Sunday, June 29, 2014


By Jim Barton      
MeanMister Brownsville
Is Carlos Cascos the Last Line of Defense Against the United Brownsville Scam?
OK. An American football analogy: United Brownsville has easily run through our community's first line of defense, the Mayor and City Commission. Actually, they were escorted through, no, cheered through town with pom poms.
Young commissioners like John Villarreal, Estela Chavez-Vasquez and then Debbie Portillo were flattered to be assigned quickly to the United Brownsville Coordinating Board, joining an equally flattered, but naive school superintendent, BISD board members, the mayor, the city manager, etc.
Meanwhile, the United Brownsville Coordinating Board, once described by City Attorney Mark Sossi as "informal, with no governmental power," not subject to Public Information Act requirements of actual, city-appointed boards, began to "shadow" the City of Brownsville. Such city projects as the Resaca Restoration Project, curbside recycling and even the quest to receive theAll-America City Award, were on the UB Board meeting agenda, as if under their control.
At one board meeting, United Brownsville Tri-Chair Fred Rusteberg listened patiently to a giddy Minerva Pena and verbose Martin Arambula suggest improvements to the curbside recycling program. Rusteberg could not care less about curbside recycling, but no doubt smiled at the message sent that ALL city programs were under the purview, "coordination" and supervision of theUnited Brownsville Coordinating Board.
Meanwhile the author of the Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan, sold to the city for $1,000,000, but never implemented, Carlos Marin, was busy calling in a colleague who had worked with him on the Imagine Brownsville plan, Robin McCaffrey ofNeedham, McCaffrey & Associates, Inc., to develop a plan for Cameron County's industrial corridor along FM 550 to include the Port of Brownsville.
McCaffrey did as instructed, creating a 600 page Greater Brownsville Infrastructure & Development Plan, selling it for $454,592.08. The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation gave quick approval to the purchase of the study, although the actual cost was not mentioned at the meeting of that board. It took several weeks of back and forth with former GBIC board member Ruben Gallegos, Jr. to get the actual cost of the study, which we learned was split three ways between the GBIC, Brownsville Public Utilities Board and the Port of Brownsville. Not surprisingly, the taxpayer purchased plan suggests United Brownsville as the entity to control the industrial corridor's multi-billion dollar development.
Two city boards, the Brownsville Economic Development Council and the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, control the way $4,250,000 in 4A tax dollars is dispersed annually, that money being designated for economic development. Carlos Marin controls both boards, being a member of the BEDC that vets companies and recommends projects to the check-writing GBIC. The most recent GBIC Board meeting illustrates the control that puts money in Carlos Marin's pocket now and mega bucks to his to his United Brownsville cronies down the proverbial line.
Did Marin get a kickback from McCaffrey's $454K "industrial corridor" plan?
But, recently emanating from the BEDCwhere Marin is a prominent member is a Request for Proposal for a company to "implement" McCaffrey's plan. The only company responding to the carefully worded RFP is Jacob's Engineering of San Antonio, bidding $750,000 to "implement" McCaffrey's $540,000 plan.
The GBIC opts to fund Phase 1 of the Jacob's Engineering plan at a cost of $180,000. Sitting just beyond theGBIC Board table is Oscar Garcia, Jr., Carlos Marin's employee at Su Clinica Familiar and the son of outgoing UTB President and United Brownsville CoordinatingBoard Member Juliet Garcia. 
Young Oscar is introduced to the GBIC as Jacob's Engineering "Project Manager" to implement the industrial corridor plan. The tentacles of United Brownsville, Carlos Marin and Fred Rusteberg are now firmly all over the multi-billion dollar development of the industrial corridor including the Port of Brownsville.
Jacob's Engineering's Project Manager Oscar Garcia, who works for Carlos Marin will now decide which types of industries go where at the Port of Brownsville and the industrial corridor. Of course, young Oscar Garcia doesn't know shit from shellfish in terms of industrial development. The development is controlled by Carlos Marin and Fred Rusteberg.
Marin, as the most influential BEDC board member influences what proposals get past his vetting board to ask for GBIC approval. On the agenda last month were the contract of "implementation" of the industrial corridor study and V.I.D.A., an apparently sham organization purporting to help welfare recipients get jobs and an education. Carlos Marin is on the Board of Directors of V.I.D.A., that gets $300,000 per year from GBIC. Yet another illustration of how Marin controls the BEDC and GBIC money flow.
So, back to our football analogy. With United Brownsville well past our first line of "defense," the City Commission and City Manager, now venturing out into the county to control development of the industrial corridor including the Port of Brownsville, will County Judge Carlos Cascos stand in their way?
Fred Rusteberg and Carlos Marin have a certain skill set, but they're not elected officials. Why should they control, coordinate or implement anything not their own personal or company investment? Do they become the region's economic development coordinators just because they declare themselves such? Will Judge Cascos have anything at all to say about this?


Anonymous said...

Brownsville has no leadership. We are, as Tom Cruise said in the movie "The Firm", a rudderless ship stranded at sea"....and those who are in charge here are leading us to the swirling waters of destruction.

Anonymous said...

The mayor and administrators of this city treat the citizens like mushrooms.....they keep us in the dark and feed us manure. We are leaderless here and it seems like spending tax payer money recklessly is all this gaggle of incompetents can do. We should never be afraid of being the target of an attack from one would want to attack us and end the total confusion that exists here.

Anonymous said...

The cast: 1. smiling Jessica, 2. diamond Debbie, 3. El Sausage, the Shyster, 4. da Mayor, el chameleon, 5.Longoria, le disk jockey, 6. Marin, el laundry washer, 6. rRoosterburger, pay day loan sharker, etc.

Frank Chavez said...

Crony capitalism lives well in Brownsville. Not Anonymous print your name. What are you afraid of do you think any of these people going to give you a job or invite you all to their parties. Wake up and grow a pair.