Saturday, September 24, 2016

AT CAPT. BOB'S JOINT, A GAME OF MERCURIAL MUSICAL SIGNS

(Ed.'s Note: On any given day, the political campaign signs posted on the Capt. Bob's Restaurant on E. Price Road are liable to change if you blink your eyes. We have learned that this is due to a number of reasons. One is that Robert Sanchez (Capt. Bob) is a mercurial guy.

One day he likes you and another not. Another is that he is a man of passion. We really don't know. There used to be a sign for Rigo Bocanegra with his baby blues and matching shirt posted where the large sign for Dr. Sylvia Atkinson is now on the grand marquee. That was removed by Bocanegra supporters after a dispute with Bob over the displaying of the Atkinson sign (both are running for the same place on the BISD board). Bob countered that Atkinson and her bods were regular customers and he decided against removing it.

And there also used to be a sign for Catlina Presas-Garcia, an incumbent on the board and a long-time ally of Sanchez in his many races for public office. That went sour after Sanchez learned that State Rep. Rene Oliveira had donated $1,000 to Caty as a campaign contribution. The Capt., who is in the middle of a contentious divorce with his ex, claims that she has become romantically involved with Oliveira and objected that he cannot support someone who is receiving financial assistance from his ex-wive's paramour.

So the Caty sign came down and one of her opponents' signs (Laura Perez-Reyes) has gone up instead. Whose sign will go up and whose will come down in the few weeks left before the November 8 election date? Stay tuned.)

FEDS, CHARITIES NILGAI HUNTS, WHERE'S THE MEAT?


By Juan Montoya
On July 21-22, the federal government authorized the culling of 80 nilgai (Texas Antelope) from the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Cameron County.
According to the San Antonio-based nonprofit Trinity Oaks Enterprises officials who assisted in the hunt, that produced some 24,000 pounds of high-grade red meat that they say they will distribute to to soup kitchens, battered women’s homes, and orphanages. In all, the meat will make over 120,000 protein rich meals.

Trinity Oaks also told the local media that the meat harvested was processed donated to local organizations in Texas and northern Mexico.
However, calls to local charities such as the Good Neighbor Settlement House and the Ozanam Center in Brownsville and to food banks in South Texas reveal that there was no donation of the meat from Trinity Oaks to any of their facilities.

"We have never gotten any such meat from them," said a Good Neighbor staffer. "I would know because we prepare it right here."
The same holds for the Ozanam Center on Minnesota Road, There, the administrator asserted that they have never gotten any meat from the San Antonio-based charity.
"Believe me, if I had received even 100 pounds, our clients would have believed they died and went to heaven. It's supposed to be real good meat."

In a previous hunt in 2015, the take of nilgai was more than double the 80 culled this year. That year, it was reported that some some 190 Nilgai were killed. Interestingly, only four were found to have fever ticks, the reason given by the government for the hunt from helicopters.
If 80 nilgai yielded 24,000 pounds of high-grade quality meat (about 300 per animal) , it stands to reason that 190 would yield some 57,000 pounds (300 x 190).

Yet, none of the nilgai meat has ever reached the poor in Cameron County, where the nilgai were harvested.
Why?

This is the question some ranchers and land-owners in South Texas have for the federal government.
In the recent hunt for feral hogs at the refuge, it appears that some of that meat did get to at least one local charity, Loaves and Fish, in Harlingen. Only about 40 hogs were taken in the hunt.
Assistant Refuge Manager at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge Leo Gustafson said Trinity Oaks "donated 2,000 pounds of ground meat to Loaves and fish a couple of weeks ago. And it was very interesting because the man in charge at Loaves and Fish said they were about to take meat off their menu because they could no longer afford it.”

But what about the higher quality and more nutritious nilgai meat?
In the 2015 hunt, the process was a bit different.
At the time, the federal government hired Broken Arrow Ranch to assist them with the hunt and processing of the animals.

According to KC Cunningham, the ranch president  whose crews butchered them on the spot in a mobile dressing unit, the meat was then put on the market through their online catalog. What gets thrown away are the  unusable parts like organs, heads and bones. What is saved is actually sold on the market by his ranch.

And Nilgai meat – said to be delicious – is a pricey cut of meat averaging anywhere from $17 a pound to as much as $40 or more. Some say the New York market can pay as much as $100 on choice cuts from the antelope. (To see catalog, click on link: www.brokenarrowranch.com)
Cunningham told us after the hunts were done under contract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in conjunction with the Texas Department of Animal Health.

"The meat has a mild flavor with a good texture, much like veal," the website states. "It is extremely low in fat, averaging well under 1 percent for most cuts. These are large animals (bulls can weigh up to 600 pounds or more), weighing an average of 280 pounds on the hoof. This larger size reduces our harvesting and processing cost when calculated on a per pound basis and allows us to offer this meat at very attractive prices."

So if only four of the 190 animals had the fever tick, who reaped the profits of the expensive meat?
On the low end of the scale, if they get 200 pounds of marketable meat from one animal and then average of, say, $30 a pound, that would net them $6,000 per animal. With 186 animals that would translate into $1,160,000.
Image result for where's the meat

Did, as Cunningham said, some of the money to to the landowners? Did it go to the state? Did it go to the federal government? Or did Broken Arrow Ranch get the meat in return for its hunting and butchering of the animals?
Food bank managers say they have never gotten Nilgai meat donations from the state as a result of the hunts.

At least two landowners out by Boca Chica – Bobby Lerma and George Gavito – deny that they ever got a red cent from the animals hunted on their lands.

Were these past hunts – given the low number of infested animals of the 190 killed – really just a cover for a money-making scheme by the Texas Department of Animal Health and the and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?

And since Trinity Oaks never distributed any of the high-quality meats to local charities and food banks, we'll paraphrase a popular advertisement: Where's the meat?
Did Trinity Oaks donated it, as they say they did?

Or was the meat sold and money made for charitable purposes? No local charities report getting any meat, much less money.
And, perhaps more importantly to hunger advocates here, why did the federal government and Trinity Oaks come to the poorest area in the United States to harvest the meat and then take it and distribute it elsewhere?

Friday, September 23, 2016

JUDGE REBUFFS CASCOS CLAIMS: ORDERS ID CHANGES

Ed.'s Note: Even as Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos barnstorms the state explaining how easy it is for anyone to vote here despite the voter ID law passed by the legislature, a federal judge ordered the state to significantly dilute it voter-suppression laws. Cascos may not agree, but the state will have to comply.)

David Saleh Rauf
The Houston Chronicle

Image result for texas voter idAUSTIN - A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Texas to amend its voter ID education materials, including news releases, polling location posters and websites, to correctly conform with her earlier mandate, a rebuke of the state's $2.5 million outreach effort.

The Obama administration accused Texas earlier this month of using everything from a state website for voting to training documents for elections officials to narrow "dramatically the scope of voters protected" under a voter ID order signed last month by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos.

The U.S Department of Justice asked Ramos to force Texas to change the wording of public education and poll worker information moving forward and to ensure television and radio ads "accurately reflect the text of the Remedial Order."

Ramos on Tuesday sided with the Justice Department, ordering Texas to reissue voter ID press releases, revise websites with voting information, edit a poster to be used at polling locations and make sure all education materials reflect the court's order moving forward.

Ramos also required Texas to share copies of documents and scripts for radio and television ads with the Justice Department and several minority groups. However, the judge stopped short of requiring Texas to amend training materials for poll workers and election officials that already have been published.

"If it's possible to be fixed, it has to fixed," said Chad Dunn, a lawyer representing U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, and the League of United Latin American Citizens in the case. "The more the public has an understanding there's procedures in place to make voting secure and easy the better."

A July ruling from the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the state's voter ID law discriminates against minorities.

The appeals court ordered Ramos to soften the measure for the November election by providing a safety net for those lacking one of the seven acceptable forms of photo identification approved by lawmakers.

She did that last month with an order allowing voters to cast a regular ballot with an alternate ID, such as a voter registration card, utility bill or a bank statement, and by signing an affidavit declaring a "reasonable impediment" to obtaining one of the state-mandated identifications.

Legal brouhaha

Ramos also required Texas to inform voters and election officials about the changes, an effort state officials pledged $2.5 million to execute. Attorney General Ken Paxton agreed to the terms, which significantly dilute what once was considered the strictest voter ID law in the country.

To read rest of the story, click on link below:


Thursday, September 22, 2016

THE TERCERO LEGACY: STATE TO SHUT DOWN TSC NURSING

By Juan Montoya
For Jose Sanchez (not his real name) – a  real college student who had started on his planned career as a medical professional –  the road there led through Texas Southmost College's nursing program.
He saw a counselor who directed him to take the prerequisites, not at TSC, but as was required, at the former UT-Brownsville, now UTRGV. That alone cost him more than if he had taken the courses at TSC.

But then, after he and his family had undertaken the expense, he was put off when he tried to enroll in the program.
Image result for lily tercero, attorneys"They kept telling me that I could register the next semester, and then the next," he said. "It wasn't until later that I found out that the program was in trouble with the state and was prevented from enrolling any new students."
What Sanchez didn't know – and in fact, what then-TSC President Lily Tercero neglected to tell the TSC board – was that the program was in deep trouble after its students taking the state nursing exam failed to achieve a 80 percent passing rate.

That, plus a number of other failures from the administration, led to the state prohibiting the college from enrolling any more students. The closing down of the program – once the crown jewel of the TSC medical vocational offerings – hinged on the 80 percent passing rate of its students.

Sources in the TSC staff now tell us that TSC has been notified by the state that the September 2106 test of the remaining nursing students did not attain that level.
"I hear it was close, higher than the 51 or 46 percent of the prior years, but id did not reach the 80 percent. The state is closing it down in January."
Meanwhile, some sources close to the board say that the college is seeking ways to deal with the closing of the program by the use of intra-university agreements that might allow accredited institutions to offer the courses to students attending TSC.

"Texas A&M is already helping TSC try to save the program and maybe there's a way they can take over until they get the TSC program on its feet without any extra cost to local students," one said. "They are going to try to make very effort to do good by them."
Sanchez remembers trustee Art Rendon saying that 50 or so nursing students losing the program was no big deal since they had 5,000 other students to worry about. He said those comments hurt him deeply.

"I was watching the last meeting of the TSC board when attorney Frank Perez said that the potential harm and damage caused by the negligence of Tercero didn't just hurt the college, but that it hurt students as well. He was right."
Sanchez and his family are now looking to see whether he can enroll in nursing courses somewhere else in the valley, perhaps in Harlingen or Edinburg.
"Maybe Mr. Rendon feels that 50 students don't matter," he said. "But those students represent the hopes and aspirations of 50 families who suddenly see their hopes disappear. Some of us don't get a second chance. If we don't do it the first time, we might have to forget about entering the medical field. It hurts all of us."

TSC board chair Adela Garza said that the damage could extend beyond the college and the students.
"We have hospitals and clinics and doctors' offices here who could have used and trained our students," she said. "We are bringing nurses from the Philippines, for God's sake. It hurts the entire community. We are already looking for ways to try to provide them a way to make their dreams come true."

Meanwhile, following the meeting where the board, by a 5-2 vote, voted to terminate Tercero's contract, some trustees have received correspondence from her attorneys asking for answers with a questionnaire.
Tercero was given a two-year extension by the former board majority chaired by Kiko Rendon in early May before the elections of the new board. Kikio Rendon and Ed Rivera decided not to run for reelection and left the new board saddled with Tercero.

She and her Dallas attorneys have said they would try to seek the payoff of approximately $500,000-plus of the salary she would have gotten for the two and one-half years she had left.

DA MAYOR ONE OF 18 GIVEN "TRANSPORTATION" PRIZE




By Juan Montoya
By now we've learned in Brownsville that despite all the prizes awarded to the city and its public officials, life basically remains the same.
We may have the headlines in the local daily that world's biggest zumba dance group assembled here, that more kids dipped their fishing lines in one resaca than have any other group of kids anywhere in then Good Ol' US of A, and that there are more second-hand stores per capita here than in any other place in the country. 

And despite the fact that we have paid good public money to organizations and vendors to make us believe that we live in an All-American City, that we are "Igniting Texas" with rocket launches yet to come, the sad fact remains that our infrastructure (drainage and public works like lighting and pock-marked streets) looks and feels like we were in some of the worst colonias in Matamoros.

It wasn't long ago that tribute-queen Julieta Garcia, the former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville, was receiving so many awards from every possible source of admiration that we all expected her to be canonized before Mother Theresa. We even had testimonies from her former gunslinger Michael Putegnat that he had seen her walk on water across the Ft. Brown resaca one misty dawn. And TSC taxpayers remember when she was able to miraculously convert a $68 million bond election into a $120 million spending binge a la Jesus with the five loaves and two fishes.

For a city on the backwaters of U.S. civilization, we do have a knack for reaping awards and recognition disproportionate to our merits.
We lack sidewalks in three quarters of the city. The city landscape resembles a graveyard of Norwegian pine draped with black electric wiring year round. And if you want to use the city's Brownsville Urban System, be prepared to go to  a pole with a bus stop sign and wait either under the torrid semi-tropical sun or huddled in the cold and rain without any shelter.

Meanwhile, the unassembled bus stop shelters remain at the BUS barn.
But to paraphrase Kasey Kazen, the plaudits just keep on coming.
Our Mayor, Da Honorable Tony Martinez, was just notified by the U.S Dept. of Transportation that – despite the sorry state of our mass transit system – he was one of 18 mayors from across the nation to receive an award for the advancement of bicycle and pedestrian safety projects.

“I was very proud of not only my city group that put that application together, but I think it’s a lot of encouragement to the people in Brownsville for them to know we can compete in a forum we hadn’t done before and be successful,” Martinez told the local daily.
It's apparent that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation took the bait on the city's embellished application in giving Martinez this award.

After all, this is the same mayor who had resisted merging the city's Metropolitan Planning Organization with two others in the Rio Grande Valley to leverage millions more funds for the region in competition with other large urban areas in Texas.
Finally, after Martinez saw that he was the odd man out in the entire valley who did not want to relinquish his provincial control of transportation monies, he said he had seen the light. Now he's all for it.
Image result for mayor tony martinez

There will be more prizes, we imagine.

How about the only mayor in South Texas who still sports his circa 1960s hair style well into the second decade of the 21st Century? 
Or how about the only mayor who has capitalized on downtown revitalization by urging his colleagues on the city commission to delve into real-estate speculation and approve the purchase of an over-prized hulk of a building (Casa del Nylon) to benefit his buddies?

Or how about the only mayor who beats his chest with his religious fervor while making loose tongues wag about his romantic prowess?

Meanwhile, as our mayor rises to urban star status, city residents can expect for their resources to continue to be funneled to bike trails, health-craze gimmicks, inane Guinness World Records, and an endless parade of resolutions to curry favor with the different niches of the electorate.

That should keep their minds off the sorry condition of our city streets, the Beirut-like appearance of our downtown area, the ineptness of our over-paid city administration, and the old ladies and children waiting for a bus under the blazing sun. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FORUM SHOWS CORNEJO-LOPEZ'S ROLE IN BISD ELECTION

By Juan Montoya
If ever there was any question that 404th District Judge Elia Cornejo-Lopez is taking a personal interest in removing incumbent Brownsville Independent School District Place 5 incumbent  Caty Presas-Garcia off the board, her actions at the the forum held by Brownsville Educators Standing Together (BEST) seems to have removed all doubt.
Numerous witnesses say that Cornejo-Lopez arrived at the forum and was told that each candidate could only have one guest when she tried to in support of Laura Perez-Reyes who already had a sister as her guest.


Since the attendance to the affair was limited to Brownsville educators and the candidates and guests, she went up to Hector Chirinos and when he said he had no guests, invited herself so she could stay for the forum.
"She kind of stroked his back and went in," said a person who attended. "Chirinos just smiled."

Cornejo-Lopez has left no doubt that she has been targeting Presas-Garcia and that Perez-Reyes is on her slate even though as a district judge she is not supposed to be publicly endorsing or lending her position to support anyone politically.

As she was passing a group who was talking with candidate Erasmo Castro and Presas-Garcia and then burst out laughing by coincidence when she passed by, she took it as if she was the object of their laughter and shot back: "We'll see who's laughing after the election."
Image result for laura perez-reyes, BISDThen, as candidates were answering questions from the members, it became obvious that she was texting with Perez-Reyes to help her with the responses. The candidate would read and look down at her cell phone and in the direction the judge was sitting.

"When the organizers told those attending that the use of cell phones would no ;longer be permitted, she got up and left," said a teacher at the forum.
Generally, the incumbents had the advantage in answering BISD system questions since they dealt mostly with pay raises and teacher issues. Most challengers said they would have to wait and learn the specifics of the questions. The one exception of Dr. Sylvia Atkinson, a former BISD Asst. superintendent who was fairly explicit in her answers to the educators' queries.

Cornejo-Lopez has made no secret that she wants Presas-Garcia off the board.
In fact, she filed to run against her and would have appeared on the general ballot as the Democratic Party nominee for the 404th District Judgeship and on the separate BISD ballot in November until party officials told her it was against the Texas election Code.

Currently, there are two complaints against her filing as BISD trustee since the judicial canons state that a judge shall resign upon filing for another elective position. She withdrew as a BISD candidate four minutes after 5 p.m.the next day.
Insiders say that Cornejo-Lopez, a former BISD trustee, as well another former trustee, Hugh Emerson, have targeted Presas-Garcia for defeat because both had students at the BISD who applied for a Pre-AP class but missed the application deadline.

Other students without parents who were former BISD trustees were in the same boat and were not granted an exemption. When they heard that Cornejo-Lopez's and Emerson's children were going to be allowed, they contacted Presas-Garcia who went to administration to find out about the favored treatment that was going to be afforded the two students.
Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas could not explain and all the students' applications that were filed past the deadline were rejected.
"Thats' when the bad blood began and the former trustees started to work against her," they said. "Now, since Elia couldn't run, she is supporting Perez-Reyes to try to remove Caty."

WITH LILY GONE, TIME TO REBUILD TSC TO FORMER STATURE

By Juan Montoya
Many years ago (and I hate to remember that far because I'm dating myself), I transferred from Texas Southmost College to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
As one can imagine, it was like going from day to night.

Suddenly, instead of the 6,000-7,000 students and instructors you came to know like relatives, you were thrust into a world-wide student body of over 40,000, a city that lived and worked for the university and instructors who were advisers to presidents. Its alumni have grabbed a disproportionate share of Nobel prizes in various categories, are leading lawyers and statesmen globally, have served as Supreme Court justices, have been presidents here and in other nations around the world, and have even gone to the moon and back.Photo of Gorgas Hall

In fact, Clarence Darrow of the famous "Monkey Trial," was a UM Law School grad (as was former President Jerry Ford) and the first journalism class ever taught in the United States was taught there.
John Kennedy unveiled his Peace Corps on the steps of the UM student union.
So when my transcripts from humble little TSC were assessed for potential acceptance (or rejection) of the basic requirements, I was, to say the least, apprehensive that I would be made to take remedial courses.

Yet, of the 43 hours I had accumulated over two semesters and summer classes at Southmost, only 2 hours were not accepted.
And when I finally attended classes at the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA), I found that the instructors at TSC had prepared me just as well as had the private tutors of some of the "legacy" students whose grandfathers, uncles, mothers, fathers, and brothers and sisters at their prep schools. In fact, some of them would come over to my room at Alice Lloyd dormitory for help with their Spanish and journalism classes.

I could (and still can) recite British Lit poetry from memory that I learned listening to Henry Sears at Tandy Hall, speak of historical events taught by Jim Sullivan, and converse on biology learned under the tutelage of Gonzalo Garza. Government instructors had nothing on Ruby Woolridge. The list went on and on.

Of course, one can't compare the Michigan Wolverine football team to athletics at TSC, but at bone time, the Scorpion baseball team could old its own against good teams on a basball diamond.

I have always bristled at the pejorative epithets some locals give TSC such as "Tamale Tech" or any other simiular put-downs. To me and to the people who attended TSC in the days prior to the disastrous "partnership" between it and the University of Texas System, they don't do justice to the quality of instruction taught in the little community college on the banks of the Rio Grande.

My fellow students at the U of M and I thought it was a great little school.
There are a few of us UM grads living in Brownsville and in the Rio Grande Valley who will attest to that.
Now that TSC is a free-standing community college again after hemorrhaging its assets and abandoning its mission under Julieta Garcia and her previous subservient boards of trustees, it's time for this community to come together and return this invaluable community asset to its former greatness.

Image result for texas southmost college scorpions logoThe goals have changed.
Accrediation – gained in fits and starts – is a done deal. I am assured that the nursing program will be resurrected with the assistance of Texas A & M, that the vocational component so critical to the development of our local workforce is to be placed on even footing with academics, and that the diversionary excesses of the Tercero administration will be a thing of the past.

The TSC-Tercero debacle will linger on in the courts and no one knows how that will end. Let the lawyers do their business.
For now, the board of trustees can get back to the mission that those who established this school for the benefit of our residents and their children back in 1926 envisioned, and that is to provide an affordable, accessible first rung on the educational ladder that was given to so many of us.
Go Scorps!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

BAD MEXICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY BOOK TIP OF THE ICEBERG

By Juan Montoya
As much as I want to get excited and incensed over the current controversy surrounding a proposed introduction of a book on Mexican American history into the public schools of Texas, the bigger story lies closer to home.
The critics of the tome say that it is filled with historical errors and stereotypes, that it depicts Hispanics as slovenly, foreigners, etc., without giving them their due place as pioneer settlers of this state.

Those criticisms are well founded, I'm sure.
But the bigger story is not that our story is badly told by this book, but that our story has never been told at all.
It reminds us of the deliberate destruction of the Aztec and Mayan texts and codices that Europeans (Spaniards, mostly) launched in an effort to discredit the scientific, architectural, and agricultural advances of the natives.
The same applies to our local history.


I could bet that if you asked anyone student in the Brownsville Independent School District what place in history Juan Nepomuceno Cortina holds in local history, they would give you a questioning look, and then the facile answer used by most mainstream historians that he was a cattle thief and a bandit.

That mischaracterization did not come about as a coincidence. Cortina was reviled because he was one person (among others) who resisted the encroachment of new Anglo arrivals after Zachary Taylor invaded South Texas, and then crossed the river and invaded northern Mexico.
As the son of Doña Estefana Goseacochea de Cavazos de Cortina –  the daughter of Salvador de la Garza, who founded the first ranch in Cameron County (present-day Rancho Viejo) – he could see first-hand that the new settlers, armed with Texas laws and the power of the U.S.Army set about to dispossess the land-grant families through guile and subterfuge.

He rebelled and waged a low-intensity guerrilla war that sometimes flared into armed confrontations and even resulted in his occupation of the City of Brownsville in 1859.

Doña Estefana was born in Camargo, Mexico, in 1782 (the Rio Grande wasn't a border then) and died in 1867 on her El Carmen ranch at 85.

Hers ranch was one of the first ones established in Cameron County. El Carmen Ranch was named after Doña Estefana’s daughter. Rancho Viejo was established by her father in 1770. This about it. That was six years before the signers of the U.S. Constitution met in Philadelphia when De la Garza started his ranch. El Carmen Avenue, named after his granddaughter, connected these two ranches. Santa Rita (now Villanueva, and the first seat of Cameron County) was also founded by Doña Estefana.
That porciones granted by a visita general in 1757 eventually formed part of the Espiritu Santo Grant that was eventually recognized by the King of Spain in 1785.

Encompassing more than one-quarter million acres of land, the Espiritu Santo Grant included the future sites of Fort Brown and the City of Brownsville. The de la Garza Family established Rancho Viejo, the first settlement in the Brownsville area.

Here's what our local students will never read about in their history books.
They'll never know that Juan Cortina fought on the Mexican side in 1846 when the Mexican and U.S. armies met at Palo Alto. He also fought at Resaca de la Guerra the next day. Remember, the Rio Grande was not considered the border until after 1848 and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Once the battles were over and the occupation of South Texas and northern Mexico were underway, he lived with his mother on her ranch along with his half-brother brother Sabas Cavazos. Cavazos would go on to be one of the area's most successful ranchers and even held elective posts in the new Cameron County.

Even after Cortina left the area because of continuing conflict and strife with the newcomers to South Texas, he remained very much a force in the historical events here and in Mexico. He is credited (blamed) for "starting" two wars along the border.
He was at the Battle of Puebla when Ignacio Zaragoza (his homey from Goliad, Texas) defeated the French on Cinco de Mayo 1862.
He was also – at one time or another – the military governor of Tamaulipas and controlled the customs houses at Puerto Bagdad and provided the sole source of support for Benito Juarez's government in internal exile which was being hunted down by Maximilian's assassins.

He was also in Queretaro when Maximillian was executed by a firing squad despite the pleas of his empress Carlotta and other government of the world.

A survivor in the tumultuous world of Mexican poliics, he at one time or another wore the French uniform, fought against the Confederates in South Texas, against the imperial armies and against various miliraty movements which sought to control Matamoros and the northern Tamaulipas area. He even took part in the encounter between the Union army, the Confederates, and the French at Palmito Hill.
In fact, Rip Ford, the Texas Ranger sent to restore order, and Cortina became friends and Ford voiced a grudging respect for his adversary.

The Texas State Historical Association biography of Cortina states that in 1863 Cortina proclaimed himself governor of Tamaulipas and was promoted to general of the Mexican Army of the North by President Benito Juárez. Cortina appointed himself governor again in 1866 but immediately relinquished the office.

Cortina returned to the border in 1870, and forty-one residents of the Valley, including a former mayor of Brownsville, signed a petition asking that he be pardoned for his crimes because of his service to the Union during the Civil War. His enemies protested and the petition failed in the Texas legislature on its second reading, in 1871.

In the coming years, stockmen in the Nueces Strip accused Cortina of leading a large ring of cattle rustlers. Subsequent American diplomatic pressure forced Porfirio Diaz to place him under house arrest in Mexico City in 1875.
He died in Atzcapozalco on October 30, 1894.
Subsequent efforts to bring his body for burial at his brother's cemetery in San Pedro were unsuccessful.

OUR MAN IN AUSTIN: CASCOS EXPLAINS TEXAS VOTER ID

By Jonathan Tilove
American-Statesman Staff
KARNES CITY — Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos entered the Karnes County Courthouse one morning last week with the usual spring in his step to tell an attentive audience of about 30 local officials and interested parties about the state’s voter ID law, struck down by a federal judge as unduly restrictive and discriminatory.

Any of seven photo IDs will work, he begins, reiterating the parameters of the original law, by way of introducing court-ordered changes.

Meet the man at the center of the battle over the Texas voter ID law photo“Where the change is now is that if someone is unable to obtain one of those seven IDs, that’s OK — they can come in and they need to file a declaration saying that they’ve been impeded or there’s a reasonable impediment as to why they’ve been unable to obtain one of the seven approved IDs,” he says.
Only then should poll workers accept other forms of identification to vote, such as a birth certificate, voter registration card, pay check, utility bill, bank statement or government document, he explains.

“It’s really not that complex,” Cascos says, in a presentation he gives several times a week.

Civil rights lawyers, U.S. Justice Department officials and Texas Democrats, however, say that, instead of making clear how easy it is to vote, Cascos further muddies the waters to discourage turnout, especially among Hispanic voters who are more likely to vote Democratic.

The state’s top election official, Cascos is a Democrat-turned-Republican, but this job demands nonpartisanship, an even-handedness complemented by the kindly countenance he carries with him.

But all that is being put to the test as Cascos finds himself in the thick of one of the most contentious issues in Texas politics, presiding over his office’s campaign to educate Texans between now and Election Day, Nov. 8, about court-ordered changes in the state’s voter ID law.

For both the state’s Republican leadership and the GOP base, that law is viewed as an indispensable and common-sense bulwark against voter fraud, and lawyers from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office will be back in U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos’ courtroom in Corpus Christi on Monday resisting efforts by the Justice Department to force further changes in Cascos’ voter ID education campaign.

After the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July that the Texas voter ID law, enacted in 2011, discriminated against minority voters, Ramos was given the task of establishing acceptable voter ID rules for this November, and to determine whether the Texas law was intentionally discriminatory.

Monday’s hearing comes at the request of the Justice Department, which filed a complaint that Texas officials, notably Cascos and the secretary of state’s VoteTexas.gov website, were continuing to miseducate and confuse Texans ability to vote.

To read entire article, click on l:ink below:

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/meet-the-man-at-the-center-of-the-battle-over-the-/nsZnT/

Monday, September 19, 2016

TSC BOARD APPROVES TERCERO DISMISSAL 5-2

By Juan Montoya
By a 5-2 margin, the board of trustees of the Texas Southmost College approved the dismissal of President Lily Tercero for what board counsel Frank Perez said were at least 22 instances of "willful and reckless" acts that cost the college, the students and the community real and potential damages.

Perez, in his recitation of the facts, focused on Tercero's failure to alert the trustees of the impending demise of the college nursing program, her unilateral extension of a windstorm insurance coverage without board approval, her use of signature stamps of past board members to issue more than $1.5 million in payments through checks, and her willful disregard of directives from her supervisors, the members of the board.

Only two trustees – Art Rendon and Rey Garcia – voted against dismissing her.
After Perez's recitation of the reasons for Tercero being placed on suspension with pay, her attorney, Richard D. Illmer, of Dallas, said he was objecting to the whole dismissal hearing process saying it denied his client of due process and did not afford her the right to face her accusers since the college did not call forth any witnesses.

However, Perez said at the start that 95 percent of the evidence put forth in his reasons for dismissal could be found on the public record and in the minutes of the meeting. In the case of the windstorm insurance, he said that Tercero had been told that 2015 was the last year that she was authorized to renew it without going through the board. Instead, about two weeks before the insurance was due for renewal, she decided to act on her own and renewed it regardless.

In the case of the nursing program, Perez said that even though Tercero knew as early as 2013 that the program was in trouble, she "willfully and recklessly" kept this from the board.
"She did it willfully and deliberately after considering the circumstances." Perez told the board.
And when new board member Ruben Herrera requested seeing the checks which Tercero was using his name stamp to co-sign, Perez said that she refused to show them to him citing a board policy.

Herrera then requested that a policy change item be placed on the next board agenda.
The case will most likely end up in the courts as Tercero tries to collect on the two-year extension that the former board majority bestowed upon her in May, just two weeks before the election. Two of the trustees who engineered that little stunt – Kiko Rendon and Ed Rivera – opted not to run for reelection and left the new majority saddled with the contract extension.

Now, in the unlikely case that Tercero prevails in the courts if her for-cause dismissal is overturned, TSC will have to pay her close to $500,000 to buy out her contract.

TSC TERCERO'S DISMISSAL HEARING ON AT 1 P.M. TODAY

(Ed.'s Note: And in this corner...We understand that suspended Texas Southmost College President Lily Tercero has requested that her dismissal hearing be held public instead of in executive session as it is usually done in these delicate cases. We also hear that she has hired a Dallas lawyer (and not Ernesto Gamez as earlier reported) to assist her in refuting the issues that led to the TSC board voting 5-1 to remover her as president. Her one champion on the board is none other than Dr. Rey Garcia, a dentist by profession. With the overwhelming majority of the board showing their dissatisfaction with their vote, he'll probably find that trying to swing them over to his side will be harder than pulling teeth. Dr, Rey might find that his only ally in the quixotic cause may be Art Rendon, that is, if he shows up and doesn't leave before the vote. No one actually expects the hearing to result in anything but her formal dismissal, with the inevitable recourse to the courts for another round of lengthy litigation.There are two attorneys on this board – Trey Mendez and Ruben Herrera – who will probably make sure all the "I"s are dotted and the "T"s crossed.)

AT THE BISD, RUNNING FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS

By Juan Montoya
We've heard of the Joe Rodriguez-Cesar Lopez-Carlos Elizondo-Jose Chrinos have put together a ticket in this year's Brownsville Independent School District election to maintain their majority on the school board.
Image result for joe rodriguez, BISDTheir agenda?

To keep funneling millions scammed from the Tax Ratification Election into the sports pet projects Rodriguez favors and shell out contracts to put artificial turn into every corner of the school district for his buddies over at Paragon.

Toward that end, they will spend thousands and thousands of dollars to make sure they
retain the four votes they need to have their way.

And how about the Eli Cornejo-Lopez ticket?
We hear that her motivation to run (and later withdraw on advice of the Texas Secretary of State and the Cameron County chair of the Democratic party) was to get even for alleged slights suffered by her high school-age daughter after she and the daughter of another former BISD trustee were not allowed to enroll in an AP class. Both have vowed to unseat trustee Catalina Presas-Garcia after she button-holed Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas and demanded to know why these two students were going to be allowed to sign up after the deadline had passed and the children of non-trustee parents in the same situation were not.

Zendejas flinched and Elia and Hugh's kids were treated like the rest of them.
Now they are both working with wild abandon to unseat Catalina the Spoiler of Fun and Entitlement.
And how about Orlando Treviño? He was really mad when the nasty majority on the board unceremoniously removed his uncle Otis Poers from the presidency and replaced him with onion-bun hair-don't Minerva Peña.

Like the Mighty Avenger, Orlando wants to give those So-and-Sos a run for their money and avenge Otis' honor. How dare they do that to ma Unc?

And while we're at it, how about RAnna McDonald-Hernandez-Oquin? She is said to be mad at the board because her bod over at Veterans Memorial was removed by administration.

We hear that Ameel later raked in a few bucks (plus attorneys' fees) in several lawsuits against the BISD. McAnna's friend survived somewhere else in teh system, but apparently that wasn;t enought to soothe the indignities.
We know that Oquin probably doesn't favor serving kids spoiled barbacoa meat and would probably favor passing out Happy Meals with greasy fries to help kids at BISD achieve contentment and obesity. In terms of nutrition, there probably isn't much difference except maybe for the sodium content.

There is also talk of the outright bad blood between Elizondo and his former buddies over at the fire house that prompted former pal Rigo Bocanegra to jump into the fray in self defense.

So we have candidates running to maintain the Rodriguez hegemony, others to get even and avenge some perceived wrong against their family or buddies, and others to achieve some sort of social status. Others, like Laura Perez-Reyes. is said to be bankrolled by individuals who seek a bite of the BISD pie. Jose Chirinos probably doesn't have much to do around the house since his retirement and wants to remain in the mix as does Minerva Peña, who probably drives the old man crazy gushing and doddering around the house on CoffeePort and handing out God Bless Yous to any unfortunate soul who comes within her sphere of influence.

Now, is there something missing from this picture?
Oh, yeah, the kids. After all, the board is supposed to be composed of people who want to educate the children of the district so they can compete in the global market place. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

COUNTY, PCT. 2, SOLVING WATER WOES IN SAN PEDRO

By Juan Montoya
For years the residents of San Pedro up Military Highway have been suffering from the shortcomings of the Military Highway Water Supply Corp.
The tap water, when there is water, is yellow, green, or some other unsavory (and smelly) hue.
Image result for alex dominguez, cameron countyAnd for just as long, the residents of this burg have been petitioning the board of directors and administrators of the MHWSC.

According to them, the results have been unsatisfactory. So, without any satisfaction forthcoming from the MHWSC, they turned to the Cameron County Commissioners Court.

Never mind that the county is not in the water business. But, as they figured, since they are the overall political authority in the county, if anyone can get something done it has to be them.
San Pedro lies within the jurisdiction of the county's Pct. 2 commissioner Alex Dominguez, and for the past few weeks he and Cameron County Judge Pete Sepulveda have been the lightning rods for the residents' complaints.

Dominguez said he had met with residents on several occasions and that the administrators of the system had been called to the county courthouse to see what could be done about the problem.
"Apparently, the colors in the water is a result of the old piping that has been there since the MHWSC has been serving the area," he said late Saturday. "San Pedro is at the tail end of the system and it's been a while since it's been flushed."

Dominguez said that the directors of the MHWSC were surprised when he suggested that they call the Brownsville Public Utility Board, their neighboring water supplier to see what could be done about helping them with their water quality.
"They seemed surprised when we called them and the PUB people showed up to talk to them," he said. "They figured they wouldn't come."
In fact, the PUBl already services water supply needs for Veterans Memorial High School just down the road from San Pedro.

"In fact, some of the Military Highway lines run parallel to PUB's lines," Dominguez said. "We think that PUB could supply good water to San Pedro while the Military Highway Water Supply flushes out their old lines or replace them. PUB has indicated that it is ready to help."

Unlike MHWSC which teats its own water, El Jardin Water Supply Corp. to the east of Brownsville simply buys and resells the water already treated by PUB. El Jardin maintains the lines in their service area. Over time, some of El Jardin's service area has have overlapped with PUB and both servers have coexisted providing water to residents there. Ideally, the same could happen in San Pedro, to the west of PUB's service area.

"We are moving quickly to address the issues at San Pedro with the assistance of PUB," Dominguez said. "The county is not in the water supply business but we realize that the matter could quickly become a health hazard if we don't find a solution to this."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

WIGHTMAN TO DE COSS: "I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU NOT.." THE RANTINGS OF A HYPOCHONDRIAC AND A PURLOINED FILING

By Juan Montoya
Just as predicted, as soon as local blogger Robert Wightman doesn't get his way with local jurists, elected officials, or their employees don't do as this misanthrope disbarred lawyer would want them to do, they become pariahs in his blog.
And so it came to be in what is rapidly being known at the Cameron County Courthouse as "The Case of the Purloined Filing."
Image result for bobby wightman

As Arthur Conan Doyle would say, "this singular event started, curiously enough" at the bar of the 445th District Court which was hearing the case of the State of Texas vs. Marisa Govea Hernandez who is charged with an accident involving death in the case of the late Mary Tipton.

The details surrounding the case are convoluted but basically, the prosecution charges that she left the scene of the accident and the victim was found three days later along the side of FM 803.

The case has been tried in the blogs even before it reached the 445th court where Rene De Coss is presiding.
A cursory review of the court docket indicates that Hernandez's attorney, Ernesto Gamez made a motion to exclude certain video, audio and other evidence which was granted by the judge.

The case moved forward until the victim's husband, Ralph Tipton, tried to file a motion in the case to include not only what had already been excepted by the court, but also depositions and other "evidence" which he said had been deliberately withheld by the prosecutors.

Tipton – with someone's advice (?) – filed the materials with Cameron County District Clerk Eric Garza, whose office then forwarded them to court coordinator a Blanca Hinojsa who was in possession of the file.
Upon learning of the filing, De Coss send Garza a memorandum (not a judicial order, as some claim) to discuss the intervention of third parties in a criminal case, which is a no-no.

Enter Wightman, who admits he is in communication with Tipton and knows about what was in the filing that Tipron tried to include ex-parte into the court record.
(Wightman, by the way, is a disbarred lawyer from Dallas who considers himself a legal maven and is surreptitiously practicing law and giving legal advice to anyone and everyone who will heed his rantings. All will go well until he is ignored and, like a woman scorned, hell knows no fury when his views are shunted aside as irrelevant.)

"I asked Mr. Tipton about the claims and he said the DA never asked for the depositions and that he filed them with the court because he was concerned the DA was not doing his job in collecting the evidence."
De Coss cited the prohibition against this type of activity from third parties in his letter to Garza and asked for a meeting with the district clerk to lay down the guidelines of the criminal legal process.
Image result for rene de coss

Wightman, who said "De Coss gets an A+ for how he is handling this case," then turned on the judge and pilloried the jurist and said that – unlike himself – he lacked legal acumen.
"My brain may be fading fast from atrophy, but I am still sharper than most attorneys and judges..."

Tipton is not interfering, he said, but merely " creating a record of the evidence so (DA Luis V.) Saenz cannot claim ignorance of same at the end of the trial..."
Now, how would Wightman know this? And when he was talking about De Coss, was he talking about the same judge everyone knows?

So like Riki-tiki-Ravi, El Rrun-Rrun had to run and find out.
We were expecting to find voluminous proof of the wild claims of judicial incompetence backing up such convoluted arguments that as a judge he shouldn't follow the law regarding ex-parte filings because

Wightman's didn't like it (yes, he said that). What we were showed was....one thing.
That was the only one "document" that he posted on the official docket , and it was a very good thing it wasn't a memo to housekeeping to check the trash cans. Under Wightman's keen legal theory, the janitors could have been jailed for contempt over a gum wrapper.

This begs the question: what clairvoyant crystal ball was he using to list the file contents (that weren't there) unless he wrote them or directly coached and advised on their creation and filing? Could he simply be throwing a hissy fit that his fine legal work was destined for the circular file? For someone forbidden to practice law, he seems to practice an awful lot of law.

Notably missing on his jaunt through legal fantasy land were the usual threats to post the damning documents as soon as a source (who may or may not even exist) "gets back in contact with him".
Or perhaps he could reconstruct them from hand written notes he took while coaching Tipton on how to enter the "evidence" into the court proceedings.

Anyway, we wish the local bar would take a gander at how this disbarred lawyer is interfering into the legal process with his subterfuges using third parties as proxies.
He should stick to advising Capt. Bob Sanchez in his pro se representation in the divorce case against his ex. We hear both Bobs are burning up the telephone lines now that Sanchez has run out of money to pay Gamez in the case.

Sanchez should know better. After all, Wightman filed a defamation lawsuit against him. He should follow the 11th Commandment of Cameron County that states: "Nothing good will ever come from engaging Wightman." 

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