Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Grassroots He Ain't

Photo via Twitter

The primary is on March 3, 2020 and Henry Cuellar is in a mad rush with TV ads, mailers to constituents, social media posts, etc.  It's like nothing he's done before.  We have his challenger, Jessica Cisneros, to thank for that.

In the photo above, the Cuellar team throws around the word grassroots.  Rich, considering the corporate insiders that donate to his re-election.  There is nothing grassroots about Cuellar.

There have never been any town hall meetings to speak of.  He's never visited with voters in Laredo's older neighborhoods.  He's never made time for anything, except photo ops and a lot of personal boasting.  It's time for a change.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Chicken Buildings Gone

The building where Kentucky Fried Chicken used to operate out of is gone.  It was located on the corner of Bartlet and Laredo.

The KFC restaurant that was on Santa Ursula and Washington had a different design.

(image via Google Maps)

I remember the Santa Ursula location more fondly, because it was closer to my stomping grounds.  The building was demolished several years ago.  Now it's just flat surface area.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Different Worlds For Henry

Last week, a high-ranking Irani official was killed by an airstrike ordered by Donald Trump.  The death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani was followed by concern of the retaliation that would be directed at U.S. forces abroad.  Criticism of Trump arose from acting hastily and from not consulting Congress about the attack.  Henry Cuellar, currently in the middle of being primary'd, said this about the killing of Soleimani:

There is no doubt the record of Major General Gassim Suleimani proves he was an egregious and dangerous military leader.  Suleimani is responsible for the death of thousands of innocent civilians and threatened our national security.  The death of Suleimani could diffuse the power of the Quds Force and is a necessary step in combating the threat of Iran.  The administration should work with Congress to ensure we continue to protect our national security and international interests.

Cuellar went straight to the boogeyman description and rationale, instead of raising any concern about the inevitable pushback by Iran.  Republicans were doing the same in the days following the killing of Soleimani.

Today Cuellar was in San Antonio to speak of the millions of dollars that were dedicated for projects around military bases.  (Photo/story via the San Antonio Current.)

Cuellar was joined by Major General (Ret) Juan Ayala.

In San Antonio, Cuellar took on a different tone regarding the strike against Qassem Soleimani:

If there was an immediate danger, I can understand, but I hope the president will disclose that.  You can't just say that's the case and change the subject.  I'm hoping the president can be more cooperative.  My thing is the United States cannot be a lone cowboy and patrol the world.  

A different tone and a different posture from the congressman.  It's interesting how Cuellar appears deflated at his press conference in San Antonio.  In Laredo, when he has a press conference, there is a lectern -- sometimes emblazoned with a congressional seal -- and there are numerous local officials by his side, all fawning at the congressman's grand exploits.  In San Antonio today, he had to do with a retired military official and no props.

Cuellar is incredible at showboating when he's in town.  And local officials are all too eager to oblige him with his theatrics.  It seems that no one ever questions Cuellar's beliefs or his tactics.  Because of that, he can get away with a middling statement in regards to an act of war in our name.

UPDATE: I posted a tweet about Cuellar's press conference yesterday and Colin Strother took exception.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Why Mariachis

The screen shot above was taken from the ads section of the 1983 edition of La Pitahaya.  That's the name of the Martin High School yearbook, the subject for a future blog post.  In the lower right hand corner you see the ad for El Atomico restaurant.  One of their menu choices is mariachis, what we now commonly refer to as breakfast tacos.

One of my Twitter pals recently asked if the word mariachis was particular to Laredo.  It's a question that's long been presented, to which I say: if it's even a question, then it must be so.  But what of its origin?

Another social media friendly suggested that the word mariachi was first used at El Taquito Millonario, a small restaurant that's no longer in existence.

El Taquito Millonario used to be located at the corner of Santa Ursula and Sanchez.  Another location was farther east, near Cedar Ave.

For now we can trace the word mariachis back to the early 1980s.  And it lived well into the 2000s, as you can see from the last photo.  The 'lunch stand' on Market and Hendricks advertised breakfast mariachis.  (There might be a colon missing after BREAKFAST.)  I used this photo for a 2008 blog post.

The Laredo Taco Company has set the standard in local food offerings.  They set up shop at a well-known convenience store, preparing breakfast and lunch meals for people on the go.  Lines for their breakfast tacos were predictable, and their prices were hard to beat.  Now it seems that other establishments have followed suit: Raul's BBQ, Sunrise store (Market and Meadow), Tacos Ay Carbon, etc.

But as tacos filled with bacon and eggs, or chorizo con huevo, have remained a constant, the word mariachi has not.  The term has faded in the last ten years.  Perhaps that's owed to the Laredo TACO Company.  At any rate,  this Gen Xer recalls the days when mariachis was common in local parlance.

Mariachis.  It was once a Laredo thing.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

D Lister Making Grand Claims

Two days ago, Henry Cuellar tweeted that he "secured $50 million to support critical infrastructure projects" for areas that surround military bases.  This money will assist the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP), the brainchild of Washington state Congressman Denny Heck.  The plan was born five years ago.

Because roads, and other infrastructure, leading to military bases take on an added import, they need monies to be kept at an optimal level.  It's all a part of military readiness.  Funding may go towards: gate upgrades, stormwater management, and water security. (Jeannette Garcia, San Antonio Business Journal)

The 50 million for DCIP (underlined above) is included under the OCO/GWOT section.  OCO stands for Overseas Contingency Operations; and GWOT stands for Global War On Terror.  Spending under OCO/GWOT doesn't have many restrictions.  Apparently, money is no object in our post-911 world.

Henry Cuellar may or may not have singlehandedly secured millions of dollars for grant money to benefit municipalities.  Who's to know?  He's said in the past that he's a fiscal conservative, but he's all too eager to boast about new spending for an already bloated military budget.

Monies that fall under the auspices of OCO/GWOT will also benefit Space Force and the National Guard Youth Challenge, whatever that is.

It's funny how Cuellar is able to trivialize the dissemination of tons of money for expenditures that are lumped together in an emergency category.  For now let's just note that he's part of a committee that has no discernible members of Congress in it.  Spend away, Henry.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Civic Center Grounds Are Changing

This photo is from March 1, 2019.  It shows the civic center ballroom being gutted.  It has since been demolished to make room for administrative offices for Laredo ISD officials.

I'll update this post as progress is made.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Beware The Architects

A new plan for downtown has been unveiled, courtesy of a Mexican architectural firm.  I haven't been paying close attention to all that city hall has been up to in recent months, but I thought that the empty city blocks near bridge 2 were going to be spruced up and maintained as open spaces.  I can't believe that the aim is now geared towards a string of buildings that may have a hotel, a movie theater and a park.

I don't even want to guess at the amount of money that was paid to the designers to come up with the artistic rendering pictured above.

Any plans of me writing a book about corrupt Laredo politicians have just been shelved.  Instead I'm going to develop a coffee table book about all the artist renderings that have been proposed for our downtown area.  Images to be included are of: the Kell-Munoz master plan of 2011; the convention center next to La Posada Hotel; the bulkhead/border wall along the Rio Grande; ferris wheel; and now the campus-like schematic at the I-35 terminus.

Nine years ago, a similar plan was put forward.  The same amenities are being proposed now: retail, entertainment and public space.

The city namely Roberto Balli can't get decent landscaping for the handful of blocks near bridge 2, but now we're supposed to believe that the downtown district is going to be transformed completely because an architect came up with some drawings?

In 2012, Les Norton was really blunt about the revitalization plan that the city was pursuing.  He questioned the city's motives and the perks bestowed upon city leaders.

If by some chance this new plan were to become reality, we cannot even begin to imagine the challenges that such a construction project would pose.

(blog post contribution from June 2011)

City hall has had some dubious dealings with architects in the past.  Alas, a new one has entered the picture.  Let's not hold our breath on miracles happening in our near future.