Thursday, February 9, 2017

THE CIRCLE TIGHTENS: RODRIGUEZ, ZENDEJAS GOT FREE RINGS. WHO ORDERED THE RINGS IN THE 1ST PLACE?

By Juan Montoya
Remember the controversy over the rings given to members of the Porter High School Soccer State Champs?

In April 16, 2016, Porter won the Class 5A Soccer championship with a victory over Wakeland in a game held in Georgetown.
The following September 1, there was a ceremony where 29 players were given a 10K Gold championship ring valued at $895. Eleven other rings valued at $995 were handed out to non-players such as coaches, teacher and even a principal.

The total value of the 40 rings was $31,025.

But there was only one problem. On June 9, 2016, an invoice had arrived at the desk of principal Hector Hernandez from the vendor (Herrf Jones, a subsidiary of Varsity Brands)  asking the school to pay a total of $31,025 for the 40 rings. The vendor said that the purchase was initiated at the Athletic Department level. Since Hernandez hadn't ordered them and the school did not have funds budgeted for their purchase, he wrote Brownsville Independent School District Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas Sept. 8 asking what he should do.

Zendejas wrote Hernandez back Dec. 1, 2016 that "the district nor the school purchased ...(any) rings. We could have purchased the senior players' rings but the school dis not formulate an appropriate purchase order. The adults purchased their own rings. The student rings were donated by the company to support the students and the school."

Zendejas did not tell Hernandez, as an audit performed later at the instigation of BISD board members said, that she had "negotiated with the supplier to donate the 29 rings to (valued in the invoice at $25,050) be given to the players and asked all non-players to pay for the ($995) rings they received from personal funds."

No one, the coaches, the principal, the Athletic Dept., or the administration could say who had ordered the rings from the vendor. What they did know is that the purchase of the rings "was initiated without going having funds appropriated for the purchase of these rings."

What Zendejas did not tell Hernandez was that Herrf Jones had also included two 10K Gold championship rings free as a discount. One went to BISD board member Joe Rodriguez and another to Zendejas herself. (See graphic, click to enlarge)

Why the company would give Zendejas and Rodriguez free deluxe rings is not explained. However, Varsity Brands has another subsidiary company under its umbrella. That is BSN Sports and its registered vendor with the BISD is none other than "Coach" Joe Rodriguez. No other board member received a ring.

After questions started to be asked following the presentation of the rings, the BISD ordered Co-Lead Internal Auditor Arvin Tucker to investigate how the rings came to be ordered and whether procurement policies had been followed. Tucker's investigations began in mid-September. Then, on Nov. 18, 2016, Luis J. Garza, Herrf Jones representative in Brownsville, wrote Zendejas a letter thanking her for "giving us the opportunity to become a sponsor of the PH Soccer Team and Brownsville ISD. As part of our sponsorship, we are donating the Championship rings to the players. It is our way of giving back to the community, the school, and the School District."

But there was a catch. As BISD general counsel Baltazar Salazar told board members at their January 17 meeting, board policy did not allow for the district to accept donations after the fact. The district has to approve the donation before it is made. The board would violate its own policies if it accepted the "donation" in January for a purchase that had been initiated in June 2016.

And there was another catch. Since the rings were not acquired by the district through its formal procurement process, the district could not pay for them since neither the school, the Athletic Department, or the administration, had ordered the rings.

What to do?

BISD member Minerva Peña, at the Tuesday (February 7) meeting, placed an item on the agenda. It read:
47. Discussion, consideration, and possible action to request assistance from TEA (Texas Education Agency) Governance Division regarding procurement procedures in the district as they relate to pending issues; i.e. tablets and rings. (Board Member Request - MP)

By a 4-3 vote, the board did not approve the proposal to seek assistance from the TEA. The "nays" were Joe Rodriguez, Carlos Elizondo, Cesar Lopez and Phil Cowen. The "yeas" were Dr. Sylvia Atkinson, Peña, and Laura Perez-Reyes.

Should Rodriguez – associated as he was with BSN, under the same umbrella of Varsity Brands, their parent company– have recused himself from even discussing, or worse, voting, on the issue?
And have the 11 non-players, Rodriguez and Zendejas included, paid Herrf Jones for the $995 rings they received?

And the main question – the $31,035 gorilla in the invoice – is who ordered the rings in the first place?

Say it ain't so, Joe.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what's happening. It's same ol' same ol' with Esperanza and Old Fart Joe milking the cow and getting prizes at the kids' expenses. Nothing has changed! What happened Sylvia and Laura Reyes? Didn't you say things would be different if you were elected? Some things have changed but nothing positive. I get Cowen being a piece of shit but Laura and Sylvia? I'll tell you one thing I want the old board back minus Minerva Peña. Otis and Caty even Chirinos would've done better.

Anonymous said...

ITS SMELLS EXTREMELY BAD!
TO MUCH CORRUPTION WITH DR.Z AND HER BOARD MEMBERS.

TEA SHOULD GET INVOLVED WITH OR WITHOUT THE MAJORITY VOTE.

Anonymous said...

sorry to say this BISD is getting worse with Dr Z and her amigos.

Anonymous said...

As if Coach Joe needs another trinket for his trophy case. We all know WHO is behind this.

Anonymous said...

With the exception of Erin Hernandez,The male elected officials have always been the ones getting indicted and sent to prison. This vote of the male board members Rodriquez,Lopez and Elizondo didnt surprise me at all,however Cowens vote did. I commend the three female board members for refusing to partake in possible illegal activity. I wish TEA would get involved since it doesnt appear that the local FBI or our DA will. Its a darn shame. but oh well they were elected. Keep up the good work Pena,Akinson and Laura Perez Reys

Anonymous said...

BISD continues to waste money to promote themselves. It is a shame that those idiots don't respect the tax payers, who paid for those rings. Maybe the new Secy of Education will install programs that can negate the ignorance of local citizens.

Anonymous said...

The best choice for corruption is BISD !

old Joe and superintendent back again !


Diego Lee Rot said...

Because it is soccer shouldn't they wear the rings on their feet?

Anonymous said...

Good day Brownsville Texas. Mr HERPES was spotted yesterday chasing down divorcing women at courthouse and then as usual drinking excessively at bars eyeing the next recipient of his blisters. $tay tuned for more HERPES alerts

Anonymous said...

I didnt read your article but just want to voice that giving these kids a ring for their Championship was an awesome thing to do.

We've got to encourage kids to strive for success in anything and everything they do.

They practiced hard and played hard and won.. its a lesson to all of us.

They could've sat there and complained (eheem) its was too much practice, it was too much sacrifice.. but they did the opposite, they went balls to the wall and it paid off.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many of those kids and/or their parents are illegal aliens...I guess it does not matter as long as they can secure championships...Right?

Anonymous said...

How many will actually not be in foodstamps when adults?

Anonymous said...

Old, foul-smelling Mexican Joe Rodriguez needs to be indicted. This Focker has lived high on the hog through no great achievement of his own! Fuck him. Fuck him down!

Anonymous said...

Jim must be so proud of you every time you post your nonsense ,Diego .

Anonymous said...

The questions should be, WHERE IS LUIS V. SAENZ IN ALL THIS, pretending to look the other way.... Selective Prosecution, no less!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the Superintendent "negotiated" this deal and should be held responsible. Coach Joe should have recused himself from this vote; along with any other board member who has interactions with the ring maker or with Joe in his business with athletic gear. Obviously the buck doesn't stop anywhere in BISD.....just finger pointing and blame. And, they seem afraid of asking for outside advice...that might be a clue that more tax dollars will be wasted to make this go away.

L.Vela said...

Should have elected Mary Rey

Anonymous said...

weither it's a good thing or not rules have to be followed, remember the clearing house process and UIL rules of receiving gifts, just do your homework it's not hard or complicated, just ask Herff Jones to come in and ask them, they should know and if they all of a sudden have amnesia then there are involved in a COVER UP. it's pretty simple it is NOT a complicated process

Anonymous said...

Why $800+ rings ?!
They're Porter High School students right?
Just buy them an order of 6-tacos de bistek, frijoles y una joya de manzana !

Those rings are probably at the pawn shop by now !!

Anonymous said...

You are wrong about adults receiving free rings. Coaches, Zendejas and Rodriguez paid for their rings. You should get your facts correct before writing false statements.

Anonymous said...

why are you doing this old Joe ?
you retired with plenty of money from bisd .
you don't need money you are rich !
stop wasting our tax dollars !
TRE money 98% went to athletics .
dr.z went to all schools asking us to vote for in favor of the TRE to pass so BISD could renovate schools,that did not happen.
old Joe belongs in jail !!
dr z. needs to go too.
Cesar Lopez you be careful how you vote this will be your last time with the board.

CC TAXPAYER said...


I WILL CALL TEA
TO LOOK INTO THE RINGS REQUEST.
CONTRACTING BIDS FOR ATHLETICS.
AND ALL THE CORRUPTION IN BISD.
LETS NOT FORGET FOOD SERVICE DEPARTMENT TOO.

Anonymous said...

The fools are those who thought that by electing 'Big Joe' this kind of stuff wouldn't happen.

Anonymous said...

BS, have them come up with authentic receipts, oh wait Herff Jones might just make them up to cover up Ratriquez bullshit

Anonymous said...

stupid is what stupid says, in this instance if Ratriquez and Z paid for their rings then why was there an invoice charging them for them and if they do called paid for them, prove it

Anonymous said...

stupid is what stupid says, in this instance if Ratriquez and Z paid for their rings then why was there an invoice charging them for them and if they do called paid for them, prove it

rita