Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

956 Cloudy Skies

I captured an eerie scene yesterday.  I don't think the flock of birds means anything, but it made me pause for a while.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Person Of The Year 2012

It's time again to select our "Person of the Year."  Without further ado La Sanbe proudly presents Charlie San Miguel, an elected official whose days seemed numbered in a year that saw an end to the Mayan calendar, and supposedly an end to mankind.  On all counts, finality was merely a tease. 

Mr. San Miguel set out early to make his mark.  If he wasn't being tough on the police chief, or suggesting council pray before the start of each meeting, he was penning an OpEd piece on the importance of ethics in politics.  He wanted to make his presence known so he fastened his Jesus fish and hit the ground running.  Unfortunately, his eagerness was soon matched by his ignorance of policy, procedure, and etiquette. 

Throughout 2012 Charlie San Miguel's answer for everything was "I didn't know."  (See LareDOS -- Eduardo Garza vs. Hector Farias:  The Three-Tent Circus Gets a Fourth)  When questioned about conflicts of interest, San Miguel cited amnesia.  When he took home money from a fundraiser, he claimed ignorance.  It all came to a head when he called a press conference.  It seemed like he was going to resign after allegations of nepotism arose, because his sons were hired by the fire department.  If it was a choice between him or his sons quitting, it would be him.  But he stayed on after receiving multiple, supportive text messages from his constituents.  That and the fact that he felt he was being bullied by his council colleagues.  

Charlie San Miguel was toxic.  I thought he would surely resign, or that city council would sanction him for his lapses in judgement, but the worst he received was a tongue-lashing.  City council, including the mayor, was careful in its handling of San Miguel.  If they acted too sternly, they would be seen as thugs.  But I have to question their awareness of city charter specifics as well.  When I asked Mike Garza about the nepotism question on the fire department application, his reply was, "Standard applications for all city employees I would assume.  It's a standard question at UISD also and insure it applies at LISD, LCC and the County."

With weaseling friends like these, who needs to resign?

Yes, Charlie San Miguel came in as a moral champion of ethics.  Little did he know that the cause he supported would be used to keep him in line.  Charlie San Miguel made a splash in 2012 but for all the wrong reasons. 

He wears his religion proudly.  To call him out on anything means that dirty politics is at play.  For someone who's supposed to be a political newbie, he sure knows how to play the game.  The bungling mayor is on his last leg, but we'll still have Charlie San Miguel. 

Congratulations, Mr. San Miguel.  You are LaSanbe's 'Person of the Year.' 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mayor Plans For Washington

In what might be his last KGNS in-studio interview of 2012, Mayor Raul Salinas went on t.v. to say nothing about a lot of things.  A more pressing matter on his mind is that the Cowboys get a win this weekend. 

He mentions going back to Washington to speak to our representatives.  Can't he just pick up the phone?  Sit and watch for three minutes, if you like.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

We Must Divert

People haven't caught on that you can make money from recyclable stuff.  If they did, then we wouldn't see over-stuffed trash cans on pickup day after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sunny And Cool

Several things going on in this picture.  What originally caught my eye was the old metal gate open to a chain link fence.  But there's also a crumbling sidewalk with a light pole in the way of pedestrians.  And finally, stairs leading to a window.

Nonsensical creations in the public, and private world collide.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

Time to reflect on the things we got, the things we have, and the things that happened in 2012.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Warm Holiday Thread

Been preoccupied with Christmas preparations.  Heard any good news lately?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not Really Evolved

A school in Brownsville was locked down yesterday because two numbskulls showed up across the street with weapons in their hands.  Un-fuckin-believable.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Beautiful Pooches

I don't own a dog, but that didn't stop me from attending the 'Puppy Posada' hosted by the Laredo Animal Protective Society this evening.  I appreciate the work that they do, so I wanted to show my support.

LAPS is in need of blankets, and dog food, but monetary donations are welcomed too to cover their operating expenses.  Contact information can be found on their Facebook page. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Passive Boasting

The mayor completed another overnight rooftop toy collection.  He's been apparently doing this for many years.  This year, however, was a little different.  He posed after the event with the usual bounty of toy donations, but he did so in a very I-went-to-Saudi-Arabia-and-all-I-got-was-this-stupid-t-shirt manner.

Photo courtesy of the LMT

UPDATE:  Crews are installing some palm trees under the bridge on Guadalupe/Chihuahua.  Heavy loads of mulch required. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Someone's Upset

Via the LMT Opinion Page today:

Our local politicians and city manager, I imagine with the approval of the city council, invested over $2.5 million in a structure to house a branch of the Mexican Customs.

 This branch was intended to process cargo to Mexican cities where there are no Mexican Customs offices.

The project was supposed to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits from the sale of jet fuel, landing fees and freight handling to load and unload aircraft.

They are now bragging about the facility where the Mexican government allows only a few firms (not the general public) who ship parts or components that will become part of a product, which will then be subsequently exported, to get a permit from the Mexican government to have their goods inspected.

These goods come directly from the Laredo Airport and are bound to one of six Custom houses in Mexico.

Since the products allowed are not produced in Laredo, they would have to come from somewhere else.

It is my opinion that we are trying to sell a service that nobody will buy. It is very expensive and time consuming.

If the cargo comes by the air, the owner would have to pay for two takeoffs and landings, since most of the fuel is consumed in takeoff and landing, plus demurrage charges while the cargo is inspected, plus handling charges.

Wouldn’t it be more cost effective for the shipper to fly the cargo directly from origin to destination for half of the cost?

If the cargo comes via truck, it would be handled the way it is handled now.

It would go to a custom broker’s warehouse where he does not pay handling, clear customs at the bridge and flown out of the Laredo Airport or shipped via truck, since all the airports (except Chihuahua) are very close.

I believe our politicians have wasted millions of our tax dollars for their failure “to do the math.”

They tried to build a rail bridge to charge $50 per car when one of the railroads was paying nothing because they owned their own bridge and the other was paying $10 per car.

The traffic from Central America never came because it would have cost shippers two or three times more than what they were paying via their traditional routes.

Now they are spending $120K to sponsor a gathering of logisticians that will not bring anything good for the city except maybe occupy a few hotel rooms and a gathering that is being promoted by the same party that organized the Central American junkets.

Few in the business community know about it.


Paul Cavazos


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What's Another Gas Leak Between Us?

CenterPoint Energy crews will be closing the 3600 block of Hendricks, between Plum and Locust Street to repair a gas leak.  Please follow all detour signs.  The closures will last approximately all day today, TUESDAY, December 18, 2012.

Info. courtesy of the City of Laredo.

The previous gas leak post I composed was earlier this month.  I thought Laredo's supposed slogan was, "There's always a reason to celebrate."  Nevermind that -- always prepare for a gas leak, I say.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mixed News Thread

A reader in the previous post voiced disappointment at my lack of acknowledgement about the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I've been out of the loop, so to speak, since I left home early Friday morning.  Blogging on the go is not one of my strong points.  At any rate, I don't know what to say about the shooting other than I can't wrap my head around the fact that some deranged individual shot down twenty kids.  Seeing images of people who were related to the victims cry out in horror leaves me dazed.  I'm having trouble processing this; I can't imagine what they're going through. 

I haven't gone through all the facts concerning this incident.  Perhaps I'll take some time to discuss what happened later this week, and comment on what should happen next.  But if somebody wants to ask me a specific question, I can always be reached through email by clicking on my 'Keyrose' link.

In scanning local news today, I noticed that Jorge Vera won his runoff race.  Good for him.

And In another LMT story, I read that the city spends quite a bit in hosting events.  Whatever.

Comment on anything you'd like.  I'll be back at home base very soon.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday Open Thread

Cold, drizzly kind of morning with intervals of light snow.  Oh wait.  I'm in a different area code (513).

On the flight over here, I wondered how some of our elected officials fit in the cozy economy seats.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blogging from afar

Taking a break from the barrio blogging thing to see how people in the Pacific Northwest live.  I thought the weather was going to be more disagreeable but Laredo's morning drizzle gave me a preview of the weather over here.  So far I've had free-range chicken eggs, local coffee, and a tour of the world's beers.  Not bad for a Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sanbe Merch

Give that special someone a slice of Laredo this holiday season.  You can get this original piece of artwork now for only $49.99 (while supplies last).  Assorted colors available.  The first 50 orders will be signed by yours truly.  Order now!

Just Stay Home

Policy eyed in hiring of new director

By Mikaela Rodriguez
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 2:45 AM CST

In an apparent violation of county policy, county commissioners appointed a community center director this week without soliciting applications.

However, County Commissioner Jaime Canales said community center director posts have historically been waived from compliance with the policy.
That is why this happens.

Low turnout in city runoff

By Mikaela Rodriguez
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 2:45 AM CST
Only about 7 percent of registered voters in City Council District 7 cast ballots during early voting, which ended Tuesday.

Always Thinking

Border Patrol agents in Yuma, Arizona were alerted to a number of metal containers found on farm land, El Mañana reports.  The suspicious cans were filled with marijuana.  It's believed that drug traffickers shot the cans over the border using some type of canon.

This method of transporting drugs into the U.S. is not the most ideal.  You have to wonder if narcos are thinking outside the box, or just toying with law enforcement officials.  Where did they come up with this?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Actually Thinking This Out

Who would've thought that Frank Sciaraffa would be brave enough to challenge his colleagues.
Commissioner Frank Sciaraffa stood firmly against a raise in rates, and pointed out residents in the communities slated for higher charges live below the poverty line and are thus not comparable to the average state resident.

Passage from today's LMT (Mikaela Rodriguez)

Water rates have not been raised since 2004, according to the story.  And fee hikes are necessary to keep up with infrastructure needs.  But that doesn't mean you just raise rates to keep pace with other communities. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Life Is Now Complete


Background check

Grievance prompts look into director's work history

By Mikaela Rodriguez
Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 1:23 AM CST

A grievance was filed last month against Webb County Facilities Director Gilberto Garza amidst prompting from the county attorney and Administrative Services director to inquire into Garza’s professional background.
It's good to know that Gilberto Garza's (Eduardo Garza's nephew) hiring hasn't been forgotten. 
And in news that sounds like J.C. Martin Jr. redux.
The FBI says county officials took kickbacks to hand out swollen bids for paving roads in Pueblo Nuevo. And the allegations don't stop there.
Other county employees are accused of submitting fake invoices for equipment and pocketing the cash. Others took bribes to dole out bids from a Homeland Security Department grant destined for the Sheriff's Office, court documents state.
Everything old is new again.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Many Pics Thread

Councilman Jorge Vera was the unfortunate victim in a hit-and-run accident.  What are the odds that he works this into his next agenda item?

Trees may come and go, especially in a drought.  But menudo is forever.

How's my driving?  Not good if you're missing four outside tires from you rear axle(s).

Just added some fresh homemade compost to my sage plant.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Welcome To Laredo, Paisanos

Let us know what we can do for you.

LaSanbe will set up its own paisano welcome station somewhere on Santa Maria Ave.  I just hope I'm not mistaken for a homeless person with sign in hand.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursday Open Thread

It's good to step back from my blogging duties every now and then, and not have to think about something to write about.  But I have to wonder what the deal was with that numbskull who was caught with two unconscious children in the back seat the other day.  He was apparently stopped because he was swerving on the road.  The cop finds the kids, and he's taken to the pokey to pose crying for his mugshot.  Amazing what happens when you're home re-organizing your CDs. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Another Day

Another gas leak.
CenterPoint Energy crews will be closing the 1000 block of San Enrique between Washington and Victoria to repair a gas leak.  Please follow all detour signs.  The closure will last approximately all day today, WEDNESDAY, December 5, 2012.
Information courtesy of the City of Laredo.
Yesterday's gas leak story here.

Who Is Hector Vargas?

He is supposedly head of Laredo Logistics International, a consultant for the local transportation market.  City officials have awarded him a lot of money to put together a Logistics Cities World Forum to take place next year.  This, of course, has upset other local groups who feel they've been shut out of the process.  But there's a reason the city is doing business with Mr. Vargas exclusively. 

Hector Vargas has been director of the free trade zone, Meridian 100.  Back in 2008 the city and Meridian signed a memorandum of understanding to work on enhancing trade here.  Mr. Vargas has travelled with city staff to El Salvador to create working relationships with other countries.  In the picture below, you can see that Eduardo Garza also attended.

In the Laredo Logistics Int. website, Uni-Trade, i.e. Eduardo Garza, is cited as a partner. 

It's no accident that these names keep popping up.  City leaders, Mr. Vargas, and Mr. Garza have been connected at the hip for some time now.  And both businessmen have benefitted from this cozy relationship.  But gawd forbid anybody should raise any concern over this.  You're bound to get a hairy eyeball from Councilman Juan Narvaez.  Via today's LMT (Mikaela Rodriguez):
The Laredo Development Foundation was awarded $290,000 in the city’s 2012-2013 budget, but Narvaez said the organization has not delivered in promoting the city as it should be, besides planning the yearly Laredo Logistics Manufacturing Symposium.

He also called on other local groups to bring fresh ideas to city officials for consideration.

“What is (LDF’s) goal with the money and how do they plan to invest it?” Narvaez said.

“If you don’t take risks, you don’t make money. Maybe some of these people criticizing (the conference) have never taken risks.”

Of note is the fact that Juan Narvaez appointed Hector Vargas to the Transportation and Traffic Safety Committee four years ago.  They're BFFs, hence Narvaez' backing of Vargas in the paper today.  Hector Vargas is getting his because he's worked the system like nobody's business.  He knows how to play ball, and the city has been too willing to go along.

Amigo blog LaredoTejas thinks the city is spending its money frivolously.  But what's 120K amongst friends?  At the very least, city leaders could score some free plane rides out of this.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Select(ive) Discussion

Yesterday afternoon I reached out to several council members after reading about Select Energy Service's expansion (see post below) in Laredo.  SES stands to gain from tax breaks as they grow their water management business for the Eagle Ford Shale.  My concern was that we would hear very little discussion from city council on such an important subject, local water use.

As expected, I wasn't disappointed by city council, and the city manager.  What I thought should've been a detailed explanation about future water needs, expansion in infrastructure, water fees for commercial use, truck traffic, tax breaks, etc., instead only lasted about three minutes.  And Roque Vela Jr.'s comment pretty much says it all.
This is something that they've been doing business for a while.  They're growing.  I think it's imperative that we essentially get out of the way and let them continue to grow and create jobs in our area.
Jorge Vera, and Roque Vela downplayed highlighted the fact that Select Energy was expanding locally, that they're only adding more personnel.  If that's the case, then why the tax abatements?  Being business friendly is one thing, but turning a blind eye to things is shameful.

Check out the footage from last night's meeting to see the level of intellectualism, and concern coming out of City Hall.


A blog reader recently sent me some illustrations that detail expansion projects in the works for Mines Rd.  Jorge Vera gladly pointed to these in his campaign poster, but as far as I know, the projects are still in the planning stages.  You would think he would bring up infrastructure expansion in his discussion last night since Select Energy will be situated in his district, but.........

Monday, December 3, 2012

Business Love In The Time Of Drought

Vote could mean jobs

By Mikaela Rodriguez
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Monday, December 3, 2012 1:51 AM CST

Laredoans could see the creation of 105-plus jobs if City Council votes today to approve an agreement with Select Energy Services, a Houston-based oilfield service company.

City officials have entertained discussions for the company’s expansion in Laredo for about a year, courting the company with the promise of tax abatements and incentives.

Select would receive $95,000 toward property taxes for five years and a waiver of building permit fees, totaling $100,000 in savings.

Monica Tomutsa, administrative assistant, said city officials were most interested in job creation and the type of salaries a company wishing to expand locally could offer.

New positions with Select average $40,000 a year with benefits.
Select Energy Services will provide water management services for the drilling industry in the Eagle Ford Shale.  This bodes well for local government officials because they can show to the public that they are working to bring in good-paying jobs to the community.  But I can almost predict that nobody on council will bring up the issue of drought conditions in our area, or the demand that the drilling activity is having on our water reserves and on our city, not to mention the pittance that companies have to pay to procure large amounts of water for the drilling itself.
Of note also is that the NY Times questions what tax abatements really mean for municipalities.
The free flow of tax breaks and subsidies in Texas makes it particularly fertile ground to examine these economic development deals and the fundamental trade-off behind them: the more states give to businesses, the less they have available in the short term to spend on basic services, a calculation made more stark by the recession.
I understand that this is how business is done, especially in Texas, but it's not clear if Raul Salinas, Carlos Villarreal, and city council think this out in the long term.  They give tax breaks to companies, and then they raise our rates on trash pickup, and park use to make ends meet.  It's weird how that works.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

You Shall Not Pass!

Something interesting happened at the Christmas parade Friday night.  A float with a Christmas Story-inspired leg lamp had to stop in its tracks because the display was too tall. 

A power line of some sort was obviously too low to let the float pass.  The people on the flatbed had to put down their American flag to tend to the dilemma.  At first somebody thought about lifting the line with a plastic candy cane, but that wasn't going to work.  Eventually they had to tilt the illuminated leg lamp to make it through the route.  The driver honked for the group's success.

(Video shot in front of the Perlita Bakery on San Bernardo.)


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Warm December Thread

The last month is finally here and I'm wearing shorts.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Passing Of Ruth Fierros

Ms. Fierros was my English teacher back in junior year at La Martin.  She ran a tight ship.  She's definitely one that I won't forget.

Fluffing Up The Record

Yesterday I came across this Jorge Vera ad in the new issue of LareDOS.  Nothing out of the ordinary - just the usual campaign plea to get people out to vote in his runoff race.  But Mr. Vera seems to go all out with his supposed accomplishments, all of which have been done after only one year in office.  (He was sworn in July 7, 2011.) 

Let's look at his alleged successes, shall we?

Let's start with his claim concerning the Dellwood Apartments infrastructure.  I do remember him going out there to offer his help for residents who were having trouble with the water/sewage system in the apartment complex.  But eventually the tenants moved out because the problem came back.  It's good to be available in times like these - when people face daunting housing problems - but these are basic services that people depend on.  Taking credit for this is lame.

Next up, the $400,000 Farias Rec. Center boxing and weight gym.  It was approved after the city secured millions in Community Development Block Grant money for many things, not just the boxing gym.  Block grants are nothing new to Laredo.  The councilman lucked out that some money went his way, but it's nothing extraordinary on his part.

The Northwest Rec. Center.  It was actually started while Jose Valdez Jr. was in office.  Construction was halted when the city started having problems with the contractor in charge of the project.  It's now back on.  Trivial details for somebody running a runoff campaign.

The "New Los Martinez Park" doesn't actually exist.  It's not on the Parks & Leisure list of parks.  One thought that crossed my mind is that the department just hasn't updated their list, but when I called P&L to confirm, I was informed that the park is not property of the city if it's not on the list.  Nevertheless, Mr. Vera actually has it on his page.  And it's in a flood plain.  Why does Los Martinez and flood sound so familiar?  Oh yeah

As far as the federal grants for a manufacturing district, I need help with that because I have no idea what he's talking about.

Capital improvements happen city-wide, not just in his district.  And those projects come up on a yearly basis.  If you don't have capital improvement projects, then residents like the ones in Los Martinez, and the Dellwood Apts. start to get cranky.

And lastly, the Mines Rd. expansion.  I didn't know there was an expansion taking place apart from the one that happened two years ago.

The election is in 15 days.  Let's see if the public buys what Mr. Vera is selling.

Laredo Proudness

Good to see that Sgt. Sifuentes and his buddies are still getting some face time on the small screen.  The drug trade never rests, and neither should their slow motion groups walks (30 second mark).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In The Way

El Manana reports that local officials are going to start cracking down on people who park used cars on streets, parking lots, or sidewalks with the purpose of selling them.  State law prohibits this practice.

Buyers could encounter pitfalls when doing business in this manner, and sellers don't necessarily adhere to proper business practices that more reputable retailers do, the story contends.  It's okay for a person to sell a car on their own property, however, just not anywhere they please.

I like this idea, even though enforcement of any kind is always elusive.  But it's too often that I see cars parked on the sides of roads with 'for sale' signs on them.  People will use any prime space to sell their wares thinking that it's alright to do so.  But all it does is add to the cluttered landscape, and sometimes acts as a barrier to other cars, or pedestrians.  I wish ticketing officials luck.

Side note:  I want to send a shoutout to Erica, and Annie from Phoenix who follow Laredo's Most Imposing Blog on Facebook.  Thanks for reading. 

I have a whole 77 followers on Facebook.  Can we make that number bigger


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Henry Cuellar Loves Drones

This is what Blue Dog fiscal restraint looks like.
The drone makers have sought congressional help to speed their entry into a domestic market valued in billions of dollars.

Monday, November 26, 2012

This Is Laredo Progress

We all know that horizontal hydraulic fracturing is taking place nearby because our elected officials are constantly swooning over its benefits: jobs, sales tax revenue, heads in beds.  But we also know that fracking is ever so present because of the souvenirs left behind by truckers who haul drill site waste to some unknown destination south of us. 

A sludge spill (pictured above) is pretty recognizable; it's dark, viscous, and if you get up close to it you get a whiff of diesel fuel.  A light-colored, gravelly material in and around it means that a half-assed cleanup has occurred.  But waste spills are a mere inconvenience, collateral damage, and not so much an environmental concern.  If it was, our leaders would mention them when discussing everything Eagle Ford Shale.  Instead their outlook is of the rose-colored glasses persuasion.  They don't see that this sludge is going to end up in the water supply.  (Note bridge railing in photo; There's a creek there)  They don't talk about people lacking housing because rental rates have shot through the roof in smaller communities.  And least of all, they won't address water use during drought conditions.

Communities in Texas, and around the country are taking a stand on fracking activities.  We don't have that kind of resolve, not like in Longmont, Colorado.
One recent afternoon, a few supporters who helped get the ban passed drove through town to visit some of the “red sites” — areas that had been leased for drilling, or could be in the future. They drove past public parks, open spaces and golf courses and stopped at the Union Reservoir, still and limpid under a cloudy sky.
Longmont residents don't want fracking in their community, and I don't blame them.  If somebody was going to drill a site in my neighborhood, I'd be pretty upset too.  It hasn't gotten to that point here, but we can't say that the Eagle Ford Shale activity has been all good news. 

I understand that hydraulic fracturing is not stopping in surrounding counties anytime soon.  But I find it interesting how this community has reacted to it when others have pushed so hard against it. 

Keeping Up With The Sciaraffas

Just because Commissioner Frank Sciaraffa is on his way out of office doesn't mean that the drama also stops.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's Bad Luck Just Seeing That

I'm not one to be applying hand sanitizer every waking moment, but birds on grocery cart handles make me nervous. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey!

Wishing everybody a restful holiday.

On a pet peeve note, the term state-of-the-art is used too freely.  Carlos Villarreal used it to describe the new dog pound.  Really, it's just a bunch of cinder blocks with fencing. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Day Eve Thread

This morning I made a trip to the landfill to drop off some tires that were thrown out along several blocks on my street.  Unlike residents in the north part of town, I did not come across any underwear, syringes, beer bottles, or condoms.  Good for me.  Once I got rid of the radials, I filled up a couple of plastic bags with mulch that the city provides for free.  It's amazing the amount of yard waste they have at the facility.

Yard work - check.  Turkey dinner groceries - check.  What do I do for the rest of the day?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Mayor's 'Physical' Cliff And Diet

Mayor Raul Salinas was on Pro8news once again yesterday expounding (there was actual pounding of the news desk) on the generosity of HEB's Feast of Sharing event this weekend, and the work that Congress needs to attend to in order to avoid the proverbial fiscal cliff.  The mayor felt the need to inform us that he didn't sample the turkey offered at the Civic Center because he's on a diet.  Good for him.  Now if we can only get him to go on a verbal diet.

The mayor loves to ramble on about any subject; he's like a Bill Clinton, except without the smarts and focus.  At last night's council meeting he hurried people along because of the long agenda.  Still, that didn't stop him from putting in to the conversation his long-winded praises and acknowledgements. 

His orations over the years have been hard to endure.  And the mayor's gotten into some sticky situations  that haven't ended well.  But more interesting, I think, is his evolving style over the years.  He's gone from hair, to no hair, to glasses, to cowboy hat, and back to no glasses.  He's channeld everyone from Tony Levin, to Dick Armey, to Ron Burgundy.  It's a weird thing.

We'll keep an eye on Mr. Salinas as he slowly fades into the political sunset.  Hopefully between now and the end of his second term we'll be provided with more comic relief from one of Laredo's goofiest mayors.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bad News Good News

The Laredo Times has for us today two stories of interest -- one that lifts our spirits, and one that reminds us how local wealth affects our lives.  Let's start with the bit of disappointing news.

Mikaela Rodriguez writes about the Killams closing off the old detention center road in northeast Laredo.  This is of note because the road will no longer be available for people that use it for bicycling and jogging.  The Killams defend their decision with concerns of more nefarious activities taking place in the area.  But county officials think this action is related to a bid for the actual dentention center the Killams lost to the Khaledis.  Whatever the reason for the move, the people ended up losing in this case.

The detention center road is not the only place in Laredo for people to exercise, but it doesn't help that it's one less option out there.  A friend recently inquired about Shirley Field access for the public.  If memory serves, the track around Shirley was open in the afternoons for people to go jog or walk.  That is no longer the case.  Naturally my friend was disappointed. 

Friday evening, my son and I went to play a short round of tennis at the Market Street Courts.  It's not really tennis; it's more a game of whacking a green ball around hoping we can shoot it towards one another.  Anyway, I noticed that the city placed fee requirement signs around the facility.  The fees are not outrageous, but time will tell if tennis enthusiasts find other outlets for recreation.

The city may have more places for physical activity, but it seems that access to these areas is dwindling.

On a much lighter side, a Martin High School alum has found success playing basketball at the college level.

Clara Sandoval contributes to the LMT the story of CJ Martinez.

SAN ANTONIO — Former Martin basketball player CJ Martinez always had a goal of playing at the college level ever since he could remember and that is what he set out to do when his playing days were over.

After finishing up his high school career for the Tigers last year, Martinez headed out to Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio with one mission on his mind — make the Saints team.

“I knew that they came from a winning program,” Martinez said.

“This program was a good fit for me.

I don’t like losing and they are not accustomed to losing.

Every day you have to leave everything on the floor.”

It's good to read about a Tiger doing good when good news is scarce from the old alma mater.  Hat tip to Mr. Martinez.  He makes Laredo proud

Photo courtesy of Clara Sandoval (LMT)


Thursday, November 15, 2012

No Post Yesterday

Thankfully we don't have to deal with adverse weather all the time, but still we have to endure infrastructure interruptions that take too long to repair.

Yesterday, ATT worked on fixing lines that provide internet connection to Laredoans.  All day, many were without computer access.  I hate to think what would happen if a real storm hit this town.  As it is, the poor infrastructure in place, coupled with how we affect it, leads to many water main breaks, power outages, and phone line disturbances.  Laredo may be safe, but services are crippled easily. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mayor Hospitalized

Maybe he should think twice about going to Saudi Arabia.
Mayor Salinas said “I’m feeling fine, in good spirits and looking forward to returning work to care of business for the City”.
Press release courtesy of the City of Laredo

Lower Prices At The Pump!

Not so fast.
Mr. Levi said that the agency’s report was generally “good news” for the United States because it highlighted the nation’s new sources of energy. But he cautioned that being self-sufficient did not mean that the country would be insulated from seesawing energy prices, since those oil prices are set by global markets.
“You may be somewhat less vulnerable to price shocks and the U.S. may be slightly more protected, but it doesn’t give you the energy independence some people claim,” he said.

Natural gas was supposed to be the wave of the future.  It was going to be a cleaner source of fuel that would provide cheaper prices, and lessen our dependency on foreign oil.  But with so much supply hitting the market, the price of natural gas dropped, leaving energy companies to focus more on oil extraction.  Okay, so we have our own oil, and that will benefit American consumers.  Not quite since "oil prices are set by global markets."  Still, we'll focus more on shale formation drilling and abandon coal.  No again.  Coal will just be re-routed to developing countries.  


Tool Was Here

It was ten years ago today that Tool performed at the new Laredo Entertainment Center.  It was the first concert at the venue; the first show at the arena was actually a kids-themed presentation.  The LEC, now the Laredo Energy Arena, enjoyed some booking successes after the inaugural year, but lately it's been trying to find its groove.

Congrats to the arena on its 10-year anniversary. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

These Are Our Leaders

The mayor is busy prepping for his trip to Saudi Arabia, meeting with business leaders, city officials, and anyone who'll listen.  To cast a more imposing presence abroad, the mayor will wear his sunglasses at all times. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Politics And Gardening

The higher ups will decide on a new police chief in a couple of months.  To hear the mayor speak on what he wants that chief to be, I'm guessing it's going to be a local candidate that gets the gig.  The Times reports that 24 people have applied for the position, with half of those being from outside of Laredo.

Closer to home (and by that, I mean my home), something has thrived on my compost pile.  Recently a friend provided me with some goat manure.  I tucked that new material deep in the middle of the pile.  I don't think the manure had anything to do with the little, green plants at the top.  If anybody has an idea of what I'm dealing with here, please leave a comment.


Friday, November 9, 2012

I Give It A Ten

The addition of workout stations at the Slaughter Park Sports Complex has been a hit with area kids, but I found out that the equipment is geared more towards older populations.  The video below gives you an idea of the newest amenity to the park.

The Keyrose family tried out each station the other day.  My son, especially, liked the equipment so much that he wants to visit the park more often.  I can't tell you what a relief it is to hear him say that when he, like so many kids today, spends a lot of time in front of a t.v., or a computer screen.

The low-impact feature of the different stations is perfect for both young and old people, I think.  Pre-adolescent kids don't have the muscle strength to handle something more strenuous.  An entry-level feature like this could prepare them physically as their bodies mature.  For seniors who struggle with balance, joint rigidity, or loss of bone density, the playground equipment offers them an alternative to just plain ol' walking.

I applaud Parks & Leisure for adding this for the people of the Chacon neighborhood.  Now bring on the skate plaza, and tennis courts.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sore Loser?

If Francisco Canseco wants to make the charge that "duplicate balloting" occurred in his district, who am I to disagree?  Election shenanigans are not incomprehensible.  But complaining that millions of dollars were poured into this election by conservative foes is disingenuous, especially when you consider what people like Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson, and the Koch brothers spent to try to get more republicans elected.

In talking to my mother about the days of J.C. Martin Jr.'s reign, she told me that a person close to our family was in charge of collecting as many voter ID cards as possible - for a small fee perhaps - and taking them to the polls to cast votes for those who would then return some type of favor.  That was business as usual back then.  For all I know, the practice could be going on to this day. 

I wish Mr. Canseco luck, but this attitude of victimhood is not amusing.  We here at LaSanbe world news headquarters will see what becomes of this story.  For now, we celebrate.

UPDATE:  Reader suggested link about Canseco race found in previous post.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tame Local Elections

The only interesting occurrence of this election was the fact that the Webb County Elections Office was late in reporting any results.  Usually on election night, we're used to getting the first update around 7 p.m. local time.  But it wasn't until 90 minutes later that we started getting any preliminary results.  One explanation for the delay was the fact that every person had to complete two ballot pages at the polls.  This, of course, added to the confusion when it came time for officials to start counting.

Everything else went according to plan.  Martin Cuellar and his helicopter won.  All but one incumbent, Ed Sherwood, won.  And the media blitz, if you can call it that, was pretty low key, and carried out close to November 6.  Overall the whole experience was as inspiring as a Juan Narvaez victory speech.  Hint - that's not a good thing.

If it's one thing that I learned from this election it's that the Latino vote really does count (not Laredo's), and that Donald Trump is as much a blessing and a curse.  He's amusing to a point but you can't believe that somebody in his position can be so dumb.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Results

Election Day 2012:  The polls are now closed...still waiting on early voting results.

UPDATE at 8:30 p.m. - Early voting numbers

Webb County Sheriff
     Martin Cuellar      77%
     Rick Flores             23%

City Council of Laredo
District 4
     Juan Narvaez           70%
     Armando Cisneros      30%
District 5
     Roque Vela, Jr.           53%
     Pat Campos                 47%
District 7
     Sid Holden             13%
     Yolanda Salinas       21%
     Hector Lee Patiño     22%
     Jorge Vera                  45%
District 8
     J.L. "Maddona" Maldonado        13%
     Hector M. Patiño, Sr.                 22%
     Cindy Liendo Espinoza           64%

LCC Trustees
Place 4
     Allen Tijerina
     Edward Sherwood
Place 6
     Gilberto Martinez, Jr.
     Alberto Torres, Jr. 

LISD Trustees
District 2
     Johnny Sanchez
     Jesus Martinez
District 4
     Rick Garza
     Margie Coronado

UISD Trustees
District 2
     Feliciano Garcia, Jr.
     Ricardo Rodriguez
     Arturo Garcia
     Ruben Reyes, Sr.
District 4
     Manuel Lugo
     Ramiro Rendon II
     Juan Molina
     Ramiro Veliz III
District 7
     Ruben Arce
     John Bruce
     Judd Gilpin

State Senator, District 21
     Grant Rostig
     Judith Zaffirini
     Joseph Morse

U.S.Representative, District 28
     William Hayward
     Henry Cuellar
     Patrick Hisel
     Michael Cary

     Ted Cruz
     Paul Sadler
     John Jay Myers
     David Collins

U.S. President/Vice President
     Barack Obama/ Joe Biden
     Mitt Romney/ Paul Ryan

Thursday, November 1, 2012

They Decide

Maximiliano posted some of the highlights of the LMT's endorsements today.  My favorite entry from Bill Green and Odie Arambula is this one:
Furthermore, she is super qualified with impeccable credentials to bolster the stature of the appellate court.
Super qualified?  Did they come up with this while pigging out on S'mores during a sleepover?  It's just what the 4th Court of Appeals needs, someone who is super qualified.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Six Days Left

The locals lament about the patron system of the past, but it's not a political practice that was particular to Laredo.
Gradually, both political parties became more aggressive in their vote-buying efforts, much to the delight of county residents. In 1879, according to a 1911 edition of Cosmopolitan Magazine (not the same publication we’ve come to know as Cosmo), a Republican candidate for governor “sent two-dollar bills into Adams County” to fund vote-buying operations. Not to be outdone, Democratic partisans from the nation’s capital journeyed to Adams County in 1886 with “stacks of ten-dollar gold pieces” in an attempt to secure the county for their party.
For the record, I wasn't compensated for my vote today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Reads

Totally dig the cover on the recent LareDOS issue.  Check it out online.

And In Laredo tells us that Sgt. Sifuentes and his troops will be back on the small screen.  YeeHaw!!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Texas Severance Tax Revenue

I was just talking to Commissioner Jaime Canales about this very thing the other day.
In her certification of state revenue for 2012 and 2013, State Comptroller Susan Combs noted severance tax revenues on oil and gas production have increased sharply due to activity in the Eagle Ford Shale formation. That revenue stream is dedicated to the state's Rainy Day Fund and the Permanent University Fund. A portion of these revenues should also be dedicated to repairing and upgrading state and county roads that were never engineered to bear heavy truck traffic yet now serve as the transportation network for the Eagle Ford Shale play.
One of the points Mr. Canales made in Austin recently is that our infrastructure now has to contend with international trade traffic and Eagle Ford Shale traffic.  If the shale boom is going to last for decades, we're going to need help with roads, among other things.

Only One Answered

Upon texting several council members over the weekend to get comments on nepotism rules as they apply to Carlos and Roberto San Miguel, only Mike Garza replied.  When I asked him why the fire department application asks each candidate whether or not they are related to any council member, he said:
Standard applications for all city employees I would assume.
So according to Mike Garza, the question is there only as a formality and does not have anything to do with city charter nepotism rules.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Water Concerns In Laredo

A lot has been said about the benefits that the Eagle Ford Shale play has brought to the area, but like anything, there are always drawbacks. 

Water is a prized commodity for Laredo and Webb County.  We have to be diligent about how it's used.  And if it's being resold, that too has to get attention.  Laredo's utility director on companies hauling and charging for water:
Charging for freight of water “is not exactly what the ordinance is against,” Rodriguez said.

He said the ordinance is in place to prevent citizens from charging neighbors, family and friends for drinkable water.
A comparison is done with other communities.
The City of Laredo charges $3.50 per 1,000 gallons of water, or 0.35 cents per gallon, as determined by traveling water meters.

The cities of Brownsville and McAllen charge $1.92 and $1.30, respectively, per 1,000 gallons.

Talking about water conservation, here's a resident using native plants that are drought tolerant.