Tuesday, December 12, 2017

DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY LINEUP FOR MARCH 6, 2018

(Ed.'s Note: We'd like to thank Cameron County Democratic Party Chairperson Amber Medina for emailing us the final filings for the various elective offices open this go-round. Notice that the ones with an asterisk (*) indicate a contested race and (I) indicates incumbent. There are only two Republican candidates in the primary, both for Member, State Board of Education, District 2 seat currently held by Democratic incumbent Ruben Cortez, Jr., who also has a Democratic challenger. Both are listed at the bottom of this list.)

County Clerk
*(I) Sylvia Garza-Perez
Lali Betancourt

*County Commissioner Pct.2
Rigo Bocanegra
Joey Lopez

County Commissioner Pct.4
Gus Ruiz

*County Judge
(I) Eddie Trevino, Jr.
Robert Sanchez

County Treasurer
David A. Betancourt

District Clerk
Eric Garza

District Judge, 103rd Judicial District
Janet L. Leal

District Judge, 107th Judicial District
Benjamin Euresti, Jr.

*District Judge, 197th Judicial District
Carlos Masso
Gerardo "Gerry" Linan
Adolfo Cordova
Sonia Herrera

District Judge, 357th Judicial District
Juan A. Magallanes

Judge, County Court-at-Law No.1
Arturo A. (Art) McDonald, Jr.

*Judge, County Court-at-Law No.2
(I)Laura Betancourt
Carol Lynn Sanchez

Judge, County Court-at-Law No.3
David Gonzales III

Justice of the Peace Pct.1
Benito (Bo) Ochoa IV

*Justice of the Peace Pct.2 Place.2
(I) Jonathan Gracia
Javier Reyna
Diego Alonzo Hernandez
Fred Martinez

Justice of the Peace Pct.2 Place.3
Mary Esther Sorola

*Justice of the Peace Pct.3 Place.1
(I) Jesus T. "Chuy" Garcia
Nadine Plata Gonzalez
Ronaldo "Ronnie" Garcia

Justice of the Peace Pct.3 Place.2
David Garza

Justice of the Peace Pct.4
Juan Mendoza, Jr.

Justice of the Peace Pct.5 Place.2
Eloy Cano, Jr.

*State Representative District 37
(I) Rene O. Oliveira
Alex Dominguez
Arturo Alonzo

State Representative District 38
Eddie Lucio III

*Member, State Board of Education, District 2
(I) Ruben Cortez, Jr.
Michelle Arévalo Dávila

(Republican)
Member, State Board of Education, District 2 
Ted Hasse
Eric Garza

QUEEN JULIETA TOOK ON THE U.S. GOVT. AND WON (?)

By Juan Montoya
At one time she was the darling of the University of Texas System.

Dr, Julieta Garcia, the one and only president of the UT-TSC "partnership" which gleaned an estimated $1 billion from local community college district taxpayers over 21 years to build her Kingdom on the Rio Grande, has fallen on hard times. The years of battling in the halls of Higher Education, it appears, have taken a toll on her natural good looks.

It's no longer President Julieta. Or president of the short-lived Institute of the Americas. Or advisor to the Chancellor of the UT System.

All that, alas, is gone like the haughty look, the imperious stare, and the pretentious strut.
Now she's back with another money maker. It's a class she will teach to star-struck UT-RGV students called the "Rhetoric of the Border Wall." We have always been amazed at the bag of tricks this woman has thought of to continue squeezing the turnip for more money.

If you remember, at one time the UTB-TSC protested to the federal government that the standard issue border wall was, well, unaesthetic. It was unsightly. It's not that Garcia didn't want to help the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to guard our borders. It was that, well, the damn thing was just ugly. After spending millions of local taxpayers' money to subsidize the construction of UTB showplaces, it just wouldn't do to have that ugly things mar the spectacle of the Kingdom of Julieta.

So the UTB-TSC took the U.S. Government to federal court, and won.
And what did that victory accomplish? The wall would have to be built, the government conceded. But if you want to make it a pretty wall, well then we'll let the local yokels pay for it.

Agreed, said Garcia's minions.
And so the government has its Border Wall. Garcia had her pretty Border Wall. And the taxpayers got rooked again.

Rhetoric, indeed.

A BROWNTOWN ODE TO THE MALIGNED STORE PLASTIC BAG


ODE TO OUR BROWNTOWN FLAG

Fly on you wretched bag
Fowler of water
Choker of fowl

To think that such a bag
A cursed thing
Of polymers and oil
Can cause such stress
Can generate such toil

Should I say
I have seen them
wandering through parking lots
Carrying wilted loaves of bread
And melting cheeses
Without you?

Searching for their ride
In vast parking lots
Without you
Oh wretched bag

Fowler of water
Choker of drains
Fly on

The magistrate at city hall
Found ways to make some gold
By ordering that your use in stores
Be put on hold...

And generating coin
And gold... 

A street sweeper, a truck
A trail for bikes
A pond for ducks

Until the far-off sheriff of the king
Ordered Browntown to"Desist" 
"Thou cannot charge a fee."

So now you fly
Unwanted on mesquites
Or fences, or clog the ditch

Choker of drains,
To think one day
You would become
A boon for city coffers
A source of wealth for some

A waterer of fowl
For merchants,
A purse of gold

Oh cursed bag
Fly on



A TODO BROWNTOWN: FELIZ DIA DE LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE

Monday, December 11, 2017

PHIL T. COWEN: MY FAMILY INVENTED THE INTERNET...

By Juan Montoya
When Zachary Taylor arrived in the area around Brownsville on March 1846, Ethan Allen Hitchcock, his commandant of the U.S. Army garrison at Corpus Christi, Texas, he describes the place as a desolate sparsely cultivated land of mesquite, thorns and chaparral.

The only houses the soldiers saw as they marched across the llano were a handful of humble jacales where campesinos eked out a living working the land. The land directly across from Matamoros was communal lands, or "ejidos."

Image result for william neale, brownsvilleImage result for phil cowenNowhere did they see a Southern Colonial-style house where English immigrant William Neale and his family supposedly lived. In fact, the largest ranch owners lived in a handful of ranchos on the immense land-grant tracts of the Espiritu Santo land grant.

Yet, local attorney and Brownsville Independent School District trustee Phil T. Cowen is quoted by reporter Gary Long in Monday's newspaper saying that his ancestor (great-great grandfather) Neale "who from 1835 to 1838 built the (house)" which now sits abandoned and deteriorating on the corner of the Southmost College campus right next to the U.S. Mexico border fence. The house originally stood at East 14th and Washington streets."

It's actually not right next to the border. There is a levee and a golf course between the house and the river, but hey who's nitpicking?

However, the mention of the house being built between 1835 and 1838 raised some eyebrows in the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley History Dept. If you think about it, Texas didn't come into existence as a republic until 1836 and was annexed into the United States in 1845.

It's difficult to How Neale could have taken possession of the land to build it in those years, and even more questionable, how it could have been built originally at the corner of Washington and 14th streets is even more problematic.

You see, the original Brownsville town site was not incorporated until 1850, but the city itself was laid out in December 1848. Before that there was no Washington or 14th streets. Unless the Cowens were seers and could see into the future that the spot on the town site where the Spanish Colonial style pad would be 15 or 17 years later, there's no historical basis for that claim.

And if it is true that the house was built between 1835 to 1838, maybe he should convey that fact to the Texas Historical Commission who approved the placement of a plaque (graphic above) saying that the Neale House circa 1850...

But, hey, what does William Neal say about the town in Century of Conflict: "Except for a lumber building erected on the corner of what is Levee and 11th Street, owned by Slinger and the store, Bandarita, balance of the ridge was covered with willow and mesquite trees with undergrowth of prickly pear and brush. With the exception of a small cow pem situated near where the F. Yturria home now stands, the rest is occupied only by snakes, centipedes, lizards and horned frogs."
Image result for john rip ford
Cowen also lauds another of his ancestors, his other great great grandfather John Rip Ford, for starting the Texas Rangers, thrashing the yankees at Palmito Hill in what is hailed as the last battle of the Civil War even though the Rebel surrender had happened more than a month earlier.

Cowen, however, credits his ancestor with signing a truce six months later with two Union generals "that finally ended the war...."

So how many times can a war end?

And even though historians say that over time Ford came to admire Juan Cortina, the original heir to the Espiritu Santo Grant who rose in rebellion against the abusive, land-hungry newcomers, he says that after the Civil War he was commissioned a general by the Mexican government so that he could hunt and kill Cortina.

This was after 1865 and Ford apparently was not such a successful general/bounty hunter because Cortina died in his sleep in Mexico City in 1894 almost 30 years later.

However, Cowen is proud of his family's intellectual bent. He told Long that:

"All of them gave this personal energy and industry to accomplish things. All of them are lifelong learners , they just grow without limit intellectually," crediting the trait, perhaps, to the 19th Century generations."

Well, Phil, there's always room for improvement isn't there?

BULLETIN: CAPT. BOB FILES AS DEMO FOR COUNTY JUDGE

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

At about 3:45 p.m. today, Robert "Capt. Bob" Sanchez paid his filing fee to run for Cameron County Judge against incumbent Eddie Treviño.
Image result for robert sanchez, brownsville

Sanchez, who has in the past voted as a Republican, has run for city commissioner and mayor (nonpartisan offices) is a past member of the  Brownsville Public Utility Board.

It is expected that former county judge (and ex-Texas Secretary of State) Carlos Cascos will also run but on the Republican Party primary.

His former administrative assistant Cris Valadez said he was surprised when he first heard of Sanchez's intentions but welcomed his entry into the Democratic Party primary.

"We welcome the news. Ware always glad to see that people have a choice," Valdez said. "The more the merrier."

PHIL COWEN PUSHING ELIZONDO FOR BISD PRESIDENT

3. Recommend approval of Election and Board Re-organization of officers. To begin effective January 16, 2018. (Board Member Request - Phil Cowen)

By Juan Montoya

What do you do if you have someone on the Brownsville Independent School District board of trustees who:
Image result for phil cowen, carlos elizondo
1. Is under indictment for Theft by a Public Official and Misappropriation of Fiduciary Property?

2. Is accused of stealing $8,000 over two years from the Brownsville Firefighters Association's Political Action Committee?

3. Is accused of stealing between $20,000 and under $100,000 from those same funds over the six years he was listed as treasurer of that PAC?

4. Was removed as treasurer by the Texas Ethics Commission after he failed to file yearly reports of the PAC to the TEC as required by law after one year, but neglected to tell his fellow firefighters about it and continued to control the PAC's credit card?

Image result for phil cowen, carlos elizondo

5. Was sued by firefighter Sacramento Diosdado who claimed that someone (nobody knows who) had changed Elizondo's grades on a captain's civil service examination so that his grade went up from 69 to 71?

Diosdado had scored a 70, and the changes placed Elizondo over him for consideration for promotion to that rank. After the story came out, the civil service director resigned citing emotional stress problems.

6. Had his record expunged to erase any mention of a felony charge against him for stealing materials from Los Fresnos lumber company?

7. Remained on the BISD board when he was a city employee despite the fact that the city's policy manual specifically prohibits it citing potential conflicts of interest?

Would you believe that Cowen has been pushing to make him president of the BISD board for months now and that the item on Tuesday's agenda of the board meeting was placed by Cowen to make it a reality?

Now, we know that Cowen is the chairman of the BISD Facilities Committee and needs every vote he can get to push through his agenda. After all, there will be $100 million of construction projects on the table and who better but Phil would want to direct how that money is spent and into whose pockets it will go? Think of it as Elizondo's vote being worth a mint.

Now, we all know that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but the general tone of Elizondo's public service has not been one of honesty or integrity.

So what do we want to teach the children of BISD?

That if you steal, cheat and lie you just might be made president of the BISD board?

Now, it takes three trustees to place an item on the agenda, so try to figure out who agreed to place it there. Joe Rodriguez certainly needs Elizondo's vote for this $1.4 million scoreboard for Sams Stadium. And Carlos wouldn't mind being named president to thumb his nose at his detractors and Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz.

Can you lower the bar any further down guys?

"COACH" JOE'S $1.4 MILLION SCOREBOARD ON BISD AGENDA

Image result for joe rodriguez, bisd
3. Recommend approval to authorize the administration to purchase a new digital LED Full Matrix Video scoreboard for Sams Stadium from VCRNOW in the amount of $1,400,000.00. Furthermore, to authorize the Superintendent to execute the contract for said scoreboard.

9. Discussion, consideration and possible action to maintain a list of attorneys to assist Brownsville Independent School District on on as needed basis for potential investigations, parent complaints, and general board functions

By Juan Montoya

This Tuesday's rescheduled special meeting of the Brownsville Independent School District's board of trustees has two items that everyone thought had gone off to a quiet, ignominious demise.

Instead, they have reared their ugly heads and by all appearances will receive a warm welcome from a majority of the board.

The first is the $1.4 million LED scoreboard for Sams Stadium which has been championed by trustee Joe "Coach" Rodriguez for the better part of a year. Rodriguez has argued that the purchase of the new board – like the millions spent on high school football and soccer fields – might not make winning teams of Brownsville, but will give the BISD bragging rights about having a "state-of-the-art" playing fields and a scoreboard at the stadium.

He has argued that there is a waiting line of businesses and professionals in McAllen just dying to plunk down their bucks to advertise on their board. So does this man that the business of BISD is business, not the education of the kiddos?

So far, the total of dollars spent on soccer fields and indoor training facilities is climbing toward $7 or $8 million. And like the choice of the artificial turf company Paragon, the district has narrowed the choices of vendors to a chosen few without having to comply with pesky bidding regulations.

As Rodriguez said about Paragon: "It's the finest company in the world," but didn't specify what made them he best in the planet. Perhaps it is his decades of experience in sports, his extensive contacts with sports equipment vendors, or his own track record as a vendor in Rio Grande VAlley school districts as well.

(In fact, during a recent Facilities Committee meeting, when confronted by trustee Minerva Peña over the scoreboard, Rodriguez let the cat out of the bag to tell her it was a done deal and that Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas had been "negotiating" with the vendor for months already. Who needs the board's approval anyway. This is "Coach Joe" we'r talking about now.)

Image result for phil cowen, bisdRodriguez is one of those Old Brownsville politically-connected individuals who feel they are entitled to push their weight around and run over anyone who stands in their way because they know better than anyone what the city and the students need. With at least two members on board with Coach Joe (Carlos Elizondo and Phil Cowen), all he needs is one more vote from the remaining members to make it happen.

Will board president Cesar Lopez – now running for reelection and an employee of the TASBE Buy Board – take the Rodriguez bait?

If he does, will it matter that Peña, Dr. Sylvia Atkinson, Laura Perez Reyes oppose Da Boyz?

In fact, it was a loss of the Brownsville Golden Eagles against a Seguin team which propelled Rodriguez to his entitlement to legendary sports status, even though his Eagles got wiped out in the match 47-14. "Coach Joe Rod" has always hungered to be among the best despite the shortcomings of local athletes to compete with upstate teams.

But if you can't have the real thing, why not have the rudiments of greatness with sports facilities decked out with all the gadgets like million-dollar artificial turf fields and scoreboards and $895 championship rings for a state soccer champion team like Rivera and Porter? Of course, it doesn't hurt that "Coach Joe" and Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas got a free $995 ring from the vendor which, coincidentally, was a sister company of Rodriguez's employer BSN Sports?

And if it wasn't enough that the district in the poorest community in the United States is spending money on extravagances like LED scoreboards, artificial turf or diamond rings for kids, why not keep a covey of lawyers on retainer to "assist Brownsville Independent School District on on as needed basis for potential investigations, parent complaints, and general board functions."?

It's not like the district doesn't have a team of attorneys and a $280,000 legal counsel in Baltazar Salazar to "assist Brownsville Independent School District on on as needed basis for potential investigations, parent complaints, and general board functions," now we will pay through the nose for a flock of legal eagles to assist them.

This is another one of those ideas who everyone had thought was dead after numerous attempts to resuscitate it by Rodriguez who said the high-priced Salazar did not fit the bill on certain issues where he was not specialized. He hitched his idea to one floated by Dr. Sylvia Atkinson who said her she wouldn't mind to have lawyers handle Level I and Level II grievances and the board handle those that reached Level III.

Expensive sports luxuries and a gaggle of lawyers champing at the bit to get a chance of the BISD's $540 million budget? Good thing this administration and board majority have their priorities straight.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

CULTURAL NOTES: STORY BEHIND PABLO PICASSO'S GUERNICA

Image result for guernica
From Vintage News Blog

With the city under curfew, the people of Paris were constantly arrested and interrogated, and Pablo Picasso was no exception. He was particularly harassed by the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police.

On one occasion, while the Nazis searched his apartment, a Gestapo officer saw a photograph of one of Picasso’s most famous works, Guernica. 

The 1937 painting depicts the bombing of Guernica, a city in Spain attacked by the German and Italian fascists at the direction of Francisco Franco and the Spanish nationalists. When the Gestapo officer spotted the photograph, he asked Picasso, “Did you do that?” only to receive the artist’s answer: “No, you did.”

Saturday, December 9, 2017

INDEPENDENCE CONFLICTS ON THE NORTHERN FRONTIERS

By Juan Montoya

Although the movement for Mexican independence from the royal Spanish government in Mexico had started in 1810 by Father Manuel Hidalgo who captured Guanajuato and other cities west of Mexico City, it did not die with his execution in Chihuahua in 1811.

The banner was taken up by José Morelos y Pavón, a parish priest turned military leader who continued the struggle against the royal government until 1815, when he was also captured and executed.

But Hidalgo's Grito de Dolores had ignited the hopes and aspirations of thousands of natives and mestizos, lured by the call for equality under the law for all despite the rigid colonial caste system, the abolition of slavery, the end of paying tribute to the crown's bureaucrats, and a return of their native lands.

Carried by Catholic clergy, these promises resonated not only in Central Mexico, but across the entire country, including the northern states like present-day Tamaulipas, Nuevo Santander, and then-Coahuila-Texas. 

Ironically, the clergy's call to independence did not include rebellion against King Fernando VII in Spain, but rather against the colonial government administered by peninsulares, that is, native born Spaniards who kept criollos, mestizos, natives, and black slaves subjugated through colonial laws.

And just like in Guanajuato, where Hidalgo's rebellion for independence began, the cry in the northern states was: "Viva la America! Viva Fernando VII! Muera el mal gobierno! 

The call for independence was carried by clerical propagandists who administered to the natives in the isolated missions in Nuevo Santander – between Nuevo Leon and Texas – like the ones in Camargo, Tamaulipas, where as early as 1812, the royal armies had to move to quell rebellion among the Indians.

One such case involved the rebellion carried out in Camargo by a native leader named Julian Canales who had listened to the insurrection message and believed it. So did soldiers with the royal forces, many of who left their ranks and joined the insurgent movement. In her book Cartas y Documentos del Capitan Pedro Lopez Prieto, Dr. Clotilde P. Garcia, writes how Prieto, the military commander of Reynosa and its cavalry, wrote his commander, Lt. Col. Joaquin Arredondo, about the events leading to the confrontation with the natives who rose against the crown upriver in the Villa de Camargo.

In his April 3 report to Arredondo, Prieto wrote how Canales had been jailed, but somehow escaped capture with the aid of other Indians and sympathetic royal troops. When Prieto sent troops to recapture Canales and they arrived at the mission, a large number of natives warned them that if he was arrested, they would burn the entire Villa of Camargo to ashes.

Prieto convinced Canales that by joining the insurgency and fighting the royal representatives, he was being disloyal to King Fernando VII and to the crown. An uneasy peace was established, but not without casualties among the troops and royal government officials whose homes were surrounded and some  prisoners taken and killed. In the siege that followed, both Indians and gachupines and criollos died as the loyalties of the natives and criollos wavered the king and the colonial officials.

(Prieto was successful for a time and expected to be named commander for his work, but vile tongues whispered in the ears of the viceregal powers that be about land grants that he and his family owned in what is now Cameron County, the San Martin and Santa Isabel land tracts. Discredited, his military career fizzled.)

And so an uneasy peace prevailed in Camargo and in the northern provinces following this violent insurrection that would erupt intermittently throughout the years before the colonial government was removed following a revolt against the crown in Spain. 

It wasn't until 1821, with the Plan de Iguala when conservative Mexican leaders begin plans to end the viceregal system and separate their country from the mother land.

Mexico became an independent country ruled as a limited monarchy, with the Roman Catholic Church as the official state church and equal rights and upper-class status for the Spanish and mestizo populations, as opposed to the majority of the population, which was of Native American or African descent, or mulato (mixed). 

In August 1821, the last Spanish viceroy was forced to sign the Treaty of Córdoba, marking the official beginning of Mexican independence.

(P.S. Dr. Clotilde Garcia, the author of Cartas and Documentos, was the sister of Dr. Hector Garcia, the founder of the G.I. Forum, and first wrote of the insurgency in Camargo for the Southwest Historical Quarterly. A medical doctor, educator and Mexican-American activist, she married and had one son, José Antonio "Tony" Canales, one of the first Tejanos appointed to the U.S. Attorney's Office.)

TIPOTEX, KNAPPS, OTHER TOWING COMPANIES PUT ON NOTICE

By Juan Montoya

Remember our recent post about rogue towing companies gouging local motorists by striking deals with local businesses to remove vehicles who use their parking lots and charge exorbitant towing and storage fees to return them?

Photo of Tipotex Chevrolet - Brownsville, TX, United StatesWell, unbeknownst to us, there had been a lawsuit filed in a local district court charging one of the city's leading car dealers and their officers with the very same thing. The lawsuit charges that Tipotex Chevrolet and its officers have engaged in similar practices and that often the victims of that behavior have been the poor.

On December 1, local attorney Phil Bellamy filed a lawsuit on behalf of Brownsville resident Alfonso Morales, but "anticipates finding a horde of similarly cheated, involuntary customers over the last four years" and contemplates finding enough victims to convert it into a class action lawsuit if necessary.

The lawsuit charges that Stephen Mark Roberts, vice-president and general manager of Tipotex "is at the center of a conspiracy "to defraud residents of Brownsville, Texas by providing involuntary towing services, and demanding outrageous fees under the threat of keeping and selling the vehicles of the involuntary customers."

Bellamy says the towing rates they charge their involuntary customers are "multiples of the amount previously authorized by the City of Brownsville, and bear no relation to the amount of work performed."

According to the lawsuit, on or about November 17, 2017, Morales, "a poor man currently living on
disability" was driving his 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser and and had a flat tire on the expressway. He
drove onto the emergency lane and parked. While he was gone to get a spare tire, a Tipotex wrecker  towed his vehicle to the Tipotex Chevrolet dealership.
When Morales discovered what had happened, and went to Tipotex the next day with $80 – all the money he had – and they refused to assist him and "treated him like dirt." Humiliated and unable to pay and suffering chest pains as a result, Morales went home to bed.

Morales sought legal help and went to Bellamy for assistance and on November 21 the attorney wrote a demand letter to Alice Marsletta Cramer Knapp, Francis Everett Knapp, Francis Everett Knapp, Jr. and Mark Roberts, "regarding the outrageousness of their conduct and the conduct of their employees."

"There is only one way to resolve this situation that you created, avoid financial damage, and prevent justifiable damage to the Tipotex Chevrolet reputation," Bellamy wrote. "Demand is made that you advise me in writing or by email by no later than the close of business day today, that Mr. Morales may go pick up his vehicle without charge by no later than tomorrow morning. Additionally, the flat tire must be repaired by you at no expense to Mr. Morales."

They refused and ignored it.

Marsletta Knapp – who has not been added to the lawsuit yet – is the President, Dealer Operator, and Director of Defendant Tipotex. Francis Everett Knapp, and Francis Everett Knapp, Jr. will be named as likely future defendants as discovery proceeds.

Morales – accompanied by Bellamy – went to Tipotex and On Friday, November 24, 2017, and under duress, paid the full amount("the ridiculous sum of $635.55") demanded by Tipotex which included $465 for towing and storage fees of $171.55.

"By comparison," the lawsuit states, "the Brownsville Police Department’s schedule of fees had a towing fee of $75.00 and a storage fee of $20.00. Wrecker companies no longer are saddled with charging fair amounts, and as of this moment may gouge their involuntary customers to their hearts’ delight with sanction, yet."

Morales charges that the defendants are guilty of fraud because they proceeded to tow his vehicle with questionable authority and without disclosing the outrageous charges they would charge. (They) were under a duty to him as an involuntary customer (and many more upon information and belief) to disclose this fact. 

He states that he would not have consented to the involuntary transaction had he known what (they)  intended to do to him. The lawsuit states that (they) knew he was uninformed and did not have
an equal opportunity to discover the facts.

Additionally, the lawsuit charges the defendants with breach of contract "by charging an
exorbitant amount, and holding (Morales') vehicle hostage until he paid or his vehicle was sold."

Also, the lawsuit states that the defendants violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer
Protection Act (the “DTPA”) because of  their "acts and omissions"  and that their misrepresentations, acts and practices were false, misleading, and deceptive.

The lawsuit is demanding that the court award Morales damages for mental anguish damages.and seeks the recovery under the DTPA of treble damages, attorney’s fees, and costs of court, and any other relief deemed proper. The lawsuit states that the Tipotex and the Knapps are liable to Morales  and "upon information and belief, many other persons, for actual damages."

"In discovery, I will get every single document related to Mr. Morales’s case, and every single towing receipt for the last four years (fraud statute of limitations is 4 years)," Bellamy said. "This case will involve many, many victims. At some point, I have to look at when a suit becomes large enough that it should become a class action."

"My current focus is on Tipotex Chevrolet towing fraud, but... I am starting to keep an eye on other towing companies who are likely committing fraud to a substantial degree," he said.

Friday, December 8, 2017

PCT. 2 COMM. ALEX DOMINGUEZ ANNOUNCES FOR STATE REP

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Today, Cameron County Commissioner Alex Dominguez of Brownsville filed to be placed on the
March 2018 Primary ballot to be the State Representative for District 37.

That position has been held by State Rep. Rene Oliveira for the last 36 years. 

Dominguez has been a county commissioner since June 2014. He has closely followed the previous two legislative sessions and feels he is ready to lead District 37 in Austin and wants to bring a new vision to the position.
“I’ve worked with three different county judges and four different commissioners. I have enjoyed
working for the public as a county commissioner and will continue to do so for the next year. Due to
election rules, I have been unable to make this announcement until this month," he said.

“As a county commissioner, we determine the county budget, establish county policies, address
indigent health care services and work for the betterment of the quality of life of those in the county," he added.
"Since joining the commissioners court, we joined the effort to bring Space X to Brownsville, implemented vast improvements to county parks including Isla Blanca and E.K. Atwood on South Padre Island, and negotiated several economic incentive agreements to bring much needed jobs to the area. I

"In my own precinct, I worked to finish the street paving project in Cameron Park, bringing street lights to Olmito and San Pedro, addressing the clean water needs of residents of San Pedro, and introducing the first all-inclusive playground in the county."

Dominguez listed other important accomplishments.
“I currently represent Cameron County on the Brownsville Metropolitan Planing Organization (MPO), the Lower Rio Grande Development Council, the Brownsville EDC, the Animal Shelter Committee, the county Audit Committee, and in Austin with the Conference of Urban Counties (CUC). At the CUC, I recently became the Vice-Chairman for Administration on the Policymaking Committee in Austin. I also served as the active judge pro-tem when former Judge Carlos Cascos was appointed the Secretary of State.
“I believe that District 37 needs a representative who will not only represent the public during the
legislative session, but will also work in coordination with the County Commissioners Court and city
commissions to bring much needed jobs, infrastructure, and exposure of what this area has to offer for the full two years of the term. As a former educator, I want to be a voice for students at UTRGV to push for their education needs.”
District 37 includes Brownsville, South Padre Island, Port Isabel, Los Fresnos, and Rio Hondo

TSC TAMALADA: STAFF GETS MARIACHIS AND YUMMY TAMALES

(Ed.'s Note: At noon today, the staff and workers of Texas Southmost College got an acknowledgement of the gratitude the board and administration has for their year-long efforts at the community college. As they ate tamales with all the trimmings, a local mariachi made its entrance singing traditional Mexican ballads.

It was unusually cold at noon when the tamalada was held at the Jacob Brown Civic Center, but those who braved the cold got a treat they won't soon forget. With new president Dr. Jesus Roberto Rodriguez serving tables and the members of the board present, the event lasted until the goodies were all gone. TSC now boasts of a student population of about 6,000, a sign that the days of the UTB/TSC separation is behind the community college. Saludos to all!)

ON THE HOLIDAYS, A GRINCH CHARGED W/ FAMILY VIOLENCE

(Ed.'s Note: With the emphasis placed on the prevention of family violence by local, state and national law enforcement, we were told of a case that just occurred two days ago where a Matamoros man was arrested and charged with family violence on a woman who lives here.

It seems that this individual, Jose Alberto Castañeda, 34, has been on a tear recently, having been arrested just last June for excessive speed.
Without knowing the details of the incidents above, we can only say that he will undoubtedly have his day in court and work out the punishment.

It just seems a shame that on these days when the gathering of family is the most important reason to celebrate, that cases such as these keep popping up.

He's surely not the only one, of course, but even one is to many. With any luck, Mr. Castañeda will spend some time thinking over this unfortunate act and react to follow the straight and narrow.)

SALVATION ARMY GETS COATS, DONATIONS, AND MONEY HERE BUT GIVES NO COATS OR SHELTER TO BROWNSVILLE RESIDENTS

Image result for cold homeless
By Juan Montoya

This last frigid days had had a few of us going to the local stores in search of a warm winter jacket to fend off the unusually cold spell that has spread across the United States and into Mexico.

Can you imagine we've even had a snowfall?
It may delight some people, especially kids, but the rest of us (not to mention the homeless or kids without warm coats) have felt the sting of the frigid gusts that have emptied the streets.

That set us wondering how some of the charity organizations were responding to the dangerously cold weather. The United Way, Ozanam Center, the Good Neighbor Settlement House, the Salvation Army and even Catholic Charities all operate here.

As far as charitable organizations go, The Salvation Army is probably the most prestigious and well known. So we wondered, just how did this organization serve the needy in Brownsville during this unusually cold snap?

Image result for salvation army collection bellsYou've seen their collection boxes all over town in Brownsville.
And every Christmas season, its bell-wielding Santas stand in front of local businesses collecting donations to help the poor.

They even team up with Channel 5 Chief Meteorologist Tim Smith for his 30-year-old Tim's Coats collections of coats for needy.

The way this works, they hook up with members of the Southwest Dry Cleaners Association and use their businesses as collection points. Of the 24 pick-up points 20 are cleaners. The other four are offices of Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army. Of the 10 cleaners in the southern RGV (Brownsville, Harlingen and San Benito) seven are in Brownsville.

In the Upper Valley, another 10 cleaners act as collection points. McAllen has four, Weslaco one, Mission has three, etc...In short, Brownsville has the most cleaners participating as collection points for coats for the needy.

Since it was cold that triggered this thought, we called them at the Salvation Army's main office in McAllen and asked where people could inquire about getting a coat to fend off the cold. The woman at the other end responded that there was no Salvation Army office in Brownsville, but that we could go to Harlingen and pick one up there.

We also asked that since Brownsville was the largest city in the Valley and the need was greater there, why it was that they did not operate d homeless shelter there or why there was no place to pick up a warm coat here. Her answer was non-committal and downright brusque and she told us to talk to the main office upstate if we wanted.

Now, if the residents of Brownsville are some of the largest donors to the Salvation Army, and as far as Valley cities go, there were more pick-up points for coats there, why is there no office here or why they don't operate a shelter for the needy to go for a warm place to stave off the killing cold.

We noticed that the Methodist Church-funded Good Neighbor Settlement House provides clothing for the needy using their scarce resources and donations throughout the year but offer no shelter.

The Ozanam Center is even more active. Every day, they use vans to take their clients to look for work in the city, take them to eat at the Good Neighbor, and last night, as the homeless were bearing the unmerciless cold, its director sent the vans to the downtown areas to invite the homeless to the shelter of his center.

The woman did say that Catholic Charities in Brownsville could help out the needy with a coat, but when we called them, despite the answering machine saying that they were open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, no one answered.

This raises the question: If Brownsville is a central hub for donations in clothing, money, and Tim's Coats for the Salvation Army, why is there no office here, they don't operate a shelter for the needy, and send people to Harlingen to get a warm coat?

Isn't it time we get some answers?

MCHALE TAKES GRATUITOUS HIT AT TSC CHAIR ADELA GARZA

By Juan Montoya

Image result for TSC, jerry mchale and adela garzaSometimes it's hard to figure out the motives behind people posting stuff on the blogosphere and this morning's post by our good friend Jerry McHale on Texas Southmost College chairperson Adela Garza is one of those occasions.

On his post, Jerry tries to localize the burgeoning scandal involving congressional members embroiled in the sexual harassment cases by pinning some moral responsibility on Garza on the one involving Rep. Blake Farenthold who used the congressional Office of Compliance account to pay for a sexual harassment claim in which $84,000 was paid out.

Farenthold's former communications director, Lauren Greene, sued her boss in December 2014 over allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and creating a hostile work environment.

It might be well to remember that the Garza left her employment with the discredited congressman in late 2011, the year before he ran for reelection after the redistricting that moved its jurisdiction to cover Corpus Christi and stretched from above Kingsville to Bay City along the Coastal Bend west all the way to Lockhart.

Since she left employment with Farenthold more than three years before the sexual harassment lawsuit was filed and she was no longer involved in the running of his office, how Jerry can pin some moral blame on her today for not speaking out against something that didn't happen on her watch seems to be a stretch.

It makes for good copy and allows our buddy to shout out his outrage at Farenthold through Garza who, as Jerry correctly pointed out, along with other courageous members of the TSC board alerted the college district that former TSC-UTB president Julieta Garcia would be the death of higher education in Brownsville.

They did this in spite of the fact that they had to face the umbrage of the powers that be, including Jerry's friends Sen. Eddie Lucio and Rep. Rene Oliveira. (In the photo at right, Adela and TSC supporters protest in front of Lucio's Brownsville office.)

Because of her warnings, the people rose and stopped her by voting out her lemmings on the board. Jerry is right to say that Garcia nearly razed TSC.

He goes on to say: "Garza has led the resurrection of TSC fearless of the consequences of her tough decisions. She spearheaded the firing of Lily Tercero as the junior college's president when it became obvious the latter was drowning in incompetence. Under Garza's leadership, TSC's enrollment is approaching 6,000 and is once again playing the key role is has always played for decades in Brownsville."

But then here comes the stretch.
"Sadly, Garza's stellar reputation has taken a hit as a result of her longtime association with Congressman Blake Farenthold who may rank as the ugliest playboy in the history of the United States..."

"Garza is a staunch Republican. Like former County Judge Carlos Cascos, is she so tribal that she will forgive Farenthold because she would rather have a pervert than a Democrat sitting in that seat?

Since when did Garza (or Cascos, for that matter) say that they would forgive her former boss and that "she (they) would rather have a pervert than a Democrat sitting in that seat?"

Localizing a national story works when there is a logical link to make it work. Unfortunately, Jerry's editorializing and slurring of someone who had nothing to do with the alleged immoral acts and who had left years before is a peevish stretch that just doesn't work.

HIT AND RUN DRIVER TOTALS ISLA BLANCA TOLL BOOTH, GATE

Special to El Rrun-Rrun
County officials this morning are assessing the damage inflicted upon the Isla Blanca Park toll gates and booth by an unknown driver of the white truck seen above amid the destruction.

So far, law enforcement officials say they have not determined the identity of the driver who  fled the scene or whether the truck was stolen. The accident happened last night as a winter storm bore down on South Texas. The park was closed at the time of the accident.

As can be plainly seen from the photos sent to El Rrun-Rrun by one of our seven readers, both the truck and the toll booth were total losses. South Padre Island Police, Park Rangers, the Cameron County Sheriff's Dept., and the Texas Department of Public Safety are searching for the driver. If any of our reader have information on the culprit, they can call any of those agencies.)

OLD RACKETS NEVER DIE, THEY COME BACK AGAIN AND AGAIN



Image result for joe rodriguez, bisd
3. Recommend approval to authorize the administration to purchase a new digital LED Full Matrix Video scoreboard for Sams Stadium from VCRNOW in the amount of $1,400,000.00. Furthermore, to authorize the Superintendent to execute the contract for said scoreboard.

9. Discussion, consideration and possible action to maintain a list of attorneys to assist Brownsville Independent School District on on as needed basis for potential investigations, parent complaints, and general board functions

By Juan Montoya

Next Wednesday's special meeting of the Brownsville Independent School District's board of trustees has two items that everyone thought had gone off to a quiet, ignominious demise.

Instead, they have reared their ugly heads and by all appearances will receive a warm welcome from a majority of the board.

The first is the $1.4 million LED scoreboard for Sams Stadium which has been championed by trustee Joe "Coach" Rodriguez for the better part of a year. Rodriguez has argued that the purchase of the new board – like the millions spent on high school football and soccer fields – might not make winning teams of Brownsville, but will give the BISD bragging rights about having a "state-of-the-art" playing fields and a scoreboard at the stadium.

He has argued that there is a waiting line of businesses and professionals in McAllen just dying to plunk down their bucks to advertise on their board. So does this man that the business of BISD is business, not the education of the kiddos?

So far, the total of dollars spent on soccer fields and indoor training facilities is climbing toward $7 or $8 million. And like the choice of the artificial turf company Paragon, the district has narrowed the choices of vendors to a chosen few without having to comply with pesky bidding regulations.

As Rodriguez said about Paragon: "It's the finest company in the world," but didn't specify what made them he best in the planet. Perhaps it is his decades of experience in sports, his extensive contacts with sports equipment vendors, or his own track record as a vendor in Rio Grande VAlley school districts as well.

Rodriguez is one of those Old Brownsville politically-connected individuals who feel they are entitled to push their weight around and run over anyone who stands in their way because they know better than anyone what the city and the students need.

In fact, it was a loss of the Brownsville Golden Eagles against a Seguin team which propelled Rodriguez to his entitlement to legendary sports status, even though his Eagles got wiped out in the match 47-14. "Coach Joe Rod" has always hungered to be among the best despite the shortcomings of local athletes to compete with upstate teams.

But if you can't have the real thing, why not have the rudiments of greatness with sports facilities decked out with all the gadgets like million-dollar artificial turf fields and scoreboards and $895 championship rings for a state soccer champion team like Rivera and Porter? Of course, it doesn't hurt that "Coach Joe" and Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas got a free $995 ring from the vendor which, coincidentally, was a sister company of Rodriguez's employer BSN Sports?

And if it wasn't enough that the district in the poorest community in the United States is spending money on extravagances like LED scoreboards, artificial turf or diamond rings for kids, why not keep a covey of lawyers on retainer to "assist Brownsville Independent School District on on as needed basis for potential investigations, parent complaints, and general board functions."?

It's not like the district doesn't have a team of attorneys and a $280,000 legal counsel in Baltazar Salazar to "assist Brownsville Independent School District on on as needed basis for potential investigations, parent complaints, and general board functions," now we will pay through the nose for a flock of legal eagles to assist them.

This is another one of those ideas who everyone had thought was dead after numerous attempts to resuscitate it by Rodriguez who said the high-priced Salazar did not fit the bill on certain issues where he was not specialized. He hitched his idea to one floated by Dr. Sylvia Atkinson who said her she wouldn't mind to have lawyers handle Level I and Level II grievances and the board handle those that reached Level III.

Expensive sports luxuries and a gaggle of lawyers champing at the bit to get a chance of the BISD's $540 million budget? Good thing this administration and board majority have their priorities straight.

THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY: I'M DREAMING OF A WHITE FRIDAY...

(Ed.'s Note: People across the Rio Grande Valley woke up this morning to a landscape covered with a light coat of snow that will probably be gone when the temperature climbs a few degrees and light rain washes it away. As of mid-morning the smattering of snow continued throughout the RGV. In San Antonio, the Department of Public Safety ordered all truckers to get off the highways as a precaution. 

The Brownsville Independent School District delayed classes until noon today. A wind chill advisory and winter weather advisory remain in effect until noon. It's not much as snow falls go, but the dusting did provide a special beginning – if not frigid – start to the morning.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

TRUMP CERTIFIES HONDURAS AMID DEADLY ELECTION CRISIS


 By Christopher Sherman, Garance Burke, and Martha Mendoza
Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Amid a deepening electoral crisis in Honduras, the administration of President Donald Trump on Thursday certified the country's progress in protecting human rights and attacking corruption.

The move comes nearly two restive weeks after a presidential election, but Hondurans still do not know who their next leader will be. President Juan Orlando Hernandez narrowly leads in the vote tally, but has not been declared the winner. His challenger, Salvador Nasralla, alleges fraud.

Troops and police units, some trained by U.S. forces, are patrolling the streets of the capital and have been accused of killing and wounding demonstrators after Hernandez declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew and suspended some constitutional rights to tamp down pro-opposition protesters.

If accepted by U.S. congressional appropriations committees, the certifications by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would ensure that Honduras receives millions of dollars in U.S. funds that are conditional on progress in human rights and corruption.

Human rights defenders in Honduras were stunned by the certification.

"We were really surprised that in the middle of this crisis the State Department comes out with this kind of statement when the government of Honduras is not meeting the conditions," said Carlos Sierra, a security and human rights investigator with the Center for Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights in Honduras. "It came right in this institutional and political crisis."

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hernandez said Wednesday that he appreciated the U.S. certification.

"That determination signifies a very important message," he said, "and reflects how they (the U.S.) are seeing Hondurans."

The certification affects only half of the U.S. funds that go directly to Honduras' central government, which amounts to between $15 million and $20 million, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Other U.S. assistance is unaffected by the certification process.

Leahy said the certification conditions are important to send a message that U.S. aid is not a blank check.

"We expect our own government to hold them accountable," he said. "The certification just received, in the midst of an election debacle that has triggered a political crisis, requires careful scrutiny by the Congress."

As vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, Leahy could put a hold on all or some of those funds, but the senator has not decided how to respond to the certification and wants to discuss it with the State Department, his office said.

While the certification was published Thursday in the Federal Register, Tillerson signed the memo recommending it on Nov. 28, two days after the election.

Nasralla had held a five-point lead in the electoral court's first partial results when the count stalled for some 24 hours. When results resumed, his lead gradually diminished and then disappeared entirely. He alleged fraud and called his supporters into the streets.

An election monitoring team from the European Union released a preliminary report on Nov. 28 criticizing the electoral tribunal's poor communication about the delayed results. By the end of the week, security forces and protesters began to battle in the streets.

NOTICE WHO EDDIE AND RENE LEFT WITH THE $$$ CRUMBS?

(Ed.'s Note: Just yesterday District 37 Rene Oliveira announced he was running for reelection to make it 36 years in the Texas Legislature. We have often commented that while we find Oliveira is a good old boy from Brownsville who goes along with the flow in the Lege and has a penchant for partying and pretty lasses, the results of his heavy lifting are often wanting.

Ditto for District 37 Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. Every time he is up for reelection we hear the same drivel from him claiming how he has delivered for his constituents despite the polarizing atmosphere up in bad old Austin. Well, his vote has often gone to state Republicans and we take exception to his latest mail out that states: "By working together we were successful in appropriating over $55 million to out University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and were equally as effective in passing critical legislation to assist South Texas.")

Numbers don't lie Eddie and Rene. Out of the five higher education institutions, Texas Southmost College ranked dead last. That sounds like something else than success. What happened, men?)

CAN CONSTABLES CARRY BAILIFFS' COMMISSIONS FOR JPs? QUESTION HEADED FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE

(Ed.'s Note: We received this interesting note from a former Texas Constable commenting on the plan by Judge Eddie Treviño and the Cameron County Commissioners Court to sign a Memorandum of Understanding asking a constable to carry the commissions and supervise bailiffs under justices of the peace outside his precinct. The debate has reached the point where Cameron County District Attorney has been asked to request an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Below is Goodson's take. We thank him for his submission!

By: Jerry A. Goodson
In: Politics

There are only two elected law enforcement officers specifically named in the Texas Constitution: the sheriff, and the constable. Generally, across the State of Texas, if the commissioners could get rid of the constables in their county, they would.

Statutorily, the constable has only two required duties: to serve process issued by the justice court in his or her precinct, and to serve as bailiff in the justice courts in his or her precinct. Beyond that, the constable can do as much or as little as desired in regards to enforcing the law.

Inasmuch as the sheriff is responsible for the security of the county courts in his or her county, the constable is responsible for the security of the justice courts in his or her precinct. Court security is not up to the court justices. The only discretion a precinct court justice has (Justice of the Peace) is the court security fund… a certain amount of money collected by the justice court for certain fines.

The constable is elected by the voters in his or her precinct. The office of the constable is a separate and autonomous agency… just like the sheriff’s office. The constable is the head of that agency.

Try telling that to the commissioners in Cameron County, Texas!


This morning, I received an email with a copy of a request for opinion from the Attorney General’s Office that was submitted by Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz submitted on behalf of Cameron County Precinct 5 Constable Eddie Solis.

The request included text of an interdepartmental memo issued by the Commissioners Court directing the Precinct 3 Constable to carry the commission of bailiffs hired by the three individual Precinct 5 justices. http://links.govdelivery.com LINK

The supervision of the bailiffs would fall under their respective Justice of the Peace, and not with the constable that was directed to carry their commission.

This isn’t some kind of legal loophole, this is flat out subversion of the laws and Constitution of the State of Texas! It directly undermines the office of the constable and an insult by the commissioners of the voters in his precinct!

The relationship between the Commissioners Court and the Office of the Constable is not typically amicable. A few years ago, Travis County Precinct 5 Constable Carlos Lopez gave a presentation at a conference that was attended by county judges from all over the state. He used up all of his allotted time to speak, but announced he would be available on the side to field questions. More than one county judge sought out Constable Lopez to ask, “How do we get rid of our constables?” (The answer was, of course, “you can’t.”)

During my term as constable, I was denied a measly $100/wk increase for fuel to perform my duties. I was paid a total of $1325/mo, and I had to pay all of my expenses out of that money, and by the time it was all said and done, I was paying more to do the job than I was paid by the county. A commissioner remarked to me, in open court, "Well shame on you for doing a good job."

It’s understandable the Commissioners Court generated the un-Constitutional memo that undermine’s the office of Cameron County Precinct 5 Constable. Commissioners all over the state have exercised calculated hostilities toward constables as a matter of semi-common practice.

AT THE BISD: IS WASTE AND REDUNDANCY OK?

By Juan Montoya

The public purchasing seminars were held almost two months apart at the end of September and November 2017.

According to the invitation to attend sent by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), both seminars, called The Procurement Roundup 2017, were "designed for public education professionals with emphasis on the latest developments that are essential in educational purchasing."

The first one was held at South Padre Island September 27, 28, and 29 and three participants from the Brownsville Independent School District's purchasing department attended. For three days they stayed at the Island and attended the program for which they received 15 hours of continuing education. The district paid Interim Administrator Delia Rodriguez, District Travel Specialist Mayra L. Castañeda, and Junior Buyer Sandy Villanueva $1,025 for the courses and they came home after the seminars.

But less than two months later – on November 30 through December 1 – the women, minus Villarreal, put in another request to the BISD administration to attend a second seminar by the Institute for Supply Management with identical courses in San Antonio.

The ISM's Procurement Roundup 2017 featured the same course offerings "intending to highlight the latest developments that are essential in the purchasing management of public educational institutions."

Since both women had attended the ISM's three-day seminar on South Padre Island, some BISD administrators were surprised to see that the travel and lodging request by Rodriguez and Villanueva (Castañeda bowed out at the last minute) were routinely approved by Interim Purchasing Administrator Rodriguez who had attended the SPI seminar, CFO Lorenzo Sanchez, and BISD Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas.

This administration signed off on a $2,578 purchase order for the two women to stay at the upscale Manger Hotel from November 29 to Dec. 2, and to pay for a car from the local Enterprise Rental company for five days. They also approved five days of professional leave for the women.

How can the BISD administration justify and sign off on five days of professional leave for these two employees when the San Antonio trip was only a two-day conference? And how did they approve the payment of rental of the car from Wednesday through Monday, also five days, have been the questions floating around the district since they made the extended trip.

After the conference, did the women stay in San Antonio an extra day and use the rental for another two days? Is waste and redundancy business as usual at the BISD?

IN ELIZONDO CASE, IS HE ANGLING FOR A CHANGE OF VENUE?

By Juan Montoya
After failing to get a judge to quash one of two counts of an indictment charging him with stealing about $8,000 from a firefighters' union bank account and of misappropriating more than $20,000 when he was treasurer and president of the association, local court observers say that former Brownsville Fire Department Chief Carlos Elizondo and his lawyers will probably seek a change of venue.

His attorney Eddie Lucio wanted District 107th Judge Ben Euresti to throw out the second charge because he said his client had not received enough information to prepare his defense.

However, Asst. Cameron County District Attorney Art Teniente countered that the prosecution had provided the defense with 19 encrypted CDs and that the evidence linked to the second charge is in it. Teniente said that the defense had the evidence all along but that they had lost the password that he had provided them.

"It couldn't be more clear," that that was what had happened, he said.
Euresti tabled the matter to consider Lucio's request, but some legal observers say that what Elizondo and his attorneys want is for the court to approve them removing the case to another venue, preferably in Corpus Christi where Lucio was successful in defending Cameron County Tax Assessor-Collector Tony Yzaguirre on more than a dozen corruption charges.

In that case, a jury in Nueces County found that Yzaguirre was not guilty of any of the charges.

Elizondo has charged that the case is politically drive and that the current union leadership is attacking him personally.

However, the union has said that when Elizondo was treasurer of union's PAC he was sanctioned by the Texas Ethics Commission for not filing annual reports after one year on the position. The current union leadership charges that Elizondo never told them about the sanctions and continued to act as treasurer and in possession of the PAC's credit card which he used to make ATM withdrawals.

As far as the possibility that a local court will grant a change of venue, observers say that as the former fire chief's case made its way through the courts, it has been Elizondo himself and his legal representatives who have sought public attention and sympathy. Since it has been them, and not the prosecution, who have sought media attention, it is unlikely a court will grant them their request when and if they file the motion.

"They sought the spotlight, not the DA's Office," said a defense lawyer at the court. "It may not be easy as they think."

SOME CITY TOWING COMPANIES GOUGING LOCAL MOTORISTS

By Juan Montoya
It is s a scene repeated on daily basis in Brownsville.

A motorist parks his or her car on a parking lot and goes about to do his business unaware that the owner or parent company has struck  contract with local towers who often swoop on the cars within minutes after the drivers leave and hook them up and hauls them off.

While businesses are within their right to haul off cars of people who use their lots to do personal business next door or down the block, the tactics used by some tow truck operators borders on outright abuse.

Take the case of a local man (we're withholding his name at his request) who was experiencing mechanical troubles on his car and went to buy car parts at a store on Mexico Blvd. by the old Amigoland Mall.

When he bought the parts and went out to the parking lot, he looked through his car for the tools he needed to replace the part and not damage his car only to find that he hadn't carried them in that vehicle. He called for a ride and a friend came by to help him and take him to get them.

When they returned less than half an hour later, they found the car was about to get hooked up and  loaded on the bed of the tow truck.

"He went in and showed the clerk at the auto parts store the receipts for the parts he had bought there just minutes ago but the clerk said he had not made the deal with the tow truck company," said the friend. "He was getting charged $280 so the operator would not take the car. If he had waited and looked for the impound lot, it would have been an extra storage fee tacked on to the charges."

Eventually the tow truck owner relented after the men called the various police agencies to see who could help them. After an administrator at the Cameron County Sheriff's Dept. was contacted he told the men to call the dispatcher at Rancho Towing on Fm 1732 who knew someone at the department. As a result of the intervention, the car owner only had to pay $180 instead so that the car wouldn't get taken away.

El Rancho apparently has contracts with businesses along the Old Bridge who find it easy to park in one of the businesses along Mexico Blvd. and go across into Matamoros to fill a drug subscription
or do some business that will not require much time. When they return, they often find an empty stop where their car was parked. After inquiring from local businesses, they usually find the tow truck company, pay the towing charge and daily storage fee to get their vehicles returned.

The same thing happens in downtown businesses such as the private lot next to Las Casuelitas, a popular caldo joint on 12th and Adams streets. There, the owners of the restaurant have posted signs warning patrons to not park their cars on the adjacent parking lot because it will be subject to towing.

A customer whose car was about to get towed away by Raymond's Towing said that she was in the restaurant and heard someone come in the door to say they were towing away cars and hurried outside to find out it was her vehicle.

In her case, the tow truck had already hooked up her car and and was waiting until she emerges to tell her she was in violation of private property. There is a parking-metered city lot across Adams if the spaces along the street are full, but for the uninitiated, it will take a $50 fee for the driver to unhook his cable and allow you to leave with your vehicle.

Since it is a contract between two private parties, law enforcement cannot come to the aid of the drivers because they did not call them. There are some officers in the Brownsville Police Department that want to establish a city-owned towing service exclusive to the city so do away with both the towing rotation schedule and private towers gouging people for the service.

In the case of the caldo woman, she not only paid the $8 for her caldo, she also paid a $50 charge for parking.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

COMMISSION APROVES ESPIRITU SANTO LAND GRANT MARKER

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

The Brownsville Historical Association has received word that the Texas State Historical Commission has approved the application for a historical marker to be placed on the remnants of the original Espiritu Santo Land Grant.

The Original Grantee of the 59.5-leagues of land (284,415.8 acres) known as the Potrero del Espiritu Santo Land Grant by the Spanish Crown in 1781 was Jose Salvador De la Garza. That was 236 years ago.

Eugene Fernandez, chairman of the state's market program said all that is left to do before the marker is erected is for the applicants to pay their marker fee and settle on the size and text to be approved. The projected date for the marker to be placed is sometime early next year.

The boundaries of the grant lay between the Rio Grande on the south and the Arroyo Colorado on the north, bordered on the east by three separate land grants; on the south by the Potrero of San Martin, the Potrero de Santa Isabel, and the Potrero de Buena Vista; on the north also abutting the Arroyo Colorado. The Espiritu Santo land grant’s western boundary extended from the Rio north to the Arroyo Colorado.

The descendants of the original grantee and tenants continued to occupy and hold absolute possession of said tract, never having abandoned it at any time because of Indian incursions, down to the approach of the U. S. Army in 1846; and all government dues were regularly paid by the parties interested. [Confirmed by Legislature, Act of February 10, 1852. Patented June 21, 1859; No. 968, Vol. 12. General Land Office File San Patricio 1-432.]

Today, after countless legal disputes, land sales and transfers of property between numerous parties, all that is left of the original 284,415.8 acres granted in 1781 in the hands of the original grantee’s descendants, is this seven mile-plus long, 300-foot wide strip of land now known as the De Los Santos-Vera Strip.

Unlike other sites of similar age, this land has never left the descendants of the original owner who received the land 236 years ago.

That in itself is noteworthy since the United States had come into being in 1776, 241years ago, only seven years before the Crown issued Jose Salvador De la Garza title to the land.

Also noteworthy is that the grant predated the 1836 establishment of the Republic of Texas by 55 years, and the annexation of Texas into the United States in 1855 by 64 years.

The original boundaries of the grant included the site of present-day Brownsville, Harlingen, San Benito, Rancho Viejo, and the Ft. Brown Military installation. It is also recognized as the first ranch established north of the Rio Grande (Rancho Viejo).

Virtually all of the ancestors and descendants of the original settlers who lived and ranched on this land – in a straight line of decent from Blas de la Garza Falcon through Salvador de la Garza, his daughter Doña Estefana de la Garza Goseacochea, her sons Sabas Cavazos and Juan Cortina down through Andrea de los Santos Vera, daughter Amelia de los Santos Vera de Leon (deceased) son Ramon de Leon Jr. (deceased), daughter Nora de Leon Ramirez, and her brother Ernesto de Leon and their offspring – have remained loyal stewards to their heritage and history.

rita