Tuesday, December 10, 2019

SEALED FEDERAL INDICTMENT: 1 CONSPIRACY COUNT, 7 OF BRIBERY SINCE 2014 AT RIO HONDO AND BROWNSVILLE ISDS































By Juan Montoya

Brownsville Independent School District board vice president Dr. Sylvia Atkinson was arrested today by FBI agents after being named in a sealed federal indictment charging her with one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, and six counts of travel act-state law bribery, including one count concerning programs receiving federal funds.

She is also Texas Southmost College's Executive Director of High School Programs & Community Outreach. FBI agents arrested her on the TSC campus at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Image result for Sylvia atkinsonThe 10-page indictment contains investigation on alleged criminal acts spanning from 2014 when she was an administrator at the Rio Hondo School District to her current tenure as a BISD trustee.

The indictment was issued December 10.

The conspiracy count alleges she conspired "with others" to "solicit, demand for the benefit of any person, and accept and agree to accept, anything of value from an undercover, cooperating individual," and "others" intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with any business, transaction, and series of transactions...involving anything of value of $5,000 or more.

The conspiracy count alleges that she used her positions as a BISD and RHISD official "to obtain money from private companies and private individuals in exchange for assistance in obtaining contracts with BISD or RHISD."

The indictment charges that in exchange in using her influence in contracting decisions at BISD and RHISD. she demanded and received what were often alleged to be campaign contributions, but which in reality were bribes which she did not report as campaign contributions.

Further, she is alleged to cause funds to be distributed to finance the election campaigns of other local political candidates who, through their resulting loyalty,  would enhance her power in local politics and enhance her ability to extract bribes in exchange for contracts.

She is alleged to obtain bribes related to potential school-district purchases of computer tablets, medical teleconferencing services, tutorial services, and other goods and services. She is also accused of obtaining bribes related to the potential use of BISD property for a purported movie production project.

When the undercover FBI Task Force Officer asked her what it would cost them for her ervices, she is quoted as saying: "I can tell you it's probably gonna be, I would say, I would say, probably about ten," and then explained, "I think that's pretty low....cause we're looking at the long picture...of us having a good relationship."

She is alleged to have been paid $4,000 up front and another $6,000  from the undercover agent through the cooperating individual after the film proposal was placed on the BISD agenda approved by the board. Atkinson is alleged to have cast a vote on the item on the agenda February 12. A week later - on February 19 - she is alleged to have received the $6,000 payment.

Before the meeting in February, the indictment stated, that Atkinson also coached the individual on talking points for the meeting, telling him to say the movie was a “short” or a documentary, and to make the point that he would like to help promote the local area. She also stated to him to “keep it as vague as possible.”

After the item was placed on the agenda at her behalf and passed unanimously, she is quoted as telling the undercover agent who asked her if there was a possibility of working together in the future that: "I can assure you that what you need to get done, in this area, will get done."

Counts 3-8 charges the use of facility in interstate commerce (a telephone) to "facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, and carrying on an unlawful activity, that being bribery of a public official in violation of the laws of Texas and thereafter performed and attempted to perform acts in furtherance of the unlawful activity."

She was ordered held in federal custody without bond.

BREAKING NEWS: FBI, CAMERON COUNTY DA'S OFFICE ARREST BISD TRUSTEE ON SEALED 8-COUNT FEDERAL INDICTMENT

Special to El Rrun Rrun

Various law enforcement sources have confirmed that Brownsville Independent School District board member Dr. Sylvia Atkinson was arrested at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday after a joint investigation by the Cameron County District Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Sources say the FBI arrested Atkinson at her Texas Southmost College office where she works as the  P-16 Educational Administrator.

Although details of the charges against her cannot be confirmed, sources say they involve bribery of unknown persons, possibly vendors to the the Rio Hondo School District in 2014 until alleged bribery during her current tenure at BISD. A sealed indictment is said to contain a total of eight counts involving conspiracy and bribery concerning federal funds.

Sources say that the BISD administration was aware of her arrest. She did not attend today's board meeting.

SOME INCUMBENTS DRAW CHALLENGERS, SOME DON'T; SEVEN CAMERON COUNTY REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES AWAIT OUTCOME

Special to El Rrun-Run

Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz, Tax Assessor-Collector Tony Yzaguirre, Pct. 3 county commissioner David Garza, County Court-at-Law #4 Judge Estela Vasquez-Chavez, County  Court-at-Law #5 Judge Sheila Bence, JP 5-1 Dora "Sallie" Gonzalez, Pct. 1 candidate for Constable Dennis Holland, and Pct. 4 Constable Merced Burnias can breathe a sigh of relief.

They are the only Democrats who have no opponents in the Cameron County Democratic Party county wide races next March. But Republicans lurk in the shadows for a few.

Gonzalez (JP 5-1) faces Chuck Vieh (R) in the general election in November. 

Holland (Democratic Party candidate for Constable Pct. 1) will face either incumbent Pete Delgadillo, Norman Esquivel, or Manny Hinojosa in the November general election.

On the other hand, Pct. 5 Constable incumbent Eddie Solis drew a slew of opponents that include Don Duncan, Javier "JJ" Gutierrez, Fred Pena, and Johnny Ramirez.

And as reported earlier, Cameron County Pct. 1 commissioner Sofia Benavides faces retired Porter High School math teacher Don Clupper.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio faces not only Eric Garza, but also Michael R. Galvan, the former police chief of San Benito who is back on the fore as a lieutenant. A nine-month long Texas Rangers investigation “not billed" Galvan and other officers involved in a shooting that occurred on December 7, 2018 resulting in the death of 21-year-old San Benito resident Ricardo Treviño III.

They will face candidate John Chambers (R) in the general election in November.

The spot left vacant by Eric Garza at Cameron County District Clerk will be sought by Brownsville Independent School District board member Laura Perez-Reyes and district clerk staffer Diego Alonso Hernandez.

They will face Mirla Veronica Deaton (R) in November. 

JP 2-1 incumbent Linda Salazar faces Cyndi Hinojosa and Fred Arias in the primary.

And JP 5-3 Mike trejo will have to tangle with Jamie Jaimez to keep his position.

Incumbent Pct. 2 Constable Abelardo "Abel" Gomez drew challenger Silverio "Silver" Cisneros and incumbent Pct. 3 Constable Adrian Gonzalez faces Roel Cavazos.

On the state judicial races, neither 444th District incumbent David Sanchez nor 445th District Judge Gloria Rincones drew opponents. In contrast three candidates will fight for the nomination to the 138th District court in the persons of Myles Garza, Helen Delgadillo and Gabby Garcia.

Louis Sorola faces Ricardo Adobbati in the 404th District Court left vacant by Elia Cornejo-Lopez who did not run for reelection.

State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. drew two opponents: Brownsville lawyer Sara Stapleton Barrera and Texas State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez.

His son Eddie Lucio III drew one Democratic Party challenger in the person of Erin Gamez, daughter of noted Brownsville lawyer Ernesto Gamez. The winner will face BISD board member Erasmo Castro (R) in November. 

And District 37 State Rep. Alex Dominguez faces Amber Medina for the position held for more than 30 years by Rene Oliviera. District 35 State Rep. Oscar Longoria is unopposed.

Migdalia Lopez has no Democratic opponent for Pace 4 on the 13th Court of Appeals and neither does Nereida Lopez-Singleterry for Place 6.

On the federal side incumbent U.S. District 34 Rep. Filemon Vela drew two challengers, perennial foe Osbert Rodriguez Haro and Diego Zavala.



Pete Delgadillo – Constable, Pct. 1 (Incumbent)
Norman Esquivel – Constable, Pct. 1
Manny Hinojosa – Constable, Pct. 1

Monday, December 9, 2019

CASTRO TO CHALLENGE EDDIE LUCIO III, BUT AS A REPUBLICAN

(DEd.'s Note: When we received the announcement of Brownsville Independent School District board member Erasmo Castro that he was challenging Texas District 38 House of Representative Eddie Lucio III, we noticed he never mentioned what party primary he was filing for or for what position, for that matter. Then we heard the ugly rumor that he would be running as a Republican, and with the dearth of GOP candidates in the county, he is almost assured a place on the ballot November 2020. 

Now people are wondering, where did he get the $750 filing fee? Or did someone get it for him so that Lucio III would have an opponent in November, when Donald trump will be on the Republican ballot? We reached out to the county's political jestser and he confirmed that he was filing for a place on the county's GOP ballot. At least, that's the story for now.)

By Erasmo Castro
Candidate State Rep. District 38

For too long our voice has been but a whisper because of the corrupt politico machine has had a stranglehold on the low voter turnout that plagues our community.

Career politicians have become complacent, comfortable and inefficient. No challenge to dynastic governance creates arrogance and leaves individuals with a tinge of entitlement.

When visiting Austin during the now defunct Brownsville Day at the Capital as a concerned citizen I shared with our representatives the concerns of our people.

I was set back at their response, “your people don’t vote, so they don’t matter.” This was one of the reasons I decided to run for Mayor of the City of Brownsville. I wanted the opportunity to show my people and the politicos a different way, a better way.

I am currently serving my community on the Brownsville ISD Board of Trustees. We won our seat with the greatest number of votes and the highest percentage in the race.

In my time on the Board I have continued to fight the corrupt political machine that consumes our children’s inheritance. I have remained faithful to the promises I made while running and true to the oath I took upon taking our seat. A better way, a brighter day.

Today I proudly announce that I am your candidate for Texas State Representative District 38. We will bring true transparent representation to Austin and continue to demand better from all local elected officials.

No more working for the few. Representation that focuses on economic development. Representation that will work on campaign finance reform. Representation that will work within ones means and not in the pocket of special interest groups from all over the country.

Together my friends, we can bring about the change our community deserves. I humbly ask for your continued support.

CLUPPER HOPES TO RIDE ANTI-LNG SENTIMENT TO PCT. 1

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

In 2012, Donald Clupper, a retired Porter High School math teacher  ran for Position 5 against former Brownsville Independent School District board president Caty Presas-Garcia and J.M. “Butch” Barbosa, a former Brownsville city commissioner.

He came in dead last with 8,189 votes, 4,373 votes behind Presas-Garcia, who received 12,571 votes.

Now, after his last public foray at the Cameron County Commissioners Court to protest the tax-abatement to an LNG plant, apparently Clupper feels like he is riding on the crest of a wave of public support that will propel him to victory over incumbent Pct. 1 commissioner Sofia Benavides.

He filed against Benavides today, the last day to file for the March primaries.

The last time Benavides ran for Pct. 1 she had three opponents and ended up prevailing over Post of Brownsville Leasing Director Beatrice Rosenbaum by just over 1,000 votes. 

However, it should be noted that Benavides drew 3,392 votes of the 6,392 votes cast, or about 49.2 percent, just shy of the 50 percent plus 1 that would have not made a runoff necessary.

Image result for don clupper, bisd,Clupper who apparently thinks that the anti-LNG block might boost his candidacy against Benavides might want to rethink this assumption. During the last city election for District 4, John Villarreal got the vociferous support from the West Bike Trail against Ben Neece and ended up losing.

That's one danger of pegging hitching your candidacy to a one-issue group.

Though vociferous, they have not demonstrated that they cannot draw the voters to go for or against candidates on the one issue they care about. On the LNG side, supporters say that the Port of Brownsville needs industry to create jobs and giving incentives to plants like the LNGs is one way to do that.

Clupper apparently thinks that those who accompanied him to protest the abatement vote will turn the tide, but many of those were retirees from Laguna Heights, who do not vote in Pct. 1. Will that single issue swing the tide? Apparently, Clupper is of a mind that it will.

BOCA CHICA TURTLE NECROPSIES SO FAR CLEARING SPACEX

Special to El Run-Rrun

Dr. Brian Stacy, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has jurisdiction over sea turtles in the Gulf  – and the top NOAA Fisheries veterinarian/sea turtle pathologist – says necropsies on scores of stranded green turtles found off Boca chica Beach are consistent with drowning, as expected with capture in gillnets and has so far ruled out SpaceX pressurization tests as the cause.

Image result for spaceX failureHe said that although investigation of the green turtle strandings in the Boca Chica Beach area is ongoing, necropsy findings thus far exclude chemical poisoning resulting from the November 20 failed SpaceX Mk1 Starship prototype pressurization exercise that resulted in chemicals carried over the beach by strong winds.

More than 60 dead turtles were found stranded off Boca Chica and South Padre Island beaches after November 20, leading some to suspect that the failed SpaceX tests may have contribute to the killoff.

That SpaceX incident, which resulted in the release of a large quantity of vapor and cryogenic liquid, had been suspected by some social media to have caused some deaths, according to commenters on the Sea Turtle Inc. website.

Image result for dead sea turtles, boca chica beach"Although release of chemicals into the environment and ocean is unfortunate, I have not seen evidence to suggest that the sea turtle deaths are related to the rocket explosion," Stacy wrote.

"If turtles are affected by toxins, depending on the specific type of toxin, we generally expect to find other affected wildlife, and live turtles exhibiting abnormal clinical signs, or evidence of damage to affected organ systems.

" We have not found this during the recent strandings. The green turtles examined this far had all indications of having been in good general health prior to death."

EDDIE LUCIO III FACING CHALLENGE BY ATTORNEY ERIN GAMEZ

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

For the last 14 years, Eddie Lucio III has been the District 38 Texas State Representative, covering the southwestern portion of Cameron County in the Texas Legislature.

As the son of District 27 Texas Senator Eddie Lucio, who in turn has has held that position for the last 28year, he had been considered the position as a family heirloom and a stepping stone to his father's senate seat.



Even after a combined four decades in their respective House of Representatives and Texas Senate seats, the area remains mired in dismal socioeconomic levels while they continually draw the support of state and national Political Actions Committees and interests outside their jurisdictions.

They have morphed before our eyes from public representatives to well-paid "consultants" looking out for their own private benefit.

Now it appears that the III has drawn at least one challenger before the filing deadline Tuesday. Sources close to the Gamez law firm have indicated that Erin Gamez - daughter of prominent attorney Ernesto Gamez - will file against Lucio III for the District 38 Texas State Representative seat. She has represented defendants in several high-profile cases and has been prominent in representing them in the local courts.

And before the deadline window closes, others say that Brownsville Independent School Board member Erasmo Castro will also be jumping in the same race.

Why the sudden interest in the District 38 race? Lucio III's name was one of several members of the staff at Ruben Gallegos' (Sr. and Jr.) International Educational Services whose federal contract to shelter unaccompanied migrants was withdrawn amid charges of fraud and a continuing investigation into questionable use of those funds.

As far back as 2014, Lucio III told the Brownsville Herald that the since IES didn't do business with the state he was not bound by the state standard that says, “no state officer or state employee should accept other employment or compensation which could reasonably be expected to impair his independence of judgment in the performance of his official duties.”

Insofar as IES, Lucio said, “it doesn’t have any issues in front of the state. It is federally funded and regulated. They haven’t had any issues in the time I have been there.” “They really have zero issues with the state. I have never had to recuse myself.”

He said his work with IES involved typical contract law, human resource matters, leases and “meat and potato issues.” Although at the time he identified himself as vice president of external affairs  of  he declined to say how much IES paid him. However, the statement for IES's IRS report as a non-profit identifies him as its legal counsel at $125,000 a year.

The letter reveals that five employees at IES (including Ruben Gallegos Sr. and Ruben Gallegos Jr) earned more than the $183,300 salary limit set by the grant, with the two highest paid individuals earning $400,000 more than that amount.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement Administration for Children & Families notified the IES nonprofit that its grant funding was coming to an end listed several reasons why it was putting it out of business.

The nonprofit, which was formed in 1985, aimed to provide physical and educational care for unaccompanied migrant children entrusted to its care by immigration officials who detained the children.

IES closed on March 31 and terminated the jobs of hundreds of employees.

As legal counsel for the IES, Lucio III, a lawyer, should have known that the salaries for both Gallegos were excessive and should have never been paid. If he didn't provide them with legal advice to keep them out of trouble, what exactly was Lucio III getting paid for?

Lucio III's relationship with Gallegos Jr. goes way back to 2010 when the Brownsville Herald reported that he was contracted by the Regional Mobility Authority. Ruben Gallegos is a director on the CCRMA.

It's not really the legislative acumen of either Lucio that has made them rich, is it? More and more it has become evident that it is the selling of influence from the public offices they hold that they have used to fill their pockets.

Gallegos and Gallegos Jr. (and perhaps Lucio III) are not out of the woods yet. Many more shoes have yet to fall.

BARTON LAYS BARE THE INTERESTS GUIDING FRONTON VOTE

By Jim Barton
Brownsville Observer blog
last
The city commissioner foursome voting to retain the bootlicking "McNair Family Drive" designation for what has been known since 1850 as "East Fronton Street" faced a moral dilemma last Tuesday night and were found deficient. 

Theirs was a moral, political and democratic failure.

All four, Commissioners Rose Gowen, Jessica Tetreau, Joel Munguia and john Cowen, tried feebly to rationalize their obvious failure to recognize the will of the people by pretending to have issues with the wording of the new city policy on changing street names, a policy they were comfortable enough to vote for just weeks before.

Yes, they were under pressure, pressure exerted from two distinct sides: the owner/residents of East Fronton Street and the McNair family, who own three warehouse buildings with East Fronton addresses.

Commissioner Gowen admitted to such pressure when she stated, "I will never consider the renaming of a street again."

Had the majority really ruled, had democracy really worked in this case, the voices of the vast majority of East Fronton residents would have been heard, but instead, four commissioners chose to listen to the voice of one rich, influential family seeking to aggrandize their family name.

It was a simple, clear-cut case of pandering to the so-called rich and famous, ignoring the principle of self-determination and failing to reward citizens who did exactly as they were told by the same city commissioners.

And don't let the last minute semantics used by the foursome to justify their vote against the people fool you. That was insincerity at its worst. The simple fact is that they did not want to alienate a powerful, influential family in the city, residents of East Fronton Street bedamned!

If you vote in Brownsville city elections, you've now been given clear, unmistakable proof that these four do not represent the ordinary citizens, but instead, the rich, powerful and influential.

EDDIE LUCIO III FACING CHALLENGE BY ATTORNEY ERIN GAMEZ

EDDIE LUCIO III FACING CHALLENGE BY ATTORNEY ERIN GAMEZ
Special to El Rrun-Rrun

For the last 14 years, Eddie Lucio III has been the District 38 Texas State Representative, covering the southwestern portion of Cameron County in the Texas Legislature.

As the son of District 27 Texas Senator Eddie Lucio, who in turn has has held that position for the last 28year, he had been considered the position as a family heirloom and a stepping stone to his father's senate seat.

But their critics say that having the Lucios hold those positions has created a sense of entitlement in the family which has focused on their personal benefit and not in representing their constituents' interests.

Even after a combined four decades in their respective House of Representatives and Texas Senate seats, the area remains mired in dismal socioeconomic levels while they continually draw the support of state and national Political Actions Committees and interests outside their jurisdictions.

Now it appears that the III has drawn at least one challenger before the filing deadline 6 p.m. Monday. Sources close to the Gamez law firm have indicated that Erin Gamez - daughter of prominent attorney Ernesto Gamez - will file against Lucio III for the District 38 Texas State Representative seat. She has represented defendants in several high-profile cases and has been prominent in representing them in the local courts.

And before the deadline window closes, others say that Brownsville Independent School Board member Erasmo Castro will also be jumping in the same race.

Why the sudden interest in the District 38 race? Lucio III's name was one of several members of the staff at Ruben Gallegos' (Sr. and Jr.) International Educational Services whose federal contract to shelter unaccompanied migrants was withdrawn amid charges of fraud and a continuing investigation into questionable use of those funds.

As far back as 2014, Lucio III told the Brownsville Herald that the since IES didn't do business with the state he was not bound by the state standard that says, “no state officer or state employee should accept other employment or compensation which could reasonably be expected to impair his independence of judgment in the performance of his official duties.”

Insofar as IES, Lucio said, “it doesn’t have any issues in front of the state. It is federally funded and regulated. They haven’t had any issues in the time I have been there.” “They really have zero issues with the state. I have never had to recuse myself.”

He said his work with IES involved typical contract law, human resource matters, leases and “meat and potato issues.” Although at the time he identified himself as vice president of external affairs  of  he declined to say how much IES paid him. However, the statement for IES's IRS report as a non-profit identifies him as its legal counsel at $125,000 a year.

The letter reveals that five employees at IES (including Ruben Gallegos Sr. and Ruben Gallegos Jr) earned more than the $183,300 salary limit set by the grant, with the two highest paid individuals earning $400,000 more than that amount.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement Administration for Children & Families notified gthe IES nonprofit that its grant funding was coming to an end listed several reasons why it was putting it out of business.

The nonprofit, which was formed in 1985, aimed to provide physical and educational care for unaccompanied migrant children entrusted to its care by immigration officials who detained the children.

IES closed on March 31 and terminated the jobs of hundreds of employees.

As legal counsel for the IES, Lucio III, a lawyer, should have known that the salaries for both Gallegos were excessive and should have never been paid. If he didn't provide them with legal advice to keep them out of trouble, what exactly was Lucio III getting paid for?

Lucio III's relationship with Gallegos Jr. goes way back to 2010 when the Brownsville Herald reported that he was contracted by the Regional Mobility Authority. Ruben Gallegos is a director on the CCRMA.

It's not really the legislative acumen of either Lucio that has made them rich, is it? More and more it has become evident that it is the selling of influence from the public offices they hold that they have used to fill their pockets.

Gallegos and Gallegos Jr. (and perhaps Lucio III) are not out of the woods yet. Many more shoes have yet to fall.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

MOTORCYCLE MAMA SEEKS BAD HOMBRE BIKER VOTE. VROOM


(Ed.'s Note: With two credible challengers to her 16-year tenure as Justice of the Peace 2-1, incumbent Linda Salazar is courting every niche vote she can. Salazar is facing Cyndi Hinojosa and Fred Arias. Both the challengers are beating the hustings daily and Salazar can probably hear their footsteps and is knocking on every door to snatch a vote here and there and stay in office.

Hinojosa is her husband's law office manager and is active in county, state and national Democratic Party politics. Arias is a former federal law enforcement officer and enjoys support in those circles.

One of our faithful seven readers posted this unique photo on their Facebook page. Let's hope no one traiga cola.

These guys frequent s little hole-in-the-wall beer joint called El Escondido Bar on 14th Street which reflects the name of their MC. We don't ever remember Salazar astride a hog or whether she is just a wannabe Motorcycle Mama. The strategy seems to be every vote counts and it doesn't matter where it comes from. These are tough environs for a lady but you go where the votes are, don't you?)

OPINION: THE STATS ABSTRACT ROCKS. HERE'S WHY


The "Statistical Abstract of the United States" contains data from the census and many other numbers.  (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

By Robert J. Samuelson
Washington Post
Looking for the perfect holiday gift for someone who’s got everything? Here’s an exotic suggestion: How about the latest edition of the Stat Abstract, which is shorthand for the “Statistical Abstract of the United States”? You will not find more information anywhere about our country in one location — and I guarantee you that the surprise recipient won’t already have a copy sitting on the coffee table.

The Stat Abstract is full of fascinating numbers. What languages do people speak at home? No problem. Flip to Table 53. 

*In 2016, there were 303 million Americans 5 years or older. 

*Of these, 238 million (79 percent) spoke only English. Of the remainder, 40 million (13 percent) spoke Spanish and 3 million (1 percent) spoke Chinese. 

*People who speak a foreign language are clustered in large cities. Their share in Los Angeles is about 60 percent; in New York, it’s about half.

Or, what’s the size of the health-care industry? The answers are in Tables 171 to 193. A brief summary: 

*In 2017, there were nearly 20 million health-care workers, including 861,000 doctors, 34 percent of whom were women.

*Hospitals were the biggest employers of health-care workers, with about 5 million employees, up from about 4 million in 2000.


The Stat Abstract dates from 1878, when it was compiled by the Treasury Department and subsequently published in 1879. With 157 pages and 150 tables, this first edition focused on foreign trade, finance (including huge movements of gold and silver), farm prices and production, immigration and population.

*In 1870, the U.S. population totaled 38.6 million, 10 times the 3.9 million in 1790, the year of the first census. I

*In 2017, the population was 326 million. The census projects it to be roughly 390 million by 2050.


By contrast, the 2019 Stat Abstract has 2017 tables spread over 1,016 pages. The Stat Abstract’s great virtue is the breadth of its coverage. If you are a regular user of some standard statistical series (say, the unemployment rate), chances are you know the series’ strengths, weaknesses and quirks.

But the same is not true if you’re tackling unfamiliar subjects. Where do you get reliable and lucid information? You could, of course, go to Google and take your chances. But it might be more useful to take a dive into the Stat Abstract.

 It has 15 pages of tables on accidents, congestion and commuting. You can learn a lot quickly. For example, road fatalities have been falling for years. From 1990 to 2016, they dropped 16 percent to 37,461. You also learn that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the source of this and other information.

To read rest of story, click on link:

Friday, December 6, 2019

MOTHER OF CONVICTED CHILD KILLER JOHN ALLEN RUBIO DIES

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Hilda Barrientes, the mother of convicted child killer John Allen Rubio who is currently on death row, died Thursday from complications arising from a malignant lung tumor.

In July 2010, a jury found  Rubio guilty in the beheading of Julissa Quesada, 3; John E. Rubio, 14 months; and Mary Jane Rubio, 2 months. The three children were those of his common-law wife Angela Camacho.

The children were smothered, stabbed and mutilated, according to Brownsville police investigators. Their decapitated bodies were stuffed inside trash bags and found near a bedroom door.

He admitted to killing the children in 2003 because he believed there was an evil presence in them. He even asked one of the officers who first arrived at the crime scene to place him under arrest, according to the officer’s statement.

His his common-law wife Angela Camacho, is serving a life sentence for her role in the brutal slayings.
He remains on death row at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas.

During Rubio’s February 2010 competency trial, Barrientes, testified that she drank a six pack of beer on a daily basis while she was pregnant with her son. She also admitted to at one time doing cocaine, but couldn’t recall if she did the drug while pregnant with Rubio.

Barrientes testified that Rubio would make comments to her that “God would tell him he was the chosen one.” She testified that she did not try to get any help for him “because I didn’t think he had a problem.”

According to defense attorneys writ presented to the court when they appealed the death sentence, Rubio suffered from neuropsychological deficits, significant brain damage and various psychiatric conditions. “All such testimony would have been highly relevant to Rubio’s competency at the time of trial, his sanity at the time of the offense, and punishment,” the writ further stated.

Barrientes at one time served time in the state penitentiary for drug possession.After her son's conviction and incarceration to await his execution, her father died followed by her house mate. The wheels of the gods, it appears, turn slowly, but inexorably.

Rubio was sentenced to death on November 24, 2003. The sentence was overturned in 2007, but was resentenced to death on July 27, 2010. In June 2018, he initiated the federal appeals process.

PLASMA BUSINESS BOOMING IN DOWNTOWN BROWNTOWN...

(Ed.'s Note: There are no large manufacturing plants, no large retail business enterprises, no grocery store, or even a McDonalds in the city's core. But there are three large plasma donor center which is doing land-office business sucking up the blood from plasma donors like these two cashing in the debit cards the firms use as payment to sellers of their blood.

Aside from the second-hand stores, dollar stores, and finance companies, there is scant business brewing in the heart of the city.

Al day long the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of the brown arm band roam the city looking for items to the back to their homes in Matamoros. Once in the pipeline, they can earn almost as much as a worker does in the maquilas across the river in a week (about $70) without having to pay the sindicato union bosses their cut or pay impuestos on their profit.

The plasma companies sell the precious liquid dearly to hospitals and the medical industry across the United States. Each liter of plasma can be worth as much as $200 before the manufacturing process and as much as $500 after, analysts say. Ever price of a plasma transfusion on an itemized hospital statement?

With the closing of the HEB (which required a $5 purchase to cash their debit cards), donors can cash in their debits at the ATM at the corner of 14th and Washington streets, conveniently located one block from the Gateway Bridge for only a $2 charge instead of HEB's $5 purchase.)


FEDERAL COURT GRANTS GOVT. TRO BASED ON IWBC TREATY


The McAllen Monitor
Various Sources
The U.S. government Thursday filed a lawsuit against a pro border wall group, asking a court to stop them from building a wall near the U.S.-Mexico border in Mission.

But before the day’s end, a court had removed them from a federal lawsuit.

On behalf of the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, the federal government filed a lawsuit against We Build the Wall, and three other entities, including Fisher Industries, Fisher Sand and Gravel Co., and Neuhaus and Sons LLC, based in Weslaco.

According to the lawsuit, the government alleges that We Build the Wall, a nonprofit advocacy group out of Florida, contracted Fisher Industries, a subsidiary of Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. to build a bollard structure in a floodplain near Bentsen and Anzalduas Parks, but have yet to meet the requirements of an international treaty to do so.

In addition to the lawsuit, the government filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to have the court enjoin WBTW and Fisher Industries from continuing the project.

But after a hearing Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane removed WBTW from the lawsuit after determining the group had a limited role in the actual project and granted the government’s motion for an injunction barring any future work, pending a hearing set for Dec. 12, records show.

IBWC claims on Nov. 13, Fisher Industries submitted to IBWC two documents containing information regarding hydraulic impact tied to the aforementioned proposed wall construction.

IBWC officials, however, claim in the suit that the submitted documents “contained very little substance and failed to show the extent of any hydraulic testing that may have been conducted by WBTW or Fisher Industries.”

In short, the documents WBTW submitted provided little details about the proposed work on the banks of the Rio Grande, the lawsuit read in part.

Two days later, the government claims representatives with IBWC emailed Fisher Industries and WBTW through its own general counsel, who requested of WBTW and Fisher Industries to submit a completed hydraulic analysis and packet of additional materials for analysis related to a 1970 treaty — stop construction of the bollard structure until IBWC could analyze the model, confer with its Mexican counterparts, and issue a letter related to potential obstruction or deflection issues tied to any wall construction, and lastly, to stop using IBWC levees for vehicle traffic, the court record read.

The lawsuit goes on to allege that despite this email sent from legal counsel, WBTW, and Fisher Industries, that same day, began clearcutting a swath beginning at the bank of the Rio Grande River and clearing inland approximately 120 feet wide, the record shows.

“To date, WBTW has completely cleared almost the entirety of the riverbank and continues to clear cut the remaining land on which the Defendants intend to construct a bollard structure, wall or similar structure,” the court documents state.

On Nov. 20, WBTW announced during a local TV news interview that it would not “do any construction activity,” until IBWC completed its hydraulic analysis.

That same day, the government claims WBTW posted tweets on its Twitter feed reflecting that Fisher Industries and WBTW were altering the character of the bank of the Rio Grande.

Despite the aforementioned announcement by WBTW, and Fisher Industries, and another similar statement made the following day on Nov. 21; WBTW went back on those statements, and just a few days ago on Dec. 3 posted on its website a video and message which stated in part: “This wall is going up this week no matter what, we will not stop until it’s finished.”

The government claims that as recently as Dec. 4, a day before the filing of this lawsuit, that WBTW, Fisher Industries, continue to work on the Neuhaus property, specifically “trenching and moving metal rebar pieces into location along the trench.”

The government requests the court to grant an injunction against WBTW to enforce the aforementioned 1970 treaty, which relates to construction that would cause deflection and obstruction for either side of the levee, in order to avoid potentially violating the treaty with Mexico.

E. FRONTON FALLOUT: RESIDENTS "DIALOGUE" WITH JESSIE


(Ed.'s Note: City of Brownsville Commissioner Jessica Tetreau is sure showing a thin skin over  E. Fronton Facebook page parodying her vote on the changing of their street name to McNAir family Drive. During the meeting Tetreau - like rose Gowen, Joel Munguia, and John Gowen - took refuge on a question of "process" over a policy she voted to approve just a scant few months ago and kept the name despite that the residents had complied with all the requirements of the policy to change the name back.

Unable to dispute that fact, they said they were not satisfied the policy was workable and that it was not right that the poor McNairs would get their feelings hurt.  But they don't seem to have the same consideration for the feelings of the 78 percent of the lot owners on E. Fronton. 

Then Tetreau calims that the renaming policy was "plagiarized" from existing ordinances in Greenville, Texas, so it shouldn't apply here. But may we remind Ms. Airhead that she – along with the rest of the commissioners who voted against the Fronton St. residents – approved it by voting for it back in May. Does she mean to tell us that she votes for something that she didn't agree with or understand? 
And as far as expelling someone for tailoring a city ordinance after ordinances from other cities, she  will find out that it's done all the time. Why reinvent the wheel? The question should be: Why do we keep electing people like her who base their argument for her unpopular vote on high school academic codes? She voted against the people and in favor of a prominent family like any social climber worth her salt would have voted. 

Since she just enrolled her child in St. Joseph Academy, it would not do to piss off Rose Gowen, Joel Munguia and John Cowen, all St. Joe grads. Houston, we have  anew majority, and Tetreau wants so badly to "belong" with the self-appointed Good People.   

She will be "reaching out" to law enforcement, thin-skinned Jessie has stated. As an elected official, she must surely know that her expectations of privacy and the questioning of official acts lies wholly within the realm of the citizens' First Amendment right to question authority. 

Elected officials, dear lassie, have to face the consequences of their official acts. It comes with the territory.)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

JUDGE'S ORDER STOPS RIGHT-WING "WE BUILD THE WALL"


Fisher Industries workers drop pieces of wall into place in May in Sunland Park, N.M., near the U.S.-Mexico border. The project was pursued by a right-wing group, We Build the Wall, which is also trying to erect steel fencing along the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas. (Jordyn Rozensky and Justin Hamel/For The Washington Post)

Fisher Industries workers drop pieces of wall into place in May in Sunland Park, N.M., near the U.S.-Mexico border. The project was pursued by a right-wing group, We Build the Wall, which is also trying to erect steel fencing along the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas, below.
By Teo Armus
The Washington Post

Image result for national butterfly center, rio grande valley, wall buildingFor nearly a year, allies of President Trump ignored seemingly every obstacle that might keep their right-wing group from building a crowdfunded wall at multiple points along the U.S.-Mexico border.

They didn't get permits in advance. They refused government orders to stop and study their engineering. And on the banks of the Rio Grande, they began bulldozing land where, true to their group’s name — “We Build the Wall” — they plan to erect more than three miles of 18-foot steel fencing..

But a Texas judge on Tuesday issued what may be the strongest rebuke yet to the group, which is led by Stephen K. Bannon, ordering it to temporarily halt all construction because of possible harm to a nearby nature preserve.

State District Judge Keno Vasquez, of Hidalgo County, ruled that the National Butterfly Center, a 100-acre riverfront preserve in Mission, Tex., could face “imminent and irreparable harm” if We Build the Wall continues with plans to erect a “water wall” between the nature refuge and a state park.

Javier Peña, a lawyer for the butterfly center, told The Washington Post the wall could act as a dam that would redirect floodwater to the sanctuary — a popular spot for school groups and birders — and wipe out its vegetation, thus destroying the site or reducing its property value.

“You can do almost anything with your property. But what you can’t do is hurt other people’s property,” he said. “For these guys to come down and use fear and hate to destroy it [the center] for their personal gain — that’s what troubles us.”

Yet the Florida group, and its founder, outspoken military veteran Brian Kolfage, may be barreling forward anyway.

“We have many people who try to stop us legally with silly attempts, and in the end we always prevail,” Kolfage said in an email to The Post. “I would put a 50/50 chance this is fake news, and if it’s not it will be crushed legally pretty fast.”

In a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday evening, the group’s project manager — a man in a hard-hat identified only as “Foreman Mike” — said a mile and a half of land had been cleared beside the river, and steel bollards and panels would be installed within 48 hours.

“We’re going to be putting this up,” he said, asking for more donations, while pledging to have the whole project complete by Jan. 15, 2020. “We have to supercharge it now. It’s time to get really moving.”

WHO IS IT? WHO IS IT? COULD IT BE CHIEF DEPUTY GUS REYNA?

(Ed.'s Note: One of our readers sent us this photo and said that Chief Deputy Gus Reyna had been seen throughout the day Wednesday putting up signs for his boss Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio around Cromack elementary and before that along Military Highway.

On Thursday, he was seen putting up signs by Lopez High School.

 The reader questioned whether Gus had taken the day off to perform his political chore or whether he was doing it on the sly. 








We really can't tell it's Gus from  the angle of his better side in the photo at right, but we're sure he has some acceptable explanation for being out in public putting up signs.

Political activity is a necessary evil if one wants to keep his boss in office.

But we don't begrudge the reader questioning of the propriety of doing this doing working hours. Let's just hope he doesn't make a pit stop at El Pueblito for refreshments.

Lucio is facing a feisty challenge from former Cameron County District Judge Eric Garza for the 2019 Democratic Party primary in March. The political season is on!)

IT'S OFFICIAL: ASST. DISTRICT JUDGE LOUIS SOROLA ON BALLOT

(Ed.'s Note: Cameron County Democratic Chairman Jared Hockema receives Asst. District Judge Louis Sorola's application for a place on the ballot of the 2019 Democratic party primary Wednesday for the 404th District Court. Incumbent Judge Elia Cornejo-Lopez has indicated that she will not run for reelection for another term, opening the way for candidates to run for that office. Who's next?)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

SUMAYA: BROWNSVILLE NATIVE PIONEER IN PUBLIC HEALTH

"No prophet is accepted in his own country..." Luke 4:24
By Porter Loring Mortuary
San Antonio

Ciro Valent Sumaya M.D., M.P.H.T.M., age 78 entered into eternal rest with his Lord and Savior on December 1, 2019.

Born the son of Jorge Sumaya Longoria and Irene Valent Sumaya from Brownsville, Texas, Ciro was a direct descendant of the pioneer land grant families of Valent, Lieck, and Longoria's of Port Isabel, Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Tamps, Mexico.

 Ciro graduated as Valedictorian from Brownsville High School and was a Phi Beta Kappa and high honors graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. While attending medical school at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston he met his beloved wife Carmen Gonzalez. They were blessed with three children, Ciro V. Sumaya II, Jaime Andres Sumaya and Miguel Angel Sumaya.

After earning his M. D., Ciro completed a rotating internship at The University of Southern California followed by service in the U.S. Air Force as a General Medical Officer. 

He then completed a dual pediatric infectious disease postgraduate fellowship and Master in Public Health and Tropical Medicine degree at Tulane University School of Medicine and School of Public Health. 

He began his academic medical career at the School of Medicine at The University of California at Los Angeles, followed by an appointment at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) where he obtained the rank of Professor of Pediatrics and Chief, Infectious Diseases Division, Pediatrics Department. 

Dr. Sumaya's biomedical research led him to be a leading physician-scientist in viral infections in children. He published 82 articles and 26 book chapters in the field of infectious disease. His comprehensive investigations of infectious mononucleosis in children are major contributions to medical literature. Based on these research efforts, Dr. Sumaya made numerous scientific presentations and served on research advisory committees and study groups.

Dr. Sumaya also served as the Associate Dean for Affiliated Programs and Continuing Medical Education at UTHSCSA and initiated the expansion of continuing medical education programs for health professionals in South Texas and other parts of the State. His efforts led to the development of the medical school and health science center for community and social needs. This included his role in developing the federally funded Area Health Education Center (AHEC) of South Texas which covered the most impoverished region of the state. 

After receiving a federal appointment to the Presidential Task Force on National Health Care Reform in Washington, D.C., he was able to participate in the debates and policy decisions of the country's health care reform issues. Dr. Sumaya received a Presidential appointment in 1994 to serve as Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

He was the first Hispanic appointed to head a major federal public health service agency. The Secretary of Health and Human Services subsequently appointed Dr. Sumaya as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health to lead the interagency initiative on the Future of Academic Health Centers. In 1997, he was appointed Founding Dean of the School of Rural Public Health and Cox Endowed Chair in Medicine within the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center in College Station, Texas. 

He served on the board of Trustees of Ascension Health, the largest nonprofit health care system in the country and major force in health care for all. Dr. Sumaya also served on numerous federal and national health-related committees, review groups, and panels throughout his career. 

More recently he was appointed by the Governor of Texas to the Gulf Initiative Research Board and severed on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Sumaya had a passion for collecting Latin American art, listening to classical music, family genealogy and playing the piano. Dr. Sumaya was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Yolanda S. Vega Hidalgo and two of his children, Ciro II and Miguel Angel. 

He is survived by his wife of 52 years Carmen, their son Jaime and their grandson Diego Sumaya. He is also survived by his brother George Valent Sumaya of Port Arthur, Texas, and several nieces and nephews. 

The family would like to extend their sincere thanks and appreciation to the staff at Amada Home Health Care and Christus VNA Hospice. A special thanks to Dr. Sumaya's caregivers, Maria Ortiz, Gina Rodriquez, Lacy Buenfil and Avril McClean for their kindness and loving care.

"The Health of One is Admirable; The Health of All, Supreme" ---- Ciro Valent Sumaya M.D. M.P.H.T.M.
In honor of Dr. Ciro V. Sumaya, donations may be made in his memory to the Ciro V. Sumaya Endowment Fund at the Texas A&M School of Public Health.

AFTER WORKING HARD ALL DAY, A WAIT FOR THE BUS


(Ed.'s Note: If a picture is worth 1,000 words, this picture speaks volumes about the priorities of the City of Brownsville toward its citizens. If ever a project qualifies as one to improve the quality-of-life, bus shelters and a place for weary workers to sit waiting for the bus would be it.

Yet, the money continues flowing elsewhere and every time Bus-Metro is questioned about the shelters, they promise that they're coming...sometime.

The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation is funded by a one-quarter cent of sales taxes, yielding about $5 million for investment in quality-of-life projects.

The BCIC took a hard hit from the Brownsville Sports Park which has been unable to generate the funds necessary for its maintenance and upkeep. As a result, the city has had to step in and shell out funds for its continued operations.

On the city commission side, every time that there is an issue of Certificates of Obligation that includes transportation projects like street improvements, an amount equal to 10 percent of that has to go to hike-and-bike trials championed by commissioner Rose Gowen.

To date, millions have been funneled to those pet projects while working ladies like the woman in the picture - who make up the majority of city sales tax payers and a majority of those chipping in for the BCIC's annual $5 million - have to use the ground to rest their weary bodies to wait for the BUS.

But look at the projects that get funded by BCIC. You have the Beerfest, the Gringo de Mayo, Una Noche en Garibaldi, all these simple drunken bacchanals and entertainment for the city's self-described elites.

Those, we're afraid, comprise their funding priorities, not the needs of the average working person like the woman above.

BORDER PATROL DICTUM: DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO...

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

We always thought that the difference between local law enforcement and the feds was the latter's strict observance of the laws and regulations guiding their employment and duties.

But now one of our avid seven readers has sent us visual proof thy might share some of the same frailties of their local brethren.

In the photos below, our reader said that the Border Patrol agent aboard the truck was smoking cigarettes in the vehicle and occasionally flicked the ashes out the window.

The photo was taken tuesday near the airport on Boca Chica approaching Iowa Avenue. When he finished smoking the cigarette, the agent threw the butt out the window and into the grassy side of the road.

The, apparently, he got a phone call and used the hand-held device as he sped along, as can be seen from the reflection in the mirror. in hi government-issued vehicle.

The message that is sent is that these officers would have you do as they say and not as they do. Ain't it nice when the law is selective and they apply it on civilians only, but you better have your papers if he decides to question your citizenship.

Is it a flaunting of the rules or is it merely a privilege that comes along with a federal badge?



Tuesday, December 3, 2019

MAJORITY KEEPS MCNAIR NAME, SHUNS FRONTON RESIDENTS; COWEN'S VOTE AGAINST HISPANIC RESIDENTS SEALS THE DEAL


By Juan Montoya

In the end, a majority of the City of Brownsville commission decided that they would rather keep the change to McNair Family Drive of E. Fronton Drive despite the fact that resident followed the city policy passed by this same commission on renaming streets and gathered more than 75 percent of the signatures of property owners on the street.

The McNair supporters countered that the counting had been "manipulated" and that the city's policy had been a "convoluted interpretation" and did not give multiple lot owners a vote for each lot.

The city's policy allotted one vote per person listed by the Cameron County Appraisal District as owners of the property abutting the street.  Attorney Michelle Sanchez, representing the McNair family said the city's policy resulted in using a methodology of "manipulated math."

Voting against changing the name to its original, historical name (Fronton name) as was the wish of the majority of the residents were commissioners:

Rose Gowen
Jessica Tetreau
Joel Mungia 
John Cowen

Voting to heed the residents' wishes were:
Ben Neece
Nurith Galonsky Pizana
Mayor Trey Mendez

Disingenuously, Gowen, Tetreau, Munguia and Cowen - like Sanchez - argued that the policy that they themselves voted to pass not so long ago was not clear on the issue.

Fronton St. resident Ernesto Hernandez Chapa told he commissioners that the residents paid a total of $93,000 in taxes yearly on an appraised value of $3,500,000. On the other hand, the McNairs have a 100 percent historical exemption on the two warehouses and pay zero taxes to the city.

The McNairs own three properties on East Fronton  which are historically exempt and, unlike all other property owners in the area, pay no taxes to the city. In fact, the last time they received the exemption was for the years 2016 to 2020 and included 100 percent tax historical exemptions not only from the City of Brownsville, but also from the the Brownsville Navigation District, Cameron County, and Texas Southmost College.

The buildings themselves are nondescript warehouses, shells of brick and mortar that the McNairs still rent to the highest bidder.

Except for the paint on the outside walls there is little evidence that - as they claim in their inclusion into the list of the National Historical Register "the McNair family has restored many of the old factory and office buildings which date back to the early 1900’s and continue to improve East Fronton Street through their building restoration and beautification projects."

The building at 504 Fronton is listed at an appraised value of  $218,800 and the McNairs paid no city, BND, TSC, or Cameron County taxes on the old warehouse, unlike their neighbors who did.

The building on 730 E. Fronton (the one with the Texas logo across the street in the photo above) is listed at an appraised value of $108,641 and the McNairs paid no city, BND, TSC, or Cameron County taxes on the old warehouse, unlike their neighbors who did.

The building at 759 E. Fronton (in the foreground in the photo above) is listed at an appraised value of $108,641 and the McNairs paid no city, BND, TSC, or Cameron County taxes on the old warehouse, unlike their neighbors who did.

In short, the McNairs did not pay city, BND, TSC, or Cameron County taxes on their three buildings on E. Fronton with an aggregate appraised value of $441,871, unlike their neighbors who did.

Harry McNair and his wife Reba  (nee Cardenas) also have a 100 percent historical tax exemption on their homestead and pay no city taxes on the $350,828 taxable value. Their  home is not on E. Fronton, but on upscale Sunset Drive, far from the Fronton neighborhood.

"Give us our beloved Fronton Street back," Hernandez pleaded with the commission during the public hearing to no avail.

His son Juan Rene Hernandez said the resident had "followed all the rules" and "met all the criteria" in their petition.

"I request that we follow the guidelines we have in place. We should have a process and we should follow it."

“We have met all the requirements that the City has asked for,” Yolanda Valtierra, a supporter of renaming the street back to Fronton, said in Spanish during the public comment period. “We need a resolution from you, we need a perfect resolution like all of you are.”

Somehow the majority of the commissioners who voted against returning the street to its historical name decided that 10 votes (12 percent) in favor of McNair Family Drive trumped the 63 votes (78 percent) of residents who wanted their old street name back.

After the meeting, Hernandez Chapa told the local daily that:
Image result for john cowen, rrunrrun

“I’m disappointed with the commission, especially with John Cowen because before he told us that if we could get 75 percent of the votes he would vote in favor and he did not do it,” he said.

“We did what they told us to do; we followed the policy they adopted and in the end they did the things that were best for them.

"It was not convenient to give us our name back because then Mr. McNair would get mad, but people will not forget who were the ones who voted to keep the name of McNair.”

In the picture above, Cowen is shown campaigning in the barrios promising Hispanic voters his support on local issues.

E. FRONTON RESIDENTS THROW GAUNTLET AT MCNAIRS, CITY

(Ed.'s Note: Today, at the City of Brownsville Commission meeting at city hall, the commissioners will vote to rename the McNair family Drive back to its original – and historical – East Fronton Street based on a petition signed by at least 75 percent of the residents there. Here's their justification for asking the city commissioners for their vote to keep the historical name.)



We, the property owners of E Fronton St., do hereby request your vote in favor of our petition to rename our street to its historical original name, E. Fronton St.

We have followed the COB’s guidelines for renaming city streets.
We fulfilled the requirements for the street renaming guidelines which are:

1.) Not less than 75 percent of all owners abutting the subject city street. “Owners” shall be determined from the current city real property ad valorem tax roll; or

2.) a duly authorized officer or attorney representing a governmental subdivision, agency or department.

According to the information and property listing (CAD Roll Call) provided by the Cameron County appraisal district thru a property search “Public Request”, the total number of properties affected by the change are 89. 

Mr. Eduardo Santillan, of the City of Brownsville Engineering Department, who was given the task to verify and validate the information provided in the petition, also agrees to the number.

There are 80 property owners or votes on E Fronton. The total amount of property owners and signatures collected supporting the renaming of the street to E Fronton St. are 63. There are seven absentees or people that did not reply to either of the three mailings.

The city owns property on E Fronton. The city said that it could not vote because of conflict of interest, but the property did count in the threshold. If not, the percentage of approval would have been higher. The ten remaining signatures (votes) are known or assumed to be in favor of MacNair. (63+7+10) = 80.

The facts and evidence show that the property owners and residents of E Fronton St. were always against the name change to McNair Family Dr. In an attempt to discredit the petition for renaming the street to E Fronton St., a pseudo list of signatures was presented by Harry McNair. 

The city of Brownsville claimed that property owners had signed both petitions. This raised controversy on six signatures and the item was tabled because, according to the commission, they wanted to get it right.

One signature was not relevant because the signor was not a property owner, but a resident and he never signed the E. Fronton St. petition, nor was he included. The other five were validated by the City of Brownsville in favor of E Fronton St., via notarized statement. 

The question remains: Where did that list come from and who signed for the property owners?

The delay was actually in favor of E Fronton St. because, during this time, one property owner sent in his petition via email in favor of E. Fronton St. To the city’s surprise, the property owner’s signatures was also on the McNair list.

The city reached out to the property owner, who stated and informed the city that he had never signed the McNair list. This is clear evidence that the parties involved manipulated the information from the beginning and the change of the street from its original name was done through political trickery.

The petitioners wonder what would have been the outcome and/or what recourse the city would have taken if the petitioners were the ones that had been caught submitting false information!

All of the signatures obtained by E Fronton St. were in accordance to due process. No one was coerced to sign. All signatures and information collected are legitimate and were not altered or manipulated.

The property owners of E Fronton St. petitioning to rename the street to its original historical name, agree and understand that the previous commissioners court allowed the name changed and that the current commission inherited this problem.

The current commission asked the petitioners to submit to the newly established guidelines for renaming street in order to confirm the will and voice of the property owners and confirm their claim against the change to the current name.

The property owners of E Fronton St. have complied with the city commission's request and have fulfilled all requirements. We strongly believe that it is the city commission's turn to reciprocally act and vote in favor of the petition and request to rename our street back to its original historical name E Fronton St.

In addition, we, the residents, business and/or property owners of E Fronton St., due request the reinstatement of our beloved street to E Fronton St. for the following reasons:

1. Preservation of the legacy and history of the city of Brownsville.

2. The preservation of the legacy and history of E Fronton St.

3. The preservation of the legacy and history of the role and contribution of the Afro-American community to the city of Brownsville.

4. The will, voice and desire of the residents, business and property owners to preserve the name of their historic street.

5. The will and desire of the residents, business and property owners to preserve the name of the street because of the administrative, economic, logistic and hardship that they have endure because of the change to McNair.

6. The McNair Family was not the only family or business that contributed to the warehouse area.

Image result for juan rene hernandez, e. fronton street7. The decision to change the name of E Fronton Street is a disservice to families and businesses that also have contributed to the warehouse area.

8. St. Charles Park was renamed to Harry E. McNair Park in 2006 on E. St. Charles St. just two short blocks away. This designation in itself has already honored the McNair Family.

9. A precedent is in order and will be in place for other historical neighborhoods to also start renaming historical streets if the renaming is not reversed.

10. The 1890 Map of “THE TWIN CITIES OF THE BORDER” shows E. Fronton St.

11. The Brownsville City Directory of 1913-1914 pages 258-259 shows Fronton St. and no mention of McNair.

12. The National Register of Historic Places nomination of the Brownsville Freight Depot and Warehouse District in 2017 mentions the vast importance of E Fronton St. throughout the nomination.

Respectfully,
All property owners of E Fronton St. who signed this petition to rename it back to its historical original name.

Monday, December 2, 2019

A BETTER INTERNET IS WAITING FOR US...


By Annalee Newitz
New York Times

Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process. Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it. 

Though we talk about reforming and regulating it, “fixing” it, those of us who grew up on the internet know there’s no such thing as a social network that lasts forever. Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding. And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for what comes next.

I don’t mean brainstorming new apps that could replace outdated ones, the way Facebook did Myspace. I mean what will replace social media the way the internet replaced television, transforming our entire culture?

To find out what comes next, I went on a quest. I was looking for a deeper future than the latest gadget cycle, so I spoke to experts in media history, tech designers, science fiction writers and activists for social justice. I even talked to an entity that is not a person at all.

Collectively, they gave me a glimpse of a future where the greatest tragedy is not the loss of our privacy. It is the loss of an open public sphere. There are many paths beyond the social media hellscape, and all of them begin with reimagining what it means to build public spaces where people seek common ground.

I began on a steep, narrow street in San Francisco’s North Beach, a neighborhood overlooking the Bay where beatniks used to hang out in the 1950s. It’s miles away from techie-clogged SoMa, where Google employees eat their free lunches and the glowing Twitter sign looms over Market Street.

This is the home of Erika Hall’s design firm Mule. She co-founded it 20 years ago, and she’s watched the web move from the margins to the center of the business world. Back in the early aughts, companies were just trying to figure out how to have an “online presence.” She and her team built websites and digital campaigns for them, using the principles of “user-centered” design to help people navigate the confusing new world of the internet.

“I absolutely believe that you can design interfaces that create more safe spaces to interact, in the same way we know how to design streets that are safer,” she said.

But today, she told me, the issue isn’t technical. It has to do with the way business is being done in Silicon Valley. The problem, as most people know by now, is that tech companies want to grab a ton of private data from their customers without telling anyone why they need it. And this, Ms. Hall says, is bad design for users. It leaves them vulnerable to abuses like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, or to hacks where their data is exposed.

What’s more, companies like Facebook and Twitter lack an incentive to promote better relationships and a better understanding of the news “because they make money through outrage and deception,” Ms. Hall said. Outrage and deception capture our attention, and attention sells ads. “At a business model level, they are ad networks parasitic on human connection.”

There is a lot of pressure on tech companies from the government as well as from activist employees to change what they do with user data. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to see an improvement. We might even see Facebook getting more comfortable with authoritarianism.

“They’ve already shown a willingness to do this — they’ve bent to the demands of other governments,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor at the University of Virginia and author of a recent book, “Antisocial Media.”

He predicts that we’re about to see a showdown between two powerhouse social media companies — Facebook and WeChat. WeChat has more than one billion users in China and among Chinese diaspora groups, and their users have no expectation of privacy. Facebook has 2.4 billion users, dominating every part of the world except China. If Facebook wants to reach inside China’s borders, it might take on WeChat’s values in the name of competition.

As scary as that sounds, none of it is inevitable. We don’t have to lose our digital public spaces to state manipulation.

IF THIS IS THE GUY WHO GOT CHARGED FOR FIGHTING, WE CAN ONLY WONDER HOW THE OTHER GUY LOOKS LIKE...


rita