bloggin' all things brownsville

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

May everyone have a Merry Christmas! God Bless!

-Melissa

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chertoff Retirement Party Jan. 10 at Galeria 409

Below is an invite from the No Border Wall Coalition and Galeria 409. --Melissa

During his illustrious career, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has driven a wall through the borderlands, thrown out the laws that protect us, imprisoned immigrant families, and set a new low in the response to Hurricane Katrina. Join us in Brownsville at 6 p.m. January 10th as we celebrate his long-awaited exit!
 
Retirement Cake! Music! Games! Puppets! Raffle!
 
Galeria 409 is located at 409 E. 13th Street, between Levee and Elizabeth, a block from the Gateway Bridge and spitting distance from the coming border wall.  Contact noborderwall@yahoo.com for more information.
      
Hosted by NO BORDER WALL and  Galeria 409
 
NO BORDER WALL COALITION
WWW.NOTEXASBORDERWALL.COM
WWW.NOTEXASBORDERWALL.BLOGSPOT.COM
WWW.BORDERWALLINTHENEWS.BLOGSPOT.COM
WWW.NOBORDERWALL-TAKE-ACTION.BLOGSPOT.COM
 

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Special


A bit blurry, but the Capt. Bob's Restaurant marquee on Price Road reads: B.I.S.D. Seems Unfair.

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Watch UTB-TSC's Graduation Ceremony Live!

Check out tomorrow's live Webcast of UTB-TSC's 14th Annual Winter Commencement Ceremony.

Graduation starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Cardenas Hall South Lawn.

Click here.

More than 1,000 students are eligible to walk the stage.

The number of students graduating includes those who finished in August. Graduates will be receiving certificate, associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Rosalinda Olivares, Juan J. Mendoza and Cesar Garcia will earn the very first Master of Arts in History, and Nazul Grimaldo will receive the first Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies in Computer Science.

Dr. Ruben Gallegos, the 2008 UTB-TSC Distinguished Alumnus, will speak to the graduates.

Born into a large family in El Calavoz, Gallegos began his college education at Texas Southmost College and earned an Associate in Arts degree in 1957. He went on to receive a master’s degree and education doctorate from East Texas State University.

Gallegos helped lead school districts in Brownsville, Dallas and Edinburg before his retirement in 1993. He also heads an international education agency that works with undocumented children who are apprehended by immigration officials

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Sports Park Grand Opening Tonight

Grand Opening of the Brownsville Sports Park

Gates open at 6:30 pm

1000 Sports Park Blvd

(off the Merryman Rd. Exit on Expressway 77/83)

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BPD: Bank Teller Identifies Mayor as Invididual Who Deposited Vendor Check Into Mayor's Personal Account


Below is a release from the Brownsville Police Department ~Melissa

Investigation of the $26,139.00 check deposited into
Mr. Pat Ahumada’s account.


The summary contained in this media release is based on facts and evidence gathered through the investigation.

On October 22, 2008 the City of Brownsville printed/issued a check in the amount of $26,139.00 to TARSA Technical Industries of New York for services provided to the city. This was the second payment of two scheduled payments.

On October 28, 2008 at about 9:15am, Mr. Larry Brown arrives at Mr. Ahumada’s residence, located at 53 Alan-A- Dale, to pick him up and transport Mr. Ahumada to the airport, later determined to be the Matamoros airport. Mr. Ahumada advises Mr. Brown that he needs to run an errand to the bank and that he will be right back. Mr. Brown waits for him. Mr. Ahumada is observed leaving his house, to the bank, in a black truck.

At approximately 9:30am this check was deposited into Mr. Ahumada’s account at the BBVA Compass bank located at 3255 Boca Chica by Mr. Pat Ahumada himself through the drive thru window. The bank teller, who handled this transaction, recognized Mr. Ahumada through previous bank transactions and positively identified Mr. Ahumada through a photo lineup. The bank teller provided a sworn statement to Brownsville Police Investigators recalling the events of this transaction. The teller remembers the transaction for several reasons. He knows Mr. Ahumada, since he has been a customer of BBVA Compass, formerly Texas State Bank, for numerous years; the amount of the check and such check not being made payable to him; the check was already endorsed and had an account number that was verified by the teller to be that of Mr. Ahumada; the teller proceeded with creating a deposit slip for Mr. Ahumada since he did not provide one at the time, a customer service provided by the bank; and he did not want to question Mr. Ahumada’s integrity as he feared that a complaint would be brought forth against him, since he knows Mr. Ahumada’s character as a person and his reactions. The transaction was finalized. No other checks were submitted for deposit that were part of this transaction. Mr. Ahumada left the drive thru in his black Chevy Avalanche as sworn to by the bank teller. The bank video depicts a black Chevy Avalanche departing the drive thru at approximately 9:33am. The driver of such vehicle cannot be clearly identified thru the video; however the bank teller has provided a sworn statement that he knows Mr. Ahumada drives such vehicle and a motorcycle.

At about 9:45am Mr. Ahumada arrives at his residence and departs with Mr. Larry Brown to the airport (Matamoros). Mr. Brown transports Mr. Ahumada to the Matamoros airport and while on their way there, they stop at a pharmacy in Matamoros at the request of Mr. Ahumada. Mr. Brown has provided BPD investigators with a sworn statement of these events on that day.

On December 2, 2008 Grand Jury Subpoenas were issued and executed to BBVA Security Office in McAllen, Texas for bank records pertaining to Mr. Ahumada’s account.

On December 15, 2008 late in the afternoon BPD investigators officially receive the bank records and video for Mr. Ahumada’s account from BBVA Compass.

On December 16, 2007, late in the evening, I called Mr. Ahumada and advised him that BPD investigators were ready to interview him. Arrangements were made for him to come in at 9:00am on December 17, 2008.

On December 17, 2008 at 8:30am Mr. Ahumada calls me and advises me that he is running late and will be here by 9:30am. I advise him that this is not a problem and that the investigators will wait for him. Mr. Ahumada provided a sworn and signed statement which contradicted with the facts and evidence collected by BPD investigators. He was advised of this and disagreed with the investigators.

On December 17, 2008 late in the afternoon, we are notified by the finance department that on this date the city’s account has been credited with the amount of $26,139.00. This is contrary to what Mr. Ahumada had been stating, that the city had already been credited for the amount of the check.

We are still investigating the circumstances as to how the check resulted in the hands of Mr. Ahumada.

We are still continuing this investigation and the final results will be forwarded to the Cameron County District Attorney for their review with a recommendation that the results be presented to a grand jury to determine what charges, if any will be brought forth against Mr. Ahumada. The local FBI office has been authorized to review this case and will be provided with a copy of the final investigation. Any final determination as to the jurisdiction for the prosecution, if any will be a matter for discussion and decision between the District Attorney and the United States Attorney’s Office.

No questions or interviews will be granted at this time. You will be notified accordingly at the appropriate time.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I Want for Christmas ...

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Colunga Files Suit Against Brownsville Bloggers

Updated to reflect correction in plaintiffs' attorney. -mz


Joe Colunga filed suit today for himself and his son against blogger Robert “Capt. Bob” Sanchez and blogger/journalist Juan Montoya for libel and defamation.

The suit references an Dec. 7 article on Sanchez’s blog, RobertSanchez2011.Blogspot.com, entitled “Colunga Milking BISD.”

Attorney for the plaintiffs is Mark Sossi. Colunga is also a trustee for the Brownsville Independent School District.

Click here, for the suit filed today in the 4o4th state District Court. The court will be that of Judge Elia Cornejo-Lopez beginning Jan. 1.

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Chief Garcia Responds to Questions Concerning Vendor Check Deposited Into Mayor's Personal Account

Last week, I e-mailed questions to Sgt. Jimmy Manrrique pertaining to the $26,000 vendor check that was deposited into Mayor Pat Ahumada's personal account. I was later asked to forward my questions to Chief Carlos Garcia. Chief Garcia promptly responded. Although the responses are brief, I believe his response to Question No. 4 is key. Responses are in red.

~Melissa


1. Who owns the bank account, and are there other names on the account?
As has been publicly stated by the Mayor himself, he owns the account. No other names at this time.

2.What was the specific deposit date?
On October 28, 2008.

3. Who made the deposit and signed the check for deposit?
Currently under investigation. Reviewing bank records and video.

4. Is there a video that clearly shows who made the deposit and signed the check?
Yes, there is, however it is not clear as to a person, only a vehicle.

5. What charges and or indictments, if any, will be brought against the check casher(s) and/or the owner of the bank account?
Case will be forwarded to the DA’s office for their review with our recommendation for review by a grand jury.

6. Has the money been returned to the City of Brownsville ?
To my knowledge, as of this date, no. Check with Mr. Pete Gonzalez.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SACS Reaffirms UTB-TSC Accreditation

The Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has reaffirmed the accreditation of The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College.

The announcement was made at the organization's annual meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 9, in San Antonio.


"We are very pleased that the reaffirmation process resulted in the recognition that UTB/TSC is doing exemplary work, "said Juliet V. García, president of UTB/TSC. "As always, it took the combined effort of the entire campus community focusing on continued improvement."

The Commission on Colleges (COC) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is the recognized regional accrediting body for institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and in Latin America.

As part of the SACS reaffirmation of accreditation process, a team of faculty and administrators from other colleges and universities visited the campus in April to interact with students, faculty, staff and administrators. The team addressed institutional effectiveness and student learning.

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Barnes Resigns as Scorpions' Head Volleyball Coach

John Barnes, head coach of the Scorpion women's volleyball team, has resigned, Director of Athletics Vernon Mummert announced Monday.

Barnes took over as the team's head coach in June. UTB-TSC finished the 2008 season with a 10-23 record and was eliminated in the Red River Athletic Conference tournament semifinals.

Barnes came to UTB-TSC after four years as head girls' volleyball coach at Port Isabel High School, where he also taught physics. He previously served as a volunteer assistant coach with the Scorpions in the 2004 and 2005 seasons and was also an assistant coach during the 1999-2001 seasons at Cedar Valley College in Dallas.

A national search for a successor will begin immediately.

SOURCE: UTB-TSC Sports News Information

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Renaissance Man: The Mulitalented Mr. Schnabel of Brownsville, Texas


Watch CBS Videos Online

Note: Mention of his Brownsville, Texas upbringing begins at 6:12. Report released today on CBS 60 Minutes Web site.

Christmas Needs List

UPDATE: I want to thank those folks who have already contacted me to donate items as requested on this list. To donate items, you may call LOVE, INC directly at 233-1844. Thank you, and God Bless! - Melissa


Special thanks to Brownsville Community Fellowship, Christ’s Harbor Church , Church of the Advent, International Christian Center and Los Fresnos Church of Christ for their assistance in meeting needs this past month.

Please announce the needs listed below to your congregation, put in your bulletin, post on your bulletin board or display electronically prior to your services. As always thank you for all you do!!

•Sweaters/Sweatshirts – a family with 4 children (mom is unemployed and dad is disabled) need help with sweaters or sweatshirts for their 3 boys and one daughter. The children need these mostly for school so they cannot have any designs and cannot be pullovers. (boys sizes 16, 14, 12; girl’s size 12) (12B08) [Brownsville]

•Winter clothes – Single mom of 2 girls and with limited resources needs help with winter clothing. (girls size 5 &18 month; and ladies – Large shirts & size 10 pants) (12A08) [Cameron Park]

•Queen Bed Frame – Unemployed single mother of 3 blessed with a bed needs a bed frame – Queen-size. [Pt Isabel](11H08)

•Beds, winter clothing, sheets, & towels – A family recently moved to be close to father. Husband is self-employed. Wife had an accident and husband developed health problems. 1 Full & 3 twin beds needed. (*Men’s pants – 34 x 32; 36x34; *Boy’s – large shirts, *Girls 5-6, *Women’s – size 16 pants, large & 2x tops) (11G08¬) [Boca Chica/Old Pt Isabel area]

•Work – Father with three children, needs any kind of work, experienced in cutting lawns.(11F08) [Los Fresnos]

•Dressers, bed, table & chairs – family with three children recently relocated. Have limited income because they have been helping support elderly mother. (11E08) [Los Fresnos]

•3 Twin beds, beds, and refrigerator – Single mom recently relocated from San Antonio and unable to bring her furniture with her. (11C08) [Southmost area]

•Dining table & chairs –family of 4 with a new baby due any day. (11B08) [FM 511/ Hwy 48 area]

•Table & chairs, bed, dryer – Single mother with a disabled child. (11A08) [Los Fresnos]

•Bed – A couple (wife is legally blind) on limited income in need of a bed. (close to Valley Baptist-Brownsville) (10J08)

•Winter clothes for children – Single mother of 3 needs some warm clothes for her children [downtown Brownsville](boy’s size 14 – 16; girls size 12 & 6) (10I08)

•Maternity clothes – Expectant mother needs maternity clothes. She and her husband are unemployed. (woman size 12 pant, medium blouse) (10F08) [Los Fresnos]

•Dresser, bed, night stands – A family recently moved to the Brownsville-area and the husband is working few hours. (10E08) [Southmost area]

•Electrician needed – FEMA helped an elderly widow (on a very limited income) get parts to replace her fuse box but she is unable to pay for an electrician to do the work. She lives outside the Los Fresnos city limits (near FM 510 & FM 803). (10C08)

•Couch – An amputee in Brownsville is in need of a couch. (10B08)

•Ceiling fan & Delivery of 2 doors – an elderly widow in Pt Isabel would like a ceiling fan to help keep her electric bill down. 2 doors located in Los Fresnos need to be delivered. (09G08)

•Bed, heater, tv, dishes, pots & pans – Disabled, formerly homeless, man starting over. (09D08) [downtown Brownsville]

•Window AC Unit – Elderly widow needs window unit while on waiting list to replace central unit. (09B08) [near the Port of Brownsville]

•Bed (Full Size or larger) – Couple’s bed in Brownsville was ruined in their recent move. (07E08) [Brownsville]

•Plumbing repairs – Disabled woman has leaks under kitchen sink & the outside spigot (by Pace HS). (07A08)

•Washing machine – Couple with 7 children (father & 3 of the children are on disability) in need of a washing machine. (02C08) [Brownsville]

•Grocery bags – Do you have an over-abundance of grocery bags? Don’t throw them away! Good Neighbor Settlement House can use them! They can be delivered directly there or call the Love INC office and arrangements can be made. This is an on-going need. Thank you to all who have been taking your bags directly there.

•Old Suitcases – Do you have old suitcases you don’t know what to do with? Don’t throw them away! Give our office a call – the K-9 unit from one of the local law enforcement offices has mentioned they could use suitcases in their continued training of the dogs. (This is an on-going need – those dogs go through many suitcases!)

Please call the Love INC office @ 233-1844 if you can help with any of the needs listed above. Please reference the 5 digit number listed at the end of each request/need. Also, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have or if more information is needed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cabler: Police Investigating Missing Vendor Check Possibly Linked to Mayor Ahumada


The Brownsville Police Department is investigating the deposit of a $26,000 check into a personal account traced to a Brownsville bank, according to City Manager Charlie Cabler.

Late last month, a technology vendor from New York contacted the city about non-payment for services. An investigation yielded that the check had been deposited into a personal account in Brownsville.

However, Mayor Pat Ahumada believes the personal account to be his, and he is cooperating with the PD's investigation, Cabler said.

"He (the Mayor) feels he is being framed," Cabler said.

Still, Cabler stated that he's yet to receive confirmation from police on who owns the bank account.

A police report has been filed, and the incident remains in its early stages of investigation.

*I've contacted the Mayor for comment. Update pending a response.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

The Cyclical Pat on the Back?


The Brownsville Navigation District Board of Commissioners will consider awarding a Security Systems Integration contract with Sec-Ops, Inc. at Wednesday's 6 p.m. regular meeting.

If awarded the contract, Sec-Ops, Inc. will provide security systems integration services under the Port Security Grant.

Let's break this down.

Research reflects that Sec-Ops, Inc. is located at:
5729 1a Leopard St 1 A,
Corpus Christi, TX 78408.

Its principal is listed as Robert Lott. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Lott is also listed as an owner/partner/shareholder for AMTEX Security, Inc.

AMTEX company details, listed at the TDPS Web site, reflect other owners as Florencio Rendon and Solomon Ortiz.

AMTEX and Sec-Ops, Inc. share the same address, too.

AMTEX has been embroiled in controversy at the Port of Corpus Christi where Lott is even quoted as AMTEX's CEO in a 2007 Corpus Christ Caller-Times article.

AMTEX's bid with the Port of Corpus Christi was $930,000, as the above listed article states. Who knows how much Sec-Ops, Inc.'s contract/bid comes in at?

Another simple Google search brings up articles on Congressman Ortiz's possible conflict of interest due to his association with AMTEX.

The BND Board agenda states that such security services will be supported by the Port Security Grant, which, by the way, were strongly supported/advocated by none other than Congressman Ortiz.

And, there are BND board members who donated to Ortiz's campaign.

Go figure.

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BND Board to Discuss FY 2009 Operating Budget, Selection of Delinquent Tax Firm


The Brownsville Navigation District Board of Commissioners will hold a 5:30 p.m. workshop Wednesday to discuss the fiscal year 2009 operating budget for the Port of Brownsville.

During the board's 6 p.m. regular meeting, the law firm of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson LLP, will give a presentation on delinquent tax collections for the Port.

The board will also consider renewing its financial advisory services agreement with Estrada, Hinojosa & Company, Inc..

Also on the agenda under BIDS/AGREEMENTS/PURCHASES, the board will consider selecting a law firm to collect delinquent taxes for the Port, and they may award engagement in an external audit for 2008a, 2009 and 2010.

In other other business, the board will consider amending the district's retirement plan for employees and the district's procurement policy and procedures.

For the full agenda, click here.

Bring "Christmas" Back!

Program Sends Brownsville Soldier on Holiday Vacation


2 Wounded Soldiers To Enjoy Holidays In N.H.

JACKSON, N.H. (AP) ― Two wounded soldiers and their families will enjoy an old-fashioned New Hampshire Christmas thanks to a new program that started with one family's generosity and has spread to an entire town.

Gerald Carrier, a retired dentist from New Bedford, Mass., has been bringing his family to Jackson for the holidays since 1969. When he and his family offered to adopt two military families and put them up in a hotel for a week, the whole town got in on the act, with numerous businesses donating gift cards for lodging, shopping and activities.

"For us, Christmas goes over the top, as you can expect when you put that much love for one another in one room," said Andre Carrier of Las Vegas. "We wanted to take some of this surplus and put it toward something charitable on our own, as part of our Christmas tradition."

The first two soldiers to benefit from the Christmas Can Cure program will be Staff Sgt. Jerry Cortinas of Brownsville, Texas, and Sgt. 1st Class Roy Mitchell of Fort Drum, N.Y., both of whom were seriously injured in Afghanistan.

Cortinas, a Special Forces soldier, lost his left hand and suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade five days before Christmas 2002.

"As you can imagine, Christmas time for us is a bittersweet time," said his wife, Celina Cortinas. She said she tries to make the season special for their two children, "but with limited money and the memories of the worst time of our lives, it is a tough situation."

"This trip would fill that month with good memories that we can associate with December, instead of a very bad one," she said.
Mitchell has had a leg amputated and undergone 37 surgeries since being injured in November 2003.

"If I could, I would not change a thing, except having more time as a family," he said. "We have not had a lot of time to spend just as a family."

Andre Carrier said they plan to have baskets of Christmas cards in the families' rooms when they arrive Dec. 18.

"For anyone who may have become cynical about Christmas and needs to find the power of the human spirit, they need to start initiating something like this," he said.

Source: Associated Press