Monday, January 31, 2011

Fence


Please respect the boundaries that people put up, no matter how symbolic they may be.

LISD Budget Crunch

LISD chief warns of laying off staff

Says those whose jobs will be affected will be told in April
By Nick Georgiou
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Monday, January 31, 2011 6:06 AM CST
While some Texas public school districts had warned of layoffs and ballooning class sizes, LISD Superintendent Marcus Nelson said Jan. 20 that he wants to give employees pay raises next fiscal year and increase the district’s contribution to their health insurance premiums.
But after meeting with lawmakers in Austin and seeing the initial draft budgets presented by the House and the Senate, Nelson, too, has warned of layoffs at Laredo Independent School District, which is home to more than 3,900 employees.

Who would be the first to go?  Here I am looking forward to the opening of the new Shirley Field this Fall semester but I'm left to wonder if the staff cuts would be so drastic so as to do away with coaches or band personnel, leaving games and halftime performances in jeopardy.

At the elementary school level you have staff that mostly focuses on instruction.  Class sizes could be increased to make up for the shortfall.  But I'm thinking the majority of the layoffs would come from the junior high and high school levels where extracurricular activities exist.
Via Dr. Nelson's blog today:
If budget reductions are 15% straight across the board, then LISD would lose between $24-$26 million PER YEAR during the years of the biennium.  All the scenarios being presented thus far are “worse case” and do not include a very healthy General Fund (199) unreserved/undesignated fund balance of approximately $54 million for the board to consider in this solution.  Currently we are reviewing all of our programs and services for ways we can be more efficient, improve our systems, and restructure our organization.
Perhaps I'm being too extreme in my outlook.  Having no football games next school year would definitely fall under a worst cast scenario.  But is this a possibility given the crisis LISD is facing?
Where would the cuts be?

Break On Through


El Manana reported yesterday on a couple caught smuggling drugs into the Webb County jail through a hole in a wall.  A tip led officials to the site where they found a cell phone and drugs.  They pointed to this as an example of the need for a new jail.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

WTF


This "Willy Bote" (trash can) has been sitting on a corner along Park St. for some time now.  It's packed with dried cement and the top looks like it's been burned.

We'll see how long this piece of street art stays put. 

Mane Attraction












Today marks one week to the Super Bowl where the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers will fight it out in Cowboys Stadium. But there is another battle brewing: which players have the best (or most) hair.

Arguably the most famous on the Steelers is #43 Troy Polamalu, who has an endorsement with Head & Shoulders shampoo. The lucky man on the Packers side is #52 Clay Matthews,who apparently has a new deal with Suave. (pictured)

Brett Kiesel of the Steelers gives them both a run for their money with the amount of facial hair he's been sporting as of late. They even had to make the necessary decorative adjustments on his cupcake (#99), which were presented to the Steelers before leaving Pittsburgh! (see photos) I wonder if they have to keep adjusting his chin strap too!

Some other players on both teams with the lovely locks include Packers Atari Bigby and A.J. Hawk, and Steelers William Gay and Chris Kemoeatu, who rocks an afro-mullet...nice! May the best hair win.

Trees



When everybody was getting ready for a downtown street party or a kayak race, some volunteers were busy planting trees in north Laredo as part of an Arbor Day event.  It doesn't really matter that Arbor Day is a ways away because we've been having some really mild weather.  Today looks like it's going to be really sunny and it might get up into the high seventies.

Kudos to the group for beautifying a part of Laredo.  As I type this, I can hear a neighbor using a lawnmower.  Looks like everybody is in the landscaping mood.   

Friday, January 28, 2011

Downtown Death

A 62-year-old resident of Nuevo Laredo was found dead at Jarvis Plaza.  The gentleman worked in Laredo.  The case is under investigation.

Jamboozie

This year's event might be streamed live over the internets.  I'll link it here if it is.  I'll be able to enjoy it from the comfort of my own chair.

More County Ugliness

Workers allege foul play



By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Friday, January 28, 2011 2:11 AM CST
Three Webb County community center employees have filed grievances against the county alleging Commissioners Court reassigned them to new centers in violation of the Civil Service code.

The grievances also imply that the moves were in retaliation for failing to support Pct. 2 Commissioner Rosaura Tijerina’s re-election bid. Tijerina said the moves had nothing to do with the election.

UPDATE:

Rosaura Tijerina defends herself:
If I wanted to drop these girls, I would've done it after the election.  But I didn't because that's not how I roll.  (paraphrasing)


Friday Open Thread

Keyrose is on assignment.

UPDATE:


This sign popped up recently along Zapata Highway.  I have to say:  it's kinda early to be putting up campaign signs for the next election cycle.  The only thing that can explain this is that people want to get a jump on prime ad space.

This little tactic has become the norm in Webb County -- people put up their names on walls or windshields along with a certain number year.  They don't necessarily mention the office they're seeking; they just want to put their name out there so people can have it on their minds. 

In any case, I think it's too early for Frank Sciaraffa to start campaigning and for giving himself a thumbs up.  We have to see what becomes of the grievances and investigations currently pending at county.

The only thing that's certain is that Frank won't take part in any debates.  He'll get out and meet with some of his constituents but he won't give his opponents the time of day.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

LMT Editorial Submission

Problems with CAA highlight problems with the way Webb County is run
By
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 2:41 AM CST
To the editor:

“Webbgate” has become the most pervasive scandal in Laredo’s history.
The Webb County Weatherization Program’s abominable actions are a nuanced reflection of the well-entrenched spoils system haunting Webb County.
On Dec. 31, 2010, an article in Laredo Morning Times disclosed that Webb County will lose $2.4 million because of alleged misuse of federal funds that had been allocated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The monitoring report by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs notes that Marion Services, owned by Aaron Ramos, performed weatherization work on some homes.
Ramos provided weatherization services for his father, former County Judge Andres Ramos, who may not have been qualified to receive ARRA financial assistance.

