Monday, October 31, 2011

UPDATE: Boo Is Returned. . . . . .

UPDATE: Boo is returned. Our granddog that was lost for two days has been returned. Our son left the front gate open in case Boo returned. Today someone returned Boo and closed the gate. Boo is covered with bites and has lost weight. The normally powerful animal is barely able to walk. We don't know what trauma has transpired in the last couple of days, but we are certainly grateful to the person or persons who returned him. . . Thank you so much!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Have You Seen This Dog? Lost in West Brownsville October 29

 

by Jim Barton on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 3:12pm



     Our son's doberman Boo escaped through the fence October 29 at our son's house on West St. Charles.  Whenever he has gotten out in the past, he has always come home.  He may be slightly injured or have been picked up by someone.  He is an extremely gentle dog, not interested in fighting.  He is normally powerful and fast, but may be hurt.
     Please call me at 541-4189 if you've seen a black doberman with natural ears and cropped tail in your neighborhood.
Thanks.  Jim Barton

Saturday, October 29, 2011

That "School Bus" or "H.E.B. Truck" Might Be Moving Drugs

Smugglers in Texas Using "Cloned" Vehicles to Move Drugs

Saturday, October 29, 2011 |
By: AztecWarrior13
From the Forums

Texas law enforcement agencies report drug smugglers have resorted to "cloning" company and government vehicles to try to avoid detection and protect their illegal cargo.

"It's making our job a lot harder," said Michael O'Connor, Victoria County sheriff. "We're up against a matrix of deceptive transportation."

O'Connor said his officers have undergone additional training on how to spot the nearly perfect look-alikes.
Photographs provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety show 18-wheelers with duplicate logos of major companies, crammed with bales of marijuana.

Others closely resemble government vehicles, even a school bus that had marijuana bales set up inside so they looked like passenger seats.

Another shows a truck with a Texas Department of Transportation logo spotted in Gonzales County, except it was stuffed with marijuana.

"At one time, you could say there was a certain type of vehicle used. Now, it's everything, everything imaginable," O'Connor said.

He said some have "window-dressing" such as oilfield equipment or soldiers in uniform and a patient in the back of an ambulance, but they were all imposters.



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Friday, October 28, 2011

Armando Villalobos Getting A Litmus Test for Integrity Before We Elect Him to Higher Office

by Jim Barton on Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 1:18am

     When the story broke about the brother-in law of Ernie Hernandez getting a job at the Veteran's Bridge dishonestly, I messaged District Attorney Armando Villalobos via Facebook about his responsibility to look into the matter.  He responded August 8:  "We are awaiting the information from the County Judges office. We will certainly take a look."   The County Commissioners first sent the potential lawbreaking case to the Brownsville Police Department.  After a month of  juggling the hot political potato, Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia sent it back to the county commission.  Now, we learn, it's back in Villabobos hands.
     Robert Cadriel, the brother-in-law of Ernie Hernandez had worked for the county before, but had been convicted on six counts including bribery.  He applied for a job with the county again using State Senator Eddie Lucio and City Manager Charlie Cabler as references.  There was only the formality of a basic competency exam in the way.  Cadriel failed twice while personally taking the test with scores of 30 and 33, almost the equivilent of putting your name on the test sheet and accidentally getting a couple of questions correct.  It was reported that a female assistant under the direction of Human Resources Director Robert Lopez then took the test for Cadriel, scoring a 96.  This all came to light after Cadriel had worked one day on the job.  Cadriel resigned as did Human Resources Director Robert Lopez.  Lopez was quoted at the time as resigning "to pursue other endeavors," but a young family man with a newborn child does not leave a high paying county job simply to pursue other unknown endeavors.  Robert simply got entangled.  The alleged orchestrator of these shenanigans is County Commissioner Ernie Hernandez.
     Ernie Hernandez has been fending off charges of ethical violations for a couple of decades.  Rather than developing a sensitivity to ethical issues, he has simply hardened.  He is Brownsville's and Cameron County's teflon man.  Nothing sticks.  So, now it's up to Villalobos.  Will he do his job as district attorney and fight corruption in Cameron County or will he punt the matter to Willacy County where a former assistant serves?
      How Villalobos handles this will help voters see if he's worthy of higher office or even the office he currently holds.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fabulous Cuisine At Yolanda Begum Event Hosted by Juan Carlos Torre

 

by Jim Barton on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 4:53pm

     After a couple of weeks of being taunted, chided and chastised on my blog by comments from Erin Hernandez Garcia or someone with identical syntax to the County Commissioner's young daughter to the effect that I only attended political events for the food and drinks, I did some serious soul searching.  It's not easy looking at the man in the mirror, admitting to weakness, acknowledging that inner yearning to consume and imbibe.  Temptation surfaced once again Wednesday night,  as Nena and I faced our demons head on, entering the Carino's Day Care for a Yolanda Begum Meet and Greet sponsored by Juan Carlos Torre.
     Greeted and kissed at the door by the elegant Beba Gutierrez, we were shown our seats.  It was difficult not to notice the well-stocked bar, staffed by a beautiful bartender, mixologist and a waiter at the ready.  Chivas Regal, Patron, Bacardi, Buchanan, Seagrams's 7 and other similar liquors were displayed on a front table with Budweiser, Bud Light, Diet Coke and Coca Cola available from a large ice chest behind.  The huge buffet of chicken and beef fajitas, arroz, frijoles refritos, teriaki, various salsas and picos de gallo was constantly being refurbished.  Yes, we succumbed.  More than once.
     We could barely get close enough to Juan Montoya of "El Rrun Rrun" to say "hi".  He was surrounded by a crowd wanting insight into the local political scene and history of our region.   But we were quickly found by Arge Miller, then joined by Evelon Dale and Letty Perez Garzoria, all three engaging conversationalists with youthful outlooks and deep concerns for our city.   "What do you think of the job Tony Martinez is doing as mayor" was one simple question.  One of the ladies said he had confided in her that the job was more than he had expected.  In three hours we covered the usual Brownsville topics:  downtown revitalization, entrenched politicians, calabaza, etc.
     Such a good time with great friends, even though all we really came for was the food and drink.
ps:  Yolanda.  You know we're just kidding.  We had a wonderful time

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mark Sossi, City of Brownsville Try to Stiff Firefighters

 

Mark Sossi, City of Brownsville Try to Stiff Firefighters
by Jim Barton on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 2:40pm

     Mark Sossi is easily the most expensive City Attorney in Brownsville history, but not because of his $120,000 retainer by the City of Brownsville for legal services or his alleged $60,000 annual windfall from GBIC.  The true cost of Sossi has to include botched cases lost, mishandled legal matters, step asides where other firms are called in to do his job, etc., the totality of which is measured in the hundreds of thousands.
     The City of Brownsville is currently in a legal fight over a contractual "me too" provision in their negotiated contract with the firefighters.   Actually, the city lost a similar fight with the Brownsville Police Officers Association in 2009, appealed the decision, were on the verge of losing that appeal when then newly hired Mark Sossi tried to strike a deal.

That deal with the police officers included raises and lump sum payments not offered the fire fighters, thus putting the city back in court.  Much of the morning's oral testimony in the 445th court concerning the fact that negotiators were trying to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement with the police officers while settling the lawsuit.  The city is represented by highly paid Ricardo Navarro and Alan Ozuna, partners in a firm specializing in labor law.  City Attorney Mark Sossi scowls behind them as an exhorbitant consultant and witness.
     The Navarro, Ozuna skillset is not so much winning cases as working them.  They benefit financially from lost cases because they will likely pinch hit for Sossi on the appeal.  But they also benefit because of their connectiion with a self insurance pool the city has become infatuated with.  We wrote this back on September 16: 
"The website for Navarro,  which includes Ozuna, lists labor and employment law, collective bargaining and civil service as among their areas of expertise.  They also represent the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool or TML-IRP, a self-insurance group charging an administrative fee to the city of Brownsville.  A wooden TML plaque is prominently mounted in the 4th floor hearing room of the city commission building.  A self-insurance group tends to resist claims, putting them into the appeal process.  The two labor law specialists could find themselves in a no-lose situation if they can work for TML, but still be hired guns for the city when appeals are pursued."
     So Navarro and Ozuna have no incentive to be effective in court.  They win when Brownsville loses.  They win when employment cases go to arbitration.  They win when appeals are made regardless of the outcome.  They still make their money.  It appears the firefighters will also get theirs.   The financial loser in all of this is the city with the slogan "On the border, by the sea".

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yolanda Begum, Creative Justice of the Peace Candidate, Precinct 2-2

 

by Jim Barton on Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 11:00am

In brief comments before a full house at V.I.C.C.'s Los Compadres Ballroom, Yolanda Begum promised "creative solutions" and "compassion" in dealing with difficult cases that come before her if elected as Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2-2. As if to illustrate her creative skills, she then put on a different kind of fundraiser, featuring 20 female and 5 male models, as well as singing and dancing. At the end of the evening the magnificent collection of 60 dresses were given to those lucky enough to have their names drawn from a raffle jar.

A well known local politico grabbed my arm as I made my exit from the event: "She's certainly different from the norm, a very genuine person. We just need to move away from all this corruption." Certainly for some, Ms. Begum's candidacy is attractive because she's running against Erin H. Garcia, Ernie Hernandez' daughter. Some feel that the Hernandez family uses politiqueras like Herminia Becerra, pictured here with an Erin H. Garcia administrator badge.
One other announced JP candidate, Raul Lopez, was introduced at the Rancho Viejo Republican Gala on Friday but did not have a speaking role.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Downtown Multi-Modal Facility Schedules Open House Sunday October 23!


Open House for New Brownsville Multimodal Terminal

[BROWNSVILLE, TX] – The City of Brownsville’s Public Transit Department, Brownsville Metro, is hosting an Open House for the soft opening of La Plaza at Brownsville multimodal terminal, located at 755 International Blvd (between E. Adams and E. Jefferson Street). The open house will be held on Sunday, October 23, 2011 from 4:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. It is open to the public and light refreshments will be served. Parking will be available in the parking lot located at E. 14th and Adams Street.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Drug Cartels Recruiting Texas Young People

Friday, October 21, 2011 |
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Texas law enforcement officials say several Mexican drug cartels are luring youngsters as young as 11 to work in their smuggling operations.



Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told Reuters the drug gangs have a chilling name for the young Texans lured into their operations.

"They call them 'the expendables,'" he said.

McCraw said his investigators have evidence six Mexican drug gangs -- including the violent Zetas -- have "command and control centers" in Texas actively recruiting children for their operations, attracting them with what appears to be "easy money" for doing simple tasks.

"Cartels would pay kids $50 just for them to move a vehicle from one position to another position, which allows the cartel to keep it under surveillance to see if law enforcement has it under surveillance," he said.

"Of course, once you're hooked up with them, there's consequences."

McCraw said 25 minors have been arrested in one Texas border county alone in the past year for running drugs, acting as lookouts, or doing other work for organized Mexican drug gangs. The cartels are now fanning out, he said, and have operations in all major Texas cities.

This month, "we made an arrest of a 12-year-old boy who was in a stolen pickup truck with 800 pounds of marijuana," he said. "So they do recruit our kids."

McCraw says the state of Texas is joining a program initiated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection called "Operation Detour," in which law enforcement officers meet with children and their parents in schools and at community centers to warn them about the dangers of what appears to be the easy money the Mexican drug gangs offer.

Law enforcement officers say children are less likely to be suspects than adults, are easily manipulated by relatively small sums of money, and face less severe penalties than adults if arrested.

Last month, Texas officials released a report indicating Mexico-based drug gangs are intent on creating a "sanitary zone" on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande, and are "intimidating landowners" in south Texas into allowing them to use their property as "permanent bases" for drug smuggling activity.

Republicans Hold Obama Bash At Country Club

 

by Jim Barton on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 1:39pm


      It was a decidedly older, more anglo crowd than a representative cross-section of Cameron County voters.  Perhaps that's why the Republicans have an Hispanic Outreach Program and have anointed Chris Davis as Young Republicans chairperson.  The Rancho Viejo Convention Center was decked out nicely in red, white and blue balloons and ribbons, but the always bellicose Dagoberto Barrera was the convention's eager living symbol of patriotism.  He belted out the Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas state pledge without electronic voice enhancement, then repeated every introduced guests name as if he were hollering across the resaca.  No one seemed annoyed as groups always tolerate their loyal eccentrics.

    As I moseyed among the tables, Republican activist Roman Perez accused me of coming only for the free food.  Actually, I came for the punch and iced tea as no Bud Light or sangria was served.  Pastor Brad, who regularly petitions the Lord for the city commission was thrilled that a church ensemble provided background music.  I threatened to take his picture and show it to Mayor Martinez.  Brad simply said "You would."  A teaparty neighbor lady said she was happy to see me there.  I told her I was more observer, less disciple.  Chuck Mattingly allowed a picture after I told him I was a friend of Adela Garza.  Letty Perez Garzoria was finely dressed and gracious as always.
    
     Wood elephant sculptures were handed out to award-winning volunteers and lifetime achievers before Steve Munisteri, Republican Party Chairman was introduced as the featured speaker.  He was introduced first with trumpet blare, then a mention of his 10 hour drive from Austin which would be followed by a 10 hour return trip.  My cynical mind had visions of Munisteri making the long trek on his knees, then quickly flashed to the $109 Southwest Airlines Austin-Harlingen flight.  The party chairman eschewed both extremes, settling for the long car ride instead.

     Munisteri's speech stayed on theme:  "Obama Is the Worst President in the History of the United States".  Nena videotaped 15 minutes of it.  When we had sort of gotten the gist of it, we quietly departed.  Of course, billions of dollars were thrown at the banks and financial institutions and other government bail outees, only to have the American people sucker punched by many of those same ungrateful entities.  But extremely partisan fervor is not our thing.



If another segment of this speech is of interest:  meanmrbrownsville on YouTube


Addendum with corrections:
  Rather than try to edit both the Facebook and Google blog versions of this story, I will simply add this addendum to clarify, apologize and elaborate on my cover of this meeting.  First of all, Blake Farenthold was not there.  The large, affable man I mistook for Mr. Farenthold was Chuck Mattingly, a candidate for District Attorney.  I've seen neither in closeup, only Blake from afar at the UTB/TSC Forum on Border Security and Chuck's pic on Facebook.  It was Chuck that I asked for a photograph.  He was somewhat hesitant, but I mentioned that I was a friend of Adela's and he cooperated.  Adela Garza was upset that I used her name in the account, but it was honestly part of the story.  The overall tone of my rendition I can't apologize for because it's simply my view, no more no less.
     Roman Perez was upset that I shared his observation that I had come to the affair just for  the food.  Actually, his assertion was very offensive.  I cover events.  White bread half sandwiches, broccoli crowns, cantaloupe wedges, and meatballs have little appeal.  I respect Roman's local political knowledge but his comment sort of set the tone of the event for me.
     As for my assessment of the overall event, it stands.  Adela asked me:  "What did you expect?"  I took that to mean that any party event would obviously be self-promoting and denigrating to the opposition.  As she correctly observed, the democrats do the same thing.  True enough.  Five minutes with Gilberto Hinojosa would probably be more than I could stomach. 

Trailer for the Maclovio O'Malley Show Coming November 1

Mean Mister Brownsville is not responsible for program content.  In home theatres soon through video streaming by B.U.R.N.

One Possible Tool for Mexico Against the Cartels~A Firm Policy of Immediate Extradition to the U.S.

 

by Jim Barton on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 7:34am
    
    The drug cartels laugh derisively when dealing with Mexican law enforcement.  They can be bought, intimidated or destroyed almost at will.  They do not respect or fear the Mexican military even with some fancy equipment supplied by the U.S.  Incarceration in a Mexican prison is not an insurmountable barrier either.  Bribes, insurrections, brute force can spring a cartel leader.  It's just a matter of time.
     One eventiality, one threat alone may wipe the smile off a cartel leaders face; spending the rest of his life in a U.S. prison.  Despite all their bluster, banners and braggadocio, the cartels DO respect and fear dealing with U.S. law enforcement, F.B.I., C.I.A. or the U.S. prison system.  No sure thing there.  If Mexico firmly, consistently let the cartel leaders know that upon capture they faced immediate extradition to the United States, it would be like a mother telling her child "just wait till daddy gets home".
     If Mexico employs such a policy, then the focus becomes gathering intelligence to link the cartels to their runners, lookouts, deliverers, dealers and sales force on U.S. soil.  Racketeering, money laundering and narcotics trafficking are the possible charges.  Once that evidence is gathered, plaster the cartel leaders faces all over the F.B.I.'s top ten lists.  Talking crazy here, but what's wrong with helping Mexico find the bastards, then turning them over to face extradition?
     What do you think?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nepotism Alive and Well at BISD~Uncertified Charlie Atkinson Finally Gets Hired

 

by Jim Barton on Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 3:37pm


     We wrote this back on June 27 as a Facebook note:  "
Are You A Certified Teacher Without A Position?
by Jim Barton on Monday, June 27, 2011 at 4:01pm


    Are you a certified teacher without a position living in the Brownsville area?   Would it interest you to know that a currently uncertified person is on the fast track to certificatiion and will be given a position with BISD pending that certification?  Such is the nature of compadreism, nepotism in the Brownsville Independent School District.  Like an ugly anchor it sinks our children to the bottom of the educational sea.  Don't be fooled by fancy designations liike "exemplary".  It doesn't always mean that our children are even ready for the next level of education let alone the workforce.  When administrators make employment decisions based on anything other than qualifications, children suffer.
     Does the name Charlie Atkinson ring a bell?  Yes, the loudmouth, bullying, bull-in-a-china closet style city commissioner who was recently booted out of office by a first time write-in candidate.  Yes, that Charlie Atkinson.  In a series of clumsily orchestrated moves, BISD replaced the outgoing superintendent with an interim, who on the morning of his first day on the job suspended the Chief Financial Officer and in the first week demoted the Human Resources Director.  The new Human Resources Director is Sylvia Atkinson, Charlie's sister.  She will see to it that Charlie gets a job irregardless of however many hundred better qualified candidates stand in front of him.  That's how Sylvia rolls.  She is the queen of compadreism, leading to her departure from Los Fresnos, Santa Rosa and more recently the Sorocco, NM school districts.
     How much can it hurt if one unqualified PE teacher gets a job?  That's not the point.  This is clearly a modus operandi that has to be reversed.   The impending employment of Charlie Atkinson is not the biggest issue facing BISD, but it is symbolic of the problem.  If you're concerned about developments at BISD, please send an email or letter to the TEA, the Texas Education Agency.  Here is their website:  http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=5032"
________________________________________________________________________________________________
     Now seasoned blogger Juan Montoya tells us in his blog "El Rrun Rrun" that Charlie has finally been hired as a physical education instructor at Faulk.  Juan implies that the district almost had no choice but hire Atkinson because of his litiginous nature:
 "The board was caught in a quandary. If Atkinson was the selection made by the committee and he was denied the position by the board, that may have been grounds for litigation-prone Charlie to sue the district and incur costs that would probably cost the district more than the position pays. Either way, there is no winning in this one."
     I guess if the threat of lawsuit is all an uncertified person needs to get hired at BISD, then the district is wasting several millions of dollars retaining a law firm to protect itself from that very thing.  But, Juan admits in another part of his article that this is not really the case with Charlie:

"There is no denying that the fact that his sister Sylvia is the assistant superintendent for Human Resources at BISD certainly played a role in the selection by the committee. Two other relatives hold position high in the BISD pecking order. To ignore this is to ignore reality and the way politics work in the district."
     When I post this note to my blog "Mean Mister Brownsville"  I will add the video of the El Paso television story of the Sylvia Atkinson buyout at the Sorocco, NM school district.
     BTW, Bobby Wightman-Cervantes of the blog "BROWNSVILLE VOICE" has this take on the Sorocco story:

When I made calls out to Socorro to investigate Sylvia Atkinson and  had two people begin their tirade against her with "did you know she is a lesbian,"  I knew what these people were about.  There was nothing left for me to investigate.  What ever they believed was based on their hatred for gays and lesbians.

The sad part is, Sylvia Atkinson is a political whore prepared to sleep with these very gay bashing homophobes if it gets her what she wants.  She does not care if the actions of the gay bashing homophobes lead to gay children killing themselves.  For Sylvia Atkinson this is a price of business.

If Sylvia Atkinson had an ounce of self respect, which she does not, she would resign from BISD and then publicly denounce Presas-Garcia and her son.  Sylvia Atkinson will never do such a thing - she wants power even if it means gay youth being bullied to the point of committing suicide."
Here is the link to the El Paso tv station report on Atkinson at Socorro, NM(Mean Mister Brownsville blog only since Facebook doesn't allow video on notes)

Major League Baseball Averts A Near Riot in Dallas-Fort Worth

 

by Jim Barton on Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 1:39am

       The Texas Rangers nominated Dirk Nowitzki to throw out the first pitch at  their first home World Series game.  Individual teams are allowed to make selections for this honor for regular season games, but need league approval for the World Series games.  But Dirk seemed like a logical choice.  He had just led his Dallas Mavericks team to the NBA finals with a sweep over Kobe Bryant's Lakers and a destruction of the Miami Heat and their three superstars in the NBA Finals.  Add to that the fact that Dirk is a Ranger's fan, just flying over from Germany for the American League championship series.
     Shockingly, Major League Baseball initially nixed the selection, issuing this brief statement:  "Dirk does not have broad national appeal.  It's nice that he's attending some of the games, however."  MLB Commissioner Bud Selig must have rocks for brains.  You would almost have to back to Jimmy The Greek to find a dumber statement issued in the sports world.
     Dallas-Fort Worth, the so-called metroplex,  did not take kindly to this empty-headed statement by the head brass of baseball.  Eric Rodriguez echoed the sentiments of many DFW residents:  "Are you fucking kidding me? Dirk has global appeal! This is the biggest slap in the face to Dirk and his greatness I've ever witnessed. You think they would have done the same if the Marlins wanted LeBron? Hell no. cause he's flashy and does shoe commercials. this represents everything that is currently wrong in sports.You can be the best in the world, but if you dont sell yourself out as a brand you will be disrespected. I'm thoroughly pissed."
     First of all, Bud Selig lied about the reason Dirk was disrespected.  It had nothing to do with Dirk's relative appeal.  It was done by baseball's hierarchy to show solidarity with their NBA owner brethren who have locked out the NBA's players in an effort to hammer out a more owner friendly labor agreement.  Secondly, their assessment of Dirk Nowitzki's national appeal is flat out wrong.  The Nielsen Polls annually measures the marketability of NBA players in the United States.  The poll itself states that it reflects national perception and appeal.  The Nielsen findings released August 1 show Dirk Nowitzki to be the most marketable of all NBA players with an N rating of 132.  Kobe Bryant finished 2nd in the poll with a rating of 83.  Dwyane Wade rated 34 with Lebron James at 26.
    The next day Major League Baseball reversed their decision on Dirk with a mealy-mouthed statement.  MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said commissioner Bud Selig didn't know Nowitzki wasn't involved and thought he should be. So the league is inviting him to throw out the first pitch at Game 3 on Saturday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  Yeah, right!
      A riot was averted in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Latin Jazz Festival Closes with A Bang at the Crescent Moon

 

by Jim Barton on Monday, October 17, 2011 at 2:25am
    
     Condense the Latin Jazz Festival into the echo chamber that is the Crescent Moon.  Add The Brew, Dr. Tom Nevill, Robert Stone, Frank Morris, David Lopez,  Hector "Hawk" Hernandez,  Ben Neece and various bands to the mix and you have the flavor of the festival after party that converged on the Moon.  Before I realized we couldn't hear each other, I told Juan Montoya of El Rrun Rrun that this was an historic night for The Moon.  Montoya rambled a bit about Brownsville music history, but I couldn't hear what he was saying either.  When Neece lowered the house lights, added his psychedelic mix to the walls and ceiling, the college and post college girls began to gyrate to the jazz turned blues turned rock.  150 year old bricks love new sounds, sometimes making the conscious decision to exist another one and a half centuries.  Ear to ear doesn't adequately describe the smile on club owner Neece's face, as music, not profit, is the focus of this establishment.  The confluence of musical energy at the Crescent Moon was briefly interrupted by Harley-Davidson non-muffling mufflers.  Of course,  firefighters Rigo, George and Marco are welcomed at this and any Brownsville venue. 
     The day started at the Latin Jazz Festival on Levee Street in front of the skeletal remains of the once proud El Jardin Hotel.  The old hotel suffered the indignity of a plastic banner offering "owner financing for 65,000 square feet".  The crumbling El Jardin stands as a monument to Brownsville's current and former leadership vacuum.  The jazz festival shows us what Brownsville can be in spite of Tony Martinez ineptitude, Ernie Hernandez corruption and violence south of the border.
     We had found Mary Helen selling festival t-shirts inside the shell of the old Capitol Theatre, received a complimentary bottle of hand sanitizer from justice of the peace candidate Yolanda Begum and watched former Crescent Moon bouncer Panther as he ran back and forth working his new gig.  George Ramirez, as festival emcee provided historical and other background for each act from jazz bands to salsa dancers from Oaxaca.  At closing the crowd quickly dispersed, most walking to their cars, some to their closeby houses.  Key players went to the Crescent Moon filling the small building with power and performance.
  



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Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Tony: If You're So Rich, How Come You Ain't Smart?"


     The headline above twists around the old punchline:  "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?"  That line almost seems logical until you realize it isn't.  Many of us may have made similar illogical assumptions about Mayor candidate Tony Martinez.  Actually, almost any conclusion drawn about the man based on his campaign, had to be an assumption, because he said nothing of substance prior to the election.  We knew his favorite color was blue and that he "believed in Brownsville."  We didn't know how blue his administration would actually make us feel or whether he believed in a Brownsville "as is" or a Brownville that could be made better.
     Perhaps, like me, you anticipated a man with a yellow legal pad of ideas, some crossed out due to impracticality or budget constraints, but many others still in play.  How can we streamline city government, making it more efficient?  How can we get more citizens involved so that more than 4% vote in elections?  How can we jumpstart downtown revitalization?  My dream was that Tony be Brownsville's Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, not necessarily spending his own monies, but making damn sure our tax monies are appropriated surgically. getting rid of waste and wasters.
     Instead, we got a ceremonial guy, royalty, a figurehead like Queen Elizabeth.  Even when Tony had a golden opportunity handed to him to restore the broadcast of public comment at commission meetings, he responded dimwittedly:  ""I'd like to continue doing things the way the previous administration did them.  It's been working pretty good so far.  I don't want to change that."   Does that sound to you like words from an idea man?
     Border security concerns, one of the most visited issues night after night on local news is also downplayed by Tony.  He tells us at a UTB/TSC seminar on border security that he and his two sons went dove hunting recently without incident.  He proclaims our borders safe and chides those who say otherwise as politically ambitious.  Drugs flow north, weapons flow south, victims of kidnapping are locked in stash houses, residents between the border wall and the river cringe as they hear gunfire, while Tony worries about image, appearances.
     I will gladly eat every word written above if Tony will just get off his ass.  After all, he wanted the job.
  
      

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Lordy, Lordy! It's Junior Bonner from the Paz Files! Hey Man, Whatchu Up To?"

 

by Jim Barton on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 12:05am

     Juan Montoya handed me his Miller Lite as he left the Latin Jazz Festival.  Brownsville is not New Orleans yet, despite Jerry Mchale's fantasies.  Cops still nab you with an open container of beverage leaving an event.  Nena and I walked the sidewalk along Adams Street up to the stage so as not to block the view of any of the non-paying patrons.  I wanted Nena to at least record a small sampling of the Chick Corea tribute for Facebook.  Sitting crosslegged behind two trash cans,  almost in a yoga position was an emaciated cowboy I immediately recognized as Junior Bonner.  Junior trained quarter horses in Weatherford before booze, drugs and women took their toll.  Sometimes people describe Brownsville as the end of the world.  Harlingen is a deader end and Junior fit right in with nothing more to lose.  But Paz-Martinez likes to recycle old has beens cause they work cheap.  No one works cheaper than Junior.
    "Did Paz at least give you gas money?" I asked.   "Paz don't give me nuthin",  Junior replied.  "He uses them temporary checks till he runs out, then he changes banks.  He told me to come down here and cover this shin dig.  He said I could probably stay at the Colonial Hotel free if I told them I was a journalist." 

     I asked Junior about his guitar.  "It's a Peavey.  Most folks don't know nuthin' about them.  They just heard of Fender and Gibson, but Mr. Peavey makes a damn fine guitar.  I mean, I don't play all the complicated progressions these guys are playin', but I could." 

Rally, March to Promote Marriage Equality for Lesbians, Gays at Veteran Park, Brownsville, TX~10/14/11

 

by Jim Barton on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 9:15pm

     The Texas Movement for Marriage organized several marches in Texas cities 10/14/11 to demand marriage equality for lesbians and gays.  Getting married is not the issue.  Lesbians and gays can go to a number of states or countries to have their union legally recognized or just live as they wish without state sanction or recognition.  The issue is deprivation of basic rights routinely granted straight couples.  In other words, this is a human rights, not a sexual orientation issue.
     One of the principle roadblocks seems to be the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Clinton in 1996, commonly called DOMA.  The act gives legal recognition only to marriage between "one man and one woman," effectively depriving gay couples basic rights and privileges most of us take for granted, such as:

* The right to make decisions on a partner's behalf in a medical emergency.
* The right to petition for same-sex partners to immigrate.
* The right to assume parenting rights and responsibilities when children are brought into a family through birth, adoption, surrogacy or other means. In Texas, there is no law providing a noncustodial, nonbiological or nonadoptive parent's right to visit a child - or responsibility to provide financial support for that child - in the event of a breakup. There are over 17,000 children being raised by same sex couples in Texas.
* The right to share equitably all jointly held property and debt in the event of a breakup, since there are no laws that cover the dissolution of domestic partnerships.
* Family-related Social security benefits, income and estate tax benefits, disability benefits, family-related military and veterans benefits and other important benefits.
* The right to inherit property from a partner in the absence of a will.
* The right to purchase continued health coverage for a domestic partner after the loss of a job.
The group also wants the Texas Constitution adjusted to remove the ban of same sex marriage.
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tony Martinez In Denial on Border Security


     When Mayor Tony Martinez is asked about border security he changes the subject to the relative calm on the streets of Brownsville and out into the rurals of Cameron County.  He cites the "great job" done by County Sheriff Omar Lucio and also by Police Chief Carlos Garcia.  But border security is not the responsibility of the octagenarian sheriff or the affable police chief.  Tony just continues to miss the point by a wide margin.  At the September 19, 2011 forum on border security, Tony opined that any street in Brownsville was safe to walk along and that he and his two sons had just dove hunted in the county without incident.  Excuse me, but what do either of those two opinions have to do with weapons crossing the border going south, drugs coming north, victims being held for ransom in stash houses, and the daily fears of citizens living between the border wall and the river?
     Tony is not the first politician to worry about the perception of an area as not safe and lost tourist dollars.  Mexico bristles every time the U.S. State Department issues a travel warning because of the negative effect on their economy.  Perhaps the Brownsville mayor is simply the wrong person to include in any discussion of border security.  At the Champions for Change, Southwest Border Region panel discussion that was almost concurrent with the UTB/TSC seminar, Mayor Martinez stated:  "I understand the rhetoric of those with political aspirations in our state, but there is no need for additional personel on our border."
     Unfortunately, fairy tales seldom come true.  Pretending border problems do not exist is a disservice to border residents and doesn't make anyone feel safer

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Brownsville Noise~Graphic Arts Imagery Influencing the Populace

  Following the legacy of the political cartoonists of the great newspapers now mostly gone, Brownsville Noise, an anonymous individual or group on Facebook, uses computer graphics to make Brownsville think.  Approaching local issues with caricature, humor and subtlety, Noise shapes public opinion in a way dry editorials cannot.  A graphic picture can evoke laughter, disdain, derision, anger and fear.  It combines reason with emotion, thus is more memorable than words on a page.
     Here are just a few selections from "Brownsville Noise's" body of work:
  This photo effectively Pinnochio's the features of Juliet V. Garcia, President of UTB.  What is Noise implying?
  This pic was featured during the infamous Fly Frontera proposal some on the Brownsville City Commission desperately wanted approved.  The start-up company was fronted by a convicted racketeer, had not been properly vetted by the city and was seeking a taxpayer supported deal which rewarded failure by requiring the city to pay for tickets NOT sold.
  Here is another pic which ran during the Charlie Atkinson campaign with an obvious implication.

More recently Brownville Noise made Brownville Cheezmeh a subject in this pic The watchdog group accepted donations from two political candidates and then "thanked" the candidates by running these political ads on its Facebook page.
     Speaking of imagery, legendary local blogger Jerry Mchale assigns nicknames that evoke images every time certain politicians are mentioned.  Just a few of these are:  Gilberto "Hooters" Hinojosa, David "Sperm Belly" Oliveira, Ernie "The Eel" Hernandez and "Boozin" Bill Hudson.  All of these are used with relentless repetition, almost forcing our neuron memory circuitry to record these descriptive images.
     As newspapers succumb financially and creatively, the internet takes an increasing role in shaping public opinion.  Words, cartoons, caricatures and graphic arts are now heavily represented in the mix.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mean Mister Brownsville Predicts An End to the NBA Lockout Tonight


     You won't hear it officially announced because both sides will have to sell it to their constituents.  Billy Hunter, the NBA player's association president will have to sell the deal to the players.  David Stern will have to sell it to NBA team owners.  But with both sides on the brink of losing a season and millions of dollars of revenue,  a deal should get done today.
     Despite the rhetoric you may have heard, the two sides are not that far apart.  Several concepts unfavorable to the players have already been withdrawn:  a hard salary cap for each team, non-guaranteed contracts for ALL players and salary rollbacks for players.  The only item left to decide is the revenue split between team owners and players.  Look for that to end up something close to 50-50.
     You heard it here first.  The NBA will end the lockout, giving the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki the opportunity to defend their title.

"La Familia" Cartel Leaders Migrating to Austin? . . .Borderland Beat

Cartel connection reveals why "La Familia" targeted Austin

Sunday, October 9, 2011 |




By Jeremy Schwartz
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
The two men were returning to the small, one-story house in Northeast Austin from Alabama. Hidden in the back of their SUV was $110,000 in carefully wrapped bundles, money authorities said came from cocaine sales.

But responding to an informant's tip, federal drug agents found the men in the parking lot of a bar in Baton Rouge, La., where they searched the truck. As the officers pulled out the cash, the men grew terrified.

"I wish you would put me in jail," one of them said, according to a criminal complaint. "They are going to kill me over this missing money."

According to court documents, the money was destined for an Austin resident the couriers had reason to fear: Jose Procoro Lorenzo-Rodriguez, who authorities say is a local leader for Mexico's brutal La Familia cartel.

The raids that followed revealed that La Familia, a quasi-religious, hyper-violent group born five years ago in the mountains of Michoacán, used Austin as a base of operation to funnel large quantities of cocaine, marijuana and especially methamphetamine to places such as Atlanta and Kansas.

But in addition to providing a glimpse of the cartel's operations in Austin — at least four autonomous cells stretching from Round Rock to South Austin — the investigation revealed a crucial clue:

The men at the top of the Austin organization hailed from the same small Mexican town.

For more than three decades, the remote, desperately poor city of Luvianos, along with other neighboring towns in the mountains of central Mexico, has sent the majority of its northbound migrants to Austin, where they have worked as landscapers, opened restaurants and built a thriving community. One corner of Northeast Austin has been dubbed "Little Luvianos" by residents.

But Luvianos is also a prize coveted by Mexican cartels. Traffickers from the northern border — first the Gulf Cartel and later the Zetas — controlled the town until 2009, when La Familia won the region in a violent war.

Officials emphasize that the vast majority of Luvianos immigrants are law-abiding residents without cartel ties. But increasingly, authorities add, the cartel members who prey on Mexicans in Luvianos have begun to find their way to Central Texas.

"It's not surprising that (cartel members) are migrating to Austin as well," said Francisco Cruz Jimenez, a Mexican journalist who chronicled the recent history of Luvianos in his 2010 book "Narco-Land." "It's very natural that they look for communities where they have paisanos because they can go unnoticed."

Yet it's a development that local officials have been slow to acknowledge. Only last year Travis County joined the long-standing High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which coordinates and funds joint law enforcement efforts against organized crime groups. Other large Texas cities have been members for years.

As law enforcement agencies work to catch up, the Luvianos connection could hold important answers for officials trying to understand how and why La Familia set up shop in Austin. A thousand miles away, the sometimes bloody, often tragic history of Luvianos has become intertwined with Austin's future.

'A problem in Austin'

In 2008, more than 125 cities — including Des Moines, Iowa, and Dayton, Ohio — reported the presence of specific Mexican trafficking organizations in an annual Justice Department report. Austin was not one of the cities. That year, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas all reported that cartels dominated local drug distribution networks.

Since then, Austin officials have learned that as many as four cartels operate inside the city. Law enforcement agencies have arrested human smugglers connected to the Zetas, targeted local prison gang members connected with the Gulf cartel and conducted numerous raids on La Familia members. The Drug Enforcement Administration says members of the Beltrán-Leyva cartel also operate within Austin.

Local drug agents now say that though Austin has long been home to cartels and cartel-affiliated traffickers, better intelligence sharing among agencies and increased cartel activity have brought the problem to the surface.

"We've been a little slow to recognize" the cartels' local growth, said Michael Lauderdale, the head of the city's Public Safety Commission. "We're starting to feel the consequences of that benign neglect."




The July raids, part of a larger nationwide sweep that resulted in more than 1,000 arrests, confirmed the trend.

"If they busted four cells, you have a problem in Austin," said Phil Jordan, a retired federal agent and former director of the Department of Justice's El Paso Intelligence Center, which tracks drug trafficking networks along the border.

The cartel presence in Austin has sparked concerns about the possibility of increased organized crime violence, already experienced in small doses by cities such as Dallas.

Drug war experts predict that bloody outbreaks of violence in Austin are unlikely because it's bad for cartel business.

Jordan said any future cartel violence in Austin is likely to be isolated and targeted against rivals. "It won't be a shootout at the OK Corral," he said. "They try to do it in the quietest way possible. They don't want to create a hysteria."

Yet Austin already has a history of Luvianos-related drug violence. In 1992, a Luvianos man was fatally shot and dumped in the Colorado River. Prosecutors charged three men from Luvianos in the killing.

"These men came charging into (the dead man's home) with guns blazing," Travis County Detective Mark Sawa said at the time. "We believe they were looking for some marijuana that was just smuggled in."

A 2009 Austin murder also bears the marks of a cartel killing. Officials say the suspect is from the Luvianos area.

'Narco town'

Stroll through the small, bustling main plaza in Luvianos and you're likely to hear residents sprinkle their conversations with references to nightclubs on Riverside Drive and taquerias on Cameron Road. Immigration to Austin began in the 1970s, according to local residents, driven by deep poverty and a lack of opportunity in the rural, mountainous region. Since those first migrants landed in Austin to work in construction and open restaurants, money sent home from Austin has helped keep the Luvianos economy afloat, paying for quinceañeras, weddings and retirements.

The municipality of 25,000 is part of a region called the Tierra Caliente, or Hot Lands, which straddles the borders of Michoacán, Guerrero and the state of Mexico. The location inside an inhospitable and hard-to-access region of central Mexico has made it attractive to Mexican crime groups. The region has a light police presence: As recently as 2010, only 40 officers patrolled the hundreds of tiny pueblos in the municipality belonging to Luvianos, according to author Cruz.

And crucial to the cartels, the region around Luvianos is crisscrossed with unmapped backroads that lead to the largest port on Mexico's Pacific coast, providing access to ships offloading Chinese precursor chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine.

According to Cruz, the region today produces Mexico's highest quality marijuana and is home to the nation's most productive methamphetamine laboratories. "It was very natural that Luvianos turned into a narco town," Cruz said.

Cruz said the region was initially controlled by cartels from northern Mexico, whose leaders built luxurious homes in the hardscrabble town and paid for road paving to allow better access for their expensive vehicles and the heavy trucks ferrying drug loads.

Soon after La Familia formed in neighboring Michoacán in 2006, its leaders set their sights on Luvianos, which they considered their natural zone of influence, according to Cruz. What followed was a brutal war between La Familia and the Zetas, which reached its height in the summer of 2009, with daily gunbattles and dozens of killings, according to local reports. La Familia emerged triumphant and has since dominated the region, according to Mexican law enforcement.

The cartels have terrorized residents, enforcing nighttime curfews and beating civilians found outside their homes when convoys transport drugs or precursor chemicals.

"They controlled Luvianos," Cruz said. "You have an army of poor people who have either been immigrating or scratching out an existence in the fields. Then came the cartels, who arrived with money, and they hooked the local population, using them as transporters, a workforce for the labs and assassins."

Local Luvianos gangsters have also begun to rise through the ranks. According to the Mexican attorney general's office, La Familia's leader in Luvianos is a man named Pablo Jaimes, who gained notoriety after gunning down three police officers in the nearby city of Tejupilco in 2008 . Mexican authorities are hunting for the man.

At the beginning of September, seven La Familia gunman were killed in a firefight with police in Luvianos. Last week, Mexican police arrested one of the original founders of La Familia just outside the town, which police described as a haven for cartel leaders as they fight a splinter group, the Knights Templar .

A stronghold for La Familia

After making the trip north, most immigrants from Luvianos and its surrounding towns have landed in a small area of Northeast Austin near Reagan High School, filling a string of moderately priced apartment complexes.

Several restaurants and businesses have been started by Luvianos natives, and three days a week residents can board a bus at a record store on Cameron Road for a direct trip to Tejupilco, a regional capital next to Luvianos. In the middle of the neighborhood, residents walk past an idyllic mural of Luvianos, complete with the quaint gazebo that dominates its central square and the emerald Nanchititlan mountains that ring the city.

For longtime Austin residents from Luvianos, the appearance of La Familia in the city is a painful reminder. "Many people come to live here because they have fear" of La Familia, said one Luvianos-born business owner who has been here since 1985. The man did not want his name used because he feared retaliation against his family in Mexico. "Here, people aren't so scared because there have not been threats. And if the government hears about (cartel members) they grab them up."

Greg Thrash, who was named the resident agent in charge of the Austin DEA office three years ago, said decades of immigration from Luvianos to Austin have made it easier for La Familia to set up shop locally. "Austin is a stronghold for La Familia; we know that," said Thrash, who led the effort to bring Austin into the federal drug trafficking program. "I believe it's generational and familial. They will deal with those they feel comfortable with. That's why you see the presence in certain parts (of the United States), because of family."

Such ties were evident during the July Austin bust, which netted about three dozen suspects who face a range of charges in federal court, including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Among them were three men in Alabama who also were from the Luvianos region and received drug shipments from Austin, according to drug task force agents there. In 2009, local agents arrested four people with ties to the cartel as part of another nationwide bust.

According to the DEA, La Familia has operated at least four cells in Austin, each independent and unaware of what orders the others were receiving from cartel bosses in Luvianos. "It was very compartmentalized," Thrash said. The operation was also lucrative, according to Thrash, who said millions of dollars were moved through Austin stash houses. According to a sprawling, 44-suspect indictment, members of the group made several wire transfers to Luvianos.

A DEA chart outlining the structure of the organization identified four men arrested in the recent roundups as cell leaders: Lorenzo-Rodriguez, Jose Luis Jaimes Jr., Alexandro Benitez-Osorio and Jesus Sanchez-Loza. All four have pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to launder money and to distribute controlled substances. They are being held without bail at area jails.

Lawyers for the four either refused to talk on the record or did not respond to requests for comment. One lawyer said the charges against the group were overblown.

The group smuggled drugs in both traditional and innovative ways, Thrash said. In addition to using private vehicles to cross the border in Laredo, he said, the group used FedEx to ship methamphetamine to Austin — on at least one occasion inside a children's book.

Agents seized 30 kilograms of liquid methamphetamine in mini Heineken kegs, a troubling trend for drug agents because liquid drugs can be more difficult to detect than powders or pills.

The ringleaders of the four Austin cells drove inconspicuous vehicles and apparently spent little money locally. "All the money goes back to Mexico," Thrash said. Several members of the group were family men, living with their young children and wives. And Jaimes included his wife in drug trafficking trips, according to pretrial testimony.

In Colony Park, neighbors said they often saw numerous cars parked in front of the house on Bryonwood Drive, where one of those named as a cell leader, Lorenzo-Rodriguez, lived.

"They didn't talk to nobody," said a 55-year-old neighbor who lives a block from the 1,100-square-foot house, which has an appraised value of about $69,000 and is owned by a California man, according to county records. The man, after learning his neighbor was suspected of being a cartel member, said he didn't want his name used for fear of retaliation. "It surprised me when they got raided."

According to court documents, the threat of violence hung over the organization.

After the May Baton Rouge bust in which agents found the $110,000 destined for Austin, police let the men continue to Austin with a receipt for the forfeited money.

One of the men, Mark Rew, went to Lorenzo-Rodriguez's home and presented him with the paperwork. According to court documents, Rew was held captive throughout the day, both at the Colony Park home and at the nearby apartment of one of Lorenzo-Rodriguez's associates.

As dusk began to fall, Rew was brought back to the Colony Park home, where agents believed Lorenzo-Rodriguez was threatening him with a gun, according to court documents. Agents burst into the house, where they arrested the men and found cocaine, $8,000 in cash and a 9 mm pistol. Rew told agents he thought he was about to be killed over the seized money.

Street gangs a danger

Local officials and experts say large-scale cartel violence in Austin is unlikely. "It's a concern, but you have to go back to what they are using folks here for," Thrash said. "It's to move cocaine, methamphetamine to end cities." Cartels operating in the U.S. generally have avoided the kind of spectacular violence that marks their operations in Mexico. "They don't want to stir up U.S. law enforcement if they don't have to," said Ricardo Ainslie, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas who has studied drug violence along the border.

Sylvia Longmire, an independent drug war consultant for law enforcement agencies and author of "Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico's Drug Wars," said there is an important reason for the disparities in violence in the U.S. and Mexico: Much of the violence in Mexico is driven by the brutal competition for a limited number of highly coveted border entry points. Cartels, she added, will fight ceaselessly for border cities such as Juárez and Nuevo Laredo because once they control them, they can guarantee the flow of merchandise .

"Once they are here, the hard part's over and it's a complete shift in strategy and in the operators," Longmire said. "Cartels are not in the business of fighting over a corner. They let the street gangs do that."

That's what worries Lauderdale, of the city's Public Safety Commission. "What I think is the major threat in Austin is that they would use street gangs in the same way they do with the Barrio Azteca gang in El Paso and Juárez," he said, referring to a violent street gang responsible for many of the killings in Juárez in recent years.

Indeed, Austin police say they've observed a 14 percent jump in youth gang activity in the past year. "I think we're just on the starting edge of this kind of stuff," Lauderdale said.

Cartel violence is not unknown in Texas, especially in Dallas, where a series of shootouts have rattled local officials. In May, a Michoacán man was found guilty of the machine gun slaying of a Familia member, who was killed while he rode in a black Hummer in a Dallas neighborhood.

Austin also might have been the scene of a cartel-related execution two years ago. Police say that in December 2009, a man from a small town near Luvianos walked up to a taco trailer in South Austin and shot a 43-year-old worker, who was preparing food alongside his wife, after ordering some food.

A fingerprint the man left on a bottle of orange soda led police to Jose Rodriguez, who was later arrested in Illinois. Rodriguez, who is awaiting trial in Travis County on murder charges, used several aliases, according to police, including Pablo Jaimes, the name of La Familia's Luvianos leader and the hitman wanted for killing three police officers in 2008. Though Rodriguez was merely borrowing the name, investigators are looking into whether one of the arrested cell leaders in Austin is related to Jaimes.

It is unclear what effect the recent arrests have had on La Familia's organization in Austin.

"If you keep whacking at the organizations, you will weaken, dilute them," Thrash said.

But driving cartels out of Austin entirely is another question. The arrests "have had little or no impact on those organizations and their ability to bring drugs across the border," Longmire said. "These guys are so replaceable."




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The Bora Bora~A Spectacular New Club for the Young and Beautiful


     We could not have been more warmly welcomed  at the spectacular new club Bora Bora located at 12th and Adams.  The new venue obviously caters to the young and beautiful, but our group of nine walking over from the Crescent Moon was graciously seated at a table in the inner courtyard.  Jerry Mchale had a supply of tickets for Friday's grand opening, but none were requested.  Ben Neece, owner of the Crescent Moon along with club manager J.J. were curious about the new club.

 Techno music pulsated the building, synchronized with brilliant lighting.  Even the two story Hermanos Bldg was lit up inside the court.


        Drinks were served at a long bar stretching along the south side of the building, with yet another bar in the courtyard.

     Thanks again Angelo for your hospitality.

NOCHE DE ARTE DOWNTOWN BROWNSVILLE JUNE 15, 6-9 PM

Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo