Thursday, October 31, 2013

Needham-McCaffrey Associates, Inc. Present Greater Brownsville Infrastructure & Development Plan

Robin McCaffrey, Architect, Urban Planner
The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation was the third leg of a trio of presentations given by Needham-McCaffrey, Inc., a Dallas-based urban planning firm. Brownsville's P.U.B. and Navigation District first saw the slideshow outline of an overall plan for a huge 22,000 acre industry corridor which would include the Port of Brownsville.

The more detailed fifteen page plan is ready for consideration and purchase should the three entities decide it should be implemented.(There was no mention of the cost of the study.  Ramiro Gonzalez of Planning was not in the office when I called, but I will try to get that important detail.)

There is a sense of deja vu here as we recall the Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan purchased for $900,000 from Carlos Marin's Ambiotec Engineering five years ago.  In retrospect, that was a huge waste of tax dollars as the never implemented paperback plan now gathers dust on city shelves, obviously dated and unworkable.  With a straight face, Ruben Gallegos, Jr. suggested that perhaps the United Brownsville Board, the last, unaccountable, bureaucratic vestige of the old Imagine Brownsville plan, oversee the consideration of McCaffrey's proposed development plan. City Attorney Mark Sossi nipped that suggestion in the bud, saying that United Brownsville meetings seldom achieved a quorum and that P.U.B., the Brownsville Navigation District and the GBIC simply needed to sit down together and decide if this plan was in the region's best interests.

MMB Publisher with Robin McCaffrey
The plan organizes the Port of Brownsville and the surrounding area south of the port and east of the Brownsville/South Padre Island Airport.  Specific areas are segmented for heavy industry, light industry and organized according to power and water usage.  Simply lining up industry along the ship channel is discouraged, but companies with similar energy and/or infrastructure needs are organized perpendicular to the channel.

McCaffrey preached to the choir as he stated that extending the airport runway to 12,000 feet and dredging out the ship channel were prerequisites to the plan's implementation.

Brownsville's uniqueness is that it has rail, air, sea and road transport and a border location according to McCaffrey.  Infrastructure permitting, he claims Brownsville holds a competitive advantage over other U.S. locations and Mexico.  McCaffrey estimates manufacturing companies employing 500 workers, using 100,000 kilowatts annually save $5,000,000 on labor in Mexico, but $16,000,000 on energy in Brownsville.  The plan is that Brownsville be an a manufacturer, an exporter, not merely a transporter of goods.  Steel plants particularly foster spin-off companies. McCaffrey's plan foresees an aggregation of industry, including manufacturing, but also lighter industry, even agri-based in what he calls an industrial corridor.

Needham-McCaffrey Associates, Inc.
 McCaffrey's resume' includes work at the Dallas Museum of Natural History, comprehensive plans for Kyle and Seguin, TX, The Bi-National Economic Development Initiative between the U.S. and Mexico and several park facilities.

Also at the GBIC meeting held Thursday, Administrator Jason Hilts said little had changed since the last meeting.  SpaceX was still on hold pending results of the FAA's environmental study.  The University of Texas systems is expected to help fund Stargate.  In the next two weeks Hilts will be courting 35-50 south of the border investors.  Project Sizzle is still pending as is the presence of a Finnish foundry.

City Planner Ramiro Gonzalez stated that building permits had been issued for a new WalMart at FM 802 and Hudson and that 1st Commercial Bank was also considering a new building.  His department is filling two new positions.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Larry Jokl Locks Out Cameron County Democratic Party

Larry Jokl
A notice posted to the door of the Cameron County Democratic Party headquarters on the ground floor of the Majestic Mall on E. 10th St. in Brownsville gives notice that eviction proceedings will commence in 3 days if rent due and late fees are not paid.  The notice, posted on a metal door, observable behind a locked screen mesh security outer door, bears the name of Brownsville realtor and Democratic Party operative Larry Jokl.  We were alerted to the posting by a Facebook inbox message stating:  "big ole eviction notice on the Democratic hq."  In actuality, the posting was not an eviction notice, but did threaten that "eviction proceedings" would begin if the rent was not paid.

Larry Jokl, prominent in the Denise Blanchard for Congress campaign, was receiving $375 per month rent for the spartan two room office in
the Majestic Mall.  In the first meeting after the election of new party officers on October 24th, newly installed party treasurer, William Skaggs, announced stricter controls on the handling of monies by the local party, stating "I will not pay any bills not directed to the Cameron County Democratic Party." Skaggs stated that the local party retained $3,200 in their bank account.  Outgoing County Chair Sylvia Garza-Perez indicated during that meeting that she and her husband had been paying the local party's bills "out of their own pocket."
At that same meeting, newly elected Cameron County Democratic Party Chair Amber Medina, citing a need for free accommodations until the local party got on its financial feet, stated that free, temporary office space had been offered by State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. and Congressman Filemon Vela.  The local party opted to take advantage of Lucio's offer while looking for a permanent location, indicating that they were holding their final meeting in the Majestic Mall location.  Rotating party meetings to different locations in Cameron County was also considered.

Apparent acrimony between two prominent factions in the local party surfaced recently with a failed attempt to circumvent Democratic Party Rules by selecting a new party chair without giving local precinct chairs proper notification. That meeting, which took place on September 7, 2013, resulted in the apparent election of Carlos Masso as chair.

A letter of protest from Cindy Hinojosa, wife of Gilberto Hinojosa and also a local precinct chair, detailing specific rules seemingly overlooked, prompted a make-good meeting, which was held October 11, 2013, resulting in the election of Amber Medina as Party Chair, Carlos Masso as Vice-Chair, William Skaggs as Treasurer and Teresa Saldivar as Secretary.

After that meeting, party members who had favored Carlos Masso, were visibly dejected, crestfallen and vocal in their assertion that they had been blindsided by Precinct Chairs under the control of former County Chair Gilberto Hinojosa.   Mayor Tony Martinez, a Masso supporter, who represented himself as the Precint 38 Chair, was not allowed to vote.

Since the posted notice is difficult to read in full through the wire mesh, here it is in its entirety:

October 29, 2013


You have been locked out for non-payment of rent.  In order to retrieve your personal items you must contact the office of Brownsville Real Estate Management Co. first to pay rent due and late fees in order to obtain entry to the premises.

You may call the management company at (956)778-7181.  If we do not hear from you in three days then formal eviction proceedings will begin.


Brownsville Real Estate Management Co.

Larry Jokl
Manager




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Followup from the Abbott Campaign to Yesterday's Article

From the editor:  In yesterday's MMB article with a synopsis of the Abbott event at the BEDC, we shared our frustration in not getting the press release from the campaign as promised.  Today, we received this note from Danielle Chavez, Media Coordinator for the Abbott Campaign:

Mr. Barton,

The Abbott campaign saw your article on Mean Mister Brownsville this morning. Gen. Abbott was on a very tight schedule yesterday, and I realize there was a mixup at the event. I’ve attached our press release with remarks from yesterday. If I can get the best email address and phone number for you, I can add you to our press list, so you receive all press information for future events.

Thank you!

Danielle Chavez
New Media Coordinator
Texans for Greg Abbott


Some observations about the Abbott visit:

The most effective sound bite Abbott used was this:  "There are some people in the our state who want Texas to be more like California."  Perfectly on queue, the audience uttered a collective, audible groan.  California, of course, is viewed as a highly taxed, highly regulated state. It also seemed fairly obvious that with no incumbent governor or decided opponent to run against, Abbott is running largely against Barack Obama.

As pointed out in yesterday's article, supporters of Wendy Davis, a Democratic candidate for governor have been using remarks made on Greg Abbott's Facebook campaign page against him. On October 27th, the site contained the inflammatory: "someone ought to kill the bitch" in reference to Ms. Davis.  Yesterday, I noticed many extremely racist comments ("Abbott will run those Muslim bastards out of Texas") relative to immigration policy.  Even though, if elected governor, Abbot will have little to do with immigration reforms, he may want to have one of his operatives audit his Facebook page as I'm certain he is not of the mindset reflected.

While I'm certain, as Ms. Chavez indicates in the note above, time constraints prevented Mr. Abbott from a more personable visit,  my impression was of a somewhat overprotective staff presence.  When I peered into the media room, the staffer guarding the door had the bearing of a Secret Service operative.  

Something very difficult to do, especially for a candidate giving a prepared stump speech is to condense the message, compressing it into a smaller time frame.   Public speaking courses have an exercise called condensation.  A student is asked on short notice to condense a 30 minute speech into 5 minutes, than 2 minutes and finally into one explanatory sentence.  It can be done.  

Actually, "pressing the flesh" with the public might be viewed as more important than a secluded media visit when pressed for time.  Visitors from Harlingen and other cities, workers who took a couple hours off work may not be there for the next Abbott visit to Brownsville or the valley.

Ty Johnson wrote a good coverage article published on the front page of the Brownsville Herald, lifting numerous quotes from the speech released to the press.  Below is the entire speech and press release shared by Ms. Chavez:


 
      
October 28, 2013
For Immediate Release
Contact: Avdiel Huerta
(512) 477-2002
avdiel@gregabbott.com

Greg Abbott Unveils Working Texans Policy Plan

AUSTIN – Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott today unveiled his Working Texans plan in Brownsville, TX. In announcing the first in a series of upcoming policy proposals, Abbott offered eight reforms that will constrain the size of government, stimulate the private sector to create more jobs and let Texans keep more of their money.
In his remarks, which are included below, Abbott highlighted the burdensome and costly programs the federal government imposes on taxpayers, and stressed that he would be a Governor where “freedom, free enterprise and individual prosperity are staples of society.”
You can find detailed information on Abbott’s proposals on TownHall254.GregAbbott.com.
Working Texans Policy Speech: 
*Greg Abbott often deviates from prepared remarks. 
As I travel this state, the issue foremost on the minds of Texans is jobs.  Jobs are the lifeblood of our state, pumping income into the pockets of families, providing opportunity, dignity and purpose to workers.
To create more jobs, I’m unveiling my “Working Texans” plan to serve as a catalyst for a new era of economic expansion in Texas. 
The building block of a strong economy is an environment where entrepreneurs and workers have the freedom to aspire, to innovate, to grow and to prosper.  Increasingly, we’re seeing government as a hindrance—rather than a help—to economic growth. 
At the federal level, especially with laws like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and lawless regulations by agencies like the EPA, we’ve seen the heavy hand of government impose burdensome and costly programs that stifle job growth, take more tax dollars and limit the ability of workers to take home more pay. 
To get government off the backs of workers and job creators, and to unleash the power of entrepreneurs and innovators, government must be limited.  When government is limited, freedom is expanded.  When freedom is expanded, free enterprise flourishes and individuals prosper.  I will be Governor of a state where freedom, free enterprise and individual prosperity are staples of society.
All of that begins with government being right-sized.  We’ve seen the devastation of big government policies that have robbed taxpayers of their money and destroyed economic opportunity in areas that once were thriving.  Fifty years ago, Detroit was described in terms that sound like Texas cities today.  Detroit was one of the fastest growing, most prosperous cities in America. It was attracting workers from around the country. But after an era of big government policies and increased spending, Detroit hit a downward spiral that led to bankruptcy.
We’re seeing the same poor policy choices begin to choke off opportunity in America.  Twenty-five years ago, America’s debt was $2.6 trillion.  Now, our national debt exceeds $17 trillion.  Our national debt per person now exceeds $53,000 for every man, woman and child in America. Even Greece has less debt per person than Americans.  Once again, unrestrained growth of government is the cause of these problems. Workers, jobs and take home pay are the victims. 
Today, Texas is one of the leading economies in the world.  But, we’re beginning to see warning signs of problems. Unemployment still remains above where it was before the recession. Last month, the Tax Foundation downgraded Texas’ status out of the top ten states in the country.  The size of our state government has grown faster than our population.  Our local debt load is the second highest of the large states in the country.  We’re beginning to see cracks in our economic foundation that could lead to serious damage for taxpayers if the right policy choices aren’t made.
To keep Texas on the right track, we must never forget that you know better how to spend your money than do bureaucrats in Austin or Washington.  To help you keep more of your money, to preserve your pursuit of happiness that was embedded as a bedrock principle in our foundational document, government must be restrained in taking your money. 
I have a plan to do that.  My plan has a basic premise: control the growth of government in order to grow the economy and grow jobs. I offer eight reforms that will constrain the size of government, that will stimulate the private sector to create more jobs and will let Texans keep more of their money.
To protect taxpayers from the harsh effects of government growing too big, we need a constitutional amendment that limits the growth of the state budget to population growth, plus inflation.   Even with this tighter spending limit, the state will be able to provide necessary services because the budget will keep up with population growth and the rising costs of goods and services. 
To further keep spending under control, the Governor should be given expanded line-item veto authority.  I am willing to take on the task of making difficult decisions to reduce government spending when at times the Legislature may not be able to do so.  But to do that, the Governor needs additional authority to make prudent and sensible spending reductions for the benefit of our future.
Even with these new constitutional protections against excessive spending, more tools are needed to ensure Texas remains economically sound.  One of these tools is better protection of the state’s Rainy Day Fund.  The Rainy Day Fund is our savings account, intended to protect our economic future. We need more safeguards to protect that savings from being raided.  Currently, the Legislature is authorized to tap the Rainy Day Fund “at any time and for any purpose”.  
We’ve seen a troubling trend of using the Rainy Day Fund for what should be core government operations and expenses.  To protect the Rainy Day Fund, I will promote a constitutional amendment that strictly limits the Fund to be used only for it’s intended purpose of meeting unforeseen shortfalls in revenue, reducing existing debt, one-time infrastructure payments and expenses related to state disasters. Together, these measures will ensure the Rainy Day Fund is not an ATM that can be raided whenever passions rise to spend more taxpayer money. 
To ensure public trust and confidence in government, taxpayers must have government that is transparent and accountable.  To bolster that trust and confidence, I suggest five reforms that will make our budget clearer, cleaner and leaner. 
One reason why Texans are frustrated about taxes and spending is that money intended for a particular purpose is sometimes used for something entirely different.  Take transportation, for example.  We need to stop diverting transportation funding away from building roads.  Money raised for roads should be spent on roads.  I also believe it’s time to constitutionally dedicate a portion of the motor vehicle sales tax to road construction and maintenance.  These changes will improve trust and confidence in our state budget process and will add billions more dollars to keep Texans moving.
We also need to stop the financial shell game that’s used to balance the state’s books.  The state imposes more than 200 special taxes and fees that are intended to go to a specific purpose like updating 911 service or sexual assault programs.  Often those fees and taxes don’t go to their intended purpose. Instead, the money is left unspent in order to balance the budget.  More than $4 billion falls into this category. 
I will work to ensure that either these funds are used for their intended purpose or the assessment for them is eliminated.  I will also work for a constitutional amendment that prohibits using these dedicated accounts to certify the state budget.  We must remove the temptation of budgetary sleights of hand.  It is time to kick the habit of budgetary shell games and accounting gimmickry.
Democracy works best when voters are fully informed.  To better control budgets and to ensure tax dollars are being spent wisely, taxpayers should be given more information about debt before voting on it.  Debt has a role in building infrastructure.  Just like most individuals couldn’t buy a house or a car without incurring some debt, most governments are unable to build schoolhouses or roads for cars without some debt.  Unchecked, however, debt becomes an anchor on government and eventually on taxpayers.  Debt today can become taxes tomorrow.  It can stifle economic growth and limit job creation.
In Texas, we are heavier in debt than most Texans know.  Local governments owe more than $200 billion in bond debt.  Some cities owe well over $5,000 per person in debt alone.  Our local bond debt is second highest per capita among the large states.  Only New York is more heavily in debt.  Even California has lower local debt.
To get a handle on our debt, voters should be given more information—on the ballot itself—about current debt, before making a decision whether to vote for more debt.  Second, all local taxing entities should be required to post their financial information online so voters can easily see it.
One reason local debt is so high is because of unfunded mandates by the state.  If the state wants local governments to do something, the state should shoulder more responsibility for paying for it.  Under current law, the Legislature can impose requirements on local governments without providing funding to meet those requirements.  For example, the Fair Defense Act requires counsel for indigent defendants in criminal cases.  That law cost about $207 million in 2012.  The state paid about $28 million of that cost, while counties were stuck with about $179 million of the tab.  A constitutional amendment should be passed prohibiting the Legislature from putting any more unfunded mandates on local governments.
Lastly, I will work with the Legislature to reform the sunset system. The Sunset process seldom eliminates unnecessary agencies and simply becomes a vehicle for special interest carve-outs in the Capitol.  Florida appoints 25 community and business leaders to a “Taxation and Budget Reform Commission” to scour the budget for wasteful spending and outdated taxes and fees.  It is time we adopted a similar model if we want to truly constrain the growth of government.  The Commission should focus on abolishing or consolidating state agencies and reducing costs.
The key to unlimited economic growth is limiting the size and scope of government by controlling spending, reducing debt and reforming government.  We will ensure the public sector doesn’t smother the private sector. 
Some people want to transform Texas into California—a free-spending nanny state that puts government behind the wheel and citizens at the mercy of its edicts.  But I believe in the Texas model of freedom—and so do a lot of Californians.  More Californians are fleeing to Texas than any other state. 
As Governor, I will protect that freedom and those economic principles.
Texas has the greatest economy in America. Let’s make it better.  Let’s build a Texas worthy of the next generation, with good jobs and abundant opportunity. 
Texas is a job-creating machine and Texans are the force that powers it.  I will be the Governor who keeps it that way.
Thank you, and God bless you all. 





Monday, October 28, 2013

Attorney General Greg Abbott, Candidate for Governor, Shares His Vision with Brownsville Supporters

Attorney General Greg Abbott at ITEC Center, Suite F
If Rick Perry opened the door to the Texas governorship by "seriously considering" a 2016 presidential run, Attorney General Greg Abbott is running through that opened door.  His message is a conservative Republican one; limiting government, job creation and not imposing unnecessary regulations on business.

Abbott's visit to Brownsville comes on the heels of last week's TIME magazine cover page "The United States of Texas," and the feature article "Why Texas Is Our Future."  The article's take on why so many Americans are moving to Texas was to pursue "a radically cheaper way to live and do business."

The article acknowledged some of what Abbott said in his speech at the BEDC board room Monday, that Texas is number one in both exports and in job growth in the U.S., but it also showed the other side:  "The state's (Texas) social services are thin.  Welfare benefits are skimpy.  Roughly a quarter of residents have no health insurance.  Many of its schools
are less than stellar.  Property crime rates are high.  Rates of murder and other violent crimes are hardly stellar either.  A recent report from the FBI found that the home state of Chuck Norris led the nation as the place the most people got punched or kicked to death in 2012."

Abbott's press liaison, a young man named Cox with all three of his suit buttons fastened tightly, refused me a copy of Abbott's speech that he passed out to the News 23 and Channel 4 photographer/reporters, promising me one "after the speech."  Afterward, he said he had "run out."  Anyway, Nena has the video of the speech, divided into four parts that can be accessed below this article.

I got the gist:  Abbott unveiled a "Working Texas Plan," featuring an amendment to limit the Rainy Day Fund to its strict original purpose, to not transfer "dedicated" funds to balance the budget, to make certain funds earmarked for transportation are actually used for roads, etc.

The question I had for Abbott, if he'd been available, had to do with Amendment 6 on the current ballot, the initiative to create a $2 billion dollar reserve to deal with future water needs in the state. My concern was that local politicians might insert themselves into the financials of a huge desalination or other water project only to reap profits from the local water crisis.

Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos
County Judge Carlos Cascos, always available for such queries, answered:

"$2 billion is really not that much money when you consider there might be hundreds of these projects(Texas has 254 counties).  I suppose the projects will be ranked on merit.  We will have to do our due diligence.  Actually, locally, I still like the Weir concept.  I may not put myself out there as the leading proponent, but, behind the scenes, there might be a need to get all the parties to look at this."

Even though the primaries are months away, there has been some acrimony between the respective camps of Wendy Davis, a Democratic Party candidate and Abbott.  One of the ladies at today's Abbott event, when asked about Davis, said:  "Oh, people hate her." Someone in the Davis camp put out an article highlighting inflammatory quotes against Davis on Greg Abbott's campaign page.

In his speech, Abbott mentioned initiating "29 lawsuits against Barack Obama."  In 2005, as Texas Attorney General, Abbott sued the Sony Corporation for illegal spyware in compact musical discs. He became a paraplegic in 1984 when an oak tree fell on him while running after a storm.  He recovered $10 million from a homeowner's insurance according to reports.


Part 1~Attorney General Greg Abbott at Brownsville, TX

Part 2~Attorney General Greg Abbott's Speech at Brownsville, TX

Part 3~Attorney General Greg Abbott, Candidate for Governor at Brownsville, TX~...

Part 4~Attorney General Greg Abbott, Candidate for Governor at Brownsville, TX~...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Does Cameron County Clerk Joe G. Rivera Deserve Another Term?

Cameron County Clerk Joe Rivera, an incumbent for 32 years, is exactly the kind of office holder the county does not need.  Like so many other entrenched politicos in Cameron County,  Rivera has little respect for the taxpayers who pay for his salary, staff, office and transportation.  In his arrogant view, those assets become simply tools not to serve the community, but to help him get re-elected.

Refreshing our collection recollection, recall it was last November when some from Rivera's staff were being seen on county time selling tickets to a Rivera fundraiser in the halls of the courthouse.  Here is the inbox message we received at the time:

"Hi Jim.. . . . . Just keep my name confidential. At the courthouse...2nd floor...not sure of district. But county workers are soliciting attorneys to buy raffle ticket for $25.00 each. They say its for their Xmas party BUT the ticket says "Campaign and Xmas Party". I asked a worker and he verified it was for campaign of Joe Rivera and some funds for their Xmas party. It appears.all workers are required to sell tickets."

After we published that report, a Cameron County lawyer added this verification, sending us a copy of the ticket:

"have you seen a copy of the raffle ticket? I have one. I noticed it said "campaign" also. Thought it was weird. Every employee got 5 tickets to sell. i bought 2 yesterday AM. Please leave my name out of this"

Mean Mister Brownsville made this observation at the time:

"When an employee leaves the premises of a business while "on the clock" to go to the racetrack, a local bar or do anything not part of his job description, he or she is stealing time.  It is a theft because monies are being paid for no actual work.  Employees across the country are terminated daily for such a violation. 

Cameron County employees sometimes find themselves in the quandary of being asked to do something by their public official/boss that is not work for the county, but instead is political activity for the public official.  Certainly, to refuse to fulfill the assignment might result in termination, but it is a collaborative theft nonetheless.  The employee is being paid by the taxpayer, not the politician.  Of course, the public official making such demands on his employees bears the heavier responsibility, orchestrating the theft from the taxpayers."


In fairness, we received similar complaints from the staff of Elia Cornejo Lopez and Armando Villalobos among others.  Here are some of the comments we received to the articles about Rivera:

"Jim, this is not news. All staff members of the County clerks office are REQUIRED to either sell or purchase these tickets themselves. They are clearly told not to return unsold tickets. This action has been going on for at least the last ten years, possibly longer. Under threat of joining the unemployment line. Ask any of his staff. They hate it cause they usually get stuck with the tickets."

This is absolutely illegal. I'm not one to quarrel with Hispanics honoring themselves, i.e. Rivera's portrait or the naming of buildings. Lord knows, there are few monuments to the culture's contributions, in the Valley and elsewhere. But there is the very-recent case of the aide for Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker who got six (6) months in jail for campaigning for another Republican while on the state payroll. All it takes is judges who know and want to apply the law...

/DP-M
"NOBODY should stay in office longer than 2 terms. They say they are invincible but they have their staff campaigning and asking for donations not to mention the favors for money or support. All of our elected officials are dirty, corrupt, cynical and shameless, if the FBI, Texas Rangers, Attorney GenerAl etc. would even care to look our way, there would not be anybody left to close the jail gates"
"Tony Yzagurie has a better system for selling campaign tickets. He sends his uniformed police officers to drop off 30 or 40 of his campaign tickets at business(most at Auto Sales Lots) and then he sends the policeman back to collect the money(no return tickets accepted)just cash."
"Add the likes of Linda Salazar...who left her office to campaign for her son Ruben Cortez. The corruption and cost to the taxpayers continues...and our officials go about their corruption without fear and without the integrity to try to appear honest. The staffers of these officials are afraid for their jobs....and do the bidding of the corrupt officials. What a corrupt government we have in Brownsville and Cameron Co"
Despite the above observations, a 32 year incumbent has a tremendous advantage and will be difficult to beat.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Cameron County Democratic Chair, Treasurer Move Quickly to Resuscitate Local Party

Amber Medina, Cameron
County Democratic Chair
Newly elected Cameron County Democratic Chair, Amber Medina, moved quickly to reorganize the local party in her first meeting as party chair.  Ms. Medina handed out printouts showing 60 vacancies among the 109 precincts in Cameron County.  That number was later reduced to 59 vacant precincts as the precinct chair for precinct 73 identified himself and proved he lived in the precinct.  The meeting was held at El Mercadito in a two room office beneath the historic Majestic Theater on Thursday, October 24th.

Ms. Medina had organized a Recruitment Committee that met the Friday before to devise a strategy to fill the empty precinct chairs. That committee is made up of Medina, Sergio Zarate, Teresa Saldivar, Jeff Duvall, Martin Sarkis and Mrs. Courier.

After opening remarks by Medina, Vice-Chair Carlos Masso raised the issue of precinct chairs he said had been illegally prevented from voting in the election of a county chair at the last meeting on
Carlos Masso, Vice-Chair
October 11th.  Masso was referring to Mayor Tony Martinez, who evidently had been the Precinct Chair in Precinct 38 before redistricting, but now lived outside the current precinct.  A young woman(Cindy Hinojosa?), who identified herself as a notary public in the law office of Gilberto Hinojosa, stated that she had informed Martinez before the meeting that, according to the VAN, he did not live in the precinct.  She said Martinez told her that "he would rather be sitting at home anyway."

Masso also mentioned a San Benito man, he thought might be named "Juan Ortega," who was in the same position as Martinez, wrongfully prevented from voting.  When informed that the man had not attended the last meeting, Masso agreed.

When Letty Perez-Garzoria asked Masso directly what he intended to do with his contentions, he said it was "up to the two gentlemen to challenge the rulings and he would leave that up to their discretion."

Next, the new treasurer, William Skaggs, informed the attendees: "People, we are broke.  We have $3,200 in the bank and I don't know what bills have been paid.  With 100 years of operating in this county, I was given only 6 bank statements.  I have a phone bill for the Democratic Party and a utility bill for Rudy Perez.  I will not pay any bill not directed to the Democratic Party."

At this point, former Chair Sylvia Garza-Perez, who arrived about 20 minutes late, said if the bills did not get paid "the phone and lights will be disconnected.  We've been paying these bills out of our own pocket.  P.U.B. would not allow the bill to be to the Democratic Party.  It had to be in someone's name."

Skaggs emphasized that he was instituting stricter controls, even stating that the bill from the Cameron County Election Office would be scrutinized for "bill stacking."  "I can assure you it's a different ball game," Skaggs stated.

Next, the new treasurer, spoke of the need to raise funds.  He suggested a surcharge of 20% of the filing fee for all candidates running as Democrats and a mandatory 10% donation from fundraisers back to the local party.  "They can't win without our support, so they need to support the party." Those proposals were accepted, provided they meet party rules and are worded appropriately.

Next, Medina raised the issue of a new meeting place.  "At least for a few months, until we get our affairs in order, we need a free venue.  This office costs us $375 per month.  Congressman Vela and Senator Lucio have offered us free space in their offices.  It was decided to use Lucio's office in a shopping mall on FM 802 as temporary meeting quarters with a view to finding a permanent office.  The idea of rotating the party meetings to various locations in the county was also discussed.

Sergio Zarate, President Obama
Chairperson Medina closed the meeting by naming Sergio Zarate as Sergeant At Arms and Mr. Matta as Outreach Coordinator.  The Cameron County Democratic Party's future monthly meetings will be held the first Saturday of each month at 10:00 AM.  The next meeting will be November 2 at the Office of Senator Lucio on FM 802.  There will be a fundraiser December 7.

Medina expressed the goal to have a complete list of Precinct Chairs by the next meeting, each with a picture and contact information.

Someone Call Airport Impossible to the Brownsville/South Padre Island "International" Airport

Reality TV shows "Hotel Impossible" and "Restaurant Impossible" starring Anthony Melchiorri and Robert Irvine respectively share a similar format;  bringing a tired, outdated, poorly managed business out of the doldrums of mediocrity, giving it a chance at success.

Many locals feel our Brownsville airport is desperately in need of an update, a refurbishing, management with a vision, not hogtied to the 1980's.  The Airport Advisory Board meets monthly with Aviation Director Larry Brown chanting the finance report, neatly converting the slight ups and downs of tonnage, takeoffs and revenue into monthly and annual percentages.

After Brown's report, Business Development Director Michael Jones, in his segment of the meeting, tantalizes the board with the prospects he has courted at the latest aviation conclave, usually with at least one sure
Brownsville Airport
thing, an airlines strongly considering Brownsville that can't be mentioned just yet by name.

Jones is typically followed by the maintenance guru, who expects most of the chillers to be shortly in operation, mentions palm tree trimming and last month's sprinkler project still nearing completion.  The city and Brownsville's airport would be better served if the 8 or 9 board members simply cancelled the meeting and took a tour of the facilities, guided by someone who understands what an airport in a bustling city of 200,000 in the subtropics should look like.  Think AIRPORT IMPOSSIBLE!

After our last article reporting on gleanings from the most frequent meeting of the Airport Advisory Board on October 22, we heard from someone at the airport who wished to not be identified. Those who work, manage or use the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport regularly should know instantly if these words have a ring of truth:

Jim, this place in rundown, embarrassingly so.  What we call the "people bridges," leading out from the terminal to board the plane leak profusely during a rain.  The south bridge used by American Eagle is the worst, but the north bridge used by United Express is almost as bad.  We actually set out buckets to catch the water.  The carpeting gets drenched and retains a musty, mildew odor for several days after a rain.  

There is so much I could tell you.  The main restroom has a number of sinks, each with a soap dispenser.  80% of the soap dispensers do not work.  The dispenser that holds plastic toilet seat covers does not work.  The air conditioning in the building has never worked correctly.  

We had two smoke incidents recently in the main lobby.  The fire department came out. They used heat detectors to locate a defective part in the HVAC system that was smoldering.  The terminal is dated with fake Charro Days decor, vinyl.  It needs a total redecorating.  

The setup for the two airlines inside the terminal is confusing.  Customers frequently end up at the car rental desk asking for directions.  I could tell you much more Jim.  Larry Brown is a very nice man, but he is just "old school."  We need management with new ideas.

Oh, the landscaping.  There is a small strip near the cargo building that is nicely landscaped.  The walkway is covered with tile.  The entire terminal area should be up to that standard at a minimum.

What's Going On with American Surveillance's Escobedo Brothers?

American Surveillance Office on Galonsky Avenue
At Tuesday's Airport Advisory Board meeting Aviation Director Larry Brown mentioned in his Director's Report that due to the city's non-renewal of a security contract with American Surveillance, the airport would be saving $100,000 annually.   While the airport was not under contract to the security company, they were responsible for a pro-rata share of the total contract.  Brown mentioned that from henceforth security would be provided by city employees.

This has not been a good year for the Escobedo brothers, Jaime and Enrique, owners of American Surveillance, a company once seemingly enjoying a near monopoly on surveillance contracts and equipment in Cameron County with large contracts with the City of Brownsville, BISD, the Sports Park and the Brownsville Police Department.  The Escobedos did not limit themselves to bidding on surveillance and camera equipment but created other companies using the name "American" to bid on demolition and other projects with COB. They even tried to sell a huge generator to the Port of Brownsville despite the port having no need of a generator.  The Escobedos tried to convince port officials that the price of generators would be going up 25% in then next 12 months making the purchase of a backup a prudent move.

On the heels of the City of Brownsville deciding they no longer needed the security services of American Surveillance, Texas Southmost College came to the same conclusion, deciding not to renew the company's contract.  A TSC official inboxed me with their decision:

"Did you see that we shot down the Escobedos on the security contract at TSC?  It was pretty awesome. . . . . . . . . . . The gravy train is slowing to a stop for these guys.  Next stop:  a date with the Feds!"


Indeed,  the Escobedo brothers have seemingly been in a freefall lately.  Just two years ago, during the waning days of the mayoral race, incumbent Pat Ahumada toured the Southmost area and cruised International Blvd. in a Mustang convertible with Cepillin the Clown.  The lead car was an American Surveillance patrol vehicle looking so similar to a police vehicle that citizens respectfully pulled to the side as if honoring a funeral procession.  In reference to Ahumada's political future,  that may have been an almost prophetic gesture that now may be equally applicable to the stranglehold American Surveillance has enjoyed on Brownsville security contracts.

Workman Installing New Bike Racks At the Multi-Modal Bus Facility


Found This In My Junkmail~Doroteo Must Think I'm a High Roller(I don't make Justice of the Peace money!)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mariana Tumlinson Details United Way's "All-In" Program to United Brownsville Board

Mariana Tumlinson, United Way's
"All-In" Coordinator
From the get-go this was Mariana Tumlinson's meeting.  She welcomed guests, hugged board members, pointed to the abbreviated buffet for the noonish(11:30 AM) meeting and then chaired the bulk of the meeting at South Cameron County's United Way headquarters at 634 E. Levee St.(This was a particularly hospitable board with even Chairman Fred Rusteberg more than once offering drinks and the available buffet, greeting guests.)

The agenda gave notice of a Public Meeting of the United Brownsville Coordinating Board and the City of Brownsville Commissioners. Actually, Estela Chavez-Vasquez was the only City Commissioner in attendance, but then she is also on the United Brownsville Board.  None of the other commissioners nor Mayor Tony Martinez were in attendance, although Martinez and Commissioners John Villarreal and Rose Gowen double as United Brownsville Board members.  City Manager Charlie Cabler and Finance Director Pete Gonzalez also attended as United Brownsville Board members.

The concept of All-In, a program largely jumpstarted by the generosity of the Bill Gates Foundation, is finding the correct post-high school training and/or education for each student with actual, marketable labor skills.  Student ambassadors work with high school seniors, helping them aim for skills actually needed in the labor market and showing them the exact courses or training necessary.  A Curriculum Alignment Program compares what is taught in high school courses to what is expected in the college counterparts, trying to synchronize the two.  A Career Planning Tool shows middle school and high school students the average salaries for specific jobs in the region and outlines the requisite high school and college courses needed.  Finally, The Employer Engagement Program establishes an actual internship, giving practical on-the-job experience to students and providing quality employees to companies.

Irv Downing
All of the above was well articulated by UTB Professor Bill Elliot,  UTB's Economic Development Vice President Irv Downing and Tumlinson. Much is still academic as the internship program seems in its infancy with only 3 current interns and 4 more applicants.  The interns have jobs paying $10.00 per hour with $1,000 of their wages a subsidy of All-In.  The participating employers are the Public Utility Board, the Chamber of Commerce and United Way's Healthy Communities. Pending employers include the Gladys Porter Zoo, C.A.S.A. and United Brownsville.

Several comments referenced the need for practical, job applicable education.  BISD Superintendent Dr. Carl Montoya said:  "The State of Texas is heavy on assessment.  Pass the assessment test and you're done. H.B. 5 opens the door for a more realistic approach."

Francisco Rendon, TSC Board of Trustees Chairman, mentioned his institution's agreement with Amfels:  "We're working with Amfels with grant support to certify welders.  There are areas in Texas right now where a good welder makes more than an M.B.A."

Mariana Tumlinson used this comparison:  "It's like I tell some of the parents and students; if you need an M.R.I., you might hesitate to spend the $1,000, but if your toilet breaks down, you'll borrow from family if necessary to pay the plumber."

Irv Downing declared that human capital is as important as infrastructure in growing economically. He cited a need for GBIC to include the willingness to provide internship in deciding which companies to subsidize with taxpayer dollars.

 Mike Gonzalez, United Brownsville
 Executive Director
United Brownsville CEO Mike Gonzalez opened the meeting with his report.  He cited the board's close cooperation with UTB, cooperation with partners in Mexico, identifying key industrial clusters and resaca restoration.

The last point illustrates the confusion many taxpayers have with United Brownsville, the duplicity, the overlapping of certain functions.  Mayor Tony Martinez cited resaca restoration in his Mayors Report at the City Commission recently, now United Brownsville includes it in their agenda.  Yet, is it not a P.U.B. project?

Despite the articulation and platitudes and lofty goals, United Brownsville remains an unelected board trying to exert control in the city without accountability. Illustrative of this was Finance Director Pete Gonzalez' financial report.  As we know 8 city and county entities contribute $25,000 each to United Brownsville for a total of $200,000.  Gonzalez said his report was ready: "$200,000 received.  $200,000 spent."  The report, unanimously approved, demonstrates the obviously different methodology of a shadowy, behind-the-scenes board compared to a chartered, accountable department of municipal government.





Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Aviation Director Larry Brown Links SpaceX to Brownsville Airport Extending Runway to 12,000 Feet

Aviation Director Larry Brown
At the close of the regular meeting of the Airport Advisory Board October 22, 2013, Chairman Manuel Alcocer called for questions.  I directed mine to Aviation Director Larry Brown.  Brown, in his Director's Report, had quickly mentioned the extension of the airport's main runway to 12,000 feet, provided SpaceX chose Brownsville's Boca Chica Beach for their commercial rocket launch pad.

"Well, yes.  We have to establish to the FAA a public need for extending the runway to 12,000 feet.  Should SpaceX pick Brownsville, the shipping of rocket parts will necessitate the larger planes.  We could then justify federal and other grants possibly generating the $70,000,000 necessary to extend the runway.  We already have agreements to purchase the land necessary to do this."

When I mentioned the rumor that the airport had once owned, but sold the land tracts needed for runway extension, Brown said that was incorrect.  "We would never, ever do that," he clarified.

Bob Harper, not part of the airport board, but an administrator with Hunt Pan-Am, mentioned one of the factors stifling the airport in handling more cargo.  "Much of the air cargo for this region goes through Laredo.  The problem is many air cargo carriers are not licensed for Brownsville.  If the City of Brownsville would consider subsidizing the license fees, we could definitely siphon off some of that cargo traffic," Harper stated.  "Laredo is the largest land port in the U.S., so carriers are already licensed there."

In the Director's Report Brown also mentioned that the airport had been given approval to raise the height of their radar ball to 120 feet.  That adjustment would not only save 75% in costs, but allow hangar height to be elevated to accommodate the 747 sized aircraft.  Brown also announced that construction on the $10.5 million upgrade, funded through federal grants and City of Brownsville funding, will begin in November.

The maintenance supervisor reported that his crew had been working on weadeating, lawn maintenance, trash pickup and trimming the palm trees.  After our June 27, 2013 to the airport we had this observation:
Actually, the lack of landscaping may be one of the more obvious letdowns for travelers landing at a "subtropical" airport. The Brownsville/South Padre Island "International" Airport is not a tropical jewel, but more like a small town landing strip in the middle of a dusty, arid pasture. Large clay pots near the parking area are filled with plants on death row. North Iowa Rd., the primary artery, along with Billy Mitchell, into the airport challenges all drivers to dodge numerous pot holes capable of sending any vehicle into the shop for front end work.

Four months later it was obvious that the potted plants in front of the terminal had benefited from the summer rains, but the palm trees along the parking areas remained untrimmed.  The airport's image could greatly benefit from a professionally executed landscape plan.  We did notice exiting the airport that Les Mauldin Road, connecting Iowa Avenue and Amelia Earhart Drive, was being paved.  

Michael Jones, the airport's business development manager, teased the board with the prospect of another airline locating in Brownsville, much as he'd done at the last meeting we attended in June.  This time his optimism came from his attendance at a Las Vegas get-together involving the world's airlines.  Jones mentioned that he'd visited with 7 different airlines with one firm already "putting us on their budget."  As always, he could not give out more information at this time.

Meanwhile, McAllen's Miller Airport announced that Rumbo had added flights to San Luis Potosi to its Mexico schedule.  

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Candidate for Governor, Coming to Brownsville for Meet and Greet at BEDC


Attorney General Greg Abbott
Monday, October 28th

2:00 p.m.
Brownsville Economic Development Corporation301 Mexico Street, Suite F-1Brownsville, Texas 78520
Be sure to RSVP to let Greg Abbott know that you'll be there!

The Texas Constitutional Amendments in Plain Language

From the editor:  The ballot for the November 5, 2013 election has no candidates for Brownsville, only 9 amendments for approval to the Texas State Constitution.  Below is our synopsis of the essence of each proposed amendment.  This was posted at the bottom of another story, but we're letting it stand alone.  If I've misstated or misrepresented anything, I will gladly adjust the wording to more accurately reflect the intent:

MMB "Cliff Notes" for the Constitutional Amendments

Amendment 1: This amendment gives the surviving spouse of someone in the U.S. military killed in action an exemption on all or part of their property tax as long as they do not remarry. The amount of that original exemption can be transferred to a new homestead(personal) property as long as the spouse doesn't remarry. This amendment, if passed, would apply starting 1/1/2014. There is little opposition to this amendment although some are concerned that if the list of those receiving property tax exemptions grows, eventually the general tax rate may have to be raised.

Amendment 2: This amendment does away with the State Medical Education Board and the funds authorized back in 1952 to lure doctors into rural areas. The program failed and has been replaced by more effective concepts. Almost no one seems to oppose this.

Amendment 3: This amendment allows a city, county or school district to extend the exemption of aircraft parts beyond 730 days. Aircraft is taxable, just not the parts for the first two years. Supposedly, the current law discourages those in the aircraft business from locating in Texas.

Amendment 4: This amendment allows a full or partial exemption on the tax of a disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran on homestead property. The surviving spouse retains the exemption as long as he or she does not remarry.

Amendment 5: This amendment allows a so-called reverse mortgage on a homestead property also giving the issuer of the reverse mortgage protection if the property is no longer occupied as a principal residence. The amendment mandates counseling for the borrower and spouse before entering into a reverse mortgage. The monies from a reverse mortgage may be used to purchase another homestead in a single transaction saving closing costs for borrowers 62 and over. Language in this amendment requires borrowers to be carefully informed of their options and obligations to prevent foreclosure.

Amendment 6: This amendment creates a State Water Implementation Fund outside the general fund, authorizing the transfer of state monies into that fund. The initial contribution to the fund is $2 billion from the economic stabilization fund. Opponents cite two water funds already in place and prefer water needs be handled at the local level.

Amendment 7: Currently, the constitution calls for an election within 120 days if a vacancy occurs in a city office with at least a 2 and not more than a 4 year term regardless of how many months are left in the term. This amendment allows for a city to fill a vacancy of 12 months or less by appointment in harmony with their charter.

Amendment 8: This amendment would allow Hidalgo County to raise the current limit of 10 cents per $100 evaluation of property tax to create a hospital district.  Some feel the current constitutional limitation will handicap the county in recruiting new medical facilities.

Amendment 9: This amendment allows the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, following formal proceedings, to extend the reprimands for judicial misconduct to include public censure, removal and/or forced retirement or requiring a judge to obtain additional training in addition to current sanctions. This amendment encourages open as opposed to closed hearings.


Monday's Downtown Pics~Update on Tony's New Office

From the editor:  We learned last week that Mayor Tony Martinez was investing taxpayer dollars in yet another downtown property, this time for a mayoral office.  In selecting yet another property to lease, the mayor eschews the entire top floor of Market Square, available, suitable space in the City Plaza, putting to use the $3,500,000 worth of properties purchased this year without citizen involvement or transparency.  Even Casa del Nylon, purchased for $2,300,000 from Tony's friend Abraham Galonsky with an assist from Tony's law partner, Horacio Barrera, was not suitable for the mayor's new digs.  Tony opted for a building directly across from Peter Goodman's Heritage office in Market Square.  The pics below depict the intensity of work done by city employees on the project.  

Four Brownsville city trucks lined up in front

Cafe next door with delivery vehicles

Monday, October 21, 2013

Scattered Thoughts: Looking At Immigration Retainer Reports for Texas Counties, MMB Unofficial "Cliff Notes" for Constitutional Amendments


Brownsville Herald story by Mark Reagan published October 20, 2013 quickly followed a Texas Tribune article of October 15, 2013 with a similar theme.  Both articles used figures based on the Immigration Retainer Reports mandated by Texas law since October 2011, to demonstrate the enormous cost to Texas counties to detain, house and process undocumented immigrants charged with local or state crimes.

In the Brownsville Herald article Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio lamented the average monthly $272,451 shortfall in caring for undocumented prisoners: "The federal government, they ask counties to do a lot of things . . . . . . . .but do they give you the money to do it? No."

Actually, the whole point of the Immigration Retainer Reports is to demonstrate to the federal government how much caring for these prisoners is costing Texas counties.  While the Texas Tribune, a conservative website, uses these figures to call attention their contention that immigration policies need tightening, Sheriffs like Lucio just want to be reimbursed appropriately.  The link: http://www.texastribune.org/2013/10/15/texas-jails-spend-millions-undocumented-immigrants/visualization/

Jaime Rodriguez
Jaime Rodriquez, a Democratic Party operative from Washington D.C., who managed the unsuccessful Congressional campaigns of Anthony Troiani and Denise Blanchard, told me a couple of years ago that as long as there was a tremendous wage discrepancy on opposite sides of the Rio Grande, there would inevitably be illegal immigration.  No wall or even policy could prevent people seeking a better life for themselves and their families.   His argument seemed almost like a sociological version of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, where an enclosed "hot" area must lose energy to an adjacent cold one.

While acknowledging that the reports show a tremendous outlay of funds to house undocumented prisoners, they also semi-scientifically document the pattern of migration from Mexico into Texas. Notice the counties and subsequently larger cities that took the biggest financial hit:

Click here to download the reports.
County JailInmates    Days HousedCost
HARRIS(Houston)
30,306.00
661,885.00
$49,641,375.00
TRAVIS(Austin)
11,746.00
210,429.00
$22,128,714.00
DALLAS(Dallas)
12,717.00
272,488.00
$15,238,818.00
BEXAR(San Antonio)
7,620.00
149,883.00
$6,894,618.00
CAMERON(Brownsville)
6,245.00
139,056.00
$6,481,400.00
If incarcerated immigrants are found in similar proportions in the counties above, its obvious that H-Town is the numero uno destination in Texas for immigrants from the south, followed surprisingly by the Austin area, then Dallas.  5 times as many immigrants are incarcerated in Harris County as in Cameron.

From the editor:  The ballot for the November 5, 2013 election has no candidates for Brownsville, only 9 amendments for approval to the Texas State Constitution.  Below is our synopsis of the essence of each proposed amendment:

MMB "Cliff Notes" for the Constitutional Amendments

Amendment 1: This amendment gives the surviving spouse of someone in the U.S. military killed in action an exemption on all or part of their property tax as long as they do not remarry. The amount of that original exemption can be transferred to a new homestead(personal) property as long as the spouse doesn't remarry. This amendment, if passed, would apply starting 1/1/2014. This is little opposition to this amendment although some are concerned that if the list of those receiving property tax exemptions grows, eventually the general tax rate may have to be raised.

Amendment 2: This amendment does away with the State Medical Education Board and the funds authorized back in 1952 to lure doctors into rural areas. The program failed and has been replace by more effective concepts. Almost no one seems to oppose this.

Amendment 3: This amendment allows a city, county or school district to extend the exemption of aircraft parts beyond 730 days. Aircraft is taxable, just not the parts for the first two years. Supposedly, the current law discourages those in the aircraft business from locating in Texas.

Amendment 4: This amendment allows a full or partial exemption on the tax of a disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran on homestead property. The surviving spouse retains the exemption as long as he or she does not remarry.

Amendment 5: This amendment allows a so-called reverse mortgage on a homestead property also giving the issuer of the reverse mortgage protection if the property is no longer occupied as a principal residence. The amendment mandates counseling for the borrower and spouse before entering into a reverse mortgage. The monies from a reverse mortgage may be used to purchase another homestead in a single transaction saving closing costs for borrowers 62 and over. Language in this amendment requires borrowers to be carefully informed of their options and obligations to prevent foreclosure.

Amendment 6: This amendment creates a State Water Implementation Fund outside the general fund, authorizing the transfer of state monies into that fund. The initial contribution to the fund is $2 billion from the economic stabilization fund. Opponents cite two water funds already in place and prefer water needs be handled at the local level.

Amendment 7: Currently, the constitution calls for an election within 120 days if a vacancy occurs in a city office with at least a 2 and not more than 4 year term regardless of how many months are left in the term. This amendment allows for a city to fill a vacancy of 12 months or less by appointment in harmony with their charter.

Amendment 8: This amendment would allow Hidalgo County to raise the current limit of 10 cents per $100 evaluation of property tax to create a hospital district.

Amendment 9: This amendment allows the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, following formal proceedings, to extend the reprimands for judicial misconduct to include public censure, removal and/or forced retirement or requiring a judge to obtain additional training in addition to current sanctions. This amendment encourages open as opposed to closed hearings.






FROLICKING, SKIPPING, LEVITATING THROUGH MARKET SQUARE

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