Tuesday, April 18, 2017


By Juan Montoya
Meetings of the City of Brownsville Planning Dept.'s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee are set for Wednesday, April 19, at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The meeting to help local business acquire a  bicycle friendly business designation was originally to be held at the Parks and Recreation Dept. at 1371 E. 8th St. (the old Boys and Girls Club), but was moved without explanation to the 7 and Park Coffee/Bicycle Shop, a business closely associated with city commissioner Rose Gowen, locked in a reelection race with challenger Erasmo Castro.

The committee received a $5,000 award from the Brownsville Community Incentives Corporation (BCIC) January 19 to try to get at least 25 business owners or managers to fill out an application which would make them eligible to receive recognition under the Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) Program initiative from the League of American Bicyclists, the nation's oldest bicycle advocacy
organization. The BFB program is based off their belief that bikes are good for businesses, employees, and the community.

The Program's goal is to recognize businesses for their efforts through an award system based on four essential elements to being bicycle friendly: engineering, education, encouragement, and evaluation and planning.

Ironically, the coffee/bike shop opened only last February, but was chosen by the committee (?) over more established businesses. A Gowen campaign sign was removed after a post on this blog pointed out the cozy relationship between the bicycle advocate commissioners and the owners.  But a recent visitor to the shop reported that there are Gowen campaign push cards throughout the interior of the business. And the shop has been actively promoting her reelection in social media. (See graphic at right.)

A promotion video of the "How to be a Bicycle Friendly Business' workshop/event was filmed in late December 2016. The promo video fan in Cinemark theaters for 4 weeks ($3,730), on COB.TV, and on social media during January and February 2017, advertising a February 17, 2017 workshop/event. Applications awards should have been announced in May 2017.  After the awards have been announced by the League of American Bicyclists, the Bike/Ped division would promote a "Bike to Bicycle Friendly Businesses" ride/event for late May or early June 2017.

Instead, the Cinemark advertisements say it will be today, April 19 , five days before early voting for the city commission elections.
There are two Gowen allies on the board of the BCIC. One, John Villarreal, is also up for reelection. The other, Deborah Portillo, will not. Both are sure votes on the majority held by Mayor Tony Martinez, who has had his way for the six years he had served.

The designation had several application cycles, with the last one opening in January 2017. Applications awards should be announced in May 2017.
According to the planning department grant application, the fee for businesses to apply is based off the size of the business and ranges from $50 to ­$500.

In addition to the Cinemark advertisements, there will also be $1,270 in advertisements for the program and accompanying rides/events that ran in print ads and newspapers.
Committee members said most of the amount received this year was committed as matching dollars for grants awarded for bike/ped infrastructure. The committee receives 10 percent of all Certificates of Obligation issued by the city commission on transportation-related COs. So far, the committee has received $500,000 to foster bicycle and pedestrian use such as hike and bike trails championed by Gowen and which she is hoping to use to ride to reelection.

 The Bike-Ped Division plans to reach over 3,000 people through the promotional videos discussing the BFB program. Their aim is to submit between 5 to ­10 applications from the 25 businesses and have at least 50 cyclists participate in the second event/ride.

The question her critics are asking is: Is Gowen and her allies on the city commission and the committee using publicly-funded bike/ped monies to help her in her reelection campaign?


Anonymous said...

So what?!

Anonymous said...

"So what?!" Anony 6:11p

The arrogance of your comment indicates you are either Rose, or one of her lemmings.

So, what: because she is promoting special interests over the needs of the community and John is letting her high-jack his district to do so. Why haven't she and John developed a program to encourage business openings in downtown, or anywhere else in Brownsville, for that matter? Why just bicycle businesses?

This waste of resources from the BCIC and the City (as in the budget JM pointed out) is intolerable.

Not to mention, there is now a department in the city administration for biking. WTF? What are the salary and benefits of:

Eva Lizette Garcia, Planner II: Active Transportation. Now staff for this nonsense? Really?

Do you not see the problem in wasting resources on these ridiculous designations? What are the benefits of having the designation? Do they get free advertising, like her buddy at the coffee shop?

Wake up idiots!!! People: she's playing you, and John V.

They have been at this for 5 years. Where are the tourists, where are the jobs, where are the health benefits?

Rose and John squandered the environmental fee money on a Master Hike and Bike Plan....and nobody cares?

But, really, this is peanuts compared to what they've done to the citizens, along with our glorious Mayor, on the Tenaska "mystery" deal.

People: Open your eyes to the squandering of our valuable resources.

Wake up!!!!

A Brownsville Republican (as in the Brownsville Republic - he's my hero)

Diego Lee Rot said...

I just read this whole post while riding a bicycle!

Anonymous said...

Kudos for Dr. Gowen, great job moving the city out of the couch.

Anonymous said...

Eat shrimp stay sexy

Anonymous said...

Would you debate Erasmo Castro? Would you even want to see yourself standing next to that fucking fat tub of lard? NO!!!!!

Anonymous said...

If Erasmo is paying attention, he will attend all these functions and question Rose on her unwillingness to debate....he could turn her campaign event against her. I am just surprised that she, as a Zavaleta, would withdraw from debate.

Anonymous said...

Really doubt that, Diego .Can you even read?

Anonymous said...

Again, I say,"So what?!"

Anonymous said...

Have you all heard the latest news, they are now ban cars in certain areas of town just like they ban the use of plastic bags. PEOPLE wait up you have a bunch of idiots running your city.

Anonymous said...

Juan, ya que estas apoyando la candidatura de Castro, pues deberias hacer un reportaje de las cosas que a hecho castro en favor de la comunidad.
Porque hablar y hablar de lo que va a hacer (y solo el habla y habla de las maravillas que va a hacer en b'ville), cualquiera lo puede hacer.
Pero del dicho a el hecho, hay un gran trecho.
escribe un reportaje de el pasado alturista de castro. seria bueno saber.

Anonymous said...

Why would you want to debate a candidate that doesn't even live in Brownsville? Who's the retard that would even bring this up?

Lets compare sales tax revenues generated by each candidates purchases .. why don't we do that instead?

Why even plan a debate with a candidate who has to travel 6 hours by vehicles or catch a plane to get to the debate?

Fuck him.. stay in Austin "Keep Austin Weird" Erasmo fits right in with that slogan.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Why would a candidate running for city commission be unavailable for two political forums organized by both the Brownsville Police
Department and the local Board of Realtors? These professional organizations took their time and money to organize these civic functions and the incumbent does not show up to either forum. Looks bad, really bad. Avoidance issues? Maybe?

Anonymous said...

So the alternative is to vote for someone who doesn't even live here?

If your going to do that, fuck, vote for Bill Gates.. why settle for java the hut?