Saturday, December 31, 2016

One Last Post: Person of the Year

The sun is almost down on the last day of 2016, but I have a chance to compose one more thing for the year.  I had not done a Person of the Year post in a while.  For the first time I'm doing a duet feature write-up.

My 2016 Person(s) of the Year are Esteban Rangel and Priscilla Villarreal Trevino, alias La Gordiloca.  These two deadbeats had a less-than-stellar 2016.  The year was a downer on several fronts, but for this dynamic duo, '16 stung a little extra.

Esteban Rangel tied political newbie Jesse Gonzalez in the March primary for county commissioner.  There was a runoff election and a recount to boot, but Rangel just couldn't eke out a win.  By Independence Day, Rangel should've been an afterthought.  Alas, he never finished paying the City of Laredo the money he owed, so his name remained relevant.  I have a theory: he doesn't have any intention of paying the $8,000.00 back.  If the city sues him for it, he's prepared to spill some beans.  It sounds crazy, I know.  But let's wait and see.  

He was spotted doing some Christmas shopping in town, without a care in the world, apparently.

La Gordiloca, like Rangel, owed money too in 2016, but for different reasons.  The 'online celebrity' made some defamatory statements against a local daycare.  A court ordered her to pay close to $300,000.00 in damages.  Pues, esta ruka doubled down and said, no se vayan a rallar. (paraphrasing)

In print press, she made it known that she wasn't going to fork over a penny to the owners of the daycare.

Rangel and Villarreal Trevino ended up being Laredo's most recognizable delinquents.  And for that they are La Sanbe's Person(s) of the Year.

We'll hear more about these two ego-driven natives, unfortunately.  For now, stay safe and have a Happy New Year!  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

No End To Tacky

The Super S grocery store on Clark and Springfield started selling off its merchandise at the end of January.  They decided not to renew their lease and left las lomas without a supermarket.  Since then, the property's owner has been making some upgrades, or sorts.

New fencing and garish accents have sprung up all around the property.  Roof corners now have brick peaks.  There's an American flag with an eagle on top, to tie everything together, apparently.

And next to the former grocery store is an enclosure for an RV.  I'm guessing security guards will be on the premises around the clock, and they'll have their own digs.  (I'm sure that installation passes local building codes.)

The owner will make any and all modification he sees fit.  He's done the same at the house on Corpus Christi, and at the old J.C. Martin house.  I'm just bemused by the need to make changes where no changes are warranted.  It's apparent that money is no object, and taste is lacking.  But where does it all end?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The End Has To Come

The Galo-Flores soap opera continues.  According to yesterday's story in the Times, County Auditor Leo! Flores hasn't been showing up to commissioners court meetings for more than a year.  John Galo is not happy; he's ready to throw down with a subpoena, if he has to.

It was June 22, 2015 when County Judge Tijerina ejected Flores from a meeting.  An investigation of Flores ensued.

Earlier this year (February) a grand jury cleared Leo Flores of any wrongdoing.

Unless somebody retires soon, stories and blog posts like this will continue.  It's amusing to a certain degree, but it's getting old quick.

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's All Very Complicated

Donald Trump vows to overhaul or possibly scrap NAFTA altogether.

Local banker Dennis Nixon co-hosts Trump fundraiser in San Antonio on June 17.

Trump wins presidential election.

Nixon pens pro-NAFTA screed.

(#AgainstHisBestInterests) (#pendejo)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

He's Back, Sort Of

It seemed like Tom Wade, local Teabagger, had dropped off the face of the world a couple of years ago.  His ultra-conservative views were on display in local protests, on AM radio, and on his Wake Up Laredo blog.  But one day, just like that - *poof* - he was gone.

On Sunday I come to learn why he's been absent: he was caught stealing money from the Laredo Rifle and Pistol Club (LRPC), an organization in which he had command of its finances.  Wade, according to reports, also had not filed any documentation with the IRS for three years.  That lack of disclosure led to the LRPC losing its non-profit status.    

Last week, Tom Wade pleaded not guilty to the charges.  A pre-trial hearing is set for February.

Let's Not Forget

Local media outlets reported yesterday on the passing of David Cortez.  He died Monday in San Antonio at the age of 82.

Cortez's son was quoted in the LMT (Taryn Walters) today: "He was a wonderful family man.  He loved his community and served it well."

Cortez is remembered for his many years of service to the community.  He served as council member, and county commissioner, until his sudden departure from politics in 2005.  Then-County Judge Louis Bruni made the announcement to the media that David Cortez resigned because of health issues.  Bruni appointed Cortez's daughter to fill the commissioner's seat.

Two months after leaving his post, David Cortez was convicted of funneling bribes to several commissioners in Willacy County.  Cortez cooperated with prosecutors and was sentenced to three months in prison, to be followed by house arrest.

David Cortez may have been a good friend to some, and a wonderful family man, but his lasting legacy will be that of convicted felon.  He'll go down in local history as one more politician who worked the system to his advantage.

Clipping above from October 2005

Monday, December 12, 2016

You Got My Money?

It was October 29, 2014 that Esteban Rangel signed an AGREEMENT TO REIMBURSE contract with the City of Laredo.  The promissory note listed the terms by which he was going to pay back the money he had been pocketing illegally.  To recap: Rangel was promoted to Director of Transportation by LISD while receiving a paycheck as a city council member.  In some instances, state law prohibits a person from being compensated simultaneously by two government agencies.  

Rangel lost his primary race for commissioner earlier this year.  He vacated his council seat, but still had thousands to repay to the city.  (Total repayment was $14,200.00.)  La Sanbe news headquarters got word last week that the city is still trying to figure out what course of action to take to get their money back.

Both parties are in this mess because of a simple oversight -- Rangel didn't know any better and the city learned of his new position and compensation a little too late.  Blunders aside, Rangel needs to do right by the city.  The City of Laredo wants its $8,000 and its patience is wearing thin.  

Friday, December 9, 2016

Convince Your Friends To Vote

The runoff election race between Allen Tijerina and Albert Torres will be decided a week from tomorrow.  One of these two man-childs will replace Juan Narvaez and his heavy Laredo accent.  My money is on Torres, only because he's a Webb County staffer.  Being in that kind of network has its perks: i.e. connections.

This contest has had the appeal of a dying house plant.  Apart from the political swipes, and Tijerina campaign ads running twice in the same issue of the Laredo Times, this race has been uninteresting.

Photo courtesy of the City of Laredo

On November 29, Tijerina was the only candidate to attend the Public Access-sponsored forum.  According to the city's spokesperson, Torres didn't show up for the pre-forum meeting.  As such, he was disqualified from the event.  Skipping a debate for a runoff race is perhaps excusable, but it doesn't look good when you're the current Democratic Party Chair of Webb Co.  If Torres pulls stunts like these, then we shouldn't be surprised by the rampant local voter apathy.

KGNS reported last night that a little over 2,000 people had voted early for this, and the LCC trustee race.  And that's the only thing you need to worry about in a local runoff race: convince 1,000 of your family members, friends, or social media acquaintances to go vote for you, and you have a shot of winning.  Debates are for losers.

Albert Torres is hardly the only candidate to have skipped a debate.  He has company: Frank Sciaraffa, Pat Campos, Martin Cuellar, Hector Lee Patino, Alex Perez, etc., etc.

Again, apathy.  But the show goes on.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Memory About Gas Stations

Not the most clear photo I could get, but the frame offers a hint of a gas station that used to be located on San Bernardo, across from the fire station.  To the left you can see the Holiday Inn hotel.

The Fina gas station was the only thing located on that entire block, where the Marriot now sits.  I recall my mom going to that service station to fill up on gas.  That was when an attendant would actually come out and pump the gasoline for you.  It's one of those mundane places I remember from my youth.  It was a different time.

Screen grab captured from YouTube video entitled: Penta Fraternidad Desfile Laredo TX 1997.

I have to check when the Marriot built on that site, because I don't recall the gas station being there into the late 1990s.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pay No Mind To This

Just for future reference:

City - 555
County - 650
School - 721

UPDATE: October 2017

School tax - 789.46

UPDATE: December 2018

City - 654.16
County - 762.60
School - 989.84

Monday, December 5, 2016

War Of The Rosas

The headline in yesterday's LMT issue was: Declining Game Attendance.  

To say that the Lemurs organization is in complete disarray would be an understatement.  Team management has, ostensibly, made life a 'living hell' for majority owner Arianna Torres.  It's been a little over three years that the Lemurs played their first game in Laredo, but already we have stories of disgruntled employees, infighting between management, police responding to Uni-Trade Stadium to settle disputes, and a lawsuit.

Warring parties were due in court today to present a plan on how to work together.  That was the directive from the last court hearing.  (I think this was Judge Hale copping out in this matter:  adults, you work it out amongst yourselves and I'll sign off on it.)  But it's apparent that Holliman, Villarreal and Torres have a case of irreconcilable differences.

A lot of money has been poured into this baseball venture, and all we have to show for it is a bad drama that makes for juicy headlines.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Their Traffic Is Evident

Melva Lavín-Castillo of the Rio Grande Guardian:
NUEVO LAREDO, Tamaulipas — The white-tailed deer hunting season is always good for this border city. Local authorities expect to have an economic revenue of more than $15 million during the 2016-2017 season which began on Nov. 18 and will continue until January.
Good for Nuevo Laredo.  Tourism of all kinds help our local economies.  I wonder, however, if hunters really have that kind of monetary impact in our area.

The WBCA celebration is another generator of moolah.

The Laredo Times writer mentioned in 2005 that 500,000 visitors would descend upon Laredo for the festivities, pumping $14 million into the local economy.

What about the paisano traffic?

This time of year the paisanos are highly visible, especially along I-35.  With their presence, I have to make changes to my commuting habits.  Hunters and WBCA attendees have almost never gotten in my way, not the way paisanos have.  What is their effect on our economy?

One way to measure their impact is to compare December bridge revenue tallies to those of the other eleven months.  That could be something, no?

Inflated numbers from the WBCA and hunting advocates aside, paisanos need to be given credit for the money they pump into Laredo.  Much is said about the international trade industry that provides a lot of jobs around here.  It's time to give paisanos their due.  

