Saturday, August 17, 2019
Image from The Politica of Laredo Facebook page.
Early last month, the Laredo Times reported that George Altgelt would not seek re-election in 2020. I thought the issue was a non-starter since he was elected twice to the same post.
Altgelt was elected to serve as councilman of District 7 when he won a runoff race on April 25, 2015. Results above courtesy of Ballotpedia.org. Altgelt replaced Jorge Vera, who was recalled from office in the fall of 2014.
In the November 2016 race, Altgelt beat challenger Juan Chavez.
There was some language added to the city charter, relating to the Terms and Limits of a council member. That resulted from Jose Valdez Jr. deciding to regain control of his District 7 seat after having quit his position to run for mayor. He didn't win in that venture.
Valdez Jr. was elected a third time, to serve as city alderman, on May of 2008. He would only get to serve out two years from his incomplete 2nd term, after a judge ruled on the matter.
Altget's case is different, given the extraordinary circumstances that preceded his first win. He was elected to the same position twice, though. The city charter may have to be amended one more time, seeing as how kooky things are around here.
Friday, July 26, 2019
Photo above appeared on the front page of the Laredo Times yesterday.
Tents and portable buildings are being put in place in a site near bridge 1. Once ready, federal officials plan to expedite the asylum claims of immigrants coming from Central America. CBP agents have been overwhelmed with the wave of people trying to set foot on U.S. land -- so much so that officials have been stationed at mid-bridge to prevent that from happening. People seeking asylum are being told to wait in Mexico in the meantime, a process referred to as metering.
(courtesy photo: Jose M. Reyes - July 12, 2019)
All sorts of impediments have been placed on bridge 1, both for drivers and pedestrians heading north. I have never seen anything like this. These are truly extraordinary tactics, all because of the current Administration in Washington, D.C.
It's been several years that I have crossed into Nuevo Laredo. I wouldn't dare do that now, for fear that I may run into severe pushback from bridge employees. I just hope I don't need any emergency dental care anytime soon.
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Thursday, July 11, 2019
The city's ethics* commission met yesterday at 5:30 p.m. They started with roll call and then listened to public comments. At 6:00 or so they went into executive session. The meeting resumed at a quarter to 7.
Two members of the commission recused themselves from the proceedings because of a relationship with a family member and a sitting councilman.
The purpose of the meeting was to give Lakshmana Viswanath and Victor Gomez-Marquez an opportunity to state their case, to detail the validity of their previous complaints. The complaints that "Vish" and Victor submitted were dismissed by the commission last month. Last night it was ultimately determined that Viswanath's and Gomez's concerns were frivolous. "Vish" was hit with a $500 fine and an order to pay attorney fees for the city.
Both of our citizen activists got to this point because their plight fell on deaf ears: those of the mayor, city council and the acting city managers. I can't imagine that "Vish" and Victor ever thought that they would be the ones to be put on trial by the ethics commission, much less have to pay fees incurred by the city.
Acting Co-City Manager spoke to the LMT about the decision of hiring outside counsel:
The reason why we had to get an attorney is because typically it is the city attorney being the representative for the commission. But since she works for us, she had to step back, and we had to get an outside party to come in. So, when you make a claim against either one of us, we must get an outside party. And somebody has to pay restitution to the citizens because taxpayers are paying Henry with now.
Victor Gomez-Marquez complained to the city that Councilman M. Martinez left out important details in his campaign finance forms. And Lakshmana Viswanath complained to city officials that their decision to impose new water rates on the public for infrastructure expansion was wrong. Their contention was that individuals at the city level acted in bad faith, by ignoring sections in the City Charter. City officials acted unethically, if you will.
It's unclear what the members of Our Laredo ("Vish" and Victor) will do next. What I can do is petition my representative to put forth a motion to waive the sanctions against "Vish."
When Lawrence Berry and Aldo Tatangelo took on city hall in the 1970s, they had the backing of the Laredo News. They were able to make the case that city officials were mishandling public funds and abusing their power. What we have today is the Laredo Times sending their sports writer to report on a complicated case that could possibly result in the city facing a lawsuit.
This is a big story, one that should reach the ears of people outside of Laredo. It's obvious that our city government is dysfunctional, and yet, the only ones that are facing any serious backlash are those that are speaking out against it. There are a lot of bad actors at city hall, and we are at their mercy.
(section of Ethics Commission bylaws)
Victor Gomez and "Vish" thanking supporters at city council chamber.
Sunday, July 7, 2019
(photo courtesy of Google Maps)
Ground was broken on July 6, 2015 for the Clark/Loop 20 overpass. Overpasses had to be constructed on the Loop to placate the public beefs with traffic lights on the roadway.
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Thursday, June 27, 2019
I felt compelled to create my own list of tourist stops in Laredo, Texas, in order to give you a different experience of our sleepy town. The title of this post was inspired by the NYT travel suggestions.
The first stop is at the base of the Gateway To The Americas International Bridge. You can get there by heading south on Santa Maria Ave. When you see the bridge (image above) you're within walking distance of the Rio Grande River, the dividing line between the U.S. and Mexico. You're at the edge of the nation. Take a selfie to save the moment.
At the next point of interest you can stay in your car if you like: the 200 block of San Agustin Ave. There you'll see a cathedral and a building that used to be occupied. At this site is where Laredo was founded back in 1755. I won't bother you with the founder's name; It's only a select few that remember him every year.
Suggested eateries: La Reynera on 1819 San Bernardo
and El Meson de San Agustin (opens at 11:00 a.m.)
Murals can be found in Laredo's older neighborhoods. The tribute to singer Selena Quintanilla can be found at 1119 San Eduardo.
If blues music is more your fancy, there's a Stevie Ray Vaughn mural on the 2700 block of Springfield. It's on the inside of a garage.
The mural above is in the Azteca neighborhood. The guitarist off to the right of the painting is one of the members of Rene y Rene, a duo that appeared on American Bandstand in the 1960s.
Suggested restaurant: Obregons Mexican Restaurant at 303 Market.
and Briskets and Beer Smokehouse on 2002 Chihuahua.
For a dive bar experience, Lalo's Sportsman Club at 515 E. Lane is as dive as it'll get.
Kayaking can be had at Lake Casa Blanca State Park.