Sunday, October 22, 2017

REMEMBER WEIGHING-IN COTTON ON "LA ROMANA" SCALE?




















(Ed.'s Note: If you are in your 60s or 70s and grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, you probably saw people picking cotton by hand before the advent of the cotton-picking machines. If you were poor, you probably picked it yourself. Kids like the ones in the photo above carried their little sacks while the men would often have two large sacks sown to be able to stay picking in the fields and come back on two rows to fill them at the weigh in.

For some reason or other, the scales had Roman numerals instead of numbers and kids would learn the numerals when they brought their filled sacks to weigh in. Cotton was poorly paid, but school kids would earn anywhere between $10 to $15 a week which their parents often used to purchase shoes or clothes for school. For some, these were the "good old days," while to others, these days were best forgotten or remembered by the callused hands and aching back.)

EXHIBIT OF SHAME AT BISD'S LEARNING ACADEMY

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

While a majority of the board of the Brownsville Independent School District continue to focus on expensive non-academic expenditures – for example, spending in excess of of $6 million on artificial turf – parents of students at the Brownsville Learning Academy say the district's priorities are "all messed up." 

"BISD has money for new turf at high schools, but doesn’t have money to build new schools or supplies for students," wrote one. 
In fact, not only is it skimping on the learning materials, but the campus has visible signs of needs of upkeep and lack of attention to basic. We have been sent pictures of a portable classroom that caught on fire last school year 2016-2017 (May 2017) due to an electrical issue. 

Parents report that it was not reported and that the fire department never showed up. The previous year the same, but fire department showed up that it made local news. 

Learning materials and supplies are reported to be so limited that copies need to be made of books and pamphlets for students. 

Additionally, the BLA has no No English as a Second Language teachers, or  for English and Math but students are expected to pass state exams.

Under the academics section, the BLA states it will offer all required courses at both middle school and high school levels.
Students will be required to gain a specified number of credits each semester in order to remain at the Academy.
They are also receive course credit when the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills are mastered at a minimum of 70 percent and a student who has achieved grade level may choose to stay at the Academy or return to his/her home campus. 

The board's majority recently voted to increase property taxes by 11 1/4 cents on every $100 of appraised value. It is apparent that an increasing number of district residents are growing dissatisfied with the priorities of the board and the district's administration.  

And while the district keeps spending millions on non-essential, non-academic after-school activities like football, the programs that needs their help like the BLA continue to be treated like the BISD's step-children.

THE TANGLED WEB OF CORRUPTION OF EX-GOVERNOR

Image result for EUGENIO HERNANDEZ ARRESTED
Various Sources
After a judge ordered former Tamaulipas governor Eugenio Hernández jailed pending his trial for charges of embezzlement with illegally acquired funds and the use of middle men to acquire undervalued properties, social media in Mexico has been circulating a list of individuals presumably implicated in the illegal acts.

Some are said to be in Tamaulipas and other parTs of Mexico, but some are said to be in Texas and the United States:


Elsa y José Eduardo “Chóforo’ Hernández Flores, brothers of the former governor.
Alma Lucresia Cano Pastor, sister of Lucía Cano Pastor, ex delegate of the Tamaulipas Dept. of Education (SEP).
Alfredo Sandoval Musi, ex subsecretary of finances.
Armando Nuñez Montelongo, delegate for Transportation.
Carlos Montiel Saeb, manager of   state department of water and drainage in Nuevo Laredo.
Manuel Muñoz Cano, ex secretary of Social Development.
Óscar Luebbert Gutiérrez, ex mayor of Reynosa.
Óscar Almaraz Smer, of Finance.
Ramón Durón, director of ITEA.
René Castillo de la Cruz, local deputy for PVEM.
Arturo Diez Gutiérrez Navarro
Juan Manzur Arzola
Ricardo Gamundi Rosas, former PRI party leader.
Seyed Mohammad Farough Fatemi Corcuera, businessman.
Adriana González Lozano.
Alfonso de la Garza.
Alejandro Jiménez Riestra, Accountant.
Alejandro González Becerra.
Carola del Rosario Cano Martínez.
César García Coronado.
Guillermo Héctor Cano Valdez.
Gabriel Maldonado Pumarejo.
Isela Alejandra Alfaro.
Eduardo Rodríguez Berlanga.
Egidio Torre Cantú.
José Monrroy Zorrivas.
José Manuel Flores Montemayor.
José Carlos Rodríguez Montemayor.
Juan Manuel Sánchez Guerrero.
José Manuel Assad Montelongo.
Lourdes Flores Montemayor.
Lucía Cecilia Cano Martínez.
Marco Antonio Cano Valdez.
Salvador Treviño Salinas “Chavalin”
José María Leal Gutiérrez
Jesús Lavin Verastegui
Mauricio Bernardo González Fernández.
Miguel Alberto Treviño Guevara.
Mónica Roca Pérez.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

NATIVE AMERICANS HAD THEIR OWN "AMISTAD" EPISODE

By Juan Montoya
The year was 1515.

Spanish Queen Isabella had, in 1503, issued the astonishing and momentous order to permit the enslavement of natives in the New World "discovered" by Columbus only 11 years earlier.
While ostensibly it protected natives from capture or injury, it made an exception of "a certain people called Cannibals" who had been asked to mend their ways and become Christians but who had hardened their hearts and "continued to eat Indians and kill Christians."

This was all propaganda being brought back to the catholic queen by her conquistadors who were decimating the native population by demanding a daily gold tribute as they tried to enrich themselves but found that the natives were dying faster than they could amass their wealth.

For this reason the Queen said: "For the present I give license and power to all and sundry persons who may go by my orders on the Islands and Terra Firme of the Ocean Sea discovered to the present, as well as to those who may go to discover other islands and Terra Firme, that is said cannibals continue to resist and do not wish to admit and receive to their native lands that Captains and men who may be on such voyages by my orders not to hear them in order to be taught our Sacred Catholic Faith and to be in my service and obedience, they may be captured and taken to these my kingdoms and domains and to other parts and places and sold."

And so it came to be that 12 years later Diego Velasquez de Cuellar was sending out ships on slave raids to replace the Cuban natives who were being used up.
In a letter he wrote then to Diego Columbus in Santo Domingo, Velasquez told the Admiral's son about an incident that had happened when a ship and a bark were sent from Santiago to hunt slaves in the Guanaja Islands (the Bay Islands off Honduras discovered by Columbus in 1502).
Bartolome de Las Casas quotes from the letter which was later copied and published by Herrera in Decade, II, Bk. 2, ch. 7.

"The bark remained to hunt more Indians, and the ship returned to the port of Carenas (the present Havana), with its captured Indians confined below.
While most of the Spaniards were taking their ease on the Cuban shore the Indians broke the hatch, seized the ship, ran up the sails, and fled. That they made it back home was known when the wreck of the ship was found on the Bay Islands by a party Velasquez sent out to avenge the affront."

This incident – preceding the hijacking of the ship Amistad by African slaves in 1839 from a Cuban schooner after a mutiny by some 324 years – has been forgotten in the mists of history. But while the African slaves, led by Cinque, were tricked by two Spanish sailors to sail northward from Cuba instead of east toward Africa, the natives of the New World actually succeeded in returning home sailing the ship themselves.

When I read this account from Carl Ortwin Sauer's "The Early Spanish Main" to my kids, their questions were predictable.
"How could Indians who had never been aboard a Spanish sailing vessel manage to successfully sail it back to their island?" asked one. "How far was it from Guanaja to Havana and back?"
We looked it up in the World Atlas and found that Guanaja is approximately 300 miles by sea from present-day Havana. Also, that in order to return the way they came, the Indians had to navigate a complex path and negotiate through winds and currents from the north side of Cuba, around the island, and head southwest toward Honduras.

This mystified my kids to no end and their questions abounded.
"How could they learn how to do that if they were kept in the ship's hold all the time?" asked another. "Were they watching the Spaniards from below after they were captured and made slaves?"
We must remember that at the time this happened, the Spanish ships were the culmination of Portuguese and Spanish technology that had taken them around the cape of Africa and beyond. They were the cutting-edge of maritime vessels.

One can only imagine what the more timid souls among the natives argued, but some of their objections to strike a blow for freedom are predictable. "What if we can't sail it? What if we sink? What if we are punished? What if slavery turns out to be not so bad compared to the unknowns? I could not in honesty answer my children on the motives that drove the Indians to their eventual decision, but only asked them what they would do if they they knew they were destined to be sold as slaves and had no other recourse.

Would they dare to navigate through uncharted waters, to brave the dangers, to learn what was necessary to survive as free people?

Freedom, it is said, is a powerful motivator. The freedom to choose what you want to do, to not allow someone else to dictate to you what you can do with your person, your home, or your belongings is the most basic of human drives.
Apparently, this was not the only time natives attempted to take the ships into which they were bound to be sold into slavery. At least one other attempt has been documented in that era, but alas, it failed because the slave-catchers were aware of the natives' abilities.

We can only guess at the fate these unfortunates suffered at the hands of the queen's conquistadors. But somewhere on Guanaja, those natives who overcame their fears and took the chance of controlling their own destiny and not allow outside intruders to take what they valued and loved most prospered and eventually became inhabitants of that free country.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A TACO A DAY, KEEPS THE GABACHOS AT BAY...

El Taco
 By Juan Montoya
Every time Andres passes by the old huisache tree, he smiles.
He can still remember the small group of boys sitting in its shade under the scalding South Texas sun at Little Elm munching on their school lunch. The fence of the school yard ran next to the tree, and the railroad was a little further away.

The boys had made it a habit to gather under the tree each day at noon to have their lunch. They could well have gone to the cafeteria, but preferred to gather under the tree and chatter. This suited Andres just fine, since he could not have joined in the conversation inside the cafeteria, where teachers and their favorites were always on the watch for anyone speaking Spanish, which at that time was not allowed on school grounds.

Andres had just come to Little Elm with his family from nearby northern Mexico. Although his father had been born in central Texas, his parents had taken him to rural San Pedro, Coahuila, where the Mexican government had allotted them farm land in its huge irrigation project in the Laguna region. His father Jose had grown up a Mexican, never realizing his true citizenship. He had met Andres’s future mother, Socorro, whose family from Veracruz was also drawn by the government’s enticement of land and work in Mexico’s cotton belt, and they married there.

For a few years, until Andres was six, both families had prospered in the harsh desert climate. During the day, the searing hot sun would cover the little town in a stifling blanket of heat. At night, the cold winds from the nearby hills would chill him and his brother as they huddled under the blankets to keep warm.

After a few years, the desert started to reclaim the land, and the huge cotton yields started to grow smaller, until both extended families - grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins  - left to seek their fortunes in northern Tamaulipas, the neighboring state.

Eventually, his father had joined other men to go work in the cotton fields of South Texas, where the pay was in dollars, and where there was always a need for good cotton pickers and farm workers. Pickers from the Laguna area were specially prized as workers, each one picking three rows at a time and singing in the distance in front of the others.

After a time, his father had moved the family to a Mexican border town. He discovered he was a U.S. citizen when he was stopped by a Border Patrol agent when he was caught swimming across the river as he and the other workers had done so often.
“Why are you swimming the river when you’e a citizen and could just as well have walked across the bridge?,” the agent had  asked him.
“I never knew I was,” his father had replied. After that, it was just a matter of time before his father’s mother produced the birth certificate from among her stash of family documents.

“You were born near Victoria, Texas, Jose” she had told his dad. “But it was so long ago, we never really thought about it. You are a citizen of the United States. So are two of your sisters and one brother. The rest were born in Coahuila.”

And so his father had continued working in the cotton farm in Little Elm, eventually becoming one of the permanent workers there. With steady work, he undertook the task of bringing his family north. His employer told him that if he was able to cross them over, his citizenship would prevent the law from deporting them.
And so it was that during a bi-national holiday celebrated by the both cities during February, Andres’s mother bundled him and his brothers and sisters -  now five in all - to walk across the bridge.

“Mom, why are we putting on three pairs of pants and shirts ?,” he had asked.
“You never mind and don’t go around telling anyone,” she had told him firmly. “Just hold on to your little brother’s hand and don’t let go.”

It had been a long-standing tradition fostered by the local chamber of commerce to allow Mexican residents of the nearby town to cross into the United States to join the celebration. They called it “paso libre” and the Mexican nationals were warned not to go further north than the city limits. However, his father had enlisted the aid of his employer to use his pickup truck with a shell and it was an easy matter to travel through the back country roads to their new home in Little Elm.

Life on the cotton farm was an exiting change for Andres and his family. Each morning, truckloads of laborers would arrive at dawn to work in the cotton fields. Many of them were old and bent with age as they got off the back of the truck, where 20 or 30 more of their fellows were crowded together for the trip from the border town to Little Elm. 

