Wednesday, July 2, 2014
By Juan Montoya
Much has been made about the Bi-Ned con job being hawked by United Brownsville and foisted upon the residents of Brownsville at their own expense.
The pushers are members of the self-appointed shadow government known as United Brownsville, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez and members of the city commission and behind-the-scenes manipulator Carlos Marin and his company Ambiotec.
This is the blueprint for the ongoing takeover from elected government of our economic and social development by this self-appointed group and their minions and sycophants. The plan is the offshoot of the Imagine Brownsville ruse which cost city taxpayers more than $1 million back in the days when Eddie Treviño was mayor and he allowed Ambiotec's Carlos Marin a run of the city store.
That plan was meant to be presented to the U.S. Congress to apply for federal funds. It never happened because Solomon Ortiz and his cosponsor were defeated for election.
When the purpose of the Imagine Brownsville plan fell through, Marin and Treviño quickly shifted gears and adapted it to be the city's comprehensive development plan. They pushed it through the city commission and Imagine Brownsville morphed into United Brownsville.
The schemers then placed IBC President Fred Rusteberg, a Rancho Viejo as of the tri-chairs of the the so-called Coordinating Board of United Brownsville along with UTB President Juieta Garcia, and Irv Downing, a former banker and employee of Garcia.
They, in turn, filled the United Brownsville board with pliant members who eagerly rushed to please Rusteberg, Garcia, Downing and Marin to do as they pleased with the imprimatur of legitimacy that they do not have.
This triumvirate installed an executive director to carry out their mandate and ride herd over the elected and appointed public entities who pay the United Brownsville gang their tribute in the form of an annual $25,000 membership fee to sit at the table and receive enlightenment from the freeloaders.
They are the City of Brownsville, the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation (GBIC), the Brownsville Independent School District, the Brownsville Navigation District, the Brownsville Public Utilities Board, the Brownsville Community Improvement Corp (BCIC) and the University of Texas-Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.
They then hired the former Tea Party mayor of Kyle, Texas, to head the operation. The former mayor, Mike Gonzalez, left a dismal track record in Kyle, having doubled property taxes and left the city in hock to finance his pet projects and that of his friends. Gonzalez pitches the United Brownsville mantra, growth, jobs, unity, civic engagement, global positioning, etc.
Gonzalez and the coordinating board convinced the commissioners of the Port of Brownsville (a United Brownsville "member") the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation (also a United Brownsville "member"), and the Brownsville Public Utility Board (also a United Brownsville "member") to appropriate the $454,592.08 to formulate their "comprehensive plan" that will place the helm of economic development on a "coordinating body" which will steer the are to economic prosperity.
The grandiose plan?
United Brownsville invented something called high-sounding called the Bi-National Border Economic Development Trojan horse. Under this "plan," the usual suspects – Rusteberg, Marin, Mayor Tony Martinez, FINSA's Sergio Arguelles, and Garcia – are in the process of hijacking the direction of this region's economic development to benefit a select cabal of their fellow travelers. In fact, Treviño is a United Brownsville board member, too.
"Central to the BiNED concept is establishing advanced manufacturing locally to serve the electronics and automotive manufacturing industries that are booming in Mexico's interior."
If you have the stomach to read through this repetitive document, you will see that the same themes are repeated endlessly and the con goes something like this:
"Brownsville is poised to become the intermodal and trade hub linking the burgeoning markets in Mexico with its new oil discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, reap the benefits of the new highway linking Matamoros with the west coast of Mexico to lure the China trade, and stands to leap into the future with SpaceX, a new steel plant at the port, and become a produce import center to rival Laredo and McAllen."
And, of course, we will need someone to coordinate the robbing of the public purse and the implementation of the comprehensive plan. Who better than United Brownsville (a stakeholder?) to perform this critical task?
Throughout this document, United Brownsville and the coordinating board are named as the crucial cogs in the gears to launch a "poised" Browntown (Imagine Brownsville in a Greek profile) to ignite the economic firestorm that's coming.
Oscar Gacia Jr., the vice-chair at PUB when the utility approved the expenditure to put together the Da Plan, jumped ship and joined San Antonio-Jacob's Engineering just in time to garner the first phase of a $750,000 implementation contract. The first phase put $185,000 in his employer's pockets with a nice commission for Jr., we're sure.
Marin was not to be left out of this gravy either. Ambiotec was hired to provide Needham-McCaffrey and Associates, Inc. with a 14-page rehash of old studies under the heading of "Levee Environmental Investigation" where it lists the insects, animals, mammals, birds, mollusks, reptiles, and plants that live where the levee might be added to reach the port.
Marin and United Brownsville are obviously seeking to feather their own nest at the public's expense and without having to account to anyone but their own cronies in this scam. So far, not one job has been created for the residents of this city. How long can they keep going to the well before the citizens of this city say "enough"?
Posted by jmon at 12:31 PM