The travesty is that widows, disabled, the indigent and elderly taxpayers will not be receiving much-needed services.
Since the county commissioners and the county judge are not taking care of business, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

During this period of economic recession and high unemployment, they still continue to reward themselves with inflated salaries and benefits.
If they had any sense of decency, they would take their combined yearly income and apply it to the indigent citizens.

Signed,
Hector Farias Jr.

This commentary also appears in the current issue of LareDOS.  Speaking of LareDOS, hop on over to their fundraiser tonight.  The weather's great and you can pay at the door.

Back At Work

LaredoTejas posted the story of the UISD bus driver, Maria delosAngeles Cazares, who was suspended for accepting peach tree seedlings during her route last year.  Her attorney opines:
"This (case) is ridiculous.  It's a shame to take up all of this time to deal with something that is so stupid," he said, according to district records
A UISD counters:
Aranda said the disciplinary action had nothing to do with Cazares accepting a gift, but that she used a school bus to transport plants "as opposed to students."  He also argued that the plants could have affected students on the bus.
Ms. Cazares has her doubts:
Cazares wrote that she was being retaliated against for reporting misconduct and policy violations allegedly committed by other bus drivers and aides.
Rediscover Laredo, y'all.

(Story via the LMT - Nick Georgiou)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do Not Ride The Fence

Former commissioner Sergio Martinez went before the commissioners court on Monday to urge them not to sidestep their responsibility in hiring a new C.A.A. director.  His displeasure is obvious and asks anybody on the court to do the right thing if their names come up as a person of interest in the ongoing (C.A.A.) investigation.
I also ask of you, because of what's happening, that if your name is brought up as a principal or accomplice in any of the litigations, you should resign.  This is what they call accountability.
I apologize for the video quality below.

Underbelly

A reader brought to my attention the story of a perfume merchant who is in trouble with the law.  The NY Daily News reported last week that an individual was busted for working closely with a drug cartel.

Datta used his perfume stores in Texas, Arizona and California to launder millions for the Sinaloa Cartel, a major narcotics trafficking operation in Mexico, officials said.
He not only used his store but used the perfume inventory to carry out the scam.  Via the DEA site.

"Vikram Datta allegedly tried to mask dirty money with, of all things, the scent of perfume. But as this case demonstrates, even the sweetest-smelling money laundering scheme is no match for determined law enforcement,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “We will continue working tirelessly with our partners at the DEA to dismantle money laundering rings and prosecute those involved."

The U.S. Attorney (N.Y.) gave thanks to those who helped out.
Bharara praised the investigative work of the DEA New Jersey Field Office, DEA Houston Field Office, and DEA Laredo Field Office. He also thanked the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations for its assistance.
Wait for it.......Apparently Mr. Datta had ties to the local community.

I'm An Architect


Actually this man is not really an architect but he does work for a firm who has been tasked with redesigning downtown Laredo.  The Express-News features the story behind the man, which includes some controversial aspects.
The latest: a bid to manage construction work for nearly all of the San Antonio Independent School District’s $515 million bond. Muñoz won the contract, along with $12.5 million in fees. But critics say he doesn’t fight fair and his over-the-top tactics can go over the line when he plays politics with taxpayer funds.
A lot of people are expecting results from Mr. Munoz.  Whether any ethical lapses exist, we'll find out eventually.



Let's hope city staff made the right decision a year ago. 

Absenteeism


El Manana reports on the nagging problem of absentee students at our local schools.  J.P. Hector Liendo had his work cut out for him yesterday as he presided over 35 cases, 11 of which involved fifth graders and younger.  There was even one kinder and one pre-kinder student in the mix.  One mother explained to the judge that she didn't send her child to school because of the cold weather.  She was reminded that unless school closes due to inclement weather, she has no reason to keep the child at home.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Messages


We may have schools scrambling for funds, municipalities stretching every dollar, politicians taking a hatchet to public services and a governor in denial but that doesn't mean we don't have time for some high-end tacky fun.

Photo courtesy of Zaffirini camp.

The Quimbys Among Us

We here at LaSanbe have been idly following the case of the Community Action Agency over at Webb County.  For those not up to speed with this fiasco, we have here a situation where federal funds were approved for people who didn't qualify for assistance.  That money was supposed to be used for weatherization projects for people with a special need.  Upon investigation it was discovered that contractors did shoddy work as well.  Commissioners Court fired the director of the C.A.A. and moved quickly to restore whatever resources they could.

Now comes the part of looking for a new director.  More than a dozen applicants submitted their names for consideration.  With the help of a three-member panel, or management team, the court whittled the number down to five finalists.  But as Maximiliano over at LaredoTejas has noted, commissioners court tried to delegate the hiring of a director to the panel made up of:  Cynthia Mares, Leo Flores, and Juan Vargas.  Staff objected to this.  Via the LMT (Andrew Kreighbaum)
But Flores said he would not participate at all if he could not review the qualifications of all 14 original applicants.
A former commissioner, Sergio Martinez, even stepped in to voice his displeasure with the proposed action at Monday's county meeting.
Now Sergio Martinez may not be one to defer to when it comes to etiquette but he may know a thing or two about county procedure.  However, things must be really bad for a former county commissioner to show his face in commissioners court after having his ass handed to him in the last election.  One thing's for sure:  local politics is never at a loss for controversy.  This would all be funny if the consequences weren't so serious.

As a blogger I can only thank those who have played a part in this whole drama.  Please keep the hits coming.  Seriously, who needs Jay Cutler's alleged weakness when we have a local grumbler urging commissioners to "man up."  Why Danny Valdez decided to punt on this, instead of directing commissioners court to pick a director, is beyond me.  As I see it, he and Mayor Raul Salinas have a lot in common:  they're waffling and easily manipulated.  But furthermore, Valdez is taking the role of Mayor Quimby to new heights by relying on a panel (committee) to do his work for him and distancing himself from his responsibility.  Unfortunately these are the elected officials we deserve.



A colleague recently mentioned that some earth-shattering news should be coming down the pike in regards to this case.  Whether it's indictments or something else, we'll have to wait and see.

Not The Only Game In Town

Like anybody else, Laredoans eventually tire of the same old thing and move on to something fresh.  Luckily in Laredo we have new members in the blogging community that add to the mix. 
If you haven't already done so, check out Thrifty Diners.  Compare your cooking skills to theirs.

And if your political outlook is more conservative, there's Wake Up Laredo.

The Stendhal Blues comes to us courtesy of a former transplant.

I'm sure there are others out there.  Drop me a line if you see any new blogs out in the Laredo innertubes.

Bikes And Health

Nuevo Laredo Mayor, Benjamin Galvan Gomez, saddled up and led a group of people on bikes through the streets of our sister city, all in an effort to promote health.  Good for them; but I want to know how the mayor scored PeeWee Herman's bike?  (Video courtesy of El Manana)



On this side of the border, our cuddly mayor is recovering from a case of fatigue.


He's in no shape for a bike ride at the moment.  Come to think of it, he wasn't in the mood for a bike ride when we had our own bike tour a couple of years ago.  Somebody in the bike crowd was dressed as a clown but I can't confirm whether that was the mayor or not.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm Too Casual A Sports Fan

Sporting events do offer some degree of escapism.  I enjoy a nice story line that usually accompanies a player, a team, or a rivalry.  But expecting people to shell out hundreds of dollars for a parking spot is ridiculous.  I refuse to get caught up in all the hoopla for something that has no significance whatsoever.  This doesn't register on my bucket list and it shouldn't for anybody else.

The Real City Secretary


Meet Irma Soto, the person in charge of coordinating appointments for the mayor, city councilmen/woman, and city staff.
She does it all, from handling mail to booking trips for our elected officials.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

None Too Happy

Hilda Negrete wrote in to the LMT editorial page.

 


Writer laments state of city leadership before, after sexual harassment trial


By
Published: Sunday, January 23, 2011 3:54 AM CST
To the editor:

The intent behind this lawsuit was to bring awareness to city administration about the shortcomings in the city ordinance related to hostile work environment and also the insensitive manner in which the city manager’s office handles these complaints of sexual harassment.

There truly is no real meaning behind the language of the ordinance if it does not effectively protect the employees.

 I wanted to lend a voice to those city employees who are regularly harassed by their supervisor or director.

I wanted to prevent any more city employees from being discouraged from filing a complaint against their boss if they became victims of sexual harassment.

It is a shame that employees in a hostile work environment keep quiet due to fear of losing their jobs.

The city manager’s office and our elected officials do not step up to the plate in support of an employee when a legitimate grievance is made.

In my situation, I was cast off to another department and the perpetrator was allowed to remain in his position and got approval for out-of-town travel at the taxpayers’ expense.

From the beginning, the City of Laredo conveyed the wrong message to its employees and to its taxpayers.

The fact that the city secretary continues in his position is a clear message that the city manager and our elected officials condone this type of behavior, which the majority find deplorable.

This type of misconduct and harassment are reprehensible, and in my view, the individual should have resigned from his position.

I am extremely gratified by the decision handed down by the court.

I had excellent legal representation, and I would like to take this moment to thank the lawyers who took on my case.

Their collaborative approach was very effective in the preparation and presentation of my case at trial.

There was never any doubt that they had my best interest in mind.

Signed,

Hilda Negrete

Nosebleed Time

The day has come. By the end of today, we'll know if Mark "Dirty" Sanchez becomes an also-ran or goes legend. It is a team sport and Dirty won't be playing alone. He'll have help from this guy in his attempt to knock off the Steelers. Let the games begin.

Runners

I don't know what makes Larry Macon run.  But I sure know what makes Eddie Macon run.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

City Manager Makes A Statement On Mayor's Health

Mayor Salinas Hospitalized

Mayor Salinas Undergoes Observation at Local Hospital
Mayor doing fine after checking in to local hospital

Laredo, TX—January 22, 2011— Mayor Raul G. Salinas checked in to a local hospital earlier today, after briefly feeling ill. This was decided, after consulting with his family and physician as a precautionary measure.

Carlos Villarreal, Laredo City Manager, stated that he’s been in contact with the Mayor and his family and he’s happy to say that Mayor Salinas is doing well and will remain in the hospital overnight for observation meanwhile a series of tests are done.

Recently, the Mayor has been travelling and working extensively with other City officials on a wide variety of projects to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Laredo.

“As energetic as he is, we’re confident that Mayor Salinas will be back to his routine in no time at all.” said Carlos Villarreal.

Courtesy of Eloy Vega

How Does This Happen?

LPD: Officer faked work for 37 days


By César G. Rodriguez
LAREDO MORNING TIMES
Published: Saturday, January 22, 2011 4:03 AM CST
Police say one of their officers falsely claimed to have worked for 37 days. Samuel Rodriguez, 43, a 17-year-veteran patrol officer, turned himself in at police headquarters around 5:30 p.m. Friday.

This might explain why there is limited patrolling at city parks.

Clown Eyes


Pro8news reported last night on the case of Richard Dodd.  This individual allegedly used a company credit card to make approximately $6,000 in purchases when it was supposed to be used for gasoline for a work vehicle only.

My question is:  how did he purchase so much on the card?  Nowadays I'm asked for my ID when I make purchases with my bank card.  Are you gonna tell me that this guy didn't make people suspicious with his facial tattoos?  I know I'm being biased but somebody is out $6,000 now.  In the future I'm sure they'll think twice about handing over a company credit card to every Tom, Dick and Slappy the Clown.

Friday, January 21, 2011

We've Gone From 11 To 1

At Tuesday's city council meeting, Councilman Charlie SanMiguel grilled Police Chief Maldonado about currently having only one police officer assigned to patrolling public parks when a past agreement called for eleven officers.

The councilman brought up the issue of MOUs (Memorandums of Understanding) and it went downhill from there.
Maldonado - What MOUs are you specifically referring to?
SanMiguel - Just any one; it doesn't matter which one (inaudible).
Maldonado -Some don't require resources, they require response; those are the MOUs so I need to know specifically, because again, I'm going to have to prioritize resources.
Chief Maldonado tried to explain how the police force has had to adapt to recent staffing shortages but Charlie SanMiguel offered his own two cents in a tone that was not lost on anyone.
I'm not surprised that we're experiencing this type of activity in the parks.  The presence is not there, so we need to just, I think that's a priority.  So will you just keep that in mind and whenever you're going to pull people off the streets or off parks (off) take that into consideration...
See the video until the end to enjoy the ten seconds of awkward silence.

No Warnings

City Council held their meeting Tuesday because of the MLK holiday and it was a doozy.  Council talked about the problem of public consumption of alcohol at city parks.  City Manager Carlos Villarreal took a strong stance against this by urging police officials to hand out tickets instead of warnings to get the point across to the public.

Councilman Juan Narvaez agreed with the suggestion and provided a little saying:
Sobre aviso no hay engaño.
An in-law confirmed the saying with the word 'dicho' but I hear 'aviso' in the video.  My source also commented that a new show will soon premiere on channel 14 which will focus on old Mexican dichos, so LaSanbe will keep an eye out for that.

Check out the video so you can hear Mayor ProTem Johnny Rendon give his take on things while somebody (who shall remain nameless) loudly breathes into the microphone.  It's at the 1:00 mark.

Laredo Vendor Permit

Laredo, TX—January 20, 2011—As the Valentine’s Day holiday approaches, the City of Laredo Building Development Services Department would like to remind all local vendors that they must have a permit if they plan on selling Valentine baskets or other holiday treats. 

A 2004 City of Laredo ordinance requires vendors to have a private premises vendor’s permit, along with other requirements, to be able to sell their wares on Laredo by-ways.  The application process requires, among other things, that private vendors offer restroom facilities and adequate parking for their customers.  The permit, which is issued for a specific location, does not allow for vendors to sell in the City’s right-of-way.

For more information or to report violations, please call the City of Laredo Building Development Services Department at (956) 794-1625.  Anyone wishing to fill out an application can stop by the department, located at 1120 San Bernardo Avenue, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Permits must be obtained at least one week prior to selling goods.


That's good and all but someone needs to tell the corn vendors about these permits.  I don't know if they have one but I've seen people selling corn sacks at two sites in south Laredo.

Hal's Owners Writes In To LMT

Mr. and Mrs. Lamont comment on the new baseball stadium bar in today's editorial page.
This letter is in response to the article that appeared on the front page of the sports section on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, titled "New stadium on track."  Specifically, I would like to address the sentence that states the following:  "The left field sports bar and restaurant will be open and operating year-round as it strives to enhance the sports bar experience."  As the owners of Hal's Landing, we cannot believe that property taxes that we and all other restuarant/bar owners pay are being used to build a facility to compete with all of us.  When the concept of a baseball stadium was put forth, we - and I believe everyone else - believed that it would be a vehicle to allow the people of Laredo (who also support the city via taxes) to enjoy a game they love in a modern facility. 

I certainly didn't believe, nor do I believe, anyone was made aware that the end result of the $18 million expenditure would be to facilitate an enterprise against which we will have to compete that will not have to pay its share of the very taxes with which the facility was built.  To me, this is inherently wrong and, in the long term, will not "enhance" the sports bar experience, but will have the opposite effect:  a city-supported competition that will negatively impact other local facilites.  I believe that the baseball stadium is a good idea, but it needs to be a level playing field that should not include "subsidized" competition against the city's taxpayer, burdened Laredoans.

Signed,
Tom and Marianne Lamont
The writers make a good point.  However I wouldn't worry to much about the competition since everything the city touches turns to crap.  Love ya', city hall, love ya'.
I personally can't wait for the first brawl to take place at the bar and the lawsuits that will follow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The LMT Reports

The UISD school board voted for a hiring freeze.  Some wiggle room exists.
However, those who fill a vacant position, just like other new recent hires at UISD, will be given an employment contract along with a letter calling for their resignation at the end of the school year.
I'm sure they know what they're doing.

Hockey Finally Catches On In Laredo

How can you tell that hockey has taken root in one of the hottest places on earth?  When brawls, heartfelt storylines and flying body fluids cross over into other sports and become the highlight in an otherwise plain sporting event.  Apparently a high school soccer game was quite the scene in Laredo yesterday.  Bordertown Blues has the scoop.  

This is all new to me.  Back when I was in school we didn't have soccer teams.  And the big rivalry that would provoke acts of retaliation was that of Martin and Nixon H.S.  Now we have scuffles between Martin and United?  We can't have this; My alma mater (Martin) might get a bad reputation.

Still, this new development makes things interesting.  It proves that local athletes have heart.  And that is the stuff of movies.  One could be made about this new rivalry, unless it's been done before.

Sheriff's Son



The son of former sheriff Juan Garza, and some other guy, were taken into custody yesterday, all after being stopped for a supposed traffic violation.  The stop happened near an elementary school.  LaSanbe cannot confirm whether Garza was texting in a school zone (a no-no in our fine city) or was suffering from a case of me estoy miando, muevanse!  The duo's lack of concern for traffic laws led police to a stash of ammunition and drugs.

When I saw the news report initially I sort of recognized the background.  Sure enough, the cops stopped the two hoodlums in front of some rental property on Market St., walking distance from my house.  Reports state that they were riding in a Chevy Equinox.  Coincidentally that's the same vehicle that San Luis Rey Church is raffling at their upcoming Spring Jamaica.  If anyone needs tickets, my mom can hook you up. 

Tip of the hat to the cops for scoring big on this.  And kudos for KGNS for being there to document the occasion.  You guys are on your toes.

When the sheriff was in office, back some twenty years ago, I would hear stories about the son being caught doing some illegal act or another.  Whether this is the same person, I'm not sure.  All I know is that this is a high profile case and I can't wait to see how it ends.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sad Movie Scenes

Amy Poehler's list of sad movie scenes is pretty good.  I would've put the final scene from "The Deer Hunter" on my list.

Washington

WASHINGTON, DC – In the spirit of bipartisanship, Congressmen Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) and Michael McCaul (R-TX-10) will sit side-by-side next Tuesday as President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address.

“For the sake of those we represent, we must work hand in hand,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This is why Congressman McCaul and I have agreed to sit next to each other at the President’s State of the Union. We need to show the nation that in order to move this country forward, we must all work side-by-side.”

What a nice gesture.  Currently everybody in Washington is calling for civility after what happened in Tucson two weeks ago.  But this isn't going to last.  Already at least one pol is making inflammatory remarks.
Republicans are lying about health care reform in their attempt to repeal the law, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said on the floor of the House last night. Just, he said, like Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
I expect the repubs to return the favor faster than I can say theatrics.

Security

Council stresses park safety

By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 3:30 AM CST
Laredo City Council members put Police Chief Carlos Maldonado on the spot Tuesday night, asking why officers aren’t doing more to keep city parks safe.

The short answer to that is:  because cops can't be at one place all the time. 
Last night I caught a piece of the city council meeting where Chief Maldonado was speaking before our city reps.  The exchange between the chief and Councilman San Miguel was tense, or so it seemed.  I realize that we have a big problem with vandalism, public intoxication, and so on, but taking the police dept. to task over this issue is a little misguided. 

I'm not a big fan of the force but a more appropriate way to approach this is to question their response time.  Naturally those on duty are going to prioritize calls made by the public but it's been to often that I hear a case where an officer takes too long to respond to a scene.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zapata Mourns

Sad commentary.
But on this day of mourning and paying respect, many were forced to deal with threats made by a group known for picketing soldier’s funerals.

Less Clever Porn Names

Twitter has a pretty good live stream going on Less Clever Porn Names. Can find it here.

The Mayor Is Out This Week

City of Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas will travel to Washington over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday to join more than 250 of the nation’s mayors for the 79th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. As a member of the Advisory Board Mayor Salinas will have a very full schedule. A complete agenda can be found at http://www.usmayors.org/79thWinterMeeting/documents/agenda.pdf, while a list of pre-registered mayors can be found at http://www.usmayors.org/79thWinterMeeting/PreregisteredMayors.asp

Mayor Salinas has been asked by U.S. Conference of Mayors President City of Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz and Conference Vice President, City of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to assume a leadership role on the Conference of Mayors’ Homeland Security Committee and Immigration Reform Task Force. Mayor Salinas crafted the Conference of Mayor’s policy statement on immigration with Villaraigosa, highlighting the role Laredo plays in Homeland Security.

In addition to his leadership obligations, Mayor Salinas will participate in meetings with Congressional and Obama Administration leaders to address the federal agenda’s impact on job creation and economic growth in Laredo. This agenda includes a special Mayors-Only Strategy Session on the subject. Salinas will meet with Congressman Cuellar and his staff on Wednesday to outline the City of Laredo’s legislative agenda.

Additionally, Mayor Salinas will leave the conference early on Thursday to travel to Tucson, Arizona at the request of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan D. Bersin. Believing that most solutions are local in nature, Commissioner Bersin is assembling U.S. and Mexican mayors from border cities to strategize how best local government can share intelligence, solutions and jointly meet the challenges facing communities on each side of the border.

“While I would love to stay in Washington, especially since the mayors will have an audience with President Obama on Friday, Commissioner Bersin has made it clear that Laredo and Nuevo Laredo are the model for cross border cooperation, and he feels that without City of Nuevo Laredo Mayor Benjamin Galvez-Galvan and my presence, the effort will not achieve the running start we all seek. We all need to work together on these challenges,” said Mayor Salinas. While in Tucson, Mayor Salinas expressed a desire to lay a wreath in memory of the victims of last Saturday’s shooting rampage that killed six individuals, and injured 13 others, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

While in Washington, Salinas will stay with his daughter as a means to avoid costly hotel bills.

Recreation

Trails to claim City Council's attention

By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 1:47 AM CST
When the Laredo City Council meets tonight, it will consider two contracts that could affect the future of recreation along Chacon Creek in South Laredo and the development of Laredo International Airport.
The council will consider a $320,000 contract for the first phase of construction of a Chacon Creek hike and bike trail.

This first phase was supposed to be completed early last year.  The article makes mention of the recreation center that will sit right next to the trail.  This center, behind the Target on Loop 20, was supposed to be completed in 2009; it will be opening soon.  In this new LMT interview no mention is made of a completion date for the trail.
The first phase of construction could take more than five months to complete.
Smart move.  Perhaps at tonight's city council meeting we'll get an idea of how this project will progress.  When I talked to city officials in 2009, they told me that the trail (connecting TAMIU with LCC South) would take approximately ten years to complete.  By Laredo's standards, that could be 2025.

 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bookstore Returns To Laredo

The Quarter House


What kind of world are we living in when dive bars are partly destroyed by reckless drivers?

Photo courtesy of Pro8news

Shabelle


I was hesitant in posting about the passing of Maria Isabel Martinez only because I didn't want to dishonor her memory.  "Shabelle," as she was known, passed away Friday.

Ms. Martinez owned a beauty salon located in South Laredo, Shabelle's Unisex Salon, a place that I pass by every day on my way home.  I paid the establishment a visit several times here and there but never got to know her, or her employees, well.

Two things that struck me about the obituary were her age and the disease which contributed to her untimely demise, diabetes.  As soon as I saw her nickname I thought about the south side establishment, but I was amazed at how young she was.  She surely left her mark on the community but 51 is too young to go.

It's ironic that the same LMT issue that carried her story also had a feature of a local bakery which Bordertown Blues posted about.  I don't want to bring the mood down by bashing local cultural favorites but what we hold dear is not exactly doing us any favors.  We line up for sweet bread at humble little bakeries; we name 5K races after tamales; the Menudo Bowl is sure to draw a big crowd; and I don't even want to get into our affinity for beer. 

All those things are great but we can't take our health for granted when diabetes is a big problem in our culture.  More and more it's affecting our younger population.  And it's going to be difficult to deal with, what with all these influences around us.

From "Kicked Out" to Sidekick

The NFL playoffs are underway, and the final four teams have been determined. Who better to discuss these teams than Eric Mangini, the now former coach of the Cleveland Browns?

Mangini was recently the subject of an on-air gaffe on ESPN, the "worldwide leader in sports." To refresh your memory, Hannah Storm and Adam Schefter of ESPN announced the breaking news on "Black Monday" of Coach Mangini's firing. They apparently thought they were on a commercial break, and they started high-fiving each other and celebrating with someone behind the camera. They then had to uncomfortably compose themselves and apologize. Here's the clip:


Well now all of a sudden, ESPN has been using Mangini as an NFL analyst during the playoffs! What better way to show him how sorry they are for Hannah's and Adam's live TV blunder? The awkward apology/job offer probably went something like this:
"Coach, we're really sorry about all that nonsense the other day. But hey, since you're out of work, would you like to come over temporarily to give us some of your football expertise? They don't call you "Man-genius" for nothing Coach."

Real smooth ESPN: the eagerly sly patronizing negotiator?

Foggy Morning

Que Fregados posted an announcement about the MLK ceremony to be held today at 1:00 p.m. at San Agustin Plaza.  I'm pretty sure I'll be there.

UPDATE:


MLK was honored in Laredo today, and not just by those who are starting to get a sense of who he was. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Col. Santos Benavides

The Genealogical Society held their meeting at the public library yesterday afternoon.  They disposed of club business first before handing over the microphone to their featured guest, Dr. Hector Farias.  Dr. Farias' presentation focused on the life of Col. Santos Benavides, a native to this area who sacrificed much to serve the people around him, yet is barely remembered for his contributions.

After the presentation I had a chance to ask Dr. Farias for his take on Col. Santos Benavides.

KR - What can you tell us about his personal life?

Dr. Farias - He married Agustina Villarreal; they had no children so they adopted a boy and a girl.  The son died in his teens.  The daughter married Gen. Lazaro Garza Ayala de Monterrey.  He was the great-great grandson of Tomas Sanchez.

Of What benefit was his military training?

The whole area here was very lawless with the Apaches, Comanches; and they were raiding and plundering.  And then, of course, there were a lot of bandits also.  So he had his work cut out for him, getting rid of the bandits and outlaws.  And then, of course, shortly thereafter, the battles with Union Army but when Santos died he was able to obtain some sense of security.
During the Civil War he had two things to contend with:  not only the Union Army but then the indians who would raid the settlements because the men were off to war,
so it was a big undertaking.

Why did he side with the Confederacy during the Civil War?

These people here were very independent so when they got involved with the Confederacy, it was not over slavery, it was over states rights.

To what extent was Col. Benavides involved in politics?

Before the Civil War he had been an alderman, mayor, county judge, state representative.  And when he was called on after the war to testify in Washington about his peace-keeping operations here, at the legislature, where his portrait hangs in Austin, (he was) one of the famous men in Texas history.

You said that his memory hasn't been truly honored.

There's a school that was named after him in the 1990s in the United Independent School District and there's a monument on a little plaza off IH-35 when you're going south to Nuevo Laredo, but since there's a lot of traffic, nobody even knows it's there.  What I'm saying is this town has never really honored him in a way that they should.



UPDATE on 7/7/2016: profile on Santos Benavides.



Hollywood Awards Time

The awards season in Hollywood is well underway. The Critics Choice Awards were given out this past Friday, and tonight the Golden Globe Awards take place. Usually award winners get repetitive by the time the Oscars come around in late February, but there is an occasional surprise.

The Critics chose "The Social Network" as Best Film, Colin Firth as Best Actor for "The King's Speech," Natalie Portman as Best Actress in "Black Swan," and the Best Cast award went to the actors in "The Fighter." We will see if they all win again tonight on NBC @ 7pm.

The Golden Globes also recognize the acting and shows on television which is the main reason that I like this award show a lot. Everyone is mixed up and mingling; you get to see Rainn Wilson and Eva Longoria sitting near Robert De Niro and Nicole Kidman! I have to watch every year; it's just a self-imposed ritual.
Update: Same winners as expected for Movie, Actor, and Actress. On the comedy side "The Kids are Alright" won for Best Picture, Annette Bening for Best Actress for that movie, and Paul Giamatti won for Best Actor in "Barney's Version."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Open Thread

Watching the first game of the 2011 NFL Playoffs.  Pitt. not having much success.

More Voting Required

Just when you thought election season was over, it creeps right up on us again.

Special election could be in April



By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Saturday, January 15, 2011 1:37 AM CST
City Council is expected to vote Tuesday to approve a special election for District VII, and potential candidates are already lining up for their shot at the South Laredo seat.

Those three candidates are Jorge Vera, Juan Chavez and Hector Patino.  Mr. Chavez is still not certain whether he'll run for office again, Mr. Kreighbaum writes.  The other two gentlemen, however, have voiced plans for the district if they were to be elected.
Jorge Vera, a member of the city planning and zoning commission, said he wants to improve the accessibility of City Council by holding town hall-style meetings in one of the district’s neighborhoods every Thursday.
That's a good idea.  But town hall meetings have the potential for low turnouts or the crowd can get pretty combative.  Dr. Landeck held one meeting in our neighborhood and then there was nothing.
Mr. Patino also has plans for the district.
He said he would push for a combined mental health and detox center in South Laredo if elected.
We'll look out for campaign signs and other activity from these candidates.
(I talked to incumbent Jose Valdez Jr. early last year; we spoke about his reasons for coming back to council [podcast]) 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Uninspired Friday


Something's bound to happen.  I just don't know what it is.  Good weather to go out for a jog, though.

Trying To Feed People

And the 'assholes of the year' are!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another Shoe Drops

FBI takes CAA files

Bureau has state permission to probe matter
By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 4:35 AM CST
Before the leadership team of the Webb County Community Action Agency could travel to Austin today, FBI officials made a trip themselves to the county courthouse.

The last time Webb County had to deal with files being carted off by law enforcement officials did not end well.  One tax assessor/collector, who shall remain nameless, spent three days in jail and the county had to pay out just under a million dollars to the plaintiffs.  This new case involves the illegal use of federal monies. 

The misuse of weatherization funds is not particular to Webb County.  The county's situation is different since several county employees benefitted from the grant money.  But what are the chances that these people are going to see jail time?  We'll have to wait and see as this whole fiasco unravels even more. 

Great Performances


Percussionist Ney Rosauro will perform tonight (7:30) at the Martinez Fine Arts Center located at the LCC downtown campus.  Admission is $5.

Now here's an event that's sure to entertain but it doesn't get as much press as the predictable Jalapeno Fest.  It got a mention in the LMT today but it was on page 7, and in Spanish no less!

This event can prove to those outside the 956 that we've got varied interests besides grilling every day of the year and ogling scantily-clad females.  Mr. Rosauro's presence adds to our image.  Sadly, few will hear about it.

Mami Chulas

Que Fregados has brought to our attention the marketing muscle of a favorite south side beer run, Mami Chulas.  Apparently being situated on a street that gets a lot of traffic isn't enough; Mami Chulas saw it fit to produce its own video complete with theme song to bring in customers.

Bordertown Blues gives props to our fellow blogger for shedding light on this new development.

I have to hand it to the people over at Mami Chulas; they're not leaving anything to chance.  They want your business and they'll work hard to get it.  One unintended consequence, or so I think, is that traffic slows down along Meadow near the beer run.  I pass by this place everyday and drivers going south are pretty good about controlling their speed.  Of course, the girls are showing off their assets for passing cars.

On the downside, I'm not too jazzed about the music, the worn-out dance moves, the lack of choreography and the promotion of drinking while driving.  But that's just me.  One person posted a comment on the QF site inquiring whether the girls get cold.  They've been wearing small jackets lately but showing a lot of leg.

Don't judge me!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Listen Up


WBCA festivities are 8 days from starting.  I'm sitting this year out.  Have fun, people.

Newcomer

The Express-News reports that two former employees are starting up their own website to provide "the pulse of S.A." to the community.  Great idea.  Somebody should do that here in Laredo.  If only we had a talented and resourceful populace.

People will have to pay a fee for the content.  Good luck with that.  The site takes its name from a specific location in San Antonio, Plaza de Armas.  That title alone is sufficient enough without having to add the "tx" after it.  But there must be more than one plaza de armas out in the universe.  I think they should just shorten it to PDA.com or something like it.
Laredoans to name new club

By
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 3:38 AM CST
Ventura Sports Group, the new owners of Laredo’s only professional baseball team, along with the City of Laredo announced Monday a “Name the Team” contest that runs for approximately a month.
People interested in submitting their choice may do so by going to www.laredoprobaseball.com and entering their choice and the reason why they feel it represents Laredo.

I offer as a suggestion the Day City Lions in homage to a little league team from the 80s.  If not that, then the possums.  I find them repulsive but they can grow on some people, such as Heidi, the cross-eyed German possum.  Apparently she's gained quite a following.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Mayor Goes On And On

This Messy Laredo

Controversy Builds At Webb County

Ramirez: Employment policy not followed
By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 2:21 AM CST
As one of his first actions as county commissioner, Jaime Canales on Monday proposed firing director Jose Gutierrez of the Fred and Anita Bruni Community Center.
The court approved the proposal.
The commissioners appointed Javier Cavazos, a teacher at the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program, as the new director of the community center.
Canales was principal at JJAEP before winning election to the commissioners’ court.

I Thought It Was Going To Be Quick

For being such a "simple" and "humble" man, Raul Salinas sure does love a lot of attention.  Here I thought his swearing in event was going to be straight and to the point, but it turned into a drawn out pat on the back.

Check out the introduction to his gaining control for a second term.
"Even in the toughest of economic times since the Great Depression, our city's bond rating continues to breathe strong but we must do more."









Tags


The local Tax Assessor/Collector is getting tough on people who use paper plates illegally.  The El Manana story even points to a motorist from Florida who drove into town using a piece of cardboard, with his writing on it, as plates.  This issue is nothing new; it's been covered before.  

Here's a way to spot fake paper license plates:  If the car has paper plates and a "Tony Sanchez for Governor" sticker, chances are plates are fake.

If the car or truck has paper plates and fresh bondo on the side, chances are the plates are illegal.

Getting In On The Action

Mayor Raul Salinas was sworn in to his second term last night.  I don't know if this is custom, to have the mayor sworn in at such a late date, but everybody present made the most of it.  Henry Cuellar's went on to highlight personal campaign achievements and Les Norton inserted some mamadas humor by taking jabs at some people present at the event.

After the mayor delivered his rambling speech, it was his wife's turn.  Here she is thanking those involved with the campaign.  She even thanks canoneros.  I always had this image of canoneros being shifty individuals who were looking out for their own self interest but I guess to the Salinases they mean something else.

The video is a bit warped but Mrs. Salinas' speech was not affected.  It sounds choppy but that's just how she delivered it -- nervous.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Access

Pro8news featured the story of a man who was struck in a hit and run and is now struggling with his medical care.  Take a look.



Hijole!  This man must be in some serious pain.  Those are some extensive wounds; Plain Tylenol is not going to do much for him.  It's unfortunate that this individual is in this predicament but what I find most troubling is that no mention was made of a referral to a local agency.  It could be that that piece of information was left out of the story or it could be that hospital personnel just didn't bother with follow-up care.  If they gave him the dressings to cover his wounds, they should've known that he could benefit from financial assistance.

Having to be hospitalized is stressful enough without having to worry about what comes after.  The sad fact is that there is no system in place to handle something like this.  This person is in need of a large amount of gauze, not to mention expensive medications, but here he is with his back covered with a large (bed) pad.  He could apply for assistance through a local entity but that takes time.  The expensive medications could be purchased in Nuevo Laredo at a reduced price but the security issue is deterring many from crossing over.

Here we are in a day and age where we should be more connected than ever and this man has to wait for Pro8news to bring attention to his problem.  I'm not suggesting that we solve his ills but we could at least try to buy him some time.

Legacy

Today Bordertown Blues posted the story of a mother and daughter who were taken into custody for leaving their kids unattended at the mall.  The first thing that jumped out at me is that the writer included the address of the mall, 5300 San Dario, in the writeup.  Anybody who is going to pay this story any thought should know where the mall is located.  Anybody who knows anything about Laredo should know what mall we're talking about -- it's our only mall!!!  The mall is the center of all activity.  Sorry downtown. 

Placing the address on the story (in the LMT) makes the article longer.  We all need ground to cover, I guess.

The females charged with abandonment share the exact same name, Flora Alicia Diaz.  I don't know too many mothers who name their daughters after them.  I know it's expected to name a son after the father but I don't know that it's too common in the opposite sex.  Whatever the case, I don't like the practice; it's unoriginal, conceited and pretentious.  There are a ton of baby names from which to choose from and they have to go with the most familiar?  The fact that people are having babies should be enough to give them comfort that their legacy will live on.

In this case, the women made a really bad choice:  they left their children in the parking lot.  That's not much of a legacy to leave behind.  Suddenly the names Flora, Alicia, and Diaz are special, but not for the right reasons. 

I really don't get why fathers name their sons after them.  Frankly it's one step above peeing on something to mark your territory.  In today's world of identity theft, shouldn't people have names that will stand out from the rest?  It's a big enough world perhaps.  Even if you tried, there would probably be somebody out there who would choose the same name as you, and then Yanta Rin Mosely wouldn't be so original.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oregon Rocks Power Ballad


The college football season comes to a close on Monday night. This year it's Oregon going up against another big, bad wolf from the SEC - Auburn for the BCS Championship.
Adding to Oregon's unique offense, uniforms, coach and new age customs.. it also becomes the first school with its very own power ballad.
Here's Sebastian Bach to pump us up for tomorrow's game.


I Would Hate To Be Rodrigo

The basketball season is under way for the local grade school league.  These matches are fun to watch if you love to watch adult coaches blow their top.  The occasional outburst by parents is a much cooler draw.  Officials have had to eject parents who get up all in a coach's, or referee's, face.

The Main Boys Club hosted a game yesterday.  All went well but a particular coach in an orange tee was not happy with one of his player's performance.  

From The Police Beat

El Manana reports that an 18-year-old female was sought by police after a call was placed of a domestic dispute.  The female led authorities on a chase, all while having a child aboard her car.  The cops eventually caught up with her.

We here at LaSanbe like a good chase scene but they have to be under controlled circumstances and not involve minors.

 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

News Out Of Arizona

Congresswoman Giffords wounded at a town hall meeting earlier today.