Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ahora que? Wal-Mart trying out groceries home delivery

Soaring gas prices might help Wal-Mart's home deliveries

From the Associated Press

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Saturday that it is testing home grocery delivery in San Jose, Calif., as the world's largest retailer ratchets up competition with online retailer Inc.
With the new "Walmart To Go," customers can order up groceries, health and beauty products such as soap, shampoo and over-the-counter medicines, and household supplies like paper towels and laundry detergent from the company's website. Wal-Mart will then drive the goods over to customers' homes at their time of choice.

Wal-Mart said that the San Jose launch is a limited test only. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company didn't provide details on other possible test markets. But its website already has a section on which interested customers can learn about the service and enter their zipcodes to see if it's available in their area.

If it was to go nationwide, the move may help Wal-Mart wrestle market share away from Inc. That retailer launched its U.S. grocery delivery service in 2007 and has since expanded to Germany and Britain.

McDonalds two ordering stations, one drive thru lane = traffic mess

You're supposed to go from two lanes to one with no problems: it aint' working!

I don't know who's big idea it was to install two ordering stations at the McDonald's on Chihuahua street but it doesn't appear to have been well thought out. The restaurant (is it really a restaurant?) recently added a second ordering lane. When I saw them working on this, I wondered to myself "how are they going to add a second drive thru window"? I remember even mentioning it to someone that they were probably going to use a tubing system to deliver the orders to a second, outside lane similar to the way drive-thru banks do but without the whooooosh!

Well, as it turns out, they are relying on the customers to somehow line-up in sequence,  magically dovetailing  into one line with no problems whatsoever. This, I can attest to, is not working. I don't visit this location that often but when I have gone there, I've noticed that there's always some kind of mix-up. Just yesterday, two women in an SUV were yelling and gesturing at a car that got in ahead of them. The people in the car were in the right sequence, the women were not, yet they were the ones causing a scene. The bottom line is that the restaurant is to blame for any arguements, accidents or even fights that might occur as a result of greedily wanting to bring in those big bucks as quickly as possible.

O'donnell methodically picks apart Rush Limbaugh's attempt at Biblical justification of tax breaks for rich

South Africa won't finalize applications for hydralic fracturing until investigations are done

From Engineering News.Co.Za  by Loni Prinsloo
April 29th, 2011

South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on Friday said that her department would not accept any new, nor would it finalise any existing, applications to explore for natural gas in the Karoo region until an expert study into the appropriateness of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of the region’s shale gas resources had been finalised.

The statement followed a Cabinet-backed moratorium against natural gas drilling announced last week.
“Given the intensity and scale of the issue and the fact that shale gas exploration has never been done before on our shores, my department will conduct a comprehensive study which will assist us to formulate our approach, after which we will go back to Cabinet,” said Shabangu.

The Department of Mineral Resources noted that it was contemplating sending a team of experts to other jurisdictions where fracking had been carried out before, to gather relevant information.

State rep. John Garza pushing bill to reduce teachers' paperwork by 50 %

P.A System: Attention teachers, all forms are due immediately, immediately!

AUSTIN - State Rep. John V. Garza (San Antonio) today will lay out the “Teacher Paperwork Reduction Act of 2011” before the Government Efficiency & Reform Committee of the Texas House of Representatives.

“Teachers are presently overburdened with paperwork to such a degree that it negatively impacts their ability to teach. While there are legitimate purposes for record keeping, state and federal mandates on teachers have grown too large,” said Garza.

H.B. 1423 establishes a mandate to cut teacher paperwork by 50% and requires the commissioner of education to develop a plan to do so. Reductions will be achieved through consolidated forms, elimination of unnecessary or redundant information gathering, reduction in the frequency of periodic reporting, synchronizing district, state and federal data and the use of technology.

“We need to maximize the time teachers have to teach and leave the paperwork to the bare necessities. Every minute of time we save Texas teachers can be used for classroom instruction and preparation,” said Garza.

LMT reports the end of TPM school rating system: What took you so long??

TPM is no more: LISD says "that's fine with us", UISD says "Nambre na"

I still buy the Laredo Morning Times but for quite a while, they've been lagging behind the blogs in an increasing number of news stories.  The latest example: Laredotejas reported about 5 days ago that the inflated TPM system for rating schools was done with . LMT didn't run anything on the subject until today. A couple of months ago, Que Fregados broke the story about the FBI confiscating Webb county's files. LMT was late with that story as well. After raising the price on both the daily (75 cents) and the Sunday ($2.00) editions, the least they can do is report the news a little more promptly.

As far as the TPM deal goes, the Texas Education Agency is putting an end to the system which gave Texas schools credit even for students who failed the TAKS, because, get this, they were projected to pass within three years. As expected, LISD expressed relief that this false rating system was being discontinued and Superintendent Dr. Marcus Nelson said that his district is ready for the upcoming challenge. On the other hand, UISD bemoaned the ending of TPM. A spokesperson for the district said that they liked the TPM system because it allowed them to plan for success or some nonesense to that effect.

Chances are that UISD will fail to reach the recognized status that it received, but did not deserve in 2010.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bolas confirms most Laredo's bloggers are West siders. The question is why?

Why do most Laredo bloggers come from the West side??

Using the absolute latest technology available, the Blogs of Laredo Association Statistics (BOLAS) has confirmed an assertion made recently by the the ultra-visceral Bordertown Blues. The ever-astute BTB made the observation that most Laredo bloggers seem to have two things in common: 1) they have strong roots in Laredo's historic West side and, 2) they are almost exclusively graduates of what's perhaps the most storied high school in South Texas, Martin High School (La Martin).

While this is a pattern that cannot be refuted, the question remains, why? What is it about the part of town, populated by barrios such as Los Amores, Las Canta Ranas, La Ladrillera, El Trece & El Trece viejo (or is it El Trece nuevo), that has produced so many of today's local bloggers?

One theory offers the following explanation. The residents of these barrios were very mindful of the strict territorial boundaries that substantially influenced their lives. The ability to respect boundaries and stay within one's own barrio while simultaneously having the ability to co-exist at either Christen Jr. high or at the aforementioned "La Martin" high school helped to foster a dialectical view of relationships. This dichotomous way of life  ultimately helped foster a high level of creativity through out the West side. This creativity was later to manifest itself in Laredo's most imposing, prolific, colossal and informative blogs.

The main problem that detractors have with this view is this: what about the other barrios that also had to adhere to strict territorial boundaries while finding a way to live together in school?  If they shared roughly the same experiences as the West siders- then why no blogs from La Guada, El Cuatro, El Siete and others?

The answer may lie in the historically abundant amounts of strewn objects found throughout the streets of the West side barrios. Could the constant exposure to geometrical shapes such as circles (tires), rectangles (laminas), cones (remolinos) and arrays (six packs) have triggered increased levels of brain activity?

BOLAS admits that this their dialectical theory is a work in progress but, at least for the meantime, one thing's for certain. The West side bloggers continue to disproportionately represent their barrios in the Gateway city's blogoshpere.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rick Perry & conservative think tank trying to hijack Texas' higher education

Talmade Heflin Good Ol' boy Director of Tx think tank

From The American Independent
The chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education has filed a comprehensive public information request for documents related to university proposals created by an ally of Gov. Rick Perry and pushed by the governor. Preliminary responses to the request have already yielded new evidence of the governor’s office pressuring regents, and regents in turn pressuring university officials, she said.

“I soon found out that this controversy is not just at UT and A&M; it is statewide,” said state Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo). “I am getting information about UT and A&M, but also about Stephen F. Austin and Texas Women’s University and many others.”

In a pair of letters dated April 12 to University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, Zaffirini asks for all information related to the “seven breakthrough reforms in higher education” proposed by Jeff Sandefer, co-founder of Acton Business School and a board member of conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Zaffirini said the proposals would do serious damage to the state’s universities. She fears the issue will keep Texas’ seven emerging research universities from becoming nationally recognized, limiting their ability to recruit students and faculty.

“If policies are implemented the way they are intended to be implemented, it would not only hurt A&M and UT in becoming nationally recognized universities. It could damage them all,” Zaffirini said.

Movie Review: Haynesville fails to adequately cover fracking chemical controversy

By Rick Barett for Environmental News Network

The movie Haynesville, directed by Gregory Kallenberg, interviews many different experts who indicate the need to move towards alternative energy and the role natural gas can play in generating energy when the winds aren’t blowing and the sun is not shining. Unfortunately, there is presently no economical way to store electricity in large amounts. The movie covers some environmental concerns but does not explore the controversy over the potential for the chemicals used in the fracturing process to pollute underground water tables. This subject is being presently reviewed by many governmental agencies.

In sum, Haynesville is a good primer on the merits and pitfalls of shale gas, but the viewer will want to pursue additional sources for a more comprehensive perspective.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Will City allow 30day grace period for beer run law as they did for texting?

Will Beer Runs & their customers have to quit cold turkey??

The city-wide texting ban became law over a month ago. However, only in the last couple of days did the Laredo Police Department start to actually enforce it. The idea, according to what I heard was to give the public at large 30 days to get "used" to the new law. We, at Laredotejas are now wondering if the same 30 day grace period will be allowed once the pending anti-beer run ordinance becomes law.

If that does indeed happen, what are some of the things we could expect to see during this transitional 30-day, get used to the new law, period? Well, from the viewpoint of the beer runs, one (unlikely) possibility would be for the dancers to gradually start wearing more clothes. If they were to start wearing about 25 per cent more clothing each week, by the time the 30 days were up, they could conceivably be wearing 100 per cent more garments. Who knows, maybe they'll even bring back the maxi-skirt and the Annie-Hall look.

From the customers' point of view, the drunk bums patrons could start  by weening themselves off  their usual beer run scenic tours. They could try visiting 1 less beer run a week so that by the end of the 30 day period, they could very well  be visiting only one beer run per week. Remember, by this time, the beer run attendants will be pretty much covered from head to toe. In light of this, there's a slim chance that maybe, just maybe, a few strong-willed customers may be able to kick their ogling/drooling habits altogether.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TAMIU really, really needs to start turning out a lot more than just teachers

Come teachers and counselors, don't jump in the fire. Don't put in the time if you aren't to be hired. I know that you're true in what you aspire, but their humbers are rapidly fading. Don't put in the sweat if there's nothing out there....for the time's they are a changing.

LaredoTejas has previously reported on the fact that many of the education graduates from TAMIU during the last 2 years have still not been able to find jobs in their field. Many of them are working with the local school districts but not necessarily as teachers. A good number of them work as either para-professionals, office personnel or in some other non-professional (teacher) capacity.

 Ever since 1970, when TAMIU started out (Under the name of Texas A&I at Laredo), teachers have made-up a very substantial portion of the university's graduates.  On the positive side, it's true they have  a very-well attended business college plus a productive college of nursing. This is good news especially since health-related jobs continue to grow even during this economy. Still, TAMIU administration has an obligation to become a lot more responsive in preparing their graduates for the rapidly-changing realities of the area's job market. No longer can it subscribe to solely what has always worked in the past. As Bobby Dylan said, for the time's they are a changing.

In the meantime, the following press release appeared in today's LMT

Texas A&M International University has expanded its summer course offerings due to popular demand. TAMIU Dean of Student Success Minita Ramirez said the response means additional courses and sections will be available to students. “With budgetary concerns prompted by the State’s shortage of funding for higher education, it has been difficult to sustain a robust course offering for the summer without impacting the fall schedule, when expected cuts will be in full effect,” she said.

 “Regrettably, this has inconvenienced students greatly and so we’ve worked to identify alternatives and resources that would allow us to expand our summer course inventory.We are hopeful that the university’s funding level, currently unknown, will continue to support our mushrooming enrollment growth and provide for a strong fall semester.”

Ramirez said the expanded offerings are being updated constantly on the university’s online summer and fall schedules pages, available at

La Sanbe reports sheriff wants "Eye in the sky" helicopter: So........, here's the video

Texas ends TPM rating system which inflated UISD to recognized status in 2010

A real  rating of "acceptable"  was boosted to recognized in 2010 by TPM

From Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott

Use of Texas Projection Measure. In 2009 and 2010, the Texas Projection Measure (TPM) was used as an additional feature to determine state accountability ratings. The TPM was evaluated as a means of elevating a campus or district rating in cases where neither the TAKS Met Standard indicator nor Required Improvement (RI) were sufficient to allow a campus or district to earn the next higher rating. In 2011 use of the TPM in the state and federal accountability rating systems will be discontinued. Dozens of local schools that enjoyed inflated accountability ratings last year thanks to the use of a controversial state formula must ensure student success on merit alone this year.

From the McAllen Monitor

State Education Commissioner Robert Scott announced late last week the elimination of the Texas Projection Measure, or TPM, a calculation that allowed 100 Hidalgo County schools to take credit last year for students who failed state proficiency tests but were “projected” to pass in the future.

“Everybody wants to look good, right? But we don’t want the doctor touching up the X-rays, which is essentially what’s been happening,” said Tom Torkelson, CEO and founder of IDEA Public Schools, which benefited from the TPM. “TPM is hiding and masking a lot of challenges and problems in our schools.”

The Texas Education Agency rates districts and campuses as “exemplary,” “recognized,” “academically acceptable” or “academically unacceptable.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

FRAC action meeting Tuesday, April 26th 6pm @ St.John Neuman's Church

The Beautiful Rio Bravo Del Norte: From RGISC's website
RGISC is hosting its first FRAC action meeting Tuesday April 26th at 6:00 pm at St. John Neuman Church (in Salon A). There will be a video on the drilling process, reports on how flowback, and perhaps testimonials from landowners with wells on their properties or near their properties. Its open to everyone. We'd love to hear from folks working out there how its working here in our backyard.

Thanks to Fabiola for the above information

Henry "Taladrale, Baby, Taladrale!" Cuellar says fracking's the way to go.

Henry "Drill, Baby, Drill" Cuellar

From the LMT's businesss Journal- By Andrew Kreighbaum

Two bills in the U.S. House and theU.S. Senate would amend the Safe DrinkingWater Act to repeal an exemption for natural gas drilling. The bills would also require industry to disclose chemicals used in fracking each well. Chesapeake has provided information to, a website which includes a list of chemicals most often used in the process,among them hydrochloric acid, sodium chloride and methanol.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar said, however, that the House legislation would overregulate the hydraulic fracturing process. He said the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clinton and the Bush administrations found hydraulic fracturing to be a safe process. “(The way to) energy independence is to look at our natural gas production,” Cuellar said.

Natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale in North Texas has inspired some backlash over concerns about chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process and possible effects on groundwater supplies. The city council of Bartonville, north of Dallas, earlier this month approved a 90-day moratorium on new permits
for natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Does Super S takeover mean the end of the $5 "new" movie releases

The Laredo Morning Times is reporting that Super S Foods in Laredo will be "gradually" taken over by Lowes Food which is actually a chain of food stores up in Virginia and the Carolinas. I believe what LMT meant to report is that the Laredo stores will be replaced by Lowes Market stores which makes more sense because they already have stores in West Texas and new Mexico.

Upon reading the news, I couldn't help but wonder if the change will put a damper on the enterprising business men & women who currently put up makeshift sales stands outside both the Clark Blvd. and Santa Maria Locations. Many times, they hawk copies of newly released DVDs and/or music CDs.

Upon closely inspecting a photo of a Kermit, Texas Lowe's Market & Pharmacy, I couldn't detect any visible signs of independent business entrepreneurs hanging around outside. If the new owners' policy is to not allow such free market expressions, then where will Laredoans find their newest movies at 5 bucks, tax free?  The competition might just start to heat up outside Narvaez and/or El Rancherito.

Hmmm, right in front of that open parking space would be a good place to set up a table.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

BTB's absence was glitch, BOLAS & LMIB confirm

BOLAS comes through in the tradition of early TV broadcasting.

What appeared to be a bowing out of sorts by the colossal blog Bordertown Blues turned out to be simply a blogging program glitch. Laredo's Most Impressive Blog's Keyrose eventually confirmed this on Saturday. However, even before KR could rouse himself from his sleep after a long night's travel back from an Helotes, Texas concert, BOLAS was at work, scanning the activity (or lack of ) of Laredo's blogosphere.

The editorial desk here at Laredotejas received a text message last night advising that: "Blog BTB is experiencing technical difficulties, and will be back on line shortly, Thank You". It reminded me of years ago when television broadcasts frequently had such trouble and a similar announcement would come on.

Admittedly, I sometimes send in my BOLAS dues a little bit  late the immediacy with which they responded to BTB's unfortunate glitch has convinced me that they are indeed on top of their game. The City of Laredo, Webb County and countless others could definitely learn something from BOLAS's professionalism. Theirs- is coverage you can really count on.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Project Terror: A balanced dose of the scientific and the terrifying on KENS TV

Stay tuned for Project Terror after the news!

Laredo had it's Dr. Zeko show in the 1960s followed by the Count Natas show that ran until the early 1980's. I am not entirely show on those dates. Somewhere in between those years, San Antonio KENS TV had it's own local showing of horror classics? on Project Terror. It started with some sort of sirens blaring in a weird sort of rhythm until the voice over came in.... "Project Terror: Where the Scientific and the Terrifying Emerge". Ala !!

Breaking News!: Ilegals arrested in the bordertown of Laredo

This was their logo when their slogan was: Where you need us, when you need us. Really?

Is there any particular reason that such a story should be in the news, I mean in Laredo? After all, how many illegals immigrants at apprehended on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis in the surrounding area? Why would the apprehension of 5 more be in the news? Is it because they were being kept in a local house? Does that make it that much difference? What's next? Are they going interrupt programming the next time the temperature hits 100 degrees in Laredo again?

I mean come on Pro8news. When you had a story you could do on Abe Martinez, the former Mercy CEO who was arrested recently, you took a pass. Now, you're hyping up apprehensions of illegal immigrants. You just can't fill your segments until the next beer-run /city council meeting I guess. Que relaje el Tim Gutierrez!

Language: Pierdes si caramboleas-the jargon of playing con canicas

I do remember sticking out your tongue helped you focus, but I don't remember the manicured lawns.

Growing up in the South Texas in the days before air conditioning was commonplace meant that you had to play outside a lot of the time. One of the classic outdoor games in Laredo before the X-Box epidemic, actually wayyy before, was "canicas" or marbles. What made canicas such an interesting game was that it had a language or better said, a jargon, all of its own.

"Pierdes si caramboleas" was a common phrase that we would yell out as kids whenever someone was getting ready to shoot their favorite "shurito" (I've never had to spell it before). El "shurito" was your favorite shooting marble, the one you could shoot not only the fastest, but the most accurate. The object of the game of "la ruedita" (a circle carved into the dirt) was to declare what marble you were about to force out the circle and claim for yourself.  If you hit and knocked out any other marble(s) by accident, you were "caramboleando" and would loose your turn. I'm not so sure of what the rules were anymore to be honest with you. What I do remember is that there was never any shortage of dirt yards in the barrios long before the days of paved streets, sidewalks and zacate.

Here's some of the other terms associated with canicas that I remember. I'm sure there's probably many more. Sometimes, even within Laredo, different barrios had different names for the same things:

Canicon          Was a heavy-duty, huge marble that could do a lot of damage
El Posito         A game in which four shallow holes, each one-a corner of a square
No rondis       Calling this disallow the shooter from getting a better angle by going around
No limpis        Saying this would prohibit the shooter from cleaning his shooting path
No subis         This would let the shooter know he could not lift his hand (subir) to shoot

It's unfortunate that the vast majority of today's kids hardly venture outside. Instead, many spend hours upon hours in a mesmerized state, submitting to the power of digitilization. Tan-tan-tan-tan!!

Webb doles out the cash for air filter?

This is a Hastings AF1219 Air Filter.

I think I may be seeing things being that it's rather late. After my most recent post, I continued to look through Webb County's online check registry. One expense in particular that caught my eye is as follows:

Check number 201060  for the amount of $ 2,890.69  made out to Gonzalez auto parts for a vareity of  air/oil/fuel filters.
The entry that really begs to be noticed is a payment of $500.00 for a Hastings AF1219 air filter. According to what I found on the Hastings website, this filter is used by Ford Expeditions among other vehicles. The ledger entry does not indicate if the $500.00 payment was for more than one filter. If the amount is for multiple filters, then the entry fails to show it at such.

Incidentally, I decided to go Wal-Mart's website and see if I could find the same filter. It turns out that ol' Wal-Mart not only carries the Hastings AF1219 air filter, but they have it priced at a mere $ 24.99 cents. That's a whopping savings of $475.01 cents from the price paid by Webb county -according to the way this particular entry was made. Who knows, maybe Pro8news is already working on this one. After all, we all know they're the coverage we can count on!

Just what are these unpaid citations Webb's paying the state for?

Webb pays Texas Parks & Wildlife $28,568 for "unpaid citations"

Not being very adept at cutting and pasting from excel, or any other spreadsheet program for that matter, I was unable to get the picture I was shooting for from Webb County's online check registry.  Nonetheless, what I can't show you, I can tell you the old fashioned way.

I was perusing the March, 2011 records for our beloved Webb county and I came across several checks made out to Texas Parks & Wildlife for "unpaid citations" appearing throughout the month's records. 

What do these entries mean? My layman's way of thinking sees it as Webb paying the state for some mysterious unpaid citations. Does this mean that the State Park & Wildlike Department aka Lake Casa Blanca Park issued citations to visitors and is now collecting the amount of said citations from the county? I don't know if this is the case. Perhaps there's nothing to this but the way it's being entered in the records sure does make me wonder.

There's actually a total of 7 such checks during March, 2011 for a total of $ 28,568 paid to the state.

Hogging the camera with their hands on the people's money

Cuellar and Webb cronies squeeze into the picture

The good news is that some money is going to be available for the Webb county Fire Department. The bad news is that our Webb politicians have learned absolutely nothing from the CAA chaos and continue to make a circus out of every photo opportunity they get.

Case in point: The above photograph shows our congressman Henry Cuellar and a host of Webb County officials mugging for the cameras to announce a federal grant of $250,000. Please recall that this is money that comes from Washington only after it goes from us to the nation's capitol. In reality, just about everyone knows this is the truth but the political process has been successful in blinding the taxpayers. It's just like our federal income tax. We pay it out  s l o w l y  over time otherwise there were be a near revolt.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The most common (of all ) mix-ups at the Golden Arches

Great.,but make mine UNsweetened, did you get that? UN- Un-Un-sweetend.

Maybe it just happens to me. The frequency with which it happens, however, makes me think that it happens to just about everybody who is brave enough to order unsweetened tea at your friendly McDonalds. I would say that at least 40-50 percent of the time that I order unsweetened tea, I happen to get the sweetened kind. This wouldn't be so bad if the "sweetened" kind was simply sweet, but it's as sugary as cotton candy. I would think that McDonalds would scrimp on their sweetener in order to save money.  The fact that they don't is what makes their "te dulce" so unpalatable.

I've tried several ways to help them prevent the mix up but it doesn't seem to be helping much. I've said it slowly and have emphasized the UN-sweetened. I've even asked for Splenda or some other sweetener just to see if they put 2 and 2 together and get my order straight for a change. I usually have to resort to Spanish: "Me da un te SIN azucar por favor (Give me a tea WITHOUT sugar please)". None of these have proven to be fail safe. As a result, I have made it a routine to put my car in park and take my time to taste the tea before driving off. In the process of doing this, I've had to return many an ice-tea but at least it beats having to make a u-turn after driving off, taking a sip and discovering that you just got served some maple syrup or something.

"I'm a go to school": JP celebrates perfect attendance by LISD students

Allocation of Average Daily Attendance money from state

Justice of the peace Hector Liendo held an appreciation rally to honor students at LISD who have posted perfect attendance this year. This reminded me of the many times that I've heard teachers comment "Los peores son los que nucan fallan, no los aguantan en la casa (The worst ones are the ones who never miss school, they can't stand them at home)". It also reminds me of hearing how just one absence would disqualify an elementary kid from getting a brand new bike. I've always thought that's pretty harsh. I also think that it reflects poorly on the perfect attedance campaigns the schools promote.

I think most of us assume that perfect attendance equals to good academic performance. Conversely, the consensus would probably be that poor attendance would be very hard to overcome for most students. Not surprisingly, in this particular case, research actually supports our own prejudices. Consider the following conclusions arrived at by researcher Christina Longstaffe who took on the task of studying any correlation between attendance and school performance in California schools. She notes:

Non-attendance doesn't only affect the school, it affects the student, the family and the community. Absentism is detrimental to students achievement, promotion, graduation self-esteem and employment potential. It is evident that students who miss school fall behind their peers in the classroom. This. in turn, leads to low self-esteem and increases the chances that at-risk students will drop out of school. Failure to graduate is associated with decreased learning potential in adulthood and other negative outcomes.
Congratulations to all those students who have perfect attendance as well as to all those who strive and aspire to go to school as often as possible. Everyone knows that many students are absent for reasons other than their simply not wanting to go to school.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

LISD buyout was meant to prevent layoffs, not justify cuts

I'm pretty sure this is laying around LISD's HR executive director's office.

Whoa! Just wait a doggone minute, as they would say in the ol' West. Let me make sure I understand this, step by step. First of all,  LISD recently offered buyouts to administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals in order to save money. Then we learned that the "targeted" number of each category applied and are expected to be approved. So, as I understand it, this will save the district millions of dollars and was meant to hopefully avoid any layoffs or other drastic cuts. So far, so good.

Now. for the classic bait and switch: LISD administration is now announcing that they will ask the board of trustees to approve plans to cut back it's pre-K 3 program for next year from its current full-day schedule to half-day. According to LISD executive director of human resources, David Garza, reducing the pre-K3 program will free-up 36 teachers and teacher aides that will be needed to fill some of the vacancies created by the ongoing buyout. According to the Laredo Morning Times :

David Garza, LISD executive director of human resources, said the 18 teachers and 18 aides affected by the proposed (pre-K3) restructuring would be reassigned to vacant district positions. Garza pointed out at Tuesday’s meeting that positions should be available, as 48 elementary teachers and 26 teacher aides have signed up for LISD’s buyout offer, meaning they likely will not be returning next school year.

Did you catch that sleight-of-hand?: Offer buyout as a means of saving. Get employees to take buyouts. Save $millions as a result. Use the savings created by buyouts to ?:

a. Prevent any further layoffs or cutbacks.
b. Justify even more cutbacks such as to the pre-K3 program.

Although the taxpayers, parents and employees were lead to believe that the answer would be "a", in this version of  "the joke's on you" trick, the answer is apparently "b": Justify even more cutbacks, such as reducing the pre-K3 program to half-day. I guess "deceiving the public" is part of the executive director of human resources job description. That being the case, job well-done Mr. Garza, job well-done.

TACO mulls opening Laredo Chapter

TACO's Pre-Ops aka Political Ninjas

LaredoTejas's political editor has learned that our humble city may soon have it's very own chapter of a top-notch taxpayer organization group known for it's tenacity and determination. Reportedly, a team of pre-operative experts from Taxpayers Against Corrupted Officials (TACO) has been in town for at least the last couple of weeks.

 Reliable sources have indicated to LT that after viewing just one Webb county commissioner's meeting as well as Monday night's city council meeting, the team of experts immediately declared Laredo to be absolutely penetrado, a Spanish term meaning roughly  "highly radioactive" or perhaps more accurately "really stinking".

Incidentally, it is not unusual to find frequent usage of Spanish in the TACO organization. Word has it that many of TACO's special forces are of Hispanic origin, many of them veterans of the toxic corruption that has historically been rampart through South Texas. Despite the exalted levels of education of the pre-operative team, or perhaps because of it, the local "dialect" presented somewhat of a language barrier. This was overcome thanks to the help of local middle school officials who allowed the team to listen in on some students during a recent school day.  A member of TACO's precursory team explained: Once we were able to decipher mutterings such as  aquesi (verdad que si) and amoaarlavoltaya (vamos a dar la vuelta para aya), we were pretty much set for anything.  As it turns out, there was still some trouble understanding one of our city councilmen but a translator from his precinct was secretly contracted to translate.

TACO's main headquarters, at an undisclosed location, would neither confirm nor deny the reports of a Laredo office opening soon. LaredoTejas tried to get a more definitive answer by calling several other of the organization's phone numbers only to reach TACO's various Think Tank offices. Being that there was no answer, perhaps they are carefully planning their next move in Laredo.

Laredo's latest economic trading target is....... Ecuador ! ( well, for now anyway)

OOPS, conference name not even original.

See if the following sounds familiar:

A conference partially organized by the Laredo Development Foundation aims to bring Mexican businesses to Laredo to boost the Gateway City’s economy.

The Business Without Borders conference is designed to allow Mexican and other international investors a chance to learn about the advantages of doing business with or locating a business in the United States, with an emphasis on Laredo.

“Our goal is to bring between 120 and 140 companies from Mexico — business owners (and) investors — to Laredo for the conference,” said LDF Director Roger Creery.

The above is an excerpt from the May 23rd, 2010 issue of the Laredo Morning Times. The issue at hand was to promote Laredo as a place that Mexico and Central America should do business with. Afterall, according to city officials, Laredo is an extremely efficient alternative to the port of Miami.

Well, this week, we're hearing the same story all over again but this time, the economic savior country is Ecuador. This is all good and well but............It would be very informative and interesting to find out just what businessess the city's previous attempts, such as the 2010 conference, have actually brought to the gateway city. Is there one, two or perhaps several businesses that have opened in Laredo directly as a result of these efforts. If yes, lets hear about them and by all mean keep promoting the city. However, if there have been no takers, why would there be any takers this time around?

The Mayor offered transparency when he was running for re-election. This is a very clear and specific example of how he can live up to that promise. What new businesses from Mexico and Costa Rica and all the other places down South have added jobs to our local economy. Inquring minds want to know.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

UISD, LISD continue to prove money is not the solution to failing schools

With facilities such as these, you'd think we'd have some of the states finest schools.

Tonight, Pro8news reported that UISD renaming it's Student Activity Complex after former trustee Bill Johnson. As usual all the local dignitaries took time off from their assigned duties to attend the event. Johnson himself gave the following statement: "We expect a lot out of our kids these days and they need to have the best platform to show their skills and talents and I think we have provided that for them here at the S.A.C."  In the years since the building of the SAC, UISD remains  unabated in its high-stakes building spree. Last year saw the completion of the new $50 million United High School. It's sheer size and cost clearly symbolizing a philosophy of waste and squander.

Meanwhile, there are similar developments at Laredo's oldest school district. At the revamped Shirley Field, LISD athletic director Rene Ramirez promoted the historic/refurbished facility in saying : "We were able to get all this under budget so we were able to negotiate to get the best facilities for L.I.S.D." In this case, under budget means $8 million dollars.

I remember when our school were pretty much shot but the majority of the students were at least considered to be functionally literate. Now, almost all schools in Laredo are brand spanking new. Even the elementary schools are equipped  with computer labs, full sized-gyms, expansive libraries and army of administrators . After hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into both school districts, Laredo's school still rank among the lowest-performing in the state.

Economically disadvantaged you say? That is exactly my point. A substantial turnaround in performance needs to happen way before even the slightest extravagance is to be considered. I think it's safe to say that we are still far from such a turnaround.

No amount of money, whether spent on sports facilities, new schools, teacher raises, the latest fad in curriculum programs (such as C-Scope), does anything to really help our students. The overwhelming majority of them continue to struggle daily in their attempt to acquire and, hopefully someday, master the most basic of skills in core subjects such as math, reading and writing.

EL lloron de Boehner passes on traditional Cinco de Mayo celebration

Boehner fights off Cinco de Mayo celebration easier than he fights off tears

It looks like the Republicans are going to punt on making any positive gestures towards the Hispanic caucus in the US House. The Speaker of the House's office notified the Hispanic Caucus that the GOP leader will not be hosting any Cinco de Mayo events and will instead break with recent tradition.

The Huffington Post reported today:
An aide to Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said his group got a formal response from Boehner’s office Monday saying the speaker won’t be putting on the event.
“The letter didn’t really answer our question of, ‘Will you host one?’" said Gonzalez spokeswoman Patricia Park. "It was more a response like, ‘That’s a good idea. You should host something.'”

Gonzalez is currently talking with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute about the possibility of hosting a reception with them, added Park, since “the speaker pretty much handed off the responsibility.”

Retired Lt. General Ricard Sanchez to run for US Senator from Texas

Ricardo Sanchez2.jpg
Rio Grande City, Texas native poised to run for US Senate

I heard this bit of news this morning while listening to KTSA 550AM on my car's radio. I figured, I'd look it up later on. Well, it does appear that Sanchez will try to be the democratic candidate vying for the US senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

From the Seattle Times

WASHINGTON — Democratic officials said Monday that retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is expected to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas, giving Democrats a high-profile recruit to fill the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Sanchez is a retired Army lieutenant general and was commander of coalition forces in Iraq when revelations about prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib became public. He gave up his command in 2004 and has maintained that he never authorized torture. He retired in 2006.
FoxNews adds

Sanchez would become the first prominent Democrat to seek Hutchison's seat. Last week, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who runs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said she expected to field a strong candidate in Texas. Two Democratic officials with first-hand knowledge of Murray's plans, said she was referring to Sanchez.

The Associated Press reached Sanchez by telephone at his home in San Antonio, but Sanchez asked the reporter to call back in a few minutes. When the number was dialed again, the phone was turned off and went straight to voicemail. He did not immediately return a message.

Sanchez so far is the only prominent Democrat in the race to replace Hutchison, Republicans have queuing up for a shot at the seat. Front-runners include wealthy Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams and current Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones. Other GOP candidates include former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz. Hutchison announced in January she would retire at the end of her current term.

Let's hear from the vortex of the fracking boom: Carrizo Springs, Texas

After apologizing to BP after the huge oil spill, how long before Joe Barton apologizes for Texans wanting to know the truth about hydraulic fracturing?

I was looking for some information on Carrizo Springs,Tx. which is not only at the center of much of the hydraulic fracturing activity in the area, but it's also a mere 80 miles from our beloved bordertown. Well, under "local news, Carrizo Springs", I found the following comments posted by people who either live and/or work in Carrizo, as I call it.  It provides a perspective from ground zero, so to speak.

Buy or rent- San Antonio says
They are not trying. Lots of properties for sale. My house has been for sale for 2 years. They only want to rent. I don't blame them they don't know how long they will be here.

Let it go- United States
yes true. Renters are making lots of money

Awesome- United States
It's horrible down here

Make a dollar-United States
I love the money this has brought in, it was much needed.
But, it also brought some not so good people, and
Our small town is not set up to handle this much
Traffic and volume, so I surmise that we must take
The good with the bad and as advice I think if at
Ill possible, regardless of how much debt it will cause
That we should all get in on this, the is a lot of money
To be made right now

Land owner
I have leased out my unused property to a buisness,its paying for itself. Too many people not enough hotels or drycleaners for any entrepreneurs this would be a good investments.

Shante-San Antonio
I am really thinking about picking up a car load of hookers and pimping them out to the workers. I could make a killing.

Not interested-San Antonio
Some of these oil workers are very rude

Monday, April 18, 2011

Will Laredo become a "Golf Mecca"?

Las Sendas golf course in Meza, Az: designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

From World

There are only a handful of golf courses in Laredo, Texas, which is exactly what you would expect for this town about 250,000. But civic leaders have visions of this remote Texas border city located two hours southwest of San Antonio becoming a golf destination.

The first step in that quest is currently underway. Earlier this week, architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. visited the site along the river with some members of the local media. The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course is expected to open sometime in late fall. It sits on 270 acres and has a hole, the par-3 15th, which is perched 60 feet above the Rio Grande. Upon completion, it will play more than 7,000 yards with five sets of tees.

The Max A. Mandel Golf Course is a celebration anew of the great game of golf and its cherished roots as a game of the people,” Jones said. “The city of Laredo has graciously provided us with the latitude to let our imagination roam free across a rare piece of land that exuded the rugged essence of this storied region. For the one-time capital of the Republic of the Rio Grande, we have created a golf experience that we hope will be a source of great pride and satisfaction for the public. We believe the city of Laredo's inaugural public golf course is destined to be regarded as one of the best public golf courses in Texas.”

Those are high aspirations, to be sure, but before you discount them consider this: The best municipal golf course in Texas is arguably in another place you wouldn’t expect – El Paso. Butterfield Trail Golf Club, a fabulous Tom Fazio design that opened in 2007, has already been named the third best muni in the country by two major golf publications.

The new Laredo course is named in honor of the late Max A. Mandel, a successful bank executive whose vision helped put the city of Laredo on a strong economic foundation. The course sits on Mandel's farm, named Las Islitas (Spanish for “little islands"), and the Mandel family generously donated a total 390 acres of land, $1 million for the construction project and water rights for irrigation purposes to the city of Laredo to commemorate Mandels business acumen, philanthropic spirit and civic legacy.

The course has two deep arroyos, a variety of mesquite trees and river vega flora. Seven of the holes have been shaped with vistas of the Rio Grande. One thing we know for sure is that the city of Laredo is serious about this course, having hired Jones.

The city of Laredo is proud of the progress that is being made on this very special golf course that will rate as one of the very best public access facilities in the state of Texas,” said Horacio De Leon Jr., assistant city manager and project manager for the golf course.We are on schedule and on budget for what will prove to be a world-class golf course? Hopefully, this will be the start for several more courses, which ultimately would position Laredo as the next great golf Mecca.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fracking starting to get some attention by US House democrats

From the Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Millions of gallons of potentially hazardous chemicals and known carcinogens were injected into wells by leading oil and gas service companies from 2005-2009, a report by three House Democrats said Saturday. The three Representatives are Henry Waxman of California, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Diana DeGette of Colorado.

The report said 29 of the chemicals injected were known-or-suspected human carcinogens. The chemicals are injected during hydraulic fracturing, a process used in combination with horizontal drilling to allow access to natural gas reserves previously considered uneconomical.

The growing use of hydraulic fracturing has allowed natural gas production in the United States to reach levels not achieved since the early 1970s. However, the process requires large quantities of water and fluids, injected underground at high volumes and pressure. The composition of these fluids ranges from a simple mixture of water and sand to more complex mixtures with chemical additives.

The report said that from 2005-2009, the following states 100,000 gallons or more of fluids containing a regulated chemical under the Safe Drinking Water Act : Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi and North Dakota.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

La Plaza de las Culturas y Artes opens today in Los Angeles

A Mexican grocery store in Mercado Plaza, downtown Los Angeles, 1936
From their website: A Mexican grocery store in 1920s downtown L.A.
From USC School of Communication & Journalism - by Tanner Keith

La Plaza de Cultura y Artes is located in the exact spot where Los Angeles was founded in 1781. The newly renovated five-story building is now filled with interactive experiences for visitors to explore the lives of the people who make up the city's history.

La Plaza represents the nation's premiere center of Mexican American culture. Miguel Angel Corzo, the president and CEO of La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, believes people from all backgrounds will be able to enjoy it. "I think they will gain a sense of identity and understanding for other people's identities," Corzo said. "I think they will also identify whether they are Mexican American or not with the trials and tribulations of migrants and what that brings with everyone coming to this country having to suffer sometimes injustice and success and always in the pursuit of freedom and happiness."

The inaugural exhibit, L.A. Starts Here, examines the founding of Los Angeles through the eyes of Mexican Americans who first settled here. But it's more than just an exhibit of artifacts. "One of the important things here is that we do not collect objects," Corzo said. "We collect stories and stories are forever."

In early January, construction for La Plaza was put on hold when workers dug up several dozen bodies dating back to the 1800s. It turns out the site was formerly a cemetery where more than 450 American Indians were buried. Corzo is working with Native American groups to preserve and re-intern the human remains.

"We are working with all of the parties to find a solution that will satisfy everyone," Corzo said. "And also to take advantage of educating our visitors about the historic site and the importance of Los Angeles that lies underground."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Actually, You got until Monday, the 18th


Let me tell you how it will be;
There's one for you, nineteen for me.
'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don't take it all.
'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

(if you drive a car, car;) - I’ll tax the street;
(if you try to sit, sit;) - I’ll tax your seat;
(if you get too cold, cold;) - I’ll tax the heat;
(if you take a walk, walk;) - I'll tax your feet.

UISD Admistration is monetarily Obese: From LMT's Letters to the Editor

UISD fat cats continue to shamelessly feed off Laredo's working families

Laredo taxpayer Jesus Flores writes in to the Laredo Morning Times editor:
Of course, the biggest money-maker has to be Superintendent Santos, with a base salary of $194,000!

There are two associate superintendents, Eduardo Zuñiga and Pamela Juarez with a salary of $130,784.62 — each! There are four — yes, four — assistant superintendents: Enrique Rangel, Laida Benavidez and David Garcia, who each make $118,178.39; and Gloria Rendon with $92,207.40.
Flores' letter goes on to detail the salaries of some many, many directors living high on the hog at the expense of local taxpayers:

Let’s begin with Mike Garza at $90.242.74, Joe Aranda at $96,355.39, Ella Juarez with $97,228.44, Sandra Cavazos with $96,614.99, Sandra Alvarez at $107,196.14, Ann McDonald with $105,715.86, Martha Moke with $103,783.53, Roylin Wilson at $103,783.53 and Hector Perez at $104,450.90.

By adding the salaries of the individuals listed above, you get a whopping total of $1,613,683.33! No budget cuts here, but then again who would work the phones on Election Day?
(That's over 1.6 Million Dollars-- no type here)

Of course, this is just the tip of the erupting volcano. There are the directors who are under the executive directors (who supervise), who are under the assistant superintendents (who supervise), who are under the associate superintendents (who also supervise).

My question is this: who actually works? I counted a total of 25 directors. I am only listing the top five earners: Roberto Chapa ($94,467.95), Sandra Benavidez ($93,677.05), Maria Gonzalez ($93,467), Guadalupe Perez ($93,676) and Samuel Flores ($87,905).The lowest paid director is Alicia Carrillo, who makes $75,721.
Among the 25 directors, a total of $4.2 million is paid annually. (Yep, you read right)

Read the entire letter at :

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Another Texas Certified retirement community (Not Laredo)

A couple walking by the beach

From the Killeen Daily Herald- By Anthony Scott

The Texas Department of Agriculture dubbed the city of Killeen the 40th official GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Community Thursday. Being in the program means the city is part of a retirement awareness campaign that could bring more retirees to the area.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said in a statement that Texas is poised to be a top choice among retirees because of the program's ability to raise awareness of the state as a retirement destination. Any municipality in Texas can apply for the CRC program to showcase itself as a retirement location and tourist destination by contacting the Department of Agriculture's rural economic development division.

Qualifications to become a CRC include completing an application and retirement desirability assessment. The assessment includes demographics, tax structure, housing, safety, job market, health care and public transport.

"Place design, the effort to design a better place to live and work, is vital to Killeen's economy," Mayor Tim Hancock said in a statement. "Our participation in the GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Community Program will greatly aid us in focusing on place design." A decision to allow a city in the program is made by a volunteer advisory team consisting of business people, health care professionals, government employees and retiree reviews.

"I'm obviously delighted with this designation," said Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, in a statement. "It confirms what Killeen residents have known for many years. Killeen is a wonderful place to live that provides quality of life issues, combined with a stable economy and a pleasant environment."
In South Texas, the only Certified Texan Retirement Communities are South Padre Island & Harlingen. This is one of the few instances in which McAllen is NOT eating our lunch............yet.

BOLAS ranks Laredotejas blog last on interactivity

Despite an ocassional score, LT remains behind the pack in resonating with readers

The Blogs Of Laredo Association Stats (BOLAS)  has just released it's latest figures on the Laredo Blogosphere. During the last quarter, the gateway citys' blog traffic took a noticeable nosedive that coincided with Bordertown Blues' self-imposed exile last month. Since then, the index has resumed it impressive upward trend.

Not surprisingly, LaSanbe maintained its status as Laredo's most imposing blog. Que Fregados continued its exemplary public service posting tradition and Bordertown Blues is now considered a colossal in the field. Relative newcomer, LaredoTejas also managed to post some improving numbers as far as blog views are concerned. However, it has continued to experience a lack of success in reader interactivity. A sampling of the 10 most recent postings had BTB eliciting nearly 80 comments, LaSanbe racking up slightly more than 60 reader contributions, QF was next at roughly 35 reader opinions with LaredoTejas a distant 4th place with a mere 10 comments by readers visiting the site.

One of LT's editors, Maximiliano, had somewhat of an explanation. "I know we're perceived to be somewhat negative in some of our posts and we certainly have been called out for criticizing certain aspects of our town" he offered. "It appears that many of our readers don't necessarily share our views on some issues, nonetheless, we appreciate their readership" he added (add violins here).

Deregulation of banks in 1980 has resulted in proliferation of predatory, fringe banking

In doing a little research on pawnshops, it appears that their numbers have drastically increased since 1980. Apparently bank deregulation has played a big role. Prior to that year, service fees for checking accounts or for carrying a minimum balance either did not exist or were very minimal. As a result of the Depository Institution and Monetary Control Act of 1980, banks started charging all sorts of fees on checking and savings  accounts and kept raising such fees as long as the market allowed it. One of the consequences of this was increased competition among banks which led to many of the country's smaller banks having to close shop.

This development left many lower-income families with less access to banks. Even when they did have banks nearby, the new fees the banks were imposing made it very difficult to carry checking and/or savings accounts. Perhaps because of this, the percentage of lower-income families with no checking/savings accounts started to increase. The vast majority of poor people in America are either unbanked or underbanked. According to the FDIC, in 2009 there were about 9 million people in the US who had absolutely no dealings with US banks. The number of people who use banks on very few occasions, was about 21 million in the same year.

Credit Infocenter reports :
These unbanked and underbanked consumers represent a considerable market opportunity for financial services companies. The unbanked and underbanked bought upwards of $3 trillion of goods and services with cash and money orders. Too often, these consumers pay a premium to get access to their funds at fringe financial outlets.
These fringe outlets include small loan houses, payday loan outlets and pawnshops. Not surprisingly, these predatory businesses, as you can see on the map below, are mostly concentrated in Laredo's poorer areas. While this particular map details the locations of pawnshops, the same pattern holds true for loan houses and payday loan services.

Concentration of Pawn Shops in Laredo

A. First Cash Pawn         1501 San Bernardo
B. EZ Pawn                    1019 Farragut
C. Cash America Pawn   419 East Saunders
D. El Buffalo Pawn          202 Flores
E. EZ Pawn                    1012 Santa Ursula
F.  Crown Duty Free       1600 Water suite 4
G. AmeriAdvance Inc.     4420 San Bernardo

Webb county commissioner tries to back pedal in employee transfer grievance

After creating a lot of unnecessary frustration for three Webb County community center employees, Webb county commissioner Rosaura Wawi Tijerina seems to be backpedalling somewhat. The problem now is the outside counsel is advising her to wait. This, in the continuing sage of three county employees where were transferred from Mirando City to Laredo and vice-versa. As the Laredo Morning Times reports:

Commissioner Rosaura “Wawi” Tijerina transferred Yvonne M. Gribble, a library services coordinator, and San Juana Lira, a clerk, from K.J. Salinas Community Center in Mirando City to Larga Vista Community Center in east Laredo. Tijerina also transferred Andrea Morales, a receptionist, from Larga Vista to Bruni Community Center in Bruni.

The three employees alleged the rotations were made as retaliation for not volunteering for Tijerina’s campaign and violated civil service rules by changing their terms of employment without the commission’s approval — adding significant time to their commutes.

Tijerina said the rotations were made to improve customer service by exposing employees to operations at different community centers.
Well, it now seems that Tijerina is claiming that she wants to return the employees to their former locations but implied that her hands are tied because the outside counsel advising against such a move. As Tijerina told the Laredo Morning Times"

“I said it was the advice of our attorney not to do changes until the grievances were resolved,” Tijerina said after the meeting (with precinct two employees). She said she made the statement in response to a question from another employee transferred between community centers but who was not taking part in the grievance process.

Gribble, the library services coordinator, said the rotations have added 60 miles to the round trip commute for her and Lira from Mirando City to their new positions in Laredo.She said Tijerina’s announcement put pressure on the employees to withdraw their grievance.

“It kind of put the monkey on our back that if we would withdraw the grievance, she would send us back to our centers,” Gribble said. She said she had no plans to drop her grievance.
In the article, Tijerina claims that a total of 12 employees have been rotated from one center to another. What the article fails to clarify is whether any other employees were actually transferred from one community to another as were the three grievants. One thing Webb county does not need more of is this type of questionable behavior on the part of our elected officials.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Making the rounds" for security guards minus the healthy walking

Walking? We don't need no stinking walking!

One of the few positives about being a security guard is that one gets to walk around quite a bit. Every time a guard has to make his or her rounds, it usually means walking at the least, a few blocks. Unfortunately, this is not as true anymore as it once was. Just the other night, I went to buy a few things at the HEB on Saunders and, lo and behold, zooming by came the store's security guard on his trusty Segway. I noticed that he was sporting a new, orange-reflector vest. I guess once you're fully motorized, you have to dress the part.

It wasn't long before I found myself thinking "but what about all the exercise that guy is going to miss out on?" He, for one, sure didn't seem to mind  his new, automated mobility. Then it occurred to me:  I guess the bottom line is that the store gets to move this guy around a lot faster to and from anywhere he needs to be. Well, I'm sure that there's all sorts of good benefits to that. But what if a particular guard actually prefers walking and getting in his or her fair share of exercise? Would they be forbidden from doing so? Could it be the store's policy that you MUST use the Segway?  Of course, the answer is yes, they could.

On the bright side, Segways may help put an end to a lot of discrimination against anyone who suffers from limited mobility. I'm sure that there's many other examples, besides security work, that you can come up with in which getting around would enable people to either keep working or going back to work. That always seem to be the story with technology. Like so many other things, it's a double-edged sword.

TAMIU reporter narrowly escapes being drug-tested after nudging school bus

Another case of over-reacting?

I think most of us will agree that when it comes to school buses and transporting children, you cannot be too safe.But then again, who do you draw the line?  TAMIU reporter Mark Nix recounts a recent incident in which a parking lot standoff with another driver who wouldn't back up led to a minor accident involving a UISD school bus. In an attempt to end the stalemate, the reported finally decide to back up just enough to bump into the bus which had been stationary behind him. What ensued, including the mention of conducting a drug test,  is what Nix talks about in his recent article. We pick it up with the TAMIU police, who had been called by the bus driver, questioning the reporter:

Excertped from TAMIU's student newspaper, The Bridge

He asked "Where did you hit the bus?" and I told him, "You can't really see it can you?" and he answers, "No." So that's how minor the hit was. The head of the UISD transportation department arrives and takes pictures of the bus and then I take them to my car and show them the damage to it, which was like nothing, but a small scratch. She informs me that no action will be taken because the damage was so minor. However, she asks if I had gotten a citation. I respond by telling her  "No, well I don't think so." and she asks the TAMIU Police officers if they are going to cite me. They respond by telling her that they are debating on the issue. She tells them that if they are going to cite me, then she has to give me a drug test. A drug test, really? A minor accident occurs and I have to be submitted for drug testing?

In the end the officers decide to cite me, but I quickly rebuttal with recounting what had happened. They tell me that they got a different story from the bus driver and I answer with a quick "Well he was on the bus how could he see?" So in the end I get a verbal warning from them. Which I was entirely grateful for, they told me that when it comes to situations like that I am to stand my ground and let the other person get mad.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What to do with Laredo's old, discarded tires: Part 2

I don't know what the recommended  psi (pounds per square inch) would be, but another thing Laredoans could use the abundance of discarded tires for, is to build a house or two. It's actually been done before as you can see from the picture below. Most of the times I've heard of such houses being built in very hot parts of the country, aka Laredo. 

Thus, we have another win-win situation. We could get rid of our tires and have a few ecologically-sound, creative structures that could serve as someone's home or perhaps as a community center. Maybe there would even be a market for these houses among the hard-core NASCAR fans in the Gateway city.

Yes, for the window, I'm going to need a  Goodyear 60/175G-15 whitewall.

Good Ol' Texas Observer looking for original short fiction

McMurtry will be Guest Judge for the short fiction contest

We at The Texas Observer love a good story. Of course, the stories we've published over the past half-century-mostly hard-hitting investigative pieces-have been in the realm of reality. Help us change that. Send us your best original short fiction for the first annual Texas Observer Short Story Prize. The winner gets a fat check and publication in the 2011 Summer Books issue.

GRAND PRIZE $1,000 and publication in 2011 Summer Books issue
GUEST JUDGE Larry McMurtry

The winning author will receive $1,000, publication in the Summer Books issue of the Texas Observer, three copies of Summer Books issue, and a one-year print subscription. Finalists may be eligible for publication online at
  1. Contest is open to any and all participants regardless of location
  2. No theme/genre restrictions, but entries with Texas setting or themes are encouraged
  3. Stories should not exceed 2,500 words
  4. Entry fee is $25. For an additional $10, your story will be critiqued by Observer Fiction Editor David Duhr.
All entries must be unpublished. Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but stories must be withdrawn from contest immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. Entry fee will not be refunded
  1. While multiple entries are welcome, each story requires entry fee
  2. Body of email must contain name, story title, address and phone number. Name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript, as contest is judged anonymously.
  3. Entries exceeding 2,500 words will be disqualified. Entry fee will not be refunded.
  4. Winner and finalists will be notified by June 8, 2011
  5. Address all questions to No phone calls, please

Webb could take a lesson from Hidalgo County on standing up on important issues

"OK, how's my hair look? Is my part perfectly straight"?

From The Texas Observer
By Sara Ines Calderon of NewsTaco

The Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network welcomes the news of Hidalgo County’s plans to file a lawsuit against the US Department of Commerce. The Court’s actions appear to be spurred on by the official results of the 2010 Census, which seem to reflect an extraordinary undercount, as well as the well-documented criticism of the methods Census 2010 used in their survey of colonia families.  The decision by the Commissioners’ Court and County Judge Ramon Garcia is a clear indication of the resolve of county leadership to seek a redress to this situation.

Asked to respond to the news of the proposed legal action, Eva Carranza of the Colonia South Tower and an active member of the Equal Voice Network’s ARISE said, “I am grateful that the Judge took me into account, as the census did not, and I really felt excluded.” Yolanda H., also of Colonia South Tower and a member of the Equal Voice Network’s Proyecto Azteca said, “I am grateful that the county is standing up for all of us. It is sometimes just too easy to let injustice go by.”

More than funding, the Equal Voice Network realizes that political representation will also be determined using Census data. An accurate count is necessary for truly democratic representation.Francisco Martinez a member of La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) from Colonia Bashan declared, “I vote and I want to be sure that I get to vote for someone who will represent me and my family’s interests.”

The Equal Voice Network recognizes that that with this lawsuit, the County Judge and the County Commissioners are doing precisely that—representing the best interests of the entire county. The Equal Voice Network’s Hidalgo County members are LUPE, ARISE, Proyecto Azteca and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Did city pay to send Asst.City Mgr. & LCVB contingency to Houston regatta?

Yes, Visit Laredo while we visit Houston on on your tab!

An article appearing today in the Laredo Sun entitled Laredo's Rio Fest Planning and Promotion underway seems to be stating that the City of Laredo is now sending cheer leading teams around the state in support of the Team RioFest racing team. You can be sure that none of the city employees paid out of their own pocket. Why would they ? They've never hesitated to waste the taxpayers' money before, why start now?

Here's an excerpt of the article I'm referring to. It was written by "special to the Laredo Sun" and has a sorta of herky-jerky style which is a little bit difficult to follow. Nevertheless, I think it does allude to a "Laredo delegation" going to Houston on our dime.

Editors Note: Please forgive me for the  running commentary during the following excerpts. I just think that any articles promoting Laredo should be done a little bit more carefully since we're always getting a bum rap. Yes, including from me and I'm not even an English major or anything as you can probably tell. The article reads, in part:

A team of interested volunteers and the city of Laredo ventured to the Buffalo Bayou Regatta in Houston, Texas the weekend of March 12-13, 2011 to support the Team RioFest Racing.
( OK so,  did the entire city of Laredo venture to Houston?? Also, it says "to support the Team RioFest Racing ______ "?? Here, it should either say "to support Team Rio Fest",  or "to support the RioFest Racing Team". But not "'the Team RioFest Racing" .Don't leave us hanging here. The article continues:

 Joy Emshoff and Holly Orr won the women’s recreational canoe class and was (were)2nd overall in the class of 80 boats. That is very impressive when you consider competition in a mixed class.

The reputation for the area’s upcoming October celebration of the river continues to shine (How can that be true if it was cancelled last year because of flooding?) and a buzz is building in the paddling community. At the Laredos RioFest booth during the race, Assistant City Manager Jesus Olivares, observed, “The excitement is visible when Laredo is mentioned. RioFest will be a much larger event with many more participants this year.”
( Why is there a comma between Jesus Olivares and observed? Isn't he the one doing the observing? It's a subject/verb connection so no comma is needed as in: "Jesus Olivares observed".)

The City of Laredo delegation led by Olivares also included Parks and Recreation Director Baldi Guzman and also members of the Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
(This deserves to be in green because this is the $$ part. This is whom the taxpayers of Laredo sponsorsed on this latest cheerleading trip)