Friday, December 30, 2011

What If the City of Brownsville Thought Outside the Compadre System Box in Hiring a New City Manager?

by Jim Barton on Friday, December 30, 2011 at 4:21pm
     Juan Montoya of the El Rrun Rrun  blog called it back in October, then refined his comments earlier this month on the City and Port of Brownsville's planned compadre system shuffle, with the Brownsville Police Chief, City Manager and Port Director swapping jobs.  Oh, the two entities would go through the facade of a candidate search and qualification process but the three local good ol' boys would not step down from one high-paying job without the absolute certainty of the bird in the hand of another equally high-paying position.  The first domino to fall was Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia relinquishing the police chief position, then fortuitously landing the plum job of Chief of Security at the Port of Brownsville.  Other candidates interviewed at the Port of Brownsville unaware the job was likely already filled.   Now, it is rumored that City Manager Charlie Cabler, will step down as City Manager, only to survive a rudimentary selection process and be named Brownsville Police Chief with the Port of Brownsville's Eddie Campirano eventually named City Manager with the job's salary bumped up to match that of the Port Director position he relinquished. 

     Who decided in the first place that an ex-police chief was the best man or woman in the country to manage the economic development, grant writing, public policy and labor relations for a quasi-challenged city approaching a population of 200,000?  The appointment is simply illustrative of the City of Brownsville being firmly stuck in the compadre system box.
      What if the City Commission simply ignored the shadowy powers that be from United Brownsville or worried not about hurt feelings and simply found the best candidate for City Manager?  What if the mayor and city commission insisted on credentials consistent with other cities of Brownsville's stature and size?  Those basic credentials could include:  a masters degree in public administration,  experience in grant writing, public policy and non-profit management and labor relations, prior experience as a management analyst.
     What if the city was able to choose from candidates with successful city management experience in slightly smaller, progressive cities in Texas or other states?  These qualified applicants could be sorted out oblivious to their ethnicity or cultural background or current geographical location.  Cultural or geographical inbreeding tends to weaken the governmental genetic pool, not strengthen it.  New or fresh ideas may be unsettling initially, taking us out of our comfort zone or accustomed way of doing things, but a fresh look may be just what we need.

     A compadre system is a calabaza-driven system, not in the sense of an endorsed traceable cashiers check, but in the sense of rewarding those already in the system with the employment opportunities within the system.  That method of operation excludes the better qualified, better educated, but not connected applicants.  So, our city gets inferior performance at an inflated cost, maintaining the status quo.  Our city stays stagnant, nonprogressive but the good ol' boys get taken care of handsomely.
     Brownsville suffers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Veterans Memorial High School Junior Addresses the BISD Board

We published this video of Sergio Cavazos back in November with Sergio's permission and that of his father.   This young man gave a very reasoned, poised presentation showing understanding of the transition issues facing Veterans Memorial.  He asked the board to come up with a concrete plan for the school. 

Did You Vote for Tony Martinez? Are You Satisfied with What He Has Accomplished So Far?


by Jim Barton on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 4:01pm

    Despite 5 candidates in the race, Tony Martinez won mayoral election without a runoff, a notable feat.  He ran against an incumbent and  a sitting city commissioner among others.  Now, seven months later we have an opportunity to access his job performance.  What did you expect the mayor to accomplish?  Has he met your expectations?
   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.
     Back on April 19 at the UTB/TSC Mayor Candidates Forum, Tony Martinez clearly identified the drafting of a new ethics code as the "top priority" of a Martinez administration.  Since Tony said so little of substance during the campaign, I jotted that down.  Assuming a strong work ethic coupled with a desire to get our city functioning efficiently and ethically, some of us fully expected Tony to be a man of his word.  Literally dozens of model city ethics codes exist on the internet and from other sources that could be tweaked to fit our city.   Certainly other Texas cities have codes that could be tailored for Brownsville.
     We reported in August:  "City Attorney Mark Sossi was handpicked by Mayor Martinez to initiate the process.  Sossi reported to the commission 7/19/11 concerning the research, thought process and focus so far which amounted essentially to having read the San Antonio and Dallas codes, a 20 minute effort at best.  Later in that meeting Mayor Martinez expressed his desire to be included in the committee to draft the code.  My recollection is that City Manager Charlie Cabler would be included in that committee along with a commissioner or two."

     Since Sossi's report on July 19, five more months have passed.  Remember once a final draft of an ethics code is submitted and approved, language in the City Charter has to also be changed to allow for penalties for violations of the code.  Brownsville's last ethics code expired in 2006.   Still, we hear nothing about the draft of a new ethics code.
     Mr. Mayor, you've been in office now for seven months.  The mayorship is a job you actively sought.  You have not yet communicated a vision for the city, yet alone worked toward its reality.  Brownsville deserves better.

Damn Right, Brownsville Has the Blues!


by Jim Barton on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 2:11am
     Like a sharecropper letting his voice rise and fall, then break into a falsetto with a field holler crying about the overseer, the heat or the thirst,  Jerry Mchale has much to cry about in his new blog Brownsville Blues.  The first edition of the new blog is expected anno domini 2012, coincidentally during the same calendar year ancient Mayans hinted might be our last on planet Earth.
     Early bluesmen were actually verbal bloggers as they chronicled the highs and lows of life, mostly the lows.  Joan Baez, the greatest hispanic folk singer of all time, cleared up one misconception:  "You don't have to be black to sing the blues, " she wrote years ago. 


Another misconception is that you have to go down Highway 61 in Mississippi to where it intersects with Highway 49, but that's a lie.  There is just as devilish a crossroad where the Eddie Lucio, Jr. Highway crosses Paredes Line Road with a 68 cent overpass.  Most of us avoid the demons by taking the free access road. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Haven Finally Ready for Grand Opening New Years Eve

by Jim Barton on Monday, December 26, 2011 at 7:03pm

     After 18 months of remodeling "The Haven" at 1237 E. Adams is ready for Grand Opening on New Years Eve.  Ironicially, owner Juan Kenigstein, who has literally breathed life into the building by redoing "everything," holds a degree in thanatology, a field of study involving the mechanisms and forensics of death.  The meticulously dressed Kenigstein is not bitter with the city for the many challenges of bringing the building into compliance.  "I'm not a fighter.  I simply did my best to comply with all of the codes and regulations.  By the time remodeling was finished, some certificates had to be renewed.  City officials have mentioned the possibility of reimbursement, which would be nice."

     Mr. Kenigstein does not view the other clubs already operating or planned to be competition.  "We all have our individual clientele.   We may not have the same customers or ambience as the Bora Bora.  We view all of the clubs collectively as sort of a brotherhood.  If another club owner needs something and we can supply it, we're happy to help."

     The building itself seats 99 by regulation. with attractive tile flooring, dance floor and stage.  A beautiful bar with glass accents offers mixed drinks, wine and beer.

     The bar is currently decorated to usher in 2012 which some interpretations of the Mayan calendar hint may be our final year on Earth.  Mr. Kenigstein and his patrons hope that prophecy is not fulfilled literally.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The $64,000 Question for All District Attorney Candidates


by Jim Barton on Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 8:04pm

     As a kid I longed to answer the $64,000 question before the TV show was cancelled due to scandal.  Scandal is the norm in Brownsville and Cameron County.   We pay a district attorney handsomely in Cameron County to fight corruption, but like the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz, Armando Villalobos never had the courage.  He deferred, stepped over, ignored the rampant political corruption in the county so as not to antagonize any segment of political support as he used the district attorney's office to launch his campaign for yet higher office.  Good luck with that, Mando!  True enough, Brownsville does not have a newspaper, but likely the four disparate local bloggers will not take kindly to a "do nothing" district attorney seeking higher office.

     The DA's office was proud of a recent partial success against a drug cartel kingpin.  We salute that success and effort.  South of the border that would have taken some intestinal fortitude.  Still, prosecuting a cartel member already locked up should not be minimized as it's part of the job citizens pay for.   Why do corrupt politicians need to be pursued and prosecuted?  Two projects alone, the Port of Brownsville's "bridge to nowhere" and the Weir Project cost the taxpayers $50,000,000 with nothing discernable or tangible produced with that money.  It all went into political rat holes and lined calabaza pockets.  Add a 10 million dollar sports park that cost the tax payers 35 million and you understand why one of the poorest counties in the U.S. needs effective prosecution of political wrongdoing.  Think what all of those wasted and stolen monies could have done for our community.
      Two of the DA candidates, Maria DeFord and Chuck Mattingly currently work in the DA office.  Surely they are aware of some of this corruption.

They know about the Ernie Hernandez/Robert Cadriel matter.  They are informed about the possible deposition perjury by Carlos Quintanilla who sniffed around our $500,000,000 annual budget school district for two years until he accomplished his mission.   Are these candidates willing to prosecute where their former boss was not to protect our community?

     What about Brownsville Cheezmeh's candidate Luis Saenz?  Where does he stand on the prosecution of political corruption?

Or the Port of Brownsville's Carlos Masso.

Where does he stand?

     Will Gus Garza, the so-called "spanking judge",  spank the wrongdoers even if they are political big shots?
That's the $64,000 question.

Gilberto Hinojosa Moves to Stop Corruption in Cameron County


by Jim Barton on Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 12:13pm

     When Gilberto Hinojosa decided to give up the Cameron County Democratic Chair to run for the state version of that office it was a godsend to the citizens of Brownsville and Cameron County.  Hinojosa has been viewed by many as the poster boy for corruption, backdoor dealing and influencing elections in Cameron County and is closely associated with Abel Limas, Conrado Cantu and Jim Solis.  The obvious win-win situation would be for Hinojosa to vacate the county chair, then lose his bid for the state chair.

     Jared Hockema is one of three candidates filing for the office.  Hockema, a slender, delicately featured young man with a choir boy appearance filled in for Hinojosa the other night at the Democrat Party meeting at the VFW hall.   The meeting had been scheduled to slot the candidates, but that has been postponed until February 3.  Hockema did not waste the opportunity, though.  He displayed his expertise to the captive audience, discussing a variety of filing and election issues.  Some viewed this as his audition for the job of County Democratic Chair.    A longtime political observer took me aside:  "Jared may be personable, but don't forget he is Gilbert's right hand man.  He did a lot of Hinojosa's dirty work."

     Sylvia Garza-Perez, another candidate for Democratic Chair, was very assertive at the party meeting, several times interupting Hockema without first asking to be recognized.  This was amusing to a group of us as they seemed to be sparring a bit.  If the acoustics were better at the VFW hall we would have placed a blow-by-blow video of the exchange on the blog.  "Sylvia is a very aggressive campaigner.  She has absolutely no qualms about using politiqueras."  Jerry Mchale described Sylvia as "Rick Zayas' puppet".

     John "Roca" Shergold is the other candidate.  He has a reputation for being a standup guy.  "He would be a great chairperson," said one insider.   "My only worry is that he's tried for the position twice before and lost."
     Voters have an opportunity to steer local Democratic politics in another direction.  Selecting a different kind of Democratic Chair would be a start.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Former Ortiz Aide Saenz-Blanchard Holds Congress Fundraiser at Ricardo's


by Jim Barton on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 11:47pm

     Denise Saenz-Blanchard declares that "South Texas has lost their voice in Washington".  Truthfully, she should include the 28 years her boss, Solomon Ortiz, languished in Congress.   Ortiz had the reputation of using his office for personal gain and setting the bar in the House of Representatives for junkets to exotic locations, usually the Far East.   Ms. Saenz-Blanchard worked 20 years for Ortiz in several positions, becoming his Chief of Staff in 2008.  Eventually the district tired of Ortiz' nonservice and traded him for a less than charismatic Republican from Corpus Christi.  In a personal conversation Saenz-Blanchard seemed aware of her challenge to distance herself somewhat from Ortiz.

    Local dreamscape artist Karl Julius Lieck designed the campaign sign with subtle symbolism and emphasis on the first name DENISE, which he said was intentionally reminiscent of another female candidate recognized by one name, HILLARY.   Denise is winsome, personable and convincing.  In Nena's video below Denise introduces her campaign staff.  She mentions local real estate broker Larry Jokl as one who constantly urged her to run.  Jokl seemed to be orchestrating the event, paternally by the candidates side.  He described his role in the campaign to me as "the janitor" while handing me his business card and requesting that I send any photos or commentary to him.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Commissioner Chavez-Vasquez Questions Purchasing; Tony Backs Her Up!


     Last summer as Commissioner Chavez-Vasquez attended her first city commission meetings some thought they observed "a deer in the headlights" new public servant, afraid to question or make waves.  No more!  Case in point is the December 6 City Commission meeting when Purchasing Agent Robert C. Luna brought a spending request for engineering on a city project in the amount of $59,000 before the commission for approval.  Ms. Vasquez simply asked if the contract had gone out for bids. .
     Now, Mr. Luna is not accustomed to having his submitted proposals questioned.  It's as if he brings them down from Mount Sinai on stone tablets to the commission.  Past commissions have approved many huge items without bids routinely.  American Surveillance, for example, a security company headed by Jaime Escobedo, the brother of the "fake" doctor Enrique Escobedo recently selected as school board president at BISD, has been designated the "sole provider" on such lucrative contracts as the $200,000 award for a security system at the sports park and, more recently, the two contracts, each for roughly $100,000 for security at the multimodal facility. 
     Luna bristles whenever his proposals are questioned, then issues a condescending pat answer to satisfy the uninformed questioner wasting his time with such a trivial detail as putting a contract out for bids.  In this instance, though, mayor Tony Martinez rises to the occasion and squelches the Luna doubletalk.  When City Manager Charlie Cabler tries to intervene in Luna's behalf, Martinez stops him in mid-sentence.

Here is the video of the historic occasion:

Anthony Troiani Declares for District 27~Is He Different?


by Jim Barton on Monday, December 19, 2011 at 9:16pm

     Just posing with a Republican candidate seems like a bit of a departure from normal political thinking .  But the Anthony Troiani declaration party December 14  was more notable for those NOT present; Cameron County  Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa and County Commissioner Ernie Hernandez, Jr.  Any Democratic candidacy NOT linked to those two symbols of corruption, deserves at least a look.

     It has to be a bit unsettling for all of the candidates for congress to not know the exact parameters of their prospective district.  As currently proposed District 27 would include the full historical version of the King Ranch, a bit of Corpus Christi, Cameron and Willacy Counties.  So a national seashore and a river dividing two countries are in the mix.  Troiani thinks regionally, including Northern Mexico in the mix.  His concerns include improving the levees along the Rio Grande to withstand a category 4 hurricane, making certain that Brownsville stays in I-69 plans and immigration reform.  He mentioned the D.R.E.A.M. Act in his short speech, a law that allows resident aliens eventual citizenship after completing extensive military service or, in the case of minors, educational, residency and military requirements.
     Troiani's house at 6th and E. Washington serves as his residence, law office and campaign headquarters.  The house, built in 1914 in the first subdivision of Brownsville was once owned by Congressman Milton West.  Troiani is rightfully proud of the restoration, even using his solar water heating panels as illustrative of his commitment to alternative energy sources.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jerry Pushes for Bloggers Union, B.U.C. Affiliation


by Jim Barton on Monday, December 19, 2011 at 1:10am
    "It's so upsetting when Jerry does this,"  complained Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, author of BROWNSVILLE VOICE as he read Jerry's latest attempt at fake-bonding Brownsville's disparate bloggers.  "We were in executive session at the Dancy Building after a walking quorum at Denny's.  If the public wants to know more they can pay for an "Open Records" request like I do."
     "Bobby, " I started.  "Jerry's just trying to organize us.  You ought to understand.  Your dad was a union man.  We might even become part of B.U.C.   But, let me ask your opinion on something.  I'm thinking of using a hyphenated surname.  Would that sound too pretentious?  My maternal grandfather's last name was De Man.  I think Jim Barton-De Man has a nice ring."
     Carlos Quintanilla walks toward the young lady setting up a camera tripod, adjusting his tie.  "Hi, I'm Carlos Quintanilla, the President of Accion America.  I'm sure you've heard about my organization creating awareness of underfed hispanic children in Brownsville as well as Dallas.  We do more than talk, we create awareness."    "I'm sorry, sir.  I'm not a reporter.  I'm just setting up the camera." 
     Duardo Paz-Martinez wrinkles his nose at the smell of sewer gas.  "Same old Brownsville smell," he mutters to himself.  "I don't know what I hate worse, Brownsville dust or Brownsville mud.  Eli, Eli!  Lama sabachthani!"
     Juan Montoya hands me a Miller Lite while shouting at Jerry, "Hey, man.  Do you know Folsom Prison Blues?"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 "Mean Mister Brownsville" Public Disservice Award Recipient


by Jim Barton on Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 11:04pm
Dear Readers:  This piece will not include pictures as Staples did not deliver my new computer as promised.  Manager Jorge did kindly issue us $20.00 worth of coupons for our inconvenience. 

     There is on no one big bad wolf in Brownsville.  Corruption is a cooperative effort.  Abe Limas, Conrado Cantu, Jason Hilts and Jim Solis do not operate in a vacuum.  They need collaborators, enablers, co-conspirators.   Nor is corruption the only hindrance to progress.  Mayor Tony Martinez, nominated for this award, has no whispers of corruption, but simply has no ideas to improve our city.  He believes in Brownsville "as is", occupying a ceremonial position not unlike Queen Elizabeth of England, the consumate ribbon-cutter with no plan for the city.  Tony has no sleepless nights agonizing about Brownsville's multitudinous challenges.  He sleeps well, thank you very much, likely between silk sheets.  Yet, he is not our awardee.
     Much nominated Ernie Hernandez, Jr. is a titilllating potential award winner to be sure.  Once elected to office, by fair means or foul, Ernie becomes the city's or county's ultimate vendor.  Do you need printing?  Ernie provides.  Wrecker service?  Ernie provides.  A vending machine with Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay?  Ernie provides.  Ernie does whatever Ernie does because Ernie wants to without respect for the ignorant electorate.  Ernie's ultimate "fuck you" to the community was his orchestration of the employment of his convicted brother-in-law Robert Cadriel.
     Frequently nominated were the "Majority 4" at BISD:  Catalina Presas-Garcia, Enrique Escobedo, Luci Longoria and Christina Saavedra.  Obvious greed and self-service have moved this unsavory foursome to betray our city's children.  But to quote Bob Dylan, "they are only pawns in the game".   Carlos Quintanilla, the convicted R.I.C.O. felon, the con artist lingering, manipulating, orchestrating behind BISD scenes is the real culprit.  Yes, the "4" succumbed, but he was the tempter or temptor, Satan in the garden.  The "4" referred to Carlos as their "brother", but he was really their mentor, leading them unto calabaza.  But, wicked as Carlos is, he is not our award winner.
     Corruption needs a favorable climate.  Just as quarterbacks used to avoid Deion Sanders side of the field, corrupt politicians gingerly step around an enforcer.  Brownsville has none such.  We have a District Attorney merely occupying an office, but not doing his job.  Armando Villalobos has sidestepped every opportunity to prosecute corruption in Brownsville and Cameron County.  Why?  Because he wants higher office and is afraid of angering any segment of the electorate.  He could easily have brought Carlos Quintanilla up on perjury charges.  But he chose not to.  He looked the other way when Ernie Hernandez broke many rules in orchestrating he brother-in-law's hiring.  He stepped aside on Pat Ahumada.  Armando has not done the job he was elected to do, creating, fostering a climate of corruption.  Armando Villalobos is the 2011. Mean Mister Brownsville Public Disservice Award winner.   Congratulations Armando.  Or not. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Coming Soon! The 2011 "Mean Mister Brownsville" Public Disservice Award

To the readers:  This award will be published no later than December 15.  The "Mean Mister Brownsville" computer has succumbed to a virus.  The story would simply be too wordy without pictures.  Picture=1000 words.  In the interim: De facto Brownsville Mayor Jerry Mchale continues to push for the revitalization of downtown on his blog "Downtown Brownsville News" despite a 70 hour per week workload educating, coaching and mentoring our young,  Juan Montoya of "El Rrun Rrun produces one relevant story after another on notebook paper purchased for $1.00 per sheet from the Zayas & Cortez Commissary and Bobby Wightman-Cervantes of "BROWNSVILLE VOICE" helps us connect the dots at BISD while recharging his batteries during the holiday season.

     (Brownsville, TX MMB)  Brownsville and Cameron County are tethered to the huge ball and chain of poverty and corruption.  There are precious few competent, clean public servants among elected officials.  Most serve for personal enrichment or advancement, depleting resources, stealing time and wasting opportunities for our beloved city. 
     One of these personified deterrents to progress, prosperity and growth will be singled out for the undistinguished, unprestigious 2011 "Mean Mister Brownsville" Public Disservice Award, sometimes called simply "The Meanie".  The award goes to the infamous, ignoble individual most significantly obstructing, stifling and suppressing the economic, intellectual and spiritual health of our community. 
     Please use the anonymous comments section of this blog to submit your nominations during the next couple of days.  These will be considered, based on the evidence and reasoning you submit.  Several names are already under consideration by MMB. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Crescent Moon Commemorates 42nd Anniversary of Woodstock with Henry Lee's "Star Spangled Banner"


by Jim Barton on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 3:02pm
Henry Lee, Joe Hugonette and J.J. Struebelt doing the Star Spangled Banner

     Nena accidentally erased the best performance I've witnessed in Brownsville~Henry Lee, Joe Hugonette and J.J. Struebelt doing the Hendrix version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower".  They actually "blew out" a monitor in layman's terms.  While Ben was fixing the monitor, Henry jammed out the Star Spangled Banner along with Joe and J.J.

     I caught Joe Hugonette as he came off stage.  "You guys were awesome.  You and Henry just seemed so synchronized."  "Well, we've been playing together since we were fourteen", Joe stated.  "We sort of know each other's style." 

"J.J., that was great" I shouted.  "Well, it's been a while.  I didn't know if I would remember that stuff."

Here's Nena and I in 1969 along with others our age who actually went to Woodstock.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Presas-Garcia Relinquishes Board Presidency with Emotional Statement

     Below is a video from the December 6, 2011 BISD School Board Meeting.  Catalina Presas-Garcia states her decision to step down as board president, giving her reasons for doing so.  She mentions a pending lawsuit with the words "sometimes adults don't know how to leave their indifferences aside".  She says she has no regrets.  "I may come across strong, but I have heart", she states. 
     She also claims to have been excluded by her "colleagues" from certain insurance coverage.  Presas-Garcia reads excerpts from a letter sent to the district legal team, then forwarded to her, where a former administrator asks for legal protection from anything relative to his tenure at BISD.  Presas-Garcia claims to have been instrumental in rejecting that request. 
     She cites an anticipated increased workload in the coming year in real estate, necessitating frequent travel.  She will still serve on the board, just relinquish the board presidency.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bloggers Differ on Presas-Garcia; Reader Offended At Escobedo Criticism


by Jim Barton on Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 12:40pm
Jerry Mchale

     Back from his extended Thanksgiving hiatus, hard-hitting blogger of Downtown Browntown News Jerry Mchale presented a gentler, kinder description of Catalina Presas-Garcia as President of the Board of Trustees of BISD: "We admire Catalina Presas-Garcia's bravado, not only because she had the daring to save her husband from the perils of the 19th hole and together sire the next Lee Trevino, but because she has balls bigger than all the head honchos of the Cameron County Democratic Party combined. One after another the challengers climbed through the ropes and one after another their corners dragged the supine bodies from the bloodied canvas: Otis Powers, Rick Zayas, Ruben Cortez Jr., Joe Rodriguez, Brett Springston, Mike Saldana and Bobby Wightman-Cervantes. They were all heavyweights who met their match in Presas-Garcia."

     Unlike Mchale, I do not work at BISD, so incurring the wrath of Presas-Garcia is not a daily worry. Nor am I in the same stratosphere as researcher par excellence Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, who rescuscitated his column BROWNSVILLE VOICE just long enough to share these pertinent details about the players in City of Lubbock vs. HealthSmart and BISD vs. HealthSmart:

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes

"John Barr: Healthsmart's lawyer in the Dallas lawsuit against city of Lubbock officials.

John Barr: Cata Presas-Garcia's lawyer paid for by BISD in Joe Rod defamation suit

John Barr: Carlos Quintanilla's lawyer in child support case

Danny Defenbaugh: Auditor hired by Healthsmart to defend Healthsmart in City of Lubbock case

Danny Defenbaugh: Auditor hired by BISD at Presas-Garcia's request

Carlos Quintanilla brought to Lubbock by Ted Parker to influence elections. Texas Ethics Commission investigated and sanctioned Quintanilla's and Parker's candidate

Carlos Quintanilla brought to Brownsville to influence BISD election"

     Bobby Wightman-Cervantes trusts that the F.B.I. can connect the dots above between the various players, motives and manipulation.

     I personally witnessed what Mchale sees as "bravado" in Presas-Garcia at the board meeting I attended. Her style is more like bullying, stifling of dissent and manipulation of the agenda. Minerva Pena is allowed the occasional counterpoint, but is bulldozed by Presas-Garcia on issues that count. Joe Colunga can't seem to make a coherent point in less than a century and Rolando Aguilar seems to have just given up.

Catalina Presas-Garcia

     A reader took issue with my description of the newly appointed board president Enrique Escobedo as a "fake" doctor.

Mr. Barton,

I had the privilege and honor of being taught by Dr. Escobedo at UTB. He always made classes interesting. I consider him a mentor and role model for our young people, not a fake as you claim. He has done a lot for our city. What have you done?"


     Escobedo is not the first politician to be a fraud. Politicos frequently make false claims about military service, education, business experience, etc. to enhance their resume'. It goes to the very core of their lack of integrity. Most of us would cringe every time someone addressed us as a doctor if we knew we had not earned that title. But an amoral con artist does not always feel that shame or guilt with their misrepresentations. In Escobedo's case he had campaign materials and a website still describing him as a doctor even after the Brownsville Herald exposed him as a fraud. I would ask his former student if that is really the kind of role model and mentor Brownsville students need.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fake "Doctor" Named BISD Board President in Reshuffling of Officers


by Jim Barton on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 9:19pm

     Enrique Escobedo, pictured above with convicted R.I.C.O. felon Carlos Quintanilla, was named Board President in by the school board in their December 6 meeting.  Many feel that both men were extremely instrumental in dismissing the school district's 14.3 million dollar suit against HealthSmart for overcharges during a two year period.   Others named as officers include Lucy Longoria as Vice President, Dr. Christinia Saavedra as Secretary and Cata Presas-Garcia as Assistant Secretary.  Those four typically vote as a block and are sometimes referred to as the "Majority Four".  Three trustees did not get selected as officers:  Joe Colunga, Rolando Aguilar and Minerva Pena.
     Escobedo is no stranger to controversy.  During the last election the Brownsville Herald exposed his claim to credentials as a doctor as fraudulent.  Even after this exposure, Escobedo continued to print campaign materials, file campaign reports and publish a website, all of which referred to him as "Dr. Escobedo".  Escobedo maintained that he received a medical doctor degree from Universidad del Noreste in Tampico, but the school denies that.

Quintanilla Wins!!!! Children Lose!!!! BISD Board Dismisses Lawsuit Against HealthSmart


by Jim Barton on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 8:49pm

     Once an audit showed that HealthSmart had overcharged the school district $14,300,000 over a two year period, BISD rightfully filed suit against the company.   Ted Parker, HealthSmart's owner at the time does not take kindly to suits.  Many feel that, just had he had done in the matter of the City of Lubbock vs. HealthSmart, he dispatched Carlos Quintanilla to adjust the playing field.  Carlos was soon working visibly and behind the scenes to change decision makers at BISD.  He was instrumental, along with Patrick Lehmann, Ben Neece, Art Rendon, Juan Montoya and others in forming the DefeatZayasCortezPower PAC to alter the makeup of the board.
     The Mary S. Rey deposition portrays Quintanilla as manipulating certain administrative changes as well:  Springston out, Montoya in as superintendent, Fuller replaced as Chief Financial Officer, etc.  All of this has been detailed in earlier blogs.  Carlos Quintanilla has won!  The children of BISD have lost!
     How many teacher salaries could have been paid with $14,000,000?  How many special needs children could have been served more effectively?  It's a sad, sad day for Brownsville. 

Quintanilla Contributes $1000.00 to DefeatZayasCortezPowers PAC

     BISD is evidently claiming they have no records of a DefeatZayasCortezPowers PAC.  Richard Zayas has just sent me a 17 page file of documents from that very Political Action Committee.  Here is a page of interest showing that Carlos Quintanilla the R.I.C.O. convicted racketeer entangled with the current Board of Trustees made a personal donation of $1000.00 to the PAC. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Marco Longoria Back At Work As Brownsville Firefighter!


by Jim Barton on Sunday, December 4, 2011 at 11:53pm

     For the second time in his career longtime Brownsville firefighter Marco Longoria has received his job back after the case was submitted to an arbitrator.  The firing was a serious blunder by Fire Chief Lenny Perez, a small-minded man known for his leadership deficiencies.  One firefighter put it this way:  "Lenny is a total pendejo with a Napoleonic complex.  He has total distrust of staff that have skills and abilities exceeding his own."   Fire Chief Perez and City Manager Charlie Cabler are known for stonewalling grievances that could be easily settled by skilled administrators.

      "Perez and Cabler waste hundreds of thousands of dollars of city funds with their machismo" remarked another longtime firefighter at a recent barbecue.  "Marco, not only gets all of his backpay, but we had to use overtime to cover his shift.  And the whole thing was total bullshit.  The only ones benefitting are the lawyers Navarro and Ozuna who get paid to work the cases."
       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.  Navarro and Ozuna make an obscene amount of money from the city of Brownsville that already has three lawyers on retainer or salary.  This is reckless asset management by Mayor Tony Martinez and City Manager Charlie Cabler. 

     Navarro and Ozuna are skilled at getting litigation but inept in court.  At the Marco Longoria employment hearing several months back, former firefighter and non-lawyer Louis Hebert totally kicked their asses legally at the hearing.  He  showed himself more versed in labor law, rules of argumentation, handling of witnesses, etc.  Several times he had to remind Navarro that as a lawyer he could not give testimony.
     Despite all of the political and administrative ineptitude, the City of Brownsville is fortunate to have Marco Longoria back as a first responder. 


Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo