What's the deal ...
Is he/she on sabbatical?
A former Rio Grande Valley resident takes a look at the political idiocy from the perspective of San Antonio.
When The Monitor revamped its website, readers apparently lost the old web archives. But thanks to the miraculous workings of the Wayback Machine, you can read the original editorial from March 2005. Oh, and here's an earlier editorial with more details on Delgado's case from January '05.
The region's presiding judge Thursday dismissed subpoenas ordering the top two editors at The Monitor newspaper in McAllen to appear in court over an editorial that called for a judge to recuse himself from a case against another judge. ...
The hearing was to determine whether District Judge Bobby Flores can be blocked from hearing the case against District Judge Rudy Delgado. Delgado has been suspended amid charges he evaded arrest and misused official information during a 2002 arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
The protest walker had been walking alone all day, without a single reporter or photographer. But there were three cars that had fallen in behind the truck of John Neck[,] who always follows [Jay] Johnson-Castro to keep him protected from traffic. So the feds had the protesters outnumbered.Johnson-Castro's no stranger to protest walks in the Rio Grande Valley: he recently completed a 200-mile trek to protest the proposed border wall (with Neck driving slowly behind him).
The last child left the state-licensed Away From Home Inc. shelter in Nixon, southeast of San Antonio, on March 7. The FBI is investigating reports that young detainees, all illegal immigrant children traveling alone, have been sexually abused.Of course, no one doesanything at first, other than remove the kids from the facility, in an out-of-sight, out-of-mind move. Now, perhaps, anyone responsible for sexual abuse will be punished.
FBI agents arrested PSJA school board member Roy Rodriguez and two McAllen contractors early this morning in connection with the raids of PSJA school offices and board members’ homes in January 2005.In addition to Rodriguez, the feds charged Joe Lopez and Pedro Armando Gutierrez, who they say paid the school trustee in exchange for favorable votes and influence on district contracts. Sez NewsChanel 5:
We're told the charges involve Rodriguez's work on the school board and school construction projectsThis isn't the first bribery case concerning PSJA. Back in 2005, a federal grand jury charged board member Jaime Santa Maria and contractor Alonso Cardenas Jr. They later pleaded guilty -- and it turns out that Cardenas taped his conversations with the board member, which led to evidence against Santa Maria.
The indictment, returned under seal on February 27, 2007 and unsealed today, charges all the defendants with conspiracy to commit extortion, mail fraud, and bribery concerning a federally funded governmental agency, and interstate travel in aid of a bribery scheme. PSJA-ISD, a large school district which receives substantial federal funds, is located in Hidalgo County, Texas. Rodriguez is accused of receiving cash payments totaling $65,000 from his co-defendants between 1997 and 2004 in exchange for the use of the official power of his elected office to arrange and assiste Lopez and Gutierrez with bids the submitted for PSJA-ISD design and construction contracts.
A district court judge granted Omar Guerrero a $1 million bond Thursday, but a technicality will probably keep the former Hidalgo County district clerk in jail over the weekend.This is a Law & Order twist as applied to a Jerry Springer episode.
The FBI brought Guerrero across the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge about 11:45 p.m. Saturday, Mission police officials said. Guerrero was cooperative with authorities, according to [Mission police chief Leo] Longoria.Action 4 News has breaking news of the extradition, including a long video clip. (at about 5 minutes into the first "Omar Guerrero Extradited" video link, you can see the skinny, goatee-wearing, yellow shirt-clad Real Man of Genius get booked into the Mission city jail.
Since he disappeared in early December, police have found a large amount of marijuana and cocaine in Guerrero’s North McAllen home; a justice of the peace said Guerrero threatened her; Guerrero lost his job; his wife divorced him; and he turned 30.That's in addition to the charges of sexual assault of a child, DWI, marijuana possession, and a civil suit over a defaulted loan.
Gonzales, who was born in San Antonio, also responded to media reports that Middle Eastern terrorists were training to cross the southern border illegally into the United States. The possibility of terrorists sneaking through the Mexican border is a concern, but there's no specific or credible intelligence to say it is happening, he said. [emphasis added]Cue NewsChannel 5's Will Ripley, who mentions the $300,000 grant but then, about a minute-and-a-half into the broadcast report about the visit, invokes "Homeland Security" and asks Gonzales if he thinks there's a real danger of terrorists sneaking across the border. "We are concerned about terrorists coming into our country."
Ripley cut the AG's sentence in half to feed the terror monster he created.Of course, this isn't the first time Rio Grande Valley broadcasters tried to grab viewers by crying "Terrorist!" Remember that South African woman arrested at the McAllen airport? TV made a huge deal about the "suspected al Qaida operative" right here at home. Turns out there was no connection to any terrorist groups.
The county's top election official discovered the mistake when early voting results in House District 28 put long-shot Constitution Party candidate Ron Avery ahead of popular Democratic incumbent Henry Cuellar by almost 2,000 votes with roughly 2,200 tabulated. ...
Election Systems and Software, which employs the programmer, provides voting equipment to 145 of the 254 counties in Texas, according to the secretary of state.
No word on electronic voting problems anywhere else in the state.
For another RGV blogger's take on Tuesday's turn of events, check out Rico Politico's election wrapup over at Rio Grande Valley Politics.
The 2.5 million-member denomination missed numerous red flags -- including an FBI probe -- that should have prompted an internal investigation earlier, the report showed.Furthermore, officials with the Baptist General Convention of Texas ignored warnings from other pastors:
Investigators noted BGCT leaders failed to investigate thoroughly charges of impropriety, even though some staff knew about irregularities in the church-starting program in the Valley.
Even an FBI investigation in 2000-2001 regarding allegations of fraud failed to prompt a serious internal investigation, the report noted. Investigators said they determined the FBI terminated the investigation because the BGCT—as the injured party—did not pursue the complaint.
The investigative team, including Brownsville lawyer Diane Dillard, offers some suggestions to prevent financial abuse in the future. Last, but not least, they suggest "trust but verify." If anyone wants more details, the complete report is available online.
The Valley: where corruption flourishes among every faith.
Fender, who was born in San Benito, leaves a great musical legacy not just for the Valley, but for the world. Austin American-Statesman music writer Michael Corcoran provides a more detailed obituary. You can read more about the musician in blog posts here, here, here, and here, and see a pic of him from the 1996 SXSW show. Oh, and I had forgotten that Freddy played a role in The Milagro Beanfield War.
Fender, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 2006, died at noon at his Corpus Christi home with his family at his bedside, said Ron Rogers, a family spokesman. ...
"I feel very comfortable in my life," Fender told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in August. "I'm one year away from 70 and I've had a good run. I really believe I'm OK. In my mind and in my heart, I feel OK. I cannot complain that I haven't lived long enough, but I'd like to live longer."
The auditor also noted that inventory records didn’t match up with the general ledger; the museum didn’t have a written purchasing policy; some purchase orders weren’t prepared in a timely manner or didn’t have authorized signatures; and electronic membership records didn’t match up with manually recorded membership records.This finding comes as IMAS wants the city of McAllen to bump its contribution to the museum by $100 grand, to about $772,000.
LA JOYA — The La Joya school board’s three newest members campaigned last spring against what they called a long tradition of cronyism and corruption in the school district.Pete Townsend was right.
But since Rita Garza-Uresti, J.A. "Fito" Salinas and Johnn Valente Alaniz took office in mid-May, the seven-member board has installed several people with close family and political ties to board members.
Blogging for Mata has been an off-shoot of his journal writing, which he started after he recently enrolled in classes at the University of Texas – Pan American. Mata’s inspiration to start blogging came from a radio interview with state Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, who started his own blog in January 2005.What, no mention of Valley In Exile? Victoria, I'm hurt. (just kidding)
I want every reporter who reads this thing to make a vow today to uncover some corruption this year. Go all the way. Don’t just touch it and say you’re finished. Close the fucking deal. And then fight for it against the sap-headed editor who quit living years ago and doesn’t want to actually feel anything like adrenaline touch his or her tepid bloodstream. It’s time to wake up.Community watchdog groups and a few local bloggers try to keep an eye on public officials who are up to no good, but think how much more gets done when someone (that is, a reporter) gets paid to root out corruption full-time.
[Tests are] completely changing the way teachers teach and students learn. Practice-test drills are common, teachers tell me, and they also complain they have to suppress their creative juices as supervisors demand they play it safe with dumbed-down, rigid curriculums. ...
But something even more troubling than these misplaced priorities is happening in our schools — a growing culture of cheating. And it's contaminating not only students, but also teachers, principals and higher-ups. ...
I've said it before: We're graduating kids who don't know anything but how to game the system on a standardized test. And until state legislators decide to do something about it, the situation will only deteriorate.
A couple of new weblogs spring up, and Rio Grande Valley readers might find them of interest:
The first site, Bloggin' All Things Brownsville, aims to "shine a spotlight on those dark corners where political and social issues ... lurk untouched." The author, going by the nom de screen The Spotlight, says local media fail to do their jobs and wants to lend a hand:
... I say, because I've been there, that Brownsville is saturated with news, and a small, overworked, underpaid reporting staff is spread too thin to cover it all. ...
Still, there are couple of standouts in the press here annually garnering top investigative reporting awards in the state, and I want to help. When I mean I want to help, I mean, I want to help aim that spotlight.
The Spotlight delivers, with a post on campaign donations to city commissioners from a law firm that landed a bill collecting contract with Brownsville. In addition, the firm has contracts with several local school districts, including McAllen ISD -- and "board members Javier Farias and Myrna Garcia each received $1,000 in campaign contributions from the firm."
There are more recent stories on the Lucios and other items of interest to Brownsville taxpayers.
The second blog, Valley No Car Tolls, proclaims "Working people of Hidalgo County don't need toll roads!" The author says support for the companies that build and operate these tollways will eclipse the public interest.
It is time to raise the awareness of the Valley community in order to keep the Texas Department of Transportation in line with OUR interests! This community’s interests do not include car tolls.
No recent updates on the blog, but more eyes on government are always welcome.
Perhaps unaware of the irony, Gov. Goodhair's campaign news release states:
Perry said that this endorsement sends an important message to Valley voters that regardless of what party they belong to, Texas needs a governor that can put partisanship aside for the good of Texas and will seek common ground whenever possible.
Am I wrong when I say this endorsement will hurt these local politicians come Election Day?
For more on the group's support of the Republican candidate for governor, check out Hector Gomez's post at RGV Politics, Valley Politico's thoughts at Rio Grande Valley Politics, and state Rep. Aaron Peña's observations at A Capitol Blog.
At least 11 mayors from Rio Grande Valley cities will today publicly endorse Gov. Rick Perry, a top Valley Republican tells the Guardian. Perry holds a press conference at the Club at Cimarron in Mission later this afternoon.
Valley Politico at Rio Grande Valley Politics reports that the group includes the mayors of Brownsville, Edcouch, Elsa, Harlingen, Hidalgo, La Villa, McAllen, Mission, Palmhurst, and Rio Grande City and says, "No wonder Chris Bell cannot get any money from the Valley."
If this mass endorsement is true, it explains the reason for Perry's trip to the Valley, which Aaron Peña told us about last night on his blog.
Considering Perry's hand in cramming an unconstitutional redistricting plan down the Valley's throat -- he called all those special sessions on the topic -- I gotta wonder what these politicians are thinking.
Folks, remember Roberto Gutierrez? When most every other Democrat in the Texas House left the state to fight this Republican-led congressional redistricting, Gutierrez stayed home and became Tom Craddick's bitch. Voters remembered this, and booted his ass out of office in the next primary.
I'm sure voters won't forget if their mayor endorses the man who called those redistricting special sessions.
My wife, whose opinion matters to me, has effectively given me her blessing. There are other people who matter to me who are opposed to my leaving the RGV. The reason why I believe that my future lies outside of the RGV is that most of the people with whom I grew up have left and made something of themselves. ... The point is, nobody who wasn't already connected has "made it" here. They made it somewhere else and came back.Shaine describes the fiddly little details that you have to take care of when you travel more than a thousand miles to the other side of the country:
Other things we did included paying our Post Net mailbox through November, depositing the money from the sale of my wife's van, cancel our car insurance, and other little errands for family. My son and I got haircuts. ... Tomorrow, we need to do laundry. ... We also need to pay CPL and T-Mobile.He shares details of the journey, including a quick post about how they "got pulled over by border patrol north of san manuel because they saw our luggage in plastic bags." There's also photos from a trip to the Mall of America.
At first, work was sporadic. We'd work a day or two and have a day or two off. It appears that we are now entering full production. ... The thinking amongst the migrant workers here is "nomas son tres meses". Three months of 80 hour work weeks. Some people are earning minimum wage, which is $6.50/hr in Wisconsin; others are earning more. The work is easy and boring. If you can stand the monotony, there is plenty of overtime available.In the same post, Shaine tells readers about his coworkers, legal and illegal, from Texas and Mexico:
There are hard workers; and there are some who make you wonder why they came at all, if they don't want to work. There are even families that come to work here together and then go back to Texas or Mexico to live off their earnings. Even at minimum wage, they can earn about $2,400/month each. Those who are returning workers or have jobs higher on the pay scale can take home much more than that.RGV Life has much more about the migrant experience than I can do justice to in one post, so go check it out for yourselves. Shaine, thanks for giving readers like me an idea of what some families go through, and the best of luck in your endeavors.
Angela Flores, the city’s finance department assistant, was charged with stealing between $8,000 and $10,000 in cash payments for fines and fee made to the municipal court. She posted bond about a month ago but remains suspended from her job while the sheriff’s office investigation continues, her supervisor said.In response to the missing money, La Joya won't accept cash payments. While this is understandable from an anti-fraud standpoint, it's also hard on those who don't have bank accounts, although the city is making certain exceptions for the elderly.
Flores’ arrest will be the first of several, the sheriff predicted. (emphasis added)
Texas lawmakers collectively flunked a test of their own campaign reform law, which requires state candidates to use their “best efforts” to report the employers and occupations of individual donors of $500 or more, a Texans for Public Justice report card found.So how do Rio Grande Valley politicians end up looking in this report card?
The Senate’s weakest performances came from Sens. Jon Lindsay (R-Houston), Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) and Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo). These senators collectively reported a total of 306 large contributions totaling $412,150. Yet they left the occupation and employer field blank for every one of their large donors. (emphasis added)And the one Valley senator who bothers to fill in all the blanks still earns an abysmal score:
An extraordinary 28 members of the House (19 percent) not only flunked disclosure but left the occupation and employer fields blank for every one of their large donors. Three members accomplished this feat while raising more than $100,000 apiece in large contributions. They are Reps. Kino Flores (D-Palmview), Veronica Gonzales (D-McAllen) and Sylvester Turner (D-Houston). (emphasis added)Anyway, the dishonor roll for Valley members of the Texas House:
Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), a champion of tobacco-control legislation, failed to identify the employers or occupations of three trial lawyers who litigated Texas’ $15 billion lawsuit against the tobacco industry.To be fair to Zaffirini, she explains in this San Antonio Express-News story that she didn't know about the law and is hiring someone to catch up with all the paperwork. And some politicians take issue with how TPJ scored the report, because the law doesn't say you have to list a person's previous occupation or family tree.
Today, commissioners asked legal counsel to keep Isla Blanca on South Padre Island available to the public. After months of lobbying, county commissioners agreed to back out of the controversial project.Cameron County residents weren't happy with how the commissioners court tried to sneak the plan past them, and began a grassroots effort to keep the park out of developers' hands. It looks like that work might have paid off.
Hello Mack Harrision. I would like to ask you one simple question? Are you objective?SHORT ANSWER: No.
With the 41 million votes counted, [Felipe] Calderón of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party [PAN] had 35.89 percent or 15,000,284, to 35.31 percent or 14,756,350, for [Andres Manuel] Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party [PRI].Calderón edges out Lopez Obrador by less than 0.6 percent of the vote, so you know this race is about as settled as Bush v. Gore in 2000.