Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Just A Tease


I was expecting a downpour late last night, but my hopes were shot down as Tropical Storm Don became a tropical depression.

Here I thought I wasn't going to have to water for the next couple of days and..... 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh. My. Gawd!

                                    



Fracking And Stuff

The EPA is looking into issues of pollution at drilling sites.
In March, pollution from natural gas drilling in the Upper Green River Basin in western Wyoming triggered levels of ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, worse than those recorded in Los Angeles, one of the smoggiest cities in the U.S.

In Dish, a rural town northwest of Dallas, the state’s environmental regulators detected levels of cancer-causing benzene, sometimes at levels dangerous to human health, likely coming from the industry’s 60 drilling wells, gas production pads and rigs, a treating facility and compressor station.
This could be present in northern Webb County.  It could be affecting people who live near drilling sites already.

It's good that the EPA is concerned with the effects of drilling, but for some it may too late.  Yeah, some might've made out really well from this, but others are probably dealing with things like benzene. 





Jailers Arrested


What changes will this incident bring about?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

No Dumping, Laredo


Sign or no sign, people are going to dump stuff anywhere they want.  No es bueno.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Xoticas Quince


Xoticas, a local gentleman's club, is celebrating its 15th anniversary.  I've never been to this place but I know that not everyone was excited about it setting up shop in north Laredo.  And today it sits in a different location, somewhere off of Mines Rd.  But it has proved that it has staying power. 

The ad pictured above was found in the LMT.  I included the Kaplan ad right next to it because I thought the juxtaposition makes for a great caption contest. 


Mexican Soldiers Cross Into U.S.



Apparently Mexican soldiers have a little problem with the subject of jurisdiction.  A valley news outlet reports that 33 soldiers crossed into the U.S. at the Donna bridge.  But Henry Cuellar is not buying the military's excuse about losing track of the boundary.  And he thinks that's they've taken advantage of our courteousness.
If we did that to them, they would be crying bloody murder right now.
First of all, we wouldn't do that because all our troops are tied up in the Middle East.  And Secondly, I would give our soldiers a little more credit as far as not knowing to cross into another country. 

Mexican soldiers crossing onto U.S. territory has become something of a regular occurrence.  It's starting to look like much more than a coincidence. 

Back to Business

The NFL Lockout was finally resolved this week, and now there is a frenzy of football-related activity. Training camps are underway, players are being traded, and free agents are being snatched up. Yes, we were all ready for some football!

Right out of the gate there was a rumor of Brett Favre returning. C'mon! There has been zero NFL news for months, and reporters have to throw this story in right away to begin debates? I'm hoping Favre isn't foolish enough to do this anyway, and I believe his agent who said "he's retired, period!"

My favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have had a flurry of off-the-field happenings which have caused me some concern as a devoted fan. QB Ben Roethlisberger has been forever tainted by two sexual assault allegations (both cases were dropped). He got married this past Saturday to Ashley Harlan, and Steeler Nation is hoping his settling down will settle him down.


The never subtle linebacker, James Harrison, who made headlines last year for his hard hits and subsequent fines, went off on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a recent interview. He said he hated him and called him a "devil" and a "crook"!?@! He went on to criticize other players, including some of his own teammates. Oh boy!

Former SuperBowl MVP and winner of last season's "Dancing with the Stars," Hines Ward, was also in the news for being arrested on DUI charges. Players in the news for all the wrong reasons is not what Steelers fans are used to. "The Pittsburgh Steelers are a proud franchise that has been built on stability, excellence, and respect." We need that again now that football is back in session. What I want to know is when did the Steelers turn into the Dallas Cowboys???

Spill Of Some Sort


On the southbound lane of Hwy 83, near the Santa Fe entrance, I noticed a section of the road covered with some sort of sludge.  The picture doesn't exactly capture the scene adequately, but if you notice in the middle, the roadway looks darker.  As I neared this area to take a snapshot, I immediately was hit with an odor.  I can't exactly pinpoint it.  However, the shape of the spill look irregular; and I've seen another one like this just down the road.   

Que Fregados recently posted on an unknown spill near downtown.  And I included a screen shot of a story that appeared in this month's LareDOS where a dumping ground for sludge was discovered on Hwy 16.

Like I said before, I've noticed these kinds of spills on Zapata Highway before.  And it doesn't look like anyone is paying them no mind.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Changes At County


Last week the court let go of two department heads.  Today we learn that two individuals were chosen to fill those spots.  But the positions' job descriptions ask for more than these new directors have to offer.  Commissioners, nevertheless, bumped them up in status and pay.  
Commissioners did approve pay raises for Cabello and Gonzalez to the salaries of their former directors.  The court improved a salary increase for Cabello or more than $40,300 to the $112,000 annual salary Sanchez made.  Gonzalez got a bump in pay of more than $20,300 to the $73,690 salary made by outgoing building maintenance director Raul Elizondo. 
Both of these men have been working for Webb County for some time, but Mr. Mike Cabello is not certified as an engineer as the job description requires.  And Mr. Fernando Gonzalez does not have any college training.

These men might be qualified, but is this the right time to be giving out hefty pay raises when the county is struggling to meet its fuel demands?  And if I remember correctly, Patricia Barrera was denied an employee's hike in pay because money has been tight.

