Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Threats, Challenges to the $Millions Controlled by the Greater Brownsville Incentive Corporation

Carlos Marin, Ambiotec, BEDC
In 1992 the City of Brownsville decided to take advantage of a 1989 Texas law allowing the establishment a 4A entity to receive 1/2 cent of the 8-1/4 cent sales tax collected to use for economic development. The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, the beneficiary of such monies, has, according to their website, spent $49,000,000 from that taxpayer fund, $12,000,000 on "operating expenditures" and $37,000,000 on "project expenditures."

In 2002 Brownsville decided to split the 4A funds into a 4A and 4B, with a 4B entity getting 1/4 cent from each taxable dollar for "quality of life" projects. Since that time the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation declares $10,300,000 spent on such projects.

Part of the rationale for separating these monies from the general fund was to de-politicize the dispersing of grants or loans for economic development or quality of life projects. The thinking was that elected officials, like the mayor or city commission could be influenced by heavy campaign contributors, friends, cronies, etc., rewarding them through political patronage. Thus, boards like the GBIC and BCIC, controlling millions of tax dollars, would be staffed primarily by qualifed citizens, not elected politicians.

This is no reflection on these particular commissioners, who gave a very good accounting of themselves in a City Commission workshop on economic development, grilling and questioning the methodology of BEDC President Jason Hilts, who presents projects to the GBIC for approval and funding. But, the appointing of a majority of this particular board from the City Commission sets an unfortunate precedent for the future.

Carlos Marin of Ambiotec, who stealthily steers and creates the studies and projects submitted, such as the $454,000 Brownsville Strategic Infrastructure and Land Management Plan, as well as the $750,000 cost of "implementing" the same plan, featuring his own employee, Oscar Garcia, Jr., as "Project Engineer," will not stand idly by while three young commissioners mess up his shit.

City Commissioner Portillo
Already, one of the two new appointees has been seen dining with Marin at Adolio's Restaurant. Carlos Marin knows how to influence, persuade, cajole and intimidate. It's little wonder that other engineering firms, besides Marin's Ambiotec, understand the futility of bidding on the larger, primo contracts in the City of Brownsville and candidates for public office supplicate for Marin's support in their run for public office.

1 comment:

  1. Debbie "UB" Portillo makes me ill. Is She still shilling for Lil' Oscar?



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