Thursday, April 6, 2017

District 4 City Commission Race~John Villarreal vs Ben Neece. . .Who Will Do the Most for Downtown?

John Villarreal, Interviewed  in 2011 at
La Milpa, His Family's Business
Like its real sister city across the river, Matamoros, Brownsville has an historic downtown with genuine New Orleans elements. Hurricanes, peso devaluation, stingy owners and dumbass city leaders have contributed to its decline.
The Cathedral, Matamoros

Larry Loff and Eugene Fernandez, among others, proudly give us the history of downtown, designated by the City of Brownsville as part of District 4 and rue its slow, obvious tracking to demise.

When a well-mannered young man from a strong family, possessing a Masters degree in business, ran for District 4 city commissioner in 2011, Nena and I were on board.  John was young, but we reflected on legendary Texas coach Darrel Royal's words:  "If a dog's gonna bite you, he'll do it as a pup."

Estela Chavez-Vasquez
After the election, it seemed John might not have been up to the challenge.  The young commissioner, along with newbie Estela Chavez-Vasquez were set to make nominations to a city board when Mayor Tony Martinez stepped in and declared such nominations would now be handled "differently." Both newbie commissioners were not "allowed" to make nominations, as commissioners before them had done and acquiesced without a whimper to Martinez.

We encouraged John to become totally familiar with each City Commission meeting agenda, not come in "flat-footed," but, instead, prepared to intelligently discuss and question EVERY action item.  Yes, be more assertive.

John tried, but, for the most part, during his six years on the commission, has "gone along to get along."

The historic downtown, a major part of John's district 4, has continued its deterioration, despite a tiny bit of facade improvement.  

Ben Neece
John's opponent in the District 4 race, recently retired Municipal Judge Ben Neece, has direct experience in trying to energize downtown.

For several years, Neece promoted local musicians at the Crescent Moon, a small venue on the back of the old Hide Yard building fronting Adams Street at E. 11th.  Neece learned first hand about City of Brownsville permitting hurdles, growing a downtown enterprise and the general lay of the land downtown.  The Crescent Moon eventually morphed in the current Half Moon, owned principally by George Ramirez.  Does that mean that Neece has ideas about jumpstarting downtown redevelopment?  Possibly.

Neece, in thirty years on the municipal bench, engendered good will in the compassionate way he's dealt with defendants, generously utilizing community service, payment plans in this financially poor community.  

Neece has an additional asset in his best friend, Tad Hasse, Brownsville's resident nerd.  Hasse has ideas about tax abatement for downtown businesses in exchange for physical improvements that city government so far has not shown interest.  

Abraham Galonsky
It should be noted that Ben Neece frequently power breakfasts with Brownsville's most political property owner, Abraham Galonsky.  Like Tony Martinez, Neece is close to Galonsky, who, unlike many others in downtown, got the city to relieve him of a downtown building by overpaying for it.  


  1. I know he's married but I looks awfully odd when John Villarreal whispers sweet words closely in Ricardo Longoria's ears during city commission meetings. Is there a chance they can be discussing their feelings for each other? Lesbos! I know I wouldn't have to worry about Ben Neece coming out of any closets at city hall.

  2. Hasse is a Trump nut and will cost Neece lots of liberal votes

  3. Villarreal is the disappointment you speak of. I will be voting for Ben Neece because Villarreal has been the worst commissioner in recent history. Never forget Ernie the Eel said he was just like a son to him and that he was the reason he came into politics. Once Ernie the Eel was indicted, Villarreal jumped onto the Benavidez tit.

  4. Ben will give a free sack of good weed for your vote, so cool

  5. Neece is the best choice for downtown Brownsville

  6. 6 months in now. Where is downtown revitalization? Where ja the homeless problem? Where is anything Neece promised us????



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