Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Person Of The Year


Here we are on the last day of the year and in typical Keyrose fashion I leave things till the last minute.  It's time once again to choose LaSanbe's "Person of the Year."

The final decision for this year's pick was made a couple of weeks ago.  I was throwing ideas around for a while but ultimately I think the choice was obvious.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Gene Belmares.

2010 brought us a lot of competitive races in an election year that had the public yearning for change.  One of the more intriguing contests was the one Belmares threw his hat into -- the mayor's race.  Here he was a two-term councilman going up against four other people.  Well, to be frank, he was really going up against only two of those vying the the office of mayor:  a fumbling incumbent and another sitting councilman who took his fight to court to get his seat back. 

Belmares had relative name recognition and was not one to shy away from a photo op when the media came calling.  Still he had to spend big in his campaign to make sure his name was on the minds of the voting public.  But giant billboards and snazzy commercials couldn't take away from the manner in which he played his cards before and during the race.

He was one of the persons who decided the fate of the El Portal project in downtown Laredo.  Plans for the revitalization of the area were set high but little has yet to materialize.  Belmares tried to justify the project to me but I was skeptical to say the least, as was the public.

Then there was the whole fiasco with traffic flow around San Agustin Plaza.  Belmares was an employee of the La Posada Hotel right across the street from the plaza.  Naturally people assumed he was using his influence as an elected official to control the flow of traffic in the area.  Even if he had nothing to do with it, the suspicion was set in place.

Later he had to rebuff questions dealing with the Laredo Broncos' contract termination, his role in the clean-up effort at Los Martinez Dr., spending at the North Central Park, his unfamiliarity with the south side and the nagging issue of his educational background.
That last point is a touchy subject.  In our meeting he brought it up with a sense of disdain.  He wanted me to know that he indeed had some type of formal education but appeared disturbed that the question had to be addressed at all.  On his Facebook status he confronted the issue by comparing himself to Bill Gates, a person who accomplished great things without the use of a college degree.  Belmares has done well for himself but propping himself up next to Bill Gates is presumptuous and misguided.  His deeds fall more in line with that of every Tom, Dick, and Chencho to come out of the local woodwork.

The billboards might look epic, his words well-articulated and the t.v. spots superbly produced but its all a show to compensate for his political shortcomings.  In the eight years in office he didn't leave a mark mighty enough to make the city notice.  His is all blather, the same as that of the buffoon who beat him. 

Gene Belmares had to fight off more criticism than any other mayoral candidate, in my opinion.  But the persona that took a beating was of his own making.  He tried to portray himself as lofty but wanted to resemble someone more humble.  People didn't know what they were getting; And Belmares had trouble defining himself.  He was the altruistic mud sweeper with camera crew in tow.  He's the kid from the barrio with a name of Greek origin.  A conservative on the border.  A contemporary of Bill Gates without the wherewithal to beat a local yokel.

Gene, you gave us one thing but we saw another.  And for that you are LaSanbe's 2010 Person of the Year.  

Past winners here, here and here.

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