Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sylvia Garza-Perez Announces Kickoff for Cameron County Judge

Sylvia Garza-Perez

Activist Dagoberto Barrera Preaches Against Raises for Sheriff, JP and Constable

From the editor:  Below is a tiny 45 second snippet from the public comment of Dagoberto Barrera at the Salary Grievance Committee hearing held on September 10, 2013 at the Dancy Court House.  The 83 year old Barrera, in his distinctive, bombastic oratorical style, admonishes the petitioners to live within their means, being thankful for being employed and having good health.  He states that any surplus in the budget should be returned to the taxpayers.  The committee rejected each of the raise requests with an identical 8-1 vote.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Congressman Filemon Vela Asks for Money

Congressman Filemon Vela
From the editor:  Just moments ago, we received an email addressed in a very personal way to "Jim" from Congressman Filemon Vela.  

Vela states:  "In 72 hours we are facing one of the biggest fundraising deadlines yet.  We must knock it out of the park if we're going to keep fighting for the issues that matter most to South Texas.  

"Can I ask you to pitch in and help me reach my goal by rushing an urgent contribution to my campaign right now?"


and then this link:

Gomez Tantrum Fails with the County Commissioners As Raises Denied

Constable Abelardo Gomez
Charro-attired Abelardo Gomez is riding low in the saddle after County Commissioners rejected his latest attempt to manipulate the Cameron County pay structure in an early morning meeting of the Commissioners Court Thursday.

After his initial attempt for a personal $7,314 annual raise was resoundingly rejected by an 8-1 vote of the Salary Grievance Committee(with County Judge Carlos Cascos serving as a non-voting chairman) on September 10, Gomez made noise about there still being "money in the budget." Shifting gears, he declared he would no longer seek a personal raise, but instead would request raises for the higher ranking deputies on his staff.  Gomez noted that in his absence his department floundered as there was no clearly defined chain of command.  Raises for certain deputies and official titles, he stated, would correct that problem.

The constable proposed that lower ranking deputies would forfeit $500 of their scheduled $1,000 annual raise to create the necessary funds to give four newly created "lieutenants" raises.  Gomez claimed that the concept was not his idea, but something volunteered by his staff.  “They worked it out amongst themselves,” he said at the time. “Everybody agreed to it. This is something that they want.”

One blog commenter disagreed that donating their raises voluntarily to fund supervisors was a grass roots effort:

"Well since the committee didn't give Abelardo his raise, he is now intimidating his deputies into signing a petition to give up $500 of their much deserved $1000 raise to pay his ranking officers more. He says you don't have to sign it, but we all know what will happen if you don't. How is that fair to the deputy's family. The petition is very much real. It was presented to commissioners court today and was tabled for legal review. We ask know not a deputies signed voluntarily. Mr. Gomez don't be a Conrado Cantu. Withdraw the matrix proposal and lift the department's moral. Don't be a dictator."

Sheriff Omar Lucio, JP Sally Gonzalez
Two other disappointed politicos, Sheriff Omar Lucio and Justice of the Peace Sally Gonzalez were also denied raises at the September 10 hearing. Gonzalez wanted an increase of $9,152 while Lucio was asking for $25,000.

The 80 year old Lucio, in particular, seems to blame Judge Cascos for the raise denial.  Speaking of how the grievance committee was selected and voted, he was quoted following the hearing:  “They were selected and that’s how they voted,” he said, implying that Cascos orchestrated the "no" vote.

A Cascos supporter claims he received a call from the Lucio camp after the vote.  "Don't expect any support from Sheriff Lucio in the coming election." The supporter found the remark humorous since, he claimed, Lucio had never supported Cascos in any previous election.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Assistant City Attorney Allison Bastain Responds to Open Records Request Concerning City Attorney Mark Sossi's Workload

Assistant City Attorney Allison Bastain
Assistant City Attorney Allison Bastain handled our Open Records Request, responding with the message below received today at 2:37 PM, a mere 29 minutes before the expiration of the 10 business day requirement.

Here is our initial request, sent to the city September 12, 2013 and forwarded within the hour to the legal department by City Secretary Estela Von Hatten:

From: Jim Barton [] 
Sent: Thursday, September 12, 2013 3:06 PM
To: public request
Subject: City Attorney Case Load Fiscal 2013
Please share the cases worked by City Attorney Mark Sossi during fiscal 2013 and the amount of payouts by the city, if any, in settling those cases.  
                                                                                                                                                               Jim Barton

City Attorney Mark Sossi
Ms. Bastion's succinct answer to our question about Sossi's workload is that City Attorney Mark Sossi does not actually represent the city in litigation, being far too busy for that as he serves as sort of a shop foreman, a legal overseer for the city's legal department and two secretaries.   Prompting our question was the extraordinary amount of legal fees extended to Attorney Ricardo Navarro in stonewalling arbitration cases involving the Brownsville Fire Fighters and Paramedics(purported to be at least $790,722 since 2010), and the recent revelation that Judge Andrew S. Hanen's wife,  Attorney Diane Dillard was utilized in some undisclosed legal way by the City of Brownsville for fees totaling $32,124.50.   I guess it was naive of me to assume that Sossi under contract with the city for $120,000 plus $60,000 more from taxpayer funds siphoned to the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation and Assistant City Attorneys John Chosy and Allison Bastain, paid $84,872 and $58,704 respectively could actually represent the city in litigation, real estate transactions or labor arbitration.  Why, even Tony Martinez' law partner, Horacio Barrera, had to be called into service to negotiate the purchase of the Casa del Nylon building.  Below is Ms. Bastain's cover letter for the documents sent:

To: 'Jim Barton'

Hi again--
This is in response to your public information request of September 12, 2013, which you subsequently clarified for me a couple of days ago.
In regards to any litigation Mr. Sossi has handled, the city (through insurance) employs outside counsel to handle most litigation matters. Therefore, the payout for any litigation he has handled is zero. Our department is simply not large enough nor sufficiently equipped or funded to practice litigation. This is the case with most cities in Texas—only the larger cities, such as Houston or Dallas, have their own in-house litigation departments. The rest farm theirs out to outside counsel, like we do.
As for the bulk of Mr. Sossi’s work, which involves transactional matters, there is no one document or list that exists containing all of the matters Mark Sossi works on. One item I can provide for you which is responsive to your request are copies of our most recent contract logs--these constitute our inter-office tracking of certain contracts, ordinances, resolutions, and agreements our department evaluates for various city departments. These documents (attached) represent a portion of what Mr. Sossi does as city attorney.
Since there really are not any comprehensive documents which outline what Mr. Sossi does as city attorney, I wanted to at least expand a little and give you an idea of what he does, as I think it is sometimes misunderstood by some in the community.
As I pointed out in my e-mail to you from a couple of days ago, Mr. Sossi oversees and administers the legal department containing three other attorneys besides himself, and also two legal secretaries. Besides evaluating contracts, he represents the city in economic development negotiations and the drafting of any related contracts, agreements, or other documentation--examples from the past year include negotiations related to the Tenaska power plant, economic issues between the city and the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, issues with Cameron County and other entities in the attempt to land SpaceX in our community, and the recent departure of T-Mobile--he was responsible for the recoup of over two million dollars from T-Mobile when they removed their call center from the city of Brownsville.
Also, he of course acts as parliamentarian at commission meetings and also advises the mayor and commission on legal issues and conducts much research and related drafting for them on a regular basis--pretty much weekly.
Also during the past year (as well as in 2009), he took the lead in developing and implementing strategies behind protecting Brownsville from certain proposed state legislation, which would have been adverse to city interests, regarding municipal territory and annexation--in both 2009 and 2013 he represented the city in negotiating with neighboring cities regarding the size of the Brownsville extra-territorial jurisdiction, which resulted in the failure of the legislation and enabling the city to keep all its existing territory and annexation powers. 
These are just examples and are not exhaustive—I haven’t included the day-to-day questions, meetings, and other things inherent in the day-to-day operations of the legal department. As I said, since no comprehensive document or documents exists outlining his workload, I wanted to at least provide you a more thorough response and give you an idea as to his tasks and responsibilities as city attorney.
Hope that helps; have a great day.

With such a glowing synopsis of Mr. Sossi's job performance, Allison Bastain would be a terrific resume' writer.  Some items may be a bit overstated.  T-Mobile forfeited 2.5 million by not meeting job creation requirements or staying the full five years specified.  Nevertheless, taxpayer funds issued to T-Mobile in the form of incentives through GBIC still amounted to $3,500,000.  As for legal advice to the Mayor and City Commission, who can forget Sossi's ill-advised pie chart and pontification against free speech in opposing the broadcast of public comment at commission meetings?  When then Commissioner Melissa Zamora introduced an agenda item to restore public comment, Sossi interrupted with an orchestrated, but feeble attempt to demonstrate that when the broadcast of public comment was blocked, a greater "diversity" of commenters participated.  The past year with almost no public comment participation has shown that theory to be bogus.

What Ms. Bastain sent in substantiation of Sossi's work on behalf of the City of Brownsville were 29 filled in copies of the city's Legal Contract Log listing contracts presented to the city.  Each line gives a contract description, the department involved and is dated.  On each line one of three boxes is checked:  approved, approved with revisions and rejected.  Then each contract ruling is initialed by one of the city's attorneys.  Of the 282 contracts reviewed, Mark Sossi initialed 129, while Allison Bastain reviewed 153.  Of the 282 contracts up for approval, 213 were approved outright, 53 more approved after revisions and 16 rejected.  

We received 29 of these Legal Contract Logs representing the contracts that came before the city's legal department for approval during the preceding 12 months.  The lawyer marks with an "X" contracts approved or rejected.  To the far right appear the initials M.S. and A.B. Taking Ms. Bastain's word for it, that Sossi's enormous workload prohibits him from representing the city in litigation, how the hell does he find time to also represent the GBIC board AND engage in private practice in Brownsville?  

Sossi's private practice of law in Brownsville predictably proved disastrous with at least two legal malpractice law suits filed. Stell Middle School teacher Ingrid Gonzalez and her husband Roger sued Sossi for legal malpractice, claiming that he had conspired to defraud the couple by conspiring with a title company to take their property. Oliveira Middle School teacher Jesus Abete, Jr. filed a legal malpractice suit against Sossi for allowing the statute of limitation to expire without filing a case to recover for personal injuries.  The Internal Revenue Service joined in the legal piling on against Sossi, slapping him with a $100,000 tax lien for nonpayment.

Mark Sossi was simply not a good hire by the city in March of 2009. His previous employer, the Willette & Guerra law firm, had proven in court that Sossi had pocketed $167,363 intended for the firm, while the Texas Workforce Commission found that he'd done the same thing with monies earmarked for unemployment benefits to the tune of $20,711.66. It's no surprise that during his first year on the city payroll his license to practice law was temporarily revoked.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Builder Mike Garza Fails to Get City Approval for Apartment Building

Builder Mike Garza
At the City Commission meeting 9/17/2013 Brownsville building contractor Mike Garza saw the majority of city commissioners vote for a zoning change that would allow residential apartments at 2661 Dana Avenue, but, as de facto Planning Director Ramiro Gonzalez pointed out, the Planning Department had voted against recommending the change, necessitating 5 favorable votes as per City Charter.  Thus, Garza lost with only a 4-2 majority.

Ramiro Gonzalez represents a distinct change in style from former Planning Director Ben Medina, who now labors in the same job for Rio Hondo.  Medina would present proposed zoning changes in a matter-of-fact way, mentioning as an aside the Planning Department vote.  Gonzalez goes two steps further, actually arguing the Planning Department recommendation before the City Commission, defending it from attack.

2661 Dana Avenue
Garza was asking for the property at 2661 Dana Avenue, currently zoned commercial, to be zoned multi-family residential.  He pointed out that other apartments were adjacent to the property as well as one single family home.  He also mentioned the property's two 50-foot wide egresses would support the traffic.

Typically, commercial enterprizes encroaching on residential areas gets the ire of city planners, but with this proposed variance, Gonzalez argued that it represented "incompatible" zoning.

City Planner Ramiro Gonzalez
When Gonzalez mentioned the need for "set-backs" to buffer between the commercial and residential uses, Mike Garza said that was not a problem. Commissioner Estela Chavez-Vasquez asked Ramiro Gonzalez if this situation was an example of "spot" zoning, evidently referring to a private conversation between the two.  Gonzalez said it was.

Interestingly, in another matter before the commission, Ramiro Gonzalez argued for allowing a variance to medium commercial in a residential area, mentioning the appropriateness of having a paintball enterprise near the Sports Park without mentioning the single family homes nearby.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Despite Who's On the Ballot, The County Judge Race Is Usually Cascos vs. Hinojosa

Cameron County's version of Ali-Frazier may very well be the Carlos Cascos-Gilberto Hinojosa donnybrooks, the fourth of which we may experience if Hinojosa puppet Eddie Trevino wins the Democratic primary for Cameron County Judge.(That's not a given since Sylvia Garza-Perez, the niece of notorious politiquera Herminia Becerra, blew away two male challengers for Cameron County Democratic Chair in 2012 and the indecisive David Betancourt may give the race a go.)

Cascos and Hinojosa first squared off in the County Judge race as Democrats in 2002 with Hinojosa squeaking out a victory in the primary.  It was Cascos vs. Hinojosa again in 2006.  This time, as a Republican, Cascos won with 55% of the vote in a fairly ugly race.  Some in the Hinojosa camp raised fears that Cascos would do away with food stamps, while Cascos bought cartoon ads in the Brownsville Herald reminding voters of Hinojosa's close association with convicted former County Sheriff Conrado Cantu.

In 2010 it was the reticent John Wood, propped up by the Gilberto Hinojosa machine, who got into the ring
Gilberto Hinojosa
with Cascos.  The race was extremely tight with the incompetent former Election Administrator, the wishy-washy Roger Ortiz, screwing things up royally.  First Cascos won, then Wood, then Cascos again.  Incredibly, then Cameron County Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa was allowed to browbeat and harass poll workers leading to a dozen affidavits alleging misconduct.

If Sylvia Garza-Perez(some say Cascos' preferred opponent) wins the Democratic Primary, Hinojosa may not be as involved.  Gilberto was reportedly  not at all pleased that Sylvia won the chairmanship over his assistant, Jared Hockema(Jared donated $80,000 of his own money to his campaign for the non-paying position).  After the election, Gilberto's wife, Cynthia, formed her own group, the Cameron County Democratic Women, rather than fall in under the leadership of Sylvia Garza-Perez.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gomez Asks Deputies to Share Half of Their Raise With Supervisors

Constable Abelardo Gomez
As the Cameron County Commissioner's Court met Wednesday morning on the second floor of the Dancy Court Building, they were presented with a surprise request by Precinct 2 Constable Abelardo Gomez to allow half of $1,000 raise due each deputy in his precinct to be shifted to their supervisors.

An anonymous commenter shared this with us Wednesday:

And now Constable Abel Gomez is intimidating his deputies to "VOLUNTARILY" sign a petition that will deduct $500 of their $1000 raise to give himself and his ranking officers a raise in addition to the already $1000 raise they are getting. No joke, this was presented to commissioners court this morning but was tabled pending legal review. We all know this was not done voluntarily, if the deputies dont sign, they will be retaliated against. I thought the united states did not allow dictators. Please public, look into this. 

Sonia Leticia Solis
Calling Cameron County Judge Casco's office, we did learn that such a request by Gomez was submitted, but that it did not include shuffling monies from staff to Gomez himself, but only to his higher ranking officers.  

Interestingly, one of the officers for whom Gomez is soliciting a substantial raise, subsidized by his staff is Steve Berlanga, the son of Sonia Solis, the politiquera recently charged with election violations. Gomez gave the young man a supervisory position and, if his request is found to be legal and is approved by the Commissioners Court, the recent hire will get a substantial raise at the expense of longer tenured staff.  

Gomez may have gotten the idea of redistributing monies voluntarily from Precinct 4 County Commissioner Dan Sanchez, who last year, volunteered to donate $4,000 of his own salary to provide District Clerk Aurora De la Garza and County Clerk Joe Rivera with $2,000 raises each.  

While the contribution of monies by Gomez underlings is being considered for its legality, the Commissioners Court did to add two constables to Precinct 2, as well as a dispatcher and assistant auditor.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sheriff Lucio Blames Judge Cascos for Raise Denial

Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos
Turning to Sheriff Lucio just before the start of the Salary Grievance Hearing, I said:  " It looks like you got your wish.  All nine members are here."

Lucio had commented after the first attempt of the committee to meet was cancelled for lack of a quorum that he hoped all nine members would attend the rescheduled hearing.  A unanimous vote approving his $25,000 raise request would alleviate the need to go before the County Commissioners for approval.

As it turned out, Sheriff Lucio, JP Sallie Gonzalez and Constable Abelardo Gomez would likely have fared better going in front of the County Commissioners, some of whom have shown a tendency to blend politics with pay raises in the past.  With the 8-1 vote by the Salary Grievance Committee against all three raises, the Cameron County budget, said to have already been finalized, dodged a $41,466 direct hit.

At least one petitioner, Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio, seems to blame Judge Cascos for the raise denial, if comments made to Brownsville Herald reporter Ty Johnson are taken at face value: 

Speaking after the meeting, Lucio was respectful of the committee’s decision, although he questioned the process by which the meeting had been conducted.  
“They were selected and that’s how they voted,” he said.  Lucio said in the past there had not been an executive session for deliberation and that the vote had occurred immediately after the presentations.

If Judge Cascos, the Salary Grievance Committee's non-voting chairman, somehow orchestrated the raise denial, his influence was subtle, behind the scenes.  It's possible that the first scheduled meeting not producing a quorum was somewhat embarrassing, but reports indicated that Cascos or at least his staff were on the phones making certain committee members would attend Tuesday's meeting.  Changing the time of the meeting from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM was done to accommodate the members.

Judge Cascos opened the meeting with the announcement that remarks by those grieving for raises would be reduced from 30 to 5 minutes.  Those signing up for Public Comment would be limited to 3 minutes each.

The first commenter called was the 83 year old Dagoberto Barrera, who all knew would bombastically oppose the raises.  Cascos distanced himself from the sometimes obnoxious Barrera by cautioning him:  "Don't scare anybody!"  Then, just as Barrera was getting wound up, Cascos said:  "Your time is up!"

Cameron County Sheriff Lucio
80 year old Sheriff Lucio did not help himself with his oral arguments on behalf of his raise.  After a long awkward pause, he dove into 30 minutes worth of carefully prepared material, but his remarks were barely audible.  We sat only 5 feet away and had to strain to hear.  The panel had the printout, however, that could be read and discussed in private session.  His arguments were based on the size of the county, the number of employees he supervises, his responsibility for the operation of the Carrizalez Rucker Detention Center, the accomplishments of his administration and the huge amounts of drug forfeitures that had enriched county coffers.  He included a list of comparative salaries of other sheriffs, police chiefs and administrators.

Lucio, based on his remarks quoted above, likely feels that Judge Cascos argued vociferously behind closed doors against the raises.  Cascos claims to have simply clarified a few figures for the panel and then bowed out while they deliberated.  In any event, we're certain he is pleased with the results.

One panel member, Maribel Garza, extended her arm nearly out of its socket, in demonstrating her approval for all three raises, twice before Cascos even finished asking who favored the raise.

As the panel dispersed, Dagobert Barrera, clapping loudly enough for an entire audience, shouted out:  "Thank you for your conservative decision!"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Citizen Panel Rejects Raises for Sheriff Lucio, Justice of the Peace Gonzalez and Constable Gomez by 8-1 Vote

Sheriff Omar Lucio, JP Sallie Gonzalez
Certainly, Sheriff Omar Lucio has heard the trite admonition to "be careful what you wish for," yet he wished for a full citizen panel of nine in this Tuesday evening's Salary Grievance Committee Hearing on the second floor of the Dancy Court House.  Only a unanimous verdict by nine citizens would have given Lucio the $25,000 annual raise he was seeking without going before the County Commission.(A mere majority or even a unanimous vote by fewer than nine members would have resulted in a recommendation for a raise that would have then gone before the County Commissioners for approval.)  The citizen panel, selected from among those who had served on Cameron County grand juries, resoundingly rejected by an 8-1 margin, not only Sheriff Lucio's raise request, but the $9,152 raise requested by Justice of the Peace Sallie Gonzalez and the $7,314 raise wanted by Constable Abelardo Gomez.

While the candidates had prepared 30 minutes worth of raise justification, County Judge Carlos Cascos announced at the start that each petitioner would be given only 5 minutes plus time to respond to any of the panel's questions.  Sallie Gonzalez took as good omens the fact that the panel had no questions for her and seemed to be extending their deliberations.  She misread the tea leaves.  Anxious for the panel's decision, Gonzalez hummed the Carly Simon 70's hit "Anticipation" while waiting.

Before the candidates spoke, Cascos called for public comment.  Octogenarian Dagoberto Barrera belted out his typical theme that "no raises should be given in this RECESSIONAL  time."  Robert Uresti followed with "$25,000 is too much," referring to the sheriff's request and then reminded everyone of the Lucio's substantial pending retirement.  A Harlingen minister, followed by two men from the sheriff's department supported the raises.  The minister said the sheriff had a "right to put bread in his mouth."

Sheriff Lucio's presentation was difficult to hear from even 5 feet away, but the gist seems to be that, during his tenure, hundreds of thousand of dollars from drug and other seizures have been used for software, vehicles and other equipment the county would normally have to fund.  One of his aides handed me a printout that credits the sheriff's office, under Lucio's tenure, with balancing the county's budget with strategic use of these forfeitures.  Lucio was also concerned with the comparative salaries of the Hidalgo County Sheriff, McAllen Police Chief, Brownsville Police Chief, Harlingen Police Chief and Cameron County Juvenile Director which all exceed his.  He also listed the salary of Port of Brownsville Chief Carlos Garcia, who, commands a $93,000 salary with only 18 employees.

JP Sallie Gonzalez described herself as a Justice of the Peace 24/7, always by the phone.  Her duties include instructing a jury, leading kids on drugs to treatment and dealing with truancy.  Just two months ago Gonzalez was called to the scene of a three month old child who had died from sudden death syndrome.  Although her tenure permits 4 weeks of vacation, last year she took only 4 days.

Constable Abelardo Gomez
Constable Abelardo Gomez stated that he was essentially working two jobs, caring for his precinct as constable plus providing security for the county courthouse.  The four employees under him had served 665 civil process documents since he took office as well as 270 other warrants.  He stated that 95% of his time was spent protecting the court house, watching for contraband or escape from prisoners summoned to court.  Hard feelings from divorce and criminal cases could even spill out into the parking lots, necessitating patrols from his staff.

For the raise seekers, it was all for naught, with the committee rejecting all of the raises with an emphatic 8-1 vote.  The committee had the option of issuing a raise somewhat less than requested, but that option was not acted on by the committee.

Sheriff Lucio and JP Gonzalez graciously shook the hands of each committee member while Gomez filed out with his staff.  Dagoberto Barrera loudly clapped, thanking the committee for their "CONSERVATIVE" decision.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Carlos Masso, The Perfect Choice to Lead the Unethical Democratic Party of Cameron County

Margarita Ozuna, Herminia Becerra
at Abelardo Gomez Tent
For once I agree with Silvia Garza-Perez, who, according to El Rrun Rrun,  is relinquishing her unpaid post as Cameron County Democratic Chairperson to run for Cameron County Judge. Silvia's aunt, Herminia Becerra, the infamous politiquera, is a bit long in the tooth for the position and her counterpart, Margarita Ozuna, has been ordered to refrain from political activity for one year.

Carlos Masso, is a near perfect default choice to steer the sleazebag factory known as the Cameron County Democratic Party.  It's not just the brief
Carlos Masso, Allegedly Paying Home Care
Workers/Van Drivers in Cameron Park
revival of his law practice to "defend" politiquera Margarita Ozuna of election fraud.  That may have been necessary to keep a proverbial lid on things. But, Masso was allegedly an organizational and financial player in perhaps the last Cameron County election to openly utilize politiqueras, the harvesting of votes from the elderly, mentally challenged and disabled and the abuse of mail-in ballots, the July 2012 Democratic Primary.  It was claimed, but never publicly acknowledged that the Erin H. Garcia campaign ran short of funds before that primary and was assisted by Masso.

We may never know that for certain, but, post election, Ernie Hernandez, Erin's father, was politicking fast and furious to create a new Justice of the Peace position for Masso in an obvious political payback.

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

                      Cameron County Democratic Primary~5/29/12

Name                                   Total Votes                %                           Mail-in Votes

                                                         COUNTY ATTORNEY

Carlos R. Masso                     8,072                        35.86                      192
Luis V. Saenz                          7,766                        34.50                        47
Maria Urbina De Ford             6,672                        29.64                        33


Joe Cisneros                            6,107                        26.02                        55
Terry Vinson                            3,268                        13.92                        25
Omar Lucio                           14,096                         60.06                      191

                                                    CONSTABLE, PRECINCT 2

Juan S. Torres                         2,348                         27.45                        13
Roel Arreola                               893                            8.54                        7
Pete Avila, Jr.                          3,952                         37.78                        27
Abelardo "Abel" Gomez, Jr.     3,267                         31.23                      191
A statistical anomaly with three candidate with very different vote totals all getting a nearly identical number of mail-in votes.  Former Election Administrator Roger Ortiz, on seeing this copy said:  "It appears they all used the same politiquera or group of politiqueras.  

Just think:  Gilberto Hinojosa, Silvia Garza-Perez and now, Carlos Masso.  Does anyone in the Cameron County Democratic Party even care about ethics?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mariano "Bean" Ayala, President of Brownsville Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shares Documents on Contribution

Mariano "Bean" Ayala
Last month we did an article detailing the financing and dispersal of funds associated with Mayor Martinez' "State of the City" event held May 14 at the Brownsville Event Center.  Prompting the article was the false claim by the mayor that the event was funded solely by private funds.

Martinez was responding to a Brownsville Herald reporter about his decision to use an outside firm, Message, Audience, Presentation, Inc. M.A.P. of Austin, to run the event:  "He said that since the money for the State of the City event was privately raised, he saw no issue with spending the money with the same consultant firm that helped him win his office, explaining that based on practices he has observed in other areas, the event is typically planned wholly at the mayor’s discretion."

Taking the mayor at his word that other mayors organize similar events as they wish, research showed that what the he said about the event's funding being solely private, not public monies was simply not true.  We identified $18,650 contributed to the "State of the City" event from taxpayer, ratepayer and tuition payer monies.  While we did not include the $4,000 contributed to Tony's event from the United Way or the $500 contributed from the Brownsville Convention & Visitors Bureau in that total, we did question the propriety of a charity and tourism bureau funding this event.(Traci Wickett, CEO of United Way of Southern Cameron County, explains her groups's participation here:

The day after our article, we received a call from Mariano "Bean Ayala, the President of the Brownsville Convention & Visitor's Bureau.  Ayala wanted to clarify that the source of the bureau's contribution was not the hotel and restaurant tax that funds the agency, but from ad revenue generated from the Visitor's Guide distributed to motels, hotels and restaurants in the city.(Ayala's explanation can be found here:

The thrust of Mr. Ayala's explanation was that the $500 spent to help fund the Mayor's "State of the City" event did not come from the hotel and restaurant tax funding the overall operations of the Convention & Visitors Bureau, but from ad revenue is documented in materials received through an Open Records request with the city.

The "Sponsorship Expense" represents the Convention & Visitors Bureau's contribution to Tony" "State of the City" Event.  As Ayala stated on the phone, the sale of ad revenue did not generate a profit for the visitor's guide.  Below is a copy of the check.

Mr. Ayala was, as always, gracious and cooperative in sharing these documents.  Playing the devil's advocate, however, it can be questioned whether or not the Mayor's "State of the City" event generated tourism or visitors to the City of Brownsville.  Did out-of-towners venture to the city, staying in a hotel or motel for the event?  Not likely.  Actually, all of the individual tickets sold were to Brownsville residents.  Is it likely that those attending the event went out to dine at a local restaurant after eating a meal costing $9411.60 to cater?  So, its hard to justify this contribution from the Convention & Visitor's Bureau based on the work of the agency to promote tourism and visitors to the city, but it was made at the discretion of Mr. Ayala for his reasons.

As for the numbers above, exclusively for the visitors guide, not the "hot fund" generated from hotel and restaurant tax, the first eight months of fiscal year 2013 ending May 31, 2013, show a net loss for the visitors guide of $6,616.11.  That includes the $500 to support Tony's event.  In other words, even though this contribution was listed as an expense in the production costs of the guide, it was actually money the Convention & Visitor's Bureau did not have to spend.  There is no indication the check, made out to the City of Brownsville Finance Department bounced.  Since it did not, does that mean the shortfall in the visitor guide fund was made up by the so-called "hot fund" of hotel and restaurant tax?  If that is the case, the $500 can be added to the already discovered $18,650 of taxpayer, ratepayer and tuition payer funds used in Tony's self-promoting event.

Ayala submitted yet another document detailing the financials for the month of May, the month of the "State of the City" event.  Those figures show a net loss of $472.47 for May including the $500 to Tony's meeting. So, without that contribution, the bureau would actually have had a surplus of $27.53 for the month.

As for the beautifully illustrated Visitors Guide 2012-13, it is essentially out of date.  All of the dated events are past, Charro Days, February 24-March 3, 2013, as well as the nine UTB Signature Series that ran from September 20, 2012 through April 27, 2013 are all past history.

"Yes, we're working right now on the 2013-14 Visitors Guide," explained Ayala.

Correction: Nurith Galonsky, Not Lourdes Galonsky, Is the New P.U.B. Board Appointee

Nurith Galonsky
I received a call today from a "friend of the family" of Brownsville resident, Lourdes Galonsky, stating that she was NOT a recent appointee to the P.U.B. Board as I had reported in an August 29,2013 Mean Mister Brownsville article.  The "friend," a male, indicated not only had Lourdes not been appointed to a board, she was not politically-oriented, a stay-at-home mom and did not know Deborah Portillo, the City Commissioner making the swing vote in the appointment.  In a friendly way, the caller asked if I was familiar with a lawsuit filed by the wife of BISD School Board trustee Otis Powers, where he claimed she recovered $75,000 for being wrongly identified in a published article.  I apologize to Lourdes and family for any stress created by my error.

La Casa del Nylon
The actual appointee, as it turns out, is not Lourdes Galonsky, but Nurith Galonsky, 38, the daughter of Abraham Galonsky, the former owner of Casa del Nylon.  This makes more sense in connecting the dots as Nurith's father, Abraham Galonsky, is closely tied to Mayor Tony Martinez, who also happens to be a P.U.B. Board member.  You may recall that the sale of Galonsky's Casa del Nylon building on Adams St. to the City of Brownsville for $2,300,000 was unethically and inappropriately negotiated by Tony Martinez' law partner Horacio Barrera.  Later, during a City Commission workshop held January 15, 2013 to find property for the new Brownsville satellite campus of the UT system, Tony Martinez mentioned more than once the availability of a 25 acre tract along 77/83 owned by Galonsky..

Whatever Tony's agenda is for Brownsville public utilities, newly elected City Commissioner Deborah Portillo is already paying dividends on the $41,000 contributed to her campaign with her strategic vote for the appointment of Abraham Galonsky's daughter, Nurith, not his more distant relative by marriage, Lourdes Galonsky.

Oscar Garcia, Jr.2
1st 4 yr. term
Comm. Camarillo (4)
Arturo Farias3
2nd 4 yr. term
Comm. Gowen (B)
Nurith Galonsky7
1st 4 yr. term
Comm. Portillo (3)
Emmanuel Vasquez4
2nd 4 yr. term
Comm. Gowen (B)
Noemi Garcia5
1st 4 yr. term
Comm. Vasquez (A)
Edna Oceguera6
1st 4 yr. term
Comm. Gowen (B)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dumbass Judge Giving 49 Year Old Schoolteacher 30 Days for Raping 14 Year Old Is Texas Native

Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh
Nena and I were discussing the Montana judge who gave Stacey Rambold, 54 year old former school teacher, a 30 day sentence for raping a 14 year old student.(Actually, the sentence was for 15 years with all but 31 days suspended and credit for time served, one day.)   Over morning coffee, Nena said:  "A judge who rules like that, must have made other questionable decisions."

You may be somewhat familiar with the story.  Rambold's victim, Cherise Morales, committed suicide in 2010 at the age of 17, distraught over the publicity of the pending court case.  Without a victim to testify, the Yellowstone County Attorney, Scott Twito, found the case more difficult to prosecute three counts of sexual intercourse without consent and worked out a plea deal with Rambold to plead guilty to one count, receiving a suspended sentence with probation.

Convicted Rapist Stacey Rambold
When Rambold violated terms of his probation, by not attending sex offender meetings and not refraining from association with teenagers, he came before Judge G. Todd Baugh's District 13, Department 5, Montana court.  Chief Deputy Attorney Rod Sousa asked for 20 years imprisonment with 10 years suspended.

Incredibly, Judge Baugh, after listening to recorded statements by the 14 year old victim, found her to be "as much in control of the situation" as Rambold.(Legally, a 14 year old cannot give consent.)  Baugh also stated that he found the victim to be "older than her chronological age."  Of course, a judge does not have any authority to make that boneheaded decision.  The chronological age is the legal age, period.(We're not talking about a minor who has been emancipated.)

Googling Judge G. Todd Baugh, I did find this unsubstantiated comment in the online Billings Gazette:  "Judge Baugh is the same judge who years ago gave no jail time to a white man driving under the influence who killed a Native American."

Then, this in the Helena Independent Record:  "A 55 year old Billings woman struck a plea agreement for what would have been her 13th conviction for driving under the influence.  She was given a three year suspended sentence.  . . . . . . Judge G. Todd Baugh, who presided in the case, warned her: 'If you drink and drive and kill someone, you will spend some real time in prison."  So, Judge Baugh is saying the woman has to kill someone to receive jail time in his court, despite her 12 previous DUI convictions!  Another idiotic ruling accompanied by a dumbass statement.

Doing more research on Judge Baugh, I found him to be a 1964 graduate of Rice University with a B.A. degree in economics.  He later received a law degree from the University of Texas in 1967.  He is currently 71 years old, D.O.B. 10/21/1941.

Baugh was raised in Rotan, TX, the son of NFL Hall of Famer "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh, who still holds two NFL passing records.  Sammy Baugh coached the Washington Redskins, died in 2008 at the age of 94.

With all of the bad publicity in the rape case, Judge G. Todd Baugh issued a half-hearted apology.  The Montana Attorney General issued a statement finding the sentence "illegal," stating that Montana statutes required a 2 year minimum sentence.  The AG is investigating the sentence.


Grandson Jack in Market Square Walking with grandson Jack downtown is a challenge.  He frolicks, skips, cuts in front of you, runs ahead,...