Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A TIGHT SQUEEZE, A PUSH, AND THEN FREE TO THE HIGHWAY


(Ed.'s Note: It got tricky there for a while when a house moving company maneuvered their truck through E.Tyler Street, a thoroughfare made narrower by parked and broken-down cars.

As can be seen at top, the people at the left had to push a broken van that didn't start same as the dark truck behind it. Eventually both were pushed out of the way and to allow the movers to maneuver the corner of 7th and Tyler and make their way down to the expressway. 

Later, the movers were seen with the same house on the frontage road by FM 802 (Ruben Torres). They were under the watchful eyes of the crew from the office of Pct. 2 Constable Able Gomez.  

A P.U.B. CREW BATTLES A GEYSER: THREATEN PHOTOG ARREST

(Ed.'s Note: We received this photo in our email from one of our seven readers who just happened to be passing by Sixth Street next to the Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts and across the street from the Gladys Porter Zoo. He said the geyser of water from a faulty connection had been flowing for the better part of half an hour after he went to the Cameron County Courthouse on Harrison Street a block south of the museum.

A three-man crew from the public Utilities Board had been attempting to replace the faulty coupling without much success. Did they cause the crack in the connection with that pickax visible on the left side of the picture? When he alighted at the Linear Park parking to snap a shot, the man in the white safety suit (barely visible behind the palm tree at right), told him that he was not permitted to snap pictures of PUB crews working.

If he did not stop taking pictures, he said, he would have to call the Brownsville Police Dept. and report him for taking pictures from about 20 feet away separated by a ditch, and on a public park as they attempted (unsuccessfully) to fix the problem in the public right-of-way.

Now, we don't blame our contributor for stopping to take the picture. It's not often we get to see PUB crews actually working. Usually it's one guy working and another half dozen watching him leaning on their shovels. But our question is this: If a member of the public is not interfering with their work and he is in a public facility (Linear Park) taking pictures of public employees, does BPD have the authority to take a complaint from the workers and arrest the picture taker?

We understand that it must have been frustrating and embarrassing for the PUB guys not being able to fix the geyser as fast as they might have wanted to, but to threaten a member of the public with arrest for taking a picture seems like a stretch of their right to privacy.

Someone should have a constitutional sensitivity training seminar and take our friend in white aside and inform he that the public has rights just as he does. In fact, if he is getting paid from the public's dollar (or utility rates), and he is on the public right-of-way, his expectations of privacy are greatly diminished. Let's hope they finally got the geyser plugged and their savage breasts are soothed before they impose martial law.)

CABLER UNDER THE GUN TO DECIDE ON ELIZONDO'S FATE

By Juan Montoya
Image result for charlie cablerWith the growing controversy surrounding the police complaint filed by the Firefighters Association Local # 970 against Brownsville Fire Dept. Chief Carlos Elizondo charging him with Theft by a Public Official of more than $8,000 in cash from their Political Action Committee, city manager Charlie Cabler is under growing pressure to decide on what course to take.

And as potential conflicts of interest loom ahead as a result of Elizondo also holding an elected position as a Brownsville Independent School District trustee and issues arise of the district's dealing with the city on a number of issues, some city commissioners are coming to the conclusion that a clear demarcation of duties has to be made.

Should Cabler – as city manager in charge of hiring and firing department heads – require Elizondo to decide what he wants to do: stay on as chief and possibly face a grand jury indictment over the PAC's missing money? Or should Cabler demote him or make him take a lower position? Or should he give him an ultimatum to decide between job and his seat as a trustee on the BISD board?

The city's personnel policy manual's Section 702: Political Activity states that:
"B. Specifically, City Employees may not engage in the following activities:

4. Hold an elective City office or hold an elective or appointive office in any other jurisdiction where service would constitute a direct conflict of interest with City employment, with or without remuneration. Upon assuming such office, an Employee shall resign or shall be dismissed for cause upon failure to do so."

The recent firing of city attorney Mark Sossi after he became a source of controversy and the commissioners found themselves dealing with his personal problems instead of discussing city business set a precedent for a gelling majority on the commission comprised of Cesar de Leon, Jessica Tetreau, Rose Gowen and Ben Neece. This majority chose to cut its ties with the growingly embarrassing situations which embroiled Sossi's personal life and spilled over to his municipal duties.

Only commissioners Ricardo Longoria and new commissioner Joel Munguia sided with Sossi to allow him to remain on the job.

But those commissioners who voted to make Sossi a city employee in January after he promised that he would seek no outside work and continue to receive a $10,000 monthly salary plus another $5,000 monthly stipend from the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, were outraged that a month after they granted him full-time city employee status, Sossi secretly signed a $2,500 monthly retainer with the City of Mission.


We understand that the Mission contract played a large role in some commissioners making their decision to fire the beleaguered former city attorney.

Similarly, Elizondo's continued tenure on the BISD board despite city personnel policies to the contrary were laid at Sossi's desk when he was still city attorney and the issue now rests squarely in Cabler's lap. Sossi's inaction on the matter played a role in his termination, in a way protecting Eizondo. Increasingly, the lawyer's actions were deemed obstructionist by city commissioners who conducted an audit of the fire department but were miffed by Sossi's stalling tactics.

 What will the city manager decide? Is he willing to put his feet to the fire for his fire chief? Or will he finally make a decision and follow the city's own personnel policies?

With a majority of the city commission looking at Cabler to see what he does, his decision (or failure to act) may well place his own position in jeopardy.

HARLINGEN FIREFIGHTERS FLUNK F.D. ADMINISTRATION

(The Harlingen Professional Firefighters Association Local 3404 recently conducted a survey of its members. Out of 96 union members, 68 participated in this survey. Three members refused to take the survey for fear of reprisal. Twenty one declined to participate. Four junior personnel where not included in this survey. Non union member where also not included in this survey. Non union member where also not included in the survey. Julio Zetina, the president of the local association, presented a copy of this survey to the Harlingen City Manager and the City commissioners. Excerpts of the survey results are posted below.) 

1) How would you rate the Fire Administration on safety regarding manpower on the fire ground as it is recommended/required under NFPA 1710?

Total 68: Excellent: 3 Good: 10 Fair: 16 Poor: 39

2.) With the current “Run Card” and the removal of personnel and gear from central station, how confident are you that the Harlingen Fire Department would be able to safely work two structure fires in our response territory?

