Thursday, September 24, 2015

First Employee Salaries, Now the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art Wants Mortgage Payment

New BMFA Director Rene van Haaften
In a classic demonstration of "squeaking wheel gets the grease," the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art had the audacity on March 4, 2014 to approach the City Commission about paying salary for four new hires, costing taxpayers $139,000 the first year with Assistant City Manager Pete Gonzalez making the pitch.

Commissioner Rick Longoria was not amused:  

"The general fund, Pete? You and I go back a long ways and you've always been fiscally conservative. I know I'm going to be outvoted on this, but I just want to be on record as saying that this is going to open a Pandora's box.  Other entities are going to come after us for money."

Not sure about an opening of Pandora's box, but the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art is certainly not bashful about harvesting taxpayer dollars.  Progressively through 2015, BMFA Director Rene van Haaften has been panhandling the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation for $200,000 to make mortgage payments.  It's not like the BCIC hasn't been extraordinarily generous over the years with this particular museum.  Earlier in 2014 they shelved out $35,425 to help out with the King Tut exhibit.

But the request by the BMFA for help with the mortgage, crass as it seems on the surface, had other, more distasteful components.   The figure of $200,000 for back rent was not simply out of thin air, but aimed at the BCIC's discretionary fund, yes, you guessed it, currently at $200,000.  Paying up the BMFA's  house payments would leave the BCIC without a discretionary fund balance, further strapping the "quality of life" entity that already has its funds cut in half by the financing and maintenance of the Brownsville/Olmito Sports Park.

But, there are other distasteful elements of this story.  The BCIC was given the distinct impression that the Meadows Foundation was on board to match the BCIC contribution.  Not so.  Then, a City Commission meeting agenda item entertained the notion of matching the BCIC's $100,000 with their own $100,000. Tabled. 
It seems the BCIC, totally dependent on taxpayer dollars is being saddled with the full $200,000 to catch up the museum.  Oh, wait! Another proposal for the BCIC!  
Buy 50,000 museum tickets for $200,000, allowing BISD students to visit the museum.  The fly in that ointment is that the museum requires each child to be in the company of an adult.  50,000 free tickets for children requires the purchase of 50,000 adult tickets at a minimum of $10.00 per ticket.  Seemingly, there is no end to the art of milking taxpayer dollars to fund this museum.


  1. Oh you mean the same museum Tetreau likes to give money to?

  2. First of all, It is a event center not an art museum. Having a high quality exhibit of any kind is not possible there. It is to much of a liability when you have brownsville's finest little brats running around in there with their dirty hands during a pachanga. Brownsville is and always will be a joke. $35,000 for a fake mummy exhibit made out of fiberglass ?

  3. That bank note is owned by IBC. Fred Rusteberg has his eye on that property and is looking to turn it into a bank as soon as they default long enough. The problem is IBC owns the note to the building while the city owns the property. But not to worry, Freddy has real estate guru Tony Martinez to sell him the property for one dollar.



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