Monday, December 15, 2014

Future Downtown Police Substation Gets Temporary Duty As Art Gallery

Future Police Substation at 615 E. 11th Street
Local artist Lourdes Argueta currently displays several examples of her art in what she calls a "pop up art gallery" at 615 E. 11th Street. 

Ms. Argueta gave us a quick tour of the gallery, including a laminated wood sculpture, a piece utilizing wire coat hangers and wall art made from a piece of an antique chair recovered from a Brownsville alley.

Art Director Lourdes Argueta
The current exhibit, entitled "The Giving Tree," will be followed by a new exhibit each week  featuring a local artist according to Argueta.

"This will be an art gallery until February when the Brownsville Police Department takes over the space," stated the artist.

Brownsville Downtown Redevelopment Director, Ramiro Gonzalez agreed: "We didn't want to simply leave the space empty.  We have enough of that already in downtown.  Lourdes approached us with this idea and we think it makes good use of the space."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Two Other Firms Consider Launching Rockets from Boca Chica, Sick Sossi Attends GBIC Meeting via Skype

GBIC Contract Attorney Sossi on Skype
Friday's makeup meeting of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation was a test of wills, perseverance and planning. The meeting, scheduled for 12:00 PM, finally reached a quorum of three at 12:10, when Sarah Langley and Al Villarreal came through the door, after being delayed by a freight train at Palm Boulevard.  The motionless train still blocked Palm after the meeting.

A resourceful City Attorney Mark Sossi, rose from his sick bed to join the meeting via Skype, perhaps mindful of the $5,000 per month stipend he receives from the GBIC for part-time legal advice.  With the absence of David Betancourt and Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa, Ed Sikes served as chairman.


Gilberto Salinas
After the perfunctory rubber stamping of monies to V.I.D.A. and RGV Lead, the BEDC's Gilberto Salinas gave the economic development report usually given by the absent Jason Hilts. 

Salinas spoke of Project Panther and Project Nocturnal, entailing two firms that want to do launches from Boca Chica, but on "a smaller scale" than Space Exploration Technologies, SpaceX.  Perhaps, all of us should pay our eight mile long pristine beach one last nostalgic visit before the commercial launches begin in 2016.

SpaceX has already erected a "temporary building" on site, according to Salinas, with "solar panels" for energy.  Project Stargate, a partnership between UTB and SpaceX, has commenced.

Project Sizzle, involving a Finnish firm's intention to build a metal foundry at the Port of Brownsville, will "hopefully receive a commitment" in early 2015. Salinas gushes that the project has "grown" from a single foundry to "two foundries and a machine plant."  He cautions that "we're" still in competition with Monterrey, Mexico for the project and that "over 3,000 jobs" are on the line.  Salinas admits that wages would be lower in Monterrey, but iterates that power is three times as expensive in Mexico as in Brownsville.

In rapid-fire Salinas touches on Project Front Door, Project Ladder, Project Mandarin and Project Islander.

One of the above is a plan for a Canadian company to create a distribution center for frozen chicken to be shipped into Mexico.  The hope is that the firm will utilize 200,000 square feet of the defunct Titan Tire building.  Brownsville is competing with "three other states" for that project.


Governor-Elect Greg Abbott
Salinas also revealed that the 800 megawatt Tenaska Power Plant will experience a "groundbreaking" in the first quarter of 2015 and that Governor-Elect Greg Abbott will "soon" host an economic summit for all RGV economic development groups or "ED's." Salinas hinted that the selection of a local in Carlos Cascos for Secretary of State was already paying dividends for the Rio Grande Valley.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

City Insider Critical of Assistant City Manager Ruth Osuna's Management Style

Assistant City Manager Ruth Ozuna
An anonymous correspondent is very unhappy with the management within the City of Brownsville and not pleased with my criticism of the City Commission in general, Tony Martinez and Rose Gowen in particular:

"Jim,
You are going after the wrong side.  Brownsville's problems are almost exclusively management problems.  

Ruth Osuna is trying to continue a life on the gravy train of municipal employment.  She is a lifer.  Look at her career.  Most recently she was fired from a city in Arizona.  Fired for poor management decisions.  Yet, she was hired here.  Why?"

The reader includes a photostatic copy of an article from The Eloy Enterprise from Eloy, Arizona dated October 3, 2013.  The article relates that the City Commission of Eloy, by a 4-3 vote, decided not to renew Ruth Osuna's contract with the city that ended December 6, 2013.  So, she was not actually "fired," as the anonymous correspondent claimed, but her contract was not renewed.  The Enterprise article cites a claim by city employees that changes made to vacation and sick leave policy during Osuna's tenure as City Manager were "unlawful."

City Manager Charlie Cabler
The correspondent is also critical of City Manager Charlie Cabler as the letter continues:  
"Look at Mr. Cabler.  Mr Medina took the fall for all the decisions made by Mr. Cabler.  Mr. Medina was a bad manager for sure.  He continued a long term secretary whom he promoted well beyond her ability.   When he was fired(quit); he took a job at a nearby city and hired as his secretary that same secretary."
(The writer also included a copy of a letter from HUD to the city detailing several millions of dollars of mishandled projects by the City of Brownsville.  We will include that letter in a subsequent article.)

The letter continues:  "You are trying to find something wrong often with the only altruistic people who care the most about our City.  If you sit back and look at it, it has always been a City management problem.  The Human Resources department is incompetent beyond belief.  How else would they recommend a most recently fired manager.  Ruth was sent home, forced to take days off, just a few months after she got here for poor decisions, but she has now made it past her 6 month probation period.  Now she can exhale on the municipal gravy train.  Who else is on that?

If you quote some of this, I will keep fresh information coming your way.

Most of the elected officials are doing good by the City.  Rose and the Mayor are individually self-made wealthy people who could be doing better things with their time than to be dealing with this stupid management.  They do it because they really want a better place for the people here.  Not enough of the commissioners are supportive of firing Cabler and the HR director and all the other idiots.  Idiots raised to the level of management, the ones here at least, are afraid to hire good smart people because they make management look bad. That is how they see it.  It is a position of defense. Smart management does not do that.  Really, simply, they are not smart enough, nor well read enough, nor educated enough.  

So, step up if you really care, spread the word."

The letter was unsigned with no return address.  

How do you feel about the writer's observations? Are Rose Gowen and Tony Martinez selfless workers for the public good as the writer infers?  Is the City Commission doing a good job representing the taxpayer's interests?  Should City Manager Charlie Cabler be fired?  

We will publish your thoughts in a subsequent article.





Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Commissioner Jessica Tetreau Requests and Receives Correction in Minutes for February 25, 2013 City Commission Meeting

Commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa
At the December 2, 2014 City Commission meeting, Commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa asked for a correction in the minutes of the February 25, 2013 City Commission meeting to reflect that she did not attend that meeting. Heretofore, the official minutes stated that she had voted in favor of a resolution transferring Lincoln Park to the University of Texas system.

Tetreau wanted it clear that she has NEVER voted for the transfer of Lincoln Park, not on February 25, 2013 or on November 4, 2014, when the final resolution was presented for vote.  Tetreau's correction was adopted unanimously.  


District Attorney Luis V. Saenz
While a Temporary Restraining Order blocking the sale of Lincoln Park to the UT system was lifted by District Judge Arturo C. Nelson, a lawsuit filed by Luis V. Saenz is still being pursued.


Mayor Martinez Lied to Community
about Lincoln Park
The transfer of the 48 acre park to the University of Texas system was claimed necessary by Mayor Tony Martinez to keep a satellite UT campus "downtown." The facts simply do not support Martinez' assertion as UT has never even hinted at leaving behind $100,000,000 in taxpayer purchased properties whether or not they were gifted the park.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Unsubstantiated, Unconfirmed, Likely Untrue Rumor in the County Judge Replacement Selection

Gilberto Hinojosa, Cameron County Reject
Gilberto Hinojosa desperately wants to run Cameron County.  Once holding office as County Judge, he then struck out in three elections, losing face to face against Carlos Cascos in 2006, then losing twice more with puppets John Wood and Joe Rivera, in 2010 and 2014.


Opportunity Knocks for Carlos Cascos
Governor-Elect Greg Abbott's choice of Carlos Cascos for Texas Secretary of State and Cascos' apparent acceptance of that prospective appointment, gives Hinojosa yet another shot as puppeteer.  Cascos himself leaves a position where he gave the county some stability and budget control to become a faceless appointee, likely with the promise of sponsorship for a statewide race.  Carlos may yet learn to kiss babies while suppressing his fear of burp or slobber staining his polo shirt.


District 1 County Commissioner
Sofia Benavides
The rumor we've been sitting on, that does not seem to have any legs, is two-pronged.  We repeat it as illustrative of the kind of deals being floated out there.  This one has District 1 County Commissioner Sofia Benavides being named County Judge, but agreeing not to run for re-election in 2016.  Current City Commissioner Ricardo Longoria, Jr., would then be named to fill Benavides' position in District 1.  That would leave City Commissioner, District 1, without an incumbent. 

For those who question if Benavides can handle the position, rest assured a former county judge is willing to guide her through the process. 

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,...