Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Music All Around

Mine eyes ears got a treat some days ago.  I was busy at home when "Just Another Love Song" by the Allman Brothers Band came on.  The song is found on the 1975 album Win, Lose or Draw.  I had never heard it but the crisp, bluesy guitar made me pause.  At first I thought it was The Grateful Dead.  However, this group hailed from Florida.


The song is interesting in that it blends a laid-back rhythm section, wistful lyrics, and a dreamy guitar part.  The Allman Brothers are considered a jam band but the song I'm talking about and "Midnight Rider," which appears in a Geico commercial, are less than three minutes long.  If I could say anything about their material it's that it's good traveling music. 

Skynyrd has become a punchline.  The Allman Brothers give southern rock respect.

In new music news, !!! has a new album out.



Monday, April 29, 2013

One Or The Other

Late last week Congress and the president passed legislation to stop the effects the sequester had in delaying air traffic.  Legislators pointed to the trouble travelers had to endure, but others saw Congress' swift action as a means to avoid flight delays themselves as they were preparing to board flights home from D.C.  Meanwhile, cuts to other programs were left unattended.
The sequester cuts furloughed air traffic controllers, thus bringing about the delays. 

Airlines reportedly lost millions each day due to flight delays; that probably inspired Congress to act, among other things.  But it's interesting how they fixed the problem.  Via the NY Times: 
The money will be shifted from airport improvement funds, and none would come from additional revenues, once a key demand of Mr. Obama and the Democrats. The 361-to-41 vote came less than 24 hours after the Senate rushed the measure through.

If money meant for improvements is being transferred to cover personnel pay, what does that mean for the local ports of entry? 

Henry Cuellar wants to help secure $61 million for bridge upgrades in Laredo.  Where is this money going to come from?  This amount is supposedly included in the budget for the upcoming year.  However, the way Congress is operating these days, I don't see the funding process improving.  If the trend continues -- and there's no indication to think otherwise -- improvements will have to wait while our representatives squabble over sequester details.

Cuts will be the norm unless everybody agrees on what direction the budget should take.  Trade, however, will have to continue unfettered.  To do so the ports will have to remain properly manned.  Furloughs will have their breaking point and Congress will realize that employees along the border come first.  Bridge improvements and Henry's photo ops with big, plastic checks will have to wait.

(Laredo officials supposedly secured $27 million last year from Washington.  Forgive me if I seem a little skeptical if Henry Cuellar now wants to get his hands on 61 mil. for infrastructure improvements.)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Laredo's Image

Perhaps we should point people's attention to our news outlets and their headlines to give them an idea of just how mundane this town really is. 

I think if we let them in on how normal this town is, and how it compares with any other town with its public incompetence, daily drug-dealing stories, tales of horrible parents, 5K runs and so on, then they'd learn a thing or two about Laredo.

And maybe a geographical lesson too.



Saturday, April 27, 2013

Menso Not Mensa

I had not done this feature in a while, but a special numbskull has reared his stupid head.

Un tipo Daniel Bautista, who is not even old enough to drink, already has a lengthy criminal record under his belt.


Apparently this menso didn't stop when he was being pulled over by police;  no, he decides to peel out.  Then he crashes into a tree on government property!!!  For a dramatic finish, the car catches fire.  So I'm thinking he'll receive a bill from the fire department now.

The good news out of this is that there is nowhere to go but up for this guy.  Oh, who am I kidding?  He's probably out on bail and stealing clothes from somebody's yard sale.

Congratulations, Daniel.  You're our pick for Menso Not Mensa. 






One more thing - The LMT included a funny picture of Laredo Rattlesnakes personnel and the mayor holding a press conference.  The organization will be accepting donations for the residents of West, TX, who recently suffered the effects of a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant.

Anyway, the shot above begs for captions.  It looks like somebody cut the cheese and doesn't want to own up to it.

Cabbage wins again.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Handling Wads Of Cash

It's so easy to sit here and try to pass judgement on people.
I have the luxury of hindsight on my side.  And the information I process is filtered through a biased news outlet.  Still, if the sheriff's office is responsible for utilizing millions in forfeiture funds, wouldn't you think that several people would have to sign off on the money before it's doled out?

Auditors question sheriff's office expense handling


By Mikaela Rodriguez
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:39 PM CDT
The Webb County Sheriff’s Office received many questions regarding its operations in an outside audit report, namely concerns of failing to request approval of expenses from the Commissioners Court and failing to properly document the use of “buy” money.

“Buy” money is used to pay informants and to buy illegal goods that aim to eventually lead to arrests.

The audit of the county’s 2012 fiscal year budget, presented to county commissioners Monday, states that the Department of Justice prohibits the use of forfeiture funds unless authorized by the “agency head” and is approved by “the governing body.”

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Presidential Library Thread

I suppose presidential libraries serve the purpose of capturing the history of each particular president.
Even if it is all congratulatory.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bridge 1 Funding Laredo

Last week Henry Cuellar, along with city leaders, appeared together in a press conference talking about $61 million coming our way to upgrade Bridge 1.

Whether those 61 mil. are actually getting here is up in the air.






The General Services Administration (GSA) mentions the bridge project as being in the president's 2014 budget.  But this is the same budget where Obama proposes cuts to Social Security and Medicare -- not exactly popular with the base.

Henry Cuellar probably knows something about this, after all, it's been on the GSA's radar for the last two years.





It might be time for Laredo's port to see some serious cash, but I don't know why an actual photo op/presser is warranted when the money hasn't been allocated yet.




Of course the next photo op will be of Henry Cuellar holding a big, coroplast check for the amount of $61 million.  It might very well come but I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks go out to a blog reader for giving me a heads up to the 2011 GSA report.


Feliz Dia De La Tierra!

It's Earth Day!

Well, more for some than others.






At the main post office, they're going for a minimalist theme.  At least two people have commented that their landscape is bare and bone dry.

Idea for today:  plant share program for Laredo to help out the post office on Saunders.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Did Some Yard Work

I stayed up with some news.

And I did a new video podcast.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Grants From Washington To Laredo

The other day I talked about the list of grant monies that the city presented to the media.  Specifically I posted information on some of the police department grants Laredo received in 2011 and 2012.

Today I wanted to go over the money that the airport received.  By doing so I hope to draw attention to the city's insistence on traveling to Washington D.C. every year in large numbers to lobby for money, when in fact, these grants are consistently there.  It makes no sense for them to take such a large contingent over there year after year.


The partial list pictured appeared in the LMT, courtesy of the city.

In 2011 the city got over $1.6 million for EMAS work.  Here's the same funding from back in 2005, pre-Raul Salinas and Carlos Villarreal era.


 Noise abatement -- that's a big one.  From 2002!!!!!!:


 So the mayor, city council, and city manager can talk all they want about the importance of going to D.C., and they can give themselves $40,000 raises, and have outrageous phone allowances, but I'm not impressed by what they say they do.

Maximiliano at LaredoTejas blogged about how the city's entourage got so big in recent years.  Can you believe only five people went to D.C. in 2006?


Thursday, April 18, 2013

For West, TX

The Waco Tribune listed the organizations that are helping the victims of yesterday's explosion.  No doubt the people of West, TX will need help for a long time.  Donate what you can.

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center coordinator is planning a drive for this weekend.  Details to come.  If anyone has suggestions about where we can direct our resources, please let us know.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Filibuster The Hell Out Of Them

I think Tom Wade is right to criticize people who came out of the woodwork to gripe about Carlos Villarreal getting a hefty raise.

But I don't know that showing up to council chambers and speaking your mind is going to make much difference.  Perhaps one strategy we can employ is filibustering the local gang of eight so they can't vote on things like $40,000 raises.  I'll have to check if that's even an option in the Laredo city charter.

 

Raise

City Manager Carlos Villarreal got a raise Monday night.  And not just any raise -- the man's pay was bumped up close to $40,000, hiking his salary to $230,000.00.  Once the natives got a hold of this, they were none too pleased.  The mayor and city council, however, had nothing but glowing remarks for Mr. Villarreal.  (Video) 

The LMT message board really lit up with colorful commentary.  People even took to posting the story on their Facebook feeds to express their dismay over the salary raise.  (I want to take this opportunity to comment on the youthful headshot the LMT used for the story.  Bravo, LMT!)  The criticism was expected, especially when you consider that $40,000 is more money than most Laredoans see in a year.

Before council voted on the city manager's raise, the mayor had to, of course, comment on the measure.  The mayor was in top form that night - repeating phrases, using his earnest voice, tapping his chest with his hand, and pretty much boring everybody to death.  In the picture below, you can see Councilman Roque Vela Jr. leaning back and showing us that he wished to be somewhere else.

I always thought the mayor provided us with plenty of comedic relief, but Mr. Vela's gestures are pure gold.  Thank you, sir.


Apart from the mayor's ill-advised use of the word emphatic in his speech, he said this of Carlos Villarrreal:  "You're doing a heck of a good job."  Where have I heard that before?  The mayor cited Mr. Villarreal's loyalty, and commitment to doing his job.  For a six-figure salary, we most certainly would expect to see some loyalty and dedication.  Council members Mike Garza and Cindy Liendo-Espinoza also complimented the city manager, and spoke briefly on the accomplishments seen in recent years.

What wasn't mentioned was: the $11,000,000.00 deficit from last year; the $3 spike in trash fees; the unfortunate pick of former Police Chief Carlos Maldonado; the bogus grants lists staff puts out for the media; Mr. Villarreal's combative attitude; all the delayed construction projects; etc.  

A point made by everyone involved was that the raise was appropriate because of our unique standing as a major trade hub, and the duties that come with dealing with international affairs.

The city manager's new salary may be well-deserved.  However, those who decided on the raise didn't do a good job of selling it to me. 

 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Have Arrived

Thanks, DeLaredo!  You made my day.

Monies To The City

About these grants the city got because of their trips to Washington.... perhaps it's because Laredo is considered a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas location.  Laredo has been designated as such since 1990.  About three weeks ago the mayor lambasted the LMT for ignoring the results of their work in Washington.  It was this weekend that city staff released to the LMT the financial gains the city has seen from their yearly junkets to the nation's capital.
The city provided - at the behest of the mayor - the LMT with actual grant earnings from 2011 and 2012.  The departments that saw cash infusions from the federal level were the airport, community development, environmental, and police.

Some of the same categories, and money amounts appear repeated from one year to the other.


One of the criticisms we've had about city hall's trips to Washington is that they travel in large numbers, and some even take relatives along.  The capper is the party they throw for themselves and federal officials at the end of the five-day stay.

Frugality aside, let's focus on the actual grants our illustrious leaders garner.  The mayor, especially, is "emphatic" about the work the city does in D.C.  Their yearly trips reap actual rewards, according to him.  But if we go back to 2004, we can see how a $99,916.00 grant matches what they've listed for 2011 & 2012.  The Laredo Multi-Agency Drug Related Public Corruption Task Force grant has been given to Laredo even before the mayor assumed office in 2006.  In the lists provided, however, the item is under the South Texas Public Corruption Task Force category. 

27.           2004-R-027    Authorizing the City Manager to apply for a grant in the amount of $637,267.00 to fund the Laredo Financial Disruption Task Force and a grant in the amount of $99,916.00 to fund the Laredo Multi-Agency Drug Related Public Corruption Task Force.  Both grants are funded by the Executive Office of the President, Office of the National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) at no cost to the City.  Funding will be used to pay benefits, overtime, travel and operating expenses from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2005.

If you go back to previous city hall meeting minutes, you can find the STPCTF grant being there, in the same amount ($99K+), for the years: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.

Some time ago I did a post about the city's COPS program funding.  I brought it up for the same reason that I'm bringing up this $99,916.00 grant now:  the mayor wants to impress us with numbers but those figures predate his tenure; they basically have nothing to do with his travel to Washington.  But he'll use them as justification for travelling there every year right before Spring Break for a whole week. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Texas Doesn't Raise Taxes

Texas' state Lotto was supposed to fund education.  I never thought about it as a tax.  Certainly the local maquinitas do a lot to pump money into the coffers of city government.  Unfortunately our reps don't discuss how these places hurt the working class.  They want gambling legalized in TX so people will spend money here.  What they really mean is that this is the best way we know to raise taxes revenues.

Monday Morning Thread

So, anybody have an interesting weekend?

UPDATE:  Perhaps social media outlets are not the best places to have serious discussions about heavy issues.  For one thing you're dealing with people who have short attention spans.
And both sender and reader depend on short messages that are mostly one-sided.   


I found this attachment on a friend's timeline.  Actually I have several friends who have posted some sort of pro-gun rights statement on their feed recently.  Ever since the events of Sandy Hook Elem., the gun discussion took off.  Unfortunately, the merits of universal background checks get the same consideration as one's dislike for Monday mornings. 

Usually what I've found is that people will 'like' a post like the one above and move on.  Every once in a while, a challenge will ensue and jabs are thrown back and forth.  No middle ground is reached and each side eventually veers off the initial conversation.  Our discourse mirrors that of Congress; that should give us an idea for the deadlock in D.C.

Universal background checks are wildly popular; Loopholes, however, will still exist, even with proposed legislation.  Teachers in Missouri who carry guns participate in annual drug tests and mental evaluations.  However, any suggestion for new gun laws are met with swift and stern opposition by what seems to be the majority of gun owners -- and by that I mean my friends.

With the seriousness of guns, doesn't it make sense to put everything on the table?  Daily acts of gun violence get a passing mention in the media.  Large scale attacks, on the other hand, get wall-to-wall coverage.  To some extent, that might make sense since I would consider Sandy Hook, and events like it, a terroristic attack.  Gun owners require more scrutiny.  Every gun needs to be tracked.  Gun ownership can't be reduced to snide remarks, and superficial arguments.  Moreover, to somehow equate the rights of gun owners with those of voters misses the point.  Guns and voting rights have their own histories, each needing a different tact.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What About Our Lunch?

The Strategic Alliance for Business and Economic Research Institute did a study about the economic impact that Mexican shoppers have on local economies.  Laredo came in behind Hidalgo County and El Paso
Hidalgo County (Edinburg) is far and away the best performer in this arena, according to the data.  You could say that they are eating our lunch and kicking our dog afterwards.
Among the report's key findings: Mexican nationals spent $373,995,201 in Bexar County in 2012, up from $320,663,283 in 2011 and $241,238,841 in 2010. Spending in Bexar ranked fourth after: Hidalgo County, which saw $863,089,738 in 2012 spending; El Paso County, with $445,991,683; and Webb County, at $392,629,269.
But gawd strike me down for saying that we're second fiddle to the valley; The mayor's bound to freak out.






Those numbers are not shabby by any means.  I'm interested to know how the SABERI arrived at those figures.  And what of the manifestos, the tax rebates that Mexican shoppers get?  I would guess that they couldn't get sales tax rebates on hotels, and restaurant purchases, so some money is going to the state.  (Merchandise that is taken to Mexico is eligible for the manifestos.)

I made a call to the local Chamber of Commerce, but Mr. Conchas was not available for comment (all four times I called).  I contacted the Edinburg COC, but their point person was out for the day.  I was directed to Ms. Reyes of the Economic Development Council, but she was also in meetings.  Great.

Not Enough For Roads

County officials want to work with city representatives collectively as the Regional Mobility Authority, a group that will lobby the state with a plan to fund transportation infrastructure locally.  El Manana made mention of this issue yesterday and the story included a picture of Jaime Canales.  In speaking with him about it, he clarified that the RMA includes Judge Danny Valdez and Commissioner John Galo; Mr. Canales supports the group and their idea for new road funding.

The Regional Mobility Authority wants to charge $10 for each vehicle registration in Webb County.  When I read the story yesterday I wasn't sure whether that meant $10 for an automobile purchase, or $10 extra when we renew our plates with the tax assessor/collector.  Commissioner Canales said the extra fee would be assessed every year when we renew our tags.

Before they can do this, they have to get approval from the state.  The group wants to have say-so over what projects will be funded within Webb County.  When I expressed my concern about the new tax, Mr. Canales seemed confident in the approach, saying that the people of Webb County and Laredo would support the increase in fees if it meant better roadways for our commutes. 

The Dept. of Transportation conveyed to him that they are strapped for cash.  Because of this, Webb County has to find a way to keep up with the needs of the community.  Tom Wade (WakeUpLaredo) lamented last week the use of infrastructure dollars, saying that the DOT doesn't necessarily spends its budget wisely.  

Currently the TX legislature is looking to tap into the rainy day fund to provide money for road work.  If they decide to do so, they'll place the item on the November ballot to let the voters decide.  The ideas are there, both from the local and state level.  We'll have to keep watch for what eventually transpires.

UPDATE:  LaredoTejas blogs about the Texas statute concerning the creation of a Regional Mobility Authority.   The city looks to be on board this project.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Help Me Reach One Million Hits


The Whole Eagle Ford Shale Impact, Please

Of course the Eagle Ford Shale has brought good fortune to many in the area, as the UTSA study notes.  You would expect that to be the focus -- financial impact of the EFS -- with a name like the Institute For Economic Development.  But that seems to be what everybody talks about and nothing else.



Local Eagle Ford Shale consultant, Joe Ceballos, shared with me the UTSA study.  In talking to him two weeks ago, he made note of the rapid growth seen in counties along I-35.  He also acknowledged the challenges facing drilling communities:  infrastructure wear and tear, the lack of housing, locals being priced out by exorbitant rents, pollution, worker injury/deaths, motor vehicle crashes, etc.     

The details of the money flowing through local communities is quite impressive.  I've provided some excerpts to give you an idea of the impact. 


It all may sound well and good to praise the benefits of the Eagle Ford Shale but the play also has an uglier side.


Pictured above is a site in Ector County where oil field sludge was dumped.  Whether this is always intentionally done by haulers is up for debate, but there's a way of finding out.
“They’ll crack open the air valves … and start leaking out onto the roadway when no one’s looking so they can get rid of their load. And then when someone comes up close [behind them in another vehicle], they’ll shut it off and keep on moving,” said Yelley.
Sludge haulers in Laredo have been cited before for transporting waste with no cover on top of the trailer.  What would happen in that instance is that the waste would spill over onto the road when the driver made a hard stop.  It wouldn't surprise me if illegal dump sites are present in Webb County since it apparently costs hundreds of dollars to dispose of the material at a licensed site; and we're at a loss for disposal sites, as I have learned.

Just recently, Los Botines residents voiced opposition to having a waste site established in their backyard.  I don't blame them.  If I was a politician, I don't know that I would have the forethought to see that this would be a problem.  But I think I would be a little more critical of the whole picture and not just praise the financial gain of a few.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Little Bi-Partisanship

Perhaps Ronald Reagan was on to something in the way of gun regulation.  (Mulford Act)

And maybe Margaret Thatcher knew enough not to scoff at universal health care.

And it's worth noting that the state GOP thinks that the prospect of gambling in Texas will not be all butterflies and moonbeams.
“Gambling addiction decimates household budgets, tears families apart and disproportionately hurts the poor,” said state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound.
You see, I can agree with republicans and conservatives on some issues. 


 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sequestration Cuts

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the federal sequester, and all the back-and-forth the issue has wrought since late last year.  A personal pet peeve about this is the pronunciation of the term itself.  It's trivial but my ears ring every time I hear it pronounced SEE-ques-tray-shun.  I don't know what the 'C' has to do with anything.  But more important is the dismissive, accusatory attitude people take towards Barack Obama when these spending cuts are mentioned.  I can see how he's the Commander in Chief, and it's his duty to bring people together and perhaps influence policy.  But Congress is given a pass, I think, whenever sequestration is discussed, at least in local circles.



  
Now if this were an episode of "The Apprentice," where the person in charge of a group of people is usually the one who is targeted with elimination, then I could see how Obama would get all the heat.  But thankfully this political show is not centered around a crass egomaniac who wears bronzer and a hay combover to boot.  But I digress.

Sequestration goes back to the mid-1980s when government officials looked to institute spending limits.  What is happening now is that cuts are being put into place because Congress, and the president can't agree how to approach yearly spending to control the federal deficit.  Everyone in D.C. thinks spending should be restrained, but the particulars get forgotten about when our representatives can't meet eye to eye on what programs deserve cuts.  For one, military spending is always left off the table when budget cut talks arise.  The regrettable aspect of sequestration is that it cuts funding to programs equally across the board.


Texas, and the TX GOP especially, is very proud of its balanced budget approach.  It sounds logical not to spend tax money beyond the state's means until you learn that critical services have to be severely cut.  Raising tax revenue is sacrilegious and in now way an option to balancing the budget, according to state officials.  My point is that critics of the president, and sequestration have no ground to stand on when Texas is looked upon as a model for how a fiscally prudent government should be run.

A common refrain on the presidential campaign trail has been to run the government like a corporation.  Well, this is it!  Whenever a corporation gets into a bind, action revolves around cutting employee hours, cutting the size of the workforce, or passing on the cost of doing business to the customers.  You would think that conservatives would be happy with sequestration, but instead they focus their ire on the president.

    
On the St. John radio program last week, Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd spoke about the detrimental effects that sequestration will have on agents' take-home pay.  He stressed the need for us to contact our representatives so they can "fix the Budget Control Act of 2011."  Mr. Judd did express some displeasure at President Obama's handling of this matter, but he placed more of the responsibility to get this resolved at the feet of the U.S. Congress.

Frankly, I don't think the population at large knows the ins and outs of sequestration, myself included.  I just believe that there's a disconnect when people wish for balanced budgets, and controlling spending, but bitch about the true effects of it when you do it one way, the Texas way.    

Friday, April 5, 2013

What Actually Happened?

In all the discussion about the sale of the Town Center land, across from the airport on Loop 20, what got lost in the discussion was the fact that the company that was leasing the land had not paid rent for two years.

Lockdown At Local High School

Eloy Vega @LaredoFireDept 4m
LFD units respond to cigarroa due possible subject w gun. No injuries reported. PD also at scene

Via Twitter.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mud And Glory

Charlie San Miguel, or better yet, the City of Laredo is hosting another mud-filled ground race in a month at North Central Park.  I'm not quite sure what's the rush to have another one since the last one was held in September of 2012.

Surely Charlie is already preparing his comments to inform us of how successful the event is/was.





As for Fructuoso San Miguel, not sure if he's going to participate in the mud run.  And I don't know how hard it was for him to bow out of the running for the police chief position.


Cartel Related

Rick Perry when asked about the shooting of the Kaufman Co. D.A. 
“We know the drug cartels are very, very active in this country,” the governor said. “It goes back to the whole issue of border security and the failure of the federal government ... to expend the dollars necessary to secure the border with Mexico.”



Not since the days of "Bordertown: Laredo" have we heard a public official make a reference to cartels when a crime occurs.  LaSanbe is not sure if Rick Perry was a fan of the A&E series, or the "cartel related" lament that the officers were so prone to use.  Nevertheless, that was the approach he decided to use when asked to speculate on the recent killings in north Texas.

Too bad Ron Paul wasn't nearby to help him along with the interview.  

Downtown Scuffle

Had not had a Patricia Barrera controversy in a while.









UPDATE:  Ms. Barrera wore pink for interviews, and spoke in a calm manner.  A ploy to appear less threatening, or just a coincidence?



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Multi-Use Facility

If the Laredo Energy Arena is used for basketball, then I guess the Uni-Trade Stadium can be used for boxing.  (Courtesy photo)





LAREDO, TEXAS--- Hall of Fame promoter, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing is set to officially announce the first ever-- boxing event at Uni-Trade Stadium, in Laredo.  The nationally televised event on the new UniMas Network, is scheduled for May 11, 2013.  The seven-bout fight card will feature two-time Mexican Olympian, Oscar Valdez on the undercard. The main event is to be announced.

Info. courtesy of the City of Laredo

Forget a convention center.  What Laredo needs is a boxing venue.  That's what will get the tourists to come.  Build it and they will come.

San Antonio Mayor Well-Traveled

Julian Castro used nearly $27,000 in sponsored travel money over three years.  (Via the Express-News)






When he was challenged for not reporting his sponsored trips in a timely manner, he sort of owned up to it.
“It was an oversight to not file them at that time,” Castro said by phone Tuesday from Austin. “It's been corrected.”
In Laredo the response wouldn't be so diplomatic.  Instead our elected officials get defensive that we even ask for their travel receipts, thinking that our inquiries are trivial and bothersome. 

Inside Track On Contracts

Tom at Wake Up Laredo gives props to city staff for tabling the city council agenda item that would have awarded a contract to a person who is known by a committee member who is tasked with making selections for the city.  At issue is the work to maintain the Zacate Creek, among other areas within Laredo. 

Mr. Jerome Rosales of JR Landscaping informed city council Monday night that his lower bid, and previous exemplary work for the city was passed over because of the relationship between one of the other bidders and a city committee member.  Mr. Rosales feels the selection process was unfair because a conflict of interest exists.


Let me see if I get the relationship right:  The committee member's deceased brother was married to the sister of the favored bidder.  The LMT cited state law in their coverage of the story today:
"The ending of a marriage by divorce or the death of a spouse ends relationships by affinity created by that marriage unless a child of that marriage is living, in which case the marriage is considered to continue as long as a child of that marriage lives," state law says.
Like Tom Wade said, it'll be interesting to see what becomes of this.  Will Mr. Rosales, who is bidding lower for the contract, be weeded out because of a technicality, because he rents his equipment?  Should that matter when a lower bid is concerned?

City Manager Carlos Villarreal responded by saying that he had no knowledge of any relationships that existed in this particular bidding process, and therefore offered to table the item in order to look into the matter.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Be Defensive Out There


It's not a good time to be driving on the streets of Laredo.  Even the cops are losing control.  And today the Laredo Daily-News reports on a crash this afternoon in north Laredo.

Monday, April 1, 2013

They Just Got Back From Washington!!!






Courtesy photo

The picture above is what railroad crossings are supposed to look like.  But in my neck of the woods, the crossings for vehicular traffic are made of nothing but asphalt.  After a while, asphalt in any setting warps.  Needless to say it's many a bumpy ride over several crossings in Alex Perez's district.




At tonight's council meeting, Mr. Perez appeared frustrated at the lack of attention paid to the bumpy railroad crossings.  He said that he doesn't know what else to say to his constituents who are apparently complaining all the time about the problem.

It's been a year and a half that he brought this matter up to city staff and nothing has been done, especially by Kansas City Southern, the rail company who bypasses the barrios frequently throughout the day.   

The Laredo city manager does not suggest fixing the crossings because the tracks could be damaged, thus setting up the city for litigation.  His idea instead:  have our consultant reach out to transportation officials at the federal level.

Wait a minute.  This problem is a year and a half old as per Mr. Perez.  The city manager and Mr. Alex Perez have been up to Washington twice in that time.  What the hell have they done over there?!!!!!!!! 


They Meet Tonight


The south Laredo library is projected to be open in December of this year.  Just in time for my birthday!

UPDATE:

It's funny to see the mayor talk about the need for efficiency of cargo being crossed into the United States.  See-questration would severely alter that process.  It's natural to be concerned, especially when trade is our bread and butter.  But then KGNS cuts to a clip of a stalled train blocking traffic near downtown.  How's that for efficient trade, mayor?!


And this just in to the LaSanbe newsroom:


A reader is curious about supposed back taxes owed to local entities on the part of city land.  The land, where the Town Center mall will be built, will be sold by the city tonight.  Is this property up for auction?

KGNS reported today that the Town Center sale includes $2.1 million in back rent to the city.  Too many questions.  And I'm guessing the city is just going to breeze through this agenda item faster than you can say San Miguel sons.