Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Expensive wannabees: Laredo's $120,000 World Cities Forum

Not to be confused with the lowly Laredo World Cities Forum

Hoping to be confused with the World Cities Summit, the city of Laredo is holding an ill-planned, divisive World Cities Forum later on this year. The planned forum has been scoffed at by most of Laredo's business community, especially when the city council first awarded a local logistics company $120,000 to stage this so-called self-financed event, which turned out to be not-so-self-financed after all.

Recently, there has been a little bit more co-operation between the city's elected officials and staff as they have reached out to area business associations in an effort to make amends.

Last year, Hector Vargas, director of Laredo Logistics International asked for $20,000 to start to set-up the forum. At that point, before city council, he insisted that the even would pay for itself. Fast forward to November, 2012 and the city awarded the same Vargas, a hefty $120,000 courtesy of the always-unsuspecting Laredo taxpayers.

That's when the several local business leaders went on record (El LMT) as saying that this World Cities Forum was not exactly what the city needed to be spending money on. The consensus was and is that the city should focus on the Mexico business and not necessarily try to go out and globalize.

We should note that shortly afterwards, the Mayor was on his way to Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

McDonald's computers detract kids from play area

As if the food wasn't already junky enough: The McDonald's on Saunders was recently remodeled and one of the changes was to equip the kid's area with several computer screens. As could be expected, now, the playarea is practically abandoned as the kids can all be found sitting around playing video games or whatever it is they do there.

Last night, as I drove past, I noticed one heroic kid still climbing and moving around while about 8 other kids languidly sat at the video screens. Bad Move, McDonald. Today's kids already get enough video games and not enough exercise.

 I say remove the screens and let the kids get some exercise for a change.

Parent: Yes, that'll be a 32oz Coke, mega-fries and a double cheesburger deluxe with extra cheese and when it's ready, just take it over to where the new computer games are -we'll be waiting.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bad Move: LISD requests larger class size

Well, according to LMT, your friendly board of trustees over at LISD, along with the Superintendent are looking to increase the number of kids in their K-4th grade classrooms.  I believe one or two of them might have, at one time, been a teacher but obviously, they've forgotten what over-crowded classes are like.

The district is balking at having to hire 7 more teachers to accomodate students at the current 22 students to 1 teacher ratio and are instead asking for permission from the state to increase the number of kids.  As if the district scores were good to begin with.

Just earlier this year, LISD gave out $2,500 bonuses to teacher district wide plus lesser bonuses for other staff. The totatl was over a couple of million dollars. Now, they can't afford 7 teachers?  I bet you none of the trustees have kids in LISD's k-4th grades.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Against City's own procedure's manual: Only 1 meeting in December?

"2 city council meetings are required? Bah-Humbug!"
December 3rd was the first Monday in December.  The 10th of December marked the second Sunday of the month. Tomorrow is December 17th, the third Monday of the month.

The City of Laredo's procedures policy regarding city council meetings states the following:

I. Regular and called Council meetings
A. The Mayor and Council shall hold regular meetings on the first and third Monday
of every month at the Council Chambers in the Laredo City Hall at 5:30 p.m.
1. When a regular meeting day is a City holiday, the meeting shall be held on the following day, Tuesday, at the same time and place.

OK, so the second meeting of December, 2012 SHOULD be held tomorrow at 5:30 PM. However, there is none scheduled since there is no agenda item posted announcing this required meeting.

An agenda for any city council meeting must be posted at least 72 hours before the start of said meeting. So there CAN'T be a meeting tomorrow.  The earliest that the city could keep it's required 2nd monthly meeting would be this coming Thursday.  Unless, an agenda was to somehow appear on the city's website today (Sunday).

The Mayor and the council must understand that these are procedures that they have sworn to abide by- since the procedure's policy is part of City laws (and policy).  They should do the right thing and hold a meeting as soon as they can get one together.

I know many, many Laredoas would rather see less city council meetings and less hamming it up for the cameras, but in the meantime, the Mayor and council should abide by the existing City of Laredo procedures manual.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

World Forum update: It all started back in May......

Cindy Liendo Espinoza introduced this item on May 21, 2012. Mr. Hector Vargas spoke at the meeting.    

Liendo indicated that she put the item on the agenda because it was brought (pitched) to her by Logistics Intl who contacted her (item co-sponsored by Salinas and Narvaez) The plan, she said, was to hold the first World Forum, with “CEOS, PHDS and people of great importance in the world of logistics”.  She added that “they expect about 500 participants staying four or 5 nights”.  
Following is a highlight of the ensuing conversation, Vargas spoke in Spanish and the following is a combination of paraphrasing and translation.
Hector Vargas of Laredo Intl Logistics was then asked to speak.
Liendo : Mr. Vargas,  how much is this going to cost  the city?
HV:  Really, the event will be self-financed. There is no expected cost to the city.   
Mayor: clarify that please 
HV:  the event will be self-financed. But, we will need some “advance” which as far as we are concerned is not a ‘cost”.  He called an event of international exposure for Laredo to keep Laredo’s position in international trade.  He said he thought it was a very important event.  
Liendo:  you say you need a percentage for start up but what is that fixed amount? 
HV:  Well, it’s a years worth of work not just 2 months. We will work hard to put this event on, so it’s a lot of work. 
CV:   We had spoken and you had mentioned 20,000 dollars, or for example 25,000 dollars. But with those 25,000 dollars we will find out if this going to happen correct?  
HV: Correct, well we need to look at the document but yes that sounds about right. 
CV  Also, May would not be a good month because of the hot weather 
HV:   Really, for us there is no problem to hold it later on. It doesn’t have to be May, it will give us more time. This is just a question of when it’s convenient to the city.  
CV (to council) I recommend that you give me $25,000 and maybe later on another $5,000 and then have them come back in lets say 3 months and report back. 
Gullible Council: “So moved, all those in favor….AYE” motion passes!


What the seedy council voted to approve: Hector Vargas' $120,000

The lowdown on the down low: from the city's agenda packet

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

City continues to squander $$ under pretext of Global Marketing

I see our geniuses (or is it geni?) over at the city council are STILL up to their old tricks. Last evening, they awarded $120,000 dollars to some trade consultants called Laredo Logistics International so they can put on a "Logistic Cities World Forum" some time next May.  Where do they keep pulling out the names for these events from anyway?  If it's going to be a  World Forum, then should this group not be required to at least call themselves  "Laredo Global Logistics"? Or is that name already taken by another opportunist team that keeps putting up these forums/conferences and for what?

I'm sure taxpayers don't mind that $120,000 are being practically thrown out the window especially when it happens at the same meeting that saw the same seedy council struggle to allocate any money for Laredo's Ruth B. Cowl Rehabilitation Center. "You know times are hard" lamented both council and staff as they praised the work of the therapy center with the other side of their mouths. But when it comes to squandering big bucks, they're pros!

Wait it gets better. If, and that's a big if, the "World Forum" is a success and proceeds roll in, then a Mr. Hector Vargas of the notorious Laredo logistics International stands to pull in an additional 20 per cent of the contract price. Let's see $120,000 x 20 per cent =  an additional $24,000. Again, compliments of the Laredo taxpayers.

See? Aren't we all being well served by our illustrious council?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

jamBOOZIE time again: same old, same old

The WBCA event that put the "booze" in Jamboozie is, once again, offereing no surprises this year. With their featured artist being La Mafia. It might as well still be the 1980s. It is apparent that those in charge of booking the musical talent for the alcohol-fueled festival chose to not expend even an ounce of effort in making a creative selection. 

Perhaps their reasoning goes somehting like this: Why should anyone care anyway, just about everyone will be smashed by then and those with families will make sure they leave well before the real debauchery ensues.

I'll drink to that!

VIDA's back, meeting today at Los Jacales

High Noon is when today's (November 17th) scheduled VIDA meeting is slated to take place. The "new" location for the Voices In Democratic Action gathering will be Los Jacales Restaurant.

It's been a few weeks since the local watchdog group has met and updates on several issues will probably be provided at today's meeting.

What:  VIDA meeting

When: Today, Saturday November 17th at 12:00pm

Where: Los Jacales Restaurant
             620 Guadalupe Street
             Laredo, Texas

Monday, November 12, 2012

Houston gets top billing on Saudi trip

From the Saudi Embassy's (Washington DC) website

Houston Mayor leads trade mission to Saudi Arabia

November 10, 2012

Dammam Mayor Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi received at his office today Houston Mayor Annise Danette Parker and her accompanying delegation. Mayor Parker was briefed on developments in Dammam.
Mayor Parker is leading a 38-member trade mission to the Gulf, which also includes stops in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and aimes at expanding business cooperation between Houston and the Gulf states. “This trade mission will not only enhance our existing foreign business relationships, but also provide opportunities for new partnerships with public and private organizations in each country,” said Mayor Parker said in a statement issued prior to her trip. “Houston’s strength as an energy capital will help businesses looking for new ventures or strategic links in this part of the world and, inversely, place Houston at the forefront when Middle Eastern businesses contemplate future international business models.”

“The U.A.E., Qatar and Saudi Arabia have defied and reconfigured expectations for petro-economies by investing heavily in major infrastructure projects, scientific and cultural undertakings, and providing an array of business incentives which have brought some of the world’s largest corporations to their business community. One of the goals of this trip will be to facilitate new business partnerships and express the importance of maintaining existing ones. Mayor Parker in particular will strengthen international relations and advance Houston’s business, economic, political and commercial objectives in the Middle East, which include increasing trade between the two regions.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

LMT endorsements: No Surprises, status quo


From Laredo Morning Times, No Suprises.

For District 4, Juan Narvaez. The city stands to benefit from the continued presence of Narvaez in City Council.

His business experience has contributed to the myriad of permanent improvements undertaken by the city.

We urge the voters of District 4 to support Narvaez’s re-election to another term as a member of the City Council.

For District 5, Pat Campos. We believe Campos would be a positive addition to replace the retiring incumbent.

She brings a wealth of experience and commitment to public service and would make an excellent preventative for her district.

We strongly support her election to represent District 5.

For District 7, Jorge A. Vera. Rounding a relatively brief stint as city alderman for a growing District 7, Vera buckled down on short notice to become an effective representative for a part of town that has seen some improvements of recent times.

He has the smarts to appreciate and understand the pressing demands in his district, particularly in infrastructure, in connection with the Mines Road developments.

He’s involved with community and is the best choice among candidates to be returned to the District 7 council seat.

For District 8, Cindy Liendo Espinoza. Liendo Espinoza has represented her constituents well with matters of the city-wide concerns as well as projects of specific importance to her district.

She has been an effective councilwoman and has earned re-election for another four-year term.

Oh well, LMT needs to come up for some fresh air once in a while.  Speaking of:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quote of the day: "All the flushing of toilets"

Our friendly daily today includes what has got to be at least a candidate for the quote of the day.

Blasita Lopez, director of the Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said UISD officials met with various city departments and the Texas Department of Transportation to make sure things ran smoothly.

She said the aim of the city was to make sure people visiting Laredo would feel welcome.

Traffic signage and coordination was only part of the plan.

“One department we almost overlooked was the city utilities department, but director Tomas Rodriguez stepped forward and said they would make sure there would be enough water pressure for all the flushing of toilets,” Lopez said.

Ordinance meant to crack down on little guy, not Oil & Gas

City of Laredo Utilities Director Tomas "Tommy the Tank" Rodriguez told the Laredo Morning Times that the real reason for the city's ordinance prohibiting the re-selling of water obtained from the city is to essentially crack down on the little guy, not so much on the fracking companies.

An article appearing today on the Laredo Morning Times is full of reasons why an investigation should have been launched into possible violations of this ordinance by area fracking and fracking-related companies and begs the question:  What is the city waiting for?

Another strange revelation about one particular company has a contract to buy water from the city, but instead claims to be using its trucks to simply transport water to the oil and gas industry. The question(s) here : Then why do they have a contract to purchase water IF they are only transporting it?  Who then is buying the water their transporting? Is it the oil and gass companies these guys are delivering the water to?  Do those companies have contracts to purchase water? If not, then is anybody paying for this water??

As always, city of laredo officials love to point out failed comparisons. The article mentions that while the city of Laredo sells its water for $3.50 per thousand gallons, it states that Brownsville and McAllen sell their water for $1.92 and $1.30 per thousand gallons. This implies that the city is being smart and raking in big bucks for their higher-priced water.  However, the comparison fails because neither McAllen nor Brownsville are in the Eagle Ford Shale.  The comparison should therefore be made between Laredo and cities like Cotulla or Carrizo Springs which are in the EFS and therefore, sell their water to the frackers at rates substantially higher than Laredo. 

Anyway, here's another exceprt from the LMT:

Tomas Rodriguez, the city’s utilities director, said in October the city hasn’t launched a formal inquiry.

“The investigation was supposed to be one to determine if somebody was selling to the oil fields,” Rodriguez said.

“It’s hard for us to determine ‘XYZ’ company is actually selling to the drilling companies.”

Rodriguez said any complaints of possible water resale are examined on a case-by-case basis.

The issue may come down to one of semantics. One company, G&F Oilfield Services, which holds a contract to buy water from the city, said it bills oil and gas companies for freight.

“We don’t charge the water, we just provide the haul,” company owner Filberto Lopez said.

Lopez said freight costs range from between $95 to $110 an hour.
Charging for freight of water “is not exactly what the ordinance is against,” Rodriguez said.

He said the ordinance is in place to prevent citizens from charging neighbors, family and friends for drinkable water.

Any commercial entity requesting a meter from the city must provide a reason for use of water in its application.
Companies contracted with the city use phrases such as “filling truck of the field” and “oilfield for the rigs” in their contracts.

Mo-Vac, a vacuum company that lists “gas well” as a reason for use of potable water, declined comment.

Jesus Olivares, assistant city manager, said the city has not contacted law enforcement to investigate possible city code violations.

“If (city management) do(es) find somebody that has been misusing privileges when they sign a contract and if they are doing anything that is criminal, the proper authorities will be notified,” Olivares said.

The City of Laredo charges $3.50 per 1,000 gallons of water, or 0.35 cents per gallon, as determined by traveling water meters.

The cities of Brownsville and McAllen charge $1.92 and $1.30, respectively, per 1,000 gallons.

City Manager Carlos Villarreal has indicated he is aware of possible misuse of city contracts.

Webb County Elections Office at fault for ballot mistakes

Our local officials have become experts at putting the blame elsewhere instead of assuming responsibility. A few months ago, when it was reported that Laredo Community College was facing accrediation problems, the fault was placed on a change in the reportng system the college was using. Phrases such as "there was a glitch" or "the process was put into place in a hurry" and thus resulted in erros.  No one took responsiblity for monitoring for such "glitches" or for NOT implementing any process in such a hurry that it turned out to be error-filled.

Now, it's the Webb County Elections administrator's turn.  Instead of taking reponsibilty for the recent ballot mistakes, elections administrator has sought to blame some "invisible man". Notice the explanation he gave to the Laredo Morning Times.

Excerpted from the famous Laredo Morning Times

“We found out one particular block that was supposed to be in District 7 we had in District 5,” Villarreal said Saturday.

He said the particular block’s precinct mistakenly did not reflect summer redistricting changes.

Villarreal could not confirm, specifically, which addresses were affected.

A District 7 resident called the elections office Friday after she received what she believed was the wrong ballot. Officials confirmed the mistake.
In the first sentence, Villarreal does come close to admitting fault when he says "We had", however by the following line, the active voice "we had" quickly becomes the passive, (no fault)
"the particular block's precinct mistakenly did not reflect.....changes".  Aha, so it was the block precinct's fault for "not reflecting those changes".

Nice job Mr. Villarreal, a better, more accurate way would have been to say: " We failed to show the summer redistricting changes for that particular precinct block".

But rest assured, all ballot irregularities have now been corrected. Why? Because the Webb County Elections department says so. Whew!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Elections Mishaps: If it weren't so bad, it'd be funny

The Webb County Elections office is once again making the news for all the wrong reasons. The integrity of this elecion is already in doubt.  It would be a good thing if we could get the Texas Secreatry of State come down here and straighten out the whole mess. 

This is part of what makes Laredo look bad: dubious ethics and shenanigans abound throughout our local governments. Be it the school districts, the city or the county, there's a thread of incompetence that's only getting worse. Oh well, que esperas ?

From today's LMT

Some voters received and cast ballots for races outside their districts, Webb County Elections Administrator Oscar Villarreal told media in an email Friday afternoon.

It is unclear which races, districts or polling places were affected.

Villarreal did not return phone calls as of late Friday.

He wrote in the email that the elections office had received “many calls from voters stating that they belonged in a different school district or council member district than what appeared on their ballot.

“On most of these, there were no issues,” he wrote in the email.

“The voter was just unaware that their school or council member district had changed after redistricting.

“But on others, there were issues that were discovered that had to be corrected and unfortunately, it was also discovered that some of these voters had, in fact, received and voted a ballot with the wrong district.”

Silverado Martinez, local attorney and Webb County Democratic Party chair, said although he was not privy to the legal ramifications of the issues, it is likely voters could not cast their ballots again.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Going, going GONE! Sold to the highest bidder!

Among the top contributors mentioned in today's Laredo Morning Times article on campaign financing of our local elections are: local construction companies, engineering firms, property management groups and engergy companies.

What are the odds that these donors will be fully expecting something in return?

So, what else is new? Cha-ching!

From Today's LMT

City Council incumbents have a serious edge fund-wise against their opponents in the upcoming November election.

At $27,150, District 4 incumbent Juan Narvaez received the most contributions by a considerable margin as compared to other candidates.

Many of his donors are local construction, property management and energy companies.

Narvaez previously served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, and operated a housing manufacturing company prior to his involvement with the city.

“I’m a man that’s been in business long enough have known a lot of people that believe in me,” Narvaez said.

“There’s no hidden agenda behind my contributions.”

His opponent, retired educator Armando Cisneros, was waived from filing expense reports on the condition he would not spend more than $500 on his campaign, City Secretary Gustavo Guevara Jr. said.

“I’m not big on spending my time putting up signs and raising funds,” Cisneros said.

“It’s more like grassroots. I’d say not even grassroots, more like seed roots.”

Meanwhile, the two other City Council incumbents, Cindy Liendo Espinoza and Jorge Vera, have received $10,850 and $16,250, respectively, in campaign contributions.

Jose Luis Maldonado, who had reported no political expenditures, said he reused old signs from his run last year for City Council District 7.

Maldonado said he only recently began spending campaign donations after the Oct. 9 filing deadline.

He said the $1,500 he’s received will go toward payment for an upcoming radio ad.

Meanwhile, Pat Campos and Roque Vela, vying for the upcoming vacancy for District 5, have received $17,750 and $21,280, respectively.

At $35,213, Vela has far exceeded any of the other City Council candidates in political expenditures and has outspent Campos by almost $20,000.

You can read the entire article at :

Friday, October 19, 2012

Highest compliment: "It's doesn't seem like you're in Laredo"

It's a pretty common compliment nowadays. If you happen upon a very attractive spot secluded somewhere in or around the Gateway City, people usually express their amazement by stating simply "It's like you're not in Laredo" or something to that effect.

Just this morning, that exact sentiment was conveyed this morning on KLNT 1490's morning news show with Richard Noriega.  During a clip featured on the show, we hear some golfer who just played the new Max A. Mandel course expressed the "You don't think you're in Laredo" line.

The fact that statements like these are used as compliments draws on the assumption that the prevailing opinion is that Laredo is not that nice of a place at all. Therefore, by saying that something
is not "like Laredo" (bad/negative) means that it's therefore, something good/ positive.

As far as the golf course goes, what doy you expect for $6.6 Million?  

Monday, October 15, 2012

A view from a diiferent angle: Austin's KVUE

Tx. Dept of Health Services confirms flu outbreak in Laredo


Oct. 13, 2012 (PRWEB) October 13, 2012 -- The Texas State Dept. of Health Services (TSDHS) in Austin confirmed this week two Laredo school districts are reporting influenza cases this season, which are running at levels six times higher than in 2011.

The state’s acknowledgement is in sharp contrast to a recent report of sparse flu activity in the United States by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The CDC is now conducting further confirmatory testing, which was spurred by a new in-the-field surveillance system.

“This surprising early influenza outbreak – at levels usually seen only in the winter months – has been present almost from the onset in late August of the fall 2012 semester for both the Laredo Independent (LISD) and United Independent (UISD) school districts,” said Dr. Vincent Friedewald, Chief Medical Officer for Argus1 Systems, Austin.

The TSDHS this week identified samples obtained from children in the Laredo outbreak to be Type B influenza virus, and not the swine flu variety being sporadically reported across the USA during the past summer.

The testing of samples was spurred by the Laredo school districts’ use of a highly advanced, Internet-based, instant reporting system developed by Argus1 Systems Corp. of Austin, TX.
Read more at:

Friday, October 12, 2012

LMT reporting on lawsuit from Unitrade's Garza

In a new development, The Laredo Morning Times is reporting this morning that Unitrade's Eduardo Garza is filing a lawsuit against VIDA's Dr. Hector Farias and Jose Valez, a former Laredo City councilman. Following is part of the article appearing in today's paper.

From The Laredo Morning Times

Due to VIDA’s disparaging words against Uni-Trade, the petition says, Farias is liable for pecuniary damages approximating $1.8 million, resulting from Garza’s loss of benefit from naming rights for the Laredo baseball stadium.

The lawsuit states Garza pays $15,000 a month on a 10-year contract for the rights.

“We’re not going to be intimidated by an influence peddler, and all the comments that I and VIDA have made have been truthful and we stand on them,” Farias said.

Although Farias has not reviewed the petition, he said he and his lawyers are prepared to take on Garza and his claims.

“If Garza is saying we tainted his reputation, maybe he ought to sue himself, because he’s the one who tainted it,” he said.

City-Lisd pending sale: Taxpayers selling to themselves?

OK so the civic center currently belongs to the "city" and might be sold to LISD.  As you know the "city" is actually the public, aka taxpayers. So the taxpayers are thinking of selling the civic center to "LISD"- isn't that the same taxpayers (unless you live in UISD)?

Well anyway too early for this type of brainbuster. Here's an excerpt from Laredo Morning Times.

LISD trustees approved appropriating $16 million in funds Thursday to the potential Laredo Civic Center purchase as negotiations between the district and the city remain ongoing.

The funds will be taken out of the Laredo Independent School District’s unassigned fund balance.

The district is considering the facilities to house a performing arts center and centralized administrative offices.

“We are very excited to continue the conversation about purchasing the civic center,” said A. Marcus Nelson, LISD superintendent.

“Our board has clearly shown a definite interest in the purchase.

Now, we are just at a point where we need to make sure we do things the right way in checking all the specifics of this type of purchase.

There are lots of things that need be ironed out.”

The appropriation of funds for the potential purchase does not indicate, however, that the price has been finalized, district officials said.

LISD must come to terms first with the city.

The board would then be able to take action to approve the purchase.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Letter to editor from La Sanbe's Keyrose

Apparently, La Sanbe's editor-in-chief, Keyrose, wrote the following letter to the Laredo Morning Times.  Perhaps they were confused a bit when they received this "letter to the editor" from another "editor".  Whatever the reason, LMT apparently has not acknowledged receipt of the letter so far. So, the editors at LaredoTejas, after obtaining clearance from BOLAS is taking the liberty of publishing Mr. Keyrose's letter.

Yes, it is already on La Sanbe itself, but anyway, here it goes:

Letter to the LMT editor from La Sanbe's Keyrose

As the issue of nepotism plays out for the City of Laredo, commissioners over at Webb County are acting, I hope, on the matter of Gilberto Garza providing false information on his application for the position of Facilities and Maintenance Director. Supposedly Mr. Garza met the minimum requirements for the job, but the issue at hand is the information he provided to two local governmental entities.

In 2009 Mr. Garza applied to the city and listed on his resume one set of employers that went back to the early 2000s. As references he gave the names of local business people, including his uncle, celebrated City of Laredo backer Eduardo Garza. Surely that name jumped out for people at City Hall.

When Gilberto Garza applied to the county recently, he gave hiring officials a different list of employers for the previous decade. I don't doubt that he's a hard-working individual who might have held two jobs at different stages within the last ten years, while also attending college full-time. But why give contradicting proof of employment when seeking different jobs within the span of over two years?

For his county application he had his City of Laredo supervisor write him a letter of recommendation. On top of that, Sheriff Martin Cuellar and Councilman Charlie San Miguel vouched in writing for Mr. Garza. Que mas quieres? The Charlie San Miguel nod is questionable, however, since San Miguel is still waiting for compensation from the county in regards to work he performed for the Community Action Agency.

Mr. Garza must now oversee 50 employees and a $1.9 million budget. Let's hope his abilities are better than his selective memory, and let's hope Commissioners Court addresses his tactics and not so much the people he knows.

Will "new" ethics ordinance change fund-raising practices?

Time for a brief look back at the begining of this election season. Here's an excerpt of what the Laredo Morning Times reported for several of the current city council candidates. The article, by Andrew Krieghbaum originally appeared on July 18th, of this year.

The article details some donations directly from parties doing business with the city of Laredo. It remains to be seen how much of this practice, if any, will continue with the new ethics ordinance taking effect.

From The Laredo Morning Times

Three Laredo City Council members face re-election contests in November, but none of them were among the biggest fundraisers over the last six months.
Narvaez and Liendo Espinoza both reported $1,500 in contributions, while Vera reported only $500. Perez reported $3,850 in contributions; San Miguel and Garza each raised more than $7,000 in campaign funds.

Vera said he expects to have only one fundraiser in August to fund his campaign and would otherwise reach out directly to voters.

Both Vera and Liendo Espinoza received $500 contributions from the law firm of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson or partner Paul Chapa.

The firm, which handles the city’s contract for collection of municipal court fees, gave $500 to Garza as well.

Daniel Markson, senior vice president of NRP Group, also gave $125 to Garza. NRP is working with the city to finance construction of La Terraza at Lomas Del Sur Apartments, a 128-unit affordable housing complex in South Laredo.

Garza received $495 total in contributions this year from NRP employees.

Perez received contributions from a number of local businesses, including $100 from Sherfey Engineering Co.

The engineering firm is providing consulting services for the second phase of the Chacon Creek Hike and Bike Trail.

Several council members spend money through their campaign in support of nonprofits or other charitable donations.

Garza, who spent more than $7,900 in campaign funds, said almost all of it went toward scholarships for United Independent School District graduating students.

He holds a bowling tournament each year that provided $500 to five students each from three South Laredo high schools.

He said 2012 would be an “awkward year” for candidates looking to raise campaign funds.

“It’s difficult to raise money when another election is going on,” he said.

“It’s going to be a short window between the runoff and city elections.”

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"No Mis-appropriations" but plenty of Shenanigans

The Laredo Morning Times headline was misleading to say the least. The front page of Sunday's LMT read "No Misappropriation". It went on to report that, in the final analysis, all the money from the recent fisaco-filled mud race was "there".  However, the headline fails to convey the many detours and contortions the money took before all of it was magically accounted for.

Consider the following excerpt for instance:

Bernie Chapa, of Ciclomania, the pre-registration site, arrived at City Hall on Sept. 19 to submit the remaining balance.

He provided $650 from credit card transactions and $2,300 in wads of cash that he pulled from his pockets.

At that time, the city called LPD.

Chapa initially told the city that only $650 in credit card transactions was pending.

Rosario Camarillo Cabello, the city’s finance director, then told San Miguel that about $2,000 was still missing.

The next day, Chapa turned in the $650 as well as $2,300 in cash.

Chapa told LPD that he did not turn in the additional money the day before because he was told by Clarissa Rangel, the city’s assistant parks and leisure services director, to not give it to San Miguel.
Muddying the truth further was this conflicting report involving Parks and Leisure Director Osbaldo Guzman, San Miguel himself and Maria Perez, who works as a clerk for the city.

Parks and leisure services department employees, meanwhile, believed that the director, Guzman, was “fully aware” that San Miguel took custody of the money, the report states.
Maria Perez, a city clerk who assisted in setting up the event, told city staff that Guzman directed her to give San Miguel the money collected.

But she said she told him that she had just bought the collections box and did not want to give it to the councilman.

She also told staff that she remembered San Miguel saying that he needed to go deposit the collections received.

She added that this was the first time collections had been given to a council member. In the past, it was always deposited through the city, she said.

Guzman dismissed the claims, saying that he did not direct anyone to give the collections to San Miguel.

And he told investigators that he did not know that San Miguel took the money.

“Conflicting statements were obtained from the … personnel as to whether (Guzman) gave orders to turn over monies to (San Miguel),” the LPD report states.

In a van, by the (Mud) river!  If all of this smacks of incompetence, read how the LMT reports the money was handled at the event.

The money was placed in a van that was parked on site.

The money was left unsecured in the van for several hours, the report states.

At the end of the event, San Miguel took the money home.

He told LPD investigators that he didn’t think it was a problem and said he was not aware of a money handling policy.
And for the icing of the cake :

After conducting its investigation, LPD presented the case to District Attorney Isidro Alaniz and Assistant District Attorney Marisela Jacaman.

The report, obtained by Laredo Morning Times on Saturday, states that the district attorney’s office would not prosecute the case due to a lack of evidence.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Precedent for Laredo nepotism case

The city continues to either be or play ignorant in regards to the nepotism charges being levied against it.  LT has recently posted a copy of the lawsuit filed by Laredo Gerry Garcia against the city of Laredo and some of its officials.

Keyrose of La Sanbe even went to the lengths of trying to make some sense of the whole fiasco and spoke to an assistant city attorney.

As VIDA has mentioned before, there is already a precedent for a home-rule city such as Laredo to impose nepotism prohibitions as it pertains to the hiring of firefighters and police officers.

For your consideration, VIDA has previously asserted the following:

The Texas Supreme Court has held that a municipality can further legislate in areas of Civil Service Law which are not already comprehensively covered by the Act. This is necessary because without further restriction to the chapter 143 qualification, cities and municipalities could not disqualify applicants who may have been convicted of numerous misdemeanors, who had unsatisfactory employment records, a history of mental illness, or a background of moral or fiscal irresponsibility which would make them unfit to serve in either the fire or police departments. 

Chapter 143 will not limit a home rule city's, authority to impose additional entrance requirements on police and fire fighter applicants unless the legislative intent to do so is clear. 

 There are a number of cases that have upheld city ordinances in the face of Chapter 143 challenges.  In Collier v. Firemen's and Policemen's Civil Service Commission of Wichita Falls, the court held that the Commission could adopt, and Chapter 143 did not preclude use of, anti- nepotism rule for hiring into the city's fire department.
Furthermore, the Texas Attorney General has ruled that “[t]he governing body of a home-rule city may not, by ordinance, override a provision of the city charter...."

Para los borrachines!

Orale! Donde esta ese #@*#! Oktoberfest ?

LMT finally reports of city nepotism lawsuit

From Friday's Laredo Morning Times

A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Laredo and Councilman Charlie San Miguel, claiming alleged violation of the City Charter’s nepotism clause.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, cites San Miguel’s two sons, Carlos and Roberto San Miguel, and their admittance to the fire academy.

The plaintiff, Gerry Garcia, states that Mayor Raul Salinas, City Manager Carlos Villarreal, City Attorney Raul Casso and Fire Chief Steve Landin were aware of the fire cadets’ close relation to the councilman.

The charter states that no member of the council, city board or commission shall appoint someone within three degrees of direct relation to a city position.

The lawsuit adds that city official’s behavior “is typical of the patron system that has continued to be pervasive of the City of Laredo, political and governing system.”

City Attorney Raul Casso, in a letter last month, wrote that San Miguel’s sons are not subject to the nepotism clause because Laredo firefighters’ collective bargaining agreement with the city does not address nepotism.

The City Charter does not, by name, address the fire and police departments.

The plaintiff is requesting San Miguel’s sons be dismissed from the academy and that San Miguel and the city officials be removed from office for alleged violation of the City Charter.

Garcia’s attorney, Sergio “Keko” Martinez, could not be reached for comment.

On Monday, City Council voted unanimously to formally request a City Council nepotism prohibition from the police and fire civil service commission in its civil service rules.

San Miguel withheld his vote.

See the lawsuit documents at :

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

LISD Class size: Board member Hector Garcia - "I personally don't have a problem with 25 to 1.

Excerpted from today's Laredo Morning Times

More than half of LISD classrooms in grades kindergarten through fourth may exceed class-size limits if the board of trustees approves a district recommendation later this month.

Laredo Independent School District trustees and staff met Tuesday morning in a curriculum and instruction committee meeting in which administration suggested a teacher-student ratio of 25:1 in grades kindergarten through first and 26:1 in second grade through fourth.

That would require the district to apply for a waiver from the Texas Education Agency, which regulates public primary and secondary education.

The state-mandated class-size limit in grades kindergarten through fourth is 22:1.

Last year, 46 percent of the district’s classrooms in those grades exceeded the state cap.

The state has increasingly granted school districts class size waivers in light of $5.4 billion in cuts made to public education in the 2011 Legislature.

Meeting state standards for classroom size would necessitate hiring additional teachers, which the district says would be too costly.

“Oftentimes, when you go to that 23rd student, that triggers an additional (staff member),” said Linda Theret, LISD assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Bringing all classrooms grades kindergarten through four to a 22:1 ratio, it would mean adding seven teachers, said David Garza, LISD human resources executive director.

It would also require administration to transfer students to other campuses so as to achieve a balance in the teacher-student ratio.

LISD hopes to avoid doing that.

With two board members present, including Jesus Martinez and Hector “Tito” Garcia, board opinion was not apparent during the meeting, but Garcia said he is on board with the recommendation.
“I personally don’t have a problem with 25:1,” he said.

However, A. Marcus Nelson, LISD superintendent, said he has heard “different concerns” on class sizes in visits with other board members.

The exemption would apply to 19 of the district’s 20 elementary school, the exception being D.D. Hachar.

The highest student-teacher ratio, in the district’s recommendation, is in kindergarten at Gallego Elementary, with a 27.5:1 ratio.

LaredoTejas editor's note:
Mr. Garcia, of course you don't have a problem with that. You don't have to teach 25 4-5 year olds in one room and you probably don't live in the district so chances are you don't have any kids releated to you at these schools either!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

VIDA's website: The city's selling of our water

The latest article on Vida's website continues to expose the City of Laredo's apparently unabated practice of selling our precious water to fracking and other industrial companies at rates lower than those of our citizens.

Please take some time to read the article for yourself at:

It's official: You can be a reckless public official and nothing will be done

The fellow-council members of embattled city councilman Charlie San Miguel lamented that there was nothing they could to do because, according to them, San Miguel had not done anything that would merit him being removed.
For starters, they could have each publicly called for his resignation-which they did not do.  Sure, they chastised him in public but obviously condone his behavior. Instead of following the lead of VIDA in asking for his resignation, they simply scolded him and did not even give him a slap on the hand.
Let it be known, that on the current city council, it is therefore OK to be reckless and nothing will happen to you as  a result.
The newly-adopted City of Laredo's Code of Ethics ( which at present is but a joke along with the city charter) defines "recklessly" as follows.
Acting with reckless abandon at city council
(bb) Recklessly. A person acts recklessly, or
IS reckless, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.
The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor's standpoint.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

WBCA continues down it's alcohol-fueled road to riches

Laredo's Washington Birthday's Celebration Association is again showing a certain lack of creativity. They are announcing yet another alcohol-fueled addition to its calendar, which already includes several beer-guzzling, wine and tequila-"tasting" event.  WBCA is, after all, the organization that put the "booze" in Jamboozie. The Border BeerFest is now, officially, part of the Washington Birthday's festivities. So the festivities are now startign In Oktober?

No report yet on stories that bail bonds and wrecker service companies are setting up temporary shop in the areas immediately surrounding the many alcohol-sponsored events at the WBCA.

Excerpted from Today's LMT

Things just got a little more festive down on the border.

The Border Beer Fest and first-ever Oktoberfest are now officially the newest festivals added to the 116th Annual Washington’s Birthday Celebration in Laredo, a two-month-long celebration beginning in January with dozens of events including food festivals, pageants, parades, air shows, fireworks, carnivals, comedy shows, concerts and dances, and now a beer festival.

Oktoberfest will add a bit of Texas German heritage to the 116-year-old celebration, with more than 200 different beers to sample from, as well as great food and live music.

As residents' water rates skyrocket, city sells cheap water to frackers

Citizens have been complaining about the absurd practice of the City of Laredo selling water dirt-cheap to fracking companies while continuing to raise the rates of its citizens.  Today, thanks to the Laredo Morning Times' reporter Mikaela Rodriguez, the issue is getting some much-needed exposure.

From Sunday's Laredo Morning Times

Local ethics group Voices in Democratic Action voiced concerns over the illegal sale of potable city water to third party companies for fracking use during a regular meeting Saturday.

Hector Farias, VIDA president, said the issue is of concern because the City Code forbids the resale of water bought from the city.

VIDA members said current drought restrictions unfairly constrain citizens’ water usage, while vacuum companies who have permits to buy city water are allowed up to 122,800 gallons at a monthly rate of about $400.

VIDA claims city officials gave the go-ahead to several companies with large tanks to resell potable water to third parties outside the city for oil and gas uses.

City Manager Carlos VIllarReal said while he is aware of certain companies illegally redistributing water, he never authorized them to resell it.

VillarReal said instances of companies making a profit from city water are being investigated, and said the Utilities Department is in the process of determining whether violations occurred and is issuing citations.

“Definitely, it’s a problem and we’re looking into it,” Councilman Alex Perez said.

“People are trying to make money any way they can.”

Perez said the Utilities Department has collected photos and license plate numbers of vehicles stealing water at hydrants or taking it for resale as part of the city’s investigation into the matter.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Reminder of VIDA meeting this Saturday, September 29th

Posted by Anonymous and serving as a reminder:

       To all citizens interested in knowing more on these and other issues involving malfeasance on the part of our elected officials, please attend this Saturday's (Sept.29th) VIDA meeting at Blanquita's Restaurant located at 3370 Santa Maria starting at 11:00 am. 
      Join us and help us hold these elected officials accountable for their actions or inactions as the case may be.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What's afoot at City Hall??

Are the winds breezes of change blowing wafting over at Laredo's city hall? Well, somethings seems to be going on after the Mud Run debacle last weekend. There's three (3) separate agenda items that, in one way or another, related to the city councilman at the center of the "take the money and run" controversy, Charlie San Miguel.

Below are three items from the Monday, October 1st, 2012 Agenda. Draw your own conclusions:

Item 29. A. Request by Mayor Raul G. Salinas
1. Discussion with possible action regarding the ongoing police investigation on the mishandling of cash generated by the "No Mud No Glory—One Tough Mud’r" event held at North Central Park on Saturday, September 15, 2012. (Co-Sponsored by Mayor Pro Tempore Cynthia Liendo Espinoza, Council Member Mike Garza, & Council Member Johnny Rendon).

Item 29.B.

Request by Council Member Mike Garza

1. Discussion with possible action to instruct the City Manager to formally request the Police/Fire Civil Service Commission to adopt a nepotism prohibition as part of their Civil Service Commission Rules. (Co-Sponsored by Mayor Raul Salinas and Council Member Jorge Vera)

F. Request by Council Member Jorge A. Vera

1. Discussion with possible action to request a legal opinion regarding Laredo City Charter, §2.03 (C)’s prohibition against Interference with Administration as it applies to the "No Mud No Glory" event held at North Central Park on September 15, 2012, and the resulting violations of the City of Laredo’s Cash Handling Policy. (Co-Sponsored by Council Member Juan Narvaez & Council Member Esteban Rangel).


Just say the magic words: "We followed a process"

In regards to the continuing sage of the newly-hired Webb County facilities director, Gilberto Garza, there seems to be some talking points being passed around.

A couple of weeks ago, when Garza had just gotten his new job, The Laredo Morning Times reported that his response to whether or not his uncle (Eduardo Garza of Unitrade) had influenced the decision to hire him was simply that he "had followed a process" and had gotten the job all on his own merits.

Last night on Fox 16 news, it was Danny Valdez's turn to tell the Fox reporter that he (Valdez) had also "followed a process". He indicated that a hiring committee had made the recommendation to hire Garza and the commissioner's court had simply acted on their suggestion. In other words, he resorted to a tried and true Valdez technique: "Se trato de limpiar las manos".

