Saturday, April 30, 2011

Election Night Thread

District VII Race.  Results available soon.  I hope.

UPDATE (10:34)

Here are the numbers as reported by Pro8news:
  •  Hector Lee Patino           35.97%
  • Jorge Vera                         30.36%
  • Roberto Estrada               11.22%
  • Jose Luis Maldonado       18.88%
  • Ricardo Calderon              3.23%
  • Mario Juarez                      0.34%
The runoff election will take place either June 11 or 18.

Barrio Tire Problem

Today I went out to the local landfill to turn in three tires that were lying around in El Chacon.  Actually one of the tires was mine --  The tire shop who installed a "new" tire on my car gave me the old tire back.

Anyway, we have a little problem with discarded tires.  And this blog isn't the only one to have noticed it.  They're everywhere, and for some reason, they tend to end up near railroad tracks.  This is the second trip I make to rid my neighborhood of tires.  I'd like to do more, but as you'll learn, I'm limited as to how much I can contribute.

Yesterday I talked to several people from different city departments.  Somebody from Solid Waste transferred me to Public Works; From there I was directed to Environmental Services.  What I found out is that I can only make two trips to the landfill a month.  With each trip the first four tires I take won't cost me anything.  If I take anything over that limit, I'll be charged per tire.   

I asked the lady if I could be given a waiver since I want to make more frequent trips out there, but she said that I would have to talk to the manager.  Apparently they have to check out my background to see if I'm not some sort of used tire retailer.  I left my name and number but I didn't hear from anybody yesterday afternoon.

I was told that city staff who find tires on their routes have been directed to pick them up and take them in.  She said that they're supposed to load them up on their trucks.  I'm guessing it's personnel that works with the Solid Waste Dept. and Parks & Leisure.  Obviously this isn't happening.

Turning in eight tires a month by myself isn't that bad when I think about it.  But to keep our neighborhood cleaner, I'm going to have to recruit some people to help me out, or push the issue so people know what to do.  If anybody has any ideas, let me know.

Tire shredder at the landfill pictured below.


More In Cop Malfeasance

LPD vet has fraud charge

By Denise Blaz and César G. Rodriguez
Published: Saturday, April 30, 2011 1:26 AM CDT
A seven-year veteran patrol officer with the Laredo Police Department was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with insurance fraud.

Officers served Jose Roberto Aguirre, 31, with a warrant charging him with insurance fraud. Officers arrested him at the department.

It must be tough for the chief to go out there and have to answer questions about his police force going bad.  But he does it anyway.
“The Laredo Police Department regrets the news of an arrest of one of our officers but this should not serve as a reflection on the rest of the brave men and women who valiantly serve this community with honor and integrity,” Chief Carlos Maldonado states in a department news release.
Cops make a pretty good living.  I wonder if the lure of more money is just to keep up appearances, what with the expensive sunglasses they have to wear, and the 4x4 trucks they have to own.  The macho lifestyle comes with a heavy price, apparently.   

Friday, April 29, 2011


I think I found the LaSanbe mascot.

Visit Laredo, TX

We have something for you.  And we have the short, close up, distorted images to impress you.  Visit Laredo!

Wigging Out

Two women indicted in wig drug case

By Denise Blaz
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Friday, April 29, 2011 2:16 AM CDT
Two New Jersey women arrested three weeks ago and charged with hiding cocaine in wigs attached to their heads were indicted in federal court Tuesday.

Smuggling cocaine could inspire so many things, least of which a blog post.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

No Fear, Have a Beer

"Obey" Was So Last Century

So I was prepping for the Royal Wedding watching in the wee hours by taking an evening nap. I woke up to see that the NFL Draft was in progress, and lucky me, the Dallas Cowboys were on the clock! The Cowboys had the 9th pick, and they selected lineman Tyron Smith out of USC. Good luck to him in Big D! (There are numerous former Trojans on my faves-list: Troy Polamalu, Reggie Bush, Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga, and Brian Cushing, but I digress.)

Anywhoozle, the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is set to begin at 4a.m. CT, Friday, April 29. The cable channel TLC has had round-the-clock coverage today of all things royal-related leading up to the wedding, with a pre-show at 3a.m. The networks and cable news channels begin their live coverage at 3a.m. as well. Don't ask why, just go with it!

It has been reported that the royal couple will have fairly traditional vows, except for the fact that Kate will be leaving out the word obey from her vows. Oooh, take that Queen! I can't wait to see the gown that has been kept a secret successfully so far. What I really want to see is what David Beckham is wearing to this shindig, and will Kanye actually show up?

Best wishes to the new Mr. & Mrs.! Cheers!


Obama's birth certificate is now out in the open.  We call all go back to worrying about serious things, like Steve Carrel leaving 'The Office' and the royal wedding tonight.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not An Adjustment Or A Raise

I officially have no idea how things work in our local county government.

At yesterday's commissioners court meeting, Tax Assessor/Collector Patricia Barrera asked the court to approve the salary of one of her employees who had been in training for months.  This person was started at $12 an hour while she learned the payroll ropes.  Now that she's able to handle the work on her own, she qualifies for $14.51 an hour.

According to Barrera, the higher pay was an original budgeted salary.  Three commissioners didn't see it that way.  To them, it was a raise, and raises have been frozen because of the economy's downturn.  I have no idea who's right, so perhaps somebody could enlighten me.

In any case, I always like seeing exchanges between Barrera and the commissioners.  It's always a lively event.  Check it out.

Menso, Not Mensa

I'm tempted to give a certain 29-year-old the unflattering designation of 'Menso, Not Mensa' for allegedly injuring a pedestrian with his car while having a warrant out for his arrest.  The warrant was issued because he had a bunch of outstanding tickets due.  $17,000 worth!!!

However, I have to give him props for not fleeing the scene.  If he had taken off, and was later found, he probably would've faced far more serious consequences.  Luckily he stayed to face the music.

Unfortunately for him, he was taken in by the cops.  And I have 17,000 reasons to call him 'Menso, Not Mensa.'  But I won't do it.  Not now, at least.  I'll save my scorn for his next traffic infraction. 


Natural Gas Promise

The Rio Grande International Study Center held a meeting Tuesday night to come up with a plan for dealing with the development of natural gas drilling in Webb County.  Fortunately there was a spokesman for the American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) in attendance to put everyone's worries at ease.  Not really.

The thing that I took away from the meeting is that everybody has questions about how business is being conducted at the drilling sites.  I've posted stories about hydraulic fracturing but there's general concern out there coming from people of all ages and walks of life.  The ramblings worries of this blogger concerning this issue are not isolated and far-fetched. 

Anyway, the RGISC plans to bring more people to the table, including our elected representatives.  A tour of a drilling site is in the works as well.  Additionally, information is going to be gathered pertaining to contingency plans drillers have in place in the event of an emergency.  We also want to find out how produced water -- water that has been mixed with chemicals -- is being disposed of.  On top of that, where is all the water that's used at drilling sites coming from. 

It's estimated that 5-7 million gallons of water are used at each rig.  Does Webb County have the luxury, and the means, to provide for the process of fracking?  It's hot as hell already, it hasn't rained in a while, a drought is upon us, and a secondary water source has always been a goal of our local politicos.   It was said that drilling for natural gas could occur over the next 30 years.  Something is going to have to give.  Either we as citizens curtail our water use or the means of hydraulic fracturing are going to have to be perfected.

Mami Chulas To Blame

Recently I mentioned to a friend that I had never witnessed a car accident in front of a beer run drive thru.  Lo and behold I was proven wrong yesterday as I drove home.  Luckily for me, an LMT photographer was there to capture the scene.  Damnit!  Now this gives city council the ammunition it needs to bear down on these places.  And Bordertown Blues thinks the same thing too.

Gotta love Mr. Romero's caption next to the photo.  Apparently it's the male driver's fault for stopping along Meadow Ave. and not the woman's as she apparently failed to control her rate of speed.

If this shot were taken from a different angle, we would've seen the two wrecked cars in front of an empty lot (acre).  One has to wonder if Mr. Romero was zoning in on something else.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Judge Lifts Lockout

The NFL lockout that has been looming for over six weeks was lifted by U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson on Monday, at least temporarily. The NFL immediately filed an appeal and asked the judge to "freeze her ruling to let the appeals process play out." So the stand off continues with the future of the upcoming NFL season up in the air.

Players were being encouraged to report to their practice facilities today. Most players that did were allowed in, but their efforts were not very successful.
In one of the oddest days in NFL history, players showed up at their team headquarters and most were told that they were welcome to come inside as long as they didn’t participate in any sort of “football activities.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones chimed in after he left his facilities closed:
“We are in the process of determining throughout the league as to just how we’ll proceed and when we’ll open the new year across the league, the new football year. We have not done that.”
The 2011 NFL Draft takes place this Thursday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Good luck to those players. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm ready for some football!

Last Tuesday Of The Month

This weekend I spent some time with the in-laws.  We managed to talk about several things:  Hydraulic fracturing in Webb County; high school reunion playlists; plantar fasciitis; male emasculation from having to go see 'Water for Elephants' with your partner; and of course, the Spurs game.

Suddenly Laredo doesn't seem so bad when you can relate with loved ones on the topics of the day.  Unfortunately it's Tuesday and it's hot as hell outside, and the price of gasoline isn't something to cheer about.  The royal wedding might take our minds off of things, but like clockwork, there has to be a fly in the ointment; and in this case it's an egotistical billionaire with hay for hair that wants to run for president.

Don't fret, though.  Our mortificaciones can be soothed with a little song about Laredo from the likes of Rene y Rene.  Happy New Music Tuesday, everybody!

I would've posted a new song clip from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. or Of Montreal, but since Webb County is looking to get a new helicopter, I opted for Explosions In The Sky.

P.S. I'm planning on going to the Rio Grande International Study Center meeting at 6:00 p.m. tonight.  Details later tonight.

Laredo's Texting Ban

Texting while driving in Laredo is officially a no-no.  But I don't think police officers are going to have a tough time enforcing this new ordinance because drivers are staying put due to the high gas prices.  And that's a good thing.  Drivers can now focus on unlimited texting without having to worry about the tedious and expensive distraction of driving. 

Eye In The Sky

Sheriff may get helicopter

Commissioners may OK grant to pay for aircraft
By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 1:54 AM CDT
Webb County commissioners will vote today on whether to accept a grant for a twin-engine helicopter through a federal surplus program.

Not to be outdone, the sheriff's department wants to top local P.D. and their recently-purchased motorized aerial lift mobile crime detection surveillance thingy with a helicopter.  Merry Christmas, gentlemen.  Surely you'll have the means to patrol all of Webb County much more efficiently. 

One suggestion, though:  please don't fly low enough to make my house shutter the way other law enforcement agencies do.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Time For The People

If you want to find out what Congress is doing with our money, take some time off from your busy lives to go hear Henry Cuellar put you all at ease.  Go hear "the most educated congressman" tell you all about his pay-as-you-go plan.  It's a hoot. 

Nevermind that he has no consideration for our time.  10:00 a.m. isn't exactly a good time for anybody who works.  But you can explain to your boss why the extra time off was well worth it.  It's the federal budget, after all.  If that doesn't help, tell your boss that Henry Cuellar has been on Fox News.  That's bound to impress anybody.

District 7 Race

Records reveal info on claims

Documents tell a different story

Published: Monday, April 25, 2011 5:29 AM CDT
Talk of arrests and indictments for tampering with official documents, traffic tickets and theft — even death — have been circulating in connection with the race for City Council District VII.

A review of police and court records sheds light on the veracity of the allegations that have followed the race outside of public forums and official campaign advertisements.

It puzzles me why some people run for office sometimes.  Inevitably skeletons in their closets come back to haunt them, or they put forward a half-assed effort.  I realize that things are done differently down here in Laredo, but it's a sad state of affairs when the only information that's accessible to us comes in the form of newspaper investigations into the candidates.  

Everyone's got personal failings of their own.  You deal with them accordingly.  But in running for office, a different approach is warranted.  One could present his or her case directly to the voting public in an honest manner.  Either that or the media has to ask different questions during public forums:  Would there be an issue out there that would hinder, or contradict your campaign message?

Here's one candidate, Hector Lee Patino, who was kind enough to take the time to create some videos for his campaign.

Unfortunately he didn't make it out to the debate hosted by the public access channel.  All I have for him are rehashed campaign lines; New Vision, and New Leadership appear in his commercials.  He wants to widen Mines Rd. to make commuting more efficient.  But with five days left in the election, we find out that he let some traffic tickets go for longer than they should've been.

Jorge Vera and Hector Patino are on Facebook but their profiles don't provide much for anybody to make a decision either way.  Really soon, one of the six candidates will be handling millions of dollars of taxpayer money.   


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meat Loaf on Easter

We all need a little pop culture in our lives, so I wanted to discuss one of the many reality shows out there: The Celebrity Apprentice. I know Donald Trump has been getting a lot of attention lately for his possible attempt to run for President, but I'd rather see him on this show.

The current celebrity cast members that haven't been fired yet include LaToya Jackson, Lil' Jon, Star Jones, Marlee Matlin, John Rich, Nene Leakes, Hope Dworaczyk, and Meat Loaf. You are not alone if you're asking yourselves: "Who are these people? Why are they celebrities?" Well they are all famous for something, at least that's what their bios say.

I've been watching this season since it started several weeks ago. Watching Meat Loaf in his more advanced years got me to remember that he had some very famous music videos especially in the early years of MTV.

This flashback below lasted over 8 minutes, and MTV would play it regularly! When it would come on I would roll my eyes in disgust, but still sit through it all, waiting for the different parts of the song to play themselves out. Pretty original, whether you like it or not.
Update: La Toya was fired tonight!

The People Voted For Its Own

Laredo voted for what it likes.  Unfortunately it's all national chain crap.  Oh, and why does a place named Salsa's have the best sushi?

Lux Plays Slayer in High Heels

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It Continues

Zeta rampage

6 die in shooting; soldiers surround church for Mass

Laredo Morning Times
Published: Saturday, April 23, 2011 1:17 AM CDT
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico — At least six suspected criminals died in a lengthy exchange of gunfire overnight that left the western side of the city paralyzed with street blockades and multiple carjackings,

federal officials said Friday in what was believed to be an extension of the violence that had ravaged towns farther down the Rio Grande.

Bad Caption

Is it really wise to use the word 'grande' in a story featuring a photo of a portly student?

More In Fracking: Drill Baby Drill

It's funny.  Now everywhere I turn I catch some discussion about hydraulic fracturing, the method used by energy companies to dig for natural gas.  Of course, the Rio Grande International Study Center is going to follow any developments taking place in Webb County as the drilling may have detrimental effects on the environment and on people's health.

Tom Wade has voiced his opinion.  His thoughts are that any effort to look deeper into fracking is misguided and unnecessary since this has been taking place for quite some time.  Commissioner Jaime Canales appeared on t.v. the other day saying that no proof of water or environmental contamination has occurred.  OK.  So why worry about some environmentalists poking around?  They can't possibly have any effect on what's going on already, not when going up against billionaire energy companies. 

Anyway, PBS ran a show this week called, 'Beyond The Light Switch.'  It talked about fracking, but also touched on the topic of nuclear power and its possible viability in the future.  What I've included below is a clip of the debate people are having about drilling for natural gas.  One man defends the money being made when people lease their land for drilling.
Yeah, damn right; but they're gonna die with a dollar.
Ah, the ends justify the means.  Even if you're going to end up six feet under.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Lorena, I'm a big fan but I'm not too jazzed about the outfit.  File this under: no!

Never A Dull Moment

District assets lost or stolen

'Significant' number can't be found

By Nick Georgiou
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Friday, April 22, 2011 6:08 AM CDT
A significant number of LISD’s approximately 60,000 items in fixed assets are missing, Superintendent Marcus Nelson recently said.

Whether the items have been lost or stolen, they are “nowhere to be found,” he told the Laredo Independent School District Board of Trustees at a meeting March 23.

Right now a teacher's arms are tired as hell from pantomiming his lessons all day.  His chalkboard nowhere to be found.

Dia De La Tierra

On this Earth Day I'm pledging my allegiance to compost by watching every YouTube compost video ever made.  And I'll try to say compost in all of my conversations as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Nos Vamos A Comer El Lonche Del Valle"

Mayors from these here sister cities were on hand at the mall to greet visitors on one of the most active shopping times of the year: holy week.  Mayor Salinas blamed the lack of progress at the El Portal center on the down economy.  But he remained upbeat anyway.
Muchos hablan de McAllen.  McAllen no hace lo que nosotros hacemos aqui en la frontera.
Why yes - we have beer runs.  And we have mayors acting like malandrines.

Translation:  We are going to eat the valley's lunch.  Everybody talks about McAllen.  McAllen doesn't do what we do here on the border.

Code Enforcement In The Barrio

El reportero urbano and I were having a chat the other day and he was dismayed by all the trash thrown around the city, especially in the barrio.  We both made mention of tires, pallets, branches, junked cars and other throwaways.  He wondered whether it was the city or the public that was dropping the ball.

I know that the city has scheduled days to pick up leaves, and branches, just like they do for the blue bags (recyclables) but apparently they have to be called for garden debris because I've noticed several locations in El Chacon where curbs are covered with branches.  (See picture above)  These situations are unsightly and dangerous; They could easily go up in flames.

We talked at length about this and came to the conclusion that something has to be done.  There's just too much junk out there for us to let it slide.  I brought up the idea of having a neighborhood watch of sorts, but dedicated more towards trash pick-up.  Each neighborhood could have its own group to tackle the problem on a bi-weekly basis.

Of course, I don't own a truck so it's difficult for me to haul much away.  But action is imperative.  I just have to figure out a way to round up volunteers who have the want and means to do this.

One thing that I found interesting is the iPhone app. that Sheriff Cuellar is utilizing to have citizens report crime.  That same approach could be used to report code enforcement violations.  Although we could also just send text messages or emails to the appropriate department staff.  Whatever the case, LaSanbe will do something.  I just have to figure out a name for the Chacon volunteer group.

I Am Shocked!!!

I would think John Cornyn would just jump at the chance to tour a Planned Parenthood branch. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


They have:  white bikini day; dental floss bikini; and paint-your-hand-on-me day.

Overkill Productions Present

City heads yesterday introduced the new field manager for the stadium that is yet to be built.  His name is Pete Incaviglia.  And Mayor Raul Salinas said something. 
“Laredo has always had a long and proud history with baseball, and I am confident that this new chapter in our city’s venture with this storied sport will be as exciting and fulfilling as in the past; especially, with someone whose Texas roots run deep,” said City of Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas.

Texas roots?  Let's see: Incaviglia was born in Pebble Beach, CA; graduated high school in Monterey, CA; played college ball at Oklahoma State; was drafted by the Montreal Expos; traded to the Texas Rangers.  Bingo!!!!!!!!!!

Deep Texas roots.

Quote courtesy of the City of Laredo


DeLaredo posted this picture of a boom box outside a Pronto Insurance office.  I know that the location on San Dario does the same thing:  blares Tejano music for its customers.  Every now and then, the clerk who is assisting you inside the establishment starts humming or singing along to the song playing on the radio.

I think city council should do something about this public nuisance.  We don't need to have our music turned up to number 11 all the time, especially at insurance companies and HEBs. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gotta Love New Music Tuesday

Today I realized that manual labor was really not for me.  A plague on those who criticize people who work outside for a living.


This weekend I was fortunate enough to get the help of a co-worker to make some type of progress on my back yard.  During the Christmas break, I started work on what was to be a cement floor.  After being floored by the price of concrete, and not getting support from my neighbor to let the cement truck into his property for delivery, I decided to go in another direction.

I went out and bought a yard(a) of caliche, a gravelly material that contained bigger rocks than I expected.  I spread it out in the designated space and added some bricks and stepping stones I had lying around.  I want to add bigger stepping stones, some small pebbles, and seating.  The large water feature might be a reality down the road.

Bring It!

Not long ago, in a land not far away, the pillars of society found themselves in a pickle.  An investigation into the local transit provider was ongoing and our leaders were not sure whether to let some employees speak before the council.  Their concern was that the statements made by those union workers could put city government at risk of being sued.  One elder put it as such:
Mayor, the fact that there's an investigation going on, mayor, I feel that if we're going to jeopardize the investigation, or we're going to commit the city for some type of litigation, I feel we shouldn't do it.
Nobody wants to be sued.  But then again, not everybody backs away from a fight. 

Fast forward to today where the LMT (Andrew Kreighbaum) included the story of a pending ordinance that would prohibit lewd displays in plain sight.  Oh my!!!  Council wants to put a stop to scantily-clad girls dancing outside of beer runs.  Apparently they've got the support of anybody who has children, goes to church, wears mom jeans, witnessed a fender bender near a beer run, or shops at Hobby Lobby.  But(t) as council is putting its righteous foot down, those who are in the business of beer runs are not going gently into that good night.  Councilman San Miguel noted that some people have threatened to sue.  What say you, Charlie?
"My response is tell them to bring it," he said.
Whoa!  That's post-911-W. machismo right there.  I figure Charlie San Miguel thinks that this is a struggle the city can win.  Although I'm not sure about that since Councilman Johnny Rendon burst into flames right after saying that. 

Stay tuned as this saga continues.  Charlie San Miguel might not qualify for LaSanbe's Person of the Year, but we appreciate his moxy, no matter how embarrassing it may be.

Tuesday's Offerings

The LMT Opinion Page has some nice entries today, one in which a Mr. Floyd Coates of Scottsburg, Ind. suggests the raising of the retirement age to 70.  That's a horrible idea.  He's obviously never heard the cliche, 'life is short.'  Most people don't have the luck to make it to 70, or have a good quality of life at that age.  But I don't want to spend much time on this gentleman's opinion.  Instead I want to provide you with a doozy that Sara Bazan sent in.  Take a look:

Local news media should meet their responsibility to inform the public

To the editor:
In October 2009, two prominent local doctors, Dr. Eliel Nataki and Dr. Jose Berlioz, sued Abraham (Abe) Martinez, the former CEO of the Laredo Medical Center.  It has been covered in Laredo Morning Times and on Univision, but not a single word has come out on KGNS Pro-8 News (coverage you CAN'T count on).  It's the only local English-language station.

The news media in Laredo has an obligation to the people of Laredo to keep them informed about all aspects of community life, especially how one of their most trusted and important local institutions, Laredo Medical Center, is managed.  LMC is charged with the important job of handling the medical needs of Laredo, and it is of vital importance to the community that there is transparency in its policies and management decisions.  Watergate taught us that providing transparency is the role an effective, independent and impartial news organization should have. 

The lawsuit claims that Dr. Nataki was forced to resign by LMC for refusing to continue to pay a monthly bribe to Mr. Martinez.  While the civil lawsuit is still pending, Mr. Martinez has now pleaded guilty to a conspiracy of accepting bribes.  Dr. Nataki also claims that in addition to losing his job he has been blackballed and unable to find a job in any hospital in Laredo, the Valley or the San Antonio area; his life has been severely affected.

Meanwhile, LMC's parent company moved Mr. Martinez to another job in another city.  He later left the company.

If Dr. Nataki's allegations are correct, Mr. Martinez and the LMC's behavior are outrageous and should not be tolerated by our community.  How can an institution such as LMC support a CEO such as Mr. Martinez?  How can KGNS ignore coverage of such an important news event and injustice?  I would hate to think it is because of advertising revenue.  I know that no news outlets have a legal responsibility to cover all news, but I would think that they have a moral duty to inform us. 

Univision deserves our thanks for their excellent, extensive and unbiased coverage.  Univision was the first to let the public know that Abe Martinez pleaded guilty to receiving monthly bribes of more than $94,000 over a period of more than three years.  The payments were made to allow the doctors to keep their exclusive contracts with LMC.  His wife, Argelia Martinez, pleaded guilty to tax evasion. 

Keep it up, Univision!  Their No. 1 rating for news coverage is well-deserved.  And thank you, Laredo Morning Times, for publishing the information.  Laredo needs to know.

Sara Bazan

Well said ma'am.  I am in total agreeance*.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Bible Thumpers Rally At City Hall

A group of local pastors converged upon city hall tonight to voice their opposition of the way beer is being sold at area drive-thrus.  None mentioned the suggestive dancing taking place at these establishments, but if there was a theme to their presentation, it was that children were at risk.  It was said that the girls employed at the beer runs might be vulnerable to violence, and that word on the street was that minors are being exploited to make a quick buck.

That may be the case, but the mob speakers just don't want to be put out with having to drive through an alternate route to avoid these joints; And nobody seemed to mention if they had to explain to their kids what exactly is going on and why they think it's wrong to have scantily-clad girls dancing in plain view.

One pastor offered an anecdote:
I've heard from a minister, a friend of mine, that in the church he pastors, one of the kids didn't want to go inside the church.  And his mother was calling him to come inside the church, and (he) said, 'no wait, please mom, I just want to see the girl finish dancing and then I'll go to the service.' 
So the kid likes dancing girls.  Is that so wrong?!!!

Those at the podium and all of city council were on the same page:  this stuff bad.  I'm disappointed that no supporters of beer runs made it out to the meeting.  What I found interesting is that the speakers were allowed to ramble on with no time constraints.  I thought those who spoke before the city council only had two minutes, maybe three, to make their case.

Esteban "I need this done" Rangel apologized to those in attendance for having to endure such displays on a daily basis.

The audio and video don't jive in the video, but the audio is not edited.

Say No to Blogs Like La Sanbe

In today's Miami Herald, a column on blogs had the following to say:
Bloggers claim to write as champions of 'honest' government but their tactics are anything but honest. If you follow the blogs in any city, you are likely to find persistent, insidious, purposely uninformed and mendacious activists waging a relentless campaign designed to create distrust of government ... So, with the click of the 'send' button, these cyber-bullies can increase their 'hits' by throwing proverbial rocks through windows and burning cyber-crosses on the lawn for no reason other than they are angry and they can — and good and decent public officials are being blamed based on distortions and falsehoods.
Yup. Sounds about right.

That's La Sanbe in a nutshell.

Ambulance Service For County

Congratulations to Webb County for settling on an ambulance service to provide care for its residents.  Of course, budgetary concerns were on everyone's minds as a contract had to be finalized.  Naturally, things are tough right now over at county.  They can't even take a good picture because of limited resources.  For now, staff has to cuddle up to each other to pose for photos. 

Meeting Tonight

In the LMT (Andrew Kreighbaum) today:
City Council will also return to the issue of attendants’ displays at drive-thru beer runs.

An ordinance that would reinforce state laws on knowingly obscene displays or materials will receive first reading tonight.
Council Member Esteban Rangel has pushed for the ordinance in response to complaints over allegedly lewd behavior at some of the beer runs in his district.
I really hope the conversation takes on an awkward feel as the suits discuss the happenings at beer runs in graphic detail.

Gasland In Laredo

The Rio Grande International Study Center and the Laredo Main Library hosted a screening of "Gasland" yesterday.  Props to the staff from the RGISC (Dr. Jim Earhart, Tricia Cortez, Angeline Townsend, and many others) for putting on an excellent presentation.  I knew what the gist of the documentary was about but I didn't know I was going to leave the event with such a suspicion of our drinking water and those drilling for natural gas near the Rio Grande.  

My only solace, for the time being, is that my hair isn't falling off.  I have noticed a possum or two dead on my property.  Could that mean something?   And I have seen a mangy cat roaming around my house as well.  It could be the result of some chemical flying through the air, or it could be that pets don't stand a chance in the barrio from other longstanding factors.

