Sunday, January 6, 2019
Before the runoff election took place last month, a video surfaced on FB that featured a chaotic scene at a local establishment. An employee of the newly-opened PlaMor filmed a shouting match between chef Louie Bruni and businessman Roque Vela Jr. (photo above taken FB post/video)
Bruni and Vela yelled their heads off at each other. The chef was then quick to post the video on social media for us to see.
What's interesting about the video is that you had two grown men in each other's face, and it dropped as one of them was in the running for the office of mayor. Vela ended up losing the race against incumbent Pete Saenz. The video was not the deciding factor for voters, I think. It was, however, a glimpse of Roque Vela's storied volatile behavior.
Making the rounds before the general election was a flier that listed Vela's run-ins with the law. It was dirty laundry galore, courtesy of none-friends of Roque Vela Jr. The info. made for great water cooler talk. And it may be what future campaigns look like: third parties making their voices known through push ads.
But gutter politics aside, I want to mention one more thing about the viral video. As the rogue videographer taped the fight on his phone, a lady tries to put an end to it. She wags her finger at the employee while saying no! She puts her hand on the phone, interrupting the visual. She's then heard saying, don't touch me! It's funny to me because she's invading an employee's space, getting physical, but demands not to be touched. Everything that takes place in the clip is a lesson in what NOT to do in that type of situation.
Laredo politics don't disappoint. If it's not the corruption that jars our sensibilities, it's the relationships that are made and the antics that come with it.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
On the way into town, you pass the Tumble Inn, so named because it seems imminent that the whole place will crash into the arroyo over which it is built.
That passage is from an old issue of Texas Monthly. The Tumble in was a restaurant/dance hall that no longer exists. The arroyo the writer mentions has to be the Chacon Creek, which is near the 3 Points neighborhood. I can't tell you exactly where the restaurant was located, because of the scarcity of information about it.
An ad that I found in an old yearbook lists the Tumble Inn as being located on Corpus Christi Highway.
Photo: an ad for the establishment that appeared in a February 1960 issue of the Laredo Times.
And a photo that a friend sent me via Twitter, showing the actual address of the restaurant: 2803 Cortez.
Tuesday, December 25, 2018
It's the end of the year, a time when no significant news is reported by local media outlets. For that reason I bring you La Sanbe's 'Person of the Year.' My selection for 2018 is Jaime Canales.
The former Webb County Commissioner, and sometimes school administrator, pleaded guilty in federal court two months ago. Canales was found to be taking illegal gifts from an engineering company lobbyist, a man who may be the person who took his own life in late October. The go-between these two gentlemen was a weasel named Johnny Amaya, a boil of a man who knew his way around our political circles.
An unsealed indictment showed how Jaime Canales was none too shy about asking a corporate shill for money and use of a condominium at a nearby vacation hot spot. That in exchange for introducing a lucrative road project in to the commissioners court agenda and the subsequent approval thereof. It's the classic story of lobbyists writing policy for elected officials, compensating those same officials for carrying out their wants, and then securing multi-million dollar contracts to enrich themselves immensely. Canales played along with the whole scheme, scoring money and trips along with way.
It's unfortunate that this man got lured in to the world of local politics. You would think that somebody who had a cushy job, that of administrator, would be happy with what he had; but perhaps the boredom was too much to shoulder. He took hold of something more, a position that brought a little more prestige and attention. As commissioner he got a comfortable new chair, and a new title that bestowed upon others the obligation to refer to him as the honorable Jaime Canales. He gained a new workload that brought with it a handsome yearly salary. He secured the admiration of people like me. I met Canales before he was elected to office, and then several times by chance during his tenure with the county. He seemed personable, capable and dedicated to his work. Unfortunately he became another corrupt cog in the cynical world of Webb County politics.
For his greed, Canales will be sent up for a prison term of about five years. We'll find out exactly how much time he'll serve when he's sentenced in February. For now he'll be our Person of the Year. Soon he'll become inmate number Pendejete who should've known better!
Take care, people. Hope seems to be in short supply around here.
Saturday, December 22, 2018
A friend mentioned to me the time that Charles Manson was jailed in our fair town. I found out that he was extradited from our sister city on June 1, 1960. Manson apparently violated the Mann Act, which makes it a crime to transported women across state lines for immoral purposes.
Interesting tidbit of information if I do say so myself.
(Clipping from the Laredo Times I found online.)
Friday, December 21, 2018
(Photo courtesy of LMT: man making a phone call in the background doesn't look pleased.)
Mayor Pete Saenz was sworn in this afternoon for his 2nd term. He beat Roque Vela Jr. in a runoff race on Thursday of last week. As with any election, voter turnout was dismal. That, however, didn't stop the Times from describing Saenz's win as a landslide.
The mayor received 13,972 votes, out of approximately 131,000 registered voters in Webb County. Saenz won with about 10 percent of the electorate. He was "grateful to the voter and to Jesus Christ to have allowed this result." (Julia Wallace - LMT) The mayor went on to say, the people spoke with their vote, and this is what the community wanted. End quote.
You have to hand it to the mayor for putting a positive spin on the end result. He's the face of Laredo; Obviously he has to be as diplomatic as possible. I'm happy for the mayor, but him invoking Jesus Christ and the Times using language like landslide is a bit much. You can't make it out to be epic when it's actually unremarkable.
You're the mayor of Laredo, that's great, but you beat the guy with anger issues who ran on the promise of bringing back the garbage pick-up schedule of yesteryear. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back but don't take yourself too seriously. You're the mayor of Laredo, after all.
Friday, November 23, 2018
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
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.