Saturday, May 7, 2016

City embarks on "New" Master Planning without ever revealing "Old", $400,000 Master Plan

Laredo (LT) - The Laredo Morning Times, also known to some as El Empty, is reporting this morning that the City of Laredo is embarking on a brand new "Master Plan", uninspiringly entitled "Viva Laredo".  I wonder how much thought went into that branding process.

Disturbingly, there seems to be a full-court press on the taxpayers to dredge up all sorts of initiatives from the same old names in the private architectural and engineering sector in town.  Just a couple of months ago, we found out of the 4 plazas plan. Now, If you look at the names of those involved, it might seem like a "who's who" of recent contract awardees. Yes, some even donated to the city's recent trip to Washington DC as our friends at Our Laredo have been diligently reporting.

Even more disturbing is the fact that the citizens who paid for the last fiasco entitled the Downtown Revitilization Master Plan never got to see the end product of what their tax dollars were seemingly wasted on.

Are we about to go down the same path?  It's very possible. Remember that, last time around, the big bucks went to a San Antonio firm by the name of Kell-Munoz. This time around, although some non-Laredo firms have been "invited", the major forces behind this effort are clearly local architects and engineers. Maybe they figured it's their turn for a bite at the proverbial apple.

What I would suggest is this: Let's take a look at the last "Master Plan" before any further talk of this brand spanking new "Viva Laredo" initiative. Is there  any overlap? Can anything be salvaged from our previous squandering of tax payer dollars?

For the record, Mayor Pete Saenz did ask for a full report to the public on the Kell-Munoz plan from the city manager. Nonetheless, the Mayor's instructions were somehow completely ignored and here we stand again, on the brink of perhaps another round of corporate welfare without ever getting to see the results of the last one.

Monday, February 22, 2016

After buying "Haunted House", Mercy Hospital is next?

LMT reporter Kendra Ablaza had a story in today's Laredo Morning Times.  Although, judging by today's reporting, Ablaza's story would be more at home if LMT stood for Limited Morning Times since in this particular piece, the Public was given only half of the story behind the purchase of the Canseco home.  Left out, whether by design or by negligence, was the fact that, at one time, Mr. George Beckelhymer had gone before the laredo city council and stated that he would be donating the house to the city.  Also left out, was how a "donation" turned into a $540,000 purchase funded with taxpayer money.

There was also something lacking as far as clarity. The LMT story quotes Council Alex Perez, who was the main force behind this purchase, as having said " It's the poster child of Laredo's Most Haunted. It could just as easily be something great for that area".

It's hard to say just exactly what Perez meant by this statement. Did he mean : "Although at the moment, it's the poster child for a haunted house, it could easily be something great for this area"? This would signal an improvement in the status of the home. Or did he mean " Because it is the poster child for a haunted house, it could be something great for this area".   That would not make much sense to me.

Another unclear quote attributed to Cm. Perez went like this : "After this what's next is that old hospital".  I hope this does not mean that the city is seriously considering  buying the old Mercy Hospital with taxpayer money.  Councilman Perez, himself, has stated previously that the old hospital is an eyesore and that its dilapidated condition has had a detrimental effect on the surrounding area.

So, given the degree to which the owners of the old hospital have failed to adequately maintain their property,  are those same owners about to be handsomely rewarded for neglecting their property as much as they have been?

In the meantime, the city has been refusing to turn on the lights at our local baseball parks so that little league kids can practice.  Talk about misplaced priorities.