Total 68: Excellent: 3 Good: 6 Fair: 15 Poor: 44

3.) How would you rate the quality of our apparatus and the condition they're in?
Total 68: Excellent: 2 Good:10 Fair: 37 Poor: 19

4.) How would you rate the quality of Tools and Gear that we use?
Total 68: Excellent: 7 Good:15 Fair: 39 Poor: 7

5.) When units are taken out of service for repair/maintenance, do you feel that we have
adequate Reserve units available to safely respond and work an emergency effectively?
Total 68: Yes: 5 No: 44 Somewhat: 18 I Don’t Know: 1 

6.) Do you feel that the fire department/City has an interest in you (the employee)?
Total 68: Yes: 8 No: 37 Somewhat: 20 Don’t know: 3

7.) How would you describe the overall morale of our fire department?
Total 68: Excellent: 0 Good: 7 Fair: 23 Poor: 38

8.) Do you feel that you're encouraged by your supervisors to reach your personal career goals?
Total 68: Yes: 29 No: 15 Somewhat: 22 Don’t know: 2

9.) How would you rate the current working relationship between the fire administration and the general populace of the fire department?
Total 68: Excellent:1 Good: 6 Fair: 18 Poor: 43

10: How would you rate the training that you receive so that you may perform your job safely and effectively?
Total 68:  Excellent:2 Good: 25 Fair: 23 Poor: 18

11. How would you rate our living conditions?
Total 68: Excellent:4 Good: 22 Fair: 31 Poor: 11

12.) How would you rate the Fire Administration in regards to listening to your overall needs?
Total 68: Excellent:3 Good: 5 Fair: 19 Poor: 39 (No answer: 2)

13.) Do you feel that communication from the Fire administration down to the front-line personnel is efficient and effective?
Total 68:  Yes: 7 No: 40 Somewhat: 20 Don’t know: 1

14.) If you were facing disciplinary action, how confident would you feel that our Fire Administration would treat you fairly and justly?
Total 68: Very Confident: 8 Somewhat Confident: 23 Not Confident at All: 36 (No Answer: 1)  

15.) How well would you rate our Fire Administration in managing  our fire department?
Total 68: Excellent:2 Good: 7 Fair: 19 Poor: 40

NY TIMES: FAILING ALL THE TESTS OF THE PRESIDENCY

By Charles M. Blow
New York Times

We are leaderless. America doesn’t have a president. America has a man in the White House holding the spot, and wreaking havoc as he waits for the day when a real president arrives to replace him.

Donald Trump is many things – most of them despicable– but the leader of a nation he is not. He is not a great man. Hell, he isn’t even a good man.

Donald Trump is a man of flawed character and a moral cavity. He cannot offer moral guidance because he has no moral compass. He is too small to see over his inflated ego.

Trump has personalized the presidency in unprecedented ways – making every battle and every war about his personal feelings. Did the person across the street or around the world say good or bad things about him? Does the media treat him fairly? Is someone in his coterie of corruption outshining him or casting negative light on him?

His interests center on the self; country be damned.

What some have always known about Trump, others are slowly coming to realize, and with great shock and horror. The presidency is revealing the essence of the man and that essence is dark. What America saw clearly in Trump’s disastrous handling of the violence in Charlottesville was a Nazi/white nationalist apologist if not sympathizer, a reactionary rage-aholic, a liar, and a person who has absolutely no sense or understanding of history.

By claiming that there were some "very fine people" among the extremists marching in Charlottesville, the president made a profound declaration: The accommodation of racists is his creed.

As Susan Bro, whose daughter, Heather Heyer, was killed in Charlottesville, said last week, “You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ ” Heather Heyer was killed when James Alex Fields Jr. used a speeding car to mow down a crowd of protesters who had gathered to rebuke the Nazis and white nationalists.

According to Chicago Tribune, one of Fields’s high school teachers said he once “wrote a three-page homework paper that extolled Nazi ideology and the prowess of the Führer’s armed forces,” and that even before then, the teacher said, “he had been well aware of Fields’s racist and anti-Semitic beliefs from private discussions he had with Fields during his junior year.”

And even worse, The Tribune reported:

“At least four times when the boy was in the eighth and ninth grades, Florence police were summoned to his home, mostly by his frantic mother, Samantha Bloom, an I.T. specialist. It was just the two of them living together, and young James, among other incidents, was reported to have spat in her face, smacked her head with a phone and frightened her with a foot-long knife, according to records of the 911 calls. Neighbors, in interviews, similarly described a troubled youth who treated his mother cruelly.”

This was no fine person, and no person who walked shoulder-to-shoulder with him is a fine person. There are no good Nazis. There are no good white nationalist accommodators. There are no good people who see racists and don’t want to retch.

LOCAL DENTIST CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING CAPT. BOB

By Juan Montoya
According to an indictment handed down by a grand jury empanelled at the 103rd District Court, a local dentist is being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Robert Sanchez, a local restaurateur and former member of the Brownsville Public Utilities Board.

The deadly weapon, in this case, according to the indictment, was a knife.

The indictment names Joseph Loyola Yoste A/K/A Joseph Yoste and charges that on the night of October 22, 2016, he and Sanchez had a confrontation in the parking lot at the  at a gasoline station/convenience store at the corner of Boca Chica and Palm boulevards.

Apparently, the dispute started as a "pleito de faldas" and the meeting was a chance encounter. Surveillance cameras are said to have captured the moment that Yoste allegedly exchanged heated words with Sanchez and tried to reach in his car window, later grabbing a knife from his car and going after him.

Sanchez was said to have driven away and reported the incident to police.
Trial is scheduled for Sept. 25.

TSC TRUSTEE RAMON CHAMPION HINOJOSA DIES THIS MORNING

By Juan Montoya
After a two-day battle and emergency surgery for a heart condition, Texas Southmost College Raymond Champion Hinojosa died early this morning at the Valley Regional Hospital in Brownsville.

He was 81 years old.

Ray, as all his friends called him, was elected in 2012 and his six-year term will expire 2018. The TSC will probably appoint a replacement to finish his term.

In the short time that he was at TSC, he cast important votes dealing with the college's accreditation, the selection of a a new president, and led the efforts to establish relationships with other governmental entities, and NGOs having to do with vocational-technical
endeavors for TSC students.

He was also very instrumental in forging new relationships between colleges on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and TSC to provide a mutually beneficial opportunities to students on both sides of the river.

Hinojosa – a descendant of a pioneer Brownsville family – literally rose from the bottom up spending 35 years in education as an elementary, middle and high school teacher, assistant superintendent, and superintendent. He also directed federal, bilingual education and parental involvement programs.

He held a Bachelor of Arts in English and Government degree from St. Mary's University, and a Master’s in Education degree from Texas A&I University in Kingsville.

As a former instructor and administrator, he often spoke of the valuable asset TSC has been for the district's residents since its establishment in 1926 and was proud of his role is guiding it back to its original mission after its separation from the UT System.

Last night, board president Adela Garza said he was struggling and she took the opportunity to say goodbye. TSC interim president Mike Shannon and newly-appointed president Dr. Roberto Rodriguez also took the time to visit his bedside.

"We was a man of his word and a loyal friend to a fault," Garza said this morning. "My girls and I loved him."

Attorney Gerardo Danache, who accompanied family members at the hospital this morning, said that Darling Mouser funeral Home will be in charge of the funeral arrangements. Danache said Ray wanted his friends to celebrate his life and did not want an elaborate funeral.

Peace be with him.

Monday, August 21, 2017

TRUMP CAUGHT LYING ON AT LEAST 3 ISSUES

By David Pakman
Huffington Post
The President of the United States of America is a pathological liar.

The White House was forced to essentially admit that at least three of Trump’s recent statements were lies:

I consulted with generals before issues transgender military ban on Twitter.

A boy scout official called me and told me my speech was the greatest ever.

The Mexican president called me and said I’m doing a great job on immigration.

Each one of these statements has been shown to be totally and demonstrably false. The Pentagon said we don’t know of any generals that were consulted, the boy scouts said no one called Trump and told him that his speech was great and Mexico said their president didn’t speak to Trump on the phone or tell him that he’s doing a great job of anything.

