Wednesday, June 29, 2016

MR. BUCHANAN'S GIFT TO LOCAL STUDENTS IS EVERLASTING


"To wander is the miller’s joy, To wander. To wander is the miller’s joy, To wander.
A wretched miller he must be who never fancied to be free wnd wander, and wander, and wander, and wander."  Wilhelm Muller’s (Wandering) Die Schoene Muellerin


By Juan Montoya
To a Southmost barrio kid with little background in classical music whose total knowledge of the genre was the William Tell Overture from watching the Lone Ranger on the neighbor's black and white television, the day we got Miss Ann Anderson as a music teacher opened up our world.
Robert BuchananMiss Anderson was not only many of the Cromack Elementary boys' first crush of puppy love, but she was also our was also our introduction to classic choral music. I can still remember most parts (and words) of the Sound of Music from singing the verses in class at the Cromack auditorium.
Like, for example, "So, Long, Farewell," when one of the Trapp Family Singers daughters wants to stay with the adults in the ball.
"There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall, and the bells in the steeple too. And up in the nursery, an absurd little bird Is popping up to say, "Cuckoo cuckoo!"
"No!" was her father's reply. 
For some reason or other, Miss Anderson said I had an invitation to sing in the Brownsville Boys Choir that met every Saturday morning at the Clearwater choir hall on Palm Avenue. I joined and met Mr. Robert Buchanan, the director of the choir.
Mr. Buchanan (and no one ever called him Bob) had us sing the song above  written by German composer Muller in the early 1800s. It was different to me, a migrant student whose musical experiences didn't extend much beyond polkas and corridos. It was something totally new. And the concepts – freedom from drudgery – appealed to someone who looked beyond the typical fare and the long row of sugar beets extending into the heat mirages in the horizon.
The local newspaper today contains the obituary of Mr. Buchanan, who passed away at 89.
The new music theater at Hanna High School bears his name in recognition of what he contributed to the edification of our students in the Brownsville Independent School District.
Eventually, Mr Buchanan married Miss Anderson, and by reading the obituary, I see where she still survives him. My condolences to her and her family.
The cultural enrichment that this couple brought to barrio children like me cannot be measured in money. Instead, it is measured in the appreciation and love of music that enriches our cultures and all of us as individuals.
I never got a chance to thank Miss Anderson or Mr. Buchanan for giving me the key to that door of enlightenment and a peek at other cultures' music. I do so now.
At times I burst into old songs I learned in Mr. Buchanan's Boys Choir such as the "The Erl-King," a composition by Franz Schubert of a Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe poem about an anxious young boy being carried home at night by his father on horseback. 
As the song unfolds, the son seems to see and hear beings his father does not; the reader cannot know if the father is indeed aware of their presence, but he chooses to comfort his son, asserting reassuringly naturalistic explanations for what the child sees – a wisp of fog, rustling leaves, shimmering willows. 
Finally, the child shrieks that he has been attacked. The father rides faster to their home to escape. There he recognizes that the boy is dead.
The grief in the final verses and music is overwhelming. So is our grief today to learn of Mr. Buchanan's death. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

TO GO ALONG WITH YOUR GUARABURGA., PIKZA, Y GAIRORAY



(Ed.'s Note: There a is such a blend of witty phonetic adaptations in the local lingua  that if one is not at least minimally bilingual or understands the nuances of both languages, something often gets lost in the translation.
Rustic pronunciations of English words or phrases is often colored with a modicum of wit such as when a local Spanish speaker asks another: "Sabes si va a llover? Que dice el Guero Chano?"
That is a reference to the cable Weather Channel that has been appropriated by the Spanish speaker, adorned with a little bilingual wit, and then becomes part of the local lingo. The tile of the program is personified in an elderly white meteorologist, el Guero Chano,
Above, Hot Cheetos have become "jachiro." On the other hand, there is no mistaking what a kid tells another that they should go buy a bag of Takis, the brand name of one of countless hot snacks.
Ese el el wassamara.
We thank one of our Rrun-Rrun Ondas Patrol operatives for this particularly spicy vernacular catch.)

ZAVALETA, AFTER 40 YEARS OF TEACHING, IS TSC TRUSTEE

By Juan Montoya
Standing in the same room where two of his ancestors took the oath of office to serve as Texas Southmost College trustees, Dr. Tony Zavaleta was sworn in Monday by his long time friend and Brownsville native Chief Municipal Court Judge Ben Neece.
Zavaleta was the winner in the runoff election between him and Brownsville Independent School District staffer Evelyn Cantu.
Neece, in remarks before he administered the oath of office, said he had known Zavaleta for most of his life and was sure that he would be work to advance the progress of the community college.
"If I know something about Tony is that he will be a good steward of the college," Neece said.
Four candidates ran for the position formerly held by trustee Ed Rivera who opted not to run for reelection and instead pinned his political hopes on being elected to the board of commissioners of the Brownsville Navigation District as part of a ticket money-rolled by self-appointed messianic Mike Hernandez III and Ambiotec owner (and United Brownsville architect) Carlos Marin.
Rivera and his companion on Hernandez's OP 10.33 ticket Raul Villanueva fell before incumbents Tito Lopez and Ralph Cowen. In the finest Ivy League tradition, Rivera, a Harvard graduate, did not attend the passing of the TSC board baton to fill his seat.
Pro-tem chairman Trey Mendez read a list of Zavaleta's accomplishments during his 40-year career as an instructor, researchers, scholar and administrator. Among his many academic achievements were included appointment to important nation board by both President Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama and his selection as a recipient of the Premio Ohtli, a recognition awarded by the Republic of Mexico to persons who have dedicated part of their life to professional activity that “abrir brecha,” or is a pathfinder outside of Mexico and has been involved in activities dedicated to the betterment of Mexicans outside of the country.
Among the positions he has held with the UTB-TSC partnership were: the first Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Interim Dean of the College of Science, Math and Technology, Interim VP for Partnership Affairs, Interim VP for Institutional Advancement, VP for External Affairs, Interim Provost, and Associate Provost.
Zavaleta, with a degree in Anthroplogy from the University of Texas at Austin, retired from his higher education career where he started, back in the classroom.
"I just wanted to have (the list of accomplishments) read because it will probably be the only time it will be read," Zavaleta quipped after Mendez joked about the length of the notes in the introduction to the swearing in.
Zavaleta will join a new board that includes local attorney Ruben Herrera, and incumbents Mendez, Adela Garza, Ray Champion Hinojosa, Dr. Rey Garcia, and BISD administrator Art Rendon.
In the meeting following the swearing in and the reception, Garza was expected to be elected chair of the new reorganized board. Former chairman Kiko Rendon decided not to run for reelection but did attend the Zavaleta swearing in.
In the meeting following the reception, Rivera and Kiko Rendon were recognized for their service to the college.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