In those days, the Border Patrol turned a blind eye to the daily coming and going of these workers. If they could cross the river -  whether with a permit through the bridge or swimming through the treacherous currents of the water - they could go unbothered about their labor on the nearby farms.
In fact, there were recognized places in the downtown where workers by the hundreds would gather waiting to be picked up by the trucks that would take them to the nearby farms. The Border Patrol would make sure the process went smoothly, assuring the local farmers of a steady supply of labor.

The adults would tease the kids on the farm - many of them there illegally like Andres and his brothers - when the familiar green and white trucks of the Border Patrol would approach on the road.

“Run! Run! Here comes the migra!,” they would shout as the kids ran and hid under the tractors  and other implements in the open sheds. The agents shared in the fun as they passed by smiling at the children hiding behind the machinery and the large metal disks attached to the tractors.

When the cotton plants were two to three inches tall, the workers would arrive early in the morning, some carrying worn leather knee pads, to thin the crop. After having some hot coffee, they would be dispatched to their respective fields and set about to thin the rows, spacing the plants uniformly by pulling the shoots with their hands. In the evenings when they clambered aboard the trucks, they would haul their weary bodies onto the bed. Their callused hands were stained a dark green from the day-long pulling of the plants.

Eventually, school started and Andres and his brothers and sisters were enrolled in Little Elm Elementary. A bus would pick them up each morning and deliver them home after school. Since he didn’t know a word of English even though he was seven, Andres was placed in the second-grade class. His teacher, an elderly lady perhaps 70 years old, didn’t know a word of Spanish. Since Spanish was prohibited on school grounds, there was very little to be done to teach Andres how to read or understand his lessons.

Unable to place him in any of her three reading groups - A, B, or C -, Mrs. Stroman had him sit behind each group as she gave the children their daily lessons. All Andres did during the day was to sit in the back of the groups and try to follow the lessons by glancing at their books and following along on the pages.
After a few days, his two older sisters complained to their parents that the Anglo students and some of the others  would make fun of them when they took out their lunch in the cafeteria.

“They tease us because we have tacos,” they told their mother. “All the other kids have baloney sandwiches and we have tacos. They’re mean.”

Bowing to the pressure, his parents soon sent all of them to school with baloney sandwiches in their brown paper lunch sacks. Even though they never ate sandwiches at home, they dutifully bought them for the kids so they would not be teased anymore. On the bus on the way to school, Andres soon made a few friends who asked him his name and what grade he was in. 

Although some of the kids were in third grade, they soon became buddies. The driver did not enforce the English-only rule on the bus. Andres soon found out that his family wasn’t the only one in Little Elm who didn’t eat cold sandwiches. In fact, he became a minor celebrity because he took sandwiches for lunch while the rest of the kids took tacos.
“What did your mother make you for lunch?,” he asked his friend Paco.
“Papas con bacon,” Paco replied. “You want to trade?”
“Sure,” Andres said.

He couldn’t get over his good fortune. Paco’s mother - whoever she was - was a master at making flour tortillas. They were soft and fluffy and shaped themselves snugly around the food. The potatoes were diced and soft and the bacon pieces gave the tacos a delicious taste. Since he didn’t want his sisters to tell his parents - or to get teased in the cafeteria - he convinced Paco to have their lunch under the huisache tree.

When lunch time came around, he and Paco were joined by another four or five boys and made their way to the tree. There, he asked them about some of the lessons he didn’t understand as they shared their lunch, or rather, they took turns munching on the baloney sandwich he had traded with Paco.
“Where do you guys go when you tell the teacher ‘maybescuze’?,” Andres asked them once.
“To the bathroom, al baño,” Paco said. “You can go in there and speak Spanish and everything.”

When he returned to his class, he decided to try it on Mrs. Stroman.
Walking up to the elderly lady, he stood before her as she glanced up from the reading lesson she was giving the B group.
“Maybescuze?,” he asked.
The old lady stared at him incredulously and pointed merely down the hallway to the bathroom.
Sure enough, inside were four or five other students laughing and joking among themselves in Spanish.
“How did you do it?,” they asked Andres.
“I just said ‘maybescuze’ and she let me come,” he replied.

Years later, Andres got a small satisfaction when he passed by a national Mexican fast-food franchise and saw it was full of non-Hispanics craving what they thought was traditional Mexican food. Personally, the brittle taco shells filled with minced meat never appealed to him. He still remembered the potato-and-bacon tacos Paco’s mother had prepared and which he traded for his baloney sandwiches some four decades before.
“Now that was real food,” he thought.  
 Every time he drives past that old huisache tree, Andres smiles.


ONCE THERE WAS A WAY, TO GO BACK HOMEWARD...


Thursday, October 19, 2017

GRUMPY CUSTOMER GIVES A GIFT FROM THE GREAT BEYOND

By Billie Soden
Walter “Buck” Swords was an 89-year-old grump. He was a curmudgeon, complainer, and malcontent whiner for the 7 years he was a customer at the Brownsville, Texas restaurant at which Melina Salazar worked. Melina was patient with him, but Buck couldn’t have cared less, or so it appeared.
He may have been her most challenging customer.(Source: Central Tang G. Village/Facebook)

Each time Buck visited Luby’s, the restaurant where Salazar was a waitress, she met every grumpy growl of discontent from the old man with a smile and kind words. That’s who Salazar was, pretty much the exact opposite of how Buck was. He may have been her most challenging customer, but she provided the same superior service and attitude to everyone she waited on. Salazar is just one of those people who could see the good in everyone.
Turns out Buck had a heart after all.(victorcristianonet/YouTube/Screenshot)

After years of Buck being a daily visitor to Luby’s, Salazar noticed he had stopped showing up. When she found out the news that he had passed away, she was sad, not relieved as some may have felt. Of course, death is never a happy thing, but it would be hard to ignore the reality of Buck’s offensive comments and negativity. But it would soon be revealed that Buck had a heart after all, in a big way.
He looked forward to coming to see her every day.(victorcristianonet/YouTube/Screenshot)

A lawyer stopped by the restaurant a few days before the Christmas holiday and the day after Salazar had learned of his passing, looking for Melina. The lawyer pulled the good-hearted waitress aside for a brief chat.

He told Salazar how much she had meant to Buck and how he had looked forward to coming to see her every day. He let Salazar know that her positive outlook and persistent positivity had not gone unnoticed by her old friend.

But the lawyer wasn’t there just to share loving and kind sentiments from Buck. There was more.
Buck had left her part of his estate.(victorcristianonet/YouTube/Screenshot)

The lawyer informed Salazar that Buck had left her part of his estate in the form of a car and $50,000. The tears started to run as she was given the news.

“I still can’t believe it,” Salazar told KGBT-TV in an interview, according to the Associated Press.

Maya Angelou (1928–2014), the American poet and activist, once said, “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot — it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that, I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”

Melina Salazar could have just as easily said that. She certainly exemplifies it.

EMPEROR TONY MARTINEZ VOTED SOB OF THE YEAR

By Juan Montoya
If you have a chance, log in to the City of Brownsville website and watch the Oct. 17 meeting of the city commission.

Go to the approval of the minutes item on the agenda and watch an imperious mayor at work. If the taped meeting isn't posted yet, take the time to see it. It shows a despot at work.

In one fell swoop, Hizzoner Da Mayor Tony Martinez disenfranchised half of the voters of Brownsville.

When commissioners Jessica Tetreau and Ricardo Longoria tried to speak out about her vote on the nomination of Steve Guerra to the board of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, Martinez summarily denied them the forum to which the voters of Brownsville gave them by electing them.

We have often derided both of the commissioners on this page. Sometimes they are trivial in their pursuit for personal glory. Often they are used as tools for special interests. Yet, this does not give Martinez any right to silence their voices on the commission meetings.

The issue was Tetreau's attempt to correct the minutes to show she had cast a "aye" vote for Steve Guerra, a local businessman with extensive ties to the Matamoros business community. This is not as strange as it sounds. Most, if not all, local business people have some kind of tie to Mexico. We are, after all, on the border.

Tetreau had attempted to have city secretary Griselda Rosas change the minutes to reflect her "aye" vote on the minutes and submitted an affidavit to have her change what Martinez had decreed a non-vote. When she tried to object, as did Longoria, he imperiously shut them up, even to the point where he threatened to have Longoria escorted by the police out of the chamber.

Tetreau said that two commissioners next to her (Longoria and Cesar de Leon) had heard her say "aye" and could vouch for her, but Martinez denied her or Longoria the right to explain their objection to having the minutes changed. Instead, he silenced them and – with the support of commissioner Ben Neece – rolled roughshod over their constituency. Neece went as far as handing her affidavit on the Guerra vote to the chief of the Brownsville Police Department so he could investigate if she had committed "perjury."

Then they all voted for the appointment of Nurith Galonsky to the GBIC board. Yes, Galonsky, of the Casa del Nylon infamy. After all the complains against having the same people from the same old families running this city to the ground, they chose a Galonsy to the GBIC which controls an annual budget of $5 million in incentives for economic development.

We know we should not visit the sins of the father upon the children, but look at what $2.3 million bought us. It is a shell of a building which has no use whatsoever apart from putting cold hard cash in the pocket of the mayor's friend. In fact, it's a magnet for homeless people and their pooches.

We hate to part ways with our friend Neece on this one, but like commission De Leon, we have to call a spade a spade. Martinez has so downgraded our political representation that what passes for representative democracy is now a theocracy personified in Emperor Martinez.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ELIZONDO FALLOUT: NO PASSPORT, SUSPENDED W-OUT PAY

By Juan Montoya

How low the mighty have fallen.

At the arraignment, when the Cameron County District Attorney's Office was demanding that Associate Judge Louis Sorola impose two $35,000 bonds on former Brownsville Fire Chief Carlos Estrada for a charge of Theft by a Public Official and Misappropriation of Fiduciary Property, the judge instead levied $8,500 bonds on both charges.

But there was a caveat.

Sorola also demanded that Elizondo hand over his passport to the court. That way, if he ever tried to abscond on his bond, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the former fire chief to return to the United States without alerting the U.S. Customs agents at the bridge of his identity.

Elizondo comes from a prominent Matamoros family and the fear when he was not found at home by law enforcement Tueasday morning was that he might have fled to Mexico. Instead, he went to the law office of oe Garza, his attorney, and as officers waited for him to emerge, left surreptitiously. AN all points bulleting was issued by the Brownsville Police Dept. until he showed up at the Cameron County District Attorney's Office accompanied by his lawyers and turned himself in.

Elizondo posted his bond and – after he was booked at Rucker-Carrizales – was released to await trial.

But there was another domino that had yet to fall on the luckless defendant.
The City of Brownsville confirmed that it was removing him from administrative leave with pay and suspended him without pay pending the results of the charges.

And these is just the beginning. Hovering out there is an audit/investigation into his personal role in the steering of transfers to Intercity Ambulance Services, a company with whom Elizondo had direct links. One city commission audit revealed that dispatchers – under someone's instructions – transferred patients to that company. In at least four occasions it was Elizondo who personally called to steer the transfers to the private ambulance service.

Now facing those legal challenges and his protectors and enablers – former city manager Charlie Cabler who resigned and city attorney Mark Sossi who was fired – Elizondo will have to look for the best deal he can get.

In order to stave off the release of  a fire department audit conducted by the commission's Audit and Oversight Committee, Elizondo released snippets of the nealry five-hour recording where commissioner Cesar de Leon made prejudices statements against two black assistant district attorneys. This led to a huge controversy and a petition bearing 300 signatures calling for his resignation was published in the Brownsville Herald.


OP 10.33, the organization that wants to end poverty in the city  by October 2033, responded with a petition bearing 3,000 signatures demanding local leaders focus on bettering the economic and educational conditions here instead of being distracted by the controversy.

There are reports, as yet unconfirmed, that Elizondo as a walking listening post and recorded just about every public figure with who he talked with. Will recordings of Mayor Tony Martinez, city commissioners, Cabler, Sossi, school district trustees, county officials, etc., surface as he deals with prosecutors?

Are you on a tape?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

PUB BOARD MEMBER NURITH GALONSKY APPOINTED TO GBIC

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Image result for nurith galonsky, brownsville public utility boardAfter a contentious debate over whether to change the City of Brownsville minutes of the October 3 meeting to reflect what Commissioner Jessica Tetreau said was a mistaken record of her vote on the selection of an appointee to the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, the commission unanimously voted to appoint Brownsville Public Utility Board member Nurith Galonsky to that board.

Mayor Tony Martinez cut off discussion from Tetreau and commissioner Ricardo Longoria who wanted to discuss Tetreau's objections and ordered the City Secretary Griselda Rosas to let the minutes of the 2-2 tie on Steve Guerra's appointment remain on the record.

Tereau had filed an affidavit to Rosas to change the minutes to reflect a "yea" vote on the approval of the minutes. Martinez said that a review of the meeting tape indicated that Tetreau had not cast a vote on the issue. Commissioner Ben Neece asked that the chief of police receive the Tetreau affidavit t see if perjury had been committed by her filing the affidavit to show she had voted.

Tetreau said that the two commissioners who sat next to her (Longoria and Cesar de Leon) had heard her vote "yes."

After the discussion, the item to appoint Galonsky was approved unanimously after the motion was made by Longoria and a second by Neece.

ELIZONDO TURNS HIMSELF IN AFTER BOLTING FROM LAWYER'S OFFICE AND BROWNSVILLE PD ISSUED ALL POINTS BULLETIN
























By Juan Montoya

Carlos Elizondo, the former Brownsville Fire Chief, has been arrested and is in custody of law enforcement.

Elizondo was in the company of his attorneys Noe Garza and Victor Ramirez this afternoon when he gave himself up to Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz. He was visibly pained when news reporters and camera people asked him questions which he didn't answer and no one from the DA's Office showed up to open the locked door to the prosecutor's office. At times he faced the wall and gave his back to the camera peeking into the DA's Office awaiting someone to open the door.

(The Brownsville Herald documented the moment and included the link in its website. Click to see.)
https://youtu.be/-yKPh0zHfs4

An all-points alert had been issued for Elizondo after he fled from his lawyer Noe Garza's office after being warned that unless he came out and gave himself up officers would storm the building.

Apparently, Elizondo bolted from Garza's office before that happened and police radio dispatchers issued a bulletin to all units to apprehend him on sight.

A DA press release on their website indicated that Elizondo was charged with one charge of Theft by a Public Servant and one of Misapplication of Fiduciary Property, both third-degree felonies. Associate Judge Louis Sorola set bond of $8,500 on each.

The funds reportedly came from the Brownsville Firefighters Association Local #970's Political Action Committee's bank account after the Texas Ethics Commission had sanctioned him and removed him as treasurer in 2009. Firefighters association officers reported more than 8,000 were taken by Elizondo without authorization over the last two years he was listed as treasurer of the PAC and was president of the union.

Using those funds, reports indicate he made payments to local political workers, BISD trustee Minerva Peña for a recount in a justice of the peace race, and Grafik Spot, a sign and ad company with links to BISD trustee Cesar Lopez.

Early this morning, numerous vehicles bearing U.S. government plates and Cameron County District Attorney's Office accompanied by several units of the Brownsville Police Dept. descended at the home of  Elizondo, the Brownsville Independent School District trustee who is currently on administrative leave with pay from his position as a lieutenant in the the Brownsville Fire Dept.

This was further confirmed later in the day by members of the media including the Brownsville Herald and local broadcasters who say that agents wearing DEA and FBI jackets are at the house as this report is being written There had been no Elizondo sightings but BPD sources say he was not being held by the city. The white-haired man in he photos at Elizondo's house is the DA's Public Integrity Unit chief George Delaunay.

Delaunay did not tell reporters at the scene whether officers had a warrant for Elizondo's arrest or a  warrant to execute a search.

Reports indicated that Elizondo was not at the home when the law enforcement officers arrived. His whereabouts were unknown.

(And other reports that indicated that BISD superintendent Esperanza Zendejas and board president Cesar Lopez were seen conversing with three plain-clothes law enforcement agents at a local restaurant his morning proved groundless. It turned out to be visitors from the Dallas area.)

There is no further information available on the reason the feds and BPD officers are there. However, it does appear that they are executing a search warrant to enter and search the Elizondo home at 2994 Vanessa. However, BPD sources refused to comment on the presence of their officers at the home.

A television crew reported that the agents had entered the home a few minutes later. At least two broadcast stations were at the scene.

Previously, there have been reports that a FBI-task force was investigating  ambulance-related alleged activities of  Elizondo, who was demoted as chief  and is now a lieutenant in the department. He was then placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into his role in steering patients to Intercity Ambulance Services to which he is personally linked.

Elizondo, who released a secretly taped recording of City Commissioner Cesar de Leon where he told him he would never harm him, not "intentionally," was placed on leave pending the results of the ambulance-related investigation, among other things.

Among some of the comments De Leon made in the tape was one where he demanded that BISD chair Lopez stop Graphic Spot from charging him $1,500 for political signs Lopez had promised to pay for him in his commissioner's race.

The DA's Office had earlier confirmed that it was investigating a criminal complaint against Elizondo by the Brownsville Firefighters Association charging Theft by a Public Official when the former chief was union president. They charge that Elizondo stole more than $8,000 in union funds through ATM withdrawals despite having been removed as the treasurer of the association's Political Action Committee.

Superintendent Zendejas has acknowledged in an email to a former purchasing administrator that the BISD's Food and Nutrition Service department was under investigation by federal agents over the use of United States Department of Agriculture funds to purchase barbacoa meat from a company that processed the meat in Mexico.

In the tape secretely recorded by the former fire chief,  Elizondo maintained he didn't know of numerous things happening in the BISD to which de Leon replied: "O eres muy pendejo o te estas haciendo pendejo," indicating he was not buying Elizondo's claims of ignorance.

WHY IS MARTINEZ TRAMPLING ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER? TETREAU FILES AFFIDAVIT ON STEVE GUERRA GBIC VOTE

By Juan Montoya
We have gone over the video of the Oct. 3 City of Brownsville Commission meeting, specifically item 7, which reads: Consideration and action to appoint one member to the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation.

Image result for tony martinez, brownsvilleAfter City Secretary Griselda Rosas announced the item, commissioner Ricardo Longoria, Jr., moved that Mr. Esteban Guerra be appointed to the GBIC. The motion was seconded by commissioner Joel Munguia.

At this time Commissioner Jessica Tetreau a roll call in regards to the vote, a request that was inored by Mayor Tony Martinez.

The voting was Ayes: Commissioner Longoria, Jr., Munguia, and Tetreau
Nays: Commissioner Neece and Mayor Martinez

Abstained: Commissioner de Leon

Absent: Commissioner Gowen
That made it 3-2 to approve Guerra's nomination to join De Leon, Tetreau, Cameron County Treasurer David Betancourt, and John Gowen. Guerra's appointment would fill the one empty slot that resulted when former city commissioner Deborah Portillo resigned after she decided not to seek reelction to the city commision.

So why did Martinez state that there was a 2 for and 2 against vote therefore there was a tie before he asked if the commissioners wanted the motioned tabled?

Neece made a motion to table seconded by de Leon. The voting was as follows:
Ayes: Neece, de Leon, Munguia, Tetreau and Mayor Martinez
Nays: Longoria, Jr.
Absent: Gowen

De Leon has abstained because he said that he was unsure whether he could vote given the fact that he is on the GBIC board. We have learned that after acting City Attorney Allison Bastian contacted attorneys with the Texas Municipal League, she was informed that both Tetreau and De Leon could  vote on GBIC nominations to the board.

Meanwhile, Tetreau filed an notarized affidavit with the city secretary saying Martinez – besides ignoring her call for a roll vote – misinterpreted her vote and declared a tie. This has prompted secretary Rosas to complain that she is being harassed by Tetreau and "an attorney" over the issue. Others – like local blogger Jerry McHale – promptly accused Tereau of "perjury," although we don't think she was under oath at the time the Guerra vote was taken. But well, we know Jerry.

When the item comes up to choose a member for the GBIC noard, will the vote be moot since Tetreau said she voted for Guerra and therefore the majority vote should be respected? Since Gowen was absent from the meeting, will she – as she usually does – side with Martinez to overturn the majority decision at the last meeting?

Some commenters have said that Martinez is desperately to stack the GBIC board with his supporters to delay the release of an audit being conducted of BEDC operations by Price-Waterhiouse at the behest of the GBIC board that might be related to his travel with CEO Jason Hilts to Colombia.

Others dispurte that assertion saying that the audit is still not complete and that it will be presented to the city commission in due time.

What is clear is that the nomination of Nivck Serafy Jr.,  of Proficiency Testing Service and Ankjaer Jensen, of A. L. Loran International, is being questioned in light of the fact that both serve on the BEDC board, the organization whose recurring three-year, $5.2 million contract to vet companies for GBIC incnetives funding was not renewed following reports of waste and questionable spending under Hilts. Some commissioners have said that the BEDC board members knew of these questionable activities and did nothing to rectify the matter.
   

REPORT: FEDS, BPD. DESCEND ON CARLOS ELIZONDO'S HOUSE

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Eyewitness reports indicate that vehicles bearing U.S. government plates accompanied by several units of the Brownsville Police Dept. have descended at the home of Carlos Elizondo, the Brownsville Independent School District trustee who is currently on administrative leave with pay from the Brownsville Fire Dept.

There is no further information available on the reason the feds and BPD officers are there or whether they have a search warrant to enter the home at 2994 Vanessa. BPD sources refused to comment on the presence of their officers at the home.

Previously, there have been reports that a FBI-task force was investigating  ambulance-related alleged activities of  Elizondo, who was demoted as chief  and is now a lieutenant in the department. He was then placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into his role in steering patients to Intercity Ambulance Services to which he is personally linked.

Elizondo, who released a secretly taped recording of City Commissioner Cesar de Leon where he told him he would never harm him, not "intentionally," was placed on leave pending the results of the ambulance-related investigation, among other things.

In the tape, Elizondo maintained he didn't know of numerous things happening in the BISD to which de Leon replied: "O eres muy pendejo o te estas haciendo pendejo," indicating he was not buying Elizondo's claims of ignorance.

Monday, October 16, 2017

WILL COUNSEL QUESTION CABLER'S GOLDEN PARACHUTE?


By Juan Montoya
On Tuesday, the City of Brownsville Commission will meet to accept former city manager Charlie Cabler's retirement which was effective when he submitted October 10.

But there are lingering questions at to the legality of his contract, a convoluted document that seems to grant the former city administrator 260 days of accrued leave under the clause titled "Additional accredited leave package."

That equals roughly to a full-year's pay ($220,000) which Cabler will collect on his way out the door.

 The contract, signed by then-city mayor Eddie Treviño states that "Accredited leave pay shall be calculated based on calendar days. During employment as City Manager, additional accredited leave pay for voluntary or involuntary separation will be 260 days (30 from City Charter and 130 granted by the City Commission).

As we have pointed out in past posts, 30 plus 130 equals 160, not 260 as the clause implies. Maybe they practice some other kind of math over at City Hall that eludes us.

But there are voices in the city's legal department who question whether the city can grant these generous terms when it flies in the face of the city charter as it pertains to employment benefits. This is addressed at the very top of the contract that states: "The terms are subject to the provisions of the Charter of the City of Brownsville."

We would think that the current bunch over at the city's legal department would conduct a final review ti make sure the terms and conditions are faithfully executed and that they would issue a signed statement to that effect. Are they up to the task?

Or will they let Charlie part with this $220,000 bonus pending a possible indictment for his role in the ambulance steering scam which a commission audit and oversight committee said was perpetrated with the knowledge and participation of former fire chief Carlos Elizondo, his assistant chief Ernie Estrada and with Cabler's knowledge?

RENE CARDENAS: "DO AS WE SAY, NOT AS MY FAMILY DOES."

(Ed.'s Note: The hypocritical address given by Rene Cardenas during the public comment at a city commission meeting where he questioned the commitment of public officials to act with integrity and righteousness left a few of us wondering why he didn't demand that from members of his own family. So we dug into our files and came up with a Cardenas-engineered colonia development that has resulted in the county using public resources to address the mess created by his brother Ricky. The colonia is built on a flood zone and that's exactly what residents endure after a moderate rainfall.)































By Juan Montoya
In a classic case of a misnomer, the low-income residents of a subdivision called Laguna Seca in Cameron County Precinct 2 have been pumping weeks after after the recent storms when the development turns it into a very wet lake.

Officially, the subdivision is recorded with the county as the Hacienda Del Norte Subdivision.
In fact, the subdivision floods just about every time there's a heavy downpour.

And the developer, who has installed a permanent tractor with a pump for that very purpose, has now washed his hands of the whole messy affair leaving the residents to fend off on their own.
Cameron County Pct. 2 Commissioner Alex Dominguez, who never imagined he'd be involved doing the work of a drainage district, now has his hands full answering the complaints of the irate property owners who bought their lots from Quinta-Anita Inc.

The president of Quinta-Anita is Rick Cardenas. According to the records on file, the original owners of Quinta-Anita were Cardenas and the late Raul Tijerina.
"Some of them didn't even know they had deeds," Dominguez said. "The county is really not responsible for pumping water from their lots. But we are trying to help them out as much as we can."

The problems begin soon after the subdivision was filed with the county.
 City ordinance require that:
"The closest corner of the proposed
subdivision shall be at a distance of more than 500 feet, as measured along the proposed sewer line, from a public gravity sanitary sewer system, and the proposed subdivision shall contain no more than one parcel for each 50-foot length of such distance beyond 500 feet including any fractions of such 50-foot lengths."

The subdivision is in the City of Brownsville's Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction and there is no public sanitary sewer service available. Accordingly, on-site sanitary systems (septic tanks) are used by the residents.

Half of the subdivision is located in Flood Zone A O:
Zone AO is defined as an area inundated by 1 percent annual chance flooding (usually sheet flow on sloping
terrain), for which average depths have been determined; flood depths range from 1 to 3 feet. According to FEMA guidelines, "Some Zone AO have been designated in areas with high flood velocities such as alluvial fans and washes. Communities are encouraged to adopt more restrictive requirements for these areas."

When the subdivision plat was submitted to the county in the early 1990s, it included a large lot to be used as a retention pond (see top graphic at bottom center of the subdivision). The deeds sold to residents state that they were to form a home owners' association with lien-assessing authority to maintain the pond.

Some residents have told Dominguez and his assistants that they didn't even know the covenant existed. With lots selling between $17,000 to $24,000, it is doubtful that many would even understand what the covenant was.


"Some didn't even know that that meant," he said. "They didn't know they were supposed to maintain the pond."


When the flooding began way back when, the county asked Cardenas about maintenance of the pump he had provided for the pond and on April 1996, he wrote the county engineer "Please be advised that a homeowners association (is responsible) for the maintenance of s service pump to be used in the detention pond located in Section II of the (subdivision)."

Since the site is more than two miles into the city's ETJ, subdivision rules passed at the time did not require Cardenas to provide sidewalks, curb and gutter or city-grade streets. Residents soon faced the daunting task of getting rid of flood waters that often rose to house level.

That pump, however, proved to be too little to remove the standing water that literally created a lake. The problem was compounded with the health hazard created when on-site sewer systems (septic tanks) overflowed.

Dominguez and the county crews spent the better part of three days with the Gator (pump) working 24 hours. For five days they used two 2,000 gallon tanker trucks from Pct. 2 Public Works.
Former Cameron County Pct. 2 commissioner John Wood remembers the subdivision well. He said that the flooding has been chronic and that the pump at the subdivision often broke down and couldn't handle the volume of water that flooded it periodically.

"The developer basically washed his hands of the problem and didn't want anything to do with it," he said.
To add to the problem, the landowners adjacent to the subdivision at first allowed the residents to pump the water into their fields, but with the potential contamination from the septic and other detritus, they were no longer willing to continue the practice.

Since the subdivision is located outside of any drainage district, the water has to be carried in pipes and through bar ditches to the nearest irrigation ditch.

With hurricane season under way, it the problems associated with flooding and health hazards from overflowing septic tanks is not going to go away. The way the city is growing, it may not be long before annexation and may require a huge outlay to bring it up to city specifications.

And with Cardenas basically saying it is the residents' baby, and with no easy solution in sight, it is unlikely that Dominguez, the current tenant at the Pct. 2 helm, has heard the last of it.

CROWDS BID SUNDAY SENDOFF TO 21ST LATIN JAZZ FESTIVAL

(Ed.'s Note: Well, the 21st Anniversary Latin Jazz Festival has come and gone. For three days, downtown was throbbing with Caribbean beats and salsa dancers. In the final street concert, revelers were joined by bike riders participating in the Cyclobia that ended at the corner of 12th and Levee streets. Our hats off to the organizers and volunteers who made this possible. And to the artists and art students who graced the walls with their paintings, saludos! See you next year!)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

MCHALE LAYS BARE CRITIC RENE CARDENAS' HYPOCRISY

By Dr. G.F. McHale-Scully

History is often written by hypocrites. Take Rene Cardenas of the Ku Klux Kardenas Klan family. He took to the editorial pages of the dying daily, better known as The Brownsville Herald, to fume furiously about the current situation at City Hall.

"I am very concerned and somewhat discouraged about the state of affairs within our city," he commenced on his rambling discourse. "As we all know, there have been some issues, events and bad choices made by Commissioner Cesar De Leon for which no explanation nor excuse will suffice.

"My family and I have always held our city close to our hearts, putting aside the scorn and ridicule that sometimes comes with success," he continued. "Putting aside negativity and moving forward should be the goal among all of us who claim to want the city to prosper. Doubling down on the line of negativity and creating a path of rogue moves, with one poor decision after another, will not resolve another crisis."

Cardenas should scrutinize his own parents before he criticizes others. His infamous progenitors were none other than Renato "Blackie" Cardenas and Mary Rose "Miss Piggy" Cardenas. Thriving in a political era when politiqueras dictated winners and losers in local elections, Old Man and Old Lady Cardenas never cared about Brownsville's economic success. They only cared about their own financial profits.

Don Pedro said it best: "The Cardenases wouldn't think twice about selling a customer a house without a roof or a car without a motor. They were insiders who swindled this community time and time again."

(Dr. McHale-Scully didn't mention that Cardenas butted heads with Planning and Zoning member Adolph Crixell when he tried to get the board to approve the installation of septic tanks in mobile home park called California Estates which was adjacent to a resaca used for irrigation and which families used for recreation, including where kids went swimming.  And Peter Zavaletta sued them for their dealings in the sales of  cars with fees disadvantageous to the consumers. 

The lawsuit filed in 2009 against Cardenas Motors Inc., sought to collect damages because of "misleading or deceptive acts or practices."  Eight individuals who bought nine used automobiles from the Cardenas location in Brownsville claimed they where charged an unknown fee for services they didn’t receive. The fee in question is listed in the motor vehicles buyer’s order as "VIN REG" and it ranged from $392.18 to $798.18, said Zavaletta.

Old Man Cardenas was a do-nothing city commissioner whose most articulate sound was a grunt that resembled a fart. He once commented to Dr. Joe Zavaletta during their weekly poker party that he could sentence anyone to death in Brownsville with his Mafioso connections in Matamoros.

Old Lady Cardenas forced one of the poorest populaces in The United States to pay for the privilege of having one of the riches university systems to open a campus in Brownsville with the ultimate goal of destroying Texas Southmost College.

One of the reasons that Brownsville has never realized its potential is because the Ku Klux Kardenas Klan have always sucked the taxpayers' tit dry. Rene Cardenas needs to look at himself in the mirror before he demands that others face the truth.

THE USS BROWNTOWN DRIFTS RUDDERLESS INTO THE VOID

11. Consideration and ACTION to appoint one (1) member to the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation. (Griselda Rosas – City Secretary)

By Juan Montoya
The City of Brownsville does not not a permanent city manager, city attorney, or a fire chief.
Yet, on Tuesday, the city commission will accept the retirement notice of former city manager Charlie Cabler and announce a date when the position will be vacate.

For the meantime, longtime city financial officer and now assistant city manager Pete Gonzalez and former city secretary Michael Lopez are sharing responsibilities for running the city. Gonzalez, who knows the ins and outs of the city's dismal finances is beyond his dynamic stage and will probably leave the daily running of the city to the younger Lopez.

This is not a good thing.
Lopez left the city secretary's position after he attempted to launch a coup of the city municipal court staff and tried to assist Cabler in establishing something called a Court Services Dept. under the city manager and wrest it from the administrative control of the City Municipal Court Chief Judge Ben Neece. It wasn't until Neece threatened to get a court injunction to stop the move that Cabler relented and called off his boy Lopez. Neece then retired as judge and ran for the city commission and beat John Villarreal.

Prediction: Lopez will not be the next city manager

It is hoped that the city will launch a nationwide hunt for Cabler's replacement. It is also hoped that it will be someone without any baggage or ties with political factions in the city.
That may be wishful thinking considering that past city commissions have hired former police chiefs and commanders without an iota of urban management or planning. The result, well, you can see the results for yourself all around.

Cabler and the fire chief and former city attorney left under clouds – no, thunderheads – of suspicion over inappropriate behavior and/or scandal. They all got their jobs because of their political connections, and not necessarily the meritorious performance of their professions.

But what the city commission – minus city manager, attorney or fire chief – will decide on Tuesday is who they will pick to fill the vacancy left when former city commissioner Deborah Portillo resigned from the five-member board of the Greater Brownsville Incentive Corporation.

The GBIC is important because it manages the annual $5 million that it gets from the quarter-cent share of the city's annual sales tax receipts to nurture economic development (read jobs) in the city. Until the recent past, any number of shady deals have been funded by former boards, including doling out $100,000s to well-connected relatives of local politicians and prominent individuals. The returns on those "incentives" have been dismal and benefited no one but the recipients. That is one reason that the commissioners decided to be on the board and shift directions.

Currently, commissioners Jessica Tetreau and Cesar de Leon are on the board. Other members include Cameron County Treasurer David Betancourt, and John Cowen.

There are seven Brownsville residents applying to fill the slot left Vacant by Portillo, some well known, others not so well. City policy prohibits someone from serving on more than two boards.

Ankjaer Jensen, who sits on the Brownsville Economic Development Council is one of the applicants. It is somewhat incongruous for Jensen to apply considering that the GBIC, disgusted at the way the 33-member BEDC board – and its executive committee – have so badly mismanaged the money it got under the recurrent three-year, $5.3 million contract it had with the GBIC refused to renew it. What makes Jensen think that the city commission will pick someone from the board that the GBIC board members fired? Is there a fix in the works?

At their last meeting, the application of Esteban Guerra, a local businessman, died as a result of a tied vote. His name appears on the list of applicants again for consideration Tuesday. Guerra rand for the Brownsville Navigation District against John Wood in the last go-round and lsot. If anything, he does have some name recognition.

Others include Nurith Galonsky, who also sits on the Brownsville Public Utilities Board. Will her membership on the BPUB raise questions of conflict of interest on economic development issues in the future?

Then there are the applications of people like local Realtor Eliseo Davila and business man Arturo Treviño, of the "Los Trevis" drive-throughs. Both are relatively new faces in local politics, but are hoping that their personal relationships with some commissioners will deliver them the seat.

Nichola Serafy is seen as Mayor Tony Martinez's man. It is also said that Martinez wants a voice on the board to quash a Price-Waterhouse forensic audit performed on the BEDC at the behest of the GBIC board. The GBIC is said to prefer to turn over the findings to federal authorities so they can address potentially criminal misuse of economic development funds by the BEDC administration and board who oversee them.

Others dispute this saying Serafy is his own man and that his Republican-leaning politics have set him at odds with people like commissioner Ricardo Longoria, who preferred Guerra. Serafy is known to hang with the likes of Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn, a plus they say, for his candidacy to the economic-development board.

And, of course, there is always Erasmo Castro, the political gadfly who has run for the city commission, for mayor, and for the board of the Brownsville Independent School District. He got over 10,000 votes when he ran for the BISD and is hoping some of his political support will translate into a GBIC appointment. We wouldn't bet on it, but stranger things have happened.

We would think that finding a permanent city manager, fire chief, and city attorney would take precedence over other issues, but apparently, the city prefers going rudderless for a spell and doing business as well as they can before these positions are filled.

TONIGHT: A SALSA SEND OFF TO THE LATIN JAZZ FESTIVAL

(Ed.'s Note: This year's hugely successful Latin Jazz Festival caps off a 21-year run that started when recent immigrant George Ramirez came up with the idea of bringing Latin jazz to Brownsville. Now a naturalized U.S. citizen, Ramirez has been a major force in bringing people back to our blighted downtown area.

The very first festival featured Tito Puente "El Rey de los Timbales" and his revue. Since then Brownsville residents have been treated to a veritable encyclopedia of salsa and Latin jazz stars from throughout the Caribbean and champion salsa dancers from Oaxaca.

At last night's Adams Street bash, one entire block was filled with people and dancers. Nothing else – except for the Freddie Gomez Conjunto Festival or Charro Days, perhaps, – can even come close to drawing those size crowds. And the credit has to go not only to Ramirez, but to a core of people who over the years have championed the resurrection of downtown and put their money where their mouths are.

Now, we know that one week a year does not make, but Ramirez and that cadre of downtown believers have given us an anchor from where to launch the effort to make downtown Brownsville vibrant again. See you in front of the Capitol Theater tonight! 

FROM OUR FILES: THE FAJITA CAPER, AUGUST 23, 2017

Image result for evil fajitas
Special to El Rrun-Rrun
August 23, 2917

We swear we're not making this up.
A heretofore reliable source has leaked some salacious morsels about an ongoing investigation by the Cameron County District Attorney's Office on the pilferage of around $1 million by someone at the Juvenile Probation Office who then covered it up with the purchase of – among other things – beef fajitas.

The criminal mind, is, in this county, if anything, maliciously creative.

We haven't learned all the details from the source at the leaky administrative office of the county at Harrison Street but, if we are to judge by the past, the details will filter through the doors in due time.

What we do know is that the DA's Office sent a letter to the county judge and commissioners touching on the subject. Was there anything to it? Or was this a fishing expedition on the DA's part to ferret out leaks? We are making an info request to the county's legal counsel for a copy of the letter.

Some observers find the sending of the letter of particular interest since the juvenile probation office is under the purview of the Board of Judges. Did DA Luis V. Saenz send them the same letter? If not, we wonder why. In the case of former Cameron County Judge Pete Sepulveda's investigation, no such letter was sent to the commissioners court. That makes the sending of the probation office curiouser and curiouser.

Is this bait by George Delaunay, of the DA's Public Integrity Unit, to see if the guilty flee when no one accuseth?

Why the juvenile probation office require the purchase of fajitas for its operation is beyond us. But stay tuned. The fajitas will be done in due time.

rita