Saturday, February 27, 2016

Some Biographical Info, Plus An Update on Nena

Nena's Last Public Appearance Before Stroke
Just over 47 years ago Nena and I were married in Brownsville. Our only potential expense, the wedding license, was actually a wedding gift from our brother-in-law, Charles Roth.  We spent nothing on the reception, held at my mother's house on Hackberry Lane and we didn't go on a honeymoon. 

Our close friend, Tom Robinson, now children's librarian at the Southmost Library and, just like 50 years ago, Brownsville's most knowledgeable resident, gave us our most memorable wedding gift, the just released Beatles' White Album.  Since Nena's old stereo from her army days was ruined by water damage from Hurricane Beulah, I laid a stereo away at the Gibson Store on Central Boulevard for $49.99 to play our wedding gift and my collection of the Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, the Loving Spoonful, the Association and Bob Dylan.   Nena added Stan Getz, the Temptations and Herb Albert to our collection.

Nearly a half century later, Nena suffered her first stroke in October 2014, while touring the new tourist building at 7th and Ringgold.  Printed words became like hieroglyphics to her, unrecognizable, a huge loss to someone who purchased over 50 books per year on Kindle Fire.

Her caricature efforts became more difficult, with the latest, an attempt to capture City Commissioner Cesar de Leon, pictured at left. That effort, once a beautiful pencil drawing, was ruined when she colored the hair purple with green highlights.  I was able to somewhat recover the sense of the original with a tinting app.

This past Wednesday, at 10:30 AM, I called 911. During our morning conversation, Nena, all of a sudden, could not finish her sentence. Two Brownsville paramedics arrived at our door with a stretcher.  The seemingly long delay inside the ambulance, I later learned, was spent performing a series of tests that were forwarded to the Valley Baptist Medical Center Emergency Room.  Nena suffered a grand mal seizure at the emergency room, but, based on the tests sent ahead, went straight into an angioplasty procedure.  

Two doctors approached me hours later.  
"The blood thinner he prescribed did the trick," one doctor stated, pointing to the other.  

"The angioplasty, he performed, prevented more damage," the other doctor explained.

I thanked them both.  Nena had experienced two strokes in 18 months as well as a seizure.  While there seemed to be substantially more damage, the brain has a wonderful, unexplainable capacity for overcoming such trauma, so who knows?

When I shared this with our son, he said:  "You both are a little crazy."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mike Hernandez III, The Inexact Science of Giving Away Money, United Way, VIDA

Bill and Melinda Gates
Giving away money can be a full-time job. Ask Bill and Melinda Gates, ramrods of the Bill Gates Foundation, a charity dispersing millions of dollars globally with a formula they themselves only understand.  Perhaps you recall that in 2013, the foundation gave a modest $4,000 donation to United Way of Southern Cameron County.  

With all the legitimate needs in the county, then local chairperson of United Way, Tracy Wickett, used the money for advertising at Tony Martinez' self-glorifying, sort of annual "State of the City" event, where Brownsville's fattest citizens dine at $50 a head or a gazillion per table.  

The fast-talking Wickett explained the head-scratching decision as reported in our blog article three years ago:  "We could have done our own event, but that might have been difficult with $4,000. By piggybacking on the mayor's event, we got more exposure than we could have generated on our own. We were very happy seeing our "All-In" program on the front page of the Brownsville Herald the next day and, of course, the mayor promoting us on stage."

Micheal Albert Hernandez III
Recently, Micheal Albert Hernandez III, formerly of Brownsville, but now residing in Colleyville, Texas near his luxury auto dealership, has received some criticism for his proposed charitable donations to bring Brownsville out of poverty by 2033.  We published the promises and platitudes from his group's OP 10.33 Facebook page in our January 5, 2016 article as well as listing Mike's promised monies for local needs including $2 million for United Brownsville, $1 million for BISD and Guadelupe Middle School.

Our article hinted that BISD's glaring need was not money, but competence.  Their current $550 million annual budget is sufficient to educate Brownsville's young with any kind of reasonable skill set.    As for United Brownsville, does Mike even realize this self-anointed, unelected bunch want to get their paws on development riches at the Port of Brownsville and the FM 550 industrial corridor? The much praised Guadelupe Middle School, likely Mayor Martinez favorite charity, seems to be a worthy recipient.

After our initial article on OP 10.33, we received this email:


If you want the truth behind OP, come to the sourceI am Director of Communications for OP1033. Lets talk.

