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.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gloomy San Bernardo

His Name Is Robert Paulson

It's unusual to grow up admiring certain people and then finding out later on in life that they're just a bunch of jerks.  I shouldn't be so harsh.  People of different political leanings oftentimes are related, socialize casually, or just challenge each other without having things escalate into destructive exchanges, or outcomes.  Nevertheless, it's disappointing when the likes of Meatloaf and Janine Turner espouse beliefs that are so different from mine.

I'm no Meatloaf fanatic, but I've enjoyed his music over the years, and have seen him act as well.  From a distance I've liked the guy, but now my admiration has soured.  He, and others, have done the opposite of the Sour Patch Kids.  Other notables that have lost me are: Lynn Swann, Clint Eastwood, and Chuck Norris. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Laredo Files: Nepotism

Earlier this month I posted some comments on the actions, or lack thereof, that the city council was taking to deal with the hiring of Councilman Charlie San Miguel's sons.  Mr. San Miguel, on the advise of staff, used the my-sons-are-protected-by-civil-service defense.  Following his lead, Councilman Mike Garza suggested that the Civil Service Commission be more clear about its nepotism rules.

This actually doesn't speak well of Mike Garza because he's basically taking Charlie San Miguel, and staff at their word, and not looking into whether the San Miguel twins are really shielded from nepotism rules.  Also, protecting his fellow councilman by having new language inserted into civil service "not affect anyone that currently sat on the Council" is pretty cowardly.  He wants to prop up nepotism rules but he doesn't want anyone sanctioned for it.

So if civil service is not clear on nepotism, then why is it asked on police and fire departments applications?

Both Carlos and Roberto answered 'no' when asked if they were related to any elected official.  They were technically right because Charlie San Miguel didn't take office until early 2011.  But at the time that his sons submitted their applications to the city, surely Charlie had made his intentions known about seeking office.  His campaign commercial debuted in October 2010.  I would dare the councilman to show me receipts for his campaign signs.

Both sons went through background checks, agility tests, and a written exam before finally being hired by the city on July 25, 2011.  Charlie San Miguel was already in office, and his sons probably forgot about the nepotism question on their applications, or simply decided to overlook it.  It could be that a lot of people overlooked it. 

City council is dragging its feet on taking proper action in this matter, all to keep from rocking the boat, so to speak.  Charlie San Miguel and his sons are violating local nepotism rules.  City staff is not without fault either.  Issues of nepotism aren't something that suddenly appeared.

I encourage everybody to go out and vote, but I also want everybody to call out city leaders when their not holding up their part of the bargain.

Mr. Arturo Diaz Recognized

Finally a tribute that makes sense.  Getting naming rights to a cafeteria might not be the same as having a whole building named after you, but I think the gesture is a start.  Mr. Arturo Diaz has worked for LISD for at least two decades.  Kudos to LISD for recognizing somebody that's been in the trenches for so long.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Curb Appeal Mishmash

On older gentleman stepped towards the curb and angrily waved me down as I took a picture of this establishment.  He probably thought I was casing the place for something more sinister than common interest.  However, I couldn't get down to explain my actions because I was pressed for time and after-school traffic in the area was unbearable. 

The location looks like a neighborhood auto shop, but I couldn't tell for sure because I was more focused on the campaign sign near the walkway, and the accompanying light blue commode to its side.  Nothing out of the ordinary in the barrio, really; it's just somebody's idea of eye-catching outdoor decor.  But perhaps from a practical sense where certain things don't go well together, the pairing of a commode and a campaign sign is a serious visual don't. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

"Wonder Boy"

While evaluating my weekend yesterday morning - wonderting whether or not my time was well-spent - I came across a Martin Cuellar infomercial on KGNS.  Two things threw me off:  one being that Issues 8 was missing from the morning lineup in order to accommodate Cuellar, and the other was seeing Cuellar topless in his home video.  I have to call KGNS management to find out the cost of me putting up my own informercial on local t.v. 


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Electorate In Action

Neighborhood residents of one of Laredo's oldest districts hosted a forum last night to hear from the three candidates vying for the same council seat.  With the help of social media, organizers put this event together.  LaSanbe applauds their efforts.  It's this type of community action that makes Laredo a better place to live in. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Polls Are Calling

I want to see the Isidro Alaniz presser where he drops everything to personally investigate and prosecute this case.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Highway Is Alive Tonight

Not even a school night could keep the masses away from the (rebuilt) McDonald's debut on Zapata Hwy last night.  A dependable source who made the scene said that seven police units were helping to keep the peace.  That's understandable.  When you're selling Big Macs for $1 at midnight, you have to make sure crowd control is on tap.  You don't want things turning into a Black Friday bum rush.

If I had the circadian rhythm of a vampire, perhaps I could've attended Ronald's celebratory event.  As Laredo's Most Imposing Blogger* I should've used the occasion to conduct an informal poll.  I could have asked the hungry squatters what their thoughts were on the presidential debate, or if they take a man's crisply-starched shirts into account as they vote for sheriff.  Alas, I missed my chance to get in touch with the common folk.  Another day will dawn; when it does, I'll be there.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

At The Store

Even for vehicles it's an adventure going grocery shopping.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Life On The Border

It was one year ago this weekend that Bordertown: Laredo debuted.  Once the show's only season ended, we didn't hear anybody in law enforcement remind us that any stash of confiscated drugs was 'cartel-related.'  Sifuentes and the gang surely use the phrase every chance they get, but it's out of our consciousness now.

The threat of drug trafficking, human smuggling, and violence is on most people's minds, especially those who live in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.  Our law enforcement officials, however, are on the case and they have our backs.  But don't ask 'em to define spillover violence, because they'll probably all answer differently.
There are some definitions for spillover violence, but each has its own limitations and problems. The definition currently used by DHS is "spillover violence entails deliberate, planned attacks by the cartels on US assets, including civilian, military, or law enforcement officials, innocent US citizens or physical institutions such as government buildings, consulates, or businesses. This definition does not include trafficker on trafficker violence, whether perpetrated in Mexico or the US.”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Could It Be?

The original Mami Chulas location on S. Meadow looks like it's closed.  The sign on the side of the wall is even painted over.  Could it be that the sluggish economy has finally taken its hold on the local beer-peddling, lap-dancing industry?  Whatever the case, the church congregants across the street must be happy with this new development. 

In other news:

The Uni-Trade empire strikes back.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Solid Waste Dept. Characters

Most mascots are usually cute, lovable characters, or superhero-like figures.  I don't know why the caricature that speaks on the importance of a clean environment has to be a macho, half-naked, cape-wearing Latino stereotype. 

Violence Against Women And Children

Too many stories about family violence recently. 
Austin, Texas- October 2, 2012 – The Texas Council on Family Violence today reports that many shelters across Texas have been over capacity in the last year because of an increased demand for victims of domestic violence seeking services. In the last year, more than 223,000 Texans called domestic violence hotlines and domestic violence programs served more than 80,000 adults and children because they did not feel safe in their home. A recent survey of shelters also reported that there is less money coming in to help victims of domestic violence and more of a demand for their services.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gilberto Garza Saga With The County

Last weekend I emailed a letter to the LMT Editor, but I haven't gotten a call to confirm that I wrote it, and it hasn't appeared in the pages of the Times.  So I'm just going to post it here; that's why, after all, I started this blog, to have more autonomy with my comments.  Enjoy.

As the issue of nepotism plays out for the City of Laredo, commissioners over at Webb County are acting, I hope, on the matter of Gilberto Garza providing false information on his application for the position of Facilities and Maintenance Director.  Supposedly Mr. Garza met the minimum requirements for the job, but the issue at hand is the information he provided to two local governmental entities.

In 2009 Mr. Garza applied to the city and listed on his resume one set of employers that went back to the early 2000s.  As references he gave the names of local business people, including his uncle, celebrated City of Laredo backer Eduardo Garza.  Surely that name jumped out for people at City Hall.

When Gilberto Garza applied to the county recently, he gave hiring officials a different list of employers for the previous decade.  I don't doubt that he's a hard-working individual who might have held two jobs at different stages within the last ten years, while also attending college full-time.  But why give contradicting proof of employment when seeking different jobs within the span of over two years?

For his county application he had his City of Laredo supervisor write him a letter of recommendation.  On top of that, Sheriff Martin Cuellar and Councilman Charlie San Miguel vouched in writing for Mr. Garza.  Que mas quieres?  The Charlie San Miguel nod is questionable, however, since San Miguel is still waiting for compensation from the county in regards to work he performed for the Community Action Agency.

Mr. Garza must now oversee 50 employees and a $1.9 million budget.  Let's hope his abilities are better than his selective memory, and let's hope Commissioners Court addresses his tactics and not so much the people he knows.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Menso Not Mensa

Via the LMT today:

Keeping It Clean

This business of illegal trash dumping is pervasive in our community.  I applaud the city for setting up cameras to keep a watchful eye on this activity, and for having 311 available for people to report illegal dumpers.  But if you know that this is happening, wouldn't it make sense to provide an outlet in known areas of dumping for people to dispose of waste properly? 

This city has only one satellite station to turn in your recyclable items, at the corner of Clark and McPherson.  There you can hand over your blue bags filled with the acceptable recyclable materials: plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, etc.  But this is unacceptable for a city that continues to grow.  Laredo can't only sanction its citizenry out of bad habits; it has to provide alternatives to the people to actually help keep Laredo beautiful.   

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nothing To See Here

LaredoTejas has the juicy details of this whole Charlie San Miguel fiasco.

The people, however, are happy with San Miguel.

29 Days Left

C'mon Rick, don't be an idiot.
And what I feel is that my party pretty much abandoned me, because I've always been a loyalist of the Democratic Party.  But in this case, you know, they didn't play fair.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Como Los Quieren

Ajua!  Even better than another song I heard for another Webb Co. politico.

Impotent City Council

Laredo Tejas posted the story that appeared in the LMT yesterday concerning action being taken by city council on nepotism rules.
On Monday, City Council voted unanimously to formally request a City Council nepotism prohibition from the police and fire civil service commission in its civil service rules.
City council isn't acting on prohibiting Charlie San Miguel's sons from continuing with the fire department academy because, supposedly, Carlos and Roberto fall under civil service rules.  The city is the hiring authority and the city charter clearly states that relatives of council people, or the mayor can't be hired.  But that's not good enough for council, I guess.

I asked a couple of council members to give me their input on what they voted on on Monday, but only one responded, and I was directed to the city attorneys office.

Mr. Zone Nguyen, Asst. City Attorney, said that council wants to make sure that nepotism rules apply to fire dept. personnel and police officers.  He doesn't think that the new rule for employees who fall under civil service will take long to institute, but he said that Roberto and Carlos can be allowed to serve in the fire department if the rule is enacted after the sons graduate.  Mira, que chulos.  

I conveyed to him that the city is the hiring authority in all this, but he stressed that civil service rules are not consistent with the city charter, and therefore it provides an obstacle for the city to act. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Grass And Cow Thefts

I have one simple request and that is to have cows with freakin' laser beams attached to their heads!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Debate Watching Thread

Obama vs. Romney.  What wine goes well with a Jim Lehrer-moderated debate?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

CounterTop CounterTerrorism

With 35 days left till the big day, political candidates have to kick their campaigns into high gear.  Rick Flores, for instance, needs a makeover is leaving nothing to chance; he's taking his message to the streets and to fast food restaurant counters all throughout Laredo.

While pondering whether or not to upgrade my combo today, I was distracted by a sombrero'ed gentleman reminding me to vote.  Yes, on the counter of a national chain burger place, there sat Rick in all the glory a business card can afford a person.  I don't know if I'll vote for Rick, but every time I bite into an egg roll, I'll have an overwhelming urge to over-starch my shirts.

Water Is Infinite

That's why we don't need no stinkin' water conservation plan any more.
We like the yard to look good, so if the water bill goes up, well we just pay it.  It doesn't matter to me.
Thank you, City of Laredo.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Confusion All Around

Tonight's city council meeting started with the city manager going through the order of events that transpired after Charlie San Miguel's mud race that took place on September 15, 2012.  The timeline was presented to give the public a clear understanding of what happened until all the proceeds of the race were counted.  What is remarkable is that the money wasn't counted until Tuesday the 18th, and that more funds were turned in on Wednesday by somebody who helped collect monies.

The city manager mentioned that city resources were made available for the race. Parks & Leisure staff was present at the event, along with Charlie San Miguel, but it was only Osvaldo Guzman, the department's director, who was suspended for the mishandling of money. 

Councilman San Miguel was so bothered by Mr. Guzman's suspension that he saw it fit to compensate him for the pay he lost.  But the city manager saw it another way.
It violates all the aspects related to the city charter, which is interference with administration.
Mr. Villarreal voided the check written by Charlie San Miguel because, according to him, it eliminated an administrative act. 

So Mr. San Miguel interfered with administration at the race by taking money home, and then he interfered with administration by trying to cut Mr. Guzman a check.  And with all this, council can't make up its mind as to what to do with Charlie San Miguel.

During all the fireworks at city hall tonight, I knew I could count on my councilman, Alex Perez, to sit idly by while an important issue was discussed at length.

Please Gather 'Round

Screen shot from Charlie San Miguel's FB post Sunday

More to come later today.