On the same day that we heard about the death of former mayor Ruben Edlestein – a founding member of the Public Utilities Board, United Way and the Brownsville Community Health Center – we heard how the city utility had "donated" $25,000 toward the All American City award venture.
That is on top of the annual $25,000 it "donates" as a member of the United Brownsville shadow government.
Now, according to one of its first electrical department managers, when the PUB was first established, the plan was to remove it from politics and concentrate on making it a solvent, viable city asset.
"Believe it or not, when the PUB was created in 1960, many of us felt that by separating the board from the city, politics would be eliminated from hindering its operations," said businessman Mario Villarreal.
"Boy, were we mistaken! Those of us who worked on the very first PUB administration after the board's first meeting on July 15, 1961, inherited a system lacking in some basic requirements of a municipal utilities system.
The electorate had just approved the creation of the board by a mere 38 votes (2,741 to 2,703) that would be responsible to the city commission and to the voters of the city.
"Hard-nosed business decisions and changes in policies to help PUB survive in the dog-eat-dog world of the utility market generated controversy and resistance from many quarters. Yet, in a very short time, the utility could report to the city that its finances were on solid ground and that transfers to the city – which continue to this day – could be made to the city's general fund."
To this day, annual PUB cash and free utility contributions transfers to the city budget total millions. (see graphic, click to enlarge.)
As a result of the encumbrance of the $325 million carried out without the voters having a say-so in the matter, rates will jump to the highest they've evern been in the history of the city. (see graphic, click to enlarge)
When we read that United Brownsville had "contributed" $550.80 toward the city's application to be designated an All-American City (?), we were in wonder at their largesse. After all, United Brownsville gets $200,000 in membership donations from at least eight public-funded entities, including $25,000 from the City of Brownsville and another $25,000 from PUB.
We wonder what Edlestein would have thought of the utility that he had created and nourished to financial health had he only known that it was going to be used as a cash cow for groups of parasites who contribute nothing to the betterment of his city on the backs of overburdened ratepayers?