Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fed Chm Bernanke: Sequester cuts will make it harder to reduce deficit

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had something to say about sequestration during his testimony before the House Banking Committee on Tuesday. He thinks the looming spending cuts could actually make it harder, not easier, to reduce the deficit. Why? They’ll hurt growth:

The CBO estimates that deficit-reduction policies in current law will slow the pace of real GDP growth by about 1-1/2 percentage points this year, relative to what it would have been otherwise.

A significant portion of this effect is related to the automatic spending sequestration that is scheduled to begin on March 1, which, according to the CBO’s estimates, will contribute about 0.6 percentage point to the fiscal drag on economic growth this year. Given the still-moderate underlying pace of economic growth, this additional near-term burden on the recovery is significant.

Moreover, besides having adverse effects on jobs and incomes, a slower recovery would lead to less actual deficit reduction in the short run for any given set of fiscal actions.
The logic here is simple enough. The sequestration cuts will drag down economic growth this year, which will mean that fewer Americans will have jobs and less tax revenue will pour in. Nothing cures deficits like stronger economic growth. And right now, Congress’s policies are standing in the way of stronger growth.

XL :Big Oil vs Property Rights. What's a conservative to do?

The current debate over the building of the controversial Keystone KL pipeline has pitted conservatives against themselves as Big Oil takes advantage of eminent domain applications to acquire Texan's property. There is still one holdout and it will be interesting to see how Texas' conservative courts will present their attempt to trash the property rights of fellow Texans.

From The Texas Tribune

The 485-mile Oklahoma-to-Texas leg of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is about half done, a TransCanada official told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday.

Despite these advances, TransCanada is still waiting on federal approval before building a segment of the pipeline farther north. TransCanada hopes to eventually pipe oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to Texas. But because that pipeline would cross a border, it requires presidential approval. President Obama rejected the company's bid for a permit in early 2012, but TransCanada has reapplied.

Along the Oklahoma-Texas stretch, TransCanada dealt with 1,200 landowners and needed to exercise powers of eminent domain to obtain an easement in 53 instances, TransCanada officials said.
The company has obtained all but one of parcel of land, in Jefferson County, where a group called Texas Rice Land Partners has objected.

A judge ruled for the company, but the rice group appealed. According to the South Texas Legal Record, oral arguments in that case are scheduled for March 7.
Activists say that regardless of the final fate of the Keystone pipeline, they will be around to protest further pipelines bringing tar sands for refining.
“A long as tar sands [oil] is being extracted and refined, we’re going to be there,” Cagle said.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mazatlan to Matamoros Highway: Munch Munch, eat our lunch?

From the Brownsville Herald

Commercial trucks crossing Veterans International Bridge at Los Tomates will now have their own travel lanes into the United States from Mexico.

The commercial traffic lanes at the bridge will open today after nearly two years of construction.The $6 million project funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Coordinated Border Infrastructure Fund is complete on the U.S. side, Cameron County Judge Carlos H. Cascos said.
Officials said the project on the Mexican side is 60 percent complete and the entire expansion is scheduled to open this summer.

“This will allow for an increase in legitimate trade and travel through the port of entry,” Cascos said.
“With the completion of the Mazatlan-to-Matamoros highway in the next year, this will be a viable option for the produce industry,” he said.

Cameron County formed a partnership with The Texas Department of Transportation and the FHWA to fund and construct the project.

Y pa'cabarla de fregar ! Brownsville-Matamoros to be linked  to Inter-Oceanic Hwy

Mexican Federal Highway 40, also called the "Carretera Interoceánica" (Interoceanic Highway) is a road beginning at Reynosa, Tamaulipas, just west of the Port of Brownsville, Texas, and ending at Mexican Federal Highway 15 in Villa Unión, Sinaloa near Mazatlán and the Pacific coast. It is called Interoceanic as, once finished, the cities of Matamoros, Tamaulipas on the Gulf of Mexico and Mazatlán, Sinaloa at the Pacific Ocean, will be linked. (From Wikipedia)

And also from the McAllen Monitor

For the past few years, Steve Perez of Cargo USA Logistics has been telling anyone who’ll listen about the potential opportunities related to the corridor project. He said that it’s up to local entrepreneurs to supply what’s missing: logistics and other services that are necessary — in addition to infrastructure — to attract more commercial traffic at Matamoros and Brownsville.
Perez said U.S. importers need to be made aware that Brownsville-Matamoros exists. Commercial traffic at the county’s trade bridges could conceivably grow by 50 percent, he added.“That would put us in the black,” Perez said. “It will make Cameron County very happy. That’s why we keep pushing traffic. The more traffic there is, the more trade we get and the more jobs it creates.”

