Saturday, October 10, 2015

Tony's Incessant Bullying of City Commission Encountering Resistance

Mayor Tony Martinez, Not A Consensus Builder
Calling the shots at a law office does not require the consensus building needed by a mayor in a weak-mayor form of government like Brownsville's.  In this system the mayor has no authority outside the city commission. He cannot appoint or remove officials or veto commission decisions.  He votes only in the case of a tie.  

The skill set needed for success in such a setup involves fostering consensus, reasoning and convincing colleagues of what's best for the city.

Mayor Martinez, from the outset of his administration has used a different approach;  bullying, clandestine use of city funds, controlling discussion of agenda items with misapplications of Robert's Rules of Order and the proverbial backdoor deals.  

Tony's Downtown Office, Remodeled and Leased
at Taxpayer Expense, But Never Used by the Mayor
In his first City Commission meeting as mayor in 2011, Martinez boorishly stripped two young commissioners, Villarreal and Chavez-Vasquez of the longstanding privilege of nominating two constituents from their districts to fill vacancies on city boards. Later, he would unethically tap into a $3,060,000 Texas AEP refund, bypassing the City Commission for his own personal pet projects.  A personal phone call between Martinez and an unnamed UT official(likely Juliet Garcia) resulted in the proposed gifting of precious Lincoln Park to one of the world's richest university systems.

Now, into his second city-damaging term, Martinez is allegedly pushing for one of his longtime assistants, Sandra A. Saenz, to be hired as his personal mayoral secretary.  Of course, by City Charter, neither hiring Mrs. Saenz or creating the new position is Tony's call. Martinez did sneak a $50,000 addendum into the budget to allow for Saenz' prospective salary.

What may be heartening is what we've heard is the reaction to yet another abuse of power by the Mayor.  Commissioners Longoria, Portillo, Villarreal and Tetreau have been reported as opposed to this heavy-handed move.  Only Commissioner Rose Gowen remains stoic in her unqualified support of the Mayor.  City Manager Charlie Cabler cites a need for "due process" and "the most qualified applicant,"according to someone within city administration.

Will the City Commission and City Manager muster the strength to reign in the reckless mayor?

Sifting Through the 27 Pages of Documents on City Commission's Trip to Washington DC

First of all, let's reprint the cover letter written by City Secretary Michael L. Lopez spinning the city's version of how the Washington DC trip was financed, the intinerary, etc.:

Please note that Lopez states the the "trip was not paid for by the City of Brownsville, but rather, by the individual members of the City Commission."

That is not exactly true.  The city advanced the money to four commissioners; Tetreau, Portillo, Villarreal and De Leon for the trip commencing 9/22/2015.  It was AFTER my Public Information Request and blog article about the trip of 9/23/2015 that the commissioners reimbursed the city for all or a part of the monies fronted for the trip.

Lopez continues in the letter:  "The records show that a number of meetings were originally set up for members of the Commission with various federal officials and agencies.  . . . . Many of these meetings were unexpectedly cancelled after the tickets were purchased because of the pope's visit."

Perry Finney Brody, Chief of Staff for
Representative Filemon Vela
Shedding some light on the cancellation of scheduled meetings is a memo from Perry Finney Brody, Chief of Staff for Representative Filemon Vela, dated 9/17/2015(In other words, the commissioners knew five days before the trip that the scheduled meetings would likely be cancelled.):  

Subject:  RE:  DC Trip-Delegation Information

Attached is the itinerary.  We only have three meetings scheduled-FCC, EDA and Septime Webre.  Please note:

FCC:  Hopefully, the FCC will not decide to close like many other agencies are planning to do.  Their office is not far from the area where the roads are closed, so it is a possibility.

EDA:  The Department of Commerce is now closed on Sept. 23 because of the pope.  Most people will not be in the building on Sept. 24 but Barrett Haga has kindly offered to come in and meet with the Brownsville delegation.

DHS:  will not have anyone available to speak to the delegation Wed or Thurs because they will be helping with the pope's visit. They would be happy to meet a different week or do a conference call later.

FEMA:  Commissioner de Leon and I had a conference call yesterday with Jason Nelson of FEMA and I forwarded to him materials Jason sent me.  I think he is going to review them and then circle back with me.

Commissioner Cesar de Leon
An included City of Brownsville Expense Report indicates that Commissioner Cesar de Leon was initially advanced, but later reimbursed the city for $1,161.07 including $762.57 for lodging, $248.50 for meals, $141.93 for taxi, 438,20 for airfare, etc.

De Leon also included a memorandum sent to City Finance Director Lupe Granado, detailing his work for the city during the trip.  De Leon states that on 9/22 he "met the Department of the Secretary of State to discuss border issues and the new Consulate of Matamoros."  On 9/23: "A meeting was held with FCC officials, at which time other officials were conferenced in to discuss high speed internet and a grand for BISD."  9/24:  "Met with the Department of Commerce officials to discuss grant opportunities and Economic Development.  Met with the Hispanic Caucus and Congressman Filemon Vela."

9/25:  "5:30 am Return Flight back to Brownsville.  Attended a meeting with MPO upon my return."

Commissioner John Villarreal Attends
Ballet Conference
Participating in a meeting with Septime Webre, Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet was Commissioner John Villarreal. The meeting was held at the Washington Ballet Studios, 3515 Wisconsin Avenue.  

Villarreal reimbursed the city for his $486.11 plane ticket. Commissioner Jessica Tetreau reimbursed the city for $974.56 including $466.20 for airfare, $508.38 for hotel, paying with check #3618.  Commissioner Deborah Portillo reimbursed the city for a $437.20 plane ticket.

Public Information Request Found in Junk Mail Folder Late Friday

City Secretary Michael Lopez 
After complaining that we did not receive the Public Information Request concerning the Washington DC trip by three City Commissioners, along with the Mayor, we found those documents in our junk mail folder late Friday.  The email was dated 10/9/2015 @2:21 PM, approximately two days late.  

The following cover letter, signed by City Secretary Michael L. Lopez was dated 10/8/2015:

We are still studying the other documents enclosed and will give a synopsis tomorrow.

Friday, October 9, 2015

City of Brownsville Has Not Responded to Our Request for Information on City Commissioner's Trip to Washington, DC

Aided by the Public Information Act and swift responses by former City Secretary Estela Von Hatten, we were able to document much of the extraordinary amount of travel last year by our city government.  While the City Commission and city administrators like Pete Gonzalez and Lupe Granado give lip service to economizing and cutting corners, hundreds of thousands of dollars squandered annually with unnecessary travel.

Brownsville Delegation in Fort Worth, 2014
Frequently, large groups from the city go to a single conference, multiplying the expense.  Last year TEN from the city went to the Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference while FIFTEEN went to Denver to seek artificial designation as an "All-America City."  

Brownsville's Much Traveled
Health Director, Arturo Rodriguez
In 2014, Health Director Art Rodriguez spent half of several months in some sort of conference. Adding the travel to his admittedly spending considerable office time readying Brownsville All-America City application, it makes one wonder how much actual work is done serving the health, safety and sanitation needs of Brownsville residents.

With this backdrop, we're disappointed to report that our Public Information Request, submitted to new City Secretary Michael L. Lopez September 22, 2015, concerning a delegation from the City of Brownsville traveling to Washington D.C. for the pope's visit, has yet to receive a response.

Here is the original email:

Jim Barton


Mr. Lopez,

I understand a contingent from the City of Brownsville have accompanied Mayor Martinez on a trip to Washington, DC to see the Pope. How is the trip being paid for? If it is being funded by the city or a taxpayer-funded entity, please share how much this is costing? Also, please indicate which city officials or administrators were included in the trip.


Jim Barton

"We Don't Give A Shit What the Taxpayers Want or Need!" Port of Brownsville Commissioners

Graphic Courtesy of #CitizensAgainstPollution

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Joseph Cantu Files for County Commissioner Place 1

Joseph Cantu and Daughter

October 2015 Map of Drug Cartels in Mexico

Getting From Point "A" to Point "B" in the City of Brownsville

The Past Comes Back to Haunt Estela Chavez-Vasquez As She Runs for Cameron County Court At Law Place 5

Estela Chavez-Vasquez
Former City Commissioner Estela Chavez-Vasquez has burned some bridges that increase the difficulty of her current pursuit of the office of Judge at Cameron County Court of Law Place 5.

Her campaign for City Commissioner At-Large "A" in 2011 was vigorously supported by Brownsville's firemen and paramedics, yet when the opportunity came to approve their contract, Estela voted "no."  She will get no such support in her current campaign.

A reader has sent us a message of a similar development within Brownsville's Rotary Club.  Apparently, Chavez-Vasquez recently applied for membership in the club to enhance her resume':  

"Some years ago when Estela Chavez Vasquez was running for city commissioner, she was accepted as a member of the Rotary Club of Brownsville; she joined but as soon as she was elected, she abandoned the club and, oh, she didn't pay her dues, yet she claimed club membership and used it to boost her image. 

Now, she's running for CCAL and, wouldn't you know it, she got herself nominated for membership in the Rotary Club of Brownsville. This time, however, the results were different: the club's board of directors unanimously voted 'nay' on her membership! She, thus, has been rejected for membership and will not be able to flaunt Rotary as one of her civic services."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Self-Serving, Arrogant Port Director Edward Campirano Promotes LNG

Port of Brownsville Director Eduardo Campirano
Brownsville and Cameron County have a shitpot full of "public servants" like Port Director Eduardo Campirano, but need none.  The instant Campirano and two other port officials chowed down on that $1,800 taxpayer-subsidized meal in Shanghai, China, they disqualified themselves as stewards of public money and interests.  It bears mentioning that the Port of Brownsville threesome did not choke on that extravagant meal or lose sleep over the expensive burden to the country's poorest taxpayers, but simply defecated that grub, then went back the next day for $1,600 more of the pricey fare, inviting the BEDC's Jason Hilts to share in the gluttony.  

Not surprisingly, the Port of Brownsville, an entity that should be self-supporting with proper leadership, continues to rely on millions of dollars of locally-generated taxpayer monies to continue operation.  Port Director Campirano, in a Brownsville Herald Letter to the Editor,  has the audacity to push for the proposed LNG plants to be strewn from the Port of Brownsville to near the city limits of Port Isabel.  While parroting the platitudes of Big Oil and Gas, Camparino gives us his schoolgirl description of LNG:  

"LNG is the liquefied form of the natural gas that people use in their homes for cooking and heating, and has been safely handled for many years." (Eduardo Camparino, Letter to the Editor, Brownsville Herald, 10/5/2015.)

Yes, doofus, but LNG plants do not simply burn natural gas like grandma heating tortillas on her two burner range!  

The purpose of an LNG plant is to condense natural gas into a liquid so it can be shipped economically.  That process, extremely complex, requires an ENORMOUS amount of energy and releases hydrocarbons, mercury, hydrogen sulfide and other contaminants into the atmosphere.  Millions of gallons of hot effluent must also be disposed daily, likely in our case, into the pristine estuaries and bird sanctuaries of eastern Cameron County.

The Chyoda Corporation of Yokohma, Japan, builder of the world's largest LNG plants, explains the process:  

A liquefied natural gas plant (LNG plant) is roughly divided into five processes: (1) pretreatment, (2) acid gas removal, (3) dehydration, (4) liquefaction and (5) heavy oil separation.

(1) In the pretreatment process, undesired substances are removed from the gas taken from a gas field. Then the gas is separated using a slug catcher into oil and water which are
Slug Catcher
then weighed.

(2)Natural gas taken from a gas field contains environmental pollutants like hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2). These impure substances are absorbed and removed from natural gas with an amine absorber (acid gas removal or AGR). With the use of a sulfur removal unit (SRU), sulfur is extracted from the hydrogen sulfide in the removed pollutant.

(3)An adsorbent is used to remove water from the natural gas from which impure substances have been removed so that ice will not form during the subsequent liquefaction process.

(4)Traces of harmful mercury are removed before liquefaction.
Sulfur Removal Unit

(5)The heavy compounds separation process is the core of an LNG plant in which natural gas is cooled and liquefied to –160°C or less using the principle of refrigeration. Because gas is cooled and liquefied to an extremely-low temperature during the process, an enormous amount of energy is consumed. How much this energy can be reduced is important, so various ingenious processes have been proposed and commercialized.

Major liquefaction processes are as follows:

1)C3-MR method: The C3-MR method is currently the main method. Propane and mixed coolants (nitrogen, methane, ethane and propane) are used as the coolant (APCI), and an improvement on this method called the AP-X method is also used for large LNG plants.

2)AP-X method: As liquefaction trains get larger, they approach a limit on the size of heat exchanger that can be produced and transported. This process can increase LNG production capacity by adding LNG sub-coolers with nitrogen coolant used according to the C3-MR method, without increasing the size of the main heat exchanger (APCI).

3)Cascade method: This method sequentially uses propane, ethylene and methane as the coolant (Phillips).
Add caption

4)DMR method: This method uses two kinds of mixed coolants (an ethane and propane mix and a nitrogen-methane, ethane and propane mix) (Shell).

5) SMR method: This method is called the PRICO process and uses only one kind of mixed coolant (Black & Veatch).

All of these methods require enormous refrigeration compressors. Gas turbines used for giant power plants are used to drive them, so elaborate engineering based on experience and high-level knowledge is required to design, produce and assemble the compressors and gas turbines. 

Governor Greg Abbott Tweets Words of Wisdom for Dallas Cowboys and Texas/Mexico Border

(Graphic Courtesy of Diego Lee Rot)
*#%>¥! defense. More porous than the Texas border.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

She's Baaaaack!!!! Estela Chavez-Vasquez Is Running for Judge!

Estela Chavez-Vasquez, who left the City Commission last year, moving to Los Fresnos, is now running for Cameron County Court at Law #5.  

This campaign sign, among several placed yesterday on Minnesota Avenue in Brownsville, describes Vasquez as a "Humble Public Servant Committed to Justice for All."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

saveRGVfromLNG to Meet at Galeria 409 Thursday, Oct 1 @6:00 PM

CORRECTION:  saveRGVfromLNG Brownsville Team will be meeting THIS THURSDAY Oct 1Oct 1, 6 pm, at the Galeria 409 Art Gallery, 409 E 13th Street, DowntownBrownsville.  The event Facebook Page is at:

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Friday, September 25, 2015

"Orale, Charlie!" Just Not At the Brownsville/Olmito Sports Park

Chutzpuh, The "C" Is Silent, 
But Charlie Isn't

shameless audacity; impudence.

synonyms: audacitycheek, guts, nerve, boldness, temerity
"it took a lot of chutzpah for her to walk in on Owen's bachelor party"

Charlie Clark, formerly the Green Ghost, who, with his not-so-cleverly named sidekick, Mexi-Can, roamed the back roads of Weslaco and Harlingen fighting crime and diabetes, now fills Brownsville driveways with Nissans, cute efficient Japanese cars we used to call Datsuns. Remember the Datsun Bluebird?  I didn't think so.

But Clark was in a different mindset when he allegedly approached our inexperienced City Commission with a fistful of dollars and the crass notion of renaming the sports park adjacent the Interstate across from Olmito, the Charlie Clark Nissan Sports Park. Actually, it would be a package deal with the road entering the park also renamed, Charlie Clark Nissan Boulevard.

Brownsville Toyota During Construction
Brownsville Herald Photo
There were two problems with the alleged Clark proposition to the city.  Brownsville Toyota had located on the frontage road bordering the sports park.  How would the city's image as hospitable to new business be enhanced by allowing a corporation to sink millions of dollars into an enterprise, only to have an adjacent street and park named for a competitor?

Secondly, the sports park was not in the control of the City Commission.  The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation had been expending nearly half of their 4B funds for nearly a decade, paying the debt service and maintaining the park. It's not that the BCIC wouldn't appreciate a little financial relief from the City Commission, but, "you have to pay to play."

County Commissioner David Garza: "Public Input Only for Special Meetings"

County Commissioner David Garza
Sometimes a politician will let it slip how he really feels about his constituents, the lowly taxpayers. At Thursday's meeting of the County Commissioner's Court, there was some consideration of changing the meeting times to the afternoon so more of the public could attend.

“Sometimes we have days where we’d like to have more public input,” Pct. 2 Commissioner Alex Dominguez reportedly said according to the Brownsville Herald. “The courtroom is full of county employees.”

Pct. 3 Commissioner David Garza countered that  public input is one of the reasons that special meetings existed.

“We could have special meetings at any time for a special purpose,” Garza said.  

In other words, Garza does not find public input particularly important.  He only wants to hear from the taxpayers on "special" occasions.

Oh, by the way, the commissioners did decide to change the meeting time, but not to the more publicly accessible afternoon. Meetings will still be at 8:45 AM, but on Tuesdays instead of Thursdays.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

First Employee Salaries, Now the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art Wants Mortgage Payment

New BMFA Director Rene van Haaften
In a classic demonstration of "squeaking wheel gets the grease," the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art had the audacity on March 4, 2014 to approach the City Commission about paying salary for four new hires, costing taxpayers $139,000 the first year with Assistant City Manager Pete Gonzalez making the pitch.

Commissioner Rick Longoria was not amused:  

"The general fund, Pete? You and I go back a long ways and you've always been fiscally conservative. I know I'm going to be outvoted on this, but I just want to be on record as saying that this is going to open a Pandora's box.  Other entities are going to come after us for money."

Not sure about an opening of Pandora's box, but the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art is certainly not bashful about harvesting taxpayer dollars.  Progressively through 2015, BMFA Director Rene van Haaften has been panhandling the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation for $200,000 to make mortgage payments.  It's not like the BCIC hasn't been extraordinarily generous over the years with this particular museum.  Earlier in 2014 they shelved out $35,425 to help out with the King Tut exhibit.

But the request by the BMFA for help with the mortgage, crass as it seems on the surface, had other, more distasteful components.   The figure of $200,000 for back rent was not simply out of thin air, but aimed at the BCIC's discretionary fund, yes, you guessed it, currently at $200,000.  Paying up the BMFA's  house payments would leave the BCIC without a discretionary fund balance, further strapping the "quality of life" entity that already has its funds cut in half by the financing and maintenance of the Brownsville/Olmito Sports Park.

But, there are other distasteful elements of this story.  The BCIC was given the distinct impression that the Meadows Foundation was on board to match the BCIC contribution.  Not so.  Then, a City Commission meeting agenda item entertained the notion of matching the BCIC's $100,000 with their own $100,000. Tabled. 
It seems the BCIC, totally dependent on taxpayer dollars is being saddled with the full $200,000 to catch up the museum.  Oh, wait! Another proposal for the BCIC!  
Buy 50,000 museum tickets for $200,000, allowing BISD students to visit the museum.  The fly in that ointment is that the museum requires each child to be in the company of an adult.  50,000 free tickets for children requires the purchase of 50,000 adult tickets at a minimum of $10.00 per ticket.  Seemingly, there is no end to the art of milking taxpayer dollars to fund this museum.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Who's Paying for A City of Brownsville Delegation to Washington, DC for the Pope's Visit?

We've heard that a delegation from the City of Brownsville is accompanying Mayor Tony Martinez on a trip to Washington, DC to see the pope.  If that trip is being financed by Martinez, a man of some means, so be it.  If City Manager Charlie Cabler, whose salary is roughly fourteen times the average per capita income of  Brownsville residents, went along for the ride and wrote a check for the group's travel, hotel and eats, I'm fine with that.

What would be disgusting, inexcusable and morally wrong would be if a contingent from the city of Brownsville went to see the pope, a trip totally not related to their work with the City of Brownsville, irrelevant to making the lives and the city better for the hardworking taxpayers of the nation's poorest city AND allowed those same taxpayers to foot the bill.

I submitted a Public Information Request to City Secretary Michael L. Lopez asking how this trip was financed and for a list of Tony's entourage. 

BISD Police/Student Incident Raises Questions

BISD Police Chief Oscar Garcia
An incident last month at Pace High School involving a student and a BISD police officer has raised questions. We are sending a Public Information Request to BISD Public Information Officer Drue Brown and will share the response on the blog once it's received.

"Contemplated litigation" has already been ruled not a satisfactory reason for withholding information.

Our concerns are: 

Is Officer Mark Cheramie a probationary employee?
Is there a policy in place for dealing with a BISD law enforcement officer who handles a situation inappropriately?
Does that policy involve suspending an officer with or without pay or transferring said officer to another school? 

TCOLE,  the Texas Commission on Law Enforcment, has certain requirements involving law enforcement entities formulating and adhering to policy in these matters.  Violators can face a heavy fine.

Monday, September 21, 2015

GBIC Board Meeting, 9/21/15: San Diego Developer Makes A Pitch to Promote North Brownsville Industrial Park

John Villarreal, Sam Marasco,  Jason Hilts
The North Brownsville Industrial Park, $4.2 million spent, 73 acres, 11 sites with full utilities, last saw action at its ribbon-cutting four years ago.  It sits idle, unused, unwanted, another GBIC failure reminiscent of Titan Tire.  Knowledgeable truckers, either loading or unloading in Brownsville, frequent it as a free overnight stop, before moving on down the road.

Enter Sam Marasco of LandGrant Development, a lawyer with a lapsed law license, but a ton of real estate experience and tangible results in large scale commercial real estate projects on the border with $400,000,000 capitalization, introduced by BEDC Director Jason Hilts during Agenda item #3 at Monday's GBIC Board Meeting.  

GBIC Board Meeting, 9/21/2015
Marasco, said to already be working on a downtown mall in Brownsville, is intrigued by the industrial park.  He wants assurance from the GBIC, that if he spends time and money attracting vendors, doing a feasibility study, he will be given "exclusivity and confidentiality" until he and the board can agree on a contract to move forward.

Las Americas Outlet Mall, San Ysidro, CA
One of Marasco's more successful projects, Las Americas Outlet Mall, sits in San Ysidro, CA, just outside San Diego. Marasco feels he has a "skill set" to make border projects work, but indicates success requires a "stable political scene.

A more problematic project for Marasco was the Mercado Project at Barrio Logan.  Marasco, after obtaining the land for a mere $100,  ran into difficulty, including lawsuits and no work completed on the project after years.  3-400 jobs promised and $307 million in revenue to the city did not materialize.  The City of San Diego, disputing Marasco'sownership of the property entered into agreement with Shea Properties, who eventually produced a multi-use residential and commercial complex winning design awards.

Just before the GBIC went into Executive Session to talk over an agreement with Marasco, Board Member Ed Sikes expressed hesitancy to enter into anything creating "liability" for the board. City Attorney Mark Sossi, who receives $5,000 per month to lawyer for the board, assured Sikes that the modifications he'd made to the contract guaranteed that both the board and Marascos could "walk away from the deal without liability."

Commissioner Debbie Portillo read a prepared statement in support of the GBIC working with Mr. Marasco.  Essentially, she said she'd seen such partnerships work in the past.  Commissioner John Villarreal said he'd attended the ribbon-cutting for the industrial park, but not seen any progress since then.  He praised Marascos skill in working through problems "on another project with the city."

Footnote:  The original Agenda item #3 for the 9/18 meeting concerned Jacobs Engineering and the Small Area Plan.  At the 9/21 meeting, Zeke Silva spoke against the plan and its Phase II price tag during Public Comment.  But, the board had replaced Jacobs Engineering with the San Diego developer, Sam Marasco in the Agenda #3 slot.  Later, when I told a board member that we expected to hear from Oscar Garcia, Jr. during Agenda item #3, the reply was:  "We're so tired of him."    

Sculptured in the South Padre Island Sand

"Strange Sky This Evening" by Diego Lee Rot

"Brain Surgery for Dummies" by Ben Carson

Republican Presidential Candidate Ben Carson

Sunday, September 20, 2015

As Oscar Prepares His Presentation, GBIC Reschedules Meeting, Changes Critical Wording of Agenda Item #3

Carlos Marin of Ambiotec, Co-Author of the $900,000
Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan
Developmental planning and the implementation of that planning has become a veritable, but comical money pit for local taxpayer and ratepayer supported entities. This incredible waste of taxpayer monies may have started in 2009 with the Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan costing the City of Brownsville approximately $900,000 with Pat Ahumada, the mayor at the time, estimating city labor involved in formulating the plan may have doubled the actual cost.  Not a single sidewalk was built or palm tree planted based on the costly plan, copies of which now sit on City of Brownsville shelves, dusty, dated and worthless.

Mean Mister Brownsville with Robin McCaffrey in 2013
In 2013, Robin McCaffrey of Needham, McCaffrey and Associates, Inc., who along with Ambiotec's Carlos Marin, created the Imagine Brownsville plan, sold the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, along with the Port of Brownsville and the Public Utilities Board yet another plan, the Greater Brownsville Infrastructure & Development Plan for $454,592.08.  The actual cost of the plan did not even come up in the GBIC meeting where it was approved.  We only learned the final amount after three weeks pursuing former GBIC board member Ruben Gallegos, Jr.

In yet another attempt to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, at the June 19, 2014 GBIC Board Meeting, the BEDC's Jason Hilts introduced Agenda Item 8: Discussion an action on the implementation of the small area plan.

Oscar Garcia, Jr., in 2014, After Being Introduced by
Jason Hilts as Jacobs Engineering's Project Engineer
What this turned out to be was a request for another $750,000 plan to "implement" the $454,592 plan purchased a year earlier.  Jacobs Engineering, the winning bidder and, according to Hilts, the only company to respond to the RFQ, Request for Quotation, was kind enough to offer the plan to be financed in three phases.  The GBIC, Port of Brownsville and the Public Utilities Board chose to initially finance Phase I at a cost of $185,000.  Hilts also introduced to the GBIC Board, Oscar Garcia, Jr., a well-known Carlos Marin puppet, as Jacobs Engineering choice as Project Engineer.

In his role as "Project Engineer," young Garcia has been busy trying to get the taxpayers to pay for Phase II of the implementation plan of the development and infrastructure plan for an additional $407,000.  It has been tough sledding for Oscar.  After being turned down by the BEDC, the persistent engineer appeared before the City Commission with his hand out for the $407,000.  Still, no cigar!

Fast forward to the GBIC Board Meeting, originally scheduled for September 18, 2015. The agenda hinted at yet another attempt by young Garcia to finance his "engineering."  Agenda item #3 read:  Presentation:  Small Area Plan-Jacobs Engineering.

Certainly, this presentation would be made by Jacobs Engineering's Project Engineer, Oscar Garcia, Jr.  But, just before time for the meeting, this notice appeared on the GBIC website:

Later, an agenda for the rescheduled meeting appeared on the GBIC website with some subtle changes in the agenda.  

This time, Agenda item #3 is not merely a presentation, but:
Discussion & Action to approve a contract with a master developer for a research, engineering & commercial park.

The vague wording of the original 9/18 agenda may have been the reason for the meeting's postponement.  Actually, the person posting the new 9/21 agenda gives that away with their description of the new posting, not as a changed time, but as "GBIC Agenda changed."(Sometimes, when you copy a file, the file's original title will appear.)  So, even though Jacobs Engineering is not mentioned in the revised wording of the agenda item, we can fully expect this to be another attempt to spend $407,000 of taxpayer dollars on Phase II of the plan to implement a plan.