Friday, September 30, 2011

Henry Cuellar strikes Moses-Like Pose at TAMIU $$$ Giveaway

Our local colossal blog Bordertown Blues recently posted on congressman Henry Cuellar's pose at his latest Million Dollar giveaway at Texas A&M International University. While BTB correctly noted that Henry's pose was reminiscent of a scene right out of the cult classic The Warriors, there is another famous pose that Henry might have subconsciously been imitating.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ken Burns documentary on prohibition coming soon to PBS

In 1919, the eighteenth amendment to the US constitution ushered in the period of prohibition. The manufacture, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages was outlawed. Bootleggers soon came in to illegally satisfy the continued demand for alcohol. The 21st amendment, ratified in 1933 finally ended prohibition as federal law.

Renowned film-maker Ken Burns's latest documentary on the subject airs this fall on PBS.

US Economy ripe for micro loans

Grameen Bank opens New York Branch

Hello Mayor, and seedy council!

As long as you're doing anything to help our economy why don't you check out the work of Grameen America Bank. They specialize in micro-loans meant to help single mothers and others that might be living at or near the poverty level to achieve some self-sufficiency.  The bank started in India and has now spread to the United States. Forget about doing the fracking industry any favors for a while and try actually helping someone that needs help for a change.


Alma sits proudly behind a folding table showing off a line of Jafra Cosmetics.

“We sell perfumes, makeup, lipsticks,” she said. Alma and four other women started the door-to-door cosmetics sales company with a $1,500 loan from Grameen America, an offshoot of Grameen Bank, the nonprofit, low-income lender started by Nobel laureate  Muhammad Yunus.

Before this, Alma worked odd jobs in stores and bakeries but never made enough to cross to the other side of  the poverty line. “This brings back the hope that I can take care of myself,” she said at the ribbon-cutting for a Grameen branch in the South Bronx.

Grameen America operates branches in New York, Nebraska and Indiana.  Most of the borrowers are single mothers looking to become entrepreneurs.  Micro-financing  is frequent in the Third World, and Yunus told ABC News there was, especailly in these economic times, a need for it in the U.S.

“This works for people, particularly people who are unemployed,” Yunus said.  “It’s always needed but now it’s needed most.  Those who are losing jobs, this is what brings them in.”

Yunus is looking to expand to San Francisco and, perhaps, Detroit, as more Americans slip into poverty.
To help navigate American banking regulations, Grameen America has partnered with CitiBank

Tamiu exhibit: I'm not an artist, but come on now! Art?


Pink Sculptures Dominate
Current TAMIU Art Exhibit

A closing reception for the Marc-Anthony Polizzi Solo Exhibition at the Texas A&M International University Center for the Fine and Performing Arts Gallery will be held Thursday, Sept. 29 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. The exhibit closes Friday, Sept. 30.

About his work, Marc-Anthony Polizzi writes in his artist’s statement, “My work uses a process of reconstruction and unification to examine the domesticated chaos of the post-consumer world. This area where the relatively ordered and relatively disordered coexist and interact might seem like a contradiction, considering the more austere and violent sense of chaos. However, it is in this gray area in which I construct my work. These installations draw on the history and narrative properties of found objects, to bring out the human connection often lost in the glimmer and glitz of an ever growing material culture.”
Como ??

Bad Lip Reading: Save a Pretzel for the Gas Jets

Ol' Rick Perry. It's hard to tell whether this is just a parody or if it's actually Ol' Rick talking. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Follow the money: End to water restrictions coincides with sale of water to fracking companies

Fracking industry, we are at your command! May I pour you a drink??

If anyone was really surprised that the City of Laredo was lifting water restrictions in the midst of the worst drought in Texas history, then you don't know our city leaders.  At last Monday's council meeting, the issue of selling water to the fracking companies came up. WaterMaster Tomas Rodriguez gave presentation to the seedy council and he suggested that the city sell water to the fracking companies at $8 dollars per thousand gallons, up from the current $4 rate.

The problem is that the city will also raise the rates for construction companies and to the residents of colonias. Construction companies will go fro $4 to $8 per thousand gallons while the colonia residents will be gouged with a 300 percent rise in their water costs. Whereas, they now pay $2 per thousand gallons, they will also be paying the new rate of $8. 

I guess the Mayor, seedy council and staff will do anything and step on anybody to cater to the oil and gas industry who will be getting their water at less than current industry rate of $11 per thousand gallons. As mayor Raul Salinas has said in the past, " We are at your command"!  I know the mayor looks like a genie but does he have to act like one towards the fracking industry?

Laredotejas stands corrected on balloon story

LT hears from Ms. Elangwe

Obviously, I still manage to unknowingly and unintentionally offend people from time to time. Case in point, my "balloon lady" story. My first take on it was that it was another publicity stunt and perhaps it was meant to get noticed. I guess it reminded me of the "balloon boy" incident. What I failed to see was that this publicity was simply a means of achieving the bigger goal of hopefully landing a job.

This morning, I received an e-mail from the subject of that story, Ms. Elangwe, wherein she proceeded to set me straight on this particular post. Once again, I have shown that I'm fully capable of being short-sighted from time to time. 

From Sherell Elangwe

I saw your article. I knew there'd be some negativity but I also thought more people would want to know the truth, not just make assumptions.

I have an Associate's degree and I'm finishing Bachelor's online (graduate this year). I have a great resume, great work history, great letters of recommendation...I have had great jobs, made great money! Never had a problem before the "recession." I was actually hoping to draw attention for more than myself. The unemployment rate is not just my problem. I have members in my church holding Master's degrees out of spotless. I have applied at Walmart and other lower paying jobs, they laugh and say I'm too qualified and can't believe I can't find work

I literally get online and fill out countless applications, send resumes, fax resumes...follow up with a call, even in person visits. I have four children, two in college. All I want is a job to provide for my family! And God knows I'm trying.

Also some reports have said I send out 100 balloons a week...the 100 jobs I apply for are the conventional way (as described above). The balloon idea was a last ditch effort and I had 20 balloons, most came back down and I picked them all up, popped and threw away.

And media misspelled my name it is Elangwe, not Elangway.

Have a great day. I'm sorry for offending you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

City should lower our water rates instead of monkeying around

Wi-Fi in the city of Laredo parks?  Is that really a good way to spend our money. If the city needs ideas on what to do with taxpayer funds that will benefit everyone in town, lower the water rates! It is a shame that the city has gone on spending on an $18M baseball park and now wi-fi?

I know the city had to raise water rates to build a new plant or something to that effect but it's not impossible to help out all citizens by restructuring the current plans. They should do whatever is necessary to lower the water rates for all Laredoans. Everyone needs water to live and for their homes so what a better way to actually improve the quality of life in Laredo than to lower our rates.

Stop playing games and patting each other on the back and do something that will really help people on a day-to-day basis.  This would be a good start!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Perfect story for Fox News: More racist dogwhistling going on at Affirmative Action Bake Sale

A California campus Republican group is holding an affirmative action bake sale.
OK that's $2 blondie, unless you're a white-looking Mexican then it's just a buck ! What? you'd be mad if you were an Anglo?  That's exactly what our strategy is- Now, go take it out on them minorities!

This story was featured today on, where else? Fox News of course. During Megan Kelly's America Live, the following story was covered and discussed by an Anglo white republican and a Latina democrat. Of course, the republican guy claimed innocence but that's just part of the strategy of dogwhistling. I'm sure we've got readers coming down on both sides of the issue. Anyway, here's how the story was covered by:

The New York Daily News

A controversy over cupcakes is heating up at UC Berkley in California where campus Republicans are planning to hold an affirmative action bake sale on Tuesday.

At the sale, white men will be charged $2 for a baked good, Asians will pay $1.50, Latinos $1, African-Americans 75 cents and 25 cents for Native Americans, KGO-TV reported.
Women will get a 25 cent discount.

"The pricing structure is there to bring attention, to cause people to get a little upset," Campus Republican president Shawn Lewis told the TV station. "But it's really there to cause people to think more critically about what this kind of policy would do in university admissions."

The Campus Democrats immediately slammed the sale, which Lewis said is meant to take a stand against an affirmative action-like bill for the University of California system that is awaiting Governor Jerry Brown's signature.

Thinking beyond the balloon; another publicity stunt.

Up, Up and away: It looks like the balloon lady is a veteran at seeking publicity. There was no shortage of pics of her on the Internet

There's one of those human interests stories making the rounds throughout TV stations around the country. An unemployed lady has resorted to sending up 100 helium-filled balloons into the atmosphere, each one containing one of her resumes. She probably knew such a stunt would get her attention and she was absolutely right. That's not really surprising in the "reality show" world.

After the story aired on Pro8News at noon, co-anchor Victoria Marshall had an interesting take: "It's a little bit strange but she's also polluting the environment" Marshall said as the noon broadcast signed off.

Here's the rest of the story from abc affiliate

GUILFORD COUNTY -- After nearly a year of looking for work with no success, a North Carolina woman said she was ready to try anything. Sherell Elangwe's idea to find employment was to place her resume inside helium filled balloons and then release them.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Sherell Elangwe said. "And whatever it takes I'm going to do it to get a job."

Elangwe said she sent out 100 resumes a week to jobs she's qualified for- positions in marketing, public relations, human resources. But she hadn't earned a single interview from those efforts. The 36-year old job hunter knew the balloon idea was a long shot, but hopes it would bring her some attention.

Elangwe said she had already received emails from potential employers who have found her balloons.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

AAA will get you first listing but who uses a phonebook anymore?

We've probably all heard of business named AAA, ABC or Aaardvark just to get first listing in the vaunted Yellow Pages. The problem is, an increasing number of people no longer resort to the phonebook when they can find the info they're looking for online. 

Anyway, here's an amusing look at the AAA idea.

Fracking dangers update: 2nd South Texas fracking fire this week

Story & Picture from

The fire was the second at a South Texas oil well in the last three days.

The KSAT anchorman added that there were 6 fracking trucks damaged with estimated losses of nearly $7Million. As mentioned above, fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities at the accident. Also, the KSAT news team and cameraman were not allowed to entered the area.
ATASCOSA COUNTY, Texas -- A fire outside an oil well on the Atascosa/Frio County line Sunday afternoon destroyed seven trucks, at a cost close to $7 million, Atascosa County Fire Marshall Chuck Garris said.

Garris said the fire started shortly after 3:30 pm at a well on the R.H. Pickens "B" Lease, which is near County Road 350 and Hindes Road.

Workers reported seeing a flash, then the fire spreading quickly down a line of trucks used in the fracturing or "fracking" process, which removes shale oil and natural gas from deep deposits. Garris said the trucks are considered a total loss, but no one was injured during the fire.

Roll out the Cliches

From The San Antonio Express News
The Texas Tribune recently held a Festival of sorts during which many topics were discussed by several panels. One of the topics included that of race and immigration as it pertains to Texas' border with Mexico. Following are just a few responses given by US Representative Henry Cuellar. Although Cuellar starts us with the cliche about how the Rio Grande doesn't divide-but unites, he later sounded more like the Blue Dog Republican he's becoming.
From The Texas Tribune
Brandi Grissom from The Texas Tribune leads off with a question about whether states should take over immigration from the feds. Asks Cuellar what the situation is in Laredo.

Cuellar: “The Rio Grande does not divide us, it unites us with Mexico. For anybody that thinks you can just put a fence and cut off (trade) it will have an economic impact.”
Cuellar adds: "I personally do not believe in amnesty. You have to have a legal guest-worker program. The figures don’t match the rhetoric, with all due respect.
"I am a big supporter of Secure Communities." The program was intended to weed out criminal aliens, but has come under fire for targeting non-criminal immigrants and separating families.
Talk about changing one's stripes. I guess republican-leaning Henry just doesn't like Metzico as much as he once did.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Study links obesity to not smoking

"you gotta go back to smoking man, I mean look at you!"

It's no secret that if you look hard enough, you're likely to find a study that suits your point of view. Well, not that I was looking but I heard on good old AM radio yesterday and again today that increased obesity rates in the US may be linked to not smoking. The US obesity rate increased 100 per cent over the last 20 years or so from 15 percent to the current 30 percent. Apparently, those behind the questionable study are blaming the drop in smoking rates among Americans for the rise in obesity.

Well, sadly, there's a lot of younger Americans that can be classified as being obese and frankly most of them were not even born when the previous study was made. So, are we to believe that these teenagers smoked as infants, toddlers or pre-schoolers and then quit? 

I heard about this so-called study on 55 KTSA out of San Antonio but surprisingly, I couldn't find anything on the Internet. Something tells me that the tobacco companies might be all behind this. I mean who else would try to spin "not smoking" as a danger to public health?

Nerd News: Faster than the speed of light?

From The Associated Press

GENEVA — A startling find at one of the world's foremost laboratories that a subatomic particle seemed to move faster than the speed of light has scientists around the world rethinking Albert Einstein and one of the foundations of physics.

Now they are planning to put the finding to further high-speed tests to see if a revolutionary shift in explaining the workings of the universe is needed _ or if the European scientists made a mistake.

Researchers at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research outside Geneva, who announced the discovery Thursday are still somewhat surprised themselves and planned to detail their findings on Friday.

If these results are confirmed, they won't change at all the way we live or the way the universe behaves.
After all, these particles have presumably been speed demons for billions of years. But the finding will fundamentally change our understanding of how the world works, physicists said.

Only two labs elsewhere in the world can try to replicate the results. One is Fermilab outside Chicago and the other is a Japanese lab put on hold by the March tsunami and earthquake.

Going faster than light is something that is just not supposed to happen according to Einstein's 1905 special theory of relativity _ the one made famous by the equation E equals mc2. The speed of light _ 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second) _ has long been considered a cosmic speed limit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hundreds make Heatwave happy

"I reckon we done got ourselves a new record!"

On Wednesday, the temperature in Laredo again reached the century mark. It was the 117th time this year the mercury hit 100 degrees or above, an all-time record. Naturally, our own Heatwave Behrler was all smiles with the new record. Actually, the old record was 115 days in 1998 so we had already set a new record just a couple of days ago.

Of course, there is no rain in the immediate forecast. With the exception of a few recent showers, the prolonged record-drought continues. No wonder so many "lawns" in Laredo are now mere patches of dirt with a blade of grass here and there.

Finally, Laredo eats McAllen's lunch- while driving !

From The Houston Business Journal

Houston has inched up from 161 last year to 155 on Allstate Insurance Co.’s ranking of cities with the best drivers.

Allstate’s report ranks America’s 200 largest cities based on car accident frequency. According to the report, an average driver in Houston will have a collision every 7.8 years. The national average is 10 years.

All other cities in Texas fared better, with Laredo ranked 28th, Brownsville at 32, McAllen at 41, Amarillo at 48, Lubbock at 69, Corpus Christi at 76, El Paso at 78, Waco at 100, Fort Worth at 130, San Antonio at 142 and Austin at 150.

According to the report, America’s safest driving city is Fort Collins, Colo., where a driver is likely to experience a collision every 14 years.

Rounding out the top five are Boise, Idaho; Lincoln, Neb.; Chandler, Ariz. and Huntsville, Ala.

Even outsiders see "Bordertown" 's misinformation-but mayor lauds Roker's work

At Monday's Laredo city council meeting, mayor Salinas spent several minutes defending the Laredo Police Department's role in the new A&E reality show Bordertown:Laredo. He repeated over and over that our police department came off looking like professionals. The problem is : nobody was criticizing the LPD to begin with.

The criticism has been directed at the mayor, council & staff for selling out the reputation of the Gateway City. As bad a rap as Laredo gets, it certainly didn't need our own mayor & gang to contribute to the negative publicity that has already been generated by A&E's promos for the upcoming series. Why did they expect someone who's main objective is to get high ratings to lookout for the best interest of our city?

By Jose De La Isla
Hispanic Link News Service

According to A&E cable channel publicists, a new reality show, called "BORDERTOWN: LAREDO" starts in October. It's about "five Mexican-American cops determined to take back their community." The question is who kidnapped it?

The cable publicists say, "The explosive drama, violence and conflict that unfold daily along the U.S.-Mexico border" is the story about "local cops, members of the Laredo Texas Police Department narcotics unit, who are waging a daily battle to protect the U.S." Okay, so it is about local police who protect not just the border city but the nation.

It has all of the elements of that new blend of entertainment where reality gets mixed with misconception and passes as non-fiction dramatization. It's as if "COPS" is about police-community relations. Or as if Jerry Springer is about family therapy.

At least A&E ("arts and entertainment") is an admission that its program is not truly true -- just kinda, sorta, could be, but probably or maybe not, or another kind of truth.

Laredo is an important U.S. community and it is undeserving of a flawed mischaracterization. It is a shame that A&E's publicity department says Laredo is the largest inland port on the U.S.-Mexico border and in the next long sentence claims it "is the premier gateway used by Mexican drug cartels to transport illegal narcotics into the U.S. and exports billions of dollars in cash to Mexico." That may or may not be true.
I'm not so sure about "premier" and what sounds like trailer trucks hauling back "billions of dollars in cash to Mexico." The drug trade just doesn't work that way.

The disingenuous part is conflating this nation's second largest NAFTA trading partner (read, helps create jobs) with U.S. demand-driven drug trade. This confetti of concepts would be comical were it not so bloody.

But truth doesn't have the entertainment value it used to, so it's better just to make it all up instead.

(Jose de la Isla writes a weekly commentary for Hispanic Link News Service. E-mail him at joseisla3(at) See this column and more at

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rick Perry addresses the Palestine issue

Palestine, Texas

I heard this morning that Good Ol' Rick Perry is out on the stump again. This time he's apparently talking about Palestine and the issues surrounding it. Somebody needs to get out there and tell him that it's not the Good Ol boy town of Palestine, Texas that the United Nations has been discussing. He's bound to put his foot in his mouth again, Tony Llama boot and all.

UISD Supt. faces Evaluation: The Suspense !!

LMT reports this morning:

UISD trustees are slated to conduct Superintendent Roberto “Bobby” Santos’ annual evaluation tonight and vote on any possible modifications to his contract, such as salary and an extension.

In November, trustees voted unanimously to extend the longstanding superintendent’s contract through June 30, 2012, with an automatic renewal for another year, through 2013, unless they decide otherwise.

Trustees also gave him a $4,000, or 2 percent, raise, from $194,000 to approximately $198,000.
Santos, who oversees the second largest district in the region, was paid $223,000.

He received that amount because of a contract provision that allows him to earn up to $25,000 in performance pay.

For the 2010-11 school year, Santos got the full $25,000, bringing his total earnings from $198,000 to $223,000.

Meanwhile, the superintendent at Brownsville ISD, the biggest district in the region, earned $198,000.

According to the Texas Association of School Boards, Santos, as of last fall, was slightly underpaid based on statewide averages.

The average annual salary for superintendents at districts with 25,000 to 50,000 students was about $235,000. UISD has about 42,000 students.

Santos does not receive any other perks, such as a car or cell phone allowance and life insurance policy.

According to TASB, providing superintendents with performance pay is a growing trend in Texas school districts.

Webb County: Shenanigans or ineptness ?

Your Tax Dollars at work ? 

The Cirque O' Disarray circus continues over at our good ol' Webb county. Always ready to provide a goldmine of material for our local media and bloggers alike, they have not disappointed us. It looks like this year's budget had to be amended to cover an extra, unexpected 3.5 million dollars.

I'm guessing that having to pay for nearly $1 Million out of the general (taxpayers) fund to cover the non-reimbursed CAA money that was wasted on the weatherization and Energy Assistance programs was a big reason the budget was short.

Notice that nowhere in this article is there any mention of the $400,000 wasted on the weatherization program nor of the $508,000 wasted on the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP). The scheming court probably made sure that was taken care of and pretended that the shortage was elsewhere.

Here are some of the lowlights from today's article in the LMT:

From The Laredo Morning Times

Webb County commissioners court approved the county’s budget for the next fiscal year Monday after adding nearly $3.5 million in unfunded costs to the proposal submitted by the county auditor last week.
Keep your fingers crossed! Good strategy!
The court is betting that sales and property tax revenues will surpass projections enough to offset the difference between planned expenditures and revenues.

Without an increase in revenues over the next fiscal year, the county will be forced to draw on its $12.6 million fund balance.

The new budget, at just under $80 million, includes a 2 percent cost of living increase for all county employees except department heads and elected officials.

The pay raises will cost about $860,000.

Among other major budget items added over the last week were $1.1 million in positions and salaries for the sheriff’s department.
45 New Positions?? Are there that many cronies??
Flores’s original budget, presented last Monday, included 15 new full-time positions at the county.

The court added more than twice that number in new positions, as well as stipends previously paid for through discretionary funds.

Time for another trip to the Big Apple?
Commissioner Jerry Garza said he was reluctant to balance the budget by drawing on reserves year after year and endangering the county’s AA credit rating.

We haven’t been to New York in awhile and we haven’t sat down with the rating agencies,” he said.
Whew, it's a good thing there's a freeze!
The court also approved the continuation of an ongoing freeze on hiring, salary increases or line item transfers without approval from the court.

Monday, September 19, 2011

On the rise in Carrizo Springs

Vaquero Investment Properties is in the process of building a 96-unit apartment complex in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale, Carrizo Springs, Texas.  For many years, Cleos has been the main investor in town. Whenever I would travel to "Carrizo", I noticed almost every business had the name Cleo attached to it. There was a Cleo's chicken, Cleo's drive-inn, Cleo's gas station, Cleo's laundromat , you name it- Cleo was in on it.

That was then- now, it's the out of town, big money that's swooping down and investing millions upon millions. Whether it be the countless oil and gas operators destroying our Texas brush land or wide-eyed opportunists seeking to capitalize on the current boom, it's all out-of-town money now. As our illustrious mayor Raul Salinas said "San Antonio's chamber of commerce has made 4 trips to Carrizo Springs and is eating our lunch". Well, it looks like most of the lunch-eaters will be coming in from further and further away.

Compare a McAllen idea with the Kell-Munoz idea

Mac Allen enjoys a delicious Laredo sandwich

McALLEN — Main Street business owners say they’re cautiously optimistic that transforming McAllen’s main library into an arts incubator will increase the area’s cultural cachet and boost their bottom lines.

Moving the arts incubator to North Main Street makes sense, Guerra said, and could catalyze the arts district’s development. The incubator would join Alonzo Cantu’s Art Village on Main, sculptor Douglas Clark and others on the stretch of North Main Street between Business 83 and Pecan Boulevard that has slowly taken on an arts focus.

“We need to find a group that is willing to take on the cost of the building and keep the building up and running,” City Commissioner John Ingram said. “The chamber, with the art incubator, has stepped up to the plate.”

Making the old library a viable studio space presents several challenges, including hefty utility bills, said Steve Ahlenius, the chamber’s president and CEO. At first, the chamber will focus on the building’s first floor.
“This is going to have a bootstrap feel,” Ahlenius said, and expand based on demand.

Artists would rent studios for $175 to $200 each month and potentially offer classes, Ahlenius said. Those events would bring art-minded people to North Main Street, where they might stop into nearby businesses.
“I think moving the incubator over to the old main library, having a place where you can have performances, there are just a lot of possibilities,” Ahlenius said. “I’m betting it’s going to be that tipping point that’s going to help.”

Texas GOP gerrymandering plans violates Voting Rights Act, put on hold by US Justice Dept.

From The Huffington Post
By April Castro

AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. Department of Justice said in a court filing Monday that Texas' new voting maps for Congress and for the Texas House do not meet federal anti-discrimination requirements, setting up a legal battle that will decide the landscape of future elections in the state.

The case, which involves the election districts drawn by the Republican-led Texas Legislature, will likely be decided by a federal court in Washington, D.C.

Texas received four new congressional seats following the last census, more than any other state. The new congressional map was drawn with the goal of protecting and possibly expanding the 23-9 majority enjoyed by Republicans in Texas' delegation in Washington.

Hispanics have accounted for two-thirds of the state's growth since 2000. Yet during the two-week federal trial, opponents argued that GOP mapmakers went out of their way to stifle those gains and deny Hispanics greater voting power.

Democrats argued that the map passed by the Texas Legislature this summer simply packed Hispanics and blacks into the same districts

Local: Mayor keeps digging himself a bigger hole

For beginners, it looks like Laredo streets are still unpaved.

Today, El Alcalde, as BTB affectionately refers to our mayor, was a guest on Pro8News at noon. Once again, he attempted to justify the city's selling out to A&E and Al Roker productions, the rights to follow the Laredo PD around and base a nationally-televised reality show around their experiences. Well, the more he tries to explain it, the less sense it makes.

Today, the mayor kept repeating his take: once people get to really, really see the show, they will figure out that Laredo is one of the safest cities and come down for a visit. That would mean expecting a reality show to depict the actual reality of the Gateway City's comparably low crime statistics.

Naturally, A&E and Roker will have nothing of that. Pro8News' Noraida Negron commented to the Mayor that the promos of the upcoming show are instead using graphic pictures of shootings in other places to promote the show.

Exactly what is it that makes the mayor think that the same kind of people that will be drawn to the show by such violence will actually take the time to be objective, study and analyze the show meticulously enough to be able to see the underlying qualities that the LPD and Laredo have to offer?

They should have never agreed to sell these rights in the first place. What the mayor should do is admit they made a mistake, negotiate with Roker and A&E and have someone else (not him) be allowed to give a disclaimer of sorts at the very beginning of every episode.

Perry's environmental record

perry_smokestacks.jpgFrom The Texas Observer
By Forrest Wilder

While Texas politics has never been too kind to those with green leanings, Perry has been particularly hostile to environmental concerns -- that is, when he's showing any interest at all.

In truth, as governor, Perry has rarely had much to say about Texas' pressing environmental problems -- dwindling water supplies, a dearth of public parkland to serve a growing population, the consequences of an oil-and-gas 'fracking' boom in North and South Texas, and the ravages of climate change -- other than to bash the EPA or tout Texas' modest gains in urban air quality, improvements that have much more to do with federal mandates than Texas ingenuity.

For the most part, he appears to be just not that interested. But on a few issues Perry has certainly made his mark. The governor's environmental policies, if he can be said to have any, are best understood as an extension of his anti-fed bent and coziness with wealthy individuals and corporations. When someone needs a favor or there's a political point to score, he's suddenly fired up and fed up.

He's like the deer hunter who sits in the blind all day drinking beer and shooting the shit, only to blast away mindlessly when Bambi shows up at the feeder. Does he hit the target? Sometimes, but that's not really the point. The point is to make as much noise as possible and have a show of force. In the background, meanwhile, his appointees at captured agencies like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality make sure that business and powerful interests are happy. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Texas Businesses to mold degrees of Texas online College

From The American Independent

Later this month, officials with Western Governors University will announce new details about the nonprofit online college’s Texas chapter, a sub-university created in August with a wave of Gov. Rick Perry’s pen. With self-paced degree programs that let students earn credits as fast as they can for under $6,000 a year, WGU’s expansion in Texas could help boost those stats — especially since its target students are adults walking around with some college credits but no degree.

Texas actually had a similar arrangement with WGU in 2010, one that predated the announcement from Perry — a half-million dollar Texas Workforce Commission program that trained 64 students in nursing and related fields. According to Workforce Commission spokesman Mark Lavergne, the state paid WGU to develop the Multi-state Approach for Preparation of Registered Nurses program, which includes online education and live training in Dallas, Houston, Brownsville and El Paso. Lavergne said the deal ended September 2010, with students going on to take the state nursing board exams.

Degrees shaped by business leaders

Jenkins and WGU prefer to describe the school’s education style as “competency-based” rather than “vocational,” but its degree programs — its biggest are in teaching, nursing, business and information technology — are about arming students with the specific set of skills they’ll need for a job. Jenkins said partnerships in the Texas business community will help tailor their degrees to the state’s hiring needs.

To shape their degree programs, “we go out to business and industry in the field. If you’re getting a bachelor’s degree in IT security, what do you need to be able to do?” Jenkins said. “We work with those experts and walk that backwards thru the degree program.”

Texas State University to acquire Christmas Mountains from state

Big Bend National Park and the Chisos Mountains are seen from the top of the second highest peak in the Christmas Mountains, which border Big Bend. Photo: Lisa Krantz/ /
West Texas' Christmas Mountains : An open-air classroom

AUSTIN — Environmental groups embraced Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson's plan Thursday to give the remote Christmas Mountains to the Texas State University System after fighting him four years ago when he tried to sell the rugged property to private interests.
“This is dramatically better,” Patterson said of the plan to transfer the 9,269-acre Christmas Mountains to a university system for students and faculty to study biology, geology, archaeology and wildlife management.
Texas State University officials will continue to provide public access to the property, although it is not easy to get there and the terrain comes without conventional park amenities. A strict conservation easement prohibits vehicles, open camp fires or the construction of buildings.
The public can access the property from a one-mile border with Big Bend National Park or from a lodge owned by the adjacent Property Owners Association of Terlingua Ranch Inc. Private property runs along 18 miles of the 19-mile perimeter around the mountains.
“Transforming the Christmas Mountains into an open-air classroom in the Texas State University System accomplishes my original goal of not only ensuring expert conservation of this pristine corner of Texas, but preserving thousands of acres of wild, open space for Texas hunters,” Patterson said.

Read more:

Friday, September 16, 2011

McAllen, I mean Harlingen is eating our artistic lonche

From The McAllen Monitor

I don't really know if anyone even goes to Cinesol Film Festival in Harlingen but you have to give the Valley credit for at least being creative. Below is a schedule for some of the films being showcased this weekend at various locations in Harlingen, Texas. It looks like McAllen told their neighbor just how easy and delicious it is to eat Laredo's lunch and now they want to be part of the feast. After last week's proclamation by our Mayor that even San Antonio is "eating our lunch", is anyone surprised for other cities wanting to jump on the bandwagon.

Maybe Laredo is not ready to host a film festival per se but at least they could start with an Ad Festival. Imagine all the corny local commercials that KGNS has put together over the last few years. That in itself would be a substantial offering. From the Pout girls to the Single Lady ripoff to the infamous There goes Jerry ad, Laredo can compete with any small-medium market TV stations around the state. 

SATURDAY, SEPT. 17University of Texas-Pan American (1201 W. University Drive, Edinburg)
  • 12 p.m. “Deseada”    Main Theater (330)
  • 12:30 p.m. “Damn!”    Classroom #1 (50)
  • 1:30 p.m. Golden Age in Mexican Movies  Main Theater (330)
  • 2 p.m. “Challenge of a Champion”  Classroom #1 (50)
  • 2:45 p.m. “Una Ruta Nada Santa”   Main Theater (330)
  • 3:45 p.m. “Where Soldiers Come From”  Classroom #1 (50)
  • 4 p.m. Film Festivals: A Tool to Promote Movie Main Theater (330)
  • 5:15 p.m. “New Children/New York”  Main Theater (330)
  • 5:30 p.m. “Portraits on the Malecon”  Classroom #1 (50)
  • 6:30 p.m. Reception (Library Lobby)  Main Theater (330)
  • 7:30 p.m. “The Summer of Massacre”  Main Theater (330)

SUNDAY, SEPT. 18 University of Texas-Pan American (1201 W. University Drive, Edinburg)
  • 12 p.m. Script to Screen Panel     Main Theater (330)
  • 12:30 p.m. “Wuss!”      Classroom #1 (50)
  • 1:30 p.m. “El Ambulante”     Main Theater (330)
  • 2:30 p.m. “Sixty in 60”     Classroom #1 (50)
  • 3:15 p.m. Video Distribution    Main Theater (330)
  • 3:45 p.m. “Close Up”     Classroom #1 (50)
  • 4:30 p.m. Shorts #2     Main Theater (330)
  • 5:30 p.m. “How to Boil a Frog”    Classroom #1 (50)
  • 6 p.m. “City Dark”     Main Theater (330)
  • 7:30 p.m. “Hard to Love” and “A Lonely Place for Dying” Main Theater (330)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cuellar votes with GOP to pass bill to weaken National Labor Relations Board

Does Blue Dog = GOP ?
From The New York Times
By Steven Greenhouse

The bill, called “The Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act,” is expected to face an uphill battle in the Democratic-led Senate. In the House vote on Thursday, the partisan divide was clear: only 8 Democrats voted for the bill and only 7 Republicans voted against it.

Republicans have repeatedly criticized the complaint that the board’s acting general counsel filed against Boeing last April, which accused the company of building an assembly line in North Charleston, S.C., as a form of retaliation against unionized Boeing employees in Washington State who had engaged in five strikes since 1977, including a 58-day-walkout in 2008. The National Labor Relations Act prohibits companies from taking any actions, whether firing employees or relocating a factory, against workers for exercising federally protected rights that include forming a union or going on strike.

YeaTX-1Gohmert, Louis [R]
YeaTX-2Poe, Ted [R]
YeaTX-3Johnson, Samuel [R]
YeaTX-4Hall, Ralph [R]
YeaTX-5Hensarling, Jeb [R]
YeaTX-6Barton, Joe [R]
YeaTX-7Culberson, John [R]
YeaTX-8Brady, Kevin [R]
NayTX-9Green, Al [D]
YeaTX-10McCaul, Michael [R]
YeaTX-11Conaway, K. [R]
YeaTX-12Granger, Kay [R]
YeaTX-13Thornberry, William [R]
YeaTX-14Paul, Ronald [R]
NayTX-15Hinojosa, Rubén [D]
NayTX-16Reyes, Silvestre [D]
YeaTX-17Flores, Bill [R]
NayTX-18Jackson-Lee, Sheila [D]
YeaTX-19Neugebauer, Randy [R]
NayTX-20Gonzalez, Charles [D]
YeaTX-21Smith, Lamar [R]
YeaTX-22Olson, Pete [R]
YeaTX-23Canseco, Francisco [R]
YeaTX-24Marchant, Kenny [R]
NayTX-25Doggett, Lloyd [D]
YeaTX-26Burgess, Michael [R]
YeaTX-27Farenthold, Blake [R]
YeaTX-28Cuellar, Henry [D]
NayTX-29Green, Raymond [D]
NayTX-30Johnson, Eddie [D]
YeaTX-31Carter, John [R]
YeaTX-32Sessions, Peter [R]

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Weird Prius commercial

I know commercials are meant to get our attention and I guess I fell for this particular one. Actually, I had to take a couple of looks just to see what it was that I was actually seeing. Yep, it turns out it's a bunch of contortionists essentially creating a job market for themselves and fellow contortionists. Are you listening Jim Carrey?

Social Justice Poet Martin Espada featured at Laredo Public Library

Poet & essayist Martin Espada will be at the Laredo Public Library's Multi-Purpose room on Thursday, September 15th at 6:30pm.  He is currently a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Espada is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and also has a J.D. from Northeastern University in Boston. Before becoming a published poet, Espada worked many years as a tenant lawyer and a supervisor of a legal services program.

From The Poetry Foundation's website:

Poet, essayist, translator, editor, and attorney: Martín Espada has dedicated much of his career to the pursuit of social justice, including fighting for Latino rights and reclaiming the historical record. Espada’s critically acclaimed collections of poetry celebrate—and lament—the immigrant and working class experience.

Whether narrating the struggles of Puerto Ricans and Chicanos as they adjust to life in the United States, or chronicling the battles Central and South American Latinos have waged against their own repressive governments, Espada has put "otherness," powerlessness, and poverty, into poetry that is at once moving and exquisitely imagistic".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Excell approached LDF, not the other way around

Well, it looks like the truth about the expansion of Excell distributing in Laredo was a process actually initiated by the company itself. It's still good to hear that more jobs (with benefits) are coming to the Gateway city. However, it looks like the ones who went knocking on doors were the Excell people, and not anyone from the city or county as we had been lead to believe (mislead). Still, congratulations to the Mayor, County, City manager and anyone else who is moving ahead to bring these much-needed "jales" to Laredo.

Monday, September 12, 2011

ANGA: America's Natural Gas Alliance's exercise in deception

Their side of the story

Actual fracking pit in South Texas

ANGA, or America's Natural Gas Aliance loves to use a lot of blues and greens in advertising their supposedly "Clean Energy" source, natural gas. However, the truth is that fracking for natural gas is one of the dirtiest drilling processes around. It comes full of dangerous chemicals, toxic cocktails of black sludge, cancer-causing fumes and other assorted dangers to our area's health and the environment.  Nice try ANGA.

How The American Jobs Act would impact Texas

The American Jobs Act

I was reading up on Obama's proposed American Jobs Act. More specifically, I was wondering how it would affect The Lone Star State if it were to pass in it's current form. Here's some of the findings:

• Highways- Texas will receive $2,332,100,000 in funding to support as many as 30,300 jobs.

• Firefighters,Police & Teachers -While supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more and keeping cops and firefighters on the job. These funds would help states and localities avoid and reverse layoffs now, and will provide $2,565,500,000 in funds to Texas to support up to 39,500 educator and first responder jobs.

• Building schools - Texas would stand to get about $2,300,000 and create approximately 30,000 jobs.

 Construction workers- Rehabilitating and refurbishing hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses, Texas could receive about $114,100,000 to revitalize and refurbish local communities, in addition to funds that would be available through a competitive application. 
• Community Colleges-  Investment in modernizing community colleges fills a key resource gap, and ensures these local, bedrock education institutions have the facilities and equipment to address current workforce demands in today’s highly technical and growing fields. Texas could receive $458,400,000 in funding in the next fiscal year for its community colleges.

GOP strategy: Hispanic vote not as necessary 'cause few whites will vote for Obama

GOP strategy: "Hispanics? We don't need no stinkin' Hispanics!"

Excerpt from The Seattle Times
By Andres Oppenheimer

How can the Republican Party win the 40 percent of the Hispanic vote that most pollsters say it will need in the 2012 elections if their front-runners alienate Hispanic voters on issues such as immigration and cutting social programs, I asked several Republican strategists.

Republican pollster Nicole McCleskey told me that "what's going to be the key factor in 2012 is Obama's poor performance among white voters. Because he is doing poorly among white voters, it decreases the necessity of the Republican candidate getting to that 40 percent figure."

My opinion: In their quest for support of their party's right wing in the primaries, top Republican hopefuls have given up on the Hispanic vote. That's likely to cost their party the 2012 elections.

Tea Party debate on CNN: Insane in the membrane

Immunizations are tyrannical! Liberty! Liberty I tell you!!! Hahahha

If you want to see just how dim-witted some Americans are nowadays, tune in to a repeat of tonight's CNN Tea Party debate when you get a chance. You might just find that it's more hilarious than Comedy Central. Of course, they're serious - and that's the most amazing part of the whole thing. The US Republican party has been taken over by a minority of foaming-at-the-mouth radicals.

Some of the things the Tea Party constantly calls for, among other things are: The virtual elimination of Federal government agencies such as the EPA, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor; the abolishment of the 14th, 15th and 16th amendments; the immediate and indiscriminate deportation of 10-12 million illegal immigrants (aliens in their language), lowering the tax rate for corporations and the mega-rich in hopes of increasing jobs- something that hasn't happened in the 10 years since the Bush Tax cuts have been in place.

Bachman came out saying that state-mandated injections (immunizations) are a deprivation of liberty. I guess we were all deprived then because one thing that you would be send home from school for was not having all your immunization shots. Thanks Michelle Bachman for looking out for the liberty-seeking Tea Party and not caring about the health and well-being of children.

Rick Perry's biggest hits : Vs Tony Sanchez

Here's part of the trickery ol' tricky Rick Perry used to take down Laredo's Tony Sanchez in the 2006 Texas Governor's race. A federal probe had cleared Sanchez of any wrong doing but that didn't stand in the way of Perry. Sanchez called Perry's allegations "an absolute utter lie".

Selling out and Flip Flopping

Dumm dee dumm....let me check out A&E's press release...Dumm-dee-dumm

It all started back in February, when the following item appeared on the Laredo city council's meeting agenda. It was the start of a process in getting A&E to come down to Laredo, film and produce an eventual show that would be seen nation-wide.

Agenda item 16.  2011-R-11 Authorizing the City Manager to enter into and execute a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Laredo and Al Roker Productions for the purposes of recording footage of the activities of the Laredo Police Department for the purposes of a ten (10) episode television series to air on a nationally syndicated television network.

Next, take a look at the press release that A&E has prepared in announcing the Cops-like show that's slated to start in October of this year.

Laredo, Texas is under siege. The small city on the U.S.-Mexico border is overrun by the sophisticated and large-scale trafficking operations of Mexican drug cartels... The largest inland port on the U.S.-Mexico border, Laredo is the premiere gateway used by Mexican drug cartels to transport illegal narcotics into the U.S. and export billions of dollars in cash to Mexico.
"Bordertown: Laredo" gives viewers exclusive access to the explosive drama, violence and conflict that unfold daily along the U.S.-Mexico border through the unique perspective of five Mexican-American cops determined to take back their community.

Normally, the Mayor would be the first one out in front denouncing such a portrayal of the Gateway City. He would be absolutely fuming about the effect such a negative press release could have on the reputation of the city, let alone on the economy of Laredo.

No so fast! Following, is the Mayor's actual response. contacted the Mayor via e-mail to get his take on such a economically-injurious release by A&E. Well, judge for yourself how well you think the Mayor did in defending Laredo.

Mayor's Raul Salinas' response to A&E's press release:

We recognize that the marketing team at A&E had a job to do when developing a marketing campaign for the show, so that it would stand out from the hundreds of other reality shows out there, in an effort to get viewers interested in watching the show.
We believe, however, that once people begin watching the show and see the reality of Laredo, our amazing and dedicated Laredo Police Department narcotics unit and the work they are doing that keeps Laredo - and the rest of the nation - safe from drug dealers and others who would wish to do us harm, they will come to know and understand the true Laredo: the city with the lowest crime rate in the state of Texas."

I guess since A&E acted with full permission of the Mayor, city council and city staff, Salinas has no choice but to try to lip stick on a pretty ugly pig.