Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Brownsville, Meet Your BISD Forensic Auditor Danny Defenbaugh

     When some in our city heard that the forensic audit at Brownsville Independent School District was supervised by a former F.B.I. agent, that was all they needed to know.  To them perhaps, the F.B.I. represented professionalism, extreme care, competence, high technology and impartiality.   In the case of the BISD audit, those assumptions might be wrong.  Danny Defenbaugh, the CEO of Defenbaugh and Associates, not only has a checkered history with the F.B.I., he may have inappropriate ties to some on the BISD board of trustees, rendering the audit merely a tool for their agenda.

     Mr. Defenbaugh was employed by the F.B.I. for nearly 33 years, primarily as a terrorist/bombing expert.  He is a certified bombing technician.   One of his most important assignments was the Oklahoma City bombing.  Timothy McVeigh was convicted in that bombing and eventually executed.  It is alleged that during that investigation Defenbaugh unethically withheld hundreds of necessary documents from the defense.  Some interviews were "lost".  Others were turned in with the witnesses  names slightly misspelled  so that they could not be found on a database.  

     Here is a brief excerpt from a Dallas Morning News article about the case:

Dallas Morning News, 2/19/02:  "There is also the suspicion that even now Defenbaugh is not being forthright and giving full disclosure so as to hide the truth about what he and the FBI have known about for almost seven years: withheld and/or falsified FBI documents and FBI 302 interview notes and lead sheets and surveillance tapes, FBI 302 reports for interviews with John Doe witnesses that were deliberately not written, names of suspects and witnesses which were deliberately and repeatedly misspelled so they could not be found in database searches, fingerprints that were deliberately not checked, sketches of John Does deliberately not made, and FBI 302 reports that have been written to cast doubt on original and earlier FBI 302 reports that put government foreknowledge and cover-up in a bad light (this tactic is discussed numerous times with examples in McVeigh defense attorney Stephen Jones’ book, “Others Unknown”).
     This background on Defenbaugh is instructive as one reads the $250,000 forensic audit prepared by his firm.  Add to this the revealing research by Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, illustrating the close ties between HealthSmart and Defenbaugh, Cata Presas-Garcia and Defenbaugh.  Bobby's blog, Brownsville Voice,  has that evidence, much of it in the form of links to the paperwork.

     All of the above might explain why the "audit" includes editorializing and some blame assessment to some previous administrators known to favor the lawsuit against Healthsmart to recover $14,000,000 in overcharges. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Charro Days International Parade~8 Short Videos

Includes Stell Middle School, gymnastics, Faulk Middle School, La Michoacana Meat Market, Corona Extra Beer and huge H.E.B. shopping cart

Includes Stell Middle School, gymnastics, Faulk Middle School, La Michoacana Meat Market, Corona Extra Beer and huge H.E.B. shopping cart

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brownsville Cheezmeh's Possible Plan for BISD Board Candidates

      The statement under the picture below appeared on the"Brownsville Cheezmeh" page Thursday, 2/23/12 @ 6:48 pm by "cheezmeh".   There is a disclaimer above the remarks indicating they were "submitted by a friend," but anyone who knows Erasmo understands his iron-fisted control of what is posted on his site.  At least this gives us an idea of what the head Cheeze imay be thinking as he guides his group in supporting a slate of candidates for the BISD board.  The BBC referred to is their political action committee or PAC known as Bringing Brownsville Change.  The idea seems to be that a prospective candidate must agree to have all their campaign contributions funnelled into Brownsville Cheezmeh's PAC in exchange for support, block walking, poll sitting and sage political advice.  Of course, Erasmo may remove this statement from his site after this exposure, but please note that it has been up for several days and he even commented on it, thus is fully aware of it.

Here are the two comments that follow the statement: 

  1. An says:
    24 February 2012 at 7:02 am
    i so dislike publicly announcing my ignorance..having said that here goes…what is BBC PAC? I have very little experience or knowledge of political action committees I have only recently encountered one personally… I was not swayed in that instance to allow a PAC to exercise my right to vote for the best candidate … I saw the head of the organization solely benefitting self not the in fact best candidate…I personally have not followed the BISD and have only recently taken an interest in these issues..I do disagree that potential candidates should have a background in business or education… diversity is always a good thing…savy horse sense can make up for alot of book learnin!
    • cheezmeh says:
      24 February 2012 at 9:04 am
      Our PAC came to be more of necessity when we were fighting Fly Frontera… We visited the Texas Ethics Commission because we wanted to put out an ad in the Herald asking our community to contact elected officials to vote NO… We had a choice, either file as a specific or general purpose PAC… We opted with the general purpose … With that said… We’ve only asked for donations when there is actually a pending cause or purpose… the article was submitted by a friend, so the opinions expressed in it are his… all monies we raise or obtain are for the continuation of what we do…

Erasmo Castro

The Brownsville Cheezmeh Statement:

"I’ve been following BISD trustees for the last 20 years. Not all of them have been bad, and certainly not all of them have been good. However, I have also observed good people get elected only to turn bad once they get a taste of the position.
Because the position has the potential for so much gain, many good people seem to forget what ideals got them elected. They see money shoved in their face from so many angles, that it becomes irresistible.

In order to avoid this from happening to our candidates, the ideal candidates need to be found. In my opinion, those candidates should be willing to sign a personal acknowledgement whereby they pledge not to accept any donations from anyone except from the BBC PAC. Anyone who cares to make a donation to a candidate must make it to the PAC instead. Any candidates who are willing to accept those terms, get financial backing, notoriety, block walking, poll sitting, and advice from BBC and BC. This way, you weed out all of the other potential influences, and believe me, there are plenty.

Additionally, the ideal candidate needs to be able to make the time commitment that is required to be able to study and analyze every budget item, every expenditure, every line item on every agenda. People who live paycheck to paycheck and are under the thumb of a can’t-lose job are not good candidates. They will not be able to dedicate the necessary time.
Moreover, the ideal candidate needs to have some semblance of intelligence, with experience and/or education in business or education because it is too easy to pull the wool over their eyes if they don’t."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Videos Reveal Sloppy Procedures by City Purchasing Department


     The two videos below are from the 2/21 Brownsville City Commission meeting.

    Commissioners Zamora and Chavez-Vasquez question the procedures followed in soliciting and monitoring bids for demolition services.  Initially Robert C. Luna indicates that 10 prospective bidders were contacted. Commissioner Zamora states that, after asking the purchasing department to supply references for the contractors, she called all 10 herself and 5 indicated they had never been contacted.   Zamora also notes that Jaime Escobedo, a frequent business partner with the city, the county and BISD, is also included in the demolition vendors.  That raises a red flag about the qualifications of all of the vendors.

     Commissioner Vasquez-Chavez raises questions about the pre-qualification of the demolition vendors since there seems to be a wide range in the degree of difficulty in demolitions.  At this point City Manager steps in to assist Purchasing Director Robert C. Luna explain how the process works in the city.

     Mayor Martinez expresses some concern over the lack of businesslike procedures used by the city, although he later states that he doesn't view contracts for demolition or hauling to be that critical.  Of course, the purchasing department hands out millions of dollars of taxpayer money annually to vendors and, for that reason, establishing clear, fair, professional methods is critical.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Republican Santorum Has No Sympathy for the Devil

by Jim Barton on Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 11:21pm ·

      They may not be the most cerebral flock of candidates, but the Republican presidential hopefuls do make headlines.  The latest was Rick Santorum's regurgitated speech singling out Satan the Devil as a serious threat to America.  The remarks brought back some lingering questions I've carried around for some time about the Great Adversary.   Fortunately, at the Sombrero Fest, we ran into someone expert in all things Satan, Doc Scully of the Doc Scully Blues Band.
     Scully was gracious enough to submit to an interview in the hot February sun.  "Mr.Scully. . ."   "No, Doc is fine."  "Ok then, Doc.  First of all, do you think Santorum's characterization of Satan is fair?"
     Doc tossed his empty taco plate into the recycling barrel and briefly pondered his response.  "Let's just say that Satan is misunderstood.  He's essentially a businessman.  He bends a few rules not unlike Ernie Hernandez, but he's not out to hurt people."
     "Where did you two first meet, if I may ask?"
     "Well, this may surprise you," Doc began, "but in high school I was just an average musician.   No one would have seen standing ovations at the Crescent Moon in my future.  But I took matters into my own hands, drove to Memphis, turning south on Highway 61.  It was eerie passing all those antebellum houses with their slave quarters in back, but I kept going, thinking about the Freedom Riders and the slain Medgar Evers.  I didn't stop till I got out of my car at the crossroads with Hwy 49.  That was where I first saw Lucifer."
      "What did he say to you?" I asked.  "No, I spoke up first.  Even as a kid, I wasn't shy.  I told him I wanted world class skills in two things in exchange for my soul.  Music was my first request.  The other skill?  Well, let's just say I hear no complaints, "  Doc said with a devilish grin.  "The curious thing is if he'd done a simple background check, he'd would have known my soul was in the bag, but this cherubic face fooled him."
     "Well," I started, my curiosity aroused, "what about original sin and Satan tempting the first Barbie and Ken in the Garden?  Is the devil not guilty of ruining things for planet Earth?"   "Look", Scully started.  "All Satan did was ask a rhetorical questiion, a viewpoint question.  He simply asked "Is it really true you guys are not allowed to pick any fruit?  He never dreamed Eve would go all crazy and eat forbidden fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden.  We all know God said that was off limits.  I mean they were his trees.  Geez!  Look, it's just like when Mitt Romney asks:  "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"  He's just planting a thought.  He doesn't think you're foolish enough to go off and vote for him."

     "Of course, all that misunderstanding was patched up milleniums ago.  Now, Satan is one of God's most trusted employees.  God judges.  Satan is in charge of punishment and confinement.  I know in the old movies he's depicted with a pitch fork to throw combustibles on the fire, but Carrier installed climate control back in the 60's.  He can turn up the heat with the twist of a dial."

     "So all of this rhetoric about Satan being America's greatest threat is hogwash?" I asked.  "Not exactly," Doc continued.  "Satan is sitting on a veritable treasure chest of fossil fuels, not to mention geothermal.  The only way the United States can achieve energy independence is if the Shining One turns loose of all that energy and shuts Hell down."

"Wow!  I never knew!"  "Yeah, and for some of us, there would be an added side benefit,"  Doc added before walking off.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Purchasing Director Robert C. Luna Gets Caught in Misrepresentations Before City Commission

        City Purchasing Director Robert C. Luna, who represents the city on millions of dollars of contracts annually,  must surely miss the good old days when he could bring anything before the city commission and get it rubber stamped.  Sometimes it was a single source bid by American Surveillance substantially over the going rate.  Sometimes it was lucrative engineering contracts that seemed to be unevenly handed out.  

     Commissioners Zamora, Chavez-Vasquez and Tetreau particularly have been questioning his methodology and he's not a happy camper.  At the 2/21/12 City Commission meeting, Luna presented an action item involving demolition services for the City of Brownsville.  Commissioner Zamora quickly noted that Jaime Escobedo, who usually gets lucrative surveillance contracts handed to him by Luna was now in the demolition business.  She wanted to know more about how these contractors were selected.
     Next Commissioner Chavez-Vasquez had questions.  "How are the contractors pre-qualified since the demolitions involve varying degrees of difficulty?  How do we know that all of the companies are set up to do minor and major demolition?  Were all vendors given equal notification?"
     At one point, Chavez Vasquez noticed some discrepancies in the printout she had received from Luna and what he was now stating.  "You stated on the printout that 8 vendors were at your initial meeting about the demolition, now you're saying you only contacted 5."  Luna admitted his handout to the commissioners was in error.  
     Luna continued to explain, stating that some vendors have changed their phone number without notifiying the city, some simply don't answer their phone.  That answer got the attention of Mayor Martinez.  "Let me ask you this.  Do we have a uniform method of notifying vendors when there is a need?  Are we, for example sending a certified letter requiring a signature?"  Luna indicated that when the vendor has a fax machine that the city can connect to, there is some proof that the fax was received.  Other vendors are notified verbally.
     That answer did not suit Martinez who gently chastised Luna, stating that the purchasing department needed to analyze its methods to make certain all qualified vendors had equal access to contracts.

     As the item went to a vote, Commissioner Tetreau wanted it noted that she felt "deceived" by the Purchasing Department. 

United Brownsville Leases Beautiful Home on the Historic Andres Cueto Grounds for 2 Person Staff



      A bit of a tussle between Brownsville's  bourgeoisie or rulling class as represented by the Executive Director Mike Gonzalez of the shadowy, unelected government of Brownsville that is United Brownsville and working class City Commissioner Ricardo Longoria was over almost before it started.  
     The plan was properly introduced to the City Commission on 2/21/12  by Director of Planning Ben Medina calling for the aristocratic super panel to be suitably officed in the historic Andres Cueto Building at 1301 E. Monroe, a space recently vacated by the ill-mannered, inappropriately political priest, Father Armando Matthew, who tried to destroy the career of TSC Trustee Trey Mendez for having the umbrage to vote inappropriately on UTB/TSC "unificatiion".  The office headed by Matthew,The Center for Civic Engagement,  had vacated the building with the its sale from TSC to the city.  Mayor Tony seemed to be orchestrating a move to allow United Brownsville office space in the building, but making room for the mayor and commission to share that space and Mayor Tony had recently himself been named as City Commission representative for United Brownsville.  

     When Commissioner Longoria mentioned that suitable space was available at the more mundane City Plaza, the United Brownsville director moved quickly to the speaker's podium at City Hall.  "Yes, we're aware of that space." he stated unenthusiastically, "but it is actually too large for our needs and we were looking for a more ideal spot."  Longoria reiterated that the City Plaza space was recently vacated, could be rented more cheaply and included a conference room.  No one was stating the obvious, that City Plaza was beneath United Brownsville, especially when a property on the historic registry only a block or two from Tony Martinez' downtown office was available.   
     The gentle pushing match was won by Gonzalez with a slightly irritated intervention by Mayor Martinez.  "We know what you're trying to do" he offered toward Longoria.  
     Commissioner Melissa Zamora offered a compromise satisfactory to all;  lease the building to United Brownsville for one year at $1,000 per month with a a necessary 30 day notice on either side to vacate.  So, Mike Gonzalez gets his wish, a 1,400 square foot office for himself and his single helper in a historic downtown building, a place where he said United Brownsville and the community could "exchange ideas."  Longoria worried a bit about parking, but Medina said he would "look into it."

ps:  Please click on the chart below to see the current makeup of United Brownsville:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cowboys and Charros, Singing and Non-Singing, Create A Fantasy


     My first cowboy was Hop-Along Cassidy appearing daily on a 4 inch TV screen surrounded by a humongous wooden box.  Those were the days of test patterns, tv snow and rolling screens.  Sometimes a slight adjustment, actually a slight twist of the fine tuning knob would stop the roll.  I quickly learned from the old cowboy movies that I didn't want to be yellow-bellied or a tinhorn, a varmint or a cowardly side-saddler.  I never understood the disdain for sheep farmers, because I actually liked sheep. In the real world of corner grocery stores,  a roll of caps for a six-gun went for 5 cents when I was a kid.  Without a capgun you simply rolled the red tape out on the sidewalk and hit the little pockets of gunpowder with a rock to make a bang.   It wasn't a duel at high noon but it was a nickle's worth of fun.


      Problem solving was the forte of the Lone Ranger and his wise native American companion Tonto.  I identified more with Tonto, just as I did with James Fenimore Cooper's Chingachgook, men who could smell the scent of a deer, guides who relied on their wits and knowledge more than gun powder and bolt action.  Cowboys and so-called Indians, lawmen and outlaws.  It was all a fantasy, acted out again and again in the minds of children.  Adding to the fun was that frequently cowboys were also singers.  "Happy Trails to You" by Roy Rogers was known by most kids my age as was "Back in the Saddle Again" by Gene Autrey.


      But, during the same era of Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers and Hop-Along, Mexico had its charros and movie industry featuring their stars:  Jose Alfredo Jiminiez, Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, Antonio Aguilar and Vicente Fernandez.  If it wasn't exactly a parallel universe, it was a concurrent one. Pedro Infante was said to be a ladies man, on screen and off.  He is known for his bolero Amorcito Corazon, his movies, but also his love of flying and Harley-Davidsons.  

     His counterpart may have been Jorge Negrete, known for an almost Mexican national anthem Mexico Lindo y Querida, the film La Madrina Del Diablo and at least 43 other films.  One of his co-stars and real life love interest was the beautiful Gloria Marin.   The patriotic songs of Negrete were said to have "helped heal a  Mexico still suffering from the aftermath of the Revolution by extolling the virtues of virility, courage and family.

" These movies and songs  played throughout Mexico, and, of course, in Brownsville, charros likely overlapped  cowboys;  two fantasy worlds of gunfire, dust and leather chaps where no one got hurt, unless you count broken hearts.  Someday when either the Majestic  or the Capitol  is restored, perhaps busloads of school children can get acquainted with some of these classics of charro and cowboy fantasy.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Turning My Dream of A Hot Dog Cart into A Blog


     It's almost unfair, but Iron Chef Bobby Flay, said to be burdened with the ownership of 20 restaurants worldwide,  can exercize the same option if he wishes.  He could forego opening the fancy restaurants, not hire the surly wait staffs with necessary health care coverage, cancel the orders for 20 ton air-conditioning units,  refuse to agonize over wine lists.  Bobby could simply do what I was dreaming about; buy a food cart, get a permit and tow it to an area of high foot traffic.  

 Of course, you have to be very good making one thing.  What about a hot italian sausage with avocado, center cut bacon and grilled pineapple on a ciabatta bun?

Or switch things up with cheddar cheese, bacon, italian sausage and chipotle sauce?

Or, what about tacos made with blue corn tortillas?

     After toying with the idea for a couple of months, I chose not to make the $3,000 investment in a food trailer.  Nena didn't think it was a good idea for me to be parked in the vacant lot next to Valentino's on Central Blvd at 1:00 am selling hot dogs.  So, instead, I started playing with the idea of writing a blog.  

     Blogging is so similar to operating a food cart, it's uncanny.  There is no overhead.  No large brick building like the Brownsville Herald has to maintain, air-condition, pay property taxes on.  You don't have to buy hundreds of newspaper racks and worry about scrappers taking them to recycling yards.  No fancy, smancy reporters or columnists to salary.  No nightmares about the escalating cost of newsprint and subsequent destruction of native forests to make the paper pulp.  Just direct vendor to customer delivery of a juicy morsel.  So simple.

     So, I weighed my career options.  Blog or hot dog stand?  Cheesy article or cheesy taco?  A blogging expert from Austin helped me with my decision.  He said that the number of blogs worldwide had passed the 1 billion mark and that most were inconsequential.  Billion with a "B"?  Wow!  That reminded me of the old ad trying to convince Americans to buy the Renault automobile.  "Fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong!"  the ad read.  Well, actually, they were wrong.  Renaults were not all that.   With all my pie charts drawn, all the evidence in, with spousal semi-approval either way, one fact tipped the scales in favor of the blogosphere:   No Permit Needed

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ana & Luis From Chihuahua, Mexico Perform at the Crescent Moon Tonight~2/17/12


     Ana & Luis are performing at the Crescent Moon tonight starting at around 9:00 pm.   You may have seen them on Adams St. at the mercadito.  Below is a video from a performance in Creel.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cameron County's Next District Attorney Inherits A Challenge

  by Jim Barton


      Speaking with Republican candidate for district attorney Gus Garza recently, I reminded him that the statute of limitations had not run out on much of the political corruption in our county.  He agreed, but likely will not get an opportunity to reverse the climate of corruption so insidious in our county.  Our next district attorney will face the conundrum of a lifetime and his political career:  to prosecute obvious, blatant violations of law or look the other way to get along. 



      Armando Villalobos was totally disinterested in protecting the interests of Cameron County.  It interfered with his career plan to seek higher office.  So, he deferred, recused himself, looked the other way, while, according to reports, utilizing his taxpayer furnished staff to work on his congressiional campaign. If the scales of justice were truly blind,  his next job assignment should be in the prison laundry, not congress.

     Waiting on the next DA will be the pernicious fake activist, but very real RICO convicted con artist,  Carlos Quintanilla.   He has sniffed around the $500,000,000 yearly budget of BISD for several years now, helping elect puppet candidates Lucy Longoria, Cata Presa-Garcia and Enrique Escobedo,  while perjuring himself on depositions about such basic matters as his address.  We haven't even mentioned his stellar work in persuading the BISD board of trustees to dismiss the $14,000,000  lawsuit for overcharges against his friend and benefactor Ted  Parker, former owner of HealthSmart.  


       While Armando Villalobos himself is a likely candidate for prosecution. with the Feds pursuing him for involvement in the Abel Limas case, the next DA needs to interview all his current staff to ascertain if their taxpayer wage hours were devoted to prosecution support or the next Villalobos campaign.  Based on what I've been told, that might be an easy slam dunk case.

     Ernie Hernandez, Jr. does not fear prosecution.  Why should he?  He's operated largely unabated while allegedly stealing elections, illegally businessing with the city and county and, more recently, blatantly orchestrating the county's hiring of his convicted felon brother-in-law.  There's enough on Hernandez to keep a conscientious district attorney and staff occupied for months.  


     Luis Saenz is the DA candidate supported by the tiny remnant that is Brownsville Cheezmeh.  But, wasn't he the special prosecutor in the Pat Ahumada check case who fumbled that case miserably?  I remember thinking at the time that if someone could just articulate clearly the alleged facts of the case, it should be a relatively easy prosecution:  Ahumada was overdrawn by $180 when he deposited the check just before he went to Tampico to "promote Brownsville."  By the time BPD caught up with him he had spent $6,000 of he $24,000 check.  No adult does that unknowingly. Furthermore, when approached by BPD, he claimed the money had been returned.  Not true at that point and time.  He returned it AFTER being approached by police.   None of that was spelled out clearly to the jury by Saenz.  He was in a fog.  He is clearly not our man as DA.

     Maria De Ford and Chuck Mattingly, of course, are both candidates for DA, both working currently in Villalobos' office.  If elected, will they dramatically change the way that office is run?  That's exactly what our county needs.  To paraphrase the civil rights lament, without an effective DA, "A Change Is Not Gonna Come."

H.E.B. on Central Blvd Replaces Historic 46 Year Old Fed Mart Restrooms

by Jim Barton 


      The building we now call H.E.B. on Central Blvd was originally a Fed Mart, a sort of no frills discount chain headquartered in San Diego, CA.  Although, Fed Mart did well in Brownsville, the lack of a warehouse in Texas necessitated that goods be delivered from San Diego, not exactly a good business model.  Still, many of us took advantage of the lowest prices in the city on many items.  Automotive oil, for example, was very cheap.  A tune-up kit for my '59 VW bug was $1.20.  That included points, rotor, condenser and a tiny vial of lithium grease to lubricate the points.   Ranch Style Beans, Texsun Orange Juice and Pace Picante Sauce were also cheaper there than anywhere else.

     During the years Nena and I were away from Brownsville, the building was purchased by the Howard E. Butt Grocery Company, sometimes called H.E.B.  The company put their familiar colors and signage to the store but retained Fed Mart's old circa 1965 restrooms, which were inadequate when first put into operation.  These bathrooms had household style doors with a bolt action style lock, the kind sometimes used on outhouses and featured a single commode and a small sink.  They could be used by one customer at a time, less than serviceable for a store now easily enjoying $1,000,000 in sales per week.

     People my age are aware of restroom availability at all times, especially in a city like Brownsville, essentially a "no baño público" town.  Church's Chicken, for example, on 13th and Washington provided service for the downtown area until the Multi-Modal facility was built.  Actually, the grimy restaurant at the back of the old bus station torn down to make way for the M-M facility held the distinction of being the nastiest bathroom in the United States.  A sign on the door indicated non-patrons would be charged $2.00 for usage when, in fairness, they should have been PAID $1000 for going in there.  


 But, back to the newly remodeled H.E.B. on Central:  It's new men's restroom features a modern push-open door, a twin basin sink, one modern urinal and two stalls.  I assume the women's room features similar appropriate amenities.  Enjoy your new restrooms Brownsville.  They've been 46 years in coming.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Circo Hermanos Vasquez Coming to Brownsville~March 9-19

by Jim Barton

The legendary Circo Hermanos Vasquez is coming to Brownsville March 9-19, occupying the open area across from Amigoland Mall on 200 Mexico Blvd. 

“Nunca los inicios han sido fáciles” esta frase fue la base de un sueño que se hizo realidad; la Familia Vázquez y su gran dedicación y empeño fueron la clave para lograr ese sueño que parecía imposible. Dos hermanos y un deseo fueron más que suficientes para empezar una nueva vida; una aventura que duraría décadas hasta el día de hoy.
En Diciembre de 1969, Los hermanos José Guillermo y Rafael Vázquez abrieron por primera vez el Circo Hermanos Vázquez en Xaloztoc, Estado de México; solo contaban con una carpa de lona azul y blanca y con la carpa de entrada hechas por Don Jesús Vázquez, Aurora Vázquez, Rafael Vázquez y José G. Vázquez, lo demás, lo alquilaron.
En la primer función que se presento participaron: Los Bautista (Polly y Coyol) el Payaso Porki, Rafael Márquez e hijos, Luis y Yolanda Campa desde luego los propios hermanos Vázquez en el acto de Barras Fijas, Aurora en la Cuerda Elástica, y el ballet, Rafael Payaso “Pitibirrin” y además representante y chofer de un camión y José Guillermo carpista.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

BISD Board Shows Linebarger the Money~Chief Financial Officer Ismael Garcia Explains

     A special meeting of the BISD Board of Trustees dealt with a consent item to increase the collection fee on delinquent taxes from 12.5% to 15%.  As noted in earlier articles based on the previous year's collections, this affords Linebarger a raise of at least $125,000 of what they would have collected under the current rate.   A video of the entire exchange on the agenda item is at the bottom of this article.  

      As Board President Enrique Escobedo introduced the agenda item, Trustee Minerva Pena asked permission to raise a point of order.  Trustee Presas-Garcia objected and was recognized.  Presas-Garcia voiced the erroneous position that because Ms. Pena had voted against the award of the contract to Linebarger, she could not comment on subsequent rate change request.  Ms. Presas-Garcia has made this assertion before without anyone on the board challenging her.  She is, of course, wrong.  How one votes on an issue does not affect their ability to comment or raise a point of order on subsequent matters relating to that issue.  This is simply a feeble attempt by Presas-Garcia to suppress alternative viewpoints.

     So, Trustee Pena proceeded with her question:  "Why is the allowed collection fee being changed from 12.5% to 15%?"  The matter was referred to Chief Financial Officer Ismael Garcia.  Garcia started with a non-answer:  "This does not affect those who pay their taxes on time."  Duh!!  "92% of our citizens pay their taxes on time and are not affected." Garcia continued.  Minerva Pena still didn't understand why the adjustment was being made.  "It's because we changed collection firms," the financial officer continued.  Someone else explained that the Pena firm charged citizens 12.5% penalty on delinquent taxes whereas Linebarger charges 15%.  

     At this point Presas-Garcia raised the point of the non-assessment of the home of Enrique Pena, president of E. Pena and Associates, the district's previous tax collection firm.  This is a valid point.  Enrique Pena is ethically unqualified to collect taxes if he doesn't pay his own.  Just for accuracy, though, according to the Brownsville Herald, Pena purchased the land in 2002, paying taxes on the land since.  His home, built in 2004, was never assessed.  Pena, himself, brought the matter to the appraisal district's attention, according to a BISD spokesperson.  

     For the record, the Perdue firm had a superior tax collection in all the districts where they succeeded Linebarger.  Trustee Aguilar had a question:  "Will the district lose money if the rate is raised?"  That question revealed that Aquilar is clueless as to how this works.    Escobedo called for a vote, which was 4-3 in favor of the raise.  The so-called "Majority 4" voted in favor of the increase including Escobedo, Saavedra, Longoria and Presas-Garcia.  Colunga, Pena and Agular voted against the increase. . 

Here is the video.  The signal was somewhat fuzzy.(There are actually 2 videos.  My computer is running slow.  It may be very late 2/15/12 before both are uploaded.)


Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo