Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Selection

I didn't know Laredo had so many book clubs.  Could it be that the natives actually like to read?  Here's some news from one of those book clubs, the Gateway City Book Lovers Club.

If you prefer books with a more inspirational message, then the Gateway City Book Lover’s Club is for you.  This month, the club has selected “Stones into School” by Greg Mortenson.

“Mortenson’s best-seller, Three Cups of Tea (2009), introduced his commitment to peace through education and became a book-club phenomenon. He now continues the story of how the Central Asia Institute (CAI) built schools in northern Afghanistan. Descriptions of the harsh geography and more than one near-death experience impress readers as new faces join Mortenson’s loyal “Dirty Dozen” as they carefully plot a course of school-building through the Badakshan province and Wakhan corridor. Mortenson also shares his friendships with U.S. military personnel, including Admiral Mike Mullen, and the warm reception his work has found among the officer corps. The careful line CAI threads between former mujahideen commanders, ex-Taliban and village elders, and the American soldiers stationed in their midst is poetic in its political complexity and compassionate consideration. Using schools not bombs to promote peace is a goal that even the most hard-hearted can admire, but to blandly call this book inspiring would be dismissive of all the hard work that has gone into the mission in Afghanistan as well as the efforts to fund it. Mortenson writes of nothing less than saving the future, and his adventure is light years beyond most attempts. Mortenson did not reach the summit of K2, but oh, the heights he has achieved.” – Colleen Mondor

The Gateway City Book Lovers Club will meet on Wednesday, November 16, 2011, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the Laredo Public Library 1120 E. Calton Road, 1st floor conference room, to discuss this book.  The book is available for check-out at the Reference Desk at the Laredo Public Library.


Three Cups of Tea is a good read.  I truly found it inspiring how one man could have the determination to take on such a difficult task of building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I truly got the sense that the man (Greg Mortensen) was moving mountains.

But then controversy set in.

Details in his first book came into question, and the accounting of funds in his non-profit organization, the Central Asia Institute, has allegedly been lax, to put it mildly.  Apparently he was never kidnapped by the Taliban, as he wrote in his book;  And the story of being helped by villagers when he descended from K2 is not true. 

People don't contend that he's done great work for the children of Pakistan, but they call into question his motives and assertions.  Again, Three Cups of Tea is a great read.  I just hope people think twice about donating to his charity.  So with that in mind, check out Greg's second book, Stones Into Schools, and tell the Book Lovers Club that Keyrose sent you.

60 Minutes did a story on Greg's journey, warts and all.  Check it out, if you have the time.




 


Cuellar Vs. Flores, Again

The Cuellar name carries a lot of clout around here.  I don't see the sheriff losing next year to the former Webb Co. lawman.  The runoff vote count last time around was very close, but Martin Cuellar may very well be a lifelong representative, ala Henry, Judith, Richard, etc.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dance

Is the Mami Chulas trend spreading?
San Antonio police accuse Luna of allowing a 16-year-old girl to dance atop a counter in skimpy clothing at her Mexican restaurant.
Is that even sanitary?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is It Real?






On her blog, Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren posted, and took issue with, a supposed letter written by the finance assistant from "Texans for Henry Cuellar."  The letter was allegedly sent out to supporters to raise funds for Cuellar after Susteren called out the congressman for a heated debate he had with two generals. 

The Fox employee now thinks Cuellar is rude and a liar with what is now being said in the mailer.  Van Susteren picked up on the fundraising letter from a piece that appeared in the Rio Grande Guardian nine days ago.


My problem with this is that neither Greta, nor Mr. Taylor from the Guardian, post any proof of the actual letter.  I would expect the RGG to give us an example of the writing since it's an online publication, but no dice. 

This supposed "Texans for Henry Cuellar" letter may all be on the up and up, but I'm a little suspicious since I can't find anything on the Cuellar support group, or anything on Ms. Jessica Hernandez, the finance assistant.

I emailed Mr. Taylor so he can shed some light on the origins of the letter.  Again, this all may be legit, but for now, I have my doubts, especially given that Greta's blog post is pretty lame.


Spillover, But Not That Kind

Slate has a pretty interesting -- and scary for that matter -- story about the possibility of Gonorrhea eventually being resistant to all antibiotics available today. 

In the past, the disease was treated with Penicillin, but Gonorrhea figured out a way to get around it, so to speak.  Now it seems to be doing the same with the last antibiotic out there to combat it. 

Now, before you start thinking that I may have some sort of personal experience with The Clap, stop right there.  This muchacho has never had to deal with any drip.  The reason I felt like posting about this is because of the way it was addressed in the past.  Just take a look at the picture above to see what I mean.  The slide show that Slate provided of old anti-gonorrhea campaign posters pretty much tells me that the disease(s) was given a feminine face, as if men weren't culprits in spreading the bacteria.  I laugh at their (posters) absurdity but also lament that they're so derogatory towards women.  

