Friday, December 25, 2015

Expansion From A Building

This photo I took several years ago on the 1600 block of Guadalupe.  I thought it was a good photo for a blog post: a residential setting, on a busy Laredo street, selling towels and rugs out in the open.  If it wasn't for the products on display, the property would be unremarkable.  The mundane is what we specialize in here at La Sanbe.

That white house on the corner of Guadalupe and Mendiola wouldn't be with us for much longer.

(Image via Google Maps)

The house was eventually torn down, a point of pride for Councilman Alex Perez.  Apparently, demolishing outdated homesites is a political selling point for District 3 campaigns.  Bigger things were in store for the area.

This is what the property looks like now: expansion from the building in the middle of the block.

1610 Guadalupe used to be the home of a Laredo fire station.  The space eventually became a boxing gym.  Like Rocky Balboa, you can go there and train by chasing a chicken around, or you can go to Popeyes next door to enjoy some cajun fried chicken.  Your choice.

The old Laredo neighborhoods slowly evolve.  Some things remain.  And that's what makes them unique.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

End of December

This day in Laredo history:

December 16, 1996 City council discusses discrepancies at the Fleet Management Division.  Then-councilman Louis Bruni questioned why repairs on police cars cost more than the cars were purchased for.  The case is reminiscent of the street department investigation that Lawrence Berry conducted in the late 1970s, where rampant corruption was discovered.  In the 90s, however, nothing became of anything, as far as I know.

Yesterday, former mayor Raul Salinas stopped in at the KGNS studios, with fresh eyebrows and mustache, to speak to Richard Noriega.  Salinas is apparently going to conduct his last toy drive for the needy.  In the interview, he managed to say 'there is' five times.  No Raul Salinas interview would be complete without him saying FBI at least once.  Thank you for what you do, sir.  Keep rambling on.

In Tuesday's Laredo Times, Kendra Ablaza reported on the Webb Co. water plant:

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said it's found eight new violations at the Rio Bravo Water Treatment Plant, Webb County officials said.

Some problems drag on for local governing bodies, but this mess with the county water plant seems to have no end in sight.  Mike Montemayor might exit prison one day, and we'll likely still be talking about the water plant in Rio Bravo.  It's tragic because people's lives are immediately affected.  County has to make clean water its number one priority.  Christmas is ten days away, however.  I would be surprised if county commissioners would have one more regular meeting before calling it a year.      

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Changing Scenery

(The photo above is from a blog post from December 2007.)

The wording for the post from eight years ago focused on the issue of protecting our border.  I wonder now how it was that I came upon this scene.  Apparently I didn't set off any alarms for the Border Patrol agent(s) when I took the photo; I wasn't hassled by the man like in another instance.    Looking at the image now, my eyes focus more on the KLAR sign.  The radio station, KLAR 1300 AM, was located somewhere behind that thicket of mesquite trees along Zapata Highway.

In the 1970s, KLAR had a Top 40 format.  It now programs religious content in Spanish.

As you can see now, a change has taken place.  It was about two weeks ago that I noticed the land getting cleared.  A friend at work told me that a used car lot was going in to that space.  Of course, what else?

(I shot the photo from a gas station on the other side of Zapata Hwy.)

I'm drawn to scenes like these throughout Laredo.  What seems mundane one day - a sign, a building - will be transformed the next day.  The physical remnants of years gone by are etched in our memories.  We see them daily in our commutes until they're gone.  And then we try to recall how things used to be.

I'm sure I'll come back to this post in five years and marvel at the many changes that have taken place, as trivial as they may seem.  Today, however, I toast to Laredo icons and to progress.  Cheers!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cuellar's Immigration Scorecard

In case you missed it, Laredo is the nation's largest inland port.  What that means is that, as a Laredoan, you likely know a handful of friends or relatives that have had a hand in the business of international trade, be it legal or not.  What that also means is that the cargo that has passed the Rio Grande in both directions largely drives the local economy.

Recently, however, much has been mentioned about the large influx of immigrants from countries other than Mexico.  Julian Aguilar (The Texas Tribune) makes note of the huge increase in the number of Cubans showing up on our doorstep.  
In 2015, about 28,400 Cubans entered Texas through the Laredo field office of Customs and Border Protection, which extends from Del Rio to Brownsville. 
The Cubans apparently got the memo that our port es chingon.  At the very least we should show them our hospitality.  But Henry 'not my given name' Cuellar doesn't want Laredo to turn into Ellis Island.  What the congressman wants to do instead is revise the pact that has granted Cubans asylum in our country for decades.  According to him, the policy is a "Cold War leftover enacted when the country was trying to prevent the spread of communism."

If anything, Cuellar is being an asshole consistent in his approach.  Last year he was all for promptly deporting women and kids from Central America when Laredo was flooded with immigrants.  This year he wants tougher vetting of Syrian refugees.  

It makes sense now why Laredo got rid of its nickname, The Gateway City:  we no longer visit Mexico as before and some of us don't want immigrants coming in.  Local officials are all for the cargo that fills warehouses and store shelves.  Apart from that, the love is stretched thin.  

Henry Cuellar seems to be evolving on immigration, but not in a good way.  He wants to make it tougher for people who are choosing to come to this country, all to appease the conservative base of District 28.  It's no shock, really; Laredo is not exactly a liberal hotbed.  And it's favorite son isn't exactly going to reverse track on his long-held 'center right' beliefs.

In Cuellar's quest for consistency on immigration, I would only suggest that he think about removing another Cold War leftover: the words In God We Trust from our currency.  That's compromise - something that HENRY is well aware of.  


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

There Used To Be A Cigarroa Field

A family member shared with me a copy of Martin High School's "Laredo Journal."  The paper is dated Wednesday 16, 1974.  The main story notes the changes that had taken place in the LISD athletics program at the time.  For Shirley Field, seating capacity was increased and facilities were added.  The upgrades would provide the Martin Tigers and Nixon Mustangs a main field to share and compete from.

Concern from both sides eventually surfaced.  Nixon parents were wary about letting their kids go "down to Shirley."  And Martin-ites didn't want their east side rivals playing on their turf.  Nixon, however, didn't have proper facilities to host football games; They only had Cigarroa Field.

I was confused by the mention of Cigarroa Field in the Journal story.  As far as I knew, Cigarroa High School didn't open until 1983.  But it turns out that a football field located next to Nixon H.S. had the name Cigarroa in it.  Local attorney Armando Lopez explained the field's history as such:
When Nixon was built, they had their own football stadium for a bit. It was called Cigarroa field and the Mustangs used it as their home stadium until about 1973 or 1974 when Shirley became the central LISD football field. For a while it became know as Montes field, named after David Montes, a current Nixon teacher who became paralyzed playing football in the early 1980's.
Good summation, counselor.  And yes, the field was eventually dedicated to David Montes in 2005.

Fellow blogger Maximiliano recalls Cigarroa Field being a shabby locale.  It hosted locals games, nevertheless.  Max shares:
I remember attending the Martin-Nixon game at Cigarroa field in 1970, with Martin winning 14-8 during a very windy and blustery night.
LISD now has several top-notch football fields to host games.  Nixon's field, on the other hand, was being encroached on by portable teaching rooms in 2012.

In all my life, I've never attended a game that took place at Nixon HS.  I've only known Shirley Field to be the main arena for many sporting events.  Laredo football, obviously, is made up of so much more.

(Image above via LISD newsletter)

Rangel Running

(courtesy image)

Laredo council member and snappy dresser Esteban Rangel is all in for the County Commissioner Pct. 1 race.  The primary election is just 3 months away, but the ambitious Rangel is spending mightily on his campaign.  Around town you see large billboards, bumper stickers, people holding signs, all to promote the candidate.  It's pretty aggressive campaigning, I think.  Usually it's not until 30 days before an election when candidates start making their push.  Economics plays a role in that.

Rangel apparently wants to get out ahead of the pack.  Whatever that means.

Rangel's website calendar so far has nothing scheduled for December.  He's probably been busy.  It doesn't look good, however, for someone who is looking to take on another full-time job.  Give us a hint, sir, that you are the man for the job.  Empty website pages don't bode well for anyone.

He should still be the Transportation Director for LISD.  How is he going to juggle that responsibility with that of being a commissioner, basically having 2 full-time jobs?  (your thoughts, Jaime Canales)

The candidate's future is not set in stone yet, so let's just look back on Rangel's last five years.

  • October 2010 Interviewed as candidate by Laredo Times.  (wins election)
  • November 2011 Urges action on Mami Chulas joints and its expressive dancers
  • August 2012 LISD appoints Rangel as Crime Stoppers Coordinator. (tenure short-lived)
  • January 2014 His car is stolen while he's in a meeting at city hall.
  • October 2014 His pay as a council member is called into question.
  • November 2014 wins re-election
  • April 2015 Rangel's face on south Laredo library billboards seen as self-promoting
  • August 2015 Suggests city take over Rio Bravo water plant.
  • November 2015 Announces bid for county commissioner.

Enjoy the campaign season.