Thursday, July 30, 2015

EXTRA! SAENZ ADDRESSES US-IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL!

By Juan Montoya
The public relations blitz that has characterized the administration of Cameron County District Attorney continues unabated.
While other county prosecutors slog on fighting crime, this county DA seems to be on the airwaves week after week with some new PR wrinkle.
Whether he's negotiating with the U.S. State Dept. and the Indian government to bring back fugitive murderer Amit Livingston or combating domestic violence, it's been characterized by a media splash.
Livingston, fortunately, has become yesterday's news. Yawn. Move on.
Unfortunately for the DA spin machine, the U.S. Mashal's Office did not bring Amit in through the main terminal where the press conference was held to announce Saenz's capture of the fugitive. They merely did their job and turned over custody to the Cameron County Sheriff's Dept., as things should be done.
By now the maquinita crusade has become stale. How many photo ops can you get standing before a eight-liner machine anyway? In this case, questions arise on whether the maquinitas Luis is seizing are some of the same ones he sold to gaming interests that are coming back to be used once again, this time to benefit his reelection.
Just recently, it was getting court orders to force intoxicated drivers to have blood withdrawn when they refused to breathe into the Intoxilizer machines.
And in yesterdays newscasts, a certain local television station was persuaded to feature Saenz on a cutting-edge technology story on drones along the border and their intrusion into privacy of Cameron County residents.
Border missions fly out of Sierra Vista, home of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, or Corpus Christi, Texas. They are authorized to patrol at altitudes between 19,000 at 28,000 feet and between 25 and 60 miles of the border. The program is expected to expand the the Canadian border by the end of 2015.
Saenz warned would-be drone Peeping Toms that he would "prosecute to the full extent of the law" those who violate other people's privacy and rights.
We can hardly wait to see the lawsuit by Cameron County against the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Army.
(As ususal, substance often trumps style because some would ask why he didn't prosecutre former county commissioner Ernie Hernandez on seven counts of official misconduct or his daughter (Justice of the Peace) Erin Garcia when she sold waivers to the 72-hour waiting period between the issuance of the marriage license and the performance of the wedding ceremony where she stood to pocket between $150 and $250 per wedding. As his former friend and former county commissioner from Southmost would say, no mames, guey! )
What Saenz opines of the drone national policy apparently was newsworthy to local television viewers and makes the DA relevant, a prime example of keeping his name associated with new stuff.
Some of us were sitting around a coffee table the other day and suggested other topics that Saenz's Spin Machine might try to use to keep their candidate on the minds of county voters. Below are some ideas.

* SAENZ WEIGHS IN ON IMPACT OF US-IRAN NUKE ARMS DEAL ON CAMERON COUNTY! WAS OBAMA PERIQUIADO BY AYATOLLAHS?

* DA COMMENTS ON NEW HORIZON'S FLY-BY OF PLUTO: 3 BILLION MILES IS CLOSER TO SOUTH TEXAS THAN YOU THINK!

* SAENZ CALLS FOR VIGILANCE ALONG BORDER TUNNELS. EL CHAPO MAY EMERGE!

* SAENZ: NO TOLERANCE OF RACIST COPS KILLINGS OF BLACKS IN CAMERON COUNTY!

* BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING DEBT! GREEK COLLAPSE MAY RESULT IN INCREASED MONEY LAUNDERING IN MAQUINITAS SALONS IN SOUTH TEXAS, SAENZ WARNS!

* DA ALERT: WITH BEGINNING OF SCHOOL YEAR, WE WILL NOT TOLERATE SCHOOL-SUPPLIES PRICE GOUGING OF CONSUMERS!

* DA: I WILL TAKE IDENTITY THEFT OF BICYCLE-MOUSTACHE WEARERS PERSONALLY!

* DOG-DAYS HEAT MAY TRIGGER VIOLENT CRIME, DA WARNS! I WILL NOT LET CANICULA CRIME DOG CAMERON COUNTY!

* SAENZ ASKS: WILL SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AFFECT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RATES?

*SAENZ GOES BEYOND THE GRAVE: INDICTS GERALD FORD FOR NIXON PARDON! VICTOR CORTEZ MOLE IN INVESTIGATION! NO ONE ABOVE (OR BELOW) THE LAW!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

DA's OFFICE: NO INFO OR ACCESS FOR PUBLIC, JUST FOR DISBARRED LAWYERS AND FRIENDLY MEDIA AND BLOGGERS

By Juan Montoya
Last January, suspecting that there was more than a passing professional relationship between malingering blogger Robert Wightman and the Cameron County District Attorney's Office, we filed a public information request on the emails between him and that office through Public Information Officer Melissa Landin.
Our request – addressed to Asst. D.A. Edward Sandoval – read thus:
"I would like any and all emails between Luis V. Saenz. Luis Saenz, District Attorney Luis V. Saenz and Robert Wightman Cervantes or Robert Wightman, or Bobby Cervantes, Bobby Wightman Cervantes or Bobby.
I would like any and all emails between Melissa Ann Zamora or Melissa A. Landin or Mellissa Landin or Mellissa Zamora Hernandez or Mellissa Hernandez Zamora and Robert Wightman Cervantes or Robert Wightman, or Bobby Cervantes, Bobby Wightman Cervantes or Bobby. Dates requested are from Jan. 1,2013 to Jan. 27,2015."

Well, Sandoval didn't answer, but Asst. D.A. Matthew M. Kendall did on February 3. He supplied us with 302 pages of emails between Wightman and Landin as a cost of $30.20.
Just recently, while looking into the Hector Negrete case which involved criminal mischief involving two Harley-Davidson motorcycles, one owned by Wightman's nephew Emilio Montes – and for which he was seeking some $3,000 from the Texas Victims Compensation Program – we specifically needed the April-May emails between the two again.
Negrete was arrested on March 29, a misdemeanor criminal mischief complaint was filed April 16, a county grand jury indicted him May 8, and he pleaded and was sentenced on June 14. He served 76 days in jail. His court-appointed attorney was Letty Barguiarena.
Then, on August 23, he was brought to court to face a felony criminal mischief charge. Louis Sorola, his new court-appointed attorney,
argued it constituted double jeopardy, Asst. D.A. Gus Garza agreed, and the state moved to dismiss. The court released him based on time already served.
Many local defense attorneys were amazed at the warp speed at which the misdemeanor complaint moved through the system. Usually, they said the cases took months before they were presented to a grand jury, a trial was held, and the case came to trial. A DWI, for example, takes well over six months.
So what gives?, we asked. Was someone with connections in the DA's Office interceding to make the process move faster?
Therefore the request for emails between the DA, the PIO, and Wightman, where we found out – because Wightman didn't reveal it until we posted it – that he turned out to be Montes' uncle.
By May 30, even before Negrete's appearance for a plea June 14, Montes had already filed for compensation under the victims' assistance program and Wightman was asking Landin about the status of the application. Of course, someone failed to notice that the misdemeanor criminal mischief indictment did not involve Montes, but his fellow biker Joe Garcia.
When Asst. D.A. Garza moved to dismiss the case, he was left out.
Actually, what Wightman – a disbarred attorney – didn't realize, was that the victims compensation program does not pay compensation for damaged property or vehicles, just medical expenses past the victims' health insurance coverage. In other words, Montes, through uncle Wightman, was barking up the wrong tree. The AG's Offie appliation for victims compensation clearly states:
"What expenses are not covered by Crime Victims Compensation Program Benefits?
Damage Repair or loss to property or vehicle."
We dashed off an email to Kendall again for the April-May emails between the DA PIO and Wightman and got this reply."
Matthew M. Kendall June 24
"The Cameron County District Attorney's Office does not posses any documents, in any format, responsive to your attached request."
Well, we mulled that over and made a more thorough search of our files for the missing two months and came upon them in a file box. There they are (See graphic. Click to enlarge).
There were some 140 pages (some are repeats) in all for those two months alone.
The communications between the two touched on a diverse variety of topics ranging from Wightman praising Saenz's Operation Bishop, posting press releases on his Brownsville Voice blog for the DA's Office, and many of a personal nature such as inquiring about her and her baby's health and future eight-liner raids he could publicize for "Luis."
But there were other, more disturbing ones where Wightman – a disbarred attorney – used the DA's Office to try to assist his nephew get compensation for his Harley, and to intercede and overturn a verdict against Montes' daughter, Ivana, in her criminal trespass guilty plea to the point where she even got her a $150 refund for court costs and probation.
The other dealt with her ongoing stormy relationship with her ex, one Victor vallade, wtih whom she had a child support complaint and another for domestic violence.
In those cases, he actually directs Landin to arrange a meeting with Saenz and to direct him on what files to bring to the April 9, 2013 meeting (see first email below).
And, after the meeting the same day, April 9 (apparently Saenz did follow directions correctly and brought the right files), a happy Wightman emails Landin that:
THE WIGHTMAN-SAENZ TIMELINE
The docket sheet of the criminal mischief case against Ivana Montes tells the story (11-CCR-0005331).
She had pleaded guilty on April 4 and given deferred adjudication, placed on 9 months probation at $60 a month with a $500 fine and court costs, and ordered to perform 24 hours of community service.
Five days later, on April 9, Wightman met with Saenz.
On April 17, she withdrew her guilty plea and Asst. DA Rigo Flores did not object. The court ordered the dismissal on April 23, and on May 20, the court ordered that she be refunded a $150 payment she had made on the fine and court costs.
Now, with the DA's Office hunkering down and denying the emails exist, more troubling questions arise. Did DA Saenz allow his office to be manipulated by a disbarred lawyer and did he aid and abet him to practice law in Cameron County?

HAS PRE-TRIAL RELEASE (OR POST-TRIAL) BECOME OBSOLETE?

By Juan Montoya
Those of our three readers who have kept up with our coverage on the way the Pre-Trial Release Program operates, know we have serious questions about the way it is operated.
Ostensibly set up by Judge Arturo Nelson and the Cameron County Commissioners Court to relieve jail overcrowding, provide assistant to indigent defendants, and assure the constitutional rights of prisoners are protected while they await trial, it has grown into a self-propagating bureaucracy that seems hell-bent on justifying its existence.
Their own rules state that the program is not meant for repeat violent offenders, only for first-time defendants accused of non-violent crimes.
Yet, we have documented instances of defendants charged with aggravated sexual assault of children walk out on 3 percent bonds the same day they are arrested and booked and return to the homes where they hurt the children.
There are also documented cases of family violence where bargain-rate bonds are set and defendants walk out to return to the same place they committed their alleged offenses against victims.
There have even been defendants who have been charged with assault against peace officers who walk out on the next day they are charged and a bond set.
And there are even cases where people who are clearly not indigent are signed up by the PTRP intake clerks.
But bad as these are, someone brought out the fact that just last year, a man convicted of capital murder whose sentence was overturned by the court of appeals was offered a 3 percent bond ($15,000 on a $500,000 bail) while waiting for a new trial.
The case involved Manuel Velez, whose sentences was reversed and was granted a new trial set for  November 2014. Earlier, on December 2012, a legal team reversed Velez’s death sentence.
Even Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz – who was ready to retry Velez, did not agree with the PRTP posting the bond.
He told the Brownsville Herald:
"The State concurs with the Court's decision to grant Velez the $500,000 bond. However, the State does not agree that pre-trial should post the bond..."
Saenz had yet to decide whether his office would seek the death penalty again against  Velez, who spent nearly four years on death row before the higher court threw out his capital murder conviction and sentence.
Although a judge recommended a retrial, Velez didn't want to go back to court, so he pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of injury to a child. By accepting the plea, he gained his freedom and was reunited with his two children and other family members.
Yet, the question remains, what has the PRTP become?
If there is no longer any jail overcrowding (Cameron County is going to house 100 prisoners from Hidalgo County for millions), there are plenty of commercial bail bond companies available for prisoners, and the program is demonstrably redundant?
Was it a good idea in its day that has run out its purpose?

BUILDING OF STATUE HONORING WOMEN VETS STARTS. ORALE!

By Juan Montoya
It's been a long road, but the efforts to honor women who served in the United States Armed Forces is one step closer to becoming reality.
Workmen started Tuesday by bringing in the wooden forms to pour the concrete that will form the pedestal where a statue of a female veteran will one day be displayed. On Wednesday, they buttressed the form in preparation to pour concrete.
A group in the University of Texas at Brownsville started the movement and planned to fundraise until local car dealer Charlie Clark was approached by the organizers and pledged to foot the entire bill.
Arlene Laboy, president of the support group Veteran Females United, told the local news daily that the process of bringing a female statue had been a dream of their group. Laboy said the statue will be placed in Veterans Park next to the Brownsville Public Library on Central Boulevard.
“So far we have a sponsor and I have permission from the city,” Laboy said of the project.
Laboy said she has also received confirmation from Brownsville Parks and Recreation to begin the process.
The group told the reporter that they hope to unveil the statue either on Memorial Day of by the Fourth of July.
Most of the women in the group just recently got out of the military, Laboy said.
“We were wondering how come there is no statue or anything here (of women.) A lot of people don’t even know that women can join the military,” she explained.
According to data from the 2009 American Community Survey, 1.5 million Veterans in the United States and Puerto Rico were women. Women represented about 8 percent of the total Veteran population in 2009.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

$100,000s FOR UNITED BROWNSVILLE, NO SHELTERS FOR US

(Ed.'s Note: Texas Southmost College trustees tied at 3-3 over giving IBC President Fred Rusteberg's shadow government United Brownsville its annual tribute of $25,000 in "membership" fees. Seeing the resistance on a growing majority on the board to give away educational funds to an organization that is accountable to no one and has not been elected by anyone, the board decided to consider the request at its annual budget considerations. To sweeten the blow, United Brownsville said it only only wanted $20,000 instead of the full $25,000. They collect about $200,00 from eight publicly-funded entities and strong-arm them calling it "memberships" to have a "seat at the able." Wasn't that nice of Fred and Da Boys? The City of Brownsville, with Tony Martinez at the helm, has not hesitated to give the money to Fred's cabal despite the fact that the scene above is all too common in the city. Senior citizens, women and babies have to endure 100 degree-plus temperatures at what pass for bus stops in our city. We can't even afford to build shelters for our residents but continue to give away the company store to millionaires.)  

SOSSI EMBARRASSES CITY IN FEDERAL COURT; HANDS OVER ANNEXATION CASE TO LAGUNA VISTA, PORT ISABEL

By Juan Montoya
The lawyers for the cities of Laguna Vista and Port Isabel must be laughing all the way to the federal courthouse.
The cause of their mirth is the lawsuit filed last week in federal court by Brownsville City Attorney and Legal Eagle Mark Sossi against them in the municipalities ongoing annexation dispute.
Sossi filed July 24 in federal court against both entities to prevent Laguna Vista from acquiring more land after it declared itself a home-rule city despite an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Brownsville on fixed territorial lines.
Sossi tells the court that in a 2009 agreement between the cities, "Brownsville surrendered a significant amount of Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction to Laguna Vista in return for Laguna Vista not claiming any more land in the future.
However, on May 2011 the City of Laguna Vista passed a resolution declaring itself a home rule city, with the ability to extend its ETJ one and a half miles. Later, additional legislation (HB 4059) was passed that Lguna Vista said allowed it to extend its ETJ.
Sossi claims that the Interlocal Agreement that was signed on 2009 binds Laguna Vista to the reduced ETJ and that the legislation should not apply to Laguna Vista in the first place since Laguna Vista's population does not exceed 5,000, a requirement to be considered a Home Rule City.
Sossi cites the 2009 agreement signed by then-Mayor Pat Ahumada as the guiding instrument that binds Laguna Vista to the reduced territory.
There's the rub.
The agreement states in Part 4, Section H (see graphic above) that the deal is "null and void" unless it is executed by both parties on or before May 29, 2009.
As can be plainly seen in the graphic below signed by Ahumada on June 17, 2009, the City of Brownsville failed to execute the agreement before May 29. In effect, Legal Eagle Sossi has handed the Laguna Vista  (and Port Isabel?) folks the right to establish their Home Rule ETJ since there is no agreement binding them to the restrictions.




This is not the first time Sossi has shown his legal prowess.
He was the attorney representing the city commission when a group of citizens took them to court to prevent them from taking benefits that were not authorized by the City Charter. Sossi lost.
He was the attorney who represented Charlie Atkinson in his fight against Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa when Atkinson challenged her residency in District 2 and had visual proof (surveillance footage) that she didn't. Atkinson, defended by Sossi, lost.
He is also the attorney for the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation (at $5,000 a month) who allowed the GBIC's corporate charter to lapse and operated outside the law for months before someone called his attention to that little oversight.
 The GBIC had been conducting business since November 14, 2003 when the state forfeited its corporate charter.
Sossi failed to filed the required periodic report of a non-profit corporation for the GBIC. He finally filed April 8, 2014, and the tax exemption status was returned and the corporation was legally activated to do business.
The simple form (handwritten with Sossi's chicken scratch) probably didn't take more than two minutes to fill out the two pages. A copy of the form shows that the way Sossi filled out out would have probably forced a third grade teacher to hand it back with a note to do it over again neatly.
He let things get so bad for simply the failure to pen in a 2-page fill-in-the-blank form. Note the cross-outs. It isn't even typed. And for this, GBIC pays him $5000 a month?
He was also the attorney who settled a case with a local law firm with whom he was associated and agreed to pay them some $167,000 he took that belonged to the law firm. City watchdogs pointed out that after he became the city's contract attorney, Sossi handed them contracts and in effect used city money to pay off his debt.
And he was the city attorney who claimed that the sale of Lincoln Park to the University of Texas System was merely a "conveyance," even though many critics said it was a giveaway of city real estate for a fraction of its price.
He, by the way, is the same city attorney who in 2011 was told by incoming Mayor Tony Martinez to bring a code of ethics to the commission.
We're in 2015 and we still have no code of ethics to guide city officials and employees.
 At $10,000 a month, plus the $5,000 per month that he has contracted out with the GBIC, Sossi makes $180,000 for his mighty labors.
See you in federal court for more of this comedy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

SORRY BROTHER ALEX, YOU'RE OFF ON A FRINGE

By Juan Montoya
It was often said that the last thing you wanted to do was to get in an argument with a newspaper guy because he was sitting on a barrel of ink.
The same might apply to getting in a religious argument with an ordained minister, as with the Rev. Alex Resendez, whose letter to the editor of the Brownsville Herald was published in today's newspaper.
There is  no denying that Resendez is a devout Christian, and that his faith is sincere. But the leaps of logic and knee-jerk reactions to events involving President Barack Obama border on the maniacal.
In so many words, Resendez says that Obama is the anti-Christ for saying we're not only a nation of many cultures, but also a nation of many faiths.
Resendez says that with that statement, Obama has "changed every good rule of law" and states that since all presidents placed their hands on a bible, they were all "bound by its laws and the Ten Commandments of god."
"But now this chief dictator president has changed what our founding fathers made America to be, after many years of hard work."
Well, Rev. Alex, not quite.
All presidents swear to obey and uphold the U.S. Constitution, not necessarily the tenets in the bible. And as far as the United States being "America," well, let's not forget that this country occupies a northern section on the American continent. No country can claim the name "America" for itself, although that doesn't keep chauvinistic usurpers from trying.
And as for religious, take George Washington, the very first president of this country, as an example. When he was first sworn in and made his inaugural speech, he didn't refer to Jesus Christ, or Jehovah, or any specific culture's god. He referred instead to a "creator," a faith-neutral term that didn't refer to any specific culture or religion. Does that make him an anti-Christ, too?
Call me a nitpicker, but Columbus was not here to "teach and civilize" the natives he encountered in the New World. He was sent to find a way to the riches and spices of India and China by the Catholic kings of Spain. Just a few years after his arrival here, he had virtually decimated the native population.
And he had Queen Isabella issue an edict that in effect established the slave trade in the New World. By demanding a tribute in gold from each native forced to pan the streams and work in the mines, these God-fearing Spaniards virtually sealed the fate of these peaceful natives, literally working them to death.
Therefore, an edict from this Christian queen was needed to enslave what natives that were left under the justification that they refused to believe in their "true god" and that they may have been cannibals (Carabs). So when the need for more warm bodies were needed after a particular island's population was killed, they simply labeled the inhabitants of nearby islands "Carabs" and enslaved them.
If that was the Spaniards' way of bringing the wholesome effects of love for your fellow man and civilization, someone should have told the natives to flee from their saviors.
I can appreciate a bit of satire and sarcasm, as our three readers of this blog can attest. But Resendez's assertion that Obama will pass a law making it legal for you to marry your dog or horse implies that that the president is a proponent of bestiality, and to me that goes way over the line in a rational argument.
Resendez then prophecises that god will raze this country like he did biblical Sodom and Gomorrah because Obama is "protecting perverts." But all Obama is doing – who by the way is not the chief of staff, but rather the commander-in-chief – is upholding the law as defined by the Supreme Court, the very thing that he and the justices promised to do when they placed their hands upon the bible.
"America (the continent?) was a Christian nation," Resendez states. "Don't let the devil fool you."
Demonizing the president of the United States may be a sure-fire way to gain the plaudits of adherents who hate Obama, but to say that "only an anti-Christ can fool all Christian lawyer fools" defies logic.
If Resendez believes in "science and the Holy Bible," may we suggest that he exercise his god-given common sense and take full advantage of modern chemistry and theology? Maybe some Prozac and one or two chapters of Proverbs?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

BROWNSVILLE RESIDENTS ARE STAKEHOLDERS IN THE VFW

Anonymous said...
Why should anyone care what the vets do at the VFW?
July 24, 2015 at 2:14 p.m.
By Juan Montoya
We got that comment in response to a post describing the efforts of some local combat veterans who have been trying to set VFW Post 2035 running straight.
They have taken their complaints to the district and national VFW organization in hopes that their pleas will be heard. Aside from some people wearing military citations and ribbons that aren't listed on their discharge papers (DD214), there's also documentation that a number of people who were recruited to the organization do not qualify for membership.
The national bylaws for the VFW state that membership is open to: "Those serving honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces in a foreign war or overseas operation recognized by a campaign medal, in Korea after June 30, 1949, and recipients of hostile-fire or imminent danger pay. Veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf and Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan and other smaller expeditionary campaigns, as well as occupation duty, qualify."
Some of the vets who want to clean up the local VFW say that a good number of people recruited to be members there served in peace time in places like Panama, Okinawa, and Germany and did not face hostile fire as is required by the bylaws of this service organization. The VFW is different in that unlike the American Legion, the membership is limited to those who served in the military and saw combat. VFW memebers can jon the Legio, but not necessarily the other way around."
So, in response to the query above, many people may not know that the City of Brownsville (that is, all its residents and taxpayers) extended a $1 a year lease for 99 years for the property where the new post was built to help the vets out.
So in a sense, the residents of the city are all stakeholders in the local post and as such deserve to expect that the organization conduct itself with integrity and honor befitting those who have sacrificed themselves to fighting this nation's wars.
"When you have people who are running the show allowing people who don't qualify for membership to vote in their officers' elections, you do a disservice to those who gave of themselves and risked their lives for all of us," said one of the veterans in the group who have tried to correct some of the alleged misdeeds of the past.
There have always been rumors of fiscal mismanagement, some members taking money, etc.
"To me, standing up for the VFW is like the saying 'my country right or wrong,'" he said. "But there is also another part to that saying. It's 'when it's right, to keep it right. When it's wrong, to set it right."
It is no secret that when the VFW moved from its former location at the corner of Los Ebanos and Paredes Line Road to its new site, the members encumbered the service organization with a huge debt (rumored to be over $300,00) which they have been unable to pay off in time. The IBC bank holding the note has been lenient with the club refinancing the original note many times over.
That, plus citations by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for procuring alcoholic beverages from an unauthorized source and selling to underage customers, are giving the service club an unsavory rep. 
"What sets the VFW apart from other service organizations is that it holds the veterans who served in combat with the highest honor and respect," said another. "In the very fullest sense of the word, it is a sacred trust and that trust should guide everything that is associated with it."

A COUPLE OF POEMS FROM WAY BACK WHEN...

(This Friday we visited the BAM party on Adams Street and were pleasantly surprised to see their photo exhibit of downtown scenes featuring up-and-coming photographers Veronica Gaona, Eduardo Martinez-Blanchard, Josie del Castillo, and Conrado Gonzalez. The show was called SouthXSouthmost and was held Friday and Saturday. Owner MoshiMoshi Solitaire graciously showed us the exhibit and gave us a walk through. The visit set got the creative juices flowing and we dug up some of our old poetry from our files. Good show by the
Brownsville Artists and Musicians (BAM), an experimental collaborative of creatives reinforcing the visual and musical underground of our community.)


THE BULLFIGHT
Lonely You
Once again in the arena
with bovine thoughts
pounding in your head





COUNTERFEIT
He flew off to Peoria to pass some paper
But a hair in Benjamin's head
stood out and
snagged him

AG's OFFICE PROBING VALLEY ELECTION FRAUD CLAIMS

By Patrick Svitek
The Texas Tribune

The Texas attorney general's office has opened an investigation into a contested election in the Rio Grande Valley won by a client of Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa two years ago, according to a lawyer for the losing candidate.

Houston attorney Jerad Najvar said Thursday that Attorney General Ken Paxton's office is acting on a criminal complaint filed by his client, Letty Lopez. She lost to Lupe Rivera, Hinojosa's client, by 16 votes in a November 2013 election for a spot on the Weslaco City Commission.

More than a year ago, a visiting judge ruled that some of the votes for Rivera were illegally cast and ordered a new election held as soon as possible, according to local media. Legal wrangling has kept the new election from taking place, and Rivera has remained in office while Hinojosa has defended him in court.

In an interview Friday, Hinojosa said he had no comment about the investigation but questioned the motivations of Najvar, a prominent Republican lawyer who specializes in campaign finance and political law. The case has no doubt provided fodder to the Texas GOP, which has latched on to reports of corruption in the Valley to accuse Democrats of hypocrisy on voting rights.

Lopez's challenge made its way to the attorney general's office via the secretary of state's office, with which she first filed a complaint alleging voter fraud in the original election. In a letter dated May 13, the secretary of state's office asked the attorney general's office to get involved, saying Lopez's complaint "demonstrates that it is likely unlawful voting occurred."

“After review of the submitted documentation, we believe the information regarding offenses warrants a submission for criminal investigation to the Texas Attorney General as the specific allegations described involve potential misdemeanor and felony offenses," Keith Ingram, director of elections in the secretary of state's office, wrote to David Maxwell, Paxton's director of law enforcement.

Asked about the investigation earlier this month, a Paxton spokeswoman would neither confirm or deny it.

Hinojosa's involvement in the election contest has become a focus of the Republican Party of Texas and the Republican National Committee. Both organizations have used it against Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who delivered a speech last month in Houston that called voter fraud a "phantom epidemic."

(For rest of the story, click on link below:)

https://www.texastribune.org/2015/07/24/lawyer-ags-office-probing-election-contest-in/

Friday, July 24, 2015

HOW DO YOU SPELL "DUMB?" W-I-G-H-T-M-A-N

"What expenses are not covered by Crime Victims Compensation Program Benefits?
*Damage Repair or loss to property or vehicle."


By Juan Montoya
For the past two years, local blogger and disbarred attorney Robert Wightman (AKA Bobby) has been on a rampage disparaging the district attorney, his lead prosecutor, and court appointed attorneys because he can't get his nephew $3,000 under the Texas Victims Compensation Act to pay for his damaged Harley-Davidson chopper.
Wightman has railed at D.A. Luis V. Saenz and threatened to denounce him to the Texas Attorney General's Office for not forking over the cash to his nephew Emilio Montes.
He has been equally as nasty to lead prosecutor Asst. DA Gus Garza and court-appointed attorney Louis Sorola.
On March 29, 2013, Hector Negrete was being an obnoxious drunk at the Sportsman Lounge in downtown Brownsville and he tried to assault a waitress. Among the patrons at the bar were his nephew Emilio Montes and his cycle buddy Joe Garcia, who had parked their choppers outside on the HEB parking lot directly behind the bar.
According to what Garcia told investigators at the Brownsville Police Dept., the patrons beat up on Negrete and kicked him out, locking the back door so he would not reenter the bar.
The police eventually were called and took Negrete away. He was charged with a misdemeanor criminal mischief count, apparently because he was accused of knocking over the bikes.
That's when things started to get queer. That happened on March 29. By the first week of the month of May, Negrete had been indicted by a grand jury, a case of what local attorneys call an indictment on steroids.
"C'mon," said one. "When you get a DWI, it takes about six months before you're indicted. What happened in this case that Negrete was indicted just a little over a month later. This really smells."
The other strange thing was that Montes told the cops that night that he estimated the cost to be near $3,000.
Negrete sat in jail from late March until he was tried on the misdemeanor charge. When he appeared in June and pleaded guilty in June, he was told that he was also facing a felony charge arising from the same incident for damage to the other bike. At this time, Letty Barguiarena, his court appointed attorney, had had enough of the obnoxious Negrete and she withdrew as his representative. 103rd District Court Judge Arturo Nelson, grabbed Sorola and appointed him on the spot to represent Negrete.
Sorola, seeing that the charge arose from the same incident, told Garza that Negrete might be facing double jeopardy. Garza, in the midst of a heavy load in the court thought nothing of it and moved to dismiss the case. Sorola didn't even appear in court on the case.
All told, Negrete was jailed for close to five months on the misdemeanor charge and while awaiting trial on the felony charge.
 Regardless of whether Garza may have erred in dismissing the charge, Wightman has been adamant in that the DA's Office pay his nephew for the damages Negrete allegedly inflicted on the bike.
He filed the request for payment to DA PIO Melissa Zamora (Landin) and after it was returned to Montes, threatened to go to the AG for redress.
Wightman, who revels in labeling people idiots, morons, beyond dumb, vindictive pricks, durnks, etc., may have either not done his homework or might have been trying to put one over on the DA's Office because the Texas Crime Victims Compensation Act clearly states:
"What expenses are not covered by Crime Victims Compensation Program Benefits?
*Damage Repair or loss to property or vehicle."
So how was it that this particular case got put on the fast track, that Wightman (using Montes) has persisted in applying for a victim's benefit for which he doesn't qualify, and disparaging everyone within range for not joining him in his error?
Wightman, apparently knowing that the application for compensation would get nowhere, then asked Landin to send it back. Since then, he (through Montes) has called for the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals of the Texas Supreme Court to discipline Garza and Sorola to determine "whether there is just cause to believe that the attorney(s) committed professional misconduct."
Hasn't everyone had enough of this monster created when the DA and his PIO made the mistake of engaging him in his folly?
This disbarred attorney might need a refresher course in the laws and statutes of the state. If he had read the eligibility rules of the state victims compensation program before he launched his crusade for cash, would everyone have had to endure this abuse?
"Mejor que sea nada mas un loco y no dos," we say.

DAN THE MAN A CHIP OFF THE OLD HINOJOSA BLOCK

"We spending O.P.M. (what's that?)
Other Peoples Money and we like it (love it)
We spending O.P.M. Other Peoples Money and we like it (love it)"

O.P.M., by Dom Kennedy
 
By Juan Montoya
By all measures, the master of spending other people's money was former Cameron County Judge Gilbert Hinojosa.
He has since graduated to become the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party with a slightly larger budget to vex the electorate, although the results of the last state and county elections did not favor his party. 
But the boys from upriver have learned a thing or two about O.P/M.
Take Cameron County Precinct 4 commissioner Dan Sanchez. Dan has never made it a secret that he years to sit in the chair formerly occupied by Carlos Cascos and now by Pete Sepulveda. He lobbied hard to be appointed when Cascos left, but could not bear to resign his seat (to which he just got reelected) without the assurance he would get the nod.
But that hasn't stopped Dan from currying the favor of elected officials with sizeable constituencies as Hinojosa did in his heyday.
You remember. At the peak of his reign as county judge, a visit to that office would bring you face to face with the late Frances Domensky, the reigning politiquera from El Ranchito, former Combes Mayor Silvestre "Silver" Garcia, and his chief of staff Remi Garza, son of a prominent San Benito dentist and his mom Yolanda, a n attorney from the Resaca City.
All were put on the county judge's payroll and paid for their services by the public. But in reality, the jobs they performed were more political than they were essential to running the county.
In fact, Remi Garza, now Cameron County Elections Administrator, was paid more than professional government planner with a Master's Degree then working in the same office.
With this crew in place, Hinojosa could call (and often did) on them to move their different constituencies on his behalf when he ran for office or wanted to influence a political outcome.
Sanchez had a good teacher.
Remember when former County Clerk Joe River and former District Clerk Aurora de la Garza wanted hefty raises and the commissioners court did not have the funds to do it? In 2012, Gracious Dan said he would take a pay cut so they could each get a $3,000 raise and did. But when the next budget came up, the duo's salary stayed in place, Sanchez's salary returned to the same level as his peers on the court, and the taxpayers were left holding the bag.
Then came the off-budget request by district judges that their court staff get a 10 percent raise and Sanchez – despite the fact that his brother David is a district and he does business in that court – made the motion to give it to them.
That opened the flood gates and less than a month later the staffs of the three county courts-at-law appeared before the court asking that their staff get the 10 percent raise as well. Sanchez voted to give it to them, too.
And just recently, the local daily reported that Sanchez asked that this year’s salary grievance committee be chosen based on a formula that puts seven elected officials on the 10-member committee, suggesting that those requirements are included in the Local Government Code.
The newspaper reported that the committee is put together each year to consider raises for elected officials who grieve their publicly funded salaries.
Additionally, the statute dictates that in addition to the non-voting county judge, the committee can include the county sheriff, tax assessor-collector, treasurer, county clerk, district clerk, district attorney and enough public members to have nine voting members.
For at least eight years, however, the county has gone by a second statutory option to select nine public members pulled from the grand jury roster to serve alongside the county judge, who serves as a non-voting facilitator.
Under Dan's proposal – which fortunately was tabled by the cooler heads on the court – the elected officials could step off their committee seats and ask for their raises and then seat again to consider other officials' grievances as well as their own. It is doubtful that the three members of the public would counter the elected-official majority on the board.
"What's to stop the committee from recommending that all elected officials get a 10 percent across-the-board raise?" asked a county staffer. "If you do that, what's to keep the rest of the county employees from demanding a similar raise? You'd have to raise property taxes to do it."
It doesn't appear that the rest of the court will entertain Sanchez's generous motion to have elected officials determine if they will get a rise for themselves. But at least all these folks (with their constituencies) know that despite losing, they have a champion in Dan who gave it the old college try.
"We're spending O.P.M. and we like it (love it)," don't we Dan?

TSC TIES UP UNITED B'VILLE $; RIVERA, KIKO, RENDON, "AYE"

By Juan Montoya
Even with the knowledge that they could incur a legal liability if they gave United Brownsville their annual $25,000 "membership" fee, three Texas Southmost trustees voted to give the ghost government the cash.
Only the votes of three other members – Adela Garza, Dr. Raynaldo Garcia and Ramon Hinojosa – stopped the handout. Voting in favor of giving away the public's money to the Brownsville nonprofit were chair Kiko Rendon, Ed Rivera, and Art Rendon.
Trustee Trey Mendez was attending a funeral and did not attend the meeting where he could possibly be the tie breaker. In the past, Mendez has indicated a reluctance to pay the organization headed by IBC President Fred Rusteberg and former UTB President Julieta Garcia and UTB VP Irv Downing.
With that tie, it will be decided in the upcoming budget process whether the $25,000
In a heated meeting that spilled over form the board's executive session, Dr. Garcia spoke out against the $25,000 payment demanding to know what benefit the students or the college district got form making the possibly illegal payment.
After a meandering discussion, Garcia made a motion not to fund the request and Adela Garza seconded the motion. The vote was 3-3 and Kiko Rendon asserted that since it was a recurring budget outlay, the college could fund it anyway. However, TSC legal counsel Frank Perez did not support Rendon's claim and the decision will be left up to the trustees during the upcoming budget process when they vote whether to include it or not.
For now, however, the college will not cut the check for United Brownsville.
"TSC is opening itself up to be sued by any of the other cities in the district because they are giving away the district's taxpayer monies to an entity that represents only Brownsville," said a college staffer. "What's to spot the cities of Los Fresnos, South Padre Island or Port Isabel from asking for their $25,000, too."
Garcia's vehement opposition to the handout to United Brownsville was fueled in part by the recent legislative session attended by State reps Rene Oliveira and Eddie Lucio III and "moderated" by United Brownsville President Mike Gonzales.
Gonzales is the former mayor of Kyle hand-picked by Rusteberg to head the nonprofit. He earns a salary in the mid $80,000 funded totally by the "membership" donations from eight publicly-funded Brownville entities.
These entities – as we have pointed out before – are: the City of Brownsville, the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation (GBIC), the Brownsville Independent School District, the Brownsville Navigation District, the Brownsville Public Utilities Board, the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) and the Texas Southmost College."
It was none other than Oliveira – who has not been hesitant to give UTB and Julieta Garcia everything she wanted – who told United Brownsville President that although the organization's legislative agenda was "ambitious," the line items dealing with educational outlays were off mark.
When Gonzales asked about the items that TSC had requested through United Brownsville for this biennium, he was schooled by Oliveira, the state rep fifth in seniority in the House, on the way the sausage was made in Austin. He told Gonzales that those types of requests aren't typically handled by the legislature.
He said Rep Jimmie Aycock, head of the House committee on public education had turned him down saying: "If I do it for you, I have to do it for every junior college."
As recently as the party primaries last year, Gonzales has voted in elections in Kyle and he and his wife are registered to vote there even though he has held the position for more than five years.
Garcia and the others who voted not to fund the organization asked whether this was why TSC has been shelling out the taxpayer's money to United Brownsville to – as trustee Rivera claims – "have a seat at the table?"
Each year, this organization has wormed its way deeper and deeper into the local political scene, not only with their protection racket, but also with taking over the purview of elected bodies and representatives.
Since 2009, this group and their willingly co-opted public officials have gone to the public-treasury well to strong-arm the eight public entities for their $25,000 "annual membership" payment.
From 2009 to 2012 the public had shelled out $810,000. That doesn't include the $200,00 from 2013 and the $200,000 to be collected for 2014. All told, the taxpayers of Brownsville will have shelled out $1,210,000 to United Brownsville for the privilege of having a troika accountable to no one "implement" their dubious "plan.
Add in another $200,000 for 2015 – minus TSC's $25,000 – and the racket continues.
The aim is for this cadre of players to decide how they want the area to develop and to move the public assets to achieve their goals. Being astute (and scheming) business types, it is not surprising that the direction the area's assets are being moved will ultimately profit them and their friends.
An audit by Long and Chilton audit indicates that United Brownsville has done very well, indeed, living off the public's largess.
The aim is for this cadre of players to decide how they want the area to develop and to move the public assets to achieve their goals. Being astute (and scheming) business types, it is not surprising that the direction the area's assets are being moved will ultimately profit them and their friends.
As the TSC budget process moves forward, United Brownsville's lackluster performance on behalf of the Brownsville community may well decide whether Rsuteberg's shadow government will continue milking the local taxpayers.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

BENNY: "I GOT CALLED OUT TO PRONOUNCE NILGAI DEAD."

By Juan Montoya
It's not often that we find ourselves out at Port Isabel.
We're not exactly avid fishermen or sailors, but sometimes we find ourselves out toward South Padre Island and we stop by and chat it up with some folks.
This happened Wednesday and since it was still before 10 a.m. we stopped at El Papa's Restaurant on Garcia Street to have a coffee and a taco.
Perchance we ran into Justice of the Peace Benny Ochoa and some of the city commissioners who made Papa's their coffee stop each morning. Benny, normally and affable, wisecracking sort, looked alittle tired and we told him.
"I was up late last night, or rather this morning before dawn at the scene of an auto accident," he said.
We didn't pry for the gory details and got to talking about any number of sundry subjects: the annexation dispute with Brownsville, the new majority non the city commission, whether the fish were biting, etc.
The folks at Port Isabel (or are they pirates?) say the annexation dispute with Brownville could be easily solved if the big city would just limit their annexation plans to stop at the Los Lobos boat ramp (AKA as Jaime Zapata Boat Ramp) and everyone could call it quits as far as they were concerned.
The other lingering dispute with the Browntown flatlanders is their continuing dispute over the territorial limits of the school district that takes in the major industry at the Brownsville Navigation District (Amfels, the shipbreakers, TransMontaigne, etc.,) and collects the taxes for the Port Isabel schools instead of the Brownsville Independent School District. BISD supporters often say that except for a few homes on the south side of the ship channel towards Boca Chica, there are no other students that would justify the Port Isabel distict collecting the taxes on these major industries.
"Well," countered Ochoa, "we contribute about $17 million to the state's Robin Hood plan that distributes that money to property-poor districts like the BISD, so you're getting your share."
There's no argument there, we guess. And anyway, it will probably snow in the sun before either State Rep. Rene Oliveira or Senator Eddie Lucio would want to handle that hor potato and realing the jurisdictions.
We had brought a copy of the Brownsville daily and the guys were leaving through its meager offerings when a small article on a nilgai (Texas antelope, actually Nepal) being struck by a motorist on Highway 100 caught their eye.
Nilgais are large elk-like animals (without the rack) that were imported by the Yturria Ranch a few years back and have proliferated near the wildlife refuges (like Laguna Atascosa) to the point that large helicopter hunts are carried out periodically, ostensibly to check them for fever ticks. A full-grown nilgais male can weigh as much as 600-plus pounds.  We commented on that and the guys at the table told us it was the second time that someone had run into one with devastating results to both the car and the animal.
"Thats' why I'm a little sleepy today," yawned Benny. "They called me out near dawn so I could pronounce the nilgai dead."
And with that, the meeting broke up and we headed back to safer digs.

IS VFW POST 2035 COMMANDER LUCIO STEALING VALOR?

By Juan Montoya
A group of dissatisfied combat veterans have confirmed that several national organization has been contacted to determine whether Luis Lucio, the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Ward Post 2035, has been wearing medals he may not have earned.
The case – like many across the country – may be one of so-called Stolen Valor.
Additionally, they say that many veterans of foreign wars have left the local VFW post because of the number of veterans who do not qualify for membership but have been recruited by Lucio to have a voting majority to keep him in his position.
"I left the post and I told Louie why," said one. "He goes around wearing a Purple Heart ribbon and a Vietnam Combat Action Ribbon that he didn't earn. And he has recruited a lot of people to join the post who never saw combat and don't qualify to be memebers."
The national bylaws of the VFW state that membership is open to: ""Those serving honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces in a foreign war or overseas operation recognized by a campaign medal, in Korea after June 30, 1949, and recipients of hostile-fire or imminent danger pay. Veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf and Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan and other smaller expeditionary campaigns, as well as occupation duty, qualify."
A photo on the Wall of Honor at the post has a photo of Lucio (see graphic) with service ribbons on his chest. The group say that they have a copy of the citations he is authorized to wear in a copy of his DD214 (discharge papers) that show he was not awarded the ribbons.
"If it's not on your DD214, you aren't supposed to be wearing them," said one. "Louie's DD214 doesn't have that."
Many of the disaffected vets say that at one time or another Lucio has told them that he was  United States Marine Corps drill instructor and that he was in the infantry.
Lucio served four years in the Marine Corp.
However, the DD214 clearly states that his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty as "3371, Cook.""Unless he got burned with a stove, you really can't see where he would be awarded a Purple Heart," scoffed one. " A copy of the decorations and medals section in Lucio's DD214 shows that he is only authorized to wear a National Defense Medal (1st Awd); Vietnam Service Medal (2*); Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (w/device) .
Lucio has often been seen (as the photo at the post also shows), a number of medals not authorized there. The veterans say that they have studied the decorations he wears and say that there are at least four decorations that are not valid.
Taking the nine from the top to bottom with the top three being 1, 2, and 3, the middle 4,5,6, and the bottom 7,8, and 9, they say they have found that:

1. Purple Heart, Not Awarded
 
2. USMC Good Conduct Medal, Not Awarded (Note: DD214 reflects a new starting period for qualifying service for the Good Conduct Medal. This period was restarted some 17 months into the enlistment period and would be indicative of a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice or some similar event. Inasmuch as the award was never given, it would appear the remainder of the enlistment period was of insufficient character or duration to qualify for this award.)
 
3. National Defense Service Medal, Valid.
 
4. Vietnam Service Medal, Valid with two campaign stars (Note: Individual is wearing 4 campaign stars, which is two more that he is entitled according to the DD214
 
5. USMC Presidential Unit Citation, Not noted on DD214 (Note: Inverted, being worn upside down)
 
6. Combat Action Ribbon, Not Awarded 
 
7. Vietnam Campaign Medal, Valid
 
8. Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation, Valid
 
9. Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation, Insufficient evidence on DD214
 
The veterans group say that they have contacted the organization like the Guardians of Valor (http://guardianofvalor.com/) and got this response June 19:
"We have received your email, and will respond as fast as possible! Due  to a large number of inquiries and comments it may take us a bit, but  we will respond. We can pull records and see what they reflect."
They say they have also contacted www.fakewarriors.org and www.trektothetroops.com
The slogan for the Fake Warriors group is "The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true." George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The veterans pursuing this investigation say their actions are not meant to impeach Lucio personally, but to restore the honor due to the real veterans who saw action and may have been really wounded or disabled defending this country.
"We want people in our community to honor our combat vets," said one. "When some veterans wear fake ribbons and citations, they perform a great disservice  to the ones who really earned them. Right now some people in town know that their actions are not being respected when some people claim an honor that is not due to them."
They say that their complaints to the VFW District headquarters have gotten them no results. If need be, they say, they will take their evidence and their complaints to the national VFW.
"He is the cousin of Texas Sen. Eddie Lucio and that may have played a part in the district sweeping this under the rug," said another. "But this has to stop sometime. Honoring real combat veterans' service is a serious matter."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WHY IS WIGHTMAN SO BOTHERED ABOUT NEGRETE CASE?

By Juan Montoya
It's going on two years now since blogger Robert Wightman has been ragging 138th District Judge Arturo Nelson, court-appointed attorney Louis Sorola and Asst. District Attorney Gus Garza.
The reason?
Wightman claims that they all conspired (and that Sorola bribed D.A. Luis Senz with a $500 political contribution) over a criminal mischief case involving one Hector Negrete. His emails to the D.A.'s PIO (Melissa Landin) reveal a doggedness to get money from the victims compensation fund to pay for a damaged Harley Davidson motorcycle..
Why are Wightman's boxers (or is it the feminine variety?) all in a knot?
Would you believe it's because he has been wanting the DA's office to pay victim's compensation to a biker whose chopper was allegedly knocked over by Negrete? The biker's name is Emilio Montes. And what Wightman has never let his readers know is that Montes is his nephew. Peruse just a few of the emails he sent Landin.













Wightman may have overlooked the fact that the Texas Victims Compensation Act only pays for medical expenses for victims, and then only after their insurance has been depleted. Property damages (such as the Harleys) are the responsibility of the insurance coverage. However, Montes (we mean Wightman) is adamant that his nephew get his $3,000 for his Harley.
Montes and a friend (one Joe Garcia) were at the Sportsmans Lounge when Negrete was kicked out of the bar after he assaulted a waitress. He also got in a fight with other patrons at the bar. He was then kicked out and locked out of the bar and then arrested by police for causing a disturbance in the parking lot adjoining the HEB. That's where the Harleys belonging to Montes and his friend Garcia were parked.
In interviews with police, Montes and his friend said they had not seen Negrete damage their bikes, The friend also told police that he was not drinking in the bar, merely "bullshitting" with friends.
Wightman now claims that Montes said damage to his Harley was somewhere above $3,000 and his friend told police his bike's damage was about $300.
In the taped interview with police detectives, Montes and Garcia claimed much smaller figures for the damages.
Sorola enters the case because he was in Nelson's court and the judge appointed him to represent Negrete after another court-appointed attorney (Letty Barguiarena) withdrew. Wightman reads into that that Barguiarena knew that something crooked was going on and wanted no part of it. That's the nature of that conspiracy-driven boy.
The complaint that Montes (read Wightman) filed with the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals of the Texas Supreme Court was rejected on May 18, 2015. Then, on July 16, Wightman (ahem, Montes) appealed the decision and Christine E. McKeeman, executive director and general counsel of the board notified Sorola, Garza and Montes (Wightman) that the appeal was granted to determine "whether there is just cause to believe that the attorney(s) committed professional misconduct."
The record shows that Nelson appointed Sorola "out of order" – not an unusual occurrence – and both he and Garza concurred that trying the defendant twice for an offense arising from the same criminal act constituted double jeopardy.
Garza filed for the dismissal. This might be the only mistake Garza made, since Wightman (we mean Montes) correctly claims that a felony charge on a different victim precludes the double jeopardy defense.
Negrete had already spent 76 days in jail for the previous misdemeanor conviction of criminal mischief arising out of the same offense.
Although the grievance against Sorola and Garza was signed by Montes, it was no secret that the grievance narrative was written by Wightman, a disbarred attorney (that's him in Flying Nun drag at left).
Wightman (Montes) charged in the grievance that a $500 campaign contribution by Sorola to Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz weeks after the case was dismissed indicated that there was "the same level of corruption which occurred under now convicted former Cameron County DA Armando Villalobos. After cases are dismissed money is donated to the DA's campaign."
Sorola got paid $200 from the county for his defense of Montes. So he made a contribution of $500 to Saenz for the dismissal? We have to do business with Sorola.
Wightman also alleged that the former court-appointed attorneyBarguiarena, withdrew from the case because "she refused to be a party to the fraud" and because "she knew there was no basis for the double jeopardy claim."
There was no such statement from Barguiarena in the grievance filed with the state bar and no indication she would testify to Wightman's claims. To Wightman, however, it is "clear."
Not content with smearing Garza, Sorola and Saenz, he also uses a brad brush to bring in Justice of the Peace 2-3 Mary Esther Garcia, Sorola's wife. What she has to do with the bar fight, her husband's court appointment to defend Negrete, or Garza's decision to dismiss the felony charge he does not say. To Wightman, it is "clear," of course.
And of course, he brings in the Rrunrrun as well, claiming that everyone (Sorola) and his brother (if he has one) pay us for what we write. Oh, but that that were true!
And then, after the usual claims by drama queen Wightman, his imagined coup-de-grace: "I know for a fact the DOJ (U.S. Department of Justice) is investigating our current DA on two other bribe claims so I'm copying this State Bar Complaint to the FBI/DOJ."
Ooooh! Signature Wightman. And then he has the unmitigated gall (which keeps resprouting and resprouting) to say he was not behind it? The irony is to die for!
Is Montes aware of the attention his uncle (Wightman) is bringing down on him and his carefree life as a biker? Doesn't he know that Asst. DA Garza will have to take a closer look at him, his past record, and the validity of his accusations to defend himself? Will he be able to defend himself if he is sued for defamation and brought in for a deposition or to testify in court? Wightman won't be there to hold his hand and guide him through that process.
And now does the DA Saenz and his PIO Melissa Landin realize the monster they have created?


BONDSMAN QUESTIONED BY D.A. OVER A DEAL GONE BAD

By Juan Montoya
This morning the bail bonds community was abuzz with the rumor that one of their colleagues had been detained  and questioned by members of the Cameron County District Attorney's Office and local police.
Although authorities have not released the name of the suspected solicitor, many bondsmen who were waiting outside the police department said that the case revolved around a $1,500 payment for a dubious promise of preventing a defendant in a criminal case from getting sent to prison.

It is unknown whether the alleged offense took place at the Brownsville Police Department or whether the bondsman was merely detained for questioning there when he showed up.
Witnesses said they saw Ass. D.A. Matthew Kendall, local attorney Noe Garza, and bondsman Joe Paredes huddled inside talking animatedly before they were ushered away from the group.
(Later, Paredes told friends that he had collected $1,500 from a defendant in a criminal trial after a woman he knew asked him to do it for her. He said he gave her the money afterward and didn't keep any of it himself). He said he was unaware that she had promised the defendant that (Paredes) could talk to the judge and prevent him from being sent to the pen. After the man was sentenced, he said Paredes hadn't delivered and filed a complaint against him .With no other recourse [other than "he said she said"], Paredes said he paid the $1,500 to the officers.)
The Cameron County Bail Bond Board prohibits bail bond companies from approaching people to ask for business in a police station, jail, prison, detention facility or anywhere on state, city or county property where people are detained by law enforcement.
Penalties can range from loss of a surety license to a public reprimand or return of the fees charged in the transaction.
Bondsmen have not been allowed to sit in municipal court during arraignments of defendants arrested overnight. They instead congregate outside in the lobby or outside the building and wait to see if the relatives of the defendants seek them out to bail out their relatives after the bond is set by the municipal judge.
However, intake workers for the Cameron County Pre-Trial Release Program (PTRP) are free to sit in court and take clients at a discount 3 percent fee, compared to the usual 10 percent fee charged by commercial bail bonds companies.
Once the bonds are set, the prisoners are sent to the Rucker-Carrizales Detention Center in Olmito.
Even there, workers for the PTRP are allowed to go into the cells and offer defendants the cut-rate bonds.
This has led to many commercial bail bonds companies to complain that the county is subsidizing unfair competition against them.
"We pay rent, taxes, and our workers, and the county undercuts our business and prevents us from seeing the defendants," said a bail bond operator. "They can actually go into the cells and offer their cut-rate bonds to customers who may have already got in touch with us. They even offer them free legal representation if they sign up."
Since the matter with Paredes didn't involve solicitation, after he paid back the money, he was released.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

WILL GILBERT "COME CLEAN" ON VOTE RIGGING HERE?

By Kenric Ward
Texas Watchdog.org

Shady ballot brokers are “doping the vote” in the Rio Grande Valley, an election-watch group says. Now the FBI is on the case.

“(The politiqueras) took voters to their weed man after voting,” Logan Churchwell, a spokesman for True the Vote, told Watchdog.org.


Trafficking in petty cash and dime bags, politiqueras round up voters for South Texas candidates, nearly all Democrats. The pay-for-ballot activity has resulted in 11 federal indictments so far.

Republicans are turning up the heat on state Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, a Brownsville resident and longtime political kingmaker in the Rio Grande Valley.

“He needs to come clean with the people of Texas (about whether he) personally participated in the corrupt practice of using politiqueras to commit voter fraud,” said state GOP Chairman Tom Mechler.

Hinojosa’s office did not respond to Watchdog’s request for comment, but the political boss has been outspoken in blasting Texas’ voter ID law.

“It’s comical that Chairman Hinojosa runs all over the state denouncing voter ID when the FBI is investigating voter fraud in his backyard,” Mechler said.

Citizens Against Voter Abuse, a local election-watch group, turned over evidence that mail-in ballots were manipulated by politiqueras during recent local elections.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said his office will prosecute Brownsville residents Jose A. Garza and Rafael Elizondo on multiple counts of possessing marked ballots without the consent of the voter. Each count is a felony, punishable by up to two years in jail and fines up to $10,000.

