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.