By Juan Montoya
At one time, the Andres Cueto Building was a bustling center of commerce.
Historical documents say it was a fine example of late 19th Century South Texas commercial architecture.
The marker outside further states that "this building was constructed in 1893 to house the expanding grocery and mercantile, retail and wholesale business of Don Andres Cueto (1862-1927), a native of Spain.
"La Nueva Libertad," as the business was known, included a retail store, storerooms, a carriage house, and domed brick bakery ovens. Prominent features of the building include its corbelled brick cornice and parapet.
Today, however, it houses no commercially active tenants. Instead, it has been taken over by the City of Brownsville and Hizzoner Da Mayor Tony Martinez now occupies the most prominent office there. Down the hallway, the director and staff of the freeloader organization known as United Brownsville with no accountability to anyone in elected office occupies the other spaces.
The Lord of the Manor of United Brownsville is none other than IBC President Fred Rusteberg, who alighted from Mount Sinai, tablets in hand and announced that:
"United Brownsville will focus on a set of strategies and actions that will make sure the Brownsville Borderplex and the Brownsville area we imagined together is built to last, built to last for our children, our children's children. When we agreed to lead Imagine Brownsville, it was never meant to be a plan that would sit on the shelf when it was completed. Plans demand action and that's what United Brownsville is about. We are excited to begin the implementation phase of the plan."
The good banker that he is, Rusteberg's financial institution has not contributed one thin dime to this project. Rather, the public is being led by the nose on its own nickel.
One of the people on the payroll is "board facilitator and communications director" Brian Godinez. Another is Mike Gonzalez, the former mayor of Kyle and a conservative Republican, who was handpicked by Rusteberg as the United Brownsville's director at $85,000 a year.
The lobbying firm of Patton Boggs LLP was paid $75,000 for three months of work. The work-product? A blustery, economic development-catch-all phrase document that lacks any type of codification or ordinance authority that future city commissions do not have to adhere to. In other words, a con.
Now remember, this is your money.
In fact, it's all of our money.
With an annual budget of $381,000, the The City of Brownsville pays $25,000 annually as does the PUB, the Port of Brownsville, the BISD, UTB/TSC, the BEDC, GBIC, etx.
Did you have anything to say about this?
Can you remove Rusteberg from the board, or for that matter Godinez or Gonzalez? Can you fire Patton Boggs LLP? If you have a gripe with any of them, who do you talk to?
You might have to make a pilgrimage to the Cueto Building to talk to Martinez if he's back from his jaunt to Colombia with the BEDC's Jason Hilts if he will give you the time of day.