Friday, December 30, 2016

Mike Hernandez III Starts New Blog; "The Blogspot of Mike Hernandez III"

From the editor:  Doing a Google search for references to Mike Hernandez III, part owner of D&M Leasing of Grand Prairie, TX, I found The Blogspot of Mike Hernandez III.  Evidently, Mike, unhappy with the publicity he was receiving from Brownsville's current blogs, started his own.  

Under the blog owner's name, Mike Hernandez III, appears the note:  "Blogger Since September 2016.  So, Mike has been in the blogosphere for four months and no one knew it.  Perhaps, it's because he has yet to write his first article.  


Take your time, Mike.  Make it a good one!




No posts.

D&M Leasing's Mike Hernandez III Proposes Alternative Online News Website

.
D&M Leasing's Mike Hernandez III
D&M Leasing's Mike Hernandez III, a self-appointed savior of Brownsville and Cameron County, wants to control more than local politics.

After a disastrous, amateurish showing in the Texas Southmost College and Port of Brownsville elections, where despite throwing at least $140,000 at 5 candidates, he went 0-5, now Hernandez wants to get into the online news business.

D&M Auto Leasing
2730 Hwy 360
Grand Prairie, Texas
His local contact?  Well, actually, not local. Hernandez has been engaged in email dialogue with vagabond blogger, Eduardo Paz-Martinez, currently writing from a coffee shop in McAllen.

Yes, THAT Eduardo Martinez, the notorious co-author of the fake Elvis impersonator article, an act of fake journalism Eddie justifies by saying it happened "after" his short stint with the Brownsville Herald:

"The Elvis Hoax Story came more than a
Eduardo "Elvis" Martinez
decade after I’d left The Herald. It was the brainchild of my college friend Paul Infante, who died in 2015, and it came after a hoax about some “cigar-shaped spacecraft” seen over Houston. At the time, I was living in Fort Worth and Paul was selling dental supplies while living in Spring, just up the road from Houston.

The plot was concocted as one plots a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end. The “press release” was written about that Elvis gathering in Brownsville and Faxed to newspapers across South Texas. The Herald bought it, perhaps because it was to be the site of the convention, and the next thing we knew, it was Big. Paul had been listed as the contact, under the name of Paul Le’Infant. He did catch some flak, but never enough to make him stop laughing. We both pictured dusty, little Brownsville tugging at its lapels and say, 'Hey, we made it to the Big Time!'”


Whatever!

Anyway, Hernandez and "Elvis" have been discussing a new online newspaper for Brownsville.  The car dealer suggests in email, that, after he finishes his business with Jerry McHale (a $1,000,000 lawsuit for defamation) that perhaps Jerry, Juan Montoya and Eduardo Martinez could write for the new website.

Hernandez would provide the funding and set the ground rules.  Below is a reprint of the portion of email dealing with the proposed online newspaper originally sent to Eduardo Martinez:

From: mikeh@dmautoleasing.com>

You(Eduardo Martinez), Montoya and McHale can always consider getting together after that and establishing some rules regarding journalistic ethics and then establish a single, legitimate online news source covering RGV. You could stationed in McAllen and the other two in Brownsville. The news source would cover the following:
A) An aggressive investigative journalism effort specifically targeting public corruption or complete incompetence and any abuse of the poor by anyone in power. Crime is of no interest.
B) Texas and Mexican history. Montoya seems to be especially good at this. History helps answer a lot of questions for people interested enough to read it as long as it as unbiased if at all possible.
C) Fiction short stories about border life. You and McHale are good at it. If they are fiction then it needs to be clearly disclosed as such and if involves graphic sexual content it also needs some simple method of verifying that the reader’s age. Leave the character assassination for hire BS and the cheezmosos for the bush league bloggers.


In return OP 10.33 will sponsor a large percentage of your overhead and help promote it as a service to the community. We will have no editorial say whatsoever. If I feel that you guys have broken our agreed-upon in advance rules I will notify you all privately but formally. If we cannot come to some kind of terms then I reserve the right to pull my support.
Thanks,
Mike
Before presenting his proposal of a new online newspaper, Hernandez gives McHale two other options to settle the lawsuit:
1. In a nutshell, leave town and leave the Brownsville community alone once and for all. I’ve known of McHale for decades.
OR
2. Agree on specific terms about his reporting on me and my organization and “collateralize it” with a six figure (monetary) Agreed Judgement

In other words, the D&M Leasing part owner wants his boys to "target public corruption and complete incompetence," but "agree on specific terms about reporting on me and my organization."

D&M Leasing, OP 10.33 and Mike Hernandez III just "get curioser and curioser."

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Two World Leaders on a Journey~Vladimir Putin and his Boy Toy

"Don, this looks like a good place to bed down for the night!"

Pee Wee Herman, Mike Hernandez III and Eduardo Martinez

Birds are typically careful not to soil, foul or poop in their own nest.  That would make their immediate environment stinky, repulsive, gross.





Eduardo "Fake" Martinez
Eduardo, "Eddie" or "Duardo" Martinez once enjoyed gainful employment at the Brownsville Herald, lasting nearly a year in the early 80's as a cub reporter, that is, until he "boo-booed" in his own nest by turning in to the Herald a fake story about an Elvis impersonator.  Even our local paper is not that desperate for "newsmen."

Subsequently, Martinez strings together several news outlets where he claims to have enjoyed a bit of employment or at least a cup of coffee, but no tenure and nothing in the last couple of decades. Perhaps, soiling the nest does not contribute to job security.

More recently, Martinez' methodology has remained constant, but unsuccessful, as he's tried to establish himself as a local blogger for at least a decade. Proverbially sniping from the book depository, the predator tries to "take out" his opposition, other bloggers, thus creating a niche for himself.


Tony Chapa
Nearly a decade ago now, Eduardo Martinez, tried his darndest to find acceptance in the Harlingen blogosphere with his daily column, The Paz Files. In an effort to gain traction, his articles spewed withering criticism of Harlingen bloggers, Tony Chapa, editor of My Harlingen News, referring to him as Tony "The Turd" Chapa and Jerry Deal of My Leader News, whom he characterized as "excitable."
Jerry Deal

After closing The Paz Files, a new blog, allegedly written by "UT-PA college student, Sam Losoya, from Harlingen," mysteriously surfaced, with similar attacks on the two Harlingen bloggers, an identical style and graphics. Eduardo denies any connection with the obviously fake blog, which has also closed.


Almost immediately, after Sam Losoya disappeared, Martinez was back online with yet another blog, attacking two Brownsville blogs, Mean Mister Brownsville(this blog's former name) and the Brownsville Voice by Bobby Wightman-Cervantes. His attacks reached a crescendo in April 2015 with six or seven straight articles attacking me, my wife, Nena, and son, Diego. When I shared this information with Google, his blog was removed within the hour. The very next day, my blogger comment box was filled with three dozen obscene comments, primarily directed at my wife Nena. The daily or twice daily obscenities continued for one year.

The two other Brownsville bloggers, Jerry
Jerry McHale
McHale and Juan Montoya, were typically spared the attacks, as Eduardo, like Jerry and Juan, had once worked for the Brownsville Herald.

When Eduardo and Jerry eventually did tussle, Jerry, to illustrate the character of his blogging adversary, shared details of a lunch with Eduardo at a Mexican restaurant. Jerry claimed he paid the bill, then left a tip, which he watched Eduardo pocket, thus cheating the Hispanic wait staff. McHale also described Eduardo as a drifter, who mooched off first, one set of relatives, then, as they tired of him, moved on to another set.

Peewee Herman
Now, Eduardo Martinez is taking a shit on his two Brownsville newspaper buddies, Montoya and McHale, with a blistering article in yet another new blog, this time on Wordpress, not Google, lecturing the longtime bloggers about "journalistic ethics." Given Eduardo's checkered history of fake articles, fake blogs and fake names, lecturing anyone else about journalistic ethics would be like Pee Wee Herman pontificating about proper conduct in a movie theater.



Mike Hernandez III
D&M Leasing, Dallas
Recently, Eduardo Martinez has been auditioning for some involvement in what Mike Hernandez III, a part owner of D&M Leasing of Dallas, has described as an "alternative online news source" to the local bloggers.  Hernandez was seemingly impressed with Eduardo's journalistic credentials.  Eduardo even declared Mike Hernandez III his "Person of the Year!"  Lol!

How soon before Eduardo boo-boos in yet another nest?  Not long, if history is any indication!




Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Paul McCartney - Arrow Through Me(1979)

Charlie Cabler Finalizes Power Grab, Reinstates Suspended City Administrator

City of  Brownsville Court Coordinator Roberto Baez is back at his familiar desk, reinstated by City Manager Charlie Cabler, after having been suspended with pay for allegedly participating in a scheme to circumvent the City Charter, pulling municipal court employees out from under the supervision of the court into a new city department, likely named "Court Services."

In short order, Baez, a Mexican National with alien resident status, has worked as an official with the Public Utilities Board, the City of Brownsville's Human Resources Department and recently, as Court Coordinator for the Municipal Court. 

Seemingly, Baez, along with City Secretary Micheal Lopez, had been trying to sneak the administrative changes past Municipal Judge Ben Neece, waiting until the judge left town on vacation.  

Neece, however, stuck around town for a day or two, preparing for his trip, and evidently caught the presumptuous duo red-handed in their attempted coup, leading to the Baez' suspension. 




City Manager Charlie Cabler
Likely, the attempted coup had been orchestrated by Cabler all along, to bring employees in municipal court out from under the supervision of the municipal judge and under the umbrella of the City Manager.

This assertive side of Cabler may have an underpinning of mayoral support as it contrasts with the City Manager's typical persona. Remember, Cabler stood meekly by as the mayor unnecessarily leased and refurbished a downtown "office" with taxpayer monies, an office he NEVER used.

Yes, Cabler strikes us a "go along to get along" type guy, not one to initiate a shakeup in the municipal court without direction or support.

From the editor:  We've sat on this story since 11/23/16, but since the gist of the story is out there, we publish our belated version.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bad News for "Save RGV from LNG," PUB Ratepayers

From the editor:  A reader named "John" has chronicled the developments leading to an eventual power plant and LNG plants in the Cameron Country industrial corridor.  Clicking on the link for each reference will open up the original article:



The Brownsville Public Utilities Board first announced the power plant project in 2013 ("BPUB reveals deal for major generating facility," Steve Clark, 01-28-2013, The Brownsville Herald, http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_a72e72f4-69cf-11e2-8b56-0019bb30f31a.html).

Tenaska got a EPA Greenhouse Gas permit in January 2014. See 10-01-2014 archived EPA Tenaska permit request (23 pages) at https://archive.epa.gov/region6/6pd/air/pd-r/ghg/web/pdf/tenaska-brownsville-epa-determination.pdf

The City of Brownsville invoked eminent domain along the path of the proposed Crossing Valley Natural Gas Pipeline (Cross Valley Pipeline Project) to provide the feed gas for the power plant 02-13-2016 (http://www.cob.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/02132014-103).

But then: "Power plant project delayed," Steve Clark, 11-15-20015, http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/premium/article_5991c302-8c18-11e5-9504-8fc2460e8716.html

But then on 11-15-2016 Tenaska obtained a Texas Commission for Environmental Quality water effluent permit to dump waste water into the Brownsville Ship Channel in Segment No. 2494 of the Bays and Estuaries (http://www15.tceq.texas.gov/crpub/index.cfm?fuseaction=iwr.viewdocument&doc_name=Permit%2005005%2Epdf&doc_id=871536492016327&format_cd=pdf).

And the Cross Valley Natural Gas Pipeline that would supply the natural gas is sill in the Brownsville PUB October 1, 2016 -- September 30, 2017 Budget, page 26, $4,403,542 (http://www.brownsville-pub.com/home/showdocument?id=8583). Also see PROJECT REFERENCE E43 on page 239. A 49.9 mile long, 24" pipeline (http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/media/28190/ncr_calendar_2015.pdf).

But the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is planning to invest $91 million dollars to get our regional electric power grid ready to handle the demands of "up to six" LNG operations at our Port. It's taking a "least-regrets" approach, which seems to mean it's better to be prepared for six even if none are ever built. How would this $91 million be figured into and affect a LNG cost/benefit analysis? See "ERCOT Board OKs Rio Grande Valley Fixes," Tom Kleckner, 06-19-2016, RTO Insider, https://www.rtoinsider.com/ercot-board-rio-grande-valley-28040/. Also see ERCOT's Valley Import Regional Planning Group (RPG) Project report, 06-14-2016, http://www.ercot.com/content/wcm/key_documents_lists/76336/12_Valley_Import_RPG_Project.pdf/.

Back in 2013, it was said it was needed because ERCOT's “Cross Valley transmission project” wouldn't be completed until 2016 and wouldn't provide the amount of electrical power we'd need by then anyway. That power line is now complete and ERCOT's planning send even more power our way. See "Power project nears completion; ‘Cross Valley’ line may be in service by summer," Steve Clark, 02-07-2016, The Brownsville Herald, http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_a5f083cc-ce1d-11e5-b4c5-139b5a45c48c.html. See the map of the Cross Valley power line at https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1338P-q6AHsdZTE2FbP5gYq-eAO4&ll=26.132389309942034%2C-97.84620930419919&z=10

So will the Tenaska Power Plant be needed here? The only sure thing seems to be that the argument will continue back and forth between ERCOT and power companies such as Tenaska, Calpine, and NRG Energy etc. See "Cross Valley transmission line brings changes," Kristen Mosbrucker, 09-20-2014, Valley Morning Star, http://www.valleymorningstar.com/premium/article_729d3126-413a-11e4-8238-001a4bcf6878.html
According to the Tenaska Brownsville Generating Station web page, Tenaska is developing a site in Brownsville, Texas, for a natural gas-fueled electric generating facility able to power up to 800,000 homes, expected on line as early as 2017.

Ahumada Offers Fellow Citizens Form Letter for Public Information Request About Tenaska


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Undemocratic Mayor Martinez Still Silent on Huge Utility Rate Increases for a Power Plant That Will Not Be Built

From the editor:  With former Mayor Pat Ahumada again raising the issue of the Tenaska Power Plant boondoggle, we are posting a couple of our previous articles on the subject.  

It is disappointing, but not unexpected that Mayor Tony Martinez and the Public Utilities Board have not responded to Public Information Requests by the former mayor.  Martinez' modus operandi is to make deals behind closed doors, never informing the taxpayers or rate payers.

We recall how the undemocratic, dishonest mayor  purchased $3.5 million in downtown buildings and has never offered a single word in explanation to the taxpayers.

The Tenaska Power Plant deal was brokered in a similar shady way, with ratepayers now on the hook for millions of dollars in rate increases for a plant that will not be built.


The Tenaska Power Plant Back Door Deal by Tony Martinez and Cronies Looks BAD, BAD, BAD!

From the Editor:  We've been asked to pursue more closely details related to the Tenaska Generating Station, the 800 MW plant Brownsville is purchasing a quarter interest or 200 MW for approximately $340,000,000.  

First of all:  Is $340,000,000 for 200 megawatts of power a good price?  Not according to charts on what a typical natural gas powered plant should cost. While Brownsville's cost averages out to $1.7 million per megawatt, the national average is $917,000 per megawatt.  That would be the equivalent of paying $6.09 per gallon for gas when H.E.B. has it for $3.29 per gallon. That's the deal Tony Martinez and his cronies are cooking up for you.(They are likely other hidden costs that will drive our actual cost even higher.)

Does Brownsville need that much power?  Not according to Fitch, a highly respected bond rating company.  Fitch sees Brownsville's power needs at 459 MW.  (Incidentally, Fitch sees this as a very bad financial deal, lowering P.U.B.'s bond rating from A+ to Poor on the basis of this deal going through.)  Keep in mind that Brownsville already has an interest in two other power plants, Edinburg and Okla-Union.

One thing to remember is that these power plants have a finite shelf life, likely not over 30 years.  

We are preparing a detailed Public Information Request for the City of Brownsville.  I will post the actual request on the blog. 

Below is one of our earlier articles on the Tenaska deal.

If It is Such A Good Deal, Why Is the Tenaska Brownsville Generating Station Funded by Ratepayers?

Tenaska 885 MW Power Plant, Fluvanna County, VA
Tenaska is legit, operating, along with its affiliates, 14 power companies producing 11,000 MW of power. Tenaska Capital Management controls $3.8 billion in assets. The company is capable of arranging for funding, as it did for its Imperial Valley, CA Solar Plant, funded by nine banks, including the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, UFJ, Ltd. In August 2008, Tenaska simply paid $368 million in cash for the Rolling Hills Power Generation Facility in Wilkesville, Ohio.

Although well-connected politically, not all communities buy Tenaska's sales pitch. Tenaska fought for five years to build the Taylorville Energy Center in Illinois, telling locals that their energy needs were underserved and needed Tenaska's coal-burning operation. When opposition mounted, Tenaska changed their plans to a natural gas-powered plant, but that proposal didn't sell either.


On January 28, 2013, Brownsville's Public Utilities Board signed an agreement with Tenaska for the construction of an 800 MW, gas-powered power plant to be built on 270 acres along the so-called industrial corridor near FM 511. This is the same industrial corridor the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation agreed to pay McCaffrey & Associates $454,000 for a development plan. Payment for the plan was split between theGBIC, Port of Brownsville and P.U.B. In December 2013 United Brownsville sponsored a BiNed 2014 Conference at UTB's Gran Salon where UB operatives networked with officials from Matamoros, Harlingen and the port.

The signed agreement between Tenaska and BPUB calls for PUB to control one fourth of the power produced, 200 MW, at a cost of $327 million, financed by city-issued revenue bonds. Those bonds will be repayed over 20 years by the ratepayers paying increased rates for electricity. Of course, the power plant still has another 600 MW of power to sell to surrounding communities. The City of Brownsville will be responsible for piping the natural gas into the plant.

How does the deal sound so far? According to Brownsville Herald reporter Steve Clark,Fitch, a highly respected bond rating company, is not impressed. Clark reported in a March 11, 2014 article that Fitch's bond rating for P.U.B., now an A+, would likely plummet to "negative," based on projected impact of the Tenaska deal:

"In its report, Fitch said it “recognizes BPUB’s proactive strategy to ensure an adequate power supply to meet projected (electricity) load growth,” though the power plant project would boost total available power resources to “well in excess of projected total requirements,” or 459 megawatts.

BPUB’s planned purchase of the 25 percent ownership interest in the plant, if the deal goes through, would more than double current leverage (how much the utility is borrowing) and as a result “diminish future financial metrics according to the board’s latest financial projects,” Fitch reported.

The ratings firm said BPUB’s pending decision to buy 25 percent ownership in the proposed power plant would add an estimated $362 million to the overall size of the utility’s multi-year capital improvement program, which in 2012 had been estimated at a little under $200 million a year.

Fitch noted that the additional capital expense would be funded entirely with long-term debt, which the agency believes would weaken BPUB’s financial situation enough to lower its bond rating."

It's downright scary when a neutral, well-respected entity like Fitch declares a deal unsound, even predicting "rate fatigue," a fancy phrase for the country's most impoverished city not being able to keep up with skyrocketing utility rates. Fitch is also strongly suggesting that Brownsville doesn't need this much power or this much debt. Those are common sense conclusions that Mayor Martinez and the rest of the P.U.B. Board will simply ignore.

Whether dealing with SpaceX or Tenaska, Brownsville's civic leaders have not shown themselves to be good negotiators with desperation replacing sound judgement. Who pays for their miscalculations? Brownsville's hardworking, but generally impoverished, ratepayers and taxpayers.

As for the United Brownsville operatives, higher utility rates for the public or wasted tax dollars are not a concern as long as they can cash in on the lucrative development of the industrial corridor.

Rejection Letter from Attorney General's Office To Ahumada on Tenaska Info Request





Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ahumada Stonewalled by P.U.B., City of Brownsville in Public Information Request About Tenaska Deal







Friday, December 23, 2016

Why A Little Rain Didn't Stop Me from Walking Today at Charlie Cabler Park

Overcast Seattle
The rumor is simply untrue.  It DOESN'T rain every day in Seattle, my home town.

It rains, on average, 155 days per year, about 3 days a week for an average of about 5.3 hours.


Editor of Brownsville Observer
The above meteorology made it puzzling when Mr. Blanchard, a transplant from California, built a new home a few blocks away from our house, installing a watering system under his lawn. We rode over on bicycles to see what he was doing.  I was the designated questioner of the group.

"Mr. Blanchard, why are you putting a watering system in your yard when it rains every week?" I asked.

Blanchard just laughed:  "Oh, you never know!"

Rain seldom interfered with much.  During recess, you learned to dribble around the puddles on the outdoor basketball court.  Light rain didn't prevent baseball or tetherball, but it did mess up the game of marbles.  I kept a shooter in my pocket in case the sun came out.


Creek Behind Our House in King County
During Junior High, we had this creek behind our house in Covington.  Yes, it looks deceptively docile, but in the spring it swelled into a raging river with snow melt from Mt. Rainier.  In the fall, Pacific salmon, returned to spawn in their place of birth, after four years at sea, almost overloading the small waterway.

On clear days, Mt. Rainier was always reassuringly visible, reinforcing our own insignificance.


Mount Rainier


  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

GBIC Board "No-Shows" Again~Sossi Pockets Cool Five Grand

City Attorney Mark Sossi Pockets a Smooth
Five Grand Whether Board Shows or Not
For the second time in 6 days the 5 member GBIC board could not muster a quorum of 3 and the rescheduled meeting at 12:00 PM in the City Commission chambers was effectively canceled just as last Thursday's had been.

A city staffer had appeared at 12:03 PM and I filled out the form for public comment.