Anyway, I wonder if the City of Laredo would ever use this sort of message to warm the public of the perils of Gonorrhea.  It would be a trip to see something like it on billboards, or on public access television.  But things would have to be drastic, I guess, in order for that to happen.  I don't think we're at that point yet.



A 2003 UT Health Science Center study found that infection rates along the border were lower than the state average.  One explanation for it was the public's ability to purchase antibiotics in Mexico without a prescription. 



 But now that people are staying away from Nuevo Laredo, it makes sense that we should eventually see a rise in the severity, and number of sexually transmitted diseases.  Add to that the fact that Planned Parenthood centers in Texas are being defunded so much so that they have no choice but to close.  Poor people will not have that access to primary care, and thus, the statistics will change for the worse. 

Life on the border has its drawbacks.  Pretty soon we might see it become more difficult.  Whether we'll ever see a funny, albeit sexist, Gonorrhea campaign in Laredo like in the past remains to be seen.

Stay healthy, my friends.

Really?


I've been known to do things half-assed, but I can surely attest that I would've done a much better job on this wall than what's there.

I don't mind the code switching theme so much, but for gawd's sake, keep it straight!!!

UIL Marching Competition: Laredo Edition






All the Laredo bands competed in the yearly UIL marching contest this past Saturday.  But instead of traveling to Alice -- or Robstown as in my case back in the day -- everybody performed at the new Shirley Field Sports Complex.  Por favor.  I got word that it was done in order to save money on travel.

Anyway, all the bands got a good rating, except two:  Martin and Cigarroa.  I didn't get to see them perform so I can't comment on their show.  But one source told me that 28 Martin band members failed a class or several, so that precluded them from participating.  As a result, you could see large holes in the band's formations on the field.  Not a good day for the once mighty "Banda del Animo."

As far as Cigarroa, I'm not sure.  The only thing I heard is that there was a mixup with them setting up at the beginning.  The judges instructed them to clear the field, before playing anything, and come back to do it all over again.

Things have changed over the years:  LISD band member numbers have dropped; Marathon practice sessions are a thing of the past due to UIL rules; Budgets are keeping bands from traveling; etc.

Hopefully my alma mater's band can get their mojo back someday, if for nothing else than to just bring some good news their way, as well as the school's.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Landscaping


I really enjoyed the event hosted last night by the RGISC and Scholars Caffe.  Mr. George Altgelt (pictured above) was a wealth of information.  His presentation on soil health left me knowing that I've got a long way to go before I can call myself a decent gardener.  Of course, he's been doing his thing for a long time.  Dirt is his business, literally.

The other presenter, John Kelley, featured local examples of xeric gardens with the help of a PowerPoint slide show.  He pointed out the fact that landscapes don't take into account the hot temperatures Laredo has to offer, and the possiblity of a prolonged drought.  One thing Mr. Kelley said that I found surprising is that there may be a local movement to ban the use of thirsty lawns, namely St. Augustine grass.  I know of at least one new subdivision that is making use of a more drought-tolerant sod.  So St. Aug. grass could soon be a thing of the past.  Good.

Webb County Contender 2012


The court definitley needs more balance when it comes to verbal participation.
"There's a lot of times that the commissioner doesn't say anything or voice his opinion, and I'm going to be there to voice my opinion and to let them know what I feel," he said.  "I will fight for my precinct."
Mr. Montemayor has his work cut out for him.  Frank Sciaraffa (I) and Louis Bruni have name recognition, albeit not all noteworthy.  The best case scenario would be to get into a runoff.  But that's easier said than done.

One advantage of having Mr. Montemayor jump into the race is that we'll actually have a debate take place for Pct. 1.  Frank Sciaraffa will probably not show up for the event.  That'll leave the two contenders to shed some light on the needs of the precinct. 

Radiooooooooo

Local Catholic radio station, KHOY, is having its yearly pledge drive.  If you're in the giving mood, send some cash their way.

99.3 FM, which played classic rock/pop, was sold recently.  It's a shame because I would tune in regularly to hear either T.J. ('In The Mid-day'), or Starr Cisneros.  I especially took to Starr's show since she would feature a lot of deep Classic Rock tracks.  The station has now switched to an Adult Contemporary format.  That's the best way I can describe it.  All I know is that it's music that I'm not familiar with.  Oh well, good luck to them.

In San Antonio, longtime morning DJs Lisle and Hahn have been dismissed from 99.5, apparently due to a drop in ratings.  I liked them.  They were smart and entertaining, as far as morning jocks are concerned. 

I give thanks to my local record store for providing me with fresh material for my music library.  It's used stuff and somewhat dated, but it's all good.
Oh, and my podcasts really save the day too.

Tom Waits has a new album.  Check it out.  Or not.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Keep Laredo Clean

Guess what I'm doing this afternoon.  I'll be selling autographs at a xeriscaping presentation.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  I will be at Scholars Caffee but I'll just be absorbing the ins and outs of drought tolerant garden design.

I know a thing or two about plants that thrive in our area code, so I hope this gathering teaches me something new.

                                                                      Courtesy Photo

Sticking with the environment, Bordertown Blues has fully embraced the local abandoned tire culture, and has encouraged us to do the same.  I can look away for so long, but after a while the tires bug me so much that I literally take in the discarded llantas to the landfill collection station myself.  As a matter of fact, I may make a trip out there this weekend.   

El Lider Informativo reports that Nuevo Laredo has a problem with people dumping televisions, computers, and microwaves on public property.  In our barrios I've seen the occassional t.v. but it's a good thing that the situation hasn't gotten totally out of hand. 

Keep it clean out there, people.

Le Vale Madre


                                                        Photo courtesy of El Manana

I find fascinating some people's happy-go-lucky attitude.  For them, life is full of little hiccups, and not necessarily life-changing moments.  Don't get me wrong, I don't stress out over every little detail -- or do I? -- but I do appreciate the fact that life sometimes smacks you upside the head, and it's best to acknowledge its significance. 

For Ana Alvarado, pictured above, being booked by police officers makes for a great Facebook status update.  If it was me up there, I'd be shaking in my boots.  But people are different, and that's a good thing.  Over time, some people learn to laugh at their mistakes, while others laugh in the face of society, and authority right off the bat. 

Let's hope Ana makes something of herself.  Hell, she could be a productive citizen some day, an elected official even.  If that ever came to be, she would have the smiling mugshot act down pat.

Nuevo Laredo Violence


I'll be honest, when I cross into Nuevo Laredo, I worry about the possibility of being caught in the middle of a gun fight.  But I've been fortunate enough never to have witnessed any violence, or been the subject of a robbery in the last several years I've been going.

One thing I've never done is ride a bike, or a bus, in Nuevo Laredo.  I'm really curious to see what Guerrero St. looks like besides what lies in the downtown area.  Bike cam, anyone?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Border Issues: Laredo

Henry Cuellar may be a smart person but sometimes he speaks without thinking.  And in the video below, I'm more embarrassed by his warbled speech than from his condescending tone. 


A little tact would've sufficed in speaking to a couple of revered generals, but in Cuellar's defense, the report they put forth should, by all means, be questioned.  Here's a passage from that report.



The problem with the report is that a lot of the information is conflated.  No distinction is made by what is actually happening on either side of the border.  And the use of militaristic terms, such as 'war,' 'insurgents,' and 'narco-terrorists,' is likely done to heighten awareness of this issue.  I guess that the drawback of having a report written by two military veterans.

I agree that resources should keep flowing to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to combat the drug trade, but let's not paint this area as some combat zone when we all go on about our daily business without fear of being mowed down by supposed spillover violence.

Henry Cuellar, and the generals need to choose their words more carefully.

Nevertheless, I would give the report an F. 

Monday Thread

I didn't post anything the last two days.  I figured I would just catch up today.

UPDATE:


I made a quick jump into Nuevo Laredo this weekend.  The only complaint is the wait time at the customs checkpoint.  It wasn't much but it didn't help me get to my next destination any quicker.

The two men (pictured above) playing the marimba were stationed one block south of bridge 1.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Webb Elections 2012






A Bruni campaign supporter was manning the headquarters (next to Mami Chulas) this afternoon.  I stopped by to ask him the significance of the '40K' message featured on the smaller signs.  According to him, the number represents how much money Bruni will donate, out of his commissioner salary, yearly to non-profit organizations. 

Here I thought it had something to do with the amount of money Frank Sciaraffa, the incumbent, owed Mr. Bruni from an old loan.  But I was informed that all that is "water under the bridge."

I wish all the candidates luck.  The elections can't get here soon enough.

Here's a picture of a flier I got during my visit.






Medical Tourism Suffering


Dentists in Nuevo Laredo have seen a significant drop in customers in the last six years, El Manana reports.  Officials realize that the cartel violence has dampened efforts to lure tourists to the city.  But Nuevo Laredo's loss is Nuevo Progreso's gain. 

Apparently Nuevo Progreso, near McAllen, has too many patients.  It's believed that those that used to visit Nuevo Laredo are now making the trek to the valley for their dental care.  They continue to eat our lunch!!! 

Another issue that our neighbors to the south have to contend with is long wait times at the bridge. 

I went to the dentist in Nuevo Laredo last weekend.  It was pretty quick, mainly because I had an early appointment.  When I made my way back to Laredo, there was no waiting in line at bridge 1. 
A friend asked me to inquire about a dental procedure, and the cost.  He's a little apprehensive about going across, but I can't blame him.  The fact that more people like him are staying away is better for me, I guess.  I avoid crowds and tend to my teeth.


Prayer And City Business

It's not only us Laredoans complaining of city council proceedings.
A local advocate for separation of church and state sued Mayor Juli├ín Castro on Thursday in state district court, accusing him of approving only Christians for the invocation at City Council meetings.
Stick to the matters at hand, city council, like public services, safety, the budget, public concerns.........

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Our Own On TV Tonight


New episodes of "Bordertown: Laredo" air tonight.  Here's what one outsider had to say about the show:
There's the accents — professional Hispanic men who pronounce the word question “kwes-tee-yuhn” and guys with little accent at all, both toggling between English and Spanish to get the job done. The familiar streets full of hand-painted signs and corporate advertising, shiny new work trucks and carcachitas on their last legs, all of which work. Palm trees next to cedars next to tall skinny trees in the same front yard, enclosed by a cyclone fence and sharp municipal buildings serving the 10th largest city in Texas.
Happy watching.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Never Take It For Granted

My son is English-dominant, but he can speak some Spanish.
"When the grandparents were talking to my older sister, or even adult conversations, you could hear them talking and it felt like a foreign thing," Diaz says. "It's like, 'What are you saying? I want to understand you.' But then I would go off and play with my toys, and was like, 'Whatever, I guess I'll understand it later.' "

All About Shopping

In a campaign to offer residents a better route to San Antonio, Nuevo Leon officials put up billboards encouraging travelers to use the Columbia Solidarity Bridge.  By doing so, drivers can avoid the traffic in Laredo and make better time on their way north to shop in San Antonio.

Our mayor, on the other hand, is not pleased with the campaign.  He counters that Laredo has many things to offer. 

We may not have much to offer right now, as the golf course, and baseball stadium are being constructed.  But once those projects are completed, we'll have no problem luring shoppers and tourists alike.

Wednesday Cool Weather Thread

It's all about deputies in the news and Jerry Garza won't run for re-election.

UPDATE:


A Red Ribbon Event parade was held yesterday afternoon.  Of course, there had to be a mascot sighting.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Musical Influences

I attended a wedding this weekend, and it had the usual trappings: symbolic lighting of candles, padrinos, videographers, and a reception going into the wee hours of the night.  But one thing that dawned on me was the wide range of music that one has to provide in order to make a bash like that a success.

Let's see, there was the DJ, a local covers band, and a mariachi group.  With that, the possibilities were endless.  At one event, you had one musical genre followed by another:  folk, salsa, 80s, country, tejano, rap, pop, soul, etc.  Surely not everyone danced to the different tunes, but it made me wonder if music at wedding receptions elsewhere cover such a wide range of music. 

And then came the line dancing.

It was all started with some popular country song, of which its name I can't recall at the moment.  But something strange happened -- the line dancing continued, but set to another tune.  Apparently there's something out there called the "Cha Cha Slide."  It's been out for some time and it's said to be a hit at all parties.  I was taken aback by the crowd's knowledge of this practice.  But I was struck more by the morphing of one style of music into another, yet with practically the same steps.

It's obvious that I don't get out much.  Yet, I don't think it's because the opportunity is not there, but because I don't think I would ever get up on the dance floor to do the Cha Cha Slide.  To each his own.

One thing's for sure:  Laredoans like to dance.
Now here's some new music from M83:

 

Tip From Reader

A blog reader brought to my attention a tale of racketeering and extortion, and those involved having ties to our very own state representative.
Caught in those swirling political, financial and legal rip currents are two sitting legislators, friends, and friends of friends, with ties to Rosenthal’s four wrongful death lawsuits.

Personal, business, legal and political ties between Rosenthal and Solis also lead to state Sen. Carlos I. Uresti, D-San Antonio, and state Rep. Richard E. Raymond, D-Laredo.
Raymond's involvement in all of this seems inconsequential.  The doubt, regardless, remains.

Menso(s), Not Mensa


On Sunday I was at a loss for what to do with my time since Breaking Bad had its season finale the weekend before.  For those who don't know about the AMC series, it's based on the life of a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer, and resorts to cooking and selling meth to provide some sort of financial security for his family.  Bryan Cranston's character is resourceful in avoiding the authorities, a trait that surely wasn't inspired by Laredo's own dealers.

KGNS reported on a father and son drug-pushing team that was caught at a location walking distance to my house.  More importantly, or perhaps I should say more shamefully, is the fact that the son had been caught recently with another load of drugs.  Apparently, 'one the job training' doesn't apply here as this ne'erdowell doesn't seem to be picking up on past mistakes.

But the capper has to be the fact that the father in question is a deputy with the sheriff's department -- Another blow to local law enforcement's image.  

This little tidbit is not the end of Sheriff Martin Cuellar, but I'm sure his opponent, Rick Flores, is enjoying this new development.  Although, it may turn out that Celerino Vela is a holdover from the previous administration (Rick's), in which case, both candidates would be running away from the news story.

Whatever the case, it's not a good thing for Laredo.  But it makes a good story for Bordertown: Laredo.



More Limelight For Laredo


Another one jumps in.
Next comes Laredo, another crime drama from Flags of Our Fathers writer William Broyles who will also executive produce the new series which is set at the Texas/Mexico border, and should be much more dramatic than the recent border showdown on South Park. There’s yet to be a modern series tackling the idea of immigration in a dramatic context like this, and FX seems to be one of the best places outside of pay cable channels and AMC for some really hard-htting drama.
Not that I have any say in this, but I would really like to see either Nick Nolte, Mickey Rourke, or Gary Busey play a part in the series.  Perhaps they could be cast as a sheriff or rancher or something else.   

Monday, October 17, 2011

B Live Promotions Keeps Promoting

They've got a special event planned for Halloween.  See video for details.



Who Is Justin Vogt Kidding?!


Wow, Henry Cuellar has an Environmental Policy Analyst?  Apparently he does, and somebody pushed his and his analyst's buttons.

I don't know what I'm more amazed by:  somebody purporting to be Henry Cuellar's energy analyst, or having somebody rebuff a Laredoan's environmental concern in the pages of the LMT.  Laredo is green all of a sudden.  Who woulda thunk it?

Anyway, Henry Cuellar recently voted against proposed EPA rules on mercury levels in the air, among other things, but Mr. Vogt states that the house resolutions merely "ask the EPA to do a job analysis study of new, yet-to-be-implemented regulations..."  That's funny because HR 2250 is otherwise known as the EPA Regulatory Relief Act.  Translation:  We don't want or need no stinkin' new regulations.

Semantics aside, HR 2250 is supposed to have bipartisan support, according to Vogt.  Let's not get crazy now.  Just because Gene Green and Charlie Gonzalez voted for it, that doesn't mean that it has widespread support.  Mr. Green hails from Houston, a town that is heavily influenced by the energy industry; And he's on the subcommittee on Energy and Power --  Not exactly a neutral position when you have to consider environmental issues.  Mr. Charlie Gonzalez also has Subcommittee on Energy and Power experience.  Nice try, Mr. Vogt, but bipartisanship resembles something totally different than having two energy lackeys vote on mercury regulations. 

It should be no surprise that the Senate and the president are against HR 2250. 

This resolution has republican House written all over it.  The fact that some demos voted with them goes to show where they get their campaign contributions from and where their allegiances lie.

And spare me the claim that unions support this.  Let me guess, it's the union of boiler owners. 

Henry Cuellar doesn't have one environmental bone in his body.  And he doesn't have the decency to answer for his own votes on major environmental issues.  He'll ask us for suggestions on how to create jobs, but he won't bother asking about air quality.  He'll defer to his energy buddies for that. 

(Letter to the editor appeared this weekend in the LMT)         

Jose Luis "Tata" Flores


There's a man out there, and he goes by the name of "Tata." 

I was in a hurry so I didn't take the time to read the fine print on his campaign sign. But the truck had another sign on the other side that had another candidate's message.  That person is running for a position in Zapata, TX.  "Tata" might be doing the same, in which case Franck Sciaraffa can rest assured and only deal with his current competitor, Louis Bruni. 

While original, I still can't endorse the use of nicknames in political campaigns.  This sort of detail is best left for people who grace the pages of Que Pasa, those who flash reverse peace signs, and rarely crack a smile.  In other words, it's sophomoric, in my view.  Might as well get the whole thing over with and plaster a c/s stamp on the sign.

HuffPo has a piece entitled "Midlife Crisis: 10 Warning Signs."  The warning sign that applies here is number 3: A new emphasis on remaining youthful.  Could it be that Mr. Flores is at a crossroads?  It could be.  He might be reassessing his life right about now.  But I think the bigger burden is having to carry around the weight of "Tata."  That's not exactly the most flattering of nicknames and I wonder if he realizes it.

Rolling In It


One good way of finding out if somebody is laundering drug money is to look at their Dollar Store receipt.

Let's see, there's mouthwash, paper towels, 1,000 boxes of rubber bands.... 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Huh?!!!

I made a trip out to east Laredo today, and what should I find but that the Glass Kitchen on Guadalupe is closed.  It's surprising since their burgers were voted the best in town some time ago.  I can only hope the location on Corpus Christi is still up and running.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lovely Saturday Night Thread

If I only had a bicycle.

Bad Accident






Yesterday I was bitchin' and moaning about I-35 north being closed.  The traffic near downtown was hellacious, and then a train almost made it worse by blocking everyone on the frontage roads, Santa Ursula and San Dario.

Then I found out that an officer had been hurt while riding his motorcycle.  I still wondered why they had to close off all of I-35 North but I was concerned about those involved.  I hope the officer gets well quick.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What?!!!


An announcement that the city is getting federal funds and there's no mention of how our very own federal representative worked to get said funding?!!!!  How can that be?!!!!  Where's the fanfare?  Where's the House seal and podium?  Where are the cameras?!!!!!!!

UPDATE:

I find the press release pictured above interesting for several reasons.  First, some of the language used in the "Special To The Times" was used in a press release from September where the state of Louisiana was going to be receiving funds too.  

Secondly, some wording was also used in a press release yesterday, this time talking about Florida's award money.  But one line stuck out like a sore thumb.


It's that last sentence:  "Annual CDBG funds are distributed to communities according to a statutory formula based on a community's population..."

So if that's the case, then why must Henry Cuellar put out a press release like this?


Laredo, Texas – Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) today announced $4,669,005 in combined federal funding for the City of Laredo for several community projects from various federal grant programs. The City of Laredo will receive $3,290,569 from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, $1,218,954 from the HOME Program and $159,482 for the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) Program. 

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) helps develop urban areas by bettering housing and living conditions and by expanding the economic opportunities to moderate and low income communities. The HOME program provides funding for communities to partner with local nonprofit groups-to fund a wide range of activities that build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing for low-income families. The Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) Program provides grants for local emergency homeless shelters.

“Throughout my career as a public servant, ensuring that our residents have access to basic services is an issue I have tirelessly worked on,” Congressman Cuellar said. “This grant will improve living conditions for many South Texans. I congratulate the City of Laredo for ensuring their residents are provided with the much-needed basic services to carry on with their daily lives.”

The CDBG grant will target park improvements, code enforcement, graffiti removal and housing rehabilitation. The HOME program will use funds to provide down payment assistance and elderly tenant-based rental assistance. Funds for the Emergency Shelter Grants Program will be used for homeless prevention, shelter operations and essential services for the homeless.

“I will continue to work with Mayor Salinas and City Manager Villarreal to ensure we can secure the resources needed in Laredo to continue to improve our city,” Congressman Cuellar said. “Our work on behalf of the people we represent must continue in all earnest efforts.” 

I really don't know why he's taking credit for the funds, and including city staff, if monies are allocated to communities each year.  One thing he didn't mention is that CDBG funds were lowered by 16.5 percent this year, and the HOME program was lowered by 11.7 percent.  (See second link above)  

I don't doubt that he's been working "tirelessly," but it must be for other things.

 



Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Show

"Bordertown: Laredo" is upon us.  Happy viewing.

UPDATE:





It Was An Accident

Our district attorney:
Specifically the law requires an intent or a reckless act that a person puts their pet in that situation, in a dangerous situation, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.

We looked at the law and the other jurisdictions around the state of Texas, and by and large, these cases are dealt with administratively.
Woof.

Fracking Sludge Spill, Again


Local law enforcement officials got up to speed on laws concerning the transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.  The Laredo Energy Arena, fittingly enough, hosted two days of sessions aimed at preparing our first responders to deal with those who don't hold the highest regard for our environment, namely truck drivers that haul sludge from oil and gas drilling sites in northern Webb County. 

We know of at least one incident where a truck driver was stopped for spilling hazardous waste near downtown.  So the locals have been on top of this for some time now.  But the companies that produce this waste in the first place should get cited too, but seeing as how our leaders are always gushing over those who are doing the drilling, I don't see that happening. 

Webb County Attorney Anna Cavazos Ramirez had this to offer the LMT writer:
"The city does (public service announcements) all the time," she said.  "Everybody and their mother (has) a (camera phone) - get people who see that stuff ... to snap a picture."
Nice.  My mother, by the way, does not have a camera phone.  She's had two in the past but has managed to lose 'em.  But I digress.

Ms. County Attorney, of course, is encouraging us all to do our part in bringing violators to justice, because law enforcement can't do it all on their own.  I did just that today, but thankfully a deputy was right along to stop the spillage in its tracks.


The trailer seemed to have some sort of thin cover on top, but the sludge was spilling through an opening right above the rear license plate.  The left side mud flap was covered in the material.  When I came up on the trailer, I could see that it was leaving a thin trail of sludge on the road, and the smell of diesel was pretty obvious. 

Kudos to the officer who made the stop this afternoon (in front of the Whataburger on South Hwy 83).  Thank you for helping keep our roads clean and safe.   

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going Nowhere

It's official:  Rick Perry is the male equivalent of Sarah Palin.  His true goal is to go on bus tours and make tons of money from speaking engagements.  He never really intended on becoming the party's nominee.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It Continues


The praying-at-city-hall-before-every-council-meeting debate keeps chugging along.  Some think prayer at city hall is a good idea and others would rather have none of it.

I was going to do a podcast on the subject last weekend since public debate continued in the pages of the LMT, but decided against it since the majority of city council had reservations about prayer.

Yet here we are a month later and the subject is still being discussed.  Perhaps it was a good thing that council decided against having prayer before the start of city business.  The subject has set off a lot of people.  The animosity might be great for blog material and it might keep us entertained but it doesn't serve the community if it's going to divide us deeply. 

Charlie San Miguel's heart might've been in the right place by suggesting prayer to begin with.  But he was a bit too hasty in thinking that everybody would be on the same page. 

Faith is a popular concept but it's not for everybody, and not everybody has the same view of it.

Demonstration


I sort of get why people like Ron Paul:  he talks a good game about limited government.  But so does Herman Cain and a lot of other politicians.  Still, I can't get past the fact that he's a Tea Party favorite, the same crowd that's all gaga for the likes of Sarah Palin.

Compound Safety


You either have to be really paranoid, or you have a serious security problem when you have to resort to sacrificing aesthetics for peace of mind.  I don't blame the public for being cautious and protective but setting up razor coil on your perimeter seems a little over the top and inelegant.  Not that burglar bars are much better but at least they won't rip your flesh apart.

Operation: Rain Barrel


KLDO reports on the closing of the boat ramp at Lake Casa Blanca due to the low water level.  It'll reopen once water levels return to normal, according to one park official.

Three things:  The drought Texas has experienced isn't going to get better;  Energy companies will downplay their water use by pointing to the supposed larger consumption rate by the public; And local governments will do little to promote water conservation.

The picture above is a wake up call for us to be more efficient with our natural resources.  The trouble is that nobody is making a push for it. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Holiday For Some

For those who got to stay home today, perhaps you did something constructive.  Or maybe you just passed the time watching Chris Columbus movies.

Smiles, Everyone!

This is exactly what 36 Hours In Laredo would look like:
After the Sister City Signing Agreement, the couple will get a tour of the city, to include World Trade Bridge and Texas A&M International University.  On Wednesday, they will get an opportunity to shop downtown and at Laredo’s own Vegas Mexican Imports along San Bernardo Avenue, while getting an opportunity to enjoy pan dulce.  Mayor Wallace and Mayoress Linda will depart the next day.






Blah Blah Blah


This weekend was particularly uninspired, which turns out to be the case most times in the Gateway City.  I did manage to get in a small workout Friday evening at the Market Tennis Courts.  I can at least say that I did something good for myself.  Apart from that, I dropped in on my friend, Beto Lucio, to see what music he had to offer.  I picked up some vinyl and several CDs.  Good stuff.

The rain yesterday brought some welcome relief.  And for my mother, it brought some of the neighbor's pets onto her yard (see picture above).  Who can blame them?  It was a nice day to be out and about.

It's nice visiting the old neighborhood, but having been away for some time now makes everything seem so alien to me.  Things have changed so much that it's hard for me to feel any sort of connection to my past.  Sure, there are clues that remind me of days long gone but their significance has somewhat been lessened or transformed.  It doesn't help when one of those clues is dancing on t.v. for gawd knows what reason.


The "Poncherello" in all of us died a long time ago.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tires Laredo






I hadn't talked about stray used tires in a while, leaving those duties to another local blog.  But I've been noticing more and more of our radial friends turning up throughout south Laredo.

This brings me to my next point:  the City of Laredo is having another Household Hazardous Waste event on Saturday, November 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  It'll be held at the Metro Park and Ride, located at 1800 E. Hillside Rd.  Each household can bring up to eight tires to the event. 

Let's try to keep it clean, Laredo.




Shirley Field Opens


I went to check out the new Shirley Field Sports Complex last night only because a brother-in-law invited me to tag along.  I was partially curious so I decided to go.

The facility is nice but I think people are making it out to be something more than it is.  It's definitely an improvement from the old stadium but it's not like the wheel was reinvented.  Anyway, it was a pleasant night out, which is more than I can say for the local team.  They lost, you see.  So the first game ever at Shirley can be racked up as a loss.  Thanks, Tigers; and thanks, LISD.

In the video above, you can see the Eagle Pass cheerleaders (at the :52 mark) dancing for the crowd, but the audio was not cooperating.  So much for state-of-the-art technology.  And another underwhelming moment last night was when the Martin Band (at 1:04) is playing on the field.  They obviously didn't make an impression on the football players as they proceeded to warm up on the field for the second half.

Let's hope tonight's contest between Cigarroa and Alexander has more oomph to it.




Our Language

I hate it when people my age call me mi'jo.
"Mi'ja" is a contraction of two Spanish words: "Mi" (meaning my) and "hija" (meaning daughter.) Said together, "mi hija" (my daughter) becomes "mi'ja," and is a common slang in the Mexican American culture.
Come to think of it, nobody should address me this way unless you had a hand in raising me.

So This Is The Man?


Bassett William is his name and he's been the one heard narrating all those Whataburger commercials for the past nine years.  But now the restaurant chain is parting ways with their pitch man. 

The t.v. spots were a trip only because of his deep voice and earnest delivery.  His reverence for the burgers must be what inspired imitations.  One man that I thought lampooned Bassett well was Charlie Hodge of KLBJ.  But sadly, he's gone too, being dismissed from the station early last month.

Happy trails, Whataburger man.  You'll always have a fan in these parts.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Poor Chevy


You served honorably, and you'll be missed.  Bow wow, my friend.

Smile!


I, like LaredoTejas, found it interesting how the mayor's face lit up when he utters the word 'money' during a recent KGNS interview.  Money makes the world go 'round, but for him, the mere mention of the word sets off a reaction in his brain, causing him to salivate, among other things.

Anyway, the KGNS story centered around a bus terminal that's being planned for the area near Bridge 2.  At least one person is concerned that the project will greatly affect the adjoining neighborhood, El Azteca.  The barrio could be cut off even further from the business district if the terminal is built.  That could very well be true.  But my concern is that this terminal is going to be El Portal II.  If I'm right, then the property that's currently unleased near Bridge 1 will be even more insignificant.

Now add to that the traffic nightmare that's going to be created for people accessing Matamoros.  Oh, it's going to be a beauty. 

The Universe At Work

One side balances out the other.
I was at the gym when the news broke, hence the late post. And, of course, the news was juxtaposed by the untimely death of Steve Jobs. Leonard Cohen once said of America that it was "the cradle of the best and the worst". Today, we lost one of the very best in American history, a reticent genius and entrepreneur, an inspiration for countless of us who has changed the very fabric of our lives. And we also saw the end of the road for one of the very worst: a nasty, callow, delusional, vicious know-nothing, brewed in resentment, and whose accomplishments could fit on a postage stamp.
Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Late Night Thread

How dare Steve Jobs die when Sarah Palin had a big announcement to make.

Sports Injuries


Flag football play resumed yesterday at the fields along East Calton Rd.  In one match, a player took a tumble so severe that it required first aid care.  Thankfully an EMS unit was standing by at the scene.

In talking to the Parks and Leisure Dept. Director, Valdi Guzman, I learned that the fields are property of the airport.  "The city technically owns the property, but it's owned by the airport," he said.  Improvements to the fields have been suggested, but city staff has advised against it because the airport could, at any time, sell the land. 

At one point, city crews used a grater to try to get rid of the rocks from the playing surface.  But in doing that, more rocks surfaced.  Mr. Guzman said that the city is currently looking into opening new playing fields north of this area.  In the meantime, these students will have to make do with what they have.  It's just too bad that they have to pay $250 for a chance to play on dirt and rocks.



     

Pizza Bootstraps

Everybody needs a little tough talk every now and then, but after a while, that tough talk veers into condescendingly batshit crazy Dr. Laura territory.
“I don’t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated, to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration,” Cain said. “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks — if you don’t have a job and you are not rich, blame yourself!”
(Emphasis mine)

Gotta love the GOP presidential field.  Every day they reveal how much they're disconnected from the public at large.

Webb County Races 2011


Politicians get a lot of criticism from the public.  Some of it is warranted, some of it misguided, and a lot of it goes nowhere.  Luckily we have some who throw their hat in the ring to try to make a difference.  Whether their intentions are honorable is another thing.

Sludge Spill Update



I think I overreacted to the sludge spill from yesterday.  (See post below)  Apparently the material wasn't a danger to the community and it was left behind for the public to enjoy.  I didn't get too close to the sludge but I got a good whiff of gasoline from it.


Nothing to see here.  Move along, citizens.
 

Our Turn At A Bailout

A couple of weeks ago, Henry Cuellar asked us for suggestions on how to create jobs.  One reader here suggested forgiving student loan debt.  I think that person was on to something. 
So my immodest proposal is simply this: Individuals and households in the bottom 99 percent who owe debt to any large financial institution that received federal government support during and after the 2008 crisis should see their debt forgiven. That would certainly stimulate the economy, as most people would suddenly find themselves with a great deal more money to spend on iPads (and food, and clothing, and housing, and healthcare). The debt can be forgiven by decree or if the government really wants to it can step in to pay it itself; I don’t much care either way. (Though it’d be nice to see it just wiped off the books, to enrage the banks.)
Of course, something like this would be too bold.  And Congress, and the president for that matter, don't have cajones to see it through.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Result Of Fracking?


Going home this afternoon I came across a sludge spill.  This one was located at the intersection of Zapata Hwy and South Meadow.  The picture doesn't capture the affected area adequately, but the amount of material spilled was significant.

A fire engine was stationed on one of the southbound lanes to prevent cars from going over the sludge.  Police officers were positioned along Hwy 83 and Meadow Ave., way before the intersection.

I'm guessing first responders were waiting for clean-up crews to arrive.

These spills have occurred before.  See here and here and here.  For all the enthusiasm the mayor, and city council, shows for creating jobs, I want to see the same concern for public safety, especially when law enforcement and fire units are tied up babysitting another sludge spill.


Marching Band Festival


If you needed another reason to visit the new Shirley Field Sports Complex this weekend, this is it.

Gates Open at 1:30 p.m. and the first band performs at 2:00.  Admission is $6 per person; $3 for students with I.D.