Saturday, October 21, 2017

Revisiting the Cameron County Commissioners' Foolish Decision to Give $400 Million Tax Abatement to LNG Plant

Explosion at LNG Plant in Algeria Killing 26
There's a reason no LNG plant is located at Waikiki Beach near Honolulu or among the Douglas Fir along Puget Sound in Western Washington. 

Why would leaders in either area be so short-sighted as to risk irreparable harm to their priceless environment, destroying it for their children and children's children?

Your County Commissioners, Sofia Benavides, Alex Dominguez, David Garza and Gus Ruiz are just that short-sighted, not just in approving a hideous LNG plant near the Port of Brownsville, but in gifting the ultra-rich corporation nearly $400 million in tax abatements.(One might excuse Mrs. Benavides as she's pretty much clueless, but she ran for the office, thus bears responsibility. County Judge Eddie Trevino voted against the abatement.)  That's like paying someone a huge sum to destroy your home.

"But doesn't NG stand for natural gas, a clean burning fuel?" some confused residents ask.

Yes, but that's not what an LNG plant does, burn natural gas.  It compresses natural gas to 1/600th of its original volume, a messy, dirty, complicated, heavily polluting process.

At the Port of Brownsville, the proposed LNG facility would dump millions of gallons of heated effluent each day into one of the healthiest shallow-water bays in the world. The plants’ 500-foot flaring towers—which release mercury, hydrogen sulfide, helium, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and other impurities from the natural gas—would burn a couple of miles downwind from the state’s most popular beach.
Local environmental groups estimate that air pollution will quadruple in the Brownsville-South Padre Island metroplex, a 10-mile stretch of coastline, residential neighborhoods and small businesses that may soon sit under the brown-cloud haze of pollution already familiar to residents of industrialized regions like Corpus Christi, Galveston and Houston. 

The purification and refrigeration process for LNG is so energy-intensive that the amount of greenhouse gas emissions for this region would be staggering.

Now, imagine three huge LNG plants, the number currently applying, along Padre Island Highway from the Port of Brownsville to near Port Isabel.  Think ahead to about 2030, when the current shrinking demand for natural gas worldwide drops below profitability.

Cameron County will be stuck with 500 foot tall piles of hazardous waste and chemical cleanup.  Who will pay to remove the dangerous eyesore?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Commissioner Ben Neece and Brownsville Cheezmeh Guru Erasmo Castro Tangle After City Commission Meeting

"Ben and Erasmo Ready to Rumble!" by Diego Lee Rot

Laid back Rastafarian City Commissioner Ben Neece is moving beyond mellow, more closely personifying Mike Tyson than Bob Marley.

At last Tuesday's City Commission meeting, he had verbal jousts with Commissioner/DJ Ricardo Longoria and Purchasing Director Robert C. Luna after threatening Commissioner Jessica Tetrea-Kalifa and staring down Commissioner Ricardo Longoria.

Surely, enough fighting for the night?


Commissioner Neece stepped down from behind the commissioner's desk, through the swinging door into the audience pews to confront Erasmo Castro, a frequent candidate in city elections and the CEO of Brownsville Cheezmeh, a loosely affiliated advocacy group connected on Facebook.

"Why did you file a police report about the Fire Department audit?" Neece asked menacingly.

"You violated the Texas Open Meetings Act," Erasmo responded.

"We did not," responded Neece.

"How would you like me to file a police report about your fake police report?" asked Neece.

I guess then Erasmo could file a police report in response to Neece's police report on his police report.


Contentious City Commission Meeting Becomes "Must See TV!"

Gunfight in Downtown Brownsville by Ben & Tony
The normally staid Brownsville City Commission meeting erupted into one of Reynosa's nightly firefights for the October 17 meeting.

Commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa lamented that her vote was not counted during the October 3 meeting when the commission considered a new appointment to the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, an entity controlling approximately $5 million annually in taxpayer dollars earmarked for economic development.

Commissioner Tetreau-Kalifa
"I want my vote recognized," Tetreau-Kalifa stated.

"I represent a lot of people and somebody lost their appointment to a board because my vote wasn't counted," she continued.

Mayor Tony countered quickly, interrupting Ben Neece("I agree with you Ben)stating that he'd watched the tape of the October 3 meeting, along with Assistant City Manager Micheal Lopez and City Secretary Griselda Rosas, and that the tape unequivocally showed that Commissioner Tetreau-Kalifa did not vote.

Next Neece held up a copy of the sworn affidavit Tetreau-Kalifa had given the City Secretary, persuading her to change the vote totals for Item 7 of the October 3 meeting, the vote to replace a GBIC board member.

"Do you want me to take this to the Chief of Police?" Ben bellowed.

Tetreau-Kalifa reiterated that she simply wanted to be allowed to vote for a GBIC board member.

"That vote will be taking place shortly," Neece responded, referring to reconsideration of the tabled item on that meeting's agenda.

Commissioner Ricardo Longoria, Jr.
Next, Commissioner Ricardo Longoria, at first recognized by the chair, Mayor Martinez, started to speak, with his gaze directed at Commissioner Neece.  Neece would have none of that.

"Commissioner, direct your remarks to the chair," stated Neece.

Martinez interjected:  "We're not having this!" closing the discussion.

"Point of order," Longoria responded.

Martinez threatened to have Longoria removed by police.

"No sir," Longoria responded several times, drawing a drink from his water bottle.

Of course, by Robert's Rules of Order, Longoria had the floor.  Mayor Martinez was totally out of line to stifle, stymie and squelch his comments, but, as we know, the mayor is no parliamentarian.

Purchasing Director Robert C. Luna
The night's contention was not over as the incredibly inept Robert C. Luna, the city's purchasing director was scheduled to introduce agenda items 17 and 18, resolutions to allow the city to "negotiate" with two out of area purchasing programs, rubberstamping an already negotiated agreement to buy a $178,000 bucket truck for the Parks Department.

It quickly got contentious between Commissioner Neece and Luna.  Neece was concerned the large ticket item had not been put out for bids locally and that Luna had already negotiated a bid with a purchasing program BEFORE a resolution was approved by the city commission allowing such.

"Do I have a motion to table?" asked Mayor Martinez.

The night's fighting was over. . . . almost.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Shootout at City Commission October 17~"Get That Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Ben!" by Diego Lee Rot

Serious Implications from the October 3 City Commission Meeting

City Secretary Griselda Rosas
Perhaps it's something in the cadence of new City Secretary Griselda Rosas that threw Commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa into a state of puzzlement at the October 3 City Commission meeting.  Ms. Rosas tends to unwittingly "take over the chair," at times, from Mayor Tony Martinez.

Commissioner Tetreau-Kalifa
But, after several viewings of the YouTube video of the October 3 City Commission meeting, it's obvious that Commissioner Tetreau did not vote during Item 7:  Consideration and ACTION to appoint one member to the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation.

Perhaps, Commissioner Tetreau-Kalifa intended to vote on Item 7, but simply lost her bearings, becoming momentarily confused.  That happens.

In any event, she did not protest the Mayor's claim that the vote for Esteban Guerra, who had applied of the board position only that morning, was 2-2, a tie.

Then, when Commissioner Neece made a motion to table the item, because of the tie, Tetreau-Kalifa readily acquiesced, one of 5 voting to table the item.  


Yet, a section of the minutes from the October 3 meeting, shows a vote on Item 7 with Tetreau-Kalifia listed as an "aye" vote:

7. Consideration and ACTION to appoint one member to the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation. Commissioner Ricardo Longoria, Jr., moved that Mr. Esteban Guerra be appointed to the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation Board. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Joel Munguia. 

At this time Griselda Rosas, City Secretary requested a roll call in regards to the vote. Ayes: Commissioner Longoria, Jr., Munguia, and Tetreau Nays: Commissioner Neece and Mayor Martinez Abstained: Commissioner de Leon Absent: Commissioner Gowen 

Mayor Antonio Martinez stated that there was a 2 for and 2 against vote therefore there was a tie. Mayor Martinez motioned that the item be tabled. 

Upon motion by Commissioner Ben Neece seconded by Commissioner Cesar de Leon this item was tabled and carried as follow: Ayes: Commissioners Neece, de Leon, Munguia, Tetreau and Mayor Martinez.

The October 3 minutes, contained in the binder for the October 17 meeting, reflect not a 2-2 tie, but a 3-2 vote, including the vote of Tetreau-Kalifa.

What happened?

Commissioner Tetreau-Kalifa presented a sworn affidavit to City Secretary Griselda Rosas, who, in turn, perhaps swayed by the "legal" document, altered the vote in the minutes to reflect Jessica's vote.

This is serious stuff.

Not just perjury, if Tetreau-Kalifa lied about her vote,  but altering a government document is fraud.  There is also the matter of official oppression, when a public servant uses the weight of the office to pressure another to perform illegally.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cameron County Auditor Talks About Fajita Theft Case

Cameron Co. Auditor Releases Statement Over Fajita Theft Case

Posted: Oct 17, 2017 6:47 PM CDTUpdated: Oct 17, 2017 6:47 PM CDT
Auditor Releases Statement Over Fajita Theft Case
BROWNSVILLE – Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said the county’s auditor is partially to blame in the case of the stolen fajitas.
Cameron County auditor Martha Galarza was appointed by the county’s state district judge in 2008. She’s been reappointed every year since.
Galarza told CHANNEL 5 NEWS in a statement:
“This is an active case presently being handled by the District Attorney's Office. In the event our office is called to testify in any criminal proceeding, the Auditor's Office has no comment at this time.”
The county’s DA said the stolen fajitas operation began nine years ago. He claimed the auditor’s job is to analyze and scrutinize all invoices submitted for payment.
He said Gilberto Escamilla, the man charged with first-degree felony theft, got the better of a broken system.
“He took advantage of and manipulated our protocols with the auditor that proved not to be sufficient to stop this kind of waste. The blame also has to be pointed at the auditor because that's her job, to monitor this and obviously she dropped the ball or else we wouldn't be having this conversation,” said Saenz.
The DA is still working to determine if anyone other than Escamilla is complicit in the crime.
Para leer noticias en español, visite nuestra sección Español.

The Captain and Tennile AKA "The Avocado Boys" Send Mixed Messages to Brownsville

The Captain and Tennile
Two bloggers, one a recluse in soulless McAllen, the other residing in a self-described palace on Jacaranda Street in Brownsville with a "For Sale" sign on the front lawn by Grove Realty, have quietly slipped into the local blogosphere.

The two bloggers, currently joined at the hip in a mismatched blogging tandem, Robert Sanchez, "The Captain" and Duardo Paz-Martinez, author of a slew of discontinued blogs, take decidedly different approaches in their never-ending search for readers.

Amanda McDonald
"The Captain," writes loquaciously from his palace on Town Resaca, urging tolerance, empathy and more avocado consumption.  With love-filled eyes, he describes his beautiful Scottish queen, Amanda McDonald, the current "love of his life."

A recent Captain's Table article praised outgoing City Manager Charlie Cabler:

"Also, Mr Cabler was always so nice to me and ex wife when I ran for mayor about the signatures that he gave us a chance to seek all correct 100 signatures. I will never forget him greeting us that morning."

Duardo Paz-Martinez
Duardo Paz-Martinez, a petulant, insecure, Elton John look-a-like, pens his seldom read column from somewhere near his late mother's house in McAllen.  He attempts to write about Brownsville from Hidalgo County with acidic criticism of our city and withering diatribe aimed at three of its bloggers.  Here's today's Duardo missile aimed at two Brownsville bloggers:

"We at The Republic believe that Blogger Montoya merely wrote his drama to further advance his well-established hate for Elizondo. In no way was he being a traditional journalist. Indeed, it was as if a blogger was describing a butcher’s capture of a loose goat scheduled for slaughter. It fits much of Montoya’s previous typing on stories in which he is paid to perform his character assassinations."

and this:

For his part, unemployed Blogger Barton was likely up late last night and checked-in on a Mexican border newspaper to get his “where is everybody” posting on yet another shootout in Reynosa, Mexico, roughly 11 miles south of McAllen. He, like Montoya, lives on perception and his instant assessment was that no one had the story. It, however, was on the pages of The McAllen Monitor in its morning edition, and it also was available to anyone logging-on to Channel 4’s website,

Someday soon, Captain Bob, writing his blog out of love for his city, its people and its proximity to the sea, will disconnect from Duardo Paz, a failed blogger, who spews hate at Brownsville and its people, only using the popular Captain to further his discredited agenda.

And Bob, don't let your relationship protective guard down:  Duardo, on the phone with your beloved Amanda for 30 minutes, is not a good thing.

District Attorney's Press Release About Carlos Elizondo

VIDEO: Former Fire Chief Carlos Elizondo Arrested!

Front Page Story, Brownsville Herald, "Coyotes Reported Near the Airport"

Revisiting the Cameron County Commissioners' Foolish Decision to Give $400 Million Tax Abatement to LNG Plant

Explosion at LNG Plant in Algeria Killing 26 There's a reason no LNG plant is located at Waikiki Beach near Honolulu or among the Do...