bloggin' all things brownsville

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Los Huaraches Charro Days Party
Tickets are $35 per person (tickets also available at the door)
Includes Dinner, Full Bar, Live Band and Mariachis
Charro Days Attire Encouraged
Costume Contest
Begins at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 21
Brownsville Board of Realtors Building
1825 Central Blvd.
For more information, call Eliceo Davila at (956) 455-3676.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Zavaletta Issues Statement on Defamation Suit Filed Against Cowen

The below was received today from Brownsville attorney Peter Zavaletta


February 12, 2009

Brownsville lawyer Peter Zavaletta has filed a defamation suit against Michael Cowen, also of Brownsville. The suit arises out of a newspaper advertisement Cowen published in the Brownsville Herald and Valley Morning Star 16 days before the election for Cameron County District Attorney. Cowen’s ad called Zavaletta a “crook,” among other things.

“Although leading in the polls until the ad’s publication, Zavaletta lost the election,” the suit states. The suit says Cowen’s statements are “defamatory per se.”

Brian Turner of the Law Office of Brian Turner of Austin is Zavaletta’s lawyer.

In addition to actual and special damages sought, the suit seeks exemplary damages because Cowen published the ad “with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard for its truth,” Zavaletta alleges.

“I have taken this action to clear and restore my good name against this malicious and defamatory attack,” said Zavaletta.

Michael Cowen’s name recently surfaced as the lawyer for State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville. Cowen’s uncle is the Senator’s longtime Chief of Staff. As the former Chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District, Zavaletta led the call for an investigation into how $21 million was spent on a non‐existent bridge. One of Senator Lucio’s paid consulting clients, Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation of Houston, was a key figure in that investigation.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Zavaletta Files Suit Against Cowen

Brownsville attorney and former Cameron County District Attorney candidate Peter Zavaletta filed suit Feb. 12 against fellow Brownsville attorney Michael Cowen for defamation of character.

The suit, filed in the 357th Judicial Court, alleges that an advertisement placed by Cowen in The Brownsville Herald and Valley Morning Star with a headline stating that Zavaletta was a “crook,” defamed him during his bid for Cameron County District Attorney in 2008.

""The truth is an absolute defense to defamation," Cowen said.

The lawsuit further states that Zavaletta was leading the polls prior to the Feb. 15, 2008 ad and that the ad injured Zavaletta in his profession.

Counsel for Zavaletta is Austin-based attorney Brian Turner.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mayor Opposes Proposed Agreement with DHS


Below are two separate releases from the Mayor.





DATE: February 6, 2009

It has just come to my attention that the proposal being put before the City Commission at the Special Meeting scheduled for February 12, 2009, is to approve an agreement that would allow the City of Brownsville to remove the border fence in specific areas to complete projects designed to promote economic development. Based on the information received, this agreement would return title and possession of this property to the city upon removal of the fence. It was stated that the Federal Government gained title to this property through condemnation proceedings filed on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security. Neither the citizens of Brownsville nor I had previously been informed that the Federal Government had gained title to any city property, information which obviously was withheld by this commission and city management who, it appears, allowed this to happen through continued secret negotiations with DHS in direct opposition to the will of all the citizens and property owners who spoke out against such negotiations at the commission meeting held July 1, 2008. How could this agreement have been reached and what guarantees do we have that DHS will tear down a fence that has not been built? Given the current state of the economy and the exorbitant cost of the construction of the border wall, does it make any sense for DHS to spend so much time, money, and effort building a wall, only to tear it down? The citizens of Brownsville expected this commission to defend and protect their property rights and these developments are an outright betrayal of that trust.

Patriots for transparent government, please join me in making our voices heard. I urge you to attend the meeting on Thursday, February 12, 2009, and make your opinions known.

Thank you.

Pat M. Ahumada, Jr.


Date: February 6, 2009

Re: City entering into an agreement with DHS to build border fence.

To All Citizens:

I have requested a Public Hearing to be posted for Thursday, February 12, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. and to be held at City Hall Commission Chambers. The subject to be discussed is to accept or reject a contract that allows DHS to build the Border Fence on city property.

This is based on discussion and negotiations held with DHS representatives without my participation or knowledge. I have found out about these discussions by repeatedly asking to be kept informed. Today during the Scout session I was told by the city manager that this subject will be discussed and acted on this coming Thursday.

By way of this press release, I request all citizens who oppose or support the Border Wall to be present at said meeting to make sure your voice is heard by the commission and DHS. This item will be discussed in Executive Session but will have to be acted on during the public session. I, for one, believe that this subject matter should be discussed entirely in open session.

As mayor, I strongly oppose the fence and any agreement that will allow the fence to be built for the many reasons I will state at the meeting. To name a few, it will cause irreparable harm to our ecological corridor, adversely impact future development of our river walk and eliminate our damage claims should the fence be built by force. It will also affect the federal lawsuit filed by TBC and the Amicus Brief by El Paso. Please help me get the word out to all interested parties.

Thank you,

Pat Ahumada

Friday, February 6, 2009

No Border Wall Group Urges City Commission to Avoid "Backroom Deal"


Received this release from the No Border Wall group.



For Immediate Release
February 6, 2009
Contacts: Elizabeth Garcia 956-459-3205
Merriwood Ferguson 956-371-5111

Brownsville Citizens Urge City Commission: Don’t Give Away Hope Park in a Backroom Deal with DHS

After learning that Brownsville city officials may be considering a deal to give away city property to the Department of Homeland Security in order to build the border wall, citizen activists have banded together to call for transparency and public input in the city’s dealings with DHS. The Coalition of Amigos in Solidarity and Action, or CASA, a coalition of church communities and social activist groups, and No Border Wall, a coalition of groups and individuals opposed to the border wall, are urging the Brownsville City Commission to publicly disclose the details of any proposed contract with DHS and give the community at large an opportunity to respond in a public hearing before any agreement is signed.

“These are our elected officials, and they should be representing the concerns of their constituents,” said Elizabeth Garcia, founder of CASA. “This community is still overwhelmingly opposed to the border wall, and our city government should support that sentiment.” Garcia added if the city must compromise with DHS, it should meet them in the courtroom like the University of Texas at Brownsville and dozens of landowners have done.

“We hope that, just as UTB did, our commissioners will fight before they compromise. It will be wrong for them to reach a deal behind closed doors, without informing the public and without giving the community at large the opportunity for some input,” Garcia said.

Widespread local opposition led both the City of Brownsville and Cameron County to pass resolutions against the border wall. As recently as last month, the city wrote a friend-of-the-court brief supporting El Paso in its lawsuit challenging Homeland Security’s efforts to build the border wall.

But Cameron County voluntarily gave county land to DHS to build the border wall, and last summer the Brownsville City Commission considered a contract, drafted by the Army Corps of Engineers, that would have turned over $93,500 worth of municipal property to build the wall. One clause of the contract would have allowed the federal government to condemn the city’s property, and forced the city to assist the government in the condemnation rather than fight to keep their property. When word of the contract was leaked, outraged Brownsville residents packed the city commission meeting, forcing them to table the deal.

No Border Wall and CASA are concerned that the City Commission may be trying to quietly revive that contract, or one that similarly helps DHS build the border wall through Brownsville .. Of particular concern is Hope Park, the downtown city park overlooking the river that has become a symbol for Brownsville ’s opposition to the border wall.

Merriwood Ferguson, a Brownsville resident and No Border Wall member says that elected officials who refuse to stand up for the citizenry against the border wall “have no backbone.” Ferguson adds, “The landowners who are standing up for their rights against the condemnation of their property have set a precedent which the Brownsville City Commission should follow. We did not elect them to have them give up Hope Park without a fight.”


City Commission to Consider Border Wall Agreement

Hello folks,

I received the below today from the City Manager's Office.



February 6, 2009


The City of Brownsville is in the unique position to be the only border city between San Diego, California and the Gulf of Mexico to be offered the ability to remove the federally mandated border fence. After 18 months of negotiations between the City and the Department of Homeland Security, the City Commission will be asked to approve an agreement that allows the city to remove the border fence to complete projects designed to promote our economic development. Specifically the areas affected by this agreement include land along the river between the Gateway and B&M Bridges as well as the route of the proposed East Loop.

Equally important, when the border fence is removed, the City will regain title and possession of the property. This property has already been taken by the filing of condemnation proceedings on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security. At this time the Federal Government has title to the property where the fence is going to be constructed.

The approval of this proposed agreement will permit the re-development of Historic Downtown Brownsville to continue and will also insure that the proposed East Loop connecting the Veterans Bridge and the Port of Brownsville will not be stopped by a permanent border fence.

This agreement will be considered by the Brownsville City Commission at a Special Meeting on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 6:00pm in the Commission Chambers, 2nd floor City Hall. Persons interested in seeing Brownsville continue to progress are invited to attend.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Official Charro Days Fiesta Blog

Check out the blog.

Click here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Villalobos Expresses Interest in U.S. Attorney Spot

Prosecutors, judges jockey for U.S. attorney spot

For the Houston Chronicle article, click here.


Watch Webcast of Unveiling of the 2009 Official Charro Days Poster Wednesday

Hello folks,

Been busy lately with volunteer work, Charro Days publicity being one of them. With the event marking its 72nd year, Publicity Committee Chairman Letty Fernandez recently organized a "new media" team to bring promotion of the event to a new level.

The use of new media, consisting of Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Webcasts and YouTube, aims to bring a renewed energy to Charro Days Fiesta in an effort to entice participation from a broader demographic. This is key in keeping Brownsville's much-loved tradition alive.

I'm looking forward to being part of a great team of folks. This is a work in progress, and your patience is appreciated.

Thank you,

Melissa Zamora
Charro Days Fiesta
Publicity Co-chair


News Media Advisory:

What: Students Dance at Unveiling of 2009 Official Charro Days Poster

When: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009

Where: Charro Days Headquarters; 455 E. Elizabeth St.; Brownsville, Tx.

Background: Longoria Elementary students dressed in costume will be on-hand to officially unveil the 2009 Charro Days Commemorative Poster and perform a traditional dance.

This year’s poster depicts a young boy and girl dancing “La Danza de los Concheros,” a modern, mystic, folk dance of Central Mexico based on the cultural legacy of the “Aztecs.”

The poster was designed by Brownsville artist Don Breeden, who has illustrated 10 of the 11 posters in the Charro Days poster series. Longoria Elementary students Mario Davila Jr. and Alina Gutierrez were the models for this year’s poster.

In 1991, the Brownsville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc. (BCVB) began the tradition of creating a Charro Days poster to commemorate the event. In 2004, Charro Days, Inc. partnered with the BCVB, and this year, Keppel AmFELS joined as the sponsor of the poster.

Free posters, while they last, are available at the Charro Days Headquarters, 455 E. Elizabeth St., and the BCVB Visitors’ Center, 650 Ruben M. Torres Blvd. Businesses are being encouraged to display the poster.

The event will also be viewable LIVE on the Internet. Go to the Charro Days Fiesta Web site at

The 72nd Charro Days Fiesta kicks off Feb. 22 and continues through March 1.

Contact: Mike Puckett, Charro Days, Inc.; (956) 542-4245


Charro Days Web site:

Charro Days Blog:

Charro Days Twitter: