Saturday, January 19, 2019



"...Guerrero is working hard and he is part of a Matamoros network that slowly is becoming a political force in Brownsville. He is spending money in his quest to prevail. Hinojosa is compadres with new State Rep Alex Dominguez and he is a familiar face around the court house. Though neither is a household name, they are ambitious professionals and shouldn't be taken lightly." Jerry McHale

By Juan Montoya
If ever there was a dog whistle blown in this year's City of Brownsville Commission elections, it's Jerry blowing it above.

Almost sublimely, he is stirring the cauldron of prejudice and disdain that has been an omnipresent  factor in the relationship between residents of Brownsville and Matamoros. In some quarters in this city, there has always existed a deep contempt and scorn for people who were either born or live in our sister city.

They are the "other" "del otro lado, "lotranos," mejcicles,"mojados," mojarras," "de la Popu," or other disparaging descriptions. In general, many local residents heap scorn upon our neighbors, never realizing that a lot of the people who lived and worked in Matamoros or northern Tamaulipas are American citizens who are part of a middle class and upper middle class - and even sometimes part of the wealthy elite -  who just happen to do business there.

The pity of it is that some of the most rabid anti-Mata people are often of a lower social, educational and economic level than the people they look down upon. It's reminiscent of the poor whites in the south whose prejudice made them blind to the fact that many times some of the blacks they looked down upon were often better educated and had a better station in life that they did despite their second-class status in that odious system.

And even though they may have been looked down upon by other whites for being "white trash," they took the false pride that at least they were not black. 

In many cases, these people from Mata had businesses there, attended schools here, St. Joseph's Academy, for example, and are entitled to participate in the political process because they were born in the United States.

Many people from Matamoros have a double nationality. They can live legally on either side. And we should welcome them here. After all, Matamros residents have a long history of contributing to our cultural and political life. Former Texas Secretary of State  and Cameron County Judge ( and before that county commissioner) Carlos Cascos is a Matamoros native who served our community admirably.

And the family of former county judge, Texas Secretary of State, and u.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza's family came from there. We're sure that there are many more examples of individuals who have contributed positively to our social, economic, educational, and political life.

We now have representatives of this group on the city commission, the Brownsville Navigation District, and who have been appointed to various boards. 

Given the situation we're in that this city's traditional leadership has brought us to, it couldn't be any worse. It's nowhere but up.

Up until the current times of insecurity, they had no need to get involved in politics here. In fact, they were involved in politics in Matamoros and Tamaulipas and had become part of the ruling elite there. But northern Mexico's version of Ireland's "The Troubles" has forced this group to come back home. Instead of disparaging them, we should welcome their participation in our civic life. 

Mexican capital is the driving force in Brownsville. Ask any Realtor. The real money in Brownsville is capital that has come from across the river fleeing the extortion of  of La Maña, our own border version of Italy's "Black Hand" and the savagery of bloodthirsty cartels.

They bring an entrepreneurial spirit that has been missing locally. The restaurants, businesses, and new development that used to flourish in Matamoros are flourishing here as a result, a good thing for this poor community.

Yeah, some are haughty, demanding, and authoritative, but that is a carryover from the social relations that exist in Mexico. The demarcation between the haves and the have-nots is much more marked there as is the established social status. It's just a matter of time before they get culturally acclimatized to our customs and traditions of individual rights and social equality.

These people re not going to stand in line for housing, food stamps, or welfare checks, regardless of  local chauvinists' wishful thinking. They're here to do business. 

And, let not forget that the only reason Jerry's first stab at being a soccer coach at Porter High School was a success was because of kids from Matamros. Let him tell you in is own words.

"I returned to teaching in 1980 at Porter High School. I was teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and the vast majority were students from Matamoros. They were an ostracized group. They must have reminded the Brownsville Mexican-Americans of their roots who apparently didn't care to recall their humble origins. If you didn't speak English, you were an inferior beings."

Just as the talent of these kids put the Brownsville Independent School District on the state and national maps as a soccer powerhouse, let's hope that the entrepreneurial spirit and the civic engagement of this group entering politics regenerates our social and cultural life.

In fact, we should encourage the other groups among u - the Korean community, the African community, those from the Middle East and Asia and the Indian subcontinent - to join us in the voting booth and on the ballot. After all, politics makes the world go round.

 No one group has a monopoly on civic engagement or political leadership. We should welcome them all. After all, our local citizens participation rates are dismal. We say the more the merrier.

Friday, January 18, 2019


Image result for tony martinez, brownsville
By Juan Montoya
For some reason or other, politicians in Brownsville think that a conspicuous act of largess, the grand gesture, will divert attention from the obvious shortcoming of this city.

The naming of Brownsville as the poorest city in the United States set off a spate of acts designed to diver attention to the moniker and to blind the public to the obvious.

We became the city in the Guinness World Record with the most people dancing zumba, the city with the most kids with a fishing line in the brown waters of our resaca (Hooked for Life), and the city who has striven to give out subsidies to millionaires and wealthy corporations.

Take for example, the generosity of City of Brownsville Tony Martinez since he has been mayor. He now ants a third term in this this May's election. Why?

Who else, for example, would give out millions in subsidies and tax abatements (combined with the state) to billionaire Elon Musk? Who else would bend over backwards to give millions in real estate (including Southmost's Lincoln Park) and subsidies to the oil-and-gas wealthy University of Texas System so they could put their campus in downtown Brownsville?

And who else would pledge $350 million in cash (plus tax abatements) to Tenaska to build a $500 million natural gas, electric generating plant and be content to take one-fourth of the 800 MWs produced? That is, the Public Utility Board ratepayers would put up 70 percent of the cost and keep 25 percent of the energy produced (200 MWs).

And to add insult to injury, since 2013, the ratepayers have been stuck with a 35 percent increase in utility costs and the money they pay (estimated at more than $100 million) has continued to pile up at the PUB because Tenaska does not have customers to seel their 600 MWs because there is a glut of electricity on the grid.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, as it were, none of these efforts have come to fruition.

The UT System moved its main offices to Edinburg (UTRGV) and keeps a satellite office in Brownsville (UTRGV-Brownsville), the Tenaska plant won;t be built in the foreseeable future, and SpaceX hasn't launched one satellite when they pledged to have a blast off every month since 2013.

And don't get us going about jobs for local people. We're too busy giving away our meager resources to people and corporations that don't need it.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


Image result for farm girls operating tractors

We first learned about
Gender equality -

My sisters
And I -

When we saw Ohio farm girls
Driving the tractors

Like their dads and brothers
Cultivating the fields



By Linda Forse

There was once a man
who lived all alone.
His wife had Alzheimers
and lived in a home.

Little by little
her memory waned
until his wife knew
neither the man nor his name.

The bills for her care
continued to rise,
yet this man loved her;
she was the world in his eyes.

He wanted the best
for his once-loving wife,
so he decided right then
to take his own life.

His Social Security
and sale of their home
would pay for her care
when she was alone.

So no neighbor would find him
he devised a plan:
he would call 911
before he did himself in.

He would do it outside
where his wife used to garden;
no mess to clean up,
no stigma nor burden.

He then took his gun
and went outside to the yard;
one last look at the sun
and then he was gone.

When the cops came
they said, “What a man!
Considerate and selfless
to the very end.”


(Ed.'s Note: One of our readers sent us this photo of the 1931 El Jardin Elementary mejicanito band. It was the bad old times when when racism was the norm and there was nothing wrong with separate but equal doctrine. Did you know any of these kids growing up?)


(Ed.'s Note: Unbeknownst to City of Brownsville District 2 Commissioner Jessica Tetreau, Interim Brownsville Police Dept. Chief David Dale was recording her phone call which he later used to file a complaint of her interfering with the police department. Dale did not use his phone to record, as it is heard ringing before he picked it up. The city released the recording to the Brownsville Herald. Here are a few telling bits of the conversation. Notice that Dale is noncommittal in his answers but manages to put in a plug for his candidacy for police chief.) 

TETREAU:  (Inaudible) sure that I get-- I was good for my office because I can't get service in my area. You know what I mean?

DALE:  Right.


TETREAU:  And downtown is, like,  saturated and overburdened.  Like let's be honest.  Ben doesn't even understand.  Those business owners don't  even live in his district.  Like most of them are not  even, you know, eligible voters.  Sucks to say that,  but it's true.

DALE: Laughing

TETREAU:  And so here he is bending  over backwards, and I get -- I was thinking "Because  I'm not on top of it and I'm letting all of this happen." Like, there's like very bad dumping in my  area.  We clean it up.  The next day it's there all  over again.

And I don't have any bicycle officers in  my area or any resources at all to help with it, and it  just sucks for me.

DALE:  Well, I mean, yeah.

TETREAU:  (Inaudible) and, two, it's  not safe to be riding -- like, I wouldn't ride my bike to Wal-Mart at night.  I wouldn't ride my bike to the  Stripes across Boca Chica at night, much less, like, let my husband go or anybody else. So I just thought it was like a crazy idea, an over-saturation, and here we go again, Ben  Neece trying to be the sheriff in town and the rest of us -- like, my district has to pay for it.

Image result for CASA DEL NYLON TETREAU:  Like make sure the infrastructure is like good, and we have no money because we bought cameras.  You know, so it just like really gets on my nerves that the poorest people always  have to pay for these pet projects.

And I'm just done with the downtown. Like a few years ago we had a $3 million  dollar award from AEP and John Villarreal dumped the entire thing into market square.

So there went $3 million.  Now, $2.5 in the Casa Nylon, now 500,000 in  the cameras. Like it doesn't -- they're not going to fix the problems that are there. Like little by little we'll do it, but not with big money dumps like that.

DALE:  Right.
Image result for MOTORCYCLE COPS, BROWNSVILLE TEXAS DALE:  So it's -- and we're short several, you know, in that area, you know, so it's - resources aren't -- like I said, it's not unlimited. We work.  We manage, you know, and we pull from here. But when you pull from there, well, then  something has to give because, well, you're taking  somebody else's resources, you know.

 Like the motorcycle division, if I have to supplement patrol, well, then they're not generating money for the city because every hour that they work on the streets, they basically generate about $500 worth of citations. In reality that transfers to about $250 after warnings and time credits served and -- or judges just issuing out dismiss cases.  It's usually half that.

TETREAU:  (Inaudible)

DALE:  Yes, but when you take them away and you give them some other assignments, that's what's -- the revenue is being lost.


 TETREAU:  Now -- now your role in chief, you're going to understand the dynamic of, like, seven commission members and having to (inaudible).  I always feel so bad for Michael and -         

DALE:  Well, you know -

TETREAU:  You have it -- Charlie (Cabler, former city manager) knew the politics of it.

DALE: Yeah, yeah, right.  Well, I told the -- you know, the chief, I mean, because, yeah, as your commander, you only have one boss, right?  And it's the chief.

But if you happen to get into that position, well, you have multiple chiefs.  It's not just one chief.  You know, you have -- you have eight bosses, you know.

Every -- you know. So -- and, yeah, well, that's just the way it is, you know, because everybody has got a responsibility and you're elected, you know, to cover your district, and they've got needs, you know, so you're their voice.  If you don't say anything, who will, you know?

TETRAU: The problem child of us is Ben because, if you don't do what he wants, he destroys you, like, you know, perjury this -- just like he's freaking nuts.

Image result for THI IS YOUR BRAIN ON WEEDDALE:  Yeah.

TETREAU:  (Inaudible) should not smoke weed.  That's bad for you so -

DALE: (Laughing)

 FEMALE VOICE:  It fries your brain.  But it's just hard for me to work with somebody that, you know, is so erratic.  Like I don't understand where he comes from.

                                     AND THE PLUG BY DALE TO BE CHIEF OF POLICE
TETREAU: But, anyways, you're doing a good job.  I just recommend that, like -- because the decision is coming up very soon, make sure you keep all of your commissioners very happy and -       
DALE:  Yes.

TETREAU -- talk to them and keep them in the loop and show them the, you know, the overall statistics of the city and how you're going to fix it and what your plans are.  Like think big and make sure you impress them.

DALE:  Right.  Well, I hope so. (Laughing)  That's the game plan anyway, you know.         


DALE:  We'll see what the score is, you know.



Wednesday, January 16, 2019


(Ed.'s Note: Before we start getting measured for spacesuits for the trip to the planet Mars from Boca Chica, let's be clear-eyed on this latest pronunciamiento from eccentric billionaire and SpaceX owner Elon Musk. Musk told Brownsville and Texas officials that he needed them to close Boca Chica Beach periodically to launch satellites into suborbit starting in 2013. He also said there would be about 12 launches a year. 

So far, six years later, not one rocket - not even a bottle rocket at New Year's - has been launched from the "only commercial vertical takeoff launch pad' in the United States. The latest manifestation of musk's Laika -and-pony show is a Buck Rogers retro-rocket sculpture SpaceX says it want to test for manned space flight to Mars. 

Where are the 600 jobs starting at $75,000 a year promised by Elon's rocket boosters? The only semi-firm commitment is a potential "launch and landing" test sometime in a month or more. Manned space flights to Mars from Boca Chica are nothing more than a pipe dream. There isn't even any running water out there. Given the euphoria at this latest pronouncement, it seems like Musk isn't the only one smoking wacky tobbacky.)

By Samantha Masunaga
Los Angeles Times
JAN 16, 2019 | 2:30 PM

A motorcyclist rides near the SpaceX prototype Starship hopper vehicle at Boca Chica Beach, Texas, on Jan. 12. (Miguel Roberts / Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES - In a reversal of a deal local officials had touted as a win for Los Angeles tech, SpaceX will no longer be developing and building its Mars spaceship and rocket booster system at the Port of Los Angeles. Instead, the work will be done in south Texas.

SpaceX said in a statement Wednesday that the decision was made to “streamline operations.”

SpaceX has completed assembly of a prototype of the Starship hopper vehicle at its Boca Chica facility in south Texas, where it also plans to conduct tests in which the prototype will launch and go up in the air briefly before returning to Earth.

Company Chief Executive Elon Musk has said the first of these tests could occur as soon as next month, though he hedged that “due to unforeseen issues” it could also happen two months from now.

A SpaceX spokesperson released a statement saying the Starship decision “does not impact our current manufacture, design, and launch operations in Hawthorne and Vandenberg Air Force Base” and that the company will “continue recovery operations of our reusable Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft at the Port of Los Angeles.”

Before the deal for Starship and Super Heavy booster development, SpaceX leased about eight acres at the Port of L.A. that it used for recovery of Falcon 9 first-stage boosters and Dragon capsules, which arrive at shore via droneships.

The new deal, approved last year, would have given SpaceX use of a 19-acre site on Terminal Island. A now-former SpaceX official told the L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners last year that production and fabrication of the Mars rocket could begin in two to three years.

(So far there is no word about jobs coming to Boca Chica or whether any jobs will be created here.)

The move comes just days after SpaceX, saying it needed to get “leaner,” announced that it would lay off about 10% of the company’s more than 6,000 employees. About 577 employees in Hawthorne are affected, according to a state WARN Act notice dated Friday.

Though Port of L.A. officials are “disappointed that SpaceX will not be expanding their operations at the Port of Los Angeles, we are pleased that they will continue their recovery operations here,” spokesman Phillip Sanfield said in a statement.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino was told of the decision by company officials in a conference call late last week, said Branimir Kvartuc, a spokesman for the councilman.

In a tweet Wednesday morning, Buscaino said: “While I feel crushed about SpaceX pulling the Super Heavy out of the Port of L.A., I feel confident that other innovators will see the huge value they get in San Pedro.”

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said last year that SpaceX told the city of L.A. it preferred to build its Mars rocket and spaceship system close to its facility in Hawthorne. A port official told commissioners last year that SpaceX had also been looking at potential sites in Louisiana and Texas.

Other commercial space firms have operations in Texas. Blue Origin tests engines and its New Shepard rocket and capsule system at its west Texas facility, and SpaceX already has a rocket development facility in McGregor, about 18 miles west of Waco.


By Juan Montoya

Apparently feeling the footsteps of better qualified candidates behind her, 16-year Justice of the Peace Pct. 2, Place 1 incumbent Linda Salazar has started her fund raising more than a year ahead of the 2020 Democratic Party primary.

In a letter she sent out to local Democrats, Salazar asks for their vote and reminds them that "campaigns are expensive" and asks for "a generous donation to allow me to run a successful campaign."

Others may ask why Salazar is asking the public for money since she has averaged more than 600 weddings at $250 a pop over the last four years, raking in an estimated $150,000 in cash for her coffers. Under Texas law, JPs are allowed to keep any marriage fees they charge for themselves. All the county keeps is the $82 charged for the marriage license with the county clerk.

Never before had Salazar started campaigning so early. Is it because at least two challengers have already announced that they will challenge her stranglehold on the lucrative marriages racket that doubles as her JP office?

One, Fred Arias, touts his more than two decades of federal law enforcement experience as his
major strength to replace Salazar.

The other, a more formidable opponent in the eyes of local political observers is Cynthia Mendiola- Hinojosa, originally from La Joya, and is an educated Latina woman who is a Criminal Science graduate, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and has a Master's Degree in Education, Guidance and Counseling.

She is currently the office manager for the Gilberto Hinojosa Law Firm, her husband and also Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.

Hinojosa has over the years worked as Assistant Program Director at the La Esperanza Home for Boys, as a clinician there, and as a Parole Officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Parole Division.

Smart, energetic and a go-getter, she is also the past president of the Cameron County Texas Democratic Women.

Her community involvement goes beyond positions with pay. She has also volunteered her time as board member of the Proyecto Juan Diego in Cameron Park ( 3rd term), is a board member of the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville, recording secretary of the Catholic Daughters, Sacred Heart of Mary Court (2448), past board member of the Recovery Center of Cameron County, a Cameron County Democratic Party National Delegate, and Chair for Cameron County Precinct 9.

Now can you see why Salazar, a throwback to the days when a chicken plate and a bottle of beer could get you a vote and win you elections, is running early and running scared?

Wouldn't you?



"So, I will take the mantle," Trump said in December during a meeting with Democrats. "I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it."
By Juan Montoya

He works as a waiter in a local well-known restaurant and is a student in a local school (Texas Southmost College).

He is young, and the innocence and the optimism of youth is reflected in his face.

Related imageThis January, with only two days to go before the Spring semester begins, he was ready to pay for his tuition with a combination of grants and loans and with his part-time work.

But then came Trump's Shutdown of the government, and now he's been told by the college that the promised government assistance might be there.

"I have until the 18th of this month to pay for my tuition," he said as he removed the dishes from the table Tuesday. "If the government remain shutdown, I have to come up with $900 from somewhere if I want to continue in school."

For many local students, getting a crack at an education is a one-time deal. If you don't grab the brass ring now, the chance may never return. He know this very well and tells a customer he is working to get an education because it's the only way to get a future.

"Today, education is everything," he said. "Without it, there's nothing."

Upon hearing the student's predicament, TSC trustee Ruben Herrera assured the college's students that the board has committed to work with them and that all the program funding and grants are in place to insure that no students get shut out of attending classes.

"All of TSC's program funding is in place, including Pell grants and loans," he said. "In case that some students don't get the funding from the government they were expecting, TSC will defer tuition payments until the shutdown is over. We will not drop any students because of that. All our administrators know that and concerned students should get in touch with counselors to make sure they attend classes."

Polls say that the majority of the American people have taken Trump at his word and made the shutdown his, with most of the blame for it placed on Trump (55%) over the Democrats in Congress (32%).

This may come as some consolation for the Democrats and chagrin for Republicans, but for the student tending tables who is caught in the middle of the political fray that has shut down the government who is collecting taxes from his meager check and tips, it is meaningless.

"I will work another job if I have to," he says, resolutely. "But one way or another I'm going to finish my education."


(The release of a recording made by then-interim Brownsville Police Chief David Dale and District 2 commissioner Jessica Tetreau where he charges she was improperly interfering with police operations and she says she was watching out for the interests of her district came after Dale filed a complaint with the now defunct Budget Audit and Oversight Committee.

That committee was disbanded  after a vote by a commission majority said that since the city now had a new city manager, that responsibility was within his purview and not the city commission. However, the complaint was filed with the city secretary and made public after the local daily made an information request for its release.

The abolition of the committee led to charges of a cover yup of corruption by commissioner Ben Neece and the filing of coercion charges against him by Terteau with the Brownsville Police Dept.

The whole matter will probably come to naught, but it is instructive of the schism that exists at the department and in the commission.

The candidates who have applied include Dale, a 26-year veteran; Lt. William Dietrich, who has been with the department for 21.9 years; Investigations Services Commander Henry Etheridge, a 30.3-year veteran; Patrol Sgt. Napoleon Gonzalez, who has been on the force for 20.3 years; Lt. Raul Rodriguez, who has been with the PD for 30.6 years; Lt. Felix Sauceda, a 26.8-year veteran; Lt. Gerard C. Serrata, who has been with the PD for 21.4 years; and Sgt. Carlos A. Zamorano, a 22.9-year veteran.

In an interview with the local daily, Tetreau says she felt betrayed by Dale for recording of the conversation without her knowledge.

That statement of a perceived betrayal of her trust by one of the candidates who makes up part of the majority on the city commission who might not have a direct selection of the chief, but, as far as city politics go, will vote on the city manager's recommendation for chief, does not bode well for Dale's candidacy.)


Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Meet Brownsville Independent School District interim superintendent Dr. Sylvia Ann Reyna Hatton, out of the Dallas area.

The BISD board voted unanimously to hire her while they perform their nationwide search for a permanent replacement for Dr. Esperanza Zendejas, who was placed on administrative leave pending a review of her performance before deciding on a final termination.

She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from UT-Austin. Her most current employment was serving as an educational consultant for the Region 13 Education Service Center in Austin.

In 2012, she left Fort Worth ISD, she worked as a top administrator at the Dallas ISD  who oversaw assistant superintendents and executive directors who managed clusters of schools. In Fort Worth, Reyna made a base salary of $160,000 and got an annual car allowance of $4,500 and an annual cell phone stipend of $720, according to the district.

Previously, Reyna worked at San Antonio's Edgewood school district.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


By Juan Montoya

For the first time since 1997 some 50,000 property owners within the Port of Harlingen Authority have received a tax bill  that its board convinced the Cameron County Commissioners Court to pass in November to generate funds for maintenance and operations at the facility on the Arroyo Colorado.

The tax bill for the port will be in addition to the county property tax bill mailed by the Cameron County Tax-Assessor-Collector last October and has surprised the taxpayers of the district.

The port tax will be levied on the property of residents of the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, the Rio Hondo Independent School District and southern Willacy County. On a $100,000 home, the annual levy is $30. That tax is expected to generate about $1 million annually.

Property owners say that the the tax officer should have sent their bill to their mortgage holders so they can include it in their house payment escrow accounts. A spokesman for the ax office said that bills had been sent to the companies already.

'We already did that," he said. "Since the commissioners approved the tax and we had already sent the tax statements in October, we included the Port of Harlingen tax notice in the second round, in the January statements." 

"It's wreaking havoc over here," said a property owner. "We were very surprised when we got the additional bill."

The Port of Harlingen Authority Board had the court pas a 3-cent per $100 of assessed valuation on property within portions of Cameron and Willacy counties, that will be used for maintenance and to be used to leverage bond issues for the port's development.

Created in 1926, the Port of Harlingen sits on over 2,000 acres of land with 650 feet of dry cargo wharf, 100 feet of dry bulk wharf and 5 docks.

Before commissioners approved the tax, Chairman Alan Johnson said that "last year (2017) our net operating income was $160,000 – a year,” Johnson said. “That’s our bottom line income after all expenses, all the tariffs, all the rents and leases that we collect.”

Johnson said a large part of the funding issue for the port is related to a study officials paid for a few years ago. It found that to put the port facilities on the best possible footing, it would cost $25 million.

“Well, quick math will tell you that with $160,000 net operating income, how many bonds can you pass to pay that note off if you’ve got to pass $25 million worth of bonds?” he asked. “I’m a retired banker. I can tell you, I’d never take that deal – ever.

“So we’ve got to go back to the constituency (taxpayers) for a period of time,” he added.

The port's website states that it "provides efficient and economical transportation to markets as close as Corpus Christi and as far as the Great Lakes. The Port is the second largest in Cameron County, with an overall cargo tonnage of 1 million annually."

According to provisions in the Texas Water Code, the tax must be approved by the Cameron County Commissioners Court. On Nov. 27, 2018, a unanimous court passed the item under consent agenda without discussion. The item had been supported by the commissioners of the port, and resolutions by the City of Harlingen, city of Rio Hondo, the Harlingen Economic Development Council, and the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce.

Before the county commissioners approved the tax, a group calling itself the Citizens of the Port of Harlingen Tax Increase gathered signatures on a petition protesting the proposed tax. 

Yet, during the public hearings held in the court, no one attended to speak out against the assessment.

In their Facebook page, the group said in August that "As of this morning we have 213 signatures to take to our county commissioners that will ultimately have final say on if we are going to be seeing a tax increase.
"We have to get the word out if we want to see the Port be accountable for their actions versus passing the buck to the tax payers. Make sure you sign and share. If we do nothing... the end result is higher taxes."

The Port boasts of $96.47 million in revenue on their website. 

The resolution submitted by the port authority stated that the port’s board analyzed and evaluated the estimated income and “it appears that such projected income will be insufficient to provide for the reasonably anticipated maintenance, operation, and upkeep of the port.”


By Juan Montoya

The recent cold snap and its effect upon the city's homeless who seek shelter where they can find it is nowhere more graphically demonstrated than in the photo above sent to us by another of our readers. 

In this case, it's a wheelchair-bound man who is huddled in a doorway across from Market Square on Adams Street, a budding nightclub area. 

There are some who say these people should be rounded up and hauled off to jail for vagrancy, while other more progressive advocates say that the city has failed to address this very visible human necessity. 

The Ozanam Center on Minnesota Road sends a van to pick up homeless at designated places, but if they don't make it there on time, they are left on the street exposed to the elements to await the coming of the day and a warm meal at the Good Neighbor Settlement House on Tyler Street. Some merely gather cardboard boxes and fashion out  abed to sleep in alleys or doorways.

Other cities prefer to ignore the problem and say these types of scenes give the city a bad name and image. But some are of the opinion that unless you face the problem squarely, a solution will never be found that addresses their needs and the improvement of the downtown area. The city dealt with car washers who worked on the city parking lots and streets by assessing a $250 fine for working without a permit and they have moved to private parking lots and homes to work instead.

This problem has been festering in our city ever since a bond issue was passed that gave money for the establishment at the old Mother of Perpetual Care Center only to have successive city administrations ignore it and use the funds for other projects.  That site is now going to be a Brownsville Community Resource Center which aims to serve as a one-stop shop that will provide "community services with a special focus on veterans."

The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation states that the Center has the "potential to improve the quality of life for our veterans and that of the Brownsville community in general." 

Will that include the homeless? 
We know that so far it has benefited the contractor – Ziwa Construction – to no end. 
The original contract to renovate the building was for $880,000. Contained within that contract was $53,475 for a "contingency" fund. That fund – except for $12,639 – was gobbled up by four change orders by Ziwa that totaled $40,835.

Then the contractor said he needed an additional $82,919 that depleted the contingency fund and required $70,279 more to do the job right.

That made the cost of rehabilitating the old Mother of Perpetual Help building a staggering $953,754, almost $1 million. Now, some would say, wouldn't it have just been better to get a brand new building with that $1 million? (We run the photo above in response to a request from one of our seven readers.)

There's money in human misery, we guess. Meanwhile, get used to the people living on the street.


(Ed.'s Note: No, we can't really say for sure that this photo was taken in Brownsville, but one of our seven readers said this is the kind of attitude that is fostered there. We know that when city workers mow the medians and rights-of-way they sometimes neglect to pick up the trash before resulting in trash being blown all over. Hopefully, this attitude isn't prevalent over there.)


(What a difference a school makes. This mass-mailed text to invite every parent to a breakfast to keep them up to date was sent today by IDEA charter schools. At the Brownsville Independent School District under former Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas it was spoiled greasy barbacoa, disgruntled employees, and grievances and lawsuits. And we wonder why the BISD has been losing students?)


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By Dr. Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera and
Alan Bersin
Opinion Contributors
The Hill

Over the past generation, migrant smugglers — at the outset known as "polleros" (or chicken herders) — have been viewed as a necessary evil by migrant advocacy groups. Smugglers acted illegally, to be sure, but for a worthy cause: To assist migrants to arrive at their destination and achieve a better life. 

Migrant activists, including church groups and human rights organizations, not only turned a blind eye to the law-breaking but affirmatively extended their support networks (and credibility) both to the smuggled migrants and to the (perceived) Robin Hoods who were smuggling them.

In what might have once seemed a marriage of convenience for a noble purpose, smugglers operated hand-in-hand with human rights advocacy groups along Mexico’s migration corridors. All of them viewed their activities as akin to the pre-United States civil war Underground Railroad: A network of safehouses, finances and routes through which slaves could be smuggled out of the South and brought to freedom.

Though it may have started out innocently enough, over the past ten years, the smuggling enterprise has changed dramatically and become thoroughly criminalized.

As security conditions improved steadily on the Southwest border and irregular entrance into the United States was further restricted, the price charged by smugglers rose disproportionately. In turn, as the amount of money generated by human smuggling grew, criminal groups operating along the migration routes — including drug cartels and corrupt law enforcement authorities — became major participants, and human smuggling became a central feature of their criminal businesses.

The ballad of traditional polleros — largely mom and pop smuggling operations — has given way to the human trafficking terror of organized crime. Border gangsters nowadays routinely inflict extortion, kidnapping, rape, and assault on migrants making the arduous journey north. It has been impossible for human rights organizations and church groups to credibly deny knowledge of these abuses.

This altered nature of the smuggling enterprise and the attendant human rights violations account in part for the rise of caravans. Migrants were attracted to the movement en masse to avoid both exorbitant smuggling charges and also the dangers of the journey. Ignited initially by community organizers in Honduras, the caravans grew organically and spontaneously. 

When they arrived on foot in Mexico, however, migrant advocacy groups — particularly Pueblo Sin Fronteras — assumed an organizing role, arranged funding and managed the logistics to transport 10,000 migrants to the northern Mexican border city of Tijuana.

In a remarkable transformation, migrant activists and advocates became migrant smugglers themselves.

The inconvenient truth is that the results have been disastrous both for migrants and for migrant advocacy groups.

The migrants and activists who sought a confrontation with the Trump Administration achieved their aim. But in so doing, they delivered to the President a border victory at a crucial political juncture: The U.S. midterm elections and the beginning of a new administration in Mexico. At the end of the year, Trump's border wall rhetoric gains momentum. At the same time, through a rather unclear migration agreement between Mexico and the United States, asylum-seekers will be forced to wait in Mexico while their requests are processed.

The confrontation at the San Ysidro border crossing had little to do with border security and nothing at all to do with an "invasion" of the United States or a major national security threat. However, the images of people rushing the border, throwing rocks at Border Patrol agents and being repulsed with tear gas, against a background of concertina wire installed by the U.S. military, could not have been better devised to foster the impression sought by President Trump. The episode, in short, was a political disaster for refugees and the migrant community in general.

Moreover, it has placed the new Lopez Obrador Administration in an untenable position as it tries to shape a new immigration policy for a Mexico which is increasingly sending fewer migrnts itself  but is now a transit zone and soon to be a destination for Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty.

To read rest of story, click on link below:

Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera (Ph.D. in Political Science, The New School for Social Research) Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera was an Associate Professor at the Department of Public Affairs and Security Studies, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), Brownsville Campus and is now an Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University. 

Her areas of expertise are Mexico-US relations, organized crime, immigration, border security, and human trafficking. Her newest book is titled Los Zetas Inc.: Criminal Corporations, Energy, and Civil War in Mexico (University of Texas Press, 2017; Spanish version: Planeta, 2018). She was recently the Principal Investigator of a research grant to study organized crime and trafficking in persons in Central America and along Mexico’s eastern migration routes, supported by the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. 

She is now working on a new book project that analyzes the main political, cultural, and ideological aspects of Mexican irregular immigration in the United States and US immigration policy entitled “Illegal Aliens”: The Human Problem of Mexican Undocumented Migration."

 At the same time, she is co-editing a volume titled "North American Borders in Comparative Perspective: Re-Bordering Canada, The United States of America and Mexico in the 21st Century." (in contract with University of Arizona Press, forthcoming Spring 2020). 

Dr. Correa-Cabrera is Past President of the Association for Borderlands Studies (ABS). She is also Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Non-resident Scholar at the Baker Institute’s Mexico Center (Rice University).

Monday, January 14, 2019


By Juan Montoya
The central library in Milwaukee, Wisc., is replete with foreign-language newspapers that popped up during the great migrations of Czechs, Poles, and German immigrants to the Midwest in the mid-1800s.

In fact, all across the Midwest librarians have been attentive to preserving this part of their region’s history by collecting those publications which tell of the lives and travails of the immigrants to those areas.

“These little newspapers are invaluable to researchers and historians who want to know the day-to-day lives of these groups,” said Roxane Polzine, of the Minnesota Historical Society. “While English-language newspapers were generally interested with the dominant population, we have very little to document what was of concern to these communities. Their preservation is invaluable to any community’s history.”

Unfortunately, until recently no such effort had been made in the case of Spanish-language newspapers and weeklies that popped up in South Texas during the great migrations of Mexicans that occurred as a result of social upheavals an revolution across the Rio Grande in Mexico.

“We were getting everything in bits and pieces,” said Cirpiano A. Cardenas, a former University of Texas-Texas Southmost College assistant professor in Modern Languages. “Until recently, we didn’t know a lot about the history of Hispanics in the Rio Grande Valley, and Brownsville in particular.”

That changed in 1975, when the University of Texas, realizing the valuable asset these publications were to historians and scholars alike, purchased and catalogued 21 years of editions of the weekly El Puerto, founded and edited by Gilberto A. Cerda in Brownsville in January 1954.As Cardenas wrote in his study titled “Hispanic Journalism in Brownsville, Texas,” 

“This weekly paper, founded in the only complete record of Hispanic journalism available to scholars and the general public that chronicles the Mexican-American experience in Brownsville.”
Cardenas summarized the history of Hispanic newspapers in this border city back to the exodus from Mexico prior to the U.S. Civil War. During the occupation of Mexico by the French, pro-Benito Juarez exiles published El Zaragoza while Emile P. Claudon published the Rio Grande Courier, written in English, Spanish and French.

Upon Juarez’s triumph, these newspapers folded as their respective target populations returned to Mexico. Four newspapers in Spanish were being published at the turn of the 20th Century, and one, El Cronista, which was founded in 1890, was the last Latino-owned, Spanish newspaper published in Brownsville. It ceased publication in the late 1920s, when many Mexicans returned to a more stable Mexico.

The 1950s brought a resurgence in Spanish-language newspapers as braceros (derisively called wetbacks then), or temporary workers, flooded South Texas. Cardenas documents at least six other Spanish-language newspapers were being published in the Rio Grande Valley in 1954 when El Puerto began publication. By the time it ceased publication in 1975, El Puerto was the lone Spanish-language newspaper being published in the Rio Grande Valley.

According to his own account that Cerda wrote in the 15th Anniversary edition in 1969, six prominent Mexican-American community leaders approached him to start a weekly newspaper.
Cerda had been an apprentice at the English-language Brownsville Herald at 12, and worked at the daily for the next 32 years.

“(They wanted) to publish a weekly paper to defend the rights of the Latinos in this area, that at that the time were not as respected in this region.”
The start of the newspaper was inauspicious. Cerda described it in his own words.

“The print shop where the newspaper was born was rickety and the press was quite small, measuring 12 by 18 (feet) and without resources,” Cerda wrote. “Things being like that, your servant and (colleague) Leon Ledezma agreed to work together and we published the first edition...January 30, 1954.”

For the next 21 years, Cerda and different community supporters wove the news of the community in the eight-page tabloid that was published often under penurious circumstances using the goodwill of local businessmen and churches. In one instance, only four weeks into the operation, Ledezma had to leave town and Cerda was left to his own devices to put out the paper without a typesetter.

“We printed the paper the old-fashion way, stopping after each line, from first to last, from 10 to 12 points,” he wrote. “ I didn’t know whether or not El Puerto would continue to be published, because it’s very difficult to go on when there are no funds or resources.”

Fortunately, Cerda ran into the Rev. Miguel Guillen, the president of the local Latin American Council of Christian Churches that had its own print shop. For the next 12 years, that organization helped El Puerto survive. When Hurricane Beulah swamped El Puerto’s warehouse, the council again stepped in and donated money to help Cerda replace the newsprint that had been damaged by the storm.
Image result for judge reynaldo garza

Likewise, when El Puerto was sued “for telling the truth,” local jurist Reynaldo Garza, who later was nominated and confirmed as the first Mexican-American federal judge, defended it editors in two cases without charging them professional fees other than court costs.

And so, through the support of local residents, El Puerto continued telling the story of the people in South Texas. Its features, including one by Jesse Sloss, who was city commissioner and later city manager, named “Confetti y Ladrillazos” (Cardenas translates this as Thorns and Roses), drew its Hispanic readership through its criticism and praise on various issues of the day.

During a roundup of braceros in July 1954, Sloss expressed dismay at the actions of the Border Patrol as they scoured the city for those braceros who had stayed on after their work permits had expired.

“Poor people,” Sloss wrote. “It arouses a great deal of pity to see so much suffering in the world, but it is even more painful to see it in our own community! Men, women and children, entire families are in custody of government agents.

“One can see in their faces a profound sadness and a deep sense of desperation. They are worthy of our compassion because the crime they have committed is to try to make an honest living doing the work that ours don’t want to perform. What do these poor and unfortunate people take from us? Much to the contrary, instead of taking from us, they give, because they gather the harvest that would be lost, if it weren’t for them. Godspeed, little wetbacks, may God fill you with His blessing.”
Image result for deportations 19303

Human rights issues, wrote researcher Cardenas, “discrimination, and Anglo control of the economic and political process in Brownsville, as well as the Latino community’s struggle to gain power, are recurring themes of the paper’s columns and commentaries during its 21 year history...”

Who was Gilberto Cerda?
Cerda was born in Brownsville in 1901 and until he died in 1975, lived through the tumultuous events that shook Mexico – and indirectly – South Texas and the U.S. Southwest. He was nine years old when Mexican Revolution began, and, personally witnessed the arrival of Mexicans fleeing that strife-torn land. When he was 15, Gen. Joseph John Pershing entered Mexico pursuing Pancho Villa in a vain attempt to capture him.

In the 1930s, as in the 1950s, he witnessed the Great Repatriation Campaign to return Mexican nationals (and some American-born Hispanics) back to that country as a result of the Great Depression, and later, the end of the Bracero Program. He was 40 when World War II broke out, and too old to go to war.

And he witnessed Mexican-American service men and women return from the Korean War (1950-1953), only to suffer discrimination back in their native country upon their return.
During the 1960s and 1970s, he witnessed the emergence of the Chicano Movement and the outbreak of the Vietnam War. Reflecting the conservatism of adult Mexican-Americans to the Chicano Movement, his columns often expressed disagreement with their ideology and methods of resistance. In sum, his writings reflected the conflict of the times, commenting on the changing political, social and cultural changes.

“He was very strict,” remembered his daughter Esther Cerda Castañeda, a teacher at De Castillo Elementary with the Brownsville Independent School District. “He used to say that if you brought a boyfriend home, it was that you were going to marry him.”

Another of his daughters, who also a teacher at Paredes Elementary, Mary E. Garza, agreed. She said their father kept strict rules at home and expected his children to follow them.
“He didn’t fool around,” said Garza. “If he said 11 p.m., he meant 11 p.m.”
Yet another of his daughters, Dolores Schrock, then a teacher at Perkins Intermediate School, recalls her father disapproving of women wearing slacks when their use became widespread in the 60s and 70s.

“He was very conservative when it came to morals and traditions,” she said.
According to researcher Cardenas, Cerda’s columns were colored with moralisms and Mexican idioms (refranes) reflecting a deep adherence to the morals and conservatism of traditional South Texas and Northern Mexican Hispanic culture.

“Readers looked forward to the editor’s moralistic commentaries regarding various subjects, such as, juvenile delinquency, corruption, and the general decline of manners and morals in the community,” he wrote. “Cerda always used satire to criticize corruption and to ridicule what he perceived as excesses, particularly in the younger generation.”
Image result for el diablo le aparece una pareja en el baile
Papa y Mama:” “Se pelearon como viejas tamaleras,” “Le jugaron el dedo en la boca,” “Hubo Zafarrancho en el Baile del Sol,” “La misma gata, nomás que ahora esta revolcada.”

In one front-page story dated Feb. 8. 1954, he reports on the apparition of the devil to a couple who had driven to a cemetery after a street dance to neck. In admonition to the parents, he warns them of the consequences of these “libertines” and cautions them against giving youth too many freedoms.

He railed against the popularity of the polkas in northern music and predicted their demise. And he yearned fondly for the days before the polkas when one could listen to real music like waltzes, “chotizes,” “contradanzas,” and “lanceros.

The end for El Puerto came with the death of Cerda in 1975.

But until that time, the newspaper provided the only native account of Mexican-American existence in this border city. 

For that, if for nothing else, it filled a critical niche and provided a valuable insight into the social and cultural history of border life. Border historians and scholars who can gain access to the archives at the University of Texas-Austin will be rewarded with a well-written chronicle of a quarter century of border history written from the popular viewpoint at the grassroots level.

As Cardenas states in his essay: “It is the only complete record of Hispanic journalism available to scholars and the general public that chronicles Mexican-American life in Brownsville.”


Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Guess whose feelings are hurt?

Would you believe the Sunshine Boys of McAllen?

It seems that during the Trump visit there, the New York Times included photos that are not in the Chamber of Commerce brochure it hands out to tourists and posts on  its website.

The images, three of which are included on top, accompanied the New York Times article have upset some due to the way the city, and essentially the Valley as a whole, is portrayed.

While the pictures used are of actual locations in McAllen, some say the images do not represent the city.

NewsCenter 4 reported that McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, who refers to the photos as a disservice, says there are many facets of the Valley not shown in the images.

“Not only McAllen, but the whole Valley is booming and it really does a disservice to put those kind of pictures and depict us as that’s all we are,” states Mayor Darling.

He adds that there are a lot of sites that show just how much McAllen has grown, including the expansion of La Plaza Mall, new shopping centers, restaurants and entertainment.

McAllen and its city officials and bloggers, who regularly dump on Brownsville for its ropa usada stores and struggling downtown, didn't like it when a national publication like the Times held up the mirror to their faces and pointed out that there are two McAllens in the valley; one which is polished up for the national media, and the other which is real life without the glitter.

Smarting over the alleged slight by the nation's best newspaper (not, by the way, by this blog or blogger), the hypersensitive defenders of the jewel of the Hidalgo County diadem strike out like wounded Gollums from their holes, not because it is not true, but because the paper dared to mention there's poor Mexicans living here at all.
If you don't like the story, attack the messenger, is that it?

Oh, yeah, that's the real Big City journalism we like heah, you heah?

It is after all – despite wanting to ignore the raw reality staring them in the face – the epicenter of the humanitarian crisis being experienced along the border. The migrants from Mexico and Central America didn't come here to shop at the mall, mayor. They came seeking refuge from the violence and poverty in their homelands.

But who are we - Brownsville tlacuaches  as we are considered there in the City of Palms - to pass up a chance to say "See, I told you so" when national media descended there and took back pictures of the real McAllen the Sunshine Boys don't want the world to see?

Oh, what the hell, why don't you just read the Times piece and decide for yourselves whether it merits the indignant outrage of these Hidalgo County yokels?

Sunday, January 13, 2019



Mr. Bojangles - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

I knew a man, Bojangles and he danced for you
In worn out shoes
Silver hair, a ragged shirt and baggy pants
The old soft shoe
He jumped so high
He jumped so high
Then he'd lightly touch down

I met him in a cell in New Orleans, I was
Down and out
He looked to me to be the eyes of age
As he spoke right out

He talked of life
He talked of life
He laughed, clicked his heels and stepped

He said his name, Bojangles and he danced a lick
Across the cell
He grabbed his pants, a better stance

Oh, he jumped so high
Then he clicked his heels
He let go a laugh
He let go a laugh
Pushed back his clothes all around

Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles

He danced for those in minstrel shows and county fairs
Throughout the south
He spoke with tears of fifteen years how his dog and him
Traveled about

The dog up and died
He up and died
After twenty years he still grieves

He said I dance now at every chance in honky tonks
For drinks and tips

But most the time I spend behind these county bars
He said I drinks a bit
He shook his head
And as he shook his head
I heard someone ask him please

Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles

Songwriter: Jerry Jeff Walker