Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Bike Riding Thread

This blogger is headed out for some rough terrain.

UPDATE:


The new bike trail at the lake is pretty cool.  I highly recommend it.  It starts near the boat ramp located towards the back of the lake.  Look for the beige post across the street from the ramp. 

Admission is $4 per person. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Person Of The Year 2011


With the latest developments in the race for Webb County Sheriff, I thought about selecting Rick Flores (again) to be LaSanbe's 'Person of the Year.'  [But since Rick hasn't been here the whole year, he can't be Person of the Year]  His stumbling into a rematch with incumbent Martin Cuellar has definitely been newsworthy, not to mention blogworthy.  But he might not have another go at it because he hasn't been a resident of Texas for one year prior to filing for office.  His story we'll leave for another day.

Instead, this year's honor will go to Abraham Martinez, former hospital administrator of Laredo Medical Center.

Martinez made news two years ago when he was accused of accepting bribes in return for awarding contracts to physicians.  He transferred to a Central Texas hospital even though no wrongdoing was discovered on his part after an internal investigation.  His story may not have registered on most people's radars, especially since the media coverage was scant, to say the least.  But the saga was definitely of interest to the medical community.  His newfound notoriety became known all the way in North Texas as he worked for yet another institution after allegations became public.

Martinez maintained his innocence.  Yet his charges didn't seem so far fetched.  How can we forget the bribery charges that fell upon members of the Laredo Police Department, including the chief of police, not too long ago?  But to hear the details of Martinez' actions -- that he allegedly interrupted a surgical procedure to remind a doctor of his scheduled kickback -- I was a bit skeptical.  Nevertheless, I do believe there was enough evidence of professional misconduct at hand.  And the truth now is that he is serving time in prison for tax evasion and conspiracy charges.

For a city inundated with news stories about petty crimes, and cartel-related drug activity, a white collar crime sure came as a surprise.  And, of course, the back story was all too impressive.

We may not have heard the last of Abe Martinez.  His story makes for compelling discourse, even if it's within a small circle of people in Laredo.  And I would be remiss in leaving out those who helped carry out his scheme, but if you're going to shake down a couple of doctors, no mid-level employee would be able to pull it off.  There were other lowly players involved, but the scale of this case took just the right person to see it through:  one with enough know-how, experience, and greed to shake the foundation of Laredo's largest hospital.

On paper, Martinez looked like the real deal.  He had big ambitions, and learned how to get to the top.  But in the end he turned out to be just another pencil-necked geek with a big chip on his shoulder.  He went for it all and got busted in the process.  And for that, he's LaSanbe's 'Person of the Year 2011.'  Congratulations, Abe.

LaSanbe's Piper Maru contributed to this post

Midday Open Thread

I will reveal this year's 'Person of the Year' later today.  I would've done it already if I wasn't such a slacker.

Meanwhile:


It's going to be a hell of a party if they're not reporting for work until Tuesday.

Presser courtesy of the City of Laredo

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Make Downtown More Attractive"



When somebody goes on t.v. to speak about Laredo's future dressed as a night club owner, you can tell that he's not going to speak about the city's environment, it's infrastructure, or it's overall appearance.

Wah-Wah-WAH!!!


So Henry's, I mean, Martin Cuellar's attorney brought to light the fact that Rick Flores hasn't been a resident of Webb County for the last year, as is required to run for office.  All's fair in love and politics, but it's really annoying having to witness Flores' reaction to being disqualified.
“We’re not going to make any comment on that matter,” Flores said.

“If Mora wants to run his mouth off, let him do it but we’re not going to say anything.”

Spoken like a true bitter politician.  No wonder he made our 'Person of the Year' three years ago.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Eating

This morning I had a glass of water, a bowl of oatmeal, and two servings of fruit.  Good for me, but I don't think it really cancels out what I ate this weekend.  Still, I'm trying.

Here are some more eating tips from a Laredo Medical Center dietitian and KGNS.

 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Thread

The sun coming out is doing wonders for my spirit.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Races

Of course there would have to be another controversy in the race for Webb County Sheriff, and Rick Flores is none too happy about it.  Apparently he's being disqualified from running by Martin Cuellar  Democratic Chair Sergio Mora because Flores hasn't been a resident of Texas for one year.  The games have begun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sad Story

The story in El Manana about the older gentleman who ran down a lady and her baby is pretty sad.  The story was reported about two days ago.  But now we learn that the man was waiting for someone to give him a ride to the doctor's office.  Nobody came, he grew restless, so he jumped in a minivan -- with a wheelchair -- and drove himself.

Next thing you know, he loses control and kills a woman and a baby who were on a sidewalk.

Obviously he feels horrible, but I wonder if the person who was supposed to take him to the doctor's feels any guilt as well. 

Difference In Opinion

Recently I took a jab at Mayor Salinas' penchant for wearing (cowboy) hats, especially indoors.  A reader took issue with my post, saying that Salinas has done a lot for Laredo, and that I should direct my attention to Henry Cuellar and President Obama instead, who both have done less, supposedly.

I brought up the fact that Obama has done his part in bringing troops home from Iraq.  In the comments section from a post yesterday, Anonymous submitted a link to a story about troops being diverted from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Atlanta (CNN) -- Soldiers who just returned from Iraq are among several thousand being ordered to Afghanistan in six months as part of a mission designed to beef up Afghan forces ahead of a planned 2014 U.S. military withdrawal, officials said.
Key words in that snippet are "several thousand" and "planned 2014 U.S. military withdrawal."

Luckily for the troops coming home from Iraq, they get to spend the holidays with family and friends.  But for some it means that they have to go back to a different part of the Middle East.  However, I think we should take a look at the numbers of men and women serving our country.  Troops are in fact being sent to Afghanistan, but the numbers there have leveled off; And Iraq has seen a significant drawdown since Obama took office.  Via a Congressional Research Service report:


The timing of the troop withdrawal is debatable.  However, I really think this move is way overdue, and Obama has followed up on his campaign promise.

I welcome any criticism of President Obama and his policies, and I most certainly welcome any criticism of Henry Cuellar.  But to laud Mayor Salinas over Obama is misguided and hollow.  Let me know how Raul Salinas has been good for this city, and I'll take it under consideration.  But let's not downplay what has just happened here with the troops. 

Menso, Not Mensa


If there's one thing that Mr. Rios has taught us it's that there is, indeed, parking in the downtown area to be had.  And he helped downtown merchants with his purchases.  But he's a total dumbass for leaving his two small children in the car while out shopping, allegedly.  Congrats, Jose Miguel.  You're our 'Menso, Not Mensa' award recipient for the end of 2011.  Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shoppers In Laredo


Business was definitely better this weekend as I saw that the mall was packed.  I'll know if the activity sustains as I start my Christmas shopping in two days.

Bright Color Sighting


I don't know if this orange stake means that sidewalk work is going to commence, or that plans are underway to restore the grounds of the Beckelhymer home.

Money At City Hall

Maximilliano over at LaredoTejas blogged about this little city council item last week:

Amending Ordinance 2007-O-097 defining necessary expenses which may be reimbursed to the Mayor and City Council pursuant to Section 2.02 of the City Charter by eliminating the food allowance line item ($500.00/mo.) for each councilman, and reallocating those funds for each councilman as follows: adding $250.00/mo. for mileage reimbursement; $250.00 increase for home office reimbursement ($750.00 total upon qualification); and, increasing cell phone reimbursement by $25.00/mo
Tom Wade, in the comments section, highlighted the fact that this money is available to "be reimbursed to the Mayor and City Council" after showing proof (receipts) of expense, but I have to question what exactly they're all doing at their home offices that requires a $750 monthly reimbursement.  I can see how the mileage allowance would be "amended" since all members of the council like to go out for photo shoots and probably drive nice gas-guzzling vehicles, but $750 per month?  For what, paper?

These amounts are surely paltry when you compare them to the actual municipal budget (in the neighborhood of half a billion), but it surprises me when our leaders blithely throw money around to supposedly meet their needs.  For recognizing their deeds, they sure like to take time at the beginning of each meeting, but when matters of money are concerned, those matters can be rushed through.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Leader Speaks


Garry Trudeau, in his comic strip, used to portray George W. by using a cowboy hat with an asterisk.  When the Texas governor became president, he was symbolized with a Roman helmet.  I found it clever.  But I wonder if Trudeau would mind if we did the same in picking fun at our mayor. 

Even if the Stetson and asterisk is trademarked, we could use something else as Mr. Salinas has been known to use fedoras and baseball caps.  He's a man of the people and one of many hats.  Or you know, we could just go with a mustache and glasses.  But that wouldn't work because he's shaved that off.  The mustache, not the glasses.

Oh, the possibilities.

One Trillion Bucks

Saying the Iraq War invasion was worth it would be legitimate if the justification for it hadn't changed from its original argument.  Thanks, Panetta, but no thanks.

All Decked Out


I noticed this holiday decoration on a recent bike ride through the Azteca neighborhood.  It's a ferris wheel with stuffed animals on board.  I'll say one thing:  they've got more Christmas spirit than I do.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Team Spirit






They love their team.

Other N.F.L. teams, like the Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders, have small followings in Mexico, but they do not compare with “Los Vaqueros de Dallas,” who have attracted a giant, devoted fan base in a country where American football ranks second to Mexican fĂștbol

Playoffs approaching.

Chacon Trash






Trash and tires have been collecting in my neighborhood, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to pay another visit to the landfill.

When I arrived at the facility with three tires in tow, the attendant told me that it was closed because of the conditions.  It wasn't raining but the ground was still mushy from the recent rains.  They didn't want people to get stuck while coming to dump their trash.  Fortunately, they had me place the tires beside the pay station so I wouldn't be lugging those things around.  And for that I thank the gentleman who helped me.  That's customer service, baby.

I'm going to go back to this railroad site and pick up most of the debris.

And by the way, I've been picking up bags of leaves also.  If you have some to get rid of, let me know.



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Three Women Dead


We couldn't finish the year without another story of violence in Mexico.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Working It

The conditions were perfect today for me to work on my compost pile.  I actually have it set up in windrow fashion.  Thankfully the last week has offered up some rain to moisten the contents of the pile. 

My compost is made up of my own yard waste, and some debris that I've collected from neighbors.  There are a couple of neighbors that actually bring me their clippings.  I'm letting it all break down so I can have some nutritious soil for my yard and plants. 

There's more stuff out there so I'll definitely go searching for bags of leaves, grass, and branches to make more compost.  It will be mine!

Candidates Keep Adding Up


The Texas Tribune reports that the upcoming primary will be held April 3 (not on March 6).  As a result, Texas won't take part in the Super Tuesday elections.  Candidates have until February 1 to file for office.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

End Of The Year Lists

Salon has made its list of journalist hacks of 2011.

Rick Perry is this year's Bum Steer for Texas Monthly.

Barbara Walters had her Most Fascinating People countdown last night on teevee.

The Golden Globe nominees were announced this morning.

And yours truly will reveal LaSanbe's 'Person of the Year' right after the Christmas weekend.  Who will it be?  Stay tuned.

Traffic


Travelers going into Mexico for the holidays are stranded in Laredo because they can't show proof of their vehicle's fuel emission performance when attempting to cross, El Manana reports.

Not good when you consider that the downtown area is packed with southbound traffic right about now.  And authorities fear it may get worse with this new delay.

Add to that the ongoing problem of trains blocking busy streets just outside of downtown.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homicide: Laredo


The 11th murder of 2011 occurred late Monday night.  As I passed by the Quarter House last night (Tuesday), I saw that the place was open, with several cars in the parking lot.  I found that odd.  I would think that if your establishment had been the site of a murder, you'd close up shop for a day or two; If not for peace of mind, then out of respect for the deceased.

But this story just begs more questions.  Take for instance the fact that a 17-year-old was in a pool hall on a school night.  Then, straight out of a movie, after he's shot he's transported to the hospital in a private car.  And when the police find out that it happened at the bar, they had to break in themselves, because the place was closed!

Via the LMT:
Officers forced themselves into the building under exigent circumstances and found several casings.
And of course, in typical Laredo fashion, there are no suspects and authorities are looking to the public to help them solve this case.  Hey, here's an idea, how 'bout taking in the bar owner, or bar attendant for obstruction of justice?

The community just experienced one of the most tragic events this year in having a mother kill her two kids and then herself.  In some ways, this new story is similar.  A teenager is dead.  It could've been prevented.  But for some reason, he was allowed to be in a pool hall, late at night.  A fail on so many levels.

  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Waste Disposal In Laredo

At last week's city council meeting, waste disposal contractors voiced their concerns over the new ordinance that would make their 300-gallon "tankers" obsolete.  Instead, haulers would need to upgrade their capacity by approximately 1000 gallons.  That would place a great financial burden on them.  But as Councilman Garza pointed out, current waste disposal practices pose a threat to the community and we can't have waste materials transported in vehicles like the one shown below.




Here's a picture of a 900-gallon tanker.  This vehicle would be more than what's needed for local operations, according to one waste disposal contractor.  The ordinance is in limbo until March so all parties can come together to work out a plan that's financially feasible and realistic. 


One speaker caught my attention as he spoke about the exchange between the committee chairman in charge of writing the ordinance, and one city employee who was asked for his input.
Mr. Venegas, I believe, sir, that you have a conflict of interest, being how you are in the industry that is, uh, set to be regulated, being how you are the one who stands to benefit the most....

He was told, not so politely, to sit down and shut up.
So much for objectivity.


(First photo featured taken from city council meeting footage)

Bias Towards Welfare Recipients


It's been a week since we learned all about the Grimmer family, but the conversation about what ensued at the Health and Human Services Office continues, and not for the better.  Manuel Blanco Sr. offered his opinion to yesterday's LMT Op/Ed page.  It's prefaced with what sounds like a sincere willingness to understand the events that lead to the death of three individuals.  But from there on out, his whole entry is full of stereotypes, exaggerations, and Draconian solutions.

People who receive government assistance, in the form of food stamps or medical care, are at one point used as a scapegoat for the many ills in society.  If we want to combat the obesity problem in children, then let's target those who benefit from food stamps, as Rep. Richard Raymond suggested recently.  The only thing wrong with that approach is that obesity affects people of all income levels.

Mr. Blanco addresses the immigration issue by proposing to deny immigrants of services, but to do so would mean a change to the Constitution.  The Fourteenth Amendment grants people citizenship, and thus, qualifies people (ie. kids) for food stamps.

He alludes to a common refrain:  that women are the main culprits of welfare fraud and live the life of the proverbial "welfare queen."  However, he does note that they don't do it alone; those female abusers of the system drive big, shiny SUVs because they're not only welfare cheats, but also gold diggers.

Of all the craziness, this line says a lot about his attitude towards the poor and the system in general.  He refers to both democrats and republicans not doing anything about the problem.
Neither one wants to deal with the problem because both need the Latino vote.
So Latinos are the only ones who get food stamps?  That would be a surprise to the people of Appalachia, and the Old South.

Rachelle Grimmer is no longer with us, not so much because she didn't qualify for food stamps, but because she didn't complete the application process, among other things.  It's shocking what happened to her and her kids, but it doesn't give us license to talk out of our ass.  We can't simplify her situation and leave major parts of her background out.  And we can't attempt to break down the problem of poverty by playing up our own biases.  

Poverty is a bitch, and I can't understand how some people make it out to be so glamorous and carefree.  If we can't get over our own hang-ups, we can't reach a solution.

Check out Sam Seder as he takes on a condescending point of view.

 
 And Larry Wilmore's (Daily Show) take on poverty is priceless.


 


Giving And Giving

Our leaders try to outdo themselves.

Cm. Narvaez is continuing the proud tradition of helping the children in District IV with gifts and a Christmas party.  With support from his District IV Special Projects Committee, to donations and gifts from local businesses and constituents, Cm. Narvaez will be on a whirlwind tour of elementary schools in the district, as he  distribute toys to the kids of District IV and later

  Counselors provided Rangel with a list of needy students; he then further whittled the list to those students with perfect attendance and good grades.  Those students at all these seven schools will be receiving a gift from Rangel and Santa Claus.  As an added bonus, students selected at Ligarde

This is the fifth year Cm. Garza has been hosting the annual shopping spree where needy students from his district can go to Wal-Mart and buy shoes and a jacket for the holidays.  Cm. Garza would like to thank the school

Texas Redistricting

The Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning Texas' redistricting on the second week of January.  They'll have to decide on whose map to consider for the upcoming primary election:
the state legislature's or the map drawn up by a three-judge panel in San Antonio.

This, of course, has our intrepid elections administrator fretting over the possiblity of holding separate primaries while the details are ironed out.

Will it matter to Rick Perry that his own state might not participate in Super Tuesday (March 6)?  This delay will surely confuse the public, and it might lead some to trick potential voters into voting on phantom days.  We'll surely visit this subject again as it affects one local candidate running for state office.

Life Imitating Art

When a local attorney is at odds with his children's private school, it sounds too much like an episode of "The Good Wife."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Same Old, Same Old

Even San Antonio gets stuck in a rut.
It’s nice to see a show coming to town that doesn’t involve a Disney Channel star, teen idol or classic-rock warhorse.
Imagine how we feel.

UPDATE:

Picture submitted by reader.  I call it: horrible Laredo weekend.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dreariness Continues

It's cold, drizzly, and miserable.  Early morning jog will have to wait.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rainy Day Happenings

The Mission: Give Laredo folks are out there in full force, accepting clothes, food, blankets, furniture, etc.  They will be out there until 8 p.m. today.

No word on the vendors at the Farmers Market at Jarvis Plaza.  Those people are troopers so I wouldn't be surprised if they held fort downtown.

The Holiday Bowl, the football game for charity, has been postponed till Wednesday.  No go for them at Shirley Field.

And the Occupy Laredo group is braving the elements this weekend.  

UPDATE:



The parking lot of the Super S on Clark Blvd. was the site of a plate sale today.  Props to them for getting out there.

 

And this picture is of my old stomping grounds, El Puente Blanco.  The Zacate Creek was flowing pretty nicely with all the rain that's been falling since last night.  Where's a kayak when you need one?



Friday, December 9, 2011

A Case Of Grabby Hands


I don't know how common this was in the past but it seems that we hear about it quite a bit today.

Rick Perry Implosion


Gawd bless Rick Perry.  Even though his chances at becoming the GOP presidential nominee keep getting slimmer, he keeps plugging away.  But he doesn't help himself by running an ad that's critical of gays serving in the military, and portrays Obama as an anti-Chistmas zealot.  I wouldn't go that far, especially when the White House is decked out with the usual holiday trappings.

In his latest appeal to the Religious Right in Iowa, Perry takes to the small screen with a 30-second ad.  On YouTube, that same ad has garnered 500 percent more thumbs downs than likes.  And it was bound to happen, what with hanging his hopes on a campaign filled with falsehoods, discrimination, and misguided crusades.  He's become the male equivalent of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman.  He's Herman Cain without the mistresses.  The only sensible decision he's made up until now is refusing to take part in a Donald Trump-moderated debate.  For that he gets props, but for all the other stuff, not so much. 

Hang it up, Rick.  Anyway, Texas still loves you.  Well.........

Play At Martin High School Gym

The Martin High School Drama Club is putting on a play tomorrow entitled, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  The show starts at 8:00 p.m., at the M.H.S. Batey Gym located at 2002 San Bernardo.  Tickets are $5 per person.  Go support the drama club.

In related news:


You know what?  It's going to be a kick-ass production judging from the director's outburst.
(Side note:  the Martin gym was not named after this teacher)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Golf Course Will Be Here Eventually


Those anticipating a round of golf at the new Robert Trent Jones-designed facility will have to wait a little longer.  City staff is looking at having the course ready some time in May 2012.  I've never golfed but I could see how this new amenity could act as a tourist attraction.  That is, until the grass dies and the structures suffer from poor maintenance.  Golf, anyone? 

UPDATE:

The new baseball stadium now has a name.  Check it out.


And the stadium should also be open in May 2012.  Mark Schuster: 
“We could not have hand-picked a better Naming Rights partner than Eduardo Garza and Uni-Trade Forwarding,” stated Mark Schuster, managing partner of Ventura Sports Group.  “From the moment we begain discussing the possibility, we knew it was the perfect fit,” he added.
I'm happy for them.

Search For Explosive


Last night the LaSanbe World News Headquarters got word about a street in East Laredo being blocked off because a grenade had been found at a private residence.  Today we learn it was all a false alarm.  Authorities recovered an object, but thankfully, it didn't pose a threat to the community. 

Carry on.

Give To Charity



I've tried to keep it simple when donating canned goods before, but.....
A lot of waste also occurs on the other side of the food-donation equation. Rosqueta observes that a surprisingly large proportion of food—as much as 50 percent—provided to needy families in basic boxes winds up going uneaten.
Apparently, donating money is logistically more efficient. 

Mission: Give Laredo will be taking place this Saturday (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at 6001 San Dario.  Organizers are asking the public to donate clothing, furniture, canned goods, and blankets.

This could serve as a productive outlet for those who are still struggling with the thought of having a mother and her two children living in poor conditions, and ultimately, meeting their untimely death.  To honor their memory, we could go out and give to this worthy cause.  My wife told me about some furniture that she wanted to donate, so I'll be out there to show my support.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jerry Garza Running For State Office


Jerry Garza wants to move up in the world.  But he'll have to get past incumbent Ryan Guillen in the upcoming primary, which is about three months away.  Will there be a debate?  It would be nice to have one besides the ones featuring local representatives.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shootings At DHHS Office

More details emerge concerning the standoff yesterday.
Authorities would only describe the mother Tuesday as a 38-year-old woman who had recently moved to the border city from Zanesville, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus.
The woman first applied for food stamps in July but was denied because she didn't turn in enough information, Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said.
Goodman said it wasn't immediately clear what information the woman was missing.

Hostage Situation Ends Tragically


The LMT message board has local reaction.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stand-In Weatherman


Earlier today, Que Fregados posted a link to the weather forecast done by one Sgt. Sifuentes of Bordertown: Laredo fame.  I linked to that post on an earlier thread here on LaSanbe.  Here's a screen grab of Sifuentes' work.  I'm not going to say that it was an awkward moment having him do the weather, but a certain Abraham Diaz must be thinking to himself that the morning segment has gone to hell in a hand basket.

Breaking News!

Pro8news just reported that a hostage situation is in progress at the Health and Human Services office near Saunders.  More details as they become available.

UPDATE:

KGNS' Ann Hutyra updated her FB page as follows:

Up To No Good


In passing by the Slaughter Park yesterday, I saw that two boys had tipped a (soccer) goal over and taken to hanging from the ground support beam.  You can clearly see that the plastic tubing is bent.  When I slowed down to take a picture, one of the youths motioned to the other to put the structure back in its upright position. 

Si asi muy apenas tenemos algo para divertirnos en el Chacon, y luego estos traviesos andan haciendo un desmadre.

Drugs Keep Coming


The work of Sgt. Sifuentes and company is never over.  However, the latest high profile bust hits a little too close to home.  Actually, it takes place close to my mother's house.  It was bound to happen sooner or later now that more tips are being reported to the Bordertown: Laredo department.  Up until recently, all I had witnessed in El Puente Blanco was a group of teens smoking weed at the bus stop at the 3100 block of San Francisco.  But I would be a fool to think that more devious operations weren't occurring in my old hood.

Pro8news' Adriana Arce interviewed Sifuentes and Rodriguez yesterday, and asked them about the possiblity of another season of Bordertown.

While the production of the series would need to evolve, I think the show would keep the drug trade dialogue alive, and thus encourage more people to help combat the problem.  Because of that, I would welcome a season 2. 

For now, Laredo's newest stars will occupy themselves one way or another.

Laredoans Occupy


Picture courtesy of Occupy Laredo

Occupy Laredo has officially camped out overnight at what looks to be the Park & Ride facility near the old base.  Their mission is to raise awareness of how big money influences our lives and public policy. 

Meanwhile, Bordertown Blues shows us how the mayor occupies a local pizza place with the help of everybody and their mother.  I'm actually skeptical that he would stay up there the entire time, but it's possible that his FBI training toughened him up to withstand the frigid, unforgiving Laredo temperatures we're having, and the hard surface he has to sleep on. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Designated Driver He's Not






I know this is gratuitous on my part, but here it is anyway.  For the rest of the story, click here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Visit Laredo

People might realize one day that Laredo is really dull.
I was curious about this combat zone. I’ve covered conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places, and so I was keen to take stock of America’s war zone. I chose Laredo, Texas. The city sits across the Rio Grande from Nuevo Laredo, one of Mexico’s most lawless cities, which is dominated by the vicious Zetas cartel. Zetas covet Laredo’s access to drug-running routes on highways to the east. An A&E reality series about the Laredo police drug squad called it “ground zero in the war on drugs.” It seemed like it might be a hot zone.
War zone?  Yeah right.



UPDATE

Meanwhile, in McAllen (video heads up courtesy of DG):





Friday, December 2, 2011

Fracking Consequences

A reader recommended a story on the shortcuts drilling companies take when leasing private land.
So Mr. Ely said he was surprised several years later when the drilling company, Cabot Oil and Gas, informed them that rather than draining and hauling away the toxic drilling sludge stored in large waste ponds on the property, it would leave the waste, cover it with dirt and seed the area with grass. He knew that waste pond liners can leak, seeping contaminated waste.
Sludge is being transferred in and around Webb County.  Even if it is being disposed of from leased land, what are the chances it is being properly handled?



Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's Just Business

The owner of a beer run was arrested today for allowing minors to have sex operating an establishment that was not in the best interest of young girls.  Apparently one customer got busy with a young female employee........in his car........at the establishment.


This will definitely be a blow to city coffers as the flow of sales taxes will be disrupted.

Laredo Independent School District

Data: LISD folks poor

Nelson says school is vital

By Nick Georgiou
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Thursday, December 1, 2011 12:52 AM CST
About 1 in 2 school-age children in LISD lived in poverty in 2010, making it among the poorest districts in the state and nation, according to recent census estimates.

The estimates show that Laredo Independent School District’s child poverty rate was fourth among state and 15th among American school districts that were home to more than 10,000 people.
The district definitely has its back to the wall, but that doesn't mean that there's no solution to educating (graduating) more students.

Driving


Pro8news featured Laredo's most dangerous intersection for motorists:  the corner of McPherson and Del Mar.  The location has racked up 39 car crashes so far this year. 

A year ago, a driver rear-ended my car as I waited in the northbound turning lane at this location.  There was no significant damage so I basically shrugged it all off, but I can identify with how this intersection could be a hazard for motorists.

I've been struck at other intersections throughout the city, but I'm glad that I can avoid Laredo's worst intersection at all costs. 

Check out this video that illustrates the Diverging Diamond Interchange road design.  It's supposed to eliminate left turns, a big contributor of car crashes. 


Laredo drivers need all the help they can get.  The Diverging Diamond may be more than we need, but apparently, there's room for improvement on Laredo's roadways.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In Conference

You can always tell who the incarcerated drug lords are:  they're the ones who get visited by sexy strippers legal assistants.

Pizza Proceeds To Help Family


I have to give props to Domino's Pizza for helping Derek Trevino's family with funeral expenses.  Derek was out delivering pizzas the night before Thanksgiving when another driver disregarded a red light and hit his car.  In reading comments about Derek, I learned that he was an avid skater and gardener. 

The Keyrose household will be enjoying some pizza tonight in honor of Derek Trevino. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Lemurs Land


It's official:  The Laredo Lemurs have a reason to get up in the morning. 

I'm looking forward to the start of the baseball season next year.  Not so much for the game itself, but to see what an $18 million double deal looks and feels like.

Guajolote Race Bicyclist Beaten By Runner


In today's 956 Sports Unlimited section of the LMT, a female runner from the Guajolote 10K race was featured.  In the background you can see an older gentleman riding his bike towards the finish line.  This race has some redeeming qualities, none of which I can recall at the moment.  But the Guajolote does offer up some quirks, like fully clothed bicyclists interrupting the race just to get some face time. 

Here's a shot from what looks to be the same individual last year.


The only difference is the photos is that he is wearing different shoes.  You can catch him in action in this video (around the 3:20 mark).
  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Activists Met With Disdain

Members of Occupy Laredo went before city council tonight to hash out the details of organizing at local parks.  The group is looking to camp out in public spaces to speak out against income inequality, Wall Street malfeasance, and other corporate tactics that alienate the working class.  But Councilman Juan Narvaez was suspicious about Occupy's motives and he proceeded to push the members around.


My district's representative, Alex Perez Jr., was so moved by the discussion that he decided to chime in with his usual terse blandness.  But his concern revolved around the possibility that Occupy Laredo's actions may "open up a can of worms."


Gawd forbid you should open up a can of worms when Freedom of Speech is concerned. 

Not to be outdone, Mike Garza proposed exiling Occupy Laredo to the Park & Ride facility, all the better for the group to appreciate the vapor trails of planes flying overhead.  His rationale was that the parking lot/bus stop would serve as a more secure outpost for Occupy.  Naturally, the rest of city council went along with his idea.

This motion is reminiscent of a Bush-era gem:  free speech zones.

I'm really astounded by the council's actions tonight.  In essence, they pushed the group out of sight, and out of mind.  Occupy's plan of camping out seemed too complicated, troublesome, and abstract for council, and in particular for Mr. Narvaez.  It's OK for Mayor Salinas to symbolically camp out for three days, as he does every year to collect money and toys, but according to city staff, it's unproductive when the community wants to do the same.

Alex Perez, at the last meeting, said, "The people have spoken," as he agreed to deny a conditional use permit for the opening of a daycare in the Heights neighborhood.  But in handling a Free Speech issue, he speaks out against the will of the people.  I understand that public speaking is not his forte, but it's amazing how he would equivocate Free Speech with "opening up a can of worms," as if the thought of granting people one of their most basic rights would be a detriment to society, and Democracy.

This performance speaks volumes about all of city council.  Troglodytes would have more sense and courtesy than our elected officials.  Occupy Laredo was seen as a nuisance and inconvenience, and council did their best to cast them out.

I applaud the members of the group for standing up for themselves.



A Touch Of Nepotism

Our mayor was on Pro8news this afternoon to speak about current city business.  He was asked of the conflict of interest in awarding a contract to a company.  (LaredoTejas blogged about it yesterday)

Mindy Casso:  And what do you say to people who ask about the relative of a councilperson who's involved with that particular firm?

Mayor Salinas: First of all, he's not eligible; He's not going to vote.  He has to excuse himself.  But, you know, I think there's other partners and I think also we're going to look at them all.  We're going to look at their financial statements.  We're going to see if they're experienced, but we have to look at the whole picture, and staff is going to make a recommendation.  But I think at the same time, I want the best company to be out there doing business, and uh, you know, somebody's gonna get it.  Rght now I gotta tell you: we're going to be transparent; we're going to show the numbers and that's what the people need to know.
City council meeting.  tonight.

UPDATE:





Creative Landscaping


This photo was taken near the Russel Terrace area.  I was out there running an errand for a family member and stopped to take a snapshot of the neighbor's yard.  What you're looking at are oak trees surrounded by pallets.  There could be several explanations for this. 

One could be that the caretaker is helping to keep the trees' root systems moist.  Another explanation could be that he, or she, has pets and doesn't want them digging around the trunk area.  Whatever the case, the pallets do offer a distinctive look to the landscape.  I give the owner high marks for recycling used materials.  Maybe not Earthship high marks, but high marks nonetheless!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Crowds

I'm now convinced that people head out to shop at the wee hours of Black Friday only to get a chance to be on t.v.  And that's OK, as long as you don't make a fool of yourself for many to see.  Thankfully there was one such individual who did us a favor.


A Bordertown: Laredo mention from a Houstonian.  Nice.  Ma'am, we appreciate the enthusiasm but please, it's not necessary, especially when you're there for an inflatable mattress.

In related news, a woman was trampled at a north Laredo store.  Carry on.




Friday, November 25, 2011

Another Day Off






Kudos to Bethany House for opening its doors on Thanksgiving to feed the less fortunate.  And I was informed that at least one of my Facebook friends was out there helping out, so big ups to everyone involved. 

Big thumbs down to HEB for opening its stores yesterday.  I have a couple of in-laws who work for the company, and it would've been a total shame if it wasn't for the stories one of them shares. 

Supposedly one store (in north Laredo) was bulging at the seams with customers.  Peoples' carts were overflowing with groceries and all the checkout lines were jammed.  One particular customer had two grocery carts packed with stuff.  After everything was scanned, and her cost tallied, she remarked, "Oh, I forgot the turkey!"  This little oversight caused the other customers to scream bloody murder because she apparently was holding up the line even more.  Security had to be called in to quell any run-ins.

The lady was eventually advised to pay for her groceries and get back in line for the turkey.  Security had to be called back for other infringements.

Never a dull HEB story from my brother-in-law.

Today, I'm staying away from any shopping centers.  I'll stay close to home to work on things I've been putting off.





Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey!!!!

First serving of turkey is in the books.  The Green Bay Packers will record another win for the season.  Good weather today.  Good times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day Off Thread

Doing several things that have nothing to do with turkey day.

UPDATE:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Long Week Off


I'm getting ready to start my Thanksgiving layover.  Blog traffic will undoubtedly drop off as everybody will be busy doing something else, and the news won't kick up until next week, so there will be limited material from which to pick from.  Still, I'll try to post something to keep the conversation going.  I might do random video podcasts to update the site.  At any rate, be safe out there and have a Happy Thanksgiving.   

Integrity Schmegrity


My better half sent me this picture of a sticker which was plastered somewhere inside the Las Cazuelas restaurant.  It reads, "El Azteca No Se Vende."  Orale, pues!  But here's what I found out yesterday.


Las Cazuelas is now Obegon's.  So while the neighborhood might not be for sale, everything in it is. 

In talking to an employee from the restaurant this morning, I learned that the new owners will offer a wider selection of local cuisine.  And their hope is to be open throughout the day, and not just for the lunch rush.  By the way, another Obregon's is located on Saunders.  Could it be that we'll see it become a franchise like Danny's? We'll see, but first, bring on those tostadas (estilo) Siberia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Heights Can't Have Daycares






The facility pictured above is located at the corner of Musser and Seymour Ave.  Recently, it was painted, and a small playground was added in hopes that it could be turned into a daycare center.  But area residents were not happy with the plan. 

Their contention was that the business would not be in keeping with the neighborhood's zoning.  But if that's the case, how do you explain the fact that the office space next to the corner house used to be a doctor's office?  Currently the olive-colored office space to the right has a sign on the wall that reads 'Acupuncture.'  Heaven knows if it's a nuisance to residents.

I understand how the business would not be allowed to operate given the area's zoning.  But there's a child care center, and a Pronto convenience store one block away.  And in other parts of the Heights barrio, I know of at least two other daycare centers.

The conditional use permit request for the daycare was denied by city staff, but only because a group of residents spoke out, I believe.  If they hadn't shown up, the daycare would've been open today.  And that's fine.  If more people took part in the political process, this city might be better off.  But I don't buy the residents' take that the daycare would disturb the land use pattern of the surrounding properties, another point, among several, in their protest.

  

Footage from city council meeting on 11/7/2011.