Monday, July 29, 2013

Before El Cuarenta

There was Whitey Bulger and Jaime Gonzalez-Bath.  The latter's daytime shooting spree happened twenty one years ago today.

We All Worry About Budgets

How does the city deal with a $7 million deficit when they now have to take care of a gifted federal building?  Let's not forget that the Plaza Theater, and the Southern Hotel have sat idly by for years.  Last week I linked to a story where the city was looking for land donations to turn into park space.  The donations are good but then the city will need people to tend those parks.  I understand that the city must tighten its belt, but they seem to keep taking on more than they can handle. 

Where on Earth can the city cut costs?

Courtesy info. from a blog reader.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Look Out

Well it's only natural that electric companies be anxious when people switch to solar power.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Que Que?

Hearing the mayor speak tells me a lot about his intelligence, or the lack thereof.  I'm going to make a wild guess and say that he hasn't read a book this year.

In speaking about the city's financial situation, he said this:
We need to be due diligence.
Please, Laredo, don't be like the mayor.

 Video courtesy of Pro8news.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hasle Login En El Face

Courtesy photo.

The Pronto Insurance billboard that's pictured is located in the valley.  It was sent in by a blog fan who was amused by the message.

Language in the Rio Grande valley is very creative, to say the least.  You have to marvel at how the natives linguistically navigate the world around them.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

But I Digress

KGNS featured a story yesterday about a Nuevo Laredo YouTube video.  The newscasters showed a brief glimpse of the amateur footage; You can see the whole video here.  The eight-minute piece entitled "Este Es Nuevo Laredo" is basically of a roving reporter, of sorts, driving down Guerrero Ave., capturing life on a typical day.  I think the purpose of the video is to show people how the city maintains some semblence of normalcy.  It's a good approach, even though some people have made up their minds about Nuevo Laredo and its history with cartel violence.
  Of course, no discussion about our sister city would be complete without a comment from our camera-friendly mayor.  This is what he had to say:
I'm a man of faith.  And I think on both sides of the border we need faith.  And maybe it's time to bring God closer to the issue for resolution. 
You can see his comments here.
I'm a little confused by his remarks.  Not because he invokes God, but because he thinks that the Almighty hasn't been brought into the fray by Nuevo Laredoans.  I'm sure they pray every single day for the safety of their loved ones.  But perhaps it's not even them that he's directing his comments to.  It's anybody's guess.  What I take most from it is that he suggests that all other options have been exhausted, and now all that can be done is to leave Nuevo Laredo's problems in the hands of God.

Mayor Salinas may say he's a man of the people.  Probably.  But he's no public speaker, that's for sure.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Laredo, Texas!!!!! You're on The Price is Right!

The Price Is Right, the popular daytime game show that has given us Bob Barker, and the catchphrase "come on down," dates back to 1956.  The program has gone through many changes since its inception, but the games haven't changed much over the last four decades.  It is now hosted by Drew Carey.

On Tuesday a special contestant played the (yodeling) Cliff Hangers game.  The song attached to the game is so amusing.  Not only that, it triggers some type of Pavlovian response in me when it comes on.  Instantly I turn into a dancing fool.  But enough about me.  Let's take a look at how one of our own, Ann, performed on national t.v.

Later on Ann and another contestant literally come on down during the spinning of the wheel.

Land Use

The city is giving the public the opportunity to make land donations to be used for parks.  El Mañana reported yesterday that people have until August 14 to make their proposals.  Laredo is looking to procure up to 200 acres within the city limits. 
The area that is in dire need of land donations is the part of Del Mar, near St. Patricks Church, where the four-lane roadway bottlenecks into two lanes.  This is just an idea, and I don't know if it's been considered before, but let's offer the residents who give up some curbside property a tax break for a year or two.  And by tax break I mean they don't have to pay municipal, county, or UISD taxes for a given amount of years.  The reason I include the different taxing entities in the Keyrose plan is because they all, in one way or other, use Del Mar. Blvd. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Royal Baby Watch Thread

Prince William will be a father soon.

Closer to home, I've noticed south side store employees greeting anybody who walks through the door.  Not sure if local businesses got together and made this a thing now, but it's a good step towards good customer service.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Legal Troubles For Z

Will we ever know, if in fact, the executors (including Judith Zaffirini) made off with more money than they deserved?
Instead, they paid themselves more than $420,000 — more than quadruple the amount executors are allowed under law — and still owe the family $377,681, the family claimed in court documents.
This will drag out in court, and maybe some day we'll get to the truth.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Let's Get Estrogen In On This

I don't fault men for taking a stand one way or another on the issue of abortion.  We have some say in the matter since we take an active part in the process of procreation.  But because we don't get the physical mementos of stretch marks, or episiotomy scars, I suggest men walk lightly around the issue.  Women do more of the leg work - physically, emotionally, and psychologically - when it comes to pregnancy; And for that, men shouldn't be so cavalier, and shortsighted when they chime in on reproductive rights.
A letter that appeared in the LMT today:
To the editor,
Years ago, I had the pleasure of taking a national government class with Arturo Nava at Laredo Community College.
To be honest, it was Professor Nava who will always hold a special place in my heart as a man who opened my eyes to politics, our government, as well as issues that dominate debate among Americans across this country.
Every class with Nava would begin with a good morning and a discussion of current events that were most scrutinized in all our media outlets.
During one of those discussions, the topic of abortion came up, and Mr. Nava asked the class a question that once answered, would settle the abortion debate as both sides know it.
To this day, no one has been able to give a straight answer.
The question: When does life begin?
David R. Vasquez

I'm not sure if I should fault Professor Nava for trying to tackle abortion with one question.  A lot could've been discussed in class.  But if Mr. Vasquez's memory serves right, and this is exactly how the situation unfolded, then Mr. Nava should be ashamed of himself, and Mr. Vasquez too, for taking such a myopic approach to abortion.  If this is how we're going to unscramble to challenges of the day, then I don't hold much hope for the future.

For a moment, let's put aside women's privacy, control over their own bodies, rape, incest, domestic abuse, the woman's health, financial responsibilities, the physical toll of pregnancy, access to medical care, access to family planning, social expectations, social stigma, circle of support, care of the child, and whatever else you can think of, and let's just focus on abortion as if it hinged solely on the question of when life begins.

Many will say that life begins at conception.  This argument is popular, especially in North Dakota, where a personhood amendment will be voted on next year.  The bill, if passed, would give embryos rights, and outlaw abortion under any circumstances.  In Mississippi, such a measure was voted down.  There, birth control would've been banned if the personhood law was passed. 

If life begins at conception, does it matter that the heart doesn't start beating until approximately the third week of gestation?  Does it matter that a doctor won't be able to hear the heart beating until late in the first trimester? 

Death, or the end of life, depends so much on heart or brain function.  Legally, my family would be off the hook if I was ruled brain dead.  They could pull the plug and face no repercussions.  Likewise for the beginning of life, you could make the case that it begins when brain activity starts, but then what is to be said about quality of life?  If you were paralyzed from the neck down and supported by mechanical ventilation, would you consider that life?

In Texas legal speak, a fetus is referred to as a woman's "body part."  And because it is not viewed as a person, people can't sue a hospital or staff for negligence when a fetus dies.  Family can sue for the death of the mother, but not for the death of fetus(es).  If a fetus is not considered a person for the sake of legal protection, then any personhood amendment, which offers that life begins at conception, is indefensible.

How can Texas have different reactions to life in the womb?

Interestingly, by not considering fetuses people, health care institutions are not held to a higher standard.  Yet the recent anti-abortion bill, signed by Rick Perry, purports to raise the standards of clinics that provide abortions by requiring them to be on par with surgical centers.

We can't settle the issue of abortion by stating when life begins when so many people have different interpretations of life itself. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Texas Sucks

The state ranks at the bottom when it comes to voter participation.  Texas is a red state, and republicans will see to it that it stays that way with:  voter ID laws, unfair redistricting, and the lack of same-day voter registration.  The Christian Science Monitor has the list of top 6 states with the highest voter turnout.  Most of those states have same-day registration laws in place, and Oregon voters vote by mail.

Julian Castro, and Wendy Davis have gotten quite a bit of national attention.  Perhaps they can appeal to apathetic voters, and help the state's left make strides in helping to turn Texas blue.  Apart from that I don't see things changing.

Old Club

Courtesy Photo

The nightclub Vivant's in Nuevo Laredo appears mostly intact today, but the rumble of dance music and partying teens is long gone.  The lure of former hotspots like this, apart from the ambiance, was the accessibility of alcohol for Laredo teens. 

Recently I put forth a query to establish, more or less, how recent it had been that the various Nvo. Laredo clubs were still thriving.  I recall making trips to Firenzi's, and Plaza San Miguel some time in the early 1990s.  A younger acquaintance remembers taking an out-of-town friend clubbing in 2002.  His companion was of Indian descent, so their entry back to Texas was, let's say, a little more thorough than what most of us were used to.

Usually when we crossed back into Laredo, we were met with a quick inspection from the customs agent at the international bridge.  But in the post 9-11 world, things changed, moreso for some.

Part of the reason I inquired about the nightclubs in our sister city was also to get an idea of when cartel violence started taking hold of Nvo. Laredo.  From unofficial reports I've heard, because of the violence, people move indoors once the sun goes down.  Streets are practically empty at night.  This week we learned that the leader of the Zetas cartel was captured in Nuevo Laredo.  Little consolation, perhaps, for a city marred by years of negative publicity due to cartel violence.  Add to that the fact that the Zetas already have a successor in line to take over the captured leader.

Last year El Mañana reminisced about the glory days of Nvo. Laredo nightlife.  Mention was made about the iconic Cadillac Bar and the nod it got in Texas Monthly.  (The Cadillac Bar became El Dorado)  It closed in 2010.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Of All Things

The plastic bag ban may be the issue that overtly divides city hall.

Embrace The Natives

The green space along a Santa Fe neighborhood roadway was recently made over.  What before was a long, patchy stretch of native grasses and Ash trees is now a refined landscape utilizing a hardscape design.  This is a smarter, and more appropriate landscape design use for our area.   

Monday, July 15, 2013

Political Haps

LMT columnist Odie Arambula reminds us today that a judge will rule next week on whether the commissioners court will be able to place limitations on county directors/employees if they decide to run for office.  I can see where Commissioner John Galo was going with his motion, but I think he went about it the wrong way.  If I remember correctly, Patricia Barrera had people making charges against her, that her employees had to help out with her re-election campaign.  A better approach, I think, would be to prohibit any subordinate, from any county office, to take part in a re-election campaign.  If Patricia, or Martin, or anybody at county wants to run for (re)election, they have to fend for themselves. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Photo Thread

I'm not sure what the purpose is for the new partition at the Papi's Gas Station on Guadalupe.  The fencing, painted black, separates the gasoline pumps from the air/water machine.  What makes it more odd is the flimsy material flowing in the wind.  Feel free to guess at it.

Closer to my old 'hood, I noticed that the surface area of the Zacate Creek is being leveled.

Clean up duty was tougher before this because berms formed over time; and after it rained, small pools of water formed, making it a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  The photo below shows a before-and-after comparison.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bad Cops: Laredo

I can almost hear the mayor's reaction to this story.  You know he's going to say something at the start of the next city council meeting.  The question is, how long will he hold the floor for?

Friday, July 12, 2013

VDN Volunteers

Voz de Niños (VDN) is a local organization that pairs volunteer advocates with children that are in foster care.  It has been serving Webb County for the last six years.  Voz de Niños trains any person interested in becoming a volunteer.

Once a volunteer is trained, he/she visits with the child (children in some cases), and foster family.  The volunteer collaborates with local agencies.  And reports of all findings are made to the presiding judge and VDN.

La Sanbe wants to take this opportunity to introduce two very dedicated VDN volunteers.
Meet Francisco.

This young man has volunteered with VDN since November 2012.  Francisco majored in Criminal Justice and is looking to pursue a graduate degree in the same field.  He learned about VDN and its mission through a Facebook post that recounted a case of child abuse.  Francisco was so moved by the story that he decided to become a voice for abused and neglected children.

Because of his schooling, Francisco already had an understanding of what he was going to encounter.  Currently he is assigned to one child.  He has learned about the family dynamics that are particular to his case. 

Francisco has learned what everybody's role is in seeing that the child's needs are met.  For his part, he has made numerous visits with his assigned child.  He has made court appearances to give his input on the progress of the case.  And he has helped distribute donations, given through VDN, to the child. 

Francisco expressed that the volunteer work is not daunting, and he sees himself working with VDN in the years to come.  Currently he is taking advantage of a new employment opportunity, but is focused also on being the voice for a child in need.

Meet Claudia.

Claudia became aware of VDN's mission at a high school event, where the organization had set up a booth to hand out information.  She was assigned her first case early last year.  For years Claudia wanted to get involved some way in helping children.  She knew now that if she was going to get involved, she would have to give her efforts 110 percent. 

It's easy to see that Claudia is a dedicated volunteer.  Not only has she complied with her duties as a child advocate, but has had to travel out of town because of her child's foster care arrangement.  She states that the child is in a very good place, where the foster parents are very supportive, but laments the fact that the child does not want to be there.  Claudia understands that it is very difficult when anybody would be separated from his/her surroundings.  But she also understands that there's only so much she can do.         

Claudia voiced some frustration at how help comes to children after they've already been abused or neglected.  But her strong mind, and commitment to service keeps her working for those who need a voice.  There was one instance where Claudia reported to court.  Because of unforeseen circumstances, nobody was available to report to the judge on the child's progress.  She had to step in and convey to the court what the child was going through.  Claudia stressed that it's not a usual occurrence, but she was ready in that moment to step up to the plate.

La Sanbe applauds Voz de Ninos, but it gives major props also to the caring volunteers who work for abused and neglected children, day in and day out, all for nothing in return.  To learn more, visit (VDN also on Facebook)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Open Thread Wednesday

Laredo may be the biggest inland port, but.............

it doesn't have a 24-hour pharmacy.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Attention Deficit Presentation

With the selection of a new mayor in Nuevo Laredo, it was only time that our city leader chimed in on the pick.  His comments, however, sound like what he's been spewing for the last 6+ years:  border security, jobs, tourism, yadda yadda. 

Suspects On Parade

Thank goodness I don't know any of the arrestees.  Not that my friends and family are all pillars of society, but it's good to know that they're keeping their noses clean.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Market Forces

Insurance companies are making it more expensive to cover gun-toting school officials.  Texas has done well in facing the challenge through tort reform.  But if arming teachers to protect staff and students becomes the new norm across the nation, insurance companies could see this as an opportunity to make money.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Election Day In Nvo. Laredo

There seems to be something wrong with the El Manana website.  When I type in the site's address, I'm directed to their Facebook page.  But if you want to stay abreast with Nuevo Laredo election results, there are plenty of radio outlets that can update us on the proceedings throughout the day.  This morning I tuned in to 94.1 FM.  The hosts were going over polling place hours and ballot availability.  A familiar refrain was uttered:  If you don't vote, you can't complain.  I've never liked that statement.  I would counter with:  I pay taxes, therefore I CAN complain.  I've been a member of this community all my life, and that gives me the right to complain.  I don't exist in a bubble, therefore I can complain.
Here are the top 10 reasons NOT to vote in Laredo. 

10. Uninspired campaign messages
9.   Conflicts of interest that ensue
8.   Vote count delays
7.   Actions are never explained smartly
6.   Nicknames
5.   Unfulfilled promises
4.   Credit themselves with everything; Never take the blame
3.   Defensive attitudes
2.   Resistance to ethics committees
1.   Only available during elections

Feel free to disagree with me, or to add your own reason not to vote.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Locals Not Happy With Z

Screen shot via the LMT Opinion page today.

The is the second letter that's spoken out against Texas democrats voting against the restrictive abortion bill put forth by republicans.  It's funny how this issue will divide demos, especially in Laredo, but the matter could energize Texas' Left, and enable them to make strides in this big, red state.  I don't think this will hurt Judith Zaffirini.  Standing with the likes of Wendy Davis, and Leticia Vande Putte will surely produce grumbling in local circles, but I doubt it'll oust her from office.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Villarreal Not A Tourist

In the latest issue of LareDOS, City Manager Carlos Villarreal proudly acknowledges the acquisition of the old federal building across the street from Jarvis Plaza.  He is quoted as saying, "People want to know what we do in Washington.  This is what we do in Washington."  For once I'd like to hear an explanation from Mr. Villarreal that doesn't come with a defensive tone.  And this new building will be good for the city because, or course, they have all their other things in order. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Things Have Changed

El Mañana published a poll that asked Nuevo Laredoans how happy they were with their city.  The number that stood was that 43 percent said they would leave the city if they could.  Surely the violence has everything to do with that number.