On This Day In December: Laredo

December 1973 KVTV debuted.
December 1983 Danny's Restaurant opens on Juarez Ave. downtown. 

December 1973 Air Force base closed.
December 1, 2014 Chacon Creek bat colony site unveiled by City of Laredo.
December 1, 2014 Mayor Pete Saenz vetoed a decision by council. Veto quickly overturned by city council members.
December 3, 2009 Parking/dropping off at San Agustin Plaza (La Posada) prohibited. Cones blocking side of plaza. (blog post video)
December 4, 2014 South side library opens. Councilman Mike Garza has computer lab named after him.
December 5, 2011 Standoff at state welfare office w woman denied benefits.
December 5, 1889 Street car service established in Laredo.
December 5, 1940 Eleanor Roosevelt visited Laredo. (blog post: This Day in Laredo)
December 7, 2018 Arena officials announce end of Bucks' season. 
December 8, 2010 Luke Wilson visited Laredo looking for possible film location.
December 8, 2005 Moises Garcia killed at TortaMex parking lot.
December 8, 2014 Danny Valdez presides over his last commissioners meeting.
December 8, 2017 Snow in Laredo and south Texas. 
December 1996 Texas Monthly writes on new conservative city council. Story entitled “Familia Feud.”
December 9, 2015 Johnny Rockets Restaurant opens.
December 9, 2007 H-E-vito store in south Laredo (blog photo)
December 11, 2014 Dr. Juan Maldonado emails LCC trustees about retirement.
December 11, 2010 Runoff election winner: Rosie Cuellar Castillo (municipal court judge)
December 11, 2016 Christopher Lee Casarez died. He was court coordinator for Judge Jesus Garza.
December 11, 2018 Riot at Webb Co. jail started by gang members. 
December 12, 1841 Florencio Villarreal elected president for town of San Agustin de Laredo.
December 12, 1985 Mayor Tatangelo declares Dec. 12 as Luciano Duarte Day. (blog picture)
December 12, 2014 Two women (one pregnant) killed in crash at Sierra Vista and Cuatro Vientos.
December 12, 2015 Woman killed on Cuatro Vientos and Cielito Lindo. Her car was struck by trailer.
December 12, 2016 David Cortez, former councilman and commissioner, passed away. 
December 13, 2007 KLAR sign on Zapata Hwy. (photo)
December 13, 2018 Mayor Pete Saenz wins another term, beats Roque Vela Jr in runoff election.
December 15, 2016 Paisano "Caravan" VII takes off from Laredo into Mexico. 
December 16, 2008 Cartonero loading truck downtown.  (photo)
December 16, 1996 City council discusses discrepancies at Fleet Management Division.
December 16, 2016 Hot air balloon event at Life Downs. (3-day weekend event)
December 17, 1985 KHOY radio established. 
December 17, 2010 Alfonso Boyer Ornelas has farewell celebration at municipal court.
December 17, 2014 County has ground-breaking for rehab facility for teens.
December 17, 2015 KGNS: vandals damage Xmas decorations at Slaughter Park.
December 17, 2020 Hospital workers at LMC, including Dr. Victor Trevino, got the Covid-19 vaccine
December 18, 2020 WBCA cancels festivities for 2021 for health and safety concerns due to Covid-19 
December 19, 1980 Jazz Singer movie released. (photo: Neil Diamond steps off bus bound for Laredo)
December 19, 2014 No settlement reached in mediation in Sciaraffa v. Sara Jo Davila.
December 20, 1993 Inmates at Webb Co. Detention Center riot, set fire to facility.
December 21, 2007 LMT headline: Montes claims verbal, physical assault by Montalvo, Chief Garza.
December 22, 1939 Laredo becomes headquarters for the 23rd Customs Collection District
December 22, 1965 Timothy Leary busted for marijuana possession at Laredo bridge crossing.  His case went to Supreme Court: Leary v. United States.
December 22, 2003 County backs out of Provaqua project. (cloud seeding)
December 22, 2016 Woman's car crashes into train near LCC/Washington St. bridge.
December 23, 2020 Dr. Click received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the Laredo Health Department. 
December 24, 2004 Snowed in Laredo
December 24, 1986 Laredo News staff dismissed by management.
December (15) 2008 Feliz Navidad cut out on Zacate Creek. (photo)
December 26, 2007 Glass Kitchen blight. (blog photo)
December 27, 1967 TX Court of Appeals hands down ruling in Geissler v. Coussoulis (Southland Café).  Sets limits on how many people can picket outside café.

December 27, 2013 Raul Salinas’ affidavit that Ed Garza never supplied him with gifts.
December 27, 2018 LMT headline: CBP, BP working without pay because of government shutdown.
December 28, 2018 Last working day for County Treasurer Delia Perales. She is retiring. 
December 30, 2006 Vidal M. Trevino passed away.
December 30, 2017 Marks the last day of operation for Hal's Landing. 
December 31, 2010 LMT: Losing Millions - state ends county’s weatherization program

December 31, 2015 Man jumps off overpass on Washington St. and I-35.