Friday, November 23, 2018

The Big Plan For The Heights Eyesore

(courtesy image)

The owners of the former Mercy Hospital met with a Houston businessman on Sunday to pen a deal that will turn the unsightly building into The World Free Trade Plaza.  It will supposedly function as a duty-free zone.  Products will flow through the facility, which will in turn bring people from all over the world to make purchases, ostensibly.

The story appeared in Monday's issue of the Laredo Times.  It was written by Brian Rogers of the Houston Chronicle.  What's interesting is that I can't find the write-up on the Chronicle's website, or any other venue for that matter.  The whole thing just seems fishy.

We're supposed to believe that Rosendo Carranco magically found an investor from Houston that is going to help cover the $60 million price tag for the project.  Carranco made it happen just days before the facility is supposed to be in compliance with city ordinances, such as keeping the premises clean and safe for the public.

Also, the announcement was made on a Sunday.  On a Sunday.

(photo courtesy of Z Lab, a Houston marketing firm.)

The investor who is supposedly helping Carranco is a restaurant owner, Long Gao.  Good luck finding any information on him.

Carranco may very well turn the old facility in the Heights into a successful venture.  For now, everything about the plan seems odd.  The timing is suspect, the plan seems grandiose and the players  questionable.  I'll just leave this here for future reference.  We wait and see.

(September 14, 1999 Laredo Medical Center moves from Heights to Saunders location.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Personal Story

November 22, 1963 is the day that President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, TX.  It was a singular moment that sent shockwaves throughout the world.  I wasn't around just yet.  The event was repeated for me through history books and news accounts.

My elders, however, had been busy getting on with life in the early 1960s.  55 years ago, my mom & dad were out of high school, married and raising a daughter.  The construction of I-35 was close at hand, forcing my grandmother to move to a property along the Zacate Creek.

And my aunt would tie the knot on the very day that Kennedy was shot.  

The wedding ceremony was set to take place at San Luis Rey Church on that fateful Friday in November.  Kennedy was assassinated at 12:30 p.m.  Processing the tragic news that afternoon, my aunt and uncle discussed cancelling the wedding.  They considered a pause while taking in the compelling information that was trickling in at the time.  Somehow my tio convinced everyone to carry on with the day's events.

They would get married later that afternoon and follow the nuptial with a small reception at my grandmother's house on San Eduardo Ave.

I've talked about that day with my aunt, only scratching the surface in terms of details.  I'll try to put more pieces in place to complement this post.  It's certainly interesting to have such a personalized telling from those who lived through such momentous times.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Saunders Evolving

The car wash on Saunders, across from Burger King, is almost gone.  Progress in motion.

The photo above is courtesy of Google Maps.

Demolition has been going on for about two weeks.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A No Go

This is a scorecard on the referendums that voters did NOT approve in recent years:

This month voters turned down the idea of building a convention center in downtown Laredo.

In 2017, voters said NO to a new jail.

Two years ago, voters thought is was a bad idea to have at-large districts for city council representation.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fliers For Laredo Candidates

Fliers arrived at the Keyrose household by the several this election season.  One that gets the nod for stupidest cheesiest is Charlie San Miguel's mailer that included the caption: May the "Fourth" be with you.  The stocky candidate for mayor used a play on words, a reference to the movie "Star Wars."

He did so because his name was "FOURTH" on the ballot.  As a council candidate, the move could've been cute.  But as mayoral prospect it comes across as stupid.  Naturally he lost his bid.

We'll soon forget about Charlie San Miguel, as he terms out from city council.  We'll save his flier for posterity (and for an occasional eye roll).

Another flier that was dropped at our doorstep is that of Mercurio Martinez.  He is heading into a runoff in December for City Council Dist. 3.

Martinez calls attention to the longstanding problem of the abandoned building, formerly known as Mercy Hospital, in the Heights neighborhood.  (Sisters of Mercy, please don't @ me.)

Councilman Alex Perez busied himself with smaller, more trivial projects during his 8-year term.  He leaves behind the eyesore that can be viewed from almost any part of the city.  The old hospital was vacated in the fall of 1999.  It's not fair to pin this solely on Alex Perez - the glaring example of inaction - but he SHOULD take credit for his many shortfalls and not just his supposed accomplishments.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Case Against Jaime Canales

Thursday of last week, October 18, Webb County put out a press release informing residents that Commissioner Jaime Canales was resigning, effective immediately.  County Judge Tijerina thanked the commissioner for his years of service and wished him well.  Cindy Liendo was appointed that same day by the county dad.  (Liendo won the March primary for the Precinct 4 seat.)

Hours after Tijerina's press release, we learned that Jaime Canales and Johnny Amaya had pled guilty to bribery charges in a Houston court.  The speculation was put to rest.  Canales' sudden resignation had a reason.

The FBI raided city hall and Mr. Canales' office in April of last year.  Current and former government officials were named as target subjects.  Commissioner Canales turned out to be the first casualty of the feds' investigation.

The County Judge put out another statement on Friday.

Save for the horrible grammar in the second presser, Judge Tijerina took issue with Canales' corrupt leanings.

The Saturday edition of the Laredo Times gave us more details on the scheme that was hatched by Canales, Amaya and an unnamed corporation.  We have yet to hear of any more indictments, arrests or plea deals.  The FBI's case from a year ago involved more than one county knucklehead.  For now we wait.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Vote No On Laredo Convention Center

(LMT clipping from September 19, 2018.)

One of the proponents of a new convention center has been Councilman Roberto Balli.  His district includes the downtown area, so naturally he would be pushing for the new facility.  He was quoted in the Times as such:
Downtown is changing as far as nightlife.  So this conference center will support all of that.  Ask everyone to support this proposition, El Centro Si, because it's going to give us a better downtown, it's going to give us a better community, and this is something our citizens and residents need. 
Every time somebody (Balli) has brought up the construction of a convention center, I've imagined that a large space, with meeting rooms, was needed for actual conventions.  I thought Laredo needed a facility to host events that couldn't be had at the arena; again, actual conventions that would bring in visitors.  But the group pushing for the convention/conference center - Balli, La Posada, Fasken Oil & Ranch, Ltd, Chamber of Commerce, IBC Bank, etc. - is now trying to convince the Laredo public that it'll be a venue to serve us.

(another clipping, from today's LMT.)

The CONFERENCE center will be a great site to host weddings, quinces, graduations and so on, so says the new Centro Si advertisement.

Venues for those kinds of events already exist.  To host quinceaneras shouldn't be a selling point for building a convention center.  The arena, baseball field and golf course have been under-utilized, hardly used for their intended purposes.  Now our leaders are trying to sell us on the idea of a convention center; but they're telling us that the facility's calendar year will be made up of small events, supported by actual Laredoans.  Already they're revealing in their latest pitch that big conventions will be few and far between.

The convention center may be useful for the people of Laredo in terms of low-paying jobs, but it shouldn't be a site to host receptions that will benefit La Posada and other City of Laredo insiders.

Local activist Remy Salinas appeared on Beyond The Headlines (KGNS) last weekend to speak against the construction of the convention center.  He spoke in detail about the fact that convention centers in south Texas under-perform.  Check out part of the show below.  And come November 6, vote NO on the convention center.

UPDATE: 11/23/18   Something that Richard Raymond promised once.