Sunday, April 20, 2014

Laredo's plastic bag ordinance: The devil's in the details

Once again, from the Monday, April 21, 2014 Laredo city council meeting agenda:

C. Request by Council Member Cynthia Liendo 
1. Status report on the plastic bag ordinance, with possible action.

Hmmm, not much information on this one.  We know that the city council did pass a plastic bag reduction ordinance last year but left many of the details blank. For one thing, the ordinance seeks to reduce plastic bag usage in the Gateway City, not ban it.  In the process, the question has become whether to bring about a reduction by charging a per-bag fee or a flat fee regardless of how many plastic bags will be issued.

Understandbly, the biggest grocery stores such as HEB have long made it known that they would prefer a flat fee, (say $1.00) per customer per visit.  This is preferred because that way the merchant does not have to keep track of how many bags they will need for each particular customer/visit.  However, this may not necessarily do much for the purpose of reducing the number of plastic bags used in our city. If this route is taken, Laredoans can expect to see about the same number of plastic bags strewn all over town resulting in an offending eyesore to all.

The LaredoTejas editorial board has determined that the more effective method of reducing the number of those annoying fly-away plastic bags is to instead charge a per-bag fee.  This way, people who have a great deal of groceries in their cart might want to avoid paying a few extra dollars for so many plastic bags and start thinking twice about taking along their reusable bags.


Bruni Plaza water fountain to be finally fixed?

It seems that anything with the word Plaza takes a looong time in the City of Laredo.  For decades,the old Plaza Theater has sat vacant. Every few years, someone will bring it up at a city council meeting and the talk will usually go something like this:  The city will finally start moving on renovating the Plaza Theater and soon it will form the anchor of a revitalized downtown.

Well, in case you haven't noticed, the Ol' Plaza is still barricaded and closed.

Now, the subject is the Bruni Plaza water fountain.  There is an item on Monday's 4/20/2014 city council meeting that appears to finally address the dilapiated and dried out old water fountain. Here is what it looks like:

2014-O-051 Authorizing the City Manager to accept the Lamar Bruni
Vergara Trust Grant in the amount of $50,000.00 for the purpose of
repairing the fountain at Bruni Plaza and to amend the FY 2013-2014 Capital
Improvement Fund budget by appropriating said funds.


As far as accepting the  money, that's a given.  Now, as far as using the money as intended, that's anybody's guess.  It won't be the first time the city accepts a grant only to give it back later on because it could not comply with its requirements.

It would be nice to see that old water fountain at Bruni Plaza be fully operational again.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

City to increase water conservations fees, fines


The city council continued its war on the taxpayer by introducing several increases to fees and fines as a way of conserving water. Perhaps money is the only thing the taxpayer will listen to when it comes to saving water.

The question is:  Is the city still selling water to the fracking companies?? If no, then that's a good thing.  If yes, how much water is being sold monthly and why punish the taxpayers for following the example of the city in regards to water usage?


From the April 7th, 2014 agenda

Public hearing and introductory ordinance amending the City of Laredo
Code of Ordinances, Chapter 31, Article III, Division 4, Water Conservation
and Drought Contingency Plans in multiple sections to include a reduction in
the gallons per capita per day consumption (GPCD) from 150 GPCD to 130
GPCD by year 2019 and 110 GPCD by year 2024, a change from 6 stages
to 4 stages in the drought contingency plan, one change to the water
treatment plant capacity, four changes to the water demand triggering
conditions, one change to include a $20.00 water surcharge to customers
using more than 15,000 gallons of water per month during a Stage 4, one
change to adopt the same water waste fees from the Water Conservation
Plan for Stage 1 of the Drought Contingency Plan, one change to increase
the penalty on the Drought Contingency Plan to $500.00 per violation per
day, and one change to establish higher water waste fees for Stages 2, 3,
and 4 of the Drought Contingency Plan; providing for publication, severability
and an effective date. (Approved by Operations & Finance Committees)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Willl Mayor, council and staff take credit for this also? Monterrey flights cancelled

Our local daily, aka el mty is reporting that AeroMexico flights between Laredo and Monterrey have been "quietly" cancelled.  The quiet part was no doubt because that's how the local politicos wanted it.  Monterrey is a huge industrial metropolis of several million people and so Laredo has lost a large market.  All that travel and free private-jet flights to and from Mexico and other Latin American countries are not looking very productive at all.

Laredo Morning Times reported it as such online:

Residents wanting to travel to Monterrey, Mexico by air will have to find a different airport to fly out of. AeroMexico Airlines canceled its daily flights from Laredo International Airport to General Mariano Escobedo International Airport in Monterrey on Aug. 10 after less than a year in service.

Airport Manager Jose Flores said although the partnership with the Mexican airline was valuable, the daily output was not up to the standards of the billion dollar airline giant. “The flight was just not profitable,” he said. “Rather than continue with an unprofitable rout, they decided to cancel the service.”


Representatives from AeroMexico could not be reached for comment Thursday.


Of course, AeroMexico representatives could not be reached for comment. Again, that's how the Mayor and the other local politicos want it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

G.O.U.G.E. to address city council's attack on Laredo garage sales

G.O.U.G.E. or  Grassroots Organization United for Garage-sales Entrepreneurship will be calling their first, organizational meeting to deal with the current pounding garage sales are taking under the present city council.   Only last year, a permit was required for the first time ever in order for someone to hold a garage sale: the permit fee was $5.  This year, the fee was tripled to $15 per garage sale. At that point, the reasoning was that the fee increase would generate an additonal $27,000 to help the hapless city officials offset a growing budget deficit.

Now, you can forget those additional $27,000 going in the city's coffers. At last night's meeting, Cm. Alex Perez made a motion to reduce the number of garage sales allowed per year from three to two. If the city was expecting to rake in $27,000 for 3 garage sales a year, then it makes sense to figure that the city will stand to lose 1/3 of that money ($9,000) by reducing the allowed number of garage sales.

Like the saying goes: "Ellos solos se estan cortando el pescuezo".

Anti-LDF trend continues at city council

As LaredoTejas recently reported, cities throughout the Rio Grande Valley continue to fund their respective Development Foundations rather generously-especially when compared to the city of Laredo. Laredo's essentially anti-LDF trend continued last night at the city's council's meeting. The wheels were sent in motion to cut back the funding to LDF even further. Eventually, what the city manager and council want is to completely take over the money available currently for the LDF.

Councilman Vera suggested that the city look at what it would cost for the city to create their own Economic Development department. He instructed city manager Carlos Villarreall to report back with figures on how much it would cost the city to fund "an economic director and two assistants".  If the current allowed funding of $270,000 is allocated to these three new positions, the breakdown might be something like: 1 Director at $110,000 a year and 2 assistants at $80,000 a year each. If these, new political positions are not created then chances are that the money will be used by the mayor and council to expand their vacation-like trips throughout the country. Even when not travelling, the mayor & council could use these thousands to wine and dine so-called prospective investors.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

San Benito gets in line to eat our lunch

As the Laredo Economic Development Foundation slowly gets defunded a la Ted Cruz, it looks like our Valley neighbors are stepping up their game to attract business development. We're not even talking about McAllen this time. The story in today's Harlingen Valley Star centers on the town of San Benito, Texas which apparently has taken its seat at the table where Laredo's Lunch continues to be one of the most popular items on the menu.

From The Harlingen Valley Star

SAN BENITO — City commissioners have taken their first step to approve the San Benito Economic Development Corporation’s proposed $972,773 budget. In a meeting Tuesday night, commissioners approved the first reading of an ordinance that would adopt the budget. Commissioners are expected to approve the budget in a Sept. 17 meeting.


The proposed budget includes $676,005 earmarked to help fund projects to lure prospective businesses to town, Torres said in an interview. The funding compares with $305,205 budgeted this year, the proposed budget shows. “Those changes reflect our workload,” Torres said of projects that focus on several prospective businesses.

Read the entire article at: http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/local_news/article_ebb1fecc-1b5f-11e3-bddb-0019bb30f31a.html