bloggin' all things brownsville

Monday, September 29, 2008

District Attorney’s Office Relocates to Administrative Building

The Cameron County District Attorney’s Office will relocate to the fourth floor of the Administrative Building, next to the Judicial Courthouse, beginning today through the end of the week.

Phone service may be limited Thursday and Friday at the District Attorney’s Office due to telephone lines being relocated.

“We ask the Cameron County community who has any business with the District Attorney’s Office to be patient with us during this time of relocation,” said District Attorney Armando R. Villalobos.

“We anticipate being fully operational on Monday, Oct. 6, and thank you for your patience during our move," he added. "We look forward to serving you from our new location.”

The new address is 964 E. Harrison St.

For more information, e-mail Jason Moody at, or call (956) 544-0849.

Charter Review Committee Public Input Form

For those folks unable to attend the meetings, a form is available for recommendations to be e-mailed or faxed.

Click here.

For the calendar and agendas, click here. (Minutes haven't been posted, but I will inquire about them.)

Video of the meetings, click here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Texas Civil Rights Project to Honor Tamez

The Texas Civil Rights Project will honor Dr. Eloisa G. Taméz Oct. 3 at its 18th Annual Bill of Rights Dinner in Austin. Tamez will be presented with the Henry B. Gonzalez Award for her courageous battle against the Dept. of Homeland Security.

The event's program states:

"Dr. Taméz owns land that was part of a Spanish land grant given to her family since approximately 1767. Dr. Taméz was the first landowner to stand up against the Dept. of Homeland Security's plan to build a non-continuous wall as much as a mile north of the Texas Mexico border.

When many others were scared of speaking out against the U.S. government or felt like there was no use, Dr. Taméz demanded that the government provide her details about their plans for her land and was a vocal critic of the injustice of a 18 foot fence planned to run through the middle of her ancestral lands. She worked to organize community meetings to educate herself and other landowners on their rights, built a national coalition of people working against the Wall, and was sued in federal court for her resistance.

She demanded that the federal government follow the law when trying to gain access to her land, and she received a positive ruling from a federal district court. Dr. Taméz has also been working to include cities and counties along the border as parties to the action to stop the Wall from being built."

The Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) promotes racial, social, and economic justice through education and litigation. TCRP strives to foster equality, secure justice, ensure diversity, and strengthen communities. TCRP was founded in 1990 as part of Oficina Legal del Pueblo Unido, a non-profit community-based foundation located in South Texas. They have offices in the Rio Grande Valley and Austin, as well as VAWA staff in El Paso and Midland/Odessa.

Since its beginning, TCRP has achieved substantial system gains in ensuring justice for all Texans. TCRP uses education and litigation to make structural change in areas such as voting rights, police and border patrol misconduct, sex discrimination, employment bias, privacy, disability rights, grand jury discrimination, traditional civil liberties (i.e. free speech), and Title IX in secondary education. TCRP also conducts a program under the Violence Against Women Act.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Urban Center Gives Community a Canvas

"The point of the Urban Center is to never stop trying," said artist/dance instructor Bill Angelini. "It gives street artists a canvas to find the art within."

Angelini was one of more than 100 who attended today's Grand Opening of the Urban Center at Gonzalez Park. The Center features a Chill Room with computers, televisions, arcade games, table tennis, and more; an Expression Room for local artists to exhibit their work, a stage for performances and an area for dance instruction; classrooms for afterschool programs through Communities in Schools; and a gymnasium.

"We need to support our kids to allow them to have freedom of expression," said City Commissioner Ricardo Longoria.

Longoria touted the Center as the first-ever cultural museum/art gallery in the Southmost area.

Mayor Pat Ahumada applauded the efforts of Recreation Manager Christopher Patterson, the Parks and Recreation Department, Communities in Schools and those private entities like Best Buy who donated resources. The Tony Gonzalez Family, for whom the park is named after, was also in attendance.

The Center is a breath of fresh air, and I'd love to see more open in other Brownsville communities. It gives children a place to acquire assistance with homework, to participate in the arts and to utilize resources they don't otherwise have at home.

The urban decor brings life to the Center, and it is certainly demonstrative of the hardwork of everyone who brought the Center to fruition. Kudos to all involved.

Anyone interested in donating to the Center, may contact Patterson at (956) 455-7729. For more information about the Center, click here.

*Click on photos for larger view.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Brownsville Urban Center Grand Opening Saturday

There's a very cool new addition to Brownsville, thanks to the creativity of the City of Brownsville Parks and Recreation Department.

When the Boys & Girls Club closed at Gonzalez Park, Recreation Manager Christopher T. Patterson was quick on his feet to find a use for the building.

"The Brownsville Urban Center was an idea long in the works," Patterson said. "The (Boys & Girls Club) building is totally renovated. It's really nice."

The Brownsville Urban Center at Gonzalez Park is dedicated to bringing a broad spectrum of performing and visual artists and diverse audiences together to enrich the cultural life of the community, according to the center's Web site. The center was established to provide the opportunity for adults and youth to improve the quality of their lives by learning to explore and develop their artistic potential and share in the vital cultural currents of our community.

Programs include performing arts/theater, music production, dance, poetry and arts and crafts.

The center will have its Grand Opening Saturday. Open house is from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and from 5-10 p.m., there will be a free concert and dance performance featuring hip-hop and break dancing. A ribbon-cutting ceremony takes place at noon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Iglesias Speaks Tonight at SETB Lecture Hall

David C. Iglesias, a former United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, will speak at 7 p.m. today at the Science, Engineering & Technology Building Lecture Hall. Iglesias will sign copies of his book, “In Justice; Inside the Scandal That Rocked the Bush Administration,” after the presentation.

For a live Web cast, click here.

For more information, call (956) 882-5111 or (956) 882-5141.

MDA Lock-up Thursday at Buffalo Wild Wings!

Good morning folks!

Tomorrow I will be "arrested" as part of a fund-raiser for the County's Muscular Dystrophy Association Lock-up!

Come see the jail birds at Buffalo Wild Wings, and bail us out! I will be there from noon-2 p.m., but I believe the event ends at 5 p.m.

Bail money is also accepted online at the top, right-hand link. I hope to raise enough money to send a child to MDA camp.

Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Government Officials Voting Fraudulently: Lawmakers Breaking the Law - Texas

I came across this video of lawmakers caught on camera last year voting for their fellow lawmakers who couldn't be in attendance. A republican lawmaker is caught on camera voting for our very own Rep. Rene Oliveira. Austin's CBS Channel 42 investigates.

According to the official House rules--written, voted and approved by lawmakers at the beginning of the 80th Legislative Session--"Any member found guilty by the House of knowingly voting for another member on the voting machine shall be subject to discipline deemed appropriate by the House," the news report states.

Perhaps "ghost voting" will be addressed (AGAIN) once the 81st Legislative Session convenes Jan. 13, 2009. Maybe, someone's working on a bill right now. Anyone? Anyone?

The video's online description really puts this issue into perspective:

What would happen to you if police caught you on video fraudulently voting? Would cops quickly arrest you and throw you in jail, only to have the District Attorney immediately charge you with fraud? What would happen to elected government officials if they were caught doing the same?

Quien Sobby.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Charter Review Committee Solicits Public Input at Forum Tuesday

The Brownsville Charter Review Committee will hold a Public Forum beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The committee is soliciting public input and/or recommendations for the City Charter.

The committee has been tasked with reviewing the charter that governs the city and make recommended changes for the City Commission. Once approved or amended by the City Commission, the recommended changes will go before the voters.

Forms will also be available for written recommendations. In addition to the public forum, all Charter Review Committee meetings have a regular 15-minute public-comment period. Recommendations may also be e-mailed to

For the agenda, click here. Please note: The agenda reflects a 15-minute public-comment period. However, that is in addition to the public forum agenda item.

For the Sept. 18 minutes, click here.

For the City Charter, click here.

Robert "Capt. Bob" Sanchez Announces Plans to Run for Mayor 2011


Here's another mayoral announcement. Restaurateur Robert "Capt. Bob" Sanchez has announced that he plans to run for the post in 2011. Businessman Ernie Hernandez also recently announced that he was withdrawing his name from the At-large B City Commissioner race, because he plans to focus his energy on the 2011 mayoral race.

Reminds me of old times.



Yes Melissa, I will run for Mayor of Brownsville in 2011. I cannot stand still and let same names jump in to feed their own ego rather than really doing something for the community. And I also feel, Mayor Ahumada can win a seat in Austin, Texas or even Washington D.C., therefore vacating so that I can seek the Mayorship of Brownsville. A ship I can truly navigate properly.

Robert "Captain Bob" Sanchez
Mayoral Candidate 2011.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

English Please!


Kudos to the Brownsville Convention and Visitors Bureau for landing the Duramed FUTURES Tour that will take place in 2009. According to The Brownsville Herald, it's the Rio Grande Valley's only professional golf tournament.

"The Duramed FUTURES Tour is the world's largest developmental tour, sending many players to the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Its top 10 money winners gain LPGA membership every year," the Herald further states.

What I find interesting, is that the LPGA was under scrutiny recently for pushing an Engish-only policy for players that would have been effective by the end of the year.

An excerpt from an Aug. 28 article on the ESPN Web site:

"We have been puzzled, if not surprised, by some of the reactions," said deputy commissioner Libba Galloway, who previously was the LPGA's top attorney. "We see this as a pro-international move."

"You have to interact effectively with your pro-am partners," You need to be able to do media interviews. And you need to give a winner's acceptance speech in English," she said. "They must speak at a level that effectively accomplishes those three things."

However, the new LPGA Tour Policy faced much criticism and anger, and the LPGA quickly backed off its proposed English-speaking requirement.

Instead, "LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens said she would have a revised plan by the end of the year that would not include suspensions, although fining non-English speakers remains an option, according to a Sept. 7 ESPN article.

The Duramed FUTURES Tour, previously held in McAllen, was called the Jalapeño Duramed Futures Golf Classic.

Go figure.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Don't Forget to Register to Vote, Encourage Others

While in line at today's Brownsville Appreciation Day at the Zoo, many people were registering to vote thanks to the individual pictured above.

The last day to register to vote for the upcoming election is October 6, 2008.

Hernandez Withdraws Name from City Commission Race, Will Run for Mayor in 2011


I received the below e-mail from former commissioner, Ernie Hernandez. He had recently announced his plans to run for At-large B City Commissioner, but he has changed his mind. Instead, Hernandez will run for Mayor in 2011. I am publishing his e-mail with his permission.




I have been City Commissioner for a total of 14 years. During those 14 years, I have been able to be a part of some wonderful and amazing things that have happened to this city.

I have decided not to run in the At Large-B race because it is my understanding that there are some truly intelligent and highly qualified individuals interested in running, yourself included.

The passion that I have for this City has always steered me to take stands on issues, albeit sometimes highly controversial, and more importantly ALWAYS do the right thing. I firmly believe that the right thing to do is to allow another qualified individual who shares the same passion that I do for this city be a part of the Brownsville team.

Besides, I at this time, need to stay focused on my main objective...and that is to LEAD the Brownsville team in the right direction. Let there be no doubt that I am running for Mayor in 2011.

While there are “some” qualified and intelligent City Commissioners and very competent management and directors in place right now, there is no leadership by the current Mayor. The city’s leadership is in complete turmoil...and that is very unfortunate. The City Commission meetings have been termed a “circus” and “the laughing stock of the valley” among other things. It has been said that other major cities in the valley use taped copies of the City Commission meetings as propaganda to entice business and commerce to their cities. And that is truly sad, let alone embarrassing. To use our City government meetings as a tool to convince companies not to do business in Brownsville must stop. The Mayor and certain City Commissioners seem not to care about the damage they are doing to the reputation of our community. Enough is Enough!

Despite that, I look forward to being a part of the Brownsville team again, and making the Brownsville team a winning team it once was. People ask me why I do what I do. My response is always that I will never give up on a City that I truly believe in.

Again, let there be no doubt that I am running for Mayor in 2011, and am therefore going to focus my attention and efforts on that campaign.

Good luck to you and any and all other interested persons running in the At Large B race. God Bless and best of luck to you all!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Judges, Attorneys, Elected Officials Invited to Red Mass Oct. 2

The Diocese of Brownsville and the Red Mass Committee invites:

Judges, Attorneys and Elected Officials of the Judicial System to the:

Red Mass Ceremony

Thursday, October 2, 2008

6:30 p.m.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Brownsville, Texas

Most Reverend Bishop Raymundo J. Pena will be the main celebrant of the mass.

Attendance is open to all denominations.

Immediately following the mass there will be a banquet at:

Brownsville Events Center, 1 Events Center Blvd , Brownville , TX 78521

There will be a procession from the Dancy Building to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral prior to the mass. The procession will gather at the Dancy Building by 5:45 p.m. to leave for the church at 6:00 p.m. We will greatly appreciate your participation.

The Red Mass is celebrated annually at the opening of the judicial year. Historically, it has been attended by judges, lawyers, law faculty members and public officials. The mass originated in Europe in the thirteenth century and receives its name from the fact that the celebrant was vested in red and the Lord High Justices were robed in brilliant scarlet.

Immediately following the Mass, a banquet will be held at the Brownsville Events Center, 1 Events Center, in Brownsville, Texas. Enclosed please find two (2) tickets for the banquet, make checks payable to the Red Mass Committee. Seating is limited, please make your reservations. For additional tickets and to confirm your attendance please call the Cameron County District Clerk’s Office at (956) 544-0838 or the Hidalgo County District Clerk’s Office at (956) 318-2200.

This year the committee takes great pride in recognizing Frank Costilla and Frank Zabarte, founding members of the Red Mass Committee. Bishop Kevin Vann from Fort Worth, Texas has been selected to be our Keynote Speaker.

For further information in Cameron County please contact Chairperson Judge Janet Leal at (956) 544-0844. In Hidalgo County contact Judge Aida Salinas Flores at (956) 318-2470.

Ike's Unforeseen Impact -- Strength

The Rio Grande Valley was very fortunate to have missed Hurricane Ike’s wrath. However, praying for a hurricane to change its path is a double-edged prayer, if there is such a thing. Although our prayers were answered, the misfortune was simply passed on to others.

Lee Winters, a good friend and fellow blogger, resides at Waterford Harbor Marina in Kemah, Texas. His blog’s content mostly consists of updates on a 39-foot sailing vessel he’s been working on for years as part of a volunteer effort known as Sailing for SOS. Sailing for SOS raises awareness of and drives donations to the 501(c)3 non-profit SOS Children’s Villages – the largest organization dedicated to orphaned and abandoned children with more than 450 villages in 132 countries worldwide. This also included his visiting SOS Children’s Village locations around the world on his boat.

Now, his project and trip are delayed due to Ike. Although his boat is fine, he had significant damage to his office including the loss of many personal items.

Here’s an excerpt from his blog:

I am sorry to have lost so many reminders of times and people in the past. I did find one book soaked from cover to cover that I didn’t even know I still had. It was crumbling like wet toilet paper, but it opened to a page I remember reading very well almost 7 years ago. I’ve kept its message close in my mind as I’ve figured out what I am doing and where I want my path to go. I am quoting it here:

“Listen to the still small voice inside you. If you do not live your life completely, realizing goals you hold to be worthwhile, making your unique contribution to the world, nobody ever will. Your song will die with you.

Many of us have discovered what we want to do with our lives. We have a purpose that resonates to the very core of our being. Somehow our lives will never be complete unless we answer this calling. But, we refrain…the “still small voice” whispers a dream…but later that day or the next our vision starts to fade…immersed in the practical, our dreams and aspirations seem uncertain and perhaps a bit foolish.

We plod the highway of conformity, each following the other. We seek what others seek – comfort, security, money, power, pleasure. We are not alone, but only a stranger to our better selves. Years leave wrinkles upon the skin. But this loss of enthusiasm leaves wrinkles upon the soul.

It is impossible to tell another what path he should follow. Only you, in stillness and humility, can listen to that still small voice. Success and happiness are not distant goals to capture and hold. They happen incidentally while you are fulfilling yourself."

- Michael Lynberg, Author

Yes, we were fortunate that Ike missed us, but Lee’s obvious fortitude is a fortune in itself – one that we should all adopt, hurricane or no hurricane.


Pictured above is Lee Winters on his boat, Romance.
He plans to rename the boat, Jargo, after a story about his Great-Grandfather Christoper Columbus Winters.

TWC: RGV Unemployment Rate Continues to Rise

The Texas Workforce Commission released August's unemployment rates today with an increased rate for the Brownsville-Harlingen metropolitan area.

The Brownsville-Harlingen rate is now at 7.4 percent, an increase from July's 7.1 percent. The August 2007 rate was 5.9 percent.

“The rise in the Texas unemployment rate for August reflects the economic challenges facing our nation as a whole,” said Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Chairman Tom Pauken in a prepared statement. “While employment figures nationally have turned negative, here in Texas, employment growth continued with 6,700 new jobs.”

According to the TWC, the state's August unemployment rate is 5.0 percent, up from 4.7 percent in July 2008 and 4.3 percent in August 2007. Texas’ unemployment rate remained well below the national rate of 6.1 percent.

The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission August unemployment rate remained the same as July's at 7.8 percent. The August 2007 rate was 5.9.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BISD Candidates Participate in STGG Forum

South Texans for Good Government held a BISD candidate forum Wednesday at the Main Brownsville Public Library.

I didn’t have an opportunity to stay for the entire forum, but I was able to catch the candidates' opening statements. The candidates in attendance (while I was there) were those listed below. Early Voting is Oct. 20-31, and Election Day is Nov. 4.

Here are some tidbits:

Otis Powers (Position 3, incumbent)

-Touted his common-sense business approach for BISD.
-Mentioned his 25 years experience as a business owner.
-Stated: “I live and breathe Brownsville. … “I have an open-door policy.”
-Stated he holds people accountable at BISD.
-His push card states: “I will continue to support preparing our children for higher education (college); I will oppose tax increases; I will support fiscally responsible spending and oversee the $135 million bond; I will continue to support accountability; I will continue to support promoting people and businesses from within Brownsville; and I will continue to support higher wages and salaries for all teachers and employees.”

Catalina Presas-Garcia (Position 3)

-Wants to focus on the drop-out rate.
-Emphasized a need to address the high teen pregnancy rate.
-Touted 12 years of experience working within the school district including employment with the BISD maintenance/facilities department.
-Wants to focus on employee salaries, insurance and benefits.

Pat Lehman (Position 4, incumbent)

-Stated: “I bring accountability and effectiveness.”
-Stated: “To be No. 1 in the nation, says it all,” while lifting the state of the district 2008 report.
-His push card states the following: Support teachers who are entrusted to our kids; Insist on equality and quality education for all BISD students; support sound fiscal decisions that affect BISD taxpayers; support a living wage for all BISD employees; and support the renovation of older existing campuses.
-Brownsville High School 1971 graduate (the last BHS class).
-Stated that the environment at BISD is “extremely positive” and emphasized the successes of his children as an example.
-He’s a Texas Southmost College graduate.

Rick Zayas (Position 4)

-Stated the No. 1 woman in his life was his wife.
-Born and raised in Brownsville.
-Pace High School graduate and received a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from UT and a doctorate of jurisprudence from Thurgood Marshal School of Law.
-Stated the purpose of BISD is to bring up kids with a good education and character.
-He emphasized the need for a positive learning environment for children which can be achieved by providing a positive learning environment for teachers.
-Encouraged communication with teachers.
-Touted his “ability to work well with others.”
-His push card states that he’s an attorney at Zayas & Hernandez, P.C. and serves on the BISD Bond Oversight Committee.

Rolando Aguilar (Position 5, incumbent; no challenger)

-Stated: “Every single day we should be accountable."
-Former educator of 41 years.
-Stated: “Bottom line – Be consistent and follow up. … I intend to continue working on accountability.”
-Focused not only on caring for students, but on employee rights. “We care for children, but what about the employees? They also have rights.”
-Stated: “If there’s no grown in learning, then we have failed.”

Minerva Pena (Position 6)

-Pena’s a first-time candidate.
-Formerly employed with the Department of Public Safety and was the first female state trooper in Cameron County. She’s recently retired. “I have the time now,” she states, to serve the community.
-Coaches baseball.
-Worked with BISD chess programs.
-1976 Porter H.S. graduate and 1979 UT graduate.
-She’s a Brownsville native and has six children.
-Stated: “You make the choice, and I can make the difference.”

Moises Gonzalez (Position 6)

-Stated: “I’m a fresh face, new face to politics. I’m not a politician.” He’s running for the position, because he wants to serve his community.
-Holds a Criminal Justice degree from UTB-TSC.
-He has three children that attend a BISD.
-Stated his goals are to support teachers/administrators by ensuring a safe learning environment; focus/address ADA issues within BISD; focus on competitive wages for teachers; and propose a taskforce to address the drop-out rate.
-Serves as a member of the BISD Bond Oversight Committee.
-Serves as a soccer coach.
-Touts 13 years law enforcement experience and is currently a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security.

BISD Reports, Budget

For the Fall 2008 State of the District Report, click here.

For the BISD ADA Transition Plan Status Report, click here.

For the FY 2008-09 BISD Budget, click here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fitch Rates Cameron County's 2008 Bonds & Certificates of Obligation 'A+'

Fitch Ratings has assigned an 'A+' rating today to the following debt issues for Cameron County, TX (the county):

--$2.6 million unlimited tax road bonds, series 2008;
--$16 million certificates of obligation (COs), series 2008.

The bonds are scheduled to price the week of Sept. 29 via negotiation. Additionally, Fitch has affirmed the 'A+' rating on the county's outstanding debt, consisting of the following:

--$20.3 million limited tax bonds;
--$2.8 million unlimited tax bonds;
--$30.7 million COs.

The Rating Outlook is Stable.

According to Fitch Ratings, "the 'A+' rating reflects the county's recovery of its financial position, positive debt profile, solid tax base growth, low but rapidly growing wealth levels, reliance on international toll bridge system surplus revenues and strategic border location and access to the Gulf Coast transportation network that benefits its growing international trade activity.

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Report Recommends Teacher Incentive Pay Measures

A report released today by the Texas Public Policy Foundation states that "teacher incentive pay programs in Texas school districts have produced higher test scores, higher state accountability rankings, improved teacher morale, and less teacher turnover."

The report, “Paying for Results: Examining Incentive Pay in Texas,” states in its executive summary that most school districts across the country pay teachers with an outdated teacher salary schedule that rewards all teachers equally regardless of performance.

"This one-size-fits-all compensation structure limits the flexibility of school board members and superintendents to strategically target resources to meet local needs, attract talent in shortage areas, reward excellent teaching, and improve student achievement," the report further states.

Austin, Dallas and Lamesa school districts are currently implementing teacher incentive pay measures and have yielded highter test scores and accountability rankings and improved teacher morale.

Recommendations for state lawmakers:

-Eliminating the state minimum salary schedule, which rewards longevity over effectiveness in the classroom.
-Refusing to tie local school districts hands by giving all teachers in the state an across-the-board pay raise.
-Continuing to support and fund teacher incentive pay programs.
-Removing any roadblocks to reform at the state level • that hinder local school districts from having the flexibility to design a compensation system that meets their needs.
-Local school board members and school administrators should consider:
Eliminating their locally adopted salary schedule and replacing it with a base salary.
-Targeting resources where the money can be most effective such as:
Paying teachers a shortage stipend for teaching in a locally determined shortage areas; paying teachers a stipend for working in a low-performing school; rewarding large student gains in learning with a bonus; and linking pay raises and bonuses to positive performance reviews and improvement in the classroom.
-Discontinuing across-the-board pay raises which do not take into account individual teacher performance.
-Discontinuing the practice of paying teachers more for possession of a Master’s degree which has no affect on teacher effectiveness.

For the full report, click here.

Incentives Go Awry

BATB NOTE: Dear all --- I am expecting some new information next week that will likely change my opinion on this particular issue. Once received, I will write a new blog post with up-to-date, corrected information, and a opinion that will likely be contrary to that of this original post. ~Melissa

Another company can be added to the list of those the Brownsville Economic Development Council (not committee, Herald) or the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation have provided incentives to, but disappoint.

The BEDC is providing Teleperformance, a call center that opened in December, $50,000 over three years. The incentive was given in return for the company's promise to provide 35 jobs that pay a minimum of $9 per hour.

So, the company lays off about 200 employees this month, or 40 percent of its workforce, and BEDC doesn't demand a return on its investment, because those 35 jobs are still provided?

Hogwash. How do they know which jobs those are?

A provision in the BEDC/Teleperformance agreement requires the company to repay the incentive money if it fails to meet BEDC's conditions.

Let's see. Thirty-five jobs kept, but more than 200 lost. Yeah. I still don't get it.

I recall when BEDC President/CEO Jason Hilts touted an end-of-the-year 5.1 percent unemployment rate in his Snapshot of a Growing City, Brownsville 2008 fluff piece. Hilts gave USA T-Mobile and Teleperformance credit for the low unemployment rate, because both entities committed jobs totaling 1,700 jobs.

Is T-Mobile next?

It's not a matter of being pessimistic.

It's simply a matter of record when it comes to a growing list of companies BEDC or GBIC have assisted -- companies that take our money -- and fail to perform. Titan, Trico, Teleperformance...

Let's hope that "economic boom" State Comptroller Susan Combs is predicting for South Texas happens soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Post-Ike on South Padre Island

These photos were taken this morning at the same South Padre Island access as displayed on the previous BATB post.

Beach erosion is apparent. As you can see, the dune that was there before is almost gone.

Still, the surge has subsided, and folks are enjoying the beach.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike's Impact on SPI

Where's our beach? South Padre Island is expected to see 8-12 ft. waves as Hurricane Ike makes its way to the Texas Coast. These photos were taken in the early AM. Click on photos for larger view.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brownsville Streets ... Ugh.

Potholes, potholes and more potholes. North Bernal Street has more than 100 potholes that have been repeatedly patched for more than five years now. Residents are tired of complaining. When it rains, the holes reappear, and remain as such for weeks, if not months. Then, they're simply repatched.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Art in the Park

Amigos Artistas held their annual free show today at Ringgold Civic Pavillion in Dean Porter Park.

For more information about the local artists' group, go to

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fiesta Del Paseo Free Event Today

What: Fiesta Del Paseo

When: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5

Where: Ringgold Street in front of the Science, Engineering & Technology Building

Background: The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College’s Office of Student Life will sponsor the Fiesta Del Paseo from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5, on Ringgold Street in front of the Science, Engineering & Technology Building. Admission is free.

The event is scheduled to feature:

· Auditivo: The Matamoros-based band counts their Mexican roots and British pop as musical influences. The group released their first CD, “Noches de Otoño,” earlier this summer and already has their first single, “Sincera,” on the radio.

· Nina Pilots: The four-woman indie pop/rock band from Monterrey uses The Killers, Def Leppard, Incubus and No Doubt as some of their musical influences. Their self-titled CD is on Movic Records.

· NTN: The indie rock/pop/alternative group from Reynosa has been together since the late 1990s. Their musical influences include U2 and Smashing Pumpkins.

· Labial: The indie rock/pop group from Reynosa released their latest CD, “Residencia Royal,” earlier this year. Their music is reminiscent of the Foo Fighters, Mana and Morrissey.

For more information call the Office of Student Life at (956) 882-5111.

Visit the event Web site, click here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Charter Review Committee Meets Thursday

The Charter Review Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday on the fourth floor of City Hall.

A meeting schedule has been released, and a public comment period will be listed on all agendas.

For the meeting schedule and Thursday's agenda, click here.

7-29-08 Minutes, click here.

8-27-08 Minutes, click here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

CIAC Workshop Slated for Today's City Commission Meeting

A status report on the activities of the Capital Improvement Advisory Committee since its inception will be given at today's Brownsville City Commission Meeting.

A 15-minute workshop on the CIAC begins at 5:45 p.m. and takes place at City Hall.

According to, the 10-year Capital Improvement Plan final draft was released in August and included a project-by-project breakdown.

I'm told the committee met for three years to devise this plan, but I've yet to independently verify this.

To access the draft, click here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New Brownsville Blog Joins the Ranks

Border to Border
Becky Syck, its publisher, is an attorney and native Minnesotan who moved to Brownsville four years ago.

Check it out, click here.