|Gabby Gonzalez of Tequila Group|
Speaking to Ms. Gonzalez after her public comment, I explained that it may not have mattered because the City of Brownsville did not award the contract to the highest scoring firm anyway, but instead chose Hahn Communications, a firm represented by the cousin of State Representative Rene' Oliveira, one Ron Oliveira.
Our last visit to the BCIC had been in January of this year, when Commissioner Rose Gowen illegally chaired the meeting despite the expiration of her four year term effective 12/31/14. Interestingly, the motivation for Gowen's illegal participation was to push for the BCIC to contribute $225,000 toward renovation of the historic San Fernando Building in exchange for 8 years free rent. That did not happen. The San Fernando Building was purchased by the City of Brownsville in 2012 for $315,000 and has sat idle, off the tax rolls ever since. In fact, 12 of 13 properties, purchased by the city for 3,500,000 remain idle, decaying, off the tax rolls. One small brick building at 7th and Ringgold is used as an unneeded, secondary tourist office. Almost no tourists stop there as there is to Interstate advertising announcing its existence.
At the 9/17/15 BCIC meeting, new Executive Director Rebeca Castillo introduced Agenda Item #10: Consideration and Action to Approve the Relocation of BCIC offices.
This proposal was for $86,983 to lease office space just off Price Road. Approximately $46,000 would be spent annually to satisfy the lease with an initial expenditure of $41,000 for "furniture and equipment." It strikes us as odd and wasteful that the city and its entities continue to rent properties while at the same time buying properties and leaving them empty. But, of course, all this is funded by some one else's money, that of the taxpayers of the poorest city in the United States.