Saturday, August 24, 2019
Last weekend, word began to spread about a certain social media somebody that was thinking about running for city council, District 5. She, who I don't follow on Facebook, is toying with the idea of running against incumbent Nelly Vielma. Decent and mediocre candidates have always been drawn to public service in our area. This aspiring politician, however, does not even rise to that level. She's crass, toils in gossip and sensationalism, and has admitted to having no actual knowledge of the inner workings of municipal government.
The only currency she has to her name is the ignominy related to her past and present legal problems. The numerous stains on her reputation would make her one of the guys with the rest of city council.
For those unfamiliar with local politics, city hall has seen its fair share of bad actors: pols who have been busted with drugs and those who push people around. And let's not forget the FBI raid of city offices that may or may not see the indictments of elected officials. It's a pool of ne'erdowells at 1110 Houston St. Candidate X would fit right in if she decided to jump in.
Julia Wallace wrote about the possible amending of one city charter item -- the one dealing with asshole elected officials who commit some type of wrongdoing. Those that crime it up will be guilty of moral turpitude. This official language became part of our lexicon, thanks to the twice-elected council person that made one hell of a boneheaded mistake as a candidate, Vidal Rodriguez. He's one who, despite his failings, convinced his voting public that he was the right man for the job.
The new baldheaded contender, the one who has Vielma in her sights, might do the same: convince several thousand people that she's the better candidate. She may have a huge following on social media, but how many of her District 5 followers will actually cast a vote for her? It's all hypothetical at this point. We hardly know if she's going to take a crack at local office. She should take into consideration the current discussion being had, that of torpes committing moral turpitude and the potential for their disqualification from office. I doubt she's privy to what's currently being discussed, in terms of city charter amendments. I don't see her as a page 1 peruser. She deals more with the police blotter section, an area that she's personally close to.
2020 is going to be a hoot.
(Image via Ballotpedia.org)
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.