Friday, June 29, 2012

City Commission to Consider Action Item on Proposed Smoking Ban July 3, 2012







It appears the City of Brownsville is considering a ban on smoking in all public buildings.  There may also be language in the ordinance with respect to smoking within twenty feet of the entrance of buildings.  I have no problem with a smoking ban as it is a health issue.  Second hand smoke invades the private space of others, violating their right to a clean air space.  


Hear is the ACTION ITEM on the agenda July 3, 2012:




8.

Public Hearing and ACTION on FIRST READING on Ordinance Number 2012-1556 an
ordinance to Repeal Chapter 54, Article VI, Smoking in Public Places Section 54-171 thru
54-179; and promulgating a New Chapter 54, Article VI, Smoking in Public Places by
replacing it with Sections 54-171 thru 54-188. (Arturo Rodriguez – Health)

Mean Mister Brownsvillle~Elaboration, Some Topics Revisited

It's disappointing to think back to conversations where I didn't communicate effectively.  Sometimes,  I simply didn't characterize a situation correctly and left someone with a wrong impression.  Other times, I didn't give enough detail.
Blog articles are flawed in the same way.  But, even if the story has come and gone, it's still possible to go back and elaborate.






Pete Gonzalez, City Commission, Linebarger Revisited

There were several articles on MMB detailing the interaction between Chief Financial Officer Pete Gonzalez and the City Commission and the eventual awarding of that contract for delinquent tax collection to the Linebarger firm.  Remember that at the first meeting this came up, several commissioners were surprised that they would not actually hear the presentations of the three competing law firms, but only get to say "yea" or "nay" on a financial committee's recommendation.  Commissioners Gowen, Zamora and Vasquez all questioned this.  

In response Pete Gonzalez suggested a workshop so that commissioners could "understand the process."   Am I the only one who found that phrasing utterly condescending.  The commissioners were not questioning because they didn't understand the process, but because they didn't trust it and that process had circumvented them.  They were simply being asked to say "yes" to what had already been decided upon behind closed doors.  From day one of the Tony Martinez administration, the commissioner's role has been weakened   Appointments to the important boards and now, lucrative contracts have been reduced to approving recommendations made by a committee.

The commissioner's new role reminds me of a ride our son used to enjoy when he was 3 or 4.  It involved riding in a metal car that traveled along a track around curves and bends and even through a small tunnel.  Each car had a steering wheel which was not attached to anything.  It just turned.  We used to watch our son carefully negotiate the turns with intense concentration, thinking he was "driving" when, in actuality, the car was being guided by a metal track.  Our city commissioners still turn the wheel, but they are not really driving.

Editor's note:  I'm not trying to paint Pete Gonzalez as evil or even devious.  I've met Mr. Gonzalez,  finding him congenial and helpful.  He readily gave me the names of those on the financial committee who actually heard the presentations of the law firms competing for the delinquent tax collection contract.

Rose Gowen's Sports Park Audit Revisited

While the goal may be transparent government, sometimes we get transparent motives and people.  It's no secret that Commissioner Gowen has opposed funneling all of the BCIC's 4B funds into the Sports Park at the neglect of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Gladys Porter Zoo and other entities.  She and Charlie used to tussle about such funding in the previous commission.  Perhaps, it was some recent equipment or expenditures at the sports park that triggered the move for an audit, but in the view of many, the audit is long overdue.

The kicker is the audit could include the construction and equipment once the land was purchased and infrastructure in place.  It could include the construction and equipment and infrastructure once the land was decided upon and purchased.  Or, it could include all of the above, taking us all the way back to the decision to purchase this particular parcel of  so-called "raw" land without infrastructure.  If the latter option is chosen, the audit takes us all the way back to purchasing the original land from Ms. Gowen's own uncle.  Some have suggested that history as a reason Gowen has sort of taken control of the audit, perhaps to limit its scope.

So, the scope of this particular audit will be very revealing.  Do we really want to know ALL the reasons this park ended up costing the taxpayers $36,000,000 or just some of them?

The Election of Sylvia Garza-Perez As Democratic Chairperson Revisited

The election of Sylvia Garza-Perez as Cameron County Democratic Chairperson shocked many, especially those hoping for an improved reputation and more ethical operation of the local party.

It wasn't just Sylvia's weak stance on the use of politqueras or her aggressive, grating personality.  Sometimes, a little assertiveness can be effective as long as it's coupled with ethics.  But the biggest fear of those wanting party reform and change was Sylvia's connection with the corrupt elements of the party, especially including Ernie Hernandez.

So, now I'm told that Sylvia is doing further damage to the party by openly supporting certain Democratic candidates, while opposing others.  Isn't her role to facilitate the election of Democrats against Republicans, not to promote one Democratic candidate over another.  Sylvia ignores that ethical protocol, whild supporting Denise Blanchard against Filemon Vela, and pushing for Erin H. Garcia to defeat Yolanda Begum.

Again, Sylvia, your lack of ethics is showing.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brownsville Wrestler El Carpintero Offering Masks and Rings for Sale

Wrestler El Carpintero is selling masks and small wooden wrestling rings.  These will be on sale at El Carpintero appearances.


El Carpintero Wrestling Mask for Children




El Carpintero Wooden Wrestling Ring for Children

El Rrun Rrun: "Cameron County Chairperson Sylvia Garza-Perez Is A Bad Apple~Rotten to the Core"


GARZA-PEREZ: IS FAVORING ONE CANDIDATE UNITING THE PARTY?


"I ask that we all come together and bring unity to the party not division. Lets remember that unity brings people together..division benefits no one..." Sylvia Garza-Perez, chmn.-elect, Cameron County Democratic Party

