Monday, November 17, 2014

Radio Personality

Last week I saw that a Mr. Duarte passed away.  I didn't know him personally.  The only thing I knew was that the Duarte name was somehow associated with local musicians.

When I mentioned the name to my mother, she recalled that Mr. Duarte was a well-known personality.  And my mother in-law mentioned listening to his radio show "Serenata Noctorna."  She would frequently call in song requests to Mr. Duarte.

A blog reader tipped me off to a story the Laredo Times did on Mr. Duarte back in 2005.  (see clipping below)  The admiration fans bestowed upon "Lucky" Duarte over the years is immeasurable.  What I was impressed by was that he was doing his Z93 show in his 80s.  Unbelievable.

LaredoTejas made mention of "Serenata Nocturna" three years ago.

A person I talked to years back was disappointed that Laredo didn't have a music hall of fame.  For now we'll have to settle for the memories of local musicians who left their mark on the community.

RIP, Mr. Duarte.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Boom Goes Downtown

It was November 6, 2014 that downtown Laredo turned into a scene straight out of an action movie.  Fire and smoke was shooting out from underground tunnels and (some) people were running for cover.  That was six days ago and some businesses in the area are still without power today.

Store owners interviewed by KGNS lamented the fact that they were losing tens of thousands of dollars each day their stores couldn't open for business.  Surely it's frustrating for them, especially since Black Friday is just over two weeks from now.

Downtown is no stranger to exploding streets.  In 2010 a pedestrian was injured from a flying manhole cover.  And that same year, retailers were upset that underground work was impeding shoppers' access to some stores.  Add to all of this the lagging economy that has limited buying power for customers, and long wait times at the bridge that deter Mexican shoppers.  Downtown has definitely seen better days.

Construction of an outlet mall should soon be a reality.  Getting people in and out of downtown will be a major concern.  Retailers and shoppers can't have things exploding at any given time; it's not good for anybody.

No more explosions!!!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

An Historic Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow will be an historic day in Laredo: city hall will canvas the votes of last week's election, and Pete Saenz will be sworn in as our new mayor.  Three city council seats are still up for grabs, including that of incumbent Alex Perez.  The runoff election is scheduled for December 20, 2014.

Mr. Perez is asking for a recount, because he was, supposedly, six votes away from victory.  He garnered 1,161 votes (49.89%) to Abey Lugo's 945 votes (40.61%).  Ulises Salinas got 221 votes.  It's obvious that Alex Perez wants to avoid a runoff, but I'm not sure if he can request a recount.  Perhaps if he pays for it, it's possible, but does he really have a say?


According to the TX Secretary of State website, there are grounds for a recount.  Abey Lugo could request a recount because the vote margin between him and Perez is less than 10 percent.  I don't know if Perez is allowed a recount because he was six votes shy of a win.  Again, it could happen if he pays for it.

In the runoff election, Ulises Salinas' 221 votes are up for grabs.  That's enough to tip the election.

Monday, November 10, 2014

La Avenida

I came across this art piece on the steps of what used to be the Pan American Courts Cafe on San Bernardo Ave.  It's an odd display, but a creative use of old tires, all to celebrate Dia de los Muertos.  Hat tip to the ones trying to add some interest to the old drag.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stunting Progress

Jorge Vera placed this item on the city council agenda:  Discussion with possible action for recall procedures to go before an oversight committee to validate claims.  Vera is facing a recall after being arrested for cocaine possession and making a false report.  The merits of his item I'll discuss later, but first I want to speak of how the council behaved last night.

Vera introduced his two items at the end of the meeting.  However, when he got to the one I included above, he decided to table it.  George Altgelt was already at the podium ready to speak.  There was some back-and-forth between council members, and they had to clarify that a comment couldn't be allowed because the item was now tabled.  Jorge Vera did an honorable thing and un-tabled the matter so Altgelt could speak.  But as soon as the local attorney started his presentation, he was interrupted by the city manager, and chastised by Roque Vela Jr.  Via the LMT:
"You had your time during public comment ... All of a sudden Councilman (Vera) is here ... cameras are rolling.  Now you want to talk?"
First thing, cameras are rolling during public comments too, and second, Roque Vela, you're an asshole!  What difference does it make when George Altgelt, or anybody for that matter, decides to speak?

The mayor interjected to let Altgelt speak, but mentioned that he had a minute and a half left.  The speaker protested the interruptions, but he wasn't allowed more time to voice his concerns.  It didn't make any difference because a request to table the item was made again, and council approved it.

It got testy, and Altgelt had some parting words for Jorge Vera:  "You had a brief moment of bravery, Councilman Vera."

It's embarrassing how city council and the city manager bully people that show up to challenge them and their policies.  And what's equally frustrating are the ones who sit by and let it happen, not defending people's right to speak before city council.

At any rate, Jorge Vera is facing a recall vote tonight.  People in his district signed a petition, that was partly spearheaded by George Altgelt, to have him removed.  But even though we know that Vera contacted the assistant police chief, and the night commander the night of his arrest, and that cocaine was found in his vehicle, he is remaining steadfast in proclaiming his innocence.

He interfered with administration the night of his arrest; He submitted his statement of innocence to the ethics committee; and now he's trying to interfere with anyone trying to put forth any efforts to have a city official recalled.  For somebody who is supposedly innocent, he's working very hard to put up roadblocks to any pushback coming his way.

This is the government we deserve.  Not because we don't vote, but because our voices aren't heard.  We could have our voices heard, but what good is it if we have a city government that doesn't allow our speech?

Monday, November 3, 2014

New Person In Charge

The Laredo Times reported a hike in the number of registered voters in Webb County.  However, early voting ballots cast show a decrease from four years ago.  This could be for a number of reasons: voter apathy, voters being unaware of the election, local corruption, Ebola, etc.  It's disappointing to see less voters going out to the polls, but given the remarkable year we've had in terms of public officials being busted for various transgressions, it's no surprise that people would decide to stay home.  If people don't have faith in their leaders, why vote?

Proven stories of corruption just give people more reason not to get out to the polls.  It's not the only thing keeping voters away.  Campaigns don't advertise long before the election, and when they do, it's usually to a very targeted section of the population.  Would be voters have a tough time making up their minds about all the candidates; limiting their access to information doesn't help.

There is some interest in a handful of seats.  Frank Sciaraffa has a chance of regaining his old spot as commissioner.  And Tano Tijerina will become the new county judge come January.  The county is not at a loss for controversy.  They need a strong leader to sort out all the drama and make things right.

At city hall we'll have a new mayor.  We'll have one councilman who might face jail time for drug possession.  And Mike Garza is on his way out.  Both District 8 and 1 will have a new person in charge.  Whether real change happens remains to be seen.

The Laredo Lizard recently conducted a straw poll for the mayor's race, with Pete Saenz getting a majority of the vote.  However, with seven candidates in the mix, I doubt Saenz will get most of the vote to garner a win tomorrow night.  Given the lackluster early voting numbers, this will be an election of low expectations, and I don't expect any surprise outcomes.  Pete Saenz might win, but I'm predicting a runoff.  Frank Sciaraffa will return to office, if only by luck.  And Jorge Vera will beat the recall.  Again, low expectations.

The midterms of 2014.  Meh.