Sunday, January 25, 2009


(Editor's note: there was a late night posting on BISD before this post.)

Most people who are of the older generation remember all too well how their children fled Brownsville in hopes of greener pastures elsewhere. Over time many came back, but most stayed away. Today a new generation is moving into Brownsville because they heard there is economic opportunity and weather which is everything you could hope for. Among these new arrivals some leave after several months, especially the professionals. What they quickly learn is, between the politicians and the lack of a quality educational infrastructure, Brownsville is not where you move to raise a family.

Every parent hopes that their child will grow up and seek employment in their own town. For this to happen, opportunity has to extend beyond the parent. The new arrivals who are needed to help Brownsville grow see little hope of this.

For reasons I do not understand, Brownsville is a city without hope or vision. Ask yourself, what do you see Brownsville offering your child in 10 years? Do you see anything happening which would give you reason to believe Brownsville will ever be a great tourist destination. A place where a major auto manufacturer decides to build a plant? All major manufacturing is done through robotics. There is no where for our children to go to learn these skills. No one in a position of leadership can seem to make the connection between training workers for the future, and Brownsville’s ability to recruit a major manufacturer.

Vision by the Airport Board and the City Commission means a ten year break-even plan to remodel the parking lot at the airport. Have you been on Boca Chica of late? Does anyone believe Boca Chica can handle the expanded traffic which will come with a larger airport? Boca Chica cannot handle the traffic caused by Walmart.

Leadership with vision would be looking at land on 77 and 511 or 77 and East Blvd to build a new airport which would have direct access to 77. No, vision Brownsville style is upgrading a parking-lot which will take 10 years to pay for. Does anyone believe Brownsville can present itself in a professional manner while its airport remains a glorified shack and Harlingen and McAllen have built modern airports?

When you leave Brownsville’s airport the visitor’s first impression on their way to SPI is Iowa - a road which is one pothole after another. You are on your way to SPI for a convention, do you see Brownsville as anything but a third world city with antiquated infrastructure, or a city on the move? If you shoot down Billy Mitchell the first restaurant you see is literally a falling down shack. What do you think? Your company wants to transfer you to Brownsville - do you come?

The one thing for which anyone has a vision to bring about economic development, the Weir Dam, is met with opposition from a city commission more interested in settling personal scores with Mayor Pat Ahumada than in moving Brownsville forward. The Weir Dam turns downtown Brownsville into a pearl on the Rio Grande with fine restaurants, shopping, and hotels.
More and more people are afraid to travel abroad for a variety of reasons. Within the next month a cousin of mine and her husband will spend a week on SPI - two reasons - Miami is too cold this time of year, and they like the idea they can run across the border real quick for some shopping while basically feeling safe in the US.

Imagine a first class airport with easy access to 77, a convention center, a developed downtown with river-boat gambling, fine hotels, shopping. and restaurants. But all our leadership can imagine is a sports complex which does nothing for tourism or economic development, and potholes.

I have met with so many people in the business community and have asked, why are the political candidates always the same old recycled failed politicos of the past? Answer, no one with an ounce of integrity is willing to suffer what is sure to be a campaign of take no prisoners, which is run by proxy by corrupt officials - looking to insure their clan are the only ones to benefit from change. The sad part is the blogs, bloggers, and the Herald are all too willing to make themselves party to attacks of distraction.

The current stable of candidates looking to run in the May elections are nothing more than a stable of old horses long overdue for being sent out to pasture or the glue factory. Although, allowing the incumbents to remain in office does nothing for hope. A recycled old horse at least sends a message the incumbents have failed us. Further, Brownsville has the real possibility of a special election for a new mayor. Who will run? The same old tired horses looking to make money for their clan rather than for the benefit of the city.

Brownsville is desperate for an experienced business leader - paying a bunch of poor old soles (I mean soles - not souls) a welfare wage does not make you experienced or successful. There must be someone who has run a multimillion dollar corporation who has a vision for Brownsville. A professional who understands you establish your goals and go for them. A professional who through his/her acts can demonstrate the pettiness and immaturity of the current city commission, without having to go personal. I believe people will follow a true leader while dismissing most if not all of the current city commissioners as without vision or leadership.

It is time for honest people in the business community to search among their own and help the people of Brownsville and Cameron county find new faces to run for public office. Such a committee must include trusted community activists. If the business community would recruit and fund such candidates it is possible such candidates could overcome the 11th hour ads of half-truths and disinformation the proponents of corruption will seek to run. Our next mayor probably needs to be a transplant. It seems to me a Brownsville native will probably be by nature like a rudderless boat. When your only experience in observing government is observing failure it seems to me you automatically become jaded by that failure and a prisoner of a system which will never aspire past failure.

Two years ago many of the current city commissioners and mayor promised to raise impact fees, to cover the costs to the city for new construction -two years later, nothing. Our older communities continue to deteriorate. When people want to buy a new home they do no think about an older home they can remodel, they think new construction. If you want to make older homes more attractive to new buyers you need to raise the cost of new construction homes. An impact fee of $6,000.00, on new construction homes would force people to buy older homes in need of remodeling. A remodeled home improves older neighborhoods and revitalizes them, and in time increases property tax revenues. Something so simple, but yet too complex for consideration by this city commission.

The city commission’s view of our older neighborhoods is to just let them die off like abandoned cities after a nuclear war. The idea that they can be revitalized through competent visionary governmental policies eludes this mayor and city commission, all of whom lack any real vision. It is truly time to reject all candidates who are part of the same old recycled politicos, and seek out new blood who are not limited in their vision of Brownsville by the failed leadership of the past.

Something as simple as dealing with new bars in Brownsville is beyond the competence of this city commission. BISD is threatening to sue the city for approving a liquor permit for an establishment within 260 feet of a school facility. If this happens tax dollars from the city will be used to promote a bar within 260 feet of a school facility -but no money for potholes. In real cities with real leadership entertainment and red-light districts have been established as a way to keep bars and adult entertainment out of our communities. Not in Brownsville - Brownsville’s motto is, "A strip joint and bar on every corner - it’s good for business." I guess if you keep enough people happy with spirits and strippers they will not notice they live in a backward third-world city.

Special education is a disaster in Texas. We in Brownsville with the BISD mess are watching the failure of special education unravel at both the state and local level. Eddie Lucio III’s solution is to pull a Mayor Ahumada and introduce legislation to make it a crime to steal a dog. This is Eddie Lucio III’s idea of leadership and creativity. Our special needs children are being denied an education because of failed policy at the state level, and failed leadership at the local level, and Lucio III is trying to make laws about dogs. This is Brownsville.


Anonymous said...

It is time for honest people in the business community to search among their own and help the people of Brownsville and Cameron county find new faces to run for public office. Such a committee must include trusted community activists. If the business community would recruit and fund such candidates it is possible such candidates could overcome the 11th hour ads of half-truths and disinformation the proponents of corruption will seek to run. Our next mayor probably needs to be a transplant. It seems to me a Brownsville native will probably be by nature like a rudderless boat.


-You're a community activist!
-You're talking to the business leaders!
-You're a transplant!
-Why don't you run for mayor?


BobbyWC said...

One I am not a an experienced manager of a multimillion dollar operation such as I indicated should be a variable. Further communittee activist is not a variable -

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

I will only address the the bars within 200 +/- ft. from the school. The proposed club on 802 will be open only at night..last time I checked there are no kids attending classes at Hudson at night. With the economy and the crap school system we is probably best that the students get acquainted with a bar, partly because that will be the only job they will be able to get once they graduate from BISD's crappy district, and quite possibly TSC/UTB's sham of a college.

100 words or less

Anonymous said...

Excellent editorial, Bobby. You nailed it! I'd love to see some new, educated folks in city and school leadership roles. However, Brownsville people have an inherent distrust of anyone who is not a Valley native ("They don't understand our needs"), or who is thoroughly educated ("Who does he think he is? Better than us just because he went to college?"), or attended private schools ("Must be an elitist"). And if you're not related to somebody, forget it! Brownsville politics, on all levels, provide a fine example of the adage, "Lie down with dogs; get up with fleas." Sad, but true. So, with mixed feelings, I applaud your post. I am also sorry your words are so true.

Anonymous said...

January 5, 2009

To the Planning and Zoning committee for the City of Brownsville.

Please be advised that I am voicing disapproval of the proposed bar establishment to be opened at the current World Gym facility on behalf of the Brownsville Independent School District. My name is Brett Springston and I work for the Brownsville Independent School District in the capacity as the Assistant Superindendent for Operations.

BISD is very concerned with the potential negative impact that may be caused as a result of your recent approval to allow the World's Gym building to be converted into a cocktail lounge due to its close promixity to our educational instructional facility.

The purpose of building the Margaret Clark Aquatic Center was to afford our children the opportunity to learn to swim, as well as to provide a facility for middle school and high school competitive swimmers and to our community. Our aquatic center services over 5,000 BISD students and is open daily from 6:00 a.m. 8:30 p.m. The center is also utilized to host swim meet events at various times of the day, nights and weekends.

As you are aware, your current guidelines reflect that a bar must be at least 700 ft. from an educational facility and 1000 ft. from a church. Be advised that the aquatic center is merely 240 ft. from the World's Gym. Therefore, it does not meet your requirements for approval.

We are also concerned about the potential unsafe additional traffic that this type of business environment would create. As I drive to work throughout the day, I have observed firsthand how the community gets to World's Gym. Commuters make a left turn at Seville and then U-Turn to the gym. this already creates a high traffic situation on just a regular workout day.

Our facility is utilized throughout the day with parents and buses constantly dropping off children and picking them up. During the summer months, the number of participants and traffic triples.

We are also very concerned about the possibility of having our aquatic center parking lot used by the bar to park customer vehicles or as an after-hours party area.

I strongly encourage you to rethink this decision. 240 ft. does not even come close to your original 700 ft. regulation. These are the children of our community that we are embracing. This is the future of our community, of Brownsville, Texas.

I thank you for your serious consideration in this critical matter and urge you to vote against it.

Anonymous said...

One I am not a an experienced manager of a multimillion dollar operation such as I indicated should be a variable. Further communittee activist is not a variable

So you want to be kingmaker not king? You would rather not be held accountable. You'd rather stir the pot than stick your neck out. The difference between you and someone like Pat is he got elected. That's a shame.

BobbyWC said...

People governed by ego allow themselves to believe they are the onl candidate for the job. This city is desperate for a mayor with lots of management skills and the ability to manage a multimillion dollar budget.

Pat's ego allowed him to believe he was the only answer - my ego tells me there are a lot of better qualified people than me.

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

Why do you even bother, Bobby? Don't glorify people by even acknowledging their nonsense ideas.
Deaf ears!

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right. No vision amongst our leaders. We were hoping for change when we elected Leo Garza, but he just turned out to be a E. Gamez stooge. Sometimes, I wish the first term of a Brownsville City Commissioner could be one year, so that we could see if they were worth a darn. Unlike most cities, our potential seems to be endless just from our geography alone. Do our leaders have any plan for an east-west freeway? No! All they care about is copying burnt out ideas from our rival cities such as getting a baseball team. Get over it guys. why don't you look to NASCAR or something else. NASCAR is looking to conquer the latin market afterall. But do our leaders look at trends and try to predict outcomes? No, they just copy McAllen and fight amongst themselves. Are our leaders trying to attract a large hotel with a conference center? No. That's not even on their radar, even though every other city in Texas has one. This allows them to have business conventions during the week, and allow tourists to stay over the weekends. Those conventioneers spend big bucks at the local restaurants. Our our Commissioners thinking about ever expanding roads like Coffeeport, Central Avenue, or Robindale? That's our east side infrastructure that houses so much of our NAFTA related warehousing. No, that's not on their radar either.

Anonymous said...

There are many qualified mid-level people at the city who are from either outside the area or are from here, left to go to school and came back, or are just more progressive minded. What happens is the more we push, the more we are EXCLUDED by the dinosaurs at the top. Especially when we insist on ethical behavior. The other thing that happens is that it gets tiresome when you are the only one pushing forward and so many others you need to depend on just flat out refuse to work or deliberately slow down the process, knowing that there will be no punishement. They are comfortable just collecting a paycheck. The other big thing is this whole no thing here. So many people will tell you how something can't be done or why it would never work out. Better to not even try so they say. It burns people out and they just either fall in step to numb the fristration or they just flat out leave. Great commentary, really are making some great points so keep up the good work. I just wish what you were saying wasn't true but sadly it really is only the half of it.

BobbyWC said...

Anony, EXCLUDED, I wish you would write something larger on this. You have hit some very keys points. i kow of several people in city government who have just given up - they know energy is a crime and complacency begets great rewards.

I will publish a larger comment is you submit it - no need to ID yourself

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

" i know of several people in city government who have just given up - they know energy is a crime and complacency begets great rewards."

As long as YOU don't become like one of them, Bobby. You are really the only VOICE Brownsville has. You have no idea how many people are so thankful for every thing you do for Justice - to bring crooks to justice. Maybe you can inspire those EXCLUDED.