Wednesday, April 30, 2014

News Reports Indicate 14 Dead in Fight Between Federal Troops and Cartel~On-the-Scene Observers Report Many, Many More

From the editor:  The most courageous reporting on either side of the border comes from the blog Borderland Beat, with several of the blog's pseudonym reporters executed by the cartels, tracked down through their IP addresses.  

Recently, stories have been more depressing as the newly elected Mexican president has set the tone for a more "live-and-let-live" relationship with the cartels, while cracking down on the so-called "auto-defense" groups, citizens trying to fend off cartel oppression on their own.  

Leticia Salazar, Presidente
Municipal de Matamoros
Typically, many of the informational nuggets are found in the sometimes profane, always raw comments to the blog articles. For example, it's taken as fact among the blogs commenters that Leticia Salazar, the Mayor(Presidente Municipal) of Matamoros has as a boyfriend, a prominent cartel leader in Reynosa.

What Borderland Beat commenters make abundantly clear is that neither the U.S. press(Brownsville Herald, et al. . lol) or the reticent Mexican news media tell the real story of cartel/cartel, cartel/military violence and casualties within Mexico.  

Here are a few of the comments made to the blog's recent article on the skirmish in Reynosa:

Anonymous said...

Never believe what the army says, there were more than 50 trucks that enteres from miguel alemán and dias.Ordaz and río bravo, 14 dead? yeah right.. I herd it was bad in anzalduas canal and some fed got hit with a 50 cal. in the waist and my cousin said there were many many more on the floo. the street was filled with blood... He said the bodies were too many to count and the soldiers wouldnt let them Take pic, I feel sorry for the people that lost their life i just hope this stuff calms down I Prat for peace in tamps

April 29, 2014 at 11:29 PM

Anonymous said...

Stay away from Reynosa in the foreseeable future. It looks like the rival factions of Reynosa are heading for a showdown. Commandante Polimenso and Commandante Pakito both want Reynosa plaza for themselves. Will any of the group's seek help from the outside of the plaza to help tilt the fight in their favor? Something about some groups called Ciclones and Zetas.April 30, 2014 at 12:18 AM

Anonymous said...

Man these guys war for 200 dollars thats how fuck up life is in mexico . For only that you.risk your fucking life i am no one to say anything about them because i am hear in the usa working side by side with racist motherfuckers americans that one day they act friendly and the other very racist. And i am only making 400 bucks a week all i can say may god have marcy on us because we will pay hard for what we are doing. On the next lifeApril 30, 2014 at 2:18 AM

Anonymous said...

These are government units corrupted by individual groups of the cdg.. all news coming from Tamaulipas is heavily censoredApril 30, 2014 at 5:16 AM

Anonymous said...

The first comment is right ! About 72 killed included 42 federales and army. The Feds got hit from the roofs with RPGs and 50s ! The Mexican Government has censor all real figures as a policy. All of Tamaulipas is real bad. Death, Destruction and abandon fill its towns and valleys.April 30, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Anonymous said...

Its was more like 2000 dead from friday to yesterday the streets were filled with blood & pieces of human remains.April 30, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Reynosa explodes: 14 die

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 |  
A total of 14 individuals, including twoPolicia Federal units were killed Tuesday in armed confrontations in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, according to Mexican official news accounts.

A news release published by the state government of Tamaulipas on the state website said that three separate encounters were recorded in the city.

The gunfights began at 1200 hrs in Beaty colony when an armed group attacked a Policia Federal road patrol.  Two unidentified Policia Federal agents died in the encounter, one at the scene and the other later while receiving medical attention.

An attempt by a Mexican Army unit to respond to the gunfight was attacked by armed suspects traveling aboard a Ford Lobo (F-150) pickup truck, presumably near the area of the first encounter.  Army return fire killed all four unidentified attackers.

Two others were found dead aboard two separate vehicles, hit by stray gunfire from the firefight.  Both victims were in their 20s.

Later on, a Mexican Army patrol encountered armed suspects traveling aboard a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck in Aquiles Serdan colony, killing all six by return gunfire.

Criminal gangs inside the city blocked roads to  slow security forces response to the fighting.  Blocks were reported on the Reynosa-Matamoros highway, on Bulevar Morelos in Ampliacion Rodriguez colony, Libramiento Monterrey in José Lopez Portillo colony, on Libramiento Monterrey in Las Cumbres colony,  on Bulevar Morelos in Petrolera colony and on Bulevar Hidalgo in Longoria colony.

The Mexican Army also claimed a total of 10 rifles, accessories, ammunition, weapons magazines and two vehicles were seized following the gunfights.

Fighting in Reynosa has exploded because a top drug gang leader, identified only as El Mono was executed Monday, presumably by Gulf Cartel shooters.  Cartel related messages on narcoboards indicate that the drug gangs inside the city were vowing revenge for the killing.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for and  He can be reached at

Is It Time for Joe to Go? Term Limits, Cronyism, Abuse of Office Staff, Illegal Campaigning

Joe Rivera, Living Off the
Taxpayers Far Too Long
Those who argue for term limits contend that politicos become entrenched, fat, secure in their position, losing touch, not only with the needs of their constituents, but, even forgetting what it's like to be a constituent.

County Clerk Joe Rivera, in office now for 36 years, but currently running for County Judge, has become all of the above and more.  

We reported two years ago, giving evidence of Rivera abusing his office staff, demanding they sell tickets to his political meet and greets in the lobbies of the court house.  More than one local lawyer reported being hit up for the purchase of lottery tickets clearly earmarked for his campaign.  

Rivera Campaign Raffle Ticket Sold by
His Staff at the Courthouse during workday
When a public official uses his taxpayer supported staff for political purposes, working on his re-election, he doesn't need a staff.  Obviously, there's not enough real work to keep the office holder or his staff busy if they're are politicking on county time.  When county employees, county office space including utilities and/or county vehicles are used for political purposes, campaigning, it's a form of theft, yes, stealing from the taxpayers of the poorest region in the U.S.

Rivera's Expensive Portrait to
Immortalize Himself 
A skilled public servant protects taxpayer assets and funds, using them wisely.  In this area, Rivera's track record is not good.  He initiated the purchase of portraits honoring himself and District Clerk Aurora de La Garza, spending $2,500 of taxpayer money without getting so much as a purchase order.  Does that sound like the type of person we should put in charge of dispersal of financially-challenged Cameron County's multi-million dollar budget?

It's time for Joe to go!

Attorney General Greg Abbott's Letter to District Attorney Luis Saenz Regarding Issuance of 72 Hour Marriage Waiver by Justices of the Peace

From the editor:  Please note that the Attorney General rules that a Justice of the Peace is not "a judge of a court with jurisdiction in family law cases," and "thus may not grant a waiver of the 72 hour waiting period after the issuance of a marriage license."

Abbott said it would further be unnecessary to rule on a JP charging fees since a JP is not authorize to grant the waiver in the first place.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Was Chancellor Cigarroa Forced Out? Did UT Try to Cover the Mess Up?

Special Report to MMB by Michael Quinn Sullivan

A report in today’s Austin American Statesman touches on what may be driving attempts to silence a regent: the president of UT Austin allegedly bullied the system’s chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa, into quitting after starting to scrutinize a long series of scandals. Why legislators are covering up for the UT president goes to the heart of what might be the biggest higher-ed scandal in Texas’ modern history.

Simmering beneath the kangaroo-court show-trial of UT Regent Wallace Hall by the hand-picked committee of House Speaker Joe Straus has been their ever-present desire to keep Hall silent. The way Straus’ chairman, State Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van), ran the committee was to ensure that Hall was never offered the same legal protections nearly every other person involved was given by the committee.

Flynn provided a forum for bashing Hall (who was doing his constitutional job as a regent), but never provided a legitimate opportunity for Hall to explain his investigations into the operations of UT.

Under the Obama Administration’s (misguided) interpretation of federal education law, a university official — including a member of the board of regents — cannot discuss student records outside the walls of academia.

So why would that matter in this case?

Because it appears some legislators have been conspiring with UT Austin officials to get unqualified students admission to the state’s flagship university. The good folks atNational Review and have reported extensively on this, naming names of legislators apparently engaged in the practice.

Only when testifying under subpoena or in front of a court could Hall be reasonably comfortable in revealing the details of the clout-abuse scandal without worrying about threat of prosecution under the Obama Administration’s interpretation of the law. By withholding a subpoena, Flynn and the Straus committee prevented Hall from exposing the cozy culture of clout-abuse that seemingly exists between the Capitol and the Office of the President of the University of Texas.

Some members of the Texas Legislature want to make sure Wallace Hall never gets to speak. The last eight months of Flynn’s show-trial and character assassination against the regent have been designed to make a weaker man than Hall simply resign and go away. That way, he never gets to speak out.

Too bad for them Hall has made it clear he isn’t backing down. One way or another, he will be testifying and the facts will fly.

So what did UT President Bill Powers threaten (now former) UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa about? Was it the clout-abuse by the legislature? We know from news reports that Cigarroa was ready to recommend Powers be dismissed due to insubordination. For some reason, that recommendation changed after the threats reported today in theStatesman. What exactly were the nature of those threats?

And we know that after being (allegedly) bullied by Bill Powers, Francisco Cigarroa (Powers’ boss!) resigned.

(Ironically, you might recall that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has been one of Powers’ staunchest defenders. They routinely sit next to each other at bowl games and other public outings. Dewhurst interrupted the business of the Senate last year to chastise those asking questions about the scandals coming to light involving his travel buddy.)

And how many members of the legislature were actively involved in the clout-abuse, threats, and then the cover-up? We know that State Rep. Dan Branch (R-Highland Park), who is Straus’ higher-ed committee chairman, has been doing his best to look the other way. How many unqualified kids did Branch get into UT?

The cover-ups don’t end with clout-abuse. Texans have only this week learned that Bill Powers took more than $600,000 from a slush fund that’s under investigation for financial malfeasance and a payola scheme… the same payola fund former UT Law dean Larry Sager was fired for dabbling in. Who else has received big benefits?

There has been no legislative review of Powers’ questionable decision to direct more than $1 million in contracts to Accenture without getting approval from the board of regents. This comes on the heels of an embarrassing accounting scandal dealing with university fundraising.

And there is apparently a lot, lot more – including bizarre side-deals with well-healed UT donors, extravagant trips with unnamed officials, and junkets to the Caribbean and Europe disguised as “university business.”

That the UT president and his pals in the legislature are working so hard to cover up what’s been going on should be reason enough to warrant an investigation independent of the legislature.

In the e-mail to fellow UT regent Paul Foster, Wallace Hall wrote “enough has been said about our ‘reputation’ but not enough has been done to preserve our integrity.”

As Gov. Rick Perry prepares to again go on the national stage with a presidential run, he should demand an independent investigation of any threats made by Powers against system employees, about the abuse of legislative clout in the admissions process, and the very real probability of a cover-up.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is president and CEO of Empower Texans, and its premier project, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. The Dallas Morning News has described him as an “agitator.” He is a graduate of Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capital Hill staffer, think tank vice president and an Eagle Scout. Sullivan and his family reside in the Austin area.

Airport Administration Narrowing Choices for New Terminal, SpaceX to Receive Welcoming Letter

Aviation Director Larry Brown
After  a presentation by Jerry Farrar, Vice-President of CH2M Hill, a huge construction company based in Denver, CO, Aviation Director Larry Brown announced a planned, pre-written letter welcoming Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, to Cameron County, the instant the FAA gives final environmental release.

Brown also prefaced his Director's Report, typically a bland recitation of monthly figures, computed both monthly and annually, with remarks indicating why these figures are important, not only in facilitating FAA funding, but as a "report card" indicating the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport's performance relative to other valley airports. "We compete with these guys," Brown stated.

Earlier, Mr. Farrar, mentioned that discussions with Airport Terminal Board, using a rating system devised by his company, had narrowed the prospective new terminal to two specific plans which he labeled Plan 2B-1 and Plan 2B-2. Both plans involve demolition of the current terminal and construction of a new terminal, either to the north or west of the current one.

Jerry Farrar, V.P. of Aviation
at CH2M Hill Construction
For comparative purposes, remodeling the current terminal is also included in the ratings, although Farrar made clear that option be "throwing money away," as the location of the current terminal does not allow for the larger planes the airport intends to attract and limits "flexibility" in terms of later expansion.

Construction costs projected to the Summer of 2015 would be $11.4 million to remodel the current terminal, $22.9 million for Plan 2B-1 and $23.9 million for Plan 2B-2.  Plan 2B-1 calls for a one story terminal with "ramp level gates,' while Plan 2B-2 calls for a two story terminal, with "elevated gates,"with a smaller footprint, more "flexible for expansion.  

Both plans, Farrar stated, "raise the terminal size to 55,000 square feet," suitable for the airport's "short-term needs."  The current terminal is 35,000 square feet.  

Noe Hinojosa, a City Financial Adviser, was also at the meeting and had questions for Farrar.  Hinojosa wanted to know if the FAA had approved the plans. Farrar stated they had not, but emphasized that he and Aviation Director Brown had a good working relationship with the FAA and could summon them "across the table" on short notice.

Brown, directing his remarks at Hinojosa, said the airport had just purchased a new chiller and ordered another.  "Both of those chillers will be transferred to any new terminal," he stated.  

Farrar added that "M & O," maintenance and overhead would be very low during a new terminal's first few years.  Hinojosa nodded in approval.

Monday Downtown~El Tapiz Elevator Finally Working, Tony's Downtown Office Idea May Be Shelved

The plans for the recently purchased trio of small buildings along E. 11th Street seem to be changing weekly.  Now, the window sign makes no mention of yet another downtown mayor's office, just a police substation, Downtown Revitalization "Headquarters" and a MUSEUM.  A museum?  Where did that come from?

Two of the properties were purchased during the City Commission's speculative real estate buying spree of two years ago, with a third bought during the mayor's inappropriate tapping into the AEP Texas Settlement Fund.

Work on the project will have to be greatly accelerated to meet the announced completion date of "April 2014."

Oh, BTW, El Tapiz finally has an operative elevator, making the building that houses the Fire Administration, City Planning and MPO office compliant with the American Disabilities Act of 1990.
Plans Now Call for Police Substation and "Museum" at 609, 611, 615 E. 11th

Monday, April 28, 2014

Will Erin Hernandez Be Found in Violation of the Texas Family Code?

Erin H. Garcia, Justice of the
Peace, Place 2-2
While Ernie Hernandez, Jr. has been dealing with charges of political corruption, his daughter, Erin H. Garcia, the outgoing Justice of the Peace, Place 2-2, has faced legal challenges to handling of wedding ceremonies, particularly her issuance of a 72 hour waiver for a fee that she has claimed allows her to marry a couple immediately without the state-mandated three day wait.

The performance of wedding ceremonies has been extremely lucrative for Hernandez-Garcia, netting her tens of thousands of dollars annually in addition to her salary as Justice of the Peace.  Several locals objected to the issuance of a waiver of the 3-day waiting period, as it seemingly gives the JP issuing the waiver a strategic advantage in performing the ceremony, thus pocketing the fee. Also, a fee was charged for the waiver, also retained by the Justice of the Peace. 

While waiting for the Texas Attorney General to issue a ruling, some have noted that Section 2.204(C) of the Texas Family Code seems to indicate that a Justice of the Peace does NOT have the authority to issue a waver, let alone charge a fee for that waver and retain those funds.  

Housecleaning Not Finished by Cameron County Voters

Sylvia Garza-Perez
Joe Rivera
(to be continued)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Joan Baez, Diamonds and Rust - Live, 1975

The Illogical Sliding Scale of Crime & Punishment~Ernie, Juliet and the Beer Runner

Slipping out the door of a Circle K, without stopping at the checkout counter to pay for your 12-pack, can get you some serious jail time, especially if you're carrying a toy gun in your pocket.  

In contrast, the recently resigned County Commissioner, Ernie Hernandez, Jr., got a mere wrist slap, despite 25 years of using the City of Brownsville and/or Cameron County as his personal ATM machine with a variety of money-making enterprises prohibited for elected officials.  Dispatchers still recall the good old days, when just missing the calls during the rotational agreement with three wrecker services, and then using Ernie's company was worth a $25 steering fee.  

Juliet Garcia, Still
Public Enemy #1
In terms of leeching on the backs of our region's hardworking taxpayers, diverting their monies, assets and mortgaging their future, Ernie Hernandez, Jr. is a small-time bottom-feeder compared to outgoing UTB President Juliet Garcia.

In an egregious attempt to cede $250,000,000 worth of taxpayer assets to the ultra-rich University of Texas system, Garcia cleverly used the word "unification" to disguise her evil plot to give away Brownsville and Cameron County assets the country's "poorest community" will be paying for over the next 25 years.  

Mayor Tony Martinez, "Footloose and Fancy
Free" with Taxpayer Assets
Recently, a TSC trustee candidate suggested "we all just get over it" with respect to friction between UTB and TSC, "move on" and "work together." Those are nice words, but dangerous ones, especially when Garcia is still around, as are her flunkies like Mayor Tony Martinez. No Brownsville taxpayer asset, be it a park, a building, a plot of land or monies can be considered safe while these villainous characters roam local airspace.  

We can't forget that Julia Garcia, rejected by the voters on her request for a $100,000,000 bond issue for UTB, was given $62,000,000, but still arrogantly spent over $100,000,000.  We can't forget Juliet diverting $40,000 from UTB's history department to supplement her $400,000 annual salary.

Representative Rene Oliveira,
Riding on the Backs of Taxpayers
for 30 Years
Oh, and while we're refreshing our recollections, let's not forget how the traitorous Representative Rene Oliveira, after the courageous four TSC Trustees Francisco Rendon, Adela Garza, Trey Mendez and Rene Torres protected our assets by voting to remain separate from UTB, went to Austin, attempting to undermine the vote with a house bill overturning it. Only the intervention of Adela Garza, visiting with committee members, prevented that bill from going to the floor. 

We can play nice all right, but we're not forgetting.

In the immortal words of B.B. King:  "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ernie Hernandez Resigns as Precinct 2 Commissioner~Cascos to Appoint Successor

Ernie Hernandez with
Political Operative Sylvia Garza-Perez
Just received a call from someone outside the 103rd District Court. The source reported that Ernie Hernandez, Jr., Precinct 2 County Commissioner had resigned in exchange for 7 of the criminal counts against him being dropped, pleading guilty to a single charge:  "coercion of a public servant."  

Hernandez was scheduled to go to trial May 5.  

The source indicated that County Judge Carlos Cascos has the responsibility of appointing a replacement to fill out Hernandez' term as commissioner.

Diamond Dust: Depression Era Entertainment Attracted Big Crowds~The Pan American Airways Aviators

Story from a Mean Mister Brownsville contributor:

When it came to softball, the 1938 Brownsville Pan American Airways Aviators were riding high on top of Valley softball circles. 

In the upper Valley, the San Juan All-Stars mirrored the Fliers, and emerged at the end of the season with only one defeat as well. They too, were in the mix to compete in the final series of the Valley playoffs.

The title series began in Brownsville with a Monday night match-up at the old “36 Diamond” On that night, a healthy crowd saw the home team manhandle the visitors— downing the All-Stars 11 to 1.

The spectacular pitching of PAA’s Coy Damron kept the San Juan boys off the bases—as they managed to record only two singles in the game.

San Juan’s Coach Livingston parting words were, “We’ll be back Wednesday night with the situation well in hand, and annex the second game of the playoff series with ease.” And they did…

The second game was a dandy pitching duel that went 11 innings. Both pitchers were at their best, but the game came down to the circus catches by San Juan’s tenth outfielder, Daniel Rios.

In the first half of the 11th San Juan pushed what would be the winning run—when pitcher Ben Davis singled, advanced to second and scored on Glenn Hein’s hit making the final score 3-2.

The next contest was another thriller, as again, pitching took center stage. It was a 13 inning affair with San Juan scoring early in the game, but it was nothing but goose eggs for both teams for the rest of the match.

In the 13th, the aviators had a runner on the cushions when P. Lindhorn comes to the plate and pops a home run securing the game 3 to 1.

The hectic series got even better—with San Juan facing elimination, tied the series by taking game four, 6 to 1. With the win, the Stars forced a fifth and final game that was played in Brownsville.

Capacity crowd got their money’s worth…

The Wednesday night championship game was the culmination of a series of softball games held during August and September among eight Valley softball squads. The winning club was guaranteed the championship trophy along with $100, while the second place team would be awarded $50.

They were playing for big bucks! According to the consumer price index inflation calculator—$100 in 1938 would have the same buying power as $1,658.70 in 2013.

Play Ball! With all the intangibles in place —the park at West Brownsville attracted a big crowd —jamming both grandstands and encircling the field.

The nine inning contest went on as advertised— keeping the fans on the edge throughout the game. But unfortunately the visiting team took the early advantage.

The San Juan squad brought their best hickory to the plate as they led by three runs by the end of the third stanza. All of a sudden, the once jubilant home town crowd went silent.

Aviators rally…

In the fifth inning—the Aviators gave their fans something to cheer about. Rufino Lopez, PAA catcher, starts a rally with a walk and scored all the way from first when Sam Lesser hit a whistling triple.

Lesser makes the game 3 to 2 as he crossed the plate when a San Juan infielder juggled a hard ground ball hit by “El Guero” Perez. The Flyers continued their scoring in the 6th— tying the ball game at 3 apiece.

The game continued tied, that is until the bottom half of the eight—when the Aviator’s Lesser smacked a single bringing home Jake Jones, who was at second, making the score 4 to 3.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jones scored on a dazzling hook slide at home. As the “diamond dust” cleared he was seen, prone on the ground tangled around the catcher—a climatic play at the plate bringing a roar from the home town crowd.

The Stars threatens to tie the score in the ninth. San Juan had a man on third with two outs as the speedy Daniel Rios hits a ground ball to short—the PAA shortstop scoops and makes a great throw to cut off the fast Rios. It was a close play at first that could have gone either way.

For pennies on the dollar, the fans saw a brilliantly played series—with the local boys stopping a ninth inning rally and taking the title game in a “comes from behind victory.” It doesn’t get any better than that.

slplayers: Manuel Garza, Jerry Lauber, G.B. McBride, J. Raben, B. Cruhm, J.G. Johnson, manager, F. Godwin, D. Martin, A. Garcia, M. Flores, K. Clark, P. Lindhorn, E. Hartman, Clemente Garcia, Rufino Lopez, Jake Jeans, “El Guero” Perez, Sam Lesser, PreJohn, Coy Damron and Ambort.

See you at the Park!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Has Indecisive Tony Martinez Abandoned Plans for a Downtown Office Yet A Second Time?

The Screen Channel 12, Brownsville TV, Viewers Saw While the City Commission was in Executive Session for 40 Minutes 4/24/2014

We've chronicled Tony Martinez lust, craving, obsession with having a mayoral office downtown. Long before a couple city commissioners noticed Tony had been dipping into the AEP Texas Settlement Fund for items on his wish list, we reported his lease and refurbishing with taxpayer money the space at 1101-A East Washington Street for a downtown mayoral office.

City crews, with as many as four trucks outside, worked on the office night, day and weekends, while Tony furnished the office himself according to the Public Information Request we received from the city. Likely embarrassed by our reports, the mayor "gifted" the office to the city's planning department, naming it the Downtown Revitalization Information Office.  The office has been used as many as three times since the taxpayers started paying the lease October 8, 2013.

Next, the mayor turned his attention to three small properties, clustered together on E. 11th Street, 609, 611 and 615. Two of those cubicles had been purchased during the mayor's irrational buying spree of speculative real estate two years ago, the third more recently out of AEP Texas Settlement Funds. After the mayor changed his mind on using 1101-A E. Washington as a mayoral office, a sign was posted on the window of 615 E. 11th that read:  "Currently behing rehabilitated and partially restored to become the Brownsville Police Department downtown mini-station and The City of Brownsville central Mayor's office.

Listening carefully to interim City Planner Ramiro Gonzalez' words last night at the special City Commission meeting(4/24/2014), the mayor has changed his mind again.  Ramiro said:  "The three small buildings, 609, 611 and 615 E. 11th will become the new Brownsville Police Department Substation and Community Meeting Room.  While the sign declaring these properties would become the police substation and "downtown central Mayor's office" has been removed for several weeks, Ramiro's statement was the first indication that the mayor had changed his mind once again on a downtown mayoral office.

A Community Meeting Room, especially containing clean bathrooms, might make more sense for downtown.  It's not like citizens would have been able to drop into the central mayoral office to chat with a hardworking, approachable city administrator.  The mayor would simply never have been in his office.  It would have become a pretend office, like the Downtown Brownsville Revitalization Information Office.  

Two votes were taken Thursday night.  Three City Commissioners and the Mayor voted for some type of convention center discussed in executive session.  City Commissioners Longoria and Villarreal voted against it.  

As for the other item, putting city-owned properties up for sale on the Rio South Texas website, that was approved with properties listed green(for sale), red(not for sale) and yellow(with unanswered questions).  

La Casa del Nylon, at 1305 Adams St., purchased for $2,300,000 in a deal unethically and inappropriately negotiated by Tony's law partner, Horacio Barrera, from Abraham Galonsky, was labeled "yellow."
Pastor Brad Burke prayed that the Mayor and City Commissioners be
"unselfish" and "resist temptation."  After the prayer, Burke announced
a non-denominational meeting to "pray for our city, country and state"
at Sam's Stadium May 1.


Eye on the City Commission~Always Toxic "Executive Session" Tonight at 5:30 PM

Keeping An Eye on the City Commission
Brownsville's citizens do not usually fare well when the City Commission meets behind closed doors as they plan to do tonight at 5:30 PM., with not one, but two "Executive Sessions" scheduled:

EXECUTIVE SESSION: 5:30 P.M. April 24, 2014.
A) Discussion pursuant to Section 551.072, of the Texas Government Code, to deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property, if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person, and pursuant to Section 551.071, of the Texas Government Code, on a matter in which the duty of the attorney, to the governmental body, under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Texas, clearly conflicts with this chapter. (Mark Sossi – City Attorney – 15 min.)
B) Discussion pursuant to Section 551.072, of the Texas Government Code, to deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property, if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person, and pursuant to Section 551.071, of the Texas Government Code, on a matter in which the duty of the attorney, to the governmental body, under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Texas, clearly conflicts with this chapter. (Mark Sossi – City Attorney – 15 min.)

We've reached out to make certain none of the Sossi legalese above includes the sale of Lincoln Park.  All we've been told is that it involves "office space." Mayor Tony has already leased one office for himself at 1101-A E. Washington.  Once we brought that to the public's attention, he "gifted" it to interim City Planner Ramiro Gonzalez for a Downtown Brownsville Revitalization Information Office, that remains unused daily(used for possibly three meetings since leased by the City of Brownsville October 8, 2013).

This past winter remodeling was started on 609, 611 and 615 E. Washington.  A sign posted on the window promised a "new, central, downtown mayor's office and a Brownsville Police Department substation."  

At the last City Commission meeting April 15, 2014, an agenda item to put a secret list of properties up for sale was tabled:

Consideration and ACTION to acknowledge the list of City properties that could possibly be placed on the City's seller list. (Commissioners D. Portillo and J. Villarreal)

The only property mentioned was El Cueto Building, leased to UTB for three years at $30,000 per year, although we've been told that not a penny of the lease has been paid.(I've sent a Public Information Request to the City of Brownsville for the complete list.) 

Since being mayor, Tony Martinez has tried to give away office space at City Plaza twice, once to the newly elected Congressman Filemon Vela, another time to UTB(Ramiro Gonzalez even gave UTB officials tours of City Plaza offices during business hours much to the chagrin of city employees.)

