Thursday, May 31, 2012

Republicans Jubilant Over Sylvia Garza-Perez Win for Democratic Chair!

"The Lord was definitely with us." shouted a Teapartier, sipping on a Diet Coke.

"We're gonna party like it's 1980!"  shouted another Republican operative, reminiscing about the election where Reagan kicked Jimmy Carter ass.

"Actually," a sober G.O.P. veteran started, "Hockema scared us.  He had this whiz kid mentality.  He knows how to work them fancy computer thingamajigs and he could totally talk shit..  If he had taken his stepmom's name and run as Jared Hockema-Longoria, we might not be celebrating today."

"Damn Shergold scared the beegeevees outta me!" shouted a savvy Southmost party organizer.  "He would have turned Tony Martinez onto unions, collective bargaining and pie-in-the-sky Kennedy shit. We dodged two bullets May 29.  Can you imagine batting against Sylvia Garza-Perez for four years?  The record book isn't just going to be broken.  It will be obliterated!  I'm glad John chose to run as a Shergold and not Shergold-Villarreal like his wife suggested."

The object of so much Republican love is Sylvia Garza-Perez, the victor in the Cameron County Democratic Chair race.  While the G.O.P. faithful feared the skills of Hockema and Shergold, the Garza-Perez election gives them hope beyond hope.

"I remember 2006," offered a short Republican.  "Gilbert Hinojosa was going to kill us, until Sylvia joined the campaign.  Thanks to Garza-Perez blunders, Cascos totally kicked Hinojosa's ass!"

"I know," began another Republican woman.  "She was so pushy that all the blockwalkers became Republicans.  Then in 2007 she went to work for Ernie.  Sylvia got into a few catfights with volunteers and Ahumada got the victory. She just thought she was God's gift and Pat Ahumada agreed."

"She led us to victory with Cascos against John Woods in 2010 and don't forget how her backing of Solomon Ortiz helped us close the deal with Farenthold.  I'm not even going to  mention how she damaged the campaigns of Eddie Rodriguez, Rosemary Breedlove and Robert Lopez.  There seems to be one common denominator in every Democratic loss of the last decade; Sylvia Garza Perez!  God bless her and God bless the United States of America" screamed a Republican full of carbonated grape juice.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Wonderfully Honest Person in Brownsville

Blazita, the cashier at A & V Lopez on Boca Chica,  looked at me sort of quizzically.  "I don't know how to ask this, but did you lose your wallet?"

"Well, yes, as a matter of fact."  I replied.

"I thought it was you.  I found it on the ground at a service station.  I tried to find your house from the address, but I couldn't.  So, I've been carrying it in my truck for two weeks."

We waited for Blazita to finish with a flurry of customers.  Then, she ran out to her truck.  My wife, Nena, took all the loose cash we had to give her something for her trouble, conscientiousness and honesty.

"No, no. no!  God will reward me!"  as she refused the money Nena tried to hand her.

As we drove off, Nena checked the wallet.  The cash was gone, of course, but everything else seemed to be there:  drivers license, passport, social security card, debit card, library card, discount card from Feldmann's, voter's registration, pictures of my grandbaby, a TAD for TSC card, business cards from Gilbert Velasquez, Mike Kendall et al.

Thank you Blazita!  You're beyond honest!

Cookie's Mail-In Votes "No Surprise"; Is Erin Playing Rope-A-Dope? Troiani Comes In Sixth

When approached with the question:  "Which Justice of the Peace candidate do you think had the most mail-in votes?" one former candidate did not hesitate before responding: "Cookie!"  

We reported a rumor election day that Mr. Covarrubias seemed to be getting the majority of the mail-in votes.  Reporting that rumor was an error in judgment on my part.  Describing the source as a "poll watcher" was incorrect.  I should have waited until the end of the day and reported his actual final tally of 110 mail-ins out of  1891 total votes.  

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, the sometimes brilliant, more frequently irrational, disbarred lawyer, is righteously indignant,  taking the issue of my publishing this observation to the Secretary of State.   In an earlier, pre-election day column, Wightman-Cervantes shared this:  
" We must learn to vet these candidates. I intend to do exactly that with Refugio “Cookie” Covarrubias. I get to vote in this one and I intend for my vote to go to the best candidate."
BWC added this disclaimer: 


 "Now, I am not endorsing Refugio “Cookie” Covarrubias. I do not know this man. On paper he has great credentials. He leaves (Yolanda)Begum TerĂ¡n in the dust.


So, Bobby's words above proved somewhat prophetic as Cookie left the other JP candidates "in the dust" with 110 mail-in votes, equaling Sofia Benavides, County Commissioner candidate.  Erin Hernandez-Garcia garners 30, with Yolanda Begum getting 20.    "But, don't fall for that strategy," cautions one insider.  "The Hernandez's don't concern themselves as much with the primary as with the run-off.  They will come with their gun's a'blazing in the July 31 runoff.  That's their modus operandi."


The sixth place finish of former City Commissioner Anthony Troiani was a surprise to many.  In the eight person Democratic field for Texas Congressional District 34,  Troiani topped only Elmo Aycock and Juan Angel Guerra.  Troiani's personable campaign manager, Jaime Rodriquez,  had seemingly established a firm local base of support, gaining a B.U.C. endorsement among others.   


Sylvia Garza-Perez ran away with the Democratic Chair race getting 11,126 votes to 6,373 for Jared Hockema and 3,665 for John Shergold.  Someone scoffed when I asked if her Spanish surnames had contributed to her victory.  Her win does not bode well for the future of the Democratic Party in the county.  Sylvia is the niece of politiquera Herminia Becerra and has made some ambiguous comments about the use of politiqueras in elections.  


So, several mano-a-mano races are set up:  Bradshaw vs. Garza, on the Republican side of District 34, with Vela vs. Blanchard on the Democratic.  The winner of Masso-Saenz will face the Republican Mattingly in the DA race.   Then, there's Begum vs.Hernandez-Garcia in the JP, 2-2.  

Here's an inappropriate use of Lennon lyrics:


It's time to spread our wings and fly
Don't let another day go by my love
It'll be just like starting over, starting over 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Insight from Mescalero on the Potential Boca Chica Development

Exactly as I feared. Already hopes that if utilities are extended to Boca Chica we can get some of those "projects" developed. Let's put up some historical centers and a visitor's center. We will then need bathrooms and maybe a snack bar and on and on it will go. And, to pay for the centers and upkeep and to repair all the vandalism, we will need a beach access fee. It might not be Padre Island but it won't be Boca Chica.

And the same goes for Palmetto Hill. Check out how degraded the habitats are out there and yet they hold so much life. Any construction will probably be on the higher elevations known as lomitas (little hills) to avoid flooding. These lomitas are a biologically unique area in the world. Not another inch should be cleared. And the same for the coastal prairie out there. In the alternative I would suggest an information center somewhere in the vicinity of the border patrol checkpoint with monuments at the actual sites. By keeping any buildings in one spot it minimizes the impact on the environment and probably reduces construction costs. Being near the checkpoint may redue vandalism.

Also, it is a false statement to say that Boca Chica will never become Padre Island. I've lived here long enough to have hung out on the Island when there were only three free standing restaurants and only a small handful of hotel/motels and look at it now.

Mescalero

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Letter to Ms. Stacey M. Zee Regarding A SpaceX Launch Site at Boca Chica Beach




Please submit your comments via email to:  faaspacexels@carnotec.com


Ms. Stacey M. Zee, Environmental Protection Specialist
Federal Aviation Administration
RE:  SpaceX EIS

Ms.  Zee:

Please include my comments among those opposed to the proposed SpaceX Launch Site adjacent to Boca Chica Beach.  The eight mile strip of undeveloped beach is an irreplaceable, yet fragile ecosystem, teeming with wildlife from organisms in the substrate to shorebirds, wading birds, birds of prey and white tailed deer.   The beach is an inheritance for future generations of Cameron County children to enjoy in its current pristine form.


The industry associated with a launch pad will likely necessitate the use of extremely heavy trucks to haul structures, rockets, cooling water and fuel.  The explosions associated with a launch, the decibel levels, the shockwaves under and above ground, the raw fuel, the emissions from combustion will all have an effect on the natural wildlife, the flora and fauna of the region.


My wish is that if SpaceX does locate in Cameron County, they find a suitable site that does not threaten the fragile ecosystem of Boca Chica Beach.


Sincerely,


James L. Barton

Relative Heroes and Cowards in the Rio Grande and Other Valleys~Repost from October 2011



     The words heroism and cowardice are antonyms, opposites, yet can be applied to the very same person, depending on your perspective and point of view.  When Muhammad Ali registered as a conscientious objector because of his opposition to the Viet Nam War, some viewed his actions as heroic because he stood up for his beliefs without regard to the consequences.  Others called him a coward for not fighting for his country, although they probably did not say that to his face.  "I ain't got no quarrel with no Viet Cong," he said at the time.

     Every war has those who oppose it for conscientous reasons and are willing to face the consequences of their stance.  It's difficult to call them cowards if they're willing to accept death or imprisonment for not renouncing their beliefs.  In essence, they may be doing almost the same thing as the soldier on the battlefield, just choosing a different battlefield.

History may or may not reveal who was correct, who was partially correct or who did what for what reasons.
     The young men and women who do not make it home safely from whatever war effort is currently pursued deserve the same recognition as heroes, persons of courage and honor.  They did not choose the venue but fulfilled their obligation for the right reasons.  Governments frequently use misinformation, disinformation or no information to steer and motivate.  Dr. Henry Kissinger lied about Viet Nam.  Some misinformation went out about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  None of that taints the courage of those who served or those who chose not to serve as long as they upheld their individual consciences.
 
 

     In my view, the young men and women who put their lives on the line for whatever assignment given them by their country are heroes as are those who conscientiously objected.  The cowards are those leaders whose fear of the truth and disrespect of our judgment motivated them to lie to us. 

You Have Only Until May 30 to State Objections to SpaceX Launch Site At Boca Chica

Mean Mister Brownsville received an anonymous reminder this morning that the deadline for submitting your comments to the FAA is May 30, 2012.  


Many were not permitted to speak May 15 at the so-called scoping meeting as local politicos had taken the first 30 or so spots for "public comment" to issue an orchestrated,  pre-arranged infomercial FOR the proposal.  


Those attempting to sign the public comment after the designated local cheerleaders were told they could submit their comments in writing.  There are three remaining ways to voice your opinion before May 30.


1.  Submit your comments via email to faaspacexeis@cardnotec.com


2.  Fax your comments to (410) 990-0455


3.  Mail your comments to:     Ms. Stacey M. Zee, Environmental Protection Specialist
                                                  Federal Aviation Administration
                                                  SpaceX E15
                                                  C/O Cardno Tech Inc.
                                                  275 West Street~Suite 110
                                                  Annapolis, MD  21401
                                                  (It's actually probably too late to mail your comments)


Here is the comment I received this morning:




Jim,

We cannot wait to comment about Boca Chica! It is our most important natural resource. The ancient palm forest already got mucked up thanks to the border wall so we must speak up for Boca Chica. 



By the way, according to the Texas Open Beaches Act, the public is never supposed to be kept from a public, state-owned beach by a private landowner. So if it's Sunday and you want to go play at the beach or fish, if you don't speak up, very soon you might need to check with SpaceX to see if it's ok to use our own beach. 


By the way, most of the jobs will be filled by people from outside the area. That's not only my opinion (although I share it) but an entire department at UTB thinks that is true.
If any of us oppose SpaceX there (and I do) the time to speak is NOW!



 I have done some research and anyone who expresses concern by the May 30 deadline will have their concerns addressed in the Draft EIS. After that will be too late. Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Meet Linebarger's Boy

A 28 Year Ride for Rene Oliveira~Is That Enough Already?