CONSERVATIVE SCOTUS HANDS HILLARY THE PRESIDENCY

By Juan Montoya
The jubilance of the 25 Republican governors and attorney generals from the 26 states that challenged the executive orders issued by President Barack Obama after the U.S. Supreme Court split 4-4 along conservative and liberal lines may be short-lived until November and turn out to be a godsend to Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Image result for hillary clinton's birthdayObama had issued the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) executive order that targeted the nearly 4.3 million undocumented parents of citizens and lawful residents, and the second expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), initiative aimed at non-citizens who came to the country as children.
"We'll bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can play by the rules, pay their full share of taxes, pass a criminal background check and get right with the law," Obama told an audience in Nevada after the programs were announced.
The challengers – mostly Republican governors and attorney generals from 26 states – said the unilateral actions were unconstitutional and they violated a federal law that sets forward how agencies can establish regulations.
But while the Republicans, conservatives and ultra-rightists Tea party adherents savor this slap at Obama's directives, they might want to think of what the consequences the decision will have on the upcoming presidential elections.
More importantly, the 4-4 tie on the Supreme Court that put Obamas' directives on hold, could come before a court with a justice (or justices) appointed by Clinton if the Latino vote gives her the win over Donald Trump.
With three of the surviving Supreme Court justices in or near their 80s, successors named by the next president could shift the ideological makeup of the nation’s highest court.
Antonin Scalia, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, had served on the Supreme Court since September 1986. His death left the court divided along ideological lines. Three of the eight remaining justices are age 77 or older.

In the 2012 presidential election, Latino voters – 71 percent of whom supported Obama – helped create a firewall for him key states.  In Colorado, for example, the rising share of Latino voters was enough to win the state for Democrats despite white voters’ support for President Obama dropping by 6 percentage points from 2008.
The Center For American Progress Action Fund simulated the voting patters for the 2016 elections and found that: "The rising share of Latino voters in key states may have an even more significant impact on the 2016 presidential election, especially if voter turnout rates are high.
"To gain a better understanding of the growing Latino influence, the Center for American Progress Action Fund conducted an electoral simulation of the six states with the largest projected share of Latino eligible voters in 2016 and for which 2012 exit polling data are available.
"Although we factor in the projected growth of eligible voters of all racial and ethnic groups, in each of the states examined, Latino voters will make up the largest share of the states’ projected eligible voters of color in 2016. These states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada."
The most telling of these simulations indicate that:
"The rising share of Latino voters in key states may have an even more significant impact on the 2016 presidential election, especially if voter turnout rates are high. To gain a better understanding of the growing Latino influence, the Center for American Progress Action Fund conducted an electoral simulation of the six states with the largest projected share of Latino eligible voters in 2016 and for which 2012 exit polling data are available. Although we factor in the projected growth of eligible voters of all racial and ethnic groups, in each of the states examined, Latino voters will make up the largest share of the states’ projected eligible voters of color in 2016. These states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada."
There's no question that a strong turnout of the Latino vote will determine the outcome of the elections in November. Latinos comprise more than 17 percent of the total U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center, and U.S. Census figures project that number to reach 28.6 percent by 2060.
The Voice of America reported that Obama received approximately 72 percent of the Hispanic vote in the last presidential election, according to Pew. This statistic and other data in this election cycle prove, “the Hispanic vote will heavily concentrate around a Democratic candidate.”
According to Gallup, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton enjoys a more than 60 percent preference among Latinos, while presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is preferred by 14 percent of Latinos.
Now the predictions are that a heavy Latino turnout will determine which candidate wins Florida, Nevada and Colorado, the three states where the power of the Hispanic vote has the potential to determine who will become the next president.
The Heritage Foundation's Israel Ortega, who once worked as a Capitol Hill staffer, believes so, adding, "If this election is close, as many observers have pointed out, Nevada, for instance, a state with almost 20 percent of the Latino population eligible to vote, could determine the outcome of the election, undoubtedly.”
The Supreme Court decision may have been the catalysis to drive Hispanic advocates and organizations to rally the troops around the Democratic candidate knowing that a Clinton appointment to the Court may cast the deciding fifth vote to implement comprehensive immigration reform.

ALMOST LIKE A WALDO PUZZLE, CAN YOU SPOT CARLOS?
























(Ed.'s Note: Remember those crowd cartoons where you're supposed to find Waldo in the crowded drawing? In the chaotic scenes with many moving parts, it's always a challenge to find Waldo grinning out at you from among the many cartoon characters inked on the easel. Well, Brownsville Independent School District trustee and new Fire Department Chief Carlos Elizondo is rapidly becoming a Waldo of sorts. Unlike Lenny Perez (who Elizondo, as head of the firefighters union despised), Carlos now eschews the traditional garb of the firefighter and prefers to dress nattily in a tailored suit instead. At the recent unveiling of the Female Veterans United sculpture of a woman veteran walking holding her M-16 at the ready, the firefighters were out in force. As many as three or four FD vehicles were in the crowded parking lots around the Veterans Memorial Park on Central Blvd., including the hook and ladder with a huge U.S. flag hanging way up on top of the extended ladder. Can you find Carlos (Waldo) in this photo? He is the bald guy in the suit in the designer glasses grinning at another firefighter at left. Right after this photo was taken, a cloudburst sent evryone scurrying for cover. Carlos still faces some stormy court times over the discrepancy on the captain's exam where his scores improved twice to place him over applicant Sacramento Diosdado, who promptly sued. Who changed the scores?  No one knows and the former head of the city's Civil Service division says he had a bout of dementia before he resigned in the wake of the questions over the change to Elizondo's tests scores. Nonetheless, Elizondo has been able to overcome other questions about his eligibility for fire chief with some aplomb and the city administration has been willing to overlook some of the questions raised on his background check. There are even some that say that he is being groomed to take over Charlie Cabler's spot as city manager. We'll keep you posted on his ascent (or descent) as time progresses. There's Waldo!)

BRAND LOYALTY: NONE CAN BREAK THE TIES THAT BIND

(Ed.'s Note: More than as few readers have sent us in this new Facebook profile picture of the Harlingen's Convention and Visitor's Bureau's new department head Melissa Landin (previously Zamora). Melissa was formerly the Cameron County District Attorney's  Public Information Officer (PIO) Some pointed out that all Melissa has to is post anything and her former boss Luis Saenz is one of the first – if not the first – to post a like to her submission. At Saenz's shop he didn't call herself a PIO, however. Her bio lists that gig as Spokesperson/Public Information Officer. On the DA's salary schedule, she was listed as a secretary. Before that she served as a Brownsville city commissioner, a vice-president for an ad agency, and VP for public relations with the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. In one of her previous lifetimes she was a newspaper reporter wiht the Brownsville Herald. Right before her former boss' reelection, Landin opted to depart for greener pastures as a PIO for the City of Harlingen and has been promoted to her current position since. As head of the Harlingen CVB, she is now working with city leaders to build a much-delayed center for the VCB. Mayor Chris Boswell said the city will borrow as much as $10 million to build the 43,000-square-foot convention center, using sales tax revenue earmarked for economic development and hotel occupancy taxes to pay off the debt. Boswell said the city plans to sell about $8 million to $9 million in certificates of obligation to help fund the convention center, to be built at the growing Harlingen Heights business district’s northwest quadrant. The city plans to pay back the debt through sales tax revenue generated through the Harlingen Community Improvement Board, which operates with a $2.7 million fund balance while generating about $1.3 million a year. Boswell said the city, which generates about $1 million a year in hotel occupancy tax revenue, also plans to dip into that revenue stream to pay back the debt. Brownsville and South Padre Island, which are in stiff competition for the "heads in beds" dollars coming to South Texas, probably don't relish the thought of having Zamora on the other side. But Saenz, even as he still seethes at the 49 percent of the voters who did not vote for him for DA, apparently still ha a soft spot for his former PIO.)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

SHE HATED BATS, GUSANITOS AND UNRAKED MOWED GRASS


At Night, she hated bats,
She said
And I, in turn, replied,   
“They’re good. They eat mosquitoes.”
“They suck your blood,” she said.
“The bugs?,” I asked.
“No, the bats” she said.

In Spring, caterpillars terrified her
And cringed when one crawled near
“Kill it! Kill it!,” she jumps and cries.
“But one day it’ll be a butterfly,” I said.
“Colorful, beautiful, butterflies.”
“They’re creepy, crawly, and hairy, now,"
She answered, unconvinced

It was the same with other things:
Like not raking the lawn after I mowed it
"It's natural mulch," I told her.
"You're just lazy," she replied.

"Don't peel the spuds and cukes.
You're throwing away the best part," she'd say.
"The peel get stuck in my teeth and tastes sour," I would reply.

Thousands of them, there were
Not mosquitoes, bats, grass clippings, or potato peels
But the spaces between the things we saw
And how each saw them
That came between us
Like crawly, hairy, flighty things
That festered, gnawed, and pecked at all those ties
That bound the two of us…

Together

THE JOE RODRIGUEZ DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN: IT'S CHAVEZ BACK AS A.D., SANCHEZ AS CFO AND ZENDEJAS AS SUPER

By Juan Montoya
Remember when the board majority on the Brownsville Independent School District made a big issue of naming rethread Esperanza Zendejas as interim superintendent?
The majority of the board under the guidance of "Coach" Joe Rodriguez then went on for the better part of half an hour promising that there would be a consultant hired, a nationwide search launched, and a committee composed of residents from the community to advise the board on the potential candidates to the superintendency.
Rodriguez even argued against the size of the advisory committee, saying he wanted to keep it small so that if people had trouble attending meetings, business could still go on. He even recommended the hiring of a former Harlingen superintendent as a consultant to advice the board.
Well, we didn't know ow small. In the end it came to a vote of four trustees to install former super Zendejas as an "interim" superintendent pending the selection search process.
Then we found out that all Zendejas sent in for consideration of her candidacy was bare-bones resume with little, if any, detail of her tenure at the different school district where she worked.
The same thing that happened with Zendejas happened with former CEO Lorenzo Sanchez, a former CFO of the Raymondville ISD who had been BISD CFO during Rodriguez's former stint as district trustee.
First he was brought in as a consultant to assist former CFO Lucio Mendoza on compensation issues, the consultant contract was extended, and finally, Sanchez was placed as "interim" CFO pending a ...you got it, a nationwide search for a permanent CFO.
Little was said about the fact that he was ousted of the RISD under Johnny Pineda when a new board majority was elected there.
Now different sources tell us that the same Rodriguez-interim-this-interim-that scheme is being put into play to place Tom Chavez as BISD Athletic Director, interim, of course. The Sendejas administration announced that upon the retirement of Rene Medrano at  Hanna High School, former BISD athletic director Mark Guess will take over as interim football coach/athletic coordinator there. Chavez will assume the interim BISD athletic director role while keeping up his duties for Rivera.
These type of half-measures are about par for the course in the Rodriguez-Zendejas era.
Chavez looks at Rodriguez as his mentor and has said as much time and time again. He was also his co-litigant in a lawsuit both men brought against the BISD and Defenbaugh and Associates who performed a forensic audit and reported that Chavez had given preferential treatment to BNS, a sports equipment middle-man vendor which represented sports companies offering equipment to the BISD. It's representative in Brownsville? Coach Joe, of course.
Both men sued Deffenbaugh and Associates and the BISD for defamation.
The lawsuit said that the audit specifically states “that no doubt the Athletic Department in general and Tom Chavez in particular exercised undue influence and misuse of authority in choosing BSN Sports, through their sales rep. Joe Rodriguez” in purchasing uniforms and other sports supplies for Manzano Middle School and Veterans Memorial High School for the 2010-2011 school year.
The audit, according to the lawsuit,went on to say that Chavez allowed his and Rodriguez’s friendship to interfere with what should have been a business decision, causing a potential loss of revenue to the district.
Eventually, and despite Deffenbaugh's protests, a majority of the board opted to offer both men a combined $180,000 settlement.
BISD's attorney Baltazar Salazar convinced the BISD insurance companies' lawyers to close the deal.
Former trustee Rick Zayas represented Rodriguez in the lawsuit.
Initial allegations were that Rodriguez used undue influence and coercive tactics to pressure BISD coaches, athletic coordinators, and athletic personnel to purchase sports uniforms and equipment from BNS Sports. Rodriguez became their sales representative after he left BISD in Dec. 31, 2009.
In addition, Rodriguez was said to have made a telephone call to district Lead Auditor Margarita Pizano-Flores in Sept. 2011 where he had threatened to sue BISD because the Purchasing Department had changed and approved the Catalog/Co-op procurement process. This change provided more internal control and was the apparent reason for Rodriguez's telephone call to Pizano-Flores after the realization that BNS would have to be more competitive in terms of price.
Investigation and analysis subsequently revealed that a substantial amount of payments of uniforms and equipment totaling $497,117 in fiscal year 2010-2011 were made compared to the previous fiscal years (2009-2010) total of $175,715; an increase of 283 percent.
Interviews identified most of the purchasing was made by the athletic department, in general, and by Chavez, in particular. Chavez, an admitted close friend with Rodriguez for over 30 years who succeeded Rodriguez after he left BISD.
Record reviews of purchase orders also supported the fact that the athletic department fulfilled most of those purchases, predominantly for Manzano Middle School and Veterans Memorial High School, both newly constructed schools with no prior uniforms or equipment. Although Chavez denied giving preferential treatment to BNS and/or Joe Rodriguez in the purchasing process for both schools, the auditors found that Chavez never gave any due consideration to at least three other approved vendors sports distributors.
Shortly thereafter the other sales representative at BNS informed the Purchasing Department that a 10 percent discount would be rendered on BNS catalog items.
The report stated:
"It is the opinion of the Forensic Audit Staff that no doubt the Athletic Department in general and Tom Chavez in particular exercised undue influence and misuse of authority in choosing BNS Sports, through their sales rep. Joe Rodriguez, particularly in the purchasing of uniforms and other sports supplies for Manzano Middle School and Veterans Memorial High School in school year 2010-2011.
(This) resulted in close to $500,000 of purchases being given to Chavez's close friend and former A.D. Joe Rodriguez. Chavez allowed he and Joe Rodriguez's personal relationship to interfere with what should have been a business decision causing a potential loss of revenue to be sustained by the district."
The Forensic Audit Staff recommended that a no-solicitation clause be included in future employment contracts and that BISD make a determination with respect to a (vendor such as BNS) whose representative (Joe Rodriguez) issued a threat over the telephone to file a lawsuit against the district.
It is the opinion of the (auditors) that Chavez and his AD staff afforded BNS preferential treatment to the detriment of the district. Consideration should be given to administrative action disciplining Tom Chavez with termination as a consideration."
Coach Joe, who has a penchant for leaning back on his chair and bellowing about the district not paying settlements to anyone for anything, didn't think twice about pocketing the $90,000. Now, with Chavez back as A.D., Team Rodriguez is back in the saddle.
Our Fearless Prediction of Past Events: Chavez will be "interim" for a while and then, after a decent interval, will remain as A.D. a la Zendejas and Sanchez. And forget about the "nationwide search."

BEFORE, LADY IN BLACK BURQA; AFTER, A U.S. FEMALE VET




(Ed.'s Note: Lest we be blamed again for disrespecting women, let us say from the get-go that we were sent the photo on the bottom by one of out seven readers (we lost one to the mchalereport) who noticed a certain resemblance of the veiled sculpture of a female U.S. vet erected at the Veterans Memorial Park on Central Boulevard  by the Veteran Females United chapter here. No, it's not a sculpture to honor Islamic female terrorists, although we have to agree that with the black body-length sheet it does bear a striking resemblance to a burka. The cord tied around her legs may symbolize the restrictions on women in the Arab world, too. Nah. We waited until the same reader sent us a photo of the unveiled female vet sculpture to reveal the real sculpture underneath, a depiction of an American woman soldier on patrol. The central library parking lot was crammed to overflowing and dignitaries from the school district, the city, state, and federal government also were present at the unveiling. A salute to the ladies in green. As if on cue, right after the unveiling, a rain shower pelted the crowd. Our reader really should change the settings on his camera.)

Friday, June 24, 2016

PUB: GIVE WITH ONE HAND, TAKE AWAY WITH THE OTHER



By Juan Montoya
After increasing electric rates by 29 percent since April 2013, the generous folks over at your friendly Brownsville Public Utility Board have announced they will decrease electric rates on its ratepayers by a whooping 8.1 percent.
But this does not include any retraction of the 29 percent of rate increases scheduled since the five-year plan to finance $325 million for a 200 MW share of the 800 MW gas-fired electric plant with Tenaska was adopted by the city commission..
Nor does it do away with the final 7 percent increase of the planned five-year rate hikes to fund the bond issue necessary to build the plant. That whammy is set to go into effect this October. (See graphic below)
Adding the scheduled 7 percent in October means that PUB is dangling a 8.1 percent decrease carrot after it places a total of 36 percent in rate hikes since 2013. This, in effect means that the 8.1 rate increase in reality means that PUB ratepayers will have seen their electric bills go up by about 28 percent. Compared to that hike, the 8.1 rate decrease amounts to sop toward Brownsville ratepayers.



PUB entered into a development agreement in 2013 for a 200 MW ownership interest in a proposed 800 MW Tenaska Brownsville Generating Station (TBGS) .
It was announced with great fanfare by non other than Da Mayor Hizzoner Tony Martinez.
It was to be built by 2016, but despite warnings from cooler heads about low market energy prices and a glut of electricity from other gas-fired generating plants coming online during that time, the project was approved by a pliant city commission.
Now the plant construction has been delayed indefinitely. But the rate increases have continued to generate millions for PUB and it is still planning to go forward with the bond issue. The millions generated by electricity are in addition to the millions generated by the hikes in water and wastewater.
PUB is expected to finance its share of TBGS with a sizable bond issuance in 2018 to pay for its $325 200 MW share of the 800 MW that was to be generated.
This is the math. PUB rate payers will pay $325 million of the estimated $500 million (more than one half) cost and get one fourth of the power generated, if it's ever built.
PUB put the five year package of electric rate increases in place beginning in fiscal 2013 to support the planned TBGS capital investment. The increased revenues and plant delay have bolstered revenues and reserves to strong levels. Therefore, the 8.1 percent reduction announced on page C-1 of the local daily.
Under the terms of the agreement, Tenaska is not required to move ahead with construction until it has commitments for the full 800 MW plant capacity. Since Tenaska and BPUB's announcement in early 2013, no additional commitments have been secured for the remaining 600 MW. Construction on the plant and on BPUB's related components (gas and water delivery lines) will not occur until the remaining 600 MW is subscribed.
The PUB's capital needs, aside from assumed financing related to Tenaska, are projected to be funded by revenues and slightly less than $100 million in additional debt.
According to Fitch Rating Services, the Tenaska plant will add another $350 million.  The delays have meant that BPUB has been accumulating reserves generated by the rate increases to create an equity funding component for the plant. This means that PUB has been able to reserve $19 million into an equity reserve in fiscals 2014 and 2015, and budgeted another $10 million deposit in fiscal 2016.
Fitch also says that low natural gas prices 2 the coming online of the other plants – and the addition of substantial wind generation capacity have contributed to low energy prices and the lack of new non-renewable capacity construction in the region.
While management still anticipates participating in the project if and when Tenaska proceeds with construction, low energy prices have provided an economic option for meeting load in the service area. BPUB continues to tentatively plan to issue debt in fiscal years 2018-2020 to fund the $350 million Tenaska construction.
So enjoy the generous 8.1 percent sop of a rate reduction in electricity rate folks. You paid for it more than four times over.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

BLOW BY BLOW NARRATIVE OF TSC BOARD MEETING

(Ed.'s Note: As the new board of the Texas Southmost College district– minus Dr. Tony Zavaleta who will be sworn in Monday – met to conduct business Wednesday, several versions of what happened have emerged. Below we have put together a composite of the reports we got. We previously posted a narrative of the meeting that focused on the Lily Tercero administrations entering into a $1 million windstorm insurance policy without going through the board first. Other issues are covered in this post.)

Various Sources
Trustee Trey Mendez called the meeting to order and asked President Lily Tercero to present the item on the windstorm isurance.
Tercero told the board that the administration had "overlooked it" because "we are short in personnel and we only had two weeks to renew (and) not enough time to do Request For Proposals (RFP).
Obviously, Tercero is so used to doing as she wishes that she did not think that two weeks was that enough time to come to the board and at least inform them of the lapse and the need to do an emergency RFP.
After all was said and done, she said, she followed the recommendation to renew with a vendor.
Trustee Ruben Herrera, in his first meeting on the board, then asked "Excuse me, Dr. Tercero. Who recommended?"
Tercero replied, "my staff."
"Who in your staff?," Herrera persisted.
"Mr. (Carlos) Pecero (TSC's Comptroller)," she said.
Herrera then made a motion to hire independent counsel to look into matter to see if there were civil or criminal statues violated.
Then the trustees made a motion that passed to stop that contract Tercero signed and look for coverage.
As was true in the cases of Cameron County and the Brownsville Independent School District where administrators took it upon themselves to extend the coverage, you can be sure that the Tercero's snafu made som insurance agent a lot of money without going through the RFP process.
Yet more of the same sloppy administration performance came to light when the update on the nursing program is presented.
Tercero was given a directive by the board to enter into a contract with Texas A&M to salvage the nursing program. The university said they had sent their deans ready to work and she did not have the time to meet with them. Nursing Director Celia De La Garza – unaware of the new arrangements – is left in the dark.
The board then quickly tackled the issue of budget workshops for the coming year.
And the Standing Committees that the board had told Tercero to form – and that she never did – were scheduled until Dr. Tony Zavaleta is sworn in next Monday.
The final item was the Headstart (the degree plan for adult cohorts in Childhood Development.) Herrera made a motion to have the administration accommodate these non-traditional students to finish their degree. Dr Marti Flores, TSC's V.P. of Instruction, supports Tercero's views and lists the obstacles and justifications to why these adult students cannot be admitted as cohorts on a part-time basis. Judging by the attitude of the board members, they were not buying it.
Then Dr Reynaldo Garcia loses it and starts screaming at Herrera telling him he cannot tell Tercero what to do.
"We, the board, only write policy, hire the president, and approve the budget," Garcia said.
Herrera then calls on board counsel Frank Perez to tell the board if it's illegal or inappropriate to direct the administration on which direction to follow.
Perez lucidly (and some say, eloquently), gave the board a lesson on their relationship vis-a-vis the administration.
"The board is in its right to steer policy to fit the mission of the board," Perez said. 
Zavaleta, who sat in the front and was seen shaking his head in disbelief the majority of the time during the meeting, said at the end of the meeting within earshot of everyone there, that Tercero was in for a surprise when he got on board.
"Oh, (Tercero) is in for a surprise when I sit on the board. The people have spoken."
Zavaleta beat his opponent by more than70 to 30 percent margin of the vote. Herrera made history as the top vote getter of all time of candidates who have run for the board.

JUAREZ PROTESTS: I WAS NOT SUPPORTED BY OP 10.33

By Juan Montoya
We have received a missive from Tony Juarez, a recent candidate for Texas Southmost College trustee where he protests his inclusion on a list of candidates that were said to be supported by Dallas millionaire Mike Hernandez III' messianic OP 10.33.
Juarez, one of four candidates for the seat once held by Ed Rivera, says that a post written by Jim Barton in his thebrownsvilleobserver.blogspot was erroneous in cluding him among OP 10.33 candidates (who lost) at the Port of Brownsville like Ed Rivera and Raul Villanueva and the TSC candidates Daniel Pizaña and Evelyn Cantu.
"Information is false and slanderous," Juarez texted us. "Delete my name from the table and make statement posted in error."
Well, we must confess that although we did present the information Barton posted, we had our graphic department design Jim's info as a report card. (It's there on your right side of the screen. Click to enlarge.)
There is a saying that perception is sometimes more powerful than reality, at least when it comes to politics. We have shown pictures in tha past of Pizaña conferring with former TSC trustee Kiko Rendon outside the OP 10.33 headquarters and of him being supported by trustee Art Rendon at his pachange. Kiko Rendon, by the way, is now a "consultant" to Hernandez III's OP 10.33.
Both Rendons were supporting Rivera, an OP 10.33 candidate to the port commission who lost to Tito Lopez. And we have also posted photos os Juarez at a Pizaña rally. (See photo above)
The first time we even heard or saw Pizaña was at the old OP 10.33 headquarters where he was encouraged by Hernandez and community organizer Jose Angel Gutierrez to take an active part in civic engagement in his community and he decided to run for TSC.
Art Rendon and Ed Rivea both thought that with OP 10.33 behind them, their candidates had it in the bag and berated TSC trustee Trey Mendez for not going along with the OP 10.33 program.
As we said, sometimes the perception is more powerful than the truth, especially in politics. We post the offending table with Juarez's name crossed off to indicate the error he alleges.

FIRST BISD, NOW TSC: ANOTHER $1 MILLION INSURANCE FLUB

(Ed.'s Note: Mark Yates, currently Cameron County Planning and Program Development direcgtor, got in hot water in a previous stint as a county nauditor when he renewd an insuranc e contract without commissioners court approval. He ended up in an orange jumpsuit and state charges. A similar thing happened to Tony Fuller at the Brownsville Independent School District with an insuranc contract that was "about to lapse." Now it's Texas Sothmost College president Lily Tercero's turn. Blogger Jim Barton wrote the post and we represent it here in its entirity and without his permission. Can we Jim?)

By Jim Barton
www.thebrownsvilleobserver.blogspot

TSC President Lily Tercero did little at Wednesday's meeting of the Board of Trustees to alter the perception that she functions "unilaterally," not in tandem with the board.

Tercero backers got jobs at TSC After the "Call to Order," acting chairperson Trey Mendez opened discussion on windstorm insurance, a key issue for TSC considering its geographic location. What riled several board members was President Tercero has renewed the windstorm policy without sending the item out for bids or even consulting the board.

Tercero's action, inappropriate at best, illegal at worst, put a majority of the board in the mood of rescinding the contract with the insurer which currently runs from April 7, 2016 to April 6, 2017.

Young Carlos Pecero, a TSC administrator in Business Services, Finance & Administration, tried to deflect criticism of Tercero and any push to rescind the windstorm contract.

"When it was discovered" the policy was about to lapse, there were only two weeks left in the policy, according to Pecero. Of course, it the duty of President Tercero and her administrators to keep tract of the expiration date of insurance contracts just as every family in Brownsville must do.

Pecero hinted that rescinding the contract might lead to recovering a very small amount of the premium, "possibly only $40,000." Two buildings, currently on the policy as qualifying for a "superior construction discount," no longer qualify for that discount and would have to be insured at a higher rate.

Tercero agreed with Pecero, saying her actions were intended "simply to protect the college."

Recently elected Trustee Ruben Herrera wanted an attorney's opinion as to if the contract was even legal. TSC attorney Frank Perez danced around that issue, not describing the contract as illegal, but possibly "void or voidable." He said he would have to look at the video of past meetings to give a definitive answer.

When Ruben Herrera directly asked Tercero who authorized her to enter into contract without consulting the board, she simply replied "staff."

BTW, the annual premium for basic windstorm protection is $829,789, but, adding the excess windstorm protection for damage beyond a certain threshold, adds another $214,000, taking the premium to over $1 million annually. A suggestion was made to allow the current contract to remain in place until December 2, 2016, just after hurricane season. Trustee Trey Mendez suggested aiming for an August termination, not liking the thought of a company benefiting from an illegal, unlawful or voidable contract.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

AT BISD SALAZAR LAUGHS ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK

By Juan Montoya
In the blink of an eye, a majority of the board of trustees of the Brownsville Independent School District handed general counsel Baltazar Salazar a $25,000 raise – to $264,000 a year – and extended his contract for another three years.
With only trustee Catalina Presas-Garcia voting against rewarding Salazar so magnanimously, the board's majority showed their approval of his questionable legal talents and voted to bump him up a notch.Image result for baltazar salazar houston attorney
With the raise, Salazar now earns more than BISD Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas.
Let's see.
Salazar gave Cesar Lopez $4,000 in donations for his campaign, amove made in apparent violation of a clause in his contract that prohibits him from giving money to his employers.
He also earned the gratitude of trustee Joe Rodriguez, whose son's law firm is one of Salazar's favorites to farm out juicy legal contracts to defend the district.
On September 22, 2015, Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that evidence in the $1 million lawsuit brought against the Brownsville Independent School by Lucy Longoria and Catalina Presas-Garcia did not meet the requirements necessary to prove First Amendment violations and retaliation, but that the defamation allegations by Presas-Garcia against two trustees and the district's legal counsel can continue.
Yet, nine months after Hanen's decision, the attorneys hired to defend the BISD and the trustees are still getting paid to represent two trustees (Cesar Lopez and Minerva Peña) for their alleged defamation of Presas-Garcia even though neither Salazar nor the trustees could submit proof that the defamation was in the course of their official duties.
In meeting after meeting since Hanen's decision, agenda items to pay Colvin, Chaney, Saenz and Rodriguez, LLP, for legal representation in the case have been dutifully passed by teh board majority.
But now that the district is off the hook and a question exists on whether the two trustees were acting in their official capacity, why should the BISD taxpayers foot the bill for their questionable acts?
Lawyers often speak out of both sides of their mouths, and Salazar is no exception.
On April 1, 2013, appropriately, April Fools' Day, Salazar was first hired at BISD.
Salazar was making his pitch to be hired by the district from among six other firms that had made the cut.
When Salazar came to the podium to make his presentation, he stressed the fact that he was a straight shooter who would "stab you in the front" in contrast to others who would stab you in the back.
He looked at trustee Minerva Peña and said pointedly: "I've known some of you since I was a kid," and said his goal was "not to make money."
He promised he would "tone down your legal expenses" and bring "stability, because you have chaos, and when there's chaos, lawyers make money."
The school district, he told them, had "become a cash cow" because the district did not follow procedure and said he was there "to serve the board as a whole."
He may have said it and meant it at that time, but since then he has served his friends – and himself – "con la cuchara grande."

AT TSC, NEW BOARD WILL ADDRESS TERCERO FAILURES

By Juan Montoya
With a president earning more than a $200,000 salary and a "consultant" at another $180,000, it has been asserted that the Texas Community College is paying for two de facto presidents.
Lily Tercero convinced the board way back in 2011 to bring Dr. Leonardo De la Garza, a consultant was also her former boss at Ft. Worth and who was supposed to advice her on getting accreditation for a proscribed period of time which has now stretched for almost three years.
The "temporary" consultant that Tercero hired for the transition from a partnership with UTB to independent accreditation has become a permanent fixture at the college – and most importantly – in the TSC budget.
Initially hired at the recommendation of Tercero way back when in November 2011, de La Garza came on board as a consultant to Tercero  just a month after she herself was hired in October.
And now, five years later, this "temporary consultant" has become a fixture of the Tercero administration when the average life of a consultant doesn't extend for more than six months at best.
Back in November 2011, de La Garza was – and still is – a vendor and associate of Dynamic Campus, an IT firm which specializes in selling Ebooks and Information Technology (IT) to school districts and entities of higher education like community colleges and universities.
By all measures, De la Garza moved fast.
By May 2012 – some six months later – De la Garza had steered a $1 million IT contract to "Dynamic Campus," the computer firm for whom he had worked for more than three years before.
Then, on September 2012, four months after the $1 million pact, the company locked three segments of IT services to Dynamic Campus for an additional $10 million extending into 2015 with an option for another three years.
Who would have thought that from November 2011 to September 2012, De la Garza would have landed more than $10 million in contracts to his former employer?
That was on top of his consultant fees. Among the fees included in the total is a $2,000 monthly retainer and a $1,500 fee for expenses every time he visits Brownsville and the TSC campus.
That majority then composed of Kiko Rendon, Ed Rivera, Dr. Reynaldo Garcia and Art Rendon approved the lates consultant splurge in their last budget before Kiko Rendon and Rivera bailed out of the board.
In that budget for this year, that board's majority approved another $180,000 appropriation for De la Garza.
"We have basically been paying for two board presidents," said a TSC staff member who recently left – as did dozens more staff members at the community college – after having endured the "extreme micromanagement" by Tercero and De la Garza.
"People who have left were discouraged because they love TSC and supported the community college through its painful separation process only to be treated with very little respect by Tercero," she said.
In particular, the former staffer said that the Nursing Progam administrator had confided to some colleagues that she had been urged by the administration to adopt polices that would lower the standards of the program, something that she had refused.
"When you only have 46 percent of the nursing students passing the certification, something is wrong," she said. "Nora (Montlavo) was too much of a professional and couldn't get herself to do it."
Today, the board of TSC trustees will consider items on the agenda that should have been addressed years ago by Tercero and former TSC board president Kiko Rendon.
Among this is the Nursing Program (Item 3) where the state has prohibited the college from enrolling any new students unless this year at least 80 percent of the studetns pass the state nursing exam. The trustees, now mindful of the seriousness of the situation, have partnered with Texas A and M to bring the program up to snuff. But it wasn;t until the state came down hard on TSC that the board was made aware that the nursing program – long the jewel of the college's programs – was in trouble.
"They wer ebasicaly kept in teh dark by Tercero until it was just impossible to cover it up any longer," said the staff member. "Now the board has to step in and fix it."
There's also the matter of the 2016 Tax and Budget Planning Calendar (Item 4). With new trustees Ruben Herrera and Dr. Tony Zavaleta having a hand on planning the new budget, will de la Garza's $180,000 and United Brownsville's $20,000 "membership" dues survive the process? We must remember that Daniel Pizaña, Herrera's opponent, was backed by Carlos Marin, the owner of Ambiuotec, architect of United Brownsville, and job developer for Mike Hernandez's messianic OP 10.33.
Zavaleta's opponent in the recent runoff was Evelyn Cantu, who was the recipient of cash contributions by Marin and his wife Elena. Zavaleta will be sworn in next Monday, but he will have direct input into the budget process after that,
Item 5 will address standing committees that the former board had approved, but that Tercero and chair Kiko Rendon had refused to form. With a new majority on board, Tercero now will have to follow the direction set by the new majority and give in to their wishes. If these standing committees had been in place, it is doubtful that some of the situations addressed by the board would have developed.
However, she can count on the steadfast support of trustees Art Rendon and Dr. Rey Garcia who seem to be more concerned about Tercero than about the interests of the students, especially those in the afflicted nursing program.
Item 7 deals with the degree plan for Childhood Development, a program that was left out in the cold after Tercero refused to accommodate the students.However, Tercero and de la Garza have insisted in funding exprensive "marketing initiatives" that have resulted in questioable results. All that money has not resulted in increased enrollment, which has stayed basically the same. If not for the dual enrollment with local high schools, it would have remained falt or decreased.
With all this turmoil, is it any wonder that Tercero applied to the Laredo Community College for its presidency? We have learned that Laredo said no and didn't rank her as one of the finalists. Applying there when you have results like these back home didn't prove to be much of a "marketing initiative" for Lily.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

SGP: A FRIEND IN NEED, IS NO FRIEND IN DEED

By Juan Montoya
Did you hear about the double cross that Cameron County Clerk Sylvia Garza Perez pulled on Rogelio Chanes, a Rio Grande Valley candidate for Hispanic Caucus chair at the San Antonio Democrtic Party convention?
Supporters3Despite Chanes being from the Valley, Garza-Perez endorsed and supported James Lee, of Houston, who eventually won. Only another Brownsville delgate , one Jody Serrano, also endorsed the Houstonian above Chanes.
Chanes had the endorsement of Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa.
In fact, Garza-Perez appeared on a photo in Lee's website endorsing hyim over Chanes.
Not only did Garza-Perez endorse Lee, but she also campaigned against Chanes at the convention and got most of the Brownsville delegation to vote against him.
Why is the Hispanic Caucus chair important?
It is part of the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee, also know as the SDEC, and carries on the activities of the Democratic Party in all communities across Texas.
The SDEC is composed of leaders from Texas’ 31 state senate districts and representatives of Texas communities such as Asian Americans, African Americans, County Chairs, Democrats with Disabilities, Hispanic Caucus, Rural Texans, LGBT Texans, Women, Texas Environmental Democrats and young Democrats.
Two leaders from the Hispanic Caucus are elected to serve on the party’s SDEC, one male and one female.
Now, thanks to Sylvia, it'll be the voice from Houston, not the Valley, that will be heard inside the Texas Democratic Party. 

BISD LAWYER GETS EXTENSION PRIOR TO NOV. ELECTION

By Juan Montoya
The agenda for today's meeting has an item placed there by a board member although it does not identify him (or her by name) on an item (43) about discussion and possible action regarding the contract of the board attorney (Baltazar Salazar.)
Image result for baltazar salazar houston attorneyWe pried a bit and found out that the board member was none other than Cesar Lopez.
And we understand that Lopez wants to give Salazar a contract extension past the upcoming November elections. Now, this is very generous of Lopez and we wondered at the mutual affection between Lopez and Salazar.
Then someone pointed out that Salazar had supported Lopez financially during his campaign even though there is a clause in the lawyer's contract that would seem o prohibit him making any monetary donations to board members.
On November 2014, the board majority – including Lopez – extended Salazar's contract and his $240,000 annual salary was increased by 10 percent to $264,000. He was also elevated from board counsel to General Counsel.

 The Gifts to Public Servants Clause in Salazar's contract reads:
"General Counsel warrants that he has not given, nor does he intend to give, at any time hereafter, any economic opportunity, future employment, gift, loan, gratuity, special discounts, trips, favors, or service to a public servant in connection with the award of this agreement."
Yet, on the 30-Days Before Election Report filed by Cesar Lopez, he reported that Salazar gave:
*$2,500 to Lopez June 23
*and another $1,500 to Lopez again on July 18
*He gave nothing to the Luci Longoria campaign
According to Salazar, his $4,000 in cash donations to Lopez is not in any way connected to that public servant's aye vote for his contract or his raise.
“The reason ‘in connection with’ is so important because if you read the whole paragraph, the idea is that if somebody were to give a campaign contribution in exchange for a contract or exchange for an extension then that would be illegal," Salazar told News Central (Channel 4).
Salzar's performance at the helm of BISD's legal department has been anything but stellar.
Legal observers in the courts say that the lawyers for the 28 women in the equal pay for equal work lawsuit (gender discrimination) ran circles around him because he is not versed on the intricacies of education law.
"He didn't now what he was doing," one said.
As a result, the district had to pay the 28 women varying sums to settle the issue.
And his lackadaisical performance for the district is a dismal one.
Roll the tape to April 1, 2013, appropriately, April Fools' Day, when Salazar was first hired at BISD.
Salazar was making his pitch to be hired by the district from among six other firms that had made the cut.
When Salazar came to the podium to make his presentation, he stressed the fact that he was a straight shooter who would "stab you in the front" in contrast to others who would stab you in the back.
He looked at trustee Minerva Peña and said pointedly: "I've known some of you since I was a kid," and said his goal was "not to make money."
He promised he would "tone down your legal expenses" and bring "stability, because you have chaos, and when there's chaos, lawyers make money."
The school district, he told them, had "become a cash cow" because the district did not follow procedure and said he was there "to serve the board as a whole."
In answer to a query by trustee Lucy Longoria, Salazar said that all board members had the right to speak out and that he believed in open arguments.
"You do have the right to speak out," he replied to her question. "I believe you have to have high moral values and high moral standards."
How things have changed.
He farmed out the Healthsmart lawsuit to a McAllen firm which some board members claimed would get the district $14 million. In fact, he had already sent them confidential information on the lawsuit before he got board approval to hire them.
Say goodbye to the $14 million and hello to maybe $1 million which the board will likely have to split with the lawyers. The other half of the settlement is contingent on Healthsmart not declaring bankruptcy. If they do, the district has to stand in line to get pennies on the dollar on the lawsuit.
Or how about the settlement of the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by Terry Spellane et al (and this is very important) that was approved by the board in their August meeting? It is noteworthy that the board was also blind sided with the lawsuit that included 28 plaintiffs, all women claiming that the district had bypassed them and paid them less because of their sex.
In fact, the et al in the lawsuit refers to the 28 individuals not named on the board item. A cursory read of the agenda would never heave revealed their inclusion in the agenda. It's called sleight-of-hand and Salazar is a master at it. Now you see it, now you don't.
The trustees were astounded to hear that the lawsuit had been in the works for at least a year before they ever heard about it when the women's lawyer addressed them in open session.
That cost the BISD another $750,000 ranging from payments as low as $15,000 ranging to $23,000. Of course, the lawyers will take their cut first.
So here comes Lopez rewarding this mediocre performance and moving to give him yet another extension.
Some people live a charmed existence, dont they?

JUNETEENTH CELEBRATED AT WASHINGTON PARK




(Ed.'s Note: By all accounts, a goodly number of people representing about 11 different organizations joined a group of activists for Brownsville's 2016 Juneteenth Celebration.  
Local activists have been calling for the removal of the rock honoring Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America and asking the city commission to place it in a museum. Opponnets say that removing it would amountt o detroying the their heritage. The city commisison has not moved on the issue.
Even Eugene Fernandez, from the neo-confederate coven hiding out at the Brownsviulle Historical Aociety was there to check it out. Fernandez's family has ties to the Confederacy and is one of the biggest opponents to rtemoving the rock from Washington Park. Although friendly, he must have felt out of place because he only stayed for a little bit.  
Some of the organizations that participated in the event are listed below. Numerous park visitors, especially neighborhood kids, stopped by to enjoy the food and hear the presenters. Several homeless folks stopped by and were very thankful.
-- Friends of the West Rail Trail
-- All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church of Brownsville
-- Save RGV from LNG
-- South Texas Civil Rights Project
-- Secular Humanists of the RGV
-- Fuerza del Valle
-- Citizens Against Confederate Memorials
-- RGV NORML
-- PFLAG Harlingen
-- Mark Clark: Galleria 409
-- Randy Gonzales: Write in Candidate for Cameron County Tax Assessor

On the other side of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Rock is this neo-Confederate website.
http://bronsbilestacion.blogspot.com/2016/06/my-turn-response-to-letter-printed-in.html#comment-form

Monday, June 20, 2016

ALL BUT THE UNVEILING FOR FEMALE VETS SCULPTURE

(Ed.'s Note: As you can see from the photo of the female veteran sculpture set for unveiling, it will show a fully-armed woman soldier striding onto the battlefield. This ain't your Florence Nightingale dressing soldier wounds, no sir. This woman holding her M-16 at the ready looks like she might put a hurt on you if you cross her. The sculpure is ready to go at the Veterans Memorial Park on Central Blvd. next to the library. As you can see, Charlie Clark's logo has a prominent place on the granite-lined pedestal. The statute will be unveiled on June 25th, 2016, according to a post on the Female Veterans United FB page. Orale!)

For more information on this post, click on link below. 
 http://jtrevbtx.blogspot.com/2016/06/veteran-statue-under-wraps.html

DOES CARLOS ELIZONDO HAVE TO RESIGN HIS BISD SEAT?

Section 702: Political Activity
"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."

By Juan Montoya
As the new fire chief for the Brownsville Fire Department, Carlos Elizondo is directly responsible for the enforcement of fire codes, inspections, and for the uniform applications of all regulations having to do with fire prevention rules on facilities construction.
However, while he wears one hat as the city's new fire chief, Elizondo also wears another hat, that of a trustee on the board of the Brownsville Independent School District.
As such, he has the power and authority to overturn decisions made by fire-code inspectors and firefighters under his command which could be interpreted to constitute a direct conflict of interest. As one of the entities involved in facilities construction, the city has a very close (and continuing) relationship with the fire department, and their trustee.
We recall the issue of water pressure at Veterans Memorial High School almost stopped the construction because of the fire-fighting requirements and the safety of the staff and students.  If Elizondo had been fire chief, would things have been handled a bit different? Would corners have been cut that would have affected the safety of the staff and students there?
See how a potential conflict of interest develops very quickly when the fire chief is also a school district trustee? The policy, it appears, was adopted by the City of Brownsville for a reason.
We have been told that the district's administration is mulling over the Elizondo issue and looking for a resolution to the potential conflict of interest.
Now, who will take the bull by the horns? We doubt the City of Brownsville administration with its ethically-challenged counsel Mark Sossi will call forth the issue. And we also doubt that the BISD administration – which counts on his vote with the majority – will do anything about this either.
But just suppose that someone calls forth the issue in a courtroom. Would the city personnel policy on its employees (especially a department head) not holding elective or appointive office in annother jurisdiction survive the test?
If Elizondo has to resign as BISD trustee, will the rest of the board wait until the general election in November, or will they try to appoint someone who will have the advantage of incumbency to help him (or her) win the spot then?
Ideally, the voters of the district should decide who sits there. But will the boad le the people choose?

rita