Asked directly if Trump’s boy scouts claim was a lie, she said, “I wouldn’t say it was a lie. That’s a pretty bold accusation. The conversations took place, they just simply didn’t take place over a phone call … he had them in person.”

It was a similar story with the claim about Mexico’s president calling Trump to tell him how great he’s doing. Sanders said Trump had been “referencing a conversation that they had had at the G-20 summit.”

The argument here is that both times Trump alleged phone calls took place, the sentiment was accurate but the conversations were not on the phone.
So in order to believe that Trump wasn’t lying, and simply fabricating stories, you’d have to believe that Trump is incapable of distinguishing between conversations he’s had in-person and conversations he’s had over the phone.

In other words, either Donald Trump is a liar or a crazy person.

If you believe that the president is competent lucid and generally with it, saying he doesn’t know the difference between in person and on the phone isn’t a good defense.
But besides their falsity, another factor that each of these statements, particular the latter two, have in common is their triviality. 

Trump lies so often and so casually about everything and anything that it really is pathological. He lies for the sake of lying. It’s part of his character. He’s a fraud, a phony, a faker. Comments like these can only be the result of a volatile mix of hubris, delusion and petty narcissism.

The most disturbing part of all of this may be the fact that many of us are becoming desensitized to doublespeak and blatant misinformation coming out of the White House on a regular basis.

KXIQ OFFERS CLASSICS, ROCK, ECLECTIC TASTE

By Juan Montoya
We see where our friend George Ramirez, the founder of the Brownsville Society for the Performing Arts, has his new low-power FM station that goes by the letters KIQX at 105.1 on the dial.
It is a non commercial, educational, low-power FM that covers most of Brownsville and a good portion of Matamoros adjoining the Rio Grande.

Just before we sat to write this post, we were listening to some good Neil Young oldies that sent us back in time to our days in college. On any given day you can expect to hear not only classic rock, but goodly mix of salsa, blues, and even some classical numbers from Bach or Mozart.

Ramirez was able to fasten the station's antenna on the roof of Boca Chica Tower. But before you make any hasty conclusions Ramirez tells you what KXIQ is not.

"It's a noncommercial, educational, low power FM station... not public radio, not NPR, not open-access radio, analog stereo but not digital, not an internet station (yet), not satellite radio, not a subscription service, etc.," he said. "Just a low-power FM station."

"Like BSPA, we push a positive outlook, no polemics, lots of music and cultural entertainment though with a greatly expanded reach and educational capabilities. It's a great good old FM radio station, remember those? Well, we got one!"

WOODY ALLEN'S COUNT DRACULA AND THE ECLIPSE

By Woody Allen
Somewhere in Transylvania, Dracula the monster is sleeping in his coffin, waiting for night to fall. As exposure to the sun's rays would surely cause him to perish, he stays protected in the satin-lined chamber bearing his family name in silver.

Then the moment of darkness comes, and through some miraculous instinct the fiend emerges from the safety of his hiding place and, assuming the hideous forms of the bat or the wolf, he prowls the countryside, drinking the blood of his victims. 

Finally, before the first rays of his archenemy, the Sun, announce a new day, he hurries back to the safety of his hidden coffin and sleeps, as the cycle begins anew. Now he starts to stir. The fluttering of his eyelids are a response to some age-old, unexplainable instinct that the sun is nearly down and his time is near. 

Tonight, he is particularly hungry as he lies there, fully awake now, in red-lined inverness cape and tails, waiting to feel with uncanny perception the precise moment of darkness before opening the lid and emerging, he decides who this evening's victims will be.

The baker and his wife, he thinks to himself. Succulent, available, and unsuspecting. The thought of the unwary couple whose trust he has carefully cultivated excites his blood lust to a fever pitch, and he can barely hold back these last seconds before climbing out of the coffin to seek his prey. 

Suddenly he knows the sun is down. Like an angel of hell, he rises swiftly, and changing into a bat, flies to the cottage of his tantalizing victims.
"Why, Count Dracula, what a nice surprise," the baker's wife says, opening the door to admit him. (He has once again assumed human form, as he enters their home, charmingly concealing his rapacious goal.)
"What brings you here so early?" the baker asks.
"Our dinner date," the Count answers. "I hope I haven't made an error. You did invite for tonight, didn't you?"
"Yes, tonight, but that's not for seven hours."
"Pardon me?" Dracula queries, looking around the room puzzled.
"Or did you come to watch the eclipse with us?"
"Eclipse?"
"Yes. Today's the total eclipse."
"What?"
"A few moments of darkness from noon until two minutes after. Look out the window."
"Uh-oh. I'm in big trouble."
"Eh?'
'\"And now if you'll excuse me ..."
"What, Count Dracula?"


"Must be going-aha-oh god . . ." Frantically he fumbles for the doorknob.
"Going? You just came."
"Yes-but-I think I blew it very badly . . ."

"Count Dracula, you're pale."
"Am I? I need a little fresh air. It was nice seeing you . . ."
"Come. Sit down. We'll have a drink."
"Drink? No, I must run. Er-you're stepping on my cape."

"Sure. Relax. Some wine."
"Wine? Oh no, gave it up-liver and all that, you know. And now I really must buzz off. I just remembered, I left the lights on in the castle-bills'll be enormous . . ."
"Please," the baker says, his arm around the Count in firm friendship. 'You're not intruding. Don't be so polite. So you're early."

"Really, I’d like to stay but there's a meeting of old Rumanian Counts across town and I'm responsible for the cold cuts."
"Rush, rush, rush. It's a wonder you don't get a heart attack."
"Yes, right-and now-"
'"I'm making chicken pilaf tonight," the baker's wife chimes in. "I hope you like it."
"Wonderful, wonderful,' the Count says, with a smile, as he pushes her aside into some laundry. Then, opening a closet door by mistake, he walks in.
"Christ. Where's the goddamn front door?"
"Ach," laughs the baker's wife, "such a funny man, the Count."

"I knew you'd like that," Dracula says, forcing a chuckle, "now get out of my way." At last he opens the front door but time has run out on him.
"Oh, look, mama," says the baker, "the eclipse must be over. The sun is coming out again."
"Right," says Dracula, slamming the front door. "I've decided to stay. Pull down the window shades quickly-quickly! Let's move it!"


"What window shades?" asks the baker.
"There are none, right? Figures. You got a basement?"
"No," says the wife affably,  "I’m always telling Jarslov to build one But he never listens. That's some husband, my Jarslov."
"I'm all choked up. Where's the closet?"
"You did that one already, Count Dracula. Unt mama and I laughed at it."
"Ach-such a funny man, the Count."

"Look, I’ll be in the closet. Knock at seven-thirty." And with that, the Count steps in the closet and slams the door.
"Hee-hee--he is so funny, Jarslov."
"Oh, Count. Come out of the closet. Stop being a big silly."
From inside the closet comes the muffled voice of Dracula. "Can't-please take my word for it. Just let me stay here. I'm fine. Really."
"Count Dracula, stop the fooling. We're already helpless with laughter."

"Can I tell you, I love this closet."
"Yes, but . . ."
"I know, I know . . It seems strange, and yet here I am, having a ball. I was just saying to Mrs. Hess the other day, give me a good closet and I can stand in it for hours. Sweet woman, Mrs. Hess. Fat, but sweet . . Now, why don't you run along and check back with me at sun-set. Oh, Ramona, la da de, Ramona . . ."

Now the mayor and his wife, Katia, arrive. They are passing by and have decided to pay a call on their good friends, the baker and his wife.
"Hello, Jarslov. I hope Katia and I are not intruding?"
"Of course not, Mr. Mayor. Come out, Count Dracula. We have company!"

"Is the Count here?" asks the mayor surprised.
"Yes, and you'll never guess where," says the baker's wife.
"It's so rare to see him around this early. In fact I can't ever remember seeing him around in the daytime."
"Well, he's here. Come out, Count Dracula!"
"Where is he?" Katia asks, not knowing whether to laugh or not.
"Come on out now! Let's go!" the baker's wife is getting impatient.
"He's in the closet," says the baker, apologetically.
"Really?" asks the mayor.
"Let's go,' says the baker with mock good humor as he knocks on the closet door. "Enough is enough. The mayor's here."

"Come on out, Dracula," his honor shouts, "Let's have a drink."
"No, go ahead. I have business in here."
"In the closet?"
"Yes, don't let me spoil your day. I can hear what you're saying. I'll Join in if I have anything to add." 

Everyone looks at one another and shrugs. Wine is poured and they all drink.
"Some eclipse today," the mayor says, sipping from his glass.
"Yes," the baker agrees. "Incredible."
"Yeah. Thrilling," says a voice from the closet.
"What, Dracula?"
"Nothing, nothing. Let it go."

And so some time passes, until the mayor can stand it no longer and forcing open the door to the closet, he shouts, "Come on, Dracula. I always thought you were a mature man. Stop this craziness."

The daylight streams in, causing the evil monster to shriek and slowly dissolve to a skeleton and then to dust before the eyes of the people present.
Leaning down to the pile of white ash on the closet floor, the mayor says, "Does this mean dinner is off?"

Saturday, August 19, 2017

SOME DRUG FOIBLES OF SOUTH TEXAS, A USER'S GUIDE

By Juan Montoya
Some readers of this blog remember the story of the Superfly II boat captured off the Gulf Coast by the Coast Guard whose 37 tons of red-bud Colombian pot ended up in the hands of local smokers (and dealers) after a sudden rainstorm doused the diesel-fueled flames lit by law enforcement to destroy the cache.
What follows are short snippets of local drug lore handed down through the years by local heads.

The Smoke That Shouldn't Have Been There
In the heyday of the Brownsville Herald's grudge match against then-Cameron County Judge Ray Ramon, editor Bill Salter depended on reporter David Crowder to deliver the goods to expose the foibles of the Ramon administration.

The coverage in the then-afternoon paper usually featured multiple photos of Ramon and Pct. 3 commissioner Dolph Thomae going at it tooth and nail. The readers ate it up.
Salter was delighted and gave copy editor Don Duncan a free hand in laying out the blow-by-blow accounts.

One day Crowder wanted to relieve some of the stress of being a point man for the feud between Salter and Ramon and invited me to go to Garcia's in Matamoros to have dinner. I accepted and we took off.

After the food, drink and music we came back at a decent hour (about 10 p.m.) and waited in line to go through customs. We were both talking when we approached the Customs officer and for once he asked David to open his trunk.

We both stepped out (you could do that back then) and Crowder opened his trunk. The Customs officer moved a few items around the trunk and pulled on a folded newspaper. Out popped a small clear baggie with a small amount of marijuana.

"What's this?" asked the officer.
Crowder, his face red,stammered, "That's not supposed to be there."

The officer looked at straight-laced Crowder and asked him where he worked.
"At the Herald," David replied.
The officer shook his head and told him,"Get out of here."

And as Don Pedro said, out we went.

La Abuela Gets Busted at Gateway
A friend of mine was hurrying on his way to the Gateway Bridge after he was called and told that his grandma had been detained at the bridge. Although the officers wouldn't tell him why, they asked that someone come to straighten out a problem.

We were at the Palm Lounge and he said he'd be back after he took care of the problem. He returned about a half an hour later with a smile on his face.
"Everything alright?" we asked.
"Yeah," he said. "But you're not going to believe this."

It seemed that his 83-year-old grandma had gone to visit relatives and buy some prescriptions in Matamoros. Like most people her age, she suffered constantly from arthritis and the normal maladies of an advanced age.
"Did she have some sort of prescription drug that she wasn't supposed to have on her?" we probed.
"No," he said. "Let me tell you what happened."

It seemed that as soon as the car his grandma was riding got to the checkpoint vestibule, the dogs were alerted to some sort of contraband in the vehicle. Suspicious, the officers at the bridge directed them to a secondary inspection. Then the dogs really went wild. They jumped and barked around the passenger side where his granny had been sitting and wouldn't budge.

"There's something here," the officer had charged. "Tell me now so we won't have to take the car apart."
"Yo no se," the old lady replied. "Let me call my grandson."

And so our friend arrived to find his grandma worried sick wringing her hands with the sniffer dogs crowded around her.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"We want to know where the stuff is and she says you might know," said the officer.
"What stuff?" our friend had asked.
"You know what I'm talking about," the officer said. "Don't make us take the car apart or we will."

Looking at the dogs sniffing around his worried grandma, it suddenly dawned on our friend and he started laughing.
"What are you laughing about," the officer shouted. "This is no laughing matter."
Related image"I gave my grandma a mixture of alcohol with a little marijuana to rub on her arthritic hands to ease the pain and allow her to move her fingers," my friend explained. "It's an old Mexican folk remedy. That's what's setting off you dogs. She doesn't have any drugs."

"Te untastes el remedio pa las riumas antes que te fueras al otro lado, abuela?"
"Si, mijo," she answered demurely.
"You see, man?'' our friend had told the officer. "My grandma don't have no drugs."

Disgusted, the customs officer walked away and dismissed them with a wave of his hand.

"You're lucky I don't take you in for contributing to her delinquency," he said over his shoulder as he tugged his sniffer dog away.

Sanchez and the Green Mangoes
Andres Sanchez (not his real name) was a native of Tamaulipas, Mexico whose dad was an accountant for PEMEX and took part in the 1938 seizing and expropriation of petroleum installations in Madero. For his service to the nation, his father was given a home owned by a former foreign oil company administrator in the swanky Aguila Negra neighborhood in Tampico by the Cardenas government.

As a young man, Sanchez never lacked for anything and got to know the upper crust of Mexico's petroleum hierarchy in PEMEX. He became a sort of educated bohemian and bon vivant traveling up and down the country and hanging out with the rich folk.

It came to pass that in the 1970s Andres and his family and his elderly mother moved into the Valley International Country Club.

Well known to the movers and the shakers in the political and business arenas, Andres soon settled down into a life of a country club squire. His evenings, when he wasn't out rubbing elbows with smugglers or politicians, consisted of dressing up in his silk night gown playing on his electronic chess game, drinking fine cognac, and snorting an occasional toot after the family had gone to bed.

