Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why Did the BCIC Spend Our Money on a Full Page Ad in the Brownsville Herald?

The BCIC is not a grocery chain needing to advertise weekly specials.  They are not selling insurance, hearing aids, cemetery plots or pizza.  Why, then, did the distributor of so-called "quality of life" tax dollars need to spend hundreds of hard-earned tax dollars by taking out a full page ad in Sunday's Brownsville Herald to advertise itself?

And make no mistake.  Every penny spent by the BCIC, the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, comes from taxes drawn from the country's poorest community.

Incredibly, a 16 inch column, positioned on the left side of the full page ad, gives us a "bio" of board member Evarardo "Eddy" Galvan.  We learn where he works, his job description, where he went to high school and what he studied at UT-Brownsville.  Who the hell cares?  More importantly, why should the taxpayers pay for Eddy's promo?

The full page ad at taxpayer's expense is just the latest example of the BCIC's disrespectful, frivolous squandering of tax monies.  Last year, after complaining about their cramped, but free, quarters within the city commission building, the BCIC entered into a lease on half of a small building, costing the taxpayers $86,983 the first year, not including janitorial services.

Even if the BCIC "needed" an office, why not use available space at City Plaza, the unused second floor at Market Square or any one of 13 buildings purchased by the city for $3.5 million in 2012, now sitting idle, decaying?

Just because state law permits using 1/4 cent from each retail dollar taxed in the city doesn't authorize the BCIC to waste or squander any of the nearly $5 million generated each year to improve the "quality of life" of Brownsville's citizens.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Visit to Hanoi~JC of Retirecheap.Asia

Interstate 69/Ruben Torres Blvd Panhandler Angered by Photos

Waiting at the stoplight of I-69 and Ruben Torres Blvd., we saw an elderly man walking back from the convenience store with two red "tall boys," likely Budweiser, in paper sacks.  He put the beverages into a black bag near one of the overpass pillars and quickly went back to "work," begging for money from the waiting traffic.

The instant he noticed me taking pictures with my phone, he walked toward our car, eventually approaching the driver's side window and yelling:  "Fuck you, bitch!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Help! Help! The Big, Bad Bloggers Are Exposing Me!!!"

Analyzing the Disconnect Between Dr. Lily Tercero and the TSC Board of Trustees

Dr. Lily Tercero
Leaving the Gorgas Board Room yesterday after the public hearing, walking the wooden corridor between buildings, we turned the corner to see former TSC President, Dr. Lily Tercero, using her cell phone to take a picture through the curtains of her old office.  Was she gathering evidence for a possible court challenge to her dismissal or simply getting one last pic of her old workplace for nostalgia's sake?

Who knows?  It's her business, not ours.  But, the incident reminds us that Tercero is a person, not some sort of demon entity.  Chief Budget Officer and, later, Vice Chancellor for Information of Technical Services at Tarrant County College, when the job of President of Texas Southmost College opened up, she applied for the $220,000 position and was hired.  She can't be faulted for that.

Perhaps, an early warning sign was Tercero's dependency on her Fort Worth mentor, Dr. Leonardo de la Garza, brought along for the ride at $180,000 annually.  It was as if TSC was getting one president for the price of two.

Then, there were mumbles among faculty about "micromanagement."  College professors, generally, expect some latitude in how they manage the classroom, teach.  There was considerable attrition among faculty.  Was it lower than average salaries, families not wanting to live in Cameron County or Tercero herself?

My experience tells me that employers, companies, corporate boards decide to make a change and then search for a reason that represents a violation of the contract.  Verbal warnings, discipline can be used to document the "problem" over time, or the vulnerable employee may end up just "giving" the employer what they need or want, a clear cut violation.

Tercero did the latter with her obvious mishandling of the windstorm protection contract. While Attorney Illmer argued that there was some precedent for simply renewing the windstorm contract without putting it out for bids, it was Tercero's responsibility to "know" the proper procedure.  Besides, former Finance Administrator Chet Lewis had made it clear in 2015 that the following year the windstorm contract must be put out for bids, Request for Proposal.

A mistake, even more critical, in terms of TSC's future, was the demise of the nursing program on Tercero's watch without letting the Board of Trustees know things were rapidly deteriorating. If a school graduates nursing students who then cannot pass the state exam, the State of Texas suspends the program, simple as that.  Why should students waste their money in a program where most are not learning?

Kept out of the proverbial loop and annoyed, some board trustees became demanding, wanting "voluminous" documents, as Tercero phrased it. Attorney Illman makes a good point that Tercero can't respond adequately to "seven bosses," nor should she, but frustration with not being informed was agitating some on the board.

Board member Dr. Reynoldo Garcia even broke ranks with the Board of Trustees, sending an email to Dr. Tercero apologizing for the "tyrannical"(his adjective) oversight by board chairman Adela Garza.  

While the mishandling of the insurance contract and the hiding of the nursing program failure were extremely serious, a third issue, the "signing" of checks with obsolete stamp signatures was more of a symbolic issue, but a fascinating one.

The instant Tercero or someone in the finance department stamped that first check with the obsolete signature of Francisco Rendon or Ed Rivera, they knew it.  That should have triggered a simple job order to make two stamps for the new trustees.  But, communication had broken down and ill feelings between the president and the board had set in.  It was easier for Tercero to just say nothing than confer with "the enemy."

So, Ruben Herrera did what all red-blooded men do when disrespected:  he demanded all the bills be sent to him for approval, a request Tercero found overwhelming.  

Tercero could simply have said: "Hey Ruben, this is Lily.  I'm so sorry but I forgot to have your stamp made.  Please give me a day and I will get this oversight corrected."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Arguments Heard in TSC Public Hearing. Tercero Is Terminated for Cause, Without Pay

Richard A. Illmer, Attorney for Dr. Lily Tercero
Monday's TSC public hearing was more about money than termination. Richard A. Illmer, Dr. Tercero's attorney, stopped just short of doing the math for us, saying Tercero had 2-1/2 years left on her $220,000 annual contract to run the school, "nearly $500,000," and, if you decide to terminate, you must pay her." 

Actually, Richard, 2.5 X $220,000=$560,000, quite a hunk of change for the country's poorest region to pay a president for NOT doing her job.

Dallas lawyer Illman may not have earned his money, if his assignment was to convince the trustees not to terminate Tercero or, at least, terminate with pay.

"The board, like any other employer, has the right to terminate an employee, with or without cause. You don't even have to have this hearing to do that," Illman lectured.

Next, Illman called for trustees Trey Mendez and Adela Garza to be recused from voting on Tercero's termination for public comments hinting at their leanings.(Illman did not call for Reynaldo Garcia, D.D.S., to be recused, despite his pro-Tercero public comments.) Perhaps not intentionally, but the Dallasite never quite got the handle on the board chairman's name, calling her, variously, De la Garza, Dr. de la Garza, Garcia and, once, by her first name, Adela. He used every second of the 90 minutes allotted to him for oral arguments, but, still fell short, the final results being a 5-2 vote for termination without pay.

TSC Attorney Frank Perez
Although stretched out by TSC Attorney Frank Perez into nine separate points, there were actually three primary issues against Tercero: Entering into a renewal contract with a firm for windstorm protection without consulting the board, not informing the board of the terrible dropoff in passing rates for the state nursing test for students of the nursing program, leading to the program's suspension, and making hundreds of thousands of dollars in payouts using signature stamps of individuals no longer on the Board of Trustees.

Dr. Tercero, in aqua jacket, listens to Attorney Illman
Attorney Illman said it was Chet Lewis, TSC Vice President for Financial Affairs, who "dropped the ball" on the windstorm policy renewal.  Carlos Pecero, the school's controller, also confirmed to Tercero that the insurance agreement had been "approved" by the board in 2012, according to Illman.

Several times, Attorney Illman described Tercero as a "humble servant leader," that had to build a university "from the ground up, achieving accreditation "in record time."  The windstorm policy renewal "snuck up on her," he said.

After making his rebuttal to allegations by TSC Attorney Frank Perez, Attorney Illman tried to call his client, Dr. Lily Tercero, to the podium.

Board Chairman Adela Garza reiterated that no testimony from Dr. Tercero would be heard and moved for progression into a closed executive session.  

Attorney Illman protested the closed session, asking instead for an "open discussion" of the charges against Tercero.  

Nena and I could not stay for the results of the executive session, but have learned the vote was 5-2 for termination without pay.

Friday, September 16, 2016

OP 10.33's Mike Hernandez III~"A Boy Named Sue!"

"I want to thank the Brownsville Herald for their coverage"

Did David Hughston Throw Former Airport Director Larry Brown Under the Plane in CAF Museum Request?

Display in Current CAF Museum, 955 S. Minnesota Ave.
The Rio Grande Valley Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (Formerly Confederate Air Force before 2002) wants a new building to house their Brownsville Historical Transportation Museum, now sort of nestled within the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport on S. Minnesota Avenue.  An unspecified location on Boca Chica Boulevard, the group feels, would give the museum greater visibility.

Agenda item #6 for this past Thursday's meeting of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation was related to the proposed, new CAF museum:

Consideration and Action to Approve the deadline extension for the Phase I-Brownsville Historic Transportation Museum(BHTM) Site Plan and Preliminary Engineering Project from May 31, 2016 to December 29, 2016.

Airport Director Bryant Walker at BCIC 
Actually, this money, initially $50,000, was approved in 2014 by the BCIC, with the caveat that the FAA(Federal Aviation Authority) match the $50,000, for engineering and site plans. Airport Director Bryant Walker was at the BCIC board meeting to speak on behalf of the extension. Walker stated that the airport had no money in their budget for the preliminary site plans.

Interestingly, within the agenda packet, furnished by the BCIC, was an email memo from David Hughston, Finance Officer of the RGV Wing of the CAF, to Cori Pena, the Project Coordinator at BCIC.  

David Hughston, Finance Officer, RGV Wing
In that email, Hughston asks for the extension, while blaming the delay, not only on Larry Brown's retirement as Airport Director, but, also states that "prior to leaving his position he failed to adequately convey to the airport engineering firm, CH2MHIL(Jerry Farrar), precisely what we wanted."

Little in the way of criticism has been heard about Larry Brown, who retired July 2015 after 42 years of service with the City of Brownsville.  Yet, he had no prior experience running an airport before being named Airport Director in 2003, primarily working in the city's planning department and on insurance matters.

Below is a copy of Hughston's email to Cori Pena:  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Are We Witnessing the Demise of United Brownsville, Our Taxpayer Supported, Unelected, Shadow Government?

BCIC Board Meeting, 9/15/2016
Let's jump straight to the bombshell.  The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, meeting in its unnecessarily leased building on Village Drive Thursday at 3:00 PM, was considering approval of its 2017 budget, when city commissioner and board member, John Villarreal, raised a question about the $20,000(formerly $25,000) allotted for United Brownsville.

"We've heard some things about that group recently.  Some entities are no longer sending their contribution.  What if we send $20,000 and the group falls apart?  Can we 'protect our money,' so to speak?"

That was the first we'd heard about United Brownsville disbanding.  It wasn't until we got back home later tonight and read Juan Montoya's El Rrun Rrun about Mike Gonzalez not being retained as executive director that any "discouraging words" about United Brownsville had been heard from city sources.

BCIC Executive Director Rebeca Castillo
This and other blogs have been over this many times.  No one can explain what United Brownsville does to deserve $20,000 in taxpayer money from BCIC. BCIC's Executive Director Rebeca Castillo mumbled something about the resaca projects.  Give me a break! United Brownsville did not initiate, is not funding, supervising or organizing the resaca renewal.  It is just one of many city projects they talk about in their meetings, as it it were their own, in a feeble attempt to justify their existence and squandering of tax dollars to administrate that existence.  It's a clever con, but a con, nonetheless.

Certainly, it's questionable that the Cameron County Commissioners Court would choose to fund a group promoting only one city in the county.  To their credit, they've ceased to contribute.

A case could be made for the idiocy of Texas Southmost College to contribute to an entity tied to only one city in their very extended tax base and intended student recruitment.  Why should parents in Harlingen, for example, pay tuition to TSC, knowing that part of that money will be used to "promote Brownsville?"  Texas Southmost College no longer funds United Brownsville.

The Port of Brownsville has ceased contributing.

When P.U.B. contributes money to United Brownsville, it comes from ratepayers who've already paid once as City of Brownsville residents, then, once again from BCIC taxpayer dollars and, then again, from GBIC taxpayer dollars.  If they pay tuition for their kids to go to TSC or have a home in Brownsville or Cameron County, they pay dues, yet again to United Brownsville.

Yet, the voters have never elected one person to serve on the United Brownsville Coordinating Committee.  

Bringing the GBIC to the City Chambers~A Great Idea, Poorly Implemented!

Our second meeting of the day, the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, held Thursday at 5:30 PM in the City Commission chambers, was a wasted trip.

A couple months ago, when Commissioner Cesar de Leon proposed transferring the GBIC meetings from the BEDC Board Room at ITEC to the commission chambers, it seemed like a great idea: greater public access, and, especially, use of the public address system so the entire audience could hear clearly how $4,500,000 in 4A "economic development" tax dollars were being dispersed, how those projects were weighed and SERIOUSLY considered by thoughtful, prepared, grownup board members.  

At meeting time, 5:30 PM, two board members, John Cowen, Jr. and David Betancourt were sitting in the elevated seats of the City Commission chambers, idly chitchatting.  I told Nena they must be waiting for a third member to constitute a quorum, but they shared nothing with the "audience" in the way of an explanation.

At 5:45 PM, GBIC Board Chairman Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa appeared, moving quickly into her chair to start the meeting.  She may have apologized for tardiness, but we could hear nothing from the other side of the "1931 original rail," separating the City Commission from the public and "preserving the intregrity" of the chambers, according to the plaque on the rail.  The public address system, consisting of microphones in front of each board member was not turned on.

Since, there was nothing to learn from a so-called "public" board meeting we could not hear, we left.

Actually, Nena and I were most likely the entire, non-participatory members of the "audience." Luis Granado was there for yet another inaudible finance report.  Gilbert Salinas, sat behind us, pouring over his notes for an economic report. Jason Hilts conferred a couple times with City Attorney Mark Sossi.  I suspect the mother and two daughters also in the audience were their to "testify" about the wonders of VIDA, a program up for monthly funding approval.
Emile Berliner, with his 1876 invention, the microphone

The microphone was invented by Emile Berliner in 1876.  When will City of Brownsville board members learn how to use them?  Perhaps, more importantly, when will these board members, moving millions of tax dollars around annually, begin to understand the meaning of a "public" board meeting or that "accessible" means not just allowed in the room but being able to hear the meeting?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Attorney Ernesto Gamez Flops, Fails and Falls Down in Second Hearing to Throw Out Hit-and-Run Case

Brownsville Attorney Ernesto Gamez (on the right)
Attorney Ernesto Gamez, once recommended for a $50,000 retainer by con-artist Carlos Quintanilla, to a local mother wanting to get her son off the hook for murder, now fights like the pedestrian lawyer he is, to get the hit-and-run case against Marisa Govea Hernandez thrown out.

Judge René De Coss
It's not like the old days when judges like Abel Limas could be slipped a couple grand for a little consideration.  Now, in Judge René De Coss's 445th District Court, Gamez must present actual legal arguments. So far, Gamez is batting 0-4 in attempts to have the case against Marisa Govea Hernandez in the 2/28/15 hit-and-run death of Mary Tipton, thrown out.

Marisa Govea Hernandez
At the August 30, 2016 hearing, Gamez started with a frontal attack, claiming Judge De Coss himself hadn't signed all the orders of the court. The judge quashed that with a simple "not true."

Next up, at the last hearing, was Gamez claim that the Brownsville Police Department's amateurish mishandling of a security camera tape, showing the entire 2/28/2015 accident, inexplicably reducing the original tape from 3 days to 30 seconds(way to go, BPD!) prevented Gamez from "confronting" BPD Detective Thomas Clipper about contradictory statements made concerning the case.  

BPD Detective Thomas Clipper
Gamez 3914 motion to throw out the case included the claim that the missing evidence would prevent him from showing that his defendant's 911 call resulted in a police officer scouring FM 803 "to the left and the right" with his "cop lights." That, according to Gamez, was part of the defendant's "attempt to render aid" that, now could not be demonstrated because of the BPD's inept, irresponsible control of evidence.

Attorney Gamez took another tact in today's hearing, but was no more successful.  He tried to argue that a proposed $10.3 million dollars in approved funding by the Texas Department of Transportation for upgrades to FM 803, the road on which Mary Tipton was struck, proved the road to be "unsafe" and that there had been "multiple fatalities" on the road.  When Judge René De Coss
asked Gamez if the court had that evidence, he turned to lead prosecutor Oscar Guzman, saying: "he knows about it."  De Coss was not buying.

Something I missed:  Attorney Gamez mumbled something I simply could not hear.  After the hearing, I was informed that he had implied that the husband, Ralph Tipton, could very well have been the one to have tossed his wife's body into the ditch along FM 803.  Judge De Coss was having not entertaining that.  By several accounts, Tipton was in Houston when his wife was murdered.

0-4, Gamez.

Meanwhile, my Facebook account received a message from a "Norma Guevarra," with a front and back copy of a protective order filed by Mary Tipton against her husband, Ralph Tipton, in 2013. The complaint, filed by Mary Tipton, in her handwriting, claims "15 years" of physical abuse, causing bodily injury by Ralph Tipton, death threats and verbal abuse. 

The communication from "Norma," began with:

"I dont want to take much of your time nor do i need or want you to post this but this is for you to read so you know the type of person you are supporting!"

But, a few minutes later, when "Norma" noticed I'd not posted the protective order on my blog, she took a different tone:

"Why do you only share his side with no evidence? Yet i provide you with all the evidence and facts and you dont post them?"

The obvious point is:  Ralph Tipton may have been an abusive husband, but that's irrelevant to the case.  His wife was struck by a driver, who, allegedly, did not stop and render aid.  Her body was found in a ditch three days later.  Whether or not Ralph Tipton was an abusive husband has nothing to do with that.

This case has not been one of the district attorney's office's finest.  Most of their evidence against Marisa Govea Hernandez, has been furnished in depositions by the husband of the victim, Ralph Tipton.  Those depositions, called "third party," by Judge De Coss, may subsequently be thrown out.

Luis V. Saenz' office seems to have not done an investigation of their own.  Rumors that the office has stumbled onto evidence of something in Marisa Govea Hernandez' background that gives her greater "capacity to engage in further criminal conduct" are unconfirmed.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hearing in Mary Tipton Case Set for Wednesday @ 1:30 PM in 445th District Court Before Judge De Coss

Marisa Govea Hernandez
A hearing involving possible charges against Marisa Govea Hernandez, the alleged hit-and-run driver in an accident killing Mary Tipton, will be heard Wednesday @ 1:30 PM in 445th District Court presided over by Judge Rene De Coss.

We've learned that Ernesto Gamez, attorney for the defendant, may try to demonstrate that FM 803, the road where Mary Tipton was struck on February 28, 2015, is essentially an unsafe road with other fatalities  on record.

Monday, September 12, 2016

BISD 5th Graders to Get Internet Ready Tablets by October. Is 5th Grade Too Late?

BISD's latest superintendent to likely to be fired and receive salary in full, Esperanza Zendejas, was quoted in today's Brownsville Herald, stating that BISD fifth graders will be soon receiving a tablet with a keyboard.

Great move!

Kids are already getting educated by the computer. Recently Nena and I were behind a three year old girl in the passenger seat of an H.E.B. shopping cart, pressing all the buttons on her tablet.  We have no idea if she was gaming, buying stock or messaging her internet boyfriends.

What we do know is that any education in 2016 that excludes computer skills will not satisfy her or her peers.

Superintendent Zendejas, choosing to issue tables to fifth graders, may have felt that younger kids would not be responsible with a tablet, but millions of other kids, much younger, all across the U.S., are already exploring the internet, pushing themselves far ahead of Brownsville kids.

Give the kids a tablet in kindergarten or first grade, not 5th grade, at nearly the halfway point of their secular education.  Incorporate keyboard training with learning the ABCs. 

Yesterday, CNN interviewed 5 kids from an up north school about the presidential election.  4 of the kids were 7, one was 6.  All were loquacious and informed about Clinton and Trump.  Even if they were handpicked, their skill set was impressive.

These are the kids Brownsville students will be competing with in the next dozen years or so for well-paying jobs outside the region.  Locally, the jobs will be limited.

Young kids need keyboard and ten-key instruction to navigate 21st century equipment.

Bicycle Rentals Available at City Plaza If You Have Access to a Tablet, Smart Phone or I-Pad and Can Get A Ride Downtown

If you're without transportation, you now have an additional option. You can walk, thumb a ride or take Brownsville Metro most of the way to City Plaza.  There you will find a Zagster bike rack with locked bicycles available for rent.

Derek at Zagster headquarters was not as cooperative as he was last week, when we reported the installation of the rack and tried to ascertain the rental rates, and would not give us the direct number to the company's marketing department.  No problem. We already had it.

Shanika, at the rental desk, asked first for the city and then, the zip code.  

"I found it!" she finally said and quoted us the rental rates for those wanting to use one of the bicycles in the rack along E. Levee in front of City Plaza.

The rates quoted by Shanika were far lower than those on the Fort Wayne, Indiana website. Hopefully, she wasn't as confused as she seemed.  

"It's 35.00 annually or $15.00 per month or $2.00 per hour, " Shanika stated.  

"Well, you'd be better off paying $2.00 per hour than $15.00 per month AND $2.00 per hour," I offered.

"No, if you pay the $15..00 per month or $35.00 per year, your first daily hour is free.  Your $2.00 per hour starts with the second hour," explained Shanika.

Would-be riders, who make it as far as City Plaza to rent a bike, will need an I-Pad, tablet or smart phone to download the Zagster App, so they can give the fledgling company their credit card information.  

Apart from being remotely connected to the internet, there is the matter of getting to City Plaza to rent a bike.  Good luck!  

Car Crashes Into Convenience Store at Central Blvd, Elizabeth Street

Friday, September 9, 2016

Would A President Trump Utilize A Reciprocal Diplomacy?

"If you're nice to me, I will be nice to you.  If you get snarly with me, I will get snarly with you."  

This seems to be the way Donald Trump has run his presidential campaign from the get-go and there are hints he would deal with world leaders on the same basis.  

After Russian President Vladimir Putin described Trump as a "genius" and a "great leader," Trump responded:

"I'm saying that I'd possibly have a good relationship. He's been very nice to me. . . .

So, Putin compliments Trump and Trump reciprocates:  

"Putin has big plans for Russia. He wants to edge out its neighbors so that Russia can dominate oil supplies to all of Europe," Trump said. "I respect Putin and Russians but cannot believe our leader (Obama) allows them to get away with so much...Hats off to the Russians."

Trump has a history of giving as good as he gets, reciprocating.  After House Speaker Paul Ryan initially hesitated to endorse Trump, Trump visited Wisconsin, saying he was"looking to whether or not he would support" Ryan.  Turnabout is fair play in Trump's world.

For Trump, it's a childish, simplistic game, which reminds me of our unofficial, unauthorized ambassador to North Korea, Dennis Rodman, who, when questioned about his assessment of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un:  "I tell the world: he’s my fuckin' friend, I love him."                                                                                                                                  
This is what happens when a Rodman or a Trump represents your country.

The Disappointing Presidential Final Round

This presidential campaign is like a fight between two drunks. Either candidate could be knocked out easily if the other had control of their faculties, unimpaired.

Both candidates make Barack Obama look superbly presidential on his worst day.  Is it just me or do not Vice Presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine seem like the grownups in the room?

Keyleigh McEnany, Trump Spokesperson
The greatest display of cleverness in the entire campaign has been by surrogates trying to explain away the missteps or misstatements of their standard bearer.  

In Clinton's case, it's typically been a veteran staffer or former associate explaining what Hillary didn't know about the email process and when she didn't know it.  That's a hard sell considering the candidate gave the commencement speech at Wellesley College in 1969.

Trump's public relations people get an even more difficult assignment; spinning a simply uninformed statement into something semi-rational, resolving, unifying two or, even three, conflicting statements into a single coherent thought.  These guys and gals are earning their money.

Before school started, our little six year old grandson typically sat on a chair in the corner, playing Minecraft on his tablet while CNN blared in the background.  We assumed he wasn't listening to the news broadcast, until one day he blurted out:  "Donald Trump is just sooooo stupid!"

Nena was horrified:  "Jack, you have to make your own mind up on these things.  Did you hear grandma say something about this?"

"No, grandma.  He's just soooo stupid!"

Donald Trump: Vladimir Putin, My Endless Love!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Visiting the Rumor Mill on Candidates for Local Public Offices

Municipal Judge Ben Neece
While respecting a local blog that professes to be "document-driven," we do not ignore rumors, especially those with respect to running for office. A rumor could be generated by someone simply flying a trial balloon to see if support exists for their candidacy.

Randy Gonzales
Other times, a prospective candidate will profess interest in a certain office, but never actually file for that office.  Seemingly, this was the case with Jessica Puente-Bradshaw, who attended the meeting in June at the Brownsville Public Library for write-in tax assessor candidates as a prospective candidate, but did not file the paperwork to run for that office.  Randy Gonzales and Leo Lopez did file for that office, but only Gonzales has been an active campaigner thus far.

William A. Garza
This past June we reported that Municipal Judge Ben Neece, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the year, will challenge John Villarreal for City Commissioner in District 4 in 2017.  We've since learned that former City Commissioner William A. Garza will soon announce his candidacy for City Commission District 3, a position currently occupied by Debbie Portillo.

Trey Mendez
Looking ahead to 2019, both City Commnisioners Jessica Tetreau and Cesar de Leon, have been mentioned as possible candidates for mayor. Attorney Trey Mendez, considered a possible mayoral candidate the last time around, may actually run in 2019.

Any other rumors out there?  Anyone want to remove their name from the rumor mill?  If needed, we will print an addendum below.  

Which Book Has Most Influenced the City of Brownsville? The Surprising Evidence!

It's a controversial question downtown, at Sunrise Mall and even at the Olmito/Interstate 69 Sports Park:  Which book has most influenced Brownsville?

"It can't be the Bible," explained one downtown property manager, "since most politicians in the city lie and steal."

"I beg to differ," offered a counter girl at Lola's Bake Shop.  

"Bishop Daniel Flores and District Attorney Luis Saenz used the principles of the Good Book to shut down 8-liners in Cameron County as they were taking God's money out of the collection plates," she continued.  

"Yes, but those same machines were sold to a company connected to Carlos Masso and now take God's money in Starr County," explained a rider using the free Wi-Fi on the Metro Connect bus to McAllen.

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie was credited by Tourist Bureau guru Bean Ayala with helping many become successful, while "The Art of the Deal" by Donald Trump was cited by those who want rapists and drug dealers deported.

While the above books have their adherents, no book has effected public policy, public mobility and the public's wallets more than "The High Cost of Free Parking."  Using principles found in this Donald Shoup classic, displayed prominently on the desk of City Planner, Ramiro Gonzalez, city leaders decided that downtown shoppers now pay double the old rates and those who work in downtown businesses pay a monthly rate to park in lots several blocks from the work place.  In theory, as the book claims, this "turns" downtown parking spaces more frequently so that those who want to spend real money downtown can find a place to park.

Of course, City Attorney Mark Sossi and other highly-paid city administrators can park in any parking spot for free.

The City of Brownsville has now extended its money-grubbing policies to those who might wish to ride a bicycle to City Plaza.  The "free" bike rack has been ripped up, replaced by a rental bike rack.  To rent a bike, city riders must download a Zagster app, providing credit card information.  

Speaking to John, from the Zagster Help and Support Desk, we learned that "no rates have been set for Brownsville yet but that the rates will be comparable to other cities.  We selected Fort Wayne, Indiana randomly for a price check, finding the cost to be $5.00 for single use with an additional $3.00 per hour after the first hour.  The monthly rate is $45.00, but a yearly membership is only $300.00

Every day, Brownsville learns something new from the book "The High Cost of Free Parking."


Monday, September 5, 2016

Pat Ahumada Advises Ralph Tipton, Husband of Alleged Hit-and-Run Victim, Mary Tipton

From the editor:  Ralph Tipton, the husband of Mary Tipton, killed in an alleged hit-and-run accident February 28, 2015, has been battling local officials, demanding justice for his wife. Minutes ago, former Mayor Pat Ahumada sent us a comment detailing advise he'd given to Mr. Tipton.  We reprint that comment below:

"Ralph Tipton is frustrated as to how things are
Pat Ahumada
done in Cameron County by law enforcement. Ralph is seeking help to get justice for his wife Mary Tipton and his children, but feels the FBI and those entrusted to investigate are looking the other way. Ralph said he contacted the FBI and got no results, which is not surprising. Ralph feels the district attorney’s office has failed to hold Marisa Govea Hernandez accountable for killing his wife and leaving the scene of the accident.

I told Ralph the need to rise up and demand justice for Mary Tipton by hosting vigils in front of the Cameron County Court house requesting a Special Prosecutor be appointed, along with an outside investigative task force for Mary Tipton’s voice from the grave be heard all the way to the Attorney Genera’s office. I told him to network through social media and let others know how Mary Tipton died and how Marisa Govea Hernandez has not been held accountable. I told him to hire a private investigator to review everything, recreate the scene of the accident, and name all involved in a report that shows how investigative protocols were not followed
It is unbelievable how Marisa Govea Hernandez killed a person, ran away from the scene because she was thinking only of herself and how evidence was destroyed. It is inconceivable how her son, a deputy sheriff is allowed to intervene in a conflict of interest investigation and is still working for the sheriff’s department.

I hope many of us will support Ralph Tipton in his quest for justice for Mary Tipton."

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Finding A Few More of Nena's Caricatures

Roxanne Genzel, SPI Chamber of Commerce
Elon Musk, SpaceX
Omar Lucio,  Cameron County Sheriff
Omar Hakeem, bcworkshops

Nena's Caricatures of Brownsville's Political Figures

Dr. Rose Gowen, City Commissioner
Oscar Garcia, Jr.
Ramiro Gonzalez, City Planning, Revitalization
Mike Hernandez III, OP 10.33
Mark Sossi, City Attorney
Cesar de Leon, City Commissioner
Tony Martinez, Mayor
Rose Timmer, Healthy Communities
Joe Rivera, Former County Clerk
Luis Saenz, District Attorney
Frank Morris, Former Republican County Chairman
Tad Hasse, City Administrator
Menton Murray, Jr., District Judge
Chris Davis, Former Election Administrator
Debbie Portillo, City Commissioner
Fred Rusteberg, Former IBC Bank President
Carlos Cascos, Former County Judge
Pat Ahumada, Former Mayor
Pete Avila, Constable


Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo