Thursday, January 18, 2018


By Juan Montoya
After months of petitioning the Military Highway Water Supply Corporation, the City of Brownsville and even Cameron County, San Pedro residents will have clean water provided by the Brownsville Public Utility Board next week until the MHWSC board completes repairs on the system.

Hookup to the PUB is expected to be finished by the PUB and San Pedro residents sometime early next week. It will be months, residents were told, before the bids are let out, a contractor hired to do the work on the water system, and the problem fixed. Until then, PUB will provide the westside Brownsville residents with clean treated water.

For more than a year, San Pedro residents had complained about the greenish-yellowish tinge and funky smell coming from the water from their faucets. Children at Villa Nueva Elementary also had to stop using the water because of  apparent contamination in the system's lines.

Efforts by the MHWSC engineers and work crews to flush the system only removed a layer of the plaque inside the pipes and the rest of the residue remained. The only solution seemed to replace the entire section of the system's pipes with new conduits, an impossible demand on the fiscally-strapped utility.

All along, the residents have petitioned the board of the MHWSC, city, county and state officials – elected and unelected – to step forward and come to their aid. Letters to Texas Sen. Eddie Lucio and his equally worthless son Eddie Lucio III went unanswered. Residents also sent letters to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and just about every other state agency having to do with drinking water.

The MHWSC has been under an agreed order to do something about the quality of the water since 2015. In that docket, the utility agreed that it had failed to assure that it reduce the levels of arsenic in its water.

During a meeting of the MHWSC, residents showed board members lesions on the backs of children that that the mothers said were caused when they came in contact with the water.

After months of pleading with the MHWSC board to come to an agreement with PUB while they came up with an answer to their water problems, the insistence of MHWS board members Juan Jose Lara, Rick Bennett, Jim Wells Jose F. Gonzales, Fernando Rangel Ramon Rosales Jr., and attorney Barry Jones finally paid off and the board approved the move.

Residents were thankful to Cameron County Pct. 2 Commissioner Alex Dominguez who has been advocating on their behalf throughout the lengthy negotiations. Also playing an important role in improving the quality of water in San Pedro – which is inside the Brownsville city limits – was then-newly-elected District 4 commissioner Ben Neece and Commissioner At-Large "A" Cesar De Leon.

Their response was a stark contrast to that of  former District 4 commissioner John Villarreal and At-Large "B" commissioner Rose Gowen, who made a campaign stop there before the elections last May. At the time, both promising to help the residents. Villarreal lost and Gowen won, but after her victory she told residents there was "nothing" she could do.

"Now the school children of Villa Nueva Elementary will have good quality drinking water to drink," said one of those residents at the meeting. "The county doesn't operate the water supply company, but commissioner Dominguez has been there all along to help us with the problem. We are very grateful to him and the two city commissioners for their help. Until you don't have water, you don't know how important it is."

"I think we have a good group from the city and county working on this and we're glad the people of San Pedro will finally have that problem solved," Dominguez said.  


Special to El Rrun-Rrun
City of Brownsville Police Dept. have arrested Assistant Purchasing Director Jose F. Perez and charged him with a charge of Discharge of Firearm in Certain Municipalities, a Class A Misdemeanor for shooting a firearm into the air during New Year's.

Reports indicate that the charges resulted in a two-day suspension, but could not be verified with city officials. Sources say that neighbors close to his home heard the shooting of the firearm and reported it to police. 

Other reports indicate that Perez has run afoul of the law for domestic violence offenses. Sources say he continues to be employed by the city.


By Juan Montoya
There was an interesting juxtaposition at Tuesday's City of Brownsville Commission meeting.

On the one hand, commissioner Rose Gowen announced the beginning of  The Challenge 2018 and encouraged each and all to register for prizes as an incentive to live well, fight obesity and develop good eating habits. There will be prizes by age group for those who lose the most weight, she said.

Registration starts Friday at the Main and Southmost libraries Friday and in the Linear Park Saturday.

Then, commissioner Cesar De Leon read a proclamation in recognition of Vera's Backyard Bar-B-Que which specializes in "delicious barbacoa de res cooked en pozo, brisket, and chicken tacos with hot corn tortillas & homemade salsa."

Gowen thinks that as medical doctor she should oversee not only municipal matters in her role as an elected official, but also in her professional capacity as weight watcher and anti-obesity crusader of the Lower Rio Grande. As such, she feels she has the mandate of the city to spend millions on hike and bike trails, a Valleywide "active" plan and now, to make these lard-lovers lose weight.

This is nanny government at its best. Of course, it's the public's money and not her own, so she feels no pain in performing her altruistic acts.

De Leon, on the other hand, said he got the idea of issuing the proclamation when he visited Vera's for some chow and noticed that state and nationwide publications such as Texas Monthly had recognized Vera's unique (and traditional) method of cooking a beef head.

"Barbacoa aficionados know that Vera’s is the only restaurant in the state, maybe the country, that still does real “barbacoa de cabeza en pozo con mesquite,” or cow’s head barbecue smoked in an earthen pit over mesquite coals. While the health codes do not allow new restaurants to cook in holes in the ground, sixty-year-old Vera’s has been grandfathered in for decades. (Don’t worry, the heads are wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil before being smoked.) Their menu is hand-written on a piece of poster board and also offers lengua (tongue), but we kept it basic with cachete (cheek), and an order of fresh corn tortillas. "
So if all these people from Austin and beyond the state line recognized this Southmost purveyor of this delicious grease-tinged delicacy, why not the city where Vera's is located, De Leon wondered.

And so on Tuesday the commission went on cross aims: one to urge people to stop eating greasy food, exercise and lose weight, and the other to celebrate the culinary marvels of the naturally greasy South Texas culinary delight called barbacoa de res.

Hey, maybe they could team up and recruit Challenge 2018 contestants from Vera's Friday to Sunday while they're open for business. On the other hand, once you latch on to a half-dozen taquitos of barbacoa it'll be hard to stimulate anyone to move, exercise and think about losing weight.

It will be, well, a challenge.


By Juan Montoya
Below is a list of all the contributors to the reelection campaign of District 37 Texas Representative Rene Oliveira that he filed January 16 with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Of the 69 contributions, 49 were from Political Action Committees, 12 were from lobbyists, four were from lawyers (tax collections and political consultants), and only five were from Brownsville, including two from Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher, LLP, one from a firefighters' PAC and two from individuals (Ernesto de Leon Sr. and Dr.  Asim Zamir, 7.2 percent).

Sixty one of the 69 contributions (88.4) came from either PACs (from Texas and out-of-state) or lobbyists. Only two individuals (De Leon and Zamir) live in Brownsville. (2.9 percent). It's intriguing to note that Oliveira got $30,000 ($5,000 first, later $25,000) from the TREPAC/TX Association of Realtors PAC, Austin (#s 49 and 50 on the list below).

This has paid off well for Oliveira who has been in the legislature for 34 years and is seeking another term to make it 36. And despite his "seniority" his committee appointments in the Republican-controlled Lege are in inconsequential committees.

 Oliveria's campaign and finance report for the filing period from June 1 through December 31, 2017 lists contributions of 126,107.70.

He lists expenditures of 167,756.58 and has 29,640.38 on hand. Below, by alphabetical order, is the full list of Oliveira's contributors. So who do you think he'll listen to?

1. AT&T Texas PAC, Austin, $2,500 
2. American Electric Power Co - Texas - Comm. Resp. Gov PAC, Austin, $1,000
3. Barrett, Daffin, Frappier, Turner & Engel, LLP, Austin: $2,500
4. Beer Alliance of Texas PAC, Austin: $500 
5. Blackridge, (Lobbyists) Austin: $1,000
6. Blackridge, (Lobbyists) Austin: $1,000
7. Bond, Tom (Lobbyist), Georgetown: $1,000
8. Brownsville Firefighters Association, Local 970, PAC, Brownsville: $500
9. Castaneda, Jr. , Tristan (Lobbyist), Austin: $350 
10. CenterPoint Energy, Inc PAC, Houston: $1,500
11. Charter Communications, Inc.Texas PAC, Austin: $1,500
12. Comcast Corporation PAC & NBC Universal PAC, Philadelphia, Pa.: $2,500
13. Congress Avenue Partners, Austin (Public Relations): $1,250
14. De Leon, Ernesto, Brownsville: $50
15. ENPAC Texas (Entergy), Austin: $1,000
16 Eli Lilly and Co PAC, Indianapolis, In.: $500
17. Enbridge (USA) Inc. PAC, Houston: $500
18. Energy Leaders PAC of Vistra Energy, Irvin: $2,500
19. Excelon PAC, Washinton, D.C., $2,500
20. Farmers Employee & Agent PAC of TX, Austin: $5,000 
21. Focused Advocacy PAC, Austin: $2,500
22. Garcia , Joe (Lobbyist), Austin: $500 
23. Greenberg Traurig, P.A. PAC, Albany, N.Y.: $2,000
24. Hardy, Richard, (Lobbyist) Austin: $1,000
25. HillCo PAC, Austin: $1,000
26. HomePAC of Texas (Texas Assoc. of Builders), Austin: $1,500
27. INDEPAC, Austin: $2,500
28. Landry's Restaurants, PAC, Houston: $1,000
29. Laredo Fire PAC, Laredo: $1,000
30. Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP (Delinquent tax collectors), Austin: $2,500
31. Long, Wade (Lobbyist), Austin: $250
32. Longbow Consulting Partners LLC, (Lobbyists) Austin: $500
33. McGuire Woods Federal PAC Fund, Richmond, Va.: $250
34. McLane Company, Inc. PAC, Temple: $3,500
35. NRG Energy PAC, Princeton, N.J.: $1,000
36. Oncor Texas State PAC, Dallas, $2,500
37. P. John Kuhl, Jr., P.C, (Lobbyist) Houston: $1,000
38. PAC of Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, Austin: $500  
39. Prudential Financial Inc., State & Federal PAC, Newark, N.J.: $500
40. Ramirez, Rene, (Lobbyist), McAllen: $500
41. Raytheon PAC, Arlington, Va.: $750
42. Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher, LLP, Brownsville: $500
43. Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher, LLP, Brownsville: $500
44. Rural Friends of Electric Cooperatives PAC, Austin: $2,500
45. Southwest Airlines Co. Freedom PAC, Dallas: $1,000
46: TAPTP PAC (Property Tax Professionals), Helotes: $500
47. TBA Bank PAC - State, Austin: $1,500
48. TEXPAC (Texas Medical Assocation PAC), Austin: $1,000
49. TREPAC/TX Association of Realtors PAC, Austin: $5,000
50. TREPAC/TX Association of Realtors PAC, Austin: $25,000
51. Tenaska Employees Texas PAC, Omaha, Nebraska: $1,500
52. Tenet Healthcare Corp. PAC, Dallas: $250
53. Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, Austin: $2,500
54. Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, Austin: $1,500
55. Texas Agricultural Aviation Association-Air PAC, Austin: $500
56. Texas Alliance Oil & Gas PAC, Wichita Fallas: $400
57. Texas Building Branch AGC PAC, Austin: $2,000
58. Texas Mortgage Bankers PAC, Austin: $3,000
59. Texas Taxi PAC, Austin: $750
60. Texas Trial Lawyers Association PAC, Austin: $2,500
61. The Storage Place, Austin: $1,500
62. Toomey, Michael (Lobbyist), Austin: $1,000
63. UPSPAC, Atlanta, Ga.: $1,000
64. USAA Employee PAC, San Antonio: $3,000
65. Undavia, Khyati (Pharmacist), Houston: $4,500
66. Union Pacific Corp. Fund for Effective Government PAC, Washington, D.C.: $1,500
67. United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 455, PAC, Washington, D.C. : $1,000
68. Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas PAC, Austin: $1,000
69. Zamir, Asim (Physician), Brownsville: $500

To see Oliveira's complete TEC campaign report, click on link:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


(Ed.'s Note: What do the three campaign signs above have in common? Would you believe that they are considered illegal under state law and City of Brownsville ordinances?  Many of our readers have told us that numerous Sonia Herrera signs (for 197th District Judge) have been placed on the right of way, a violation of state law.

And the Adolfo Cordova trailer signs (also a candidate for the 197th) violate City of Brownsville ordinances that say that the largest signs permitted are 4' x 8'. This is the first time Cordova has vied for elected office, so he (and his campaign workers) might not be as well versed in election rules. Herrera, on the other hand, ran against Judge Arturo Nelson Cisneros before for the 138th District Court.

Cordova, for example, might want to address the issue quickly since the city inspectors have already placed a red tag on this and on others mounted on trailers (click on graphic to enlarge).  
Besides Herrera and Cordova, Gerardo "Gerry" Linan and Carlos Masso are also in that race. 


By Juan Montoya
On the coldest day of the winter so far, homeless people in downtown Brownsville who count on getting a hot meal and perhaps a coat from the Good Will Settlement House were met by locked gates.

The cold weather is blamed for closing this refuge of the many homeless, hungry men and women who live on the streets for any number of reasons.

Only the intervention of the staff at the Ozanam Center, in far off 656 N. Minnesota Avenue provided any type of assistance, with their vans picking up the cold and homeless during the night and early morning to give them a warm place to fend off the frigid weather.

Volunteers with OP 10.33 also helped, they reported.
Ozanam Center staff reported that they housed about 150 clients and with the assistance of the OP 10.33 helpers distributed tacos to some 120 people at the closed gates of the Good Neighbor Settlement House. They also reported giving 60 blankets away to the homeless there.

So where's the are the Red Cross, the Goodwill Industries, and the other charity industries that Brownsville residents fund through their taxes and donations throughout the year? The Salvation Army collects money yearly and operates thrift stores here. Where are they when you need them?

This morning, the Ozanam Center depleted its store of winter coats distributing them to the homeless. Neither the Brownsville or Cameron County emergency coordinator offices were top be seen downtown today.

Meanwhile, we are learning that the staff at the Gladys porter Zoo are taking every precaution to keep the animals warm, the volunteers are venturing out in the cold to help Brown Pelicans at the Bahia Grande, but human beings are left at the mercy of the elements.

The staff at Ozanam has said it is in desperate needs of coats and blankets for these downtown Brownsville residents and other needy people.  Donors can drop them off at the Ozanam Center (956) 831-6331, and San Felipe de Jesus Catholic Church (956) 982-2007, at 2215 Rancho Viejo Ave.(Cameron Park).

Monetary donations are also being accepted. Winter is not over yet and cold temperatures are expected to continue for the rest of the week. If you can pitch in, please help.


117 attendees signed in
43 (37%) of attendees spoke
31 (26%) of Brownsville attendees spoke

Complete removal 19
Relocate to museum 16
Relocate to Veterans Park 9
Keep as is 9
Other 6
Keep add additional educational information 1

Relocate to museum 10
Relocate to Veterans Park 8
Keep as is 6
Complete removal 4
Other 2
Keep w additional information 1

Complete removal 32
Relocate to museum 26
Relocate to Veterans Park 17
Keep as is 11
Other 9
Keep w additional information 1

For complete Brownsville residents/non-resident responses, click on link:


By Juan Montoya

Were you one of the Brownsville Independent School District employees who believed the administration that your answers to the Region 1 so-called "Climate Survey" would be kept confidential?

Well, guess again.

The administration under Dr. Esperanza Zendejas instructed librarians to track the employees who come in to do survey.

They were to assign them a computer and then write down that number by their name. Each campus has their own number so the main office (and school principals) knows where concerns come from. All main office and cab folks have to use board the room.

So suppose you answered a question having to do with the caliber of administration at your school (or main office) and answered that frankly on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, your principal rated a -5. That administrator would not only know who made that comment, but could also take steps to make sure you stay on the same rung of that ladder, or chop off its legs altogether.

Whoever thought of using this method to obtain information from its staff and employees crafted it in a way that revealed the identity of the responder, his campus, and when he took it and where. If you responded sincerely and truthfully, God have mercy on your soul.

But, if on the other hand, you heaped effusive compliments on your principal, administration and superintendent, the climate survey becomes a brown-nose survey and your chances of promotion just suddenly got better.   


(Ed.'s Note: The expressways were closed and cops guarded the entry ramps to U.S. 77-I-69 this morning to stop motorists from entering the thoroughfares. And local drivers had to scrape ice off their windshields with spatulas. Warnings had been issued about freezing overpasses that might cause vehicles to skid atop the structures. The cold snap is predicted to hand around for a few days more before the warm up begins. The silver lining (or is it ice lining?) is that our brethren up in the north, Midwest and the Northeast are locked in an icebox with more cold predicted for this week.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


By Juan Montoya
A member representing ta Union soldier and one representing the Sons of the Confederacy Brigade came out in full uniform to City Hall Tuesday to support keeping the Jefferson Davis Memorial in Washington Park where it was placed years after it had been donated to the city by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1926.

It was defaced by anti-Monument protesters in September 2017.

But there was also a contingent of anti-monument protesters who came out in the freezing, blustery weather to listen as the results of the survey taken by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The results showed that those wanting the stone removed to a museum and away from its perch at Washington Park and those who wanted it removed altogether outnumbered those who want it kept there.

A lesser number wanted it moved to Veterans Park next to the Main Library on Central Blvd.

Since the report was merely to acknowledge and discuss, no action could be taken.

"I think we need a little time to digest this survey," Mayor Tony Martinez told the audience and thanked those attending for their presence.

"I'd rather have people make their impassioned opinions than not to have their hats in the ring at all," he said.

The commissioners did not set a date for the consideration and action to vote on the issue.


By Juan Montoya
With the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation head hunting for a permanent CEO to manage the $5 million annual take from sits share of sales taxes ales taxes for economic development, the board declined to take any action on the evaluation of current interim director Gilbert Salinas.

There had already been a thinly-veiled attempt to pack the board with Brownsville Economic Development Council executive committee members Keith Uhles and Tony Capella. Uhles is an attorney with Royston Rayzor and Capella is a local businessman associated with Portage Plastics.

Those two members of the BEDC plus Mayor Tony Martinez are said to have been working behind the scenes trying to take control of the GBIC. But if one examines the abuses of former BEDC CEO Jason Hilts under their watch, it is no recommendation for them to slither in to take control of the annual $5 million the corporation gets.

When the BEDC was questioned about a report on their Colombian economic mission, it showed  that in the two and one-half years of operating an office there, they spent $197,590 in salaries for three Colombian nationals, office costs, and another $116,000 in travel for BEDC, city, port, state and private individuals.

And while the report does not show that one job has been created for a Brownsville resident so far, But BEDC CEO Jason Hilts asserts that their efforts so far at "developing relationships" has the "potential" of bringing at least 11 mid-size operations in different sectors with $25 million and 200 jobs and another $300 million from two major projects in food processing and retail which might create 450 jobs and another 300 indirect jobs here.

But now we know that at least one of those Colombian nationals had more than a professional relationship with Hilts. The woman is listed on BEDC travel from Medellin, Colombia, to Brownsville and also ontrips she took with Hilts and BEDC VP Gilbert Salinas to Washington D.C., Mexico City, Antofagasta, Chile, San Antonio, and alone with Hilts to Medellin.

Here's the breakdown on the Colombian operation funded to the tune of $314,438 from July 2013 to 2016.
Staff and salary: Director of Business Development and Recruitment: $50,436 yearly
Office Assistant: $6,600 yearly
Office Assistant: $800 monthly
Total multiplied by 2.5 years: $197,590

Hilts inked a contract with the lady, one Olga Lucia Ramos Sajona, for a monthly $1,500 plus $300 auto allowance. That's $21,000 right off the bat. Later, the board allowed Hilts to get a $5,000 "advance" that he later repaid in cash. The cash was forwarded to the woman's address, a report states.

All this was carried out under the noses of these two board members and no one raised the issue until Hilts' presence became too untenable, even for Martinez, Uhles, and Capella to bear.

The same goes for interim GBIC director Salinas (the bald guy on the left in the graphic above), who went along to get along while the tax dollars went into the Colombian black hole.

In fact, it was Salinas who signed the contract for the Colombian woman in Hilts' stead (bottom graphic at right).

When city commissioners were considering electing a member to replace Deborah Portillo on
the GBIC, Uhels threw his hat in the ring. Fortunately (or unfortunately as may be the case), Nurith Galonsky was chosen to replace Portillo.

There have been numerous reports that some of the 33-member BEDC board and the executive committee in particular may have profited professionally from their membership in the sense that they did business with some potential BEDC clients  by offering their services and cutting them off at the pass.

An analysis of the BEDC operations – which the GBIC paid to the tune of $5.3 million over three- year contract – showed that there was lax oversight of the operations and that it was being operated in a way that did not meld with the objectives of the GBIC. The report recommended that the GBIC either correct the two organizations' goals to coordinate economic development, or terminate their relationship.

The GBIC, with two city commissioners on the board, chose to go at it alone instead of continuing to fund a losing proposition. But Uhles vowed to continue the operations of the BEDC with contributions from their members and seeking grants.

Now, with Martinez, Uhles, and Capella, the strategy to take over the GBIC and kicking out the city commissioners continues unabated. Will they succeed and return to doing the BEDC business-as- usual approach to run the GBIC, too?


By Juan Montoya
With the granting by the Court of Criminal Appeals of a rarely obtained discretionary review to former Indian Lake Police Chief John Chambers of his conviction on 14 counts of tampering with governmental records with intent to defraud or harm, each a state jail felony, the stage is set to determine whether 103rd District Court Judge Janet Leal erred in several ways.

Specifically, Chambers was accused of submitting fourteen firearm qualifications forms indicating that each “reserve” police officer passed a firearms qualification practical pistol course on September 20, 2014, with a firearm registered to him.

In his petition for review, Chambers claims that evidence during his defense showed that each reserve police officer had, in fact, passed the firearms qualification practical pistol course that calendar year, the calendar date and weapon serial number were not properly identified.

Chambers, as the police chief, delegated the responsibility of correcting the firearms qualification deficiencies to his second-in-command, Fred Avalos. Avalos instead went to officers with the  Texas Commission On Law Enforcement (TCOLE) where he demanded and obtained a verbal promise of criminal immunity.

Chambers claims that Avalos subsequently personally created each one of the documents at issue in the case, placing the identical incorrect information into each one, namely the incorrect date and weapon serial number. Avalos stood to benefit from Chamber's ousting as Police Chief because, as the only other peace officer in the Indian Lakes PD, he would become the Police Chief by default. He actually did become the interim Police Chief for a short time.

After the trial court certified Chambers right to appeal, he timely filed a notice of appeal in the Thirteenth Court of Appeals. In a published opinion, the court of appeals affirmed Leal's judgment. A motion for rehearing en banc was subsequently denied. Chambers then turned to the criminal appeals court with a petition of discretionary review to challenge the court of appeals’ conclusions and holdings.

In his petition, Chambers says his convictions should be overturned because the trial court:

1. Refused to Acknowledge that the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement was acting in contravention of its legal authority.

2. Abused its discretion by failing to submit an instruction to the jury on the applicable law regarding the distinction between an employee and a volunteer reservist.

3. His lawyers further state that the Difference between the class A misdemeanor and the felony enhancement pursuant to the Texas Penal Code is a distinction without a difference. In addition, the appellate court’s reliance upon an improper application of law is legally insufficient to uphold a finding of an “intent to defraud.”

The case against Chambers came as he was involved in a race for the Republican Party nomination for Cameron County Sheriff. He actually won the nomination, but his name was removed from the ballot.

Part of the investigation was carried out by members of the Cameron County District Attorney's Office Public Integrity Unit. It just so happened that one of his political opponents was Victor Cortez, was in charge of the PIU.

In fact, during Chambers' trial, Cortez took an active role in his prosecution, huddling in the corridors with Asst. DAs and investigators. (See graphic at right.)

Despite the convictions a month before the party primary elections, Republican voters gave Chambers 3,395 votes, Cortez 2,662, Robert Rodriguez, 2,365 and Michael Watkins 2,182.

His removal from the ballot resulted in  Cortez facing Rodriguez, who finished behind Chambers by 1,030.

When Chamber was removed from the ballot, Cortez went on to be the Republican nominee for his party in the general election and lost to incumbent Omar Lucio. It should also be noted that Chambers' supporters have pointed out that Judge Leal shared offices with DA Luis Saenz before both were elected to office.


(Ed.'s Note: Despite years of being in effect, the city ordinance outlawing plastic grocery bags in the city has apparently had little impact on the bags becoming banners across the city. This photo was sent to us by one of our readers who said he took it at the BISD building at Palm and Elizabeth. Gusty wind blew the bags into the tree branches. How to remove them? Probably more wind to blow them away.)


(One of our faithful readers had his creative juices working over the weekend and sent us this distinctly different viewpoint of the Jefferson Davis Memorial and the Parks and Recreation advisory board. At a recent city commission meeting, some of the members were chastised for flirting with Neo-nazi propaganda. Where will the rock be moved, if at all? Stay tuned.)

Monday, January 15, 2018


(Our regular four readers will recognize our annual tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King. We include it today so that or growing readership – now seven – will read it for the first time.)

"Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked 'round and he's gone."
"Abraham, Martin and John"
written by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion

By Juan Montoya
There was in our home a black and white photograph of the Rev. Martin Luther King in a pensive pose, a slight sheen on his wide forehead and his hand covering the lower portion of his face in introspection.
My kids invariably asked me who he was once they reached an age of curiosity of the world around them.
My stock answer was that the picture was of a man – now dead – who spent his life fighting for all people to have the same rights everyone else did. That included blacks, browns, yellows, reds, poor whites and all shades in between.
That framed photograph dates back to the days I used to publish a weekly with the late state representative Henry Sanchez. We were doing a piece on the anniversary of his death and the celebration of the national holiday and we needed a good picture. We found one in the possession of then-Brownsville Navigation District commissioner Evelon Dale. She loaned us the photo – dedicated to her by a federal judge, I believe – and we used it in our next edition.
We held on to the photo intending to return it to Evelon, but things got in the way, like Henry's death, elections, etc., Every time I ran into Evelon I remember the photo and always remind myself that I would  return it the first chance I got. In fact, just this past year, I ran into her and returned it. Thank you, Evelon.
Many friends asked me about the photo and asked why I don't have one of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Cesar Chavez, Emiliano Zapata, or even Che, instead of the good reverend. You know, something Latin.
Those of us who grew up in the tumultuous 60s and 70s are children of the whirlwind of history. We went through the Cuban missile crisis, the threat of nuclear destruction of the planet, the assassination of John Kennedy, his brother Robert, the advent of the transistor radio, the Beatles and Stones, the moon landing, and Mighty Rock and Roll.
We also experienced an upturning social upheaval as the nation struggled to come to grips with a devastating war (Vietnam) that touched our barrios and rent the social fabric and public opinion. We had the various splinters in the black community with the likes of the Black Panthers, Malcom X, and, of course, Martin.
His adherence to the principle of nonviolence set him in an island apart in a sea of turmoil with half the world at war, the Peace Movement, Malcom's call for black liberation "by any means necessary," a brash heavyweight boxing champion of the world who changed his name from Cassius Clay to Mohammad Ali refusing to join the Army saying that "No Viet Cong ever called me ni--er," the burning of draft cards, and the revelations of the Pentagon Papers that the Vietnam war had, after all, been an unnecessary one.
And here came Martin leading protests using a middle-aged and diminutive Rosa Parks fighting to simply sit in front of a bus, blacks getting beaten by Bull Connor's deputies, chewed up by police dogs and assaulted with water cannons just for asking for the right to seat at a lunch counter or to register to vote.
And we saw the backlash from the status quo with jailings, beatings, drummed up charges and FBI harassment and surveillance. Little black girls died in the bombing of Baptist churches. Supporters of the civil rights movement were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in back country roads in the South by hoodlums of the KKK.
King's answer to that violence against his people was unbelievable.

"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." –Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” –Strength to Love

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” –Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” –Letter from Birmingham Jail

“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” –Letter from Birmingham Jail

“I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live.” –Detroit 

“We have been repeatedly faced with a cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same school room.” –Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam

For this, he was shot April 4, 1968 in Memphis by a sniper who no one believed was acting alone. We had lost a great voice of reason in the world and as we headed into the 1970s, there was no one left to take up his mantle. Bobby Kennedy was next for the assassin's bullet and it took Richard Nixon to pull us, bloody and angry, from the Vietnam quagmire. Some of us still haven't been able to emerge from that abyss. In trying to assuage the loss, we have stumbled blindly into other useless wars that have drained our blood and treasure. Will there be another one like Martin who will step in and make us see reason now that he's gone?
We didn't know it then, but we had lived and experienced the existence of one of mankind's greatest orators and a purveyor of peace.
Have a happy birthday Martin. And thank you.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


By Juan Montoya
As early as February 2015, Brownsville Independent School District trustee Joe Rodriguez let it be known that he favored steering the district's $3.1 Property, Flood, Windstorm, Hail, Boiler & Machinery Insurance business to his buddy – and former trustee – Joey Lopez.

Lopez, the business manager for Lopez Supermarkets, is now running for Pct. 2 Cameron County Commissioner against Rigo Bocanegra.

Rodriguez, a vendor for BSN Sports, has reaped the profits of his relationship with BISD to the tune of millions, so he would know Lopez could make a nice coin from being chosen.

Sales to BISD by BSN which then pays Joe commission in the last eight years have totaled $2,440,222. At a 20 percent commission that would have put a cool $488,044 in Coach Joe's pocket.

Sales by BSN Sports to the BISD jumped from $225,792 in the FY 2013-2014 to $316,758.01 when Rodriguez was elected to the board.

The only FY that was higher before then was in 2010-2011 when BSN raked in $497,116.90 in sales to BISD through Rodriguez, whose 20 percent commission would have totaled 99,423.20. At that time AD Tom Chavez – another Rodriguez pal – recommended BSN to outfit two new schools with sports equipment.

Even though Lopez had not been among the four firms that had answered the BISD's Request For Proposals (RFPs) for then insurance, Rodriguez in a Insurance Committee meeting held Feb. 16, 2015 suggested that the board consider him to get some of the "business."

At that time, the board was trying to figure who had authorized the renewal of the windstorm insurance and had cut a check for the $3.1 million to McGriff, who was also the risk manager consultant for the district. The-CFO Lucio Mendoza said that – in consideration of bond requirements that all the district's facilities be insured at the risk of losing bond proceeds – he had recommended to then-superintendent Carl Montoya that they renew with McGriff without going to the board.

When the trustees discovered that the check had been cut and the contract extended without their approval, they set out to find who was responsible.

It was during this meeting that Rodriguez pitched to the board that Lopez be allowed to "bid" for the business, something that would have been wholly inappropriate and outside the BISD's procurement  process.

Rodriguez said that as early as August 7, earlier that year Lopez had offered his services.

"I stand behind every word I said because it's being said again here about the board not being comfortable with what was presented to come back with new ideas, that's being said again. I have documentation of Joey Lopez – some firm that he represents August 7,...that he called to get some specifics on how to go about asking for the insurance coverage and the details...

"I discussed that there were other people out there other players out there in the market except that they had to be given the opportunity to give them the information to give them time to do that.."

In the discussion that followed, BISD's director of purchasing and the department's agent disputed Rodriguez's contention that they had not allowed others to bid on the district's insurance.

But it was clear to everyone who was present or who is willing to go back and view the video of the insurance committee meeting that Rodriguez was pushing for the $3.1 million contract to go to his pal Joey.

In the end, the BISD ended up paying $2.1 million of the $3.1 million premium to McGriff for coverage since January to May 31.


Tamaulipas state – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime. 

Violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, is common. Gang activity, including gun battles, is widespread. Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. 

Local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state.

U.S. government employees are subject to movement restrictions and a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Tamaulipas.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


By Juan Montoya
So when disbarred lawyer, misanthrope, and drama queen (and make-believe "journalist") Robert Wightman goes back and digs up the criminal record of Ass. District Judge Louis Sorola to discredit him and wife JP 2-3 Mary Esther, what does this newshound find?

The motherlode? How about one charge of public intoxication when Sorola was 18 in 1980 – 38 years ago – to smear the couple. Whoopee! You really nailed them, Babosa!

In fact, when Sorola applied for the position of Associate District Judge/Magistrate, he included the PI in the line that asked about his criminal record. In other words, he came clean and the eight judge panel though the Class-C misdemeanor offense of 38 years ago did not preclude his appointment or overshadow his years as an able attorney and public defender.

Now Wightman, a disbarred lawyer from Dallas who was charged with a felony for disregarding the courts, is lecturing local attorneys and jurists on how to do their job, who to appoint, and what he would do, if he could only practice, damn it!

Then, just because JP Sorola chose to advertise here for her reelection for a monthly fee like everyone else, this "clearly" shows that this blog and blogger is a paid-for megaphone for the couple. Oh, Dallas, why do you continue to send us your rejects? 

Now we are beginning to understand La Babosa's penchant for calling himself document-driven. What about the documentation that shows the legal profession drummed him out of their ranks and disbarred him for defaming judges in Dallas? Well, he's up to his old tricks n Brownsville now.

And despite his protests that being readmitted to the legal profession is the last thing he would want, the "documents" indicate that he appealed the disbarment through several courts, including the Fifth Circuit Court of Federal Appeals with legal arguments that were rejected by learned jurists the likes of Brownsville's own Reynaldo Garza like a batch of bad pork.

Others wondered if he was mentally well and moved to have him examined by a shrink (see graphic at right.)

"The charge (against Srola) was when he was 20 years old. At the time drinking age was 18. He was charged with Public Intoxication and paid a fee of $275.00".

Do you have the stomach to learn about Wightman's efforts to reintegrate himself into the legal profession? I will only post the beginning of the post because the effort was prolonged, and futile. In short, his shrill lamentations were rejected.

Here goes.

By Juan Montoya
For someone who claims that getting back his law license would be the easiest thing in the world and that the only reason he doesn't is because he prefers not to associate withe the world's crookedest profession, Robert Wightman has labored mightily to get it back.
Wightman was disbarred on Jan. 11, 2002 in the the 298th District Court of Dallas County.

The court found that: Wightman brought or defended a frivolous proceeding. The court also found Wightman took a position that unreasonably increased the costs or other burdens of a case and delayed the resolution of the case. Wightman, in representing a client, engaged in conduct engaged to disrupt a proceeding. Wightman was also found to have communicated with another party regarding a case when he knew that party was represented by counsel. 

The court also found Wightman made a statement that was either false or with reckless disregard to its truth regarding the qualifications or integrity of a judge. Wightman failed to timely respond to notice of the complaint from the grievance committee. He violated Rules 3.01, 3.02, 3.04(c)(2), (c)(3), and (c)(5), 3.05(a), 4.02(a), 4.04(a) and (b)(1), 8.02(a), and 8.04(a)(1) and (a)(8). He was ordered to pay $48,700.72 in attorney’s fees, which is subject to reduction."

Another court later found that he was charging clients for legal advice without a license and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor instead of fighting it as a felony that might have cost him up to two years in a state prison. In his plea agreement to avoid the felony conviction, he confessed:

"I judicially confess to the following facts and agree and stipulate that these facts are true and correct and constitute the evidence in this case:
On the 9th of June A.D., 2003, in Dallas County, Texas. (I did intentionally and knowingly then and there, while not licensed to practice law in this state, another state, or a foreign county, and with the intent to obtain an economic benefit for myself, advise Dr. Dan Leong as to the rights of the said Dr. Dan Leong and the advisability of making a claim for property damages, in a legal dispute with Dr. David Stones." 

Eventually, he had to serve 14 days in county jail.
He was disbarred by the U.S. Supreme Court later on March 2004.

For the better part of four years – and despite his protestations – Wightman sought to regain his license by claiming that through the appeals courts that the disbarment and subsequent jailing for  his guilty misdemeanor plea (on a felony charge) were unconstitutional for a number of reasons.

In 1996, Wightman appealed his disbarment that was subsequently upheld by the U.S. District Court in Dallas to the 5th Court of Appeals, and lost. The memorandum, written by Brownsville's own federal judge Reynaldo Garza, found that:

"(Wightman) brought his action "in August, 1995, against Appellees, the Texas Supreme Court and the State Bar of Texas, seeking declaratory and preliminary injunctive relief. Wightman sought to enjoin the State Bar from proceeding with its disciplinary action against him on the basis that (it) violated his right to free speech and that the complaint failed to provide him with adequate notice of the claim against him...

After a hearing, the district court denied Wightman's application for a temporary restraining order and granted Appellees' motions to dismiss. The district court dismissed the action on abstention grounds. The court also found that Wightman had no likelihood of success on the merits of his claims, that he possessed an adequate remedy at law, that the harm to the Defendants by the issuance of an injunction would exceed the harm to Wightman, and that the public interest would not be served by the issuance of an injunction or restraining order..."

But Judge Garza was not done yet. He dissected Wightman's argument that he did not understand the rules which disbarred him and said:

"(He) also claims that he was not informed which rule he allegedly violated and that appeal would be futile because the Texas Supreme Court 'has already announced its position' that the challenged speech is not protected by the First Amendment.

The first argument seems foolish. The first sentence of the grievance form states that Attorney Wightman has made numerous statements that he knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of (various judges)...Wightman is not ignorant as to the charge against him. As for the Texas Supreme Court's pronouncement, such argument was made in a responsive pleading as part of litigation, not as a judicial declaration of law. Wightman cannot yet claim that appeal would be futile."

He followed his quixotic appeal to regain his license November 12, 2002 in the United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division.
Again, Bobby sagacious legal theories were ingloriously shot down

The court said: "we decline to disregard the judgment in a case like this one, where the attorney had a right under state law to challenge his disbarment on appeal but did not pursue that remedy...The attorney must have been denied due process; the federal court must have a clear conviction that the proof was infirm; or the court must have a grave reason to deny the judgment reciprocal effect. Deference could give way to de novo judgment, and respect to indifference, were it possible for a disbarred attorney to forgo state appellate rights in hopes of persuading a federal tribunal that the state court had erred in applying state law. We decline the invitation to disregard the state court judgment on the ground that it is void under state law...

"When a district court learns that a member of its bar has been subject to discipline by another jurisdiction, the identical discipline is typically imposed. We discern no grounds not to impose the same discipline as did the State of Texas. Indeed, we think it would be only the most unusual case in which we would not revoke the membership of an attorney who has been disbarred by the State of Texas. We therefore revoke Wightman's membership in the bar of this court."

Then, in 2004, he again was shot down in federal court. It found that:
"The court is left with nothing more than plaintiff's unsubstantiated accusations and paranoid ruminations that he was prosecuted in retaliation for speaking out against corruption in the judicial system and that the actions of the state court judge deprived him of a fair trial...

"As grounds for his motion, plaintiff alleged that he was in the process of moving to Brownsville, Texas and did not have sufficient time to conduct discovery or subpoena witnesses to testify at the hearing...
"This case should be dismissed without prejudice."

So what is Wightman's fixation with Judge Sorola? Could it be professional, or is it just penis envy?

To read the length of the efforts to regain his law license by this paladin of justice and the defender of the American Way, click on link:

And if you've got the stomach to read the whole skinny on La Babosa, click on:


Image result for rene oliveira, images, rrunrrun
By Juan Montoya
There is a lust for sex, a lust for money, lust for immortality, for respect, you name it.
On a higher plane, there's a lust for life, for example.
But it is the baser measures that our Texas State Rep. for District 37 Rene Oliveira has made his mark.

There's no denying that since he divorced he has not been shied away from chasing a well-turned ankle, especially after he latched on to the state rep gig now going on 34 years and yearning for another two to make it 36.

("My work isn't finished after more than three decades..."), his spiel beings.

While that longevity might be likened to a barnacle (which is just as difficult to dislodge), it does not necessarily translate into appointments to chairmanships or important positions. That's not likely in the Republican-controlled state legislature. Although his sycophants don't tire of extolling the fact that their benefactor is " fifth in overall seniority of the 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives."  

In fact, he holds only one chair, that of the Business and Industry Committee, although looking around his district, there doesn't seem to be much of anything happening in those sectors. Outside his district Corpus Christi got a multi-billion plastics plant, and he champions LNGs at the Port of Brownsville and pushed for SpaceX (from whom he got a nice campaign contribution.), but the dearth of business and industry here don't necessarily say much for his three-decade tenure in Austin.

In fact, his lust for power has been neatly chiseled down by the Republicans to the point that his biography is full of "former" chairman of this that or the other, none of which really matter in 2018 or into the future. He's like the guy for Tuvo, Nuevo Leon who says "que el tuvo esto, tuvo llotro, ect."
In English the rough translation is a "has-been."

Right now – with 34 years in "seniority"  – the "dean of the Valley delegation" can only garner a simple membership in the "select" Economic Competitiveness committee, Texas Ports, Innovation and Infrastructure, and State Affairs.

Even in cases where he crows about his prowess in promoting education pales before the glare of criticism with his stance of submitting a bill against local wishes to turn over all the $200 million in assets of Texas Southmost College to his oil-and-gas wealthy Alma Mater the University of Texas. (What did Rene tell UT to do to TSC?: Gig 'em Horns!)

Image result for rene oliveira, images, rrunrrunIt didn't seem to matter much to Rene that his uncle Arnulfo "Nuco" Oliveira was one of those community leaders who fought to make TSC a standout among community colleges to provide accessible and affordable education opportunities to local residents.

And when he and Sen. Eddie Lucio promoted the "partnership" sham between UT and TSC, they accepted the restriction that the billions available to UT and A&M system universities would not be available to TSC. "Don't turn your back, Rene..."

In fact, that stripe of malichismo was evident in the fact that his cousin David Oliveira was a TSC trustee who also went along with the "partnership" scam and was pushing for the swallowing up of the community college by his alma mater, also UT-Austin. 

And his bill to make the UT System pay the $13 million in rent arrears to TSC was hinged on whether UT thought there was anything in the budget left over for that. Of course, there wasn't, podner!

Image result for rene oliveira, images, rrunrrunBut when it comes to the babes, Rene has used his position to garner his share of conquests. Social media being what it is, there is no dearth of postings by a handful of female office employees who were swept off their well-turned ankles by the publicly-funded and silver-tongued devil. Once discarded, they have turned on him with fury. Should we count the gueys?

State Affairs, indeed!

(Don't ask current Democratic Party Cameron County Judge candidate Robert Sanchez for his opinion on this subject. Sanchez accuses Oliveira of romancing his ex and even went as far as to confront Rene in Austin only to be held at bay by the state rep's assistants while he cowered in a back office.)

If anything, Rene has shown that his lust for acceptance by the Austin crowd, his lust for power that makes him accept outside PAC money to stay in office, and his lust for the life of the bon vivant conquering uninitiated lasses at the expense of his constituents, keeps him salivating for yet another term in Austin.


(Ed.'s Note: Workers for Spawglass Contractors and subcontractors are putting the finishing touches on the exterior of the building on Harrison Street. For months now, visitors to the building have been forced to use the entrance by the former Tax Assessor-Collector's Office to enter the courts.

That office, by the way, has been moved to the new Levee Street Building as have the Justice of the Peace offices and the Cameron County Clerk's Office. Inside the new spaces, new courtrooms will be added as well as other miscellaneous services.)


Image result for carlos elizondo brownsville fire chief, RRUNRRUN
By Juan Montoya
A plea by attorney Eddie Lucio that he needs more time to review the evidence he got from the state through discovery has set back the jury trial of former Brownsville Fire Chief Carlos Elizondo on his charges of theft and misappropriation of fiduciary funds.

The hearing before 107th District Judge Benjamin Euresti Jr. was held Tuesday,  Jan. 9. Both parties were to make announcements before the trial which was set for a week after Tuesday. Instead, as a result of Lucio's plea for more time, a new announcement date was set for April 3 and the trial date set for April 9.

Meanwhile, Lucio has been busy filing motion after motion. Before Tuesday, had had filed at least 10 motions, including one to quash count two of the indictment alleging that the state had not given him access to the contents of the 19 CDs of financial records listing alleged illegal withdrawals from a firefighters' union PAC's bank account through ATM machines.

The rest dealt with production of state witnesses, their criminal records, exculpatory evidence, etc.

Lucio alleged that the state had withheld the password to the CD that held the information and the state – through Asst. D.A. Art Teniente – said Lucio had been given the password but had misplaced it. Euresti ordered the state to give him the password again and deferred on the motion pending further discovery.

Image result for carlos elizondo brownsville fire chief, RRUNRRUNThe latest wrinkle was a writ of  habeas corpus challenging the neutrality of 404th District Judge Elia Cornejo in issuing a search warrant for Elizondo's home.

Lucio is claiming that the fact that Elizondo is a member of the board of the Brownsville Independent School District where Crnejo-Lopez has 13 grievances pending on the alleged discriminatory treatment of her two children played a part in her issuing the search warrant.

Lucio also alleged on the motion filed Dec. 27 that the investigator who prepared the warrant did not provide sufficient facts to establish probable cause and that Cornejo-Lopez was not neutral because of her relationship with the BISD board members. Cornejo-Lopez, in her capacity as a parent, filed a federal lawsuit against BISD over how the grievances she filed against the district was handled by school administrators and trustees.

This latest wrinkle apparently will not deter the trial for Elizondo. Federal Judge Andrew Hanen gave the attorneys for the BISD and Cornejo-Lopez's counsel time to reach an agreement on when the board could provide her with a hearing. If that is resolved by March 16, it is probable that the rest o the suit will be declared moot and dropped from the federal docket.

Cornejo-Lopez has contended that BISD board counsel told her she would never get a chance to address the board in executive session to address her grievances.

Court observers see the use of the grievance issue in federal court in Elizondo's felony cases defense as a red herring that has no bearing on the state charges. However, Euresti has set a court date for announcements and trial until after the March 16 date when Cornejo-Lopez's federal case will be considered.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Image result for greasy barbacoa meat
By Juan Montoya
We guess that greasy, cholesterol- and sodium-laden barbacoa that went bad and was nearly consumed by the children who eat breakfast at the Brownsville Independent School District might have had something to do with the district losing its spot at the top of the statewide list compiled by Children at Risk.

The Houston-based nonprofit dropped BISD from 1 to number 14. All BISD  students qualify for free meals because a sufficiently high number of them qualify as low income.Children at Risk "encourages change for children through research, education and by influencing public policy."

The BISD  district has been operating without a permanent administrator for its food service programs for almost two years when Sliverio Capistran was found dead in his truck in front of his apartment, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
Murmurs of discontent surfaced when cafeteria directors across the district's 50-odd campuses detected a foul odor emanating from the bad barbacoa. The BISD moved to stop the use of the processed beef after it found out its distributor – Valco, of McAllen – was having the meat processed in Mexico. VCalco also provided babacoa to other school districts in Region 1 covering the area roughly south and east of Laredo almost to Corpus Christi in the east.

How Region 1 and school district nutritionists gave the barbacoa the thumbs up is anyone's guess. As you can clearly see by the nutrition information tag, there's not much nutrition there. Cholesteral, sodium, and saturated fat are some of the main components.

And even after the BISD administration insisted that the meat was U.S grown, doubts persisted to the point where the USDA launched and investigation that continues to this day.

There were other complaints. Some parents and students said they had been fed bad pork sausage during breakfast, among other things.

The non-profit also ranked other school dsitricts. RGV school districts in the top 10 are: Rio Grande City at No. 2, Weslaco at No. 3, McAllen at No. 5, Los Fresnos at No. 7 and Donna at No. 8. All five districts also provide some type of after school snack to students and most offer supper through the Child and Adult Care Food Program.


By Juan Montoya
There is no city manager running the City of Brownsville.
No, we take that back. There are two asst. city managers running the city.
One is Pete Gonzalez, the former Director of Finance. The other is former City Secretary Michael Lopez, now asst. city manager under Gonzalez.

The city recently approved spending $150,000 to pay a headhunter to run this burg. Hopefully, it will be someone with a track record in urban planning and management and not some cop looking to retire like Charlie Cabler was. Before that it was Andy Vega, etc...

Disgraced City Attorney Mark Sossi was replaced by Deputy Assistant City Attorney Allison Bastian, who conceded frankly (to her credit) that her municipal law skills may not be up to snuff quite yet. In fact, she was listed as a staff member of the city municipal court before she was elevated to her new position.

We also understand that City Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez has been delaying his retirement for more than a year and is itching to leave.

Add that to the recent termination of disgraced Fire Chief Carlos Elizondo after he was indicted for theft, and you've got the making of rudderless ship. His replacement, Jarret Sheldon, was one of Elizondo's asst. chiefs and was present when the sausage was being made.

Yet another post that has disappeared is that of chief building inspector with the "transfer" of Evaristo Gamez to the directorship of the city's Animal Shelter. But before you think this is a demotion, we understand that Gamez is being paid the same salary as he was over at inspections. Being paid the same salary to oversee building inspections and taking care of stray dogs without all the headaches may actually be better for the harried Gamez. 

Under a strong city manager-weak mayor system, this situation is untenable. But we have seen how Mayor Tony Martinez and some of the commissioners have rushed in to fill the leadership void for better or worse.

Even before this turn of events came to be, Martinez and city commissioner Rose Gowen were the proverbial tails wagging the dog with a pliant Cabler going along with their excesses and whims. Martinez spent millions on real estate speculation justifying the extravagant expenditures in the name of Progress, with a capital "P." Giowen folowed up with her anti-iobesity crusade.

Nanny Gowen, tsk tsking that "Houston, we have an obesity problem," was able to hook up with Da Mayor and divert millions ($2.3 million in COs money alone) to get the fatties on bikes. If you build them, she said, they will get on a bike and lose all those pounds.That's the function of city government? Why don't we also address sin and intemperate drinking while we're at it?

Meanwhile, they have allowed the PUB to increase rates by 35 percent since 2013, and continue to prevent a city budget deficit by siphoning off an annual $13 million from the utility in annual cash "transfers" and free utilities.

When will Tenaska be built, if at all? Who knows? Meanwhile the pile of cash that resulted with the higher rates to build the phantom plant is growing toward $100 million and more than one commissioner is eyeing the loot with covetous eyes.


Special to El Rrun-Rrun
The corner of Levee and 10th streets has undergone tremendous changes in the 70-odd years since the photos above (1948) and the one below (2018) were taken. In the photo above, workers can be seen finishing the construction of the Majestic Theater, the rear which can be seen in the photo below. Old timers tell us that around the corner of friedman Motors was the Brownsville Opea House. The Cpitol Theater can be seen in the on th next blovk in the center of the 1948 circa shot.

Levee, as can be seen here, was a two-way street, which has changed. And the Sinclair station is long gone. There are also more people on the sidewalks and no plam trees or decorative street lights. These were placed there to take us back to the good old days of Brownsville, but as can plainly be seen, no such things existed then.

Things have changed even more from the angle of the lower two shots. Again, one can appreciate the two-way traffic on Levee, and the numerous businesses that included gas tations, car dealerships, and one or two shoeshine boys, and no trafffic lights. The lower photo makes it appear as if it had just rained. 

There are placards on the rear side windows of the cars line up headed toward El jardin Hotel (a parade?) and the vantage point of the photographer seems to be elevated, as if he or she were standing atop a building or a vehicle. Is that Tony Garza Sr.'s Texaco station with three attnedants? We thank one of our seven readers for these interesting photos.)

Monday, January 8, 2018


Image result for ROSE GOWEN, BROWNSVILLE(Ed.'s Note: Motorists along 12th Street (Sam Perl Blvd.) were witness to the latest expenditure of public funds to make Brownsville "bike friendly." Literally millions of sales tax and general fund monies are being spent with reckless abandon on some of our major thoroughfares.

Sixth and Seventh streets have been narrowed and bicycle rubber bumpers installed. Today, 10 city workers were put to work to make commissioner Rose Gowen's dream of putting down the rubber bumpers for the bicycle trail from the old bridge all the way to Levee Street a reality. What will buses do when they have to pick up passengers along this route, ride over them? It will only be a matter of time before an accident is caused by someone losing control of their car when they hit one of those rubber bumpers.

We don't remember many bike riders along this route, except perhaps, for guys from Matamoros who hunt for carton for recycling sale in the city's alleys. What will Rose do next? The folks working at the Cameron County Courthouse on Harrison Street already have to deal with reverse parking and a one-lane reduction to allow for bicycles after turning the street into a one way.The change has caused great inconvenience for drivers who want to get into and out of the courthouse on business. How long is this stuff  going to continue. How about solving drainage problems, preventing flooding, or installing sidewalks and bus shelters in our neighborhoods?)