Friday, September 30, 2011

Doing Things With Money

A reader sent in a new development in the saga of one Vikram Datta.  Take a look.



And there's more:



Rick Flores Returns


Rick Flores is running again.  Between him, Louis Bruni, and "El Protector," we here won't be at a loss for material.  Thank you, sir, and good luck.















Never Leave Home Without It


Loop 1604 in San Antonio got some improvements, thanks to federal stimulus funds.  Naturally our very own Henry Cuellar made an appearance, and he didn't forget to take his House of Representatives hall pass seal to make the visit official.  A person of his stature would never be caught dead without his symbolic credentials. 

Politicians are a crazy bunch.  They like to throw their weight around any chance they get.  They like to make speeches for crowds with the use of podiums and silly emblems.  We're supposed to marvel at that, or at least Henry thinks so.  But don't ever deny them the chance to speak, because they'll remember and it'll cost you when you least expect it.

Respect the seal.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Health Problems With Fracking

Really, it's all in your head.
"In general, they tend to be dismissive of individual complaints while expressing an understandable need for further research and concern for the health of individuals, but really shying away from any connection with their own activities," he says.
You can look into it, just don't look at us.

Riting

I love getting press releases that promote literacy, especially those with grammatical errors.

In an effort to enhance the message and themes of the read, the Laredo Public Library hosts several activities, including book discussions, documentary screenings, presentations and collections drives leading up to the culmination of  One City, One Book with the  author lecture, this year taking place next week on October 7 at the Laredo Civic Center. 

This year’s book, “Santiago’s Children,” is author Steve Reifenberg’s memoir of his time spent at an orphanage in Chili, which has a profoundly impact mesasge of how simple it is to make a difference in one’s own community.





The Races


Somewhat awkward but he may do well. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

LISD Town Hall Meeting


LISD officials held town hall meetings at three different sites this evening.  I was surprised to see Dr. Nelson at the Cigarroa Middle School library.  He went over attendance issues, the dress code, and the new STAAR Assessment test, among other things.

Attendance by parents was poor considering the meeting location served all those in south LISD.  Those who did make it out tonight focused too much on the dress code, I think.  Also, it was brought up how teachers are sometimes not available during progress report nights.  And at the end of the meeting, parents voiced their concerns over supposed tutorial services offered to the community by some shady characters.  Apparently there are people out there offering cell phones, and laptops to parents as part of some tutoring program.  This is the first I hear about this, but it sounded like this has been going on for a while now.

The big announcement that was made was that Shirley Field should host its first game of the season a week from tomorrow.  It wasn't mentioned who plays, but I'm sure there'll be a good turnout.


Club For Growth Henry


 Henry Cuellar turned out to be the only Texas democrat to vote for the TRAIN Act.  It's no surprise, really.  He's anti-regulation.  He's been known to be a darling of the right.  And he's really never shown any serious consideration for the environment. 

What's more surprising about his vote is that this bill has no chance of going anywhere.  The Senate has no interest in it, and the White House has said that it would veto it if it reached the president's desk.  So Cuellar didn't have to vote for it.  But he did and only because he needs to show energy companies that he's got their backs.   

It's all good anyway.  It's not like Mercury in the air is going to kill us.

New Music Delayed

Once again, the list of Rock&Roll Hall of Fame nominees came out and it's sure to spur some debate.  While some of the groups I like haven't been given props yet, there are a couple of nominees on the current list that should be inducted, such as The Spinners.  Hall of Fame snubs aside, music lives on for our enjoyment.

For Pink Floyd fans, check out the remastered version of "Dark Side of the Moon".  That album was released in 1973 and it never gets old.
VH1 Classic is celebrating the music of Rush and the Jewish New Year with "Rush Hashana" today.  Interviews, videos, and concert performances will be featured for 24 hours.  Nice.

In new music, Wilco released "Whole Love" yesterday.  I like Wilco.  They're not as dramatic as your typical arena rock band, but they connect with me on some level.  It's like what was said of Jackson Browne's music once -- "He's David Bowie without the art school training." (paraphrasing)

It's all good.

   

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Water

We are ruled by idiots.

Henry Cuellar: Provider Of Grants

Laredo, Texas – Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) will announce more than $49.9 million in federal grants to Texas A&M-International University from various federal agencies for educational initiatives at the university.

Laredo, Texas – Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) announced a federal grant for $3,000,000 for the Laredo International Airport from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Cats Are Welcome


The eyes on that yellow cat are creepy.  Stop creeping me out

Poor

To be successful in this country, a lot of things need to go right.  Hard work, and perseverance can pay off, but having someone or something come in and pull the rug out from under you can make recovery, or even getting off the ground, very difficult.
It also ignores the fact that living in an individualistic, capitalist society carries inherent risk. You can do everything right -- study hard, work diligently, keep your nose clean -- but if you fall victim to a random workplace accident, you can nevertheless end up being disabled in the blink of an eye and find yourself in need of public assistance.

Look at the Cowboys' win last night:  A lot of things went in their favor in order for them to eke out a win.  They fought through injury, and players' lack of understanding of the game plan.  Luck definitely came into play.  Cowboy fan will settle for the win, but I can't help but think that the performance is worrisome.

We may think of the poor as unmotivated scabs who live to game the system, but the odds against them prevent them from moving forward.

Local Headline


I'm a big fan of drama.  Unfortunately this case involves the death of a toddler.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gimme Some WiFi

I guess having WiFi access at the Slaughter Park would enable me to live-blog weekend soccer, or baseball games.  But would I? 


Store Experience

These self checkout stations always made me nervous.  There was always somebody looking over what you were doing, and at some point, I would run into trouble with the machine.  I don't even wanna know what kind of problems I would run into if I had to scan produce.

Laredo Pomegranate


This Pomegranate tree is right in front on my late grandmother's house.  It's been there forever.  As far as I can remember, my grandma would just water it.  She wasn't the type to feed plants any fertilizer, or to prune them on a regular basis.

Lately, we haven't paid it any attention.  But it's done very well considering the extreme heat we've had these last several months.  I'm going to attempt to propagate this one so I can have it featured in my landscape.  It's a beauty when it blooms, and the fact that it needs very little water makes it all the better.

This Part Of Town

Louis Bruni spoke with El Manana about his plans for south Webb County.  He wants to end political favoritism, be a full-time commissioner, donate part of his salary, and bring the area up to par with north Laredo, where all the best things are.  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

He mentions that north Laredo has better things to offer, but I'm not sure what he means by that.  I myself look to north Laredo when I need my bike serviced, or when my curiosity is aroused about what a coffee shop looks like.  Other than that, I don't see much need for north Laredo.

Zapata Highway has seen a lot of development in recent years.  As long as it continues, I think we'll see even more investment in smaller, locally-owned businesses.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Down Time






What does Cowboy fan do when their team isn't playing?

One good thing about this afternoon is that the Patriots lost to the Bills.  Oh, good times.

UPDATE:  Sunday night game - Steelers vs. Colts.  13 to 10, Indy at halftime.  Damn!

He Needs Your Help






Our fearless plastic check presenter needs your help.  Apparently he  needs input from us, the armchair quarterback masses, as far as how to create jobs.  You can submit your two cents by taking this survey.   

OK, here's my suggestion:  brainstorm your ass off, congress, to figure out how to bring down the price of gasoline.  Bring it down to $2.75 or something around that.  Then maybe people would have some disposable income to spend.  Businesses would reap the rewards and possibly hire more people.
And please, don't give me the "drill baby drill" line.  There has to be another way.


The Game


Yes, Mr. Meraz -- you pay us the fees for each 8-liner machine and we'll bust you in a couple of months.  Capice?

Signed, City of Laredo.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Nevermind" Is 20 Years Old

Today marks 20 years that "Nevermind" came out.  Here's a track from the album.


Nirvana was the best thing to happen to rock music in a long time.  Try finding a new rock song nowadays complete with a guitar solo.  Too bad Kurt left us too soon.  

$25,000 Richer


No matter how the board or Mr. Santos spin this, it's still a salary increase.

OK, so the board assumes that Mr. Santos would perform consistently as he has, so they just went ahead and gave him the extra $25 because the performance provision was eliminated.  And that extra money was already factored in to the budget so what the hell?

This is what $223,000 sounds like:
"What the board of trustees approved was that I continue to earn the same salary that I received last school year.  In essence, I did not receive a pay increase."
So your base salary was $223,000?
I really don't have a dog in this race since I don't pay UISD taxes.  I'm just amazed at the casual attitude taken by the board and the super.



Friday, September 23, 2011

Inspirado


Using fake money (coupons) to motivate local students is cute, but I wonder if the sheriff got the idea from H*E*B stores, or from "The Office."


The fact that Dwight Schrute prints his own money to reward employees and says, "There's a new sheriff here in these offices, and his name is me," gives me the impression that Sheriff Martin Cuellar is an "Office" fan.

In last night's season premier of the show, newcomer James Spader assigned all the employees a spot on two lists, winners and losers.  Could Cuellar be working on his own lists?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

R.E.M. is Out of Time


I yelled "NO!" yesterday as I was watching NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams started to announce "the end of an era" as pictures of Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, and Mike Mills floated in the background. I thought for a split second that one of them had died! In actuality R.E.M, one of the original alternative American rock bands, had decided to call it quits after 30 years!
I'll admit I wouldn't call myself a die-hard R.E.M. fan. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I know a lot of their music. There are so many of R.E.M.'s songs that I love, and Michael's Stipe's voice is like no other.

R.E.M., whose original lineup included drummer Bill Berry, were college radio sweethearts from the get-go. I remember watching their videos on MTV's 120 Minutes alternative show and post modern countdowns. I remember songs like "Radio Free Europe," "So. Central Rain," "Daysleeper," and "Nightswimming." They had some early mainstream success with "The One I Love" and the tongue-twister "It's the End of the World as We Know It."

They reached high mainstream popularity with the track "Losing My Religion" from their album "Out of Time." The strange but eye-catching video for that song was MTV's Video of the Year in 1991. The video for the song "Everybody Hurts" from 1992's "Automatic for the People" was filmed on the highways of San Antonio.

1988's "Green" was the first R.E.M. album I bought for myself, in cassette form! I remember absorbing that entire album, hearing every detail of each song. My nieces and nephews would dance along to the videos for "Stand" and "Pop Song '89." My favorite from that first album I bought was "Orange Crush," which still sounds great today.

Public Health And Safety

What happens when another trailer spills sludge on city streets?  I'll tell you what won't happen -- the person being interviewed won't utter the words 'clean' or 'environment.'

Case in point:  City Manager Carlos Villarreal was interviewed by KGNS concerning a new spill and you get the gist of where the city's priorities are.
"We gotta make sure we have a steady balance between jobs and economic level and safety for the public."
He does mention safety there but it's somewhat disingenuous because one of the solutions he offers is to re-route the trailer traffic to Loop 20.  In other words, let the trailers have at it on Loop 20 and not near city hall.

He mentions that a commissioner on environmental quality will come in to train local law enforcement on state guidelines.  That's good, but what about the waste haulers themselves, and the foremen at the drilling sites?  Are they going to be made aware of the penalties and guidelines?  Where's the PSA for this?

The city likes to hand out tickets, and impound vehicles, but it does little to remedy the situation.  And as long as the Eagle Ford Shale pumps money into the local economy, our leaders aren't going to ruffle the feathers of those who are truly cashing in.  They'll just sit back and let the drilling boom work itself out, just as in Cotulla, where residents are being forced out because of higher rents.

This is truly unacceptable because these spills have been occurring for quite some time now, and city hall has done nothing about it.  And it looks like they're not going to do anything about it, either.  The best suggestion that comes from the city manager is to inform local law enforcement of what parameters they have to work with.  As a result, the offenders will pay a fine and they'll go back to posing a health and safety risk for the public all over again.    

The Natives Of Laredo

This summer has definitely been one of the hottest I can remember.  And it has set a record for having the most consecutive days with temperatures reaching 100 degrees or more.  Nice.
Thankfully we have some native plants and trees that can take the heat. 


The picture above was taken back in 2008, but I used it here because the Palo Verde tree is one of those hardy specimens that can thrive in our environment.  Whether or not people want to make it a part of their own landscape is another thing.  You'll definitely see it in the barrio, but in north Laredo, I'm not so sure.

If summers do anything for me it's that they help me re-commit to native plants, shrubs and trees.  I learn to appreciate the value of oleanders, cenizos, and bougainvilleas all over again.  Some of my plants are visibly stressed.  I've already noticed that some of my younger plants have died altogether, but I'm hoping they all won't be a total loss. 

Houston has taken notice of the effect the heat has had on its trees.  I don't know if there's anyone here to take a tally of sorts to see how the drought has affected our landscape.
One thing's for sure:  the three or four blocks just north of bridge 2 have taken a serious beating.  There's practically no grass anymore and a lot of trees need to come down.  It's the perfect time to rethink our landscaping options.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bicyclists' Safety

The elders discussed keeping local bike riders safe at Monday's council meeting.  This all after one bike-riding physician got hurt while out on his bike.  Here's what they recommend.


PSAs are good to remind the public to watch out for bicyclists.  But I think bicyclists have to watch out for themselves.  Motorists are going to get distracted, one way or another.  The best way to keep oneself safe while riding a bike is to practice defensive biking.

This city is really not designed for bike riders.  Hell, it's not even designed for pedestrians.  That's why I like to ride past sunset -- there's less traffic to contend with.

I'll look out for the PSAs but I know that it'll be up to me to keep my butt safe against any and all motorists.


Afternoon Thread


32:  Mayor Salinas applies a coat of Minstrel Heart, Benjamin Moore color 1297, to a backwall at the Casa de Misericordia shelter.

Stuff courtesy of the City of Laredo.

Chacon Creek Cleanliness


KLDO had the story of Oscar Gonzalez on their broadcast last night.  Apparently he was employed by the city as a groundskeeper.  Last week he was suddenly let go without any explanation.  He tried contacting his supervisors to no avail.

Apart from being given the runaround, he told the reporter that city staff was dumping trash and branches along the Chacon Creek.  Little feedback was provided from one city staff member who was interviewed.
KLDO will follow up on this story, and I as well. 

When I took part in the Chacon Trail hike some weeks ago, I did notice a lot of branches piled up at different points of the route.  Trash and tires were littered in the creek.  It'll be interesting to find out what explanation the city gives for this development.  I only hope they're more than forthcoming with details when the Univision affiliate comes knocking.

Because You're Worth It


And of course, he accepted.

On the upside of this great news is that somebody is getting a new car!!!!
The downside is that 200,000 or so Laredoans are going to have a crappy day today knowing that they're never going to make superintendent kind of cash.
But let's not put a damper on somebody else's parade.  After all, there's always a reason to celebrate in Laredo.  Congratulations, Robert Santos. 



City Service Art


The local blogging community is largely made up of west siders.  Go figure.  But the people of the Heights/Las Lomas have something to offer as well: street art. 

The piece pictured above is called "Cushioned Defiance."  The sofa clearly gives its back to traffic, a refusal to abide by cultural norms.  A strong statement, indeed, from a peaceful-hued piece of furniture.

Well done.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Broken Romo






Tony Romo showed his mettle this weekend by getting back in the game after a hard hit.  It was learned much later that apart from a fractured rib, he sustained a punctured lung.  That's tough in my eyes.  But I think Cowboy fan will still be suspicious of his ability, especially late in every game.

Glass Half Full


City and county staff have been all aflutter about a distribution center setting up shop in town.
"Our city is open for business opportunities in our community and to make a difference in the local economy, but also with the aim of raising the level of quality of life by attracting good-paying jobs," Salinas added.
The mayor was certainly making the rounds in regards to this new development, and he made it a point to underscore the fact that the jobs would pay $11.33 per hour.

That wage would certainly infuse a lot of money into the local economy if in fact 100 positions were to be created and if those positions were full-time.  But I don't know if I would go as far as to say that a job that pays $11.33 is a "good-paying" job. 

A full-time employee at that wage would make $23,566.40 a year.  That's a good supplemental salary, but it comes into question when the median income level in Webb County is 37K, and when you take poverty level numbers into account.


This opening of the distribution center is good news, but we can't ignore, or overstate, the effect it's going to have on people's actual quality of life.  A lot of people can make $23,000 work in their favor, but I can't help but think that things would get complicated.   

We may be the number 1 inland port, but what exactly do we have to show for it?  What say you?

Let Me See If You Can Dance This Right Here

A reader sent this in for our consideration.  Enjoy.


A group of United students show us they're all into the "Let's Move" campaign, a push to promote healthier living standards to our nation's youth.  I like it.  And who better to get us moving than Beyonce.  Her music is perfect for a good workout.

I might incorporate this dance into my workout routine.  And since my wife is a huge Beyonce fan, I think she'll approve.  Question now is:  how soon before this dance makes it to the local mascot faceoff? 

Willie Bote: Avatar Edition


Yesterday I put out my cracked trash can, not knowing if it would hold up against the garbage truck's claw.  I figured the damaged Willie Bote would further crack and make a mess at pick-up time.  When I would get home, I thought there would be pieces of the receptacle, along with bags of trash, strewn all over the curb.

But to our surprise, we found a replacement can situated near our gate.  Notice how I didn't say new can.  The USED bote had our address written on the lid.  I was left to wonder what exactly happened to our old can, and what exactly goes on at pick-up time.

At any rate, I have to give props to the Solid Waste Dept.  Thanks for replacing my trash can with not so much as a phone call from me. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

City Council Monday

Council, at the behest of one Esteban Rangel, will discuss the possibility of opening up the Laredo Energy Arena to the public for ice skating at no charge, El Manana reports.  It might not necessitate lengthy debate, but I'll get my popcorn ready anyhow.

Cloudiness


Pictured above is the calm before the long overdue sprinkling yesterday afternoon.  Actually, the rain stayed for a good fifteen minutes, more or less; Enough so to provide our stressed out vegetation some relief.

My favorite moment during the rain was seeing all of my mom's neighbors standing on their porches, marveling at the anomalous event.  Rain has a soothing effect on a person, but going outside to actually witness the rain has more to do with our sense of disbelief. 

Saturday night we got a pretty good light show coming in from eastern Webb Co.  The lightning forced the Nixon band to leave Krueger Field early.  The football game went on.  Hey, priorities are priorities.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh Good Lord!



I appreciate the effort from Kash, but I have a hard time believing that his audience would go for something like this.  I may be wrong.  Hip Hop and politics are a natural fit, but I don't know that the natives are all that concerned about the issues.  Still, I gotta give props to the man for putting this out there.

Downtown!

At Monday's Commissioners Court meeting, we got a better sense of what two local businessmen intend to do to revitalize downtown Laredo.  And we learn how it all came about.
It was discussions over Danny's 1.  As you know, this restaurant is his first restaurant and it's been in the heart of downtown Laredo for a long time; And (he) mentioned that it wasn't doing as well as the other restaurants -- and you know, the restaurant chain is very successful.  And we were talking about expanding into different markets, so it caught me by surprise.  And I guess my simple response to him was, 'let's do something about that.'
Supposedly, some businesses have made some type of commitment to set up shop in downtown Laredo.  And I have seen some activity at the Plaza Theater ever since I found out the Victor Trevino and Danny Lopez Jr. were taking on the task of breathing life back into the area.

Part of me hopes that this revitalization project will work, but the other side tells me that the locals have grown accustomed to the strip mall routine where shops are near each other and parking is convenient.

Interestingly enough, a Laredoan is helping revive an old San Antonio neighborhood near the downtown area.  His approach revolves around the idea of restoring old homes and selling them to people who work downtown.  That could work here as well, but somebody else would have to take the lead on that one.

Something has to happen because this whole downtown thing has been discussed for some time now







This One Has Legs






Councilman Charlie San Miguel has certainly made a name for himself quick, but not for the better.  Ever since he proposed the idea of praying at the start of council meetings, he was met with opposition and disdain.  Several of his colleagues suggested a moment of silence instead of a prayer, but he kept pushing the issue, wanting prayer to become a part of city business.  The whole thing might just go away, but now San Miguel has become a punchline.

Now go pray if that's your thing.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jail Compliance



This will come in handy for those that have an interest in this sort of thing.

Oops!

In its push for helping the economy rebound, the Obama administration staked its claim on a solar panel company called Solyndra.  It was supposed to be the wave of the future -- clean energy and the jobs that came with it.  $500 million in public investment later, the company went belly up.  Add to the government's risk-taking a little quid pro quo and you have the makings of "that custom-tailored Obama scandal" a lot of people have been waiting for.

Stranger Amongst Us


Of course the locals are going to root for the homegrown kid.
The Laredo Republicans had a natural tilt toward Rick Perry, who graces the cover of TIME Magazine this week, and I do agree that he comes across well, on occasion, with Republican audiences who buy his wacko notion that anything the government does is socialism. The Republican desire to question even the most basic staples of governance, like Social Security, reflects a more general desire among moderates and even many liberals to take stock of what we’re doing and hash out some basic principles, given the economic fix we’re in.
He's not perfect by any means, but it looks like he's the best shot they've got.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Festivities






The masses were out tonight at San Agustin Plaza to celebrate el diez y seis de Septiembre.  "El grito" took place at 9 p.m.  I was at home with the family having a chicken dinner.

Willie Bote Blues


Monday was trash day.  I always like trash day because I get the sense that I've accomplished something.  Anyway, I was dismayed when I saw a big crack on the side of my Willie Bote that afternoon.  The thing already had a small break near the wheel.  I'm thinking the claw that lifts the can was a bit too forceful, but my better half thinks somebody rammed into it with their car or truck.  I'll find out Monday if the thing is still useful.

Grounds For Divorce

When a couple is faced with adultery and a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease, the medical condition has to be the deal breaker.  The adulterer should sever all ties with the disease-stricken spouse and move on.

Gotta Make It In This World


Copyright infringement is going to new heights locally, allegedly.
"She makes her sew her own design and she cuts off the original designer's label ."
Sorta puts the use of SpongeBob on a snow cone truck to shame.

Daniel Gomez And Stanley Jimenez Honored


Les Norton and Robert Norton of Ralph Norton & Sons, Inc. invited Mayor Salinas to a special celebration for Daniel Gomez, an employee with La Perla/La Fama Dept. Store who has worked at the store for 60 years and Stanley Jimenez, an employee with Sulak’s Mens Store for the past 54 years.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Border Issues Thread

Jesse Degollado of KSAT news will be speaking with Nuevo Laredo's mayor tonight at ten.

UPDATE:
See story here.

Prayer In Laredo


I have no problem with people praying.  I just think there's a time and place for it. 

Charlie San Miguel should stick to his campaign message of focusing on jobs and the city budget.  The Jesus fish on his signs is a nice touch but it's not for everyone.  




Opinion piece appeared in today's LMT.





Bike Cave






Those bikes would be easy pickings if they weren't twenty feet up in the air.

Really


Apparently LISD has some reserve funds that they can tap in to, and Valdez wants to use those monies to help stimulate the local economy.  Is that what the raises are supposed to do?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lazy Song For A Sleepy Town

We're still getting triple-digit temperatures but it just doesn't feel as hot as it did two weeks ago.  It's almost as if a new chapter is beginning, and the title of it is:  the Steelers are aging fast.  NFL aspirations aside, Rocktober is almost here and the weather gets cooler.  One can probably go out without having to worry about melting in the middle of the day.  Before you know it, yours truly will be running the Guajolote 10K again.  From there it's all downhill.  The holiday blues set in.  Let's pause for a while and enjoy some new music from Blitzen Trapper.  Their new album, "American Goldwing" is out today.

Just Let Him Die


Having a couple of minutes to answer whether or not a person in a coma with no health coverage should be left to die is impractical.  But for Ron Paul to suggest that churches help people with medical bills is too simplistic a solution.  Religious groups are generally viewed as generous and giving, but I don't think they could cover a sick person's mounting hospital fees. 

The church where I grew up in pulls in approximately $10,000 every weekend after they pass around the plate.  How far do you think that's going to go? 

A person who chooses to go without health insurance is definitely taking risks.  He or she might decide to forego treatment and simply die.  But if that person goes into a coma, the decision won't be left up to them, let alone rabid attendees at a GOP debate.  The family will step in, and what comes next gets more complicated.

Revitalizing Downtown


Since I didn't Tivo the commissioners court meeting yesterday, I don't exactly know how Victor Trevino and Danny Lopez Jr. expect to revitalize the downtown area.  Bringing the Plaza Theater back to life is a good start, but where do you go from there?

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Jobs For Laredo/Webb


The mayor likes to go on t.v. to show how city staff is responsible for bringing us new jobs.  But as El Manana reports today, county officials were going to work out details with said

Wined And Dined Thread


Green Energy In Laredo

Yesterday I saw an ad for South Texas Solar Systems in the LMT.  The company offers solar units and wind turbines for people to generate power for their homes.  I have seen some people install solar panels on their houses locally, but I don't know that the majority would go for something like this.

I can't wait to see if this company will compete with those Green Mountain guys who are always stationed at the entrance to HEB.  Better yet, I can't wait for the comadres to do a Solar Systems commercial.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

8.4 Million

There's a lot of hype for this place when it looks a lot like UISD's S.A.C.





Crossing The Bridge To Laredo


I don't remember how long it used to take us to cross back into Laredo back in the early 80s, but it certainly takes a while now.
That's had an impact on commerce. Les Norton, whose family owns three stores in the downtown Laredo shopping district full of shops that offer “ mayoreo y menudeo” (wholesale and retail) products primarily to Mexican customers who walk across the international bridge, said increased scrutiny makes it harder for shoppers to enter the U.S. and longer lines discourage them.
Sign of the times.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Blogging

I'll think of something.

UPDATE:


In observance of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, KHOY will broadcast a special program called:
“A solemn memorial honoring the victims, their families, first responders and every American. 9-1-1... The day that changed America. On the 10th anniversary... KHOY remembers.”
First responders including fire, police, city, state and federal officials give their thoughts and impressions on the events of September 11th and how the nation and Laredo has been impacted by this event.
This program will air on the following days and times: Sunday, September 11th at 7:46 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. Monday, September 12th at 10:00 a.m. & 9:00 p.m.

I normally wouldn't post something like this, but seeing as how 9-11 specials will dominate this weekend, I figured it makes sense.

UPDATE:


It's not even Friday night and we already have a fire hydrant down. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Season Thread

It's a *jobs speech* - *NFL start* kinda night.

Battleground: Webb County

Court awards tax contract as judge, lawyer spar

By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Thursday, September 8, 2011 1:19 PM CDT
The relationship between Webb County Judge Danny Valdez and County Attorney Anna Cavazos Ramirez appeared to reach a new low Wednesday.
The latter asked Commissioners Court members to fill out a conflicts statement before awarding a delinquent tax collection contract, sparking a sharp exchange with the judge.
Cavazos Ramirez explicitly mentioned Valdez’s friendship with Judge Raul Vasquez and Commissioner Jaime Canales’ employment with United Independent School District as matters of concern.
After the county CAA program was found to have been operating, oh, how should I put this, INCOMPETENTLY! and with conflicts of interest, you would think that the powers that be would take the issue of nepotism seriously, but instead they act like children. 
When Ms. Anna Cavazos Ramirez brought up possible conflicts of interest to commissioners court, everybody sniped at her.  The only one who didn't get defensive was Frank Sciaraffa.  But he's another story for another time.  The only argument made by the court that could pass as legitimate is that Ms. A.C.R. could do the tax collection in-house and then gain politically come election time.  She could use that as a talking point to win votes.  But I think she made a good point when trying to explain the reason for not outsourcing delinquent tax collection.
...the money that is paid out to the delinquent tax attorneys is money that could've gone into your coffers; it is money that is limited for our taxpayers.
Instead of reaching out to taxpayers, commissioners court wants to tack on an additional 15% to people's taxes by having private attorneys collect on past due accounts.
Now, it's kind of ironic that Ms. A.C.R. wants to take on the task while in office when she benefitted from the tax collection contract in the past.  But I find disturbing the behavior of Danny Valdez, Jaime Canales, Jerry Garza, and Rosaura Tijerina.  Here they have their attorney offering some advice after all that has happened, and they get snooty.  However biased Ms A.C.R. may be in this situation, she deserves to be heard without having to be put through the wringer.
Check out the exchange below, courtesy of the LMT

Emphasis mine. 

While You're At Work

The City of Laredo Building Development Services Department along with the Laredo Builders Association will host a meeting on September 8th , 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at the Laredo Civic Center.  The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss the registration of General Contractors and Sub Contractors.  Council Member Jorge A. Vera invites the Community to provide input and concerns.

Yes.  Public input is encouraged.  At a time when everybody is at work!!!

(Above is press release from city staff)

Mess On Our Roads

Video of sludge spilling on our streets was captured by two individuals yesterday.  The rig hauling the material didn't have any license plates. 

LareDOS wrote up the incident.

Though the driver was in CDL compliance, the trailer filled with his nasty cargo was not. It had only one brake working instead of four, and, according to the LPD inspector, the trailer box and its shape “was not made to carry liquids.” He said the trailer had no cover, that it was filled to capacity, and its seals were cracked or broken.
The city, county, and UISD are thankful for all the revenue that's coming from drilling, but we get stuck with having to drive around this liquid waste, and public crews have to take time out of their busy schedules to clean it up.  Minor details to endure when "nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground."


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Now More Than Ever, Religion Is Important"

To say that city council was divided on the issue of praying at the start of their meetings would be inaccurate.  What I saw was Councilmember San Miguel pushing for prayer and several others settling for a moment of silence.  The mayor, and San Miguel for that matter, noted the need for religion in these calamitous times.  But I don't think that qualifies as a reason to allow it during city council meetings.  If anything, I think it would do more for their own personal state of mind and not much else.

I wanted to hear a good argument from Mr. San Miguel on why they should go through the trouble of having "legislative prayers" before a meeting, but the only thing that was offered was the fact that the state legislature does it.  Not a good case to make especially for a pessimistic constituency. 

If local public reaction to prayer during meetings was negative in the past, because of an odd invocation or because it was done at all, it might mean that the public is more attuned to the happenings of the city, and they made their voices be heard. 