Well, tonight it was Pro8News' turn to report on the fiasco. The clip showed  VIDA's Dr. Hector Farias explaining the discrepancies in Garza's application(s) that indicate that he might have lied on his application. If that is true, then it presents grounds for possible termination.  KGNS's Orlando Garza (he of the bow tie) called Gilberto Garza several times and even went to look for him at his workplace, cameraman in tow, but was unable to find the elusive new facilities director.

Something tells me that if and when they do find him, he'll simply resort to the now-well-rehearsed line that he simply "followed a process".  Whatever that means.

Monday, September 24, 2012

SLippery as Mud

Pro8news had this as their "Top Story" on Monday Night.  Reporter Noraida Negron had quite a challenge on her hands as she tried to keep San Miguel on topic but, as always, he managed to make the conversation about how "overwhelming" of a success the event was.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

One-man convoys being tested in Europe

Something tells me that Laredo will NOT be part of a pilot program to test this "driverless" system for auto-piloted cars travelling in a sort of convoy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Taxpayers subsidizing giant soft drink companies

Yep, it's actually not news, but it's sure a lot of money. Maybe Richard Raymond will re-introduce his bill to not subsidize junk food with SNAP program.

From Fox News

The federal government’s major food-assistance program pays out as much as $2.1 billion annually for the purchases of sugar-sweetened drinks, according to a new study.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps, overall pays out roughly $80 billion annually to roughly 46 million poor and low-income Americans, according to the federal government.

The study conducted by Yale University researchers and published Monday by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine also points out that the findings were made at the same time the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans is recommending Americans cut back on sugary drinks.

The eight-page study also stated the upcoming reauthorization for the Agriculture Department-administered program might be a good time to “reconsider the program priorities” -- specifically trying to better ensure the taxpayer money goes to more nutritional diets.

Read more:

Water usage Compare & Contrast: crack down on individuals, let Fracking companies do as they please

Interesting to see how the city handles different cases of unauthorized water usage

From The Laredo Morning Times

A man allegedly tried to steal about 8,000 gallons of water from a fire hydrant, Laredo police said.

Alejandro Goytortura, 50, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday afternoon at police headquarters to face a criminal mischief charge. He is out on bail.

On Aug. 16, a City of Laredo utilities inspector discovered an illegal hook up to a city-owned fire hydrant in the 400 block of Logan Avenue.

The inspector removed a metal coupling with a 100-feet blue hose and placed it in his pickup.

On Aug. 20, the inspector met Goytortura, who claimed responsibility and ownership of the hose installed on the hydrant, a complaint states.

Court documents allege Goytortura was doing a construction job at Logan.

Goytortura allegedly loaded water four times to water caliche he had thrown to repair a road.

The complaint alleges the water was being used to compact the caliche.

Goytortura further stated he rented a 2,000 gallon truck to transport the water, court documents state.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch - From reader's post to LaredoTejas

I have been studying water usage and the abuses being allowed by the city of Laredo for over a year. Municipal code 31-127 and municode 31-128 absolutely prohibits the resale of our water (potable) FOR ANY REASON.
 I presented these facts to the Laredo City Council with pictures and facts and figures and never received a reply from any council member. I contacted Councilman Perez and set up appointments to discuss and share these facts with him. HE HAS BEEN A NO SHOW AFTER AGREEING TO MEET ON 2 OCCASSIONS AND REFUSES TO RETURN MY CALLS.
While we the citizens continue to pay outrages and ever escalating rates the city wants us to continue subsidizing the oil and gas industry. This has been presented to VIDA and I am currently working with other organizations to put a stop to this illegal practice. The rates currently paid by these companies is .0035 cents per gallon based on the contract they have signed with city. Their total cost for unlimited water usage is $430.00 per month, any time, any day, as much as they want.
The city of Laredo is in deep doo-doo if they think they can continue to give away our water. Guess what fees did not increase? Commercial water usage. You will soon realize how deep and how far this corrupt action by our own city leaders goes. By the way according to Councilman Perez this was approved by City Manager Carlos Villarreal.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Uh, one more thing! Let's give the Toros $36,000 while raising fees

At monday's seedy council meeting, the city manager advised council that there would be a couple of changes to the city's already overblown budget including $36,000 to the basketball Toros for their inaugural season at the Laredo Energy Arena.

This, while raising a galaxy of fees for just about every service under the sun (and moon).  Now, perhaps you can feel better that your ever-increasing bills for water/sewer, trash pickup etc., are going for a good cause- another round of subsidizing transient sports teams.  Cha-Ching!

VIDA launches website

From Vida's (Voices in Democratic Action) website: The public is invited.

We hope to see you at our next V.I.D.A. meeting.

The next VIDA meeting is scheduled for:

When? Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.

Where? Blanquita’s Restaurant (3719 Santa Maria Avenue Laredo, TX). The restaurant is located right in front of A&S Electric Service.

Who can attend? The meeting is open to the public – anyone can attend. Everyone is welcome.

What should I bring? Bring your enthusiasm for an ethical and transparent government, and a pen and notebook if you’re the note-taking type. Although it is not required, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring a few bucks to buy a coffee or breakfast since meetings are generally held at a local restaurant.

Check out VIDA's website at:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Winter Texans prefer Rio Grande Valley : Laredo not included

Every fall, a long line of RVs parade through the state of Texas as folks from the north make their way to warmer weather for the winter. The transient group is called Winter Texans or more causally, Snowbirds. Not only do they come in search of more temperate winter weather, but they require good healthcare, high quality RV parks, and plenty of senior activities. Texas embraces this positive population because they are often the balance in an economy that would otherwise be reliant on summer vacations.

If you're thinking of joining this Southward bound group of RVers, here are 5 of the best destinations in Texas.

1. The Rio Grande Valley

This is probably the gold standard in Winter Texan destinations for a variety of reasons. The weather is temperate in the winter, so balmy breezes and ocean air make this a real winter vacation. Healthcare is abundant in the Valley. There are major medical centers in McAllen, Brownsville, and Harlingen. One of the most attractive medical features is Mexico. Many retired Winter Texans need to conserve their money, and they find that pharmaceuticals are less expensive across the border. A word of warning on that. The drug violence in Mexico may be something to consider for safety reasons. The Valley is rife with RV parks. Take your choice. Whether you want that Gulf Breeze, a heated pool, a walking trail or a variety of other senior activities, just about all the resorts are vying for that Winter Texas dollar. Bird watchers will be in paradise in this warm climate. The Brownsville International Birding Festival is definitely a highlight for the nature lover.

2. Rockport
3. Kerrville
4. Canyon Lake
5. East Texas

What? no Laredo? (again)

It looks like the gateway city was left high and dry again. This time by being left out (or did they opt out?) of a Texas-Mexico real estate partnership. Yes, McAllen is listed, as is San Antonio but not good ol' laredo, Texas. 

Excerpted from SA BizJournal

Realtor associations from Texas and Mexico have formed a cross-border partnership aimed at creating new business opportunities between the two regions.

The Texas Association of Realtors signed the agreement with La AsociaciĆ³n Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios (AMPI), Mexico’s real estate association, at the recent Texas Realtors Conference in San Antonio. The agreement encompasses real estate groups in Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Antonio and San Marcos.

Laredo Beer runs make UPI :referred to as "liquor store"

Laredo once again has made dubious news. This time, the United Press International is reporting a story that first appeared locally when an attempted robbery at Papi Chulo's beer run was thwarted by an "employee' and her 7 inch heels.  Notice how they changed "beer run" to "Liquor store'. I'm guessing most of the rest of the country (or world) have no idea what a Laredo beer run is.

From UPI's Odd News

LAREDO, Texas, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Police in Texas said employees at a liquor store used a 7-inch stiletto heel and other handy objects to fight back against an armed robbery,
Laredo police said the suspect, identified as Fernando Gallegos, 20, pistol-whipped a worker at the Papi Chulos liquor store about 1 a.m. Sunday and demanded money, the San Antonio Express-News reported Tuesday.
Police spokesman Joe Baeza said the employee fought back when Gallegos attempted to force the register open and the gun went off during the struggle, striking the suspect in his inner right thigh. Other employees then joined the fight.
"One of the female employees was successful in [taking] the handgun from the grip of the suspect," Baeza said. "[Employees] used personal weapons, including a 7-inch stiletto heel, to pummel the suspect until they were able to subdue him and take away the weapon."

Read more:

Does this mean class sizes will go down?

From The San Antonio Buisness Journal

Oil and gas production in the Eagle Ford Shale is driving better than expected revenue collections for the state of Texas that could lead to the biggest budget surplus in the state’s history.

If the surplus does pan out, it would come just two years after the state faced a historic deficit.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs is reporting that Texas tax collections for the 2012 budget year that ended Aug. 31 were $3.7 billion higher than previously estimated. The production taxes for oil and natural gas came in about $1 billion higher than expected.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dispelling the myth: water rates higher in Laredo. McAllen is drinking our Lunch!

Someone over at La Sanbe suggested that some fact checking was in order amid the city's all-encompassing fee increases. Not that Laredo bloggers don't already do that but let's be a bit specific.

Water rates

The following are the residential costs of water/sewer rates for the towns of Laredo, Texas and McAllen, Texas- they of our lunch eating fame.

Laredo, Texas  water/sewer cost for 10,000 gallons
Water - usage charge per 1,000 gallons*

up to 2,000 gallons                                 = 8.20
2,000-4,000 gallons *  (2 x 1.60 )          = 3.20
4,001-10,000 galloons*(6x 1.71) =         10.26     
              total water                                                    21.66

up to 2,000 gallons                                =8.50
2,001-4,000 gallons (2x 2.77)               =5.54
4,001-10,000gallons (6x2.82)              =16.96
            total sewer                                                     31.00 

Laredo total water & sewer 10,000 gallons                    =    52.66

McAllen, Texas water/sewer cost for 10,000 gallons
Water  base fee                                    =4.00
0-10,000 gallons  (10 x 1.30)             =13.00
                total water                                            =17.00

Sewer base fee                                   =9.00
0-10,000 gallons (10 x1.30)             =13.00
             total sewer                                              =22.00

McAllen total water & sewer 10,000 gallons                       = 39.00

Laredo water/sewer rates a whopping 30 % higher than McAllen's  & still rising

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Algo es algo

From today's LMT

As Laredoans no doubt continue to feel the pain at the gas pump, a Texas grocery chain is offering its customers some relief.

Beginning today, customers who purchase an H-E-B Gift Card and use the card when filling up will save 12 cents a gallon at any one of H-E-B’s participating fuel stations in San Antonio, Central Texas, Gulf Coast, Border and Rio Grande Valley.

H-E-B Gift Cards can be purchased at any H-E-B store.

Cards are reloadable and have no activation fees.

The promotion runs through December 31.

“H-E-B understands that delivering greater savings for Texans is top priority and gas prices have a large impact on family budgets,” said Linda Tovar, Public Affairs Director.

“At H-E-B, we always look for opportunities to help our customers save on the necessities they use most.”

During each gas transaction, the fuel savings will be immediately reflected at the pump, with no other restrictions or requirements.

Customers simply have to purchase an H-E-B gift card at any H-E-B store and swipe it before pumping gas.

H-E-B Gift Cards must be used to obtain savings at the pump.

A list of H-E-B stores with participating fuel stations can be found at

Friday, August 31, 2012

VIDA meeting Today, Saturday 9/1 11:00

The next VIDA meeting is scheduled for:

When? Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 11:00 am.

Where? Blanquita’s Restaurant (3719 Santa Maria Avenue Laredo, TX). The restaurant is located right in front of A&S Electric Service.

Who can attend? The meeting is open to the public – anyone can attend. Everyone is welcomed.

What should I bring? Bring your enthusiasm for an ethical and transparent government, and  a pen and notebook if you’re the note-taking type. Although it is not required, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring a few bucks to buy a coffee or breakfast since meetings are generally held at a local restaurant.

Thank you. We hope to see you there.

Garros Inspections: 100 down, 4,900 to go

By their own admission, Garros is expecting to process about 5,000 truckloads at the World Trade Bridge in their first year of managing the operations. Also by their own estimate, they fully expect to be processing about 10,000 truckloads a year by the third year of their 10-year contract.

So far, according to today's LMT, they have processed about 100 truckloads since July. They still have 4,900 more to go to fullfill their predictions. The city was warned that local brokers might, in essance, boycot the facilities if another broker was handed to contract. It would be interesting to find out how many truckloads of perishables passing through Laredo have NOT used the facilites.

Excerpted from today's LMT

The warehouses — one at Colombia Solidarity Bridge and one at World Trade Bridge — began operating in early July and are expected to draw more traffic from shippers importing perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Only a fraction of the trucks that passed through those bridges in July and August also used the inspection facilities — about 100 so far — while upwards of 6,000 trucks cross northbound each day.

But Raquel San Miguel, a partner with Garros Services, said the group expects traffic to start slow and pick up over time.

“We always projected that it would be slow the first year,” she said in an interview.

“But the mere fact that we had this available to the trade community and the City of Laredo — we always kept that as the priority.”

The facilities were completed last year at a cost of $1.9 million, using funding from 2005 city bonds.

Laredo City Council chose a proposal from Garros to manage the warehouses in November, but the 10 year-contract was not approved until April of this year.

In addition to San Miguel, the group’s partners include fellow customs brokers Eduardo Garza Robles and Salvador Rosas Quintanilla.

Mayor Raul Salinas told attendees of Thursday’s ceremony that opening the warehouses was a step toward solidifying the city’s leadership in international trade.