTyhLdP

Thursday, March 26, 2015

POLICE FIND BODY OF MISSING KILLEEN STUDENT

By Juan Montoya
Police searching the area adjacent to Schlitterbahn South Padre Island Water Park found the body of missing Killeen student Jordan Britten, 20, whose car was found with small amounts of drugs.
Witnesses says they saw police carry away a body bag from the small marshy area near the park. Justice of the Peace Bennie Ochoa ordered an autopsy after police using dogs n\found the body at about 10 a.m. in about three feet of water.
The Central Texas College student was nreported missing from a beach in South Padre Island on Monday after friends returned home from a spring break trip to South Padre Island without him..
He was last heard from late Saturday afternoon, according to a posting Wednesday on a Facebook page created in the effort to find him.
Britten was last seen late Friday night or early Saturday morning at the Ultimate Music Experience concert at Schlitterbahn, where he got separated from his two friends and lost his keys.
He tried to find someone who would readmit him to the park, but was told that wasn't possible, the posting said.
He was later seen walking down a road about a mile from where his car was parked, the posting said.
Britten's mother, Ilana, told a Killeen newspaper Tuesday she didn't find out until Monday that her son had gotten separated from his friends.
"One of the kids' dads left a note on my gate at my house saying that his son needed to get his stuff out of Jordan's car because he was going back to college at Texas State and to call him," she said Tuesday.
A Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel joined the search Tuesday, KGBT reported.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

POLICE STILL LOOKING FOR PRISONER K SE LES PELO DEL P.D.

By Juan Montoya
Even though the Texas Southmost College security warning system had alerted the student community as early as 5:30 p.m. Wednesday that a prisoner had escaped from the custody of the Brownsville Police and amy be in the vicinity of the campus, the public was never shown a photo or the identification of the escapee.
However, TSC issued not only the identification of the prisoner, but also a black and white photo of Alfredo Alvarez, who was believed to be near the downtown Brownsville area in the vicinity of the University Hotel located on Sam Pearl Blvd, at the time of notification.
As of today, at 8 a.m. Thursday, the Brownsville Herald informed its online readers that the BPD had not provided the media with a name or photograph of the prisoners who absconded from the bowels of the city jail on Jackson Street.
The office of Chet Lewis issued a security alert notification at 5:37 p.m. in accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), which requires that campus crime alerts and timely warnings be made to the community to comply with the federal act.
The escaped prisoner was in the custody of police on after he was brought in to the booking area.
Police spokesman J.J. Treviño said Alvarez, described as a Hispanic man in his 20s, was in BPD custody at the station when he escaped just before 3 p.m.
Treviño said the search area ran the length of Mexico Boulevard east and west and all the way up Sam Perl Boulevard north and south. Several law enforcement agencies assisted in the search. The neighborhood that backs up to the Amigoland area was the last place he was seen.
The TSC Security Department emailed its students that it had received a report from the police regarding a notice related to an area near the campus and TSC is providing a security alert to TSC students, faculty and staff.
The college said that on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 4:30 p.m., the TSC security department received the report from the police regarding the escaped federal prisoner.
The TSC security department said it had dispatched an additional guard to the ITECC campus site as a precaution.
TSC also told its students that if they had any other additional information regarding this incident, please contact TSC Security at (956) 542-8256 or the Brownsville Police Department at 956-548-7000.
 As a reminder, TSC Security can be contacted at ITECC utilizing the recently installed security call stations near the nursing and allied health labs. Updates will be provided as they become available.

A BIT OF THE GREEN SUDS ON COUNTY TIME FER PAT'S SAKE






































(Ed's Note: Well, there's hardly anything a body can do these days that doesn't get on the Internet one way or the other. In the case of the carousing leprechauns above, it appears that they started early on a working day even. This year St. Patty's Day – March 17 – came on a Tuesday and the three couples above looks like they got and early start as can be seen by the time that the photo was posted on Melissa Landin's page (1:22 p.m.). Landin works as the Public Information Officer for the Cameron County District Attorney's Office and she and her bods were having a taste of the green brew along with their three companions. We don't know who the three pairs were or where they were at, but none of the guys resemble the picture of Mellie's new hubby at the top. We're sure there's an explanation for the time this was posted (comp, vacation [more?], sick [hardly], but given the success rate we've had requesting information from that office, we can't afford to wait the 10 days required plus the couple of months for an opinion from the Texas Attorney General's Office. Was it Shenanigan's? Or the Irish Pub, perhaps? Oh, Malarkey! Mellie go Bragh!)  

PUB REMADE INTO CITY CRUTCH, DOUBLE TAX ON PEOPLE

By Juan Montoya
Each year, the mayor and the city commissioners of the City of Brownsville go about the business of putting together a budget.
They are not particularly concerned that at the end of the process there will emerge a balanced budget. Between issuances of millions of dollars in Certificates of Obligation (COs) that they don't have to go for voters' approval, they can always lean on their public utility to bail them out of their drunk-sailor spending ways.
For as long as anyone can remember, the city has gone tot the Public Utility Board (PUB) well to "balance" the city budget. (See graphic, click on to enlarge)

In 2013, they dipped into the PUB deep pocket to snare more than $7 million in cash transfers and an additional $4.6 million in free utilities for a total "prestamito" of $11,674,480 million.
The two years before, the city went to the well for additional "economic assistance." In 2010, they tapped in for an additional $3 million. The year after, in 2011, they got an additional $2.5 million.
It is an endless giving machine. Why control your costs and salaries when you can always go to the PUB well and make it happen?
Some say that the city is guilty of double taxation because PUB rate payers are also property taxpayers. By taking their taxes and then grabbing an additional $11 million of their rate payments from PUB, isn't the city in effect imposing a double tax on them?
Old times remember that when the PUB was created in 1960, many felt that by separating the board from the city, politics would be eliminated from hindering its operations.
Boy, were they mistaken!
Those who worked on the very first PUB administration after the board's first meeting on July 15, 1961, inherited a system lacking in some basic requirements of a municipal utilities system. The electorate had just approved the creation of the board by a mere 38 votes (2,741 to 2,703) that would be responsible to the city commission and to the voters of the city.
The membership of that first board reads like a Who's Who of Brownsville history. Former Mayor Ruben Edlestein, Kenneth Faxon, Barry Putegnat, and Gus Peña were the voting members. Mayor Dr. J.C. George represented the city commission on the board and was a nonvoting member barring a tie. George Weir, the manager of the existing electrical plant, was named PUB's first general manager and given the daunting task of bringing PUB up to par to meet the challenges of the mid-20th Century.
First, the board had to deal with $250,000 in uncollected utility bills. At the time the collection rate was hovering near 65 percent, a drag on the entire system. Additionally, rigged meters and tapped electrical lines were in use, resulting in electric losses that reached about 30 percent.
For many years, CPL and others had tried to buy the utility from the City of Brownsville – but the voters of the city had rejected all offers that would take the ownership away from the municipality. Hard-nosed business decisions and changes in policies to help PUB survive in the dog-eat-dog world of the utility market generated controversy and resistance from many quarters. Yet, in a very short time, the utility could report to the city that its finances were on solid ground and that transfers to the city – which continue to this day – could be made to the city's general fund.
And now, instead of rewarding the ratepayers, the city has yet again burdened them with a dubious plan to construct a power generating plant with the private energy firm Tenaska and indebted the ratepayers with $325 million to be paid through higher utility rates. Added to the existing debt, that made it $500 million which forced Fitch to issue a "negative" rating citing ratepayer fatigue.
Look at the graphic below. That is how the project will be paid (though higher rates that will keep climbing into 2016) while the city continues to raid the PUB till. Is this any way to run a railroad?


ERASMO'S LION, PAT DOGS IT, AND THE REST OF PONY SHOW

By Juan Montoya
"At the zoo, Gladys Porter Zoo, the Lion Sleeps tonight..."
And now – if we are to believe the claims of mayoral candidate Erasmo Castro – that lion sleeps with a full belly because of his intervention and that of his "Cheez Nation."
Just as the population of stray and abandoned dogs and cats owe a debt of gratitude to Pat Ahumada, another mayoral candidate this time around, there are some thankful felines at the zoo, it would appear.
Erasmo's Lion (some call it Lying) saga started after a "Pulga Online" devotee named Tito Saagahon posted a picture of a lion whose ribcage could be clearly discerned and expressed concern that he wan't being fed enough and could have been starving.
Other, more sanguine viewers, suggested that it was the lioness' fault (she is visible looking over the tree trunk behind him) that the lion was in that condition because of her voracious libido.
Nonetheless, as can be seen in Erasmo's post, he reprinted the post on his page and wrote that  "what happens on the cheez page makes a difference in our community."
There followed congratulatory comments from adherents to the Cheeze Nation thanking Erasmo for saving Marimba's hide (named so because of his protruding rib cage) and patting him on his ample back.
Well, the Gladys Porter Zoo people heard about the tempest in the teapot and quickly assured the posters and commenters on the social media that Marimba was on a controlled diet  (actually Jamil) specially developed for their metabolic needs. In other words, because of his diet, his appearance was acceptable.
However, Erasmo has an anti-Cheezmeh watchdog group watching over his claims as he hurls toward the May election and they wasted no time in pouncing (excuse the analogy) on his post that it was the cheez page that set things right for Marimba AKA Jamil.
"Cheez doesn’t know when to stop lying. He now says, if it wasn’t for the cheez page, people wouldn’t know about the lion at the zoo. First of all, the person who made awareness to the public is the administrator of “La Pulga Online Brownsville” by the name of a Tito Saagahon.” The group has close to 60,000 subscribers, more than double to the cheez heads. The post received many shares and comments and because of this post, it was then put on the Cheez page. So why does the Cheez claim credit yet again?"
This is like looking at a mirror through a mirror, in a way. Earsmo and his cheez heads have lived and died by the social media. Now with a watchdog group watching the self-proclaimed watchdog, things should get interesting, like one of Ahuamda's dogs chasing its tail.
Their page is located at http://nomorecheezmeh.com/2015/03/23/now-claims-credit-for-a-lion/



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TAKE A STAND AGAINST ANTI-IMMIGRANT BILLS





































WHAT WILL NEW COUNTY JUDGE PETE SEPULVEDA DO ABOUT JPs MILLIONS $$$$ IN UNCOLLECTED FINES?


By Juan Montoya
In 2011, Cameron County Commissioners Court managed to balance its proposed $72.3 million budget without implementing employee pay cuts, furloughs or layoffs.
However, it had to increase property taxes by 2 cents per $100 valuation in order to raise an additional $1 million it added to the $866,000 raised by property taxpayers who paid early.
Then, in 2014, commissioners approved a penny and a half increase to add to the tax rate of about $0.38 per $100 of property.
The commissioners justified the increase when they passed a bond issue the year before that had to be paid for. They also altered the budget to allow for employee raises, a one-time stipend for employees and the authorization of numerous other positions.
“We already had to raise it by 0.8 of a penny because of the bond issue,” said then-County Judge Carlos Cascos, adding that the additional $0.007 rate increase came as the county worked with the budget, which now has authorized new positions in several departments.
But if the commissioners had asked County Auditor Martha Galarza just one floor above in the Dancy Building  where they meet to take a look at the uncollected fines levied by the county's 10 justice of the peace courts, they would have discovered that if there had been an energetic collection effort, they could have spared the taxpayers the extra burden.
An information request by El Rrun-Rrun indicates that in the last two years alone (2012 to 2015), the county's JPs have racked up a not-inconsiderable total of $12,337,360 in uncollected fines. (see graphic, click to enlarge)
When we asked some county administrators why this was, they said that when they inquired of the JPs, the judges pointed their finger at the constables. When they asked the constables, the constables pointed the finger at the JPS.
The courts are styled:
101 for JP Pct. 1 Benny Ochoa
201 for JP Pct. 2, Place 1 Linda Salazar
202 for JP Pct. 2, Place 2 Jonathan Gracia (who inherited the two-year total from Erin Garcia.)
203 for JP Pct. 2, Place 3 newly-elected Mary Esther Garcia
301 for JP Pct. 3, Place 1 Guadalupe "Lupe" Ayala
302 for JP Pct. 3, Place 2 David Garza
401 for JP Pct. 4 Juan Mendoza
501 for JP Pct. 5, Place 1 Sally Mendoza
502 for JP Pct. 5, Place 2 Eloy Cano
503 for JP Pct. 5, Place 3 Mike Trejo
*It is worth noting that in just the past two years, both Brownsville JP courts under Linda Salazar and Erin Garcia just about doubled the total amount of uncollected fines in their jurisdiction. In Salazar's case, she racked up $2,262,254 to bring the total amount of uncollected fines in her court to $5,313,064. In Garcia's case, her $2,639,409 in uncollected fines raised the total to $5,512,256.
But, going back to the tax raises, if the county JPs and constables had made an enforcement effort at collecting just a fraction of the $12 million racked up in the last two years, a tax increase would have been unnecessary last year.
For example, if they had collected just one-eighth of the fines generated in the last two years, it would have raised more than $1,5 million, decreasing the size of the tax raise or making it needless altogether.
That's just for the last two years.
Administrative services has information that shows that the total in uncollected fines on the JP courts is more than $34 million overall, or $34,767,302 to be exact. (see graphic, click to enlarge)
Even though the county has a contract with Linebarger, Goggan. Blair to collect delinquent fines, the collection effort amounts to form letters that defendants often throw away.
About the only time that the county get to collect on the JP fines is when the defendant wants to renew their auto registration for license plates or to conduct a transaction requiring them to do business the office of the tax assessor-collector. Cities also have such "scofflaw" contracts with that office that show when they they owe traffic or other fines. But that is a once-in-a-year occasion and not a concerted ongoing effort to collect the delinquent fines, sources say.
"If there was a real, meaningful effort to collect just one half of the fines and let people know that the county was serious about this, then people might come in and take care of their obligations," said a county administrator. "As it is, people don't think twice about throwing their letters of notice in the trash. We owe it to the county taxpayer to collect some of these and prevent their taxes from going up."
Now, with the county already looking forward to the 2015-2016 budget, it might to be as easy for new county judge Pete Sepulveda to pass a tax increase to make ends meet unless the administration shows taxpayers an aggressive effort to collect the delinquent fines

IS ISRAEL PLAYING THE UNITED STATES FOR SUCKERS?

By Juan Montoya
It is a well-known axiom in Washington politics that you never go against the Israeli lobby.
Whether you agree with the politics of the State of Israel or its politicians, it is the political thing to just go along and bear it.
Israel has occupied parts of Palestine for the past 50 years and subjected those Arab inhabitants who were not driven out when the State of Israel was carved out by the superpowers in 1948 and its governments have since subjected them to second-class citizenship inside their own native land.
Still, when politicians like current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu come to this county, they make sure to remind us that it is the only democracy in the Middle East and is therefore entitled to U.S. protection and generous economic support.
When the United Nations (actually Great Britain, the United States and Russia), decided to establish the Jewish homeland following the persecution of that people in Europe, it did so in the hope that they would get along with their Arab neighbors.
But things had changed in the 2,000 or so years that Jesus walked the earth, and many more thousands since Abraham sowed his seed in that land. Things had changed. The refugees were thrown in the middle of an Arab demographic that populated their former kingdom.
It has been war ever since.
After years of trying to broker a peace between the Jews and their Arab neighbors, the world thought a basis for peace had been established when both sides accepted the two-state solution as the foundation for peace. Two states – Israel and the state of the Palestinians – would live peacefully side by side.
That was the solution agreed upon in 1974, and then as late as 2014 when the Palestine Liberation Organization, Israel and the United States agreed on a two-state solution as the outline for negotiations.
Or so everyone thought. For decades, American blood and treasure have been spent on the assumption that we had a deal. But the recent behavior by Israeli Prime Minister indicates that we have been played for fools. There will not be a two-state solution in the Middle East while he is Prime Minster, Netanyahu told his followers prior to the election which gave him another six-year term.
And he race-baited the far right wing of Israeli politics urging them to vote because "the Arabs are coming out in droves."
Now we have reports that Israel has been spying on the the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States. President Barack Obama refused to confirm the reports in today's press conference with the president of Afghanistan.
So what happened to the time-worn shibboleth of the "special relationship" we had with the Jews?
It's not like we've been misers with that state.
On April 2014, Jeremy M. Sharp, a Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs with The Congressional Research Service, wrote that Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II.
As of then, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance.
Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. Strong congressional support for Israel has resulted in Israel receiving benefits not available to any other countries; for example, Israel can use some U.S. military assistance both for research and development in the United States and for military purchases from Israeli manufacturers.
In addition, U.S. assistance earmarked for Israel is generally delivered in the first 30 days of the fiscal year, while most other recipients normally receive aid in installments, and Israel (as is also the case with Egypt) is permitted to use cash flow financing for its U.S. arms purchases.
In addition to receiving U.S. State Department-administered foreign assistance, Israel also receives funds from annual defense appropriations bills for rocket and missile defense programs. Israel pursues some of those programs jointly with the United States.
In 2007, the Bush Administration and the Israeli government agreed to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package for the period from FY2009 to FY2018. 
During his March 2013 visit to Israel, President Obama pledged that the United States would continue to provide Israel with multi-year commitments of military aid subject to the approval of Congress.
The FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-76) provides the President’s full $3.1billion request in FMF for Israel.
In addition, it provides another $504 million in funding for research, development, and production of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system ($235 million) and of the joint U.S.-Israel missile defense systems David’s Sling ($149.7 million), the Arrow improvement program (or Arrow II, $44.3 million), and Arrow III ($74.7 million).
For FY2015, the Obama Administration requested (and got) $3.1 billion in FMF to Israel and $10 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance. The Missile Defense Agency’s FY2015 request for joint U.S.- Israeli programs is $96.8 million. The Administration also is requesting $175.9 million for Iron Dome.
For full report, see fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf
So when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu comes to address the U.S. Congress to speak out against this country's negotiations on nuclear capabilities with Iran at the invitation of the Republicans, when House Republicans interfere with negotiations by writing to the rulers of Iran saying it will be up to them to approve a deal even though it's not required, and when House Speaker John Boehner accepts the invitation to address the Kenesset to speak out against the U.S. negotiations being carried out by the administration, it's time to "reassess" our relationship with that country.
If they don't respect our leaders or our institutions, if they thumb their noses at our political system, if they say they were lying to us when they said they accepted the two-state solution to end the conflict in the Middle East to keep the money from the U.S. taxpayer flowing into their coffers, and still continue to choke the Palestinian culture and grab their land by approving new settlements, who needs them?
The Muslim atomic bomb is nothing to fear. Pakistan has had one for years and has never used it
against its Hindu neighbor India.
In 1965, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto announced: “ If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass and leaves for a thousand years, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own. The Christians have the bomb, the Jews have the bomb and now the Hindus have the bomb. Why not the Muslims too have the bomb?"
At the moment, only Israel has an atomic bomb in the Middle East.
Why should they be the only ones? It seems like possessing a nuclear device makes a people take a sober look at the consequences of its use. After all, the only country to have ever used a nuclear bomb against a civilian population has been the United States.
Isn't that the philosophy used by Republicans to justify the passage of bills approving the carrying of concealed weapons; that when he thinks the other guy may have one, criminals will think twice about using theirs?
Thumbing their nose at their benefactor and biting the hand that feeds you is not the politics of a friend. Neither is lying to us and rubbing our president's nose in the dirt.

BEFORE IPHONES OR FACEBOOK, RADIO WAS KING






































(Ed.'s Note: Things were so innocent back then, weren't they? This photo sent to us by one of our four readers (we're rapidly growing here) shows a bunch of Brownsville teens during "Teen Hour" om KBOR Radio. We don;t know if Connie Green is in the bunch, but everyone looks thrilled to be there. Did this presage the appearance of Fats Domino in Brownsville with his hit Blueberry Hill?

.............MR. MARTINEZ, TAKE DOWN THIS SIGN!...............

(Ed.'s Note: As if candidates didn't have enough headaches to worry about, we received this photo and an email from a resident at West End Woods Subdivision showing a 4 x 8 sign along placed by  At-Large "A" city commission candidate the Gerardo Martinez on the right-of-way of Stillman Road before it joins Dennet. The resident says that not only is the sign on the right-of-way, but that all signs – unless they're from the developer or his assigns to sell the properties – are prohibited by covenant. We contacted the Martinez campaign and were told that they had received permission from the property owner and were in fact in the process of moving the sign closer to the wood fence behind it. The resident who first contacted us said that it didn't matter if the owner gave permission and that the subdivision's Declaration 6.21 (shown in graphic below) written by Frank Wood of Sanchez, Ellington, Wood and Dijkman, expressly gave the subdivision developer the right to remove any sign that did not comply with it. We passed the info along to the Martinez people but they remain steadfast that they have the permission of the lot owner to have it there. What do you think?
 

Monday, March 23, 2015

DIALOGUE DETERIORATES: TETREAU'S "US AGAINST THEM"

"For those of you in the cheap seats I'd like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry!”

By Juan Montoya
Tito Mata is used to heavy lifting.
His many titles in weightlifting attest to that.
However, when he sent an email urging his contacts to support the candidacy of Sergio Zarate against incumbent District 2 commissioner Jessica Tetreau, he wasn't ready for the barrage of class-laden messages by the feisty lass' supporter Viro Cardenas.
Cardenas, a one-time candidate for mayor of the city objected to Mata's apologetic explanation of why he was supporting Zarate and mentioned that the community was mired in poverty and was near the top of the cities in low educational levels.
This set off Cardenas in a rant where he took umbrage with Mata and said the reason the city was so poor and uneducated was because "a high percentage of pour population is on welfare and do not want to work...they want an easy life without lifting a finger..."
The class-war "us against them" mentality" of the Tetreau camp has nowhere become so obvious as this peek inside Cardenas' viewpoint lays bare.
Those who have seen Tetreau's Facebook (and she lives a very public life in it) are often treated to glimpses of her shopping for expensive jewelry at her buddy Deborah Portillo's shop at Sunrise Mall, her flaunting of her shopping sprees at local boutiques, etc.

Girls, the song goes, just wanna have fun!
We could well ask Cardenas whether Tetreau and her mate were concerned about the home economics of the workers at the car wash that they were taken to federal court and made to pay fines for violation of the hour and wage laws we all have to observe.
And if Viro thinks so highly of the "high percentage" of the population on welfare and not wanting to work, why did he try so hard to solicit their vote to make him mayor?
Not all the residents of Brownsville were born with a wealthy relative as Viro was so that he doesn't have to toil as they have to. And hasn't he been trying mightily to use his political connections to steer the municipal business to his mechanic shop, in other words, trying to get the public to subsidize his business? Welfare takes many forms, doesn't it?
To his credit, Mata took a gracious leave of the cyber dialogue with Cardenas.
And no it appears that former blogger and current PIO for the Cameron County District Attorney Melissa Landin (AKA Zamora) also wants to get in on the fun. She posted her own rant advising the candidates to run their race on issues and not run their "family-oriented ad on a smut-filled blog that extorts money from people so they are not the next target."
Is she (and her bizarre blogger Wightman) the megaphones for Tetreau against Jerry McHale? Why not just come out and make the allegation instead of weasel-wording the charge? There is also a campaign against blogger Jim Barton in the making.
Well, this sanctimonious advice by randy Mellie was quickly answered in kind by one Lily Gonzales, who asked about the PUB rate increases, the flooding on Boca Chica, etc., that had not been addressed by Tetreau during her reign.
If what is "brought to the table" are attempts to shut down other blogs by Landin's proxies so that there will only be one voice available on local issues, that would certainly be considerably more obscene than a picture of a nude woman or someone defecating.
These type of statements indicate a self-righteous and grandiose viewpoint of themselves by the speakers, who we can only surmise think of themselves as the nobility of Brownsville.

GONZALEZ RESPONDS TO LONGORIA'S "TECHNICALITY" CLAIM

By Michael Gonzalez

"Rick Longoria responded to our ballot challenge in his recent FB post. As predicted, he called it a technicality and tried to downplay the impact my profession would have on my decision-making if elected.

This campaign is about the issues that matter to District 1. I am running a professional campaign to inform the electorate. The ballot challenge just begins the larger discussion about how, in the past, the city tends to selectively apply rules in disregard of the interplay between local, state, and federal laws.

What are technicalities Rick? Technicalities are points of law or small details within a larger set of rules. It appears that the city has been willing to use those small details to further an agenda even if it hurts the most vulnerable amongst us. Was it not a technicality that the city used in attempting to “convey” instead of “sell” Lincoln Park to UT?

Rick, you ask where I stand on important issues to District 1? I am on record as being against the relocation of Lincoln Park. Unlike you, I have already met with county and state officials to discuss the interplay between the East Loop and the city’s proposed new Lincoln Park location. See my latest press release attached to this post for more details.

So, if elected, what will I offer District 1? I promise a comprehensive approach to decision-making. I promise a collaborative effort with local, state and federal officials. I promise to make decisions within the boundaries of power set forth by the rule of law. I promise to do so with zealous advocacy for the hardworking people of District 1.

You all can expect more press releases from me. I promise to keep this transparent, informative and exciting. Thank you for your continued support.

MG
P.S. Rick, they are not “your people” they are our equals."


IS THE FIX IN FOR FULLER WITH HIS TWO TRUSTEE BODS?

By Juan Montoya
Despite the recommendation of a federal magistrate who examined the lawsuit filed against the Brownsville Independent School District, forensic auditor Deffenbaugh and Associates, and some trustees by former Brownsville Independent School District CFO Tony Fuller be dismissed, the former administrator may be heading for a handsome payoff.
In spite of the negative reception for his lawsuit in the courts, district sources say the new makeup of the BISD board majority may work in Fuller's favor and it now appears that they may be leaning to award him a nice settlement for his troubles.
And while Deffenbaugh was released from the case, Fuller and his attorneys have persisted in the case against the other defendants.
BISD attorneys – unlike Deffenbaugh's – have not been successful in putting the case to rest, but now, after a new makeup of the board that includes two other former BISD administrators castigated by the findings of the Deffenbaugh audit, things seem to be looking up for Fuller.
The audit found that Chirinos' performance at the BISD Transportation Dept. had resulted in more than $2 million in unnecessary overtime payments to bus drivers and needless buildup in inventory that resulted in wasteful spending.
The audit also found that Rodriguez's cozy relationship with then-AD Tom Chavez resulted in favored treatment that resulted in the district paying thousands more for athletic equipment.
On January 2014, U.S. Magistrate  Ronald G. Morgan recommended to the federal district court presided by judge Andrew Hanen that Fuller's state law claims against Deffenbaugh be "dismissed with prejudice pursuant to the Texas Citizens' Participation Act, or in the alternative, be dismissed without prejudice for lack of pendent jurisdiction."
Fuller filed against forensic auditor Deffenbaugh way back on June 2013. He sued the BISD, trustees Catalina Presas-Garcia, Lucy Longoria, Christina Saavedra, Enrique Escobedo, BISD administrator Sylvia Atkinson, and former Superintendent Carl A. Montoya.
Sources now say that the new majority on the board – that includes Rodriguez and Chirinos – may reward Fuller by making him and his attorneys a generous settlement offer despite the magistrate's findings that he had no case.
And while Deffenbaugh was released from the case, Fuller and his attorneys have persisted in the case against the other defendants.
Sources in the BISD say that the new board may reward Fuller by making him and his attorneys a generous offer despite the magistrate's findings that he had not case.
Deffenbaugh – hired at $250,000 to perform the forensic audit –  presented the audit to the board at a closed meeting on Feb. 15, 2012. In it, the auditors stated that Fuller failed to demonstrate "the competencies in both faculties and capabilities necessary" to function as a CFO. The report also stated that Fuller demonstrated an attitude of "indifference and nonchalance" regarding fiscal responsibility.
The BISD released the report Feb 16, 2012 and on March 28, 2012, Fuller was given a letter stating that the BISD intended not to renew his employment contract for the following school year. Then, on April 13, 2012, the board voted not to renew his contract. He remained on paid administrative leave until his contract expired at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.
In his lawsuit, Fuller charged that Deffenbaugh and the other defendants conspired to violate his First Amendment rights, that they retaliated against him, that the audit report was defamatory under Texas law, and that it constituted tortuous interference with his contract with the BISD. He also charged that the auditors' actions constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress, and that Deffenbaugh's actions in concert with the other defendants constituted a conspiracy.
The first two claims were made under federal law while the last four were under state law.
Morgan ruled that Fuller's claim that the defendants conspired to violate his First Amendment Freedom of Speech under 42 USC 1985 as a citizen of the United States had no merit. Morgan said that the section of the code applies to a race or class animus behind the conspiracy and in his case there was none and that it should be dismissed.
Morgan also recommended that Fuller's other claim that the defendants retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights also be dismissed and found that he had not provided any evidence to support his claim that an agreement existed between Deffenbaugh and the BISD-related defendants.
"Fuller seeks to have the court to conclude that there must have been an agreement between Deffenbaugh and Presas Garcia based upon:
1) a previous business relationship
2) the fact that the scope of the audit was expanded to include his performance
3) that Presas-Garcia was a political ally of the administrators he testified against (Art Rendon and Superintendent Hector Gonzales)
"None of these purported facts show an agreement between Deffenbaugh and Presas-Garcia – or any other BISD board member or employee – to violate Fuller constitutional rights," Morgan wrote. "In the absence of such an agreement, Deffenbaugh was not acting under color of state law.
"At the absolute worst, Fuller has pled facts to show possible ethics violations against Presas-Garcia. What he has failed to plead are any specific facts that show, or would tend to show, an agreement between Deffenbaugh or any governmental actor to violate his rights," the opinion states.
Morgan also ruled hat Fuller's claim of defamation were filed untimely since the statute of limitations for slander and defamation is one year after the day of action accrues. Since the audit was first published and circulated February 15, 2012 and Fuller did not file his complaint until June 7, 2013, the claim was untimely filed, he wrote.
Now, with Chirinos and Rodriguez in the majority, the saying that good things come to those who wait may bear some fruit for Fuller.
"Now that both of these guys are a majority on the board, they seem ready to give Fuller a nice payday despite the weakness of the case," said the administrator.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

LONGORIA'S, PEREZ'S DISTRICT 1 CANDIDACIES CHALLENGED

By Juan Montoya
One of three candidates for the District 1 city commissioner position has filed a written challenge to the candidacies of his two opponents, including the incumbent Rick Longoria.
Brownsville attorney Michael Gonzalez, filed the challenge with the city secretary late Friday. He posted a copy of a press release and a copy of the formal challenge to the news media late Friday.
The challenge revolves around the Brownsville City Charter provision Section 4A, Subsection 3:   if within five days after notification by the city secretary he shall have filed with such secretary a written acceptance of the nomination."

"Any eligible person placed in nomination as hereinbefore provided shall have his name printed on the ballots
Gonzalez claims that an information request with the city secretary's office indicates that neither Perez nor Longoria filed such a letter five days after they received notice from the city secretary's office.
Gonzalez does not address whether the candidates in any of the other three contested positions – the mayor, District 2, or the At-Large "A" – filed such letters.
In a recent television interview, city attorney Mark Sossi has insinuated that the mere deliverance of the nomination containing the required signatures constitutes an acceptance in his view. However, some Gonzalez supporters say that if that was the case, there would be no need for the city charter to include the subsection in the requirements to run for public office.
Theoretically, voters could circulate a petition nominating person as a candidate for office and submit it to the city secretary without the person's consent. This has happened many times at party conventions and the candidate can decline the nomination. The city charter subsection in question seems to have been included to allow people who don't want to get drafted into public office to decline being on the ballot.
"Why have the rules if you're not going to follow them, then?," they counter. "Has the city been winging it all this time?"
That raises the question on whether the city secretary (and city attorney) have adhered to the letter of the rules concerning elections in the charter rules in past elections.
In his press release, Gonzalez states that: "As a home rule city, Brownsville can pass elections requirements additional to those found in the Texas Election Code. Brownsville did just that in its City Charter by requiring written acceptance within five days of securing and approved nomination by petition. Ricardo Longoria and Roman Perez have failed to conform with the additional requirement and by law should not appear on the ballot."
Gonzalez says he is requesting a written response from the city on its official interpretation of the section and subsection.
The city election is set for May 9.

LAME LONGORIA WHINES... AND VOTES AGAINST SOUTHMOST

"At the end of the day what are you going to do for my people? When a hurricane hits, what are you going to do?" 
District 1 commissioner Ricardo Longoria to challenger Roman Perez

By Juan Montoya
For the last five years, District 1 city commissioner Ricardo Longoria has stood by as the city administration and his fellow commissioners siphoned off the money meant to create a hurricane safe room on land adjacent to the library in the heart of Southmost.
This Tuesday, while wringing his hands in despair as the time ran out to use the Federal Emergency Management Agency money to construct the dome, Longoria voted to do just that.
Instead, the money will be funneled for street improvements in Longoria's district just in time for his reelection bid. In fact, his Facebook page features a list of streets he has fixed. This will undoubtedly be prominently displayed there, too.
It's not like he hasn't had time to fight for "his people," as he likes to call the residents of the teeming Southmost barrios.
On May 25, 2013 – almost two years ago – the city commission, with Longoria present, voted on this item:
8. FIRST Public Hearing for the proposed 2012/2013 HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program Funding allocation. (Stephanie Reyes – Grants)
The "substantial" part of that amendment was the proposal to shift $535,000 from a construction of the planned Southmost Community Center (Dome) to provide hurricane protection to that community and add $300,000 to John Villarreal's District 4 Oliveira Skate Park's $150,000 and another $235,000 to meet the needs of additional amenities to District 2 Jessica Tetreau's Portway Acres Park which was originally programmed for $107,692.
According ot the minutes of that meeting:
"Commissioner Estela C. Vasquez moved that the proposed 2nd Substantial Amendment to the
Fiscal Year 2012/2013 HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program Funding
allocation, be approved. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Jessica Tetreau and carried
unanimously.
Longoria had another chance to protect "his people" on December 12, 2014 when the commission considered delaying the construction once again. The minutes of that meeting state:
9. Consideration and ACTION to request that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant the City of Brownsville a 12-month extension to complete construction of  the Community Safe Room project (DR-1791-361), located at the Southmost Library. Commissioner Ricardo Longoria Jr. moved that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to the City of Brownsville, for a 12-month extension to complete construction of the Community Safe Room project (DR-1791-361), located at the Southmost Library, be approved. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Jessica Tetreau and carried unanimously.
On Tuesday, the minutes will reflect that Longoria voted once again to cancel the project in his district.
The commission instead authorized city officials to use the money for street and drainage improvements in the Southmost area.
Yet, this forked tongue commissioner from the Southmost area took to his soapbox and said his constituents were ‘cheated’ out of a dome.
The FEMA safe room project has been in the works for the last five years. Originally, there was a proposal to build four FEMA safe rooms in the city. In January, two of the four were canceled, and their funding was to be used for the remaining two safe rooms to be located at the Brownsville Sports Park and Southmost Public Library.
The safe rooms can withstand winds of up to 150 mph and can accommodate 800 to 1,000 people.
Those safe rooms can double as community activities centers or even gyms when not being used as hurricane protection.The 5-0 vote by the commissioners canceled the dome and voted to fund street and drainage improvements and the construction of a dome at the Brownsville Sports Park.
 According to news reports (not by the Herald, but by the TSC Collegian's Oscar Castillo) Marina Zolezzi, director of the city’s Office of Grant Management and Community Development, said FEMA’s deadline to build the dome is August 2016 and if the city does not meet that deadline, it runs the risk of paying 100 percent of the remaining project costs.
Under an agreement with FEMA, the federal agency contributes 75 percent of the funding and the city would have a local share of 25 percent.
“We would have really liked to see a second dome, especially in the Southmost area, but as we outlined earlier, because of FEMA’s deadline, which is August 2016 and because of the funding, we will not be able to meet that,” Zolezzi said in an interview with The Collegian after the city commission meeting.
Longoria thanked Zolezzi and the grants department for their work on the safe rooms, and yet had the nerve to say that in "his opinion, his constituents were being cheated out of a dome.
“I appreciate the money for the streets … [and] a dome in the north side of town at the Sports Park used for a gym, I understand the dual purpose, but you also have to understand that the citizens of my area don’t live in windstorm-certified homes,” Longoria told Zolezzi during the meeting. “To throw money at a couple of streets my way and, in my opinion, cheat my people out of a dome doesn’t really fly in my book.”
“The people in my community live on cinder blocks, live in houses that have three different pieces attached to the original piece. … You can see where the people in my community will benefit from [a FEMA safe room],” Longoria told The Collegian. “How am I supposed to get my people over to the Brownsville Sports Park when they’re in need of shelter in case of a storm?”
Asked what he would recommend people do in case of a hurricane, Longoria replied, “I don’t want people staying in the neighborhood, I want them out. I want them in a safe place. I’d rather have them go up north; I’d rather have them go somewhere where they’re actually going to be safe.”
No, Ricardo, you can't have it both ways. You sat there and voted to give the money away to suck up to the city administration and your fellow commissioners. You didn't stand up for "your people" when you had the chance. To now say that they "cheated" Southmost out of the money for the dome is a bald faced lie. It was you who cheated the Southmost area of effective leadership. We've been lucky. Pray to God that we don't get hit by a hurricane.
On May 9, there are two other candidates running against Longoria. They are Roman Perez and Michael Gonzalez. Either one would serve us better than this weasel.  

ALL OUT MOVEMENT IN CITY ELECTION GAINING MOMENTUM



















By Juan Montoya
Voters in this May's City of Brownsville election should send a clear message to the incumbents running for reelection – Mayor Tony Martinez and commissioners Ricardo Longoria and Jessica Tetreau – that they want them "All Out."
They should remind them that when they were given a chance to defend them from major utility rate increases way back when on December 2012, all of them, with no exceptions, blindly followed the lead of Martinez and approved them without even taking the wishes of their constituents into consideration.
When they could have spoken up on their constituents' behalf, they accepted the gag imposed upon them by Martinez and his pals.
Instead, they cleared the way for the Big Shots at the Public Utility Board and the private energy company Tenaska to indebt them to the tune of $325 million through higher utility rates well into 2016 that will never go down again. They, in effect, gave the plant proponents a blank check compliments of captive PUB customers.
And when the public and the media wanted to learn the details of what obligations the city commission and the PUB had placed on their shoulders, both these entities fought tooth and nail to argue that the ratepayers had no business asking what other obligations their "leaders" had agreed to place upon their shoulders.
They fought utility analysts from Virginia, a challenge from Hinogas, and even Freedom of Information requests from local media, this humble Rrun-Rrun blog included.
In less than half an hour that fateful December evening, these fine folks agreed to burden the ratepayers with unconsciously high rate increases and to partner with a private company for a $500 million project with arguable benefits. What's more, they were successful in preventing the public – the very people who will ultimately pay for their grandiose plan – from finding out exactly what they had been burdened with.


When the vote took place, no one asked the citizens whether they agreed with the rate hikes. No one asked them whether they agreed to fund an electric generating plant where their $325 million share of the $500 price tag (more than half) will only give them only a quarter of the 800 MW of electricity produced. And Tenaska will not start construction of the plant until they have found customers for the other 600 MWs, a shaky proposition because there will be two other electric generating plants in operation in the region before the local startup.
Who were Martinez, Longoria and Tetreau representing? And why have they gone along with keeping the public in the dark?
Those candidates running against them should come to an agreement to support each other if there is a runoff against these incumbents. If you lose, show your commitment to change and don't just take your ball and run home.
We're "all in" on the debt voted upon by these three well into 2016 and decades to come to pay for the bonds in this foible. The city literally can't afford them. This election tell the incumbents they are "All Out."

LAWYERS CROW ABOUT BEATING CC D.A., ONE LESS "LIKE"

By Juan Montoya
You won't find a press release of it in Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz's Facebook page.
Now will there be a press release about it in the DA's website written by Internet maven Melissa Landin.
But in the wake of a slam dunk of the DA's Office by a junior attorney on three child abuse cases, the Internet has been lit up by local attorneys crowing up the victory of one of their junior members over the DA's office investigators, Crime Victims Unit and prosecutors.
It is no secret that there have been numerous defections of seasoned prosecutors at the  beleaguered DA's office. Increasingly, the office has taken on the appearance of a political campaign, with supporters pointing to the number of "likes" on the page as a measure of the office's approval by the public.
The first announcement of the trashing came from proud daddy and local attorney Ed Stapleton who posted on his Facebook page that his daughter Sara had prevailed over the powers of the state defending her client on three indecency with a child charges.
A cascade of congrats from the local bar followed as they hailed her performance over the state.
Even Fruty Villarreal, a local conjunto musician of some renown chirped in about the "good defense" Stapleton had provided her client.
This must add insult to injury to Saenz since it was the DA himself who appeared before the Cameron County Commissioners Court to give Fruty a proclamation heralding his musical achievements.
Now, we don't know the details of the case involved, but it stands to reason that someone vetted the allegations, sifted through the evidence, interviewed the victims, and came to the conclusion that the child had been abused by the adult.
Could it be that there was no foundation to the charges as Sara Stapleton was able to convince a jury?
And if there was no basis for the allegations, how was it that investors, prosecutors and crime victims advocates in the DA's Office were led to believe there was?
On the darker side, if the difference in the verdict had to do with Sara Stapleton's prowess as an attorney and with the deficiency in the prosecutors and the evidence in the case, is there a possibility that the inadequacy of the DA's office is keeping this victim exposed to a dangerous, abusive environment?
Questions like this make the number of "likes" and "dislikes" on the DA's Office Facebook page seem trivial and insensitive.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A NOT SO CHARITABLE GOODBYE TO CHRIS PATTERSON

By Juan Montoya
Now that Brownsville Parks and Recreation director Chris Patterson is taking his leave of the city, there is at least on former public official who isn't sorry to see him leave for greener pastures.
That man would be Mario Villarreal, the former Brownsville Navigation District commissioner who started out with the Brownsville Public Utilities Board at its inception.
Villarreal has been dogged about refurbishing the fountain at Washington Park that at one time was the jewel of the Rio Grande Valley and people would drive from nearby towns to see the "colored" water spout from its base.
The fountain was built in 1929 and was heralded all over the area for its synchronized water geysers and multi-colored lights that drew visitors from throughout South Texas.
For Villarreal, it has become a personal crusade to restore the fountain to its former grandeur. HGis father was among those who brought it into being.
After decades of operating, the fountain was allowed to fall into disrepair, and was restored in time in December 1975 just in time to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the park. Some of those who helped to restore it were Frank and Fausto Yturria and Pansy Yturria.
When Mario Villarreal's father Faustino and A.S. Garcia, an employee at Putegnat Hardware joined Mary Yturria and other City of Brownsville administrators way back in the 1960s to work on the Washington Park fountain, it was already a city landmark known throughout the Valley.
"My dad helped Miss Yturria and the other people at PUB to get the fountain to shoot out water and synchronize the different colors so that it looked like the water was changing colors," remembered Villarreal. "Now it's a shame for me to pass by there every day and see the condition it's in."
Hard times have fallen on the old fountain. The old tubing that made the water shoot geysers as tall as 65 feet in the air and then diminish in size as the colored lights alternated eroded over time and had to be replaced. Today, the geysers are mere spouts of varying sizes that are colored by lights so dim they seem to be but of a single hue.
Recently, workmen were trying to get the water to shoot higher, but found that when the level of the water in the pool got too low, air seeped into the system and diminished the flow.
"When it gets to a certain level, air goes in the pipes and we have to purge it," said a worker. "The lights work, too, but they are not as bright as they used to be so they seem to be of only one color."
Villarreal has tried to work with the city to repair the fountain that was a source of pride for his late father. As a businessman who does extensive business in Mexico, he took it on his own to find the original replacement parts in the interior and passed along the information to the city.
"They already had a committee working on the fountain and they didn't pay much attention to what we told them," he said. "Instead they went out to other parts dealers in the United States and that's what we ended up with. It's nothing like what it used to be."
The committee reportedly spent thousands of city tax dollars to complete its job, but to Villarreal, the result left much to be desired.
"It makes me feel sad because I have a personal relationship with that fountain because my dad worked on it," he said. "If they ever decide to really restore it to its original condition, I am ready to help."
The failure of Parks and Rec's Patterson to fix a simple fountain in the heart of the city isn't the only legacy he leaves behind.
He was personally involved in the siphoning of more than $30 million for the Brownsville Sports park, knew about the city's plans for the giveaway of Lincoln Park to the University of Texas System and didn't do much to stop that ripoff. And he also had a hand in taking the money meant for a hurricane dome in the Southmost area to funnel it to a deluxe skate park across the city in Oliveira Park.
The Oliveira Skate Park amendment was requested by City of Brownsville Director of Parks and Recreation Department Director Chris Patterson who cited a public hearing held where "young and veteran skate board enthusiasts" and skate park contractors (American Ramp) convinced him that the city should fleece the Southmost barrio of $300,000 to build a state-of-the art skate facility to allay their desires to have a nice place to play.
Nowhere in the document is there any mention of any public hearing held in the Southmost area to determine whether the residents there were OK with having the money go for hurricane protection for their neighborhoods be siphoned off for such crucial necessities as a $450,000 place for skaters to hang out.
"The contractors were on hand at the Public Input Meeting to incorporate the comments and suggestions from the public...," Patterson wrote.
This is the same Patterson who was rooked by the rap group from Houston who got paid up front and then reneged on the concert they were supposed to perform.
Remember?
If a street-wise black rapper from Houston could beguile Chris, what can we expect from slick contractors who said the paltry sum of $150,000 wouldn't cut the mustard to give the "young and veteran skate board enthusiasts" the quality recreational needs they deserve?
Both Patterson and City Finance Director Pete Gonzalez buttressed their arguments in the guise of preventing crime and giving neighborhood youth an alternative to criminal activity. In other words, "If we don't make this substantial amendment and take this $535,000 from the Southmost area and give them what they want, why we might be inducing these impressionable youth to a life of crime."
When you have streetwise kids and vendors deciding where the city's money should go, when you allow filthy rich university systems to take your best park without a whimper, maybe it is high time that Patterson takes a hike.
You won't get any complaints from Villarreal on that one.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

HOW LONG BEFORE UTRGV-TSC STUDENTS ARE PACKING HEAT?


REUTERS
The Texas Senate on Thursday approved a measure to allow licensed handguns on college campuses, part of a series of bills being considered that would expand gun rights.

Lawmakers in the Republican-dominated statehouse have made gun rights a top priority, a move analysts said indicates a harder turn to the right for the most populous state under Republican control.

In a vote along party lines, the state Senate approved the bill, which will be sent to the House.

“My concern is to expand freedom of the most trustworthy citizens to access property they as citizens of this state own,” said Senator Brian Birdwell, a Republican sponsor of the legislation.

Backers said having more guns on campus from licensed owners over 21 would offer additional protection and is needed after mass shootings at educational facilities across the country. The bill would allow private colleges and universities to opt out.

Opponents, who include some university presidents and law enforcement officials, said it would increase the chances of innocent people being shot.

“There is great concern that the presence of handguns, even if limited to licensed individuals age 21 or older, will lead to an increase in both accidental shootings and self-inflicted wounds,” University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven wrote to lawmakers this year.

McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, led the U.S. Special Operations Command until 2014 and organized the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. McRaven said he was concerned about the safety of the more than 210,000 students and 9,000 faculty and staff in the University of Texas system.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, seven states have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses.

The Texas Senate earlier this month passed a measure that allows those who have state concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons openly in holsters.

Support for the bill is strong in the Republican-controlled House.

Some Republican lawmakers are seeking even more, such as a measure to allow Texans to carry handguns in public without obtaining a permit.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Bill Trott)

LAKE TETREAU: SQUEEZING AND SUCKING THE PUBLIC P.R. $$$

By Juan Montoya
We were riding past Portway Park today and noticed a television crew from Channel 23 filming a segment with someone in front of it.
The nosy media types we are, we doubled back and gawked at the shooting. It turned out to be no one else than city commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa announcing for the television-watching public that she was hosting an Easter Egg Hunt at that very spot for the little children of her district for whom she had fought the good fight to get the improvements there, including a splash park.
Well, that just warmed the cockles of our hearts to no end.
We remember hearing that most road repairs (and boy do we need that right about now after the weeks' rain) were programmed for just before the city elections in the past. Maybe this is just more of the same to kindle the civic spirit in the voters of District 2.
The commissioner is locked in a hard campaign against opponent Sergio Zarate and now it appears she is pulling out all the stops to use city assets to promote her reelection. I bet the folks in Washington who disburse the Community Development funds never knew that the feisty commish would be the beneficiary of their largess.
The improvement were actually done in the summer of 2013 at a cost of $200,000, but as the shoot took place today, it seems like there might have been some drainage issues overlooked.
If the weather persists, maybe they should make it an underwater egg hunt and provide the kiddies with snorkels so they can find them under the stagnant waters under the slides. It could also be that the splash park might have spared some of the expense of installing pipes since the water seems to gravitate toward that place easily enough.
As we watched, we noticed that the cameras never strayed away from the commish and film the standing water that makes the park unusable right now.
If you are around your television sets tonight and for some ungodly reason surf over to Channel 23, see if you can see Lake Tetreau in the footage. We could bet you a cold Bud Light that you won't.
As the campaign slouches toward the May election, expect not only Jess, but also the incumbents like Da Mayor Tony Martinez and District 1 commissioner Ricardo Longoria to pull out all the stops on good PR opportunities that can get at public expense to suck and squeeze all the blood they can from the public's buck to get reelected.

rita