In an unrelated move, we've learned that City Commissioner Estela Chavez-Vasquez has "self created the associate judge selection committee to try to shoe horn in her buddy Noemi Garcia. No such committee is in the (city) charter, especially for a part time job."

The source continues:  This is being done at the "City of Brownsville, Municipal Court, the same place you pay parking ticket fines." 

We will monitor this reported development, noting if the City Attorney and legal department protect the citizen's interests nipping this nepotism in the bud.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our Interview with Texas Southmost College Trustee Ed Rivera

Mean Mister Brownsville, TSC Trustee Ed Rivera

"I grew up behind this school on Illinois Ave.  Back then it was unpaved and we dealt with that," Ed Rivera told a group of 400 Lopez High School seniors Monday.  "I went to Texas Southmost College because it was affordable, then got financial aid from Shell Oil Company to attend the University of Houston.  Later, I paid my way through the Masters Program at Harvard University, but TSC was my stepping stone. . . . . . . I'm just like all of you.  If I can do it, you can do it."
Since being sworn in by Congressman Filemon Vela at the Gorgas Board Room, February 20, 2014, Rivera has sort of hit the ground running. He's discussed curriculum with the dean, met with TSC President Lily Tercero and BISD Superintendent Dr. Carl Montoya about dual enrollment, been "Principal for a Day" at Porter High School and talked with Lopez High School seniors about higher education.

Rivera sees the obvious two tiers of prospective students at TSC, then adds a third tier:  "I see those, like me, who want to use TSC as a steppingstone, attend two years, then transfer to UT-RGV, the University of Texas, Notre Dame or even Seattle University, those seeking a nursing certificate or another skill requiring an Associate Degree and also, those who do not initially seek a four year degree, but can be convinced to do so once they attend and gain confidence."

"What we must do at Texas Southmost College, is keep the tuition affordable.  That's why I was able to go.  It was affordable.  We've already lowered tuition, and, as we increase enrollment, we will continue to do so," Rivera continued.

Rivera later texted: "I went to Porter High School and picked up the dual enrollment pamphlet.  Dual enrollment is open to anyone who passes the TSI test.  One need only apply, take the test, pass the courses.  Hope this answers your question.  Enrollment(at TSC) is up over 4,000.  We expect a 15 to 20% bump next semester.  Dual enrollment will help our efforts.  I will get an answer to your question about the faculty.  

Best,  Ed"

We had asked Rivera about dual enrollment and interchangeable faculty between UTB and TSC.  

Rivera, appointed to fill out the last four months of the four year term of Dr. Robert Lozano, is now seeking election.  Early voting runs April 28 through May 6 with Election day on May 10.

City Commission to Make Real Estate Decisions Without Citizen Involvement 5/24/14

From the editor:  If there's anything scarier for Brownsville's hardworking taxpayers than the City Commission making real estate decisions behind closed doors, it's doing so with the legal guidance of City Attorney Mark Sossi.  

While most blame Mayor Martinez, the Gomer Pyle of Brownsville real estate, the City Commissioners weren't elected to be mayoral lap dogs, but independent adults, representing their constituents with thoughtful, intelligent consideration of each agenda item, not simply a puppy-style roll over.  

Consider this:  The City of Brownsville's seven elected officials roughly two years ago purchased 11 aged downtown properties to be paid for by the taxpayers in a 20 year Certificate of Obligation.  10 of those buildings have lay idle for two years now with taxpayers paying mostly interest on the note.(One building, a former adult care facility, purchased for $195,101, was recently used for bicycle storage.)

With the mayor using the AEP Texas Settlement Fund of $3,060,000 as his personal piggy bank, another property was purchased on E. 11th St. for $42,000 and an office leased at 1101-A E. Washington St. for a downtown mayoral office.(When this taxpayer abuse was reported on this blog, the office space was converted to a Downtown Brownsville Revitalization Information Office, used perhaps three times since the start of the lease, October 8, 2013.)  City Manager Charlie Cabler knew of this misuse of funds, but was too afraid of losing his job to tell the mayor "No!"

City Attorney Mark Sossi's ethical standard and legal competence have been well documented in this blog over the last two years;  a $167,363 judgment against him by his previous employer, the Willette & Guerra Law Firm, for pocketing money not his, a similar judgement of $20,711.66 by the Texas Workforce,  a $100,000 tax lien by the I.R.S., two malpractice lawsuits by Brownsville citizens who foolishly retained Sossi's services in private practice, the suspension of his law license and his recent failure to register as the attorney of record for the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, etc.

This is the group that feels they can cut a better deal for the city behind closed doors!

EXECUTIVE SESSION: 5:30 P.M. April 24, 2014.
A) Discussion pursuant to Section 551.072, of the Texas Government Code, to deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property, if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person, and pursuant to Section 551.071, of the Texas Government Code, on a matter in which the duty of the attorney, to the governmental body, under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Texas, clearly conflicts with this chapter. (Mark Sossi – City Attorney – 15 min.)
B) Discussion pursuant to Section 551.072, of the Texas Government Code, to deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property, if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person, and pursuant to Section 551.071, of the Texas Government Code, on a matter in which the duty of the attorney, to the governmental body, under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Texas, clearly conflicts with this chapter. (Mark Sossi – City Attorney – 15 min.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Song For You - Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Leon Russell

Minor Repairs Made to City Commission's $2,300,000 Boondoggle~ La Casa del Nylon

From the editor:  After several months of sporting a broken window on the 13th St. side, leaving the building open to the elements, at least a temporary repair has been made with sheets of plywood blocking the opening to the taxpayer asset,  La Casa del Nylon at 1305 E. Adams St. 

The previously untrimmed palm tree on the Adams St. side, that was wedged into the awning, has been trimmed.  It appears a piece of moulding in back of the palm tree has been removed to allow some room for growth.  

The homeless couple, living under the awning for the last couple months, were not there today(4/21/14)

Now, if Mayor Tony Martinez or anyone on the City Commission can come up with a semi-plausible reason why this unnecessary building was purchased with taxpayer money for at least double its actual worth, we would love to hear it.

Guys, you've had two years now to formulate some sort of rationale.  Why did you buy it and include the purchase in a 20 year Certificate of Obligation that falls on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren?

"The cat got your tongue, City Commission and Mayor Tony?"

Plywood Sheets Cover Broken Window on 13th St.
Palm Tree Trimmed, Pulled Away from Awning

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Long and the Short of Why the GBIC Continues to Fund V.I.D.A. Despite Obvious Questions

Zeke Silva
Milling around before the GBIC Board Meeting 4/17/14, I passed Zeke Silva. "Have you seen anyone from V.I.D.A.?" I asked.  "I'm trying to get them to document their grandiose claims.  I sent two emails to the director, but, then, she resigned.  The group claims they took 43 Brownsville residents off welfare, placing them into jobs with an average salary of $35,000 per year.  I just don't believe it and they refuse to provide any documentation of their claims!"  

"Well, you could sign up for Public Comment," Zeke suggested.

Unification Church Mass Wedding
As I spoke extemporaneously to the GBIC, I saw that same glassy-eyed look I recall from my encounter four decades ago with members of the Unification Church, followers of the Korean Reverend Sun Myung Moon, "Moonies" as we referred to them back then.  They sold flowers for their leader, asking passersby if they "knew the Lord," then paired off to be married in mass ceremonies officiated by Moon,  When a citizen tells a board, that, despite repeated efforts to reach out to a non-profit for verification of their claims, the director ignores their questions, then quits, someone on that board, responsible for dispersal of millions of dollars of 4A tax dollars annually, should at least raise an eyebrow, unless, of course, they've already consumed a large quantity of Kool-Aid or suffer from acute cognitive dissonance.  

While the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation has already cut off funds for V.I.D.A. and its mimic sister entity RGV Leads, our BEDC and GBIC boards are a step slow, laggard in questioning, protecting taxpayer assets, dishing out $302,000 to V.I.D.A. this year alone.  

What does Brownsville get in terms of economic development for that money?  No one can explain that. We have only the V.I.D.A. claim, often repeated, but never verified:  "We took 43 people off welfare and placed them in jobs with an average salary of $35,000 per year."

I wrote down carefully what a V.I.D.A. rep told the GBIC last year about the 43 moved into good jobs:  "To get into the program, all had to have at least a GED. All are now 'on track' for an Associate Degree."

What that means is that all 43 are still "in school," likely at TSC or a technical school, while gainfully employed at a job "paying $35,000 per year."  If you believe that bull shit, I have swamp land, bridges and time-shares to show you.

There is more.  A careful reading of the V.I.D.A. website shows the methodology behind the wild claims of successfully moving welfare recipients with GED's into good jobs.  A counselor interacts with the prospect for "one hour per month." Each week, the trainee meets in group session with other unemployed, welfare recipients to discuss their respective experiences, sort of like Alcoholics Anonymous.

The "Faceless" Carlos Marin on V.I.D.A
Board of Directors
None of this makes sense.  To borrow from Judge Judy:  "If it doesn't make sense, it isn't true."  One thing we do know is that Carlos Marin, the CEO of Ambiotec Engineering, who has his behind-the-scenes finger in every Brownsville deal involving money, is on the Board of Directors of V.I.D.A.  

Really, that's all we needed to say.


Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo