Monday, February 9, 2009

THE BORDER WALL AND THE TAKING OF THE CITY OF BROWNSVILLE’S LAND

There seems to be confusion about what is going on with the border wall and the taking of City of Brownsville land by the US Government. Brownsville City Manager Charlie Cabler’s representation as to the status of the land is at best misleading. It is true, but false.

I have to admit I have not reviewed the pleadings as of yet, but my choice is to believe there was a constructive coup d‘etat of the mayor, or Mr. Cabler is being less than honest. I know government attorneys are capable of bad things, but I refuse to believe that DHS lawyers conspired with some city commissioner to undermined the position of the City of Brownsville. This is why I am so confident in making this post without ever having reviewed the pleadings.

When the US Government files a condemnation proceeding the land transfers to the government at the time of filing.

"A. U.S. Attorney's office prepares complaint in condemnation and related pleadings and files case. If a Declaration of Taking is filed and a deposit of estimated compensation is made with the clerk of he court, title to the land passes to the United States upon the filing of the Declaration of Taking and deposit of funds."

http://www.quintonpetix.com/fedcond.htm

For anyone interested, the link provides a good step by step process of how condemnation works.

Once this happens the city has a time frame to either accept the condemnation or challenge it. A challenge can include a claim the government has not negotiated in good faith. If my memory serves me this is what the university did, and won. If I remember, Judge Hanen ordered them back to the drawing board. My point is, Brownsville can delay the process of the taking by challenging it.

Because the City of Brownsville can still challenge the condemnation the deal is not done. The compromise which the city commission is seeking to vote on would be a settlement. In effect the city would not challenge the legality of the condemnation or the value of the land made the subject of the condemnation.

The compromise by itself is not a bad agreement. I am as opposed to the wall as the next guy, but if I understand the agreement once the city is ready to go forward on other projects DHS will remove the wall and return the land back to the city. If this is true the agreement would have zero negative impact on the weir dam.

What is important here, and I concede I could be wrong and regret this post, there was no de facto coup d’etat of the mayor. The ownership of the land referenced by City Manager Cabler is nothing more than a reference to the automatic transfer of title which occurs upon the filing of the condemnation proceeding. I will do my best to make it to court on Tuesday to check on the dates.

Assuming I am correct, nothing nefarious occurred by any city commissioner trying to undermined the mayor or the people. I am not sure about negotiations with DHS. Does anyone know or remember if in the past the commission assigned some commissioners to act as negotiators?

My view as to what should happen right now is, the City Commission should agree to table the offer and direct the city manager to send a letter to Congressman Ortiz requesting that he intervene with the Obama Administration to halt further construction in Cameron County until such time as the Obama Administration can review the current policy related to the wall. The letter probably should also be sent to both Cornyn and Hutchison.

The city can file a motion to abate the proceedings for 60 days to allow the Obama Administration to respond to the request. I am willing to bet the judge would grant such an abatement. People may not realize but policy does not change just because you change presidents. At this level everything is going forward as if Bush were still president. It is going to take a directed policy shift by President Obama to stop the proceedings and the building of the wall. Given the collapsed economy, somehow I think the wall is just not on Obama’s mind.

The primary purpose of this post is to inform people that there was probably no nefarious behind the scene action by city commissioners which caused the land to be transferred to DHS. DHS filed a standard condemnation proceeding, and transfer of title was automatic, subject to a timely challenge. This is the only way to explain Cabler’s claim the land has already transferred title from the city to DHS.

The city can either challenge the proceedings or enter into the proposed settlement agreement. With the agreement on the table, I think it is highly unlikely that DHS would take it off the table forever just because the City of Brownsville chooses to delay a decision for a couple of weeks to allow Congressman Ortiz to seek comment from the Obama Administration. Any claim to the contrary is simply false, or the advice of someone who fails to understand how the courts work.
Now I could be wrong - maybe this happened months ago and the city defaulted. If this is the case, which I doubt, then heads should be sent to executioner.

The only reason to rush this is to humiliate the mayor. It seems to me Sorry Charlie Atkinson must abstain. The mayor will vote no. This means Il Duce Troiani and Shorty Dick Longoria will need the help of Leo (The Cowardly) Garza, Carlos Cisneros, or Edward Camarillo to pass the settlement agreement. Given the three are up for reelection, it could be political suicide to vote yes without first giving Congressman Ortiz an opportunity to seek intervention by the Obama Administration.

If I had to predict the May elections today I would say all three incumbents are shoo-ins. This issue however could provide the final blow needed to bring to the campaign candidates who can and will be able to raise the money to send the three packing.

It seems odd to me anyone with a half of brain would play political suicide on the eve of an election when their reelection is all but guaranteed. What is the harm in a months delay? Nada

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

From everything I gather, what is at stake is the riverfront development. I have heard snipetts about the project for awhile now and I have seen the plans. They are all online....you just have to dig. Google is your friend. Yes the wall sucks but it is going to happen. Wouldn't be better if that wall was a boardwalk / attraction with shopping and a view? If the city opposes the feds. they lose complete control of that land FOREVER and one of the largest economic development project in the history of Brownsville......which includes millions of dollars in tax revenues and hundreds of jobs within walking distance to the college and neighborhoods in desperate need of job opportunities. These are the cards we have been dealt and we need to make the best of a bad situation. Wall or not, there will always be shoppers from Mexico. A wall has never stopped shoppers from going abut their business and God knows we need the investment right now. The mayor has a martyr complex which we have seen time and time again. Just look at this whole check business. Why should this be any different. It provides him the perfect stage to publicly nail himself to the cross.....again......and this time nationally. (another mention in the New York Times perhaps?)What a wet dream this must be for him. I bet he actually wants the opposite from what he says....that he actually wants the wall. Martyrs can only be the martyr when what they fight against actually happens. This is simply his nature. But what do I know? I'm just some citizen trying to make sense of it all by connecting the dots. I hope I'm not the only one who sees this. I hate the wall but lets face reality. The choice is clear. We need to make some lemonade out of these lemons. I hope that the Commission understands this. I think the people of Brownsville would if what I think is happening is happening. That's all from me....now discuss.

BobbyWC said...

I generally agree with your post, but I think the following is incorrect.

"they lose complete control of that land FOREVER." DHS by having made the offer has conceded that the offer is acceptable to the objectives of DHS. If they now take it off the table because the City seeks a delay to give time to the Obama Administration to review the policy, the judge will find they are not negotiatinig in good faith.

Further Hutchison would be committing political suicide if she did not agree to work with the border areas on this and ask that Obama review the current policy.

Perry is already on record as opposed to the wall. You do remember his comment - you can build a 40 foot wall and the next day the number one business in Mexico wil be 42 foot ladders.

Perry and Hutchison, unlike the Dems, know you cannot win a statewide election without the border areas.

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

If you appease a bully he will be back. If you fight him he may win but he will think twice about returning. Homeland Security is a bully. Despite it's rhetoric it doesn't care about you or me. It cares about what it as an institution wants. Like much of government, it has lost sight of it's proper role in our society. I don't think there can be any doubt that the wall is a political statement as opposed to an actual means of excluding contraband and illegal entrants. If prison walls can not keep out contraband what are the chances of success for the wall?
Mescalero

Anonymous said...

If you appease a bully he will be back. If you fight him he may win but he will think twice about returning. Homeland Security is a bully. Despite it's rhetoric it doesn't care about you or me. It cares about what it as an institution wants. Like much of government, it has lost sight of it's proper role in our society. I don't think there can be any doubt that the wall is a political statement as opposed to an actual means of excluding contraband and illegal entrants. If prison walls can not keep out contraband what are the chances of success for the wall?
Mescalero

BobbyWC said...

It will be sad if we do not fight -Senator Hutchison has no choice but to stand with those opposed to the wall if she wants to win the valley

camarillo, Cisneros, and garza better think long and hard before they vote yes - they need to rememebr the turnout last time they tried to play games.

I do believe a yes vote by any of these three will result in a qualified candidate announcing for city commission and money will flow.