The alleged voter fraud was committed during a Democratic Party primary runoff election in 2012. In 2014, six women were arrested in connection to voting irregularities during another party primary. All of the indicted politiqueras have a Democratic Party vote history.

CAVA president Mary Helen Flores says her group is preparing to deliver more names to authorities.

“Corruption starts by stealing elections,” said Flores, who asserts that mail-in ballots are especially vulnerable to vote rigging. “We’ve seen the exact same handwriting on 50 or 60 (mail-in) ballot requests. It’s a huge red flag.”

To read rest of story, click on link: http://watchdog.org/229595/doping-the-vote-indictments/
Though the Obama administration has downplayed vote-fraud allegations, the FBI’s San Antonio office is taking those charges seriously in South Texas.

IN WAKE OF WIGHTMAN'S ASSUMPTIONS, COLLATERAL DAMAGE

By Juan Montoya
If anyone doesn't give a rodent's ass about who he hurts in the course of hurting someone else, it's got to be blogger Robert Wightman.
Wightman posted a few days ago that Cameron County District Attorney Public information Officer Melissa Landin was a part owner (or a partner) of Solice Technologies, an ad company based at 7200 Bonham Rd,, in Brownsville.
Wightman based this on the fact that Landin's name was included in a notation made on a $32 payment for a campaign event ot Solice and included Ms. Landin's name.
Landin immediately denied the charge and said she had merely been asked to forward the payment for Cameron County Sheriff candidate Victor Cortez.
Cortez is running against incumbent Sheriff Omar Lucio. The fact that Landin is running her boss Luis V. Sanez's Facebook page Cortez's as well has raises questions of conflict of interest in other places besides Wightman's scurrilous blog. That a county employee for an elected official is working on the side to defeat the incumbent sheriff is –to say the least – dicey.
The fact that Solice is being listed in both Cortez's and Saenz's campaign reports as having been paid for doing work for both campaigns also raised some eyebrows that perhaps a working relationship exists between both campaigns and Solice through Landin as the go-bteween.
We checked the Doing Business As (DBAs) listings at the Cameron County Clerk's Office and found that Solice Technologies is not currently listed as a DBA by owner Alfredo Rubalcaba.
In fact, the records show that Solice was registered by Rubalcaba in April 19, 2000 and then voluntarily abandoned just a little over a year later on November 14, 2001.
A cursory check of the firm's website indicates that he has done work (and is currently doing work) for local school districts, the Zonta Club, numerous social organizations, as well as other politicians.
Rubalcaba will be the first to tell you that running an ad company is a highly competitive. Now that Wightman has placed the light of scrutiny on his firm, it's just bound to get even harder to compete.
Meanwhile, Wightman has also posted that Landin has been courting Carlos Masso, her boss' opponent for potential employment should Sanez lose, that she is trying to land a PIO gig with SpaceX, and any other number of rumors. All have been met by denials by Landin.
Did Saenz and Cortez know that Solice may have been in violation of the Texas Comptroller's Office when they contracted with him (through Landin?) for his services?
Or did they (like Wightman), just assumed that the company was on the up and up and following state law to do its advertising business here?

A CUENTO FROM OLD TIME BROWNSVILLE, LOS COMPADRES

"El Compadre" or "Just The Way I Like Them”
By Juan Montoya

 

Ricardo and Justin were compadres.

Justin had known Ricardo for almost two decades since Ricardo had moved from Mercedes to make his home in Brownsville, or Browntown as locals calle the border city.

Neither had really baptized each other’s children, but after some 20 or moreyears of friendship, both considered each other to be as close as a friend could be.

They had discussed baptizing Ricardo’s daughter Cristina when she was just one year old, but that was blind-sided by a series of mishaps that eventually led to Justin to cool his heels in the county jail for a week. Justin and Ricardo agreed to be compadres while they sat in Ricardo’s back yard sipping on some beers one Sunday afternoon. Since Justin was not living with a woman at the time, they agreed to ask Julia, Ricardo’s sister-in-law to stand in with Justin.

Julia was married to Adam Beto, an old lawyer who sometimes sat in as a judge in the local county courts. When Beto found out that the friends were going to be compadres and that his wife was going to stand in as a comadre with Justin, he took matters into his hands. Justin had been convicted of a drinking while driving under the influence violation about a year before and was on probation. When a probation revocation hearing was held on Justin’s case for missing an appointment, he got his chance.

When Justin appeared to what he thought would be a routine hearing where he would get a chance to argue that he had made up the missed appointment the next day, turned instead into a disaster. Since his lawyer hadn't arrived, he told Beto about the made-up appointment.

“I didn’t ask you to make excuses,” Beto fumed at Justin. “If you don’t comply with the terms of the probation, you go to jail. We'll give your lawyer a chance to speak for you when he gets here, if he gets here."

Justin should have seen it coming. In the case right before his hearing, a clean-cut young man in a suit was ending his two years of probation for writing bad checks. His pretty wife and new baby sat in the benches behind the defendant’s table.

“I have made full restitution to each one of the persons who got the checks,” said the young man. “I don’t even have a checking account any more. I am married now and we just got a new baby. I have learned from my mistake, judge. The district attorney has also agreed that probation should be ended by this court.”

“I didn’t agree with anybody about any probation,” shot back Beto from the bench. “Bailiff, put him in a cell.”

The audience sat looking on in stunned silence.

And I’m next,”thought Justin, looking around to the rear of the courtroom to see if his attorney Luis Chueco had arrived . He was late as usual, and told the court he had a previous hearing in a neighboring town. He looked as if he were nursing a horrible hangover.

“I only care what happens in this court,” Beto retorted. “I’m going to revoke your client’s probation. Put him in jail, bailiff.”

That effectively cast a wet blanket on the baptism for the would-be compadres. Pleas to Beto that he release Justin fell on deaf ears, The more Justin’s friends and political acquaintances called Beto, the more recalcitrant he became.
“If anyone else comes and talks to me about that case, I’ll increase the sentence,” he told a local county commissioner who interceded in Justin’s behalf.

And so, Justin cooled his heels for a full week before Beto relented and released him.
From there on, Ricardo and Justin acted as if they were really compadres, even though Cristina was never formally baptized.

One of their favorite pastimes was girl watching as they drove along Elizabeth, the city’s main street Saturday afternoon. Ricardo would slow down as they passed pretty girls on the sidewalk and would tell Justin, “Look compadre, just the way I like them.”

Justin knew his compadre’s likes because he had heard them so often. “Lithe, brown-skinned, with long black hair and brown eyes. That’s the way I like my women, compadre,”Ricardo would tell him.
On one Saturday afternoon, they drove along the city’s main street and doubled back along the neighboring street ogling at the scores of young women dotting the sidewalks. There was no shortage of pretty girls in town most weekends. On Saturdays, the border town was crawling with people, many of them residents of neighboring Matamoros, Mexico. The friends then walked into a lounge to get out from under the scorching heat.

“There sure are a lot of good-looking women out today,” Ricardo told Justin as they sat down at a bar stool. “And...”
“I know. I know. Just the way you like them,” Justin completed his sentence.

The afternoon turned into evening before the friends walked out of the lounge and headed for a club in the city’s seedier side. Not a few of the women at these bars were on the more daring side, and if you played your cards right, something else might happen after closing time.

However, despite his talk, Justin had never seen his friend connect with any of them. Usually, they would often end up driving home after closing time to sleep in their respective homes.

Nonetheless, Ricardo never lacked optimism that he could snag a babe. What he lacked in looks, he made up in bravado.
“Look compadre, just the way I like them,” he would tell Justin as he elbowed Justin to get his attention.
As the night dragged on, the smoke in the bar soon drove them away from the taverns and they started for home.

Justin was driving that night and he took Ricardo home. As he turned in his friend’s driveway, the front porch door came on. Behind the screen door, he saw Ricardo’s wife standing resolutely in the doorway. She was not a happy camper, and she held something long, round, and menacing in her hands. It was a sight to make grown men cringe. Ricardo reluctantly alighted from his friend’s car.

Justin couldn’t help himself, even if it was his compadre.
“Look compadre, just the way you like them,” he said as he drove away.         

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