Monday, February 28, 2011

Need a facelift? Go see your electrical engineer

Dr. Koneru (Advanced Concepts in Plastic Surgery) brings this breakthrough ultrasound technique to patients in San Antonio, Austin and Laredo,Texas.

There is a new fad for those Laredoans who like to ride in the vanity bandwagon to jump on. Fresh on the heels of lap band fever, comes a brand new way of getting receiving all the benefits of plastic surgery without having to undergo the usual knife-happy procedure. It couldn't come at a better time. Laredoans, who had traditionally been known to be rather reserved and perhaps a bit too quiet, have fallen in love with their own image. Nowadays, some of our fellow citizens practically trip over themselves for any chance of appearing on TV, local publications (Divino,QuePasa), Beauty contests and tryouts, Facebook, You Tube and for some even turning heads at the local beer run is hard to pass up. Never fear, the new age of Plastic Surgery is here.    

(San Antonio,TX) Dr. Suresh Koneru is pleased to be the first in San Antonio to offer a new brow lift, face lift and neck lift procedure – Ultherapy™. This non-invasive technology uses the imaging and capabilities of medical ultrasound to lift and tighten sagging facial and neck skin without surgery. Just as ultrasound is used to image internal organs and babies, it can now be used to image the layers of skin, fat, and muscle in the face and neck. Dr. Koneru can then focus the ultrasound energy on the appropriate layers to get a lift of the skin and muscle without any incisions.

Dr. Suresh Koneru treats patients in San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Laredo and other cities in Central and South Texas. He offers non-invasive plastic surgery and conventional surgical procedures for brow lifts, face lifts and neck lifts, as well as other cosmetic procedures. With his background in Electrical Engineering, Dr. Koneru is uniquely qualified to pioneer the use of this technology in San Antonio and South Texas.

LMT Biz Journal touts Customer Service Seminar Series

In his continuing quest to improve Laredo's customer service reputation, AB Barrera of the LMT Business Journal is encouraging all Laredoans to speak out whenever they are not treated properly. We at Laredotejas have taken issue with Barrera before but we fully agree with him on this point. Like it or not, complaining is the only way that some of the local merchants and service providers will change their ways.

In today's article, Barrera also points out that frustration drives (pardon the pun) many to San Antonio in search of a better shopping experience. That is probably true in some cases but with the price of gasoline going up, it will be costlier to drive to the Alamo city, or anywhere for that matter. This is even more reason to step up our demand for quality customer service. If local businesses think they have a captive customer base, they might just lower the customer service bar even further. I know, that's hard to imagine. As usual, Barrera recommends that businesses invest in educating their employees in the art of customer satisfaction. In particular, he mentions the 2011 Customer Service Seminar Series being promoted by the Laredo Chamber of Commerce. Being a proud Laredoan, naturally I couldn't resist looking it up on the Chamber's website and posting the information above.

So far, so good: No layoffs at LISD forseen by Dr. Nelson

Beaucoups "Benjamins" bow to budget.

Laredo Independent School District Superintendent Marcus Nelson will announce the details of his budget plan tonight at a special budget workshop. What we hearing so far is definitely good news. The Laredo Morning Times is reporting today that no layoffs are planned at LISD unless "a worst case scenario" ensues. Sounding cautiously optimistic, Dr. Nelson also said that he does not expect that scenario to develop. No doubt the community as a whole shares his positive outlook.

While hoping for the best, Nelson has nonetheless continued to prepare for the worst. He and his team have put together a plan that calls for cuts to be implemented in 5 million dollar increments as the situation dictates. In addition to tonight's meeting, Nelson plans to address LISD employees on budget matters this Wednesday. Several town hall meetings to inform the community are also being planned. LaredoTejas applauds Dr. Nelson on his pragmatic approach in the face of the current fiscal calamities.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Only in Laredo: Our Water plants date from the '30s and '50s but we got a $18Million baseball in the works!

One of Laredo's water plants was built during FDR's first term

The 311 operator must have been getting hundreds of call. When I asked to be transferred to the City of Laredo waterworks, he knew exactly to say "Sir, the water pressure is going to be down for a few more hours because they're working on the water plant".  Well, no wonder, according to waterworks director Tomas Rodriguez, our city's two water plants date back to the 1930s and 1950s.  That makes them nearly 80 and 60 years old respectively. Rodriguez added that the 1930s plant is being abandoned while the 1950s plant is being remodeled. Great!, now we're only 60 years behind.

Not to fear, the 18 million dollar baseball park is still in the works. Not only did several schools had to dismiss their students early because of the low water pressure, there's was even more fallout. A reader of the LMT, had this to say:

"There was no water available for the bathrooms at Ochoa baseball field during the Border Olympics Baseball Tournament!! How embarrassing is it for to hear the announcer say, "there is no water so please refrain from using the bathrooms for the nest 1 1/2 hours".  This type of publicity is exactly why Laredo has the image it has, we deserve the image we have. we earn it EVERY day with this kind of B$!! "

'Nuff said.

Riddle me this: Does Tex legislator hire "illegals"?

Howdy, I don't hate illegals, my own bill even allows me to hire me some!

An Arizona-inspired bill making its way through the Texas house could lead to jail time for those hiring undocumented immigrants, or as the republicans like to call them, "illegals". Texas representative Debbie-Riddle, who herself is Arizona-inspired, authored HB 1012 which prohibits Texans from "intentionally, knowingly or recklessly" hiring or contracting an "unauthorized alien". I guess it wasn't enough for riddle to make it against the law to hire undocumented workers just intentionally and/or knowingly, she had to throw in recklessly just to make it sound worse. The maximum fine is $10,000 and from 3 months to 2 years in jail.  We might not be building new schools anytime soon but if Riddle gets her way, we sure are going to have to build a lot of jails. It makes me wonder if those in the prison building business are among her financial contributers.

Riddle has drawn some criticism because of an exemption she wrote into the bill. It made people wonder if she hires "illegals" herself. Here's an excerpt from a story that ran in today's Laredo Morning Times:

There is also an exception for domestic help.People who hire or contract with someone for work “exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence” are off the hook. English (her chief of staff) said that exception was geared toward not “stifling the economic engine” in Texas, so that people who contract out for work in or on their homes don’t have to vet everyone.

If homeowners hire lawn-care service, for example, English said, they shouldn’t be punished if a company employs undocumented workers. The exception for domestic help has some opponents of stricter state enforcement curious if Riddle, who owns horse ranches, was making an exception for herself. “She actually doesn’t hire anybody that works on her land that she hasn’t verified the immigration status for,” English said. “Let’s just say she is pretty thorough on that.”

Notice that her spokesman doesn't say that Riddle doesn't hire undocumented workers, he simply asserts that she checks out their immigration status thoroughly. Wouldn't making sure they're undocumented make it easier for her to exploit them any workers she might have on her ranch?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The number of insurance characters rising as fast as their rates

Not one of your most popular Insurance characters
We have all heard that imitation is the best form of flattery. If this is truly the case, then it's safe to assume that The Geico Gecko must be flatterd from head to tail.  The lean, green Gecko has reached a sort of cult status. It is no surprise then, that other characters have sprung up as the face of various other Insurance companies. If you own a TV, there is no way that you haven't see Progressive Insurance's Flo and her ultra-red lipstick. The same goes for the Nationwide is on your side phone guy and the chaotic Mayhem guy from All-State. I don't know if they're all from the same advertising firm, but the auto insurance companies have all of a sudden developed a healthy sense of humor.

There is one exception, at least it looks that way so far. 21st Century auto insurance has recently ntroduced  a hardhat-wearing, stern-faced character but this campaign doesn't seem to be going that good. Maybe they need to adopt a mascot instead. We know there's plenty of those around.

Bizzarro Billboard music charts : say it isn't so Ringo

I just don't believe what I read sometimes. Case in point, the cast of Glee (a show I've never watched) has somehow managed to have more hits on the billboard charts than the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley. It's obvious, we've re-entered the Bubble-gum age again. Let me make sure I understand this. A fabricated, corporate-picked bunch of performers are now the most successful recording act of all time?

To borrow a line from Dana Carvery's  grumpy old man, things were different in my day.   Looking back, some of the Beatle's most creative albums such as  Rubber Soul and  Revolver  were pretty good from the time they came out. Yet, we knew it was popular music. Well, in retrospect and especially when juxtaposed against today's gleeness, These 60s and 70s bands are sure starting to look more and more like Mozart.

2011 Laredo's Official Visitors Guide still includes the Laredo Broncos- DOH!

Laredos Visitors Guide

I'm going out on a limb and assume that proofreading is not a big priority at the city of Laredo's Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Last week, Laredotejas pointed out that the mayor's welcome letter, which opens this year's Official Visitor's Guide, had at least a few glitches. Well, never fear, our second close look at the visitor's guide turns out yet another apparent oversight. You have to admit that at least they're consistent.

In promoting the city's 4th of July activities, the guide highlights the fireworks display that takes place every year at veteran's field. The problem in this particular write-up is that it includes the following sentence. "The display will follow the Laredo Bronco's baseball home game".  Don't look now, but Laredo doesn't have the Broncos anymore. You might remember that they were run out of town by our unscrupulous and back-stabbing back-slapping city council. Also, something tells me that since the Broncos aren't at veterans field anymore, the ice-cream and pie-eating contests will be probably be missing as well.

We can't continue to mislead the few visitors this town gets with a visitor's guide full of erroneous information. Does anyone at the LCVB have enought white-out to go out and correct the 200,000 copies of the visitor's guide that are there mis-informing everyone? 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

$18 Million dollar stadium goes up while education budget goes down

Ok....., how about the Laredo Carpetbaggers??

On one side, you have the Laredo city council deciding (again) to go ahead with an $18million baseball park. On the other, glaring budget shortfalls facing both of our school districts. Why in the world wouldn't it make sense to scrap the plans for the baseball park and, ready for this?, help out our school districts instead.  I' m no expert at how the city and school districts can or cannot work together but my point is....why waste all those millions of dollars on a baseball park which was promised to us for less than  half its current price?

The much-talked about Pony league tournaments are not reason enough to proceed with this ill-conceived baseball park. Neither are the sentiments in the letter that councilman Rendon read out loud. I'm referring to a letter from dedicated UHS coach JJ Gomez about the support that he and his players have for the new park. In it, he mentioned that his players often wonder aloud, why Laredo doesn't have the kind of baseball parks that other cities have. The coach and his players are to be admired and respected but there are a lot more pressing needs in our community than this park.

The Mayor says that we are making history by proceeding with the plans of the previous city council. Sadly, most of the present city council agrees, except for Charlie San Miguel. It was he who stood alone in speaking out against this waste. We applaud him for his efforts. If Laredo is making history, as the mayor asserts, it's the history of making mistake after mistake during these times when many having been forced to take austere measures.  It is obvious that what matters most to the city council, mayor and staff is implementing their view of economic development, which in reality is closer to economic stagnation. This distorted view has become all consuming at the expense of the taxpayers and citizens.

Anyone wondering if this proposed park will create any jobs ask yourself this question. What kind of good-paying, quality jobs were created by the $40 million Laredo Entertainment Arena? What was the multiplier effect of that multi-million investment?  I can almost hear the crickets chirping.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Laredo/United TSTA jumps into action, buys matching shirts

Some of Laredo's TSTA leaders ( before their matching red shirt days)  mingle with Texas politicians

For years, thousands of Laredo teachers have been paying about $35 a month in order to maintain their TSTA membership. Non-teachers pay about $22 a month. I'm guessing that altogether, these members contribute roughly about $100,000 to the state TSTA offices. How much of those $100K is returned to the local chapter is beyond me but it's got to be at least $20,000. Well, to the relief of LISD and UISD union employees, TSTA Laredo/United leaders have jumped into action. In these tough times when job cuts are looming at both districts, the first order of business was to buy themselves mongrammed, matching, red polo shirts.

Now that the wardrobe issues have been resolved, a day of action is being planned locally. TSTA leaders are scheduling a march for Saturday, April 2nd. It will start at the Laredo Public Library main branch and proceed to the Blas Castaneda park. I'm not 100 per cent sure, but I don't think there's many school district offices along that route.

Obviously, the place to march on is the state capitol in Austin, Afterall, it's Rick Perry who's behind all this mess. And I understand that there is a march planned there on March 12th, but I don't know what role, if any, the local TSTA chapter will be playing on that date. They should use some of those union dues to charter a few buses and allow hundreds of Laredoans to make their presence known in Austin. I certainly hope that it's not only going to be the "officers" going up there by themselves, what impact is that?

Good luck to all employees of Laredo's schools and stay on top of your union leaders to maximize your participation and voice in this crucial debate. That's what you've been paying all those union dues for.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Get ready for some Texas-sized gerrymandering. Make that Perrymandering

Since 1812, the term gerrymandering has been part of the corrupt politicians playbook. Then Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed into law a redistricting bill to favor his own party. One of the resulting districts was said to resemble a salamander. This word combined with the Governor's last name led to the coining of the term gerrymander. The corrupt political process itself came to be known as gerrymandering.
Following are a couple of excerpts from a related article.

From the Jacksonville, Texas Daily Progress

The increased population of Texas has triggered a need to redistrict in order to ensure that each district has the same population. The new populations are listed below:
Each of the 150 House districts must have a population of 167,637.
Each of the 31 Senate districts must have a population of 811,147.
Each of the 36 congressional districts must have a population of 698,488.

“About 50 percent of the entire state lives up and down the I-35 corridor. So that’s from the Red River in Oklahoma down to Laredo, which has got Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, San Antonio,” he said. “Twenty-five percent of the people in the state live in Houston. Another twenty-five percent of the people live elsewhere in the state.”

Absolutely no mention of texting ban on Pro8 News

Covergage YOU can count on! (Pointing at you)

Unless, I missed it, Pro 8 News, with coverage you can count on, failed to even mention the texting ban that was supposed to be up for a vote at tonight's city council meeting. They had been covering it the last couple of days and repeating the story for several news cycles as they're prone to do. So, naturally, you'd expect for them to provide some sort of follow up. Even simply saying something like "we'll have an update of the texting ban tomorrow morning"  would've been understandable.

Admittedly, I did watch some of the payasadas proceedings of tonight's meeting but only up to when they broke for their usual all-you-can-eat executive session. So, those of you who are avowed texters better find another source of news to keep you informed.  It's clear that despite Tim Guttierez's insistence, we can't count on Pro8 news after all.

No way Laredo would stake it's economic future on gambling.....wanna bet?

At tonight's City of Laredo council meeting, district I councilman Mike Garza took the lead in pushing for legalizing gambling in Laredo. The council voted yes to pursuing not one but two forms of gambling ; horse race betting and slot machines would both be allowed under one roof. Think of it as a mini-mall for gamblers. What better way to spend the family's money than to blow it at the race track.

Earlier, I had read an article in the Laredo Sun on the same story. It seems that the only thing our city council is concerned about these days (and always) is making easy money. Why build up our schools and educate our workforce as a means to attracting new businesses when we can bring in an addictive vice like gambling? Here's a little bit of what appeared in the Laredo Sun:
A study of the Win for Texas promoters said that if approved the slot machines in places where races are held , the state would have an impact of $ 8.5 billion in the economy of Texas . It is also estimated that statewide it will create over 77 thousand jobs , 16 thousand of them in South Texas as it will benefit the development of some 40 different industries.
Who can argue with numbers like that? Sixteen thousands jobs created and over 40 different industries developed. I wonder how many of those industries will be necessary to deal with the gambling addiction, broken homes and bankrupt Laredoans that will be strewn in the wake of such a grand idea.

Hispanics closer to tipping point, becoming majority in "Tejas".

By Luisita Lopez Torregrosa

Hispanics were at the leading edge of the state's population surge in the last decade, accounting for more than two-thirds of the growth, making up 38 percent of the state's 25.1 million people. Most remarkable, Texas' non-Hispanic whites – widely referred to as Anglos – are no longer the majority ethnic group in that fiercely tradition-bound Anglo culture. Whites now make up only 45 percent of the state's population, down from 52 percent in 2000. Blacks stayed the same at 11 percent.

"It's not just a sea change, it's a tipping point," state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, where two-thirds of the residents are Hispanic, told The New York Times. "San Antonio looks like what Texas is going to look like in 15 years."

Texas' rapidly changing demographics are so crucial and complex that The Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization, has summoned a daylong symposium on Feb. 28 at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin to discuss the impact that the coming Hispanic majority will have on the state – from public education, higher education, energy, health care, workforce development and criminal justice.

The fastest-growing counties are in the suburbs of Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where rural towns have been turned into middle-and-upper-income exurbs that together make up sprawling metropolises. The San Antonio-Austin corridor and the counties along the Rio Grande enjoyed large growth while the rural areas of West Texas shriveled.

The Texas of endless plains, cowboys and cattle ranches has become a bit emptier while the populous cities sprawl farther out, and the state becomes more urban, more dense, more Hispanic.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ol' Tony Sanchez sells his sky-high New York condo for almost $8M

Yeehaw!<br /> (University of Texas System)
"Oh give me a home where the airplanes roam"

From the New York Observer Real Estate
by Matt Chaban

A.R. "Tony" Sanchez, Jr. has just sold his soaring 3,549-square-foot condo on the top floor of the 76-story Metropolitan Tower for $7.775 million, according to city records filed Feb. 7. The Laredo-based oilman and investor, who was the Democratic candidate for governor in 2002, bought two neighboring units along the hypotanonuse of the triangular-shaped, Macklowe-developed tower two years before he lost to still-governor Rick Perry. He paid a total of $2.9 million to assemble the five-bedroom, four-full- and two-half-bath spread.

Read more at:

Wade Watch: Yes to guns at our state colleges and universities

Sorry I'm late, I had forgotten my gun. You got a problem with that teach?

Tom Wade, the gun-toting, Starbucks loving, Bucks-supporting host of 1090 AM radio's Wake Up Laredo was at it again this morning, true to form. I only got to listen to part of the show, but I'm guessing that Wade opened up with the same story that today's Laredo Morning Times did: Guns on campus. Apparently, the Texas GOP is poised to pass a gun law that would allow concealed firearms on the state's colleges and universities. Not surprisingly, Wade's take on this was sort of "What took you so long?".

I wonder if the free exchange of ideas at our institutions of higher-learning will be hindered in any respect by this new law. Some class discussions can get pretty heated, especially those dealing with political and/or sociological issues. What are the chances that some students will refrain from truly speaking their minds when someone with an opposing viewpoint, sitting only a few feet away, is packing heat? What if that person is a right or left leaning extremist and is just  "itching like a finger on the trigger of a gun" as Paul Simon would say?

I wonder if Mr. Wade feels that guns in this type of setting present even the slightest infringement upon Americans' first amendment rights. It would be interesting to hear his take on this view. The Bill of Rights grants us Freedom of Speech. What happens when that freedom is impinged upon by another right (right to bear arms)? What say you, Tom Wade?

Maybe next we see a political debate in Texas, both candidates will be armed and ready for bear.

VMT recruitment: "Rock the Arts"

VMT Magnet School to Rock The Arts!

The LISD Vidal M. Trevino school of arts and communication has joined the movement of transforming the verb "to rock". The Laredo Morning Times is reporting the VMT Magnet school's recruitment theme this year is "Rock the Arts". What else would you expect of such an innovative school? As Laredotejas has reported before: somethings used to rock, now you rock somethings. For example, whereas in the past it was simply "the band rocks", today we hear "the band rocks some cool songs".

The way I understand it, to rock is being transformed right before our eyes (ears) and now comes equipped with it's own direct object: VMT rocks the arts (subject/verb/direct object). Just as the laid-back Bruce Banner can quickly turn himself into the aggresive Incredible Hulk, this verb also has the power to morph from an unimposing intransative verb to an in-your-face, transitive one.

So just be sure to keep this in mind next time you find yourself visiting the VMT magnet school: if the house is a rockin' (the arts) then don't bother knocking.  

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Say What? Re: Mayor's invitation

The official 2011 Laredo's visitors guide is out. It will be widely distributed near and far. Over 120,000 copies will be shipped to the largest cities in Northern Mexico and the United States. Fittingly, Mayor Raul Salinas' invitation opens the issue. Unfortunately, there's a few sentences here and there that don't seem to fit together just quite right. I hope all those people reading the guide are not English majors, or else, we're in trouble. Here are some excerpts from the Mayor's invitation to Laredo. I have italicized those parts that seem to be, ever so slightly, out of place.

"As Mayor of this great community, I invite you to come experience the authenic flavors of our culture and character and it's warmth and regard". .
I don't get it: it's warmth and regard? Maybe he was shooting for something like with warm regards ?

"Laredo's patriotic community spirit is done up in a do wrapped in high flying Old Glory".
Nope, I don't get what he's trying to say. Does done up in a do mean like  a hair-do? I don't know.
"Decked out in red, white and blue for the 114th edition of this Washington's Birthday Celebration (comma missing)  this warm winter weather series of outdoor festivals and community activities is nothing short of spectacular".
This is a Sarah Paliln type sentence. It is missing a comma after Celebration. Also, is warm winter weather an adjective for series? Warm winter weather is not always the case. We just had an arctic blast recently.

"It's two and half centuries in a modern day world".
Maybe he was thinking of two and a half centuries of history with all the conveniences of the modern-day world?  Overall, it looks like the Mayor knew what he wanted to say but maybe whoever proofread the article just dozed off.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

So far, so good: no WBCA event attended

Well, I don't know if watching the WBCA grand parade on TV will count as attending, but if it doesn't, then I get an A+.  I have not attended any of the WBCA festivities and the month long-marathon is almost over. I know most of my fellow bloggers pride themselves on their non-participation as well, although I can think of at least one who suffered a slight hiccup and went to the George and Ben thing. As I understand it, the production actually turned out to be pretty good.  At the end of the day, I guess I have to say I was surprised.

Any local historians who might have any sort of influence with the WBCA moguls need to come up with a Laredo connection. Why not do some research on what was going on in Laredo around 1776 and build a celebration about that theme. It could lead to an entirely new series of events, just like the farce festivities surrounding the Martha Washington social club.

The very early years of Laredo saw a lot of sheep herding and cotton in the area. That immediately gives me at least a couple of ideas. There could a Baile De Borregos staged and the Damas and Caballeros could be adorned in their woolen regalia.  Also, along the lines of the Jalapeno Queen, a contest to crown the Alcalde de Algodon could be held.  People dressed up as everything from Hacendados to peons would surely enjoy a lovely masquerade ball.

Maybe we need a Madison Moment

Protestors fill the State Capitol building in Wisconsin

With the 2010 census figures showing that Texas is now a majority-minority state, it's time that someone other than Anglo republicans get to govern the state. Why should Texas be ruled by a minority of it's population? If all Whites now account for only 45 percent of  the population in the Lone Star State, those who are republicans are certainly even more of a minority.  There's no reason  for the Governor, Lt. Gov. and all the rest of the state-wide elected officials, including our two US Senators to continue to be solely made up of this outnumbered demographic.

Maybe it's time for a Madison, Wisconsin sort of moment. Maybe it's time that the power structure in our state more truly represents it's people. This deal about having those that who constitute but a fraction of our people, holding 100 percent of the state-wide offices is simply not acceptable. Governor Perry and his arch-conservatives like anti-immigrant Debbie Riddle and  birther Leo Bernman are standing idly by while middle-class and lower-class Texans are being threatened with job cuts.   It looks like it's high time to start marching. Well, isn't this what TSTA is referring to when they talk about a day of action?   Afterall, it's the teachers who are leading the push back against Wisconsin's version of Rick Perry.

Every single Texan that is in danger of losing his/er job due to Perry's obsession with not touching the Rainy day fund is a taxpayer. Contrary to the lie republicans are pushing, it's not taxpayers vs the teachers. It's tax-paying hard working Texans (including teachers) against Perry and his minions. Do not loose sight of that fact.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Obama education budget would allow Texas districts to bypass Rick Perry, apply for grants

Looky here Obama, don't mess with Texas. If we want to defund education, don't you go meddlin'.

From the Houston Chronicle Online

President Obama's budget includes a provision aimed at Texas Gov. Rick Perry and state Education Commissioner Robert Scott.

The budget would set aside $900 million to award school districts who win a new Race to the Top competition and expand it to include early childhood and higher education competitive grant programs. The Early Childhood Learning Program would be created using $350 million and $150 million for a post-secondary program.

Perry refused to apply in 2010 for Race to the Top funding, much to the chagrin of many school districts. Race to the Top aims to raise education standards and align them across states. However, Perry and Scott maintain that would be hazardous to the education system already in place in Texas and the initiatives currently under way. If Perry opts Texas out of competitive grants again, the state has few options for federal funding.

The new Race to the Top intiative would allow individual school districts to participate in the competition, instead of states. Perry won't be able to opt Texas out of the competition. This might be good news to Houston, who wanted to participate last year, but couldn't.

You can read more at :

Buzzwords: Bundle now being applied to fast food: Burger King announces it's Breakfast Bundle

I was driving East on Saunders earlier today. I made a right turn at North Arkansas and noticed a fairly new billboard ad for Burger King. It's for a breakfast combo that includes coffee, hash browns and a sausage biscuit, except now it's called a bundle. I guess they like the alliteration but something tells me the rest of the fast food industry will soon follow suit. You can expect to be corrected at the drive-thru window: "I'll have the McMuffin combo please"..... "You mean bundle?"....."yea, yea sorry,  you're right I want the bundle". It looks like the attack on the English language continues.

I had already gotten used to bundle being used in electronics. It replaced what used to be called a package. Now, what they do is lump some slow-selling items together with the popular ones, give you a minimal discount and voila, you got yourself a bundle, whether you like it or not.

I guess we've always had our own food-related bundles down here in South Texas. The famous parrillada is a bundle of sorts. Mexican food also come in bundles that usually include rice and beans. But at least, we distinguish between our preferences enough to give them their own names: Enchiladas Suizas, Huevos Rancheros, Comida Corrida. Let's hope we dont' have to start ordering a Fajita bundle anytime soon.

Five minutes with Fox

I wanted to try a little experiment involving Fox News. Given it's notorious right-wing leaning stance and anti-Obama rhetoric, I decided to turn it on for 5 minutes and report on my findings. Almost as if on cue,  Fox's Martha McCallum and her guest started tearing into both illegal aliens and the Obama administration. The topic was a recent announcement by the White House to step up their monitoring and verification of employees' immigration status. McCallum went on to report that the number of work sites being monitored around the country would be increased.

Normally, any crackdown on illegal immigrants would be enthusiastically welcomed by the Fox crowd. The fact that it was Obama behind it prompted the fair and balanced team to go into attack mode. "Is the workplace really the place to catch illegals?" asked McCallum, "shouldn't it be on the border?". Her guest chimed in, "actually it should be both, there's 26 million people out of work in the US and most of those jobs are probably being held by illegals." I had heard estimates of up to 12 million illegals being in the country, but 26 million?

I was somewhat astonished but then I thought- "wait this isn't real news, it's Fox". All in all, It had taken me only about 3 minutes to find Fox serving up some old fashioned fear-mongering sprinkled with an unhealthy dose of hate for good measure. No wonder the Tea Party Brotherhood has such a skewed sense. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TSTA calls for "A day of action" but offers no details

TSTA has over 4,000 members locally
It must sort of an inside thing. Today's Laredo Morning Times included a letter to the editor by teacher and TSTA member Ernesto Davila. It called for a day of action on behalf of all LISD teachers, staff, parents and  students. What was missing was any details of when or where this day of action will be. I think if they want the public to come out and support them, the least they can do is say something like "stay tuned for details". As it stands now, we know there's supposed to be a day of action and that's about it. I hope that no one loses their job and wish TSTA and all of LISD employees well but we need a little bit more information. Perhaps it's all in the planning stages.

Also, as Rod Stewart would say "Tonight's the Night" that LISD Superintendent Dr. Nelson is scheduled to offer more specifics about how the budget will be reined in. One would think that a full house would be in attendance at tonight's meeting. That would certainly go a long way towards signaling the upcoming "Day of Action". Who knows, maybe tonight is it. Of course, due to the absence of pertinent information, I'm merely speculating. Maybe it'll just be the usual suspects showing up, aka the well-paid administrators.

2010 census estimates show Texas poised to be a majority-minority state

From The Odessa American

Texas will officially become a majority-minority state for the first time based on 2010 census estimates. The switch occurred in 2005 and its source includes both Hispanic immigration from Mexico as well as black migration from other parts of the United States.

Texas joins Hawaii, California, New Mexico and the District of Columbia as states and a federal district lacking a majority of whites who are not Hispanic. Eight more states, led by Arizona, Maryland, Nevada and Georgia, have shares of non-Hispanic whites nearing the tipping point of 50 percent.

The Southern U.S. region — primarily metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Charlotte, N.C. — accounted for roughly 75 percent of the population gains among blacks since 2000, up from 65 percent in the 1990s, according to the latest census estimates. The gains came primarily at the expense of Northern metro areas such as New York and Chicago, which posted their first declines in black population since at least 1980.

Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Manny Puga said demographic changes were changing many different aspects of life. “Almost 65 percent of all new businesses are being opened by Hispanics today,” Puga said. Additionally, there has been an increase in talk shows aimed at Hispanics and a new bilingual newspaper set to be opened by Dos Mundos Newspaper in the spring, Puga said.

LULAC representative Carol Uranga said the population increase comes mainly from Mexicans coming legally to Texas from Mexico and participating in the census. However, there are also some Mexicans and Mexican-Americans coming from other states for jobs, Uranga said. “I don’t know that we’ve seen a drastic change,” Uranga said of the population shift’s impact.

Despite the increasing numbers, there has not been a lot of political activism from the Hispanic community, which Puga said was due to a lack of political activism in Mexico. And many first-generation immigrants continued that trend in the United States. “They really don’t believe in that system,” Puga said.Puga said that trend might change with subsequent generations.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sylvia Mendez, civil rights pioneer one of 15 Medal of Freedom recipients

Mendez vs Westminster paved the way for Brown vs Board of Education

From The Orange County Register-by Fermin Leal

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama praised Orange County's Sylvia Mendez on Tuesday for sticking with the fight for school segregation even when she was taunted by white classmates.

"She has made it her mission to spread her message of tolerance and opportunity to children of all backgrounds and all walks of life,” Obama said during the annual Presidential Medal of Feeedom ceremony, held in the East Room of the White House.

"Outraged that their daughter had to attend a segregated school, Sylvia’s parents linked arms with other Latino families to fight injustice in a California federal court (Mendez vs Westminster), a case that would pave the way for Brown v. Board of Education.”

An announcer recounted the Orange County segregation fight and its significance for the country.
A teary-eyed Mendez, 74, beamed as the president fastened the medal around her collar, followed by a kiss on her cheek and a quick hug.

Mendez was one of 15 to receive the nation's highest civilian honor during the midday ceremony. Other honorees included former President George H.W. Bush, poet Maya Angelou and baseball great Stan Musial.
"This year’s Medal of Freedom recipients reveal the best of who we are, and the best of who we aspire to be,” the president said.

SuperCar Supermarionation gave us some Weird cartoons

Looking back at some of the cartoons that we had to put up with back in the day, many of us weren't sure if we were supposed to enjoy them or be scared of them. One such experimental series was SuperCar. It was filmed with puppets using a technique known as supermarionation. The protagonist in the show was the car itself. It could either fly or go underwater depending on the adventure of the day.

Probably the weirdest character on SuperCar was Mitch the monkey. In the clip below, Mitch and King Cool are engaged in some sort of surreal antics.

Just how pervasive are Beer runs?

Photo appears courtesy of unsuspecting Bordertown Blues
Does Laredo have a monopoly on the notorious Beer Runs?  Ok, maybe not, since I know a fellow blogger had a recent post about some beer run in the Valley. Still, I was wondering if it's strictly a South Texas thing or what. Since I was curious, I decided to  "google" beer runs and the only that came up was references to making a beer run, as in running out to to buy beer. So it appears that they are not everywhere (yet). Don't be surprised if a conglomerate moves in and starts a regional chain.

True to form, it always seems that Laredo gets noticed for all the wrong things so I'm sort of surprised that we haven't had an expose' about beer runs on Anderson Cooper or something. I guess he's still busy recovering from the assault he received while he was in Egypt. Well anyway, just to satisfy my cultural curiosity, if anyone out there knows just how prevalent these decadent drive-thrus are, feel free to let the rest of us know. We should make a documentary of Beer Runs and have it air on nation-wide Television.  Maybe Key Rose can do his one of his live-blog broadcasts. Something tells me that he'd have some pretty good ratings.

Texas sues valley couple, enforces anti-colonia laws

From the McAllen Monitor (Feb 14)

Two Cameron County subdivision developers have agreed to refund $155,860 to property buyers under an agreement reached with the state regarding the unlawfully developed colonia, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Monday. The developers must bring El Jardin Subdivision into compliance with state rules before subdividing, selling, advertising and executing any new leases.

Public records show that on Thursday, Feb. 10, a district court in Travis County approved the agreement between Abbott and developers Guadalupe Perez and Petra Perez, a married couple. The sum will be refunded to property buyers Alonzo Peña and Mirthala Peña, the final judgment reflects.
The developers also agreed to pay the state $54,000 in civil penalties, $57,850 in attorney’s fees and investigative costs, and $1,789.85 in litigation costs.

According to the state’s lawsuit against the developers, they sold properties to the Peñas without water and sewer connections or the required bond for installation, Abbott said in a written statement.

“Border-area developers must comply with state colonias-prevention laws by providing basic water and wastewater services to residential lot purchasers,” Abbott added. Abbott vowed that his office would continue to work with local officials to enforce colonia-prevention laws.

Monday, February 14, 2011

LISD to once again discuss residency requirements

Can students qualify for free lunch and live in the Winfield area?
The issue of residency requirements has been talked about for years at both of Laredo's school districts. Yet, I can't recall any real actions (besides studies) that have been taken to ensure that all students attending our local schools actually belong here. The item is once again on LISD's board agenda for this coming Wednesday. I know that it was brought up last year and a study was ordered back then. It will be interesting to see if anything will be done this time around. With the budget crisis looming, I'm sure there's more Laredoans that are concerned and asking questions about this.

Just this morning, a letter to the editor of the Laredo Morning Times addressed the issue. A Laredoan by the name of David Vasquez was questioning how students who attend Colonel Santos Benavides and Malakoff schools in UISD can qualify for free/reduced lunch when those two schools are located in relatively upscale part of town. Mr. Vasquez's letter mentions Windfield estates in particular. The inference being that if these students are needy enough to qualify for the free lunch program, then they probably don't live anywhere near those areas. The next question of course would be: where do they live? I don't know if UISD has revisited this topic lately so I guess Mr. Vasquez should contact his board members and ask them to follow LISD's lead this time around.

Several Webb Officials resisting transparency

The Saga continues at Good Ol' Webb County
It was a little too obvious that not everyone at Webb County is in favor of full disclosure. Commissioners Jaime Canales and Jerry Garza spoke out in favor of expanding accountability and transparency at future meetings only to be met with resistance from several Webb county officials. In order to prevent another CAA fiasco from occurring, Canales mentioned that the court should be able to know more about the processes that now take place behind closed doors. In particular, Canales wants the commissioner's court to know more about any contractors/vendors vying for Webb projects instead of simply getting a recommendation and then just voting yes or no.

The first to question the move was commissioner Rosaura Wawi Tijerina. She mentioned that although she agreed in principle, this is prohibited on any projects done with grant money because, according to her, such projects need to be scored by Webb County's scoring committee before any recommendation is made. She then called newly-appointed CAA Director (who will continue as Economic Director as well) Juan Vargas to confirm her statement. Vargas simply answered that yes, that was the case.

At that point, commissioner Sciaraffa questioned Vargas about the scoring committee itself : "Can we, the court, be the scoring committee?" Vargas said no because the scoring committee and those approving any recommendations cannot be the same body. Canales then asked just who was on this seemingly mysterious committee. As it turns out, it's made up of auditor Leo Flores, purchaser Cecilia Moreno, HR chief Cynthia Mares, County attorney Ana Maria Cavazos and Leroy Medford, the county's Executive Administrator. New CAA Director Vargas was then asked "why aren't you on this committee" by Canales. Vargas replied with a sense of humor "well, I used to be on it but they took me off ". The motion was then amended to assign Vargas back to the scoring committee. Whew, did you get all of that?

Two others took exception to Canales/Garza's move towards real transparency. After making another motion that the court should approve any expenditures of above $5,000, Tax assessor collector Patricia Barrera and Head Start Director Aliza Oliveros were quick to speak out in protest. Both of them complained that the court was going overboard just because of what happened at the CAA. They both said that the fiasco at CAA was a "unique" thing and that not everyone should be "punished" as a result. Jerry Garza came back with something to the effect that the CAA debacle happened under the present court and that he wouldn't want another such "unique" situation to sneak up on them.

It looks like there's still quite a few people at Webb county that feel that we, the taxpaying, voting citizens of Webb should not dare expect to know all the details of how our hard-earned money is being spent-or wasted for that matter.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pocahontas Council attempts to make itself relevant

Let's protect our Earth, but only after we take from it all these gems we're wearing!

For years the misplaced Pocahontas council has participated in Laredo's George Washington Birthday Celebration. Nevermind that Pocahontas was from the Jamestown years (1600s) and that George Washington came much later (1770s). In the nonsensical world that is the WBCA, they have managed to blissfully co-exist. In these times of economic uncertainty, the elitism that permeates the entire being of the Pocahontas fandango is especially hard to stomach .

That might be the reason that the Pocahontas Council has apparently decided to make quite a reach in an effort to make itself relevant. According to an article appearing today in our vaunted Laredo Morning Times, it now appears that the council wants to portray itself as being, of all things, suddenly ecologically sensitive. At the same time, the council president is making assertions that they want to connect with the community's youth and instill in them, a love for the Earth. It's ironic to see just how fast they are willing to give up their exclusivity and are now willing to roll up their jewel-encrusted sleeves and be part of the common folk. Anyway, here's an excerpt of the LMT article by Cesar G. Rodriguez:

“The theme is teaching a message to the younger generation that we must take care of earth, (which) has always taken care of us,” said Rosa Santos, board member of the Princess Pocahontas Council. “Mother Earth is calling on her children to call out the others to come out and care for (the) earth, so that we may (continue to) have (a) beautiful planet.”

Princess Pocahontas presides over a pageant that pays homage to the Native American culture, the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association website states. The pageant presents the Native Americans in a mystical and natural setting.

Pocahontas representatives say the council has an interest in sponsoring youth-oriented activities. “It is an organization that allows the community, especially the young generation, to come together and (share) values,” Santos said.

Friday, February 11, 2011

LISD board to review layoff policy

Any teachers whose contract will not be renewed need to be notified at least 45 days before the last day of school. This is dictated by state policy. At LISD's Thursday night's board meeting, Superintendent Nelson said that any layoffs will be announced in the next 60 to 90 days. Actually, these announcements should be made by mid-April at the latest.

As mentioned in today's LMT, Nelson also wants trustees to review the policy governing the expected layoffs. Nelson wants to ensure that the board is aware that performance is one of the components considered when making job cuts.

Here's some of the highlights of LISD's reduction-in-force policy. What I can deduce from Dr. Nelson's comments is that some un-certified, but effective teachers may be retained while some teachers who are fully-certified but not as effective, will be let go. This makes perfect sense being that what matters most is how effectively our children are being taught. However, It appears then, that the layoff policy should show Performance as critieria number one. By the way, as of last year, LISD was employing about 45 un-certified teachers in its classrooms.


1. Certification: Appropriate certification, endorsement, and/or
highly qualified status for current or projected assignment.

2. Performance: Effectiveness as reflected by appraisal records
and other written evaluative information.

If the Superintendent at his or her discretion decides that the documented
performance differences between two or more reduction-in-
force prospects are too insubstantial to rely upon, he or she may
proceed to apply criterion 3 and, thereafter and to the extent
needed, criterion 4.
3. Seniority: Length of service in the District, as measured from
the employee’s most recent date of hire.

4. Professional Background: Professional education and work
experience related to the current or projected assignment.
Once the Superintendent has identified the appropriate employees

Some apparent good news finally comes out of Webb County's court

Hopefully, CAA will start living up to its motto.

Among the countless missteps and bad press coming out of Webb county, there's a semblance of what appears to be good news. The latest CAA-Director-elect, Juan Vargas has reportedly (catch phrase coming up) hit the ground running. According to an article appearing the Laredo Morning Times today, Vargas has already been up in Austin talking to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs about some proposed changes in regards to the CAA's current structural makeup. Following is an excerpt from LMT"s Andrew Kreighbaum :

The Commissioners Court is set to name Vargas, the county’s economic development director, as the next director of the CAA at its Monday meeting.This week, while dealing with other county business, Vargas was already meeting with officials from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs in Austin — a group familiar with Vargas from his work in economic development.“It happened that most of the people in the meeting were people I already knew,” he said Thursday.

Vargas said he wants to ask for authorization to change the agency’s structure.He said he will start by proposing the merger of the troubled Community Action Agency and his own department of economic development, which he will continue to oversee.“They have functions that complement each other, economic development being a grant-writing arm and CAA being an implementation arm,” he said.

Since December, Vargas has served as one-third of an interim management team at CAA, along with County Auditor Leo Flores and human resources director Cynthia Mares.Vargas said he will also ask to make changes to the job descriptions of staff positions at the agency to bring in more qualified applicants.

“I might as well start now instead of waiting for the next (Commissioners Court) meeting in February,” he said.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Buzzwords (phrases): At the end of the day

 Next time you watch a city council meeting or the Webb county commissioners in action, count the number of times they say "at the end of the day".  It may not be the latest catch phrase but it sure is pervasive. Let me suggest some alternatives. For example, instead of saying "at the end of the day, the bloggers are geniuses", why not try "When all is said and done, the bloggers are geniuses"?. Another good one would be "after considering all the evidence, the bloggers are geniuses". You get the picture.

 Not since our elected officials took to using the word entities as if they were tyring to rack up frequent-user miles, has a buzzword (buzzphrase) gotten so much mileage. Before that, the term monies instead of simply "money" or "funds" was also a favorite with local politicos. The trend of turning nouns into verbs also continues. It's no longer "the city will be our partner in this", now, it's "we'll partner with the city on this". Also, instead of the noun growth, we now use it as a verb: we're hoping to grow our business 10 percent".

Incidentally, I decided to do a quick check to see if there was a list of the most overused words or phrases. Sure enough, the one I chose to write about topped the list. The following list was put together by Oxford University. Take a look and see if you are using any of the following buzzwords. At the end of the day, you might just improve your writing and speaking skills.

The top ten most irritating phrases:
1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

Webb's shenanigans continue in the news. It sounds like a recording

The way things are going, will there be enough parking for the FBI at Webb County?

The examples of abuse of power continue at your friendly Webb County commissioner's court. The county will now have to hire outside counsel to handle charges of retaliation against commissioner Tijerina by three county employees. They allege that because they did not campaign for Ms. Tijerina, they have been needlessly transfered. Two of the employees were transferred from a community center in Laredo to one in Bruni. The other was transferred from Bruni to Laredo. This move by Tijerina has resulted in extending the employees work-related day by two hours because of the commute.

Altough the county attorney (who is already on their payroll) would usually handle the case, the commissioners apparently ignore her advice. The Laredo Morning Times  is reporting that:
"Normally, the county attorney would represent Commissioners Court in a grievance case before the commission. But in its Monday meeting, the court is set to approve the hiring of outside counsel.“We have a conflict because they did not follow advice of counsel in this matter,” said County Attorney Anna Cavazos Ramirez.
Tijerina claims this is part of a county program meant to improve customer service. She says that rotating employees around will help them do their jobs better. If such a program does exist, then I'm sure the county will have  plenty of records of other employees being transferred around, even to and from Bruni. If not, Webb will probably end up loosing this one too.

With the situation at Webb County in shambles, you would think that they would bend over backwards to avoid any more negative publicity. Are their egos that inflated that they find it impossible to do the right thing and admit when they're wrong?  Just in the last week, the news has had several negative reports coming out of the commissioner's court. The media must just as well post a reporter downtown. Between the constant shenanigans at Webb county and the City of Laredo, it's bound to be a busy assignment.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

stdy shos txtn imprvs ltrcy: Ok, I am not so sure about this study

When I first saw this article, I thought to myself- no way this can be true. However, in a weird, textual way, it does make some sense. Children who text and read texts obviously need to be selective about what letters they include to formulate the words and phrases they wish to convey. In reading incoming texts, they have to know how to decode words and phrases with less letters. From this perspective, it is possible that texting might improve children's ability to recognize and apply the very basics of speech and writing. Here's the article. It is dated Feb. 4th, 2011 and it is from the UK, that's why you'll see strange looking words such as recognise and mobile phones instead of cell phones (mobile is pronounced Mo-byle).


Children who are fluent at text messaging have better literacy skills than youngsters who do not use mobile phones, it was claimed today.

Scientists discovered that rather than destroying their use of English, texting improves children's ability to recognise rhymes and speech patterns. The findings fly in the face of long-held views of parents and teachers who believe text messaging damages children's ability to write properly.
The ten-year study, funded by the British Academy, examined the effect of the use of text messages on eight to 12-year-olds. Researchers found children as young as five who used mobile phones are better at understanding rhymes and syllables in speech.
Psychologist Dr Clare Wood, who led the study at Coventry University, said the use of abbreviations, commonly used in text messaging, helped in the development of children's reading and writing skills.
She said: 'We began studying in this area initially to see if there was any evidence of association between text abbreviation use and literacy skills at all, after such a negative portrayal of the activity in the media.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bill O'Reilly interview turns out to be an intra-view instead

Mr. No Spin Zone himself seemed to spin out of control

Bill O'Reilly must have been relishing his chance to interview President Obama for quite a while. He finally got his chance to do so on Superbowl Sunday and he came off looking pretty ridiculous. This is the second time that a fox interviewer (I won't call them journalists) has been rather rude to the President. Last year, it was Brett Biere or something, I forget his name. That guy kept interrupting Obama too but not nearly to the extent that Bill O'Reilly did. According to Lawrence O'Donnel's show, bully Bill interrupted the President more than 60 times. It is for that reason, that I say that O'Reilly was wrapped up in a one-way intraview, with the President given a chance to speak seemingly only  while O'Reilly caught his breath.

To add insult to his own injury, O'Reilly had almost sworn that his interview with Obama would be the most watched in the history of mankind. Not even close, he was only 57 million viewers short of Baba Wawa's interview with the notorious Monica Lewinsky. So much for Mr. superego.

Arctic Blast 2011, Take Two !

Temperatures in North Texas have already plummeted since this afternoon as another arctic blast makes it way towards South Texas. At least we know that these frigid fronts dont' have anything against visiting Laredo. As an example of just how much of a weather change we can expect, Heatwave was telling us tonight about the little town of Wink, Texas. At 4pm, their temperature was a mild 74 degrees. By 10pm, the mercury had dropped all the way to a chilling 18 degrees. For you non-math majors, that's a difference of 56 degrees in just 6 hours.

The forecasted cold for Laredo is not as drastic as last week's. Nevertheless, we're expected to have at least two nights/mornings of below freezing temperatures. The lows for both Thursday and Friday mornings should be in the upper 20s. This time around, no freezing precipation is in the forecast, I'm glad to say. It will be very windy so bundle up for a blustery day.

Text and Ye will find......that we too will seek and fine

You gotta admit, it's hands free.
I was more confused that I usually am tonight upon hearing Mayor Raul Salinas comment on the proposed no texting law. He said the following: "We're banning texting, sending and receiving, hands-free". I simply don't know what that sentence means. Unless you have some sort of kinetic power, no one can send nor receive texting hands free. He probably should have made it a bit clearer but I think he wanted to say that no drivers should text (send/receive) and they should keep their hands free. Who knows?

The other comment he made in reference to the pending ordinance was that he did not know yet what the fine will be. I suggest that they really think about this one. We have all read about how the city has been unable to collect on millions of dollars of old traffic fines. How are we going to collect new fines? One possible option would be to confiscate, yes confiscate one's cell/smart phone if you're caught texting while driving. I'm willing to bet that people will be tripping over themselves to get that smart phone back and will be glad to pay whatever fine is imposed.

I guess this law will result in a lot more people being stopped and ticketed for DWI, driving while informing. Although, sometimes you have to wonder what kind of information is so urgent that someone has to risk their lives and the lives of others in disseminating it.

Obama White House takes on GOP Governors on healthcare reform

Huffington Post's Sam Stein writes:

As Republican governors back lawsuits against the  new legislation, and threaten to return money budgeted for it, the president's team has let it be known that, absent state action, the onus lies on the federal government to implement the (new healthcare reform) law.

"For a lot of things there is a federal backstop," explained one administration official. "States have the first crack at it, for the lack of a better phrase, and states are empowered to take the lead on things, that's what we wanted ... But at the same time we aren't going to allow someone not to get important consumer protections just because he has the misfortune of living in a state that doesn't like the law."

The threat of federal intervention is more motivating than any other card the administration has or can play, and it is felt most acutely with respect to the state-based exchanges, which are required to be operational by 2014.

On the Border: Fort Bliss soldiers deployed to Arizona-Mexico border

"JTF North routinely conducts these kinds of support operations"

A squadron from Fort Bliss has been deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona to assist the Border Patrol and train.

“They are helping us out with being eyes and ears,” said agent Colleen Agle, a public affairs officer with the Border Patrol. That means essentially that they aren’t authorized to search, detain or arrest suspects. But the 1st Squadron, 13 Calvary Regiment is out in the field armed with some of the Defense Department’s high-tech equipment and radios to report suspicious activity to Border Patrol agents, according to Agle. The soldiers from Fort Bliss have been assigned to the Tucson Sector to support the 3,400 Border Patrol agents there, along with National Guardsmen and other soldiers from Fort Hood, Agle said.

While the efforts of active duty soldiers on the border haven’t been as well publicized as those of the National Guard or reservists, the 1st Squadron isn’t the first to be deployed to the border through a voluntary program administered under Joint Task Force North, headquartered on Fort Bliss. Spokesperson Armando Carrasco said that JTF North, “routinely conducts these kinds of support operations.”

Laredo Main Street to be recognized at National Conference in Iowa?

I had heard that Laredo was going to be honored at the National Main Street Conference to be held in Des Moines, Iowa as you can see on the above logo. I don't know if the people up in DesMoines just haven't had a chance to update their program but I found no reference to Laredo at all on their current list of events. If Laredo is indeed one of the National Main Street Cities, then someone with the local group should call up to Des Moines and make sure that they are being included in the list of events for the conference. We need all the positive publicity we can get.

Also, I recall that last year Laredo Main Street  applied to be recognized as a Preserve America Community. I guess that application is still in progress because I haven't seen anything new on that front. One problem I do think that application process has is that there is no list of historical places readily available to the community.  If there is one, where can I get it? 

One more thing, I heard at tonight's council meeting that the Webb County Historical Association has just approved the design for the facade grant program that Laredo Main Street has been working on for the last couple of years. Let's hope that the actual work will start soon. We all know downtown Laredo can sure use a facelift.

Word acrobatics: You're not displaced but you have to move to the younger buildings

Colonia Guadalupe built circa 1940, not one of our younger colonias: Picture courtesy LHA
 Words is what we have to express ourselves. They are symbols that represent something concrete, like a pencil, or abstract, like an idea.  Many Laredoans, perhaps myself included, often play fast and loose with words, often using them as they see fit. Some might consider this practice of using words as one sees fit as rather creative, others see it as just being lazy.

The council meetings for the City of Laredo televised on public access (for some of us) is usually a good place to see this in action. Even tonight, there were at least a couple of examples of unorthodox word use. While discussing a plan to revitalize the City of Laredo's public housing units, the talk turned to just how old some of these buildings (colonias Guadalupe,Richter,Russell Terrace,etc) are. Upon hearing that the average age of these housing units is about 55 years, council Mike Garza commented that some housing complexes in his district are probably "younger". The Executive Director of LHA agreed, "yes, those are younger".

Just minutes earlier, city councilwoman Cindy Espinoza remarked that while the demolition/rebuilding of these housing units is taking place, "no one will be displaced".  A minute later, she said that the current residents will "be displaced only for a few months".  It made me wonder if maybe those residents who are not being displaced, could temporarily use the younger housing units in Mr. Garza's area.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wade Watch: Pre-Kinder, Kinder teachers are just babysitters

Wade not sure Bucks costing  Laredo $$, but 100% sure Pre-K should be cut!

Tom wade continued to rail against the entire idea of Texas' early childhood education  today on his radio show at 1090 on your AM dial. On Sunday, there was an editorial in the Laredo Morning Times urging educational leaders to spare Pre-K & Kinder from any cuts. The newspaper also urged the public to speak out in hopes of maintaining early childhood education intact. Apparently, this did not sit well with Wade at all. Although, I did not catch his entire show today, I did here him repeating his suggestion that pre-kinder/kinder is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded babysitting operation and called for its elimination.

According to Sunday's LMT article, the number of teachers and educational aides employed locally at these grade levels are quite substantial. UISD and LISD combined have approximately 400 teachers and aides working daily with the districts' pre-k/kinder programs. For their part, UISD has hinted that they may elect to cut the early childhood programs to half a day. LISD superintendent Nelson, on the other hand, has said that if any cuts take place, they will start from the top, down. Also, LISD president George Beckelhymer has indicated that he hopes there will be no cuts to early childhood since the district has already invested millions of dollars in the program.

Laredo City Hall decorum goes down the drain

See Page 42 for recommended footwear. Yes, shoes are required!

I guess what little decorum was the norm at our city council meetings, no longer applies. At tonight's meeting, a man by the name of Chendo Carranco stood at the podium and addressed the Mayor and the council shoeless. Mr. Carranco looked pretty comfortable in his white socks and made no excuse or explanation as to why he was not wearing any shoes. Did he have some sort of foot injury? Had his shoes been stolen on his way to the meeting?

I know there's no dress code at the council meetings, but surely shoes are required. This breach of ettiquette, for lack of a better phrase, does not help the city at all with it's current battle to improve its image. What's next, will someone go shirtless at the next meeting? Was this Carranco's way of showing that he does not really respect the council? I don't know. Someone mentioned to me that this is the same man who, some time back,  appeared at another council meeting wearing a robe. I guess I have to admit that too sounds very comfortable. I think the Mayor should make sure that next time someone gets up to address our elected officials, the least they can do is put on some shoes.

BOLAS Index continues upward

The BOLAS still on the rise

The most recent figures from Blogs of Laredo Association's Statistics (BOLAS) seem to be mimicking the price of gas these days. That is to say they're skyrocketing. Last November Laredotejas reported on the BOLAS index and how it was mirroring the overall economic upturn even then. The trend continues and has been helped along by the sprouting of new local blogs all over the virtual horizon.

Bordertown Blues, a stalwart on the Laredo blog scene has dutifully been reporting on some of these blogs. Just a few days ago, BTB showcased the Gateway City's latest, "Spicy Mustache", a blog of the musical persuasion. Congratulations to this and all other blogs which have recently come online.

Interestingly enough, this wave of creativity spurred some rumors last week that Laredo, as did other Texas cities, might have experienced some rare snow ice thunder. As it turns out, the mysterious phenomena was not a weather-related one at all. Instead, the sounds were more than likely the result of millions of electrical impulses firing between the neurons in the collective brains of Laredo's bloggers. This, coupled with a brain-activity vacuum over both City hall and the Webb commissioner's court caused the rare rumbling in the frigid skies above Laredo.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Texas cartoonist jumps on the bandwagon, takes jab at Laredo

As the Fixx song says:  One joke leads to another.

Native Texan and cartoonist Roger Moore (nope, not James Bond) recently had an article written about him by  One of Moore's comments in the article is about how he happen to be in Laredo one time and came upon a sign that amused him so much that he just had to do a cartoon about the incident. As you might expect, it doesn't exactly paint Laredo in a postitive light. So, what else is new?

From the
"My mission is to try to keep the Texan culture alive and bind us somehow with a common Texas history," he said. Moore has produced more than 650 weekly cartoons and rarely repeats himself. The challenge is coming up with new ideas. It ain't easy. I tell people I try to be halfway amusing every week. If you think about it, history's not necessarily funny," he said.
That's why he tries to diversify it with facts or even odd signs like one he learned of outside a Laredo power plant. "It said, 'Touching this wire will cause instant death. If you disregard this notice, you will be arrested,' " he said with a laugh.
You got to hand it to the Gateway city, it has a way of finding itself, more often than not, as the butt of many a joke and even some cartoons.