The anti-wall people are an established political machine with votes and money. they will no longer be running against a hopeful with no money and no machine - they will be running against a very, very powerful machine

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

This constant personification of an agency is tired. DHS didn't lobby for, nor do they support or oppose the wall. They do what they are told by the politicos. Perry is 100% correct, but that did not stop the citizens of Iowa, Maryland or Oregon from soliciting their representitives to pass the law. Would someone please read their political science textbook and show me where DHS made the law? No? Then maybe you should be pointing your infinitely outraged fingers to the rightgeous target; Congress. Not only is DHS barred from disregrading lawful orders, your elected representitives will be more than happy to have your sentiments aimed where it does not belong.

BobbyWC said...

This is actually a very good point. "your elected representitives will be more than happy to have your sentiments aimed where it does not belong."

But also remember my point, DHS is just following policy until the Obama Administration tells them otherwise.

People would be surprised to learn that the Justice Department all over the US is defending Bush and his cronies. Why? mayeb in some cases they are entitled to a defense - in others it is the machine working as the machine - The President does not get involve in these matters - it is highly likely that agencies are doing the exact opposite of what Obama promised - why? the machine is the machine - it will take a year or longer for policy changes to come down from Obama - until them the agencies will continue to enforce Congressional policy as defined by Bush

Bobby WC

The Merovingian said...

If I had to predict the May elections today I would say all three incumbents are shoo-ins. This issue however could provide the final blow needed to bring to the campaign candidates who can and will be able to raise the money to send the three packing.


Err...no. They have clowned so much as a whole, along with their buddy Atkinson that they are ALL so,so toast.

Scruffy has been thinking about fetching a packet from the City Secretary. He is good at fetching.

So without further brouhaha, join me in a round of belly laughs for the clowns who spent so much, and accomplished so little.


M.

BobbyWC said...

Merov, your assessment of the commissioners is correct, but they have no meaningful opponents as of today. It is windy today, so tomorrow may bring a new batch of candidates.

It takes some money to win. Now Pat Almighty proved that with some money you can beat a well funded opponent.

I will change my prediction the second someone who can raise some money actually announces.

The wall vote will be interesting. I do believe at least one of them will have a major opponent if they vote for the wall. Then you will have not only an opponent with money, but a well organized political machine.

The Cisneros race is interesting. If he votes no on the wall, and in fact Sorola has come out in favor of the wall short of a major revelation Cisneros cannot loose.

The anti-border wall machine is a single issue machine and they will organize to protect Cisneros.

Nothing, but fear of being thrown out of office is keeping the commissioners from reinstanting their health benefits. You watch how fast they act after the election.

Why they need it I do not know, with the exception of Troiani and Garza they all have it through their jobs. Troiani has stated he pays for his own. That only leaves Garza and the mayor in need of health insurance.

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

I think that, in fact, Homeland Security has taken on a life of it's own. It has gone beyond simply following the mandates of congress. I further suggest, respectfully, that it is naive to think they don't have a hand in the decision making. They are determining where the wall goes, what it will look like and where the gates will be. They have been the agency that has acted with a heavy hand in dealing with those who question their practices. They are the agency that is keeping as much of there "plan" secret(assuming there is a plan-- it appears to me they are making a lot of it up as they go along.) Thbey are the agency that is going to "walk the line" but will not allow land owners, those with the most direct stake, to walk it with them. Homeland Security is the agency that has decided that a wall without a gate will not devalue a farmers property. The director of Homeland Security was the official who had no ear for dissenting voices and said we should just get used to it (the implication is shut up and get used to it). As I write this I realize that the directorate of Homeland Security has become the most American of current American agencies. I guess their job would be much easier and they could do it better if it weren't for the pesky citizens and their damn opinions and misguided desires to express them.
Mescalero

Anonymous said...

To begin, the wall was not a mandate from Congress, it is a law and illegal to disregard. Secondly, the Constitution established the system that you complain about, not the agency itself. Congress passes the law and the Executive impliments and enforces the law. Don't misunderstand what I am saying; I am not defending how DHS does its' job, I am defending the fact that DHS is doing its job. At no point does anyone want to take issue with the source of the problem. Coincidently, that same source appears to give a rat's butt how DHS is doing its job. It passes the law you rail on and walks away letting the agencies take the hits. Don't forget that Perry wasn't the only border state offical, past and present, who said the wall was stupid. Those voices were ignored in the debate to placate the Tancredo's of the world. If the father tells the son to go down the street and punch your kid in the nose, you have every right to be pissed at the kid, but your real issue is with the father.