Monday, February 11, 2013

Incident of possible corruption rings a campana

Keyrose today wrote about some eerie similarities in regards to ongoing scrutiny of US Senator Robert Melendez and some local stories of possible shenanigans.

 As La Sanbe's editor in chief implied, in a way you could fill in your own blanks.

Exerpted from The New York Times (blanks added for your use)

_________ has broadly rejected any suggestion that his official actions have been driven by an effort to favor __________ a wealthy ____________ who has repeatedly flown the   ______ on his private plane and has donated thousands of dollars to support __________________as well as Mr. ________’s re-election campaign.
“Nobody has bought me, No. 1. Nobody. Never,” ___________ said in an interview late last week with Univision, the Spanish-language news station. “In the ___ years that I have been in ______, never has it been suggested that this could even be possible.”
The relationship between __________ and the ________ has drawn scrutiny in recent weeks as Mr. __________ has taken over the _____________ Committee.
Uncanny similarities? You decide.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Butterring up elected officials: Getting around the $500 gift limit

Upon reading this article from The Texas Tribune, one might wonder if these type of shenanigans happen in our beloved Gateway City. No, not in Laredo?  In particular, the article outlines how lobbyists manage to work around the $500 gift limit and still shower  politicos with all sorts of goodies in an effort to influence their votes.

With gifts such as these always flowing in, those who wish to influence how an elected official will vote on their project$ don't have to ask, the gifts have already done the talking. This way politicos can attest that "at no time did he/she/the ask me for my vote on their contract". Oh no? What do you think he/she/they were saying with those gifts? You think it's just they happen to like you?


From The Texas Tribune

They butter up legislative buddies with sports tickets, golf gear and hunting trips. They treat committee staffers and friendly chiefs of staff to spa treatments, cigars and bottles of liquor. They hit up the wedding and baby shower registries of lawmakers and their relatives.
And they never, ever pass up an occasion to deliver flowers.

“There’s a basic psychological principle, that if you associate somebody with pleasure, whether it be a gift or a fancy trip, that you will go out of your way to try and please them, to return the favor,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas director for Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group.

Under the state’s ethics code, lobbyists are allowed to give gifts to lawmakers, state employees or their immediate family, as long as the value does not exceed $500 per calendar year. A provision added in 2007 permits a lobbyist to give a gift worth more than $500 if he or she shares the cost with another registered lobbyist, a relatively common practice.

That meant that in 2009, Robert Saunders, a lobbyist for Texas Disposal Systems, could team up with some of his colleagues in the lobby to buy four members of the Texas House .22 caliber semiautomatic rifles from a company that boasts on its website: “Don’t leave civilization without one.”

That same year, Saunders also purchased Nikon binoculars for all members of the Texas Senate ahead of a safari-themed party thrown at the company’s exotic game ranch and entertainment pavilion near Creedmoor.

“Again, we collected funds from a number of lobbyists, and we had an amount in addition to what we needed to pay for food and entertainment, so I said, ‘Let’s give them gifts,” he said.

"Come back again" Mocatelas!

Unfortunately, this is not as surprising as it once was. This is from Miami, Florida I believe. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ahua! Possible good news for Texas Borrachines

Texans have 66 hours during the week to buy bottled liquor under current law, but two bills filed this session could allow 10 more hours of shopping time by letting liquor stores stay open on Sundays.
State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, who have both received campaign donations from alcohol lobbying groups, have filed companion bills, Senate Bill 236 and House Bill 421, that would abolish the state's “blue laws” limiting alcohol sales on Sundays. The bills would also extend liquor sales by an hour both in the morning and the evening on Monday through Thursday, allowing sales from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Outsiders to swoop in and destroy Casa Blanca Wetlands with Laredo city council's blessings

Soon Coming to a Wetland near you!

According to, Laredo Town Center LP is a Dallas-based company and has plans to buy off 88.9 acres of land that include the Casa Blanca Wetlands, one of the few lush, natural oasis to be found for miles and miles. At Monday's Laredo City council meeting, the outsiders will be one step closer to buying and eventually destroying a beautiful part of Laredo, and all with the blessing of the Laredo City council.

Although many Laredoans showed up to speak against this sale at the January 22nd city council meeting, and although hundreds mores have raised their voices against the council's selling out, all indications are that the sale is practically "a done deal".  This is despite the fact that not one single laredoan has come out in support of allowing Laredo Town Center to buy and bulldoze our wetlands.  Not surprisingly, anti-environmentalists such as Mayor Salinas and recently-elected city councilman Roque Vela are about the only ones who have come out publicly in support of the ill-conceived plan to eradicate this lush part of Lake Casablanca.