At 12:07 PM City Attorney Mark Sossi strolled in, placing a yellow legal pad on his desk.  Sossi is on retainer to the GBIC for $5,000 per month, $60,000 per year, whether they meet or not and likely mumbled "Merry Christmas to me" under his breath.  Easy, easy money!

Nena and I left the room at 12:30 PM, running into BEDC Vice-President Gilbert Salinas in the hallway.  The BEDC was actually on the agenda with an economic report, but his tardiness spoke to the obvious fact that a meeting would not be held.

"They(the GBIC) couldn't get a quorum," Salinas stated, as he continued toward the City Commission chambers, at least to make an appearance.

No one told the 15 or so of us onlookers the meeting had been cancelled, although 3 City Commissioner "free" parking spaces were occupied when we first entered the building.

The GBIC board, with the weighty responsibility of dispersing about $5,000,000 in taxpayer monies annually to promote "economic development," needs 5 new, serious adult board members.  

It's not just the absenteeism, but, the meetings, when actually held, feature almost zero discussion of funded agenda items, a real disservice to the hardworking taxpayers.

The current board features three city commissioners; Jessica Tetreau, Debbie Portillo and Cesar de Leon plus John Cowen, Jr. and David Betancourt.

The original intention of separating 4A funds from the general fund was to remove political influence from their dispersal.  The makeup of the current board, with a majority being City Commissioners, violates the spirit behind such separation of funds. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Kaswan Wonders if Donald Trump Is Really "Draining the Swamp" or Creating a Cesspool

Mark J. Kaswan
From the editor:  Mark Kaswan's article, published in Monday's YOUR VOICES section of the Brownsville Herald, evaluates how well Donald Trump is honoring his promise to "drain the swamp" in the nation's capital.

We took the liberty of looking up Mr. Kaswan's Facebook account, noting that he's an assistant professor at UT-RGV, residing in Brownsville. Here is his article in its entirety:

Donal Trump ran on a promise to "drain the swamp" of corporate lobbyists in Washington. Let's see how he's doing so far.

His chief political adviser, Steve Bannon, was a partner at Goldman Sachs before taking over as CEO of Breitbart News, which has been a platform for the white supremacist alt-right movement.

Remember how Trump raised questions about Hillary Clinton's speeches to Goldman Sachs, suggesting that she was too cozy with Wall Street? Well, his choice for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is another former partner at the firm.

His pick to lead the transition for the Environmental Protection Agency works for a think tank funded by Exxon/Mobil, the Koch brothers(who own Koch Industries), and coal and tobacco companies.

Corey Lewandowski, a key adviser, worked for Americans for Prosperity, one of many political organizations set up and funded by the Koch brothers.

Tom Price, his pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, is a congressman from Georgia who gets big chunks of money from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

His picks for  commerce secretary and education secretary, Wilbur Ross and Betsey DeVoss, are both billionaires.  Their wealth comes from their role in the finance industry(or, in DeVoss' case, her husband's role) cutting wages for workers and shipping jobs overseas.

Is this what "draining the swamp" looks like?  It looks more like a cesspool to me.

Mark J. Kaswan
Brownsville 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Have the Dallas Cowboys Found a Young Defensive Star?

David Irving, Cowboys Defensive Tackle
Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot have made watching the Cowboys fun again and the duo did not disappoint Sunday night.

21 year old running back Elliot gained 159 yards on 23 carries, 6.9 yards per carry, also catching 3 passes and scoring a touchdown.

23 year old quarterback Prescott completed 32 of 36 passes, 88.9%, for 279 yards.  He also ran for one TD.

While those two great performances were not surprises, the skill set displayed by a second year, undrafted player, shocked.  David Irving, 23, a 6'7," 273 lb. defensive tackle, picked up off the Kansas City Chiefs' practice squad last year, came in for Tampa Bay's final, would-be game winning drive.

As Irving entered the game, announcer Al Michaels said: "Watch out for this kid.  He made some great plays in the Giants game last week."

Two seconds later, Irving sacked Tampa Bay Quarterback Jameis Winston so easily that he was double-teamed on the next play.  No matter. Irving pressured Winston twice into errant throws, then on fourth down, tipped his throwing elbow resulting in a Cowboy interception.

Irving added a pass rushing element the Cowboys have not had for some time.  Despite Irving's brief appearance in the game, NBC's Sunday Night Football awarded him the symbolic "game ball," along with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot.

6'7" Irving Carrying STOP Sign
Irving likely went undrafted because of being kicked off the football team at Iowa State for involvement in a demonstration during the school's Vieshia Festival.  Irving was photographed carrying a "STOP" sign, charged with fifth degree theft and removed from the team.  Irving later said he wished he'd just "gone home," instead of participating in the disturbance.

Irving went undrafted in 2015, but signed a 3-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.  He did not fit into their style of defense and found himself on the practice squad.  The Cowboys picked up his contract.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Video Purported to Show Mary Tipton Getting Hit by Vehicle Driven by Marisa Govea Hernandez

Hit-and-Run Death of Mary Tipton is the Brownsville Observer 2016 Story of the Year




EntryPageviews
26554
19973
17333
9454
4248


Mary Tipton
The five stories above led the Brownsville Observer in pageviews for 2016, but two of the stories, both about the death of Mary Tipton and on consecutive days, totaled 37,306 pageviews.

The hit-and-run death of Mary Tipton is the Brownsville Observer 2016 story of the year, not just because of tremendous public interest, but also the insight it gives us into the way cases are investigated, prosecuted and judged in Cameron County.  Our so-called judicial system is on display.

A tragedy of errors, mishandling, destruction of evidence and, even favoritism has marred the case.

Rather than, review the case now, let's allow our original two articles and six subsequent articles to tell the story:

Saturday, August 6, 2016

2015 Hit-and-Run Accident Death Reveals Ineptitude, Corruption by Cameron County Justice System Including DA's Office, BPD and Division of Records

Ralph Tipton
Ralph Tipton is profoundly sad, incredibly hurt, but most of all, mad as hell, about the death of his wife, Mary, on February 28, 2015 in a hit-and-run accident and the mishandling of accident by the Cameron County District Attorney, bungling of the accident report by the Brownsville Police Department, silencing by reassignment of the BPD detective originally assigned to the case and, even, refusal to share legally mandated records by the Cameron County Department of Records.


Mary Tipton, Found Dead in a Ditch on FM
803 Within Sight of the Hit-and-Run Driver
Marisa Govea's Home
At every turn, Ralph Tipton, has been stifled, stymied and squelched in his effort to get to the truth of his wife's death and the justice of adequate prosecution of the person responsible.

On July 28 retired reporter Emma Perez-Trevino shared this much on her Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/staremma.pereztrevino/posts/997962970316951

Detective Thomas Clipper,  Told
to "Stand Down & Stay Out" of
Hit-and-Run Case.  "Let the DA
Handle It!"
Since Emma shared that report, Mr. Tipton contacted us seeking further help in getting his complete story out in his pursuit of justice for his wife.  He also shared dozens of pictures of the vehicle that struck his wife, pictures of his wife at the crime scene and other tape recorded and written evidence. 





The hit-and-run driver came to be identified as 
Marisa Govea Hernandez, Hit-and-Run Driver
Marisa Govea Hernandez, the mother of a Cameron County Deputy Sheriff. Her house is in eyesight of where Mary Tipton's body was found, but her son, a Cameron County Deputy Sheriff, according to Tipton, unethically spoke for her, giving a largely misleading and totally inaccurate report of the accident to the Brownsville Police Department. He claimed his mother had hit a skunk and incorrectly stated her direction of travel.  



Height of Damage to Suspect's Vehicle
We will not presume at this point to know the entire story, but we will do our best to find out why this case was handled as it was.  

According to Mr. Tipton, efforts have been made to keep him out of the process every step of the way.

As stated above, there are many elements of this story.  We will endeavor to isolate the individual stories within the story in subsequent days.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Events Surrounding the Death of Mary Elizabeth Tipton in February 2015 Raise Many Questions About Justice System in Cameron County

Mary Elizabeth Tipton
Ralph Tipton last spoke with his wife Mary on Friday, February 27, 2015.  Mary told him her cell phone was running out of charge or minutes. It was the last time they would ever talk.  The next day Mary was struck by a white Volkswagen driven by Marisa Govea Hernandez, while walking on FM 803, sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 PM.

To this point, Marisa Govea Hernandez, has suffered no legal penalty, not for her hit-and-run accident causing death, not for leaving the scene, not for failing to render aid.  She was released on $500 bond over a year ago, followed by a number of peculiar, shadowy actions by the Cameron County District Attorney's office.  We will detail those incidents in future stories.  


Ralph Tipton,  was still living at the family's residence in Port Arthur, Texas, while his wife Mary visited relatives in Brownsville in February 2015.  While in Brownsville, Mary stayed at the Deluxe 6 Motel, on frontage road at I-69 and FM 511. Saturday night, February 28, 2015 she evidently walked around the block containing Deluxe 6. Couch Road runs along the north side of the motel, connecting the frontage road with FM 803. Three or four warehouses are clustered together along that first block of FM 803 just past FM 511. 


Deluxe 6 Motel on I-69 Frontage Road
Mrs. Marisa Govea Hernandez, the driver of the white Volkswagen, and a passenger never identified, did not stop to see what they had hit. They were only a very short distance from Marisa Govea Hernandez' home, causing one law officer to speculate that the Volkswagen had not reached full speed before hitting Mary Tipton.  Mrs. Hernandez son, Mauricio Hernandez, a deputy sheriff with the Cameron County Sheriff's Department, admitted to Detective Thomas Clipper of the Brownsville Police Department that he'd been out during the night of the accident with a flashlight, hunting for what his mother had hit. At first he told Officer Clipper his mother had hit an "animal," but later speculated that animal was probably a "skunk."

His mother, the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle, was not interviewed by BPD Detective Clipper, only opening the front door a crack to hand out her ID.  Her son, the deputy sheriff, did all the talking for her with Detective Clipper.

Multiple pictures of the mother's white Volkswagen showed a smashed windshield and damage much larger than a skunk could cause.


Three days later, a construction worker, walking down FM 803, discovered the body of Mary Tipton, face down in a ditch, close enough to the seen from the Hernandez home.  She was directly under a street lamp. The autopsy did not indicate whether Mrs. Tipton died immediately from impact or during her three days in the ditch along FM 803.


Ralph and Mary Tipton had been together nineteen years, raising together Ralph's twenty year old son.  The plan was to move back to Brownsville with Ralph working for his brother, Francisco Tipton, an attorney specializing in immigration law.  Mary, who'd been active for several years in advocating for battered women, hoped to start her own non-profit after settling in Brownsville.

Today's phone conversation with Ralph was primarily to learn more about Mary.  Her husband explained that Mary loved to write poetry and sent us a sample:


Why exist

if existing means loving with conditions?

LIVE, don't just simply exist

and be universally satisfied......


Subsequent stories will deal with actions by Detective Clipper, his transfer to a desk job while on the case, the inept prosecution of the case by District Attorney Luis Saenz' office,  lead prosecutor Guzman, possible malpractice by Attorney Oscar Alvarez of McAllen, a secret hearing to arrange a plea deal without Mr. Tipton's knowledge and many, many irregularities in the handling of evidence, erasing of video and a number of untruths told by the public servants involved in the case.  

We will also detail how Rachel Kram, Court Reporter, responded to Mr. Tipton's legal request for a transcript of the plea hearing.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Real Focus Has To Be On The Fact That Marisa Govea Hernandez DID NOT Stop and Render Aid to Mary Tipton After Striking Her With Her Vehicle

Maria Elizabeth Tipton
Yes, the Cameron County Justice System is inept, corrupt.  Tell us something we don't know.  From the phony "Operation Bishop," where District Attorney Luis Saenz pretends to fight crime by closing down eight-liners, then sells the confiscated machines to a company connected to Carlos Masso, to Sheriff Omar Lucio covering again and again for the drunken Lieutenant Gus Reyna, damaging one county vehicle after another while getting kisses blown his way by Lucio.


County Sheriff Omar Lucio
None of this dumbass bullshit by ethically-challenged politicos killed Maria Elizabeth Tipton. Sheriff Omar Lucio did not strike her with his much-larger-than-needed county vehicle and leave her for dead in a FM 803 ditch.  


District Attorney Luis Saenz
Even District Attorney Luis Saenz' cowardly handling of the prosecution of the mother of a Cameron County Sheriff's deputy, who left the scene of a hit-and-run and then sent her son to the door to answer BPD questions, was not the killer.

Marisa Govea Hernandez killed Mary Tipton, striking her with her white Volkswagen, then leaving the scene without rendering aid or even reporting the accident.  Mary lay face down in a ditch for three days before discovered by a construction worker walking along FM 803.


Detective Thomas Clipper
According to Ralph Tipton, Mary's husband, BPD Detective Clipper, at first very supportive of the investigation, totally changed his mindset after being reassigned to work cold cases. Yes, maintaining employment makes men turn into cowards.

Yes, there is evidence of malpractive by McAllen Attorney Oscar Alvarez, hired by Ralph Tipton. Lawyers react just as BPD Detective Thomas Clipper reacted when confronted by pressure from his "superiors."  They cave.

The bottom line is that Marisa Govea Hernandez must take personal responsibility in the death of Mary Tipton.

Footnote:  The two articles we've written about the hit-and-run accident leading to the death of Mary Tipton have set records for individual, singular articles at the Brownsville Observer.The first article had over 15,000 page views with the second at 11,000 and growing. Obviously, this incident struck a nerve with Brownsville, Cameron County.

All of the above is only worth shit unless it results in justice for Mary Tipton.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Kind Gesture by Sheriff Omar Lucio, But No Flowers for Mary Tipton

No Flowers for Mary Tipton
Those who swear to protect us, the police, also protect themselves and their brothers. Almost weekly, our national news outlets share shaky video from handheld cell     phones showing police firing bullets into fleeing, unarmed black men, then facing wrist slaps from the judicial system.


Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio
82 year old Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio understands the wherewithal needed to maintain the so-called thin blue line.  His men must know he has their collective backs. Rumors that old man Lucio suffers from dementia or some other old age infirmity are overrated, simply wishful thinking by someone not getting a promotion or the mother of a suspect roughed up in jail.


Gus Reyna (Photo by Jason
Hoekema of the Brownsville Herald)
This blog has detailed how Lucio's right hand man, Gus Reyna has wrecked police vehicle after police vehicle in drunken binges, gone through rehab, but still functions at the top of the sheriff department's food chain.  Lucio is loyal to his boys.

Considering that Sheriff Lucio has kept nearly 400 employees  in the Cameron County Sheriff's Department relatively content, is it any wonder that, when he learned that the mother of one of his deputies, Marin Hernandez,  had allegedly been involved in a hit-and-run accident, he sent a floral arrangement to comfort the man and his mother? The card with the flowers may as well have read: "Hernandez, we have your back!" 

Remember, Mrs. Hernandez heard this huge "thud" as she traveled southbound on FM 803 back on February 28, 2015.  

"Perhaps, it was an animal," she may have thought to herself.  Her deputy son speculated later, in responding to a Brownsville police officer, that his mom may have hit a skunk.  Dozens of police photos show Mrs. Hernandez hit an object tall enough to smash her windshield, but whatever.

While the deputy son was answering questions from BPD, Mary Tipton was lying face down in a ditch just across FM 803.  Her body was under a street lamp.  Who knows where Deputy Hernandez searched that night with his flashlight, but he evidently didn't search across the street.

Mary Tipton got no flowers.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Disturbing Contrast Between the District Attorney's Public Photo-Op on Domestic Violence and his Actual Performance As Prosecutor

2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’"

Saint Luke 18:2-5



District Attorney Luis V. Saenz at Domestic Violence Photo-Op




Mary Tipton Received No Justice
from District Attorney Luis V. Saenz
District Attorney Luis Saenz gives lip service in the above advertised photo-op that portrays him as the ultimate advocate for battered women, victims of domestic violence and crime in Cameron County.

If the once-beautiful Mary Tipton, victim of a hit-and-run accident on FM 803 in February 2015 could still speak, she would disagree with DA Saenz' grandiose portrayal of himself.  

Yes, Saenz met with Mary's family, including her husband, Ralph Tipton, Ralph's dad and son, Mary's two sisters and two brothers.  He comforted one of the crying sisters and promised the family that he personally would prosecute this case.  That lovefest occurred in March 2015.

After meeting with the family, DA Saenz decided he had too much on his proverbial plate and assigned the case to Oscar Guzman, a prosecutor in his office. 

Meanwhile Brownsville Police Department Detective Thomas Clipper discovered security video in a warehouse on FM 803 that covered the entire accident.  Clipper watched the video for "three days," as noted in his report, the video covered the accident from beginning to end, showing Marisa Govea Hernandez' white Volkswagen striking Mary Tipton while southbound on FM 803.  

Inexplicably, when Prosecutor Oscar Guzman received the video from the Brownsville Police Department, it had been reduced to a mere 30 seconds.  Guzman found the video "inadequate" evidence to prosecute and arranged a plea hearing. That plea hearing was set for June 28, 2016.

Ralph Tipton showed up for the hearing, despite not being directly notified by the DA's office or his lawyer, Oscar Alvarez from McAllen. Prosecutor Guzman was a no show, as was Attorney Alvarez, prompting Judge Rene De Coss to say, according to Ralph Tipton, that "he'd never seen anything like this in 20 years. . . no DA, no evidence, nothing and no one knows what's going on." 

When Ralph Tipton approached Court Reporter Rachel Kram for a transcript of the incredible hearing, he was told that "the machine was down" for the hearing and there was no transcript.

A reader commented that the handling of this case resembles the Keystone Cops, but likely few in this reading audience are old enough to remember Abbott and Costello.  Actually, we've reported just a glimpse of the DA's office participation, not said much about BPD Officer Clipper or Attorney Alvarez.

Mary Tipton
The fucking irony is that Mary Tipton may very well have been one of those victims proclaimed so publicly he would protect, a victim of domestic violence. Her husband, Ralph Tipton, told me that she was a member of three battered women advocacy groups, and, that she spent considerable time on the phone assisting victims before her death.  

None of us lived with Ralph and Mary Tipton. We don't know if she was, in any sense, a battered woman.  We do know she was struck by Marisa Govea Hernandez on February 28, 2015 and Hernandez did not stop to render aid.

We also know that District Attorney Luis Saenz, a blowhard, not embarrassed to advertise his accomplishments, has been totally impotent in prosecuting Mary Tipton's case.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Public Pressure Forces City Attorney Mark Sossi, Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez to Finally Release Police Procedure Manual to Ralph Tipton

City Attorney Mark Sossi, the ill-advised hire during Pat Ahumada's last term as mayor, is the gift that keeps on taking, blocking governmental tranparency at every possible turn, resisting democratic principles as if they were carriers of the Zika virus.  Sossi has morphed into the city's enabler, including the unethical mayor, the weak-minded city commission and the challenged,but overpaid, city manager.


Sossi's resume' is littered with theft, malpractice and incompetence, including a $167,363 judgement for pocketing funds intended for his previous employer, the Willette & Guerra Law Firm, stealing another $20,711.66 from the Texas Workforce, intended for employee unemployment benefits, a $100,000 tax lien from the I.R.S. as well as two malpractice lawsuits from Brownsville residents who thought retaining the City Attorney in private practice might be a good idea.


Sossi's magnum opus, however, has to be his highschoolish power point, at Mayor Martinez behest, against the broadcast of the public comment of Brownsville taxpayers at City Commission meetings.  Sossi, perhaps possessed by some despot's demon, argued that blocking the broadcast of public comment would lead to a greater diversity of commenters.  Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler all applauded from their graves!


Ralph Tipton
Enter Ralph Tipton, the husband of hit-and-run victim, Mary Tipton, who likely knew little about Sossi's bio when he asked the city to view a copy of the Brownsville Police Department manual, outlining proper, acceptable police procedure.

Tipton, not a police officer, had legitimate questions about the way his wife's case had been handled.  Why did Detective Thomas Clipper not even interview the woman who killed his wife with her vehicle, but, instead, allow the woman's son, a Cameron County Deputy Sheriff, to speak for his mom?  Why did the BPD not search for a body, but instead, accept the deputy's theory that his mom had likely struck a skunk, when the damage to the vehicle included a busted windshield?  Why did the BPD reduce a security camera's tape of the entire incident to a mere 30 seconds, allowing a District Attorney flunky, Oscar Guzman, to decide there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute? 


District Judge Arturo Cisneros Nelson
Eight months ago, after Brownsville Police Chief Orlando Rodriquez denied Tipton's request to peruse the police department manual, the matter came before District Judge Arturo Cisneros Nelson. Judge Nelson seemed mystified as to why the matter was before him, telling City Attorney Sossi and Tipton: "You two should be working together on this."  Sossi replied by saying that Police Chief Rodriguez did not want the document released to Tipton and that he agreed.  As Gomer Pyle used to say:  "Surprise! Surprise!"

What dangerous secrets did this police procedure manual hold that Police Chief Rodriguez and City Attorney Sossi so desperately want to hide from the taxpayers?  Did it authorize waterboarding, demonic chants or hexes?  

Sossi continued to stonewall until this past week when the publicity created on this blog and Ralph Tipton's incessant use of Facebook and every option he could muster to publicize the nature of his wife's death, that Sossi finally relented, telling Tipton that "his superiors had ordered him" to share the police manual.

We will reprint below, without commentary, copies of a Facebook discussion between Tipton and Sossi about the manual:






Sossi was offering the elusive manual to Ralph Tipton, if Tipton would meet him in Hidalgo. Ralph was being a bit coy, because, unbeknownst to Sossi, Tipton already had the manual.

Of course, all of this back and forth means nothing unless Mary Tipton gets justice, despite all facets of the local representation of the so-called justice system seriously underperforming.


NOCHE DE ARTE DOWNTOWN BROWNSVILLE JUNE 15, 6-9 PM

Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo