Friday, February 24, 2017

SIERRA CLUB MEETS SATURDAY TO STRATAGIZE AGAINST LNGS

East Wing Lower RGV Sierra Club Meeting & Outing

This Saturday Afternoon February 25
1:00 to 4:00 pm
Palo Alto National Battlefield Park
7200 Paredes Line Road, Brownsville
Just south of Hwy 511
See Facebook event page at:
Everyone Welcome

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Join the battle for our environment. This monthly event will include topics of LNG, pipelines, bag ban, Green Infrastructure vision, and other local issues. We'll save time to tour the Park. It will be a "blast!" [referring to the old cannons at the park].

See the Park's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PAALNPS/ and web site at https://www.nps.gov/paal/index.htm/: "On May 8, 1846, United States and Mexican troops clashed on the prairie of Palo Alto. The battle was the first in a two-year long war that changed the map of North America. Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park preserves the site of this notable battle and provides an understanding of the causes, events, and consequences of the U.S.-Mexican War."

DISPATCHES FROM OUR MAN IN THE ARGENTINIAN PATAGONIA

(The last we heard from local attorney Ruben Herrera was a text message with this photo attachment sent from the foothills of the Patagonia. Yes, that's Patagonia as in the southern tip of Argentina in South America. Herrera, a Texas Southmost College trustee, never ceases to amaze us with his whirlwind motorcycle tours to all corners of the world. The other day he called us from the Grand Canyon on his way to California, And just recently, he and others traveled down the Pan American Highway all the way down to South America. Judging from the photos he sent us, he and his bike are none the worse for wear. Have a safe one, Ruben. Nos estamos muriendo de envidia.)

PASTOR INVITES VALLEY RESIDENTS TO LEARN BLACK HISTORY

By Raul Garcia
Valley Morning Star 
Staff writer

HARLINGEN — It was a brisk windy morning at the Fort Brown campus in Brownsville when Pastor Ray Ellington was researching black history in the Valley.

That day he was looking into the history of the Buffalo Soldiers who were stationed at Fort Brown and fought in the Civil War. He met up with Dr. Tony Zavaleta, a member of the board of trustees of Texas Southmost College, who has written and researched about the African American troops stationed at Fort Brown between 1864 to 1906.


Ellington, originally from Arkansas, and an Army veteran is the pastor at the Corinth Baptist Church in Harlingen.

His recent trip to find out as much as he could about the Buffalo Soldiers stationed in Brownsville was because of the community event he’s spearheading focusing on black history in the Valley.

The all-day event will be Sunday, Feb. 26, from 11a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1201 W. Van Buren Ave. in Harlingen.

Ellington is requesting all African Americans in the Valley and the community to come and enjoy the day remembering black history in the Valley together.

“The reason we are doing this is because I’m a newcomer to the Valley and I had no idea of the black history here,” Ellington said. “When I started finding out about the rich African American history I knew I had to do this.”

Ellington said there are a significant number of blacks living in the Valley who don’t know the history of African Americans here.

He said the idea that this is a Hispanic community and blacks have no history here is wrong.

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

http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/local_news/article_54a0038c-f660-11e6-8fe5-fba124319886.html#.WK9YlCp5xFU.email

THE CHILDREN'S PARADE, A GLIMPSE AT B'VILLE TRADITION






















IT WAS WALL TO WALL HUMANITY AT INTOCABLE CONCERT

(Ed'.'s Note: They are easily one of the most popular norteƱo groups in the United States and Latin America and they packed the house at the SombreroFest Thursday night. They were the headliners and they played some of their biggest hits like "Y Todo Para Que," "Coqueta," "Es MEjor Decir Adios," and easily a dozen more. The crowd sang along with them and they reciprocated with the popular favorites. Tonight it will be Los Tucanes, a rollicking group from Baja California. On Saturday, it will be Houston favorites La Mafia. We congratulate SombroFest organizers on this year's star lineup. It's worth the $10 at the gate.)

WOULD SOMBREROFEST BE THE SAME WITHOUT CRIS RIVERA?

(Ed.'s Note: In what has become a SombreroFest tradition, we heard a Jimi Hendrix song being belted out by the Big Tent and sure enough it turned out to be our old friend Cris Rivera an his bods playing our favorite rock songs dating back to the 70s and 80s. Cris and us go back to the days when he used to hang out with our kid brothers and play the old 33s at our homestead. It's good to see that Cris is doing well. He had some health issues back a while and it appears he has overcome what ailed him. Rivera is in the same caliber as is Henry Lee, Emilio Crixell, Ben Neece and other minor legnds of Browntown Rock. Onward through the fog!)

AND NOW, A WORD FROM FORMER TELEVISA STAR

(Ed.s Note: Recognize that pretty face. One of our readers did. Apparently, it is Claribel Sierra, one of the reporters for the Televisa stations right across the river in Matamoros who has fallen into disgrace. She was arrested by officers with the Brownsville Police Department and booked charged with two counts of Intoxication Assault, classified as third degree felonies. For years, television viewers saw Ms. Sierra reporting on numerous issues. We wish her luck in her coming legal travails.)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

AS BSN VENDOR, JOE-ROD PUSHES HIS BID AT MEET: ANILLOGATE FAR FROM OVER, FALLOUT EXPECTED

By Juan Montoya
The Texas Local Government Code is very specific on what officials can do or not do when there is an item before the board to which he is elected and he has a personal interest in it.

The Texas Local  Government Code §§ 171.001-.010.  states that: A public official who has such interest is required to file, before a vote or decision on any matter involving the business entity or real property, an affidavit with the city’s official record keeper, stating the nature and extent of the interest. Id. §171.004(b).

In addition, a public official is required to abstain from further participation in the matter. Id. However, a public official that is required to file an affidavit is not required to abstain from participating in the matter if a majority of the members of the governing body have a substantial interest and are required to file and do file affidavits of similar interests on the same official matter. Id. §171.004(c).

Image result for joe rodriguez, brownsvilleIn the February meeting of the Brownsville Independent School District, trustee Joe Rodriguez – who filed an affidavit disclosing his substantial interests as a vendor for BSN Sport, which provides him with more than 10 percent of his annual income – just couldn't help himself. After a discussion where the district's purchasing agent and Superintendent Zendejas debated on who had recommended that an outfit called Barcelona Sports and BSN be the recommended vendors, Rodriguez – obviously exasperated – broke in and asked the women who should make the recommendations for sports equipment, the Athletic Dept. or the Music Department.

31. Recommend awarding CSP #17-019 Football, Volleyball and Girls/Boys Basketball Supplies District-wide to several vendors. Approximate amount of $376,914.00 from Local and Categorical Funds. (Annual Proposal)

Rodriguez was exasperated because while Zendejas claimed it was the purchasing department that made the recommendations after making sure all the I's were dotted and the T's crossed in the process, the purchasing agent kept saying that she had received the recommendation on the vendors from the Athletic Dept.

"So who do you think should make the recommendation for sports equipment, the music department?" Rodriguez asked.

That comment – coming from one of the vendors of the item might well have been perceived as Rodriguez's opinion that the board should just go ahead and approve the item, and let him pocket his commission without further questions. Rodriguez did abstain from voting on the item as he is required to do according to the code, but nonetheless, his support for the sale of the district's purchase of the sports equipment to his company would seem to violate the code.

There was another item at a recent meeting that went 4-3 against seeking the assistance of the Texas Education Agency to straighten out the mess concerning the possibly illegal ordering of 40 expensive rings that were given to the players and non players associated with the 2016 Porter Early College High School Championship soccer team. In that case, legal counsel told the board that they could not violate their policy by voting to accept 25 rings valued at $25,020 that were given to 29 players after the fact. The rings were handed out in September. Each ring was valued at $895.

The other 11, which were ordered for coaches teachers, included two which the ring maker's invoice said were we "gifts" for Rodriguez and Zendejas. Each of those rings was valued at $995 each.

The total invoice was for $31,025.

Here's the catch. By voting not to seek the assistance of the TEA, Rodriguez took a vote on an item in which he has a substantial interest. His company – BNS Sports – is a sister company to Herrf Jones, the ring maker who tried to "donate" the rings after negotiating with Zendejas. That "negotiating" took place about two months into the investigation by Co-Lead Auditor Arvin Tucker after receiving a "tip."

What the audit report handed in by Tucker did not say was whether he had discovered who had ordered the rings without going through the procurement process. If it wasn't the principal (who is also listed in the invoice as getting a ring), the coaches, or the purchasing department, who ordered them then? Any guesses, Joe?

APOLITICAL VIEW ON MILO YIANNOPOULOUS CONTROVERSY


By Rafael Collado
Special to El Rrun-Rrun
I am a radical Leftist. I don't and never have deemed Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos serious enough to analyze or contest any of his macabre oeuvre. However, there is something completely unrelated to politics that the general public might be missing on both sides of the spectrum.

Rethinking the Yiannopoulos thing after I have seen both of the videos, I must reaffirm something I said earlier in another thread. I have no intention of defending Milo Yiannopoulos, although there is a moral argument somewhere for doing it, I'm just not that nice of a person.

Pedophilia and child sexual abuse are very morally complex issues, and most people don't understand the intricacies, or do not want to. First of all, pedophile is not synonymous with child molester. It's hard to know how many, because it's probably the worst thing ever to admit, but there is a big number of pedophiles who do not abuse children, and they live very conflicted, miserable lives. A lot of them commit suicide, or are severely depressed. 

Sadly, all indications point out to pedophilia being basically a sexual orientation; their brains are structurally different from that of a normal person. As you can imagine, it must be an absolute hell to be a moral person and live with that. So, not all pedophiles abuse children, not all child molesters are pedophiles (they're just sociopaths), and almost 100 percent of the pedophiles who do abuse children have been victims of abuse themselves.

This is what Yiannopoulos revealed about himself without knowing it, and I think this gives you a better understanding of the man as a whole. What I see here is a guy who was molested (at 13 and 16, he says), but hasn't really assimilated what happened to him as abuse. 

By being so open about his views on the issue, without intending to, he revealed that he does not understand that he was a victim of child molestation. I just can't imagine him talking about it so openly if he understood the implications of what happened to him. What I'm seeing is a guy who wrongly internalized his own abuse, and is now being massively confronted with the fact that it is NOT normal, and it is NOT ok.

Do you understand that we are very publicly watching a man reevaluating his experience, and possibly figuring out for the first time that he was raped, and he is a victim? This debacle has turned into a completely different thing now, and nobody has realized it.

He insisted on the interview that he was very sexually mature and that it was him doing the chasing, which is probably a coping mechanism, but if he was indeed sexual at 13, it reveals a big possibility that he might have been abused even earlier in life.

I am not defending him, and his comments are undoubtedly wrong. What I'm saying is that it didn't really seem to understand to what extent he was wrong, and his mind has been contorted by the gymnastics it needs to do to avoid facing the fact that he himself was a victim of pedophiles. My point is that it is far more complex than, "he says sex with teenagers is ok!!"

We are watching a man who already doesn't like himself much, considering that, as an openly gay man, who is also an allegedly devout Catholic, he still thinks homosexuality is a sin. He insists he chose to be gay, and his existence is faulty. And now, this man's own personal narrative that he built for himself is crumbling in front of the whole world.

It's fucked up. I mean, it's sad, it's confusing, and its full understanding is kind of out of the reach of most people. Nobody wins here. I get no satisfaction from watching this unfold, and I can't even allow myself to have compassion for him.

This is not a call from compassion, but for objectivity.

WINDY ENOUGH FOR YOU? SEE MY IMPRESSION OF A DUCK!

(Ed's Note: Temperatures will hover around 90 degrees today for the 80th Annual Charro Days Children's parade down Elizabeth Street. According to the National Weather Service, winds will gust to about 20 miles an hour from the southeast. If you take in the parade downtown, make sure you take some sun screen. If you get tired of standing on the hot sidewalk, remember that this will be the first year that the refurbished Palm Lounge will be open. It's always full so get there early for a cold one and watch he parade from the front)

READY FOR TODAY'S 80TH CHILDREN'S CHARRO DAYS PARADE?


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WILL THE KINGMAKERS HAVE THEIR SAY IN CITY ELECTIONS?

(Ed.'s Note: If a picture is worth a thousand words, the fivesome above probably have gone through several $100,000s in public money.

At left is Oscar Garcia Jr., the son of the former UTB-TSC President Julieta Garcia. Little Oscar, whose resume includes attending Red McCombs School of Business in San Antonio, has specialized in raiding the various public-funded entities like the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, for $180,000 twice; once for a plan to make fiber optics Internet connections to the poor in the barrios (Not), and another $185,000 for the first installment of a small site economic development plan. When he came back with the so-called plan, it included 50 pages (half of it) of index cards photostats used for taking notes at the "stakeholder" meetings. The GBIC decided not to bite and Little Oscar had to go the Brownsville Economic Development Corporation, whose members declined and also passed on his offer.

Image result for tony martinez, brownsvilleWhat can we say about Da Mayor Tony Martinez? He came in under the Catholic church mantle and set about to use public money to speculate in downtown real estate. The gem of his diadem is the still-vacant hulk of the Casa del Nylon which occupies half a block in downtown and which he convinced his city commission to purchase from Abraham Galonsky for $2.3 million. Compared to the $2.2 million that Cameron County paid for the six-story, block and a half property of the former Wells Fargo Bank, one can clearly see the Casa del Nylon purchase was not a good deal for the city, but only for the seller, Martinez's friend. It remains vacant and has become a warehouse and magnet for the homeless and their pets.
Image result for rose gowen, brownsville
Next to Martinez is none other than Rose Gowen, the At-Large B candidate for reelection against Erasmo Castro. Gowen has transformed herself into Brownsville's version of the Wicked Witch of the West and has been able to funnel millions in public money to her pet project, the turning of Brownsville into a hike-and-bike mecca. Don't worry about the lack of sidewalks, the condition of the city streets, or the dearth of employment opportunities, if people would only ride around town in their designer bicycle duds and $300 bikes, we'll all be svelte and healthy. All we need now is a few more miles of bike trails and the continued funding of Carlos Marin projects and VIDA from the GBIC to make it a go.

Speaking of Marin, he is the founder of the Imagine Brownsville cum United Brownsville scheme designed to establish a shadow government that would steer public funds toward projects that benefit his idea of economic development on both sides of the border. With United Brownsville now defunct because of the growing disillusionment with the organization and the reluctance (and refusal) of the eight public-funded entities to fork over $25,000 each for a "membership" fee, Marin is seeking greener pastures. We expect his money and influence to be felt in the May 6 elections where he will try to maintain Martinez's majority on the city commission.

If this isn't a rouges' alley, we don't know what is.)    
 

A JAUNDICED VIEW OF BROWNSVILLE COMMISSION ELECTION

By Dr. G.F. McHale-Scully
Image result for jerry mchale, brownsvilleHere we go again as Brownsville, the Third World Capital of the United States, sinks faster than the Titanic in an ocean of ignorance, impoverishment and corruption. The band keeps playing with Ben Neece on lead guitar, Erasmo Castro on saxophone, Rose Gowen singing out-of-tune, William Garza on bass, Joel Munguia playing rhythm and John Villarreal in charge of setting up the equipment.

(And if Fred Martinez can get his signatures approved, he will also be competing for District 3.)

After six years with Tony Martinez as mayor, Brownsville isn't better off although the lawyer's compadres and cronies have done well at the taxpayers' expense. And the future doesn't look very bright as Martinez, protected by the Brownsville Herald, can cut deals with neither transparency nor accountability burdening this hypocritical Catholic with guilt. If only the dying daily were covering President Trump is the pipe dream of Donald's supporters.

Gowen, who married a gringo because most Mexican-Americans weren't worthy of her affections, has had no qualms about crawling in bed with the Machiavellian Martinez. His every wish has been her every command. She has turned her head time and time again as Martinez's outrages have reinforced her opinion that to the victor goes the spoils.

Nevertheless, in her reelection for commissioner-at-large B, (some say) she is the early favorite against the populist Castro. The establishment supports her and she will experience no lack of financing. Castro, who barely lost in a recent BISD contest with more than 10,000 votes and finished third in a large field for mayor two years ago, will have to prove that his grassroots strategy can overcome the elite's conventional approach to politics.

Incumbent Commissioner Villarreal representing district four, who has done nothing in six years except applaud the mayor, is asking the electorate to give him the opportunity to prove that a politico can accomplish nothing in a decade. The Baker Boys have been unable to prove if Villarreal has consummated his marriage. They suspect that his new Islamic look is an indication that he considers sex dirty.

If anyone is exciting the public, it is ex-Municipal Judge Neece who believes that Brownsville has a future that will save this downtrodden town from being indistinguishable from Matamoros. In reviving downtown, Neece believes that Brownsville's future rests in its past. In order to prevail, he has to defeat Villarreal in the latter's backyard.

Debbie Portillo waited until the last minute to declare she wouldn't seek reelection in district three. The McHale Report disclosed a month ago that she wasn't interested in another term. Unlike her colleague Jessica Tetreau, Portillo is educated, attractive and articulate, but like Tetreau whose face should adorn a bottle of rotgut moonshine, Portillo has done nothing of significance. She will not be missed.

Garza, whose face resurfaces every two years once again lisping for a vote, supported Martinez two years ago when he had a chance to make a statement. Of course, Garza has never made a statement. He tried to convince El Rrun Rrun's Juan Montoya to show him a little love at Neece's recent pachanga. The cheapskate Garza expects the press to provide him with free advertising. Nothing worse that a candidate who whines that he doesn't have money.

The special interests will support Munguia who married a Matamoros princess but dirtied himself associating with disgraced Congressman Solomon Ortiz. He is an insurance agent who despite his many negatives does count on a few positives.

With the horses in the stalls, the editorial staff at The McHale Report doesn't have to see the candidates break from the gate. We are putting our money on Neece and Munguia and rooting for Castro. (But remember, this is Brownsville, so Garza cannot be counted out just yet.) Brownsville resembles a forlorn chick sitting at the bar at two in the morning. Fortunately for this hag, there are always politicians drunk with ambition.

LANDIN FIRED AMID CHARGES OF INSUBORDINATION, ARROGANCE

By Juan Montoya
This time, her supervisors put up with her for only a year.
Previously, before she took the job as executive director of the Harlingen Convention and Visitors Bureau also serving as the city’s public information officer, she had left a similar position at the the office of the Cameron County District Attorney's Office stating she left for "personal advancement."

Image result for melissa zamora, landinAnd before that, when she left the position of administrative assistant for Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos, she left under similar circumstances. Fellow staff members said she had demanded Cascos name her in charge of the office when he left town and that he had refused.

This time, Harlingen City Manager Dan Serna told the Valley Morning Star that Melissa Landin (AKA Zamora) was fired Friday for “insubordination or other disrespectful conduct,” according to the city’s notice of termination. Serna told the paper that details of the firing were confidential and that he didn't "discuss personnel-related matters.”

The newspaper reported that city’s termination notice states Landin “refused to follow (Serna’s) instructions” on Jan. 17 for preparations for Mayor Chris Boswell’s State of the City address on Feb. 3. “You were confrontational and clearly stated your refusal to follow the directions of the city manager,” the notice states. “(T)his type of behavior is unacceptable at any level.”

Landin served as executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, charged with promoting the city for tourism. She also worked as public information officer, serving as the city’s media liaison.

The City of Harlingen administration had preciously allowed her to rescind a previous resignation, and that they had relented after she changed her mind and withdrew it. In the termination notice, Serna refers to Landin’s previous resignation.

“This is not the first time that this kind of behavior has happened,” the notice states. “Previously, you had resigned your position and later changed your mind. The city manager was willing to give you another opportunity to fit into the management team but the incident described above convinces me that this is not going to be possible.”

Landin was hired as PIO at a salary of $47,500 in January, 2016, and boosted her salary to $61,500 when she took the CVB executive director’s job about a month later.

Image result for melissa zamora, landinReporter Fernando del Valle reported that the city was withholding the release of Landin’s response letter to the city, requesting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to determine whether the city was required to release it as a public record.

Landin did not sign the termination notice.

“Because I had never so much as had a warning, I asked administration to specify. They did not and would not,” Landin wrote in a text message. “In fact, I have numerous emails and texts complimenting my work from administration, fellow directors, other staff and community members.”

Although she did not disclose which "community members" endorsed her performance, it probably includes DA Luis V. Saenz and his chief investigator George Delaunay. But it probably does not include any from her immediate supervisors.

READER REMEMBERS JOE WALLACE GARCIA WAY BACK WHEN



(Ed.'s Note: following our post on the Fiesta del Sol, which kicks off the 80th Annual Charro Days fiesta in Brownsville, one of our eagle-eyed readers fished out a newspaper clipping that reported Garcia had been a Brownsville Independent School District candidate back in January 1971. At the time, the article stated that Garcia was only 24 when he declared his candidacy. Time has passed, indeed, but Garcia is still active supporting the community's annual celebration. If you see Joe, tell him we said hello!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

DID BISD CANCEL ARMORED-CAR CONTRACT WITH AMERICAN SURVEILLANCE TO COVER UP FISCAL AUDIT DEFICIENCIES?

By Juan Montoya
In a very public show to highlight its supposed fiscal watchdog function, the administration of the Brownsville Independent School District has cancelled its contract with Brownsville armored-car provider American Surveillance.
But as details surface surrounding the cancellation, it now seems that the BISD administration out on this show to cover up its fiscal audit deficiencies and has made the security company the scapegoat.

BISD reported that it caught the theft of $495 from missing receipts that had been picked up last September. When it notified the company's owners just this week, they learned that the guilty party – a "messenger" assigned to pick up sealed deposit bags from the company's armored-car clients – had already been charged by the management with local police for another heist from another of their clients. The company quickly made the district whole when they learned of the missing money.

In that Cameron County case, the "messenger" had been caught taking money from the Cameron County Adult Probation Office totaling nearly $1,500. The administrators from the security company were alerted to the missing money after a cursory reconciliation of receipts had showed funds were missing from that office.

But what was the difference?
In the case of Cameron County, it took them only about a week to see that the receipts left by the employee of the security company when he picked up the sealed bags did not reconcile with the receipts they had at the local bank. In other words, the money had never made it to the bank after the messenger picked up the sealed bags. Somewhere between the time he picked up the bags and when the truck reached the bank he had pocketed the money.

But while it took the BISD four to six months to realize there was money missing, it took the county less than a week to detect the missing funds using its checks-and-balance procedures. In the case of the missing county money, the company was able to investigate its internal processes and discover that the suspected thief was a "bad apple" among its employees and he was turned in to the local police. The company also made the county "whole" on the spot. After all, every security company has millions in insurance to address such events.

Sources close to the events that uncovered the heist said that the security company had shown that they had cleared the suspected employee through the Texas Department of Public Safety, and had run his security check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation without any alerts from either body. In fact, he had been employed by Rochester, a leader in armored-car services in the country. County sources say that American Surveillance showed them he had been cleared by all these entities.

In the case of the BISD, its internal audit procedures procedures lagged far behind the day-to-day business and allowed the thief to continue nibbling away. In fact, if the BISD had alerted the company to the missing money early, it is possible that the theft at the county could have been prevented since the theft at the district occurred in September and was not detected until February. The county detected the theft last month and the culprit was nabbed and chrarged a week after it occurred.

A county source said that American Surveillance's quick internal investigation cleared a county employee who had been suspected of the theft.

"If ti hadn't been for the prompt response from American Surveillance supervisors, an innocent person might have been indicted and charged with a crime," said a county source close to the investigation. "They acted quickly once they were told of the missing receipts from adult probation."

The stark night-and-day difference in the internal fiscal controls between the BISD and Cameron County were made all too clear with this case. It took the internal controls in the county only a week to discovered the theft. Once the thief was found and the money was accounted for, business went on as usual. But in the BISD, where it took six months to notice that $495 was missing, the reaction from the district was to cancel the armored-car contract without admitting its internal controls were deficient and remain so to this day. Was the cancelling the contract with the Brownsville company merely a show to cover up its own fiscal audit deficiencies?

What else could be missing in the district that it will take another six months to uncover?

NO WONDER BISD WANTS TO CLOSE CUMMINGS MIDDLE SCHOOL

By Juan Montoya
Not long ago, during a meeting of the board of the Brownsville Independent School District, an agenda item directed the superintendent to justify the closing of Cummings Middle School.

Along with Cummings, Resac and Longoria were also on the administration's chopping block. Among other things, the administration cited lagging enrollments, the cost of maintaining the aging facilities, and the loss of students to charter schools.  Most of these plans were kept under cover in the BISD's Facilities Committee until the details of the closings were disseminated in the community.

No one in the neighborhoods around the schools had heard about the planned closings, and a majority of the trustees directed superintendent Esperanza Zendejas to explore all avenues to keep them open. The board majority wanted to know why there was no public input into the decision the administration – with the apparent acquiescence of the board majority before the November 2016 elections – had reached, and why no other public-use alternatives had been considered.

Now we have learned that the plan to shut down Cummings has been in the works for some time and that the board at Gladys Porter Zoo and the city have been trying mightily to have the BISD go along with shutting it down so that a high-end hotel could be constructed on what is today the soccer/football filed of the Mighty Red Ants.

During the meeting, the board passed a resolution against the consolidating and/or closing of any school for the 2017-2018 school year without first receiving a comprehensive plan detailing budgets, alternatives, sufficient public input, notice, etc.

The board member who placed this item on the agenda did so at the request of parents and students who attend/or attended these schools. The administration had advocated the closing of these schools without announcing what plans, or what alternatives there were to closing Cummings, Resaca and Longoria and did not seek public input or gave notice of the plans to close them. As a result of the resolution, the board majority has instructed to make the process more transparent and accountable to the parents and students before launching such a drastic plan as the closing of neighborhood schools.

On its face, putting a luxury hotel seems like a good idea. After all, the biggest tourist draw to Brownsville has always been the zoo. School districts from throughout the Rio Grand Valley bring their students to the zoo. And if you look closely, the Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts is across Ringgold Street, and the Reynaldo Garza and Filemon Vela federal courthouse is just a block away. Ditto for the Cameron County Courthouse. Lawyers who have cases in these venues would probably make up a steady clientele for lodging there without having to stay somewhere along the expressway.

Tourists who came to Brownsville would probably flock there as well.

We have heard that Rene Cardenas, who addressed the students at Hanna High School as Principal for a Day, berated the school board for not supporting the superintendent in her initiatives, including the sale of Cummings Middle School. Could it have been because the Cardenas Development Company headed by his sister Reba McNair has designs on the land for the development of the hotel? In the past, other developers have indicated their willingness to invest in such a plan.

And has anyone consulted with the Hindu community who have made a sizeable investment in hotels in the city and South Padre Island on whether they might want to have a part of the action?

The BISD board majority who voted for the resolution to keep things above board when it came to closing schools probably heard of plans that have been ongoing for the better part of two or three years to build a hotel at Cummings. If the city, the zoo board, and the BISD come together on a plan, it might well be that those plans could come true. But has anyone thought that the school district itself could invest on a resort hotel as part of its income diversification instead of giving away the store to private investors?

This issue is not going away. Stay tuned.

A LITTLE BIT OF BORDER SOUL FROM CRIXELL & FRIENDS









By Juan Montoya
"Once there was a way to get back homeward..."
And once, way back when, when they used to be The Connectors and they used to play to an empty Amber Pub at the hotel where the Brownsville Public Library is today, their friends would encourage them to keep on playing.
Those were the days when Henry Lee would rock the joint with his Jimi Hendrix renditions and other bands would take on the current rock and roll hits.

If you were lucky to have been at Cobbleheads for Border Soul's CD release party on Sunday, you would have jammed to the latest incarnation of the Connectors now known as Border Soul.when they The principals are – as they have always been – Emilio Crixell on vocals, guitar and backup vocals, Albert Besteiro, also on guitar and backup vocals, Charlie Harrison, bass and vocals and Charlie Tamayo on drums, Even Joe and Rosa Perez (of Rumbo al Anacua) were there to sing "Prenda Una Vela" with the band. They all put on a great show and they sounded great. Not pictured is Joe Pino who accompanied the group on his congas.

Crixell posted this after the party: "Thank you everybody for coming out to our CD release party at Cobblehead's yesterday, the band and I had an awesome time and want you to know how much we appreciate your support! We re having a CD contest for those who filmed some of yesterdays festivities . Send in your vidoe(s) to our Facebook page and the top 2 will get a free CD. Once Again Thanks to all who came out and made this a most memorable event."

El Rrun-Rrun thanks Javier Garcia for contributing to this post.

Rock on.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

BAILE DEL SOL KICKS OFF 80TH ANNUAL CHARRO DAYS



COMMITTED MARCHERS ADVOCATE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE



(Uniting in their core opposition to the introduction of LNG – Liquefied Natural Gas – plants into the port of Brownsville, protesters Saturday staged a march against climate change at Washington Park. Members of the Carrizo Tribe joined with Save RGV from LNG activists to urge local political and civic leaders to spurn the endearments of the LNG industry. The group claims that the plants bring tons of greenhouse gases that rivals coal emissions and that the promised jobs do not always pan out to what the companies promise.)    

