bloggin' all things brownsville

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brownsville Herald Editor Named

Sources close to this blog have confirmed that Marcia Caltabiano-Ponce, managing editor for The Monitor, has been named editor for The Brownsville Herald.

Former Herald Editor Rachel Benavidez left the paper several weeks ago and is now editor for San Antonio Magazine.

The announcement, along with expected structural changes within Valley Freedom Papers, will likely be made in Sunday's editions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friday, August 01, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

off topic: cafebrownsville has posted video of the first charter review committee meeting.

patricia a.

Friday, August 01, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saturday, August 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised they didn't highlight Eddie Lucio and his lavish lifestyle thanks to campaign funds.

Sunday, August 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you talking about this article?

Mix of campaign and family business draws criticism
By JAY ROOT Associated Press
Aug. 3, 2008, 10:59AM

AUSTIN — It's been almost a year since the Legislature made it illegal for lawmakers to use political funds to rent property from themselves or their spouses, but some legislators have managed to still keep campaign business in the family.

Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, has campaign space in an office building his wife owns, and records show he makes payments to her company for computer usage and paper.

Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, meanwhile, has reimbursed from campaign funds nearly $600,000 to two of his companies in recent years. He doesn't pay rent anymore but still advertises the address and a phone number at his Dallas management company, Associa, as his campaign contact information, records indicate.

Neither Shapleigh nor Carona reported a donation of office space on their recent campaign reports.

"If the space has value, which it clearly does, and it's donated to the officeholder or the campaign, it needs to be reported," said Fred Lewis, an Austin-based political activist who favors stricter campaign finance laws. "That's as clear as can be."

Controversy over mixing campaign spending with personal business prompted the Legislature to clamp down on perceived abuses in 2007. Though elected officials were prohibited years ago from using campaign money to buy real estate, many made payments to their spouses for the use of homes and offices. Critics said the loophole allowed politicians to acquire second homes in Austin and benefit from fat campaign accounts.

The Legislature closed the loophole last year and made it illegal for elected officials to rent property from companies they own or control.

Sens. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth and Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, quit paying campaign rent for luxury condos listed in their spouses' names, records show. Both had made more than $150,000 each in rent payments and related expenses to their spouses since 2000, records indicate.

Nelson's husband and Brimer's wife have since sold the condos, located in the tony Westgate building next to the state capitol. Spokesmen for both senators declined to give additional information.

Elsewhere, Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, adapted to the new law by moving his campaign office out of his Townview Professional Building. Until early last year, while the new law still was being debated, West had rented space from his own company, Skyview Development Corp..

As for Shapleigh, the El Paso Democrat said he saw nothing wrong with continuing to make payments to his wife's company for Internet service, computers and paper. Records show he has paid the company, 701 N. St. Vrain Joint Venture, $2,423 for those purposes since the law changed last year.

"I'm over there and I'm responding to something that has to do with Senate activities," Shapleigh said. "I think we've followed the law."

Carona, chairman of the powerful Senate Transportation committee, since 2000 has reimbursed two of his companies $582,000 for various services, including rent and corporate jet travel. Carona no longer charges his campaign for rent. However, the Dallas Republican's political headquarters, as listed on his campaign Web site, has the same address and phone number as Associa, his successful Dallas-based property management company.

Neither Carona nor Shapleigh reported the office space as an in-kind, or non-cash, contribution on their campaign reports.

"I don't do campaign work out of my business office," Carona said.

Natalia Ashley, general counsel for the Texas Ethics Commission, said if candidates for elective office, their spouses or their business entities give their campaigns "something of value" — whether it's money or not — the gift must be reported.

It is not uncommon for elected officials to put family members on the campaign payroll.

House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, pays his daughter, Christi, thousands of dollars a month for consulting work, records show. But while the law allows payments to adult offspring and siblings, payments to dependent children and spouses living in the same household are heavily restricted.

Complaints were filed last year against two House members who paid their wives for accounting work. One of them, Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, acknowledged he had erred and has since begun paying the money back — more than $50,000 — out of personal funds.

"I found out it wasn't permissible," Eissler said. "When I found out it wasn't, I stopped."

But Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, continued to make payments in 2007 to his wife's company, Lubbock Bookkeeping Services, after the complaint was filed. Isett told the Austin American-Statesman in late May he saw nothing wrong with paying her company a total of $39,158 last year.

However, when contacted by the Associated Press last week, Isett's consultant, Todd Smith, said the Lubbock Republican had decided to stop.

"Carl just thought it was better to end the practice altogether so there wouldn't be any questions," Smith said.

Ethics watchdogs say laws prohibiting or restricting the mingling of campaign and family business are in place for a good reason: to ensure that politicians don't divert money they get from donors and special interest groups into their family bank accounts.

"Texas law is designed to prevent campaign contributions from being used to enrich the officeholders or their spouses," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen of Texas. "There are firewalls and clear standards that have been set."

Sunday, August 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a petition to collect signatures against the Toll Highway.....

- Union Pacific Rail Road will leave a one hundred foot wiede path from Olmito to the B&M Bridge, the Cameron County REgional Mobility Authority (CCRMA) is proposing to build a new tolled roadway between the B&M Bridge and US 77/83 in Olmito.
Pls keep informed..............

Sunday, August 03, 2008  
Blogger Kurgan said...

This is not surprising.

I can tell you that Shapleigh has tirelessly worked for the entire Texas border years before and during his terms.

Sunday, August 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's up with the County not paying employees for time worked during and after Hurricane Dolly? Isn't that going to be reimbursed by FEMA anyway? Even worst, employees are being sent home that have already worked their 40 hours so they won't get paid overtime. Can someone look into this?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tuesday, August 05, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Brownsville Herald's editor Rachel Benavidez has decided to move on to new and better things. It's not like we lost a great editor. The Brownsville Herald was horrible during her editorial career. I lost count on the numerous grammatical errors that were constantly appearing in the newspaper articles. Also the stories were really boring. Instead of headlining stories on the town's criminal activities, the editor decided to place women cooking tamales as a headline. What is that! Apparently she is now on a mission to ruin the San Antonio Magazine as well.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who would've thought it?

Lawmakers using online service Twitter to keep political junkies in the loop during protest

By KAREN BROOKS / The Dallas Morning News

The cameras are gone and the lights are out in the U.S. House chamber, but thousands of people are still getting a play-by-play of the Republican uprising against Democratic leaders this week.

How? A little bird is telling them.

A technology called Twitter is allowing political junkies to follow every development in the GOP protesters' decision to stick around after Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi adjourned the House for a five-week break instead of voting on offshore drilling.

Online "tweets" blasted out every few minutes by Rep. John Culberson of Houston, House Minority Leader John Boehner and other prominent Republicans offer updates about blog posts, radio appearances, quotes and real-time descriptions of the action.

"I just took a big group of Americans into the gallery to see this historic day on the House floor," a Culberson tweet said Friday.

Twitter, best described as a cross between text-messaging and blogging, is a site that allows users to update their "followers" with short blasts that can be viewed online or sent directly to desktops, cellphones, and BlackBerrys.

Think of it as a personal ticker. Each tweet is confined to 140 characters, which keeps the pontification to a minimum.

"By using this new technology, I am able to shine sunlight into the deepest corners of Congress," said Mr. Culberson, who had the idea to use Twitter to "cover" the protest after C-Span cameras were shut down and the reporters were shuffled out of the chamber. "I'm convinced that new media will revolutionize the way elected officials represent their constituents."

Dallas blogger Katie Howard said that without the efforts of Mr. Culberson and other readers who are following the protest on Twitter, she'd be in the dark about what is happening in Washington.

"What he has been trying to do to increase the transparency of Congress through new media is wonderful," she said in an e-mail interview. "I commend him for his efforts to involve the people."

Mr. Culberson is pushing the leadership to authorize Twitter and other tools, such as cellphone video, in the House's rules, which are currently ambiguous on the subject. But he's getting blowback from leaders who want to limit their use to only approved communications, he said.

"I'm operating in a twilight zone of the rules because they don't know how to deal with me," he said. "I'm a threat. Social media's a threat."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008  

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