Friday, September 26, 2014

Lincoln Park Will Soon Be Bulldozed If Gowen and Martinez Get Their Way

Two years ago, when the future location of the eastern satellite campus of UT-RGV was still in flux, Tony Martinez tried to use various Brownsville taxpayer assets to entice UTB, then led by Juliet Garcia, to stay "downtown."  At one point Tony's heyboy, Ramiro Gonzalez, was even escorting UTB officials on a guided tour of City Plaza, offering them any premium office space desired.

With this grandiose "generosity," involving assets not his, some local churchgoers see a parallel between the mayor and God's chief adversary, Satan the Devil, who, according to St. Matthew 4:8,9 offered the Lord "all the kingdoms of the world" in exchange for a little worship:  "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."

Satan, I mean Tony, has gone further, offering the ultrarich University of Texas system Brownsville's irreplaceable Lincoln Park to bulldoze the 50 acres of precious assets to make way for a building or two.(If you want to familiarize yourself with the amenities of the park, simply put "Lincoln Park" in the search feature of this blog.)  

Land Owned by University of Texas on
University Boulevard
The University of Texas should be embarrassed to be even considering acceptance of a park utilized by Southmost residents for softball leagues, nature trails, as well as outdoor cooking at family gathering.  No suitable land remains for these amenities to be duplicated for District 1 at any price, yet UT owns a huge amount of acreage just across the interstate on University Boulevard.

Despite the protests from taxpayers last spring, we've learned that the Lincoln Park giveaway will soon find itself on the City Commission agenda.  This will be a real test to see which commissioners will have the courage to oppose Gowen and Martinez and protect taxpayer assets.  We've heard that young Commissioner Debbie Portillo will vote with Gowen and Martinez.  That means Satanas needs only one more vote.

Mayor Martinez and Commissioner Gowen Do Not Care About Brownsville Taxpayers or Their Assets

Mayor Tony Martinez
Never assume that Tony Martinez and Rose Gowen care one whit about Brownsville residents needs or wants. During their tenure, the unethical pair have run roughshod over taxpayer assets, squandered taxpayer dollars as if it were Monopoly money and shown a total disdain for public opinion.

Gowen's surliness in written communication with citizens is legendary and unprecedented.  Tony's foray into speculative real estate with taxpayer dollars seems amateurish by business standards, but he was not playing with his own money.  At least a dozen buildings were bought for which the city has no designated use, the anchor being La Casa del Nylon, bought for triple its value at $2,300,000, but still empty, decaying.  Martinez does not operate his own businesses this way, but he could not care less about spending taxpayer dollars.  Just think, without the foolish real estate purchases by the mayor and city commission, no tax increase would have been needed.

Commissioner Rose Gowen
Rose Gowen displays a similar mindset. Remember the original plan she pushed for converting one lane of E. 6th Street called for two bike trails running parallel within 100 feet of each other.  What adult would even consider such a silly plan? This just illustrates how committed Gowen is to her agenda. Bike trails come before any other city need.  Southmost will have a bike trail before it has sidewalks if Gowen has her way.

Why are we restating the obvious?  Because the ugly disrespect for taxpayer assets will soon resurface with a renewed attempt to gift or sell the city's irreplaceable Lincoln Park.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Carlos Cascos vs. Joe Rivera Debate~Rivera Chickened Out!

Elon Musk at Groundbreaking: "My Sincere Thanks to Brownsville's Elite 60!"

New City Position Created for Gowen and Martinez Heyboy Ramiro Gonzalez

Ramiro Gonzalez
A city insider has informed us that former City Planner Ramiro Gonzalez has been given a newly created city job in reward for his dutiful servitude to the agenda of City Commissioner Rose Gowen and Mayor Tony Martinez.  

"Jim, I don't know what the actual job title will be or the salary, but I've heard that Gowen and Martinez made a new job just for him.  Many in the city are pissed."

Many of you may recall young Ramiro for his lies and misrepresentations about downtown parking while attempting to triple downtown parking rates.  