PORTILLO CONFIRMS SHE IS OUT, COY ABOUT FUTURE

By Juan Montoya
Unless those few who attended the town hall meeting at the UTRGV were plugged in to Facebook or were privy to her inside circle, they probably didn't know that one of the city commissioners hosting the meet – Deborah Portillo – was not running for reelection in May.
Then, on Sunday's Brownsville Herald, she confirmed she would not be a candidate for District 3 this coming May.

That leaves William Garza to face Joel Mungia running for the District 3 seat held by Portillo until the May vote is canvassed.  Garza is a former city commissioner who ran for mayor the last time around. The other candidate who alos did not file for a position on the ballot was Raymond P. Everitt, who filled out the firm to name his treasurer, but failed to notice he did not live in District 3.
While this may seem a bit amateurish, remember that when Portillo ran for the position, she failed to tell the city attorney (as if Mark Sossi cared) that she was using her mother's address and that she actually lived outside the district. There was nothing amateurish about this since it was done deliberately.

But the name recognition alone should give Garza a foot up on Mungia, but we are also hearing that Munguia now enjoys the confidences of Mayor Tony Martinez, Ambiotec millionaire engineer Carlos Marin, and a cadre of insurance company owners and salesmen in the city.

This is curious because if Munguia – who married into Matamoros money – enjoys the support of kingmakers Martinez and Marin (the Three Ms?), it is hard to reconcile this with the fact that Garza and Brenda Joyas endorsed Tony over Pat Ahumada in the last mayor's runoff election race (see graphic at right.)

Is Martinez going back on a promise? Or was it just wishful William's thinking that Martinez would support him in turn in future political races?

But back to Portillo's withdrawal from the District 3 race. After a few perfunctory paragraphs where she thanks the voters for the "honor and privilege" of serving them – like Richard Nixon – she hints that she may be around for voters to kick her around some more. She says "I am not done with public service" and, later, that "this does not mean that I am done serving my community."

This has to mean that she is planning to run for another office, perhaps for Cameron County  Pct. 2 Commissioner after incumbent Alex Dominguez announces he will run for the seat now held by Rep. Rene Oliveira?  If that what she is planning, then she better get n line early and avoid the crush of candidates who will file for that race. Oliveira – when he's not chasing skirts or imbibing spirits – has said openly that this will be his last run for state rep. But then, we've all heard drunks at the bar swearing that they will get on the wagon after this last binge.

In Portillo's ad, besides being hard to read and overly crowded, she takes credit for just about every public works and quality-of-life project that the city has completed in the four years she has been there. Of course, there is no mention of embarrassing votes like the one to give away Lincoln Park to the UT System, her vote to buy the hulk of the building called La Case del Nylon for $2.3 million using Certificates of Obligation that do not require voter approval, or going along with the 36 percent increase of utility rates to pay for the debt of the still non-existent $500 million Tenaska gas-powered generating plant.

She also doesn't mention that not only was she an advocate for the city to give the United Brownsville shadow government an annual $25,000 "membership" fee, and that she actually started out as a secretary paid with those funds under former executive director Mike Gonzalez. After United Brownsville went down in flames, she was made one of the three directors of the United Brownsville Coordinating board positions formerly held by the likes of IBC President Fred Rusteberg, UTB-TSC President Julieta Garcia and banker and UTB-TSC VP Irv Downing. Like a ship rat, and realizing the United Brownsville ship was sinking, she abandoned the organization saying she had "other priorities" she wanted to pursue.

In retrospect, the absence of Portillo from the city commission only means that Martinez will have to replace her rubber-stamp vote with someone else's, perhaps Munguia's, or even Garza. who did not seem to mind endorsing him in the past in hopes of currying his favor in future elections like this one.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

THEN THERE WERE SIX? ARE PORTILLO AND EVERITT OUT?


(Unless the City Secretary website is wrong or their site was not updated after 5 p.m. Friday, it would seem that the election May 6 will bear only ix names, including two incumbents At-Large B Rose Gowen, Deborah Portillo and District 4 John Villarreal. Portillo had not filed her forms for a ;place on the ballot as of Friday, unless, as we said, the site was not updated. She had filed her treasurer's name last November.

This leaves William Garza, a former city commissioner with name recognition who ran for mayor the last time around against relatively unknown Joel Mungia. Mungia was the veterans service officer with former U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz and now owns am insurance company. He is said to be favored by Ambiotec's Carlos Marin and Mayor Tony Martinez.


The first day of Early voting is April 24.)  


rita