Friday, October 21, 2016


"Nations and women are not forgiven the unguarded hour in which the first adventurer who came along could violate them." The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Karl Marx 1852

By Juan Montoya
Well, while Da Mayor and his cast of fellow travelers were off to celebrate the wedding feasts of commissioner John Villarreal and Lynette Benavides in Sintra, Portugal, that mean old McAllen usurper upriver swooped down and made off with Brownsville's sister city, Miguel Allende, Mexico.
And since McAllen is now Miguel Allende's sister city, we guess than makes that city our step sister as well.

Oh, well, you can't choose your relatives.
Yesterday, Thursday, Oct. 20, a delegation from San Miguel de Allende inked a pact that officially sealed the deal that they have become sister cities.

San Miguel de Allende, nestled in the east of the state of Guanajuato, roughly a four-hour drive north of Mexico City, is home to nearly 12,000 people from the United States.
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling and San Miguel de Allende Mayor Ricardo Garcia signed a Sister City Agreement inside the commission chambers.
 Six days before, Darling and Garcia signed the initial Sister City Agreement in San Miguel de Allende’s city meeting room.

But it was just oh, so recently, in  January 20, 2004, that a similar vow of sisterhood was inked between the then mayor of Brownsville and the then-mayor of San Miguel Allende that made Brownsville and that city sisters. La traición!

How quickly they forget.
McAllen, known to many in Mexico as a shopping market, has been exploring the arts and culinary elements for many years while San Miguel is known as a vacation spot with beautiful sites, smells, art and food.

Brownsville, on the other hand, has little in common with San Miguel Allende excepting for the fact that it is a favorite haunt of now-Brownsville Navigation District commissioner and self-appointed Brownsville Ambassador of Goodwill Ralph Cowen. If anyone knows about good food, it's Ralph.

The local daily waxed eloquence as its reported bubbled over the deal.
"Both mayors on Thursday keyed on how both places are international cities, with San Miguel having a strong international visitor presence while McAllen, being a border town, brings people from across the world for the maquilas over in Reynosa.
“We learn a lot from all the people from all over the world,” Garcia said. “I heard someone say that 75 percent of people in McAllen are not from McAllen. That’s very much like San Miguel – you embrace them.”

Well, McAllen can keep that little two-timing strumpet. We remember the Jimi Hendrix tune "Red House" where Jimi wails: 
"Wait a minute, something's wrong, lord, have mercy
This key won't unlock this door,
Something's goin' on here
I have a bad bad feeling
That my baby don't live her no more.."  

 But, Jimi, being the carouser he was, took it with a grain of salt by saying:
'Cause if my baby don't love me no more
I know her sister will
Well, take this San Miguel. You ain't got nothing on Browntown. You ain't the only one. Take a gander at all the "sisters" we got.

1. Lin An, China July 31, 2001
2. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Jan. 20, 2004
3. Aguascalientes, MX. April 06, 2004,
4. Santa Catarina, Mexico,
5. Villa Capri, Italy, Nuevo Leon, NL, Mexico,
6. Santiago, NL, Mexico, Huejutla De Reyes, Hidalgo, MX ,
7. Sept. 08, 2009, Tampico, MX May 20, 2011,
8. Saltillo, Coahuila, MX April 2011, which the city commission never got around to present.

Now, we don't put anything past Da Mayor, known for being a romantic sort, if while he was off carousing in Portugal he didn't cast his roving eye and convince the authorities in Sintra that they could hitch the sisterhood wagon to Browntown while he was there.

Mud in your eye, San Miguel.


By Juan Aguilar
The Texas Tribune

The number of families that were apprehended or turned themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley swelled by 90 percent during the government’s 2016 fiscal year over the previous year, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released Monday.

Meanwhile, the number of children traveling alone that landed in the agency’s custody in that sector increased by more than 50 percent during the same time. The federal government’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

Agents in the Rio Grande Valley came across about 52,000 families and about 36,700 unaccompanied minors during the 2016 fiscal year. That’s compared to 27,400 and 23,864 respectively in 2015.

Overall, the total number of apprehensions on the country’s southwest border increased by more than 77,500 to 408,870 in 2016 compared to the prior year’s 331,333.

The 2016 figures represent the second time in three years that Central Americans outnumbered Mexicans caught trying to cross the southern border illegally. The trend continues a pattern that began in 2014, when tens of thousands of Central Americans from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras began fleeing violence and poverty and arriving at the Texas-Mexico border to seek asylum from U.S. officials.

Though the Rio Grande Valley is the epicenter of the problem, the figures show that every Border Patrol sector in Texas saw at least a double-digit percentage increase in apprehensions in 2016. In the Del Rio sector, apprehensions of unaccompanied minors increased by 18 percent and family units by 66 percent. In Big Bend, the increases were 13 and 30 percent, respectively.

The Laredo sector saw a 20 percent increase in apprehensions of minors and family units, while the El Paso sector, which includes New Mexico, saw an increase in minor apprehensions of 134 percent — from 1,662 in 2015 to 3,885 in 2016. The increase is even larger — 364 percent — for family units apprehended in El Paso. In 2015 agents there processed 1,220 family units. That number jumped to 5,664 in 2016.

In a statement, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson conceded that while apprehensions last year increased, they didn’t reach 2014’s historic levels. Instead, he touted the government’s efforts in stemming the flow, including social programs.

“Ultimately, the solution is long-term investment in Central America to address the underlying push factors in the region,” he said. “We continue to work closely with our federal partners and the governments in the region, and are pleased with the $750 million Congress approved in FY 2016 for support and aid to Central America.”

Thursday, October 20, 2016


By Juan Montoya

Despite the grudging acquiescence of the chairman of the five-member board of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation to go along with the other four, the GBIC agreed  to provide Keppel-Amfels $2.8 million in job-creation incentives for the hiring of 700 new jobs in its diversified expansion into the shipbuilding business.

Chair and city commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa made it clear throughout the discussion that she was not in favor giving the OK to the incentives that would amount to  $4,000 per new job. She made it a point to demand that the company show the majority of its labor was from the city.

"We're tied at the hip," said GBIC board member and city commissioner Cesar de Leon in justifying his support for the incentives.

 Keppel Amfels has been employing local workers for the last 26 years and at its peak hired as many as 3,000 workers.
The worldwide glut in oil has taken its toll on the oil-exploration platform market and now the workforce hovers near 350, with many worker barely getting 30 hours a week at the plant. The company's officials said that there are only three other ship-building companies in the United States.

At one time, Keppel Amfels was Cameron County's fifth largest employer.
The new plan said the incentives will be used to create 700 new jobs with an average salary of $18.48 per hour over the next four years.
Brownsville Economic Development Corporation item back-up on the said GBIC's investment would be protected by a "claw-back" provision that jobs requires the company to return any money if the jobs are not created. Amfels has in the past returned GBIC incentives when the required number of jobs were not created. That has already happened once, the narrative says.

The meeting was held  the city commission chambers at the old federal building at 1001 E. Elizabeth Street in downtown Brownsville. Some 15 people representing Keppel Amfels, economic development types and a smattering of private citizens. Port director Eddie Campirano was there to express his support for the incentives.

In its agenda, the GBIC did not name the company or the importance of the approval of the company's application for the $2.8 million in incentives. It only listed agenda items as Plan A, B, or C. The agenda was not even posted on GBIC's website.
There was a real danger that unless the funds allowing them to diversify into shipbuilding, the very real possibility existed that it would consider seeking another site away from the city.

The GBIC members are chair and city commissioner Tetreau-Kalifa, city commissioner Deborah Portillo, city commissioner De Leon, John Cowen, Jr., and Cameron County Treasurer and board member David Betancourt .
Sources close to GBIC say that there are other suitors waiting in the wings to take over should the incentives be denied and the company chooses to relocate its operations elsewhere.

Sources say that Tetreau had indicated she may be unwilling to dispense with $2.8 million for the 700 new jobs in the hope that Kepel Amfels will clear the way for other investors who may be willing to take over the property at the Brownsville Navigation District. Prominent among those named as potential suitors is none other than Ambiotec's Carlos Marin, an engineering-company director who has made a fortune being GBIC's exclusive engineering company over the years.

"You know that Carlos has issues with the port," said a GBIC member, but did not elaborate.

The decision on whether the grant the $2.8 million will be made today after the proposal was considered at n least three previous GBIC meetings. At last monthly five members were present but three did not vote citing conflict of interest issues.

At least 83 percent of the workers at Kepel Amfels are from Brownsville. Retooling of the Keppel Amfels facility will cost the company $34.3 million, and the company argued that its diversification into the shipbuilding business will allow it to stay here for another 25 years.


By Juan Montoya
At tonight's meeting of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, the five-member board will be asked to provide the Kepel-Amfels which has been employing local workers for the last 26 years with incentives of $4,000 per new job that would total $2.8 million for the hiring of 7000 workers to be hired in its expansion shipbuilding business.

Although that should be a no-brainer in giving Cameron County's fifth largest employer incentives to create 700 new jobs with an average salary of $18.48 per hour, there is some talk in city circles that some of the members of the GBIC will attempt to deny the company the job-creation incentives.

The meeting will be held today (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. in the city commission chambers at the old federal building at 1001 E. Elizabeth Street in downtown Brownsville.

The GBIC members, chair and city commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa, city commissioner Deborah Portillo, city commission Cesar De Leon, John Cowen, Jr., and Cameron County Treasurer and board member David Betancourt are said to be considering denying the oil-platform builder the incentives because they feel that it is an established company and that GBIC money should be spent somewhere else.

If GBIC denies Kepel Amfels the incentives, there is a real danger that the company might move its operations out of the area and build them somewhere else.
Sources close to GBIC say that there are other suitors waiting in the wings to take over should the incentives be denied and the company chooses to relocate its operations elsewhere.

Sources say that chairman Tetreau has indicated she may be unwilling to dispense with $2.8 million for the 700 new jobs in the hope that Kepel Amfels will clear the way for other investors who may be willing to take over the property at the Brownsville Navigation District. Prominent among those named as potential suitors is none other than Ambiotec's Carlos Marin, an engineering-company director who has made a fortune being GBIC's exclusive engineering company over the years.

The decision on whether the grant the $2.8 million will be made today after the proposal was considered at GBIC's last monthly meeting when the five members were present but three did not vote citing conflict of interest issues.

At least 83 percent of the workers at Kepel Amfels are from Brownsville. Retooling of the Keppel Amfels facility will cost the company $34.3 million, and the company argues that its diversification into the shipbuilding business will allow it to stay here for another 20 years.

Will the company – which has been one of the leading private employers in Cameron County be denied the incentives by the five-member board and be driven out to be replaced by someone of Marin's choosing?
The economic future of the local economy may well rest in the hands of Tetreau, Portillo, Cowen, De Leon, and Betancourt. Will they be up to the task? Or will they heed Marin's siren call to let him and his friends wet their beaks?


(Ed.'s Note: It never seems to fail at every election that some candidate runs afoul of the City of Brownsville ordinance making it illegal to have any political sign that is larger than a 4' X 8' plywood, cardboard or plastic sign. But yet, candidates (or their supporters and ad men) continue to mess up in very election. This time is the gigantic sign that was erected for Brownsville Independent School District Place 5 candidate Laura Perez-Reyes on the frontage road along 69E before you get to Alton Gloor Road (really U.S. 77-83). The sign is about eight timers too big to comply with the ordinance but apparently, that went unnoticed by the candidate, but, alas, not by the city inspectors. With only four days left before the start of the early vote in the BISD on Monday, Oct. 24, everyone is vying for the voters' attention. However, bending the rules to get your shingle in everyone's view has to remain within the established rules. If candidates can't follow the rules now, what happens when they get into office?)


By Juan Montoya
And so these words echoed 5,022 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in Sintra, Portugal,  a resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains as Lynette Benavides and City of Brownsville commissioner John Villarreal tied the knot about 10 a.m. local time, 4 p.m. in Portugal.

Along to accompany the happy couple was a Brownsville delegation headed by the bride's aunt Cameron County commissioner Sofia Benavides, her daughter Justice of the Peace Mary Esther Sorola and hubby attorney Louis, city commissioner Rick Longoria and a number of other Brownsville luminaries.

And if you look closely at the photo below, that's Da Mayor Tony Martinez standing behind Cabler as Villarreal and new bride pass through the church door. Longoria is filming the entire scene for posterity as the couple approaches him (with the video camera).

Among those from Brownsville were city manager Charlie Cabler and wife Rosie, Brownsville Navigation District commissioner John Wood and wife Virginia and Ramiro Gonzalez checking out the historic restoration work on the frescoes.
(City attorney Mark Sossi, who was scheduled to go, had to attend the Greater BrownsvilleIncentives Corporation meeting and did not attend.)

According to its website, "Sintra is a resort town near the capital, Lisbon... A longtime royal sanctuary, its forested terrain is studded with pastel-colored villas and palaces. The Moorish- and Manueline-style Sintra National Palace is distinguished by dramatic twin chimneys and elaborate tile work. The hilltop 19th-century Pena National Palace is known for a whimsical design and sweeping views."

Overall, the wedding has been known only to a handful of insiders that have been able to keep the news somewhat confidential. Well, that was true until Longoria – a DJ used to preempt everyone with his microphone – got into the act.
He was still in the air when he posted at 4 a.m. Tuesday that they were in the air after getting one hour of sleep.  Longoria and his date – a BISD teachers – apparently were put on a different flight because of some unspecified problem.

It wasn't that long ago that another public official, Pct.2 county commissioner Alex Dominguez married his bride in Italy, her parents' country of origin.
We really don't know who of the two – John or Lynette – can trace their lineage to Portugal, but we would think it was the groom. We guess that tortilla-making is an ancient Portuguese family secret with the Villarreal clan, owners of La Milpa Tortilleria in town.

An update was made again the next day (Wednesday) by garrulous Rick where he marvels at the size of the king size bed (it is, after all, a royal sanctuary) that "ate my phone, hurt my back and helped me find my jet lag!!). Nothing like the hamacas in Southmost, hey Rick?
By now, after 10 a.m. Thursday, the happy couple is happily married and the party is probably in full swing.

Not a few of us wondered how our city folk were able to get together enough scratch to pay for the round-trip air fare, the accommodations and other incidental expenses.
It probably wasn't a trip sponsored by the Brownsville Economic Development Council in search of new investors or one sponsored by the city to explore the use of bike trials up in the mountains. After all, the BEDC has a history of paying for Da Mayor Tony Martinez's jaunts to Colombia and Central America every once in a while to check out tropical fruit.

There's gold in them there tortillas, we guess. (As in El Disco de Oro.)
The party will probably last long into the Portuguese night and all we can say is  "viva o casal feliz!" (Long live the happy couple!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


By Juan Montoya
As the news about the use of a Political Action Committee involving the realty company of a Brownsville Independent School District teacher and the political contributions of her brother – the district's general counsel – to incumbent trustees and the targeting of specific candidates, questions are being raised on whether public funds are being used for political purposes.

The so-called Brownsville Taxpayers PAC whose treasurer  – one Juan Leal Flores – lists his business and/or residential address in a vacant lot at 925 N. Iowa. That lot turned out to be owned by Marser Corp., whose corporate offices are listed at 7941 Southmost Road.  (See graphic below)

That address is that of a vacant house that's also up for sale.
The common thread is that the realty company that has both properties for sale – Liz Realty – is owned by Liz Vera, the sister of BISD general counsel Baltazar Salazar. Salazar makes $265,000 a year from the district.

This leads some people to ask whether his involvement in BISD politics is being financed by the district taxpayers.
"That's like city attorney Mark Sossi making political contributions to city candidates or using ti to go against them," said a City of Brownsville official.

Add the fact that n November 2014, the board majority – with the exception of Catalina Presas-Garcia – extended Salazar's contract for three years and increased his $240,000 annual salary by 10 percent to $264,000. He was also elevated from board counsel to general counsel.

A "Gifts to Public Servants Clause" in Salazar's contract reads:
"General Counsel warrants that he has not given, nor does he intend to give, at any time hereafter, any economic opportunity, future employment, gift, loan, gratuity, special discounts, trips, favors, or service to a public servant in connection with the award of this agreement."

Yet, on the 30-Days Before Election Report filed by Cesar Lopez in the last BISD election he reported that Salazar gave:
*$2,500 to Lopez June 23
*and another $1,500 to Lopez again on July 18
According to Salazar, his $4,000 in cash donations to Lopez is not in any way connected to that public servant's aye vote for his contract or his raise.

“The reason ‘in connection with’ is so important because if you read the whole paragraph, the idea is that if somebody were to give a campaign contribution in exchange for a contract or exchange for an extension then that would be illegal," Salazar told News Central (Channel 4).
This year, Salazar uses the same convoluted justification for making political contributions to varying candidates.

Both Salazar and sister Liz Vera have made cash political contributions to one of Garcia-Presas' opponents Laura Perez-Reyes. On August 1, she reported receiving a $2,000 cash contribution from the general counsel. Then, on Sept. 6, she reported that he again gave her another $2,000.
Besides Perez-Reyes, Erasmo Castro is also in the ballot as is Laura Castro.
On Sept. 1, Liz Vera (also a BIS teacher) made a $400 in-kind contribution in furniture to the Perez-Reyes campaign. How was it that two of the properties in her listings ended up linked to the BTPAC and how did anyone know the properties were both for sale?

Salzar has also given money to Minerva Peña and Sylvia Atkinson. But his connection to the PAC and its dubious treasurer indicates that he has targeted Presas-Garcia for his particular attention.
A Texas Ethics Commission legal staff member has said that the fact that treasurer Juan Leal Flores – if indeed he exists – listed his offie or residence on the vacant lot on N. Iowa constitutes a violation of the TEC's requirements that  the PAC be specific about what it lists on its finance reports. That fact alone, he said, could be grounds for a complaint and possible removal of its PAC status with the state.

"At this point, the PAC has already mailed thousands of anti-Presas-Garcia campaign literature," said a Presas-Garcia supporter. "The damage, if any, has already been done. There is still a website being operated by the PAC and we're moving to make the search engines aware of the nature of the PAC."
"We all wanna clear everything up especially myself as I have already decided to discontinue the service I am providing them," wrote a commenter who said he was owner Jesus Molina, whose business operates the packing and shipping company and said he was unaware one of the rented mail box was listed as the mailing address of the BTPAC.

Without a legitimate mailing address, the BTPAC may also be lacking a required mailing address, said the TEC legal staffer.
A reading of the cards flip side indicates that the mailing permit of the ad agency that designed them (though perhaps not printed them) is out of McAllen with a permit number of 417. That is the same miling permit number of MindShare Marketing & Advertising owned by Ben Guerrero, who also happens to be “The Fred Loya Guy” of television, billboard, print and social media ads for El Paso-based Fred Loya Insurance.

And who paid them and approved the final product all in less than two weeks? In its last (and only) finance report, Flores stated that the PAC had not received or spent any assets prior to Sept. 29. The cards started arriving in the mail by the week of October 10.

It's hard to think that Mindshares was able to
1. get the contract from BTPAC,
2. do the legal research,
3. formulate the campaign and images,
4. come up with the design,
5.  and order the printing and mass mailing all in less than two weeks between Sept. 29 and October 10 when the cards stating showing up in local BISD voters' mailboxes.

Guerrero, by the way, was the moderator of a debate for Place 5 candidates in which both Presas-Garcia and Perez Reyes participated. At one point in the debate, when Perez-Reyes was getting flustered, Guerrero whispered to Presas-Garcia to "take it easy on her."

Guerreo's MindShare's also happens to have the Cameron County Mobile Authority and other local entities and has as one of his clients Mike Hernandez's OP 10.33 organization.
A commenter to blog said that a Guerrero-owned company was tapped to provide the BISD with $1.5 million in computer tabletss before the district found that as categorical federal funds, it was required to place them up for bids.

In fact, the mailing permit (417) that appeared on the anti-Presas-Garcia cards is the same one that appeared on the mass mailings of OP 10.33 Navigation District candidates Ed Rivera and Raul Villanueva.
OP 10.33 founder Mike Hernandez has said that his organization played no role in the campaign against Presas-Garcia.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


By Juan Montoya
In this age of selfies, where some people post the food they eat, the place they're at, and even sometimes the new boyfriend or girlfriend, no other City of Brownsville commissioner has more of a footprint that our own Jessica Tereau-Kakifa.
Those who keep up with her foibles on the Internet know what she eats, what she wears, what she drives, and even sometimes what new ring her old man just bought her at Portillo's Jewelry.
But the stuff she was posting recently has to take the cake, if not the taco.
As she tells it, our precocious
Miss Tetreau apparently got a yen for tacos in the wee hours of the morning and sent hubby Arturo out into the wild to bring her back some of those overstuffed delicacies from an all-night, local-known taqueria.
As she tells it, before dawn, the tacos struck back with a vengeance.
Tetreau gave a blow by blow account and promptly posted it on Facebook the next day.
She diagnosed herself with food poisoning and guessed that she was dying, making like a frog and croaking.
Soon sympathetic friends chirped in to ask her how she felt soon after noon.
"Tacos from where? Mr. Taco," asked Cheli Treviño.
Tetreau coyly demurred of accusing the suspect taqueria and posted only a crying face symbol. She told them she was "fainting" already.
Jessyka Pylar Cruze (sic) asked her
if the venomous taquitos were from "El último taco," a popular taqueria over by the frontage road and Price Road.
"Not there," said Tetreau, leaving the possibility open that her discretion at not naming the offender might slur the taqueria.
About eight hours later, she was asked how she was by Bertha Bejarano and Tetreau gamely responded that she was "still vomiting blood."
Now, mere mortals unlike Tetreau would probably have rushed to the hospital to have their stomach pumped when they couldn't stop vomiting or if they were vomiting blood 15 hours later..
But if we are to believe her Tetreau apparently braved the possibility of death or something nasty and steeled herself with the saying that what won't kill her would make her stronger.
Someone should tell the commissioner that this time perhaps the postings were a bit much and that normal people don't suffer in agony for hours vomiting blood in the bowl without seeking medical assistance. But that perhaps would take the fun our of posting on Facebook as she bravely faced the offending bacteria or parasite that invaded her gastric system.
That reminded us of a cartoon showing someone so intent on posting and remaining "relevant" in this new Social Age that she didn't realize she was being eaten by a shark. (See graphic at left.)
That led to someone else remembering the extremes to which we have become accustomed to communicating in this Brave New Age remembered another one.
In it a patient is asking a shrink if he should tell him about himself.
"just show me your Facebook ads," the shrink responds.
If it was your average citizen in Brownsville, one could understand him or her not slurring a local business as Tetreau did Mr. Taco by omission. But she is, after all, a city commissioner and her constituents may shun the business based on her self-diagnosis.
Perhaps it was something in the water or mold in her home or bath that caused the reaction. Because she doesn't tell us what the outcome was (no, she didn't die, you cynics), we'll never know what the cause of her dolor de panza might have been. Or perhaps it was just the quantity of the delightful delicacies and she, as our friends in the barrio say, "se busguio."
By John Young and
Barbara Hill

Texas LNG and the Valley Crossing Pipeline are on the Port of Brownsville's Commissioners Meeting Agenda this Wednesday evening, Oct 19. All able to attend should attend.


1) Because up to this point, the Port has shrugged off all local opposition to the LNG companies seeking FERC approval to build and operate at the Port. Shrugging off even Port Isabel's, Laguna Vista's, South Padre Island's, and Long Island Village's resolutions, FERC comments, and FERC Motions To Intervene against these companies.

2) Because the Valley Crossing Pipeline is the 48" fracked gas pipeline TransCanada in partnership with Spectra is building for Mexico from the Aqua Dulce Hub north west of Kingsville down to Brownsville for Mexico, then taking the fracked gas from Brownsville under the Gulf waters down to Veracruz, Mexico. At the 10-11-2016 TCEQ Public Meeting on Texas LNG's Greenhouse Gas emissions permit request, Texas LNG said it plans to get its feeder gas from this pipeline. And don't forget that TransCanada, a Canadian company, is presently suing the United States for $15 billion dollars under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for disapproving the Keystone XL pipeline that was to bring Canadian tar sand oil sludge from Canada to the Texas coast for export to overseas countries.

3) Because the "Authority to Negotiate With" Texas LNG and Valley Crossing "Action Items" will come up during the public part of the Board meeting before the private, by-invitation-only Executive Session part of the Board meeting. The public won't be allowed to comment on these Action Items until after the Executive Session part of the meeting is over. But just our presence will make visible our opposition. 

 Note: Those wishing to make a three minute maximum public comment must get to the meeting by 5:15 pm to fill out a form and then wait until the Executive Session ends to make their comments.

When & Where:

Wednesday evening, October 11
5:30 pm [REMEMBER: arrive by 5:15 pm if you wish to make a public comment]
Port of Brownsville Administrative Building, 1000 Foust Road, Brownsville

To see the meeting agenda, go to

Because of the short notice and the out-of-the way location, it's important for all able to attend to attend, at least for the public part of the meeting.


By Rogelio Nunez
Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center 

The 25th Annual Conjunto Festival is this coming weekend October 21, 22, & 23! Make plans to attend one of the biggest conjunto festivals in Texas and the only Conjunto Festival in the Rio Grande Valley!
We will have food booths, drinks, t-shirts, vendors, and plenty of authentic South Texas Conjunto music by some of conjuntos' greatest. It's an event you won't want to miss. And it's only
$6 per person per day.

The Lineup for this year's festival is as follows:

Friday October 21, 2016

La Clica 6:00 p.m.
Los Morales Boyz 7:00 p.m.
Rio Jordan 8:00 p.m.
Los Garcia Bros 9:00 p.m.
Los Fantasmas Del Valle 10:00 p.m.

Saturday October 22, 2016

Palmview High School Conjunto La Tradicion 5:00 p.m.
Flavio Longoria y Los Conjunto Kingz 6:00 p.m.
Mando y La Venganza 7:00 p.m.
Los Angeles del Sur 8:00 p.m.
Los Monarcas de Pete y Mario Diaz 9:00 p.m.
Boni Mauricio y Los Maximos 10:00 p.m.

Sunday October 23, 2016
Grupo Inevitable 5:00 p.m.
Chano Cadena y Su Conjunto 6:00 p.m.
Gilberto Perez y Sus Compadres 7:00 p.m.
Ruben Garza y La Nueva Era Musical 8:00 p.m.
Ruben De La Cruz y Su Conjunto 9:00 p.m.

*For more information contact Soledad A. Nunez at 956-244-0373 or Rogelio Nunez at 956-367-0335, email us at


By Dean Chambers

Steve Jobs did it the right way.

 He invented products, such as the iPod or the iPhone, that were far superior to what was already available that they rapidly grew in demand and dominated the market in their class of products. 
Apple made billions selling tens of millions of iPods and iPhones, making Jobs (and Apple stockholders) quite legitimately wealthy in the process. 

But Elon Musk, who has followed a clearly different route on his way to becoming worth an estimated $13 billion, is clearly no Steve Jobs.

Elon Musk has followed an entirely different path to wealth, one that involves creating three companies of which two them are not economically viable nor have they won significant market share for their products while the third is entirely dependent on government largesse for its very existence. 

Musk’s company that makes electric cars, Tesla motors, loses between $4,000 to as much as $14,700 per car it sells for well more than $70,000 each. Tesla has lost almost half of its overal value since the end of 2015.

Musk has worked out a deal with the government of Nevada to get $1.3 billion to make batteries for the Tesla cars while he convinced California politicians to subsidize Tesla $126 million to develop energy storage technology. Federal and state politicians, who want to convince the voters they are supporting such “cool” environmentally beneficial projects like building expensive luxury electric cars for the very wealthy who can pay more than $70,000 for them, are the best friends Elon Musk can find to help build his business dreams at taxpayer expense. In total, Tesla has received about $2.391 billion in government benefits.

Even better than Tesla for convincing politicians to hand over taxpayer money to Musk and is cronies is his solar panel company called SolarCity. In the last year, the failing SolarCity is fast going the way of Solyndra, having lost more than 60 percent of its overall value. This is despite getting more than $2.5 billion in subsidies from state and federal governments.

Elon Musk has leveraged great relationships with politicians and other cronies to build his heavily-subsidized companies and that is no more true than in the case of his third company, the space exploration company SpaceX. Arizona Republican Senator John McCain worked tirelessly on behalf of Musk, who has received many donations from Elon Musk. McCain not only worked hard to make SpaceX could bid for NASA and U.S. Air Force launch contracts, but he changed the rules of the process to block United Launch Alliance (ULA) from bidding, which assured SpaceX the monopoly on those contracts since no other company is currently qualified to provide such launch services.

This virtual monopoly on U.S. government space launches, thanks to Sen. McCain, had brought in $5.5 billion in contracts to SpaceX. With an insider connection and pipeline to that much taxpayer money, there is no way SpaceX could be anything but profitable. As a result, the Department of Defense’s Inspector General is investigating allegations that McCain corruptly worked with Musk to outlaw use of the Russian-made rockets used by ULA. The McCain-Musk relationship is not the only one in which Musk’s support for key politicians has netted subsidies and contracts for one or more of his three companies.

“Musk took notice. A prolific political donor, he began pouring money into the campaigns of key state lawmakers. On November 7, 2012, he donated $1,000 to state representative Rene Oliveira (D). Two weeks later, he gave state senator Eddie Lucio Jr. (D) $2,000, The Washington Free Beacon reported, “The next month, the Associated Press reported that Lucio and Oliveira were working to secure state backing for a potential SpaceX launch pad in Brownsville.”

Likewise, Texas state senator Tommy Williams helped get funding for a SpaceX project into the budget, not too long after Musk had given $2,000 to Williams’ campaign. A $1,000 donation to Jim Pitts, the chairman of the Texas House House Appropriations Committee, no doubt helped the cause as well.

“It is not Musk’s first foray into the political process. Two of his companies, Tesla Motors and Solar City, have received extensive backing from the Department of Energy. As in Texas, Musk has made high-dollar donations to major national politicians, including President Barack Obama,” The Washington Free Beacon reported.

To read rest of article, click on link:


"Sometimes party loyalty asks too much..." John F. Kennedy

This November election in the 445th District Court race is one of those occasions where the voters are being asked to pull the palanca in favor of the majority Democratic Party.
The are asking us, the voters, to elect the Democratic slate and be loyal to the party.
As Kennedy said, in this case, party loyalty asks too much.
We are being asked to buy their candidate sight unseen compared to voting for the most qualified person on the ballot.

Judge Rene De Coss, the incumbent, has earned the trust and widespread respect among the lawyers – Democrats and Republicans alike – who have tried cases before him. His decisions have been made, as they should be, in accordance with the letter and spirit of the law.
In fact, of more 1,000 current cases as State District Judge and has handled over 130,000 previously where he has made judgments, a scant two have been appealed and the appeals court has upheld him on one based on procedure while the other is still going through the process. Why replace such a sterling performer with an unknown quantity just because of party loyalty?

In contrast, Democrat Gloria Rincones is known around the courthouse for using her political connections in different courts to represent her clients. More often than not, this seems to be the only card she has up her sleeve.

We have just witnessed the federal government trying to ferret out of corrup judges and lawyers and "fixers" in Cameron County. Do we really need another "fixer" in the 445th?
This is one of those times that Kennedy talked about the party asking too much. Let's not paint our justice system into a Rincon.


(From one of our seven readers: This animal was spotted crossing the street on 13th Street near Victoria Heights late for breakfast at the school cafeteria! In addition to this, the city needs to add a pig lane as well now that they want to add bike lanes to all streets instead of patching all the pot holes around town!!)

Sunday, October 16, 2016


12 News, KPNX
TUBA CITY, Ariz. - One of the heroic Navajo Code Talkers has died.
Sgt. Maj. Dan Akee passed away in Tuba City, Arizona, Friday morning. He was 96.

“Dan Akee was not just a Navajo Nation treasure. He was an international treasure and icon whose service will stand as a testament to the freedom of all Americans,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a release.

The news comes just over a month after the death of Joe fellow code talker Hosteen Kellwood.
According to a release from the Navajo Nation, Akee was involved in conflicts on four Pacific islands, including Iwo Jima. He was at the Battle of Iwo Jima when six marines raised the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi.

“My father always told us to be proud of speaking the Navajo language,” Akee's son and board member of the Code Talkers Association said in a release. “Always be careful of the words you speak, as they are sacred, he would warn us,”

The code talkers were vital in leading Allied forces to victory over Japan in WWII. The Navajo language prevented critical information and strategies from falling into the hands of enemy forces. The code (language) was never broken.

"Arizona is so proud of our Navajo Code Talkers. Today we mourn Sergeant Major Dan Akee who passed away this morning. Prayers to his family," Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted Friday.


Saturday, October 15, 2016


By Juan Montoya
The address listed by the treasurer of the Brownsville Taxpayers Political Action Committee (PAC) used as a front to campaign against incumbent Place 5 Brownsville Independent School District trustee Caty Presas-Garcia has revealed a link to Baltazar Salazar,  the district's general counsel.

The PAC listed Juan Fores Leal as its treasurer with a "residence or business" address listed on its October 11 campaign finance report to the Texas Ethics Commission at 925 N. Iowa, in Brownsville.

That turned out to be an empty lot that has a sign indicating it was being offered for sale by the Marser Corp. through Liz Realty and its listing agent Lenny Vera.
The Cameron County Appraisal District lists the owner of the N. Iowa property as Marser with its corporate office address at 7941 Southmost Road.
A visit to the Southmost address indicates that
the house there is up for sale, and has a  Liz Realty sign in front of the house and property.

Lenny Vera is married to Liz Vera, the owner of the realty company. Liz Vera, in turn, is the sister of BISD general counsel Baltazar Salazar.

How was it that the listings of Liz Realty owned by the sister of the BISD's general counsel ended up being linked to the treasurer of the Brownsville Taxpayer PAC?
There is no indication that Marser Corp. or its officers or staff had any knowledge that its listings on Liz Realty would end up linked to the anti-Presas-Garcia PAC.

In its short existence, Brownsville Taxpayer PAC created a Facebook page and paid for an expensive and slick mass mail out directed at voters of the BISD where Presas-Garcia is blamed for costly lawsuits in the district. The mass mailing does not indicate the source of the figures it quotes nor the link between the realty company and its listed treasurer.

An examination of the Texas Ethics Commission website on Friday opened up a campaign finance page that identified its treasurer, his address, the address of the PAC office, and the amount of contributions and expenditures it had made.
The PAC reported its treasurer was Flores, with the N. Iowa Ave. address.
 The mailing address given for the PAC office was 400 E. Alton Gloor, Ste. B, #222. that turned out to be a Pro Pack and Ship, a Fed Ex franchise where one can also rent mailbox addresses.

Workers there refused to identify the person who had rented the box with the #222. There is no evidence that the business had any role in the PAC's potentially illegal activity.
The Ethics Commission account number for the PAC was listed as Acct. # 80081082.

Curiously, just about an hour after we first visited the page using both the PAC name and the account number, the page was identified as being empty.
Just this morning, after inquiries were made to the TEC on Friday by the office of the Texas Secretary of State, the campaign finance report of the PAC reappeared. (See graphic, click to enlarge.)
The PAC had reported zero contributions and expenditures on October 11, 2016, the last reporting period.

So who paid for the design, printing and mail delivery of the mail out? Which ad company was paid for designing the mail out? What company printed them and who paid the U.S. Postal Service for delivering the negative campaign material?

Numerous BSD voters in Brownsville have reported received the PAC's asking them to reject Presas-Garcia's reelection. (See graphic at right.)
It is no secret that there is no love lost between Salazar and Presas-Garcia. She voted against the district hiring his firm citing the lack of the law firm's education law experience compared with the other applicants.

He, in a bizarre confrontation, accused her of making sexual advances on him in the district main office's parking lot. Later, when Salazar and several board members tried to censure her (and censor) and former trustee Lucy Longoria, both sued on First Amendment grounds and defamation and a federal dismissed the fee speech rights part of the lawsuit but retained the defamation part against several trustees and Salazar. He has also made political contributions to at least one of Presas-Garcia's opponents, Laura Perez-Reyes.

Campaign finance reports indicate that Salazar  has contributed generously to Perez-Reyes. On August 1, she reported receiving a $2,000 cash contribution from the general counsel. Then, on Sept. 6, she reported that he again gave her another $2,000.

Salazar earns $264,000 a year after trustees – with only Presas-Garcia voting against – gave him a 25,000 raise in June and extended his contract for another three years.

And even though his contract contains a clause prohibiting him from contributing to his employees in exchange for a benefit, he has also contributed $2,429 to incumbent Minerva Peña this election cycle and contributed thousands to trustee Cesar Lopez for his reelection in the past election.

This new potential link to the attacks upon Presas-Garcia where the address of the fake PAC treasurer is one of his sister's real-estate company's property listings opens up new insights on his role in the BISD elections. Has the setting of the fake PAC finally gone over the line?

Friday, October 14, 2016


By Juan Montoya
The Brownsville Taxpayers Political Action Committee (PAC), which sent thousands of mail outs and had a Facebook page attacking Brownsville Independent School District Place 5 incumbent trustee Caty Presas-Garcia, has turned out to be fake front for her political opponents.

With mail outs appearing all over the city accusing Presas-Garcia of costing the BISD thousands of dollars in lawsuits and arriving at mailboxes all over town, the Texas Ethics Commission now reports that the folder where the PAC was registered is now "empty."
The Brownsville Taxpayers PAC had carried on an aggressive campaign against Presas-Garcia.

However, when inquiries were made to the BISD, the Cameron County Elections Office, the Texas Secretary of State and the Ethics Commission, the first three said they had no information on the PAC.

A consultation with the Texas Ethics Commission earlier today opened up  campaign finance page that identified its treasurer, his address, the address of the PAC office, and the amount of contributions and expenditures it had made.

The PAC reported its treasurer was one Juan Flores Leal, with an address of 925 N. Iowa Ave. A Google map search and physical verification indicated the address listed was an empty lot. The address is listed as Flores' "residence or business."(See graphic).

The mailing address given for the PAC office was 400 E. Alton Gloor, Ste. B, #222. hat turned out to be a Pro Pack and Ship, a Fed Ex franchise where one can also rent a mailbox address.
Workers there refused to identify the person who had rented the box with the #222. There is no indication that the business was used to mail out the campaign material or that it knew of the PAC's activities.

The Ethics Commission account number for the PAC was listed as Acct. # 80081082.
The PAC had reported zero contributions and expenditures on October 11, 2016, the last reporting period. So who paid for the design, printing and mail delivery of the mail out?
Curiously, just about an hour after we first visited the page using both the PAC name and the account number, the page was identified as being empty. (See graphics. Click to enlarge).
 The same thing happened to the Facebook page that the Brownsville Taxpayer PAC was using to post negative comments and graphics against Presas-Garcia. Where before it was announcing its existence in other Internet sites and "friends" were distributing its posts, the site has now been rendered inactive.

The use of a fake PAC to discredit a candidate using a non-existing treasurer, a non-existing address, and a none-existing office as well as the filing of false campaign reports is considered a serious violation of the Texas Election Code and possibly criminal statutes such as tampering with a government document and perhaps even postal regulations.

Followers of political movement in the city speculate that it could have been either candidates or Presas-Garcia's political opponents.
Close supporters of Laura Perez-Reyes, one of the three candidates challenging Presas-Garcia strongly denied any involvement in the formation of the PAC or in the posting of the Facebook site or the mass mailings.
Candidate Erasmo Castro also denied any involvement in the fake PAC or the mail-out.
And we could not find candidate Laura Castro to ask her about the isssue.

However, heretofore reliable sources indicate that the masterminds behind the establishment of the fake PAC may have been none other than Presas-Garcia's longtime opponents. The setting up of a PAC requires no small degree of legal knowledge and the Brownsville Taxpayer PAC was registered electronically.

Sources speculate that former BISD trustee Rick Zayas and Elia Cornejo-Lopez have an ax to grind against her and made made it clear that they are strongly against Presas-Garcia remaining on the BISD board.
Cornjeo-Lopez withdrew from the Place 5 race after Democratic Party officials told her it was against the law for one's name to appear in two ballots in one election. Cornejo-is on the November ballot as the only candidate for the 404th District Court. At least two complaints – one by Presas-Garcia – have been filed against Cornejo-Lopez charging that the law governing judges require her to resign her judicial seat as soon as she declares herself a candidate for another elective office. She has instead remained in office and presided over numerous cases, including the Marco Antonio Gonzalez case where he was charged with aggravated assault of eight law enforcement officers and was sentenced to five years in prison.

We understand that a third complaint against Cornejo-Lopez is on the way to the judicial commission.
And Zayas, who has been a thorn on Presas-Garcia's side after his defeat in the 2010 BISD election when she ran on a ticket with Lucy Longoria who beat him in the election, has represented her opponents in a number of lawsuits against her.

The offending Brownsville Taxpayer PAC mail-outs do not identify the place where they were printed. And inquiries into the identity of the person renting the mailbox from Pro Pack and Ship yielded negative results.
With its disappearance, will the acts of the fake PAC go unpunished? Or will the proper authorities step in and flush out the culprits?


To: American Patriot
From: Princess Abacha Wightman
Re: Help my Brother, a Disabled Nigerian Vet

Dear Patriot,
This will come as a complete surprise to you, but if you have a heart you will realize that I needed to reach out beyond my close circle of friends to assist a disabled Nigerian veteran.
That veteran is my brother and his evil siblings and relatives allied with the new regime have used the legal system to deprive him of his savings of almost USD $50,000.

They have used corrupt judges and the court system to deprive me of his Power Of Attorney to keep me from helping him move it from the Royal Nigerian Central Bank and out of the country so he can get the proper medical treatment he deserves.

I have been a continuing contributor to desperate people and worthy causes for as long as I can remember and it's broken me. I have had to close both my bank accounts and I am now living day to day and cannot see a way to help my brother retrieve his savings and remove him from the deplorable conditions which he is enduring as a result of his inability to get at his savings.

I am not even using my private swimming pool anymore or taken the occasional jaunt to Peru or other exotic locales as I used to. I even cut down on my social relationships because I can not count on any disposable income anymore.
All I need is USD $2,000 to go into a Nigerian federal court (I was once an attorney) and have standing to help a relative get a federal judge to release the funds to my brother. Won't you help?

If you do, I will make available a full accounting of how the money is spent and you can have the satisfaction of having helped a disabled Nigerian vet who put his life on the line for our people and our country.
I feel ashamed and dirty to have to recur to the assistance of compassionate strangers, but I see no other way to do this.

If you have it in your heart to help a red-blooded Nigerian hero, please email me so I can send you the appropriate routing numbers that we may extend him the assistance he so desperately needs now. When we needed him to stand in front for us, he did so willingly and without reserve.
Isn't it time we stand up for him?