It happened during one of those nights that after he had used a dinner plate to cut up his coke he went back to his chess game. After about an hour, he heard a knock on the door. It was his elderly mother.
"Andres, something's wrong with me," she said nervously.
"What's the matter, mama?" he answered alarmed.

"I am real nervous and I can't go to sleep," she said. "Tengo palpitaciones. I think I may need to go see a doctor."
Andres asked her whether she may be having an allergic reaction to something she had eaten.
"All I ate before I went to bed was green mangoes with lemon and salt," she said. "But I always eat that."

Andres went to the kitchen and saw the remnants of her mother's snack. Then it hit him. She had used the same plate that he had used to cut his cocaine!
"You'll be alright mother," he assured her. "The mango was probably too green. Try to go to bed."

He knew that if he took his mother to the doctor a blood test would have alerted the physician to the cocaine in her system.
"I had to walk her around for about an hour before she calmed down," he said. "I never did that at home again."

AS CITY INITIATES SEARCH FOR CITY ATTORNEY, EMPTY SLOTS

By Juan Montoya

Since July 15, 2009, the City of Brownsville's legal direction had been set by just-terminated attorney Mark Sossi.
Up to January 17, he was under contract with the city for a $10,000 a month retainer and another $5,000 a month contract with the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation. On that day, he pleaded and convinced the commissioners to make him a full-time employee so he could provide medical insurance for a child in a custody battle with a former lover.

Moved, the commissioners complied assured by Sossi that he would work exclusively for the city and no one else. Unbeknownst to them, less than a month layer – on February 14 – Sossi inked a retainer contract with the City of Mission  to advise them at $2,500 a month.

Then, less than seven months after he became a city employee, a majority of the city commission (5-2) voted to terminate his services as city attorney. Now, the GBIC will consider ending their contract with Sossi in their upcoming meeting which was cancelled this month.

The city plans to soon advertise to hire another attorney but have not decided whether it will be on a contract basis or as a full-time employee.

Mayor Tony Martinez and Commissioners Tetreau, Ben Neece, Cesar De Leon and Rose Gowen voted to end Sossi’s employment. Commissioners Ricardo Longoria and Joel Munguia voted against it.

Meanwhile, Timothy Sampeck, a member of the city's legal department, is serving as the interim city attorney.

City commissioners had some talking points for replacing Sossi – whose list of peccadilloes and outright crimes would fill several tomes –  and these were mouthed by commissioner Jessica Tetreau who made the motion to terminate him.

She told the local daily was in the process of structuring its legal department and felt it was time to reevaluate because of the way the city has grown.

Neece, who seconded Tetreau's motion to terminate Sossi also told the daily that: “The city charter provides that the city commission hires and fires the city attorney and the city manager. Everybody else is hired and fired by the city manager. He also appoints city judges, but they have terms so he can’t fire a city judge but he cannot reappoint them at the end of the term.”

Munguia also told the Herald that he voted against Sossi’s termination because he hasn’t been on the commission for long enough time to make a proper evaluation. He was elected to the commission in May.

“It’s only been three months, (and) I didn’t feel like it was enough time for me personally to make a proper evaluation,” Munguia said.

That didn't sit well with some of our seven readers who said that the facts out in public about ethically-challenged Sossi were out there for anyone to see.

"Munguia isn't a child. If he ran for the position he has, it's supposed to be to help the citizens . He knows Sossi is corrupt; plenty of stories written about him and his unethical shenanigans . Mungia wimped out. Period. When he was campaigning , he never said he would need "time"; When it came to voting on issues, he punked out."

AT VETERANS PARK, KIDS PLAY UNDER HER WATCHFUL EYE

(Ed.'s Note: This scene is from Veterans Memorial Park on Central Blvd. and shows kids playing soccer behind the sculpture of the Veterans Females United which depicts a woman soldier standing at the ready on watch. One of our readers said this depicts the role of female soldiers in the United States Armed Forces, kind of looking over the safety of the kids as they play. It's a bit romantic, but it does convey a sense of safety.

On the other side of the park is the sculpture to Jose Lopez, the Congressional Medal of Honor winner who lived in Brownsville as a young man. We are honored to have men and women in this town who have been willing to give their all for our country. Have a good time, kids!

Our reader also sent us this one on the bottom which is a kind of "Can you find Waldo?" snapshot. Can you see the ball in the picture below? Hint. It is yellow. Click on graphic below to enlarge.)


CAN UTRGV COPS TICKET SEMI-TRAILER TRUCKS ON FM 802?


By Juan Montoya
The short answer is yes.

If you are ever pulled over by the University of Texas RGV (or whatever) anywhere in the state, don't argue jurisdiction. They can not only stop you in Brownsville even though you're miles removed from the campus next to Texas Southmost College downtown, they actually have more jurisdiction than the Brownsville Police Department or the Cameron County Sheriff's Dept.

In fact, they have even more jurisdiction than do constables, whose jurisdiction extends over to a neighboring county from the one where they were elected.

They have primary jurisdiction on at least 85 Texas counties where there is a UT System facility and another 30 or adjoining counties where they have secondary jurisdiction. This includes all of Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo and Starr counties, among others. (See graphic)

They just added Comal County in July this year.

The University of Texas Policy and Procedure Manual states that "the primary function of peace officers commissioned by the University of Texas System Police includes all counties in which property is owned, leased, rented, or otherwise under the control of the University of Texas System."

Given the reach and breadth of the UT Megasystem, this would include virtually every corner of the state. And their role is not merely to protect UT System property, their jurisdiction very nearly approaches that of their sister law enforcement entity the Texas Department of Public Safety.

UT System Police are vested with all the powers, privileges and immunities of peace officers, may arrest without a warrant any person who commits a crime, and may enforce all traffic laws on streets and highways within those counties.

But that is not all.

These guys can also can render assistance to other agencies if they are summoned in accordance with Chapter 14, Code of Criminal Procedure. That means that they can be there with the Border Patrol or Customs if they are called to help.

So if you see the U Cops black-and-whites turn on his lights in your rear view mirror, don't even think of making the lack-of-jurisdiction argument. You'd almost have to go all the way to the checkpoint in Sarita before they run out of their turf.

https://www.utsystem.edu/pol/policies/105JurisdictionFINAL.pdf

Friday, August 18, 2017

FRIENDS RALLY AROUND JULIO OLIVO; REMAINS IN COMA

Message from Paty Gonzalez

On July 22, my friend Julio Olivo had emergency quintuple bypass (heart) surgery at Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville, Texas. Three days later, Julio called me from the ICU, saying he was pleased the worst was over. Julio fainted and lost conciousness an hour later.

Doctors were able to stabilize Julio after a 40 minute attempt. They sedated him to prevent pain and they removed sedatives a day or so later.

Julio is no longer sedated yet he is still unconcious and in ICU. His prognosis is unknown.

This fundraising campaign is urgent because Julio is UNINSURED and UNEMPLOYED.

Julio, a video journalist and a father of two, was recently laid off from his Communications Specialist job at the University of Houston School of Public Health in Brownsville.

He was in the process of re-applying for disability benefits that were recently denied despite a recent heart attack.

When I spoke to Julio on Tuesday, his biggest concern was: "Who is going to pay for this?" I told Julio to focus on his recovery because it was very likely that his disability request would no longer be denied.

To learn more about Julio Olivo:www.facebook.com/julio.olivo.370

Julio is an avid Boy Scout and Girl Scout troop leader who loves to camp with his children, Bruno, 20, an Eagle Scout and college student, and Sara, 13, despite the sizzling heat in South Texas. He is also a gifted artist and an avid Beatles fan. His favorite Beatle: John Lennon.

Julio is very well-known, loved and respected in the Rio Grande Valley by people from all walks of life. He has held various jobs as a member of the media for outlets that include RGV Proud, Univision, Televisa and Vallevision.

But perhaps Julio is best known for his days as a young video journalist at KGBT-TV 4, where I had the pleasure of meeting him as a young reporter in the early 90s.

Thank you for keeping Julio and his family in your prayers.
Let's rally around Julio so we can help him in any way we can during this very difficult and uncertain time... If you can find it in your heart to help, go to:

http://www.gofundme.com/2a7nx-help-for-julio

BISD: PACE COACH ART CANTU SUCCUMBS ON FIELD, DIES

Image result for black ribbon

Various Sources

Popular coach Art Cantu suffered a massive cardiac attack as he coached at a scrimmage and died despite efforts to revive him by fellow coaches.
Cantu had been a coach at several campuses. This year he had been promoted to assistant defensive football coach with the Pace High School Vikings. In the photo above, he is shown coaching the Stell Intermediate School Warriors. A staff member of the administration at the school said they were all saddened by his passing.

He died  Friday morning while at a scrimmage between the Vikings and the PSJA team at Sams Memorial Stadium. His brother said that it was characteristic of Cantu to have died doing something that he loved.

Officials announced that Vikings defensive line coach Cantu at a local hospital.

The Brownsville Herald reported online that shortly after the beginning of the Pace-PSJA Memorial scrimmage, Cantu collapsed on the turf field. Pace athletic trainers, Sarah Gulick and Matthew Gross, were first to respond and other coaches tried to help as Cantu sat up with what appeared to be blood dripping from his forehead.

Cantu was laid on the ground and soon after athletic trainers started performing CPR on him. Emergency medical personnel arrived just minutes later, continued CPR and were then forced to use a defibrillator to revive Cantu from a suspected heart attack.

AS DA TAKES OVER ELIZONDO PROBE, CITY PICKS UP PIECES

By Juan Montoya
Just a few minutes after the officers of the Brownsville Firefighters Association Local #970 filed their complaint alleging Theft by a Public Servant against Brownsville Fire Dept. Chief Carlos Elizondo, City Manager Charlie Cabler is said to have called him in to inquire on the nature of the complaint.

Cabler told Elizondo that the firefighters association president Jorge Lerma and his vice president Margarito Gracia had told filed a complaint alleging that while he was the union president in sole control of their Political Action Committee fund, at least $8,000 had gone missing.

According to firehouse sources, as soon as Elizondo got done talking to Cabler, he called union vice-president Gracia and handed him his pink slip terminating his employment. They say that Elizondo gave no reason for firing Gracia.

"We're under civil service and that requires progressive discipline," said a firefighter. "Carlos just called in Margarito and fired him on the spot without any reason. You know that the termination is going to be appealed on the basis of retaliation."

Some sources in the city say that the abrupt personnel decisions taken by the fire department administration have raised concerns among some city commissioner and the city administration that it might expose the city to legal liability.

Yesterday, Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said that his office was now in charge of the Elizondo probe.

“I can confirm that the DA's office has been asked by the Brownsville Police Department to take over the investigation of the alleged case on Fire Chief Carlos Elizondo.”

The firefighters alleged that Compass Bank, where the account was deposited, showed them statements indicating that many of those withdrawals had been made through ATM machines.

Others, the bank statements show, were checks made out by Elizondo to various individuals, including political operatives (politiqueras.) In reconciling the  withdrawals from the PAC and the campaign finance report, there are several expenditures – including one for $2,500 for advertising for his campaign – that seem to have been made at the same time.

Some of the expenditures were made in the days preceding the November 2014 Brownsville Independent School District elections where he was a candidate for a trustee.

Other sources say that the $8,000 figure is low, and is based only what can be documented directly to Elizondo's spending. Some site a $19,000 figure as closer to the actual amount taken without the firefighters' authorization from the fund.

Lerma and Gracia told a local broadcaster that since he took the reins of the association back in March, he’d tried to make sure everything is done by the book. So, when the withdrawals raised a red flag, he reached out to Elizondo in May to try and get answers.

"To identify those expenditures and to identify the PAC committee that made the decisions for these expenditures and we, to this day, we haven’t gotten an answer,” said Lerma. "He had exclusive control of the account,” said Lerma.

The firefighter's PAC requires periodic reports to the Texas Ethics Commission that must include all the names of the contributors and the names of the individuals or businesses that the PAC listed as expenditures.

Lerma said there was more.
He told News Central 4 that when association officers investigated further into the case, they discovered documents from the Texas Ethics Commission which, he says, left him in shock.

“We found a document that suggests that he wasn’t even – shouldn’t have been allowed to be handling PAC funds, and we do have a document that indicates that back in 2010,” Lerma said. “We just weren’t advised or aware of it. He didn’t make the association aware of it.”

Now, as the Cameron County District Attorney investigates the firefighters' complaint, all those loose ends will be brought together to determine whether there are enough grounds to bring criminal charges against Elizondo or other parties.

There have also been allegations investigated by the city administration and perhaps a grand jury alleging Elizondo's involvement with an unlicensed ambulance service – InterCity Ambulance – with whom he is said to be associated. The ambulance was operating in the city without being licensed by the city manager and fire chief as required by the city charter.

Elizondo and its owner, Justin Overland, have had a close relationship for many years and units of the company often parked in his home's driveway.

Theft by a Public Servant is listed as  State Jail Felony.

SOSSI'S $5,000 COUNSEL CONTRACT WITH GBIC UNDER REVIEW

By Juan Montoya
Members of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation will reschedule their postponed meeting and revise their agenda to include an item to consider removing fired former city attorney Mark Sossi as counsel for that body.

Th GBIC was formed after the passage of the 4A Economic Development Sales Tax in 1992 by the voters to oversee the disbursement of a quarter-cent sales tax of the 8.25 cents sales taxes collected in Brownsville.

The GBIC board, appointed by the Brownsville City Commission approves funding for job creation incentives and various grant programs related to infrastructure and education.

Sossi served as a city attorney since he came under contract July 15, 2009. His salary was set at $10,000 a month. Additionally, he was hired by the GBIC as counsel for an additional $5,000. This past January 17, while dealing with a custody battle with the mother of his child, Sossi was able to persuade the city commissioners to hire him as a full-time city employee so that he could include him in his health insurance as required by the court.

However, with his firing as the city attorney, commissioners apparently feel that it is inappropriate to continue having them as their attorney. Two city commissioners who voted to fire him – Jessica Tetreau and Cesar de Leon – sit on the GBIC.

It is unknown when they will reschedule the GBIC monthly meeting, but it is up to Tetreau, the group's chairwoman, to decide when they will meet.

NEECE, DE LEON HEAR RESIDENTS AT TOWN HALL MEETING


Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Just as he promised during the election campaign, City of Brownsville District 4 Commissioner Ben Neece held a Town Hall meeting at the Brownsville Public Library where he gave a report and listened to the a report of activities and to address citizen concerns.

The meeting was held on Wednesday, August 16.

Neece and At-Large "A" District Commissioner César De León, who was invited to speak, also fielded questions from the audience.

At the door was a questionnaire for citizens to list their top five issues and concerns. The meeting was opened with Cub Scouts from Pack 777 leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

Neece addressed the activities of a group called Main Street USA consisting of 23 entities that share interest in the downtown area and was formed to pool resources and to eliminate duplicated and sometimes conflicting goals and methods to redevelop downtown infrastructure.

The citizen concerns voiced by the residents weer of the bread-and-butter variety of nay urbanized area: Streets, drainage, police protection, and ineffective public transportation for the poor and elderly in the district.

Neece and De León stressed that the newly formed Budget Committee approved by the commission at a recent meeting is working to trim costs from the upcoming budget which goes into effect October 1st. It will then be presented to the city commission for approval.

"Beginning in January, the Budget Committee will begin working on a Citizen’s Budget, based on the desires and needs of the people," Neece told those attending.

Both Commissioners stressed that frequent Town Hall meetings, website feedback, and open workshops were the key to making this change in direction in budget development a success.

A downtown property manager expressed his frustration at the various city departments’ red tape involved opening a business that often resulted in being shuttled back and forth among departments and PUB to acquire the necessary permits and certificates of compliance. That red tape results in additional costs in time and money, he said.

One citizen stood to specifically address the problem of over-staffing and nepotism.

“Look at the City HR (Human Resources) Department," he said. "There are 17 people working there. Seventeen and most of them related! There are so many that they don’t even have desks for all of them. General Motors in Detroit doesn’t have 17 people in its Human Resources Department”!

After the meeting, Neece and De Leon said they would continue to have Town-Hall style  periodically and special meetings when and issue merited the public's input.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

D.A. TAKES OVER THEFT PROBE OF CHIEF CARLOS ELIZONDO

By Juan Montoya
The Cameron County District Attorney's Office has confirmed that it will take over the Theft by Public Official investigation on Brownsville Fire Chief Carlos Elizondo.

Image result for carlos elizondo brownsvilleAt the core of the investigation is a complaint by the Firefighters  Local 970 Association that more than $8,000 are missing and unaccounted for from the group's Political Action Committee (PAC) fund.

Current association president Jorge Lerma filed the complaint with the Brownsville Police Dept. August 14 and said that the money went missing during the time that ELizondo was the group's president from January 2014 through May 2016 and that during that time he was in sole control  of the account with the local Compass Bank.

 Lerma, in Offense Report Call Number 17082235 told Officer J. Vallejo that after the group's new officers discovered the missing funds, they went to the Cameron County DA's Office and were directed to file the complaint with the BPD, the entity with criminal jurisdiction.

Lerma, who has been president of the association since February, said that in reviewing the books it was discovered that more than $8,000 in the group's account was unaccounted for.

After making inquiries with Compass, he said the group found out that "Chief Elizondo had made numerous ATM cash withdrawals on numerous occasions which should not have been made because all withdrawals need to be accounted for."

Elizondo denied the charges to a reporter from the Brownsville Herald saying: "I deny the allegations. It’s news to me and it’s being done for political reasons,” (he) said when asked about the allegations. “It’s politically driven. It’s a direct attack. He’s the union president. It’s a ploy to attack my credibility and discredit me and the whole department.”

Lerma said that Elizondo had not provided any documentation indicating how the money was spent and who received it.

Lerma said that some of the PAC funds were spent during the time that Elizondo was running for a position as a trustee for the Brownsville Independent School District. His term as trustee expires on November 2018.

"After the missing money was discovered, (Lerma) contacted Chief Elizondo on March 2017 and requested an explanation for the missing money but he (Elizondo) has not provided anything."

The charge of Theft by a Public Servant is classified as a State Jail Felony. The case status is classified as "active."

IF REAL INFRASTRUCTURE CAN'T BE HAD, A SIGN WILL DO

By Juan Montoya
Ok. We admit it.
Once in while, when boredom sets in and we get tired of the 24-hour news recycle on the Alt-Left and Alt-Right news channels, we surf to the city public cable channel for a tedious change of pace.

On one of those monotonous spaces we happened to come upon a segment featuring local bicycle paladin – and gynecologist and city commissioner – la chisquida Rose Gowen.

Gowen, who has managed to hijack millions in grant and city funds for her pet hike-and-bike trails, the 7th and Park Cafe of her cronies, and other accouterments of the Brownsville gentry, was on the screen gushing over the new signage placed on the potholed city roads.

Image result for rose gowen, rrunrrunThis time, the new sings weren't just bike signs, no. They were called "sharrows," a kind of clever play on "share" and "arrow," to denote that motorists should share the road (without a bike lane) with their chisquidao brethren.

As Gowen explained it, the signage will make drivers aware that there may be bike riders around, that they exercise due diligence and not run them over, and that they remain vigilant to avoid striking them.

One of our friends suggested that the signs looked like police drawings of a homicide scene where someone had been killed. You know, the outline of the guy lying prone where he fell.

Still another one said it reminded him of "Coming to America," when Eddie Murphy (Prince Akeem) is renting an apartment in the ghetto and the landlord is showing him a run down tenement where the silhouettes of a man and a seeing-eye dog (and a cane) are still painted on the floor.

"Shame what they did to that dog," the landlord says.

Well, the new "sharrows" led us to think how many local city leaders – like Gowen and her ilk – seem to think that appearances mean more than tangible things.

Here we are in Brownsville, without debate one of the most impoverished cities on the U.S.-Mexico border lacking the basic necessities of an urban center such as sidewalks, bus shelters, an adequate drainage system, a second-rate airport, a dismal mass transit service, or a city government without an administration that can adequately run it, and we settle for signs.

Despite all those shortcomings, we can spend thousands to send a city delegation on a junket to Colorado to go buy an "All American City" designation that allows us to post signs all over to let people know that we are a great city, if in name only.

And harking back to the days of former Congressman Solomon Ortiz, we have been unveiling and putting up signs notifying people that they are on Interstate Highway 69-E, when in reality it is just U.S. 77-83 with new interstate highway signs. The highway is the same. It's just the signs that are new.

We have signs of just about everything and have spent thousands – if not millions – to "rebrand" ourselves to fit our new fantasy that we are making progress.

For example, the bakery owned by Da Mayor Tony Martinez is not your average South Texas panaderia. It's a "bistro."

What will the signs of the future be, painted drainage grates so we can imagine the city doesn't flood after a moderate rainstorm? Or maybe bringing back the "Ignite" Texas logo for which we paid $100,000s that was supposed to mean that Brownsville is "poised" to launch its future to infinity and beyond subsidizing billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX?

A sign! A sign! We need a sign!

FOR A PENANCE, CHURCH WILL GIVE YOU A NOD AND A WINK

By Juan Montoya
I was having breakfast today with an old friend from my newspaper days at the Brownsville Herald when the subject of "arreglos" came up.

You know, the "consideración," "anticipo," "renumeración," or any other name you want to call a bribe, or dinero abajo de la mesa to make things happen that one would consider improper or not following the established rules.

