|John Villarreal, Interviewed in 2011 at|
La Milpa, His Family's Business
|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."
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.
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.