Saturday, April 8, 2017


By Juan Montoya
No one knows who it was at the Brownsville Planning Dept. who picked the 7th and Park Coffee/bike shop to be the beneficiary of  free promotional campaign using ad spots on Cinemark, but the owners of that business are appropriately grateful to commissioner Rose Gowen and are staging events to give her reelection campaign a boost.

 Gowen, who is facing a stiff challenge from Erasmo Castro for the At-Large "B" position on the city commission, is the featured guest at the campaign rally to be held at the shop.

Back in January, the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) notified the City Planning Department that it was the recipient of a $5,000 grant to promote bicycle friendly businesses in the city.

And  quietly, the city commission had approved the motion that 10 percent of all Certificates of Obligation that they approved for street repair and other transportation-related items would go to the Bike-Ped Division. Last year alone, this amounted to more than $500,000.

Certificates of Obligation are a favorite method of getting additional funds that were not included in the annual budget by simply voting for them. While other methods such as bonds require a public vote, COs do not. The city commission has passed numerous CO issues amounting to millions to cover shortages in funds for the various departments.

The BCIC notified the City of Brownsville ­ Planning Department ­Bicycles and Pedestrian Advisory Committee their application for the $5,000 in funds had been approved for the advertising promotion. The committee had tentatively planned to hold their first meeting to attract businesses to apply for grants at the Brownsville Civic Pavilion back in December 2016 or early January 2017 . But instead, the members decided – for some unspecified reason – to hold it at the as-yet-unopened 7th and Park Coffee Shop in April or May 2017, four months later and in the midst of the reelection campaign of bicycle advocate Rose Gowen.

That business did not open until February and is run by the owner who is closely associated with Gowen. This drew a pointed remark by Michael Cowen who wondered why "we should tax people and then use their money to promote private businesses. Shouldn't businesses be responsible for their own marketing rather than asking others to pay for it?"

And as far back as November 2016, the city planners had contacted the local Cinemark theater to run a video spot promoting the work of the committee. The promo video was set to run in Cinemark theaters for 4 weeks ($3,730), on COB.TV, and on social media during January and February 2017, advertising a February 17, 2017 workshop/event.

The goal of the workshop/event ostensibly is to attract business owners/managers to learn about the BFB program. So why was it that the plan was adjusted to include the new coffee shop and bicycle business in the promo and the projected meeting of business owners changed to accommodate the new business?

According to the planning department grant application, the fee for businesses to apply is based off the size of the business and ranges from $50 to ­$500. The designation has several application cycles, with one opening in January 2017. Applications awards are be announced in May 2017. After awards have been announced by the League of American Bicyclists, the Bike/Ped division would promote a "Bike to Bicycle Friendly Businesses" ride/event for late May or early June 2017. Instead, the Cinemark advertisements say it will be April 19, five days before early voting for the city commission elections.

The bike enthusiasts seem to ignore that the city is the poorest community in the United States and that many hones lack adequate nourishment, jobs are lacking, and that basic infrastructure like drainage to prevent flooding does not exist.

Bus shelters are "shelters" in name only. There are still colonias in the ETJ that have no sanitary sewers and the homeless abound in town without food and shelter. Yet the 7th and Park people say that Gowen has secured millions for them and their friends who have all the time in the world to ride bicycles.

Apparently, they are fine with the attempt by Gowen and the city commission to give away Lincoln Park to the UT System, the $2.3 million purchase of the Casa Del Nylon which still sits empty, and the funding of studies upon studies  that  line no one else's pockets but that of their friends and their children.


Anonymous said...

Dear Zeke Silva. If you want your Roast House Coffee House to succeed, focus on the success of your business and not on defaming and shaming the 7th and Park establishment. They are succeeding because of the location, its outstanding coffee, and tremendous customer service. With it being on the trail and providing bicycle services, too, it serves an untapped niche in Brownsville. Has it benefited from the City? Yes. Have you, Zeke? Yes. Did you forget about the funding you received from the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation to supplement your trucking company? What's good for the goose is good for the gander wouldn't you say? Actually, no you wouldn't. You have more important things to worry about than a competing coffee shop. Your recent felony DWI perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I am a new business owner that is upset with the cities permit department I recently opened a business and I had a lot of trouble with them authorizing me permits for certain amount of parking spaces and even trash dumpster cages which this coffee shop does not even comply with???? Please look into it Mr Montoya

Anonymous said...

There's nothing in here that says Erasmo Castro is bitching, so why are you?

Anonymous said...

LOL !! don't make me piss in my pants Juan! im laughing so hard at your "stiff challenge" nothing stiff about Castro - not even that..

Anonymous said...

Rose Zavaleta Gowen has an agenda that disregards the interests of her constituency and in typical Zavaleta style, is a self-serving, "greater and smarter than voters", and arrogant person who must be replaced by someone....anyone....who will look out for the interests of the public...not just spend tax dollars on programs that don't improve our infrastructure problems in the city.

AT said...

That's why I'm never going to that coffee shop. Desu.

Anonymous said...

So, what about ZEKE SILVA getting taxpayer money, Juan? Writing that?

Anonymous said...

Boot them All out and get new leaders that will focus on the real issues and stop all this crazy out of control spending. We have had enough of the real estate shopping spree of worthless buildings that only benefited the sellers. We had enough of ill- attended cylovias that only drain departments budget on overtime pay and affect doowntown businesses due to street closures. Get rid of downtown bike lines that require constant maintenance and are hardly used, there are plenty of already established bike trails that can be utilized. Castro, Garza and Neece will get the job done right.

Anonymous said...

Not even Ismael Hinojosa will be able to save your ass on this one.

Anonymous said...

We need an balanced city commission that will make the right decisions for our citizens. We need Garza, Neece and Castro to get elected, they will ensure that every matter that need commission approval will get a fair vote.

Anonymous said...

Garza, Neece, and Castro? LOL Garza, maybe. The other two need to take a hike.