Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A New Concept for Brownsville: The People's Choice

Jim, Why Are You Supporting Such Weak Candidates?


If an election involves selecting from candidates actually on the ballot, the following question posted to the blog anonymously makes little sense.  It is the assumption made by the nameless questioner that may be profitable to discuss:

"Your points about the mayor are all credible, but your candidates, you surely agree, are less-than-stellar. God God, man, open your eyes. If it's a better city you want, then seek out better candidates. Posturing weakness only makes YOU look weak."

Below is my initial response in the comment section of the blog, but I need to expand on it:

  1. Proven weakness exists on the current commission. How could anyone be weaker than John Villarreal? How could anyone say less or do less? Who could possibly be more susceptible to being manipulated by Martinez than Rose Gowen who was financed and managed by him in her campaign?

    We're not cloning candidates, but simply identifying those who will be better for the city.


    Roberto Uresti
    Of course, perceived weakness can be physical, mental or  emotional.   Outside observers may not get a sense of it, but locals wouldn't describe Uresti as "weak."  One local activist, herself with a strong personality, described Roberto as "absolutely fearless."  As detailed in this blog, Uresti stepped in, along with Tad Hasse, when Harlingen lawyer Ron Lozano allegedly got confrontational with candidate Alex Torres at a forum and intervened when someone in an angry crown pushed Commissioner Jessica Tetreau after a City Commission meeting.  

    Taking pictures of flood damage caused by City of Brownsville negligence to the City Commission, shaming them to make restitution to the homeowners is not something normally done by a weak person.  Going to former Mayor Blanca Vela with pictures showing the dangerously narrow pipe residents were using to cross flooded waters, but then when Vela showed disinterest, taking those pictures to the Brownsville Herald is not weak.  When it comes to not yielding to weakness, Vietnam vet Uresti is well ahead of the curve to objective observers.  

    Actually, he may be the type of City Commissioner Brownsville has needed for a long time, someone not interested in grandiose schemes to benefit cronies, but in genuine city services.

    Letty Perez-Garzoria
    Do you view Letty Perez-Garzoria as weak?  Do you really think she will jump every time Tony Martinez barks like the opponent, incumbent John Villarreal?  An anonymous commenter to another blog thinks so:

    "Letty perez garzoria is from that generation of Mexican women who always let the husband have his way.  mayor tony martinez will rule her like a real macho rules."

    Letty Perez-Garzoria is a strong woman.  Husbandly control?  I don't think she has one.  Single mothers are some of the strongest, most versatile humans on the planet.  How is a woman weak when she marches down to the City Commission and BISD bi-week after bi-week and voices her opinion?  Garzoria does raise her voice when she speaks about volunteerism, cleaning up Brownsviile.  She does not treat the mayor, city commission or school board with disrespect. 
  2. Like many of us, Garzoria might need an editor if she wrote a column or blog, but she has the common sense and gumption to question the status quo.  Weak?  Never.
Martin Sarkis
Yes, Martin Sarkis is from Mexico. . .   He graduated from the Tecnologico de Matamoras after studying architecture.  He is responsible for 150 buildings in Matamoros.  

Sarkis is definitely ESL with Spanish being his preferred language, but he can navigate quite nicely in English. . Weak?  You think so?  Tell him that.  

Sarkis loves this city and has ideas to improve it.  He is running against a Tony Martinez party girl, a former quarterback and a kid.  You pick the strongest in that field and vote appropriately.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Taking Brownsville Back from Autocratic Mayor Tony Martinez

Tony Martinez, the Man
Who Would Be King
One man rule almost never works out well for the little guy, the average citizen.  Benevolent dictators are as rare as five leaf clovers.  Just ask those Haitians who eked out a life under Jean-Claude Duvalier or the suffering Libyans during Muammar Gaddafi's reign of terror.  Maybe the North Koreans would give Kim Jong-un high marks, but they haven't received this week's edition of the Weekly Reader.

With several doormat city commissioners, Mayor Tony Martinez has had his way with Brownsville.  For some in the city, the single most important qualification in this current election for commissioners is the willingness to stand up to Martinez.  Rose Gowen will never do that.  Her election as commissioner was managed and financed by Tony.  John Villarreal becomes a cartoon character rolled over by an asphalt drum roller whenever Tony wants to make a move.  Estela Chavez-Vasquez checks to see which way the Martinez wind is blowing before voting on agenda items.

All of the above gives Tony one-man-rule of the city, nothing resembling a democracy.  Tony even orchestrated the continued broadcast ban of public comment, utilizing his henchman, City Attorney Mark Sossi, the most dishonest man in Brownsville, to give a high school caliber pie-chart presentation in support
Kim Jon-un
of the extension of the undemocratic ban.

In a normal, educated, grownup world a mayor doesn't unilaterally go on a $3,500,000 speculative real estate binge, obligating the taxpayers for the next umpteen years plus interest, especially when this near third world city has needs, many needs crying out.

Muammar Gaddafi
The only way a dufus mayor like Martinez pushes that agenda through is with the unwitting cooperation of deer-in-the-headlights commissioners.  Grownups would ask questions.  Why are you spending $2,300,000 for  La Casa del Nylon building that's been for sale for a decade without a bidder?  Why are you buying a tiny bar and the building next door on E. 11th St., a warehouse, an armory?  Why are you buying all these rundown buildings in the downtown?  The simple fact that no commissioner raised those question publicly or at a commission meeting illustrates the stranglehold Martinez has on the commission.

Many expected attorney Martinez to be an idea man, using the mayorship as a vehicle to advance Brownsville.  Note this comment by Mean Mister Brownsville in 2011:

"Whoever thought back on May 14 at the time of Tony's landslide election from among 5 candidates without a runoff that the most significant accomplishment of his administration would be a continuance of an anti-democratic policy initiated by Pat Ahumada, induced by a Mark Sossi hissy fit? What a waste of blue campaign signs and chicken plates! Brownsville needed, no REQUIRED a dynamic point man who would hit the ground running with a plan, with ideas, carefully strategized and thought out. What we got was a do-nothing, status quo plodder, a ceremonial figure like England's Queen Elizabeth. Officiating a tomato contest at the farmer's market, witnessing the sprinkling of holy water on the Juarez Mercadito is acceptable mayoral behavior, but it's not enough for a city hurting, watching its most precious resource, the historic downtown disintegrate into nothingness. The sad thing is Tony knew he was going to be mayor, WANTED the job, but so far hasn't gotten off his ass."
Enter three candidates in 2013 that have all sought office before, share a certain advocacy for the city without an official position and have no connection with the elite puppeteers Tony Martinez feels obligated to placate, serve and service.

Roberto Uresti
Roberto Uresti: a retired school teacher, Vietnam vet, has worked tirelessly for his segment of the city for over twenty years.  When the homes of residents in his neighborhood flooded due to city negligence, not opening the dams in a timely manner, Uresti canvassed the neighborhood, taking pictures of the damage and went before the City Commission with the evidence gathered.  When flooding necessitated residents negotiating a narrow pipe across 15 foot deep waters, he shamed the city into building a bridge.  Again and again Uresti has appeared before the City Commission with addresses of dilapidated houses needing demoliton, suggestions and questions.  Uresti has been a commissioner without the title for two decades.  He has done more for the ity than any current commissioner without the actual job.  He faces Rose Gowen for City Commissioner, At-Large B.

Letty Perez-Garzoria:  a retired nurse, single mother.  Garzoria has spoken out frequently on the city raising taxes, not "living within their means."  She campaigned in 2011 for an At-Large position singlehandedly without an organization.  Garzoria does owe taxes to the county but is making regular payments.  She is fearless and not afraid of Tony Martinez or anyone else for that matter.  Garzoria, deeply religious, wants Brownsville churches more involved in cleaning up our city.  She advocates volunteerism.

Martin Sarkis
Martin Sarkis:  educated as an architect in Matamoros where he owns a number of buildings.  Sarkis ran for City Commissioner, At-Large A in 2011, losing to Estela Chavez-Vasquez.  Sarkis brought a group of vendors from Matamoros to downtown Brownsville in a mercadito on the main floor of the Majestic Theatre building.  He is full of ideas about improving the downtown, making it a tourist attraction for visitors.  Sarkis favors defunding United Brownsville.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Brownsville Herald Shows Its True Colors

The Brownsville Herald
The Brownsville Herald can't be faulted for running a story on two city commissioner candidates, Martin Sarkis and Letty Perez-Garzoria, who tax records indicate owe back property taxes of $800 and $325.18 respectively.  Checking the Cameron County Tax Assessor's database was a good move for investigative reporter Ty Johnson and a feather in the cap for new editor Ryan Henry.  

Of course, blogger Bobby Wightman-Cervantes of the BROWNSVILLE VOICE broke the story on Sarkis several weeks ago before the Herald decided to check the records.  Also, Sarkis contends that a substantial part of his tax bill relates to inventory owned by a deceased previous owner of a property he acquired. Ms. Garzoria is said to be making regular payments.(In any event, running for office while owing back taxes is ill-advised,  like giving your opponent a live grenade to toss back at you. No matter that tax collection in Cameron County is laggard at best.  Enrique Pena, lead attorney for the Pena Law Firm, who handled BISD's delinquent tax collection for a time was found to own  have owned a home for seven or eight years, valued at over $200,000, that had never even been on tax rolls or even appraised.  About five years ago, while trying to locate a reasonably priced house in Brownsville for my son, I checked the tax records, finding numerous homes with nine or ten years of delinquent taxes. It was only AFTER my call to the Linebarger firm to check on the taxes owed that the property would then be redlined for auction.)

Ironically, while the Brownsville Herald rightfully publishes a story about two candidates owing back taxes, the daily has not come close to touching one story after another critically affecting the city:  The Herald completely whiffed on the Fly Frontera Airline scam nearly perpetrated by convicted RICO felon Carlos Quintanilla, whitewashed the egomaniacal mismanagement of UTB by Juliet Garcia, looked the other way on Tony Martinez' use of his law partner to broker a sweetheart real estate deal for his friend Abraham Galonsky, by overpaying for an older downtown building, continues to ignore the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that flow into the do-nothing scam United Brownsville, not to mention the control of the city being shifted to that unaccountable body.  The dropping of a $14,300,000 lawsuit by BISD against  insurer Healthsmart for overcharges remains one of the biggest local stories, deeply affecting the education of local students, yet ignored by the town's so-called newspaper.  

The story that aroused the Herald's investigative prowess just happens to involve two candidates running AGAINST the autocratic Tony Martinez and who dare to oppose funding the phony United Brownsville.  While the story is meritorious, the Herald's obvious cherrypicking of stories does not serve the community well.   


The Rain Outside My Window

Saturday, April 27, 2013

La Voz de Brownsville: In May, It's United Brownsville vs. All of Us

The Citizens of Brownsville are not being served by Mayor Tony Martinez or the City Commission. In his two year tenure, Martinez is not even close to fulfilling his only campaign promise; to enact a new ethics code.(Brownsville currently does not have one in place.)

Actually, Mayor Tony showed that he does not even have a grade school understanding of ethics, when he allowed his law partner, Horacio Barerra, to negotiate the city's purchase of La Casa del Nylon building from his friend, Abraham Galonsky, at an extremely exhorbitant price of $2,300,000.  That transaction would not make it past any ethics code in the country.  

Tony next conned the youthful, naive city commissioners into approving a Certificate of Obligation for this purchase, also including a number of other older buildings in downtown for an additional 1.2 million.  Brownsville taxpayers will be paying off that 3.5 million plus interest for many years.  

How is the unscrupulous mayor getting away with this?  Very simply, he has a city commission
Tony Martinez
majority who will do his bidding come hell or high water.  Let's review the history.  Before ever running for mayor, Martinez financed and ran the successful campaign of Rose Gowen for City Commissioner, At-Large B.  While running for mayor, he partially financed and assisted the campaign of Estela Chavez-Vasquez for City Commissioner, At-Large A.  Both are locks to vote whichever way the Tony Martinez breeze is blowing.  He made a good investment.

John Villarreal
John Villarreal is a sadder story.  John was not financed by Tony, but is intimidated by him.  He allowed Tony to take his first board appointment away from him like taking candy from a baby.  Instead of learning from that initial bullying, John has cowered again and again to the sexagenarian mayor, giving the mayor a free hand to placate his cronies while raping Brownsville.

And who exactly are those cronies?  They hide behind a shadowy unelected entity that sucks hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars from the hardworking taxpayers of Brownsville annually for doing nothing, United Brownsville.  Three of the officers or directors of this scam board stand out like ugly sore thumbs;  IBC President Fred Rusteberg, UTB President Juliet Garcia and Matamoros mulit-millionaire Carlos Marin.  Martinez efforts since mayor have been designed to placate all three.  

With a complicit, bought-and-paid-for city commission majority, Brownsville is sunk.  We must simply bend over and take it.  

That is why local bloggers have spoken out for three flawed, but independent candidates for city commission:  Roberto Uresti, Letty Perez-Garzoria and Martin Sarkis.  All three have eccentricities, flaws and accents, but none are running for president of the United States.  They are running for a unpaid job to provide basic services for the residents of Brownsville and to protect the city's financial, structural and topographical assets.  

Commissioner John Villarreal Calls in the Cavalry to Letty Perez-Garzoria Event

John Villarreal
Almost a day to the year that City Commissioner John Villarreal kicked Mary Helen Flores out of the Earthfest event for passing out Citizens Against Voter Abuse flyers, Villarreal was seen stalking the Little Builders Day Care facility on Palm Blvd, where a Letty Perez-Garzoria fundraiser was being held.

After passing by once, John drove up to an emergency vehicle on the premises(a private ambulance, not city-owned) and chided the occupants:  "I see you guys are supporting Letty, not me."  A minute or two later John was seen driving by again.

While no one at the event seemed intimidated by the commissioner's odd behavior, everyone agreed that would not be the last of it.  Would John try to close down the event?  Would the owner of the daycare have her license suspended or at least reexamined?  We didn't have to wait long.

In fewer than five minutes City Manager Charlie Cabler pulled alongside two Brownsville Union Coalition members, who were standing along the median of Palm Blvd. holding Letty Perez-Garzoria campaign signs.  Cabler was backed up by 5 police cars  including the vehicle of a police supervisor.  The two union members were ordered to stand on the sidewalk, an order to which they quickly complied.

"I thought John was in Las Vegas for his lovely sister's wedding!" one bystander observed.

"No, I heard he cut short his trip because he was worried about Letty," commented another.

B.U.C. Members Near Median
John's actions are not that surprising after his petulant performance at last year's Earthfest, but some were a bit shocked to see City Manager Cabler involved in such juvenile pettiness.  For Cabler to be backed up by police was not a surprise.  After all the unqualified city manager's last job was that of a police commander, so police work, not city management is his comfort zone.

David Belleperche, Candidate for City Commissioner, District 3, Advertises Free Food on Cheezmeh Site

These glimpses of the Brownsville Cheezmeh site were sent to me as a tip that Erasmo Dragustinovis, the High Priest of the Cheezmeh cult had changed candidates in the race for City Commissioner, District 3.  The tipster implied that Erasmo had received financial considerations for the change from supporting Martin Sarkis to David Belleperche.  

On the Cheezmeh web page young David offers free food to anyone who will come by a Brownsville body shop.  He insists he doesn't want to "waste" it, in a possible reference to what happens when too much food is consumed over a long period.  Obviously, he meant he didn't want to "waste" it.  

Erasmo joins in the spelling bee with his comment below, misspelling the name of the body shop.  

While we cannot verify the informant's claim that Erasmo is being paid by this candidate, the rotund guru has a history of switching candidates midstream for money.  

In last year's District Attorney race, the cult leader initially backed Luis Saenz, even doing a chicken plate giveaway with the eventual winner, but later switched to backing Carlos Masso, who offered more moolah. 

Hopefully, David didn't have too much grub left over after last night's pachanga.  If his "grab and go" concept catches on with local politicians, that may alleviate concerns about "waisting" or "wasting" free food.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tony's Girls: Debbie Portillo, Candidate for City Commissioner, District 3, Loves Popsicles! Rose Gowen, City Commissioner, At-Large B, Hates Hot Dogs!

Debbie Portillo, Candidate for City Commissioner, District 3

From Ms. Portillo's Facebook:  

After another long day of block walking, I find homemade Popsicles at my parents house & one labeled just for me! I love it when my sister visits!! :) only she could find a way to fill my tummy with yumminess and fill my heart and soul with love and motivation! Love you pc!

City Commissioner Rose Gowen

Rose Gowen, City Commissioner, At-Large B recently indicated a desire to ban hot dogs and hamburgers from being served at the Olmito/Brownsville Sports Park.

A Mean Mister Brownsville report dated 6/28/12 predicted this policy was being considered:

"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."

George W. Bush Library & Museum, $250,000,000 "Atta-Boy" to Mediocrity~An Opportunity to Propagandize and Sanitize

Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the obligatory gold watch for former presidents has become the presidential library/museum back in the home state.  Thirteen of these have been approved by the NARA(National Archives and Records Administration) and several others pre-dating FDR have been built anyway.  Those who wish to bask in the glory of the Rutherford B. Hayes administration  only have to go to Fremont, Ohio, for example, and peruse the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center.

The latest of these monuments to immortalize former commander-in-chiefs is the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, financed to the tune of $250,000,000 by private donations to the Bush Foundation.(Egads, it's mindboggling to think how much money can be raised from individuals and corporations who have the same ideological mindset for something like this.)  Hopefully, parents of children who visit these laudatory edifices of presidential memorabilia in the future will caution their young ones that the presentation is simply one version of history, a rewrite at best.

Speaking of historical rewrites, Theodore Junker, a retired Wisconsin farmer, but also a former German soldier, who came to the U.S. in 1955, has built the Adolf Hitler Museum on his 20 acre plot.  Junker speaks to his version of "truth" about the deceased fuhrer:
Adolf Hitler Museum, Wisconsin

"Outside, where I have a memorial, there are marbles where everything is inscribed. What all got lost during the war. Most people don't know that more people died after the war than during the war. In the camps. The other thing that they don't know is that 17 million people was driven away from their homeland. This all is inscribed."
"Downstairs, in the Hall of Honor, I have also some inscriptions. What Hitler did. What they tell, that he started the war, it's not true. Everything what they say, he was a dictator and so on, I prove this is not all true."
George W's monument on the S.M.U. campus is the largest so far at 226,500 square feet, slightly smaller than the country's largest Walmart Supercenter at 260,000 square feet.  Among the attractions are the bullhorn the president used to address the first responders at Ground Zero after 9/11 and the red dress Laura Bush wore to the first George W. inaugural ball.    Not included is a video of Bush telling former FEMA director Michael Brown:  "Heck of a job, Brownie!" during the aftermath of 2005 Hurricane Katrina when U.S. citizens were treated worse than cattle.

A display featuring interaction with the visitors gives them an opportunity to react to intelligence about Iraq and in a short time frame make a presidential decision.  "Not so easy is it?" the display seems to say to those who might criticize W for going to war with Iraq over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

The one former president some might have expected to opt out of the self-glorification of a presidential museum, Jimmy Carter, has his pyramid in Atlanta, The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.  I actually thought the former peanut farmer might just say:  "Ah shucks, give that money to Habitation for Humanity," but I guess this has become a so-called rite of passage.
Bill Clinton Museum
With The Bill Clinton Presidential Library and Museum on the banks of the Arkansas River at Little Rock, it will be interesting to see the eventual location of the Hillary Rodham Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.  Will she have hers built next to Bill's or opt instead for a structure along the banks of the White River near Flippin, Arkansas?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Brownsville Voters Tiring of Tony's Control, Wanting New Blood on the City Commission

Riding on a sea of blue "Believe in Brownsville" signs covering Brownsville, Tony Martinez blitzed four other candidates in 2011 to land the mayorship without a runoff.

Martinez won with signs, carne guisada and Bud Light, but no substance.  His lone campaign promise was to enact a new ethics code, but, after two years in office, he has not shown the skills, understanding or will to accomplish that.(Actually, Martinez tossed that little assignment to one of the least ethical public officials in town, City Attorney Mark Sossi.)

Ironically, the Martinez tenure has achieved a certain transparency, although not intentionally so.  It's just that voters see through him and his power lust to control the city boards handling millions of tax dollars to the benefit of his cronies.  In his first city commission meeting as mayor, he stripped the board appointments away from newly elected commissioners John Villarreal and Estela Chavez-Vasquez, suggesting scam that is United Brownsville make those recommendations.  Further into his administration he undemocratically reinforced the broadcast ban of public comment at city commission meetings.  Tony wants to talk, but not listen and to this point has the unthinking support of the commission majority including Rose Gowen, John Villarreal and Estela Chavez-Vasquez.(Young Debbie Portillo, running for City Commission, District 3, is also widely considered a Martinez plant.)  When needed, he gleefully breaks the tie.

This time around, some voters are giving several more independent candidates a look-see.  Below is a quick look at three that are receiving consideration in large part because they are not considered pushovers for Tony Martinez:

Roberto Uresti
Wiry 62 year old Vietnam veteran, Roberto Uresti, who has been an indefatigable advocate for his community for twenty years, is running for City Commissioner At-Large B against incumbent Rose Gowen..

Uresti has fought for flood control, tearing down dilapidated housing, street repair and brush cleanup, routinely bringing specific problems and suggestions to the attention of the City Commission. Actually, he has been a de facto City Commissioner without having a portrait hung along the wall of the City Commission building.

Last year as the city raised taxes, City Finance Officer Pete Gonzalez lamented that he had exhausted every possible way to reduce the city's budget.  Uresti stepped up in public comment and quickly rattled off four or five ways the city could save money.

One possible criticism of the unpretentious Uresti is that he doesn't dress or act like a stockbroker.
He's a t-shirt and ball cap kind of guy not afraid of getting his hands dirty.  A couple of years ago at the City Commission meeting we were both in line for public comment when he got a call from the car wash he runs.  A machine had broken down.  "I know what's wrong with it.  Can you save my place?" he asked.  He was back in 30 minutes to make his comments.  Think of Uresti as the antithesis of Rose Gowen, who, as a commissioner rarely comments at commission meetings and weakly aquiesces to any direction from Mayor Martinez.

Letty Perez-Garzoria
Another candidate that could throw a monkeywrench in Mayor Martinez one-man show is retired nurse Letty Perez-Garzoria, like Uresti, a longtime community activist, who is going up against youthful John Villarreal in District 4.  The devout, serious Garzoria calls for volunteerism and involvement of the churches in cleaning up the city.  A frequent commenter at public meetings and at BISD, Garzoria usually calls for judicious use of taxpayer funds, ever mindful of the difficulty many in the community have making ends meet.

Ms. Garzoria was recently criticized for mentioning a person's need for healing in prayer, but that approach will not detract from her support in this deeply religious city.

Garzoria's appeal is that, unlike her opponent, John Villarreal, she is not afraid to speak up or oppose Tony Martinez if she disagrees with his posture.  She does make it plain, though, that she does not seek confrontation, but prefers to build consensus.

Martin Sarkis, is one of four candidates desiring to replace the outgoing Melissa Zamora as City
Martin Sarkis
Commissioner, District 3.    Sarkis owns an auto inspection business in Brownsville, but also owns a number of properties in Matamoros and Brownsville.

One local blogger described Sarkis as a Martinez plant, but Sarkis strongly denies that.  "I'm no one's puppet," he states emphatically.  Sarkis has ideas about attracting business to Brownsville and emphasizing the downtown area as a tourism focus.  In private conversation he stated that he does not favor continuing to finance United Brownsville.  

Sarkis has been criticized because Ernie Hernandez, Sylvia Perez-Garza and Carlos Masso have been seen at his events, but he insists he will be his own man if elected.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An Incomplete Glimpse At the Joining of Two Flawed Family Trees

My Sister Sandy and I circa 1950
When I identified that nurse of yesteryear, Clara Barton, as part of my family tree(actually I referred to myself as a descendant, which may not be technically correct), Duardo Paz-Martinez did exactly what serious journalists do.  He consulted wikipedia, a participant-edited collection of assorted internet anecdotes about almost everything.  We take /DP-M and wikipedia at their collective word that Nurse Barton died without ever signing a marriage certificate.

Had Clara chosen to have offspring without the paperwork, it would have mattered not.  I'm not on board with the God of the Bible who killed the so-called love child of David and Bath-Sheba while giving the grownups mere wristslaps.  The statement in Exodus that "the sins of the father will be visited on the son" makes absolutely no sense to me.

So likely, Clara was just a loose branch on the family tree, not a direct forebear.  It was a branch of the family I never liked anyway, connected to my Great Aunt Harriet.  I never looked forward to our family's annual trip to Puyallup to see Aunt Harriet.  My dad would warn me not to hold my nose and emphasize the Puuuuu! in Puyallup in front of Harriet as residents of that paper mill town didn't like being reminded how their town smelled.  Aunt Harriet was the first adult who told me that "little children should be seen and not heard."  When she used the adjective "precocious," it didn't sound complimentary.  Years later in the 80's, I received a glossy folder from a lawyer in Palo Alto, California.  He said I was not receiving anything from the estate, but knew I would appreciate a dossier on the family's history.  I trashed it.

Years ago we did not have the information highway Duardo so skillfully utilizes.  As a kid I had two choices to copy homework assignments.  I could use the scholarly Encyclopedia Britannica and risk detection or use the everyday language of World Book.  I usually chose World Book, toning down the language into childish simplicity.  Erin H. Garcia once described the writing on this blog as that of a third grader, so I'm well practiced.  Greg Miller, a better father than me, bought his two toddler girls a leather bound set of the Encyclopedia Britannica for $700 at their adoption in the 70's.  I always worried that the volumes would be obsolete by the time his girls used them to copy their homework assignments.

My ancestry is both unremarkable and unscholarly.  My maternal grandfather, Adolph(before Hitler made this name unpopular) Joseph DeMan, was conceived in Belgium, but born in Republic, Michigan in 1885, the first of his family to be born in this country.  His father died in 1888 at the age of 44 .  Al Gore's internet says the date of his mother's death is unknown.  Supposedly, young Adolph started working in the mines at the age of 9, quitting school to help support his brothers and sisters.  The scars of strip mining are still visible around Republic, so that may be true.

He married a woman from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada and moved to Maple Valley,
A view at dusk of Mt. Rainier from
Maple Valley, Washington
Washington, eventually buying a small homestead.  He raised a family through the depression with a huge garden and frugality.  Leaks, garlic, onions, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, beets, carrots, etc. as well as raspberries, blackberries, apples and apricots were always there for the picking by neighbors and relatives.  The woodshed contained straightened nails, lumber, firewood, coal and barrels of rainwater saved from the roof's runoff.  Gravel was shoveled at sieves and sorted by size.  Grandma had a standing agreement will the grandkids to bake a pie for every pale of berries we picked.  In addition to the berries in the garden, the woods had huckleberries, gooseberries and thimbleberries.  I would usually mix my pails with blackberries and huckleberries or add some rhubarb from the garden whenever we visited Grandma DeMan.  

Grandpa DeMan was a self-taught wordsmith who sat in a chair by the coal stove, underlining his Bible with a red/blue pencil.  He would mark key words in one scripture in red, then in the next with blue.  If you stopped to talk, you would be engaged for an hour.  When I was 14, we had our first serious discussion.  He told me that when God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden they were no longer simply naked, but now nude.  Getting the sense of his words, I suggested that they were exposed.  He liked that word and wrote it in the margin of his holy book.

Laurence, Mary Barton in Chehalis, WA
During Our 1982 Visit
My paternal grandfather, Laurence W. Barton, was born in Pierce, Washington.  He was a logger, cutting old growth timbers in Washington State.  He would cut a huge Douglas Fir, then drag it to the river with his powerful horse.  He marked the log with his name to get credit at the sawmill.  Grandpa Barton was an alcoholic who would fix up an old place, then destroy it in an alcohol-fueled fight with his wife.  In old age Grandpa Barton made holiday wreathes from tree trimmings and sold other forest products to be used as medicine.  At left is a picture of Grandpa Barton playing the saw as a musical instrument with Grandma Barton accompanying on the piano.

Pena Family, 130 King St.(now inside Gladys Porter Zoo)
Nena is in the front row, second from the right with her
head tilted.  The pic was taken in 1946,7
Nena was raised primarily by her grandparents, Guillermo and Rosa Pena who had 11 kids of their own.  Their small house at 130 King St. in Brownsville was enlarged several times with small add-ons almost like a small train. That was appropriate at the property butted up to actual tracks.  The small depression at the end of King St. is now part of the Gladys Porter Zoo.

An accident changed the dynamics of the family.  Nena's older sister, Teresa, drank from a bottle of lye from under the sink, burning a hole in her esophagus, requiring almost three years of hospital and outpatient care.

Nena's father, Manuel Perez, joined the U.S. Army, so his daughter could get treatment and moved with his wife and older daughter to San Antonio.  Nena and her younger brother Manuel stayed behind in Brownsville with the grandparents and their already large family.
Nena's mother, Flora Perez
Charro Days

Nena did accompany her family during two stints in Germany as her father, Manuel Perez, became a career man.  After retiring from the army, Mr. Perez joined the Border Patrol, later retiring from that as well.

My conversations with Mr. Perez years ago revealed a bitterness toward his native Mexico.  The family had their land and properties near Ciudad Victoria seized by the government.  His mother and father were not pleased with his choice of bride as Flora was not a Catholic.  Religious differences put a chill between the Perez and Pena families.  Also, Rosa Pena, Nena's red-haired grandmother proudly made clear to anyone who would listen, that she was from Spain, not Mexico.

Nena, following her father's example, served in the army from 1963-66.

Mean Mister Brownsville with
Father-in-law, Manuel Perez

Correcting Misinformation About My Nondescript Family Tree, Begum's Alleged Sign Stealing

Austin's Brownsville-focused blogger Duardo Paz-Martinez, who describes himself as a "Journalist," capitalizing the first letter just as Commissioner Ricardo Longoria does with "Educator," refers to me as:

"Fiery blogger Jimmy Barton, no relation to nurse Clara"

Actually, Duardo's conjecture is incorrect.  I am a descendant of Clara Barton, although not particularly proud of it.(Clara may have been a nice lady, but, being a distant relative of hers means little to me.)  In fact, Nena didn't know that little factoid until this instant.

Duardo is not the first blogmeister to take liberties with my family tree.  Convicted RICO felon, Carlos Quintanilla, in his now hibernated blog CareBrownsville, tried to link me with a man charged with child pornography, who evidently was from my hometown of Kent, Washington and Congressman Joe Barton of Fort Worth, Texas.  Quintanilla's circular reasoning also brought former Pan Am President Bob Hedrick into that incorrect mix:

"William Barton from Kent Washington, Jim, your hometown.
Jim Barton is he related to you? la Comadres de Brownsville want to know"

"The Child Pornographer Hendrick and Joe Barton's redneck cuzin Jim Barton and his missy Nena, who is going to get his ass sued by Quintanilla and you won't be able to defend him"  

While we're on the subject of misinformation, another local blogger, Bobby Wightman-Cervantes recently repeated his version of a campaign sign removal incident he witnessed via this 4/23/2013 statement on his blog, BROWNSVILLE VOICE

"Do you have an ounce of honor in your body Yolanda? Remember, Yolanda wanted to be a judge - caught taking down her opponent's signs, and now hiring Ed Stapleton - the lawyer advocate for viewing child pornography. This is one very sick family"

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes
While many may believe Bobby's tale, visualizing Yolanda Begum driving around Brownsville in her cream-colored Jaguar, uprooting Erin H. Garcia signs and tossing them in her trunk, Begum states simply that what Wightman actually witnessed was Yolanda pulling up her sign.  An Erin H. Garcia operative had "accidentally" placed Erin's sign in front of Yolanda's.  She was replacing her own sign, so it could again be seen.  Bobby W-C, who had stopped at the four corner's convenience store for gas, drinks or possibly the latest copy of  Field & Stream, simply misinterpreted the incident.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Is Carlos Masso Defending Accused Politiquera Margarita Ozuna?

Carlos Masso
Certainly the F.B.I. is not particularly concerned about jailing Margarita Rangel Ozuna, the 62 year old haughty politiquera recently charged with election fraud who is out of jail on $10,000 bail.  They are more likely interested in what Luis Saenz Campaign Manager Zeke Silva called the "head of the snake," Ernie Hernandez, or possibly even District Attorney candidate Carlos Masso or newly-elected Constable Abelardo Gomez, all who worked closely with the politiqueras in the last election.

The feds would prefer Ozuna simply talk about who, when and where.

Enter Black Knight Attorney Carlos Masso who offers to defend Ozuna, likely pro bono.  Masso, perhaps, has as much to lose career-wise as anyone
Election Judge Arcellia Villolon Conferring
With the Andrades from the Abelardo Gomez
Camp During Polling Hours
else if Ozuna spills her guts.  Across the  fence from the Cameron Park polling place last July during early voting, Carlos Masso and Abelardo Gomez had adjacent barbecue tents.  Margarita Ozuna and Herminia Becerra, the aunt of Democratic Chairwoman Sylvia Garza-Perez flitted from tent to tent like queens.

Margarita Ozuna with Her Partner in Crime
Herminia Becerra at Cameron Park
We had heard reports that busloads of elderly, mentally-challenged and disabled were being transported to Cameron Park with drivers paid for by Carlos Masso.  During polling hours,  Election Judge Arcellia Villalon was seen openly cavorting with the Abelardo Gomez camp, likely scheduling the vanloads of elderly, mentally-challenged and disabled voters.  The Erin H. Garcia campaign was closely involved, but reportedly cash-strapped at this point.  Masso was allegedly paying the home care workers driving the vans.

It's a weird conflict of interest, indeed, for Masso to be representing a client in a case where he himself is likely to be called as a witness, depending on which direction the case takes.

The Rented Van That Allegedly Transported
Elderly, Mentally-Challenged and Disabled
Voters to Cameron Park

While the newly elected District Attorney Luis Saenz focuses on Project Bishop to eradicate 8-liners, what about Project Clean Elections?

Carlos Masso Paying the Drivers?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earthfest 2013 Announced Despite Commissioner John Villarreal's Threat to Block Funding

Earthfest organizers have announced that the event will once again take place in Brownsville's Linear Park on April 27th despite last year's threat by District 4 City Commissioner John Villarreal to block funding for the annual event.

The normally reticent Villarreal, who seldom utters so much as a peep at City Commission meetings, typically playing a subservient role to Mayor Tony Martinez, became enraged at last year's festival when he noticed Mary Helen Flores in  a booth, passing out voter education materials.

In a telephone interview last year Flores defended her activities:
Mary Helen Flores

"I'm well aware of the need to not confuse my work with CAVA with political activity. I'm very careful to not combine the two. CAVA is about voter education. It is non-partisan."

Villarreal's problem with Mary Helen Flores was likely two-fold.  Flores was a supporter of Villarreal's 2010 District 4 opponent, Tony Zavaleta.  Also, Flores' group, Citizens Against Voter Abuse(CAVA), has frequently pointed out the flagrant election fraud committed by Ernie, Norma and Erin Hernandez who happen to be Villarreal's closest political friends, not to mention the politiquera activities of Margarita Ozuna, Herminia Becerra and Joey Garza, prominent Hernandez operatives. 

In our Mean Mister Brownsville article dated April 26, 2012 we described a sequence of events leading up to Villarreal's threat to defund future Earthfest events:

"Mary Helen Flores initially asked Villarreal to produce something in writing, some ordinance or city regulation that she was violating, or in absence of that, City Manager Charlie Cabler to cite the ordinance she was violating. John chose a different line of attack. He approached Parks Department official Shannon Guerro asking her assistance in ejecting Flores. Interestingly, Guerro, like Villarreal, is a close friend of the Hernandezes. Guerro's method of handling the situation was to ask Rio Bravo's Joe Boswell to ask Mary Helen Flores to leave. Witnesses state that, by this time, the incident had caught the attention of EarthFest lead official, Municipal Judge Ben Neece. It was at this point, that Commissioner Villarreal played his trump card in front of Boswell, Neece and others. Villarreal stated in front of the assembled group that because of this "incident," he would vote not to fund EarthFest next year. What is more, John stated, he had been in contact with Mayor Martinez and fellow Commissioner Melissa Zamora and they both agreed not to fund the event next year."

Commissioner Zamora
This last escalation of the incident by John Villarreal may have been at worst a misrepresentation or merely a bluff. Melissa Zamora made clear later on the CAVA site that she at least did not agree with Villarreal:

Here is Zamora's comment made on the CAVA site: 

 "Just wanted to clarify some misinformation. I fully support and will continue to support the Earthfest activities.   I so much enjoyed judging the children's cooking competion on Saturday, and I again attended events on Sunday at Lincoln Park.   I personally thanked all the organizers and commended them for a job well done.  Not once did I mention Mary Helen or express discontent with the organizers on her passing out fliers. I've always been a strong advocate for free speech, and I also supported the airing of public comment at our meetings." 

Letty Perez-Garzoria,
Candidate for City Commissioner,
District 4
Why bring up John Villarreal's temper tantrum from a year ago?  Well, first of all, it speaks to the character of the District 4 City Commissioner who is in a closer-than-expected fight with Letty Perez-Garzoria for that city commission position.  Also, we are unaware of any public apology by Villarreal for his petulant actions at last year's event nor a personal apology to Mary Helen Flores for violating her First Amendment rights.  



Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo