Friday, September 20, 2013

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

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

Laredo Morning Times reported it as such online:

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

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

Representatives from AeroMexico could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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

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

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

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

Anti-LDF trend continues at city council

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

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

Thursday, September 12, 2013

San Benito gets in line to eat our lunch

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

From The Harlingen Valley Star

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

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

Read the entire article at:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I guess we're getting another baseball complex we can't afford: Pretty Much

Just a couple of hours ago, I was surprised to learn (from Pro8news) no less that the city has decided to spend "a portion" of the proceeds of the civic center sale to buy yet another un-needed baseball park/complex. Someone, somewhere is going to get some big bucks. Councilman Esteban "Pretty Much" Rangel proudly spoke about the city's intentions with KGNS and astoundingly commented that he's not really worried about the cost of maintaining and operating another sports facility because, according to him, just one tournament will bring in about $800,000 dollars?  I am not making it up. I'm guessing Pro8News will probably post the report later on.

Anyway, not as if it matters, but Texas law regarding proceeds from sale of public property says:

(d)  The proceeds of the sale may be used only to acquire and improve property for the purposes for which the sold property was used.

Ok, so both the sold property and the property to be bought must be for the same purpose. Let's see, Was the city center used to play baseball?  MMM Pretty Much....No.
Will the new property include a ballroom and an auditorium?  MMM again, Pretty Much, No.

It looks like our slick city council is doing whatever they wish again with public funds.  Also, true to form, Pro8News does not specify what "portion" of the proceeds will go towards the new, un-needed sports complex. Is it 1 dollar or is it 5 Million dollars?   Hard to tell.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Texas schools to experience increase use of "la m'am" and "el sir"

Today, the Texas Tribune came out with the latest figures on the changing demographics in the state's public schools.  This definitely increases the chances that the phrases "la m'am" and "el sir" will continue to be heard more and more throughout Texas schools.  N'ambre!

From The Texas Tribune

An analysis from Steve Murdock, director of Rice University’s Hobby Center for the Study of Texas, shows that of the roughly 979,000 children added to the state’s under-18 population from 2000 to 2010, about 931,000 were Hispanic. By 2050, Murdock’s projection shows, the number of Texas public school students is expected to swell to 9 million from roughly 5 million now, and nearly two-thirds will be Hispanic. The overall percentage of Anglo students will drop by half to about 15 percent.

The changes present both challenges and opportunities to Texas public schools. According to state data, Hispanic students have been statistically less likely to leave high school with a diploma than their Anglo peers. Of the Hispanic students who do graduate, few are prepared for college. In 2011, 42 percent met college-readiness benchmarks in both English and math, compared with 65 percent of Anglo students. Among economically disadvantaged students and those with limited English proficiency, the gap continues to widen. Thirty-eight percent of students who came from low-income households did well enough on their Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or college entrance exams to qualify as “college ready.” Only 5 percent of those with limited English language skills did so.

Read the entire article at :

Monday, September 9, 2013

Will LMT and/or Pro8News investigate possible nepotism at county?

If what Pct. 1 Constanble Rudy Rodriguez said holds any water, our local media may have a little project on their hands- if they see fit or course.  Rodriguez said Monday on Pro8News that the Webb county commissioners' court, which includes Wawi Tijerina, hired Wawi's husband for some new county job that reportedly pays $60,000 a year.  What if commissioner Tijerina abstained from voting, does that make a difference?

Here's what Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot has to say about the issue in the state publication entitled 2012 Texas Nepotism Laws made easy.

What types of local government officials rubject to the nepotism laws?
The nepotism statutes apply to any public official who is the final hiring authority or is a member of the governing body that has the final hiring authority.
It goes on to clarify:
A governing body or public employee would still be considered the final authority if either may exercise control over a hiring decision - even though such authority may have been delegated to another official or another entity.   
Even more clear, the AG's publication addresses the question of abstention:
May other members of a governing body vote to hire a person who is a close relative of a public official if that public official abstains from voting?
The short answer : No.
It would be interesting to get LMT's/ Pro 8 news take on this. Anybody think they'll cover this?
Here's a link to the AG's report:



"Rip Van Winkle" aka Danny Valdez asleep at the switch, now retirees pay bigtime

Danny Valdez and his cohorts over at the shameful Webb county commissioners' court have recently cited that the reason they are suddenly raising health premiums for retirees 1000 percent is because "
we haven't raised them for 10 years".  Well, the question is "why not". Who was minding the store all of these years. Of course, the answer is that, for most of that time, it's been Judge Valdez.

I understand that the effected employees are the ones who have retired but are not yet old enough to qualify for medicare. Commissioner Jaime Canales, who is being challenged by Jose Valdez Jr. and perhaps others, has mentioned a couple of times that "they" are trying to see if there is something else they can do.

pre-fight warmup: Sheriff Cuellar strips away some of Rodriguez's domain

Lending more credence to the belief that Webb County Precinct 1 Constable Rudy Rodriguez will challenge incumbent Martin Cuellar for the Sheriff's position this coming year, there were shenaigans abound at today's Webb County Commissioner's meeting.  This is how it appeared on the agenda.
Discussion and possible action to transfer the oversight, supervision, financial and operational responsibilities of the Mental Health Unit from Constable Precinct No. 1 to the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, including all corresponding Slots, personnel and equipment assigned to this division, effective October 1, 2013.

Constable Rodriguez's opionon is that this move is some sort of retaliation. He told Pro8News that the commissioners had approved yet another new position at the county. It was some sort of traffic director and was given to the husband of commissioner Tijerina. However, Rodriguez did not go into detail as to how exactly it was retaliation. Perhaps behind the scenes during this formulative stage of the next election cycle alliances are being formed and shenanigans are sure to abound. 

Rodriguez appeared on the 5pm telecast of Pro8news and alluded to some political reasons with this proposed (now approved) move.  According to the Valerie Bragg, the commissioners voted aye after debating about an hour. Dicho y Hecho

Thursday, September 5, 2013

$250,000 burning a hole in city's pockets. Let's get some parking meters!

It's ironic that the city has never given much support to promoting businesses downtown. Now, all of a sudden, they are jumping at the chance to install some new, state-of-the-art parking meters that will take credit and debit cards. No word if they will also accept the Lone Star card.

Forget about the city's budget problems, all of a sudden they found $250,000 to splurge in the parking meter fund. Maybe they figure that if you install the meters, they will come.

Here's what the agenda background info back in June of this year looked like.

From the City of Laredo's agenda for June 17th, 2013

The pilot project will entail the installation of 50 new state-of-the-art single parking meters and 25 vehicle detection sensors to reset meters at locations selected by the Parking Meter Division. The pilot project will be in place for a period ofthree (3) months and is scheduled to start approximately in August 2013 and end October 2013.
 The City will bare no cost during the implementation of the three (3) month pilot project. The new parking meters include GPRS Wireless communication, solar and battery power; live monitoring for maintenance, audit and enforcement purposes.

Parking meter payment options will be coins and credit cards with future capabilities for pay by cell, tokens, and smart cards. The pilot project will evaluate the revenue of collections comparing current meters with new parking meter options.

The Parking Meter Fund currently has funding to upgrade approximately 300 parking meters including AutoTRAX license and merchant fees should the City decide to proceed with awarding contract to IPS Group after the pilot project.
FINANCIAL: $250,000 is available in the Parking Meter Fund.

RECOMMENDATION: STAFF:Staff recommends to proceed with the single parking meter pilot project.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Henry gets stuck due to train, city council tripping over itself to respond.

US congressman from Laredo, Henry Cuellar -D (28), apparently got blocked by the KCS train this afternoon  for about 45 minutes.  He placed a call to city officials (City Manager) and wants something done about this- yesterday. According to Planning and Zoning director Nathan Bratton, a meeting with KCS "corporate" is shaping up in the next couple of weeks.

Of course, something needs to be done to avoid blocking city crossings for any lengthy amount(s) of time. If it takes Henry himself being blocked by the train for something to (maybe) be done- so be it. The mayor and others are correct in saying that these crossings should not be blocked long, especially when an emergency arises.

From past discussions, it doesn't seem that local governments can do much about such things. It appears that it's the Feds that usually make these types of calls when it comes to the nation's trains.

Ever opportunistic, Cm. Alex Perez, quickly added that this issue should be something to discuss when "we go to Washington". There goes another $100,000 dollars again. And that's only for the trip to the nation's capital.

Texas Tribune keeps on trackin'

The Texas Tribune has just updated it's database of government employees' salaries. This includes your very own local, City of Laredo.  According to the Tribune's latest figures. There are 36  city of Laredo public employees (paid with your taxes and mine) making over $100,000 a year. Many of these are well over the $100K mark.  Even figuring 36 x $100K, that equals $3.6 Million dollars a year.  With the city looking to balance it's budget, a mere 5 per cent cut in salary for these 36 public employees would save the city approximately $200,000 dollars. 

Instead the city will raise the garage sale permit fee 200 per cent from $5 bucks to $15 bucks for each garage sale.  Take that you taxpayers.  How dare you try to make a few extra bucks without us taking our cut right off the top.

Where's mayor's next job?

I've heard that mayor Salinas is fixin' to announce that he will be running for county treasurer to replace the retiring? Delia Perales.  He has been reluctant to announce it simply because it's too early.  The mayor should really consider running for US congress given his vast powers of filibustering. He could team up with Rand Paul or something.

Many stickers around town already displaying 2014 candidates. Most of them do not include the particular position any candidate is running for. This is probably due to the fact that it's wayyyy to early in the campaign calendar.

Actual "quote" :  
During tonight's city council meeting, the mayor actually said something the effect of :
"The USA consumes about 80 per cent of the drugs used in this country" ???  OK, mayor, I think we know what you meant to say.