Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Letty Perez-Garzoria Declares for City Commission, Place 4 Against John Villarreal

Letty Perez-Garzoria, Mean Mister Brownsville
Letty Perez-Garzoria, longtime nurse and Brownsville resident, has declared her candidacy for City Commissioner, District 4 against incumbent John Villarreal.

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, who pens the blog the BROWNSVILLE VOICE, is not that impressed with Letty Perez-Garzoria based on an interchange he pulled off Facebook.

"When she speaks people will realize just how misinformed and poorly educated she really is," is Bobby's knee-jerk reaction to the Brownsville native.  Bobby's hasty conclusion, based on such a small sample size likely has roots in his infatuation with Commissioner Melissa Zamora with whom Perez-Garzoria has the exchange.

My personal appraisal of Ms. Perez-Garzoria's skill level, based likely on a larger sample size than Bobby's is that she is easily more articulate, thoughtful than anyone currently on the City Commission including Mayor Martinez.   In several appearances before the City Commission, disrespectfully not included in the meeting's broadcast due to the cowardliness of the commission and City Attorney Mark Sossi, Perez-Garzoria always seems to bring something extremely rare on first and third Tuesdays; ideas.  She is, first of all, a community advocate.

Her gentle nudges to the commission frequently include the phrase "We can do better than this."  She has also encouraged the commission to "live within our means."

In a telephone conversation with the candidate this evening, she stated that while she has not prepared a platform at this stage, she sees a need to "shake the bushes for more industry." The District 4 resident, which includes downtown, does not envision a magic restoration for that area, but views the downtown as an opportunity for tourism.  

John Villarreal
Perez-Garzoria stops short of criticizing her young opponent, John Villarreal, saying that is simply not her style, but indicates a vote for Villarreal is a vote for Ernie Hernandez.  John Villarreal has long held close ties to the Hernandez's with Erin Hernandez initially his campaign treasurer in his last campaign until that was found to be a violation of campaign rules.  Last summer, at EarthFest, Villarreal went ballistic when he recognized someone who has opposed Ernie Hernandez, handing out voter registration materials.  Villarreal even threatened to cut off future funds for EarthFest.  

Former lawyer Bobby Wightman-Cervantes feels this will be an easy campaign for Villarreal:   

"If John loses he needs to move into a cave and live out his life in shame. She will not be able to raise money. When she speaks people will realize just how misinformed and poorly educated she really is."

Bobby may be correct about the monetary aspect, but he may also underestimate how disenchanted many are with such a weak city commission so easily bulldozed by Tony Martinez.  John himself weakly gave up his first board appointment to Tony which cost District 4 their representation.  

Brownsville may very well warm up to the idea of a mature, experienced person on the city commission, without the "deer in the headlights" we've noticed from several of our newer commissioners.  


Texas Municipal League Controls Brownsville City Commission

From the editor:  We're reprinting a MMB story below from December 4, 2011.  It details the role of the legal firm of Navarro and Ozuna using arbitration cases from the City of Brownsville to enrich their firm.  We continue to receive reports of the insidious control of the City Commission by Navarro and the Texas Municipal League.  

Newly elected city commissioners are  given a seminar by the TML under the guise of training that basically indoctrinates them in dealing with unions, arbitration, etc.  B.U.C. leaders feel that candidates who promised to support the firefighters, police, paramedics, etc. frequently get turned around very quickly once in office by brainwashing from the TML.  They feel this happened to John Villarreal and Estela Chavez-Vasquez who quickly turned anti-union once they were elected.  Actually, ALL of the commissioners opposed the firefighters in the vote on whether or not to appeal the last contract.  Melissa Zamora, John Villarreal, Rose Gowen, Ricardo Longoria and Estela Chavez-Vasquez all voted against the firefighters with Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa abstaining.(B.U.C. views the Tetreau abstention as non-support).

Marco Longoria Back At Work As Brownsville Firefighter!


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

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

      "Perez and Cabler waste hundreds of thousands of dollars of city funds with their machismo" remarked another longtime firefighter at a recent barbecue.  "Marco, not only gets all of his backpay, but we had to use overtime to cover his shift.  And the whole thing was total bullshit.  The only ones benefitting are the lawyers Navarro and Ozuna who get paid to work the cases."
       We wrote this back on September 16:   "The website for Navarro,  which includes Ozuna, lists labor and employment law, collective bargaining and civil service as among their areas of expertise.  They also represent the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool or TML-IRP, a self-insurance group charging an administrative fee to the city of Brownsville.  A wooden TML plaque is prominently mounted in the 4th floor hearing room of the city commission building.  A self-insurance group tends to resist claims, putting them into the appeal process.  The two labor law specialists could find themselves in a no-lose situation if they can work for TML, but still be hired guns for the city when appeals are pursued."
     So Navarro and Ozuna have no incentive to be effective in court.  They win when Brownsville loses.  They win when employment cases go to arbitration.  They win when appeals are made regardless of the outcome.  They still make their money.  Navarro and Ozuna make an obscene amount of money from the city of Brownsville that already has three lawyers on retainer or salary.  This is reckless asset management by Mayor Tony Martinez and City Manager Charlie Cabler. 

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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Blogger Who Never Came In from the Cold

Eddie's Ride

Jeanette leaned over and kissed his forehead while clutching her car keys. At 5'11" she towered over Eddie, especially in heels: "I will not forget you Eddie, but like I told you before, I can't stay in Round Rock. Lana got us both jobs in Reno. It's been real."

"Was it the car?"  Eddie wondered.

"Oh, hell no.  I love your little two-seater.  One of my sorority sisters had one in college.  She called it her little puddle jumper."

"Was it last night, upstairs?" Eddie had to ask.

"No, Eddie.  That happens to a lot of guys.  You were under a lot of stress with those bastard bloggers in Browntown criticizing your work.  I totally get that.  A lot of girls are jealous of my dancing and the fact that I'm getting fives while they get ones.  Wannabes hate talent.  I learned that a long time ago."

"Jeanette, I wish you would reconsider.  I have a few leads.  I can take care of half of the lease next month for sure."  Eddie seemed frantic.

"Oh, my poor sweet Eddie.  I know you do.  You're not unemployed.  You're just between publishers.  Promise me you won't neglect your gift.  I don't want to hear a report in Reno that you're managing some trailer park or cleaning up after old people in that adult day care."

Jeanette opened the front door herself.  Eddie was just too stunned to follow her, but watched her red pony tail bounce as she walked to her car.

Are There Enough Independent City Commissioners Loyal to Brownsville to Fire Mark Sossi?

Mark Sossi
Put Mark Sossi's resume' and work history on an application for city attorney in any city attorney in the United States, and you would get a bemused response.  "This is a joke, right?" a consternated city official might ask.  No city in this country would hire as their city attorney someone with a judgement for theft from their last firm, a judgement from the Texas Workforce Commission for pocketing funds designated for unemployment benefits, a huge tax lien from the I.R.S. and at least two law suits for malfeasance from private citizens who thought hiring the City Attorney for legal work would be a good idea.

While the above judgements and charges speak to dishonesty, ineptitude and arrogance, Sossi showed the ultimate disdain for local citizens when he participated in a successful attempt to block the broadcast of the public comment of local citizens at city commission meetings.  No one is more anti-Brownsville, anti-democracy than the sleazy Mark Sossi unless it is Mayor Tony Martinez, who uses Sossi to do his bidding.  When Mayor Martinez took some heat for using taxpayer funds for group trips unrelated to his mayoral duties, paying for an Austin consulting group to placate UTB and, we're told, financing his trip to Obama's inauguration, it was Sossi who declared all of these moves legal.(The Obama trip may eventually have been paid for by Martinez himself, but that is no credit to him.)

Sossi even has a link to "Bannergate," the scam to sell local businessmen a banner package "promoting Brownsville" for up to $5,000.  Soss's then girlfriend, the buxom Itza Pena, was said to be part of the recruiting duo who tried to persuade businessmen to purchase the banners.

While Brownsville's City Commission may be better known for reading proclamations praising local citizens for going above and beyond in their work or service to the community, reading "Employee of the Month" proclamations and honoring local dance, soccer and chess teams, they also have a responsibility to terminate administrators not performing up to standard.  They must protect the interests of the taxpayers of Brownsville, regardless of their personal ties to those working for the city.

Admittedly, hiring Mark Sossi as City Attorney was a bad hire.  Retaining his services year after year, given his performance, simply compounds that error.  A commissioner simply has to submit as an agenda item, an evaluation of his performance including an up or down vote to retain those services.  This is long, long overdue.

Rose Gowen
The challenge for the City Commission is that two commissioners are in literal lockstep with Mayor Martinez by virtue of his monetary support of their campaigns; Rose Gowen and Estela Chavez-Vasquez.  These are not independent commissioners who represent the interests of the city.  They simply do what Tony wants.  The interests of Brownsville taxpayers are not represented.

The responsibility to protect the interest of Brownsville taxpayers falls to the four remaining commissioners.  Will Melissa Zamora, in the closing months of her term, do this for the city?  Will Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa do what she knows is right?  Will John Villarreal, an admittedly nice young man, finally grow into his role as commissioner and firmly reject Sossi's betrayal of our trust?  Will Ricardo Longoria act decisively in removing a bad attorney who retains his job by pacifying Tony?  The handling of Sossi is a superb litmus test of how effective the City Commission is in representing Brownville's interests.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Half Moon Comes Alive for Don Pedro's Birthday March 2

Ro To Impersonating
the Arches in the Half Moon
The Third Annual Celebration of Don Pedro's Birthday has been announced for March 2, 2013 at the Half Moon Cantina, 11th and Adams St., Brownsville, TX. at 2:00 PM.

Performing will be The Earthmen and Los Bluzanos.

Likely, some of the old crowd from the Crescent Moon will be in attendance to honor Don Pedro in the new live music venue.

Tony Martinez and Jason Hilts Having A Gay, Old Time on Brownsville Taxpayer Money

When an elderly couple cashed their social security checks, they asked to be driven to WalMart.  Their granddaughter took them to the baby section, as they requested, to look at strollers.  Granddaughter pointed at one of the cheaper ones, but Papa said "no!" instead asking to look at the one for $179.95, a Graco with multiple uses.  It looked fancy and the seat could be removed to double as a car seat.  Nothing was too good for the first great-grandchild.  Papa counted his money.  When it was explained that there would also be sales tax, 8.25% that goes to the city and other coffers, Papa said "I know."  On a $179.95 item, the  sales tax comes to $14.85 for a total of $194.85, nearly one/fifth of the great-grandparent's monthly income.

While great-grandparents, grandparents and parents in Brownsville live frugally on SS checks and minimum or just above minimum wages earned, they all know that 1/12 of their disposable income goes to the city in sales taxes.  If they are fortunate enough to own a home or property, it is taxed based on a formula using square footage and the value of properties in their neighborhood.  It is not unusual to see property taxes paid from wadded up bills, held secure in a handkerchief in the once-a-year sojourn to the tax office.  While those monies add up, they are not "easy come, easy go" funds, but more likely the result of honest blood, sweat and tears.

Jason Hilts
That brings us to Jason Hilts and Tony Martinez, two Brownsville community leaders with zero respect for the source of Brownsville taxpayer revenue, the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice.  Jason Hilts proved that a couple of years ago when issued a BEDC credit card which he promptly used for personal items many honest taxpayers can't afford:  expensive clothing, jewelry, a diamond ring, a $1,077.09 silver clock, etc.  Hilts is a very large man with a huge appetite for expensive food and drink.  Suffice to say he wines and dines himself on the taxpayer dime frequently as he visits as many exotic locales as a Secretary of State.  With all of Hilts indiscretions, dishonesty, did he wind up in prison, pay a fine, get banished from city officialdom?  Hell, no!  Not in Brownsville.  He was rewarded by being named CEO of the BEDC at an annual salary of $80,000 plus.  Recently, we learned that the BEDC headed by Hilts contributed nearly $200,000 to a Rick Perry slush fund, enabling Perry to travel around the world like Hilts.

Mayor Tony is of the same ilk as Hilts, with in fact both men going on a ludicrous "senior trip" recently to Colombia at the taxpayer's expense.  The hospitable Colombians were likely amused at the raggedy group from south Texas, likely quizzical at the reason for their trek.  As the Colombian locals strained to understand Mayor Martinez anglicized Harlingen Spanish, they learned that the Brownsville contingent had come to Colombia to learn how to ride bicycles.  The locals were glad to share their expertise.  The entire Colombian trip was financed by Brownsville's hard-earned tax money with zero benefit to the city.  No pot holes were fixed, no streets improved.  Downtown was just as ragged when Tony and his groupies returned as when they left.

Tony Martinez
In recent months, Mayor Tony has been hell-bent on tying up Brownsville tax dollars for decades to come on a rag tag assortment of downtown properties.  His desperation is to somehow pacify his aging paramour, UTB President Juliet Garcia and somehow convince her and University of Texas officials to keep the university downtown.  So far, Tony has purchased an armory, grossly overpaid for a retail store, two cafe-sized buildings, a nursing home, a warehouse and a building once housing historic cantinas, all with taxpayer money.  His plan, if there is one, is ill-conceived, poorly thought out and shows zero respect for the taxpayers or the actual needs of the city.

While Martinez and Hilts continue to have a gay, old time at taxpayer expense, our downtown continues to decay, our streets continue to go to shit and Brownsville's actual needs remain ignored.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tony Martinez Replants Debbie Portillo for Commissioner, Position 3 As Sandra Langley Drops Out

Debbie Portillo

Tony Martinez has been searching Brownsville desperately for another plant on the City Commission to enable him to run roughshod over Brownsville on behalf of his friend and partner in crime UTB President Juliet Garcia.

Originally Debbie Portillo, a daughter of a local jeweler, was selected.  She was being groomed and positioned by Martinez to run for commissioner.   She was actually given an office in the house the city leases next on the Andres Cueto grounds.  Her official position was the ultimate do-nothing job, Special Assistant to the Executive Director of  United Brownsville.  Since the Executive Director of United Brownsville, Mike Gonzalez does nothing all day that anyone knows about to earn his salary, his "special assistant" would likely have even fewer actual duties, if possible.  We were later told that Portillo left United Brownsville, but that was never confirmed.

In any event, Debbie Portillo initially got cold feet and changed her mind about running for City Commissioner.  This caused Tony Martinez to turn to a new plant, Sandra Langley, the CEO of the Greater Brownsville Incentive Corporation.  Now, with Langley losing interest in running for commissioner, Tony and his henchman Carlos Marin have been scrambling to find a plant to run for the position.

Just today, it was reported, Debbie Portillo was seen in the company of Matamoros native Carlos Marin and Oscar Garcia,, the son of UTB President Juliet Garcia.  It appears they have convinced Portillo to again run for City Commissioner, Place 3.  Portillo, we have been told, picked up the necessary packet to run for the commission from City Secretary Estela Von Hatten.

Tony Martinez currently has two "locks" on the City Commission, Rose Gowen and Estela Chavez-Vasquez.  Martinez heavily financed both campaigns as he will likely do with Debbie Portillo.  We may soon see a veritable sea of Portillo signs throughout Brownsville, much as Martinez flooded the city with his blue "Believe in Brownsville" signs in 2011.  Another plant as city commissioner will give Martinez a majority on the commission to continue to run roughshod over Brownsville taxpayers, purchasing speculative real estate and cutting deals to appease Juliet Garcia, Carlos Marin and International Bank of Commerce President Fred Rusteburg, the behind-the-scenes players in our city.

Local businessman Martin Sarkis has also declared himself a candidate for City Commission, Position 3.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Brownsville Economic Development Council Contributed $192,250 to Rick Perry Slush Fund

Jason Hilts, BEDC CEO
From the editor:  A reference to this first appeared in the Brownsville Voice.  The original article quoted from below is from the Houston Chronicle.  

Sleazy Jason Hilts and the Brownsville taxpayer entity he heads are the second biggest contributor to what is referred to as a Rick Perry slush fund called Texas One.  The fund, to which Brownsville's scumbags in the BEDC have contributed nearly $200,000 of Brownsville taxpayer dollars, sends Rick Perry and his cronies on extremely expensive trips like to the U.S. Open, Formula One auto races and a trip to the World Expo in Shanghai, China.  The trip to Shanghai alone cost $500,000.  The Perrys go first class on Brownsville money.

Here is the report from the Houston Chronicle:
"Austin attorney Buck Wood, an expert in state ethics laws, noted that Perry cannot accept campaign contributions from corporations under state law. Setting up a nonprofit to accept the corporate money permits Perry to skirt that law, he said.
"It's just a slush fund for whatever he wants to use it for," Woods said. "He takes credit for every job that appears in Texas."
Since 2009, 15 Texas- One trips carried price tags of $50,000 to $500,000, including three trips to the U.S. Open tennis championship in New York. Either the governor, his wife or former Secretary of State Hope Andrade, a Perry appointee, went on the priciest excursions.
A trip to the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai cost a whopping $500,480, which covered travel expenses for the Texas entourage led by Perry and his wife, Anita, and a $325,000 contribution to support the USA pavilion."

AT&T had the second-highest total payments to TexasOne, at $203,162 over three years, followed by the Brownsville Economic Development Council, which spent $192,250.
A spokeswoman for the Brownsville organization said it is funded through an economic development corporation that levies a local sales tax.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Walking Downtown While Truck Is In the Shop

Mean Mister Brownsville
Since our truck was being fixed by Mr. Lozano, we took the bus to downtown Brownsville Saturday.  BTW, no Brownsville mechanic is better than Humberto Lozano.  A Certified Master Mechanic with a couple decades experience in the dealerships before opening his own shop at 2624 E. 13th St., Lozano is not the cheapest, but he never has to fix anything twice.

The lady bus driver for Brownsville Metro allowed one young man with a pull cart on the bus.  The next person with a pull cart was an elderly woman who the driver made empty and collapse the cart so as not to block the aisle.  When another would-be passenger also had a cart, she was not allowed on the bus.  The bus driver was well aware of the safety concerns of a blocked aisle.

 Outside the multi-modal facility we found a woman braiding corn rows into a young man's hair.  I'm not sure if the stylist or her customer were homeless, but the bench they were using was covered with coats and blankets.

Nena and I had been wanting to try a new restaurant downtown named Aguascalientes.  I had seen the chalkboard outfront advertise the daily comida corrida at a reasonable price on other occasions.  This particular morning the breakfast special was still advertised out front so we ventured in.  The place looked very clean, but only one table had customers.

Unfortunately, a waitress was just erasing the breakfast special from the chalkboard inside the restaurant.  When we asked her if it was still available since it was advertised out front, she simply said "no" without any explanation.  We decided to move on to Rincon del Taco on 12th Street next to the church.  We order tacos de bistek and a gordita.  The food and service was fantastic.

Beautiful Cauliflower at A&V Lopez
On the way home, after shopping at H.E.B.,  I made a quick stop at A&V Lopez on Boca Chica to buy some  tortilla chips for guacamole.  H.E.B. doesn't handle the firmer, locally made tortilla chips I prefer, just the national brands.  While at Lopez, I saw the prettiest cauliflower I've ever seen, measuring nearly 12" across for just $1.99.

Some may recall a Matamoros restaurant popular in the 60's, La Linterna Verde. They made their own mole', served tacos de pollo con mole' that were exquisite. I spent many years trying to duplicate those tacos but never succeeded. I gave up trying to make mole' from scratch like the nuns in ancient Puebla and finally settled, after many years on a brand not too chocolaty, but with a bit of heat.

We saw this freshly painted VW bus parked on 9th St.  It appears to be a couple years older than the one vehicle Nena and I wished we had never sold or traded in, a '75 VW bus.  I've had 21 vehicles over the last 50 years, starting with the '50 Ford I bought from my grandfather.  I only had a strong attachment to one or two.  The VW bus was wonderful except for having two carburetors on the Porche engine that kept getting out of sync.  Years later I heard of a simple solution, removing one carb and capping it off.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

To Think I Actually Felt Sorry for Robert Lopez!

Robert Lopez
Young, personable, educated and a family man.  There seemed to be a lot to like about Robert Lopez.  We went to his meet & greet at Cobbleheads when he was running for City Commissioner At-Large Place "A", then his casino night fundraiser at Trey Mendez loft on Adams Street.

We were still with Cheezmeh back then and several of us met with Robert to see if we wanted to support him.  One question we Cheezmites always asked is if the candidate was controlled by Ernie Hernandez.   That seems funny now with Brownsville Cheezmeh part of the Hernandez team.

Predictably, Lopez said he was his own man.  Someone asked about problems with the winterization program.  Robert started talking about a state investigation.  His conversation got rapid and more convoluted.  The more Robert talked the more shady he sounded.  We decided not to recommend any candidate for At-Large, Place "A".  Robert's opponent, Estela Chavez-Vasquez, had stiffed us on the interview.

Ernie Hernandez claimed he
"knew nothing" about the
Robert Cadriel hiring.
The next time we heard the name Robert Lopez was when Ernie Hernandez tried to ramrod his convicted felon brother-in-law Robert Cadriel into a job as a bridge guard with the county.  Dumbass Cadriel failed the required civil service test with a score of 31 and then 33.  Then, a female employee in Robert Lopez' Human Resources office took the test for Cadriel and scored in the 90's.  Ernie's brother-in-law had a job. . . . for a day.  When the hanky panky was discovered, Cadriel was fired.  That very same day, Robert Lopez quit his lucrative county position to "pursue other endeavors."

Until Juan Montoya's report the other day that Robert Lopez' company had been raking in contract after contract from the county without the requisite bidding process, I had actually felt sorry for Robert Lopez.  Did Ernie make a deal with Lopez to supplement his income if he took the fall for the Cadriel fiasco?  What kind of god damn bull shit is this Robert?

Sidewinders, Tinhorns, Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers from the Periphery of the Blogosphere

Hopalong Cassidy
We got TV in Seattle in 1948, although my first recollection is watching Hopalong Cassidy in the early 50's on a 4 inch screen.  I quickly learned that I didn't want to be a sidewinder, tin horn, a yellow-bellied sapsucker or lily-livered, although those terms were never defined in cowboy vernacular.  Sheep farmers were hated too because they grazed the land differently from cattlemen.

The TV signal in the early 50's was never clear.  As a kid I learned you could stop the screen from rolling by hitting the top of the box with a closed fist.  The fine tuning dial would sometimes alleviate snow and other squiggly lines from the screen.

By the time I was 11 or 12 I knew how to take all of the tubes out of the television, put them in a bag and ride my bike to the nearest U-Test-Em machine at the grocery store.  You could find your tubes number on the front of the machine, insert the prongs just right and the machine would tell you if the tube was "weak" or "needs to be replaced."

Old TV Set
Television sets are much more reliable now, but unfortunately tin horns, sidewinders and yes, yellow-bellied sapsuckers abound and this blog tries to keep up with them.  Cowboy justice would have been swift and brutal to sapsuckers like Ernie and Erin Hernandez, Gilbert Hinojosa, Able Limas, Cata Presas-Garcia, Aurora de la Garza, Herminia Becerra, Jim Solis, Ray Marchan, Tony Martinez and Juliet Garcia.

While we wait for the distressed Carnival Cruise ship to reach shore with 4,000  guests on their last cruise, let's revisit a few of the sapsuckers, tin horns and sidewinders who float on the outer edges of the blogosphere:

1. Sapsucker Carlos Quintanilla:  No one has sucked more sap from BISD than Quintanilla.  He
can smell BISD's $500,000,000 budget from the back yard of his Dallas home on S. Dwight St.  Carlos is not a smart con artist as his RICO conviction attests, but he chooses his cons more carefully now.  He plays the con-friendly environment of the Brownsville Independent School District like an old, familiar fiddle.  His blog, carebrownsville, was closed some time ago, but he still ventures the occasional inarticulate comment on local blogs when his name is mentioned.  Below is a recent comment he made to the Mean Mister Brownsville blog:

  1. Jim Barton

    You continue to misinform your few readers. FYI I was not in Brownsville and have not been in Brownsville for some time. But let me tell you next time I am in Brownsville I will personally call you, then you can post in your blog that I was in Brownsville.

    I am wasting these few minutes of my time just to show how much a bulls hitter you are.

    Carlos Quintanilla
    Quintanilla took some hits for his phrase "bulls hitter," but I think we all know what he was trying to say.

    Patrick Lehmann
    2.  Sapsucker Patrick Lehmann:  In cowboy days, old Hopalong would have emptied his six-shooter into Lehmann's hide then blown the smoke away from the barrel.  It's not just that Lehmann sells cheapass Chinese motorcycles for $1999 to unsuspecting Brownsville residents that (last time I checked) can be purchased online for $600, it's also the parts only, labor not included "warranty" that adds insult to injury.  
    Pat's recent wallet stuffer was a proposal to BISD to monitor their trash, collecting a commission on the "savings."  The fancy name for Lehmann's trash anaylsis company is LCA Management Consulting Solutions, located at exactly the same address as his motorcycle showroom.  One MMB commenter saw through the scam:
    "Pat Lehmann was voted down before the board to receive a consulting contract with the district. . . . . . . . . . He wanted a 50/50 split with the district for every dollar he would save for the district in their trash collection fee's. The way this works, is that he would go around and eliminate one dumpster at each high school and a few at the middle schools and he would get half of the savings. At $1,000 dollars for each dumpster about ten dumpsters, that is a 10,000 savings for the district per month, 5,000 for pat! The district pays 1.3 million a year for trash collection. The maintenance dept is responsible for the trash collection contract with the city and they have no idea what is going on with the dumpsters. That same department has the biggest budget in the entire district and they are totally inept!"

    Duardo Paz-Martinez
    3. Tinhorn Duardo Paz-Martinez:  A very creative, but intermittent blogger, Duardo may have been accused in the old westerns of riding sidesaddle given his apparently fragile psyche.  
    Introduced to the local blogosphere by longtime blogging fixture Jerry Mchale, Paz-Martinez maintained a tri-columned blog, The Paz Files, which opined on national news, advertised novels penned by Patrick Alcatraz, but seemed to have a primary focus of a melancholy look at Brownsville as observed from near Austin.  It was not the first time an Austinite dissected  matters of local interest from Travis County as Erasmo Castro pulled and continues to pull Brownsville Cheezmeh strings from north, central Texas.  
    After Paz-Martinez tired of The Paz Files, he resurfaced as Sam Losoya on a blog with one central purpose:  to denigrate Harlingen blogger Tony Chapa, referred to by Losoya(Paz-Martinez) as Tony "The Turd" Chapa.  A consistent charge leveled by Paz-Martinez against Chapa was that he wrote fake comments for his blog, a charge that Paz has also recently made against MMB. 
     Duardo's kryptonite may have come in the form of Brownsville's resident nerd, Tad Hasse.  Hasse claims to have verbally "kicked Duardo's ass so many times that, anatomically, his posterior may not even exist."  Hasse also claims to have "chased Duardo's sorry ass out of Brownsville."  
    In any event, Duardo may have landed on his proverbial feet.  Someone reported that he found gainful employment managing a trailer park near Kyle, TX.  The rigors of maintaining a neatly trimmed hedge, separating the singlewides from the doublewides and eradicating crystal meth may explain the bloggus interuptus as much as anything.  
    While it's doubtful even in the old west that tinhorns would be strung up just for being tinhorns, they never got star billing.

    4. Sidewinder "Rey Guevara-Vazquez," the Grammar Nazi:  When I was 6 or 7 I had a bad habit of adding the phrase "so can I" whenever someone said they could do something.  Finally, an adult took me aside and explained that I wasn't helping myself my coming off as a know-it-all.  Similarly, my son's girlfriend has an 8 year old daughter who finishes everyone else's sentence with "I know."  
    Evidently, no one has ever pulled aside  "Rey Guevara-Vazquez," the Grammar Nazi and told him that correcting every blog commenter's grammar is poor form.  I learned years ago that criticism was a subtle way of elevating the critic over the one being criticized.  
    Criticizing corruption, ineptitude, malfeasance of officeholders is not the same as constant correction over trivial issues of grammar.  Mark Twain, a notoriously bad speller once said:  "I have nothing but contempt for a man who can spell a word only one way."  Twain would not have liked Guevara-Vazquez, nor would Hopalong Cassidy, who likely would have issued the order:  "String him up!"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vodka Gets Expensive for Rosenthal~Hanen Insists on Electronic Monitoring

Rosenthal Poses
Marc Rosenthal's penchant for a bottle or two of coconut-flavored vodka may prove to be some rather expensive liqueur.

Valley Morning Star reporter Emma Perez-Trevino reported Tuesday night that District Judge Andrew Hanen has agreed to release Rosenthal from jail, but is imposing strict conditions.

Late-night public drinking will not be a problem as Rosenthal will be confined to his hotel room from 7 PM till 6 AM in what is described as a "lockdown' including electronic monitoring.

Hanen is also increasing the bond from $100,000 to $500,000 and will require Rosenthal to fork over $300,000 cash before he is released.

Lightning Strikes the Vatican~Pope Quits!

Lightning Strikes the Vatican
The possibility of lightning striking didn't occur to me on that warm day in 1967 when, on a dare, I chose to enter the opened gate of the perfectly manicured Catholic diocese residence on Palm Blvd. , just a few doors down from my friend Tom Robinson's house.  Having heard and read about the newly appointed Bishop Humberto Medeiros, I was curious.  As a young man of perhaps twenty, I was eager to meet someone who seemed to control so many lives.

A lady wearing what may have been maid's clothing answered the door and waived me in when I asked to speak to the bishop.  She came with tea and some sweet bread that I remember not eating.  The tea I balanced in my hand as the glass-topped coffee table was too far away. The bishop came out with a very genteel manner, greeting me graciously.(I was fortunate to have worked under Gustavo Hernandez-Beltran, a saleman from Mexico City who exhibited this same grace, sort of preparing me to deal in mannerly way with those who had manners.)

When we got down to the purpose of my visit, the only question I could come up with was something I had read about the Catholic Church being in crisis.  Everything was in crisis in 1967.  The question was enough for the bishop to run with as he acknowledged some of the problems of the Church, most of which had not occurred to me, then quoted something from the 3rd Epistle of St. John about a mother in travail during birth going through great pain, only to be joyful at the final result.  That was smooth.   Medeiros later moved to Boston, where he replaced the frequently quoted Cardinal Cushing.  Medeiros himself gained some notoriety for opposing the bombing of Hanoi in 1972.

Lightning did hit when Pope Benedict XVI quit, coincidentally of course.  I assumed the man quit because of all the sex scandals involving priests and young boys.  If that is the case, I have more respect for him than I do Joe Paterno.  But then Pope Benedict seems to be an anachronism, against abortion, priests marrying, gay marriage, women priests. . . . .fighting windmills all the way.

Barton, why are you writing about religious matters?  Aren't you an atheist?  Are you responding to the chastisement from Duardo Paz-Martinez for no local bloggers covering the story?  Well, Paz was actually incorrect.  Juan Montoya of the El Rrun Rrun blog released a story on the Pope's resignation 7 hours before Paz released his account according to the google timeline.  I haven't gotten around to reading either one.

Mchale has described me as an atheist, probably because I'm somewhat irreverant on religious matters.  I prefer the designation backsliding agnostic since I know nothing for certain.

Design elements are apparent to me in my surroundings:  Earth's atmosphere composed of 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, .04% carbon dioxide and a trace of argon doesn't seem accidental to me.  Water expanding when it freezes allowing lakes to freeze on the top, not from the bottom, thus preserving the underwater life, seems to be by design.  The many things that must happen simultaneously for a baby to be born, the slight tilt of the earth on an axis allowing for seasons, the design of the eye, the production of oxygen by plants all seem too organized to be accidental.  Too many things seemed designed for there not to have been a designer.

I see no evidence that whoever designed our universe cares much for his creation now.  No heavenly father could watch 100's of thousand die excruciating deaths from starvation daily.  No responsible parent could watch a tsunami wave kill thousands exactly as it had done hundreds of times before without at least shouting "watch out!"  No almighty god would stand by with his hands on his hips while his children played with hydrogen, nuclear or chemical bombs.  Reckless endangerment of a child is the crime that comes to mind.

I was told years ago that I had been fooled by the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent definition of god.  What if he is not what you think?  What if he isn't that powerful, doesn't know everything and isn't behind every tree?  I could almost accept that except that He has never made any attempt to correct things on the planet.  If he once existed, he is long gone either physically or mentally.  Nothing I've seen makes me think he gives a shit.

Of course, the world's religions and religious books have their explanations, platitudes, prophecies and hopes.  The Bible is classic bullshit.  Written by Jewish men, it finds the Jews to be god's chosen people!  Duh!  The Amalekites, Hittites, Amorites and people of other countries the Jews came into contact with were worthless heathens worthy of destruction, men, women and children!

The story of Caan and Abel is bullshit.  No fair god decides between two brothers who both give him their best just because he is carnivorous, likes his steak.  By the way, the Bible claims men were not allowed to eat meat until after the flood, 2000 years later.  What the hell was Able doing raising cattle?  Was he racing them or selling the hides?  Bullshit.

The law of Moses is bullshit.  It calls for stoning a juvenile delinquent but a king like David who takes someone's wife and then has the man killed, goes unpunished.  Oh, god chose to kill the baby produced by the adultery, the only innocent person in the whole scenario.. . Bullshit!

Abraham's good cousin Lot has sex with his two daughters because heathen men are banging on the door.  Better the kids be true worshippers!  Bullshit!  I could go on and on.

The Book of Mormon is bullshit with much of it plagiarized from the King James Version Bible.  While many Mormons are intelligent people, do they ever even wonder how the angel Moroni could deliver golden tablets translated into the Shakespearean English of the 1600's in 1850?  It's bullshit as are the Koran, the Thipitaka, the Sutra Pitaka and the Vinaya Pitaka. . . all bullshit!

I see some dark clouds.  What if they are positively charged and the ground below me is negative?  Should I stay away from the computer or at least use a surge protector?  Lightning could be on its way!

Con Artist Quintanilla Visits Lehmann, Then Dines with Gal Pals Cata, Lucy, Christina

When Carlos Quintanilla steps inside Patrick Lehmann's Chinese Motorscooter/Scientific Trash Analysis showroom on Central Blvd., it is never good for Brownsville.  It's a wonder all of the bells and whistles of Lehmann's trash analysis business don't go off with both sleazebags in the building at once.  Brownsville may never see the likes again of these two "businessmen" who play BISD's $500,000,000 budget like their own personal fiddle.

Cata Presas-Garcia
Quintanilla has likely taken a leave from his race-baiting activities with Accion America in North Texas to slime his way south to prop up the perennially interim, yet inept Thompson Horton lawfirm, certainly a personal cash cow as well as income provider for the lunatic Cata Presas-Garcia.  At the last school board meeting where it initially appeared Thompson Horton had been ousted, Presas-Garcia squirted artificial tears in her eyes and made an emotional plea for the firm worthy of a Bollywood B movie.  The other loyal Q-ites, Saavedra and Longoria along with Cata formed the minority voting for the retention of Thompson Horton, fake doctor Escobedo having switched sides.  Eventually, the matter was tabled giving Q at least a temporary victory.

Later, at a restaurant near you, Q and his gal pals were seen yukking it up about their good fortune with Thompson Horton.  "The boys have done all right," the con man was overheard to say.  While Cata knows that employing the right law firm, can be profitable, Lucy Longoria may have a more personal reason for supporting his Q-ness.  "She's gone from calling him her brother to something more endearing," offered an observer.  "Let's just say she's divorced her hubby and has a new main squeeze, a sleazy one."

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cameron County Development Flips Texas General Land Office The Finger~Surfrider Foundation

The wall that is the Middle Finger to the State of Texas' Beach and Dune Rules.
For three years the Sea Breeze Estates development on the Cameron County Beaches of South Padre Island have had a contentious relationship with the Texas General Land Office (GLO) over the office's enforcement of state and local beach development laws and their desire to be one of the first developments to kick off construction on the northern beaches of South Padre Island.

It's simple.  A Developer or Property Owner is not allowed to construct a retaining wall within 200' landward of the established line of vegetation.  As of today it is very apparent that the Sea Breeze Estates and the Cameron County Dune Protection Committee are determined to defy Texas State and Texas General Land Office rules and allow the construction of such a retaining wall.  Below are the actual comments from the Texas GLO to Sea Breeze Estates.

As you can see from the pictures below, the wall is already well under way in its construction with the footing being poured and completed and the rebar extensions sticking up ready for the upper portion of the wall.  The seaward facing part of the retaining wall is located at or just behind the apparent line of vegetation in that area and is definitely not within the GLO guidelines.

In meetings of the Cameron County Dune Protection Committee, of whom one of the Realtors and Developers of the Sea Breeze Estates is a member, that I have personally attended it had been discussed that in order to deal with the GLO's denial of the retaining walls, they should be disguised as a foundation for the perimeter fence of the project.  There may very well be a fence going up on top of this but this is definitely a retaining wall going up that has not been permitted by the agency that is responsible for coastal development on the Texas Coast.

"Why is a retaining wall bad?" you may ask.  It has more to do with its proximity to the waterline and the potential it will have to negatively accelerate erosion both to the public beach seaward of it but also to the properties on either side of it.  It also flies in the face of Texas' desire to push back building lines in order to reduce the public tax payer's exposure to bailing out irresponsible developers like this when they build too close to the water line and find themselves in danger of losing their investment.  Of course, Cameron County's Dune Protection Committee has already been moving in the opposite direction on this as well.

Yes, the Cameron County Dune Protection Committee is trying to actually relax their building setback line on a beach that is eroding at about 10' per year according to the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi's New GeoHazard Map. (Pic Below)

If the Texas General Land Office does not take the reigns now on these infractions and get this development and the Cameron County Dune Protection Committee back in line then they risk losing control of the largest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the United States.

Below the response from the GLO to the Cameron County Attorney at the time of inquiry as to what repercussions Cameron County could face if ever found in violation of the Cameron County Beach And Dune Plan, the State's Beach & Dune Rules, the Dune Protection Act or the Open Beaches Act.  It states that Cameron County could lose its certification of its Beach and Dune Plan, lose the ability to collect Beach User Fees ant its Beach Parks and lose eligibility of funding from Texas' Coastal Erosion Protection and Response Act.  These should all be on the table as it is the only thing that will sway the Cameron County Commissioners Court in seeing the ill-advised recommendations it has received from its Dune Protection Committee.

The Texas General Land Office has actually sent out a cease work order on unpermitted construction to the Developers with this wall being the response.  The Surfrider Foundation South Texas Chapter has made the GLO aware of this and they are investigating.

Pseudonyms, Stage Names, Catfish, Google Blogger, Duardo Paz-Martinez

Duardo Paz-Martinez
19th century female authors frequently used a masculine nom de plum or pen name to be more marketable to those who purchased books back then.  Balladeer Robert Zimmerman identified more readily with poet Dylan Thomas than he did with his Jewish shopkeeper father, thus changed his name to Bob Dylan.  Who knows why Reginald Kenneth Dwight changed his name to Elton John in 1972?  Authors and songwriters, among others, change their names or operate under pseudonyms for a variety of reasons.  Even local blogging/musical legend Jerry Mchale uses a stage name; Doc Scully.   The closest thing to an explanation might be the dramatic words of the TV show Dragnet:  "The names have been changed to protect the innocent."

If authorship allowed for fake names, the internet almost encouraged it.  News groups, chat rooms, social networking groups like MySpace and Facebook asked simply for a moniker, a handle, a screen name.  Who do you want to be?  You were welcome to add a picture, but that picture could be from your personal albums or from millions of pics out there in cyberspace.   With the right picture and soothing words, an internet catfish could even win the heart of a football star like Manti Te'o. . . . and did.  A tidbit on the internet use of the word catfish claims that cod being shipped from Alaska to the orient were found to be lethargic and atrophied until a few catfish were added to keep the cod agile.  "And then, there are people, catfish, who keep you on your toes."

Which brings us to Brownsville's latest blogging sensation;  Dos Frias.  No less than local blogger/legal expert Bobby Wightman-Cervantes has endorsed the "new" blog:

"If you have not checked out this blog - it is worth your time.


I have said many times, the more blogs the better - critical thinking requires many perspectives. Unlike so much of the trash we have in Brownsville written by misogynistic eunuchs, this one has perspective and flavor.

Critical thinkers do not read in search of ideas which verify their own, but for perspective so as to expand their own mind.

I love that some of his pieces are in English and some in Spanish."

Dos Frias Blog
But, is this really a new blog or just an old blogger trying out a new format, a fresh approach, another stab at the blog game?  Perhaps a clue can be found by following the suggestion at the bottom of the Dos Frias blog to "view my complete profile."  A click on that link gives little information except that the blogger has been blogging since September, 2007, a literal eternity in the blogosphere.  So, perhaps we're not dealing with a "new" blog at all, but an old blog reinvented, reformatted, resuscitated, resurrected or even regurgitated.  

I still have a bookmark to the old Paz Files, a very creative, tri-columned blog, that touched on national news, intriguing episodes about characters like Junior Bonner and featured advertisements for books penned by Patrick Alcatraz.  One of the more unpleasant themes of the Paz Files was his incessant denigration of Tony "The Turd" Chapa whom he referred to as the "worst blogger in Harlingen."  Interestingly, a short-lived blog penned by engineering student Sam Losoya, also took relentless jabs at Chapa, then faded into pornography.  

The Pretty Girl Who
Was Actually a Guy
Coincidentally, legendary blogger Jerry Mchale gave props at the time to Sam Losoya, much as he has to Gil Gamboa, the "new" kid on the blogging block.   This may very well be an inside joke among old Brownsville Herald reporters.  Or, it may be a feeble attempt to fool Brownsville's nerd extraordinaire, Tad Hasse.  In this era of the catfish, the fake Facebook account, the pretend girl or boy friend, who can be 100% sure?

Martin Sarkis Meet & Greet

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Good Neighbor Settlement House Starts Fingerprinting Due to Oregon Murderer Jeffrey Cutlip

From the editor:  MMB has run several stories on Jeffrey Cutlip, the Oregon murderer who settled in Brownsville, seemingly having his way downtown.  When I first learned that he was a former sex offender, not registered, I made three attempts to alert the Brownsville Police Department, attempts that were not well received.  On my third attempt the dispatcher told me she had just talked to a detective and "Cutlip was alright."

Now, we've learned that the Good Neighbor Settlement House, 1254 E. Tyler St., in Brownsville has started fingerprinting all homeless before providing services.  This is in direct response to Cutlip, who frequented the shelter.  Below is the story we ran in September:

Jeffrey Cutlip in Latin Jazz Festival
Charismatic sex offender Jeffrey Cutlip, once released from prison in Multnomah County, Oregon(Portland), hightailed it for the obscurity of extreme south Texas, that is, Brownsville, Cameron County. Cutlip introduced himself to patrons at the Crescent Moon and other downtown establishments as "Jessie", skillfully spinning stories that elicited sympathy and material help.

With a guitar on his back, dressed in a hobo Aerosmithian style, he liked to pass himself off as a musician who could namedrop a number of rock legends as his collaborators, although he literally couldn't play a lick. Perhaps it was that fairy story that garnered him a feature photo in last year's Latin Jazz Festival, no shame intended for George Ramirez because we were all fooled at some point.

Cutlip loved the collective gullibility of Brownsville and its non-invasive police department. Many times BPD would just ask him to move on after a night of sleeping on some business or residential door step or patio. He liked to hit an adult day care around lunch time, complaining about the menu as if he were a paying customer. He wore a plastic hospital bracelet on his wrist to fend off the hospital security guard who might question his presence in the Baptist lobby.

Cutlip At Brownsville Cheezmeh Valentine Event
His luck changed when he gave an off-duty BPD detective a bit of attitude resulting in his first local background check. Clearly, he had not registered as a sex offender, violated many of his parole stipulations, including geographical limitations, being where young people congregate and/or alcohol served. Incredibly though, BPD put him quickly back on the street despite the obvious. Two weeks after his real background surfaced, I observed Cutlip at a bus stop on Central Blvd. and called 911. I was told a police unit would be dispatched shortly. Fifteen minutes later I called again receiving the same promise. On the third call a dispatcher said she had checked with a detective who advised her that Cutlip was "alright."

Several days later Cutlip ventured of his own accord into BPD and confessed to three 70's murders he said he had committed in Oregon. Once extradited back to Portland, newspaper reports indicated Cutlip had provided detectives with details of at least two murder scenes never before revealed. Cutlip, through his lawyer, entered a plea of innocent with respect to at least one of the murder charges..

Ciroc Coconut Vodka, Marc Rosenthal's Liqueur of Choice

Funny how a few strategically placed bribes here and there, a bought and paid for fabricated story and other assorted sleaziness can actually make one appear an effective lawyer.   Oh, Marc Rosenthal got results, but it was not based on any great legal skill, just manipulating a corrupt system.  In real life, the heavily muscled sleazebag is just a dufus without enough sense to come in out of the rain.
Even when Rosenthal tries to clean up his image for public consumption, he falls flat.  Last year he briefly linked himself up with Brownsville Cheezmeh, evidently springing for some chicken plates to give away.  Not a bright move.
Then, there was the hullaballoo about Rosenthal gifting Teleton, USA in the amount of $1,000,000, a thinly disguised attempt to clean his image that failed again when the actual check he signed turned out to be for $10,000, not $1,000,000.

Now, Emma Perez-Trevino, reporter for the Valley Morning Star reports the incident leading to Judge Hanen revoking Rosenthal's bond:

Marc Rosenthal
“He stayed after 2 a.m.,” Ponce said, adding that the waitress provided the bottles and that one, a Ciroc Coconut Vodka, was for Rosenthal at his request.The waitress served him a drink, and someone named “Fito” relayed a message from Rosenthal to the waitress that she pour more liquor into his drink. Three or four ounces were poured, Ponce said.
By the end of the night, Ponce recounted, Rosenthal had consumed most of the bottle, with only about a fourth left in it. He then drove away in his Maserati, Ponce said.
The waitress felt he was intoxicated, Ponce said, and said Rosenthal seemed to be sleeping as he leaned over a seat."

This was not the first violation of the bond agreement coming before Judge Hanen, but was enough for the no-nonsense judge to revoke Rosenthal's bond.  His lawyers can now visit him in jail as they work on his defense.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Has Tony Martinez Found A New Plant to Run Against Martin Sarkis for City Commissioner Position 3?

Sandra Langley
From the editor:  Back on January 24th, the day that Debbie Portillo dropped out of the District 3 commissioner race, we raised the rhetorical question "Who Will Tony Buy Now?"  The information below may be the beginning of an answer to that question:

 Mayor Tony Martinez is accustomed to manipulating with money.  Monetarily support a candidate for City Commissioner now to count on their vote later.  He achieved two virtual locks on the current commission with that approach; Rose Gowen and Estela Chavez-Vasquez.

This past winter Tony pursued young Debbie Portillo as a possible plant for District 3, but once her name surfaced she withered under the heat of publicity and soon dropped out.

Now, we're hearing that Tony may have a replacement plant in the works; Sandra Langley.  We understand she was Tony's appointment to the GBIC, the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation and she accompanied his group in the "Senior Trip" to Colombia at taxpayer's expense.  More information should be forthcoming in the next few days about Langley.  We do hear, though, that the mayor is not at all pleased with the prospect of having to deal with an independent voice like Brownsville businessman Martin Sarkis on the commission.


Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo