Monday, October 31, 2016

Spooky Edition

I recall helping my co-workers with the crossword puzzles that appeared in the Laredo Times.  That was about fifteen years ago, when I was working at another organization.  We kept up with local news and daily puzzles, all while supporting our local paper.

I've noticed recently, however, that the price of subscribing to the Times has gone up.  And on top of that, I've seen that I've been charged twice in a month on three occasions this year.  I've listed below this year's charges to my account.

December 14 ($11.00)
January 6 ($11.00)          [23 days since last payment]
February 1 ($11.69)       [26 days since last payment]
February 25   ($12)                  [24 days since last payment]    
March 22  ($12)                     [26 days since last payment]
April 18   ($12)                       [27 days since last payment]
May 12  ($12)                         [24 days since last payment]
June 8 ($12)                  [27 days since last payment]
June 30 ($12)                  [22 days since last payment]
July 26    ($12)                       [26 days since last payment]
August 22   ($12)                     [27 days since last payment]
September 12 ($12)                 [21 days since last payment]
October 5 ($14)                [23 days since last payment]
October 27 ($15)              [22 days since last payment]

I called the Times' office to inquire about my monthly charges, and it was explained to me that I'm assessed a fee every four weeks; that's why I noticed a charge twice in a month.  But when I count the days between payments, the intervals don't make sense.  They're shaving days off frequently as they take my money.

Apparently there's also an extra fee for the DIVINO magazine that comes in the Sunday edition every now and then.

I'm not expecting to get a satisfactory answer for this odd payment plan; it's Laredo after all.

I fear I may do away with my subscription if this continues.    

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

But Then You Make Me Crawl

Just when I thought things couldn't get any more complicated for Marcus Holliman and Saul Villarreal, we get a report of them trying to oust the owner of the Laredo Lemurs baseball team.  The affair has all the trappings of a he-said/she-said spat.

Team owner, Arriana Torres, alleges that our dynamic duo tried to sell the Lemurs without her consent.  When she tried to get rid of Holliman and Villarreal, an investigation was conducted by GR Advisors (Franklin, TN).  The inquiry suggested that Torres' involvement with the Lemurs organization is all a scam.

Only they know what's really going on.  What I wanna know is who in the world are GR Advisors?  Who can tell me that?

I'll end this post here, hoping that more information surfaces soon.

(By the way, these 2 knuckleheads are the same ones who are mismanaging the recycling center for the City of Laredo.)      

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tell Me Why

(courtesy image)

A KGNS reporter made note yesterday of the disappointing turnout for the first day of early voting.  Most Webb County voters were apparently busy doing something else, while only a paltry dedicated 3,341 voters took the time to cast either an absentee ballot, or to show up to a polling place.

Stories flowed online yesterday about brisk voter turnout in cities throughout the nation.  The only thing that hinted at that trend locally was a photo that a friend posted on social media: a line of people waiting to vote at Providence Health Center.  It was a good sign, I thought, until the reporter's caption graced our TV screens.  Thanks a lot, tv reporter!

Bobby Blanchard of The Texas Tribune listed the TX counties that performed the best.


The list above cites Hidalgo County, which includes Mission, Edinburg and McAllen, TX.  In nearby Cameron County (Brownsville), The Herald reported 6,581 ballots being cast.

I could tell you that our ballots, replete with 24 city charter amendment propositions, are keeping voters away from the polls.  It could be that local constituents are taking their time to study each proposition before making a decision.  But voter apathy is not a new thing.

In the fall of 2008, I blogged about low numbers.  In 2012, then-Mayor Raul Salinas showed his discontent for the lackluster voter showing.  And in 2014, there was a low turnout again.  That was a mid-term election.  Nevertheless, we'll use it to make our point.

I don't even want to guess anymore at why voters in Webb Co. aren't showing up to the polls.  We lag behind in so many areas.  Voting, or the lack thereof, just adds to our list of deficiencies.

Laredo voting public.  You suck.

UPDATE on November 2, 2016: chart that appeared in the LMT.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fenced Off Crossing

(courtesy photo from a co-worker)

The inspection stations at Bridge I (Gateway to the Americas) were demolished last week.  Only pedestrian traffic is allowed to cross from Nuevo Laredo.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

New Things Cometh

In a conversation I had with Meg Guerra last year, the subject of the city squares near bridge 2 came up.  Local architects had taken up the job of planning the revitalization of those open areas.  It's been only recently that one block, at least, has been cleared of its worn out vegetation.  A couple of benches have been removed as well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

More Money Flows To Airport, Again

(Image via KGNS website)

Henry Cuellar made another announcement of the airport receiving federal funds.  The money is to go toward improvements.  I'm going to start keeping track of these FAA grants because it seems like it's an all too common occurrence.

From the scant blogging I've done on this subject, there was:

The video interview in 2008 where Cuellar talks about money for the airport.

The post about $11.5 million in 2009 for the airport.

There was the photo op of 2010, with a big $6.9 million check in tow.

A grant in 2011 for $3 million.

And in 2012 I wrote about the list of grants the city gets, FAA monies included.

So it appears that these monies are ours for the taking.  Every year, Henry Cuellar and our local officials gather at the airport and take another photo to commemorate another hefty grant.  You would think they would get tired of this ritual.  

UPDATE: September 18, 2016  More money for the airport.  (Image via El MaƱana)

City officials and Rep. Henry Cuellar held a press conference this weekend to announce the awarding of more federal money to our humble airport.  The millions will be used for upgrades and gratuitous photo ops.  And our city leaders will have one more convenient justification for making trips to Washington.

UPDATE: 9/8/2018 More money for the airport, "courtesy" of Rep. Henry Cuellar.

Photo courtesy of Primitive Lopez Noticias. (photo from 8/9/2018 story) Airport gets $3.6 million dollars for improvements.

Photo above is self explanatory.  Cuellar gets recognized for singlehandedly securing MORE federal funds, courtesy of the FAA.

UPDATE: November 30, 2019.  Earlier this week, Henry Cuellar announced more federal funds for the airport.  It's the perfect place for a press conference and free political advertisement -- the airport has got a lot of space, great lighting and enough parking for all the big SUVs that have to carry all the willing participants of this charade.

Seriously, how is this news if it happens every year, with the same stuffed suits?

UPDATE: September 18, 2021: another photo in the paper for another check that Henry Cuellar was responsible for, allegedly.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Respected Man

Roberto C. Botello Jr. passed away September 15, 2016.  He was the charismatic band director at Martin High School during my pre-teen years.  He was the spark that led to the Tiger Band becoming known as La Banda del Animo.  The spirit he instilled in the group got the attention of people outside Laredo.  The band's lively halftime shows, full of animo, were eventually featured at Texas Stadium sporting events on several occasions.

I never met Mr. Botello, since I arrived at Martin in the fall of 1984; By then he was already teaching at another local school.  His reputation, that of legend, had been left firmly in place.

Mr. Botello made the move to Cigarroa H.S. in 1983.  That was the year that Laredo I.S.D. expanded to serve the south Laredo community.  A former Cigarroa band member recalls those early days, when the high school was made up of only junior and senior students.  The fledgling Toro Band would have to make the most of what they had.  In its infancy, the band would receive some good news.

The Cigarroa Band would be invited to play alongside the Martin Band at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.  Apparently, organizers of the north Texas facility were not only impressed with what the Banda del Animo had to offer, but they wanted the man who started the tradition to return as well, with his new students in tow.  People apparently respected the legacy he left behind at his former school.

On top of the task of building up the band program at Cigarroa, it's reported that Mr.Botello also wrote the school's fight song and alma mater.  He stayed on at the school until 1991.  Afterwards he accepted the position of principal at the Trevino Magnet School.

Those who knew Mr. Botello recall the man's unflinching leadership.  He was a mentor to many students, highly regarded for his work and dedication.

His memory will live on.  And Mr. Botello's story will be best told by those he met.  My understated homage to him will hopefully remind others of the effect he had on our community and on others.


Monday, October 3, 2016

On This Day: October Issue

October 1, 2012 Charlie San Miguel says, “I will not resign.”
October 1, 2003 Sisters of Mercy sell hospital to Community Health Systems
October 2, 2015 Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau unveils official hashtag.
October 2, 2016 LISD schools respond to threats made online. Anonymous character posing at creepy clown.
October 2, 2018 FBI raid at Laredo Laser & Surgery office, alleged Medicaid fraud.
October 3, 2016 Ethics committee vice-president resigns. Disappointed w council's decorum. 
October 4, 1898 Smallpox outbreak noticed by local doctors (Smallpox riot occurs next year in March)
October 4, 2014 Autmus Fest featuring A.B. Quintanilla’s Kumbia King AllStarz.
October 2013 Trash pick-up done once a week (green & blue bins)
October 6, 2011 Martin Tigers play Eagle Pass at new Shirley Field.
October 6, 2014 City Council welcomes new Lemurs owners from Monterrey.
October 7, 1927 Elmo Lopez Sr. born (died March 15, 2021). 
October 7, 2002 Laredo Bucks start training camp. (Home debut November 1)
October 8, 2002 Tony Sanchez has spent $58 million on race for governor.
October 8, 1979 The Clash play Laredo
October 8, 2014 Johnny Amaya booked for tampering w governmental records and engaging in organized activity.
October 9, 1822 Samuel Matthias Jarvis was born in New York. (Died on January 31, 1893)  Donated land: Martin High School, Jarvis Plaza.  
October 9, 2009 Shirley Field demolition starts. (blog post)
October 10, 2011 Boat ramp at Lake Casa Blanca closed due to low water levels.
October 11, 1979 Judas Priest plays Laredo Civic Center
October 11, 2007 Barrera’s office raided by TX attorney general’s office for gambling promotion.
October 13, 2011 Bordertown: Laredo debuted.
October 13, 2014 Alex Perez arrested for stealing Abey Lugo campaign signs.
October 13, 2016 Bridge 1 inspection stations demolished. 
October 14, 2011 Laredo Police Officer and his motorcycle dragged by SUV on I-35. Officer taken to S.A. hospital.
October 15, 1947 Happy birthday Maria Estela Quintanilla: teacher, Crimestoppers volunteer. (passed away December 23, 2020)
October 15, 1998 Rodolfo Pena was born. He died on November 5, 2021 at Houston concert. 
October 17, 2009 Rio Fest at Rio Grande Park, under Bridge 1. (blog post with photos) 
October 18, 2012 Max Mandel Golf Course opens.
October 18, 1869 City council adopts new map of Laredo streets named after Mexican and American heroes. Mayor was Samuel Jarvis.
October 18, 2018 Commissioner Jaime Canales turns in his resignation letter to Webb Co. Later in the day we find out that he and Johnny Amaya pled guilty to bribery charges in federal court. 
October 19, 2001 Alfredo Santos store on Sanchez closed its doors.
October 20, 2014  Meg Guerra holds farewell benefit event at La Posada.
October 21, 1927 Lalo Duarte born on this day. 
October 22, 2001 Commissioners Court files lawsuit against Sheriff Juan Garza.  Garza had requested a raise from commissioners.
October 22, 2018 Louis Jones of Dannenbaum Engineering commits suicide.
October 23, 2017 El Metro fees went up: Adults- $1.75; Seniors- 75 cents; transfers- 50 cents.
October 23, 2020 City officials met to dedicate the park at 6002 Thomas after Jovita Idar. 
October 24, 2016 Early voting count: 3,341 ballots. Record turnout throughout Texas, except Laredo.
October 25, 2019 The Current War movie was released in the U.S. Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
October 26, 2007 Chief Dovalina pled guilty to taking bribes.
October 27, 2016 Palenque Grill has grand opening for 2nd location. (San Bernardo)
October 27, 2020 Eva Longoria is guest on KGNS Digital Desk program w Ruben Villarreal 
October 29, 2003 City officials present TX DOT with plans/cost of bridge 5.
October 29, 2014 Esteban Rangel agreed, in writing, to pay back money to city.

October 30, 1951 Latin Jazz Conga Player Poncho Sanchez born (in Laredo).
October 30, 2019 Photo of woman wearing blackface appears in the Laredo Times. People are shown wearing costumes at an event that Webb County hosted.
October 31, 2016 Two people found dead on Arco Iris Road & Estrella Drive (Hwy 359).