Thursday, May 18, 2017


By Juan Montoya
The usual process to swear in city commission members after an election is to canvas the votes, and after that – immediately after the canvass on the same day – swear in the new members.
This year the process was not performed as usual. Instead of swearing in the newly-elected commissioners – Ben Neece, Joel Munguia and incumbent Rose Gowen – they will be sworn in on May 23 without a quorum being present.

This raised some questions with City Hall watchers who wondered why the change. Is it possible that the former city commissioners, Deborah Portillo, who chose not to run, and John Villarreal, who lost to Neece, would get to vote on all the rest of the items on the agenda after the canvass?

That – as it turned out – has become the $20,499,993 question.
Although the swearing in was not included in the agenda, two resolutions were. One allowed the city to issue $15,500,000 in Certificates of Obligation for various capital improvements. Although this was just a resolution and the city administration did not say what revenues will be used to pay the debt service, it is usually the monies generated from the landfill and property taxes that are listed as the funding sources.

Image result for ROSE GOWENWe have posted on this blog that the city cannot issue too many more COs without reaching its debt limit and raising property taxes.  That's why city manager Charlie Cabler and Mayor Tony Martinez went calling on the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation to see if they could loan the city some or all of the needed $22 million to pay for the new airport terminal debt.

It is probable that under the talented Ass. city manager Pete Gonzalez, the city will devise a way to lean on other city revenue sources than to act on the political homicidal idea of calling for a property tax increase.

And if you look at the first resolution listed here (2017-019) you will notice that the first item listed for funding is $5 million for Public Works and Engineering. Under previous city ordinances is one that sets aside 10 percent of any COs issued for transportation toward commissioner Gowen's pet project, the hike and bike trails. Therefore, $500,000 of that $5 million goes toward the trials.

But that's not all, out of the $45 million that are left after the transportation projects is another $3,667,503 to go to matching funds for Tiger Grant projects. Included among those grants involves widening the 2.4-mile-long Queen Isabella causeway by four feet, which will allow for a 14-foot dedicated, barrier-protected bike and pedestrian lane.

When the grant was received, "Gowen described the award as a “stunning accomplishment” because of what it will mean for Brownsville Metro, but also because it will result in an “unprecedented bicycle and pedestrian protected connection between Port Isabel and South Padre Island.”
“It was a pleasure to work with our partners on this one-of-a-kind initiative,” she said.

But during the presentation of the Gowen's Tourism and Active Plan by bike and hike frontsman Ramiro Gonzalez before the Cameron County commissioners who voted to "support" and not to "adopt" it, he conceded that the Texas Department of Transportation did not include the widening of the Queen Isabella Causeway for bikes or pedestrians in it's long-range plans.

That's why the resolution stated that, should the Tiger Grant funds not materialize, they will be shifted to B-Metro to use it toward capital improvement projects in the system. So, if we were to score the result of these plans for COs, it is obvious that the big winner will be La Chizquiada Gowen with her bike and hike trails pet project. Did she think that perhaps the new members of the commission – Neece and Mungia – would join forces with others on the commission to stymie her efforts to divert public funds there?

RESOLUTION NO. 2017-019 RESOLUTION EXPRESSING OFFICIAL INTENT TO REIMBURSE WITH TAX-EXEMPT OBLIGATION PROCEEDS COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH CERTAIN CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS WHEREAS, the City Commission of the CITY OF BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS (the "City") hereby determines that it is necessary and desirable to (i) construct and/or repair streets, sidewalks, and related drainage improvements at various locations in the City (and possibly purchase equipment deemed appropriate to construct and/or repair such improvements), (ii) renovate the City’s Central Library, (iii) make various improvements to City parks, (iv) replace and/or repair plumbing and chillers in the City’s main police station, and (v) provide matching funds for Brownsville Metro’s Tiger Grant Project (but in the event that the Tiger Grant is not approved, the City will utilize the funds for various Brownsville Metro capital needs (collectively, the "Projects"): $15,500,000

The second resolution deals with the issuance of $5 million in to go toward the purchasing of at least 47 vehicles for the various departments in the city.

RESOLUTION NO. 2017-029 RESOLUTION EXPRESSING OFFICIAL INTENT TO REIMBURSE WITH TAX-EXEMPT OBLIGATION PROCEEDS COSTS INCURRED TO PURCHASE CERTAIN VEHICLES AND EQUIPMENT WHEREAS, the City Commission of the CITY OF BROWNSVILLE,TEXAS (the "City") hereby determines that it is necessary and desirable to purchase certain vehicles and equipment (total 47) for various departments of the City, which are described in Exhibit A attached hereto (the "Project"); $4,999,993

We're sure that the departments need to replace their rolling fleet. But by the same token, given the advance time the city needs to prepare the specs, issue the bids, evaluate them and recommend them to the commission before the purchases are made, couldn't the administration wait until after May 23 (one week or two) to pass the resolution?

Estas son movidas.


Anonymous said...

I voted for Gowen & support our bike trails. We can get tons more trail for every foot of street pavement and maintenance. Give kids safe walking paths home from school, well lit trails for families hanging out, biking back and forth to work and to the stores. In case you didn't notice the guy against the trails lost... I totally support this, a small investment that will lead to huge gains for our town residents.

Now if you want to draw attention to something meaningful, why not Tenaska?

Anonymous said...



Pat Ahumada said...

They got over confident and thought Villarreal would win. Since he did not, they did not want to risk Neece and Longoria questioning the things that would easily pass with Villarreal on the co.mission. back in 1991 they tried this procedure on me, but thankfully, I had a good inner circle of experienced advisors that have me the heads up as to why I was being asked to delay my swearing in. Rey Lopez, Dennis Sanchez, Vince Crixell, and Raul Garza guides me, which have me an experience perspective as a new mayor with no experience and naive about politics. Management cannot be trusted and De Leon and Longoria have no ethics, which must be kept in Checked. In fact, the newcomers need to analyze this past week agenda and the in the dark actions by Management. If they find something not kosher that passed, a new comers can asked a member who voted to pass an item, to recall the item to the Commission table and re-vote on the item. In fact Neece can now be sworn in since votes were canvassed and does not have to wait if so desired through the procedures allowed. Sossi has no business as a city employee and city should not be borrowing from BCIC, and no politician should be on the BBC or BCIC.

We created GBIC in 1991 and we as elected officials were on the first Board by default, but immediately removed ourselves from the Board and appointed business people like Rey Lopez who served exemplary, along with those we appointed. Now, we have Sen what happens with these Boards with political hacks on them. Atkinson and Bowen on BCIC raped the city for their politics. Longoria and De Leon should immediately be removed from having any direct control on these Boards and any politician that is on them.

Pat Ahumada said...

The city needs to cut BEDC and CVB funding, put these two boards under the city with the entire Commission being the overseer and watchdog, because these two Boards have now been taken over by special interests and it has become a good old boys club benefiting their self serving interests. The BCIC needs revamping or elimated and return funding for GBIC to oversee and subcontract with a good EDC Board under the city oversight. It has been proven that there a misuse of the tax proceeds under control of a few hacks.

Anonymous said...

The commission cannot be the watchdog of any economic development board -

its obvious the commissioners on the GBIC are money hungry and want to spend money on their shit to get reelected.

So instead of scouting big companies, they're going to want to open up taco stands and shit like that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 5:07 Give it a rest,stupid! We already have the idiot Diego posting his nonsense , and now, you! Childish stuff.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what about Tenaska? Where is that money?

Anonymous said...

We always supported the bike trails but not the bike lines on downtown city streets which causes daily traffic jams. By the way, I wonder who was the traffic expert that placed the bike lines on the left lane on 7th street, makes no sense, thankfully they are hardly used as it is a danger. Bike lines are always on the right lane, hopefully, the new city commissioners can revisit this matter and eliminate the existing bike lanes, bikes belong on the trails.

Anonymous said...

LOL shut up Erasmo

If you lived here not in Austin you'd know there are no traffic jams due to bikes. Traffic only backs up on 7th because the red light at the expressway isn't timed well, and everyone at the courthouses leaves to go home at 5:00.

Anonymous said...

There used to be three traffic lanes on 7th street but was reduced to two lanes to make way for the bike liane That's the reason of the traffic jam, it was never that bad.

Anonymous said...

During your term you were such a pussy when Gavito and his gang were over "yes sir" Ayala's Cvb, you pretty much agreed to everything...

Anonymous said...

Traffic at the light on 7th has gotten better... there used to be only one lane that could turn onto the expressway access road. Traffic would back up for half a mile, of course you don't remember since you live in Austin. The city added a 2nd turning lane left and it made a world of difference, cutting the waiting into a quarter of what it used to be.

That intersection is a clusterf-- with 5+ streets converging. No it isn't the bike lane's fault.... since there IS NO bike lane at the light. It diverges and goes off onto its own land way back at Ringgold. Try living in Brownsville and actually driving these streets dumbass. Reason you lost.