Wednesday, April 26, 2017

John vs. Ben for City Commissioner, District 4

John Villarreal is a nice kid.  He really is. Strong parents.  Catholic values. Work ethic.  All of that.

John is an honest public servant, possibly well-fitted for one of several city jobs, calling for honesty, hard work and accessibility.

John is not a natural public speaker or particularly "quick on his feet," skills mandatory in counteracting the corrupt, self-aggrandizing Mayor Tony Martinez and his puppets on the city commission.

Nena and I worked hard for John in 2011 in his race for City Commissioner, District 4, against Tony Zavaleta, then watched him on the city commission,  gritting our teeth, like parents watching their kid in his first t-ball game, poetry reading or science project.  It was difficult watching John flounder and acquiesce at the City Commission level.  We shared a few observations with John, but it was what it was and we're six years down the line.

John recently shared on Facebook a sort of manifesto with respect to his current campaign to hold onto City Commission, District 4,  declaring his policies, viewpoints and determinations on various issues.  All of this was submitted under the subtitle; "Committed to the Community, Dedicated to Progress."

The first point on his declaration concerned the broadcast of public comment at city commission meetings, a bad policy of the Pat Ahumada administration John promised to change.

Here are John's words:

While I have been in office the issue of bringing Public Comment back to being televised has been revisited twice. Both times I voted to bring it back. Unfortunately the votes were not there on the commission to make the change. However, Public Comment is still made available during commission meetings. It is a platform which has never been taken away from the public

Where to start?  The history of the ban on the broadcast of public comment starts with City Attorney Mark Sossi.  In 2010 Argelia Miller discovered that Sossi had stolen $167,363 from his previous employer, the Willette & Guerra law firm.

Letty Perez-Garzoria, a frequent public commenter, mentioned this development in public comment, also noting that the City of Brownsville had hired the Willette & Guerra firm, obviously to pay back Sossi's debt.

Nena's Caricature of Mark Sossi
Sossi was livid and orchestrated the backdoor negotiations necessary to totally ban public comment at city commission meetings, citing the city's possible vulnerability to lawsuits.

John Villarreal, despite being elected on the promise to reverse Sossi's manipulation of the Ahumada administration, uttered not a peep about public comment once elected.

Only then City Commissioner Melissa Zamora had the balls to oppose Tony on this issue.  She sponsored an agenda item to restore public comment to the broadcast of the city commission meeting.

Here is our 2011 report:

"Melissa Hernandez-Zamora seemed
Melissa Zamora
dumbstruck when City Attorney Sossi stood up to give opposition testimony concerning the broadcast of public comment item she had placed on the agenda. It was obvious that Commissioner Zamora had not been advised of the behind-the-scenes manipulation by Mayor Martinez and his eager cohort Sossi. Sossi, after all, had the most to lose from public comment broadcast since it was comments about his questionable ethics that triggered the ban in the first place. As Zamora got her bearings, Martinez waved Sossi the "go ahead". Sossi made no attempt in his feeble, highschoolish power point to express a legal opinion. There was no mention of free speech, the first amendment, the constitution or even the phony liability issues he has pretended previously. Those might have been worthy legal issues. Instead he expressed only viewpoints, unscientific at best, but most likely simply wrong. With a straight face he used a pie chart to illustrate the greater "diversity" of commenters since the ban, not even having the honesty to acknowledge that many of those new participants were speaking out against the anti-democratic ban. He also railed against grandstanding as he grandstanded."

Judge Ben Neece
We could analyze John's manifesto point-by-point, but it's unnecessary.  John is opposed by a more seasoned public servant, recently retired municipal judge Ben Neece, who is not shy about articulating his views in public.

John is a good guy, but Brownsville deserves a more apt city commissioner.


  1. Was John Villarreal present at the commission meeting to question Tenaska? Nope. Was Ben Neece? YUP. Did John support the 600,000 cyclobias the cripples us downtown merchants even further? YUP! Did John Villarreal choose to marry and spend over $100,000 of his money in Spain rather than historic downtown? YUP! That's why my family of 35 members all voted BEN NEECE!!! Villarreal cannot be trusted or bothered with the concerns us merchants deal with on a daily basis. Nice family? Sure. Worthy of public service? NOPE.

  2. You use the term "Catholic values" like it means something important to "all" of us. Is Martinez Catholic? Is Lucio Catholic? Assholes.

    1. The phrase simply means John actually practices his faith, not simply a nominal Catholic. As most know, I view all religions as simply man-made belief systems.

  3. I'm sorry but Judge Ben Neece would never get in bed with the Hernandez or Benavides family for votes. He is an independent thinker who successfully completed 30 years as a Judge without a single complaint. VOTE BEN NEECE IF YOU WANT A TRUE PUBLIC SERVANT.

    1. No complaints? Neece was sanctioned.

    2. When was he sanctioned, Jim? Details please.



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