Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Armando Villalobos Denies Indictment on Maclovio O'Malley Show


by Jim Barton on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 12:15pm

     "We don't ask the softball questions," announced Maclovio O'Malley, who then tossed several powderpuffs in the general direction of guest Armando Villalobos, the current district attorney running for congress. "Were you indicted on Thursday? Were you indicted on Friday? Saturday? Sunday? What about today? Were you indicted today?" Mando's reassurance to all of the above was "No!"

     With a comedy shtick more closely resembling Richard Pryor than George Stephanopolous, "O'Malley" incorporates the most common Spanish curse words into every sentence much like Little Rock street language uses mf-er as an adjective, adverb, noun or verb. "Mando, did you pay me a pinche dime for running your campaign ad on my site?" "A puto blogger can't just throw this shit out there to see what sticks." As the perfect straight man, Armando matter-of-factly states: "They're just trying to derail my congressional bid. They did this in 2007. We expected it. There's no telling what they will come up with next. But I don't read them." obviously referring to the local blogs.

     It was Maclovio who next threw out something he hoped might stick: "I think it was the Troiani camp, " referring to Anthony Troiani, an opponent in the Democratic primary. Armando let that comment stand without challenge. Maclovio continues: "Juan Montoya puts a lot of shit out there that turns out to be correct, but I notice he's written about 10 stories since this one on Thursday, " implying that Montoya was intentionally burying his shocking expose' blog article.

     "What I don't get are these putos who take down your signs just cause they hear a rumor. I'm with you through thick and thin, Mando. You know that. I mean brothers just don't do that."

     Actually, the program starts out with an eclectic musical prelude, starting with Bob Dylan's "Most of the Time." Between segments come subsequent musical breaks. The livestreaming comes from Spreaker. The Maclovio O'Malley Facebook page lists a family with Jerry Mchale listed as "father" and Juan Montoya listed as "mother." Perhaps, that explains a lot of the programming.

     The substance of the show is primarily "between the lines" or as I was told a long time ago "Many a truth is said in jest." Who knows if next week's show will really feature Melissa Zamora, who Maclovio says "wants my chorizo" and Charlie "Fatkinson", the "puto everyone loves to hate"?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Historical Perspective from Jerry~Brownsville Continues Its Heritage of Corrupt Leaders


by Jim Barton on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 5:53pm

      As Brownsville waits with baited breath to see if the report of Armando Villalobos' pending indictment is simply a mirage or actually an epic judicial turning point for our abused, impoverished community, Jerry Mchale on his blog Browntown Blues takes us down memory lane to remind us that our current crop of self-serving leaders are not that different from their historic predecessors:

"Corrupt because Solomon Ortiz, Eddie Lucio Jr., Gilbert Hinojosa, Abel Limas, Jim Solis, Ernie Hernandez and Conrado Cantu's names speak for themselves. Brownsville, if the truth be known, is synonymous with crooks. Charles Stillman, Brownsville's founder, initiated this Third World City's fall into the abyss with the assistance of his cronies Miflin Kenedy and Richard King. They monopolized business, from promoting their steam ships at the expense of railroad expansion to stealing thousands of acres from the original landowners to renouncing their citizenship as Unionists and Easterners to join the Confederacy in order to make millions transporting cotton contraband through Matamoros to Europe."

     As depressing as Jerry's synopsis of our city's history above, many of Brownsville's knowledgeable citizens will heave a heavy, heavy sigh of dissappointment if Juan Montoya' dramatic disclosure proves unfounded.

      It's so much easier to provide justice for a 20 year old who steals a 12-pack of beer from a Stripes Convenience Store. That youth is not deeply connected, entangled within the system that will judge him. They owe him no favors and give him none.

     Those who want clean government may have their hope dashed again. Do you remember that empty feeling you had when Casey Anthony was found "not guilty" on all but the least of the counts against her? Of course, we're talking about a possible indictment here, not a conviction.
Jerry not only wants us to understand our city's history, he doesn't want our problems glossed over with whitewashing press releases. He mentions Mayor Tony Martinez state of denial about border security. Remember Martinez went dove hunting with his two sons in the county and saw no big bad Zetas. Here is Mchale's take on the mayor:

"When you hear Mayor Martinez parroting the special interests' line that the border is safer than a park in Nebraska, you shake your head and ask yourself, 'Es tan pendejo este puto o es un pinche buey vendido?'"

Of course, reality is not that easy to face nor history always that pretty, but what if our town could turn an historic corner?

Erin Hernandez Garcia Copycats Begum with Casino Fundraiser at Ice House Cantina on Farm Road 511

by Jim Barton on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 8:40pm
Erin with Cheezmeh Organizer Linda Castro

      "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" I was told as a kid. On the heels of Yolanda Begum's popular loteria fundraiser at the V.I.C.C, Erin Hernandez Garcia sponsored a casino style event at the Ice House, a cantina with corrugated metal interior walls located along FM 511 in an area zoned for heavy industry. Casino style games gave supporters a chance to win a variety of wrapped and ribboned prizes.

      Ms. Garcia, who along Begum and three others are running for Justice of the Peace, District 2-2, is part of the politically active Hernandez family, long associated with the use of politiqueras to influence elections. Young Ms. Garcia has gained the support of Brownsville Cheezmeh with the group followers pictured here.

Brownsville Cheezmeh Faithful

This fundraiser allows the campaign to purchase more political signs as Ms. Garcia herself stated:
"Right now the campaign is actively getting our signs up."

      Recently Ms. Begum complained that many of her signs were being stolen or mutilated. Unfortunately, sign theft and destruction has become an issue in recent campaigns. She has filed a police report but no arrests have been made.

      Interestingly, Ms. Hernandez, whose supporters have criticized Begum for speaking English with a pronounced accent, incorporated some Spanish phrases on her page announcing the casino event:

"Gracias por su ayuda en nuestra campana.... Thank your for your support and sharing our page. Quinto sorteo para nuestra noche de casino. Todo lo que tienes que hacer es oprimir LIKE en nuestra pagina y este mensaje."

Yolanda Begum should feel extremely flattered.

Commissioner John Villarreal Gaming

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Juan Montoya of El Rrun Rrun Breaks the Story of Villalobos Indictment

Juan Montoya

Just last evening I was speaking with a campaign manager for another candidate for congress.  I asked him if his candidate's entry into the race had anything to do with the possibility of a Villalobos endictment.  He said "no" but felt the Republicans might be licking there chops expecting an indictment AFTER the primaries. . . . . . Now, today Juan Montoya breaks the story!

Here is the story published by Juan Montoya in his blog El Rrun Rrun.  The story is uncorroborated by local media:                                                                                           


Thursday, January 26, 2012


Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos was indicted today by a federal grand jury looking into the release by disgraced former 404th District judge Abel Limas of convicted murderer Amit Livingston.
[Villalobos former law partner, Eddie Lucio (not our Eddie Lucio) also was indicted.]
Livingston has been on the run since April 2007, when he absconded on a $500,000 security bond. According to federal courthouse sources, the federal statute of limitations on charging anyone for his escape from the country will run out five years from then, in April 2012, this year.
The Livingston case was easily one of the of most notorious emerging from Limas' court shenanigans and involved the murder of 32-year-old Hermila Hernandez, whose body was found October of 2005 near a South Padre Island beach.
Livingston, a man she met on the Internet and with whom she had had a brief affair, was convicted of killing her after she "pushed his buttons" and "insulted his manhood" during one of their meetings.
After his conviction, court records show that Limas allowed Livinsgton to go free for 60 days after defense attorneys reached a deal with prosecutors on the furlough.
Limas granted defense attorney Greg Gladden’s request for the grace period before his client was to surrender and begin serving his sentence, without an objection on record from the DA's office.
In later accounts, Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos said the release occurred despite his objections in private chambers. Shortly after the plea agreement was made in Livingston’s murder case, Limas divided the $500,000 cash bond between Hernandez’s children and their lawyer, Eddie Lucio of Austin.
Lucio, Villalobos’ former law partner, was dealt in because he filed a parallel civil wrongful death suit against Livingston, attaching the bond money as settlement for Hernandez’ death.

How Linebarger Unlevels the Playing Field to Procure Collection Contracts at County and BISD


by Jim Barton on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 12:46pm

      The huge law firm of Linebarger, Heard, Goggan, Blair, Graham & Sampson L.L.P has its longreaching tentacles in every aspect of delinquent tax collection in Cameron County, enjoying lucrative contracts with the county and now again with BISD. Blogger Bobby Wightman-Cervantes has documented the extensive political contributions to the majority 4 BISD trustees. Simply go to his blog BROWNSVILLE VOICE and type in the name Linebarger and it will come up. Recently, Linebarger et al joined two other firms giving sales presentations before a portion of the BISD board.

       Here is my coverage of that budget meeting held 1/16/12:


      While the trustees on the budget committee put on a pretense of fairness by carefully asking each firm the same highschoolish questions with the exact same enunciation, cadence and wording, their body language during the non-Linebarger presentations gave them away. The decision had already been made.


     At the county level, Tax Collector/Assessor Tony Yzaguire sits on the committee that recommends a legal tax collection firm to the county. Linebarger did not leave the issuance of that contract to mere chance or actual merit either. I received information that, just before or after the county contract was awarded, Tony Yzaguire's step daughter Ashley was given a job with the Linebarger firm. If that is true, Tony Yzaguire certainly knows that it is not ethical for him to sit on a recommendation committee while his daughter accepts a job with one of the firms competing for that contract. It is grossly unfair to those companies working in good faith to secure the contract. It is also unfair to the sons and daughters who could fill that spot at Linebarger if only their daddy was tax assessor and a committee member.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Did Brownsville Taxpayers Finance this Nightclub?


by Jim Barton on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 3:57pm

      At a special meeting 1/24/12 the mayor and city commission approved a settlement with Dr. Oziel Davila Robles, who advertizes on the internet as a Brownsville dentist, but actually practices exclusively it seems in Matamoros. It has been suggested by several confidentially that the dentist racked up fraudulent charges of $400,000 over a period of at least 3 years, most, if not all of this on the watch of City Manager Charlie Cabler and Purchasing Manager Robert C. Luna.

     Another persistant rumor is that Dr. Davila may have invested a portion of these funds in a new discoteque located in a strip mall at the confluence of Farm Road 802 and Highway 48. If that is true and the monies were indeed acquired fraudulently, the settlement of the city commission with Dr. Davila essentially means that the taxpayers of Brownsville may have inadvertantly financed a new nightclub.

     Although one commissioner had the impression coming out of executive session that the vote to settle for a small fraction of the defrauded amount would be unanimous, the vote actually broke down on increasingly familar lines: Commissioners Rose Gowen, Ricardo Longoria and John Villarreal voted to accept partial payment as payment in full. Commissioners Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa, Melissa Hernandez-Zamora and Estela Chavez-Vasquez voted to reject the settlement. Since that meant a 3-3 tie of the city commission, Mayor Martinez quickly and joyfully broke the tie with a vote to accept the settlement.

     Our new disco was closed early afternoon Wednesday, but peering through the front glass door, I could see two cone barriers with the enscription V.I.P. $15.00, another insult to taxpayers who have most likely already financed this club with their hardearned tax dollars.

     Whether these funds were transferred knowingly as some sort of calabaza or simply slipped out due to incompetence and/or negligence of the City Manager and Chief Purchasing Officer, a settlement for 17 cents on the dollar does not relieve these highly paid city officials from responsibility. A full investigation leading to severe reprimand, termination and prosecution is a possible recourse. The city must show due respect for the hardworking taxpayers who continue to fund our city's operation even in these difficult times.

    Investigate City Manager Charlie Cabler and Purchasing Agent Robert C. Luna Now!!! Addendum Added!


    by Jim Barton on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 4:39am
          Recently deceased Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was rightfully terminated for looking the other way during two decades of sexual abuse of young boys by a Penn State assistant coach. Paterno's job was to win football games while educating, nurturing and protecting young men, putting them in a position to succeed in life. He did all but one of those things, but his failure to protect the most precious of all assets, the children, was his undoing.


         Charlie Cabler and Robert C. Luna's roles in our community differ from Paterno's but have a substantial effect on the well-being of Brownsville. Between them, they oversee, coordinate and disperse the precious monetary assets of one of the most impoverished cities in our nation. The margin for error in this ever-growing city of nearly 200,000 is as thin as ice on a 31 degree pond. Cabler and Luna oversee the contracts that go out for bids as well as routine insurance claims for city employees, millions of dollars.

          Two critical matters were discussed during executive session 1/24/12 at the City Commission. Point A on the agenda was a matter involving Bank of America. Point B involved reaching a settlement agreement with Matamoros/Brownsville dentist Dr. Oziel Davila Robles.

         The exact specifics of the settlement remain confidential, but no one seems to be denying reports that fraudulent claims for city employees totaling $400,000 were run up over a period of at least 3 years involving the Matamoros dentist. If you think that City Manager Charlie Cabler is not aware of such claims, please understand that he is the final decision maker on all such claims before they go to an arbitration process. This matters fits precisely within his job description as City Manager.

         Robert C. Luna has a role here too as the city's Purchasing Manager. The persistant rumor that Robert Luna and Dr. Oziel Davila Robles are "tight" is extremely disturbing. If reports are true, the city is willing to settle the fraud for approximately $70,000, which would represent a recovery of 17 cents on the dollar.

           When you google Dr. Oziel Davila Robles the address that most frequently comes up is 1905 Illinois Ave, Brownsville, TX.

         As shown in the picture that address is a tiny cubicle in a rundown strip mall anchored by Kozy Korner Koin Laundry. Checking with other businesses in the area, no one recalls a dentistry to ever operate there. That location is simply a cover, a front.

          Dr. Davila's real place of business is Dental Imagen, Margaritas Street #11 Col Jardin, Matamoros, TA. While some have expressed the difficulty of securing records from Mexico, it is obvious that the primary insurance records are with the City of Brownsville. Recovering those should not be difficult at all. Some have speculated that Dr. Davila may have diverted the fraudulently received funds to purchase a local nightclub. His financial presence in that club and any assets should be recovered to satisfy this settlement.

          Whether this is a case of calabaza-driven dishonesty or simply shoddy performance of duties, this mismanagment of city assets should not simply be swept under the rug. Our money strapped city and its citizens deserve better.

    ADDENDUM: The commission vote last night broke right down the middle with Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa, Melissa Hernandez-Zamora and Estela Chavez-Vasquez voting against the settlement and Rose Gowen, John Villarreal and Ricardo Longoria voting for it. Mayor Tony Martinez gleefully stated "Well, I guess I will break the tie." Speculation is that those voting for the settlement likely followed the advice of City Attorney Mark Sossi. "Better to get something than nothing" and "the guy could just run to Mexico" are possible arguments for settling at 17 cents on the dollar. Of course, an option could have been to table until a thorough examination is concluded, but that would likely involve some action against the above-mentioned city officials. I attended the meeting, but was not allowed to speak as there was no public comment on the action item. For the regular public comment period, no one signed up. Of course, those comments cannot be about an agenda item. So Sossi and Martinez had the citizens where they want them.

           Also, a commenter noted that the tiny office I took a picture of at 1905 Illinois Ave was one of those independent mail box facilities. So, it's obvious that Dr. Davila simply got his mail there with his entire actual practice being in Matamoros. That address is listed at his place of doing business on those listings and registries that show where one can find dentists in their area.

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Yolanda Begum Under Attack by Hernandez Supporters~Now Includes Video


    by Jim Barton on Monday, January 23, 2012 at 10:13pm

         Ethnic slurs or putdowns drawing attention to  speech, appearance or cultural differences are a feeble, weakminded attempt to show superiority of one race or ethnicity over another, or if within a single ethnic group, superiority over that individual.  Such insults are not only ugly, but illogical as differences are just that, differences, not proving one better or worse.  Could you prove yourself, for example, to be sharper than former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger or rocket scientist Werner Von Braun simply because your speech is more anglicized?

         Yolanda Begum, candidate for Justice of the Peace, District 2-2, has come under a withering attack by supporters of another candidate, Erin Hernandez Garcia.  The basis of those attacks is simple.  Ms. Begum, although she speaks the English language clearly and distinctly, speaks with an accent identified with those for whom Spanish is their initial language.  Ms. Hernandez' speech is more anglicized, reflecting a generation of hispanics for whom English is their first language.  Both groups have adequate representation in our community with neither group being inherently superior or inferior to the other.

         Another theme hammered home repeatedly by the Hernandez' camp is that Ms. Begum, unlike Erin, is not a lawyer.  Notice that Erin's supporters do not describe her as an effective lawyer or even as a frequently retained lawyer, just a lawyer.  Please notice the careful analysis of Juan Montoya of the  El Rrun Rrun blog:

    "It doesn't seem to mollify these critics that in the United States, the people, in their wisdom, have only elected lawyers to less than 5 percent of the total justice of the peace positions."

    It goes without saying that simply being a lawyer does not guarantee one will act with compassion, common sense and integrity, three recurrent themes of the Begum campaign.  The names Abel Limas, Jim Solis and Gilberto Hinojosa are illustrative of that.

         As to the destruction or theft of campaign signs, those are criminal acts and the perpetrators have not been identified.  A candidate simply can't control every supporter, only set the tone for their campaign.

         Here is a video of  Ms. Begum's brief statement at her last fundraiser:

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Lamest Story Ever Written~Please Don't Read


    by Jim Barton on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 8:06pm

         A family's stability in the 1950's was tied to your dad's job. A father's good, stable job could mean that a family would grow up in one community with a large support system of family and friends.

         The ideal family back then was depicted in the TV show "Ozzie and Harriet" and later "Leave It to Beaver". If you had a dad like mine; tempermental, full of self-doubt, insecure and too-eager-to-please, you moved around from job to job and city to city. Back when numbers were important to me I counted 42 schools between my first and twelfth year.

         The new kid in school can face the extremes of peer pressure and face it alone. He's fresh meat for the bullies, especially if a bit undersized. Or, word can spread intantaneously all over school that the new kid is a genius, a sports star or dreamy like Ricky Nelson.

         That first impression is difficult to shake, even you've been taught modesty as some sort of virtue. I've had my share of both types of receptions, although I sometimes find myself Googling Pilot Rock, Oregon where I spent one idyllic spring and summer.

         My first stroke of luck in Pilot Rock, setting an unstoppable favorable inertia was the visit to our home of the lady from Bell Telephone. Barely 11 years old, the youngest kid in Junior High, the lady listed me in the Teenager's Phone Book, an appendage at the back of the regular grownup phone book. I accepted the award without comment, feeling almost as if I had been awarded an undeserved Purple Heart. My mom would answer the phone, then say "It's for you", a totally new life experience. It was usually Mary, a girl that got everyone together for baseball at the park. If I hesitated, she would say "We need you. You're one of the best players." That gave me the impetus to convince my mom to allow it, even if it meant doing a certain household chore in world record time first.

         Baseball is a game of mannerisms and we were serious about baseball in Pilot Rock. All of us could hold the bat like Stan Musial or Ted Williams. We could imitate every nuance of the windup of Warren Spahn or Sandy Koufax. But the daily argument was always about who was better: Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. The world seemed so polarized: Mantle or Mays, Chevy or Ford, Nixon or Kennedy. Years later, I would learn about blacks and whites.

         Physical attraction is an odd thing, sometimes defying logic. If you got wind of a compliment from a girl, you immediately became aware of that feature of your appearance or aspect of your personality and tried to enhance it.

         Yolanda, a girl from the Umatilla Indian Reservation, was said to like my blonde hair, whitish from playing baseball everyday in the sun. I combed it straight back on both sides to form what was then called "ducktails". Yolanda was 14, a grown woman to me. It was said that she had a child in the 6th grade, so had missed a year of school, but none of that diminished her popularity. When we passed in the hallway, it was obvious that she was a head taller than me.

         I didn't know what a sock hop was, but my mom finally relented. "Oh, just go!" she finally said. It was good thing my dad was out on the road, trying to sell tires or I never would have gone. Before I went, my mom gave me what they call a summer cut, running the the shears over my head with an attachment to keep the cut even. I literally ran to the school's gymnasium, finding everyone dancing in their socks with balloons scattered all over the floor. One of the tall girls asked me to dance till her boyfriend got there. She kept telling me "Yolanda really likes you." I gave my typical shrug. When her boyfriend finally arrived she thanked me for my efforts at fake dancing. I drifted to the edge of the room, sort of biding my time. After a few minutes, one of Yolanda's friends came up to me. "Yolanda doesn't like you anymore. She hates your hair."

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Does Rick Perry Endorse Newt "Open Marriage" Gingrich in Exchange for Vice-Presidency?

    Does Rick Perry Endorse Newt "Open Marriage" Gingrich in Exchange for Vice-Presidency?

    by Jim Barton on Friday, January 20, 2012 at 9:32pm

         While our buffoon of a governor was "suspending" his campaign, he unhesitatingly endorsed the treadworn Gingrich for the Republican nomination for the presidency.  It makes one wonder if a deal was cut.  The shrewd move for Gingrich would be to offer Perry the head man's job in one of the three government agencies Perry wanted to eliminate and then,  in deference to Rick, eliminate that agency.  Perry would have trouble running a Dairy Queen.

         If you're thinking of supporting Gingrich you may think of his marital history as something irrelevant, personal.  But consider that while married to a sick wife number one, he had a six year affair with what would become wife number two.  While with wife number two, he mentioned the open marriage concept while pursuing another gal.  Now, stop there.  Think of all of the lies over a number of years he has had to tell regarding his whereabouts, lateness, late office hours, etc.   The lie has become an essential part of who he is.  Is that who you want as your president?
         Of course, Perry is done and Gingrich soon will be.  The main beneficiary of their campaigns?   Lorne Michaels, producer of Saturday Night Live.  Gingrich and Perry have produced tons of funny material over the years for the comedy series.

    Brownsville Activists Protest at Linear Park Increased Influence of Corporations on Government

    Brownsville Activists Protest at Linear Park Increased Influence of Corporations on Government

    by Jim Barton on Friday, January 20, 2012 at 8:02pm

    America's large corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars financing presidential and congressional campaigns annually. The job description of thousands of paid lobbyists is simply to persuade these lawmakers to justify these contributions by hiring certain defense contractors, passing certain legislation, bailing out certain huge monetary entities, etc. It is money well spent. It is similar to what the huge law entity Linebarger does locally in financing the campaigns of the B.I.S.D. trustees. The trustees pretend to listen to the sales presentations of other firms knowing full well they will approve Linebarger irregardless of merit. Money talks.

    Local activists Norma Castillo, Andres Limon, Azucna Salins and Stan Raines They want our government to respond to the needs of human beings, not huge corporations. That is why they joined in support of the nationwide "Occupy the Federal Courts" with their protest at Linear Park in Brownsville from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm January 20, 2012. "We are all employed people. We each took a day off work because we feel it's important to be heard on this issue," stated Norma Castillo.

          Here is a short statement from Norma Limon Castillo stating the purpose of the protest.  The audio is pretty clear despite the strong winds: 

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Don't Feel Sorry for Seattle! The Kids Love and Need Snow!

    The national news makes it appear as if the city of Seattle is in a crisis mode due to a few inches of soft snowfall.  As a native of the city, here is my somewhat different perspective:

    by Jim Barton on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 1:40pm

         Many not native to the Pacific Northwest assume that at Seattle's northern latitude it has all the snow it can handle.   Not so!  A combination of the warm maritime currents from Japan, the warm chinook winds and mountain ranges that trap moisture west of the Cascades, squeezing every drop out of the clouds before they venture east gives the city a wet, but moderate climate for a city 180 miles from the Canadian border. 

         As kids, although every clear day of the year, we could gaze longingly at the majestic, snow-covered Mount Rainier, our constant prayers for snow days that would necessitate missing school fell on deaf ears.  The problem was that, in that climate, even when snow fell, it would seldom stick to the roadways.  If it ever did stick, we kids rejoiced, while our parents panicked, bought snow chains for their tires.  In one of the freak storms that hit while I was attending Kent-Meridian High School, I bought the chains and snow tires for my '59 VW bug.  I thought that meant I could go up and down the steep hills with abandon.  I lost control, slipped into a deep roadside snowdrift.  A farmer pulled me out with his tractor at no charge.

         After any heavy snowfall the first order of business is to make a snowman for the front yard.  You make the tightest snowball you can and start rolling it in the snow until it makes a huge ball.  That is the lower torso.  Then you make a slightly smaller ball that is placed on the top of the first one for the stomach and chest area.  Finally, a smaller ball yet is placed on top for the head.  A carrot works for the nose, usually dark rocks for the eyes and mouth.  The benefit of having a snowman is that even after the snow has melted from the yard, you may have a lingering presence for a few days until finally he disappears into the grassy soil.

         Please don't feel sorry for Seattle's kids.  They are having a ball!

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Tony Martinez Extends Mercy to Those with Delinquent Traffic Citations


    by Jim Barton on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 7:00pm
    Your changes have been saved.

         Tony Martinez made a proposal at the 1/17/12 City Commission meeting that could make past due traffic citations less costly for those ticketed in Brownsville. Martinez spoke of "hard times" and the need not to put an excessive burden on locals who had difficulty paying traffic fines. Martinez explained that the current practice has been to ad a 30% administrative fee to all citations after 60 days, providing revenue to an outside collection firm collecting payments. He stated that the collection rate was still rather small, perhaps as low as 22% on delinquent fines.

         City Manager Charlie Cabler and Municipal Judge Ben Neece both expressed their willingness to try in house collections of all delinquent tickets for a 6 month period. Evidently, the contract with the outside firm had expired leaving an opportunity to at least try in house collections.

         Judge Neece seemed pleased that the mayor was attempting to ease some of the financial burden on those with tickets. "If someone does not show up in court, another charge of 'Failure to Appear' adds $200 to the fines. The warrant issued adds another $25 to $50. If you add an additional 30% for outside collection, one ticket could eventually cost up to 10% of the annual pay of some of our residents."

         Commissioner Ricardo Longoria questioned the plan. "There's a reason that city's all around the state use outside collectors." Despite Longoria's objections the proposal passed.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Brownsville Cheezmeh Leader Stifles Free Speech of Group Members

    Brownsville Cheezmeh Leader Stifles Free Speech of Group Members

    by Jim Barton on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 5:25pm

         Most of the departures from Brownsville Cheezmeh, once considered a political watchdog group, have been due to a simple denial of free speech within the group by group leader and founder Erasmo Castro Dragustinovis.  All of the Cheezers are said to be equal but, to paraphrase George Orwell,  "some are more equal than others."

         We've documented in previous articles how individual Cheezers left the group after Erasmos deleted their comments from the group page, coming to the realization that the only opinions that mattered were those of the group founder and controller.   Groupthink is difficult to pull off, especially in a group of grownups accustomed to exercizing their First Amendment rights on a regular basis.

         The latest victim of Erasmo's ire is Susan Bowman, active in Brownsville Cheezmeh nearly since the inception of the group.  Erasmo deleted her from the Cheezmeh page for committing the unforgivable sin of hitting "like" on one of my comments.

    This was the message I received from Susan:
    " I was just recently deleted from Brownsville Cheezmeh because I liked the comment that you made about them on Mean Mr. Brownsville and for being your friend. Can you believe that crap?"

         Having or expressing an opinion is only one way to be kicked out of the group.  One current member was deleted as a personal Facebook friend of Erasmo for having lunch with Nena and I.  She is still active with the group and has not been deleted from the page.  This practice of shunning former members, obviously an often used cult tactic, accomplishes two things.  It punishes ex-members for their audacity to leave the group, but it also prevents thought contamination by current members fraternizing with those who have left.  It is an ugly, hurtful practice, but undemocratic as well.

    Presas-Garcia Unable to Hide Favoritism At Budget Meeting


    by Jim Barton on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 12:35am


         Oh, the irony! On a nationwide celebratory day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a school board whose president is a fake, phony, fraudulent "doctor" holds a budget meeting with the audience largely populated by lawyers in suits representing three companies salivating over the bountiful commissions associated with collecting delinquent property taxes owed the district.

         Before we start to doubt all of those claiming doctorates, Martin L. King did enter Morehouse College at the precocious age of 15, actually earning his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1948, later his Bachelor in Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951, and finally, his Doctorate in Philosophy from Boston University in 1955. Enrique Escobedo, on the other hand, claimed a doctorate from Universidad de Noreste in Tampico, Tamaulipas which he never received. He simply lied about it. The school welcomes him back as a "student" in pursuit of his degree. Unabashed, the dishonest Escobedo printed up campaign materials in his run for school board naming himself Dr. Escobedo even after the Brownsville Herald exposed him as a fraud. As shown in the picture, to this day Escobedo falsely claims to be a doctor. Following his example, the 50,000 students in BISD should quit school and simply claim to be high school graduates.

          Nena and I got there late for the meeting and could only stay two hours. During that time perhaps three of the ten agenda points were covered. We did get to see the three 17 minute presentations by the firms wanting to collect back taxes for the school district. Interestingly, the times were originally designated as 15 minutes, but after the first presentation by the Perdue firm, a couple of questions were asked extending the time by 2 minutes. Catalina Presas-Garcia, super protective of her favorite firm, Linebarger, extended each subsequent firm's time by 2 minutes. The competing firms were not allowed in the room during their competitor's sales pitch.

          The Perdue firm representative gave a very self-assured presentation, documenting superior collection to Linebarger when they replaced them in Hidalgo County. Linebarger followed, emphasizing consistent collections and the size of their company's presence in Texas. Enrique Pena and company gave the last presentation. Presas-Garcia asked Mr. Pena if he was the one they call "Ricky", a not-so-subtle condescension. During Pena's presentation, Presas-Garcia looked bored, then left for a rest room break with a very strident walk with her clogs pounding the wooden ramp to the exit door. By the time she returned Enrique Pena had turned the presentation over to Julio Lozano, a poised presenter. Lozano paused noticeably until Presas-Garcia made it back to her seat. "Continue your presentation" admonished Escobedo. "I will when Mrs. Presas-Garcia makes it back in. Thank you for joining us, Ms. Presas-Garcia" he stated with more than a little sarcasm.

          Numbers lie. Each firm had charts proving their collection superiority. Each firm used some form of the phrase "comparing apples to oranges" then did exactly that. All emphasized that their staffs were bilingual and professed a need to hire more from Brownsville if selected as the district's tax collection firm. Perdue compared their collections with those made by Linebarger who they replaced in several accounts. The Linebarger charts did not show comparisons, only steady tax collection. The Pena firm chose to compare their collections at BISD with the percentages collected in the Edinburg School District. After each presentation, Escobedo, Presas-Garcia and Pena carefully asked the same question of each firm. Presas-Garcia wanted to know how many other accounts each firm had in the valley. That question is heavily weighted in favor of Linebarger, the oldest, most prominent collection firm in Texas. Escobedo wanted to know why their company should be selected, which permitted each speaker to rehash their sales presentation. Pena's question was about the homestead exemption, something she seems to have only recently discovered.

          As we hurried to our truck to make another appointment, I asked someone on the Pena team about the obvious disrespect from Catalina Presas-Garcia. "She always treats our company that way because she gets paid by Linebarger."

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Egomaniac Blogger Wightman-Cervantes Continues to Breath Fire


    "They that dwell on the Earth shall wonder . . . . when they behold the Beast that was, and is not, and yet is" (Revelation 17:8).

          Some feel this apocalyptic scripture to have been fulfilled when fire-breathing local blogger Bobby Wightman-Cervantes watched his legendary blog descend into the lake of fire only to be rescuscitated, brought back to life by his own egomania. Visionary bloggers Mchale and Montoya refused to witness the death certificate until they saw clear evidence of rigor mortis, or to put it indelicately "the stiffness of death." This was providential as the "wild beast that had descended, now ascended out of the sea with more anger than before." BROWNSVILLE VOICE, Bobby's blog was back!

          Actually, shutting down one's Facebook page, blog or leaving a news group is an ancient internet ploy to engender love, support and devotion from cyberspace. Bobby WC is not the first blogger to threaten to leave his internet followers high and dry. Erasmo Dragustinovis once threatened to shutdown Brownsville Cheezmeh.  Too many longtime contributors to internet news groups have issued a lengthy "goodbye post", detailing their reasons for leaving the group only to be back posting within 24 hours. It's a cry for love, for support, for reassurance. Humans need that on the internet and in what little is left of their non-internet life.
          In Jerry Mchale's recent poetic lecture on mortality he surmised:

    "My passing will be less significant than the splash precipitated by a seagull crapping over the ocean. I will return to my pre-birth state. I will be nothing. I don't know if a conscious supreme power presides over the universe. I do know that I don't figure in any one's plans. Within my limited comprehension of the incomprehensible, I believe that when you're dead, you're dead.

    Yes, the fear of not being missed once we depart is a universal insecurity. If we have the means and the cheap labor we can have a pyramidal tomb erected. Or, we can fake our demise on the internet. Whatever works!

          Once out his self-imposed descent into the sea, blogger Bobby came at me with renewed fire-breathing vengeance, charging me with a cold-blooded "shakedown" of district attorney candidate Carlos Masso for advertising dollars and multiple lies in the retelling of the Fly Frontera fiasco story. Actually, I'm sort of weary of talking about Fly Frontera and simply referenced an earlier short post on the subject which evidently omitted appropriate credit to BROWNSVILLE VOICE in blocking the scam. Of course, Bobby's role was executed on his posterior behind a computer, not down at the city commission protesting, speaking against the foolhardy plan. His convoluted conspiracy theory involving Erasmo Dragustinovis, Rodrigo Moreno and Edward Camarillo is a frantic reach even for Bobby.

          Bobby's next petulant rant accused me of overt racism by publishing a picture of students at Texas Southern University, the institution from which Justice of the Peace Candidate Erin Hernandez Garcia received her law degree. Actually, it was Bobby who disparaged the school with these initial remarks in BROWNSVILLE VOICE:

    "Erin Garcia failed to perform in college and on her LSAT which is why she attended the worst law school in Texas. It is the law school of last resort. It is the law school you go to once you have been rejected by every other law school in the state."  

         Bobby did not name the school, although Jerry Mchale did. In a followup article detailing the charges and countercharges, I also published a picture showing students from the school. It is a predominately black school, which was reflected in the picture. That has nothing to do with the school's academic credentials, but Bobby portrayed my coverage of the story as racist. Racism and homophobia are frequently used verbal assaults from this fire-breathing internet dragon, but notice Bobby's own expressions in this same article to make your own selection of racist bloggers. Notice how he describes a representative of the F.B.I. he says he met with:

    "When I met this little racist shit Karen Chastine she addressed me as Mr. Cervanteeeeees. You would think before the FBI assigns someone to a community like Brownsville they would receive some race sensitivity training - yea - no this is the FBI. I corrected her and told her that under Spanish grammar you drop the second last name and only refer to the person by the first last name and that by the way it is pronounced "Cervantes" not Cervateeeeeeees. To prove her ignorance and imaginary power she went out of her way to say "I'm from the midwest Mr. Cervanteeeeeeees and will pronounce your last name as Mr. Cervanteeeeeeeeeees.This is the best the FBI can do for Brownsville - the assignment of a punk ass Midwestern Anglo with no respect for our culture."

    Bobby's use of the expression "punk ass Midwestern Anglo" displays, not only overt racism, but regional bias. So, who really is the racist shit?

         But there's more. As the proverbial pot calling the kettle black, Bobby continues with remarks directed at Commissioner Zamora and Brownsville Cheezmeh:

    "As an elected official promoting cheezmeh's public forum makes her a supporter of cheezmeh's active demand to vilify Jaime Gonzalez and defend the indefensible - it makes her a supporter of their racist, homophobic and antisemitic jokes."
    Even with all of the above being said, it is obvious that the frequently ill-tempered, sometimes irrational Wightman-Cervantes has played a huge role in researching the many twists and turns of political corruption in our community. We welcome his blog's ascent out of the abyss.


    Grandson Jack in Market Square Walking with grandson Jack downtown is a challenge.  He frolicks, skips, cuts in front of you, runs ahead,...