Are 28 Year


     Rene Oliveira always rides in the Charro Days parade and waves.  He has done little else for our region in the last 28 years as State Representative.  He talks a good game among "La raza",  but when he gets to Austin, he forgets who he's supposedly representing.  His only  real work in Austin has been for the huge Linebarger law firm while doing zero, nada, zilch for the taxpayers of south Texas.  Here is what Mean Mister Brownsville wrote February 2, 2012:  

    Rene Oliveira's salary as a "Representative" of District 37 which includes Brownsville and Cameron County is said to be $7,200.   He is also retained by the Brownsville Independent School District as interim counsel.  But it is his work for Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, LLP that gives his employer the most bang for the buck.     


     First, a little historical perspective:  In 2001 Oliveira spearheaded a committee to remove a line in section 3308 of the tax code limiting the delinquent tax collection fee to 15%, subsequently including language allowing a tax collection fee rate of 20%.  That bill sailed through the Ways & Means Committee of which Rene was chairman and was passed by the entire house.   Considering Linebarger's near statewide presence in tax collection, how many millions of dollars did this sleight of hand add to the agency's coffers?     


     Now, fast forward to 2012.  With Rene Oliveira retained by BISD as interim counsel, but still connected to Linebarger, the February 2, 2012 board meeting agenda contains an action item INCREASING the tax collection rate by 2.5%, netting the collection firm an extra $125,000.  And who is that newly named firm?  Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson LLP.  (Please note:  As documented by Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, Linebarger was a substantial contributor to the campaigns of BISD board members Longoria, Escobedo and Saavedra.)  Who pays this extra fee and the millions of dollars collected since 2001 by the passage Rene Oliveira's house bill?  The tax payers, the very people Representative Rene Oliveira claims to represent.


     We must not limit Oliveira's traitorous betrayal of Brownsville and Cameron County to tax matters.  We must not forget Oliveira's treacherous attempt to effectively nullify the 4-3 vote to preserve Texas Southmost College.  Rene totally misrepresented the will of the people by trying to overturn that vote with a house bill essentially for unification.  Only by the efforts of TSC Trustee Adela Garza to lobby the committee, carefully laying out the actual situation at UTB/TSC was Oliveira's attempted sabotage thwarted.      Yes, Rene Oliveira is a representative, but not of the people of Brownsville, Cameron County and District 37.

   
     It seems we may have an alternative to Rene Oliveira, 40 year old attorney Alex Dominguez.  Alex is one of 10 children of  Manuel and Olga Dominguez of La Feria.  6 of the children are current or former teachers.  Alex is a graduate of Rice University, but received his law degree from Arizona State.  He also is a member of local bar associations and the president of the Los Diez Education Foundation, which has provided scholarships to graduating high school seniors in La Feria for 15 years.

      This from the Brownsville Herald about Alex Dominguez:

Dominguez, an attorney who lives in Brownsville, said he is running for office because he wants to see positive change at the local and state level.
“We need a visible representative who interacts with his community. I hope to bring greater interaction and communication between Valley legislators and also with Republicans in the statehouse,” Dominguez said.

“Mr. Oliveira spoke recently at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Update complaining that the Republican-controlled house limited benefits for the Valley. I believe an effective representative would reach across the aisle and find common ground with Republicans,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez noted that with his previous experience as a teacher, “I believe that I can bring not just passion but creative solutions for our classrooms.”
Noting that Gov. Rick Perry recently stated that Texas has a wealth of jobs, Dominguez said it’s past time more was done to bring jobs to the district, including facilitating tourism, developing infrastructure projects, enhancing the Port of Brownsville, and building education jobs instead of cutting them.
After being an assistant Cameron County district attorney, he opened his law practice in 2005."


     28 years is enough of a ride for Rene.  It may be time to give Alex a shot at working for our region.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Has Elia Cornejo Lopez Lost the Respect of Her Peers?

When the frequently brilliant legalist Bobby Wightman-Cervantes called out 404th District Court Judge Elia Cornejo Lopez recently, he cited three possible options to explain her aberrant courtroom behavior.  Bobby said Lopez was either a "co-conspirator with Armando Villalobos,  insane or dumber than shit."  Not particularly flattering words, Bobby!

Among Wightman-Cervantes' contentions were that Lopez as judge allowed an attorney to share damaging hearsay testimony against a defendent without even being sworn in, all clear violations of the rules of evidence and court ethics.  Bobby included observations that Lopez had lied to a jury pool, lied about her opponent's connection to the deposed Judge Able Limas and  was guilty of judicial misconduct in the handling Ernesto Martinez.

More insight into the character of Elvia Cornejo Lopez surfaced when she took out an ad in the Brownsville Herald attempting to link her opponent in the 404th district judge race, Rebecca RuBane, with the corrupt, now convicted former judge Abel Limas.  RuBane swiftly and publicly responded to Lopez' charges:

"I must set the record straight. . . my opponent has again run a political smear ad against me saying that I had a role in the escape of convicted murderer Amit Livingston, and that I am or was somehow involved in the public corruption instigated by Abel Limas and others.  To my friends, my supporters,  the public and even my detractors:  My involvement with the Amit Livingston murder case ended in December 2006, when I left the DA's office to begin private practice.   


The plea agreement and escape of Amit Livingston occurred in the spring of 2007.  As a private attorney, I had no involvement or participation or input in the matter.  I had no duty or obligation or MEANS to intervene in an agreement between the State of Texas and the defendant.  


This action by Ms. Elvia Lopez is a desperate attempt by an incumbent who senses that the tide of public opinion is turning and that the citizens of Cameron County want and demand better from their elected officials.  I believe the voting public is smart enough to recognize this as a desperate attack on my integrity and not a fair representation of my work as an attorney. 


Rebecca RuBane


Actually, several complaints have come in to Mean Mister Brownsville with respect to boorish behavior, despotic treatment of employees and inept handling of her court.  One message claims that a survey among Cameron County attorneys found Lopez the least competent court judge.  All of those impressions are simply opinions, not proven fact, and it's fully expected that Lopez will survive this election handily, but as these impressions mount, she may face a more difficult re-election next time around.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mean Mister Brownsville~Odds & Ends

Republican Congressional 3-Way:  Paul Haring, actually seemed a bit older than his 75 years when I met him at the Republican Candidate Forum at VICC.  The soft-spoken man handed me a black and white printout detailing his platform.  His memorable line from the forum was:  "If you're against abortion, I'm your man."   Haring is from the historical city of Goliad, near Victoria.  Under previous occupation, he lists:   President, Catholic Truth Society of America and Executive Director, Americans United for Life, obviously two anti-abortion organizations.

Also indicative that Haring is not a serious candidate, he has raised no funds requiring an FEC report of campaign expenditures or contributions according to the Brownsville Herald.  Perhaps Haring feels that getting his anti-abortion message out justifies the filing fee and travel expenses. 

 Unlike Haring, 38 year old Jessica Puente Bradshaw, is neither reticent nor soft-spoken.  Born in Matamoros, raised in Brownsville, but with a residence in Austin at the time of filing, Bradshaw is in her element at a candidate forum or with the give-and-take of viewpoint questions.  

It's somewhat shocking that this otherwise bright young lady has been less than careful filling out campaign documents, leaving her candidacy open to serious challenge.  Such a disqualification, simply because of not double or triple-checking campaign forms for accuracy would be a hard lesson for someone who has worked so hard, traveled so many miles and, according to The Herald contributed $16,000 of her own money to her campaign, but it's all part of the process.   Perhaps, it's simply the result of being a one woman band, without a confidante or adviser as a safety net.

Adela Garza,  on the other hand, has a legal adviser in Art Martinez de Vara, meticulous enough to go over Bradshaw's filing documents with a fine tooth comb, seemingly locating dozens of problematic areas.  Garza, while not as well-spoken as her younger opponent, may be more seasoned politically.  Whatever Garza does or does not accomplish in the balance of her life, many in Brownsville will remember her as part a group of four courageous trustees who rescued $200,000,000 worth of taxpayer purchased assets from the gluttonous  consumption of the University of Texas system.  


Ruminations on SpaceX:  Did it not raise a red flag when Mayor Tony Martinez proclaimed giddily at the ITEC Forum on SpaceX that he had "done his due diligence" on the project?  Has Martinez done his own personal Environmental Impact Study?  Of course not.  Does he already know exactly what funding assistance Elon Musk will ask for from Brownsville and Cameron County?  Don't assume that because Musk is a billionaire, he will self-fund.  With his problematic Fisker Electric Car Company, he received 465 million in loan guarantees from the U.S. government.  

Another billionaire, Jerry Jones, played the cities of Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington against each other before finally settling on the best package of incentives from Arlington to build the new Cowboy Stadium.  Musk is likely doing the exact same thing with Florida, Puerto Rico and South Texas, to squeeze out the best deal for himself.  This is not altruism at work here guys and gals!

The saddest and frankly, most embarrassingly aspect of the SpaceX fervor is the seeming disregard many of our politicos have for Cameron County's most valuable asset; Boca Chica Beach.  The undeveloped 8 mile long beach and adjacent wetlands represent an ecosystem and natural wildlife area worth BILLIONS, if you can only measure in dollars and cents.  

If you think citizens near Mount Rainier, Yosemite, or Yellowstone would EVER tolerate this kind of industrial development near their sacred, natural area, THINK AGAIN!

Brownsville and Cameron County must look for an alternative to Boca Chica for SpaceX.  Certainly, the latitude and proximity to water can be found somewhere else in the region.  

Veteran's Administration Voucher System:  It sounds good on paper.  We have no VA hospital, but the VA issues vouchers for hospital and medical care at existing facilities.  The problem is that the VA isn't paying its bills.  Some doctors are holding unpaid vouchers over a year old.  Nena and I have some personal experience with this.  Eight years ago as we were driving home from the VA Outpatient Clinic in McAllen, we were stopped by the police.  Nena's blood glucose test had come back indicating she was on the verge of diabetic shock and her doctor, unable to reach us by phone had called the police. We were told, commanded to go immediately to the emergency room by the VA doctor.   To make a long story short, the VA rejected the bill.  Several letters back and forth at least a year later, the VA finally paid.  


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Are You REALLY Tired of Politicians Who Use Their Office for Personal Gain? Say No to Erin Hernandez

The young lady on the left does not know any better.  She grew up in a political family oblivious to ethics.  Her dad, County Commissioner Ernie Hernandez has used the City of Brownsville and Cameron County as his personal ATM machine for nearly three decades.  As a city, we were just too weak, too ignorant, too apathetic to stop him.

Ernie has done business with the city with his wrecker services, his printing company and his vending company in CLEAR violation of every standard of ethics for public officials.  I apologize if you were an honest, hardworking taxpayer in any of those businesses and Ernie took money from your pocket and food from the mouths of your children.  As a city we were just too weak, too ignorant and too apathetic to stop him.

In the news recently, you probably read about Ernie getting a job for his convicted felon brother-in-law, Robert Cadriel.  Ernie wanted him to work on the international bridges, but Robert could only score a 31 and 33 on the civil service test by himself.  Not to worry.  Someone in the Cameron County Human Resources Department took the test for Ernie's intellectually challenged brother-in-law and scored a 96.  Ernie said he knew "nothing" of this, but allowed the Human Resources director to take the fall for him.   As a city, were were just too weak, too ignorant, too apathetic to stop him.

Now, Ernie wants to promote his daughter as Justice of the Peace.  She will not be a JP long, because he already has his eyes on a district judgeship for her.  Ernie is supremely confident his plan will work.  He knows we are too weak, too ignorant and too apathetic to stop him.

Montoya Offers Perspective on Begum-Hernandez Justice of the Peace Race


HERNANDEZ BETTING A LAW DEGREE WILL TRUMP A LIFETIME OF EXPERIENCE

By Juan Montoya
By now we've all heard the justifications of Erin Hernandez Garcia's supporters that we should all jump off the elections cliff and vote for her because she has a law degree and we don't.
You know Erin, she's a local lawyer who happens to be Cameron County Precinct 2 Commissioner Ernie Hernandez's daughter, a point she doesn't readily acknowledges on her campaign literature to limit her liability over his quasi-legal escapades.
The mantra has taken yet another twist now with these same acolytes claiming that the candidate that they see as Erin's main opponent Yolanda Begum isn't e
ducated.
As usual, these simple statements strike a chord with people who might not know any better. Now we understand that Begum's supporters are making their point forcefully that not only does Begum have an education, but that in terms of life experience, she is heads and shoulders way above Erin, who's legal practice has consisted mainly of keeping her dad's money-making schemes (such as the vending contract with the county) barely legal.
"To be clear, Yolanda Begum graduated from both high school and college," one of her supporters wrote us. "She is also certified in anger management and domestic violence resolution skills apart from obtaining many years of formal education in liberal arts. Yolanda attended
a community college where she graduated with a business and accounting degree."
Unlike Erin, who's family has been siphoning the resources of local public entities like the city and now the county, as she was growing up, Yolanda’s family was by no means wealthy, they said.
When she married Mike Begum, a downtown retail pioneer who immigrated to Brownsville
in the early 1950’s from Russia,they operated and managed numerous women’s and children’s retail stores in thevalley and Yolanda branched out to operate other small business interests including starting a restaurant, property management, an art studio, and a beverage company.
As far as her family, Erin has nothing on Yolanda. She is the eldest of seven children, with one of her brothers being a prominent doctor; her second brother is a lawyer, her sisters all had careers ranging from a biochemist, human resources director to interior decorators.
Not only has Begum spent almost all of her adult life in the valley, she has also been involved in charities, business organizations, civic organizations, teaching children on probation, and teaching woman with cancer how to utilize alternative life saving strategies for surviving cancer.
Her two children, Sasha and Alex Begum, are both successful lawyers.
No stranger to life's adversities, Begum, a cancer survivor, was forced to undergo thee years of chemotherapy, radiation, cancer surgeries, and finally was able to beat cancer through the use of alternative medicine and diet. Two younger sisters were not so fortunate. They were diagnosed with breast cancer and died after long-fought battles with the disease.
There was a reason why the Texas Legislature, in its wisdom, created the Small Claims Courts with the specific provision that no legal degree is required for that position. The legislature wanted people who could be fair to folks who did not hire lawyers.
The Legislature wanted Justices of the Peace to be regular folks who could hear common sense arguments and not apply legalese or complex procedural hoops to folks coming before these courts. They were set up so that regular people with everyday problems could go and argue their own case without having to hire an expensive lawyer. These courts were an alternative to the Federal, County or District Courts where all the Judges are lawyers.
Some political opponents argue that a law degree is the only qualifier for Justice of the Peace. A Law degree does not bring with it life experiences, wisdom, compassion, integrity, honor and an ethical disposition.
A cursory look into the many lawyers and public officials with law degrees who are currently
under federal indictments in Cameron County should dispel that misconception. Does a law degree in and of itself, then, bring the qualities that are vital for a good public official or Justice of the Peace?
President Reagan was once quoted as saying: "I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."
Erin Hernandez's minions are probably past the point of understanding or of viewing the point objectively. But even in Begum has no law degree, she does bring life experiences, wisdom, education, compassion and integrity to the office of the Justice of the Peace that Erin need a whole lifetime to achieve. No one in Begum’s family has ever run for public office and she is not a career politician.She is not looking to use the position as a spring board to further her political aspirations.
But as a mother, a teacher, a successful business woman, and a civic leader who wants to bring positive change to this position and address issues such as truancy so that youth do not
become societal tax burdens in our community, Begum is about as different from Erin as night and day.
Given her family's track record, do you really expect someone like Erin Hernandez to offerintegrity, respect, accountability and honesty to this position?
Between a law degree used for her family's and personal benefit and a wealth of life experience dedicated to our community, Begum is our choice.

"Nothing But Sand," Brownsville Herald~"I've Done My Due Diligence," Tony Martinez

The eight miles of undeveloped,  pristine beach we call Boca Chica is the single greatest asset of Cameron County.  If one prefers to evaluate in dollars and cents, it is worth BILLIONS!  Cities across the country would KILL to have access to a beach like that.  The tract of land adjacent to the dunes was described in the "Brownsville Herald" as "nothing but sand," as ignorant a statement as ever uttered.  The area is teeming with life:  deer, seabirds, flora, fauna and a host of creatures too numerous to mention.  While waiting on my friend Tom Robinson to report on the potential damage to the area by placing a commercial rocket launch pad just off the beach, let me share a few pics from Seth Patterson's "El Valle" volume.  Simply click on these pics to enlarge.





Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UTB Student Panelist at Reproductive Rights Conference in Providence, R.I.

April Flores, a 21 year old UTB student is attending a conference on reproductive rights and sex education at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, R.I. on June 7-10.  Ms. Flores will be a panelist in the program Youth and the Politics of Reproductive Rights.  The topics include parental notification laws, access to Plan B contraception, birth control and sexuality.

Ms. Flores established the Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter at UTB.  She has organized several events to bring awareness for the need of comprehensive sex education.  She is a member of the School Health Advisory Council.
As a pregnant teen herself at 18, Ms. Flores understands the difficulties posed by teen pregnancy and the need for choices and good decision-making by teens, but also the need for sex education and birth control. 


In an article published in The Collegian, written by Jasmin Euceda, Ms. Flores speaks honestly about her situation:  "Well, at 18 I became pregnant.  At 19, I had my daughter, Frida.  As a single parent, it's been extremely hard with school and everything.  I'm sleep deprived.  My daughter is 2 and in the two years, I've only slept 5 hours a night.  That's why I look so tired.  . . . . . . . besides that, the other struggle is the stereotype people place on young mothers--that they are not going to do anything, just live off welfare programs.  I'm not that stereotype.  I'm in college to get my education, improve my life and my daughter's life.  That's my biggest challenge."






Oregon Sex Offender Arrested in Brownsville After Charming Downtown


Jeffrey Cutlip, known in downtown Brownsville as "Jessie" was arrested recently by an off-duty policeman who took the time to find out who the slick con artist really was.  Cutlip was released from prison 9/14/11 in Multnomah County, Oregon(Portland) after serving a sentence for forced sodomy on an adult female victim.  Cutlip was apparently in violation of several aspects of his parole which include electronic surveillance, geographic restrictions, sex offender treatment, plethysmograph testing and curfew.  He was also required to not frequent, work or volunteer at any place where minors congregate.  Last of all, he was required to register as a sex offender.






The soon-to-be-63 year old Cutlip was frequently seen in downtown Brownsville wearing a cap and scarf, carrying a guitar.  He regaled some young ones, portraying himself as a near rock legend who had played with some of the greatest.  Some Brownsvillians took it upon themselves to buy him food, clothing and other necessities.  Although he received an ample monthly disability check, Cutlip preferred homelessness, typically frequenting adult day care centers at the time meals were served.  




Cutlip in happier times at Brownsville Cheezmeh/Brownsville Loving Valentine's Day Event

Turmoil On the Republican Side of District 34 Race


Some documents received from Art Martinez de Vara, an attorney from Von Ormy, Texas with close ties to Adela Garza, have been posted on this blog without commentary.  One document is a letter from Martinez de Vara to Steve Munisteri, the Republican State Chairman, detailing perceived problems with the majority of the 567 signatures garnered by Jessica Puente Bradshaw to qualify to run in the District 34 race.

The other document is an email to me from Mr. Martinez de Vara with a link to Bradshaw's FEC Form 2 Statement of Candidacy.  http://query.nictusa.com/pdf/869/12951591869/12951591869.pdf#navpanes=0  This link shows Bradshaw's Principal Campaign Committee as Friends of Liberty for Jessica, 1219 Castlemen Drive, Cedar Hill, TX 75104.  It is an amended form dated 5/07/12, electronically filed with the signature Jessica Puente-Bradshaw.  Interestingly, Ms. Bradshaw lists her address as "12500 Uvalde Creek Drive, Austin, TX"  Of course, her address is not a factor in running for office as she merely has to prove herself a Texas resident, however some view this as a veracity issue since she describes herself as a resident of Brownsville.   But the principle point of Mr. Martinez de Vara's email is that the candidate has filed incorrectly for District 27, not District 34.


We all remember the confusion surrounding the redistricting and final boundaries for these Texas Congressional districts, but 5/07/12 does seem a bit late to still be listing District 27 as the candidate's final decision.  Ms. Bradshaw, however was not disqualified by Steve Munisteri, the Republican chairman.  As a letter from Munisteri to Martinez de Vara points out, the challenge by the Adela Garza camp was simply filed too late, with the merit of the challenge not ruled upon.

So, is the Adela Garza camp simply crying over spilled milk?  Not exactly, according to spokesperson Martinez de Vara.  He states that what Adela Garza failed to accomplish by sheer tardiness will again become an issue should Jessica Puente Bradshaw be the Republican nominee.  Martinez de Vara strongly hints that whoever becomes the Democratic nominee for District 34 will be able to challenge the candidacy of Jessica Puente-Bradshaw successfully, thus running unopposed, leaving the Republican Party without a dog in the fight.  By implication, the message is that a vote for Jessica Puente Bradshaw is a wasted vote.

Meanwhile, last night(5/21/12) the NCCRC(North Cameron County Republican Club) sponsored a candidate forum at the Harlingen Public Library.  Adela Garza was a no-show.  Someone commented that she had a previous engagement, although her advertising is prominent at the NCCRC site.  Garza also missed the UTB/TSC Candidate Forum earlier due to cancellation of an airline flight.  Honestly, though, debating is not Adela Garza's strong suit.  On the other hand, Bradshaw would eagerly debate at 3:00 am.  I tuned in briefly to the livestreaming of the forum, but without Adela, the match sort of lost its intrigue.

Paul Haring is the third, almost invisible candidate in this race.  He will have trouble garnering votes outside his home town of Goliad.  He renders himself a nonfactor by presenting himself as a single issue candidate.  "If you're against abortion, I'm your man."  This says something, not just about his strong personal beliefs, but his lack of political savvy.  Even if this is a strong core belief, why in the world would you limit yourself in that way?  Haring comes off as from another era.  One could see him cast as a shop keeper in Dodge City, the presumed Old West town in the TV series Gunsmoke. 

Another Letter from Art Martinez de Vara Showing Jessica Puente Bradshaw Filed for the Wrong District

Mr. Barton, 
Ms. Puente- Bradshaw, (as of May 7, 2012), is reporting to the Federal
Elections Commission that she is running for Congress in Congressional
District 27, not 34.
All of her FEC reports repeatedly list CD 27,
the most recent being found here:
http://query.nictusa.com/pdf/869/12951591869/12951591869.pdf#navpanes=0

--  
Art Martinez de Vara
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Martinez de Vara Law Firm
PLLC
PO Box 377
Von Ormy, Texas 78073
Ph:  210/857-6848 
Web: www.mdv-law.com 
Email: art@mdv-law.com

Complete Letter from Art Martinez de Vara About Jessica Puente Bradshaw Candidacy

Jim, 
      Some have asked that you post the PDF letter I sent to you. I've
attached it in Microsoft Word format and pasted it below in Text. I
hope that you will post it for your readers to view. 
 Thank you,
Art Martinez de Vara
April 30, 2012
Steve Munisteri
State Chairman
Republican Party of Texas
1108 Lavaca, Suite 500
Austin, Texas 78701

Re: Challenge of eligibility of Jessica Puente Bradshaw, candidate
for U.S. Congress, District 34 of Texas.

Chairman Steve Munisteri, 

      Jessica Puente Bradshaw is a declared Republican candidate for U.S.
Congress in the 34th District of Texas. Upon review of Ms. Puente
Bradshaw’s application for place on the ballot and her attached
petition with signatures, I believe them both to be non-compliant with
the Texas Election Code and thus rendering her ineligible to be placed
on the May 2012 primary ballot. I do so for the following reasons. 

INSUFFICIENT NUMBER OF VALID SIGNATURES

      As you are well aware, candidates for U.S. Congress must file an
application for place on the primary ballot and either pay a
designated filing fee or submit a petition with no less than 500 valid
signatures. See TEX. ELEC. CODE §172.021. Ms. Puente Bradshaw opted
to file an application with petition and attached 63 pages, containing
567 signatures. (See Exhibit 2, page numbers have been added to the
back of these for internal reference) The petition which Ms. Puente
Bradshaw filed fails to comply with Texas election law for the
following reasons. 

FAULIRE TO PROVIDE REQUIRED INFORMATION IN
TEX.
 ELEC. CODE §172.027 STATEMENT

All but nine signatures should be declared invalid for failure to
provide the statutorily required information on each page of the
petition. Four pages, containing 29 signatures, omit all statutorily
required information. (Pages 1, 15, 45, 61 and 62). 58 pages,
containing 529 signatures omit the district number. (Pages 2-14,
16-44, 46-60, 62).

TEX. 

ELEC. CODE §172.027 states that all petitions must include the
following statement:

"I know that the purpose of this petition is to entitle (insert
candidate's name) to have his or her name placed on the ballot for the
office of (insert office title, including any place number or other
distinguishing number) for the (insert political party's name) primary
election. I understand that by signing this petition I become
ineligible to vote in a primary election or participate in a
convention of another party, including a party not holding a primary
election, during the voting year in which this primary election is
held."

TEX. ELEC. CODE §141.063(a)(4) states that a signature on a petition
is invalid unless ‘each statement that is required by this code . . .
appears, at the time of signing, on the page on which the signature is
entered.’

The Texas Supreme Court ruled in IN RE FRANCIS, 186 S.W.3d 534, (2006)
that failure to provide the place or district number on a petition as
required by TEX. ELEC. CODE §172.027 renders all signatures on a page
with the omission invalid. “We agree that the omission of any
statutorily required information on a petition renders signatures on
that petition invalid.” The Court further noted that, “Section
172.027 of the Election Code says that a candidate’s place or
distinguishing number ‘must appear at the top of each page of a
petition.’ 

[TEX. ELEC. CODE] Section 141.063(a)(4) says that a
signature on a petition is invalid unless ‘each statement that is
required by this code . . . appears, at the time of signing, on the
page on which the signature is entered.’ As the Code requires a place
number on each page, and declares invalid any signatures on pages
without it, the trial court correctly concluded that all … signatures
from the district involved in this challenge are invalid.” 

 While the above omissions are sufficient to disqualify Ms. Puente
Bradshaw for failure to provide 500 or more valid signatures, the
following additional errors will be noted.

FAULIRE TO COMPLETE AFFIDAVIT OF CIRCULATOR REQUIRED BY
TEX. ELEC. CODE §141.065

TEX. ELEC. CODE §141.065 states that all petitions must include a
completed Affidavit of Circulator. Ms. Puente Bradshaw filed 58
pages, containing 523 signatures, in which the Affidavit of Circulator
omits the name of the person signing the affidavit, date of signing
and county of signing. (Pages 1-12, 17-63) This is statutorily
required information and each signature on these pages must be ruled
invalid pursuant to TEX. ELEC. CODE §141.063(a)(4). See also IN RE
FRANCIS, 186 S.W.3d 534, (2006) 

INVALID SIGNATURES DUE TO FACIAL NON-COMPLIANCE WITH VARIOUS STATUTORY
REQUIREMENTS

95 signatures are invalid due to facial non-compliance with various
statutory requirements. These are listed in detail in Exhibit 3, but
summarized here:

o 13 signatures are invalid due to non-compliance with TEX. ELEC. CODE
§141.063(a)(B) because they lack both Voter ID numbers and dates of
birth.
o 10 signatures are invalid due to non-compliance with TEX. ELEC. CODE
§141.063(a)(2)(B) because no county information is listed whatsoever,
nor was any distinguishing mark, such as a quotation mark, used by
which a county name could be ascertained.
o 52 signatures are invalid due to non-compliance with TEX. ELEC. CODE
§141.063(a)(2)(C) because they have incomplete, missing or invalid
date of signing and no other information exists on the page from which
to ascertain a date. Even the notary blocks lack dates.
o 1 “signature” is invalid due to non-compliance with TEX. ELEC. CODE
§141.063(b) because it lacks a signature.
o 5 signatures are invalid due to non-compliance with TEX. ELEC. CODE
§141.063(a)(1) because voters live outside of the district.
o 12 signatures are invalid due to non-compliance with TEX. ELEC. CODE
§141.063(a)(2)(A) because no street address is listed, nor was any
distinguishing mark, such as a quotation mark, used by which an
address could be ascertained.
o 2 signatures are invalid due to non-compliance with TEX. ELEC. CODE
§141.063(a)(2)(D) because the signers printed name contains only one
word and is incomplete, nor was any distinguishing mark, such as a
quotation mark, used by which a name could be ascertained. 

FAILURE TO DISCLOSE LEGAL NAME ON
APPLICATION FOR PLACE ON THE BALLOT

Ms. Puente Bradshaw filed an “Application for a Place on the
Republican Party Primary Ballot” dated March 6, 2012. (See Exhibit
1). TEX. ELEC. CODE §141.031(a)(4)(A) requires a candidate to print
their name on an application for a place on the ballot. Ms. Puente
Bradshaw failed to do so on her application. Jessica Puente
Bradshaw’s legal name is Jessica Robinson. Ms. Robinson has been
registered to vote in Cameron County, Texas since January 1, 2012 at
44 Calle Duquesa, Brownsville, TX 78520. She is registered to vote
under her legal name “Jessica Robinson.” In fact, Ms. Robinson signed
her own petition using her legal name “Jessica Robinson,” on page 19,
line 6 of the attached petition. Jessica Robinson is also registered
to vote in Travis County with Voter ID number 1131347027, under the
same address, 12500 Uvalde Creek Dr. Austin, TX 78732, that she used
when filing her Federal Elections Commission Statement of Candidacy on
April, 20, 2012. (See Exhibit 4). Jessica Robinson also maintains a
Texas Driver’s License (number XXXXXX414) and a Texas Real Estate
License (number 590355), both under the name Jessica Robinson and both
at her Austin address.

The application for a place on the ballot which Ms. Robinson submitted
does not contain her name anywhere on the application. The
application clearly provides two distinct places for legal “name” and
“name as you want it to appear on the ballot.” It also provides an
affidavit stating that if the applicant wishes to use a nickname,
which is a name other than their legal name, that they have been
commonly known by that nickname for at least three years. We are not
contesting whether Ms. Robinson has or has not been commonly known as
“Jessica Puente Bradshaw” for three years, but her failure to report
her legal name in the application as required by TEX. ELEC. CODE
§141.031(a)(4)(A).

CONCLUSION

As has been shown above, Ms. Puente Bradshaw’s application for place
on the primary ballot and the attached petition do not comply with
statutory requirements. 

I pray you to give this matter your urgent
attention and to declare Jessica Puente Bradshaw ineligible for the
May 29, 2012 Republican Primary Election for Congressional District
34. 

Sincerely,

 /s/Arturo I. Martinez de Vara
Attorney for Adela Garza for Congress Campaign
The Martinez de Vara Law Firm, PLLC
PO Box 377
Von Ormy, TX 78073

Attachments


-- 
Art Martinez de Vara
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Martinez de Vara Law Firm, 
PLLC
PO Box 377
Von Ormy, Texas 78073
Ph:  210/857-6848 
Web: www.mdv-law.com 
Email: art@mdv-law.com

Monday, May 21, 2012

A 28 Year Ride for Rene Oliveira~Is That Enough Already?

 Repost from 3/7/12

Are 28 Year


     Rene Oliveira always rides in the Charro Days parade and waves.  He has done little else for our region in the last 28 years as State Representative.  He talks a good game among "La raza",  but when he gets to Austin, he forgets who he's supposedly representing.  His only  real work in Austin has been for the huge Linebarger law firm while doing zero, nada, zilch for the taxpayers of south Texas.  Here is what Mean Mister Brownsville wrote February 2, 2012:  

    Rene Oliveira's salary as a "Representative" of District 37 which includes Brownsville and Cameron County is said to be $7,200.   He is also retained by the Brownsville Independent School District as interim counsel.  But it is his work for Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, LLP that gives his employer the most bang for the buck.     First, a little historical perspective:  In 2001 Oliveira spearheaded a committee to remove a line in section 3308 of the tax code limiting the delinquent tax collection fee to 15%, subsequently including language allowing a tax collection fee rate of 20%.  That bill sailed through the Ways & Means Committee of which Rene was chairman and was passed by the entire house.   Considering Linebarger's near statewide presence in tax collection, how many millions of dollars did this sleight of hand add to the agency's coffers?     Now, fast forward to 2012.  With Rene Oliveira retained by BISD as interim counsel, but still connected to Linebarger, the February 2, 2012 board meeting agenda contains an action item INCREASING the tax collection rate by 2.5%, netting the collection firm an extra $125,000.  And who is that newly named firm?  Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson LLP.  (Please note:  As documented by Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, Linebarger was a substantial contributor to the campaigns of BISD board members Longoria, Escobedo and Saavedra.)  Who pays this extra fee and the millions of dollars collected since 2001 by the passage Rene Oliveira's house bill?  The tax payers, the very people Representative Rene Oliveira claims to represent.     We must not limit Oliveira's traitorous betrayal of Brownsville and Cameron County to tax matters.  We must not forget Oliveira's treacherous attempt to effectively nullify the 4-3 vote to preserve Texas Southmost College.  Rene totally misrepresented the will of the people by trying to overturn that vote with a house bill essentially for unification.  Only by the efforts of TSC Trustee Adela Garza to lobby the committee, carefully laying out the actual situation at UTB/TSC was Oliveira's attempted sabotage thwarted.      Yes, Rene Oliveira is a representative, but not of the people of Brownsville, Cameron County and District 37. 
     It seems we may have an alternative to Rene Oliveira, 40 year old attorney Alex Dominguez.  Alex is one of 10 children of  Manuel and Olga Dominguez of La Feria.  6 of the children are current or former teachers.  Alex is a graduate of Rice University, but received his law degree from Arizona State.  He also is a member of local bar associations and the president of the Los Diez Education Foundation, which has provided scholarships to graduating high school seniors in La Feria for 15 years.

      This from the Brownsville Herald about Alex Dominguez:

Dominguez, an attorney who lives in Brownsville, said he is running for office because he wants to see positive change at the local and state level.
“We need a visible representative who interacts with his community. I hope to bring greater interaction and communication between Valley legislators and also with Republicans in the statehouse,” Dominguez said.
“Mr. Oliveira spoke recently at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Update complaining that the Republican-controlled house limited benefits for the Valley. I believe an effective representative would reach across the aisle and find common ground with Republicans,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez noted that with his previous experience as a teacher, “I believe that I can bring not just passion but creative solutions for our classrooms.”
Noting that Gov. Rick Perry recently stated that Texas has a wealth of jobs, Dominguez said it’s past time more was done to bring jobs to the district, including facilitating tourism, developing infrastructure projects, enhancing the Port of Brownsville, and building education jobs instead of cutting them.
After being an assistant Cameron County district attorney, he opened his law practice in 2005."