By Juan Montoya

If one is to believe Sylvia Perez-Garza, the Democratic party chair(person)-elect, she is going to be a different chairman than Gilberto Hinojosa and be inclusive, uniting, etc.,
So how does she explain that she is brazenly taking sides in some campaign races on behalf of her favorites, namely Erin Hernandez Garcia, in the runoff race for Justice of the Peace 2-2?
She is the same Sylvia who told a blogger recently that we would have to live with the politiquera system as a necessary evil until we find a better way to do it, distancing herself carefully from her relative (distant she says), politiquera extraordinaire Herminia Becerra?
At a recent function for a Democratic Party candidate, Garza-Perez twice came up to Erin's opponent Yolanda Begum and accused her of "trying to buy the election." and left before the startled candidate had a chance to ask what prompted her allegations.
Then, later in the same function, she accused Begum of being in contact with Republican candidate Raul Lopez, who will face the winner of the Democratic Party runoff in November.
"Raul is my cousin and he tells me everything," she said accusingly.
Perez-Garza is feeling her oats and feels that she has a mandate in the county after she garnered an incredible  11,126 votes for chairman, far outstripping her closes opponent Jared Hockema who got 6,373. John Shergold languished a far third.
In her victory statements, she waxed about seeking the position "she wanted to unite and re-energize the party, which she sees as somewhat disorganized."
She told reporters that she wanted to remake the Democratic party and remove the party offices from the law offices of the chairman and set up satellite offices in Harlingen as well.
"I'd like to reorganize every group of precinct chairs and make them a little bit more responsible and more accountable," she said. "We have some precinct positions that people have been in there for 10 or 15 years and they don't come to any of the meetings."
Another goal is to get more young people involved and engaged with the party, Garza-Perez said, noting that civic responsibility isn't emphasized in schools as much as it should be.
It might help if the party would vet candidates and decide which ones best represent the party's interest, Garza-Perez told reporters.
So is this what she is doing now, before she even takes office? If it is, then she has apparently decided that she would rather have Erin Hernandez Garcia, the daughter of Cameron County Pct. 2 commissioner Ernie Hernandez as justice of the peace than she would Begum.
"Sylvia actively lobbied for the Latter Carrier's Union to endorse Erin instead of Begum when they were trying to come to a decision," said a party activist. "She is making no bones about who she is supporting in that race."
If so, Garza-Perez would be wise to note that at the recent Loteria hosted by Tony "La Peca" Rocha at his salon off the frontage road in Brownsville, more than 300 Begum supporters crowded the site in support of the candidate.
Also, the core of Begum's support are middle- and upper-middle class business-oriented people who have traditionally not gotten involved in local politics, content to remain commercially active with their concerns in northern Mexico even though they live in Brownsville and their families and children live here and attend local schools.
Should this group feel that Garza-Perez is campaigning against their candidate – Begum – that will not sit well with them and they might look for a more welcoming party such as the Republicans, who would welcome them with open arms. And all this before she even takes over the helm of the Democratic Party.
She, echoing another Brownsville female elected official, said her election appears to be historic: Garza-Perez believes she's the first woman and the first non-attorney to be elected to the position.
If she starts off on the wrong foot as she apparently is doing now, she might just be the last.

Imposing Wellness~Protecting Us From Ourselves at the Sports Park




New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has successfully imposed wellness on the 8 million residents of NYC and the millions of annual visitors.  During his administration three health initiatives have already passed:

1.  Smoking is banned in all eateries.
2.  Trans fats are outlawed in restaurants
3.  Restaurant chains must post calorie counts on menus and menu boards

As of June 1, Bloomberg has submitted a 4th proposal;  the ban of sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 oz.  The justification for such a measure?  New York City's high rate of obesity.  

City Commissioner, Dr. Rose Gowen, Age 52



The closest thing Brownsville has to Mayor Bloomberg is City Commissioner Rose Gowen.  To describe her as Brownsville's self-proclaimed health and fitness guru would be unfair because she has made no such proclamation.  Nevertheless, the commissioner has taken a strong public role on behalf of fitness and fighting obesity with the "Biggest Loser" program.

Recently, Commissioner Gowen has added responsibilities which may enable her to extend the wellness message further in the Brownsville community.  After the orchestrated firing of Delina Barrera, Gowen has assumed the chairwomanship of the Brownsville Community Incentive Corportion or BCIC.  Mean Mister Brownsville has learned that Ms. Gowen is concerned about the menu served at the Brownsville Sports Park, now somewhat under her control as the new chairwoman.  Unhealthy foods such as nachos, chili dogs and sugary soft drinks may no longer be served, replaced by healthy alternatives.

Not since former mayor Pat Ahumada was hit in the chest by a flying plastic bag while riding his motorcycle has Brownsville faced the imposition of rules for its own good.  The plastic bag ban was poorly thought out and remains poorly implemented, actually reducing the quality of life for Brownsville residents, not raising it.  H.E.B. shoppers, for the most part, simply have their groceries loaded loose into the shopping cart.  I recently saw a family pushing a fully loaded cart with meats, vegetables, canned goods, ramen noodles, etc.  Three large dozen and a half egg cartons were on the bottom of the cart as it negotiated the slight incline down to the parking lot.  The eggs slipped out, crushing about half of them.  So much for improving our quality of life.

WalMart has never even acknowledged Brownsville's plastic bag ban.  The outfit forces Brownsville customers to bag their own groceries on top of the old spinning plastic bag rack with a surface area on top of about one square foot.  Again, quality of life lowered for Brownsville residents by a poorly implemented program.

So now, we may face some dietary restrictions at the sports park if rumors are true.  It might be helpful now to identify some of the problematic food items known to create health issues.  Certainly anything suspected of contributing to obesity, cancer, hypertension, gout, diabetes or even halitosis should be curtailed.

Foods contributing to hypertension(high blood pressure)
Salty foods:  canned soups, chips, pretzels, condiments(soy sauce, ketchup, salad dressing), salted nuts, alcohol(beer, wine, liquor), trans fats.


Foods high in fat
chocolate, cheezes, butter, cream, ice cream, fried foods, chips, fries, pastry, sausages, pies, pizza

Foods causing gout(arthritis)
red meat, game meats, shrimp, sweetbreads, peas, spinach, lentils, beans, asparagus, alcohol, gravy


These are just a few of the foods that may or not be considered acceptable in the Brownsville Sports Park.










Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Citizens Calling for Forensic Audit of the Sports Park Not Limited in Scope

Fresh on the heels of BISD's so-called $250,000 forensic audit which some viewed as a carefully scoped witchhunt by Cata Presas-Garcia, the City of Brownsville is discussing a similar audit for the Brownsville Sports Park.

The need for such an audit has been clear to many locals for years.  No one familiar with construction costs, local real estate prices, the cost of infrastructure seems to see $36,000,000 worth on touring the facility.  What also seems to raise some eyebrows is the urgency with which  Commissioner Rose Gowen is pursuing an audit "now!"

A forensic audit could lead to serious changes in the way the city manages projects like this in the future as well as aid in the recovery of funds used fraudulently or contracts not fulfilled.  But, many I spoke to seem to agree on one thing:  they don't want the scope of the audit limited to protect wrongdoing.  Actually, when someone starts using the word scope when discussing an audit, the implication is they wish to exclude one aspect or another from the investigation.

Several people shared their thoughts and concerns about the proposed audit in private conversations with Mean Mister Brownsville.  None wanted their identify revealed.

"I don't know why there is a push to do an audit now," started one political operative.  "My guess is that it has to do with requesting federal funds.  Such funds were used on the sports park project.  If those funds were misused as many feel, it could affect requests for future funds.  On the other hand, if an audit "proves" responsible use of such federal funds, that could be an asset in getting funded down the line."

"If you're auditing a project properly, you start at the get-go,"  offered a Brownsville senior citizen.  "Why was this location selected?  What other locations were available and where were they located?  Did they have no infrastructure in place as well?"

"Look out for things the original contractors "forgot," do-overs, anything going outside the normal bidding process. Look out for any work performed by American Surveillance or any contractors friendly with Charlie Atkinson. It's a nice park for 12-15 million, but not 33.5 million. It's also too far out of town, but that ship has sailed. Poor planning, poor execution, poor project management."  Those were Mean Mister Brownsville's own words in response to a Brownsville Herald article.

One Brownsville resident claims some personal knowledge of abuses by commissioners with respect to mileage, meals and hotel charges.  He plans to take a close look at the audit results.

Charlie Atkinson Defends Spending on Sports Park, Blasts Zoo and Museum of Fine Art Expenditures

City Commissioner Rose Gowen, who now serves as chairperson for the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation has given impetus to the push for an independent audit of the controversial Brownsville Sports Park located on the outskirts of Olmito.

Gowen wonders out loud if 4B tax fund earmarked for quality-of-life projects haven't been funneled lopsidedly into t-ball and skateboarding north of town to the neglect of the arts and personal wellness promotion.

Mean Mister Brownsville commented publicly on the need for such an audit and was immediately challenged by someone closely identified with the sports park, former commissioner Charlie Atkinson.  Atkinson, the last time we saw him, was unplugging his laptop at the City Commission after a sound whipping by an unknown write-in candidate Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa.  The crushing landslide was more of a referendum on Atkinson, than a mandate for the then unknown Tetreau-Kalifa. As one resident of Alan-A-Dale told us at the time:  " I would vote for a mesquite tree residing in District 2 before I would vote for Charlie Atkinson."

Brownsville residents have long been concerned about the huge overruns and mismanagement of the sports park and feel they were incredibly oversold on its potential for profitability.  Here are the recent exchanges between Mean Mister Brownsville, Atkinson and other citizens concerning the proposed audit:

Mean Mister Brownsville:  "Look out for things the original contractors "forgot," do-overs, anything going outside the normal bidding process.  Look out for any work performed by American Surveillance or any contractors friendly with Charlie Atkinson.  It's a nice park for 12-15 million, but not 33.5 million.  It's also too far out of town, but that ship has sailed.  Poor planning, poor execution, poor project management."

CHARLIE ATKINSON:  "Hey Jim Barton, 13 million was spent on the infrastructure and drainage of the whole park.  It was raw land so it cost that much to install underground utilities and sewers.  The audit is warranted and a good idea because then the citizens will see that things were done by the book.  36 million was spent on UTB's theatre arts building using tax payer dollars and 99 per cent of Brownsville will never see the inside of this building.  The sports park is the best thing that has happen for the youth of Brownsville.  In 2003 this project was planned by over 150 citizens who met and gave input on what they wanted to see in our sports park.  Mayor Vela and her commissioners back then set up committees and got public input so the park was built with the citizen's input and wants for that park. I would rather spend our tax dollars on a park a quality of life project that benefits the masses than to select special interest groups like the zoo and museum of fine arts who want our poor citizens to pay for something they will never go to."

Martin Buitron:  So as I understand former(thank heaven) commissioner Charlie A. doesn't support the zoo or a fine arts museum but you would support a park.  What do Brownsville tourists do when they visit the city you once represented?  Do they go to the park or do they go to the zoo?  I guess you've never been to the zoo on a weekend or during one of the holiday events.  Maybe 10% of the visitors are tourists but the rest are folks form Brownsville(the city you once represented.)

As for me I appreciate everything our zoo and our art museum has to offer.  I can spend hours shooting photos of the animals and plants.  So, as you put it UTB/TSC built a theater arts building and you are saying 99% of the citizens of the city you once represented will never see the inside of this building.  Those are very poor expectations you have of the citizens that voted for you.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  The sports park might be nice, but I didn't see 35 million worth of nice.  13 million for infrastructure.  Who are you trying to kid?"

Mean Mister Brownsville:  The unanswered question for me(about the audit) is: "Why now?"  This should have been done years ago.  I hope they don't gerrymander the scope of the audit to hide corruption.  Also, will the city aggressively go after recovery if there were overcharges, kickbacks?  Their track record is not good.  They let the dentist who bilked the city for $400,000 off the hood for just $70,000."

Craig Grove:  "Jim, I am glad to see this and you and I have the same concerns. . . . "

Tim Lopes:  "All the records need to be put away for safekeeping now and I believe it should also be a forensic audit, so that we don't end up with a lot of loose ends.  Either way, I'm glad this is finally getting done."

CHARLIE ATKINSON:  "You should spend more time utilizing the park and exercising fat boy instead of criticizing and bitching."

Camille Atkinson:  "To begin with Charlie was not a Commissioner when this got started, he just made sure it got finished when so much money had already been put into it.  Secondly, it would be nice if people who commented used their real names to back up their comments.  My husband, Charlie, has always been a big supporter of youth sports and that is something I will always be tremendously proud of.  Thanks Charlie!"

Randy Tridwr:  . . . . . As for hiding my name I have more evidence about the commissioners than they would like me to have and as for Charlie being for youth sports does not make him qualified to handle or make decisions on a project this size.  As for defending Charlie, that what wives are for."

CHARLIE ATKINSON:  "I just want people to know that the city gives the zoo over $400,000 a year and the MFA over $300,000 a year and have been for decades. . . . . Everything at the sports park goes back to the city.  Why doesn't the zoo or the museum give back?  It's a racket and has been and you have people on the city commission who won't address it. . . . . When do the leaches stop leaching? "

CHARLIE ATKINSON:  :Wow, just reading "John Johnson" everyone can tell its Craig Grove. Craig, give it up and be a man and leave your real name.  I have seen the numbers and the Sports Park brings in more sales tax dollars to our city than the museum and the zoo combined.  The zoo and the museum are lucky we have the Sports Park because teams that play at the park during tournaments come into our city and spend money.  Nobody besides your lame butt will wake up and decide to drive over 300 miles to a zoo or museum.  People from out of town come to Brownsville for a sports tournament.  Cities bid for the Superbowl upwards to 60 million dollars.  Wake up Craig and stop milking our city out of our tax dollars for your stupid little pet projects.  Man up and get a life.  Argue with me, not my wife.  You know where I live.  Lets meet face to face and settle your hatred with me.  I don't hate you.  I feel sorry for you One eyed Willie."

ADDENDUM:  Don't we all miss old Charlie, our bull-in-a-china-closet former commissioner?  After we sent him packing from the City Commission, he's doing quite well for himself, thank you very much.  He has a sister, Sylvia, in Human Resources at BISD, who vaulted Charlie past all the qualified, certified, experienced coaches and teachers waiting in line and gave him a P.E. coach job at Faulk Middle School.  


With Charlie and Pat gone, the decibel level at the City Commission has been turned down to a whisper.  The City Commission is being reduced to simply nodding to recommendations made by Cabler's team.  They can affirm the recommendation this meeting or table it and affirm it the next as Tony moves the city closer and closer to autocracy.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

El Carpintero to Appear At Freedom Festival Parade July 4






Start off with Parade Participation on July 4th, 2012 at 9:00 am and end July 7th, 2102 at midnight with a Grand Concert under the stars. Thats, right 4-days of live music, vendors, kids events, rally events, and much much more.

Brownsville Freedom Festival (BFF) 2012 Schedule of Events
Brought to you by: RGV Fallen Riders Foundation, Bikers 4 Kids Group, & Valley Veterans
Gates Open:
Wednesday – Friday from 3:00pm to Midnight with Live Music starting at 5:00pm.
Saturday from 10:00am to Midnight with music starting at Noon.

Send Questions to: Edward@Valley-Veterans.com or send Valley Vetrerans a private message.

07/04/12 FREE TO PUBLIC
Salute to Freedom Parade & B4KG Poker Run Registration (8:30am-9:45am at 6th & W. Elizabeth St)
BFF Chalupa de Premios (Noon – 7:00pm $10.00 for 3 Cards per round of 10-games)
BFF Opening Ceremonies with City Officials and Dignitaries. (3:00pm)
Motorcycle Stunt Show, Live Music, Vendors, Food, & Children’s Events
BBQ Dinner Fundraiser with Chicken Leg Quarter, Trimmings, & Soda $6.00 (4:00pm-7:00pm)
Tailgate Parties to all like Brownsville Living; Cheezemeh; Raza; and others. (Make request by 6/15/12)
9:15 pm is the City Fireworks Display
Concert after the Fireworks until midnight (maybe later)

7/05/12 Entry into BFF is $3.00 ages 12-years & older
Kids Day with Clowns, Magicians, Big Wheel Racing, Water Balloon Toss, and much more.
Motorcycle Stunt Show, Live Music, Vendors, & Food
Motorcycle Show Registration from 12:00pm to 2:30pm and judging through 7:00pm.
(Peoples’ choice trophy’s for top 3, Plus Freedom Festival Favorite Trophy)
Texas Hold’em Tournament: Registration/Mixer at 5:00pm $150 buy-in, Cards fly at 6:00pm. This tournament is a non-profit fundraiser for RGV Fallen Riders Foundation.

7/06/12 Entry into BFF is $3.00 ages 12-years & older
BFF Fight Night With Lucha Libre Starts @ 7:00 pm
Motorcycle Stunt Show, Live Music, Vendors, Food, & Children’s Events
Motorcycle Rally Event Competition (3:00pm to 7:00pm)
Motorcycle Demo Rides
Headliner Concert (Late Evening)

7/07/12 Entry into BFF is $3.00 ages 12-years & older

Team BBQ Cook Off: Registration & Fires Start at 6:00 am & Judging at 4:00pm
($225.00 Per 4-5 man Team with top prize of $1,000.00)

Hero’s Relief 281 River Run: Registration: 9:00am – 10:15am (Breakfast/coffee available for purchase)
Start at American Legion Post 101: 417 S Cage Boulevard, Pharr, TX. 78577. Cost is $10.00 per rider. We arrive BFF around 12:00pm. Ticket includes BFF entry & lunch with drink,

Custom-Classic Car Show Registration: 8:00am to 9:45am
(Peoples’ choice trophy’s for top 3, Plus Freedom Festival Favorite Trophy)

Motorcycle Stunt Show, Live Music, Vendors, & Food

Chalupa de Premios (12:00pm – 7:00pm, $10.00 for 3 Cards per round of 10-games)

Carne Guisada Fundraiser Plate & Soda $6.00 (11:00am-2:00pm with one time entry into the grounds)

Headliner Concerts (Early evening through close)
Note: Acts, shows, and activity subject to change without notice.
For complete up to date details become friends with Valley Veterans on facebook

For information regarding Vendor Booths, Sponsorship Opportunities, Contest Rules & Entry Forms, Volunteering, and Opportunities for LOCAL ENTERTAINMENT please send a private message with Valley Veterans or email:
Edward@Valley-Veterans.com

This event is being brought to you by RGV Fallen Riders Foundation, Bikers 4 Kids Group, & Valley Veterans for charitable purposes.

Brownsville Freedom Festival Sponsorship Levels (BFF Sponsor Levels) April 8th, 2012
Send Payment As Noted On The Registration Form.
Contact us with questions via e-mail at: Edward@Valley-Veterans.com
Or send us a message via facebook by becoming friends with us at RGV Fallen Riders Foundation, Bikersfour Kidsgroup and/or Valley Veterans.

Deadline to apply for Sponsorship is July 2nd, 2012 but in order to for you to receive full benefit make plans to have your information in to us by May 1st, 2012.This way we can provide the best service for your organization and can be certain your company is included in early advertising and event branding.

Fire Cracker Level: $100.00 includes business card on poster.

Patriot Level: $500.00 includes
Name/Logo included in the on-line advertising & on all tickets
Sponsorship Appreciation/Participation Plaque
2 Rally Packages & a table for 2 at the Appreciation celebration

Lady Liberty Level: $1,000.00 includes everything in Patriot Level &
Banner to be flown and taken home by sponsor
One Vendor spot (excluding booth & permit fees as needed)
4 Rally Packages & a table for 4 at the Appreciation celebration
Company Name/Logo on all print advertising

American Bald Eagle Level: $2,000.00 includes everything in Lady Liberty Level &
Additional Banner to be flown at the Chalupa & Texas Hold’em Tournament
Additional Vendor Spot (Information only) inside Chalupa & Texas Hold’em Tournament
Static Display at BFF venue
6 Rally Packages & a table for 6 at the Appreciation celebration

Stars & Stripes Level: $5,000.00 includes everything in the American Bald Eagle Level &
Event Sponsor for Texas Hold’em Tournament or Chalupa with $150.00 credit
Name or Company Logo on back of tournament cards (one color red or blue)
Static Display at Chalupa and Texas Hold’em tournament
8 Rally Packages & a table for 8 at the Appreciation celebration
The option to be a stop on our July 4th 2012 Poker Run
The option to be designated as a Valley Veterans BBQ Cook-off Team sponsor

Note: Sponsorship can be paid for by donating acceptable product equal to twice that of the cash value of the sponsorship level chosen or a combination of both cash & product.

Notice: BEER IS NOT ALLOWED TO BE BROUGHT ONTO OR TAKEN OUT OF THE PREMISSES AT ANYTIME!

The decisions of Brownsville Freedom Festival judging officials are final and every contestant must sign a waiver.*

Vendor Fees (Vendor must purchase their own heath permit)
Mandatory $150.00 Deposit per vendor. Deposit holds reservation until May 1st 2012 and is only refundable if vendor fee and participation occur. Deposit also covers damages & clean up and is returned to you by mail & check.

Food Vendor: $250.00 two item max
($250.00 for each additional 1-2 item)

Merchandise: $250.00 for 1st section of 10’ deep X 15’
$100.00 each adjoining section of a 10’X10’
(3 additional sections max)

Games & Rides: $250.00 plus. Final charge is based on attraction
and required space.

Contest Fees & Rules
Mandatory $75.00 Deposit for BBQ & holds spot until June 1st 2012 & covers damages & clean up

BBQ Contest Entry Fee: $225.00 (4-5 persons team) Saturday July 7th, 2012
Entry Forms and Complete rules on judging and prize money calculations may be obtained by contacting: Edward@Valley-Veterans.com

There will be trophies for top three in each of four categories and one grand champion trophy.
The categories are: (And guess who’s helping feed the volunteers Saturday?)
Beef Ribs (10 pieces) 1st Place $500.00 2nd Place 225.00
Complete Half Chicken (4 pieces) 1st Place $500.00 2nd Place 225.00
Beef Fajita (One kilo cooked) 1st Place $500.00 2nd Place 225.00
Charro Beans (One gallon) 1st Place $500.00 2nd Place 225.00
Grand Champion (must participate in all categories) $1,000.00
Prize money based on entry of 20 or more teams.
Judging of meats is based on consistency of flavor, texture, presentation, and overall appeal.
Team registration and setup start Saturday at 6:00 am to 9:00 am.
Fires start at 6:00 am
Items for judging must be turned in between 3:00 pm and 3:30 pm.

Car/Truck/Motorcycle Contest Entry Fee: $10.00 per vehicle.
Peoples’ Choice Trophies for TOP THREE in each category of Car, Truck, & Motorcycle.
One Brownsville Freedom Festival Favorite Trophy for each category.
Motorcycle Registration July 6th 2012 Line up between 12:00pm to 2:30pm
Car & Truck Registration July 7th 2012 Line-up is between 8:00am to 9:45am

MAKE DONATIONS PAYABLE TO RGV Fallen Riders Foundation for Texas Hold’em & Chalupa registration.
Texas Hold’em Tournament July 5th, 2012. Buy in: $150.00; re-buy $150.00 (2 re-buy max), Trophies for Top 3 & Prizes for Top 10 players. Mixer @ 5:00pm & Cards fly at 6:00pm. *Prize based on 70 players min
1st place gets a Prize Package value of over $5,000.00*
2nd place value over $2,000.00*
3rd place value over $1,000.00*
Chalupa July 4th, 2012. & July 7th Doors open at Noon with 1st round starting at 1:00pm and last round starting no later than 7:00pm. $10.00 for 3 cards for 10-games
This event is being brought to you by RGV Fallen Riders Foundation, Bikers 4 Kids Group, & Valley Veterans for charitable purposes.

Motorcycle Runs, Rally Events and contest entry are included with all Rally Package levels. Individually:
July 4th 2012: $10:00 for participation in the Parade, B4KG Poker Run, and Lunch at BFF.
July 6th 2102: $10.00 for participation in Rally events & Contest
July 7th 2012: $10:00 for participation in Valley Veterans “Hero’s Relief 281 River Run” starting at
American Legion Post 101 in McAllen then ending with same day entry and Lunch at BFF.

Basic Rally Package: $85.00 value for $45.00 for On-line registration & $55.00 same day on site reg.
Festival Entry all 4-days, Commemorative T-shirt, Participation in all Rally Event Contest, On July 4th participation in the Salute to Freedom Parade & B4KG Poker Run with Prizes & BBQ Plate, On July 6th participation in the BFF Rally Events & Contest, On July 7th Participation in Valley Veterans Hero’s Relief 281 River Run with lunch and door prizes, designated Hog Pen parking at the venue, 5-raffle tickets, and special room rate at select hotels.

VIP Rally Package: $165.00 value for $85.00
Includes everything in the Basic Rally Package plus, VIP Gift, Seating, Parking (with over-night security), VIP registration into all Rally Events, daily access to VIP Area, VIP Seating at Chalupa games with $20.00 credit & VIP Seating at the Texas Hold’em Tournament with $25.00 off initial buy in, & 15-raffle tickets.

Platinum Rally Package: $1,000.00 value for $650.00
Includes everything in the VIP Package plus, 3-night Hotel stay for two with Rally Gift Basket at Hotel check-in, $50.00 credit per day at the Chalupa Games, one buy in for the Texas Hold’em Tournament, * Limo on call as needed, 50-raffle tickets, & a place for two at the appreciation dinner (July 3rd).

Please show your support for what Valley Veterans mission and consider participating in the following scheduled activities.
With God’s grace Valley Veterans will start, sponsor and/or participate in each of the following events:
April 18th, Coordinator of Child Awareness Month activities with Head Start, B4KG, & others
April 24th, Founder & Sponsor of the 1st Annual Veterans Symposium & Jobs Fair
May 27th, Sponsor & Participate in the Memorial Day Cruising for the Needy Can Food Drive to support
the RGV Food Bank. Event location at El Centro Cultural in Cameron Park
May 28th Participate in the Memorial Day Ceremonies at the Veterans Park on Central Blvd,.
July 4th – July 7th Co-founder & sponsor of the 1st Annual Brownsville Freedom Festival.
Nov 10th Participate and Ride in the Southmost Veterans Day Parade festivities.
Nov 10th& 11th Founder and Sponsor the Veterans Day Victory Ride, Kermes, and Poker Run
Nov 11th Participate in VFW Post 2035 Veterans Day Ceremonies & Luncheon
Nov 17th Sponsor & Founder of Turkey donation to Neediest of Veterans in Brownsville.
Dec 2012 Event Coordinator & Sponsor for the 3rd Annual Posada De Los Ninos
Dec 2012 Founder & Sponsor of the 1st Annual Christmas Care Package For Veterans In Need (Our goal is to give 10 packages of Christmas Goodies valued at over $300.00 to local needy Veterans & their family)

For Vendor, Sponsorship, Event details and opportunities at all Valley Veterans events please e-mail:
Edward@Valley-Veterans.com

This event is being brought to you by RGV Fallen Riders Foundation, Bikers 4 Kids Group, & Valley Veterans for charitable purposes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Should A Justice of the Peace Be A Lawyer? "No!" Says Houston JP

Certainly you heard the story.  Yolanda Begum was handing out push cards in the Villa Del Sol Senior Living High Rise on E. St. Charles Street when Erin H. Garcia walked in with her team, stepping in front of Ms. Begum and shouting:  "Don't vote for her.  She's not a lawyer!"  One Hernandez supporter shouted out to the whole room:  "Don't vote for Begum.  She's not a lawyer.  She can't give you legal advice."

Ignoring the boorish, ill-mannered behavior for a minute displayed by Norma, Erin and their followers, what about the question:  Should a Justice of the Peace be a lawyer?  Does it help?

Recently, a longtime Houston Justice of the Peace commented on the matter:  "Actually, being a lawyer does NOT help you to be a good justice of the peace.  This common court is not about lawyering, but about common sense and life experience.  Law school doesn't qualify you as a JP.  In fact, every elected justice of the peace, lawyer or non-lawyer has to immediately receive 80 hours of training, then 20 hours annually about the role.  It's a different set of skills."

The JP went on to say that most justices of the peace are not lawyers and that's for a reason.  "Being a lawyer actually is a hindrance.  It creates a conflict of interest.  Let's say a woman comes into your court as a victim of domestic abuse.  You might say privately, as a lawyer, 'I can help you.'  But as a JP we're not allowed to give legal advice.  We offer rulings, settle disputes, but we don't give legal advice.  Maybe fatherly or motherly advice, from our life experience, but not legal advice.  About the only place being a lawyer might help would be in evicting people from their homes, but those rules are not difficult to learn"

Perhaps, this is why in Cameron County:

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Bennie Ochoa, is NOT a lawyer.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2-1, Linda Salazar, is NOT a lawyer.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2-2, Kip V. Johnson Hodge, is a lawyer.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3-1, Julian Sanchez, is NOT a lawyer.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3-2, David Garza, is NOT a lawyer.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4, Manuel Flores, Jr. is NOT a lawyer.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5-1, Sally Gonzalez, is NOT a lawyer.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 6, Juan Mendoza, is NOT a lawyer.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7-1, Adam Gonzalez is NOT a lawyer.

Erin Hernandez Garcia would have you believe that MOST of those serving as Justice of the Peace in Cameron County are not qualified to serve because they are not lawyers.  Actually, the opposite is true.  The above folks have life experience, compassion and empathy; the very traits Erin lacks.

Yolanda Begum, on the other hand is respected in the community because of her kindness, compassion and understanding.  Many in Cameron Park and throughout Brownsville remember her patience and understanding in working with truant students, teaching them art and life skills.  Those are the traits and life skills necessary to be an effective Justice of the Peace.

Hanen Gives Us A Glimmer of Hope As Corruption Goes Unabated in Cameron County



The Penn State Analogy


Penn State fired head football coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier, not because they had molested young boys, but because they've known since 1998 that Jerry Sandusky was involved in highly questionable conduct and did nothing.  One person who did "come forward", assistant coach Mike McQueary, has not fared much better because he only went to his superiors, never the police.

Many of us in Brownsville and Cameron County are nearly in McQueary's shoes.  We KNOW many of our judges, politicians, city and county officials are corrupt, but are not in a position to do much about it.  Bloggers Jerry Mchale, Bobby Wightman-Cervantes and Juan Montoya have written literally thousands of words detailing the transgressions of Ernie Hernandez, Gilberto Hinojosa, Armando Villalobos, Carlos Quintanilla, Enrique Escobedo and others.  But we can only vote, talk, curse and scream without the necessary prosecutorial authority.  Those with the authority to investigate, arrest and prosecute for political and judicial corruption do not.


The Robert Cadriel Example


A recent case in point would be the illegal hiring of Robert Cadriel, Ernie Hernandez' brother-in-law as a guard at the international bridges.  Although a convicted felon who had been fired from the City of Brownsville for misconduct, Robert received glowing recommendations from State Senator Eddie Lucio and City Manager Charlie Cabler.  Go figure!  But first, there was the matter of the civil service test.  Cadriel scored a 33, then a 36 on the test, not good enough to be hired.  Allegedly, someone in Human Resources, a female, took the test for Robert, scoring a 96.  When this came to light, Robert Cadriel was fired.  The next day Human Resources Director Robert Lopez, a young father with a new baby, left the high-paying position "to pursue other opportunities."  Many feel it obvious that Lopez simply fell on his sword for Ernie, who had backed him in two political campaigns.  As usual, teflon Ernie "knew nothing."  Hernandez has nothing to fear because our community tolerates corruption, malfeasance and lawbreaking by public officials.  Ernie gives us that cocky, Sandusky-like smile, letting us know we're the fools for letting him do to the taxpayers of Cameron County what Sandusky did to little boys.

This stinky mess was initially looked at by Carlos Garcia, then police chief of the Brownsville Police Department.  Garcia mulled over the matter for 30 days and then realized it was "not in his jurisdiction."  Do you really think it would take more than a few minutes for a chief law enforcement officer to determine jurisdiction?  Garcia suggested the Cameron County Sheriff's Department or the Texas Rangers investigate, but threw the hot potato back to the Cameron County Commissioner's Court.  The Commissioner's Court, on further review, flipped the case to the District Attorney's office.  The now indicted District Attorney, Armando Villalobos, more closely associated with generating corruption than stifling it, has now "held" the case for several months with no action.


This brings us to U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen.  During the Ray Marchan trial, indications of widespread judicial corruption surfaced, involving names not relevant to the trial.  Former Judge Abel Limas mentioned four names of Cameron County judges he describes as, like him, corrupt.  This prompted Judge Hanen via letter to order the U.S. Attorney’s Office to cooperate to the fullest extent possible with investigations by the Southern District of Texas and State Bar of Texas into the unethical conduct of the defendant or any other individuals associated with the case.  That was an unusual step, but a necessary one.  SOMEONE has to get the anti-corruption ball rolling.

The revelations forthcoming in the Limas and Marchan trials and now the Villalobos indictment taint ALL of the judgements rendered in Cameron County for the last several years.  Did those without the money to bribe or those who hired ethical lawyers get justice?  Were ad litem appointments distributed equitably?  How many cases will get thrown out or have to be retried?  How much will all this corruption end up costing the taxpayers of one of the country's poorest counties?

Let's hope what Andrew Hanen has started gets finished soon.  Corruption paralyzes our city, county and school district with unethical hiring practices, awarding of contracts and judicial judgements.  All of this wastes resources, both monetary and human and adds to the disillusionment of a non-participating community.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tonight is the Crescent Moon's Last Night~Melancholy Sets In

Downtown Brownsville's musical safety net, The Crescent Moon is closing down in its present form after tonight.  The popular, comfortable live music venue located in the back quarters of the historic Hide Building will be absorbed into a new operation facing Adams Street, The Half Moon.


Local musician and entrepreneur Ben Neece sent the faithful this message on Thursday:

"Dear Members of the Crescent Moon Cantina Group: It is with great regret that we announce the closing of the Crescent Moon Cantina. This Friday will be our last night. We'll be having a Jamboree, so all of the musicians who have graced our stage are encouraged to return for one more Jam. Don't forget that Frontera Jazz Quartet will be playing their last gig at the Crescent Moon Cantina on Thursday, so if you didn't get a chance to catch them, this is your last opportunity.
......................................... HOWEVER, we will be re-opening soon in the newly remodeled Half Moon Bar, in the same building, but on the Adams Street side. And yes, there will be air-conditioning and the same "chill" ambience, and of course, the same caliber of musicians who have performed in the past. ................................This Friday, botanas and jams. Hope to see you there.             Ben Neece"





The Moon had nights everyone knew at the time would never be repeated like December 9, 2011 when the legendary Henry Lee rocked downtown with the Jimi Hendrix version of Dylan's All Along the Watchtower.  Then, there was the after party for the Latin Jazz Festival with most of the musicians joining in a jam.



Then, there was always the house band, Earthmen, Lords of D'Nile with a varied make-up, but always including Neece, J.J. Struebelt and Joe Hugonette, but also Adrian and the rest of the Foncerrada family, belly dancers, banjo players, Beatles afficianados, Louis Villarreal, The Bluzanos,  Clay Moore's Frontier Jazz Quartet and of course, The Doc Scully Blues Band.


Many described the Crescent Moon as comfortable, but it wasn't just the individual 70's vintage upholstered chairs, the music or the acoustics; all great.  It was more than likely the overqualified bar manager, J.J. Struebelt who set the tone and warmth for the establishment.

Despite what Neece says in the note above, the Crescent Moon will not be replaced.



Is Brownsville's Boca Chica Now in the Lead for SpaceX?

(Please note:  The giddy article below does not represent the position of MMB on putting a launch pad at Boca Chica.  We thinks it's a bad idea on several levels at THAT location, but being aware of the press releases being generated is part of our education process.)

 

 

by Mark Whittington of the Houston Space News Examiner


The same day that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited the SpaceX facility in McGregor, Texas to view the newly returned Dragon cargo spaceship, the company’s CEO Elon Musk met with Gov. Rick Perry. Musk has announced that a site near Brownsville, near the southern tip of Texas, is the leading candidate for a SpaceX launch facility.

SpaceX has launched its Falcon 9 rocket from a pad near the Kennedy Space Center, most recently for the successful mission that delivered cargo to the International Space Station. SpaceX would like its own launch facility, however, and the Brownsville site has a number of advantages. It is not only close to SpaceX’s McGregor facility, located near Waco, but also near the Johnson Spaceflight Center south of Houston. If and when SpaceX begins ferrying people on its Dragon spacecraft, the training facilities at JSC will be crucial for that operation.
The state of Texas has shown enthusiasm for the project, promising a package of economic incentives. People in the Brownsville area have shown overwhelming support for the project, especially for the hundreds of high paying, high tech jobs that the spaceport would bring.
However, an Austin based group called Environment Texas has launched a petition drive opposing the space port, citing its proximity to a public park and a wildlife sanctuary. However its arguments are somewhat undercut by the fact that the Kennedy Space Center has been launching spacecraft for decades next to a wildlife refuge without any ill effects to the wildlife.
Mark R. Whittington is the author of Children of Apollo andThe Last Moonwalker. He has written on space subjects for a variety of periodicals, including The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, USA Today, the L.A. Times, and The Weekly Standard.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Brownsville's Fearsome 5-Some, Jerry Sandusky, "A Mother Teresa?", Matamoros Doctor Busses


Pete Gonzalez is a very busy man. I left him a message and an email asking for the names of those on the committee of five who decided which law firm to recommend to the City Commission to award the contract for delinquent tax collection for the City of Brownsville.


Fortuitously, I saw him walking down the street and asked him in person. I was stopped at a stop light. He rattled off the 5 names, but since he was in a hurry and I knew I couldn't remember all five, I asked him to email me the names. That has not happened yet, but Chris Davis came to my rescue, sending me information from pages 214,215 of the City Commission Agenda posting naming the committee of five.

Brownsville's Fearsome 5-Some

Jose Chavez, City Internal Auditor
John Chosy, Assistant City Attorney
Pete Gonzalez, Deputy Assistant City Manager
Lupe Granado III, Assistant Finance Director
Jesse Garcia, Chief Deputy, Cameron County Tax Collector/Assessor

The above committee of 5 are said to have carefully screened the three law firms bidding on the contract for delinquent tax collection.  Pete Gonzalez, Deputy Assistant City Manager/Finance Director, presented the committee's recommendation to the City Commission on June 5, 2012.  Several commissioners were a little taken back by having to make a decision without hearing the presentations of the 3 firms.  It was decided that Gonzalez would conduct a workshop so the commissioners could "understand the process."

So, two weeks later at the next City Commission meeting, Gonzalez presents the same recommendation before the commission; Linebarger.  The commission quickly approves.  What happened here?  What is the exact role of the City Commission in this matter beyond simply rubber stamping? What if the commission does not agree with the recommendation?  Do we even need a City Commission and/or Mayor?  Maybe, we should abolish the mayor/city commission aspect of city government and go straight to a city manager form.

The taxpaying public is the big loser here.  Not only do they not get a public hearing with the merits of the three competing firms out in the open(as was evidently done last time according to the commissioners and is the format at BISD), but the elected city commissioners continue to lose power and the electorate lose representation.  Remember, at the start of the Tony Martinez administration, he bullied two young commissioners to give up their board selections, then introduced some shadowy, unknown recommendation committee into the process.  

Representative democracy continues to take a hit under Tony.  The commissioner's role has been considerably weakened.  The non-broadcast of public comment has killed public participation.  Tony acts as if good chairmanship involves conducting a brisk, short commission meeting.  To be fair, keeping the meeting moving along, not unnecessarily bogged down with repetitious banter, is part of good chairmanship.  But, all issues have to be thoroughly discussed before making a decision.  In the June 5 meeting Tony was willing to move on the next agenda item after a brief lull of indecision.  What's his hurry?  Boston Legal can be recorded for later view.   Leadership is not demonstrated by the brevity of the meeting, but the ideas presented to help our city.  If the meetings consist only of  proclamations, employee of the month awards, zoning adjustments and rubber stamping the recommendation of a committee meeting behind closed doors, why do we need the City Commission?

Jerry Sandusky, A "Mother Teresa?"

Joe Amendola, the defense attorney for former Penn State defensive coach Jerry Sandusky, linked Sandusky with Mother Teresa, reading her poem, entitled "Do It Anyway". 

The jury is considering 48 counts of child molestation, child  endangerment, corruption of a minor, etc.  Sandusky apparently groomed young boys for sex by taking them to football games or workouts, then  showering with them, gradually increasing the playfulness.  

The prosecution had the victims, now ranging in age from 18 to mid 30's sitting on the front row of the court along with their mothers.  Most of the victims had been disadvantaged kids who were connected with Sandusky's charity, the Second Mile.

Matamoros to Offer Bus Service to Doctors


Matamoros officials are planning to offer Brownsville residents free bus rides for their doctor visits in Matamoros.  

The bus schedules won't be posted for the view of the warring drug cartels, but instead will be worked out confidentially between doctor and patient.   

The idea is to offer the people of Brownsville access to less expensive medical care and to aid the bottomed-out Matamoros economy.




Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Narco Engineering~Vehicles Modified for Drug Cartel Wars

Narco Engineering
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 |

Borderland Beat

Organized crime is engineering increasingly sophisticated equipment and armaments, their ability to use improvisation is impressive, for example, the unusual armored vehicles that are used to protect drug shipments. With crude materials such as steel plates and railway tracks, "narco engineering" has created real monsters, unbeatable with conventional weapons. Their place of origin is from Tamaulipas, however its use appears to extend to other entities, such as Zacatecas and Sinaloa.

Juan Alberto Cedillo
June 14, 2012
REYNOSA, TAMPS. (Proceso)-monsters, armored vehicles crafted by the Gulf Cartel, were assembled in a clandestine workshop of Camargo, a municipality of Tamaulipas in an area known as "Frontera Chica.” In June 2011, troops of the 8th military zone based in Reynosa, found two finished monsters and other 23 others in waiting to be completed.
These units are result of the "Militarization of organized crime driven by Los Zetas", says proceso's Guadalupe Contreras-Correa, a researcher at the University of Texas at Brownsville, and explains: "The Zetas were formed from elements of the Mexican army’s elite groups and were trained by foreign advisors in highly specialized weapons handling and counter-insurgency tactics."


Contreras-Correa adds that one effect of the militarization introduced by Los Zetas involved the professional tactics to eliminate the adversary: the use of non-conventional attack tactics, as the use of IED’s and fragmentation grenades, mass kidnappings and roadblocks or "narcobloqueos." Furthermore, they introduced heavy weapons and armored vehicles, such as those made by the same group and the Gulf Cartel.
All types of vehicles were modified in the underground workshop of Camargo, with the aim to turn them into monsters: big rigs, dump trucks, flatbed trucks and even tractors.

An officer of the eighth military zone explains that the criminals changed the the suspension so that it could support up to 30 tons of weight. They would as the Officer indicated, cover the engine, the cabin and the back with at least one inch thick steel plates. The original supports were replaced by pieces of railroad rails.

The military emphasizes that the armor of these “monsters” can withstand attacks with AK47 and AR15 assault rifles and even .50 caliber and 40 mm grenades.
They designed several "models;" from one resembling the Popemobile, a light vehicle whose armored cabin could only have housed a couple of shooters, to trucks with capacity to carry 20 snipers. The inner walls of these vehicles were coated with polyurethane to dampen the noise produced from assault rifles.

During 2010, it was common to see monsters circulating through the traditional trafficking routes that branch from the municipality of San Fernando. This town is located in the Gulf of Mexico, 120 kilometers south of the border with United States.

"The monsters are used only to monitor and protect the transfer of drugs carried out in rural areas of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, as protection from rival groups", the military emphasizes, and stresses that until now the narcos have not used such vehicles to combat the army or the Federal forces.
The existence of monsters dates from the first months of 2010, after the split between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, former armed branch of that organization.

"Rupture had been brewing for some time, since Los Zetas expanded so rapidly. As they controlled important squares, which made the leadership of Los Zetas decide that it was time for more independence from their former partners," says researcher Guadalupe Contreras-Correa.
The offical split occurred after that, in February 2010, when the Concord 3, a sicario of Los Zetas in Reynosa, was executed by Metro 3, who worked for Los Zetas counterpart, the Gulf Cartel.
In March of that same year a bloody dispute for control of squares and territories in the area began, especially in the region known as the " Frontera Chica." This included San Fernando, northern Veracruz, Tampico and Tamaulipas.

As both sides knew their places and methods of operation, the dispute reached the proportions of a civil war. Small armies of gunmen clashed in bloody battles in cities of Mier, Camargo, Guerrero, Miguel Alemán, and San Fernando, and these were only the towns the press coverered.

Because of this it became important to protect drug shipments from looters. Out of this dilemma came the idea to create the monsters, vehicles that we began to see in other regions of the country dominated by organized crime, such as in the States of Zacatecas and Sinaloa.
The only way to destroy the monsters is to attack them with 20 mm anti-tank grenades, adds military source.
In the past three years the military zone VIII has seized in Tamaulipas, more than 120 armored vehicles. These include six that are considered "real monsters," because they weigh more than 30 tons and can accommodate more than 20 gunmen.

Blogger El Rrun Rrun Lands on his Feet After Being Driven from Paradise of Cheezmeh

As the last homosapien with a cranial measurement exceeding 1500 cubic centimeters still allowed internet access to the Garden of Cheezmeh, El Rrun Rrun's Juan Montoya felt awkward and alone.  As he looked around the garden, not only was there not a suitable mate, there was no one with whom he could converse beyond mere grunts and growns.

Montoya took matters into his own hands and blatantly picked some of the fruitage of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil," eyeing the fruit with longing.  The subtle words of the sneaky blogger Mean Mister Brownsville rang in his ears, that "eating the fruit would not kill him, but instead make him 'like Erasmo, knowing what is Good and Evil.' "


As Erasmo watched from on high, Montoya bit into the fruit, enjoying a sweet succulence he had never experienced.  Bracing himself for instant death, he instead felt a rush of knowledge enter his ample cranium.  He looked up in a celestial direction, now seeing that Erasmo was not Good, but pure Evil.  He rushed to share his Knowledge with others in the Garden, but before finding anyone else, the Lord of Heaven and Earth pushed the eject button, preventing any more tainting of the Garden with Knowledge.

Outside paradise, Montoya would have to blog by the "sweat of his brow,"  no longer able to cut and paste the trite platitudes from the Brownsville Cheezmeh site and use them as his own.  With no access to stories about two-headed cows and quiche recipes, the El Rrun Rrun blogger would have to seek other entertainment.  Life would certainly not be the same.

                        Bloggers discuss their fate outside the Garden, agreeing;
                      "there are many here among us who think life is but a joke."      

Is Armando Villalobos Still Stealing from Cameron County?

When a young man walks out of a Stripes Convenience Store with a 12-pack of beer under his arm without stopping first at the checkout stand to pay for it, that is considered a theft.  The perpetrator has deprived the store owner of the wholesale cost of the item, the anticipated return on investment after substracting the cost of doing business or overhead.  That particular type of theft is a crime that even Armando Villalobos in his elected role as County or District Attorney would have felt comfortable prosecuting.

This blog, Mean Mister Brownsville, described another kind of theft in a March article:

"We pay a district attorney handsomely in Cameron County to fight corruption, but like the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz, Armando Villalobos never had the courage. He deferred, stepped over, ignored the rampant political corruption in the county so as not to antagonize any segment of political support as he used the district attorney's office to launch his campaign for yet higher office."

So, the fact that Mr. Villalobos simply didn't do his job in his years as District Attorney is a theft, a net loss from the taxpayers of Cameron County who paid for those services.  Again, a quote from the MMB March article:

" If county officials received merit pay, District Attorney Armando Villalobos would owe several years of salary to Cameron County. He should also pay back the cost of office utilities that kept him climaticly comfortable, the costs associated with transporting him from home to office and back, the fees associated with keeping him electronically connected to the his constituents and the information highway. I do not begrudge his staff their pay as they simply must follow orders, although, if whispers are correct, Mando owes the county for the large segment of their workweeks devoted to his congressional campaign." 

Early into Villalobos' campaign for Congress, I was told by a spouse of a staff member that a portion of the DA staff were working up to 32 hours of their 40 hour work week on the congressional campaign.  If that is true, that is a theft of services paid for by Cameron County taxpayers.  Again, that includes the air-conditioned offices we pay for, the transportation we provide, the internet service, etc.  

Ironically, on the day of Villalobos indictment, as Armando left the Cameron County Courthouse, he was greeted by a "spontaneous" cluster of staff, wearing "Villalobos for Congress" orange t-shirts.  This was still during the workday so it can be assumed many of these staffers were on the clock.  The support for their boss on one of his worst days was touching on some levels, but not what we pay these county employees for.  If it was done on the clock, it was a theft of wage dollars from us.  

It's not difficult to understand why Armando would have some interest in the just finished, two week long Ray Marchan trial.  His name came up repeatedly during the trial and he will likely face a similar trial soon.  Armando was observed as a spectator several days, along with his partner Eddie Lucio.  After the Marchan trial, Villalobos released a 25 page rebuttal, or at least challenge to his indictment.  So, was the trial observation done while we were paying Villalobos for District Attorney work?  Unless he took vacation days to use for trial observation, it was.  When was the 25 page rebuttal prepared?   During the wee hours of the morning after Villalobos finished a hard work day prosecuting, researching and preparing cases as DA or during the workday at the office we pay for, furnish and provide utitlities?  If it was the latter, it was a continuance of Villalobos pattern of stealing taxpayer dollars.