Tuesday, September 17, 2019

P.U.B. POSTPONES FORMER FIRE CHIEF ELIZONDO'S TRIAL

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

This has to be a first.

After months of continuances by the defense and then the state in the trial of former Brownsvile Fire Dept. Chief Carlos Elizondo, PUB has come to the rescue, even without filing a motion with the court.

Elizondo is charged with six counts of computer security breach and the state charges he accessed the Brownsville Fire Department Emergency Reporting System while suspended by the city and when he did not have the consent of the City of Brownsville to access the reporting system.

The defense claims that he is not guilty since there are no written prohibitions against it even though city staff knows - or should know - that a demotion in rank means losing access to the system.

Testimony had started in the jury trial of Elizondo and the defense cross examination of the third witness was about to end when the court got the word from the Brownsville Public Utility Board that the lights were going to go out.

That forced 107th Judge Ben Euresti to suspend the trial until Wednesday.

The first witness  to testify for the state were Brownsville Police Department detective Juan Alvarez, who defense attorney Eddie Lucio managed to tangle up in contradictions about the source of "rumors" that had shaped his investigation.

Image result for jarred sheldon, BFD fire chief, rrunrrunMore than once time a befuddled Alvarez conceded that "there was nothing written" that specifically prohibited Elizondo, then under suspension without pay, from accessing the site and gathering information on cases listed there.

The second, Assistant Chief Cesar Pedraza followed pretty much the same pattern of Alvarez, with Pedraza admitting that there was "nothing written" that prohibited Elizondo access to the system.

Lucio went over the same material with the third witness, Fire Chief Jarrett V. Sheldon, who admitted no specific rules existed, but said that department policy concerning access to demoted or suspended department employees was part of the revamping of the policy manual.

Prosecutors under Asst. DA Arturo Teniente objected when Lucio attempted to introduce into evidence a gag photo of the chief to to rebut Sheldon's assertions that he had never stated that he was glad that Elizondo was getting fired .  Teniente objected to the photo, which showed Sheldon with a taped piece of paper on his forehead with the caption "You're fired, You're fired."  saying on relevance.

"Mr. Sheldon is not on trial here and we object on the grounds of relevance and because it has no probity value,"  Teniente said. Then, as Lucio showed Sheldon the photo and argued before the court, Euresti admonished him nt to be waving the photo in front of the jury before the court had ruled on its admission.

"Don't be waving that in front of the jury," said the judge.

The aspect of the Elizondo trial has some peculiar aspects. For example, after the jury of eight women and four men, plus two alternates complained that they were bothered by the movements and paper shuffling by some of the spectators, the court had the first three rows - about 48 seats behind the jury section - emptied and the spectators moved to the seat in the back rows.

The court did not rule on the admission of the photo. 

COMMUNITY TURNS OUT TO SUPPORT AMFELS WORKERS UNION

(Ed.'s Note: Members of the community turned out in support of workers at Keppel Amfels at the Port of Brownsville which is resisting unionization of its work force.  The union published these photos in its Facebook page. 

Prominent among them was Mario Saenz, brother of Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz and a farmworkers union supporters from the days of Cesar Chavez,  Ruben Cortez, a current member of the Texas State School Board of education and candidate for the Texas Senate seat held by Eddie Lucio Jr., Jared Hockema, the chairman of the Cameron County Democratic Party, as well as Amber Medina, top photo in the center holding "proud daughter of a union worker"sign. She is a candidate for the District 37 State Rep. seat now held by Alex Dominguez.

The workers say that their struggle to unionize is based on getting better wages and working conditions and in providing critically needed assistance to workers for health benefits and safety conditions at the plant. Amfels has been the beneficiary of numerous state, county and City of Brownsville incentives through the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation. They say that since the worldwide corporation is the recipient of incentives funded by their tax dollars, the company should also uplift the conditions and wages of its workers.)

THE ONE THAT ALMOST GOT AWAY...(NOT) RENE!

(Ed.'s Note: There's an epidemic of DWIs breaking out in the lower Rio Grande Valley. We've seen former judges, school board members, and now, a member of a prominent family, the son of Renato (AKA Rene) and Rose Mary Cardenas, snagged for driving while intoxicated and trying to evade arrest by Brownsville Police Dept. officers. 

We don't know whether he was celebrating the Grito de Dolores that started Mexican independence, or whether he was hanging out partying with his buddy Turi Treviño congratulating him on his new venture selling watermelons. Regardless, Rene has a lot more to deal with than selling his family's cars, which, apparently, can't outrun the cops' rides.)

PSST. MEESTER...DO YOU WANT TO BE MY SISTER(S)?

"We’ve been sister cities for 150 years, I don’t see a reason for that to change. It’s our culture, it’s our people and it’s just such a great thing to see and celebrate Mexican Independence,” he said. “Just to serve as a reminder that we’ve always been really one culture, one city. I think especially in times we’re living in now, it’s important to remember that we grew up together, we’ve been together for generations and that nothing really should change.” Mayor Juan "Trey" Mendez

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Whoa now, Wilbur!

What sister cities are we talking abut? Is it Brownsville and Matamoros?

Isn't there a plaque in the middle of the river on the Gateway Bridge dating back to the days of former Matamoros Mayor Tomas Yarrington that proclaims that already?

On Oct. 24, 1995, United Nations Day, a Sister City plaque was unveiled at the Gateway International Bridge. A City ceremony followed at the Jacob Brown Civic Center. On hand were the usual suspects: Tamaulipas Gov. Manuel Cavazos Lerma joined Matamoros Yarrington and Brownsville Mayor Henry Gonzalez and State Sen. Eddie Lucio to renew the spirit of friendship between the two border cities.

That resolution was passed earlier that month by a unanimous city commission made up of Mayor Henry Gonzalez and commissioners Jackie Lockett, Ernie Hernandez, Pete Benvides and John Wood who voted on a resolution to bind Brownsville to Matamoros as sister cities.

Image result for plaque of sister cities between matamoros and  brownsvilleThere was one signed between Tony Martinez and then-Matamoros mayor Leticia Salazar on August 2015.

And then there was the time when Brownsville took on another sister city, this time the port city of Altamira, Tamps., also by Martinez, in June 2016.

But we're sorry to say that we can find no documentation that the two burgs were proclaimed sister cities way back 150 years ago, as Mendez stated.

Not that there has been any shortage of sister cities declared by the City of Brownsville through resolutions. Even Mazatlan has been bandied about as a potential sister city.

There are resolutions for more exotic locales than the one the commission passed on Matamoros.

There are resolutions on:

1. Lin An, China July 31, 2001,

2. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Jan. 20,

3. Santa Catarina, Mexico,

4.Villa Capri, Italy,

5. Nuevo Leon, NL, Mexico,

6. Santiago, NL, Mexico,

7. Huejutla De Reyes, Hidalgo, MX ,

8. Sept. 08, 2009, Tampico, MX May 20, 2011, and

9. Saltillo, Coahuila, MX April 2011, which the city commission never got around to present.

What relationship Brownsville Brownsville has with, say Huejutla De Reyes, Hidalgo, or Lin An, China, is left up to your imagination.

But what makes the second bonding (and the current one with Mendez) with our sister city directly across the Rio Grande seem like like the in-breeding attributed to the hill people on the southern states is that we've already done it once or twice and then we went and proclaimed it again this Sept. 16,

Now, why on earth would you want to have two sisters with the same name? Next year, that original relationship  (of 1995) will be 24 years old, making her a consenting adult.

The resolution to "re-establish" our sister city designation with Matamoros is done every year at Charro Days when dignitaries from both cities meet at the Gateway Bridge and go through the ceremonies.

So next time you hear someone bad-mouthing Mata, remember, she's your sister.

Monday, September 16, 2019

CASTRO, VARGAS: BOARD MEMBERS, BIRDS OF A FEATHER....

(Ed.'s Note: Apparently, the outrage against these two school board members has not lost traction, as this Facebook page screenshot demonstrates. San Benito ISD board president Michael Vargas (right) and Brownsville ISD board member Erasmo Castro (left) are both facing Driving While Intoxicated charges in their respective cities.

An online petition drew more than 3,500 votes to remove Castro from the BISD board drew comments like the one below.

"I feel uncomfortable that this person comes in contact with so many of our young people INSIDE the schools. Taking photos of them and such. That being said, if he cannot or does not feel the need to make an effort to set an example to those same children, then he has no place on ANY board or political office at all. I understand we are all human, but the choices he seems to be making are lacking better judgment on his part being in the position he is in."

AND NOW AN EXAMPLE OF A BUS STOP IN ALL-AMERICAN CITY





















(Ed.'s Note: There are no benches to rest while this mother and child stand waiting for the bus, and no shelter from the unrelenting sun or the gathering storm. Brownsville has spent thousands of dollars to send a delegation to Denver where they presented the story of their work and this city to a jury of national experts who – after collecting the hefty application fee – presented the signs they posted at the entry to the city.

Since the program's inception in 1949, more than 500 communities have been named All-American cities, including Brownsville. Concurrently, it has also been named the poorest community in the United States and today, the unhealthiest city in the county. So are we to believe that it is "All-American" to be poor and unhealthy and unable to provide the most basic amenities to residents like good drainage, mowed grass at bus stops, pothole-free streets and neighborhood sidewalks?

Or did we end up paying for a junket for city staff and those of publicly-funded non-profits to bring back a sign that says it is so? We are, it is evident, enamoured of signs like the ones that say that US 77/83 is now I-69E simply because signs attesting to that have been put up along that thoroughfare? A sign does not an interstate make, and neither does the All-America city sign really make it so.)

BROWNSVILLE NAMED UNHEALTHIEST CITY IN THE U. S.; JOB SECURITY FOR SVELTE ROSE TIMMER'S HEALTHY COMMUNITIES






















(Click on graphic to enlarge.)

By Adriana Belmonte
Associate Editor
Yahoo Finance
The West Coast is home to some of the healthiest cities in America.

According to a study from WalletHub, San Francisco is the healthiest city in the U.S., followed by Seattle, San Diego, Portland, and Washington, D.C.

WalletHub calculated the data by comparing 174 cities across four weighted dimensions: health care, food, fitness, and green space.


One of the factors was the lowest premature death rate. Nearly all of the top cities are located in California, much like the percentage of adults eating enough fruits/vegetables per day.

The West Coast also has the highest percentage of physically active adults. This may be why San Francisco took the top spot — it has the most walking trails per capita and the most running trails per capita.
The South contains most unhealthy cities

Meanwhile, the unhealthiest cities in the U.S. are overwhelmingly found in the South. Brownsville, Texas, is the least healthy spot in the nation and two other Texas cities made the list, along with two in Alabama, two in Georgia, and two in Mississippi.

“Those states in particular have high [obesity] rates, and I’m sure their physical activity is rather low,” Dr. Charles Platkin, the director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and editor of DietDetective.com, told Yahoo Finance.

“It’s cultural … around food and eating. Probably a more relaxed atmosphere, more rural in some of the urban centers. Hence the high levels of walkability or concerns about healthy eating or concerns about lifestyle. Whereas in those states, they have higher levels of blue collar workers.”

(Ed.'s Note: All this - having walking trails, watching your diet, etc. -  would make sense if the city had the basic municipal amenities already in place. There is also the inconvenient fact that the local population is subject to a depressed border economy, low educational levels, a traditional penchant of employers to pay the minimum wage to local workers and pit them against their Matamoros neighbors, etc., that the residents of other cities aren't. And of course, the simple necessities like a credible drainage system to prevent the chronic flooding that destroys roads, wrecks vehicles, and drains the public budget.

Only once these factors are weighed in can we have the luxury of engaging in middle-class expenditures like hike-and-bike trails, cyclobias, and other frills as the "healthy" cities do. To skip these necessary steps and make  believe Brownsville can compete with the cities that already posses the basic physical and social infrastructure is being delusional.)

AMLO GIVES GRITO ON 209TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY

Image result for AMLO 16 de septiembre

SUPPORT AMFELS WORKERS' LABOR-UNION STRUGGLE TODAY

AFTER GRINGO DE MAYO, NO GARIBALDI, PERO "HAY SANDÍAS!

Special to El Rrun-Run

When we last heard about local social-event provocateur Arturo "Turi" Treviño, he was selling something called "Gringo de Mayo,"  his store's aguacates, and other fly-by-night schemes to line his  pockets subsidized by city assets and facilities.

To get into the Gringo event, participants had to kick in $40 a pop and got a small taste of la frontera from some local restaurants' fare. Apparently, there was not enough to go around for everyone to get their fill, but the entry fee was gone.

The public was left with ugly grease stain on the hand-laid brickwork which Treviño blamed on poor workmanship.

Well, apparently that public noria has run dry and now he is leaving behind the Gringo, aguacates and Garibaldi
and has hit on watermelons.

At right, he laments that the fall-back option - Noche de Garibaldi (also at $30 a pop to attend at Market Square) - fell through because he could not get volunteers to do his bidding..

So what happened to the volunteers? They were always eager to help promote his events, or did they tire of finding out that no money was made by them and only by the head organizer?  Get your sandías! Get your sandías!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

FOR LAWYERS DREAMING OF APPEARING BEFORE SCOTUS...

(Ed.'s Note: Once in a while we run into a piece that is clever, well written, and speaks to a viewpoint rarely seen in the genre of legal writing. Take, for example, the analogy First Amendment attorney  Floyd Abrams [Pentagon Papers, Nebraska Press Association, Landmark Communications, etc.] draws in Speaking Freely that appearing as lead counsel before the United States Supreme Court [SCOTUS], is like baseball. This is rich. Enjoy.)
Argument:

Appearing before the Supreme Court as chief counsel in a significant case often reminds me of taking the field in a strangely transformed sort of baseball game.

Counsel who is arguing walks to home plate, the podium in the Court which faces the nine justices.

As in baseball (and baseball uniquely among our sports), the batter is alone, confronted by all nine fielders, the Supreme Court, the fielders are also pitchers, each of them throwing questions at his or her own pace, sometimes one after another, sometimes nearly simultaneously.

Balls thrown by each of the nine pass one another in the air, some pitched hard, fast, and straight; others high and inside, obviously designed to keep the lawyer/batter from digging in too comfortably at the plate.

Some of the questions are curve balls, sinkers, and virtually unhittable knuckleballs. But the lawyer/batter must hit them all cleanly, and if he/she does not, the game may be lost on a single pitch alone. An added fillip is that the nine pitchers are also the umpires.

As a result, however wild their pitches may be, they must be treated as strikes.

OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES: FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING


MEXICAN CONSULATE'S ELITIST STREAK ON INDEPENDENCE

Mexican Consul at Brownsville Carlos Cue Vega 
 The Mexican military was well represented at the Grito
 Mayor Trey Mendez chums it up with Governmental Affairs Liaison Ramiro Gonzalez
 The executive Grito invitees were treated to marimba music.
What would Grito be without a smattering of public officials like city commissioner Ben Neece, a Sirenita and a couple of local denizens thrown in?
Municipal Judge Rigoberto Flores, would-be district judge candidate Gabby Garcia and former city commissioner Cesar de Leon were some of the VIPs attending the Grito. 

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

The celebration of El Grito associated with the 209th Anniversary of Mexican independence was held at the Texas Southmost Fine Arts Building.

But unlike the ceremony open to the unwashed masses, this one had a decidedly elitist nature.
The guests at the executive celebration held before before the public celebration had invitations with a bar code that identified them as the better people of the locale. Those without them were denied entry.

Historically, the Grito was just the beginning of the independence movement in Mexico.

The start of the struggle for independence took place when criollo priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla signalled its beginning at  Dolores, Guanajuato at dawn on the morning of September 16, 1810 with the pealing of the church bells, not on the night of September 15.

The celebration was actually moved to the night of September 15 by the Presidente de la Republica de Mexico General  Jose de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mori (aka) the dictator PORFIRIO DIAZ, who was born on September 15, 1830 and moved the party up a few hours to use the Grito to celebrate his own birthday.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

RIO GRANDE VALLEY BOXING HALL OF FAME HONORS PUGILISTS

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Boxing and Wrestling played a role in Rio Grande Valley and Matamoros sports history since early in the 20th Century. The soldiers at Fort Brown were battling each other, and in Matamoros, the sport blossomed at about the same time.

The popularity of the sport had so many adherents and was admired so much by the troops that special training officers were brought in to teach the finer points of boxing. Civilian promoters could organize matches within the military reservation.
Although by the 1920s and beyond there was no lack of facilities as Brownsville, Harlingen, Weslaco and McAllen also built arenas. A few boxing programs were staged, but the main attraction then was wrestling.


In the Middle of the 1920s, boxing in Texas was deemed illegal by the legislature and the pugilistic sport took an unexpected black eye. It was inevitable that the popular sport goes, again, south of the border where no law prevented hosting boxing events.

By 1933, the sport would no longer have to hide in the shadows of the law.
Anti-boxing laws prevented the sport for almost ten years to openly present itself within in the boundaries of the state of Texas. Legalized boxing came back in a big way and it was eminently clear that the sport had an enthusiastic audience.

On September of 1933 Brownsville glorified boxing by hosting “Ringside by the Rio Grande.” At the opening bell local boxers took their bows at the new Veterans Arena located on Elizabeth St.

Golden Gloves era…

Golden Gloves, the premier organization of amateur boxing, was born in 1923. Arch Ward, a Chicago editor, organized a tournament to help youth and to promote amateur competition. It was not until 1937 that Texas held its first official Golden Gloves tournament.

By 1939, Rio Grande Valley high school boxers were entering the ring with hopes of securing a Golden Gloves title.

Summer boxing clubs were being formed throughout the region as well. By the 1950s, many high schools and Texas Southmost College had noteworthy teams. As timed progressed into the modern era, boxing continued to produce emerging headliners, with bountiful crop of of kids searching to claim that elusive championship belt. 

Today, the Valley is also proud of our professional boxers that are punching their way into the national spotlight – and in doing so, placing the Rio Grande Valley on the world boxing map.

Rio Grande Valley Hall of Fame…

The RGV is deeply rooted with boxing history. So it is only fitting to recognize that extraordinary individuals that have contributed to the sport. 

A few of months ago, Tom Lindsey, from San Benito, had a dream of forming an organization to recognize outstanding individuals in the sport. Soon after the seed was planted, and once all the intangible were in place – it became a reality.

The first annual RGV Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies will take place on November 17, 2019 at the McAllen Radisson Hotel, 2721 South 10th Street. 

Taking the stage as the first historical group of inductees include: Dr. Benjamin A. Salinas M.D. (Pharr), Alfredo “Chicken” Gomez (Brownsville, in the photo at right), Herberto “Beto” Carr (Mercedes), Tomas Barrientes (Mercedes), and Andrew Maynard (a native of Maryland that has lived in Harlingen for more than 30 years)

A tribute is due to the ring notables of the past, and thank you, to the pugilist battlers of today – for creating a renewed interest in boxing.

For ticket information you can contact Tom Lindsey at 740.352.7298 and/or write us an email to: rgvboxinghalloffame@gmail.com

Be on the lookout! We are in the process of developing our Facebook page.

SUPPORT OUR BROTHERS ANS SISTERS FOR DECENT WAGES


SEPTEMBER 20 IS INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE STRIKE DAY

This September, people across the nation and the world will take to the streets to participate in the Global Climate Strikes, a massive, week-long, youth-led event to demand climate justice for everyone and end the age of fossil fuels.

Here at CREDO, we'll be marching alongside young people across the country on Sept. 20 to demand climate action – and we hope you will join us!

Friday, September 13, 2019

AFTER DERAILING MARIO'S PORT BRIDGE, LUCIO LAUDS HIM

"Mario and I worked side by side on many projects to help the community," Texas Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. addressing the family at the memorial mass for local businessman and former Port of Brownsville commissioner, the late Mario Villarreal.

By Juan Montoya

In 1996, when Mario Villarreal announced he would run for a seat on the Brownsville Navigation District, he promised to use his contacts in Mexico and in Washington to get things moving.

The port had been trying to get a Presidential permit – the last try in 1991 – and for some two decades before, unsuccessfully.

A little more than a year after he took office, and during a visit to Brownsville, then-President Bill Clinton to Brownsville and brought with him the much-coveted permit to build the rail and truck bridge on port property. With the permit, it opened up the way for pre-engineering and environmental work required for the construction of the span.

Image result for sen. eddie lucio jr. Brown & Root won the contract to work on the bridge and billed the Brownsville Navigation District (BND) $424,505 up through July 1997. Then, as these plans were being performed by Brown & Root Engineering, the port and its commissioners had a visitor. It was District 27 Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio.

Brownsville Herald reporter Emma Perez-Treviño's award-winning articles indicated that  Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation (DEC) hired Lucio for marketing, consulting, and public relations work.

In the course of this work, Lucio introduced the firm to the BND board. Within a month, the BND board voted to fire Brown & Root and hired DEC without requesting proposals. DEC’s original contract was for $2,053,515, but a series of supplemental contracts brought DEC’s take to $15.5 million.

Lucio told Emma that he merely "brought" the two entities together.

"I introduced them (Dannenbaum) to Port of Brownsville officials and they were hired. To that extent, that is what I did for Dannenbaum, (but) my work for the firm is not contained to the port," Lucio said, noting that he does consulting work for the firm throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

"I sit in meetings. I've gone to workshops. I have done some work on finding out what projects are available,"  Lucio said.

Of this money, $10,529,058 went to subcontractors in Mexico, $9.2 million of which was paid to just three companies, all of which had ties to a DEC employee. One helped startup businesses, one provided security services, and one was a real estate company.

BND was required to approve all subcontracts before any work was done, but DEC entered into 16 of 17 subcontracts without requesting that approval.

Construction of the bridge depended upon securing an agreement with Mexico to perform work on its side of the Rio Grande, which DEC representatives said was forthcoming. Despite such assurances, BND never received approval from Mexico.

In 2004, BND retained Charley Willette, Jr., as a special counsel to investigate how a total of $21.4 million in taxpayer money was spent on a project that was dependent upon Mexico’s support. Willete’s 62-page report traced the millions paid to subcontractors in Mexico and their ties back to DEC.

So much for Lucio working "side-by-side" with Mario for the betterment of the community.

In fact, his intervention on behalf of his client Dannenbaum helped to submarine the project and resulted in grave injury to the port, its taxpayers and to local residents who suffer congestion, the heavy traffic of overweight 18-wheelers loaded with hazardous materials, and potential hazardous materials spills as they rumble down the middle of the city past schools, churches and neighborhoods.

And just as Mario was trying to bring a halt to extravagant spending by the board, it was found that Lucio was one of the biggest spenders of the port's dime on fine cuisine

The publicity of a credit-card audit prompted Lucio to write a $931.67 check to reimburse the port for meals he had eaten on the port's tab.

"I want to clear up any misconception of impropriety on the matter of wasteful spending by you and the other upstanding uncompensated public servants," Lucio wrote in a letter to Villarreal. "I want to do my part to assure you and the people of Brownsville that my staff and I were in no way taking advantage of the situation."

A BLAST FROM THE PAST: CHAMBERS ANNOUNCES FOR SHERIFF

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

John ChambersAfter careful consideration and with great confidence I am announcing my Candidacy for Sheriff of Cameron County.

Cameron County is severely behind technologically yet has left tried and true community policing techniques buried beneath self-serving ideologies. 

Too many people have died at the hands of the current administration. 

Too many unjustified uses of force. Too many shootings. 

Too many victims left without proper investigations that lead to repeat victimization.

It is time to modernize, straighten, and restore the Integrity of the Cameron County Sheriff's department.

I humbly ask for your support, thoughts and Ideas and comments. Thank you! John Chambers.

(Ed.'s Note: In June, The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a lower court’s order upholding the former Indian Lake police chief’s conviction on 14 counts of tampering with governmental records.

The Court of Criminal Appeals remanded the case of  Chambers back to the 13th Court of Appeals.

A jury in the 103rd state District Court in January 2016 convicted Chambers after a trial on charges that he falsified government records by creating false entries regarding firearms qualifications for some of his unpaid reserve police officers on or about Jan. 13, 2015.

Chambers has claimed the charges were politically motivated to remove him as the GOP candidate after having won the Republican primary and being replaced by Victor Cortez, an investigator with the Cameron County District Attorneys's Office who then lost to Democrat incumbent Omar Lucio.)

WILL "INCLUSION CABOOSE" EXCLUDE LATE RAUL BESTEIRO?

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

I see that the article in the Brownsville Herald today of the old caboose that was once dedicated to the memory of the former Port of Brownsville Director  - and Brownsville Independent School District superintendent - Raul Besteiro, makes no mention of his name.

At one time, before the caboose was sandblasted and painted, there was stenciled lettering that commemorated Besteiro's service as port director which at one time owned the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railroad. (Click on graphic to enlarge.)

Mr. "B," as he was called, was generally well liked in the community, but was caught up in the Bridge to Nowhere scandal at the port where $21 million was spent tying to build an international truck and rail bridge that on port property in the city's east side.

Mr. B was hired as port director partly because of his love for Lionel model trains and the intricate toy railroad he kept in his playroom. 

Image result for raul besteiroHe was once featured in a Sunday front-page article in the  Herald playing with his trains just before he was named port director after he had retired as the superintendent of the BISD. He even had a traditional striped train engineer's cap on while he played.

Apparently, the port trustees were so impressed with the deft skills he exhibited with the toy track that he was the natural choice to run the shipping port with its Brownsville Rio Grande Railroad. Go figure.

Just after he and former U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz were pictured on the front page of the New York Times tallying votes and pushing for the North America Free Trade Agreement in Washington, the Bridge to Nowhere $21 million scandal broke out and Mr. B's fortunes dropped like the money did into Dannenbaum's Engineering in Houston pockets through transfers to money exchange houses in Mexico.

Incidentally, Ortiz - through his chief of staff Lencho Rendon - were also mired in the dealings between the port and Dannenbaum and lobbying on their behalf.

Anyway, after his death, the linear park on the old abandoned railroad right-of-way was established and a red caboose with the lettering "In Memory of Mr. B, Raul Besteiro" was placed next to the Brownsville Museum of Art.

For years, the wicked and idle tongues in and around the city have been wagging saying to anyone within earshot that Mr. B is buried in a mausoleum inside the red caboose.

But neither the Herald article nor the main movers of the so-called "Inclusion Caboose" make any mention of his name.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening for the “Inclusion Caboose,” a kids library housed in a vintage, renovated caboose, is scheduled for Sept. 14 at 10:30 a.m. in Linear Park.

According to Dolly Sevier, the Brownsville pediatrician “inclusion” is part of the name because the ongoing project will eventually feature amenities for special-needs children in addition to books. 

Image result for raul besteiroSevier told the daily that for the time being the caboose will be regularly staffed between 9 a.m. and noon, with story time at 11 a.m., on Saturdays to coincide with the Brownsville Farmers’ Market. The caboose, under the purview of the Brownsville Parks and Recreation Department, will also be open for special events, she said.

The caboose was donated by the Brownsville & Rio Grande railroad in 2007 and placed in Linear Park, which is within the Mitte Cultural District. 

The city budgeted $40,000 for the exterior renovation of the caboose, partnering with the Brownsville Preservation Society, which coordinated the project. The renovation involved sandblasting and painting the exterior, building a new platform and removing a chain-link fence that had surrounded the caboose for years.

And Mr. B?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR'S REPORT PAINTS UNATTRACTIVE PICTURE OF ATKINSON'S REIGN AT BISD HUMAN RESOURCES

(Ed's Note: We had been told in the past about a report from an independent investigator on Dr. Sylvia Atkinson's tenure as Human Resources director with the Brownsville Independent School District. Try as we might we could not find it before she left the BISD for a position at Rio Hondo ISD. The elusive document finally turned up in our mail after months of searching. The picture that it paints of Atkinson – now a board member of the BISD – is not a pretty one. 

The firm of Aguilar and Zabarte, a leading law firm in Brownsville, found that she had potentially violated numerous standards of the BISD Code of Conduct in her treatment of several top administrators under her jurisdiction. The firm found that – after interviewing more than 120 witnesses for both sides – and numerous emails, documents and recordings, that the majority of allegations of harassment and intimidation were based on fact and were against the district's policies. Atkinson's lawyers did not allow her to be interviewed on all the allegations.)

By Juan Montoya

A 24-page investigative report which probed into allegations of intimidation and harassment of three top Brownsville Independent School District high school administrators performed by an independent law firm details numerous instances where Dr. Sylvia Atkinson – then head of Human Resources and now a BISD board member – violated district polices in her treatment of the women.

Following the recommendations of the investigators that she be placed in administrative leave while they conducted the investigation, Atkinson sought and gained employment with the Rio Hondo ISD and the report came to naught. The report was issued on April 30, 2015, two months after BISD Superintendent Carl Montoya left the BISD.

The three administrators – Rose Longoria, Terry Alarcon, and Rose Ara – were said to have acquired legal representation after they alleged that Atkinson had violated the district's employee welfare policy through a period of two to three years of inaction by the district to address their concerns.

They alleged violations of  discrimination and harassment and violations of Title VII and retaliation.

Zabarte said the women began to keep a timeline as early as the summer of 2012 and sought legal representation after it became apparent that the district under Montoya was not going to take action to address their concerns.

In particular, Zabarte reported that the alleged violations pertained to the sections in the Employee Handbook on Professional Ethical Conduct and Conduct Toward Other Professionals and at least 12 standards of prohibited behavior.

"The code of conduct also proscribes and prescribes certain conduct: to refrain from intimidating conduct' to respect the rights of employees'; to refrain from retaliation; comply with district procedures; to refrain from gossip, rumors and threats; to refrain from prohibited conduct; to refrain from harassment and aggressive conduct; and to refrain from favoritism," the report states.

The alleged behavior not only violated the district's code of conduct, Zabarte wrote, but it also may have gone awry of the Texas Penal Code Section 39.03 on Official Oppression when a public official: "acting under the color of his office or employment commits an offense if he: (1) intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that he knows is unlawful; or (2) intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity knowing his conduct is unlawful...or to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another by violating a law related to the office or employment, and misuses property or services that has come into his possession by virtue of his office or employment."

Zabarte's report grouped the allegations of the complainants against Atkinson into three different categories:

(1) A hostile work environment, including aggressive conduct, unprofessional conduct toward others, and retaliation

(2) Harassment through coercion of people to do things they would not normally do (possibly so that she did not have to do it herself)

(3) And using or attempting to use her influence to effectuate or to accomplish her agenda or the agendas of her family and friends.

The behavior is detailed into making people wait for meetings for inordinately long times without any discernible reason. Despite her explanation that it may not have been or purpose, the "overwhelming amount of persons who have noted this" makes the fact finder believe that the allegation was true as were the numerous witnesses who told him that Atkinson resorted to "screaming or yelling at them based on a disagreement..."

Many of the witnesses interviewed reported that she used language and postures to "bully others into accepting her position with comments like :"Is this the way it's going to be?, There are two departments that do not like you....Do you know how hard it is for me to receive calls from Pace teachers asking me to remove you?..I can't believe that you're saying I'm wrong...You don't need to be here. You're not needed...You're an elitist...," etc.

"Almost administrators from the Area administrators up including Dr. Montoya (via recording)...state that Dr. Atkinson lacked 'people skills'. The fact finder believes that allegation of bullying through language and posture are true and create a hostile work environment. In detailing instances of such behavior, Zabarte noted that several administrators reported that she had made them cry by embarrassing them or embarrassing and belittling them in front of people who were not in the chain of command.

There are countless instances in the report that indicate Atkinson became personally involved in pumping enrollment numbers, authorizing student transfers, deflating the numbers of coaches and moving them to certain schools, disbursing money to certain students and running a "Biggest Loser" contest where a monetary award was given to the participant who lost the most weight.

"Upon questioning, Atkinson first stated that Person 20 had won, and later stated that she and Person 20 won, but that she gave Person 20 the win. Conferences with Person 20 and person 20's relative, Person 16, have disclosed that Person 20 received only half the award. This is a serious matter which should be investigated further and goes to honesty, deception and misappropriation."

"Similarly, Person 12 complained Dr. Atkinson...changed job descriptions simply to hire friends, and distributed/emailed 21st Century funds at certain campuses, depending on who the friends were. In other words, certain campuses received a higher allotment per child than other campuses. (He) stated that, on some approvals, he would sign 'as per' because he felt it was wrong."

The report also notes that some complaints alleged that she used or attempted to use her influence to direct or effectuate what she wanted for her own benefit /and or for her family members' benefit even outside the scope of her hob description. Undoubtedly, Zabarte concludes, "whether or not admitted  by her, Dr. Atkinson had the ability to use her position to influence others."
Image result for dr. carl montoya and sylvia atkinson
It got to the point, Zabarte reported, that many felt she was Montoya's right-hand and used her relationship to intimidate others into believing she was speaking for him.

Even Montoya, in a recording, told him that "Sylvia has to have her fingers in everything," "She thinks she runs the district, She always wants more," "Her people skills fall to the wayside, I told her to quit harassing and stop sticking her nose into what is none of her business," "She thinks she'll be a superintendent, but the problem is she has no people skills" and "If you come out and complain, then I will do something about it."

"The allegations of the complaints concerning harassment in a manner prohibited by law, including the oppression and/or abuse of official capacity...having the purpose of unreasonably interfering with the employee's work performance, creating an intimidating threatening and hostile work environment and adversely affecting the employees performance environment and opportunities are sustained," Zabarte concluded.

"Furthermore, the allegations concerning violations of the Employee Standards of Conduct, Code of Ethics and Employee Handbook, and identified standards regarding Professional Ethical Conduct Toward Professionals is also sustained."

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

SALAZAR SIGNS MANGLE "OF" AND "FOR" THE PEOPLE

(Ed.'s Note: We, along the border, have some acquaintance with bilingualism. I, me, he, she, Yo, tu, el, ella, you get the drift. So when we saw the campaign sign from JP 2-1 Linda Salazar translating "from the people" to "Para la gente," something didn't ring right.

"From" doesn't translate to "Para," or does it? No. Every local linguist we asked says "from" translates into "De" la gente." Coming from someone who prides herself in reflecting the grassroots culture, it would seem she or someone close to her would have caught the mistake.

If the purpose of the sign was to remind voters of the Lincoln quote from the Gettysburg Address, that went: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth," it didn't work.

Note there is no "from" in that quote.

"De," "para," does it matter? Well, yes. After all this is the woman who has shown an endearing crudeness in asking for "condones" (a koozie) for her beer and tells couple she weds (for a hefty $250 per ceremony) and tells the groom "ya te la puedes pichonear,"so this minor translation gaffe is probably the least of her transgressions. Oh, yeah. Mothers don't let your daughters grow up to be Linda.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

HIS FRIENDS BID MARIO FAREWELL FROM LA IMACULADA

Our a clear bright day
Just like today
We said goodbye
To an old, good friend
And a weary and tired soul


With laurel petals strewn before us
By the wind, handmaiden of the sun
We trudged on our own paths
Grudgingly,
To see him off

On his walk home

He'd left behind 
A road strewn with good
And a stumble here and there -
It's only fair -
It takes a lifetime to get here...
And from the lives we  left behind

The wind blows hot
As we emerge
From the Holy site,
La Imaculada
In awful awe of death

Of resurrection
And God's mercy, 
Infinite

And we hope that it's all true
That there is a reward,
For a life well-lived
With true affection for His children,
All

And that your road home 
Mi buen amigo Mario
Be strewn with petals - 

Our prayers for your soul-

That like the oleander blooms,
Before your footsteps
Fall...

SPACEX GOOD-PAYING JOB PROMISES UP IN HOPPER "SMOKE"

EIS SpaceX submitted to the FAA IN 2013:

Approximately 30 full-time SpaceX employees/contractors would be present at the vertical launch area and/or control center area in 2013... During a launch campaign, an additional 100 local or transient workers would be working at the vertical launch area and/or control center area. During launch campaigns, the additional workers could work extended hours; however, 2 days prior to launch, full-time SpaceX employees/contractors and the local or transient workers would need to be on-site for up to 24 hours per day. 

Staffing on-site would return to normal levels (approximately 30 full-time SpaceX employees/contractors) within a day or two after the actual launch. 

Table 2.1-2 shows the number of full-time SpaceX employees/contractors working on site plus the local/transient workers necessary during launch campaigns that would be present between 2013 and 2022.


Table 2.1-2. Personnel for Proposed SpaceX Texas Launch Site Operations

Year                      Full-time SpaceX                                   Full-time SpaceX
                            Employees/Contractors                           Employees/Contractors plus
                               Working On-Site                           Additional Local/Transient Workers
                                                                                         during Launch Campaigns

2013                                          30                                                       130
2014                                          75                                                       175
2015                                         100                                                      200
2016                                         100                                                      200
2017                                         110                                                      210
2018                                         130                                                      230
2019                                         150                                                      250
2020                                         150                                                      250
2021                                         150                                                      250
2022                                         150                                                      250

Now, these numbers are the ones given by SpaceX to the federal government in its Environmental Impact Statement. Then-BEDC's VP Gilbert Salinas and CEO Jason Hilt (and then-Mayor Tony Martinez and the commission) all said there would be 1,000 direct and indirect jobs each paying $55,000 as a result of SpaceX establishing operations here.

Are the indirect jobs those shining shoes and washing cars for the permanent workers? Or is it the extra waitress at the Boca Chica buffet restaurant needed every two weeks a month to service them?

2019-08-27_SpaceXHopperLaunch_3.jpgAt the peak of employment (three years from now) Space  said it will need only 250 workers (including the 150 full-time employees) to shoot the rocket.

All that has, apparently, changed. There will be no commercial vertical satellite launch spaceport built. There will not be 12 launches to attract tourism. Boca Chica has become the private testing pad for pie-in-the-sky Mars colonizer billionaire Elon Musk.

What hasn't changed is the state and county incentives totaling $35 million in grants and and millions in tax abatements to attract Musk here.

And - depending on his private business needs - he can open or close Boca Chica Beach and limit access to the public - to suit his needs.

Below is the Brownsville Herald story soft-shoe on the change in plans.

"The FAA conducted a “written re-evaluation” of SpaceX’s intentions, concluding that the 2014 EIS remains current and “substantially valid,” rendering a supplemental EIS unwarranted.

At the time, Boca Chica was touted as the future home of the world’s first commercial spaceport. SpaceX secured authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for no more than 12 launches of its Falcon 9 rockets per year, including a maximum of two launches of the Falcon Heavy.

The first Falcon Heavy launch didn’t take place until February 2018, with two more occurring in April and June of this year, all launches taking place at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The focus at Boca Chica has shifted, however, as the company pursues rapid development and testing of prototypes for the Starship spacecraft. In combination with the massively powerful Super Heavy booster, Starship is intended to get humans to Mars in the not-too-distant future with the ultimate goal of colonizing the planet.

“SpaceX remains committed in its mission to colonize Mars,” according to the FAA’s re-evaluation.

Starship’s earliest prototype, Starhopper, flew to an altitude of 150 meters on Aug. 27, marking an important milestone for the company. Musk tweeted on Aug. 28 that the next goal is a 20-kilometer flight of the Mk1 (the next Starship prototype, under construction at Boca Chica) in October, with an orbital attempt “shortly thereafter.” A similar prototype, the Mk2, is being built at Cocoa, Fla., near Cape Canaveral.

Musk tweeted that the Mk1 will be complete in time for a Sept. 28 presentation he plans to deliver at Boca Chica on the progress of Starship development.

In its re-evaluation, the FAA breaks the Starship “experimental test program” down into three phases. The first phase, including verifying ground systems by test-fueling the prototype, conducting brief engine ignition tests and barely lifting Starhopper off the ground, is complete. So has the part of phase two that involves launching Starhopper to up to 150 meters, or about 500 feet, the craft’s second and final flight.

Remaining as part of phase two is for SpaceX to launch the Mk1 up to three kilometers, or about 1.8 miles, which the FAA terms a “medium hop.” Phase three of the Starship test program will involve a maximum of three “large hops” — suborbital flights to 100 kilometers, or 62 miles — as well as “flip(ping) the Starship at high altitude, and conduct(ing) a reentry and landing,” according to the FAA.

The re-evaluation states that SpaceX anticipates the test program lasting two to three years, and that the results of phase one and two will dictate what happens in phase three. The re-evaluation covers only the first two phases since SpaceX currently lacks adequate data for the FAA to analyze the potential environmental impacts of phase three, according to the agency.

“Prior to commencing Phase 3, SpaceX would be required to submit data and information to the FAA so the FAA can conduct another environmental review before issuing any new or modified (launch) licenses or permits to conduct these operations,” said the agency."

PORT, A&M, TSTC TRAINING MOU BENEFITS ENTIRE REGION

Editorial
The Brownsville Herald

It’s gratifying to see that cooler heads prevailed and Texas A& M University, along with Texas State Technical College, will establish a job training program for tenants at the Port of Brownsville.

Plans to sign a memorandum of understanding between the port and the institutions had been tabled last month after Texas Southmost College voiced its opposition to the agreement.

TSC President Jesus Roberto Rodriguez said that his college could provide all the job training the port needs and deserves primary consideration because it is based in Brownsville and the two entities are supported by the same local taxpayers. After an exchange of letters between Rodriguez and A& M System Chancellor John Sharp, Sharp suggested the university might back out of the deal.

Fortunately it didn’t, the MOU was signed and the training program is back on track.

TSC and the port already have their own MOU for similar job training. Talks with A& M began informally during a workforce summit held this summer at the port. Officials at A& M, one of the nation’s top engineering institutions, suggested that they could help provide training for new industries that are expected in the near future, such as natural gas distribution plants and a steel mill.

There’s nothing wrong with educational institutions fighting over business. And the issue goes beyond competition for potentially lucrative programs.

A strong argument can be made for expanding job training programs at TSC, since most of its students live in the area, and the 5.8% local unemployment rate is significantly higher than the national average of 3.7% and state average of 3.4%. More job training opportunities can help reduce the gap by training local students for port jobs.

At the same time, utilizing Texas A& M’s resources could benefit port industries in ways that TSC can’t. To begin with, there’s no guarantee that enough Brownsville youth will want the kinds of jobs and training the MOU will provide, and TSTC’s 13 campuses across the state give port industries recruitment opportunities that the local college can’t provide.

The preference has always been to offer such opportunities first to local residents, but recruiting beyond the region isn’t always a bad thing. People who relocate to the Valley for new job opportunities bring new investment in the local housing market. They are new taxpayers who will help feed our economy, support our businesses and add to our culture. Those who already live here usually don’t provide such a large initial jolt of new resources when they take new jobs here.

We trust that any competition between the colleges will spur innovation and improvement, and that it won’t preclude the opportunities that surely will arise for them to cooperate on research and other issues when the opportunities present themselves.

Doing so will benefit the schools, port industries and, most importantly, the Rio Grande Valley as a whole.

A VIEW OF MARKET SQUARE AT DUSK MONDAY AS MOON RISES


Monday, September 9, 2019

GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE DENIES SGP $8,000 SALARY INCREASE

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Image result for sylvia garza perezSplitting largely along gender lines, eight members of the Cameron County Salary Grievance Committee voted to deny Cameron County County Clerk Sylvia Garza-Perez a $8,000 raise.

The committee has nine members drawn from the grand jury pool, but only eight attended, with five female members voting against it and two of the three men against. Garza-Perez was the lone county official to file a salary grievance. Her current salary including a $960 phone allowance is $84,580.

The results now go to the Cameron County Commissioners Court tomorrow where Cameron County Administrator Pete Sepulveda will present the committee's recommendation to the members.

Garza-Perez denied she was asking for the $22,000 proposed raise that was published in the newspaper by the county. This is what appeared then:

                                                    Current             Allowances
                                                                      (Phone)    (Total)        Proposed    Increase        
Cty. Clerk   Sylvia Garza-Perez  $82,620     $960       $84,580       $105,960     $22,380

Instead, she said that she had filed her appeal with the grievance committee for only a $7,000 raise and that she had never been told that the county would publish the notice that indicated she wanted a $22,000 raise. She told another blogger tat she asked the committee for $15,000, but would settle for $8,000.

 The last time that County Judge Eddie Treviño made a comment on why the tabled raises he said that there was no money in the budget for raises for public officials, but didn't explain why they were published in the newspaper anyway.

COMMISSION DECLARES OFFICIAL EXTINCTION OF UTB OCELOTS


(Ed's Note: We are informed that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Sports Mascots has declared the UTB Ocelots extinct. The Ocelots, who had their ascendancy during the waning days of UTB President Julieta Garcia, were replaced by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros when the new university replaced UTB after the scrapping of the Texas Southmost College-University of Texas at Brownsville "partnership."

In 2011, UTB became a standalone University of Texas institution, and TSC returned to being an independent community college. In 2015, the UT Brownsville merged with  Pan American University
and became the UTRGV.
Alumni of the UTB Ocelots remember that a few of the soccer and volleyball teams achieved some success, but after the separation and after UTB was abolished, the felines were left without a home. We mourn Ozzy's passing. This must rank as one of the fastest sports mascot extinctions in modern times. The T-shirts could turn out to be a collector's item as time goes on.)

BROWNSVILLE BIDS GOODBYE TO MARIO RUBEN VILLARREAL SR.

Mario Ruben Villarreal Sr. Obituary
Memorial mass will be held at 10 AM on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 at Immaculate Conception Cathedral Church.

Inurnment of ashes will be private. Services are under the guidance of Sunset Memorial Funeral Home & Crematory. 657 Springmart Blvd., Brownsville. (956) 350-8485.

CASTRO'S DWI ARREST "CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER..."

Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Starting with his assertion that his arrest for Driving While Under the Influence a week ago today was just a "detention" and the Brownsville Police Dept. report saying that his claims to have been at Pokey's Planet before his arrest were contradicted by a Facebook post online about an hour and a half later, the facts in the arrest of Erasmo Castro, a member of the Brownsville Independent School District board, has raised many questions.

According to Brownsville Herald's reporting of the Castro arrest, police found him sitting in the back seat of his 2016 Fiat at about 1:30 a.m., in an apparent state of intoxication. The police report that he failed several field sobriety tests and that he refused to give them breath and blood specimens.

A municipal judge issued a warrant and Valley Baptist Hospital phlebotomist drew a sample of his blood. He was then arraigned later that morning and released on $1,5000 bond.

Image result for erasmo castroHe then posted that "Earlier this morning I was detained...and I understand if you opt to unfriend me."

We ran into a local attorney acquainted with DWI defenses and he said that an element of the DWI is that police arrest you behind the wheel of a car for the charges to stick.

We can imagine Castro saying that he was so drunk he fell asleep in the back seat of the car and leave the question open as to who might have been driving and how the car got to end up in a field next to Morrison Road with damage to the front on the driver's side and a flat tire.

And why was Castro in the back seat? Did he have time to call a lawyer friend who advised him to get in the rear seat. Those questions can be answered simply by checking his cell phone logs to see who he got in touch with prior to his arrest. Did someone give him legal advice on what to do in the situation to try to dodge the DWI charge?

There could not be a claim of attorney-client privilege because no one is after the content of the conversation, merely that one took place.

There is also the question of the police use of Castro's Facebook page to refute his assertions that he was at Pokey's instead of the Doghouse. Does that mean that every time someone is stopped on suspicion of DWI or even PI, the cops will visit his Facebook page of social media?

Our lawyer friend said this was more common than many people believed since a similar case based on Facebook postings were used to remove a cheerleader from the San Benito Independent School District squad based on her Facebook posting which the district considered "lewd" and inappropriate.

That case – Longoria vs. San Benito Consolidated Independent School District - heard by Federal Judge Rolando Olvera, ruled that online postings could be considered in disciplinary action by the SBISD and that the board members were entitled to qualified immunity.

But the question remains, why were Facebook screenshots included in the report? We are far from going into discovery, etc. which gives both the defendant and the authorities the opportunity to refute the other's claims. Why was this included in a simple DWI incident report? Are the BPD already trying the case before the court of public opinion?

There is another unusual angle to this. Not long after the reports of Castro's arrest, we asked for copies of the police car and body cams of officers at the scene and were told that the department was asking the Texas Attorney General' Office for an opinion on whether they could release them to the public. (Click on graphic to enlarge.)

That's par for the course and eventually they will be released after two or three months for the AG to issue the order.

But the funny thing is that we were treated to at least one tape of  a squad car cam in a local blog that showed a side shot of Castro taking the sobriety test and the car in the field. That video, by the way, has been taken down and is no longer available.

Who release that tape and why was it sent to a local blogger? Is there a custom and practice of leaks at the PD to go after particular individuals? The tape shows the camera passing by the scene and then the car parking against traffic just past it.

We remember that when former City of Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada was arrested – also for alleged DWI – tapes of the arrest appeared almost immediately and included him being handcuffed and booked at the police department.

That was very different from the DWI case involving former District 37 State Rep. Rene Oliveira, where, again, the powers that be resorted to delay the inevitable and request an opinion from the AG's Office.

"Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice..."

Sunday, September 8, 2019

ADMINISTRATION SCURRIES TO BLUNT "SHARPIEGATE" GAFFE

Image result for trump's sharpiegate
By Andrew Freedman, Colby Itkowitz and Jason Samenow
The Washington Post

Nearly a week before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly backed President Trump over its own scientists, a top NOAA official warned its staff against contradicting the president.

In an agencywide directive sent Sept. 1 to National Weather Service personnel, hours after Trump asserted, with no evidence, that Alabama “would most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” staff was told to “only stick with official National Hurricane Center forecasts if questions arise from some national level social media posts which hit the news this afternoon.”

They were also told not to “provide any opinion,” according to a copy of the email obtained by The Washington Post.

A NOAA meteorologist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said the note, understood internally to be referring to Trump, came after the National Weather Service office in Birmingham contradicted Trump by tweeting Alabama would “NOT see any impacts from the hurricane.”Nearly a week before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly backed President Trump over its own scientists, a top NOAA official warned its staff against contradicting the president.

In an agencywide directive sent Sept. 1 to National Weather Service personnel, hours after Trump asserted, with no evidence, that Alabama “would most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” staff was told to “only stick with official National Hurricane Center forecasts if questions arise from some national level social media posts which hit the news this afternoon.”

They were also told not to “provide any opinion,” according to a copy of the email obtained by The Washington Post.

A NOAA meteorologist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said the note, understood internally to be referring to Trump, came after the National Weather Service office in Birmingham contradicted Trump by tweeting Alabama would “NOT see any impacts from the hurricane.”

The Birmingham office sent the tweet after receiving a flurry of phone calls from concerned residents following Trump’s message.

The agency sent a similar message warning scientists and meteorologists not to speak out on Sept. 4, after Trump showed a hurricane map from Aug. 29 modified with a hand-drawn, half-circle in black Sharpie around Alabama.

“This is the first time I’ve felt pressure from above to not say what truly is the forecast,” the meteorologist said. “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around. One of the things we train on is to dispel inaccurate rumors and ultimately that is what was occurring — ultimately what the Alabama office did is provide a forecast with their tweet, that is what they get paid to do.”

An NWS spokesperson said, “NWS leadership sent this guidance to field staff so they (and the entire agency) could maintain operational focus on Dorian and other severe weather hazards without distraction.”

Late Friday afternoon, NOAA officials further angered scientists within and beyond the agency by releasing a statement, attributed to an unnamed agency spokesperson, supporting Trump’s claims on Alabama and chastising the agency’s Birmingham meteorologists for speaking in absolutes.

That statement set off a firestorm among scientists, who attacked NOAA officials for bending to Trump’s will.

“This looks like classic politically motivated obfuscation to justify inaccurate statements made by the boss. It is truly sad to see political appointees undermining the superb, lifesaving work of NOAA’s talented and dedicated career servant,” said Jane Lubchenco, who served as NOAA administrator under President Barack Obama.

rita