The commissioners court is going to try to make changes to try to accommodate these two men.  Again, these two individuals might be qualified to do the job, but shouldn't they be placed on a probationary period and their salaries adjusted accordingly?

I realize you want to reward people for their efforts but I also expect some belt-tightening during these troubled times.



This Drought Laredo


This is not good.  People are being warned to be careful when out at Lake Casa Blanca because of the low water levels.  You might get stuck out there if you're on a boat or jet ski.

In the picture above, I highlighted a part of the lake where I think the water's edge should be at.  Again, not good. 

Poor Tree Care


The picture above is that of an ash tree in the parking lot of a retail center in north Laredo.  In the background you can see Lane Bryant and Old Navy.  The reason I took this picture is because of the poor care and attention that Laredo trees get.  Seriously, who prunes a tree like this?  These trees are not meant for topiary projects. 

You would think that these trees would be allowed to flourish since no obstructions are in the way -- There are no power lines overhead, or buildings nearby that would hinder a tree's growth.  The only reason I can come up with is that they were hacked this way so drivers could have a better line of vision.  If shoppers can better see the stores here, chances are they'll stop in to buy.

Here's another pic.


Proper pruning can stimulate a tree's growth.  But what's been done here can be detrimental to them, not to mention making eyesores out of each and every tree.

When I visit this retail center, I like to park near a tree that offers good shade; that's usually in the area near the Payless Shoe Store.  Nevermind that I have to walk clear across the parking lot to get to another store, my car will be nice and cool when I get back.  These trees, unfortunately, don't look like they might be of any use to me.  And that's unfortunate, especially when we have to live with the unrelenting heat every Summer.

Take A Ride


Transit officials in Nuevo Laredo estimate that more than half of public buses are ready for the scrap heap.  El Manana reports that bus inspections are due the first week of August.  Officials will review numerous areas of concern on each bus, including cleanliness, intact windows, and adequate seating.  If a bus doesn't pass inspection, it'll be put out of commission.

I've never ridden on a bus in Nuevo Laredo but I've heard that it's a trip.  Apart from the ambiance, drivers are really eager with their gas pedals.  Perhaps this is something I should put on my bucket list.

Monday, July 25, 2011

More Bad News For Webb County

                                    


Conflict of interest has never crossed these people's minds.

The court will try to make things right.  But when they take one step forward, another thing emerges that makes them take two steps back. 

Debt Ceiling Confusion


Maximiliano over at LaredoTejas noticed how Mayor Raul Salinas couldn't exactly answer a question about the debt ceiling on national TV.  And Odie Arambula also couldn't find anyone locally to give an opinion on what Congress and the president are tackling right now.

Tom at WakeUpLaredo thinks John Boehner is doing a fantastic job.  But what if nothing happens before the supposed August 2 deadline?  Will Social Security checks, and Medicaid payments be withheld so as to force the elderly out of nursing homes?  It's all posturing on the part of everyone in Washington.  Our fearless leader even has some thoughts on the whole hullabaloo.

Whatever happens, it's shameful that nobody can articulate his/her thoughts on the subject when confronted with questions, even the mayor.

Back


I apologize for not updating this site more over the last couple of days.  Reason I didn't do so is because I took a trip out to the beach.  Once I checked into the hotel, the WiFi service was not what I expected.  Needless to say they're getting a poor customer review from this writer.  When I got home yesterday I was too tired to do anything. 

Anyway, I managed to take a picture of somebody advertising a yard sale with some DIY magic.  It's good to know that duct tape holds at 55 mph.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Natural Gas Operations






It's great to hear about all the benefits that the Eagle Ford Shale has granted the area:  energy company CEOs swoosh in by helicopter to hand the community college a big check; the college offers training for would-be shale play employees; land owners make a killing leasing their land; communities are flush with new revenue that comes from taxes; people sell water to the drilling companies at a premium price; motels, stores, and eateries are hopping with customers; new businesses open up; jobs are available; and everybody is happy.

But if something sounds too good to be true, then it must be.

 
It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of good fortune.  But there has to be a downside, especially when so much money is involved. 
Time will tell if all this activity is a boom or bust for us and our environment.

Who Would've Thought


It's always the one you least expect.

This Is Stage 3


Driving to work every day this week I've noticed a sprinkler head that's on the fritz at a local fast food restaurant.  As you can see, water is making sure the parking lot is nice and moist in the mornings.  There must be some simple explanation for this, like they're waiting for the sprinkler part to come in from Australia or something. 

So much for Stage 3 water restrictions.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Old School Stuff






The better half found an old report card sleeve while going through some old stuff.  This is from the '81-'82 school year.  Sadly, the Laredo National Bank is no longer with us.





She was really good about turning in her books at the end of the year.

New Laredo Baseball Team Name


Just a minor setback.

Water Transactions In Laredo

At Monday's city council meeting the issue of water dispensing came up, partly at the behest of the Safe Fracking Coalition.  Councilman Alex Perez placed the item on the agenda because it's come to people's attention that those who purchase water from the city in large volumes are going out and selling it for a higher price.  Whether it's being sold to drilling companies was not confirmed, but it was suggested. 

City staff will look into curbing this activity.
"It's not going to be to the point that people can go get a tanker of water and then be able to resell it.  If there's going to be any activity it's going to be a direct activity that's going to be monitored and we're going to be able to look after the interests of the City of Laredo."
The city also doesn't want any middle man involved.  If drilling companies need water, they will have to buy it direct from the city.



LaredoTejas takes issue with the city's response to big tankers taking advantage of this service at one pumping station:  shut down the operation.  This will make it difficult for private citizens that depend on that water dispensing system.  The LMT (Andrew Kreighbaum) reported today on this very thing.
The dispenser, which is located at Las Penitas and Las Tiendas roads, was set to be closed in mid-August.  Instead, the city will move the dispenser to the Fred and Anita Bruni Community Center on West Racho Penitas Road.
So now it will be in the county's hands.  I don't know if that's a good idea, seeing as how they've had some bad luck with keeping track of their water.

The city wants to monitor any activity where somebody might be making out like a bandit selling the city's water.  If water is going to be sold to the oil and gas companies, they suggest using effluent water.  Currently the country club and the existing golf course use this type of water for irrigation, according to the city manager.  I hope better stewardship of our water is accomplished, but I'm not keeping my hopes up since the city can barely monitor the activity at Mami Chulas. 

Balance The Federal Budget

Henry Cuellar has a wonderful idea. 
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Henry Cuellar’s (TX-28) balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been endorsed by the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. It would require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress every fiscal year, along with other measures to enhance fiscal responsibility. The Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed Congressman Cuellar’s amendment as the right measure to reduce the national deficit, while protecting vital programs.
(Full text of the press release can be found after the jump)

What Cuellar is proposing sounds a lot like what Texas republicans want.
"It fits into his overall philosophy about government and fiscal responsibility," Perry spokesman Mark Miner said. "In Texas, at the end of the day, the budget will be balanced. It's the Texas way versus the federal way, which is to continue spending without being accountable."
I don't know if the Texas way is a model we should be emulating.  The state does a great job of balancing its budget but now schools are having to make severe cutbacks.  Their idea of balancing the budget comes at the expense of many.

A balanced federal budget sounds nice, but if such an amendment were passed, I would think that the congressman's earmarks would be in jeopardy, not to mention our military involvement in the Middle East.  Cuellar's whole reason for being, and our eternal adoration for him, has to do with him bringing home the (pork) bacon.  If he's serious about tightening Washington's belt, as many constituents are already doing, then I suspect that we won't be seeing him in any more photo ops holding giant plastic checks with our local politicos flanking him.

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Henry Cuellar’s (TX-28) balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been endorsed by the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. It would require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress every fiscal year, along with other measures to enhance fiscal responsibility. The Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed Congressman Cuellar’s amendment as the right measure to reduce the national deficit, while protecting vital programs.


This amendment requires Congress to produce a balanced budget every fiscal year and requires the President to submit a balanced budget in his or her annual transmission to Congress. It also protects Social Security, ensuring that our most vulnerable do not face a reduction in benefits when they need them most.

“I am pleased by the support from the Blue Dog Coalition for my bill that creates a path to fiscal sovereignty. The balanced budget amendment was the first bill I introduced in an effort to set the tone of sound fiscal policy this Congress,” Congressman Cuellar said. “Reducing the national deficit is not only critical for our country’s economic recovery – it’s critical for future generations of Americans and this bill accomplishes that.”

“This bill is common sense to the American people. Forty-nine states currently require an annual balanced budget, and an amendment to the Constitution will finally hold the federal government to the same, common-sense standards,” Congressman Cuellar said. “I am eager to continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Blue Dog Coalition in an effort to tackle our budget problems with real-time solutions by my balanced budget amendment.”

Press release courtesy of Cuellar's camp.

 








Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Lesson In Debt Ceiling

Our trustee Blue Dog spender checks in to give us a little background on the federal debt ceiling.  I'm including parts of his write up.  You can read the entire piece here.  Enjoy.

The debt limit is a statutory cap on the amount of debt the federal government borrows. It applies to federal debt such as U.S. bonds and Treasury Bills. This debt is owned by creditors such as taxpayers, pension funds and foreign governments. In essence, it is money the country has borrowed to operate and must eventually pay.


Raising our nation’s debt limit is not a new issue. In 1917, as the United States entered into World War I, Congress authorized the Department of Treasury to finance the war, but placed a limit on the amount of debt that could be taken. Since 1980, the debt ceiling has been raised 39 times. Our debt limit has been increased in increments and has never been politicized or held hostage to accomplish ideological goals.

Recent Years



Raising the debt ceiling has been a non-partisan issue. President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, raised the debt ceiling 17 times, the most of any president.


In the 1990s, the debt limit was raised four times under President Bill Clinton and since 2001, the debt limit has been increased 10 times, including seven times under President George W. Bush and three times under President Barack Obama. Not only have presidents of both parties raised the debt limit, but members of Congress from both parties have voted with them. Republican leadership including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Whip Eric Cantor have voted twice to raise the debt limit.

Debunking Debt Ceiling Myths

Not raising the debt ceiling is a way to control future government spending.


This is not true. We’ve heard some say that refusing to raise the debt ceiling is like ‘cutting up America’s credit card’, but a more appropriate analogy would be cutting up our credit card bill. Failing to raise the debt ceiling amounts to a refusal to pay the bills our country has already incurred – which not only sets a terrible example for our children – it also would lead to a credit rating downgrade, leading to higher interest rates and actually increasing our deficit.


Americans will be unaffected if the U.S. defaults – it won’t have a significant impact on me.

False. If the United States does not pay its owed debt by Aug. 2, the Treasury Department will be forced to prioritize payments and pick ‘winners and losers’. On Aug. 3, Social Security checks that are supposed to be sent out to beneficiaries are at risk if the debt ceiling is not raised. As the school year begins in August, many incoming college students will be relying on their Pell Grants to pay for their education expenses – this may not get funded. Even funding Military Active Duty Pay, the FBI and prison systems would be at risk for payment. Every month, the Department of Treasury makes 80 million payments and every one – from veterans to the Federal Highway Administration – will be affected, including me and you.
 
The Truth


I believe our situation is best summed up by President Ronald Reagan, who wrote to then-Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker:

“The full consequences of a default, or even the serious prospect of default by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate.”


Not raising the debt ceiling would amount to playing ‘chicken’ with our 401Ks, mortgages, pension funds, unemployment benefits, social security payments and tax refunds to small businesses. It would not only be irresponsible, it would cause self-inflicted global financial wreckage that neither the U.S. nor the world can afford.

The part that worries me is where it says that "Social Security checks .... are at risk."  What does that mean for my mother?  I really hope something happens before the end of the month, because I don't like all this talk about people not being payed and veterans being short-changed.  What's interesting is that I haven't heard anyone say, 'if we default, congress and all its staffers won't get paid.'  Not that it would matter; most politicians are pretty well off.  What would they have to worry about?

Not The Worst Headline, But Really Close


Watch Over Your Things




 
We here at LaSanbe, as well as another blogger (who shall remain nameless), have talked about theft of personal property.  If things are not bolted down, they will disappear.  And even when things are secured, thieves will find a way to get their hands on other people's possessions. 
 
One tries to guard his/her belongings by installing alarm systems, burglar bars, and fencing with locks.  For those who have the patience and wherewithal to deal with the care of an animal, a guard dog might be employed.  But as you can see by the video above, not even a chain and a camera system can stop ne'erdowells from taking somebody's little cash cow of a hot dog cart.  Hopefully somebody will recognize the two punks in the video and bring them to justice.
 
 
 

La Canicula

Mexican officials are predicting a mild canicula, or Dog Days of Summer, this year.

It's said that this phenomenon is characterized by increased temperature readings and less rainfall.  If that's the case, then our canicula goes way beyond than that of mid-July to mid-August.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oh Gawd!


I thought I was the only one who thought this book was a tedious read.  Thankfully I'm not alone.   

Muestra de Musica Martes

I hadn't posted anything on new music releases because I was distracted there for a little while.  But that hasn't stopped artists from releasing great new stuff.  Case in point:  one of my favorite bands, Wilco, released a couple of songs in anticipation of their upcoming album that's going to be released in the Fall.



If only I had a radio program, I could showcase music that many Laredoans haven't heard before.

Don't Get On Their Bad Side


This is my favorite part of the article:
Elizondo protested that he tried repeatedly to reach the commissioner to discuss his responsibilities and any concerns the court had.  But Canales said he was waiting to see if Elizondo would take any corrective actions of his own accord.
I think Mr. Elizondo was trying to take corrective actions, Commissioner Canales.  The problem is: you never returned his calls (I'm inferring here)
I've never met Mr. Elizondo, but I get the impression that he's a truculent individual.  Again, I'm only going by what was written in the LMT story.  For not being a team player, he got the ax.  But for him to be let go when everybody is expecting a yearly evaluation is harsh.  The court, especially Canales, was determined to clean house.  No compromise was to be had on this day.
Canales said he met with several staffers from building maintenance at his home after taking office and heard multiple complaints about management.
OK, he was probably difficult, but no probation?  No written reprimand?  No reassignment?  Perhaps the LMT writer left out some details, like Elizondo's file being full of written complaints, or him being asked to take part in anger management classes.  Whatever the case, it seems like the lines of communication have totally broken down at county.  If you take anything from this, it's that you don't want to diss the court, because they can make life very difficult for you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Can't Have One Without The Other

Last night I enjoyed the season 4 opener of AMC's "Breaking Bad."  For brevity's sake, all I will say is that the episode had a really intense, drawn-out moment -- one that rivals the firecracker scene in "Boogie Nights" coupled with the brutality of the "Reservoir Dogs" ear scene.  Dare I say it was an hour well-spent even though it left me shaken psychologically. 

For those unfamiliar with the show, the main character, Walt, is diagnosed with cancer and must undergo treatment for it.  Faced with the medical costs of doing so, and wanting to provide for his family in the event of his untimely death, he decides to use his skills as a chemist (teacher) to make meth.  His need for survival, however, has taken on a more determined and brutal quality over the last three seasons.  Walt has gone from deviant entrepreneur to cold-blooded killer.  And this is what brings me to our neck of the woods. 

In watching the "Box Cutter" episode last night, I wasn't thrown by the fact that violence had befallen those entangled in the drug trade.  If I'm going to watch a movie where drugs are involved, I have to expect some violence.  Remember "Up In Smoke"?  A dog died in that movie.  Need I say more? 

But seriously, people don't bat an eye when they see violence scripted alongside drug-pushing in film, but if we hear about violence perpetrated on the local citizenry, or upon law enforcement officials, suddenly it's termed 'spillover violence' and it becomes a national security issue.  Violence is going to occur, especially in our case where major drug routes exist.  What's unique to us is that we have a river that separates two nations; Crooks can easily escape to Mexico, and gang members can seek refuge in Texas.  Things can get complicated; just ask those looking for Victor Palomo, the young man who didn't return after a lunch break in his murder trial.

Point is:  drugs and violence go hand in hand.  However, we haven't seen the carnage and mayhem that our Sister City has seen.  Mayor Salinas can boast about lower crime statistics, yet ask for more funding from the federal government for increased security.  How can he justify needing more when things are getting better?  The mayor's duplicity aside, we have to put our circumstance in perpestive.  We have to be cautious, but we can't run around as if our hair was on fire. 



 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is She?

Our eternal state senator, Judith Zaffirini, is having a dilemma with her campaign messaging.
Veteran Democratic Sen. Judith Zaffirini is known by her friends, loved ones and constituents simply as "Z."
But authorities told her sister recently that the symbol, which translates in Spanish to "zeta," could cause the truck to be mistaken for vehicles belonging to the deadly "Zeta" cartel, based on the Texas-Mexico border.
What constituents refer to her as "Z"?  She's been in office since 1986 and I've never known her to have some sort of brand attached to her persona.  I mean, seriously, the Zaffirinis look like the most uptight people in Laredo; the senator is virtually nowhere to be seen when it's time to really connect with her constituents; and I really can't point to one piece of legislation that's made her famous (that may be my fault).  But now we're all supposed to think that she's some sort of marketable icon.

I really don't see the need for a brand since this lady is permanently embedded in the same chair she's held for more than twenty years.  Frankly I don't know why she even campaigns because we're all just going to vote for her anyway; We don't know why, but we'll do it.

Of all letters she designates for herself, it has to be the one associated with a neighboring drug cartel.  Brilliant.  This, however, amazes her that people would even make the connection.   
Let's look at one of her previous campaign commercials to note the blandness of it.



Z?  I don't think so.

 



Saturday, July 16, 2011

Novacaine And Flowers


This is exactly the kind of headline I want to see when I decide to cross over into Nuevo Laredo.  But seriously, I had to go over to see a dentist because one of my wisdom teeth had a big cavity in it and it had been bothering me for a couple of weeks.  It was mostly a dull pain that was present at bedtime.  The dentist told me that the discomfort was due to lying in bed -- there was more blood flow to the head and that increased the pressure to the affected tooth. 

Luckily the whole tooth extraction experience went on without a hitch.  And I can safely say that I'm looking forward to a restful night tonight, sans molar.  The dentist was really cool, so I'll probably visit him again for further dental care.

Anyway, when I was crossing bridge 1, I noticed that the river's water level looked depleted.  I was able to take a picture through the bridge's fencing.  Check it out.


(The railroad bridge is off in the distance)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember the half-circle piece of land (middle of pic) being so visible.  The banks of the river, on the American side, used to be very brushy; the foliage would probably cover up the area I'm speaking of.  But in crossing the bridge before, I can't recall that little peninsula looking so clearly outlined.

Laredo gets its water from the Rio Grande.  I wonder if the newly-imposed water restrictions were instituted because of the river's status.  Personally, I don't think we should ever have water restrictions lifted. 

Mr. Rodriguez, the utilities director, suggested the watering schedule be put back into place because other municipalities were telling their citizens to conserve water.  Is that the real reason, or could it be that they are aware of our water scarcity?
Whatever the case, watch your water usage, people.

Back on the U.S. side, I got a chance to visit with my friends at the Farmers Market.  It's held every third Saturday of the month at Jarvis Plaza.  Here's a picture.

 
This is a shot of a vendor offering up some nice plants.  It looked like they made out pretty well, what with all the people that were browsing and asking questions.
I would've visited my friends from Caffe Dolce, but by having a cotton ball control the bleeding on my gums, I decided to forgo the baked goods.

All in all I'd say it was a very productive Saturday.  




Friday, July 15, 2011

Good Night

Nuevo Laredo Is Not Laredo, TX


I haven't been to Nuevo Laredo in a while and this news release doesn't encourage me to go across. 

Lingerer


I love it how people rubberneck even while riding their bikes.  Move it along, sir.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Getting Word Out


Since I have practically no marketing budget at all, I have to come up with my own advertising.  The problem now is figuring out on what corner to post this puppy.  

Drones For South Texas

If there's one thing all politicians can agree on it's security measures.  Public safety seems to be a campaign staple, especially along the border where communities have to deal with drug, and human smuggling, among other things.  But operations have been beefed up recently as authorities are now using National Guard troops, and unmanned aeriel vehicles to patrol the border. 

South Texas can now boast that it will have two UAVs in operation, all thanks to some sort of magical funding that is commonly referred to as 'emergency supplemental appropriations.'  As their name implies, emergency supplementals should be utilized when any unforseen event arises, such as a natural disaster.  If money was needed to respond to a big flood, that funding would be tacked on to the usual yearly budget.  Critics, however, have noted that little oversight is applied to these spending bills. 

In this age of budget deficits, it's astounding how the purse strings haven't been pulled in more forcibly by Congress.  Here's a comment from our very own Blue Dog Democrat, Henry Cuellar.
“As Congress meets these urgent needs, we must also realize that America cannot afford to continue running trillion-dollar deficits forever. After years of irresponsible and wasteful spending, we have been left with an enormous debt and a severe lack of fiscal discipline. We must follow up on today’s emergency appropriations by passing strong, enforceable laws to limit deficit spending and put our nation’s budget back on track.” 

(Emphasis mine)
I have no problem with politicians wanting to add more Border Patrol agents along the border, or more cops to patrol cities, but how can their positions be funded with "emergency" funding when the problems associated with the drug trade have existed for years?  Add to that the extras (I don't want to say luxuries) of Guard troops and expensive aerial monitoring systems. 

I'm all for border protection but I would like for it all to be a part of the yearly budget process.  And I would really love it for our representatives to explain it to me why they're for fiscal responsibility but spend like the Rapture is upon us.


Something Minor


It's amazing that Mayor Salinas "did not return calls for comment."  He's ready to offer a comment to everybody and their mother, no matter how trivial it may be.  On this occasion, however, he's decided to clam up.

Remember, kids:  the mayor's first concern is public safety and gets peeved when he gets the runaround.

 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Video



Why can't this happen to the many tacuaches around Laredo?

The President

You know, for somebody who has supposedly disappointed his base and seemingly bowed to republicans' every wish, he's doing quite well for himself.  People might throw around the one-term-president jab, but at the fundraising rate he's going at, it looks like people will once again go to the polls to send him back to the White House.

Mensos, Not Mensa


Add another statistic to the crime column. 

Luckily when I've been out jogging, the only thing that somebody's done to me is shout out of a car window enough to startle me.  Be sure to stretch before working out, and watch out for douchbags.   

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Roads



There must be a reason why rural land owners want to keep their roads private.  I just need it explained to me why that is.  Meanwhile, students who live out in the colonias have to deal with the lack of (road) infrastructure.  


Trouble In Quartzsite

A reader sent this in for our consideration:  it's the story of the mayor of Quartzsite, AZ who's been bullied by the city council.
He said since being in office, he has discovered that every pay period, eight to 10 paychecks go to unnamed people and that he has been denied access to financial records to find out where the money goes at every turn.
Mayor Ed Foster was removed from office by the council.  Apparently his ouster stems from what happened earlier this month during a council meeting.  Check out the video below and see how a resident tries to address city hall and the suspicion of corruption within.  The mayor attempts to take control of the meeting but councilmembers overrule him and the speaker.



The issue of local corruption came up during one of our meet-ups some years ago.  A local reporter countered that he never found evidence of wrongdoing on the part of city officials.  I'd like to believe that, but then I think of all the Laredoans who have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar.  I'm not saying all politicians are corrupt.  I'm just saying that we don't know exactly what is going on.

Laredo may not be Quartzsite, but it has the potential. 






Monday, July 11, 2011

Market This


Often I've thought about opening up my own business:  a dive bar catering to Pittsburgh Steelers fans; alternative music record store; taxi for wheelchair-bound people, etc.  But all those would take some serious planning and resources.  No, what I need is something that requires little capital with big returns. 

I need something with a hook (deLaredo).

I need something that's going to sell itself. (Critters and Crayons)

Something that people will want to own (Spicy Mustache).

????????????? (Wake Up Laredo).

Messaging


The crime rate may be down in Laredo as Mayor Salinas noted in his recent "State of the City Address," but that doesn't keep us from hearing about acts of violence perpetrated on our city streets.  Take, for instance, the two "Blood In, Blood Out" rejects pictured above:  they were booked for assaulting somebody with a knife and rocks.  They were just minding their own business at a local Stripes convenience store when something set them off.  Because they had to improvise (use rocks), I'm going to say that they were taken by surprise, and thus, defending themselves.

But then there's the case of the man who used a crowbar in an argument.  And the brouhaha that occurred at Taco Palenque last week.  (I'm not going to go into details about the T.P. incident for fear that it may cost them customers)

With all these reports about thefts and assaults, it makes me wonder if crime is indeed down.  Let's look at some numbers posted on the new police website, http://www.laredopd.com/


Law enforcement officials have been lauded for the decrease in auto thefts, but as you can see by the chart, rape cases, and burglaries have seen an uptick.  And aggravated assaults have remained steady.

I don't mind looking on the bright side of things.  If Judith Zaffirini wants to tout her voting record while public schools are in disarray due to republican policies, who am I to say anything?  And if Mayor Salinas wants to earnestly present crime figures that make him look good, then so be it.

The last thing I want to do is to instill fear in people.  I think Laredo is a safe place to live in.  I never feel like I have to be looking over my shoulder constantly when I'm out and about.  But with so many stories of assault, and robberies, I stop to think why I never witness any of this firsthand.  I'm better off, sure, not being witness to what Laredo's ne'erdowells have to offer, but how can I call myself 'Laredo's Most Imposing Blogger' if I'm constantly kept out of the loop, so to speak.

Be safe out there.  And oh yeah, stop it with the tattoos.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Border Violence Talk Goes On






Letter appeared in today's LMT (which I did not get delivered to my home, thank you)

Normally I wouldn't see the point in law enforcement officials warning Americans not to travel to Mexico since most people have stayed away for some time now.  But for the graduating class of San Agustin High School, somebody saw it fit for them to travel to a popular beach destination south of the border at the end of the 2011 school year.  So no matter how much we may know not to spend too much time over there, some will go anyway; and this is why the warnings have to be released.

Take A Ride



I know young people use the bus to get to school, or college.  But I wonder if they use it for other things, like going to the mall or visit friends.  I've used the bus at times throughout my life.  The experience has a somewhat liberating feel to it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Keeping The Garden Going






It's tough keeping things lush with the triple-digit temperatures, and lack of rain, we have had on a daily basis.

The Wilsons choose drought-tolerant plants such as rosemary, purple fountaingrass, old roses and redbuds to complement the mesquites and oaks in front of their house. They water judiciously, giving everything a weekly drink. "We're keeping our plants right above brown," Karen Wilson says. "They are wilted, but when the next rain hits - and there will be more rain - everything will look better."

I'm not one to water every day.  If the plants start looking pale and dry, I'll let them go.  One thing I've started doing recently is recycling my dish water.  That water I'll pour on the smaller, newer plants.  





County CAA Program






This whole thing has wound up like an episode of "The Apprentice":  the project manager takes the heat while his/her crew lives another day. 

Issues With Luis Uranga

El Reportero Urbano and I recorded a podcast yesterday, but due to technical issues and other obligations, I was just able to post it right now.  Enjoy our little talk.

   

   
   
   
   
   
   

   
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Friday, July 8, 2011

Sabrina

If you're bored this weekend, skip on over to the other side now that there is no longer a threat to kill/kidnap Laredoans, and check out Sabrina, star of a number of Mexican shows, including "La Escuelita" and "La Hora Pico," at the Penthouse Men's Club. Info above found in the LMT.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

El Fua



In Laredo we need more people with the power of the "Fua."  So many problems could be solved with this force. 

Comentario de El Reportero Urbano: "siempre se ha dicho que los ninos y los borrachos siempre dicen la verdad."

Sweep Away with Water

Some folks at El Manana are up in arms about some Greyhound employees sweeping the sidewalk with water. While inclined to give them a break, the picture does show Laredo Pride, baby.

Visit Laredo

What makes Laredo?
The countless strip malls with their vast concrete parking lots sprawling for miles have about as much character as our local governments. This is what we're supposed to be Laredo Proud about?
When a friend visited a couple of months ago, I suggested we go kayaking on the Rio Grande.  The last time I was on a small boat was during (Cub Scout) summer camp.  Nevertheless, I thought it would be a cinch paddling down the river.  The only problem would be tracking down the people who actually run the kayak tours locally. 

Apart from that, I would probably suggest taking my friends to El Meson de San Agustin in historic* downtown Laredo.  We could enjoy good food and casually take in some of old Laredo.
There could be something else that I could plan for family and friends that visit, but I don't know if it is much of a draw for tourists.  The Planetarium is nice to experience but I don't think it would have visitors begging for more. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Killing in the Name Of...

The Casey Anthony trial has come to a close. The only thing left is sentencing for the defendant Thursday morning. Who knows what will happen to her? Who cares now? You can't re-try her for anything in regards to the death of her daughter Caylee.



Another "Not Guilty" verdict in a high profile case; another crime without any resolution; another jury that leaves many of us dumbstruck! People will forget about this case soon enough, and then there will be another crime and victim that captures our attention...unfortunately.

Alonzo Ramos And Abe Martinez

Sentencing date moved to Aug. 1

By DENISE BLAZ
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 2:29 AM CDT
A sentencing date for recently convicted local attorney Alonzo Ramos has been rescheduled for August 1, according to court records.
The 40-year-old attorney faces up to five years in federal prison along with a $250,000 fine.
He was originally scheduled to receive his sentence Tuesday.
In February, Ramos pled out in Dallas courtroom after admitting he helped facilitate the distribution of nearly $50,000 in drug trafficking proceeds.

What's up with delaying sentencings till August?  Alonzo Ramos and Abe Martinez have had their cases delayed until next month.  One thing that could quell my nervous anticipation is to have a Nancy Grace type rail against these delays. 



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Water-Taking


If things are just there for the taking, of course somebody is going to help themselves to them.














UPDATE:  At tonight's city council meeting, mention was made of the activity outlined in the letter to the editor (video link below).

The video clip I'm including in this post is of the Utilities Director, Mr. Tomas Rodriguez, suggesting to city council that the water conservation plan be put back into effect.  As soon as he does that, the city manager emphasizes that it would only be on a temporary basis.

I really don't know why city council would do away with water restrictions at all (watering on designated days depending on your address number), especially when we've gotten such little rain.  But apparently we haven't had any restrictions since last year.  For the city manager to suggest that a re-implementation of water conservation be temporary is mind boggling.

People who are scraping by make it a point to watch their water use.  We may see people watering the street, but the ones who use the most water are the ones who have large, lush lawns.  The ones who use the most water have monthly water bills in the triple digits.  In suggesting temporary water conservations efforts, it seems that council, and the city manager, don't want to upset those with private sprinkler systems and luxurious yards.

In the video, Mr. Rodriguez notes that people are not aware that water restrictions had been lifted some time ago. 

<iframe width="640" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/YAE6ZPmvwm8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Good Intentions Backfire, Literally

I now know that rules apply only to those who can't throw their influence around.  For those that have connections or financial means, laws can be sidestepped.  Thankfully karma steps in sometimes to remind us that things can't be ignored.  Let's rewind several days.
"You know we have that fireworks ban so we were lucky enough to get that permit and we're excited about it and we'll of course have the fireworks at the end of the evening so everybody can come out and enjoy and we've got some really special things in store for folks, some fireworks I'm sure they've never seen."
While the state is experiencing drought, wildfires, extreme heat and budget shortfalls, some locals decided it would be a good idea to shoot off some fireworks for old times' sake.  And then somebody thought, 'yeah, that's great; here's a permit!'

What happens next would be comical if it wasn't for two people being hauled off to the hospital.

Message to Big Buck Country (98.1 FM):  stay away from fireworks for a while.

Our leaders are constantly trying to protect us from that which will do us harm:  beer run dancing girls; car thieves; transparency; etc.  We, however, ignore their warnings and take things into our own hands.  What's unfortunate is when ordinances are put in place, but not enforced; And worse yet is when those who are in charge of public safety end up being enablers to our undoing.

I don't know if anybody is going to pay for a fire being started, or for two people being hurt, but today I can appreciate the power of cliches.  Don't play with fire.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July


It's the 4th of July! Time to enjoy flags, apple pie, and baseball this day of indepence. It made me think of Laredo's new baseball park which is not open and the new mascot which will come.

To the north, the Amarillo Sox team had their own issue with its mascot, a giant yellow and brown sock.

According to the Amarillo Globe News, the Sock mascot had a certain little problem as it walked around the ballpark. The problem? Oh, it had a rather large thing sticking out. According to the Globe News, this was a problem:
The Sox mascot was supposed to look like a sock but looked nothing like General Manager Bob Lee had requested. Instead of a soft looking sock-type mascot from nearly head-to-toe, the foot portion of the sock stuck straight out about 2 feet at the waist.
According to the general manager that's not the way they wanted to go.
"It was not the way I wanted it," Lee said. "I'm very disappointed in the lady who did it, and I've told her so. She is going to fix it to the changes we want. I want to say on the record, if we offended anybody, I apologize."
Allrighty then. Apologies all around for the obscene mascot with the woody. Back to the drawing board!

Holiday Round-Up






I try to get in as much activity as I can on a daily basis.  At work I'll get up and walk around the facility to log in as many steps as I can.  Then at home I'll go out for a jog or a bike ride.  But I've noticed that as I've gotten older, the energy level just isn't there, and joints start to act up when I overdo things.  Still I have to make an effort if I plan to run this year's Guajolote 10K Race.

LaredoTejas discusses local language usage:  the 'forf' of July.  I used to get a kick when friends would say 'libary' instead of library.  Why just yesterday I heard a newscaster say 'Roriguez' instead of Rodriguez.  That happens quite a bit.  I'm not going to say who it was but it isn't hard to find out for yourself.

Critters and Crayons put up the blue bag schedule.  I'll do my part to recycle.

Of course with this being a holiday, we have to have parade coverage.   QF.

Wake Up Laredo is gearing up for something new.

Tex[t]-Mex keeps up with local happenings from afar.

Spicy Mustache keeps the music humming along.  Big ups to Outkast!

And Jobsanger never disappoints when it comes to political issues.  And I agree -- if we think we're a Christian nation, we should act like one.



Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Thread

I know there are a lot of things in the news but I just don't feel like writing or commenting.  What about you?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Winner of best-dressed councilman is . . .

On the topic of ballparks, we caught a glimpse of Councilman extraordinaire, Esteban Rangel at a recent photo op, kissing babies and lifting shovels. More importantly, we caught him voguing for the camera.

He stopped for a photo and we noticed that his attire would fit right in as a kept man in an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County.

We loved the slightly frayed designer jeans and the sports jacket over the designer button down. But, the cherry on top were his new sunglasses. If you recall from a recent post, he was fond of the white, designer shades.

So, to Esteban "Anti Thong" Rangel, we salute you! You'd fit right in on Bravo.

The Weekend

Let's start off the 4th of July weekend with a patriotic gesture.  Please stand and click here for the selection.

OK, back to business.  Apparently La Sanbe(r) is teeming once again with street walkers.  The girls at Mami Chulas have been wearing their thongs and dancing suggestively (city ordinance be damned), and now I know why -- police priorities have shifted.  And that's fine because we can't expect Laredo's Finest to be everywhere at all times.  We'll leave that to someone more capable, like Mayor Salinas.