Gonzalez hosted a town hall at Market Square where the majority of downtown business owners expressed their opposition to the increase in downtown parking rates.  Gonzalez himself was heard after the meeting to say that "everyone speaking with him had supported the increase."

Gonzalez may also be responsible for the claim on a grant application that "over 1,000 riders daily use the Battlefield Hike & Bike Trail" as the Public Information Request about that grant application was referred to him.

Airport Advisory Board Overcome with Spacex Euphoria~Secretary Blocks Flow of Information

A toy rocket made of NERF, non- expanded recreational foam, placed in the upright position in front of each board member, set the tone for Tuesday's Airport Advisory Board Meeting.  More about the Spacex tie-in later.

A secretary stopped Nena on the way into the room, seemingly trying to dissuade us from attending: "We're not having our normal meeting today.  They're just taking the new members on a tour of the airport."

Meanwhile, Aviation Director Larry Brown was saying:  "Hi.  Find yourselves seats."  The visitor's table was covered with styrofoam containers, each containing a sandwich, a tray of Lay's chips and fritos to one side.

First order of business was the swearing in of new board member Ed Rivera by Chairman Manuel Alcocer, then a film commemorating the 75th anniversary of the airport in 2004.  The other new member, Eddie Trevino, was likely sworn in at the previous meeting.

Although this was not a normal meeting, board members were given an information packet.  When board member John Chosy heard me ask for one, he handed me his.  A secretary intercepted, saying:  "No, that's confidential." Nena had earlier asked the secretary for the information packet.  She was told "No!" and offered the short agenda instead.

It's difficult to write a story without facts, figures, names.  We've been through this with several city boards.  The Brownsville Metro Advisory Board gives us the same handouts issued to board members. The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation gives us a neat packet with numbered tabs marking the supplementary information addressed on the agenda.  The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation gives us the agenda only, actually preferring we not attend.  

"We have room for 15," announced Aviation Director Larry Brown as members boarded a blue shuttle bus. Nena and I were just able to squeeze into the rear seat.  We're not certain how the 15 passenger van is utilized by the airport, but its air conditioning does not work.

As we passed the two passenger loading bridges, Larry Brown stated: "They're both working now."   I
turned to Operation's Chief Sesha Voorey, sitting next to me, holding a walkie talkie, and whispered:  "That was meant for me." Voorey nodded. I had reported in the past of the bridges being extremely porous during rains, smelling of mildew with buckets strategically placed to catch the water.

Brown, turning to face the majority, gave a running commentary on the numerous industrial buildings in the complex, the old Levi's Building, the Haggar Building, etc.  Brown knows each building's history, when it was built, when the company left to find cheaper labor in China, how the building is used now. At least a couple large industrial buildings are now owned by the City of Brownsville and used for storage.

Fisher Corporation
The Fisher Corporation still occupies one building, stamping out parts for Detroit.  "I'm certain we all remember 'Body by Fisher' stamped on every Chevrolet," Brown offered.  "Well, this company is still making auto parts for Detroit."

We passed a hanger with a handful of private planes, then an old upholstery shop due to be replaced.  Next to a commercial air strip with various companies having a small warehouse and loading dock.  On one of the many grassy fields was a sign:  "Hay for Sale."

"This is our dual customs building, 24/7 customs for Mexico and the United States," explained Brown. 

Next, the bus headed out to Hwy 4(Boca Chica), then went south on FM 511. Brown explained that this section of FM 511 would soon be replaced with a new road to the east.   As we drove past farmland, Brown showed properties purchased to provide room for the proposed 15,000 ft. runway.  "We still let the farmer raise a crop on this plot, but we split the proceeds."  Pointing to yet another adjacent property, Brown stated:  "That will be where the new 15,000 ft. runway will end."

"All of this could not be done without Spacex coming to this area.  This is an $83,000,000 project. The City of Brownsville doesn't have the money for it.  We have to show the FAA we have an actual need to extend the runway for them to participate in the funding.  Spacex gives us that need."

The tour was informative, the commentary cheerful, hopeful.  The huge amount of underutilized, wasted industrial spaces was somewhat depressing.  During the two hour tour, we were not aware of a single private, commercial or military plane taking off or landing.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Municipal Office Trio on E. 11th Street Getting Paint

This unneeded city office space on E. 11th was part of the City Commission's 2012 real estate spending spree. One office was purchased when Mayor Martinez was unethically dipping into the AOP Texas Refund, a check for over $3 million.

Since then, the city's signage on the front windows has indicated a myriad of uses including a downtown, central mayor's office, a Brownsville Police Department substation, a museum, a downtown revitalization office, a community center and offices for Bike Texas and BC Workshops.  The city did not honor our request for the lease agreement between those two firms.  In fact, the Public Information Director claims there are no plans to lease to Bike Texas.

Meanwhile, the office leased across the street at 1101-A E. Washington, originally for Mayor Tony's downtown office, but changed to the Downtown Brownsville Revitalization Information Office, will see its lease expire October 8, 2014.  City Manager Charlie Cabler confirmed the lease will not be renewed.  The office was used 3 times during the year it was leased after being remodeled by the taxpayers to suit the mayor.

Brownsville's Dumbass Shit Shovelers Break Ground At Boca Chica Beach

Friday, September 19, 2014

Brownsville Metro Advisory Board Meeting, 9/18/14~Bus Driver Turnover, Non-Disabled Elderly Riders, Parking Garage Update

Brownsville Metro's bus drivers are the "lowest paid in the region," according to Brownsville Metro Assistant Director Andrew Munoz.

"Starting pay is $10.50 per hour," stated Munoz.  He claimed not to recall how much veteran drivers were paid, but remembered that those with more than 8 years tenure had benefited from C.O.L.A. increases.

Munoz stated that he felt in the past Brownsville Metro was merely an opportunity for drivers to get a license, training and resume' to go elsewhere for a better paying job in the industry.  He felt that giving new drivers "cross training" in both "fixed routes" and "paratransit" had curbed some of the attrition.

Brownsville Metro currently retains 41 drivers with one full-time driver needed. Although workers are allowed by state labor law to work 13 continuous hours, that does not apply to drivers.  Brownsville Metro drivers occasionally drive  "10 or 11 hour shifts."  "None of our drivers exceed 60 hours a week with a minimum of 8 hours between shifts," Munoz stated.

Brownsville Metro Advisory Board Chairmen Daniel Lenz weighed in:  "To retain good drivers, I believe we should be paying at least $15.00 per hour.  I wouldn't even view that as a raise, but it's more of a pay scale correction," Lenz stated.

When Munoz replied that rate of pay was a city matter, Lenz asked:  "Have you and Norma lobbied the city to make this adjustment?"

Board Member Teresa Saldivar
Board member Teresa Saldivar, fresh from an appeal case denying an elderly citizen access to paratransit services, wanted to know what accommodations could be made to elderly, non-disabled Brownsville residents.  Having a bus stop within a 3/4 mile diameter is a federal consideration.  Actually, a physician has to document an elderly person is not capable of walking to the bus stop.  Saldivar was concerned that non-disabled, but elderly residents, fall through the cracks. Brownsville Metro Director Norma Zamora suggested a citizen might contact AARP or United Way to see what programs they had.

Brownsville Metro Assistant Director Andrew Munoz gave an update on the downtown parking garage:

Onsight utilities have been installed up to the foundation.  Things are on track for completion by March 2015.  The facility will have 190 spaces, including 4 for the handicapped with van width.  8500 sq. ft. of retail space will provide 6 new retail outlets.

Photo of Matamoros Taken from the Top of the El Jardin Hotel

Thursday, September 18, 2014

El Bowman, "La Bowman," Una Bowman or No Bowman~When Candidates Claim Ethnicity

Shirley Bowman, Candidate for BISD Trustee,
Place 4
We're used to it in the valley, understanding the motivation.  Arthur C. Nelson becomes Arturo Cisneros Nelson, Jessica Bradshaw uses Jessica Puente-Bradshaw.  Gilbert becomes Gilberto and Mike assumes Miguel, reminding us, plainly and subliminally of their ethnicity.

As noted weeks ago by blogger Bobby Wightman-Cervantes of the BROWNSVILLE VOICE, Shirley Bowman, a candidate for BISD Trustee, Place 4, remembering that students often referred to her as "La Bowman," incorporated the article "La" into her official campaign name.  Our readers can decide if Bowman was simply reminiscing or making a feeble attempt to appear Hispanic.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Johnny Football Sent to Youth League in Cleveland

Houston Texans Chose Jadeveon Clowney
Over Johnny Football
The Houston Texans, likely the second favorite NFL team for residents of Brownsville, toyed with the idea of drafting Johnny Manziel, AKA Johnny Football, as the number one pick in the NFL draft last spring.  Instead, they picked defensive player Jadevon Clowney, twice as large and with considerably more NFL athleticism.

Clowney got hurt in a game September 7, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out of action 4-6 weeks.

Manziel wasn't able to beat out journeyman, but lackluster quarterback, Brian Hoyer, and started regular season on the bench.  Johnny did actually get into a game September 14, handing off twice for 0 yards and throwing an incomplete pass.

Tuesday after the game Johnny earned his money by visiting a youth football league at Humphrey Park in Cleveland.  Johnny joined 150 kids in football drills, helping out the coaches in working with the players.  

Johnny's visit to the youth league was part of the Cleveland Browns First and Ten community outreach program.
Despite hardly playing, sales of Johnny Manziel jerseys are #1 among NFL players, actually more than quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Archie Griffin III and Andrew Luck combined.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Ms. Ugh," Rose Gowen, Gets Her Way Tonight with Final Reading of Agenda Item to Close One Lane of E. 6th Street for Bike Lane

From the editor:  Reducing E. 6th Street from 3 to 2 lanes was never a good idea, unless the industrial, warehouse area of E. St. Francis and E. Fronton is being phased out.  Trucks only have two arteries from the interstate into town, E. 6th and E. 12th. 

Tonight, the City Commission will likely approve this ill-conceived plan despite clear public opposition. 

To illustrate how poorly thought out this idea was, the original plan called for the new bike lane to run parallel to the seldom used Battlefield Hike & Bike Trail running through Terminal Park, making for two bike trails within 70 feet of each other.  Actually, it was all about salivating over an unspent $150,000 TXdot grant. 

Many prominent citizens knew the proposal was foolish and emailed their concerns to City Commissioner Rose Gowen.  We have links to those emails below.  

Commissioner Gowen
If you're a young person, contemplating some form of public service, carefully note the tone of Gowen's responses to these citizen inquiries. This is rare insight in how arrogant and unresponsive politicos can become once elected. It is a case study in an unjustified air of superiority not usually made so obvious.  Zero skill in consensus building is displayed.  What is communicated is ugly, condescending:  "How dare you question anything I propose.  I know what's best for the city, not you.  If you don't like it, elect someone else next time."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chief Deputy Gus Reyna's Unreported Automobile Accident Disturbing on Several Levels~Other Operator Named

Chief Deputy Reyna
With the National Football League responding to public pressure to hold players accountable for their actions, Sheriff Omar Lucio's Cameron County Sheriff's Department seems locked into the old mindset of coverup and disingenuous spin.

While an ordinary citizen, not reporting an automobile accident with a minimum of $7,000 physical damage to two vehicles, would face several charges, Sheriff Lucio wants us to believe that Deputy Reyna's unreported incident, in a county vehicle no less, has been handled appropriately with "disciplinary action that was firm and just."

The possibility that alcohol consumption was involved by one or more operators, adds a serious threat to the welfare of the community and, possibly, additional charges to the drivers.  If covering up a lack of sobriety motivated the quick towing of the two vehicles to a San Benito body shop without reporting the August 24 accident, that does a disservice, not just to the community, but a driver or drivers with a behavioral or addiction problem not being recognized or treated.

Several anonymous tipsters confirmed the driver of the other vehicle as April Ramirez.  Others in a position to know claimed the Chief Deputy could benefit from an intervention.  Sheriff Lucio may not have the energy or wherewithal to orchestrate such an intervention for his right hand man, but close friends and family may want to give this serious consideration before something horrendous happens that can't be swept under the rug.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Ravens are beatin' their wives, Vikings beatin' their kids, Cowboys ain't beatin' nobody!"

Hasse Files Motion for Rehearing~Are Young Republicans Still Under Gag Order?

Republican Precinct Chair Tad Hasse
Judge Menton Murray, Jr. may preside over yet a third hearing in the Hasse vs. Morris resignation case as a motion for rehearing has been filed by Precinct Chair Tad Hasse through his lawyer, Cesar De Leon.

The first two hearings did not produce a ruling with finality.  After the initial July 31 hearing, Judge Murray requested a supplemental brief from each side.  

Judge Menton Murray, Jr.
When the case was heard yet a second time August 26, Murray found the two resignation emails sent by Morris to party officials and County Secretary Ida Stacey to have been "unsigned," not meeting the standard of the Texas Election Code. Murray added a disclaimer "unless I can be shown otherwise."

Hasse maintains that the emails, "acknowledged and authenticated in court, meet statuatory requirements." His stance may also be supported by yet another state party memo, acknowledging the Morris' resignation, calling for a "New election."

Frank Morris
The 80 year old Frank Morris started this whole ruckus, when admittedly "saddened" by a credentials challenge, fired off a May 14 email resigning as county chair and the State Republican Executive Committee representing SR 27.  Morris took his name off the party checkbook and utilities, calling for the "new chairman" to pick up the materials "within 30 days."  Channeling the spirit of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Morris said he felt "free at last." 

Adding to the confusion, Morris, having second thoughts, sent another email 11 hours later, limiting his resignation to his then current term.

James Ross,
Youth Outreach Director
As a sidenote:  In our initial articles featuring the Hasse vs. Morris debacle, local young Republicans filled the blogosphere with hundreds of vociferous emails, several witty.   More recent blog articles have seen that participation dwindle to a mere trickle.  Is their a gag order or simply a self-imposed moratorium?

Judge Menton Murray, Jr~Third At-Bat to Decide if Frank Morris Resigned

Friday, September 12, 2014

Remember When Sheriff Omar Lucio Asked for a $25,000 Annual Raise?

Chief Deputy Gus Reyna
Octogenerian Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio, who asked the County Commissioner's Court for a $25,000 raise last year, has not had a banner year in 2014.  

This past April eight deputies were fired for cheating on civil service exams allegedly under the direction of Human Resources Director Arnold Flores.  Many wondered out loud if this was simply the way many sheriff's deputies have "qualified" for their jobs under Lucio.

Now, Chief Deputy Gus Reyna, has further disgraced the Cameron County Sheriff's Department by not reporting a two car automobile accident, involving substantial vehicular damage, allegedly occurring August 24 just off Pablo Kisel Blvd. in or near a restaurant parking lot.(We received an unconfirmed tip that Chief Deputy Reyna frequently enjoys libations at Chili's and Johnny Carino's Italian Restaurant.)

Reyna, accompanied by a close male friend, once employed by the sheriff's department, was driving a county vehicle, a 2011 Ford Expedition, when he reportedly collided with a vehicle driven by a 36 year old woman, also once employed by the sheriff's department.  Neither operator reported the accident, as required by law in accidents with physical damage exceeding $500.  Juan Montoya of El Rrun Rrun blog reported the damage to both vehicles exceeded $7,000.  As a sheriff's department employee, Reyna is required to submit to a drug and alcohol screening within two hours of the accident as required.  

Sheriff Omar Lucio
County Sheriff Omar Lucio hints that Reyna may not be required to conform to normal department rules:  

“After 30 years of service, I believe this disciplinary action was firm and just,” Lucio said. “We went over all the policies for the sheriff’s office. He was appointed by me and not a civil service.”
Gus Reyna, Arnold Flores
Cameron County Director of Human Resources Arnold Flores promised more information "in the next few day."

“I have submitted a list of questions asking for clarification in this matter over issues that could be potential violations to county policy,” stated Flores.

We've been given the name of the young lady allegedly involved in the accident, but we'll wait for confirmation from Human Resources Director Flores.


Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo