Friday, December 16, 2016


By Jim Barton

No, rigor mortis has not yet set in. Bishop Daniel Flores has not performed the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, the so-called last rites. But, United Brownsville, that shadowy, unelected board that mimics local government, seems to be on its last, tired legs.

Board Chairman Irv Downing informed the board, at Wednesday's noon meeting at United Way of Southern Cameron County on Levee Street, that only 3 of the original 8 funding entities continue to fund the board. One of the three remaining to fund United Brownsville, the Brownsville City Commission, decided Tuesday night to discontinue their funding after the current fiscal year while approving the following agenda item at last night's meeting:

16. Discussion and ACTION to reconsider funding to the United Brownsville. (Commissioners R. Longoria, Jr./C. de Leon)
Wistfully, Chairman Downing says there was no need to consider the rest of the meeting's ambitious agenda in view of the funding shortfall. The agenda had included a Legislative Agenda to be Presented at the State Capitol, UT-RGV~State of the Campus, Space Industry Work Group, LRGV Active Tourism and Active Transportation Plan and Single Regional Workforce Development Plan, etc.

"We need to give some deep thought to the future of our organization," stated Downing.

The hits kept coming. Downing explained that a contingent of UB board members had made their case for funding to the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation and been rejected. Next, Downing held up a letter from Commissioner Debbie Portillo, resigning as Tri-Chair of the United Brownsville Coordinating Board, citing "other obligations."

Board member Nurith Galonsky gamely downplayed the city's decision, saying: "We don't really need their participation, just their money."

Tracy Wickett, President of the local chapter of United Way, disagreed, somewhat: "At some point, we need to ask 'Who are the members essential to be at the table?' What is the tipping point?"

Downing limited the meeting to a report on the progress of utilizing a $300,000 grant from the EDA to study trade and manufacturing opportunities on the border. In 2015 then Executive Director of United Brownsville, Mike Gonzalez, himself since a victim of the funding shortfall, had announced: “This investment by EDA will allow us to uncover manufacturing opportunities by better understanding regional supply chains.”

Turning to his right, Downing said: "Carlos, what do we have to report?"

Board member Carlos Marin explained that the opportunities were there.
Citing NAFTA, Marin explained: "The trade between Mexico and Texas annually exceeds 180 billion, with the second highest trading state, California, having less than half of that."
Marin said his report would be complete by June 17, 2017.
"20 focus groups still have to meet," he explained.

Marin closed by saying: "We need one plan for the entire region."
Actually, the movement toward thinking as a region, not simply "in silos," has been part of the death knell for United Brownsville. You will not read the obituary in the Brownsville Herald as it will likely be a quiet passing with little fanfare.


Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Nurith Galonsky ask her daddy to fund it .

Anonymous said...

Update: SeƱor Trump is not enamored of NAFTA, so there is that. In addition, please let go of the term "silos" that is so 1999.

Anonymous said...

Why do we need this group? And, what has United Brownsville done for us lately?

Anonymous said...

Put a stake in it already! A group of self-serving, self-anointed, and last, but not least, self-appointed leeches. And one wonders why people voted for Trump?

Anonymous said...

What have they ever done besides sponge off the taxpayers money?

Anonymous said...

United Brownsville is a scam, never did anything for our community nor our young graduates. They took thousands from BISD, TSC,PUB, COUNTY AND CITY all to their personal pockets! Glad to see it finally dying!

fred avila said...