My former colleague was telling me of the time when one of his relatives from Monterrey was trying to get one of his kids either baptized or to get his first communion in the Brownsville diocese. The ritual – or process – required that his relative be present for several classes to be given by a local priest.

Since he was in Monterrey and had to travel weekly to take the classes, my friend's relative asked him to inquire whether anything could be done – un arreglo – so that he didn't have to come all the way from Monterrey just to attend an hour's class every week. My friend said he chided his relative and told him that things weren't done that way here as if they were "en el otro lado del charco," (the other side of the Rio Grande.)

"Ask anyway," his relative asked.
Sure enough, when my friend asked the priest at the church (who happened to be white), he was told that a $60 "offering" could be accepted instead.

That reminded me of a book written by Dr. Clotilde P. Garcia where she translates "Cartas y Documentos" of Captain Pedro Lopez Prieto, the commander of the military garrison in Camargo, Tamaulipas in the 1780s. Garcia was a most accomplished woman born in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas whose mother came from the original settlers in Camargo in the 18th Century. She like her brother Hector Garcia, became medical doctors and were leaders of the Mexican-American community in South Texas.

In 1940, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1943, she married Hipolito Canales of Hebbronville, but subsequently divorced. They had one child, José Antonio (Tony) Canales who would become a distinguished Corpus Christi attorney and serve as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.

Anyway, one of the documents she included in her book (San Felipe Press, Austin, 1975) was the dispensation given to Prieto and Doña Antonia Margarita de la Garza, both widowers, to remarry by the Catholic authorities of Camargo in 1783. The bride was the daughter of Jose Salvador de la Garza, who was given the Espiritu Santo Land Grant by the Spanish Crown just two years earlier in 1781 and established the first ranch (Rancho Viejo) in what is now Cameron County.

Since both had been left alone after their spouses had died, there was no impediment to the marriage there. However, However, they were related in third and fourth degree consanguinity (first or second cousins) something forbidden by the Church.

Since in those days there was no civil authority over marriage, the church had to be consulted before the ceremony could be performed.

In her narrative, Dr. Garcia notes that all the church heavyweights made their recommendations and came up with a solution that paid respect to the Almighty, the Holy Church, and the clerical hierarchy that ruled over the spiritual lives of the rancheros of that period.

The decree, issued by the Juzgado Eclesiasticode la Villa de Nuestra Señora de Santa Anna de Camargo on April 23, 1873, said it would allow for the marriage to go forward if:

1. The couple would perform a penance of four months of praying on their knees five mysteries of the Rosario de Maria Santisima,

2. To confess and take communion on the day of the wedding and on the two first wedding celebrations

3. That the groom – or a substitute chosen by him  – perform four months of labor under the supervision of the church foreman

4. That the bride knit – with her own hands – altar cloths for the church where they were to marry

Dr. Garcia documents that after the couple had met the ecclesiastical requirements of the prelates and the jury, they were married by the church months later despite their degree of consanguinity.

See, tode se puede arreglar!

JERRY AND DR. ZAVALETA'S REVISIONISM OF TSC HISTORY

By Juan Montoya
First of all we want to welcome Dr. G. F. McHale-Scully back to the blogosphere after a fortnight of rest and detoxification in the bosom of his family in Califas.

Jerry is a piquant modicum to the cyber buffet locally and we have always welcomed a diversity of taste.

But sometimes – in his zeal to please old friends (?) – the good Dr. engages in what can be charitably called historical revisionism. He has done so in one post of the maybe two dozen he has released form his pent-up creative deluge that was on the verge of coming over the top of the creative dam while he wasn't writing.

We refer to his paean (or is it BJ?) to Dr. Tony Zavaleta (one T), a trustee at the Texas Southmost College and former provost under the infamous Dr. Julieta Garcia, where he remained until he was found to have promoted his wife to a position and salary she didn't deserve. After the Fab Four (Adela Garza, Kiko Rendon, Trey Mendez, and Rene Torres) gave Julieta and the UT System the boot, Zavaleta ran for trustee and got elected.

Jerry says – with his usual hyperbole – that "Zavaleta is synonymous with education in Brownsville," and that when he ran for trustee "he promised that he would not only help the junior college rise from the ashes, but he would also lead the historical institution in a new direction. He has been true to his word."

Now, those of us who were in the anti-UT System-pro-TSC barricades for the turbulent and long years don't recall seeing Zavaleta anywhere near the front lines. We never read anything by him or heard any firebrand speeches of his in defense of the community college, for that matter. In fact, he silence emanating from his cubbyhole in Julieta's Ivory Tower was deafening.

Jerry's fable goes to say that when he took his seat on the board, "he immediately demanded transparency and accountability from the failing TSC President Lily Tercero.'

Well, no. We have seen the Zavaleta requests for information on the administration of the college's business, and the requests – while admittedly voluminous –  didn't really demand other than request, something any trustee (Ruben Herrera is a prime example) can ask.

And they all – except for Dr. Rey Garcia and Art Rendon – held the recalcitrant and paranoid Tercero's feet to the fire. They didn't need Zavaleta's "vast experience as an academic and administrator."

By the time Zavaleta came on board, it is safe to say that the majority had some notion that Tercero was grossly incompetent.

And no, Zavaleta did not "spearhead"  a majority to terminate Tercero. If anything, he came to the realization after the othershad. After that decision had been made and the former president was fired, she filed a suit for wrongful termination.

"I've known Dr. Z for a long time," said Tony Gray, State Representative Rene Oliveira's longtime administrative aide. "There was a minority of trustees who were more worried about Tercero than Brownsville students. For Dr. Z it was a no-brainer. In order to open the door for our kids, he had to close the door on Tercero. She was simply over her head."

Who cared about the "minority" – Garcia and Rendon – when their opinion didn't amount to a pile of piloncillo in the final vote to terminate?

And Zavaleta, who protested and complained long and loudly that he, with his "vast administrative and academic experience," had not been appointed to the executive committee, was merely one of seven votes when they – and here Jerry is right – in a rare show of unanimity... settled on Dr. Jesus Roberto Rodriguez.

Those of us who have been on this road with Jerry for the better part of two decades know he has a penchant for hyperbole, so Gray probably didn't know that he had made a statement on the McHale post attributed to him that follows.

"A new day is dawning at TSC and Tony deserves his share of the credit," continued Gray. "The college is finally stretching its wings. And Tony has only just begun. He is fighting for the much-maligned nursing program. He is battling for free tuition for all students. And he is envisioning four-year programs at the junior college. Tony has certainly been a positive addition to the TSC board."

There are seven votes on the board. There are at least four who have stuck together on most issues to guide the college back to its original mission, not anything like Zavaleta's old TSC-UTB regime. Can Zavaleta learn to be a team player, or does he have to make like the Lone Ranger on the board? Ke-mo sah-bee?

Do Jerry and Zavaleta realize that Tercero and her legal counsel will pounce on any tidbit – however fanciful that may be – they can get to try to show that there was an alleged conspiracy and that a foregone decision on Tercero's departure had been even before the hearing was held to determine her tenure at TSC? Whose side are they on?

Welcome back Dr. But even you have to admit this BJ on Zavaleta to heal the rift between hermanos de leche is a bit overdone.

rita