For those who didn't make it out to the library, Que Fregados has some nice charts and graphs posted, courtesy of the RGISC.  Pro8news provided its usual team coverage (and photo above).  And LaredoTejas posted a story that appeared in the Huffington Post, and in the Express-News this weekend, entitled, 'Democratic Report: Carcinogens Injected Into Wells.'

The information gathered by Josh Fox, director of 'Gasland,' might seem somewhat unfair and sensational to some.  Hearing about animals severely shedding and eventually dying, and of water along a stream being set on fire would definitely create some doubt.  But too much is at stake here.  I often hear people say that Al Qaeda, or Sharia law is a threat to our way of life.  For me, contamination of our water source is more of a threat to our way of life.

One attendee yesterday stated something quite important:  'We don't want to find ourselves behind in the game two years from now.' (paraphrasing)  RGISC staff does not want to stop the use of hydraulic fracturing.  They simply want the process to be more transparent for the public.  I want to know exactly what is going on in Webb County.  I want to know if oil and gas companies are contaminating our water.  It's difficult when you have to go up against big money, big oil, and complacent politicians. 

I'll try to do my little part, for this issue can't be ignored.  And you can do something too:  you can mention this to our local representatives.  If you run into Henry Cuellar, ask him about 'fracking' in Webb County, and tell him to support the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act.

I would love to be proved wrong about all this.  If you can reassure me that hydraulic fracturing is safe, or that it's not taking place in our area, I will sleep better at night.  But for now, I can't take the word of an industry whose biggest concern is the bottom line.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Our Leader

Do I ever need a reason to post a picture of our mayor? 

New Trees At Slaughter Park

I totally forgot that city staff was going to have a tree-planting event yesterday morning.  Lynne Nava, of Keep Laredo Beautiful, told me about this last weekend.  Unfortunately I got tied up with other things at home.  By the time I passed by the park, all the trees were pretty much in place.

Once these trees mature, they'll provide nice cover for walkers.  The walkway pictured does not go all the way around the soccer fields.  Still, residents are making good use of it.

Chick Drummer Plays Tool

Shopping Ideas

Hey, look what I found in today's LMT.  And just in time for Semana Santa!

Falcon Lake

CNN ran a feature late last night dealing with the shooting of an American on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake.  Authorities suspected foul play on the part of the victim's wife, but details later surfaced that corroborated her story.  She was lucky to escape back onto U.S. land on her jet ski.  Her husband's body and jet ski were never recovered.  One area resident said that what she and her husband did was unwise.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happy Day

It's Record Store Day!

If you can, get yourself over to Second Chance Music at 2620 N. Arkansas and get some music.

I'd like me some new music.

OK.  I'm going to post this one just 'cause it's so dancy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another Win

Congratulations to the Nixon H.S. Band for winning their 27th Sweepstakes Award this afternoon.  Big woop.  Good job, Nixon band.

The group picture and the results of the other bands were  sent in by a reader.  I see a lot of twos.  No es bueno.

What Was Agreed Upon?

I think it was last week that I heard Tom Wade on his radio show talk about the baseball stadium that's going to be built near the LEA.  He said that the stadium was never intended to be built for the Laredo Broncos, and that city staff never threw around a price estimate for the construction of the venue.  According to him it was the Broncos organization who said it was going to cost less than $10 million.

I personally thought that the stadium was going to be built for the team.  After all, they had been here for several years and it made sense to reward them with a brand new park.  But apparently, I was the one who was confused.

So let's go back and see how this all got started, shall we?

City council meeting minutes, February 19, 2008.  (Presentation by the Laredo Broncos)

Alternative I
City allocates 25 acres
community sports complex
Integrated commercial development
City authorizes zone tax reimbursement
Sales tax
Property tax

United Sports
Constructs stadium
Responsible for all cost of construction
Contributes necessary architectural/engineering
Pay stadium costs through commercial development rights
Zone tax reimbursement 

Alternative II
City constructs ballpark
Estimated cost $7.5 million 

United Sports contributes architectural plans and engineering schematics
United Sports leases stadium
Home of Laredo Broncos
Annual lease payment $100,000
Term of lease - 30 years

United Sports manages and operates stadium
minor league baseball
Ancillary events
Public access and use

Alternative III
City and county jointly authorize 334 vote
Ballot language describes location of community sports venue

Funding mechanisms
Chapter 334 sports imposes temporary fees
Hotel tax (2%)
Auto rental tax (up to 5%)
United Sports construct and operates stadium

Carlos Villarreal, City Manager, discussed the three different options provided to City Council.  He said that he was skeptical of considering option I because it leaves itself to speculation.  He asked City Council to consider allowing staff an additional 3 days to return with a recommendation.

Motion to instruct staff to return to City Council in 30 days with additional information on Option II and three regarding a new stadium for the Laredo Broncos.
For: 7    Against: 1  Moved: CM Rendon Second: CM Chavez

It was the Laredo Broncos who lobbied the city to have a new stadium built.  But city council decided to go in another direction.  When I spoke to Councilman Landeck in 2009, he told me that the stadium was never meant to be for the Broncos.  Of course this was after the stadium had already been approved by the voters in the 2008 general election.  Here's some of what he had to say:
At a certain time, we were discussing the possibility of partnering with the Broncos to build a stadium but the final decision of the voters of the city of Laredo was to go on our own and use the money that we already have; we have about $20 million already available...
So it was the voters who shut out the Broncos?

The voters approved for the stadium to go forward; we didn't chose between the city and the Broncos.

It's amazing how much revisionist history gets tossed around, even with such simple things as a baseball stadium.  Well, it's a million-dollar project, so perhaps it's no so simple after all.

More In Crime

Papers detail Ramos crimes

By Denise Blaz
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Friday, April 15, 2011 4:41 AM CDT
Recently convicted local attorney Alonzo Ramos shuffled dirty money from a source with a reputed history of association with the Mexican Gulf Cartel, according to authorities.

Today's LMT front page contained two stories of white collar crimes.  (see post below)  If Denise Blaz would've revisited the Orlando Hale case, we would've had a hat trick account of local public corruption, but two out of three ain't bad.

Details Emerge In Abe Martinez' Guilty Plea

Ex-LMC chief guilty

Man forced bribes, evaded taxes in scheme at hospital
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Friday, April 15, 2011 4:41 AM CDT
Former Laredo Medical Center CEO Abraham “Abe” Martinez quietly pleaded guilty in February to federal conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion after local doctors claimed they were required to pay Martinez monthly fees to keep their contracts with the hospital.
Martinez’s wife, Argelia Martinez, pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


"The tragedy in Japan shouldn't cause us to abandon nuclear power."

That's right; we should abandon nuclear power because rich people wouldn't want to have it in their back yard.

Leopold! Leopold! Leopold!

Via the LMT (Adam Geigerman):
The Las Islitas Farm property that the Mandel family donated to the City of Laredo as the site of the Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course will house the 7,069-yard golf track, along with its clubhouse and a park.

The course is set for a soft opening, where a limited amount of rounds will be available, in November.
But will they have go-carts?

Photo included in LMT story.

Robert Trent Jones Jr., with microphone, is responsible for designing the new golf course.  Apparently we owe him our gratitude and loyalty for taking on this task.  His name is supposed to carry a lot of weight in the golfing world.  And city staff wants us to know that greatness has graced our sleepy little town.

Staffer:  Mayor, the golf course is going to go over budget by $2 million.  Mayor:  yeah, but did you know that Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed it???!!!!!

Staffer:  Mayor, the Rio Grande is cresting again and the whole downtown area is going to be wiped out.  Mayor:  that's OK; I've met Robert Trent Jones Jr.

I love that the picture shows us that the two gentlemen on the right know a thing or two about hat etiquette.  The mayor not so much.  He's as clueless and vain as ever.
Men, take off your hats! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Development: Abe Martinez Pleads Guilty

I usually don't watch the KLDO newscast, so I had to find out from a friend that Abe Martinez and his wife, Argelia, plead guilty to criminal charges.  Apparently Channel 12 reported this last night.

Argelia Martinez was charged with conspiracy; both are awaiting sentencing.

The civil case continues in a Houston court.

See this post for some background on the story.

Landfill Talk

Webb eyes ranch as landfill site

By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 3:34 AM CDT
Webb County could have a new landfill to alleviate pressure on Laredo’s municipal landfill on Highway 359.
The commissioner’s court indicated they will draft a letter of support for a new 1,000 acre landfill to be constructed at Yugo Ranch 19 miles east of Laredo.

For some time now, city leaders have been discussing the need to look for another cemetary site, more landfill space, and a secondary water source.  Fortunately county leaders and one enterprising individual are moving on this.  The landfill would be located 19 miles east of Laredo.
Located within a 12,000 acre ranch, the landfill is designed to recover gases for beneficial uses and recycle electronic waste on site.
I think the video below explains what the writer means by recovering "gases for beneficial uses."

The 12,000 acre ranch that will host the landfill belongs to one Carlos Benavides.  Where have I heard that name before?  Anyway, the project is said to provide jobs and bring in millions of dollars in revenue for the community.  I think it's been proven that Webb County is good with large amounts of money and hire only the best.  Their rap sheet track record is nothing short of impeccable.  And I'm sure this Benavides individual has the best interests of the community in mind. 

This little passage, however, made me wonder.
The primary mode of transportation for trash to the landfill would be through the Tex-Mex rail system, which runs through the ranch.
Tex-Mex is going to get in on the action?  Or will Mr. Benavides himself commandeer some rail cars to his 12,000 acre expanse?  It's visionary, but by no means impossible.  Besides, it's trash; what could go wrong?!
I think we should all support our county leaders and Mr. Carlos Benavides, for they will lead us to the promised land.

Now everybody, repeat after me:  Up with trash!....up with trash!..... 

Documentary Viewing

This was sent in to the LaSanbe world news desk:
The Río Grande International Study Center, in conjunction with the Laredo Public Library — invites the Laredo public to a free screening of Gasland – the Academy Award nominated documentary about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas. Fracking has resulted in the groundwater contamination in numerous communities across the country.

The screening will be held at the Laredo Public Library’s Multi-purpose Room on Sunday, April 17, at 2:00 p.m.

For further information, please call RGISC at 721-5392.

*Refreshments will be served.
It's interesting that this presentation comes to us.  The mining activity taking place just north of us has gotten quite a bit of press; And local bloggers have been providing their own take on things.  LaredoTejas recently posted on the topic and made note of how the practice of 'fracking' is not so transparent.
Que Fregados also chimes in.  She questions what hydraulic fracturing could be doing to the stability of lower layers of earth.

I've read articles about the fortunes being made from the Eagle Ford Shale drilling, but little has been documented about it taking place in Webb County.  I'm curious to find out what the RGISC knows about such activity taking place in our neck of the woods.  LMIB will be in attendance at the library Sunday to get more scoopage(*). 

Press release sent in by Meg Guerra

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You Knew It Was Coming

Probably the cheesiest scene of the whole movie.

Meet Up

Someone left a flier on my gate containing details about the upcoming community meetings.  The one that pertains to El Chacon is scheduled for tomorrow.  I am making plans to attend.

The last time city staff held one of these meetings it was poorly attended.  I asked a couple of questions, picked up some souvenirs and snacks, and left.

What my neighborhood needs is better police response time; perhaps  better lighting along some streets; a skate plaza at the Slaughter Park (wishing); and some sort of plan to get rid of discarded tires.

What does your part of town need? 

New Music Tuesday

This is a personal favorite.  A perfect tune for an otherwise nondescript day.


Included in today's LMT opinion page:

To the editor:
A marketing strategy from our local hospitals have them advertising average wait times in their emergency room; one said, "Last week the average wait in our ER was 8 minutes!"  If any readers out there are aware of a local bank or grocery store that can meet this amazing service standard, please let me know. 

Jerry W. Archer

I wouldn't call it an amazing service standard.  It's just a marketing ploy.  It's not any different from what car companies and soda makers do.  What that digital hospital clock won't tell you is that once you've been seen, it's going to take hours to wait for the results.  And if you're going to need a room upstairs, to be admitted, it's going to take several days to get one because the patient census is high.

One thing I would want from a grocery store is the kind of service I get from Pizza Hut:  I order what I want online, and in twenty minutes, I can go pick it up.  Now that would be an amazing service standard. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Could It Be?

A structure has gone up recently near the parking lot of the Zapata Highway H*E*B.  There's no signage announcing what business is coming, or at least I haven't seen any while driving on Hwy 83.  Could it be that some enterprising individual is taking after local beer run drive thrus and setting up shop in a highly trafficable(*) spot?  Oh, the anticipation is killing me.


People who live along Mines Road and have to drive near the World Trade Bridge have to contend with heavy traffic.  City officials have tried alleviating the problem by coordinating traffic lights, but the volume of vehicles makes little impact.

So the traffic jam that used to exist along I-35 two decades ago was just rerouted to the west.  Not good for those living out there.  But for people traveling to or from downtown on I-35 now, it's a cinch.  Now if we can only do something about those stalled trains blocking the access roads.

I'm Zen, I'm Nationwide

On a very windy day, I love being distracted by the large digital sign on Zapata Highway.  Thanks for the "extreme wildfire danger" warning Dept. of Transportation.  But could you please do something about the overgrown brush all around us

A Stick-Up

Local ne'erdowell Jorge Davila was busted by authorities for pilfering beer from a local convenience store.  In all fairness, it was triple digit hot yesterday;  He was probably just crazy from the heat.  'Judge, I would like to plead insanity up in here, and I would like my case of beer back, thank you very much.'

In the mug shot, Davila is wearing a shirt, a sweater over that, and a hoodie.  Either it's an old photo taken in colder weather or this individual is really off his rocker.  Insanity plea.  Go with it.
That defense works for me when I wear plaid shorts with striped tank tops and guaraches.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Look Back

My brother had in his possession a closet classic of a clip where he and a friend are featured on a local newscast.  It takes place in 1997 and both DJs are gigging at area clubs.  Their mad skills are noticed enough to land them on daytime t.v.  Take a look.

I love the colorful table cloth.

I've never met a lot of my brother's buddies.  Who knows if their still "spinning."  My carnal, on the other hand, is still at it.  He's probably the only local DJ who's been doing it for as long as he has.

The technology and the music have changed over the years; The set up you see in the video is not used anymore.  But as my brother told me several months ago, when he played some of the old dance stuff, 'the people went nuts.'  It's good to know that some things don't go out of style.

They're Watching Now

The City of Laredo operates a recycling station at the corner of McPherson and Clark.  At this location, residents can go turn in their city-issue blue bags filled with the allowable recycled materials, i.e. cardboard, plastic containers, paper, etc.  But you don't have to do so.  City employees go around twice a month (used to be weekly) and pick up the blue bags off of your curb.

I forget to put out the bags sometimes so I have to make the trip out to the central Laredo spot every now and then.  The other day I noticed something different:  a recording telling me that I was being watched.  As I neared the fence to throw my blue bag over, I heard a robotic voice say, "Stop, you are being photographed."  Now granted, it was after hours; I'm guessing city staff wants to deter people from dumping tires and other garbage with this technology. 

I like the idea of keeping an eye on things.  Kudos to city staff.  I just hope I don't get a notice in the mail to appear in court or something for dropping off recyclables when this place is closed.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's Complicated

Lawyer pleads in drug case

Alonzo Ramos helped traffic money

By Denise Blaz
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Saturday, April 9, 2011 2:35 AM CDT
Admitting he helped facilitate the distribution of $48,500 in drug trafficking proceeds, local attorney Alonzo Ramos pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in a Dallas federal courtroom Thursday.

Calls to his lawyer, Robert C. Hinton Jr., a Dallas-based attorney, were not immediately returned as of press time.

Earth Day Event

Environmentalists gathered today on the grounds of the Civic Center to promote earth-friendly practices.  One participant showed me how many plastic bags every person uses in one year.  No es bueno.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rokken with Dokken

Is It Copyright Infringement

....if a major retailer does it?

Perhaps Marvel Comics and Costco worked something out.

Fight Tonight

The Laredo Energy Arena is going to host a big event tonight, the "Rumble On The Rio."  I think it's all about some people having anger issues and they take it out on other people.

Anyway, a reader questioned why this privately promoted event would have the city's logo on the event's poster.  After all, the list of corporate sponsors at the bottom all seem to be out to make a buck.  So why include the odd man out?  Well, I was told by a staff member at the public information office that the arena is owned by the city.  The reason the name was changed to the 'Laredo Energy Arena' is because the naming rights were bought by a private entity.

I don't see a problem with them including the city logo on a poster.  Whether somebody within city government is profiting from this event is another story.  But I'm not going to get full disclosure, especially from city staff.  If somebody knows something that I don't, I would love to hear it.

BTW, the picture is from yesterday's LMT.  Thanks.

Pleads Guilty

Via Pro8news:
A Laredo attorney and son of former judge Andy Ramos has pled guilty to charges of racketeering. Alonzo Ramos pled guilty to one count of racketeering in a Dallas courtroom earlier this week. He has not been sentenced yet, but terms of the agreement say he will see no more than a maximum of five years in prison. His plea was heard in the Northern District of Texas court despite the charges originating here in Laredo.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bill Hicks Movie

I just found out that a movie about Bill Hicks is set to be released in a couple of weeks.  I could make the trip up to Austin since the movie is going out in limited release, or I could just wait for the DVD.  Either way I have to see this since it contains some never-before-seen footage that was captured by his family early in his comedy career.

Maybe we can show this (if it comes out in time) for LaSanbe's 4th anniversary in September. 

I Got Paddled

LaredoTejas recalls his early school days, including students being "whipped" by the principal.  A lot of things have changed since then.  The CAT test isn't around anymore and the buildings are long gone.


Not long ago my son and I busted our asses collecting discarded water bottles to raise money for a school trip.  Our work proved to be fruitless since the recycling company who took in the plastic put little value on our bounty.  Sure we made our little corner of the world a little better but that dime we were offered for all the plastic bottles was disappointing, to say the least.

Going into it I thought we were going to make some decent cash because plastics are broken down, cleaned and turned into other products, such as clothing.  Boy was I mistaken.  But now I learn (via the Houston Chronicle) that an Oregon company is taking any sort of old plastic and converting it into crude oil. 
Indeed, the company, which recently secured $22 million in venture capital funding, is already producing oil from discarded plastic and selling it to a local oil refinery at a competitive price. It says it can process all kinds of plastic, including dirty plastic that was discarded long ago, and that tests show the technology it uses to convert this trash back to oil leaves a “favorable” carbon footprint. (That last claim is one that would need to be investigated further, since it is critical that the process does not produce excessive waste. But the fact that investors have backed the business is a good sign.)
The name of the company is Agilyx.  Time will tell whether they compete for plastic trash with other industries and drive up the price for old water bottles.  It would be nice to see people seek out this stuff the way they do cardboard, aluminum, and metal objects.  For now they'll continue to litter our roadways and parks.

We Give It A Ten!!!

El Manana reports that the kitchen at the county jail got high marks from health inspectors.  So do yourself a favor and go enjoy a clean, delicious meal at our friendly neighborhood house of incarceration.

Book ahead because seating is limited.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Added Foliage

I haven't posted many pictures because my camera gave out.  This picture I took with my cell phone.  This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Anyway, Parks & Leisure staff, along with Lynn Nava, added some plants and small trees to parts of Slaughter Park a couple of weeks ago.  I was starting to think that nothing was going to be done in terms of landscaping. 

When I saw this feature, I worried that people might steal the plants, or just tear them out for no good reason.   Luckily it still looks good.  My only complaint about the setup is that some of the succulents in front might be too close to each other.

Last time I spoke with Ms. Nava she said that more trees are coming to the park.  April 16 might be the day for that.  Hopefully I can be there to assist, or merely document the event.

Eggs And Bunny Rabbits

Via the City of Laredo:
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.
Somehow I feel that this isn't going to stop people from selling stuff in front of the Super S on Clark.
“We want to keep our citizens safe,” said Albert Garza, Zoning Enforcement Supervisor for the City of Laredo. “We urge all citizens who plan to sell Easter items to come by and secure a permit,” concluded Garza.

Zoning enforcement officers, as well as Laredo Police Department ordinance officers, will be out enforcing the ordinance citing offenders for not having the required proper permit. Hefty fines, starting at $500, will be assessed.
You have been warned, people.

Big Win

I know there's a good amount of Aggie pride in Laredo (don't tell Texas alumni) so last night's women's basketball championship win must be doing something for some people.

Salutes to the team.

UPDATELink provided by reader in comments section.

Stars And Bars: A Replica

Someone in north Texas saw it fit to fly an early version of the Confederate Flag over the county courthouse.  The gesture was made to honor those who fought in the Civil War.  But many residents weren't buying it.
"When you fly a flag on a government-owned piece of property that divides people, it destroys the concept of unity," Herrington told WFAA.
What does that say about us when we do the same thing?


Nuevo Laredoites dealing with the large number of dead trees are blaming the freezing temperatures that the area experienced a couple of months ago.  Now officials want to replace those fallen trees with new ones.  Schools will get trees as donations; And public places, such as parks and plazas, will also have their landscapes renewed. 

The scene above has popped up in a lot of local residential places, especially in the Chacon, and Heights neighborhoods.  It seems like whole trees have been taken out.  Whether it's attributed to the cold weather is unknown.  I will say that sometimes people uproot trees, not because they are dry or diseased, but instead removed for fear that a strong wind could topple them over one's property.

We haven't had a lot of rainfall in some time.  People might not water as much during the winter time but it's advisable to water trees even though they're dormant.  Also, our pruning approach is not the most proper.  Chopping off branches incorrectly does plenty to damage a tree.  The cold months here are mild.  I think our treatment of trees is more to blame for their demise than a couple of cold days.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Change Imminent

Candidates submit campaign reports

Laredo Morning Times
Published: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 2:49 AM CDT
Election day for a special city council district race is still a month away but two candidates have already spent more than $24,000 on the campaign for the West Laredo seat.

City council might have a new face in four weeks, that is if a runoff election is avoided.  West siders could have a sense of who is going to win this race.  On the other hand, they could be more preoccupied with the upcoming Easter holiday.

The City of Laredo will host a forum for District VII candidates tomorrow at 9 a.m.
Public Access television (channel 3) will air the debate before early voting starts.
Early voting starts April 13.

We Had Dreams

Kurt Cobain died seventeen years ago today.  And Layne Staley died nine years ago today.  Whether local DJs realize this is anyone's guess. 

On 'New Music Tuesday' I give you a somber song from Robbie Robertson's new album, "How To Be Clairvoyant."  This new music is being compared to his work with The Band.  Good enough.

The song below is the perfect tune for such a wistful day.

Laredo Customer Service

A.B. Barrera
Published: Monday, April 4, 2011 4:41 AM CDT
As we end the first quarter, I can’t help but think how we may lose yet another year, and still Laredo struggles to keep its head above water in terms of its image.
That the city is viewed as the mecca of bad customer service only adds to the negative ways we are viewed by the rest of the world.
While much of this negativity comes from being associated with Nuevo Laredo, our apathy only seems to be worsening.

Mr. Barrera's article was included in yesterday's edition of the LMT Business Journal.  He went on to describe his disillusionment with Laredo's customer service, and includes an exchange he had with a fast food employee (which I'll include after the jump).  It's this, he thinks, that gives Laredo a bad image.

I can relate to his experience since I'm a frequent patron of fast food joints.  A bad experience is inevitable at these places.  And it was just yesterday that I came across a post on the GabePorVida blog, where a screen shot of his Facebook page was included.  One commenter strayed from the topic and brought up his own unfortunate visit to McDonald's.  It's a common occurence that plenty of us can identify with, apparently.

It's unpleasant to have to be the recipient of bad service, but on the other hand, I have to acknowledge the fact that I'm dealing with young people working at the lowest common denominator in the food service industry.  It's an unfair assessment of our young workforce and major fast food chains, but it's warranted, I think, since very little is gained in terms of healthy, psychological, and intellectual rewards.  I can't be too critical of the staff when I'm taking advantage of a $1 menu.  Or can I?

I will say that some local McDonald's and Burger Kings have good customer service, but I'm not surprised when they don't.

However, fast food restarants aren't the only ones giving Laredo a black eye.  If people think that we're rude, there's good reason.  But I think this goes back to Mr. Barrera's use of the word apathy.  It's our apathy that translates into rudeness.  Now, I wouldn't say apathy is endemic to our part of the state but it surely shows its face a lot.  It's everywhere.  It's there when the person in front of you doesn't hold the door open for you.  It's there when you honk at somebody trying to get out of a parking space.  And it's there when somebody doesn't give you the right of way when traffic is backed up.  I don't even want to get into the whole littering problem we face. 

I don't want to take anything away from what Mr. Barrera offered but I think the problem at our restaurants is just the tip of the iceberg.  We live through many horrible experiences in public which are the result of not enough people setting the example.  We all have to step up in more ways than one to make Laredo a better place.  Our town may not be much but we have to take pride in what we have.  I'm not expecting perfection; only a little effort.

Here's the rest of the LMT story:

This apathetic attitude drives others away from our wonderful city; worse, when they do come, they leave with a bad taste in their mouths, talking about how miserable the stay was.

Lately, Laredo has made it to the top of some unappealing lists.
Some of the lists are not legitimate, but they are out there and being browsed online, spreading word of bad things about Laredo to millions of people every second.
On a recent trip to a rural community, I asked some business people I was meeting if they visited Laredo often and where they shopped.
Their answer was more than shocking.
They are only 80 miles from Laredo, but they said they won’t come to Laredo and prefer San Antonio.
I asked if this was because San Antonio had many more options; they said, “Not at all; it’s because people in Laredo are so rude and they have the worst service.”
Statements like these make me keep shouting we must improve how we treat visitors, consumers and ourselves.
Can you believe people in a town only 80 miles away think this poorly of us?
Many people would become defensive to this statement, but we’ve been defensive for way too long and we don’t seem to care about changing how we are seen.
Also, we begin to think we may just not be smart enough to change this, so we begin to accept it.
This apathy is destroying our viable community.
While having dinner recently at a popular burger place, I decided to order a milkshake after my meal.
As I approached the attendant to order, she rolled her eyes and stared at me as if it was a chore for her to take the order.
I asked if I could please have a milkshake, and her response was “Aye, acabo de tirar la leche de los milkshakes (I just threw away the milk we use for milkshakes).”
When I asked why, she said it was because the store was about to close.
I looked at my watch, saw it was 5 till 9 and asked, “Do you close at 9?”
She responded, “No, we close at 10, but we stop selling milkshakes early because then we’ll never finish.”
I walked away disappointed, wondering how many more items they stop selling an hour early and how that’s affecting this locally owned business.
Even more depressing, the restaurant manager was standing right next to the employee and seemed to perfectly agree that this was OK.
Local leaders are trying to improve things, but we cannot expect them to do it alone.
Local organizations and business leaders must unite and create a force that will develop and implement changes to move Laredo forward.
I salute local businesses for taking the initiative to train their staffs; I applaud the efforts of the Laredo Chamber of Commerce in promoting customer service seminars.
These efforts are beginning to improve how we operate and communicate our services.
The problem, however, is that not enough local businesses have bought into the idea that talking about our issues, educating our staffs and standing up for our community will help.
In truth, it will if we pull together.
I encourage everyone to do their parts and prove the naysayers wrong.
I may be a man against all odds, but I’ll never stop working to help improve the city I love and the place I chose to raise my family.
(A native of Laredo, A.B. Barrera, CMD, is co-owner of a local full service advertising agency specializing in international marketing.)