Councilman Garza's take says it all.
I think that if we do a moment of silence as part of our agenda, we're not imposing anything on anybody.
He mentioned that when it was done in 2006, it was done as a good gesture.  But I have to ask:  Good for whom, and for what?

Not Good For Our Neighbors

Big trouble in NL

House fires and kidnappings — and nobody's talking

By MIGUEL TIMOSHENKOV
LAREDO MORNING TIMES
Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 2:06 AM CDT
A group of people kidnapped, the movement of five children to Casa Hogar and 20 house fires in a week are related cases authorities in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, are investigating.

Five children, ranging from 2 months to 7 years old, were in Casa Hogar — run by Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF), Mexico’s social services agency run by the city— as of Tuesday afternoon after their parents had been reported kidnapped, their whereabouts unknown.

Suegra's Birthday Thread

Cue the waiters for the birthday song.

And I want to send a shout out to a new site in town, DrinkLaredo.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I See A Hint






I was asked what this Louis Bruni campaign sign meant, with the 40K at the top.  At first I thought it was the number of votes he needed to win, but then I realized that 40,000 people don't even vote in all of Webb.  I asked a buddy of mine and he figured that this is the amount of money that Frank Sciaraffa supposedly still owes Bruni.

That could be it, but we'll wait for confirmation from another source. 

For those unfamiliar with local politics, Sciaraffa and Bruni were once on speaking terms.  Money was said to have been exchanged and never paid back.  Now here we are with both men going head to head for a commissioners spot, and one of them is jabbing the other with snarky signs.  Classy.  Always classy.


Prayer Break

Inserting a moment of prayer into city council meetings wouldn't bother me if I was like the 99% of Laredoans who didn't watch the proceedings, but I'm not so it does.  Honestly, it's not that big a deal, but the reasoning behind the move seems trivial.  Doing something just because someone else does it is juvenile. 

Laredo mostly votes Democrat, so the idea of having someone on our city council push for prayer is amazing, to say the least.  Democrats are more likely to recognize the idea of separation of church and state.  That's not to say that there aren't any pro-life demos out there.  It just might be that people vote not really knowing what they stand for, or what the party stands for.  They just go along with the crowd, and Mr. San Miguel's motion looks just like that. 

Whatever the outcome, I think this issue will tell us a lot about the council's intellectual capacity.  If the whole discussion tonight revolves around let's-do-it-because-the-Tx-legislature-does-it, then we're in big trouble.  I'm looking for thoughtfulness tonight.  I may be asking for too much.

UPDATE:

Prayer has been done before at city hall, but it lead to a less than productive outcome.  See video for explanation.





Ribbon Cutting

The Honorable Mayor, Raul G. Salinas & Members of the Laredo City Council invite all Laredoans for the unveiling of the new walking track.  District VIII residents can now enjoy a pleasant walk on the complete soft surface track around their local high school, elementary school, Veteran’s Field and the Civic Center while staying fit and enhance their health.   This project was an investment of $235,800.00 thru Discretionary Funds and the 35th Action Year CDBG Funds. 

This event takes place Thursday, September 8 at 10:00 a.m.  I think that's so less people will show up and the city won't have to worry about offering refreshments or anything. 

I got to ride on the new cushy track the other night when I took my bike out for a spin.  The turf dragged a bit, but I'm sure runners and walkers will appreciate it.  I'll have to resort to riding next to the cars.  

(Press release courtesy of city staff

Wasted Water

Dealing with water line breaks isn't so much of an inconvenience.  Hell, you can capture some of the runoff with buckets to water your lawn.  The real problem is what comes after the gusher is capped.


The clean-up that has to be done afterwards is a pain in the ass.  Cars pass over the patched spot -- usually caliche or some sort of gravel -- and dirt flies everywhere.  It all ends up on your car and streaks mark the whole street. 

Here's a thought:  instead of introducing prayer resolutions into city council meetings, why not come up with a rule that says anytime a patch job is done, the city has to clean up after itself.  If you are put out in some way, your next water bill is on the house.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Xeriscaping Laredo: LISD Facility Edition


The new LISD food processing center looks pretty nice, and I have to give props to the ones in charge of the landscaping.  Throughout the exterior you see a good helping of native plants.  And even though the design team stuck to some drought-tolerant staples, I'm glad that they used mesquite trees to offer shade for visitors and employees. 


A mesquite could've been planted in this section, even with the power lines overhead.  All they would need to worry about is some regular pruning, but the crape myrtle is a good choice. 

This job gets LaSanbe's seal of approval.