Roger Lee

After agreeing to "talk," I was simply redirected to the group's Facebook page that I had essentially already quoted in its entirety in my article. So much for communication.

Speaking of charities and testimonials, a young man spoke at last week's Valley Interfaith Candidate Accountability Session, mentioning how VIDA was helping him progress educationally toward a job that would eventually pay him $40,000 a year, but also how lucky he was to live in the "city limits of Brownsville."

The phrasing in the testimonial made sense later in the program when Father Kevin Collins, co-chair of the VIF event, called our attention to the fact that the young man lived within the "city limits of Brownsville," while highlighting one of the group's "yes or no?" demands of local politicians; "Commit to $350,000 annually to extend the VIDA program beyond Brownsville to the rest of Cameron County."

I've no doubt of the honesty or sincerity of the young man testifying on behalf of VIDA, but can't help but notice the engineering of the testimonial, the coaching to coordinate it with further funding opportunities for the group.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Do West Brownsville's "No Road!" Petitioners Actually Believe Tony and Rose Listen?

Martinez, Gowen Confer During Town Hall
Meeting on West Rail Corridor Usage
Mayor Tony Martinez and City Commissioner Rose Gowen have absolutely zero interest in the opinions, needs or concerns of the taxpayers of Brownsville.  The FOUR town hall meetings scheduled to solicit the comments of taxpayers are merely designed to enhance, solidify and validate Rose and Tony's preferred use of the land under the old Union Pacific tracks and thwart Cameron County's plans for a road that would greatly enhance proposed subdivisions beyond Alton Gloor and land fronting the river adjacent to Amigoland.  The unethical pair are merely using the "No Road" petitioners as pawns in their game.

No, Mayor Tony is not a listener.  He CHOSE to avoid the town hall meeting on the proposed tripling of the city's parking meter rates leaving hey boy Ramiro Gonzalez to deal with the angry downtown business owners/taxpayers who opposed the increase.  Mayor Tony CHOSE to avoid the town hall meeting on the proposed giveaway of Lincoln Park to the ultra-rich UT system.  Martinez DID listen to former UTB President Juliet Garcia, who likely suggested Lincoln Park be included in the ransom for the satellite campus staying in the city. 

With respect to Commissioner Gowen, consider her ugly, condescending remarks framed to taxpayers who objected to her plan to reduce E. 6th Street, one of Brownsville's two principle arteries for truck traffic into the city, by one lane to allow for a bike lane:

Like the hypocrite she is, Rose Gowen addressed the West Brownsville residents assembled at the Oliveira Park Gymnasium with these phony words:  "We want to listen to you and know what you want. We're trying our best to listen to you."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Town Hall Meeting on West Rail Road Filled with Political Intrigue

Catching a few minutes of the Channel 12/Brownsville TV broadcast of last Thursday's town hall meeting on proposed uses for the land under the old Union Pacific tracks in West Brownsville, it became obvious this is a Brownsville vs. Cameron County issue.

It's also an Eddie Trevino vs. Dan Sanchez issue, both of whom are candidates for Cameron County Judge.

If Dan Sanchez outpoliticked Eddie Trevino at the Valley Interfaith Candidate Accountability Session last Monday, Trevino returned the favor Thursday at this town hall meeting at the Oliveira Park Gymnasium.  As we reported, Trevino seemed ill at ease at the VIF session, while Sanchez vociferously sang religious hymns while toting his 4 year old son on his belly.  At the speakers stand, Trevino questioned the inclusion of dollar amounts to several of the VIF's six proposals, while Sanchez rythmically sang "si, si, si . . . si, si, si," indicating his approval of all six unequivocally.

But, the "No Road" group at the town hall meeting seem to heavily favor Trevino.  Several speakers from the public lamented the fact than "no one from the county or the MPO" saw fit to attend the meeting, but thanked candidates Trevino and Bea Rosenbaum for their attendance.

District 4 City Commissioner John Villarreal chaired the meeting, reading out the names of those who signed up for public comment, with occasional pronunciation assistance from Commissioner Cesar de Leon, who sat to John's left.  Most commenters favored trail only use for the right of way, although some realtors and developers had evidently spoken out in favor of the road before I tuned in.

Sanchez at VIF event Monday
Dan Sanchez took several hits, not only for his nonattendance, but for comments made at other forums in support of a road or road/trail combination.  Sanchez has remained unimpressed with the fact that 5,000 have signed a petition for a trail only use.  Yesterday's Brownsville Herald provided this quote: “I understand 5,000 residents want a trail, but what about everyone else that needs access in and out of Brownsville? As county judge, you have to think globally about the entire region,” Sanchez said. “If we focus on one little area, then we’ve lost our job and focus as county leader.”

Inexplicably, after the last public commenter, meeting chairman Villarreal gave candidate Eddie Trevino an opportunity for the last word.  Trevino reiterated his support of a trail only use for the corridor.  "If we need a road 30 or 100 years from now, we can build it then," he stated.

Chairman Rose Gowen must have choked at her closing remarks to the citizens:  "We want to listen to you and know what you want.  We're trying our best to listen to you."  Many taxpayers may still remember Gowen's terse, disrespectful emails to citizen's who questioned the city's decision to reduce E. 6th Street, a primary downtown trucking artery, by one lane. 

Mayor Tony Martinez, who himself chose NOT to attend the town hall meetings on Lincoln Park and downtown parking meter raise, gave this profound quote:  “It’s important that the public understands that even though they are only one, that one counts."

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes Reports Lawsuit by City Attorney Sossi Against Blogger Juan Montoya

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes
Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, publisher of the Brownsville Voice, has reported a lawsuit by City Attorney Mark Sossi against another local blogger, Juan Montoya of El Rrun Rrun.

According to the filing, plaintiff Mark Sossi has retained Attorney Mark Sossi as legal counsel, perhaps mentally dismissing the fact that two previous attempts by the City Attorney to practice privately have resulted in charges of malpractice. Also ignored is the old adage: "a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client."

The filing notes an "Exhibit A," likely the February 11th blog article in which Montoya mentions serious issues with a female city employee, a reported suicide attempt and an investigation of a possible sexual assault.  These issues are sometimes difficult to prosecute as the alleged victims of William Cosby might readily acknowledge.

Should Sossi decide to go solo, Mr. Wightman could prove to be a possible lifeline, with contract paralegal services available at the rate of $250 per hour.  Actually, Wightman's offer specifically refers to defendant assistance should Alex Begum be included in the lawsuit.  Would he also come to Sossi's aid if solicited?  

The 2/12/16 court filing does not mention a dollar amount of damages, but a typically reliable source tells us that plaintiff Sossi is asking for $10,000,000.

Friday, February 19, 2016

REPOST: Representative Rene Oliveira Continues his Service to Linebarger While Doing Nothing for Brownsville

Rene Oliveira, Riding Roughshod Over
Brownsville While Serving Linebarger
Rene Oliveira always rides in the Charro Days parade and waves. He has done little else for our region in the last 28 years as State Representative. He talks a good game among "La raza", but when he gets to Austin, he forgets who he's supposedly representing. His only real work in Austin has been for the huge Linebarger law firm while doing zero, nada, zilch for the taxpayers of south Texas. Here is what this blog wrote February 2, 2012:

Rene Oliveira's salary as a "Representative" of District 37 which includes Brownsville and Cameron County is said to be $7,200. He is also retained by the Brownsville Independent School District as interim counsel. But it is his work for Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, LLP that gives his employer the most bang for the buck.

First, a little historical perspective: In 2001 Oliveira spearheaded a committee to remove a line in section 3308 of the tax code limiting the delinquent tax collection fee to 15%, subsequently including language allowing a tax collection fee rate of 20%. That bill sailed through the Ways & Means Committee of which Rene was chairman and was passed by the entire house. Considering Linebarger's near statewide presence in tax collection, how many millions of dollars did this sleight of hand add to the agency's coffers?

Now, fast forward to 2012. With Rene Oliveira retained by BISD as interim counsel, but still connected to Linebarger, the February 2, 2012 board meeting agenda contains an action item INCREASING the tax collection rate by 2.5%, netting the collection firm an extra $125,000. And who is that newly named firm? Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson LLP. (Please note: As documented by Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, Linebarger was a substantial contributor to the campaigns of BISD board members Longoria, Escobedo and Saavedra.) Who pays this extra fee and the millions of dollars collected since 2001 by the passage Rene Oliveira's house bill? The tax payers, the very people Representative Rene Oliveira claims to represent.

We must not limit Oliveira's traitorous betrayal of Brownsville and Cameron County to tax matters. We must not forget Oliveira's treacherous attempt to effectively nullify the 4-3 vote to preserve Texas Southmost College. Rene totally misrepresented the will of the people by trying to overturn that vote with a house bill essentially for unification. Only by the efforts of TSC Trustee Adela Garza to lobby the committee, carefully laying out the actual situation at UTB/TSC was Oliveira's attempted sabotage thwarted. Yes, Rene Oliveira is a representative, but not of the people of Brownsville, Cameron County and District 37.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

GBIC Board Meeting, 2/18/16: De Leon Wants GBIC and BCIC Board Meetings Shifted to City Commission Chambers

GBIC Attorney Mark Sossi, Board Members John Cowen, David Betancourt, Debbie Portillo, and Cesar de Leon.  City Finance Manager Lupe Granado(Photo by Nena Barton)

This blog publisher has talked till hoarse about making city board meetings more accessible to the taxpayers.  Typically, visitors sit on the fringe of a large table, nearly out of hearing of the discussion taking place.  Board members, without microphone enhancement or the will to speak loudly enough or distinctly enough for visitors to hear, discuss business involving millions of dollars of taxpayer money.  That description particularly applies to the GBIC and BCIC boards responsible for dispersing millions of Brownsville taxpayer dollars, 4A and 4B funds, on economic development and quality of life projects.

At Thursday's GBIC board meeting, City Commissioner Cesar de Leon introduced an agenda item to change the city bylaws to allow the GBIC and BCIC board meetings to be moved to the City Commission chambers on Elizabeth Street. 

De Leon stated this change would make the meetings "more transparent,"  as well as more accessible to the taxpayers.  He cited the "beautiful chambers we don't really make full use of." as a "user friendly forum."  

City and GBIC Attorney Mark Sossi offered to "draft a provision to bring this back for a vote next month," but admonished "we need to do this just once," asking other board members to submit proposed changes to the bylaws to be included in his draft.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

County Judge Candidate Eddie Trevino Lays An Egg at Valley Interfaith Accountability Session

Ill-At-Ease Eddie Trevino at VIF Event
County Judge candidate Eddie Trevino was unusually snippy as he took the podium at the Valley Interfaith Accountability Session Monday night.  Perhaps, he realized he'd been outpoliticked by Dan Sanchez who draped his four year old across his ample belly for the entire evening, even while vociferously belting out hymns to Jesus and rhythmically singing "si, si, si, si, si, si" to the six "yes or no" commitments required by the VIF.

Sanchez' coup de grace was making an exit just five minutes before the end of the meeting, passing by the hundreds of parishioners with his kid still in tow, stopping to tell Co-Chair Father Kevin Collins he must leave because of a prior commitment.  Damn fine playacting Daniel!

Eddie Trevino, on the other hand, bristled at dollar amounts being attached to several of the Valley Interfaith pre-written vows:  "How do we know that $150,000 will be in the budget for lighting in the colonias?" he asked, "or if that will even be enough?"

As Trevino passed by the sign-in stand making his exit, one of the VIF leaders asked:  "Will you be accessible to us, Mr. Trevino?"

"Wasn't I accessible as mayor?" countered Trevino?

Actually, Eddie Trevino has been very accessible to Fred Rusteberg, Carlos Marin and the United Brownsville bunch who desire control of development of the FM 550 industrial corridor. Unfortunately for Cameron County, neither Trevino or Sanchez will be worth a bowl of warm spit to the taxpayers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Brownsville Herald Runs Story Describing Priest Accused in 1960 Murder As "Compassionate"

John Feit at time of arrest
The family of teacher and former beauty queen Irene Garza, raped and slain in 1960, now must endure the added pain of an Associated Press article datelined Phoenix, published in the Brownsville Herald two days ago, that describes the accused perpetrator, John Feit, as a man of compassion.  The article, headlined by the Herald, "Former Priest Arrested in Cold Case Known for Compassion," describes Feit as a "regular, humble guy," a man of "humility and compassion."

Feit's brother, Matthias, was also quoted in the article:  
"You can find several hundred people in Phoenix who would say the same thing — a very kind man who helped others," Matthias Feit said.

Elizabeth Deven Hernandez, UTRGV Instructor
KRGV News, Channel 5 also ran a story with counterpoints in an interview with UTRGV Law and Justice Instructor Elizabeth Deven Hernandez.  

If you play the video above the online article, you can hear Hernandez remark:  "When you're talking about this kind of case, the social media, "justice for Irene," what if the physical evidence isn't there?  Is it really justice?"  

She also wants her students to think about the "cost to the city of McAllen" in retrying the case.  "Will he even get a fair trial?" she asks.

The young instructor's concern about McAllen's cost to prosecute may stem from the fact that Hernandez worked for the city in 2004 as a public information officer.  

The Brownsville Observer Nominates Dan Sanchez for "Father of the Year!"

Dan Sanchez at the podium with young son in tow
County Commissioner Dan Sanchez, who wants to be your next County Judge, carried his apparently asleep, young son to the podium at Monday's Valley Interfaith Accountability Session held in the metal building behind St. Eugene de Mazenod Catholic Church.

Some may assume that Sanchez simply picked the boy up for affect when his name was called to answer VIF's accountability questions, but that is not the case.

Big Sanchez clutched the sleeping little Sanchez from the moment they entered the building at 7:00 PM till they departed at 8:15. At least five times during the event the elder Sanchez lifted his 475 lb frame out of his chair without waking his boy; for hymn singing, the pledge of allegiance, the opening and closing prayers, and, of course, when he was called to the speaker's stand to give his pledge of support to the VIF's proposals. Dan may have been tempted to leave the lad with county judge opponent, Eddie Trevino, who sat next to him to the right of the stage, or with his brother, Judge David Sanchez, who sat with me and one of the local priests on the front row, but he chose instead to take personal responsibility for his son.

Not surprisingly, in this cynical age, one blog commenter to last night's article on the VIF forum accused Sanchez of pandering to his largely working class family audience by using his son as a mere prop.

Rather than question Sanchez' sincerity or make assertions about the child care situation in his family, the Brownsville Observer chooses, instead, to nominate Dan Sanchez for "Father of the Year!"

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valley Interfaith Accountability Session Sheds Light on Candidates' LNG Position

Co-Chairs Kevin Collins, O.M.I., Sonia Pizana
Local candidates were put on a short leash at the Valley Interfaith Accountability Session in the metal building behind the St. Eugene de Mazenod Catholic Church Monday night. They could only answer six questions "yes" or "no" and fill out their allotted two minutes with explanations for their positions.

All of the candidates initially said "yes" to $150,000 for lighting in the colonias, $350,000 to extend VIDA outside Brownsville city limits, flooding solutions, economic development and $700,000 to bring ambulance service to rural areas of the county.  Tax abatements for LNG companies was the issue of separation.

Bea Rosenbaum, a candidate for County Commissioner, Precinct 1, made it clear that she is out of step with Laguna Vista, Port Isabel and South Padre Island with respect to huge financial incentives offered to LNG companies: "We have to take each individual company at the time," she stated, not committing to making the multi-billion dollar companies pay their fare share of taxes in Cameron County.

To no one's surprise, Sofia Benavides, the precinct 1 incumbent, nearly copied Rosembaum's response.   

Joseph Cantu, Candidate for Precinct 1
Another precinct 1 candidate, Joseph Cantu, gave background on all six issues before presenting his unequivocal opposition, not only to tax abatements for LNG, but to the LNG industry itself slewing plants from the Port of Brownsville to Port Isabel:  "I worked in the petrochemical industry.  It's not a clean industry, but hazardous to our environment and community."

County Judge candidate Elizabeth Garza, did not get to elaborate on her LNG position in her two minutes.

"They keep saying that natural gas is a clean burning fuel, but the process of converting natural gas to a liquid is not a clean process.  I oppose the tax abatements and  I oppose LNG for our region, heavily dependent on tourism and a clean environment."


Joseph Cantu with daughter
Three liquefied natural gas (LNG) companies have their sights on South Texas, looking to build massive industrial facilities next to Port Isabel and South Padre Island on land that currently consists of wetlands and wildlife habitat.
If they are built, they will be connected to Texas fracking fields by hundreds of miles of 42” wide pipeline that will slice through ranches and towns from Kingsville through Harlingen and down to Port Isabel.
As they process the gas to liquefy and export it they will emit huge amounts of toxic volatile organic compounds and other pollutants into air that the prevailing wind will carry into Port Isabel’s public schools. They will also pump out greenhouse gases that will contribute to the global warming that already threatens South Padre Island with sea level rise and stronger hurricanes.
The companies state publicly that they will create hundreds of high-paying jobs, but in official filings Annova LNG was only willing to commit to 10 jobs at that would pay $36,000 per year. In exchange for employing fewer Texans than a single Whataburger franchise, they want millions of dollars worth of tax breaks from the state and Cameron County.
The idea that anyone, whether politician or private citizen, would support such a bad deal seems ludicrous. Yet many local politicians have lined up to do just that.
Cameron County needs elected officials who will stand up for its residents’ health and safety, and for a clean environment and economy.
That is why the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club is endorsing Joseph Cantu for Cameron County Commissioner precinct 1 in the Democratic primary.
Joseph Cantu has long been an outspoken opponent of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals that have been proposed for the Brownsville Ship Channel.
When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held an “open house” last summer, allowing the LNG companies to set up displays and present sales pitches while restricting the public to giving statements to court reporters in a secluded corner, the Sierra Club teamed up with other local groups to stage a rally allowing residents to publicly air their concerns. Joseph Cantu took the stage and laid out a cogent and impassioned argument for preserving our environment and rejecting LNG.

Last September Annova LNG asked the Cameron County Commissioners Court for a tax break valued at $25 million. In the face of strong public opposition the Commissioners tabled, but did not reject outright, Annova’s request. This will come before the Commissioners again, and it is likely that the other LNG companies will also ask for big tax breaks.
This is why this race is so important to the Sierra Club and to the voters of Cameron County.
In response to a questionnaire that the Sierra Club sent to all of the candidates, Cantu said, “I am categorically and vehemently opposed to giving tax abatements to any and all proposed LNG companies. The landscape, water and clean air will be changed in this area forever if LNG companies open here and there is no amount of money that will replace the health of our children and the resources in our community.”
In contrast the precinct 1 incumbent, Sofia Benavides, has repeatedly spoken in favor of the LNG companies.In 2012 Benavides wrote a letter of support for Gulf Coast LNG on her official letterhead. In 2015 she signed a letter to FERC that said, “I would like to offer my support to NextDecade, LLC in its development of its proposed multi-billion dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility, Rio Grande LNG.”
While the letter gives the impression that she is personally enthusiastic about the project, the wording appears to have been written by the LNG company. Even though it was printed on her letterhead, it was bundled with 15 other letters of support that are nearly identical and were submitted to FERC by Rio Grande LNG. The “I would like to offer my support” sentence is repeated almost word-for-word in all 15 letters.
Cameron County deserves a Commissioner who will work for the people rather than for polluting industries, who values clean air for school children and unspoiled habitat for wildlife, someone who understands that the millions of tourists who visit South Padre Island come to fish and swim don’t want to see a flare stack when they watch the sun set.
This is why the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club is endorsing Joseph Cantu for Cameron County Commissioner for precinct 1, and why it is so important for Cameron County voters to make their voices heard in the primaries between now and March 1.

Do Brownsville and Cameron County Voters Tolerate Corruption or Demand It?

A prolific, local blog commenter keeps preaching to us that Brownsville and Cameron County voters don't simply "tolerate corruption, they demand it."  He then refers to one local party as the "Dumbocratic" party, a phrase that reduces his argument to forgettable, partisan hype.  Anyone who thinks political corruption is exclusive to Democrats is either naive or simply too young to remember Richard Milhous Nixon, Spiro Theodore Agnew, Watergate and assorted corruption on the Republican side.

Illustrative of the difficulty in supporting a candidate NOT tainted by support of voter fraud, nepotism or shady deals is this years District Attorney race on the Democratic side.  Neither candidate, Luis Saenz or Carlos Masso, inspires much confidence in terms of fighting political corruption.

Carlos Masso
I'm curious.  Why are some in our community still supporting Carlos Masso for District Attorney after his close and obvious association with poliqueras, Herminia Becerra and Margarita Ozuna.  Masso even defended Ozuna in court, carefully controlling her testimony and demeanor. Do you really not care that mail-in ballots have been routinely controlled by politiqueras in exchange for pan dulce, cigarettes or trinkets? 

Notorious Politiquera Herminia Becerra
In 2012 Luis Saenz was given every opportunity to explain his association with longtime politiquera Herminia Becerra.  He chose to not explain the relationship despite opportunities relayed through two of his advisers.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Poster Child for Non-Traditional Students" Declares for TSC Trustee Place 5

Ruben Herrera understands the impact of education in his life. The Alonzo Building on E. St. Charles Street was filled with his mentors, landladies and friends Thursday night.

"I was 28, married, with two kids, and no GED when I talked to a counselor at TSC,"  stated Ruben Herrera at his meet and greet.  "They told me to get a couple of recommendations and come back."

Herrera went on to get a masters degree and a license to practice law, but now wants to assist young people like himself as a TSC trustee.

Obviously, Herrera has community support as the Alonzo Building was packed.  TSC trustees Adela Garza and Trey Mendez were there. Current candidates for politcal office passed out their push cards.

Jerry McHale, fit and tanned, tried to approach the bar, but was briefly detained by my request to "not serve this man."

Perhaps my friend Kiko Rendon will declare for another trustee spot considering Herrera's support.

Ruben Herrera, Candidate for TSC Trustee Place 5

It's Not Gross Obesity That Makes Dan Sanchez Unfit for County Judge

With every blog story mentioning Dan Sanchez, the fat jokes and comments proliferate.  We reprint one of the milder, but brutally honest, examples: Dan Sanchez is not "portly", he is grossly obese and a slob. Dan is an arrogant asshole and bearing his own weight is his only interest. He has gotten too fat by sucking on the public tit....time for him to go to the "fat farm"....out of government.

Yet, it is not the young man's weight, primarily, that disqualifies him for office.  Yes, the obvious lack of SELF-control gives pause and the city's Bible readers tell me that the "Good Book" associates gluttony with greed, but Dan's battle with the fork is largely a personal health issue.

Actually, big Dan could lose 300 lbs tomorrow, trimming down to a svelte 175 and still not be the man Cameron County needs or wants as county judge.

Here are some excerpts from our December article, identifying a larger issue than Sanchez' voracious appetite:  

When Dan Sanchez looks in the mirror, he sees a clever, ambitious man implementing a brilliant strategy to gain the county judgeship. While other potential candidates wallow in indecision, Dan has been unabashedly pandering to longtime politicos Aurora de la Garza and Joe Rivera, hoping to use their reciprocated support as a springboard to the judgeship.

When a brouhaha developed, not only over naming a satellite county building after the long tenured, but mediocre clerks, De la Garza and Rivera, but adding a non-approved, but exhorbitant $2,500 portrait of the two to be hung in the building, Sanchez saw an opportunity for heroism, if not sainthood. He offered to personally foot the bill for the portrait of the sleazy duo, sparing the taxpayers of the cost of the non-purchase order bill, but also hopefully ingratiating himself with the subjects of the inappropriate portrait. A Dr. Robert Robles fundraiser spared Sanchez from writing a check to cover the cost of the portrait.

Ever the opportunist, Sanchez racked his brain for another covert way to show his devotion to the two clerks. When it was mentioned that both Rivera and De la Garza had worked longer for the county than Tax Assessor Tony Yzaquirre, yet worked for a smaller salary, Sanchez snuck in an addendum to the commissioners court minutes authorizing a $2,000 raise for both clerks. When Sanchez sneaky actions created an uproar, Dan offered to have the money deleted from his own salary, again illustrating his willingness to spend for support for his county judgeship run.

These two incidents alone prove that Dan Sanchez is NOT the person Cameron County needs as county judge. In a county plagued by reciprocating personal favors, nepotism, job after job handed to the relatives of county officials, the LAST person Cameron County needs as county judge is someone openly pandering for support by putting money into the pockets of county officials.

When the time comes, Cameron County must say "NO" to Dan Sanchez for County Judge.

Joseph Cantu, Candidate for Cameron County Commissioner, Precinct 1

From the editor:  Joseph Cantu, a longshot candidate for Cameron County Commissioner, Precinct 1, presents himself in the video below. He is an alternative to the clueless Sofia Benavides and Bea Rosenbaum, a former commissioner's widow who supports LGN.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Anti-LNG Group Calling for Election of Three New Port Commissioners to Protect Local Cities from Petrochemical Pollution





CANDIDATE FILING DEADLINE FEB 19 (Call Deborah Duke, 956-831-4592 for details and required forms)

The Brownsville Navigation District, doing business as the Port of Brownsville, has been very quiet about the Feb 19 filing deadline and May 7 elections.  Our local news media has also been very quiet about all this.

LNG: The Port knew LNG was heading our way in 2012 but we didn't hear about it until 2014.  The Port is officially neutral about LNG but continues to help Annova LNG, Texas LNG, and Rio Grande LNG gain community support for their proposed operations at the Port.  The Port continues to defend LNG as safer than it is, using a UT Austin report funded by LNG and LNG-related companies.  The Port continues to tell us all to wait for and accept the decision of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about whether or not these LNG operations can be built at the Port, even though FERC has a long history of finding some way to approve all such operations.  And even though a number of local towns and groups have shown great personal and political courage in officially opposing LNG -- including the cities of Laguna Vista, Port Isabel, South Padre Island, and Long Island VillageAND the Port Isabel school board (which turned down Annova LNG's request for a tax break).  See, for example "HOW INDUSTRY AND REGULATORS KEPT PUBLIC IN THE DARK AFTER 2014 LNG EXPLOSION IN WASHINGTON," Tarika Powell, 02-08-2016, Sightline Institute,

OUR BEST WAY TO STOP LNG?  Elect three new Port Commissioners who take the health, safety, and local economies of all the people here seriously as well as the growth and development of the Port.  Elect a Cameron County Judge and Cameron County Commissioners opposed to tax breaks for the LNG companies.  Attend the saveRGVfromLNG Brownsville meeting this Thursday evening (see below).

Centurion's Highly Flammable Condensate Trains:  Two trains a day, 120 rail tanker cars each, each filled with highly flammable condensate (a very light form of crude oil sometimes called "natural gasoline").  Centurion and Union Pacific have not been honest with us about the number of trains or the safety issues involved.  The health of those living along the track will suffer and their lives and property will be put at risk without them having any say so about any of this -- if everything goes the way Centurion, Union Pacific, OmniTRAX, and the Port wants them to go.  The trains will be running through Kingsville, Raymondville, Lyford, Harlingen, San Benito, Olmito, and Brownsville.  If there's a derailment and fire, the recommendation is to clear a 1/2 mile area in all directions around the derailment.  Most railroad lines carry no liability insurance to cover such accidents.  Even apart from such accidents, the fumes and exhausts from diesel train engines will increase the rate of cancers, bronchitis, and asthma among those living and working near the track.  For additional information, see:
"Oil Trains To Rumble Through Raymondville," Letter To The Editor, Raymondville Chronicle,02-10-2016

"Our Rio Grande Valley is in danger," Letter To The Editor, 02-04-2016, Port Isabel South Padre Press,

"US Lifts Crude Oil Export Ban," KRGV Channel 5 TV News, 01-07-2016,

"Environmentalists Voice Concerns about Oil Transport Company," Channel 5 News, 01-28-2016,

"Port Concerns," CBS Channel 4 News, 02-02-2016,

"Who pays if a crude oil train crashes? No mandates for rail insurance," Brian Nearing, 05-02-2015, Albany Times Union,

"There Will Be Blood - Oil Train Regulations Fail To Address Known Risks," Justin Mikulka, 01-17-2016, DeSmog,

"Why Northwest Doctors Oppose Oil-by-Rail Development,"  Tarika Powell and Eric de Place, 09-02-2015, Sightline Institute,

OUR BEST WAY TO STOP CENTURION'S HIGHLY FLAMMABLE CONDENSATE TRAINS?  Elect three new Port Commissioners who take the health, safety, and local economies of all the people here seriously as well as the growth and development of the Port.  Convene a Council of Mayors to address the harm and risks their communities will suffer if this operation is allowed to move forward.   Attend the saveRGVfromLNG Brownsville meeting this Thursday evening (see below).

Explosive Oil Trains:  The Port of Brownsville is expanding its oil export capabilities.  This will invite explosive oil trains to follow Centurion's highly flammable condensate trains through all the communities along the rail line from Kingsville to the Port plus explosive oil trains from Mexico (crossing the new international railroad bridge on the edge of Brownsville near BISD's Veterans Memorial High School and the River Bend Resort and Golf Club retirement community).  The Port conducted a Public Hearing on Feb 4 on a $28 million bond deal that includes the building of a new oil dock and the repair of an old one (also called "Liquid Cargo Docks").  Because the Port was pretty hush hush about the hearing, only four members of the public attended.  The Port doesn't need a public vote on the deal.  In fact, on Feb 3 the Port Board authorized the Port Director & CEO "to enter into an agreement with Lanier & Associates Consulting Engineers, Inc. for engineering services on the Liquid Cargo Dock Repairs project" (Feb 3 Meeting Agenda).

OUR BEST WAY TO STOP THE EXPLOSIVE OIL TRAINS FROM HEADING OUR WAY?  Elect three new Port Commissioners who take the health, safety, and local economies of all the people here seriously as well as the growth and development of the Port.   Attend the saveRGVfromLNG Brownsville meeting this Thursday evening (see below).

~~~  ~~~  ~~~  ~~~

Thursday February 11 saveRGVfromLNG Brownsville meeting:

At the Galeria 409 Art Gallery, 409 E 13th Street, downtown Brownsville.
Everyone welcome.
Newcomer orientation at 6 pm, business meeting at 6:30 pm.
Visit saveRGVfromLNG on Facebook

Inline image 1
Galeria 409 Art Gallery, 409 E 13th St, downtown Brownsville


Grandson Jack in Market Square Walking with grandson Jack downtown is a challenge.  He frolicks, skips, cuts in front of you, runs ahead,...