Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Have You Noticed All the Residential"For Rent" Signs in Brownsville?

Two Bedroom Apartment on E. St. Charles St.
$280 Per Month Rent
Some time back, two of our young city commissioners, Debbie Portillo and Cesar De Leon, were engaging in light banner about the difficulty in finding an apartment in Brownsville.

When one or the other said they'd located an apartment for $800 per month, the other commissioner responded:  "Where did you find one for $800?"

$380 Per Month, All Bills Paid
An explanation heard at the time was that the influx of Mexican Nationals fleeing to escape the violence in their country was tightening the market for rentals in Brownsville.

Currently, the "eye test" seems to indicate the situation has changed with respect to rental units in Brownsville.  I see available housing all over town, many like the low end units pictured in this article, but others in more affluent areas.  A number of blocks in West Brownsville have two or three homes for rent.
Craig Grove of Grove Realty

I reached out to realtor Craig Grove of Grove Realty to get his thinking on this.  Here is his response:

"Good observation Jim. I think there are a lot of variables. Currently the rental inventory with agents is actually a bit low. But we are seeing Mexican Nationals put their homes on the market more so then in recent past.

I think there is a bit of a Trump effect. Some people have expressed that they don't feel welcome anymore. But most people seem to be moving due to economic reasons such as the peso devaluation that has been happening. Also, they are looking for other job opportunities north or south of here."

My question hinted that the bluster and actions of our current U.S. administration caused Mexican Nationals to think twice about locating here.  Craig indicates that may have played a part in the market, along with peso devaluation and other economic factors. 

Lebron James: "Being Black in America Is Tough!"

Lebron James
The New York Times reported  that Los Angeles police were called to the home of Lebron James Wednesday morning after someone had written a racial epithet on James' home.

A few hours later, James faced reporters at a news conference declaring the difficulty faced by black people in the U.S., whether they're rich or poor:

“Hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day,” he said. 

James said that when he was first notified of the incident, he was reminded of the mother of Emmett Till, who insisted that her son, who was lynched in 1955, have an open coffin at his funeral, so people could not ignore the brutality of the killing.

“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough,” James said. 

“And we’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal.”
Bill Russell
A half century ago, I was fascinated by the articulate superstar Bill Russell. When he became player-coach with the media peppering him with questions, it was the same man among boys scenario that played out on the court. Russell was the mental health professional guiding the media through their neuroses. What was not known at the time was that Russell returned home from games to find smeared feces, racial epithets and other racist bullshit on the walls of his Boston home. For years Russell kept silence on this abuse, enduring it, but never giving his enemies the satisfaction of knowing they had hurt him. 

Lebron and Russell have dealt with racism differently, each in their own way.

Regrettably, after half a hundred years, things have not changed much.

Trump's Policies Would Decimate Brownsville, But, Luckily, He's Too Inept to Get Them Through Congress

One of Abraham Galonsky's Properties
Abraham Galonsky will weather the storm. He could not care less about Trump inventing a new word on Twitter. He has enough buildings downtown for rent or for sale, as well as properties in strategic locations all over town to care for himself and his family.

I've never run the name "Galonsky" on the Cameron County Appraisal District website, but I happen to know that Abraham has that big lot across from the library on Central Blvd, where he allows candidates he approves to post their campaign signs, thirty acres near the sewer plant in Southmost he wanted the city to buy for the "new" Lincoln Park, acreage just across the interstate on University Blvd., plus the building Ben Neece will rent for his new downtown club.  As for La Casa del Nylon, he has Tony Martinez and Horacio Barrera to thank for a $2.3 million dollar payday.  Since the purchase in 2012, the building has been sitting idle for five years, off the tax rolls, but the city may have finally figured out a possible use for it, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get it tenant ready.

Abraham will be OK, but if Donald Trump gets his way, the rest of Brownsville will not fare as well.

Brownsville may be the most federally subsidized city in the country, buoyed up by programs Trump wants to cut drastically or eliminate altogether.  In many BISD schools, almost every student qualifies for a free lunch and, even breakfast. Medicaid is so prevalent that, when we took little Jack into Rodeo Dental, they seem unprepared to accept cash.  Likewise for his booster shot at the doctor's office.

A substantial number of residents are "on disability," with bi-polar disease the malady of the moment recognized by Tropical Texas Behavioral Health.  Child and adult care facilities have proliferated, all subsidized by the federal government.  Add to this, home health care and "Meals on Wheels."

In a low income community like Brownsville, the "big money" from Earned Income Tax Credit gets recirculated back into the community so fast it will make your head swim.  Used car dealers, furniture stores and other businesses try to entice these EITC shoppers with money burning a hole in their pocket:  "Use a copy of your tax return as your down payment!" they holler.

UT-RGV and TSC may be somewhat understaffed, but they have sufficient monetary aid counselors to help a student secure grants, loans and scholarships as needed.  Tuition can be relatively high at these institutions, but few parents are paying out-of-pocket.

Trump wants to slice and dice many of these programs according to his proposed budget and the Republicans control the House of Representatives AND the United States Senate.  Should Brownsville's needy be worried? No more than Abraham Galonsky is worried.

They should not worry as long as Trump continues to tweet, keeping his government so tied up in knots, nothing gets done.  Like Galonsky, Brownsville will ride out this storm.

Friday, May 26, 2017

F.B.I., Senate and Special Prosecutor Fly Right Past Trump's Obstruction Attempts

Forgetful Attorney General Sessions
It might be somewhat understandable that our diminutive, racist attorney general with the grandiose name, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, could accidentally omit Russian contacts from the necessary government documents for a security clearance.

Sessions, in that Alabama drawl, could be heard saying:  "Well, as you know, in my duties as a United States Senator, I come into contact with various and many officials from the world's governments, including ambassadors, heads of state, and so forth.  I can't possibly remember every single contact!"

Jared Kushner
But what excuse is there for Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, the boy who inherited a real estate empire from his imprisoned daddy, and now gets the bulk of his income as a slum lord on thousands of foreclosed section 8 units bought with multi-million dollar Fannie Mae loans, that is loans from the Federal National Mortgage Association, to hide his Russian contacts? The F.B.I., the U.S. Senate and now, Special Prosecutor Mueller, want to know.

According to reports, Mr. Kushner met Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, chairman of VneshEconomBank, a Russian state institution that has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014.  Neither of these contacts were mentioned on Kushner's security clearance application.

Michael T. Flynn
Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn ain't saying shit and faces a possible Contempt of Congress charge for not providing documents detailing his contact with the Russkies.  His lawyer indicates he'll be "taking the 5th" with respect to any required testimony before investigative panels and they're not cooperating with subpoenas requesting documents.

Obviously, Trump's feeble attempts to stifle, stymie and squelch the investigations in ties and dealings between his campaign and Russian operatives has been "huuuugely" unsuccessful.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump's Strange Relationship with the Truth, Pathological Lying

Pathological lying, telling untruths without any "discernible end in view," is a strange, illogical trait.  Nena and I have a sister-in-law who's very good at it, weaving a web of lies with great detail with no apparent benefit except to hold your attention, control and manipulate and maintain her audience.  It appears that she actually believes her own lies, reinforced by the repeated telling and embellishment.

Donald Trump seems similarly afflicted, repeating numerous untruths publicly in the last year or two, even "doubling down" on the lies.  There are simply too many to enumerate in one article.

Trump claims to have witnessed thousands of New Jersey residents of Arabian descent cheering the collapse of the twin towers during 9/11:  "It was on television. I saw it," Trump said. "It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don't like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good."

Trump claims to have seen the unloading of $400,000, 000 in cash to Iran, claims Ted Cruz' dad was involved with Lee Harvey Oswald in the Kennedy assassination, claims that it was former FBI Director Comey who asked for that January meeting in the White House to try to "keep his job."  The lies continue.

All of this behavior was uncovered, obvious before the presidential election.  Yet, 40% of the participating electorate voted for this man.  That consequence is even more interesting, an incredible, unbelievable story.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Was Donald Trump in My First Grade Class at Highland Park Elementary?

Highland Park Elementary, Renton, Washington
Mrs. Crutchfield taught first grade at Highland Park Elementary in 1954.  She was already an old lady back then. My estimate as a 6 year old was that she was at least 100 years old. Actually, she was likely younger than I am today.

I walked the two miles or so to school, passing the bus stop and a gravel pit that went straight down so steeply you could actually slide to the bottom. I crossed the street in front of the school once, not at the crosswalk, and was taken by my ear to the principal.  The teacher/security guard accused me of j-walking.  I told the principal I was merely "k-walking."  I was dismissed back to Mrs. Crutchfield.

A boy in our class, "Jimmy," not me, came into class chewing gum.  Mrs. Crutchfield asked Jimmy if he had enough gum for the entire class. Of course, he didn't and she made him stick the gum on the end of his nose and stand in the corner. The other kids chuckled.

The next day, Jimmy came into the classroom with gum already attached to his nose.  Mrs. Crutchfield asked Jimmy why he had gum on the end of his nose.

"Mrs. Crutchfield.  I just caught myself chewing gum and so I put it on the end of my nose."

I haven't seen Jimmy in over 60 years, but I've noticed some of "Jimmy" in Donald Trump.

Donald was caught sharing classified info to the Russkies a few days ago. When he got to Israel, he blurted out to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "I never mentioned the word or the name Israel."

"They're all saying I did," he said, pointing to reporters. "So you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel."

Donald is "Jimmy."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cowardly Trump Bows to Saudi Potentate!

So much for fighting "radical Islamic terrorism!"  Our dumbass president completely forgets his phony campaign message and handles himself like a little boy in front of King Salman of Saudi Arabia.  

Trump is a total hypocrite with zero core values but maintains strong support of 39% of the uneducated American populace.

As Trump said during the 2016 campaign:  "I just love the uneducated!"

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Incoherent Rambling Can Be Therapeutic!

Is it a crime to be a slow learner? Should it take a decade to realize that the Central Market line is not really an upgrade over regular H.E.B. stuff, that "infused garlic" chicken broth only means they added garlic powder and "range free" tastes like shit, that "gourmet" peanut butter is more labor intensive, necessitating stirring the whole jar before making a p & j?

It's poetic justice that my good-for-nothing nephew is stranded in Las Vegas, betrayed by a 25 dollar microchip, allowing the finance company to locate and repo his Fiat.  He's in over his head in that town anyway, where even the dishwasher at Appleby's is a player with more street smarts than scammer Jared.  "Go-Fund!" your way out  of this one, you little thief, or, better yet, pray to that shiny pebble glued to your wife's forehead for deliverance.

"If yer so smart, how come ya ain't rich?" was one of the first lines Nena and I learned after moving to Arkansas in 1970.  We quickly learned that intelligence and wealth don't always go together as we briefly worked for a wealthy man who tested drugs on the indigent and homeless, those desperate souls who signed medical releases before seeing what the pharmaceuticals did to them.  The ol' boy drove a different car to work every day of the week, but was dumb as a rock..  As "mildly nauseating" as it is to recall, I still remember Maserati Thursday.  But who pays for augmenting breast surgery for their wife AND daughter, goes around town, posing like a rich "John" between two Playboy bunnies? Google his name and up  comes "philanthropist," as if giving away money is all some rich people are good for, even if it's given to support right-wing subversives in South America. 

"The Boy," Diego Lee Rot, on 45th B'day
Please don't tell Nena how much I spent for two stainless steel woks, one for our son, Diego Lee Rot, and the other for me. If I can't drive a Maserati, maybe I can have a good wok.  I sprayed coconut oil on both, let them get hot enough that the oil was smoking, then took them off the flame.  Once cool, I wiped off the excess oil. Seeing the reflection of my ugly face in the pot was proof of successful seasoning. Somehow, it felt good knowing that stir-fries were going on opposite sides of town last night.

Why do I always think every heavy lady pushing a bicycle on a 6th street sidewalk is Rose Gowen?  

"Oh, my gawd!"  Here's a dad and two kids, riding bikes and wearing helmets!  It must be Cyclobia! That WAS Rose!  Nice culottes, commissioner!

I saw four police riding bike on Adams Street downtown, all at least 30 lbs overweight.  Is there some mysterious link between cycling and obesity?

Who cares if one of those soulless cities up valley gets some big box business before Brownsville?  Harlingen has a Bass Pro Shop.  Whoop-de-do! Mission has Mark Sossi.  Good riddance!  All those dusty, hot towns have an unfillable emptiness.  They are not Brownsville!

Speaking our our town, has Tony Martinez made enough money that Brownsville can get a real mayor?  We're all tired of saying; "our mayor is dumber than your mayor!"


Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo