bloggin' all things brownsville

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hey! What's Up With That?


Howdy folks,

I received this e-mail for the blog from someone seeking to relocate to Brownsville.

Melissa

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hey folks!

I'm thinking about accepting a job offer there but i just can't make up my mind. I don't know enough about the town and I've searched every website I could find only to find out that they all pretty much have the same information but just not the ones I need. So here's the breakdown:

1. How's the diversity there?
2. How are working conditions for nurses there?
3. What's the current pay rate for nurses? Approximation from no experience to about 20yrs experience would be good enough for me.
4. How are the living conditions there? a.k.a. cost of living, tornadoes etc.

If you guys think up of some more pointers you wanna add, please feel free to do so:-)

And in case you're wondering where I'm from, it's San Francisco, CA

Any help I could get from you guys will be very much appreciated.

thanks!
Wendell

Friday, January 23, 2009

City Taps Patterson as Recreational Services Director

City Manager Charlie Cabler has selected  Christopher T. (Chris) Patterson to be director of the city’s Recreational Services Department.

Patterson, a native of Toledo, Ohio, has worked in that department for seven and one-half years. Patterson is married and the father of three children.
 
As recreational services director, Patterson will oversee 89 city parks employees and will administer an annual budget of $7.1 million. The city currently has 28 parks that cover about 700 acres.
 
Patterson  was chosen over three other current city employees and will officially assume his duties on January 26.The position was recently vacated by Skip Keller.
 
In making the announcement, Cabler said “your performance during your tenure with our city has been of great value and deserving of your appointment.”
 
Source: City of Brownsville

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Don't Understand ...

... that President Bush's farewell address and the Hudson River plane crash didn't make The Brownsville Herald's front-page news.

Quien Sobby.

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City Receives State Arts and Humanities Award for Urban Center


City Recreation Manager Chris Patterson today announced that the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) has awarded to the city its 2009 Class II Texas Arts and Humanities Award. The award specifically recognizes the Brownsville Parks and Recreation Department’s Urban Center at Gonzalez Park.

Winning the award qualifies the Urban Center for nomination for the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA) Southwest Region Arts and Humanities Award.

“This award honors those departments with outstanding arts and humanities programs,” says Paterson. He and recreation supervisor Hawk Scott will go to Austin to accept the award on February 27.

For more information on the award and on the Urban Center, contact Patterson at (956) 455-7729.

Source: City of Brownsville

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Miller Announces Candidacy for District 4 Commissioner


I am here this morning to announce my candidacy for the Dist. 4 seat on the Brownsville City Commission. As some of you know, I have been a citizen who has stayed in touch with what our city government has been doing. My interest is not in blaming my opponent for any sort of shortcoming or failing. I am solely focused on making Brownsville a better community.

We live in difficult times that call for serious solutions to ever-difficult problems. I may not have all the answers, but what I promise is a 110-percent effort in working with the commissioners to bring a new shine to this diamond of ours - this city who should be more than it is, should be better than it is, and should gain fame for being not just a border town quick to corrupt, but one quick to make the turn-around to higher ground. I will in the next few weeks engage as many of my constituents as possible. No resident of District 4 will be valued any less than any other. I intend to work for the collective and in so doing contribute to the City Commission's work.

The journey starts today. It is a journey fraught with the awful history of previous public servants who failed our lovely city, but it too is a journey of re-awakening. I hope to awaken the sleeping giant that is the average resident, the one whose voice is rarely heard, but whose voice is really the voice of all of us. My campaign will be a clean campaign. There will be no rumor or innuendo coming from me, or from my supporters. I firmly believe that Brownsville too can have clean politics, and that it is that which will allow us a chance to practice the Art of Public Service as it should be practiced. I will walk the streets of my district beginning tomorrow, taking soundings of the needs and the wants of that sector of the community. I will listen to everyone and place great value on what each and every one of them tells me. There will be no rich and no poor; there will be no influential and disenfranchised; there will be no issue too small or too big.

My friends, the time has come to work the magic it will take to move our great city to greatness, to a loftier standing, to its rightful place. The era of the dusty, sleepy border town is over. We are more than that. We are more than that. I thank you as we set sail on this new campaign, and I will thank you on Election Day. God Bless this Campaign and Brownsville, Texas.

Your most humble Servant/ Su Mas Humilde Servidora,

Ms. Argelia Miller

U. S. Air Force Veteran

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mayor Responds to Suspension of BISD Superintendent

Below is a copy of a Letter to the Editor sent to The Brownsville Herald by Mayor Pat Ahumada. The letter was e-mailed to me early this morning.

~Melissa

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From: Pat Ahumada

To: City Editor

Date: January 14, 2009

Re: BISD Superintendent

I have had my differences with the BISD Superintendent, particularly when it came to more funding for the chess program and hiring a qualified expert to be Director of the Chess Program, along with purchasing multi-million dollar properties without them being appraised to guide the school district in its decision making. I still believe my opinions to have been right then and do to this day, but we move on and do not dwell on the differences of opinion.

Having said the above, I want to say as a concerned citizen that my differences were never personal, but professional and based on what I thought was best for BISD. One must not focus on what one believes is the Superintendent’s failure, but on the overall impact he has had on the school district, which in this instance by all accounts he has had an overall positive impact.

The Brownsville Herald has reported the many awards and accolades BISD has received under Mr. Hector Gonzalez and his team of leadership which we all applaud and support him for the good he has done. Constantly attacking our school Superintendent weakens our city and creates low morale without any gain to BISD and creates a bad perception of how political we are. Politics should not outshine the accomplishments, nor divert us from the mission to produce the best school environment for our children and to be the exemplary school district that it has become for others to emulate.

Unless there are intentional acts to hurt the school district by the Superintendent or illegal activity, then it is my opinion we should remained focused on the mission to be the very best and stop the continuous attacks that benefit no one. People should remember where we were when the Strayhorn report pointed out how bad we were in administration and educating our kids. Let us be proud of the accomplishments and work out the differences in a constructive way for the benefit of our school district and the children and not become self-destructive like our city commission that will politicize everything for the benefit of no one.

Sincerely,

Pat Ahumada
Via E-mail

Monday, January 12, 2009

Zamora to be Sworn In Today


Newly appointed Precinct 1 Constable Horacio Zamora will be sworn in at 4:30 p.m. today in the County Commissioners' Courtroom at the Dancy Building.

The ceremony will be conducted by Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos.

The public is invited.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Report: Cameron County on Dangerous Dozen List for Freight and Rail Passenger Safety in Texas


A report released today by the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Association lists Cameron County in its "Dangerous Dozen" list of the most dangerous counties for freight and rail passenger safety in Texas.

The report, “Dangerous Dozen: Rail Safety in Texas,” lists the 12 most dangerous counties in Texas based on the number of freight and passenger rail accidents and incidents reported from 1998 through 2007. Among all states, Texas ranks No. 1 for train-vehicle collisions and deaths at rail crossings. Cameron County is listed as No. 8 of the 12 listed counties.

In descending order, Texas counties on the “Dangerous Dozen” list are:

1. Harris County (Houston).

From 1998 through 2007 in Harris County, 1,376 rail accidents and incidents—such as derailments, collisions, pedestrian trespassing and hazardous material releases—were reported to the Federal Railroad Administration, according to a data analysis by the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Association. Over the 10-year period, rail accidents and incidents in Harris County resulted in 90 deaths and 1,145 injuries.

2. Tarrant County (Fort Worth): 799 accidents and incidents, 39 deaths, 710 injuries.

3. Bexar County (San Antonio): 493 accidents and incidents, 51 deaths, 519 injuries.

4. Dallas County (Dallas): 356 accidents and incidents, 38 deaths, 225 injuries.

5. Webb County (Laredo): 331 accidents and incidents, 17 deaths, 282 injuries.

6. El Paso County (El Paso): 282 accidents and incidents, 34 deaths, 231 injuries.

7. Jefferson County (Beaumont): 222 accidents and incidents, eight deaths, 154 injuries.

8. Cameron County (Brownsville): 144 accidents and incidents, seven deaths, 124 injuries.

9. Brazoria County (Angleton-Pearland): 143 accidents and incidents, eight deaths, 112 injuries.

10. Potter County (Amarillo): 123 accidents and incidents, nine deaths, 111 injuries.

11. Fort Bend County (Richmond-Sugar Land): 121 accidents and incidents, 15 deaths, 77 injuries.

12. Bell County (Temple-Belton): 116 accidents and incidents, 16 deaths, 97 injuries.

From 1998 through 2007 in Texas, 12,271 rail accidents and incidents were reported to the Federal Railroad Administration—the highest number of any state. Over the 10-year span, 853 deaths and 7,203 injuries occurred in those accidents and incidents.

“Although 2007 was the safest year ever in the history of the American rail industry and Congress recently passed the most sweeping rail safety legislation in more than 30 years, much work remains toward further enhancing the safety track record of our nation’s rail lines,” Bruce Todd, executive director of the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Association, said.

“In Texas, millions and millions of dollars are needed to improve the safety of our rail system, including rerouting freight tracks away from congested urban areas and fixing an assortment of dangerous at-grade rail crossings. Far too many Texans are being killed and injured along our state’s rail lines.”

More than 40 railroads operate in Texas on nearly 15,000 miles of track—the highest amount of rail mileage of any state. Each year, railroads in Texas carry more than 10million carloads of freight.

Texas is among 30 states that are part of the federal Rail State Safety Participation Program. Under this program, government-employed safety inspectors check compliance with rail regulations concerning hazardous materials, operating practices, power and equipment, tracks, and signal and train controls.

During the Texas Legislature’s 2009 session, which starts Jan. 13, the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Association will pursue various options for funding that would enable relocation and improvement of freight rail lines around the state.

The funding would create a revenue stream that could leverage billions of dollars in bonding authority to improve transportation safety, ease congestion at hundreds of railroad crossings around the state, increase the capacity of the state’s freight rail network, shift more of the state’s ever-growing truck freight load to improved rail lines and open up existing freight lines for passenger traffic.

Texas voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2005 establishing the Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund to finance relocation and improvement projects. However, even though the amendment has been approved, state lawmakers have not yet dedicated any money for the fund.

For more information, visit www.railrelo.org.

SOURCE: Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Association

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Camarillo Launches Campaign Web Site



Click here.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Desal Pilot Study Report Released


Pilot study results from consultant NRS Consulting Engineers have confirmed that seawater desalination on the shore of the Ship Channel in Brownsville is technically feasible, according to the International Desalination & Water Reuse Quarterly industry Web site.

“The final Texas Seawater Desalination Demonstration Project pilot study report to the Texas Water Development Board was completed in October 2008 and was published on the NRS Web site on 30 December 2008,” the Web site states.

NRS' final Texas Seawater Desalination Demonstration Project pilot study report to the Texas Water Development Board was completed in October 2008. Click to view the Executive Summary or the Full Report.

Brownsville United Summit Jan. 15

Thirteen different governmental agencies and entities are scheduled to participate in the first-ever “ Brownsville United Summit” January 15, 5-7 p.m. at the Events Center, 1 Events Center Boulevard.

This summit is aimed at centralizing issues and projects that are common to the entire area. Local state representatives and U.S. Representative Solomon P. Ortiz have also been invited to participate.

City Commissioner Charlie Atkinson and Port Commissioner Martin Arambula are co-sponsors of the event and will urge participants to adopt a resolution on “going green” which could result in a regional impact on the region’s environment, infrastructure and quality of life as a whole.

Agencies to be represented include BEDC, BND, BISD, BPUB, the City of Brownsville, BCIC, Cameron County, GBIC, BDVB, UTB/TSC, the Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Mobility Authority and the Consulate of Mexico.

Atkinson says each agency is being asked to discuss two projects vital to that agency and to Brownsville ’s role in a rapidly changing global scenario.

SOURCE: City of Brownsville

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Garcia Highlights Security Fence, Academics At Spring Convocation


A 10-foot-tall southern campus property line fence being built as part of a border security deal with the federal government is almost finished, and the campus community and residents can plant for its future at a February event.

“Many still hunger for a way to demonstrate the pride they had in the University’s action and eventual success,” The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College President Dr. Juliet V. Garcia told staff and faculty at Spring Convocation today, in the Science, Engineering and Technology Building Lecture Hall.

Garcia said details are still being worked out for a wildflower and vine event to “plant seeds of hope for a better future for our democracy” on Monday, Feb. 2. Keppel-AMFELS, a longtime supporter of the University, donated $3,000 for flowers to plant.

Besides working with a team to stop the on-campus construction of a border fence aimed at curbing illegal immigration, Garcia worked late last fall as a member of President-Elect Barack Obama’s education transition team.

“But, I have had the great privilege of service,” Garcia said. “If called tomorrow under the same circumstances, I would return again and again. Not because that work is better than ours, but because it is as important as ours. And, because it seems disingenuous to preach about the virtues of public service and not respond to the call yourself.”

Garcia encouraged the campus community to watch the Inauguration on television or on the Internet on Tuesday, Jan. 20, because it is democracy in action.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Garcia said students seemed to have embraced the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) guidelines put in place in fall 2007. According to SAP, students must earn at least a 2.0 grade point average and complete 70 percent of hours attempted to stay in good academic standing.

“The bottom line is that since the implementation of the new SAP, students are passing a higher percentage of their classes and withdrawing from a lower percentage of their classes,” Garcia said. “The failure rate is also slightly lower in fall 2008 than two years ago.”

The number of students on academic probation fell because of SAP. In fall 2007, 2,154 students were affected; the number fell to 1,787 students in fall 2008.

Academic suspensions also decreased due to SAP. In fall 2007, there were 674 students not allowed to take classes; that number dropped to 626 students for fall 2008.

Giving To The University

Garcia asked staff and faculty to think about philanthropy at the University.

Gifts can be items, like the 1,000 Sabal palm trees being planted along the Fort Brown Resaca and University Boulevard that were donated by Lloyd Horn, father of former UTB/TSC Associate Vice President for Development Barry Horn.

Or, gifts can be monetary that can name seats, brick pavers and rooms at the $25 million Arts Center under construction behind Jacob Brown Auditorium. As part of a campaign for The Arts Center, the University needs to raise more than $6 million to finish the building scheduled to be completed later this year.

“Please believe me when I say that every single donation, no matter the amount, will make a difference,” Garcia said.

Construction

Garcia said there will be grand opening celebrations and tours for new buildings opening in the next several months: the Recreation, Education and Kinesiology Center, Classroom Building, New Library and the Center for Early Childhood Studies.

The University will ask the Texas Legislature during their 2009 session to approve $63 million in tuition revenue bonds for a Student Support Services Center to house financial aid, testing, advising, enrollment planning and other offices that support students. Funding will also be sought for a Coastal Studies Center through a partnership with The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg.

People

Garcia recognized new faces in University leadership roles in academic advising and athletics, but has already started the process in finding a new provost.

Dr. Jose G. Martin will be honored at a celebration on his birthday, Thursday, Feb. 4, and retire later that month. He became provost in fall 2000 and also served four years as dean of the UTB/TSC College of Science, Mathematics and Technology. He will have an office on campus to write and do research on sustainable energy, architecture and engineering science.

Greenwood Asher and Associates, a nationwide search firm for education executives, will seek and screen qualified job candidates. Dr. Yvonne Freeman, a professor in the UTB/TSC School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is the chairman of the campus search committee. Garcia said the goal is to have a new provost by this fall.

Two staff members were selected to receive Texas Southmost College Foundation Scorpion Family Scholarships, which pay for three semester credit hours toward an undergraduate degree. Scholarship money comes from campus community contributions through the State Employees Charitable Campaign. The winners were Ubaldo Martinez in User Support Services and Marcela Guerra in Classic Upward Bound.

SOURCE: UTB-TSC News and Information

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mayor Opposes Zoning That Allow World's Gym to Become a Bar


Press release

Date: January 6, 2009


Due to the upcoming State Legislative Session and preparation for funding requests for Brownsville's needs and projects that required my travel to Austin, Texas, my absence from tonight's City Commission meeting is necessary and I extend my apologies for not being there. As mayor, I feel it is of the utmost importance to work on the citizens' behalf in preparation for the upcoming legislative session in order to make sure our city needs are heard and taken into account. I feel that working with and through the Texas Border Coalitiion and Brownsville Chamber Interagency Commitee, as Chairman of the MPO TXDOT Committee and as Ex-officio PUB Board member to ensure funding requests for the City / PUB desalinization plant, city roads and maintenance funding are appropriated during this next legislative session along with mass transportation needs, and that serious consideration be given towards funding a pilot program for electric generation in order help keep our citizens' future utility bills low make this time well spent in Austin.

I also want it known for the record that I oppose the approval of the zoning that will allow World Gym to be converted into a bar, based on the fact that it is within 1,000 feet of a school or school facility where many children depend on us to protect them from drivers who are most likely to be under the influence of alcohol when they leave a bar.


Thanks,
Mayor Pat Ahumada

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Congressman Ortiz Nominated to Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Congressman Solomon Ortiz has been nominated to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, according to the Speaker of the House Web site.

The House Democratic Steering Committee began its nominations to various committees with the 111th Congress beginning today.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House by a vote of 255-174 this afternoon during the opening session of the 111th Congress.

Speaker Pelosi said that “with the talent and intellect of this distinguished group of Members, the 111th Congress will take America in a New Direction that restores our economic security, creates jobs, and invests in America’s future. The full Democratic Caucus must still approve the assignments and is expected to do so soon.

The Steering Committee approved the following new Committee members:

Agriculture

Congressman Kurt Schrader of Oregon
Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson of Illinois
Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania

Armed Services

Congressman Glenn Nye of Virginia
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine
Congressman Larry Kissell of North Carolina
Congressman Martin Heinrich of New Mexico
Congressman Frank Kratovil of Maryland
Congressman Eric Massa of New York
Congressman Bobby Bright of Alabama

Education & Labor

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio
Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado
Congressman Paul Tonko of New York
Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico

Energy & Commerce

Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont

Financial Services

Congressman Walt Minnick of Idaho
Congressman John Adler of New Jersey
Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio
Congressman Steve Driehaus of Ohio
Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas of Florida
Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida
Congressman James Himes of Connecticut
Congressman Gary Peters of Michigan
Congressman Dan Maffei of New York

Foreign Affairs

Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia

Homeland Security

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona
Congressman Ben Lujan of New Mexico

Natural Resources

Delegate Gregorio Sablan of the Mariana Islands

Transportation & Infrastructure

Congressman Solomon Ortiz of Texas
Congressman Phil Hare of Illinois
Congressman John Boccieri of Ohio
Congressman Mark Schauer of Michigan
Congresswoman Betsy Markey of Colorado
Congressman Parker Griffith of Alabama
Congressman Michael McMahon of New York
Congressman Tom Perriello of Virginia
Congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada
Congressman Harry Teague of New Mexico

Ways & Means

Congresswoman Linda Sanchez of California

For more information, go to www.speaker.gov.

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Camarillo to Announce Bid for Re-election Today


District 4 City Commissioner Edward Camarillo will announce his bid for re-election at 4:30 p.m. today on the steps of City Hall.

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AIDS Survival Project Casino Night Fund-raiser Jan. 24



Donations sought for prizes. Contact info above.

~Melissa

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cameron County to Streamline Court System for $3.7M

Tyler Technologies Inc., a North Texas company that provides government entities with information management assistance, said today the company has inked a $3.7 million contract with Cameron County to provide the county with the firm’s courts and justice software.

The software program allows local entities, like Cameron County, to provide law enforcement and the judicial system with automated technological solutions that have the capacity to manage everything from court case management to jury selection and payment logs. Brownsville is the county seat of Cameron County.

Dallas-based Tyler Technologies (NYSE: TYL) said the software program allows counties and court systems to streamlined their court systems.

“Cameron County is doing what many counties throughout Texas and courts across the U.S. have done — turn to Tyler for its courts and justice software solution,”said Bruce Graham, president of the company’s Courts & Justice Solutions segment.

SOURCE: Dallas Business Journal

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Officials Speak on Legislative Agenda Concerning Infrastructure Spending



State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville), State Rep. Dr. Tara Rios Ybarra (D-Kingsville) and TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz Jr. speak with journalist Ron Whitlock on infrastructure spending in the state's 2009 Legislative agenda and I-69.

Source: Ron Whitlock Reports.

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Mayor Pushes Legislative Agenda


From: Mayor, Pat Ahumada

Date: January 5, 2009

Re: Austin Trip


I will be traveling today to Austin to meet with Texas Border Coalition members in preparation for the upcoming State Legislative Session and will attend a TXDOT conference and reception to lobby for the designation of U.S. Highway I-69, funding for Morrison Road, and other transportation infrastructure needs.

As mayor, I am working with legislators to represent to them the need to commit funding for Brownsville and regional projects that benefit Brownsville’s needs for present and future growth. Brownsville has been by far overlooked or ignored in the past and it is time that we all make sure our needs are heard and approved.

This is the time to work together with all our governmental entities to ensure that we speak with one voice. As mayor, I will also be traveling with the Brownsville Chamber’s Interagency Legislative Committee in early February to reinforce Brownsville’s request for consideration and approval.

As mayor of Brownsville, Chairman of the MPO Committee, PUB ex-officio board member, TBC member, and in support of Brownsville’s Chamber’s Interagency Committee, I will be spending the time needed to lobby hard in support of these entities and for the designation and funding for I-69 U.S. Highway, PUB’s 20 MG desalinization plant, Amtrak passenger train service, Morrison Road expansion, and other road projects, along with environmental funding and consideration for alternative sources of energy.

Some of these projects and requests the city and the committees want funding for are something that we have been working on all year long, but it is important to work in unity with all the entities and to make sure our legislators hear from us often in order to get the funding all other cities are competing for. I encourage citizens to write their legislators in support of the city’s requests.

Thanks,
Pat Ahumada
Via email

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Mayor Stands United With Texas Border Coalition


From: Pat Ahumada

Date: January 3, 2008

Subject: Border Wall

It has been brought to my attention by Department of Home Land Security through the Texas Border Coalition that preparation to build the Border Wall will commence this WEEK in Cameron County, with most areas affected being the Los Indios and Harlingen land area holdings. Preparations are defined as clearing, grubbing and building drainage culverts in anticipation of constructing the Wall. The City of Brownsville areas affected are in the proximity of the River Bend and the Los Fresnos Pump Station areas (see attachment), consisting of two segments totaling 5.2 miles. Brownsville’s Hope Park, where the proposed River Walk is to be built, is being spared.

At my request, through TBC communications with DHS, there will be a “Walk The Line” date set for TBC and city elected officials to meet with DHS to inspect future sites where the Wall is proposed to be built. It is my understanding that Hope Park will be spared. Sparing Hope Park is not reason to stop our opposition to the Wall since other vital areas of the City of Brownsville will be affected, mainly our ecological and historical corridors, along with other land owners who reside in Cameron County and expect us to be their voice against the proposed Wall.

As mayor of Brownsville, I stand united with TBC and all who oppose the Border Wall and ask the incoming administration to reassess the intent for the proposed Wall and its effectiveness before allowing DHS to continue with a project that has already proven to be a failure and to consider the alternatives being offered by the TBC and the municipalities most affected by the Wall. As mayor, I ask our new President Barrack Obama to “Tear Down This Wall” and build virtual fencing using our geography to deter illegal immigration, narcotics trafficking and all illegal activity along the Rio Grande River.