Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Webb County Civil Service Commission rejects micro-managing attempt by county commissioners

Ribbon Cutting
We no need no stinking Civil Service!!
Your friendly Laredo Morning Times (aka El Empty) is reporting this morning on an apparent attempt by Webb county commissioners to interfere with the county's Civil Service Commission.  Here's some of the proposed changes that did not sit well with the commissioner's court:

) New language barring department heads from tailoring job descriptions to particular people.

2)Preventing human resources from forwarding disqualified applications to departments.

3) Additional revisions clarified the timeline and process for filing a grievance in response to a termination or disciplinary action.

The Civil Service Commission came up with these revisions late last year after holding a workshop for employees to discusss their concerns with the way prior grievances have been conducted. 

I have to say that these revisions seem to have been carefully thought out. They would have the cumulative effect of decreasing the chances of favortism by standardizing qualifications and letting only those who meet those standard requirements proceed through the application process.

Still, Jaime Canales and Wawi Tijerina's office have indicated that they are unhappy with these changes. Canales claims to want more transparency while Andy Arellano (Wawi's spokesperson) says that the Civil Service Commission is over-reaching its jurisdiction.

Instead, county commissioners voted Monday to put together a group of "elected officials and department heads" to go over the proposed changes and provided feedback? 

It sounds like they simply want to keep their hands in the hiring process so that they can continue to repay political favors. All in all, good job Civil Service in rejecting this particular attempt at extending cronyism in our county government.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Misnomer: City of Laredo's lack of word power

I couldn't find a picture of the City of Laredo's recently-opened "annex" on loop 20 in South East Laredo. Still, as I was driving past the former Paul Young auto mall, I realized that no one must have given much thought to what they were going to call the new tax and water offices. So, someone who probably gets paid a lot of money  simply decided to call it an "annex".

Yet, according to the dictionary, the definition of annex is as follows:

1. A building added on to a larger one or an auxiliary building situated near a main one.
Laredo's  City Hall is miles away in downtown, so there is absolutely no chance that this new building would be situated anywhere close to the "main" edifice. That being said, the building on loop 20 is not really an annex afterall.

 Perhaps with all those hundreds of thousands of dollars that we taxpayers are paying those who make such decisions, someone should at least go out and buy themsevles a dictionary.

RedMeat Chronicles: Santorum on Obama "What a snob"

If you thought ignorance was in any danger of becoming extinct, here's proof that it's alive, well and thriving in pockets of GOP white voters who continue to hate on Obama:

"Heh, heh, that' Obammer feller is a dang snob for wanting us to get learned in his librul colleges. What's he take us fer? fools?"

As Santorum point out, Obama wants everybody to go to College- as in Laredo Community COLLEGE. That's a lot different than wanting everyone to go to a UNIVERSITY.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Town's ban on Fracking NOT pre-empted by state law

From Bloomberg News

Bans on natural gas drilling in two New York towns were each upheld by state judges this week.

Middlefield, New York’s 2011 ban on gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, was upheld by State Supreme Court Judge Donald Cerio Jr. yesterday, according to Tom West, an attorney representing Cooperstown Holstein Corp., a dairy farm that challenged the ban. On Feb. 21, State Supreme Court Judge Phillip Rumsey said the Town of Dryden’s ban on drilling wasn’t preempted by state law.

The local bans target hydraulic fracturing for gas, a process in which chemically treated water is forced underground to break up rock and free trapped gas. Environmental groups say the process threatens drinking water supplies.

“This is really the kiss of death for drilling in New York,” West said in an interview. “No prudent operator is going to invest in leases in New York if those leases are at the mercy of a zoning ban.”

New York placed a moratorium on the drilling process known as fracking in 2010 while state regulators developed environmental rules. Since then, about 20 towns in the state have adopted laws to ban drilling, according to Karen Edelstein, a geographic information-systems consultant in Ithaca.

Mind Games of the 1 per cent

Cheap Bastard Banker leaves less than 1 percent tip, plus free tip of his own 

From The Huffington Post

A banker left a 1% tip in defiance of 'the 99%' at a Newport Beach restaurant the other week, according to his dining companion and underling who snapped a photo of the receipt and posted it to his blog, Future Ex Banker. (Update: the blog is now offline.)

In posting the photo, the employee gave some background on his boss and the receipt:
Mention the “99%” in my boss’ presence and feel his wrath. So proudly does he wear his 1% badge of honor that he tips exactly 1% every time he feels the server doesn’t sufficiently bow down to his Holiness. Oh, and he always makes sure to include a “tip” of his own.

Read more:

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's time to check what the city council's meals are costing us again

Is Johnny Carino's still a favorite at city hall?

A couple of years ago, the Laredo Morning Times ran a story reporting some pretty expensive meals being enjoyed by our honorable seedy council.  I recall some rather fine cusinie was being served by those mysterious closed council doors.

I, for one, think it would be interesting to once again check into how much we're paying to feed our self-serving public servants (double-entendre intended). If anyone from the LMT happens to peruse this humble blog, please consider doing the public a service and let us know if it's costing us an arm and a leg to feed the mayor and his buddies a wing and a thigh.

Question for fellow blogger Keyrose: Are bloggers considered "press" and would any be allowed behind the closed council doors to inquire on behalf of the taxpayers?  I remember you mentioned the status of bloggers in the eyes of the city politicos but I don't recall all the details.

Old Cotulla Bar-b-que place called eyesore; developer to turn it into Maquinitas Joint?

At Monday's Laredo seedy council meeting. A local developer spoke out in favor of a proposed zoning ordinance change that would re-classify the current location of the Old Cotulla Pit Bar-b-Que place on McPhereson.

In his brief time at the podium, the developer called the old Cotulla place an eyesore and said that he planned to re-do the entire place much as the Danny's (a block South) did a few years back.  He added that this would create much-needed jobs for the local economy.

It was unusual, even by Laredo's standards, that not even a single question came from the city council as far as to what type of business was going to be creating these new jobs. This, coupled with the recent trend of other former restaurants (El Rancho, White Swan) being turned into maquinitas joints is what makes me think that the seedy council is only too willing to continue to enable questionable maquinitas operations to further contaminate Laredo. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Apellate court says City of Laredo must buy back sick leave


City of Laredo vs Intl Assosciation of Firefighters local 1309

The union charged that the city had violated the CBA by suspending the sick leave buy-back program. The arbitrator found that the CBA gave the city the option to buy back the firefighters’ sick leave. However, he also found that “the City’s unvarying practice of exercising its annual option to purchase accumulated sick leave for more than 10 years reasonably has led the Union and its members to expect the City to continue to exercise the annual option absent a good faith reason to suspend the program.”

The arbitrator did not approve city officials’ justification for suspending the program, said the city did not act in good faith, and directed the city to purchase the unused sick leave from firefighters who wanted to sell it. The trial court affirmed the arbitrator’s award, and the city appealed.
What the court said. The appeals court affirmed, disagreeing with the city’s allegation that the arbitrator exceeded his authority. The court also said that “the City’s past practices of buying back the firefighters’ sick leave was an arbitrable issue.”

“Although we realize the significant hardships the arbitrator’s decision has placed on the City, our review is very limited, and we must affirm the arbitrator’s findings because there are no valid reasons to vacate the arbitrator’s award,” the court explained.

City of Laredo v. Mojica and International Association of Firefighters Local 1390, Fourth Court of Appeals District of Texas, San Antonio, No. 04-11-00389-CV (1/18/12).

Before: "Unitrade Stadium", Now: "Minor league baseball park"?

Late last year, Laredo's mayor and council announced the official naming of Laredo's future baseball park as "Unitrade Stadium" and everyone was eager to have their picture taken.

However, more recently, any mention of the park is referred to simply as a "minor league baseball park". I couldn't help but wonder why the sudden low-profile after exalting the name of Unitrade Stadium just a month or two ago.

From Monday's City Council agenda:

Item no.41. Consideration for approval of change order no. 1, an increase of $900,000.00 to the construction contract with Construction Manager at Risk Leyendecker Construction, Inc., Laredo, Texas, for the City of Laredo Minor League Ballpark for additional funding required for the purchase of the food service equipment. Current construction contract amount with this change order is $16,555,990.00. Funding is available in the 2011 Sales Tax Revenue Bond and the Baseball Stadium Fund. (Contingent upon approval of Final Reading-Ordinance 2012-O-023).
(Approved by Finance Committee)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Laredo tops in foodstamps but near bottom in affordable housing

That'll be two arms and one leg please. And don't let the picture fool you. You'll only get 5 ft of property on either side.

Leave it up to Laredo to defy logic. Just yesterday, LT posted about Laredo being ranked as one of cities most dependent on food stamps in the entire USA. Now, lo and behold, the Gateway City is ranked  as one of the least affordable places in the country for prospective home owners. I think we should have sociologists down here at TAMIU giving us their best take on how Laredo can simultaneously be at both ends of apparently-opposite spectrums.

 From Building

Among smaller housing markets, the most affordable was Kokomo, Ind., where 99.2 percent of homes sold during the fourth quarter of 2011 were affordable to families earning the median income of $59,100. Other smaller housing markets at the top of the index included Fairbanks, Alaska; Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.; Lima, Ohio; and Rockford, Ill.

In New York-White Plain-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., the least affordable major housing market during 2011's fourth quarter, 29.0 percent of all homes sold were affordable to those earning the area's media income of $67,400. This was the 15th consecutive quarter in which the New York metropolitan division held this position.

Other major metro area at the bottom of the affordability index included Honolulu; San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif.; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., respectively.

Ocean City, N.J., where 47.5 percent of the homes were affordable to families earning the median income of $70,100, was the least affordable of the smaller metro housing markets in the country during the fourth quarter. Other small metro areas ranking near the bottom included Laredo, Texas; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.; Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.; and Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas.
Please visit for tables, historic data and details.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Delays, Delays: Looking like May 29th for Texas primaries

— A judge told Texas politicos Wednesday to prepare for Republican and Democratic primaries on May 29 almost three full months after the parties traditionally hold those elections.

The delayed election calendar, a fallout from a lengthy legal fight over state and congressional redistricting maps, will decrease the odds of Texas Republicans having much of a say in choosing the party's presidential nominee. It also will give challengers in both parties more time than usual to try to defeat incumbents up and down the ballot, and it could delay post-primary runoff elections until August.

U.S. Appeals Court Judge Jerry Smith, a member of a three-judge panel hearing the redistricting case, did not officially set a May 29 primary but told party leaders to tell candidates to plan on an election around that time.

Wednesday marked the second delay for this year's primaries. Those elections, which Republicans and Democrats use to choose their nominees for the fall campaigns, usually fall in March but had already been pushed to early April as the redistricting case dragged on.

Mr. Roboto hired by US Customs in Big Bend Natl Park in Texas

From The Alamo's City KENS TV

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, Texas — A new border crossing in far West Texas will rely on technology to screen people traveling between the U.S. and Mexico.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers viewing documents won't be on site, but stationed miles away at another location.

The automated border crossing is at the port of entry inside Big Bend National Park.
Visitors to Big Bend National Park are attracted by the beauty and the border. The Rio Grande divides the United States and Mexico here. Generations of park visitors used to make day trips across the river to the little Mexican village of Boquillas.

That boat ride across the border will begin again this spring when the federal government reopens a border crossing in the isolated national park.

"It is considered a benefit both for tourists and the scientific community to be able to cross here," said Big Bend National Park spokesman David Elkowitz.

The customs officers viewing those documents won't be stationed on this stretch of border, but rather miles away. The automated crossing is a first for the Southwest border.

The survey says: Laredo in top 10 in USA food stamps use

I'll take some filet mignon and a case of Pepsi-Cola please!

Laredo ranks among the top ten cities in the entire United States in regards to the percentage of its residents receiving food stamps. Does that make Mayor Raul Salinas the "Food Stamp Mayor"?  Our beloved Gateway City comes in at number 9 in the USA with a whopping 27 percent of its residents receiving food stamps aka SNAP benefits.

From the US Census Bureau's 2010 American Community Survey

Metro areaHouseholdsHouseholds with food stamps and/or SNAP benefitsFood stamps and/or SNAP %RankAscending
Rio Grande City-Roma, TX15,5696,07439.01%1
Raymondville, TX5,4851,90834.79%2
Eagle Pass, TX14,5524,80633.03%3
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX205,97162,55830.37%7
Laredo, TX64,71417,70327.36%9
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX113,54729,10625.63%17
Uvalde, TX8,8242,03423.05%26
Alice, TX13,4412,72420.27%41
El Paso, TX242,94349,00920.17%43
Pecos, TX3,62864317.72%72

Kazenopolis: "The mini city also has junior Border Patrol agents"

Way to go! The Laredo Morning Times ran a story this morning on Kazenopolis, a so-called mini-city at one of the local schools complete with it's own aspiring Border Patrol agents. What better way to discourage bullying, especially against the English Language Learners (the current designation for Spanish-speaking students).

Can you imagine those junior Border Patrol agents stopping a non-English speaking student in the halls "papers please!".

From The Laredo Morning Times

The mini-city

The teller station is the community’s centerpiece.

There, students can open accounts, make deposits, write checks, balance checkbooks and withdraw their “Kazenopolis Cash.”

Meanwhile, booths representing the mini-city’s departments line the hallways surrounding the library.

Departments include the post office, utilities, recycling, agriculture and a radio station.

The mini-city also has junior Border Patrol agents.

There’s also a mini-mart, where students can spend their mock currency. Items range from pencils and crayons to basketballs.

Prices were jacked up after inventory started selling fast.

Some students protested the increased prices.

Staff, in turn, saw this as an opportunity to teach them about inflation.

Students who wanted to complain about the increased costs were asked to write letters to the Kazenopolis mayor or city council.

The goal of the project is to teach students the basics of local government.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A new meaning to "Border Radio": US Customs testing AM 530 radio locally

Straight out of Government Security News

Customs and Border Protection has installed AM radio broadcast systems at two Texas ports of entry aimed at transmitting information on required documents and procedures to border crossers there.

CBP said the AM radio frequency transmitters at border crossings at Ysleta in El Paso and Lincoln-Juarez in Laredo will communicate important border crossing information to travelers. It said it also plans more installations along the southern and northern borders in the future.

CBP added that the new transmission systems are part of its mission for ever-better methods of communications for the traveling public. The AM transmitter programs have been used effectively by highway and traffic authorities and the agency said it hopes it will be just as effective in its applications.

Information broadcast over the system, according to the agency, will include reminders of document requirements and how to use high-tech travel cards, information about CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs, basic border crossing rules and regulations. It will also give each port of entry the ability to update emergency travel information quickly.

During the technology’s pilot phase, CBP said it will monitor the effectiveness of the new tool in a few locations on the northern and southern borders. Analysis of the pilot will inform further system installations and messaging.

CBP said it has transformed the way it does business at land ports of entry over the last few years and one of the key elements is the concept of active travel lane management at crossing points. The concept, it said, allows infrastructure enhancements like improved license plate readers and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology coupled with new Ready Lanes, light emitting diode (LED) signage and Trusted Traveler lanes (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST) to facilitate the entry process for travelers.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Laredo Actors Guild, Take two!

Perhaps the mayor will find another outlet for his ability to always find the cameras.
According to Adrian Arce's closing comments (which were cut off) more info at :

Laredo may soon have dry cleaners for Mascot costumes

Take a bite out of stubborn stains at Annoy Anew!

The LaredoTejas business desk has received unconfirmed reports that some enterprising Gateway city residents may soon be opening up the first-ever dry cleaning service exclusively for Mascot costumes. Preliminary reports indicate that the new venture is considering opening under the banner of "Annoy Anew", certainly a fitting name for those pesky mascots which have been multiplying faster than rabbits around our bordertown.

"Annoy Anew" will feature custom-made plastic bags to accomodate the unique dimensions of Laredo's mascot population. Whether it be the hastily conceived Andy The Aviator, the oversized melon of the ever-annoying Toby Globy or any other of the more amorphous mascots that virutally defy explanation, Annoy Anew will offer the best in personalized service.

No word yet if one-hour Martinizing will be immediately available. Also, as of press time, no consensus had been reached on what Annoy Anew's own annoying mascot will be.

Kentuckian who defended Laredo reportedly to be honored

From WKYT in Lexington, Ky.

Posting online videos, that's something Jack Strunk said he's never done, "No, not on YouTube."
That is until last week when he, like many other people, took to the web after a video called, "Sara Hates Laredo," went viral. In the video, "Sara" decided to mess with Texas by ranting against the border town and culture, and making comments some view as racist. "Sara's" video has since been removed from YouTube.
"She stirred up a firestorm, she really did," said Strunk.

Eight years ago, Strunk was living in Laredo and was severely injured in a drag strip accident, losing his legs and vision.

"The [drag racing] car flew out of control, hit me against a pickup," described Strunk, adding it, "almost cost me my life."

So if anyone should cringe at the mention of Laredo, you might expect it to be Strunk. Instead, this man with no legs made possibly the biggest stand by posting the response video.

However, he didn't expect what would happen after that, .
"What I said went viral on YouTube and I became this overnight hero," said Strunk.
"Hero," is a term that Strunk says he still struggles with. After all, he says he was just defending his wife's hometown, the same city his son was born, and where he lived for seven years.

Now the same town is possibly coming to him.

"They're supposed to fly into Bluegrass field and bring Mexican food [from Strunk's favorite Laredo place]," said Strunk, but that's not all, a group of delegates from Laredo are expected to bring Strunk a key to the city.

Strunk says the exact day is still being worked out, but he expects it to happen sometime this week.
Since Strunk's video, he says he's received many messages thanking him for his response, adding that he has also been flooded with facebook requests.

See video:

Shenanigans resurface at Webb County

"I think I'm gonna rotate you guys- just because I can"

Seating next to each other at the Webb County commissioner's meetings twice a month has definitely made an impact. Last year, it was Wawi Tijerina who rejected the county atttorney's advice and decided to disrupt the lives of some of the county's community centers employees. At her orders, several  of them had to suddenly report to different work locations even if it meant commuting hundreds of miles over the course of a work week. Naturally, the affected employees filed complaints against Tijerina. The only thing the saved the county from a possible array of legal problems was that the employees failed to filed within the alloted 10-day period. 

This year, not having learned a lick from Wawi's misquided retaliation (which was the employees claimed), It's Frank Sciaraffa's turn to give the county attorney a new round of headaches.

From The Laredo Morning Times

Webb County commissioners voted in their first regular meeting last year to rotate all employees in precinct two community centers at the request of Commissioner Rosaura “Wawi” Tijerina.

Although the county attorney’s office advised against the decision and it eventually led to a civil service complaint, Commissioner Frank Sciaraffa will call for a rotation of all Precinct One community center employees at today’s commissioners court meeting.

Sciaraffa, in an interview, said his motive for the rotations was the same as Tijerina’s — to improve customer service at the centers by exposing the employees to operations throughout the south Webb County precinct.

“It’s very important that my staff know the different areas (of the precinct),” Sciaraffa said.

The rotation will not change the duties, pay or authority of the employees, he said.

Sciaraffa said he did not speak to the county attorney’s office before making the decision.

“I’ve made the decision on my own,” he said.

Sciaraffa said the rotations would be discussed in executive session but that he did not expect any legal obstacles.

Cavazos Ramirez, however, said she would advise the court again that the rotations are not allowable.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Breitbart looses it at, I mean C-PAC

Pro-Fracking commericals full of deception

It's ironic that ad after ad in support of hyraulic fracturing (fracking) is full of images of the very things that the process threatens to destroy: beautiful pristine lakes, lush countryside, clean air and water.

Why do they not include any images of sludge-filled ponds, spilled fracking waste on our roads and highways and toxic dump sites that offend every sense of our evironment and public health?

They don't call it public relations and marketing for nothing. How can they pack so manly mis-presentations and lies into a 30 second spot?

Here's one example:

L.A. Times covers the Sara Melee with lengthy article

Sara Walls, from Winnsboro TX

"This town sucks, and thank God I was not born here or raised here 'cause I would probably be dead by now."

That was the opening salvo from Sara Wells' roughly 8-minute video, "Why Sara hates Laredo," posted earlier this month on YouTube. The video, which appears to have been shot at home with Walls speaking directly to the camera, did not go unnoticed.

Walls, a Colorado native, explains at the start of the video that she moved to the Texas border city of about 230,000 people a year and a half ago, after her husband was transferred there for work. She then begins to rail against Laredo's Latino drivers, crime and life on the border.

"Half the people driving around have Mexican plates and don't know American laws," the young mother says. In the video, Walls wears a hoodie and dangling earrings -- her brown hair pulled back -- with what appears to be a wall of windows and family photos in the background.

Walls, who is white, says in the video that she's encountered "illegal Mexicans" in her backyard three times since moving to Laredo and that half the people in town don't speak English. She bases the statement, she says, on interactions she's had while driving to, among other places, Wal-Mart.

"The Mexican men here are disgusting," she says, and goes on to complain about being hit on. She also has a few things to say about Mexican moms covering their children's cavities with gold caps and feeding babies Pepsi. She even condemns menudo, a traditional Mexican soup, and the annual Laredo menudo festival.
"I have a list of bad stuff I hate about Laredo, that's how much I hate it," Walls says, glancing down to consult the list. "The whole town is really ghetto, sketchy, scary, unsafe."

"I pray to God that my husband can transfer out of here."

The video ends with Walls casually mentioning that she anticipates negative comments from "haters," but promising to read their comments nonetheless.

"I'm a white girl. How do they say it? They call me guera, gringo," she says. "I was never prejudiced against Mexicans until I moved to this town. So thank you, Laredo, for giving good Mexicans a bad name."
Walls grossly underestimated the potential effect of her video rant.

Overwhelmed by hundreds of negative comments and threats, she removed the video only to later see it posted again by critics, garnering more than 24,000 views and nearly 500 comments as of Friday. Viewers vented their anger on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, prompting a CNN ireport that fanned the flames.
"Get a life. Get a job and stop leeching off our Laredo economy and go back to Colorado," one critic wrote, adding, "By the way Colorado is a Spanish word that means red."

"I have blonde hair, green eyes and im not from here either but i love it here. This chick is stupid!" wrote another.

"Everyone should gather a ton of menudo and dump it on her garden at night," someone suggested.
Soon after, a photo of what appears to be Sara Walls menudo mix was uploaded online.
Earlier this week, Walls' husband came forward to apologize on her behalf, but that failed to contain the controversy.

Michael Walls told Laredo's Pro8 News that his wife struggled with being away from her hometown and adjusting to a very different culture. After she posted the video, he said, he and his kids saw the community turn not just on her, but on them too.

"I'm just sincerely sorry and if there is anything I can do to make it right I mean I would but I didn't do it. So I'm apologizing for my family," Walls said on Monday. He added that the family has moved away from Laredo and has no plans to return.

But the apology didn't satisfy Laredoans outraged by the video, many of whom posted send-up videos of their own on YouTube, including an LMFAO remixWhy Laredo hates Colorado and Sara hates menudo, which dubbed Walls "the meanest whitey you'll ever meet."

The outraged included Laredo's mayor, who spoke out against the video the same days Walls' husband apologized.

"The city of Laredo has been offended," Mayor Raul G. Salinas told KGNS TV.
The mayor made a suggestion of what might help, besides apologizing: He invited Sara Walls to come see him at his office "to talk about the city of Laredo."

He said the video was "not fair to the people of Laredo" and claimed "the monster of racism has awoken."
"On YouTube, Facebook you can say whatever you want, but it does not give you the right to be destroying a great city and speaking ill of our culture and our people," he said, "Just because we happen to be bilingual is not a bad thing. It's a good thing."

The mayor went on to praise the local university and schools, tout the upcoming baseball stadium, golf course and the fact that local unemployment is at 7.2%.

"She's totally wrong," he said, "Laredo is numero uno."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Laredo-born Libertarian on open borders (puente Libre)

Puente Libra (free bridge) allowed free travel to and from Mexico during WBCA days

From The Future of Freedom

By Jacob G. Hornberger

Let me give you a real-life example of open borders. I grew up in a border town — Laredo, Texas. The border between Texas and Mexico is much like the border that separates Maryland and Virginia — it’s a river, called the Rio Grande. From downtown Laredo, a person can see Mexico across the river. On the Mexican side is Nuevo Laredo, a city that is larger in population than Laredo. Keep in mind that Laredo, along with the rest of Texas, was once part of the entire northern half of Mexico.

For decades, Laredo has had the biggest celebration in the country in honor of George Washington’s birthday. When I was kid, U.S. officials would completely open the border between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo in order to allow Nuevo Laredoans to freely enter Laredo to enjoy the festivities, including watching a grand parade led by Pocahontas and featuring Laredo’s debutants.

Countless Mexicans would flood across the border. The border was completely open. Yet, the border did not disappear. The Rio Grande remained intact, just as the Potomac River does. Laredo did not lose its sovereignty and, for that matter, neither did Texas or the United States. Mexicans who crossed into Laredo were subject to the laws of Laredo, the state of Texas, and the United States.
The situation is the same in Europe, where for many years citizens in the EU countries have been free to cross the borders of other EU countries. Every day, citizens of Italy, for example, cross the border into France, and vice versa. The borders haven’t disappeared, and Italy and France are still standing, each retaining sovereignty within its respective borders.

Indeed, how many Americans realize that after the United States acquired the entire northern half of Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the new border between Mexico and the United States remained completely open for well over half-a-century, enabling Mexicans to continue traveling freely to what had previously been the northern half of their country? (The Border Patrol wasn’t founded until 1924.) Mexicans would freely cross the border into the United States to visit, work, invest, and even open businesses in competition with American businesses. When they did so, they were, of course, subject to the laws of the United States and the particular states and localities where they went. In the process, the new border between Mexico and the United States did not disappear and neither country lost sovereignty over its respective post-treaty jurisdiction.

Americans have become so accustomed to open borders within the United States that hardly anyone is afraid of them. We hardly ever hear anyone expressing concern that the borders between the respective states are disappearing … or that the states are losing their sovereignty ... or that Marylanders or people from other states who come to Virginia are stealing jobs away from Virginians … or that there is a trade deficit between Maryland and Virginia or any other states ... or that Virginians are moving to Maryland to get on welfare … or that it is too easy for terrorists to cross borders within the United States.

If only Americans could apply their favorable mindset toward open borders within the United States to international borders. What would disappear is not borders and national sovereignty but rather the fear and isolationism that come with controlled borders.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cuellar siding with GOP on redistricting map, angers Texas Dems

From Texas

Many Texas Democrats, who for months have been locked in a brutal battle with Republicans over the once-in-a decade remap process, now say they have found an enemy among their own – and they are fuming.

“He’s a deplorable, dishonest person. He’s proven it time and time again in redistricting,” said Matt Angle, founder of the Lone Star Project, a group that supports and funds Democratic candidates in Texas. “I know it sounds over the top, but it’s true.”

“What bothers me is that he puts his own ambitions ahead of expanding the voting strength of Latino voters. He’s willing to cut the throats of other Latinos to get what he wants,” says Angle.

Particularly galling to Democrats is that Cuellar has a seat in the party’s Congressional Leadership structure. Last year, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tapped the Texas Democrat to serve as vice chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

“It’s outrageous that a member with a seat at the leadership table is negotiating to give away Democratic seats in Texas redistricting,” said one House Democratic leadership aide. “The San Antonio court has been favorable to Democrats, and the federal court is positioned to rule in Democrats’ favor. It makes you wonder what Cuellar is getting out of it.”

Read the entire article at:

Was Sara simply mis-quoted??

Sorry if you mis-heard what I said

A couple of days after the Sara Hates Laredo melee, some are saying (to borrow a phrase from Fox News) that perhaps the out-of-town hater of the Gateway City might have simply been misquoted.

During her racist-fueled rant, Colorado transplant Sara Walls tore into Laredo and its citizens for a wide array of perceived faults. Now, reports are surfacing that are contesting the true intent of some of her more vile comments.

"Misquote" no.1

What we heard " Laredo Sucks!"
What she said?  " Laredo is Success"

While on the surface, Sara appears to lambast our humble hometown, linguists are claiming that if you utter the phrase "Laredo is Success" quickly in a whiny, garbled voice such as Ms. Walls', it is possible to end up with something sounding very much like "Laredo sucks!".
"Misquote" no. 2

What we heard "All Mexican men in Laredo are Disgusting!
What she said?"  "All Mexican men in Laredo are Just Gushing "(with good looks?)

Say the above phrases fast enough and it's very easy to see how one can sound a lot like the other. The is same is true for the following example.
"Misquote" no. 3

What we heard:  "Laredo's is all ghetto"
What she said?": "Laredo's is all good-t-go"

Once again, say it fast enough and it's hard to tell the two phrases apart: Laredo's all good to go......Laredo's all gd-t-go........Laredo's all g-t-o (ghetto?).  Very interesting indeed.

Finally, Sara reportedly inadvertently transposed a couple of key words as she closed out her video-rant which resulted in :
"Misquote" no.4

Thank you Laredo for giving good Mexicans a bad name,  when in reality, she certainly meant to say

Thank you Laredo for giving bad Mexicans a good name

It's unbelievable how garbled enunciation, bad grammar and a whiny voice can lead to so much misunderstanding.  Thanks to the LaredoTejas linguist department for their assistance with this post

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chiropractic Boom: I-Phone Syndrome on the increase

Bad Posture, back/neck pain resulting from Smart Phone addiction

China Daily

They all have the same tell-tale stance: head-down, shoulders hunched in a curve, as their thumb and fingers taps away at the phone.

It may seem harmless enough and a part of modern everyday life, but adopt this stance too often and for too long and the smartphone will literally become a pain in the neck, as well shoulders, elbows, wrists and thumbs.

Ng, the chairwoman of public relations committee of the Hong Kong Chiropractors' Association, said in the long-term this bad posture associated with smartphone use puts strain on muscles which in turn leads to reoccurring episodes of pain.

Left untreated or unchecked, the overuse of these muscles and tendons will lead to degenerative conditions, arthritis and even irreversible damage to tendons and nerves.

"These are degenerative conditions previously associated with people in their 40s and 50s but we are now seeing an increasing number of cases among people in their 30s and even younger. We are calling it 'iPhone syndrome,'" she said.

"Lifestyles have changed. There are kids now who are being given iPhones by their parents so by the time they reach their 30s they will have been using them 20 years already. I have even heard of kids developing 'iPhone syndrome' when they are 15 and 16," she said,

Friday, February 3, 2012

Laredo Education: Last year's news revisited

When I saw this story airing on Pro8News a couple of nights ago, I thought it was a mistake. I figured they were running an old story by mistake. I mean afterall, the Texas legislature is not even in session so how can they be any new news on the education budget issue.

Well, sure enough, I guess TSTA representative Mr. Rene De La Vina figured it was time to drum up some news coverage for an apparent upcoming Austin rally.  No one wants to see anybody in the education field loose their job(s) but the least Pro8News could have done is prefaced this news story with the disclaimer that it's not really news.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Laredo High School Football realignment

From The Nueces County Star

Every two years, the University Interscholastic League does its thing and reorganizes all of the schools in its five classifications based on enrollment changes. It's called realignment, and it remains one of the greatest mysteries of mankind.

At least until Thursday's big reveal.

"When I was on the board of directors for the Texas High School Coaches Association we had a UIL guy come talk to us and said that not even the Secret Service knows what the realignment is going to be," Tuloso-Midway athletic director and football coach Joe Sendejar said. "They just try and keep it as equitable as possible."

Sendejar knows that doesn't always happen in terms of travel and the grouping of geographical rivals in the same district. He anticipates the Warriors in a lineup similar to the one from before the last realignment, which included Laredo Cigarroa, Martin and Nixon.

T-M is likely to be joined by local cohorts Alice, Calallen and Flour Bluff, but he won't know for sure for another five days.

Attention Keyrose: Get your hiking shoes and bike ready

In other city council news, another agenda item (#30) deals with contracting for the work to start on the Chacon Creek hike & bike trail.  Laredo's Most Imposing Blogger Keyrose recently posted about the subject and is bound to be more than ready to be among the first to test-drive the planned trail.

Agenda Item 30 from Monday's upcoming seedy council meeting:

Award of a professional services contract to Sherfey Engineering in the amount of $240,071.25 to provide consulting services for Chacon Creek Hike/Bike Trail, Phase-2 (TXDOT project no. CSJ: 0922-33-142) from Haynes (aka Hines)  Community Center to Texas State Highway 359.

The job includes, survey, design, construction and environmental work for approximate 7800 LF of ADA compliance Asphalt 2" TXDOT Type D trail system, retaining wall, handicap ramps, and railroad underpass. Funding is available in the Parks Capital Grant. This contract was approved by TXDOT on January 30, 2012.

City playing Jekyl and Hyde with Laredo's water suppy

Talk about a split personality. The City of Laredo is certainly experiencing something of the sort in regards to it's view on water conservation- or the lack thereof. On the one hand the city is signalling that they are not really concerned about our dwindling water supply despite the current record drought.

In the last few months, the city has decided to end its stage 3 water restriction policy. This has given the false impression that we should not be the least concerned about the Gateway City's water supply. On top of that, the city has apparently decided to start the sale of water to the infamous fracking industry. It is a well-known fact that fracking even one well uses anywhere from 5 to 7 million gallons of precious water.

Contrast these two irresponsible policies with an item which appears in this week's city council agenda.  There is no doubt that the city is experiencing the classic signs of split personality.

From Monday's (02/06/2012) city council agenda

Agenda Item 20.

The rebate program will provide a standard $100 rebate as a credit to the customer’s water account for replacing toilets from homes built on or prior to 1993 that used 3-7 gallons of water per flush with high efficiency toilets that use 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush; rebates will be limited to a maximum of two (2) per household per year and will be credited to the regular monthly payment of the account responsible for paying the water services delivered to the meter at the property where the high efficiency toiled was installed.

Rebates will only be made available to residential water customers who have an active water account through the City of Laredo Utilities Department and are current in their water bill; a complete application, copy of identification card, landlord consent form & rental agreement or contract (if needed), and original receipt will be required for processing of application.

Water conservation inspectors will conduct a visual inspection at each applicant’s property and the Solid Waste Department will collect all old toilets and dispose of them at the City of Laredo landfill
2012-R-008  - Authorizing the City Manager to support and approve a Watersense High Efficiency Toilet (HET) Rebate Program for qualified water customers of the City of Laredo.

HEB Super Bowl Ad

Well, it looks like "El H.E.B" (or is it "La H.E.B"?) is jumping on the Super Bowl Ad bandwagon. Naturally, Laredo is mentioned in the script as are other Texas towns loyal to the HEB brand.  I understand no shopping carts were damaged in the making of this commercial and hopefully some of them might have even been donated to the homeless: many times it's the only "home" they got.

HEB commercial

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Laredo again at bottom of "Most Romantic Cities"

Still topping Laredo's Movie Charts!
In a pathetic attempt to drum up rentals of romantic comedies, movie-rental giant Redbox is once again is putting down those cities which have obviously different tastes DVDs. With Laredoans not really being fans of those sappy Romantic Comedies, I'm guessing that an odd array of other selections tops the list of Laredo Favorites.

Some of those might include: The very best of WWE, Bordertown:Laredo-The First Season, The Saga of Max The Laredo Dancing Bird and not surprisingly, Eddie Macon's Run.

As for the rest of the country:

Laredo, Texas is the least romantic city for the second year in a row. Below are the top ten cities in each category:
10 Most Romantic Cities 1. La Crosse, Wis. 2. Green Bay, Wis. 3. Ames, Iowa 4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa 5. Sioux Falls, S.D. 6. Wausau, Wis. 7. Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, Mich. 8. Fargo, N.D. 9. Madison, Wis. 10. Mankato, Minn.

10 Least Romantic Cities 1. Laredo, Texas 2. Midland, Texas 3. Greenwood, Miss. 4. Victoria, Texas 5. Eureka, Calif. 6. Odessa, Texas 7. Las Vegas, Nev. 8. Florence, S.C. 9. Meridian, Miss. 10. Tucson, Ariz.

2012 Redbox Valentine's Day - Survey Snapshots*

Environment: Recycled post

Laredo blogging colossal BTB had an interesting post featuring a mini Willie Bote this morning. Naturally, I had to study this bit of news a little bit further. Upon Googling "mini Willie Bote" (images), I was pleasantly surprised that the very first image displayed was by none other than yours truly.

Below, is a reposting of  my hastily composed rendition of what the trashcans around Laredo before the days of Willie looked like as I wondered whether the infamous Willie would even acknowledge his lowly cousin.

From LaredoTejas circa November, 2010

A marginalized Vato Bote knocks repeatedly outside Willie Bote's Mansion

Eagle Pass coal mines hearing update

From The Eagle Pass Business Journal

It looks as if those who want to revive the Dos Republicas coal mining operation North of Eagle Pass might not have been very well prepared for the hearings which started on Monday, January 30th. Most of the Eagle Pass community, including its elected officials are reportedly against the mines reopening.

From The Eagle Pass Business Journal

By: Ricardo E. Calderón
The Railroad Commission of Texas public hearing on Mexican owned Dos Republicas Coal Partnership application to renew, revise, and expand permit 42A Eagle Pass Mine started Monday, January 30, 2012 in Austin, Texas.

On Tuesday, January 31, 2012 Dos Republicas Coal Partnership witness Andres Gonzalez Coss Saravia testified that as of today Dos Republicas Coal Partnership does not have any contracts to sell the Eagle Pass Mine coal to anybody in Mexico nor the United States.

On cross examination Saravia further testified that Dos Republicas Coal Partnership does not currently have enough water rights to satisfy the dust suppressant requirement nor does he know how much water will it take to operate the Eagle Pass Mine. Saravia testified that if Dos Republicas Coal Partnership does not obtain enough water for the proposed Eagle Pass Mine they will not be able to operate the mine.

A major problem for Dos Republicas Coal Partnership is whether they can obtain sufficient water rights to operate the mine.
Read more on Thursdays issue February 2nd of the Eagle Pass Business Journal

Technology: Attend a state senate hearing in your pajamas

From The Austin American Statesman

"It's part of an online renewal of the governing process," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, Texas director of Public Citizen, a government watchdog group. "In a state the size of Texas, it gives people from Pampa to Poteet the chance to participate directly in government in ways they never had a chance to before."

At present, the Senate panel is working to "crowdsource" an upcoming hearing on payday lending to give a voice to more Texans affected by the high-interest, short-term loans.

Crowdsourcing is an open call issued online for help in performing tasks — preparing legislation or compiling research, in this case — in the hope of getting a group of people or "crowd" to carry out the task.
Several times in recent months, the Senate panel and the Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency have used Twitter, live blogs and other online tools to try to broaden citizen involvement.

"I absolutely love it," said state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee and a co-chair of the joint committee. "We don't make as many copies as we used to, and that saves money, because it's all online in real time. People can participate from any point in the state without coming to Austin, and it's much easier for them to be involved."