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“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” — Abraham Lincoln A JOURNAL OF THE BORDERLANDS JANUARY 2014

Est. 1994

Vol. XIX No. 1 64 PAGES

PD. POL. ADV. BY SYLVIA G. PALUMBO, TREASURER 2315 EAST SAN JOSE ST, LAREDO, TX 78043

@lareDOSnews

LareDOS Newspaper

POL. AD. PAID BY LAURA SALINAS - TREASURER - 10619 KIRBY DR. LAREDO, TX 78045


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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Promoting good reading habits among the youth LULAC Council #7 selected Leon Daiches Elementary School students as recipients of the Niños Adelante initiative that provides fifth grade students with pocket dictionaries and a year long subscription to Kids Discover magazine — to promote good reading habits and encourage children to participate in the accelerated reading program.

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Downtown stray Friends pictured with the artist Angie Martinez, Julie Martinez, Elsa Guerrero, and Ricardo Guerrero III are pictured on Saturday, January 11 at CaffĂŠ Dolce. Ricardo made his artistic debut with his Zoolirium art exhibit.

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This sweet, battered stray, a pit bull, found respite on the front porch at LareDOS on January 22. He had no collar and tags, he was covered with fleas, his face was scarred with cuts and one eye was infected — his condition testimony to his abandonment and the irresponsibility and cruelty of his former owner.

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Tourists visit Menudo Bowl The Ramos family from San Antonio stopped by the Laredo Crime Stoppers 18th Annual Menudo Bowl on Saturday, January 18 at the LIFE Fair Grounds.

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Zumbathon for scholars United Independent School District held its Third Annual Let’s Move for Scholars run, walk, Zumbathon, and health fair on January 11 at the Student Activity Complex. Participants enjoyed a morning of Zumba while raising scholarship funds for students.

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mother and daughter artisans Valeria and Claudia Flores, both jewelry designers, are pictured at the Bazaar at the French Quarter on Saturday, January 11.

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Junior Achievement students teach other students Nixon High School 11th grader Andres Vasquez is pictured teaching and mentoring students at Milton Elementary on Friday, January 10 as part of a Junior Achievement-in-a-Day event.

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

At the WCC disbursement dinner Mary Help of Christians instructor Alheyda Guerra, Sister Robel Cavazos, and Mike Kazen of the Laredo Organized Volunteers for the Elderly and Disadvantaged group were among guests at the annual Women’s City Club Disbursement Dinner on Thursday, January 9 at the Laredo Country Club.

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LWCBA host annual scholarship fundraiser The Laredo Webb County Bar Association president elect Jose Maldonado, president Silverio Martinez, WBCA president Patricia Guajardo, John Perez, and WBCA 2nd vice president Eddie Villarreal announced the LWCBA’s Fifth Annual Noche de Agave Tequila Tasting scholarship fundraiser. All proceeds benefit the Barbara Kazen Endowment at TAMIU and LWCBA Endowment at LCC.

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Mailbox L

etters to the publisher

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lthough I am not one to write a letter to the editor, the recent news coverage in regards to Dr. Eduardo Miranda has prompted me to share support of a physician that I believe should not be the target of unwarranted press attacks, innuendos or untruths. First of all, the reading public should know that Dr. Miranda is the sole oncologist that can provide comprehensive cancer treatment services to residents in the Laredo-Webb County and surrounding areas. A wonderful physician, trusted friend, and honest individual are just a few of the descriptive words that can be used to adequately describe Dr. Miranda whom I have known because of the health care services he provided to my recently deceased sister, Rachel, and the current services he is providing to my mother. At anytime when we needed a question answered, Dr. Miranda has always been available, providing an immediate response. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, the news can be difficult to comprehend or accept by the patient and their loved ones. In our family’s case, any news (even news that may not been particularly pleasant to

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hear) has been more easily understood because of Dr. Miranda’s gentle bedside manner and gracious candor. He takes the time to listen, give guidance, provides support, and, above all, offers hope to the patient and caregivers so that, together, they can continue to fight a most-dreaded disease. I have dealt with Dr. Miranda for numerous years now, and I would like readers to know that this man is hard working and very intelligent. He is highly revered amongst his peers on a local, state and national basis. If there were occasion where cancer care is needed, I would highly recommend that any person and their family members feel confident to visit with and receive treatment by Dr. Miranda. In my opinion, we should be supporting our ONLY local oncologist and not drive them away with unwarranted press. I hope that others who have received treatment by Dr. Miranda and their caregivers show their support for an earnest physician and continue to have full faith and confidence in the medical services provided by a humble, well-intentioned, and exceptional physician. Regards, Juan J. Cruz

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News

La Ladrillera streets re-opened, a victory for Los Olvidados By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

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hanks to the actions of Los Olvidados, a community action group, residents of La Ladrillera Neighborhood now have access to sections of Benavides and García streets closed off by the Wilkinson metal recycling plant. The victory was announced at a January 7 press conference, which also updated residents on the continuing court battle against the plant in the neighborhood. The Wilkinson Gary plant which for over a year has fenced off a portion of the two streets to conduct its business, has returned full access to neighborhood residents. “These streets belong to the people of Laredo and we are happy to announce that today, after more than a year, they are back in the hands of the people,” said Antonia Hernandez, a member of Los Olvidados, which organized in 2013 to address the noise, traffic, odors, and toxic nuisance conditions created by Wilkinson. Another member, Carlos Hernan-

Carlos Hernandez dez added, “We are content with this achievement of obtaining full access of our streets after two years of them being fenced off. As taxpayers we are entitled to access all public property.” He added, “As we began investigating, we contacted the City of Laredo Community Development Department. It was brought to our attention that Wilkinson had no permission from the City to do what he had done. If we hadn’t spoken up, he would have gotten away with it.”

La Ladrillera resident Santiago Flores said, “The railroads, as you can see, are right behind us. If ever there were a derailment, fire, or chemical spill, first responders would have no access to the area. Closing the streets was a safety issue for everyone in the area.” Since filing a lawsuit against the plant and its operator Scott Wilkinson, Los Olvidados members have requested numerous documents from Wilkinson, who has failed to produce any. The group will return to the 49th District Court to ask Judge José López to order Wilkinson to turn over the requested documents and pay plaintiffs’ attorney fees. Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid attorney Daniel Monahan said, “In the discovery phase of the lawsuit, both sides ask each other for documents. Wilkinson asked our clients for documents that they provided. We requested many documents of Wilkinson related to the business as to what materials are being processed and what kind of equipment is being used, since this is a nuisance lawsuit. We are trying to determine

what is going on.” Wilkinson was given 30 days in July, in addition to two 30-day extensions, but has yet to produce the requested documents. “We provided Wilkinson with over 1,500 documents in response to his request, and he has not turned over a single document. We are asking the judge to force Wilkinson to comply with the law,” said Nissa Vasquez of Los Olvidados. Monahan added, “The lawsuit is not about how many documents you can conceal. It is about what evidence there is, and so we just want him to turn over the records he is required to. We don’t want to go to court, but it looks like we are going to have to do it.” As far as the debris and noise nuisance, things remain the same. Flores said, “We are not stopping. We want him out of here. We want peace and tranquility. We want our neighborhood back.” For more information about Los Olvidados and the lawsuit, contact Carlos Hernandez (956) 220-0998 or Antonia Hernandez at (956) 775-1220. 

Members of Los Olvidados and their attorneys at Benavides Street.

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Vote 2014

News Brief

Jackie Ramos enters race for Webb District Clerk

Meet Miranda Margowsky

By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Publisher

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ackie L. Ramos, a former jury clerk and bookkeeper in the Webb County District Clerk’s office, is making another bid for the helm of that office, announcing her run against incumbent Esther Degollado. The Finley Elementary librarian and technology coordinator wants to raise community awareness for the resources of the office of the District Clerk and to make those resources and services more available to the public. “I’d like to see extended Jackie L. Ramos hours of service to provide opportunities for working people to be able to file paperwork and obtain information. Most of us work the same hours that the District Clerk’s office is open. Employee schedules could be staggered to make this happen,” Ramos said. She said she would also like to see a more efficient effort implemented for the call for jury service. “Most of those who respond to a summons face a nightmare of logistics, parking, and lost time. There is very poor communication between the office of the District Clerk and potential jurors. The response of 200 to a summons of 700 potential jurors should W W W.L A R ED OSN E WS.COM

tell you the system in place is not working well. We could learn a great deal from Bexar and Harris counties. In Webb County, it takes up to six weeks to pay jurors. They could be paid on site to save money,” Ramos said. The candidate said the District Clerk’s office needs a technology infrastructure upgrade and to move to more paperless transactions. “To be clear,” she stressed, “I am not running against an opponent. I am running for the position of District Clerk There is no need to disparage the incumbent, when there is so much you can learn about me. I am a welleducated public servant and a versatile forward thinker. I am fair, honest, and courteous,” she said, adding, “and I have great empathy for the taxpayer’s right to good service.” Ramos is a 1987 graduate of Nixon High School and a 1992 graduate of Laredo State University. She holds two Masters degrees — one in library science from Sam Houston State University (2003) and an MPA (public administration) from Texas A&M International University (2012). She and her husband Fernando have two children, Jeremy A., 18 and Kristina N., 15. The Ramos campaign can be reached at (956) 744-2336 

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native of New Hampshire, Miranda Margowsky, is Congressman Henry Cuellar’s Washington press secretary. She was in Laredo recently to meet the press in one-on-one visits. The 2012 H a r v a r d graduate was articulate about working for Cuellar in a fastpaced environment. “The Congressman is an inspiring story about choices you Miranda Margowsky can make and where those choices can take you in education and in a career. He is known for his work ethic and discipline and for his dedication to his district.,” Margowsky said, adding, “He is very

connected to his community and understands the needs here and throughout his district. He is of the people — he is the people.” She said she enjoys a job in the legislative sphere. “It’s politics, it’s fast, it’s about people, and it’s relative to issues in their everyday life. Eve r y t h i ng changes constantly. This is a great job to have when you are young,” she said. M a r gowsky’s immersion in politics was as a field organizer for President Barak Obama’s last campaign. She became fluent in Spanish in summer internships in Santiago, Chile. — María Eugenia Guerra

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Vote 2014

District Clerk Degollado seeks reelection By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

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ith 30 years of experience working in the Webb County District Clerk’s office under her belt, incumbent Esther Degollado —who was elected to the office in April 2010 — is running for reelection for Webb County District Clerk in the March 2014 election. Degollado, a 1984 graduate of Nixon High School, began working at the District Clerk’s office at the age of 16 as part of Manpower’s TeachReteach six-week pre-employment skills program. “Shortly before the program ended, my former boss Manuel Gutierrez offered Esther Degollado me a part-time job,” Degollado said, adding, “I would go to school in the mornings and after school I would come work. As soon as I graduated from high school, he hired me as a full time employee, and I have been here ever since.” She served as a deputy district clerk for 25 years and a court administrator for County Court at Law #1 for two years before becoming District Clerk in January 2011 “When I first walked into the District Clerk’s office, I had no idea what it was all about. As I started working, I learned the legal terminology and became familiar with all the documents pertaining to civil, criminal, and tax cases,” she said, adding, “I began as a filing clerk running errands and receiving new petitions; moved on to handling child support cas-

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es; and in 1985 I was assigned to the 49th district clerk, meaning I was in charge of all cases for the 49th.” During Degollado’s first term as county clerk, she updated the department’s technology and worked to restore and preserve historical records dating back to the 1800s. “I implemented Ijuror software which it is very beneficial for juoros in the event they wish to claim a special deferment, disqualification, or exemption. They can do it online and no longer have to come all the way downtown and struggle with traffic or parking,” said Degollado. The software was implemented in December 2011 and was in full usee by January 2012. She added, “Now we are in the process of going before the Commissioners Court to recommend a new case management software, Tyler Technologies, for the District Clerk’s office. The public sector software will enable more efficiency for all — employees, the courts, and the community.” Degollado said that once the program is implemented, the public will be able to purchase copies of documents from home. “There is much more to do. I haven’t finished what I had envisioned in doing for this office and for the public. I wish I could have done everything in my first term.” The District Clerk’s office will go paperless in July 2014, alleviating space constraints in the office. “That is going to be a challenge for all of us. Since I took office, we have been image scanning all documents that come

into this office. We have some clerks specifically focused on scanning our older documents,” she said. While in office, Degollado has implemented a fire suppression system in the office vault to prevent damage to any documents in the event water sprinklers are activated. “As an elected official, I think it is important to give back to the community,” she said, adding, “I would like to say that the District Clerk’s office is the heart of the judicial system. We provide as much information as possible to all law enforcement agencies. My staff is very efficient and we provide excellent customer service.” “You need to be familiar with the legal terminology and have the experience of working in this department to know

exactly what it entails. I feel I am the best-qualified candidate because I have worked in all aspects of this department. Experience is key,” said Degollado. Degollado serves as president of the Women’s City Club and is a member of Las Damas de la Cultura de Oro and the International Good Neighbor Council. She is an alumnus of Leadership Laredo and is on the advisory board for the City of Laredo Parks and Leisure Department. During her term as District Clerk, she was the recipient of the ProBono Star Award, the Laredo Webb County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award, the Tejano Achiever Award, and the Social Justice Night Court Award. Degollado and her husband Joe have three children — JC, Jessica, and Jessie Degollado. 

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Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Back on home turf Former Laredoan Loni Rose MacConnell and her husband Mac were in Laredo to attend Les Norton’s 65th birthday. They traveled from New Jersey to visit in Laredo and to see family in San Antonio.

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Opinion

Río Bravo Town Hall meeting on water falls short of goals

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he Río Grande International Study Center (RGISC)— now in its 20 th year as this region’s singular and courageous advocate for the river and the environment — works to create dialogue by bringing oftentimes disparate parties together to find resolution to water-related issues. Such was the well-intentioned, well-orchestrated January 22 Town Hall Meeting at Salvador García Middle School in Río Bravo to discuss problems with Webb County’s longtime inability to consistently deliver safe, potable water to the 10,000 residents of Río Bravo and El Cenizo. RGISC’s obvious goals — to identify the reasons that filthy river water was not being treated into safe household water, to have responsibility fall on the shoulders of those responsible, and to find solutions to restore potable water and public trust — fell short of those goals, though not for lack of trying. Of the panel of many — Río Bravo residents María Gonzalez and Guadalupe Elizondo; Webb County Judge Danny Valdez; Pct. 1 Commissioner Mike Montemayor; Mexican and U.S. representatives of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC); RGISC co-founder Dr. Tom Vaughan, a biologist who has tested river waters every month for more than two decades; Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regional director Jaime Garza; and Webb County Utilities director Luis Pérez García who oversees the Webb County Surface Water Treatment

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Plant in Río Bravo — few spoke to the point, except for area residents Gonzalez and Elizondo, Vaughan, and Pérez García. Elizondo, directing herself to county officials, told them that had former water plant director Johnny Amaya performed his duties, the water quality would not have deteriorated to the point that it caused illness.. She asked them why they had not taken immediate action, and on behalf of the citizens of the neighboring townships, she said, “We demand justice.” No silver tongued-devil masking governmental indifference with political palaver thinly disguised as concern, no bean-counting bureaucrat towing agency ineptitude, Dr. Vaughan presented factual explanations for why the river becomes a toxic stew before it makes its way into the intake pumps of the county’s water treatment plant in Río Bravo. Citing his and RGISC’s own studies from samplings and those of a recent TCEQ bacteria study at points along the river, he pointed to Nuevo Laredo’s daily five million gallon outfall of raw sewage into the river. To make his point for the magnitude of 5,000,000 gallons of fecal matter going into the river daily, Dr. Vaughan showed a slide of one of the 5,000,000-gallon water storage tanks behind Mary Help of Christians School on Del Mar Blvd. The IBWC representatives showed pictures of dams and explained treaties between the U.S. and Mexico and the bureaucracy’s mission to safeguard the river by, well, talking about safeguarding the river. While the Mexican representative Lic. Agustin Boone mentioned the raw sewage that pours

from Nuevo Laredo into the river above Bridge I, he made no reference to what that outfall does to the quality of the water that reaches Río Bravo. (Over decades this writer has noted that the IBWC rarely takes strong environmental positions and that it fails to act on the findings of its own studies of the river that have identified heavy metals in fish tissue.) TCEQ’s Garza, laser pointing to neat schematics for the county’s Rio Bravo plant problem areas, spoke of the plant’s 27 violations cited in the agency’s investigation from August through September 2013, but he did not offer the information that the TCEQ itself was remiss in issuing the first Boil Water Notice in Au-

gust 2013, when it should have been issued two months earlier. The real show at the Town Hall Meeting was Judge Danny Valdez and Mike Montemayor. And I’m not even talking about the judge announcing to the assembly he had to go to the bathroom or that he twice called Montemayor, “my commissioner.” It was the glibness of them, the talking down to the people in attendance, the insincere assurances they offered, the grandstanding, the failure to in any way take a measure of responsibility for what had happened or why they let the former water plant director Amaya — Continued on page 52

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By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Publisher

From the River to the Tap, Town Hall topic Río Bravo Mayor Manuel Vela and El Cenizo Mayor Raul Reyes took part in the Town Hall Meeting in Río Bravo on January 22. The meeting’s agenda focused on the operation of the Webb County Surface Water Treatment Plant and its inability to deliver clean water to the citizens of Río Bravo and El Cenizo.

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Vote 2014

Pepe Salinas in race for JP4 “In this race for Justice of the Peace Precinct 4, it’s experience that matters,” said Webb County Sheriff’s Department Cmdr. José (Pepe) Salinas, a candidate in a field of nine vying for the position that longtime JP Oscar Martinez will vacate. “My 30 years in law enforcement have certainly prepared me with experience in the workings of the judicial system. Those years have also given me insight for the problems we face as a community. I know I can have a positive impact on the lives of individuals who come through the system. I know how important communication, quick thinking, and problem solving are for making decisions for both the victim and the perpetrator. This is especially true in matters involving minors,” Salinas said, adding that his reputation as a law enforcement professional is that of “fair and firm.” He said he is a stickler for accountability for revenues. “Transparency is very important,” he said, adding, ”I understand budgets and planning well.” Salinas said he is ready to take on the task of clearing the JP4 court’s burdened docket by offering overtime to some of the court’s staff for night court. “A fulltime night court would come at the direction of the Commissioners Court, but we could certainly make a dent in the docket by holding court on some nights,” he said. He said another of his goals as Justice of the Peace would be the establishment of a youth court on a certain day to hear truancy, gang, drugs, bullying, and mental health issues. “The mental health system in Laredo is overburdened, and

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Pepe Salinas this is especially tragic as it applies to minors who need counseling or medication. Children do not belong in jail. They belong in an environment that is working to save them by evaluating their problems at home and at school and by teaching them responsibility through community work” Salinas continued. He said he will work on truancy issues with school administrators and the REAL program established by JP Martinez. “I would like to have a counselor assigned to the court to evaluate minors and to be part of the effort to save them through a team effort of this court, educators, and the parents. Keeping them in school and giving them an education is a number one priority. How else will they have the tools to achieve economic sustainability and productivity?” he asked. Salinas said his approach to bullying is also teamwork among deputies, constables, teachers, mentors, and parents. “We know that sports and extra-curricular activities give

children self esteem and teach them invaluable lessons about themselves and others.” He said that as a career law enforcement officer, public safety has been at the forefront of his priorities. “I understand the criminal element we face. As JP I will set appropriate bonds and protective orders to ensure the safety of victims. “I’ve seen over the years that detoxification and rehabilitation are often far more effective tools for substance abusers than incarceration. I have worked closely with the 406th District Court and have seen their successes,” Salinas said. He noted that the work of the JP4 court is largely dealing with fines relative to the 8,000 commercial trucks that move through the city.

“Because those trucks are the lifeline of our economy, we can be fair by educating the drivers, sometimes adjudicating their fines, and always staying within the law,” he continued. “There’s a lot of work ahead. I’m well-prepared for the position, and I humbly ask the voters of Precinct 4 to entrust me with the job,” he closed. Salinas graduated from Laredo Community College with an associates degree, and earned a BA from Laredo State University. He is married to Laura Salinas and has four children — Kassandra, Kevin, Kristina, and Priscilla. The Salinas campaign is headquartered at 6419 McPherson and can be reached at (956) 436-9400. 

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Publisher

Fresh offerings at the Farmers Market The Cantus, regular vendors at the Centro de Laredo Farmers Market, offer beautiful citrus, fresh onions, and greens. W W W.L A R ED OSN E WS.COM


News

News

Book by local author Lacy Wise presents struggle with mental illness

Brig. Gen Hall named WBCA Air Show Marshal

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n her memoir, Schizoaffective Disorder: Victory is Possible, Laredoan Lacy Wise reveals her personal, indepth account of her struggles with mental illness. Wise was at the Laredo Public Library for a book signing on Saturday, January 11. Originally from Ohio, Wise moved to Laredo 30 years ago. “I fought with mental illness when I was a little kid. When I moved to Laredo, I had a bit of culture shock. I was picked on all the way through high school, and struggled academically,” she said, adding, “I was hooked on inhalants, huffing, when I was in second grade up until I was 17.” Wise was diagnosed with depression when she was 17 and put on Prozac. A few years later she was misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Wise said, “I think I was misdiagnosed initially because all they saw was a depressed teenager, but I did suffer from auditory hallucinations, paranoia, eating disorders, and a drug addiction. I was so sick for years.” She was institutionalized in both state and private hospitals on multiple occasions. In 1999, she was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Kerrville for 90 days. “At that time I was so sick I thought

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I would be institutionalized for life. My mood swings were erratic, and I was psychotic and manic,” said Wise, adding, “I had attempted suicide too many times to count. During that hospitalization, I found God, and I knew he was with me at that point and I could get through this with his help.” In August 2001, Wise was properly diagnosed with a combination of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder — Schizoaffective Disorder — and put on antipsychotics that stabilized her moods. Her husband of 15 years Ray Wise said, “Her mood swings were up and down and until they finally got her on the right medication, she leveled out. It was such a struggle for years.” This book is a compilation of her perspective on life told through journal entries, prayers, prose, and reflection. Wise’s story is an inspiring testimony of overcoming mental illness. “It was during my final institutionalization that I was compelled to write a book on mental illness — to share my struggles, so that anyone else experiencing similar struggles could see that there is hope,” Wise said. To purchase Schizoaffective Disorder: Victory is Possible, visit www.amazon. com — LareDOS Staff

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he 117th Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) has named Brigadier General William “Bill” Hall marshal for the 2014 WBCA Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular, which is set for February 16 at the Laredo International Airport. The event is sponsored by Southern Distributing and Miller Lite. Hall is the Commanding General of the Arizona Army National Guard and serves as the principal advisor to the Adjutant General on employment of the subordinate units on state and federal missions. His numerous accolades include the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Hall has served as the Deputy Commanding General of the 36th Infantry Division in Austin, and as commander of the Texas Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “My wife and I look forward to joining our friends in Laredo for a

great weekend at the Air Show. We are grateful to the Washington Birthday Celebration Association for the invitation and the Laredo community for its tremendous support to the Texas National Guard” said General Hall. Headliners for the event include The Immortals — Kyle Franklin, Skip Stewart and Paul Stender. Also a part of the line-up is Randy Ball and his MiG17 and Justin Lewis and his world famous Micro Jet —featured in the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy. The will also feature the Alabama Boys in one of the more unique acts in the industry. Other highlights of the show include skydiving, T-28s, and other amazing static displays of legendary aircrafts courtesy of Lewis Air Legends. Tickets for the event are $5 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Preferred seating and viewing locations will be available for purchase inside the air show grounds. For additional information and to purchase tickets visit www.wbcalaredo.org or call (956) 722-0589 — LareDOS Staff

Write a letter to the publisher. meg@laredosnews.com

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Vote 2014

Morales seeks fifth term for County Court at Law #1 udge Alvino “Ben” Morales is seeking a fifth term on the bench for Webb County Court at Law #1. Morales, who was first elected in 1998 and took office in 1999, will face challenger Hugo Martinez, an attorney, in the March 4 race. A native of Taylor, Judge Morales has resided in Laredo since 1979. He earned a BA in political science and history from Southwest Texas State University, and a doctor of jurisprudence from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He began his career as an attorney for Texas Rural Legal Aid, assisting migrant workers with legal matters. “My family of 12 brothers and sisters — we were migrant workers who traveled up north for work. After I passed the bar, I wanted to give back to those who lived a similar life.” Judge Morales served as Municipal Court judge from 1990 to 1998. He currently serves as chair of the Webb County Bail Bond Board and is a member of the American Judge’s Association. He said he wants to continue in office to complete projects he has in the works. “Before I retire, I want to see through all three phases of the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP), the Juvenile Detention Center, and the drug rehab center — which we will break ground for in a couple of weeks,” he said. Judge Morales emphasized that within the legal system there is now an emphasis on rehabilitation and not incarceration. He said, “The

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jails are busting at the seams, and it is costing our taxpayers money. Because the emphasis is rehabilitation, we are starting state-mandated courts for veterans, DWI, and prostitution.” He said that when a veteran comes before his court for misdemeanor theft, he is of the mindset to provide them with an alternative to incarceration, such as six-month anti-theft classes. “Upon completion of those classes, they can have a clean slate and move forward. Veterans, especially those who are homeless, are very close to my heart. We are here to help them and not to punish them. They fought for our freedom, and now it is our time to take care of them,” Judge Morales said, adding that he is a disabled Vietnam era veteran who suffered hearing loss from surface-to-air missles. The court for prostitution will also focus on rehabilitation and counseling. He said, “99 percent of them are women. They need help.” Morales is a co-founder of the Social Justice Night Court (SJNC) that assists those who cannot afford legal representation. “I am of the opinion that if the legal system only works for a few, then it doesn’t work at all. For justice to prevail, it has to work for everyone, rich or poor,” he said, adding, “We are expanding the SJNC and expunging certain cases to assist those whose cannot obtain a job because of their records.” Judge Morales recalled a particular case in the SJNC. “A few years ago I had a widow come up to me crying. I asked her what was wrong. Her husband had not left a will. Her roof was leaking and she couldn’t get a loan from the bank to fix it

because the property was not in her name. Through the SJNC, we assisted with the transfer of title and getting her the funds needed to fix it,” he said. “My parents taught us right from wrong at a very early age, as well as fairness and equality. They were good role models for us,” he continued, adding, “I have learned that the pursuit of justice is the pursuit

of happiness. I don’t think judges should be politicians. That should be left to legislators, City Council members — not judges.” Morales and his wife Les have two daughters, Marissa and Raquel. Of the upcoming election, Morales said, “I hope that the voters go to the polls and vote for experience, for qualifications, and for my record of fairness.” 

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By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

Sneak peek at the 2014 Pocahontas Pageant Princess Pocahontas Council members Alexa Leal, Rosa Benavides, Ana Garza, Sofia Rodriguez, and Daniela Serna were at the Washington Birthday Celebration’s Commander’s Reception on Thursday, January 23 at the Laredo Energy Arena. W W W.L A R ED OSN E WS.COM


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Birding Festival set for February 5-8

I had a middle class job and still ended up on food stamps at 60

he Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC), the Monte Mucho Audubon Society (MMAS), and the City of Laredo Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) are set to host the annual Laredo Birding Festival from February 5 through February 8. Avian aficionados will explore over 240 species of birds native to the southern region of the state, including the White-collared Seedeater, Altamira Oriole, Scaled Quail, Brown Jay, Grey Hawk, and the Clay-colored Thrush, to name a few. “Last year, we broke our record for most species recorded in a single count — 164. Because we are a young, dynamic, and growing festival, Laredo offers birders an exciting opportunity to explore,” said RGISC executive director Tricia Cortez. The 2014 festival will offer participants a variety of full day guided trips along the riverfront, creek systems, nature trails, and scenic ranches. Some of the trips include the Best of the Local Scene Along the River that will go through Las Palmas Nature Trail, Zacate Creek, and the Paso del Indio Nature Trail; Laredo Hot Spots North that will go through North Central, Father MacNaboe, and Muller parks. Birding and Ranch Hospitality will go through IBC’s Aguilares Camp, Buck Ranch, and Los Lazos Ranch. Optional trips for a fee of $15 include the Laredo Birding Classic Bird Till You Drop, and Birding by Boat. Birding experts will be on hand to conduct workshops for festival participants. On February 6, Dr. Bert Frenz, sub-regional editor for North American Birds, will present “A Birder’s Guide to Belize.” Frenz is in the process of writing a book on the birds of the Texas Oaks and Prairies, W W W.L A R ED OSN E WS.COM

Kelly Bryan, a master hummingbird bander and retiree from Texas Parks and Wildlife, will present “Jewels of the Mountains and Desert: West Texas Hummingbirds” on February 7. This year’s keynote speaker is associate editor of Birding magazine Noah Strycker, who has studied birds on six continents and works as a naturalist guide on expedition cruises to Antarctica and Norway. “The Laredo Birding Festival draws in birders from across Texas, the United States, and Canada.  It is a unique tourism offering that has been successful and proven to bring in new tourists each year,” said LCVB executive director Blasita Lopez. She added, “Our involvement in the LBF is key to ensuring positive visitor experience. That’s what we specialize in and pride ourselves on, is being great hosts to all kinds of visitors.” Other festival events include the Fun with Feathery Friends crafts for kids 6 to 12, which is set for February 1 at the Laredo Public Library from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m; and the Birds of the Brush Art Contest opening exhibit on February 5 at the Laredo Center for the Arts. La Posada Hotel will once again serve as the host hotel for participants offering discount rates of $87.22 per night. Guests will have access to Wi-Fi, complimentary airport shuttle, and free parking. Packages for the festival include a one-day package for $80, two-day package for $150, and a three-day package for $220. The Thursday and Friday workshops will have a minimal fee of $10 and the Saturday farewell banquet and keynote address can be attended for $30. For more information visit www.laredobirdingfestival.com, email laredobirdingfestival@rgisc.org, or call (956) 718-1063. 

By Dennis Powers

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n December 23, 2013 — two days before my 60th birthday — I swallowed a stomach full of pride and walked into the Department of Social Services to ask for help. It is something I never imagined I would do. I am ashamed to admit that I am one of those people who thought it would always be someone else, someone worse off who just didn’t or couldn’t work hard enough, who would need that type of assistance. I was wrong, because I am the new working poor. Both my parents were children of the Great Depression, both knew hunger — the real, not-having-foodfor-several-days kind of hunger. Both knew disappointment. My father had to turn down a scholarship to Notre Dame to work alongside his father, delivering coal to the wealthy. Neither of my parents ever caught a break. Every time an illness or disaster would set them back, they would work that much harder to make my life and those of my four siblings better. We didn’t have much, hand-me-downs and second-hand everything. But unlike our parents, we never went hungry. After all, this is America, they would tell us, and your life is not dictated by the circumstances of your birth. Like my father, I had to start working at the age of 16 to help the family pay medical bills. At 30, I was able to enroll in college classes through a tuition assistance program. Over the next few years circumstances changed, my marriage ended ami-

cably, so I never attained a degree. Overall, I still did much better than my parents had. In my early thirties, I was able to buy a small home despite the fact that mortgage rates were above 16 percent. I worked steadily up through the ranks as a technician, engineer, and manager in small and mid-sized companies, and then I spent the nineties at a large corporation. I did well. I had no trouble refinancing my home for a lower interest rate; I paid my bills and, unlike my parents, I was able to save money for the future. I could go out for dinner when I wished, and could indulge in my passion for the new home computers. I never went anywhere on vacation and I didn’t buy expensive luxury goods, but even so, I believed that I was safely ensconced in the middle class. I was wrong. At the beginning of 2000, I left my mid-level corporate position to start my own Web design and hosting business. Although neither of my parents lived to see it, I had attained their dream for me. I earned more money than I ever had, and I invested my corporate pension into a small business retirement fund. In March of 2002, one month after my health insurance ran out and three days before I planned to pay off my mortgage early in a lump sum, I had a stroke. Over the next two years, I spent all my savings, including what I intended to use to pay off the mortgage, all my business capital and a second mortgage, to regain the use of the left side of Continued on page 20

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Border Beer Fest slated for February 1

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s part of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration (WBCA), the Border Beer Fest (BBF) is set for Saturday, February 1 at the Laredo Civic Center. The beer-tasting event spans a weeklong celebration from January 24 to February 1 — Border Beer Week— that will include a Border Beer Challenge, Border Beer and Doughnut Run, and the Border Bowling Tournament. Organizers of the event say they ensure the safety of attendees to the Border Beer Fest by requiring an ID check at the door, providing certified peace officers, and free taxi service anyone who too impaired to drive.  Beer enthusiasts get to sample beer and cuisine from local eateries; vote on their favorite beer; learn how to pair beer with food; and are

treated to live musical entertainment. This year’s live entertainment will feature Like Bridges We Burn, a band from Denton and local group There Be Dragons.   There is no requirement to drink. A designated driver ticket is available for those who wish to sample food for free as well as attend each of the sessions at no extra charge.  Presale tickets are available for $20 and $25 the day of the event and designated driver tickets are available for $10. Sample glasses will be given to those who wish to taste beer and receive a sample card with 12 total samples. Additional cards may be purchased for $5. Attendees must be 21 years or older. Proceeds from the event benefit the STARS Scholarship fund and the TAMIU Alumni Association. — LareDOS Staff

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 Continued FROM page 19 my body. For the second time in my life, I learned how to walk. Although I was financially trapped, I began rebuilding my business and my clients remained loyal. Then in 2009, the Great Recession decimated my client-base and obliterated my retirement fund. Most of the small and mid-sized businesses I worked with were either closed or sold off, and my corporate clients brought their work in-house. Over the next two years my company bled money, and I was forced to move the business into my house to stay afloat. Looking back, I could have survived the stroke or the recession, but not both. Last summer the bank began foreclosure on my home of 30 years, forcing me to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy to save it. After 44 years of working full-time as a contributing middle-class citizen, I find myself embarrassed and ashamed that I now earn well below the poverty line and that I am close to losing everything. The thing is, I did everything right. I worked hard all my life. I saved when I could. I educated myself. I didn’t live above my means. I started my business with enough capital, had a viable business model and planned for the unexpected. But I never considered a one-two punch of a medical crisis followed by a global financial collapse. As a result of the stroke, I have changed. I am angry at myself for not taking better care of my health. I am angry that I am dizzy and my balance is now a conscience act. I am angry that the side of my face always buzzes. And I am tired of being angry. I am still in business, but I am now the working poor. I can barely afford to upgrade my equipment, and I only spend money on basic es-

sentials. When the DVD player died, I couldn’t replace it — the same with the stereo, and the garage door opener. I haven’t purchased new clothes in years, or replaced the damaged side view mirror on my car. If it’s not essential, I do without. My doctor was willing to work with me to reduce my $700 a month cost for medications. And together we found ways to lower it but I still pay over $100 a month. So there I was, the Thursday before Christmas, sitting at my computer resigned to not having cable TV because I couldn’t pay the bill, and unsure of how long I could put off paying the phone bill before they turned it off. When it hit me: I was living my parents’ life. I had come full circle; from the poverty of the Great Depression to the poverty of the Great Recession. The “better life” that my parents worked so hard to make for me, that I worked so hard to improve, had come down to this decision: whether to purchase food for my belly or the medication to prevent another stroke. So after spending half of Monday at the Waterbury Department of Social Services, I started the New Year with SNAP assistance and a state issued debit card loaded for January with $189. I’m seeking energy assistance, and I hope to afford health insurance on the state’s exchange. More than anything, however, I’m working to rebuild my business. I want my position back in the middle class, and don’t want my nieces and nephews to struggle like my parents did. If things don’t improve, I may still lose my home and business and then, at the age of 60, I’ll have to figure out how to start over from scratch. I am the face of the new working poor in America, and I am not alone. (This story first appeared in the Huffington Post.)

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Vote 2014

Tijerina makes re-election bid for County Commissioner Pct. 2 By MARIELA RoDRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

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ebb County Pct. 2 Commissioner Rosaura “Wawi” Tijerina is seeking reelection in the March 4 election, facing former Webb County Judge Louis H. Bruni and former Pct. 2 Commissioner Judy Gutierrez. Tijerina was elected to the Commissioner’s Court in November 2006 and ran unopposed in the November 2010 election. She said her bid for a third term stems from her desire to complete projects currently I development. “We are working on expanding our infrastructure — in particular, Loop 20 — so that people don’t have to be stuck in traffic, to alleviate our commercial traffic, and allow for growth,” she said, adding, “Another project I want to see to fruition involves the juveniles of our community. We are working so hard to complete our youth village — the detention center, alternative school, and the rehabilitation center, which we will break ground for very soon.” Tijerina is in the process of assisting with establishing a central fire station on eight acres of land owned by the county at Lake Casa Blanca, which will provide state of the art equipment and air medical evacuation to San Antonio. “In the golf course area, we will be leasing land to Fairway Suites. That is very good because there are a lot of tournaments, and they will be using that hotel to house the players and to promote our golf course. This is a great opportunity to expand tourism and boost our economy,” Tijerina said. Another project in which Tijerina is

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involved is a Whitetail Wind Energy recently approved over $1 million in training center at Bruni High School. energy assistance to aid the indigent “We are working on building a second with their electrical bills. “I am very wind farm, and this training facility excited to play a part in aiding those in is for potential need, especially future employwhen it comes ees. We provide to paying for tax abatements their electricity, in exchange which is just so for them createxpensive,” she ing jobs for the said. people in that Tijerina she area,” she said. said she has Relative to been instruthe nonrenewal mental in obof the City of taining grants Laredo contract that aid colonia for health and residents to environmental improve and services, she asremodel their sured that the homes. county would “I am a firm continue to do believer in imRosaura “Wawi” Tijerina what it can to proving the provide for its quality of life citizens. for these peo“Webb County is doing its part to ple. I come from very humble beginprovide care to its residents. This year nings, and I will never forget that. I through clinics the county has provid- want to beautify all the colonias,” she ed a total of 652 flu vaccines for a to- said, adding, “I have been instrumental of $9,941, $15 per vaccine. Through tal in bringing in $27 million for projstate funding and outreach programs ects to increase improvements in my such as Mercy Ministries and our hos- precinct. Since I have taken office, we pitals — Doctors and Laredo Medical have been able to maintain a healthy Center — we have been able to provide and full budget without increasing the necessary care,” she said. taxes.” Tijerina reminded citizens that She said that projects that have through the County Indigent Health been completed during her tenure Care Program they can receive a include increasing retirement for forvoucher for a free flu vaccine at local mer county employees; the paving of Walgreen or HEB locations. 52 blocks in Bruni and building the “The veterans museum is a big first park there; the remodeling of the project for me. Its board, along with Quad City Community Center; and the City of Laredo and the architects, expansion to the Cuatro Vientos area have been working tremendously from Hwy 359 to Mangana Hein Rd; hard to break ground soon,” she said. and the building of a volunteer fire deShe said the Commissioners Court partment.

The native Laredoan was raised in the Colonia Guadalupe and she credits her parents for instilling in her to always be responsible and respectful toward others. She is a product of LISD and graduated in 1976 from Martin High School. Tijerina earned a BA from Southwest Texas State University and graduated from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. She has worked as an instructor at Laredo Community College in both academics and the police academy for 19 years. She served as Municipal Court judge and continues to practice law. Tijerina has been involved with the American Bar Association, Texas Bar Association, Laredo Webb County Bar Association, Webb County Women’s Bar Association (founder), Women’s City Club, United Way, Delta Kappa Gamma, Texas Community College Teachers Association, Community College Criminal Justice Educators of Texas, American Association of University Women, and Laredo Gateway Rotary Club. She has served on the advisory boards of Crimestoppers, S.C.A.N. (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect), Children’s Advocacy Center, Special Populations, Regional Police Academy, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, South Texas Workforce Development Board (vice-chair), Drug Elimination Program, and Casa Misericordia Shelter for Battered Women. Tijerina her husband Omar have one son, Omar Jr. “As far as what sets me apart from my other opponents, I am a full-time commissioner, have been ever since I took office. My education, experience, and community involvement really sets me apart. So does my desire to improve the quality of life for citizens,” she said. 

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Volunteer Romeo Sifuentes on VITA’S free tax preparation program

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etiree Romeo Sifuentes, a volunteer tax preparer for the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program, feels his time preparing free tax returns for persons making less than $60,000 annually is a good use of his time. Like other VITA volunteers, he is IRS certified and has completed IRS tax law training to provide the free returns for the annual no-cost effort. Sifuentes is retired after 37 years of service from what was once known as the Texas Migrant Council (now Teaching and Mentoring Communities). He worked in the Río Grande Valley, the Texas Panhandle, and in Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois setting up Headstart programs as well as nutrition centers for migrant children. “I signed up for VITA because it’s a good program that helps people save money. It’s a shame more taxpayers don’t take advantage of this free service that offers so much. Over the three years that I have volunteered, I’ve seen it expand. We have clients coming in from Encinal, Cotulla, Bruni, and Zapata,” Sifuentes said. He said that training from IRS personnel keeps the volunteer tax preparers updated on tax law changes and new forms. “We have to be certified every year,” he said. Sifuentes, who is stationed at Goodwill store at the corner of IH35 and Mann Road, said he likes the continuous interaction with clients. He and 20 other volunteers prepare returns Monday through Saturday. Those in need of VITA’s services are asked to bring with them identification, Social Security cards of the in-

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Romeo Sifuentes dividual and spouse, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, W-2s or 1099 forms, interest and dividend statements from banks, a copy of last year’s return, bank routing and account numbers for a direct deposit refund, and totals paid for daycare services. A complete list of necessary documentation is available at vitalaredo.org “Some of the clients come in having done their homework, and they know they have a refund coming. Others are surprised that they can take an Earned Income Credit or a childcare credit. Over the last three years, we have provided more services to more Laredoans who represent a real cross-section of the community. We have a lot of teachers and students, small business owners, and retirees,” said Sifuentes, a native of the Valley, a National Guardsman, and a graduate of UT-Pan American. He and his wife Elisa Ortiz Sifuentes are the parents of Romeo Jr. and Jennifer Sifuentes. Sifuentes, who said he is happy to give something back to his community, said his work with VITA was

“extremely rewarding.” Esperanza Sauceda, lead trainer for VITA, said volunteers are welcome to the organization as greeters, reviewers, or tax preparers. Other than Goodwill, the tax preparation sites are the United High School freshman campus, Santa Rita Express Branch Library, J.B. Alexander High School, Azteca Economic Development, Martin High School, Catholic Services Main Office, Laredo Public Lirary, Bruni Library, United High School, TAMIU Student Center, LBV Inner City Branch Library, and LBJ High School. The IRS, Azteca Economic Development and Preservation Corporation, and 15 other private and public

organizations comprise the Laredo Family Economic Success Coalition (LFESC), which runs the annual VITA program. Azteca Economic Development and Preservation Corporation is the lead training agency of the local VITA program. Last year, the Laredo VITA program prepared over 3,800 tax returns, returned $7 million in tax refunds to the Laredo economy, and saved local residents over $700,000 in tax preparation services (based on $200 average fee). The total value of services that the VITA program provided amounted to almost $8 million in 2013. To volunteer or for more information about VITA, call (956) 726-4462 or visit vitalaredo.org 

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Publisher

Where friends meet Enrique de la Garza and Anna Laura Cavazos Ramirez are pictured at the January 19 Farmers Market in Jarvis Plaza. LareDOS I JA N UA RY 2 0 1 4 I 2 3


Vote 2014

Judy Gutierrez: ethics at the heart of Pct. 2 commissioners race By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Publisher “This race is about ethics. I am running as a taxpayer,” said former Pct. 2 County Commissioner Judith Gutierrez, who will challenge incumbent Commissioner Rosaura “Wawi” Tijerina and former Webb County Judge Louis H, Bruni in the March 4 election. “I am running as a taxpayer who wants to sweep clean the house that the taxpayers built. Look no further for ethics violations than the Community Action Agency (CAA) debacle in which federal, state, and taxpayer money was used to repay political favors with the weatherization of homes of unqualified persons. It’s no secret that elected commissioners and officials were directing the CAA to weatherize the homes of those who helped them get elected. The findings of the state’s investigation were pretty clear about how money and resources were used. Of the million dollars spent on the weatherization of 71 homes, only two homes qualified. It was also found that the homes of ineligible county employees were being weatherized and that their applications were put ahead of those who actually qualified and desperately needed those services. How can you hold an agency accountable if you yourself are abusing it?” Gutierrez asked. “The state determined that the CAA’s CEAP program, which is intended to assist the elderly and the poor with electric utility bills was also abused. Webb County had to return a half-million dollars to the state. Who paid for this abuse of power and your trust? You and I did

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with our hard earned taxes. Can we afford to keep doing business like this — defying state rules and procedures and then having to give back money you squandered to repay political favors?” she continued. “Let’s talk about the time Judith Gutierrez Wawi spends in her office. She is a fulltime attorney working as a part-time Webb County Commissioner at full salary. The taxpayers didn’t elect her staff to the commissioner’s seat. They elected her,” she said. Gutierrez, who served as Pct. 2 commissioner from 1987 to 1995 and again from 1999 to 2006, said, “It’s all about ethics and the broken campaign promises she made when she asked you to entrust her to look after your money.” She said, “As a commissioner, finding jobs for family members was never part of my agenda. How can Wawi claim to not know that her sister-in-law was hired in the County engineering department when she seconded the vote to change the job from a part time minimum wage job to a full time position that paid $20 an hour? Another of her questionable acts was her vote to move the mental health unit to the Sheriff’s Department and the subsequent hiring of her husband in the

Sheriff’s office for a $65,000 position that could have been filled from within. Is this coincidence or abuse of the public trust? Is her husband a certified peace officer or a certified mental health officer?” Gutierrez asked. “ W h a t about discounting the health and safety of the families and children of Río Bravo and El Cenizo by ignoring the hazardous water utility problems brought to the attention of the Commissioners Court by the TCEQ in 2010. The court did nothing — she did nothing — even as the water plant director was being cited repeatedly for acts of negligence, for hiring unqualified individuals at the plant, for endangering the lives of the 10,000 residents of the area. The value of the water plant director as a vote hustler eclipsed the magnitude of his negligence,” she said. “The people of Rio Bravo and El Cenizo are not second class citizens. Why should they be subject to the hazards of third world water? They are taxpayers and a vital part of the workforce and economy of this community,” she continued. She said that some, including the incumbent commissioner, might call Gutierrez taking Tijerina to task ‘dirty politics.’

“This race is too important not to speak up. The truth is what the truth is, and this election is an evaluation of Wawi Tijerina’s performance and whether or not she has kept her word as a steward of the public trust,” she said. Gutierrez said that breaking the County’s inter-local contract with the City of Laredo for health services that include rabies vacunas, flu shots, and septic tank compliance was “a bad decision that reflected poor planning based on a ‘we’ll figure it out later’ move.” She added, “I don’t think this bad decision could be better summed up than Rep. Richard Raymond’s comments in a story in the January 7 issue of The Laredo Morning Times, in which he said of the County’s failure to renew the inter-local agreement, ‘My guess is that their decision is not only going to cost them money, but also the trust of the people.’” According to Gutierrez, Tijerina “needs to “level with the people of Webb County.” She continued, “I want to hear her say, ‘If I win, I am in your service for four years.’ She has made no secret of her wish to have the Commissioners Court appoint her judge of the newly created County Court at Law #3. If this is just speculation, she needs to deny it.’” Gutierrez said she will serve as a fulltime commissioner and will, with other members of the court and the City of Laredo, develop a plan for a secondary water source. “No governing entity, large or small, can succeed in its mission to serve without a strategic plan Continued on page 41

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Nebraska students give Habitat for Humanity a hand Nursing students from Nebraska Methodist College comprised a Habitat for Humanity framing crew for a new home under construction at Tierra Prometida subdivision off Hwy. 359. The Omaha students spent a week on the project before returning to classes.

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George and Martha

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Congressman Henry Cuellar and Rebecca M. Laurel portray this year’s George and Martha Washington. They are pictured at the WBCA kickoff Commanders Reception on Thursday, January 23 at the Laredo Energy Arena.

Middle schoolers move for scholars Eighth graders from Lamar Bruni Vergara Middle School participated in UISD’s Third Annual Let’s Move for Scholars event on Saturday, January 11 at the Student Activity Complex. All proceeds benefited students with scholarships to college. W W W. L A R E D OSNEWS. COM

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At the Rio Bravo Town Hall Meeting Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid attorneys Dan Monahan (left) and Israel Reyna (right) are pictured with Victor Oliveros, president of the Rio Grande International Study Center at the recent Town Hall Meeting in Rio Bravo to discuss Webb County’s inability to consistently deliver clean water to the residents of Rio Bravo and El Cenizo.

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Dr. Tom Vaughan (right), co-founder of the Rio Grande International Study Center is pictured with RGISC member Arnold Cisneros at the recent Town Hall Meeting to discuss water quality in Rio Bravo and El Cenizo.

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Santa María Journal

By María Eugenia guerra

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e celebrated Christmas a couple of days early so that everyone in the family could be back home where they needed to be on Christmas eve. The ranch was alive with several generations of us — sisters, husbands, wives, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles, and cousins. There was something about our time together that made it obvious we were all engaged at the same level of caring for each other. While the children brought us joy in their whole hearted experiences of finds on the monte floor and their excitement over horses and baby chicks, for some of the grown-ups it was a time for conversation, lingering hugs, hand-holding, reconciliation, redemption, and an appreciation for who we have been in each others’ lives through half of the last century and part of this one. The gathering was an homage to those who have held our place on this land so that we could enjoy its vibrant role in the family history, so that we could enjoy its beauty and solace, so that it could be the place for loving exchanges, and so that some of us could know how it might be that the land passes to the loving hands of another generation. I loved the pre-celebration visits over dinner and breakfast with my sister Amanda, her husband Clyde Neal, and my bright, erudite niece Angela, a New Yorker and a Parsons graduate in marketing and design. It was observed not once, but twice in Zapata that the Neals probably did not hail from these parts, which I attributed to Amanda and Angela’s fashion sensibilities, though perhaps it was just the colors in Amanda’s beautiful scarf. Over the next couple of days, the

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Christmas: reconciliation, redemption, and appreciation for who we have been in each others’ lives ranch filled with family members. George and Rosie and my granddaughters Emily and Amandita arrived, Airstream in tow. My niece and nephew Monica and Carroll Dase and their children, Elle, Piper, and Cannon took residence in my Dad’s one-room cabin. The little cousins filled the ranch compound with joy, merriment, and the affection they have for one another, and the older ones, their parents, caught up on parenthood, careers, avocations, and shared childhood memories. Under Angela’s direction, the kiddos and some of us grownups took on the project of painting a tall fiberglass figure of the Virgin Mary that is actually part of a fountain we will install on the ranch. The figure had arrived by flatbed trailer a week before, and she became the perfect object of much happy, creative energy. We paid our respects to the statue’s former owner and welcomed her to our ranch. I marveled that every single one of the 40 small paintbrushes in my painting kit had been used by the kids, and that many, many surrounding objects had taken on a splash of paint. We had invited my son’s father, George Allen Altgelt to the Christmas celebration. I had been married to him in Austin in the 70s, a whole-wheat marriage held together by karma, crystals, love, and baling wire. About four years ago — after a few decades of silent, benign fuming over the failed marriage, which is how some divorces play themselves out in grudges and useless expenditures of energy better used. (It’s a lot of work to maintain high levels of wrath) — my granddaughter Emily asked aghast, “YOU were married to my Grandpa?” Even before she’d asked, I’d wearied of

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Amandita

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the pretense that the failed marriage had been the major disaster of my life. There have been plenty of others to eclipse it. Her question embodied the moral imperative to move forward, to rise to call futility by its name, and to acknowledge what good had come of the marriage. What proof more absolute have I than Emily herself, her sister Amandita, and my son George? Over the last several years, George A. and I have been cordial at visits at my son’s house over holidays, never engaging in conversation over the dissolution of our marriage. But here we now were at the latest holiday celebration that was so filled with love and wonderful emotional exchanges, seated at the table in my house at the ranch with Monica and Carroll and having a conversation about religion, our mortal lives, and what nourishes the human spirit. Carroll complimented George A. and me about having a respectful relationship that many ex-spouses do not have. We talked a bit about how that happened; and unexpectedly and before we knew it, the exchange had turned into something else, a powerful, mutually tearful instance of forgiveness, hand-holding, and redemption. We laughed at my new status, no

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Emily, Amanda Neal longer an ex, but now a former wife. But for Carroll and Monica, and their true and steady grasp on this life, this wouldn’t have transpired as it did. That moment was but one of many blessings and tender gifts that came to us individually and collectively during those days together. Footnote: The success of our gathering, I heard, was measured at the café in San Ygnacio: ocho carros. How can you count that fast at 70 mph? 

George Altgelt

Monica & Elle Dase

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LULAC Council #7 members Arnoldo García, Armando Amanza, Patty Valero, William Daugherty, Mary Peña, Ernesto Gonzalez, José Coronado, and José Gonzalez were at Daiches Elementary on January 10 to induct students into the Niños Adelante program.

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

LULAC #7 expands the Niños Adelante program

Menudo Bowl fun Winner of the showmanship division Los Caporales team provided attendees fun photo opportunities at the Laredo Crime Stoppers 18th Annual Menudo Bowl at the LIFE Fair Grounds on January 18.

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for growth, sustainability, and improved services. Gutierrez said that during her tenure on the Commissioners Court, the court established strategic plans for short-term and long-term goals. She cited the construction of the Webb County Justice Center as a well-planned measure that “saved the county millions in rent in the early 1990s.” She said that getting water and sewage treatment capabilities to the colonias took a great deal of strategic planning. “I do not have to falsely claim that I was part of the effort. I devoted a good part of my life’s work to how we could make this happen as a court, including the right-of-way project. This water delivery and sewage project has longterm value because it’s already in place for future growth and annexation by the city. The community centers were likewise part of the plan to take services to the colonias, as was the self-help center,” she continued. “Wawi Tijerina may have opened the first spigot in the colonias, but I was there years earlier when we planned this very important project and put together the money to do it. Try as she may to take ownership of a project of that scale, it was the work of an earlier Commissioners Court that established priorities and had the vision to bring it to fruition.” Gutierrez said that planning and citizen input are the most important parts of moving ahead, not only with services, but also for the bricks and mortar part of growth. “Those who know me, know that I support the fair and equitable treatment of all County employees and retirees. They also know I am a good steward of public money and will work to prevent tax raises,”

Gutierrez said. She added that a percentage of new tax valuation revenues could be set aside to address new projects, obviating debt and avoiding bond issues. “We don’t need to spend every penny that comes in to fill new positions that are often given away to relatives and political allies. We need to promote qualified individuals already employed by the County before hiring from the outside.” She said she would establish a citizen’s advisory committee to study the feasibility of consolidating taxing entities. “There are plenty of models in the state for counties and communities that have consolidated collection and offer one-stop shopping for taxpayers,” she said. She said that Webb County needed to continue with its historic development of downtown’s Villa Antigua Project in the San Agustín National Register District. “The payoff for the restoration and development of the project’s historic buildings is in education, cultural heritage tourism, and eco-tourism. We own some very valuable historic buildings that could become museums, artisans’ shops, restaurants, retail stores, and meeting spaces,” Gutierrez said. “There is so much we need to do to restore taxpayer confidence. As a decision-making court, we need to be proactive about our work, not reactive. In all our offices, in all our practices we need to be as cost effective as possible, and as green and resourceful as we can be,” Gutierrez continued. “I’m asking the voters of Precinct 2 to get their brooms and roll up their sleeves. Let’s start sweeping until we get government that serves us and not itself, county government that is an honest steward of our trust and tax dollars. We built this courthouse, let’s clean it,” she said. 

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The Arts

Artist Ricardo Guerrero III debuts with Zoolirium By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

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p and comer Ricardo Antonio Guerrero III made his solo artistic debut onto the local art scene with Zoolirium, an exhibit at Caffé Dolce on January 11. “This is my very first solo exhibit, and it’s a big step for me. This took a lot of work and concentration over the past month,” Guerrero said. The exhibit included 24-canvas watercolor and acrylic illustrations that depict his take on a mix of society’s animal metaphors. “The works are done with very fluid mediums, nothing too thick. I have a few painting in which there are a lot of layers because the canvas is big-

ger. Most of the pieces tend to work with very transparent mediums and you can still see the lines in pencil,” he said, adding, “This is cool because you can see the work in progress, which is the best part of an artwork — seeing how much work was put into it.” The focus on the exhibit was animals, a concept the artist had toyed with for a few years. He said, “People use a lot of expressions in society like ‘there are other fish in the sea’ or ‘I’m sick as a dog.’ I wanted to play around with that because I wanted to show my own take on it.” Guerrero’s style is colorful, edgy, and grungy with a hint of playfulness in all his illustrations. He said, “When I work with my

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stuff, I like to give a very childish, playful type of imagery while at the same time depicting a mature image behind it – pertaining to general or personal issues and whatever is going on in today’s society. When I work I like to concentrate on the composition of it.” The artist takes a cue from Russian artist Lora Zombie whose works are flamboyant and grunge inspired. Local artist Gil Rocha, with whom Guerrero worked for two summers, also inspired him. “Gil taught me a lot through his humor and vision on different things. I took that all in, and it helped me mature. The best part of working with him was that I got the experience needed to develop new ways of working and seeing things — a milestone

for me as I step into this career,” he said. Guerrero’s interest in drawing began in early childhood. He is a big fan of cartoons, comics, anime, and all things fantasy. “As an artist, the reason I started working was because I thought it was fun and a great way of letting go of whatever you are as an holding in. If there is strong message behind it – it is great when people recognize and catch it. If you don’t like it or don’t get it, it’s OK as long as you took the time to stop and look at the pieces,” he said. Guerrero will be graduating from Texas A&M International University with a BA in art and a minor in psychology in the spring of 2014. To see more artworks visit RICK RAG3 Facebook page. 

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Vote 2014

Eduardo Jaime makes bid for Justice of the Peace 4

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ttorney Eduardo Jaime is in the race for the Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 in the March 4 election. He will face Janie Martinez, Jose “Pepe” Salinas, Albino Walker, Sergio Alberto “Checo” Lujan, Vicky Cantu, and Yu-Hsien “Shen” Huang Del Rio. Jaime, a former migrant worker in a family of 15 children, is a 1966 graduate of Martin High School. He was drafted to serve in Vietnam in 1968. “I served in the Army for two years as an infantryman. When I left, I had the rank of Sergeant and had received a bronze star,” he said. In January 1971, Jaime passed the U.S. Border Patrol exam, but because at the time there was a height and weight requirement, he wasn’t hired on. He immediately enrolled in San Antonio College’s school of nursing, becoming an RN in May 1973. “I worked for Bexar County Hospital and the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital. While I was at Murphy, they did away with height and weight requirement for Border Patrol. I got called to Laredo and came back in November 1974 and worked as an agent for 10 years,” Jaime said. During that time, he worked part time at Mercy Hospital to maintain his nursing license and took night classes until he earned a BA in counseling from Texas A&M University Kingsville in December 1978. “In 1984, I was teaching at the BP academy in Glenco, Georgia when I was notified that I had been accepted into Thurgood Marshall School of Law. I resigned my position as an

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agent, went to school, and have been practicing law ever since,” he said. Attorney Jaime specializes in criminal defense at the federal level and also handles immigration cases involving criminal deportation. “Like other attorneys in Laredo who practice in the JP courts, you can see how things could be better. JP 4 has grown so much in terms of commercial areas and traffic, not to mention that the maximum jurisdiction was raised to $10,000 — that’s not chump change,” he said, adding, “The issues are much more complex, and you want someone in there who is knowledgeable of laws and procedure.” He said that currently there is over $10 million in uncollected tickets in the Precinct 4, most of which derives from fines for commercial vehicles. Jaime said there is a need to have someone qualified appointed to “start clearing that up.” “Another JP 4 position has been approved, but according to the Webb County Judge there is no funding for that. If you look at what’s there, if we get someone to work on collecting those fines, I think an expansion to JP4 could be self-supporting,” he said, adding, “My thing is not to incarcerate anyone. Let’s work with the drivers and equipment owners — have them step up to fix the equipment and have it meet the safety standards that the state requires — to make our roads safer for the community.” He said that justices of the peace are the first tier in the judicial system. “When people are arrested, they are brought to a magistrate who typically is a JP. I think the person setting bond should have knowledge of the law and what principal elements must be considered for setting that monetary

amount to ensure the person’s presence during court proceedings.” Of truancy, another issue that the JP4 position dealing with, Jaime said, “ From my daughter who is an educator and from other family members, I hear what the problems are with some of these children. With input from the educators, who spend more time with the children than their parents, I think we could find solutions for these absenteeism issues — that must be addressed to prevent juvenile delinquency.” He said he has tremendous support “from his colleagues, friends, and family.” He said he is seeking to truly make a difference. “It is a position that you are not

really in it for the money. I am an established attorney and have accomplished most of my goals in life. With my knowledge and experience, I feel I could help improve our JP courts,” said Jaime, adding, “If you get sick, you don’t go to a mechanic. You go to a doctor. Same thing if you go to court, you want a lawyer — some one who knows and understands the law.” Jaime and wife of 45 years Gonzala have three children — Rosa Angelica, Eduardo Jr., and Mario. He remains close to his roots and is also very involved with veteran organizations such as the American Legion and the Laredo Veterans Coalition. 

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By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

JA-in-A-Day event Nixon High School junior and senior Junior Achievement students taught Milton Elementary students the basics of economics, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship on January 10. The Junior Achievementin-A-Day event was held under the direction of instructor Alfonso Ruiz. WWW.L A R E DOSN EWS.COM


Vote 2014

Janie Martinez in race for JP4

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usinesswoman Janie Martinez is one of the candidates in the most populated race on the March 4 ballot, that of Justice of the Peace Precinct 4. Martinez is the business development manager and interim lead area sales manager for United Parcel Service (UPS), overseeing the Laredo and Corpus Christi market and managing a $15 million annual budget. She entered the workforce at the age of 16. Martinez said, “I saw how my parents struggled to raise three children. I was a cheerleader, which was very expensive. I started working to help my parent’s financially.” Martinez’s career began with AT&T as an account executive. She was quickly promoted to sales manager. “That was really my first step into the corporate world. I was able to acquire the job based on my strong work ethic and work experience,” she said. She eventually began working for Westel, a telecommunication company, as an account executive and manager for eight years. “By the time I left, I had been promoted to branch sales manager and oversaw the Laredo, Valley, and corpus Christi market” said Martinez. Born and raised in Laredo and a graduate of Martin High School, Martinez is a mother of two — Jeremy and Matthew — and has been married to David Martinez for 15 years. “My first semester as a junior in college, where I was pursuing a degree in accounting, I got pregnant and became a single mom. I had to drop out of school,” she said, adding, “I knew that because I was a single mother I had to work twice as hard to provide. Five years later I was blessed to have met my husband. Three years into our

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Janie Martinez marriage both of us got the desire to go back to school. I decided I would be the head of the household while my husband finished school.” She believes a college education is very important, but realize that unfortunately not everyone has the opportunity to go. “I knew that working hard and remaining committed to anything I did was important to offset the fact that I didn’t have a degree,” she said. Anyone seeking a public position should be involved in the community, not just because they are running, but because it is important, according to Martinez. Her community involvement includes organizing donation drives for LAPS, Casa de Hogar de Niños in Nuevo Laredo, and church ministries. She has also assisted with Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Day, and was a member of the Laredo Women’s Commission. “Because of my children, I have been a very active volunteer with UISD’s PTC and booster clubs. I have always been very involved with the youth, and so has Judge Martinez. Coming from a family of educators, I know and understand the issues that

are plaguing are schools — bullying and drugs — fueling truancy,” she said. Martinez wishes to continue Judge Oscar Martinez’s involvement with bettering the community. She said,“The REAL Mission Program is a tremendous. I will continue to work to work with educators to identify the underlying issues pertaining to truancy. I understand the issues, and I will do everything through an intervention program — to figure out if bullying or an unidentified learning disability are causing children to not want to go to school.” Martinez credits her parents San Juana and José Coss for instilling in her qualities that have prepared her for the JP4 position — “to be hard working, respectful compassionate,

and impartial. Those are all things that are not learned from a text book. The duties and responsibilities of the JP4 court will be learned. I have the capacity to learn as I have moved from different industries and have been very successful,” she said. Martinez promises fairness, impartiality, and transparency and to uphold the law. “As the next JP, people will not have to wait for their day in court. I will continue to work with our youth to ensure they have a brighter future. Because I am in the transportation industry, I understand the issues pertaining to trucking companies in our precinct, she said, adding, “At the end of the day, I am a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a wife who cares for her community.” 

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

Evening of art with friends Edna Gonzalez and Alexis Herrera were at Ricardo Guerrero III’s Zoolirium art show on Saturday, January 11 at Caffé Dolce. LareDOS I JA N UA RY 2 0 1 4 I 4 5


Vote 2014

Incumbent Garza seeks reelection for Webb County Court at Law #2 ncumbent Webb County Court at Law #2 Judge Jesus “Chuy” Garza will face attorney Linda Garza Martinez in the March 4 elections. He has served as judge of Webb County Court at Law #2 since he was elected in 1993. He previously served as a Municipal Court Judge and Justice of the Peace. “Our main goal primarily as judges is to be fair and impartial when hearing cases. Secondarily, trying to improve lives through community projects, and I feel like I have done both,” he said. Garza wants to remain in office to see to fruition the final phase of the Judge Solomon Casseb Jr. Webb County Youth Village, a project he has been involved with since 1997. “In 1997, a group of us were kicking around the idea about the lack of juvenile services we have in this community. We gathered more than 2,000 signatures in 2001 and presented them to the Webb County Commissioners to request a referendum to establish a juvenile youth village,” he said. The project was approved in 2002 and after funds were approved, the facility was built in 2009. The Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program and Juvenile Probation Department have been completed. “I’m very passionate about the issue of addiction. Unfortunately the stories don’t change, it is just the faces that change. It is very sad that drug addiction continues to be a big problem in our community and we need to deal with it,” Garza said, adding, “The crown jewel has always been a drug rehabilitation center for juveniles. Right now we do not have any drug rehabs available for Webb County. We are only equipped to

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handle overdoses in our hospitals.” The annual operational cost to maintain the rehab facility will be $2 million. Garza said, “We are in the process of reaching out to non-profits to see if they are interested in working with the county on picking up some of that cost.” Currently, teenagers are sent to McAllen or San Antonio to receive rehabilitation services. The Commissioners Court will be breaking ground for the juvenile rehab center in Spring 2014. The facility will include approximately 28 beds to house teenagers between the ages of 10 through 17. “I have always supported rehabilitation. Society has gone through phases, in the 1990s, everyone wanted to throw the book at everyone, and laws stiffened. I’ve seen the laws change and rehabilitation is more accepted now. I believe in the power of redemption. You have to have some compassion. Yes, the law is this, but you have to strike a balance that reflects the values of your community,” Garza said. County Court at Law #2 is also conducing DWI Court, Juvenile Drug Court, and Veterans Court, according to Garza. He said, “We are doing outreach with veterans and assisting them with what they need through our veterans program. We see participants of the program every two weeks, and they go through therapy. The incentive is that we may end up dismissing the case against them if they complete the program.” Garza’s next focus is on the need to address mental health in our community. He said, “Mental illness continues to be an untended problem in our community and on young people. We need a mental hospital here. Judge Notzon is working on establishing a mental health court.” He also added that he wants to con-

tinue to work with nonprofit organizations such as SCAN and PILLAR to address important issues in the community such as suicide. “This is a very serious issue and we need to establish another hotline to aid those in need.” Over the course of the time Garza has served as a judge, he said he has heard 70,000 cases and has never been reversed on child custody, domestic violence, or juvenile cases. “I am just very proud of my record. I do it with a lot of energy because I enjoy doing the type of work I do. Our main goal as a judge is to hear and try cases,” he said. Garza was born into a family of 12. He earned a BA in journalism from the University of Texas and attended Texas Southern University School of Law. “I think being raised in a colonia toughens you up and builds your character and makes you make decisions that you cannot afford to waste because you only have so much money, so you

better make the right decisions,” he said. In the 1980s, Garza worked for the Southwest Voter Registration effort. “I was a community activist, but I realized that you cannot make a difference unless you are in government. You have to move the governmental levers to help people, and the day you no longer have the passion to help people is the day you shouldn’t be in office anymore,” he said. Garza added, “Every public official has the responsibility to make the lives better for anybody who comes before them, as best as they can, given the circumstances and position they are in. That should be the standard by which we vote for our public officials. Si va a mejora la vida de la communidad, go for it keep them, but if they are in the way of improvement for the community, then maybe it is time for them to move on. I have the experience and have demonstrated that I’m still on the hunt in terms of bettering the community." 

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By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

Comic Con artists Artist Kealy Racca displayed her artwork at the South Texas Collectors Expo Comic Con at Texas A&M International University on January 25 and 26. WWW.L A R E DOSN EWS.COM


By dr. neo gutierrez

Dr. Neo Gutierrez is a Ph.D. in Dance and Fine Arts, Meritorious Award in Laredo Fine Arts recipient 2009 from Webb Co. Heritage Foundation, Laredo Sr. Int’l 2008, Laredo MHS Tiger Legend 2002, and Sr. Int’l de Beverly Hills, 1997. Contact neodance@aol.com.

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ecent public support from the public and UT Austin staff of UT President Bill Powers — who was considering leaving his post — brought to mind a visit IBC Zapata CEO Renato Ramirez had with Powers about a year ago at a breakfast hosted for Ramirez by Powers. The meeting was set up by Rep. Richard Raymond and several legislators, including Sen. Judy Zaffirini, who also attended. At that meeting, Ramirez addressed the inexplicable snubbing of Mexican Americans by the University of Texas. Ramirez recalled, “I pointed out that African Americans, who constitute 10% of the Texas population, enjoy a Department (not a Center) of African American Studies and a VP who is African American. Mexican Americans, who constitute 40% of the Texas population, have neither. I addressed a number of other issues regarding the lack of funding at Butler School of Music allocated to Mariachi and conjunto music. Similarly, Dr. Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, in the Department of Journalism, has no support to develop reporters, technicians, cameramen, etc., for Univision, Telemundo, Televisa, and other Hispanic media. No difference at the Department of Education for Hispanic programs. Note that a department gets state funding, while a center has to get its funding through grant writing.”  He further explained that President Powers committed to develop a Department of Mexican American Studies and it is in the process. Presentations will be made to the appropriate bodies for approval and has the backing of President Powers. 

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Notes from La La Land

Renato Ramirez on UT’s move to establish Mexican-American Studies department Ramirez also had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Domino Perez and Dr. Picole Guidotti-Hernandez, the leadership of the Center for Mexican American Studies and in control of the move to become a department. He wrote, “I am upset that the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) will become the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies (MALS).”  Further, I believe that Latino is an all encompassing term.  There is no need for the awkward Latina/o.  The use of the term “Latina/o” is clear communication that  the focus is on the Latina.  Second, Latina/o will encompass Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and certain countries in Europe (Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal).  In that setting, the study of Mexican American/Tejanos will get minimal attention.   As I pointed out, I raised money for the Mariachi and Conjunto Ensembles at the Butler School of Music, which is an important part of the Mexican American/Tejano culture.  I did not raise money for Raggae.  There is so much history in the 500 years that Tejanos have lived in Texas, I do not want to allocate scarce resources to what other schools are doing about feminists issues or other countries categorized as Latino countries.” I emphasized that the majority of Tejanos/Mexican Americans want to focus on studies regarding the role of Texas bred, born and raised Tejanos/Mexican Americans in the long history of Texas, as well as on the future developments of Texas. ‘Latina’ diffuses the focus to spread it primarily on feminist issues such as gender, sexuality, social class,

and health science. I think the Ivy League and California can take care of that subject, and I think Texas should focus on Mexican American/ Tejano issues. “I emphasized that this is Texas and the overwhelming majority of Latinos are Mexican Americans. They agreed; however, from a funding perspective, including ‘Latino’ in the title opens the door for other significant funding sources for their research. I believe ‘Latino’ is an allencompassing term and there is no need for the awkward ‘Latino/a’ term. In my view, it clearly communicates that Latina is the focus,” he continued. He pointed out that the reality is that the effectiveness of African American legislators is far superior to the effectiveness of Mexican American legislators, who are characterized by in-fighting. “Clearly, there is a lack of a unifying voice and a lack of energy among Mexican Americans, which spills over to the legislators. It reminds me of conversations I have had with A. R. Sanchez Jr., on how to energize Mexican Americans in Texas and get them involved with a passion and commitment that is needed to achieve results,” he said. And so goes the work of Renato Ramirez, my primo hermano, to en-

sure that Tejanos/Mexican American groups hold their place in education and in history.  To close, there’s an admission of a big Ooops! in last month’s column. Dear friend Sara Puig Laas, now living in Laredo, explains that NBCLatino did not do their research re: the correct information about the first Latino football players at UT. She writes, “Not to take away from Rene Ramirez’s accomplishments, but Francis Dominguez from Kerrville, was the first Latino football player at UT. Richard Ochoa, MHS 1948, was the second Latino player and the first in the Hall of Honor. Rene Ramirez of Hebbronville was the third Latino player in UT football and the second in the Longhorn Hall of Honor. Richard is co-holder of Most Valuable Player at the Cotton Bowl 1953.” In 2000 he was named to the Longhorn Hall of Honor, making him, not Rene Ramirez, the first Latino to win the honor in UT history. Richard is 82 now and is still doing great, living in El Paso. Sara says she saw him earlier this month. Richard’s brothers, Arturo, Peter, and the late MHS Coach Albert, also had athletic careers in Laredo. And on that note, it’s time for — as Norma Adamo says — TAN TAN! 

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Maverick Ranch Notes

By bebe & sissy fenstermaker

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e are in an arctic deepfreeze (polar vortex) this morning. Overnight the temperature

was 20º. It is overcast, and the sun is making an unsuccessful effort to pierce the clouds. The goose is choosing to stay in her lair instead of braving the yard. So is everyone in this house. This cold reminds me of a similar cold spell between the end of 1983 and the new year of 1984 when it was below freezing for three days and the nights were stone cold. I remember the horses rounding the house over and over during the nights as they kept moving to stay warm. That spell killed most of the arma-

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Clueless in the country dillo population, as they are unable to regulate their body temperatures in extreme cold. We have never since had the numbers of armadillos we had before that freeze. When one digs up the yard now, I fill the holes and am glad he is here. On New Year’s Eve day we got a call from a neighbor who had found two strange things in his front hay field. They were paper lanterns, Asian in character, with a platform on which to place a burning candle or some such propellant to lift the thing into the air. These were launched from who knows where but landed in his hay field, thankfully not setting the world on fire. Our neighbor said there were little

wish tags attached, one said “health,” the other “peace.” He took them to the fire department across the road and the firemen’s hair stood on end. One said he’d just participated in a fire one of those had caused. They said they would take them to the county fire marshal. As more urbanites move out here, we see this stupidity. They are clueless as to how nature goes, what starts fires, why animals dash in front of cars going 90 miles an hour on a 45 mph road, why it is not good manners (or good sense) to tailgate a pickup loaded with feed (or shoot the finger when passing the pickup) or that it is illegal to enter someone’s property without the owner’s permission.

Rural folks are bilingual; we know urbanite behavior as well as rural. We have to — they impose theirs on us. Long ago the father of our neighbor made us laugh when he questioned why joggers had to remove all their clothing to jog on our country road. He was old-fashioned, but he was asking a simple question which addressed something we all didn’t care to see. Near nude trotting might be acceptable in city or town, but it still looks funny in the country. Whatever happened to blending in when one moves into a new area — weren’t we all taught to see how others lived and worked before imposing ourselves on the new place? — Bebe Fenstermaker

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South Texas Food Bank

By salo Otero Salo Otero is the director of marketing for the South Texas Food Bank. He can be reached at sotero@ southexasfoodbank.org or by calling 956-726-3120.

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he South Texas Food Bank (STFB), celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, offers Laredoans several opportunities for community work. Sarah Lamm, 22, a native of Washington, D.C. and graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, is assigned to the STFB for one year as an AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer. She is in Laredo until mid-July and is spearheading the Anti-Hunger Opportunity Corps to enlist Laredoans in volunteer projects. Among the niches for volunteers to assist in the mission of feeding the hungry are unpaid internships are available through STFB programs like CSFP (elderly), Adopt

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STFB volunteers needed a Family, SNAP (formerly food stamps), agency relations, Kids Cafes, and volunteering by bagging and sorting food for needy elderly and families. For information call  Lamm at the STFB office at (956) 726-3120 or by cell at (202) 425-5266 or via email slamm@southtexasfoodbank.org. CFO Mike Kazen (mkazen@ southtexasfoodbank.org) is in charge of volunteers. Among the many volunteers, also coordinated by José Espinoza of United ISD on Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., are those from the justice of the peace, city, and juvenile courts, as well as from school organizations like bands,

church groups (especially St. Patrick ACTS), and employees from companies like Target, Kohl’s, Killam Oil, and UPS. Lamm is planning events highlighting the issue of hunger and food insecurity in the United States during presentations in January and February. The powerful documentary, A Place at the Table, is scheduled

for screening at Laredo Community College in January. The film follows three families struggling with food insecurity. In February, noted anti-hunger activist Joel Berg of the New York Coalition Against Hunger, an expert on SNAP (formerly food stamps), is due to speak at Texas A&M International University. 

Write a letter to the publisher. meg@laredosnews.com

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Serving Sentences

By randy koch Randy Koch earned his MFA at the University of Wyoming and teaches writing at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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n 1987, after 10 years away from school, I quit my job as maintenance supervisor at Valley View Manor Nursing Home and returned to Mankato State University as a 29-year-old sophomore. I moved into a two-bedroom apartment on Glenwood Avenue with Paul Bondhus and Jeff Kuehl, a couple of guys from my hometown of Lamberton who had just graduated from high school. Paul, his blond hair permed into loose curls, was a business major whose breakfast each morning consisted of a can of Coke and a Salem cigarette. Jeff, who survived a fiery car crash and wore mesh bandages and long-sleeves over the skin grafts on his arms and hands, set up a 40-gallon fish tank in the living room, stocked it with piranhas, and whooped as he fed them live goldfish. They were good roommates — Paul and Jeff, that is; the piranhas mostly kept to themselves — and despite feeling out of place among the thousands of teenagers on campus, I gradually adjusted. Sometimes I forget how much moving to Mankato and becoming a fulltime student again meant to me, but more than 25 years later, when I stand in front of a comp class full of freshmen at Bloomsburg University, I still repeat something I learned that fall about giving a speech, something that stuck as firmly as goldfish in piranhas’ teeth: “First, you tell them what you’re gonna tell them. Next, you tell ’em. Then, you tell them what you told ’em.” That, I discovered, is the simplest way to explain to students how to write a traditional body paragraph. For freshmen who have limited writing experience and naively expect universal principles that they can memorize and apply to every situation, this offers them a bit of comfort. Like a traditional speech, a body paragraph

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How to plot and pare a graph (as opposed to an introduction or a conclusion) consists of 3 parts: a topic sentence, which tells readers what the paragraph is about; the body or development made up of a series of sentences that explain, elaborate on, and support the main idea stated in the topic sentence; and a concluding sentence. Nearly all students are familiar with this fundamental structure because most middle and high schools emphasize the basic five-paragraph essay. However, many freshmen also bring to their university classes some significant misconceptions. Just as most underestimate the odds that their English instructor might know about the security features of a federal penitentiary or the sexual activities of farm animals or the feeding habits of piranhas, they often misunderstand and undervalue the basics of organizing and developing body paragraphs. “In your bedroom or your dorm,” I ask one class, “do you keep some of your clothes in a chest of drawers?” Some of them squint at my digression as if they think I’m being sarcastic or having a senior moment. Gradually, several nod. “And what do you put in the top drawer?” “T-shirts,” Kevin eventually volunteers from the back of the room. “What about the second drawer?” Cody raises his hand. “Jeans,” he says. “Okay,” I say. “And the bottom drawer?” Carmella, sitting right in front of me, giggles and says, “Underwear.” I laugh. “So in that top drawer where you keep your basic white Tshirts and your Chance the Rapper Tshirts and your twerking-Miley Cyrus T-shirts, you don’t mix in a few pair of purple Barney socks or some Philadelphia Eagles boxers?”

They snicker and shake their heads. “No,” several say at once. “Why not?” Tim explains, “It’s too hard to find stuff when it’s all mixed together.” I nod. “Exactly. Think of body paragraphs in the same way: each one is like a drawer and should only contain one kind of stuff: the stuff that’s related and relevant to the topic sentence.” A little later during the same class when I ask students what a writer should typically do in the concluding sentence of a body paragraph, someone says, “Make a transition.” “To what?” I ask. “To the next paragraph,” Sofia softly suggests from the row of desks near the wall. “How many of you did it this way in high school?” I ask and raise my hand. A half dozen hands go up. “So does that mean, Carmella,” I say as I look down at her, “that in the bottom of your jeans drawer you put a pair of underwear to remind yourself that in the next drawer you’ll find all the rest of your underwear?” “No,” she says and giggles again. “I should hope not. It makes no more sense to introduce the third drawer’s contents in the bottom of the second drawer than to introduce the point of the third body paragraph in the concluding sentence of the second body paragraph.” As I look around the

room, their confidence in universal principles slowly drains from some of their faces. Then, other questions arise. “How long should a body paragraph be?” Karina asks. “Well, that depends,” I say. “How long do you usually make your body paragraphs?” “In high school we were supposed to have five to seven sentences.” She looks around at the other students. Isabelle and Maura nod. “For a traditional five-paragraph essay in which each body paragraph supports the thesis, that’s a reasonable guideline, I suppose. Of course, how many sentences a paragraph needs will also be affected by how long your sentences are. However, in writing that’s less formulaic than a five-paragraph essay — a narrative, for example, that has dialogue or a 10-15-page research project — body paragraphs might be considerably longer or a lot shorter. It just depends on the purpose of the paragraph. In fact, sometimes one sentence is enough. And occasionally even just one word.” “Really?” Lexie asks, incredulity etched across her forehead. “Really.” Then, they’re quiet, probably wondering what other uncomfortable surprises await them — like those goldfish eyeballing their new tank-mates with the nasty underbite. 

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A

TAMIU

LAPS

Students travel to South Africa

What is the real cost of owning a pet?

select group of 15 TAMIU freshmen have begun their New Year in South Africa as part of a Study-Travel op-

portunity. The students are participants in the “Reading the Globe” Program, part of the University’s Campus Read directed by University College. Students were selected based on a competitive essay and interviews following the study of author Mark Mathabane’s bestseller, Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid in South Africa. Making the over 9,200-mile, 19-hour trip are students Alexis Charles, Alexzandra Flores, Ana García, Tirza Guerra, Lauren Gutiérrez, Arely Hernández, Jihan Kuri, Rebekah Kawas, Trevor Neeley, Cristina Olivares, Rebekah Rodríguez, Juan Ruiz, Alexa Vázquez, Melissa Vázquez, and Leah Wisner. Among Program highlights are stops in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital; Soweto, home to 3.5 million people; the home and museum of the late President Nelson Mandela and the

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Apartheid Museum; the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve; the Lesedi Cultural Village; Capetown, the Cape of Good Hope and The Boulders Penguin Colony and the prison which housed Mandela for 18 years on Robben Island. The students will also be part of a service interaction with the children of Kensington’s Water Sprite Nursery School, to include helping to paint student classrooms. Students will be sharing their travel experience in real-time on TAMIU social media. The group is being accompanied by Gerry Alva, associate vice president for Student Affairs; Rebecca Garza, University College instructor; Dr. Hayley Kazen, University College instructor; Dr. Alia Paroo, assistant professor of history and graduate student mentor Cornelius Kipkorir. This is the sixth year the program has been offered. To see more about previous “Reading the Globe” study-travel programs, including photo galleries and reflections, visit http://www.tamiu.edu/ spotlight/index.shtml 

By RICHARD RENNER LAPS Board Secretary

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ecently, a small female Chihuahua mix breed puppy arrived at my door along with two men distributing religious pamphlets. I mentioned their dog was not legal without proof of rabies vaccination and had that it had to be on a leash. They said it wasn’t their dog and that it had just started following them. I volunteered to keep the dog to find the owner. I posted a photo of the pup on the LAPS Facebook page in hopes the owners would see it and claim it. A man called after seeing the photo. He had found her on the Mines Road, dirty, flea and tick ridden, and starving. He tried to take it to the animal shelter but the shelter was at full capacity. He couldn’t keep the pup where they were living. I volunteered to take care of her until she could be placed in a home or space opened at the shelter. Friendly Fay is very intelligent and easily trained to do her toilet out-ofdoors and follow basic commands. She needed to have all her immunizations, be spayed, and micro-chipped as required by the City’s Animal Control Ordinances. That is when I began to realize the “real costs” of making a dog a part of my family. The total cost can be from $950 to as much as $12,000 depending upon breed and where you live. If you want a pure breed puppy, prices vary tremendously. You might find a bargain $100 or so for a pure bred puppy. But if you go to a serious breeder who takes precautions to minimize inherited diseases or deformities, takes the puppies to a vet for a health check, worming and immunizations, you can find puppies for $1,000 or more! For a first puppy visit to a vet to be checked for worms, general health and preventative immunizations, expect

a bill of about $100. There will be additional booster doses of vaccines and of course a rabies immunization as required by State law. If your pup is a female, she must be spayed and have an identification microchip inserted and registered with the City’s Health Department. If it is a male, he must be neutered, microchipped and registered. If your pet has the ability to reproduce, add an expensive breeder’s permit including a visit from an animal control officer to determine if you have provided adequately for your female dog and her pups. Your dog will need to have food. Vets recommend feeding only dry food of good quality. Prices range from $5.00 to over $20.00 for quality brand name four to five pound bags. And your dog will need flea, tick, and heart worm control. Again, these materials can be around $5.00 to $50.00+ for monthly control agents. Your pup should have a crate for security when you can’t be watching, bedding, collar, ID tag, leashes, and toys. You may need to pay someone to train your dog obedience. Private lessons can be costly. It is expensive but necessary, especially for large breeds or even small breeds with a bulldog’s determination. Do you still want a dog but can’t afford to pay all these fees? Go to your local animal shelter to find a pet at a very reasonable price and most of the initial costs already done. A dog or cat at the Laredo Animal Shelter can vary in adoption fees, but dogs are about $85 and cats about $45. If you happen to go to some of the sponsored adoption events, fees can be half the above costs! The pet comes with all the immunizations, spayed or neutered, and a microchip inserted. You should take your new pet to a vet for a health check and to start on heartworm prevention. Keep your pet healthy and they will a happy addition to your family! 

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Continued FROM page 15

30 times reprimanded for negligent acts — keep a job for which he had no aptitude or conscience for the well-being of 10,000 souls. I asked via a written question submitted to moderator and RGISC executive director Tricia Cortez for Judge Valdez why Amaya had been allowed to keep his job, and Valdez answered, “Action should have been taken,” and after recounting a story in The Laredo Morning Times, he then placed the blame on former County Utilities director Tomás Rodriguez. When Valdez asked for a show of hands for residents of Río Bravo and El Cenizo, few hands were raised. El Cenizo Mayor Raul Reyes observed, “There were people there from our communities, but for many of them they were being spoken to in a language they don’t speak or understand. It’s curious how well elected officials can speak perfect Spanish when they come to ask for our votes, but not so well when they are discussing something as important as clean water and public safety.“ Reyes, a polite well-spoken man, addressed Valdez and Montemayor during the public comments period near the end of the meeting. He called them out on their failure to remove the inept water plant director Amaya by stating, “Much could have done with the removal of one person.” Montemayor, who took office as a commissioner in January 2013, bristled at Reyes and took the exchange to a personal level, asking if Reyes not worked for former Pct. 1 Commissioner Frank Sciaraffa and had he not informed Sciaraffa of the water problems, and had Sciaraffa done anything about them. “I was up there as a resident, as a consumer, and as a representative for the people of El Cenizo,” Reyes later said. “I didn’t mean to offend him. Commissioner Montemayor has been aware of the problems at

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the plant since he ran for office in 2012. Since he took office in January 2013, he has known about falsification of reports by Mr. Amaya, reprimands for negligence, and other problems, and yet as the person who represents us on the court, he remained silent and continued to let Mr. Amaya run the plant. They’ve all been silent and chose not to terminate him because he was so useful as a political fundraiser and vote getter.” He said Amaya’s indifference to the complaints of water customers and a rude cashier made for a lot of hard feelings. “If you reported an unusual color or an odor, you were told it was your pipes. If you said your bill ran high, instead of getting a meter reader to your property, you were told you probably had a leak. It was never their fault,” he said. Reyes asked Montemayor and Valdez for the County to form a local management advisory committee that would continue to monitor water quality and improvements at the plant, hear complaints from residents about the service and daily operation of the plant, and decide how to administer SEPs (Supplemental Environmental Projects) that the TCEQ might allow in lieu of monetary penalties that will be assessed for the violations of the Webb County Surface Water Treatment Plant. Of the Town Hall meeting’s outcome, Reyes said, “Someone acknowledging responsibility for our water problems, why the county chose to defend and keep the negligent plant director, and why for so long there has been such disregard for our health and well-being — that would have gone a long way to open dialogue and to restore the public’s trust in Webb County government.” He said that if the turnout at the meeting signaled apathy to some, it was really a message to the county that the residents of the area “are tired of the same old BS, the same promises, the lack of respect. They

don’t believe the water situation will improve or that the county cares about their welfare.” Reyes, a former Webb County employee, took issue with Valdez’s pronouncement that Amaya’s termination was not a matter for the Commissioners Court. “When I was terminated, it was placed on their agenda, and they acted on it.” Reyes said he commended engineer Pérez García for addressing problems at the plant and for putting those problems and their solutions before politics. Pérez García was the only representative of the county at the Town Hall Meeting who alluded to Amaya’s dismal, negligent performance, albeit nominally, stating, “I am by no means defending actions taken previously.” The engineer said the violations of the water plant represented “a perfect storm of errors” that led to serious health threats. He said that his goal to return the plant to its initial capability and to provide clean, U.S. standard drinking water began with assessing the plant’s failures and providing TCEQ certification training for 12 water plant employees. He referenced that Amaya had only one certified employee. He said that pumps changed out or repaired for intake at the river, instrumentation improvements, cleaned clari-

fiers and filters, pneumatic tools, and improvements to the delivery system were part of the $2 million invested in the plant in less than a year. Reyes said returning the plant to its initial capacity should include using the plant’s state-of-the-art UV treatment capabilities that have never been used. Gloria Romo, one of the last of the area residents to comment at the meeting summed up sentiments for what had been accomplished at the Town Hall Meeting with, “You are saying very pretty things. The water has been dirty for years. We keep getting sick and so do the children. What has been resolved? We are in January and we are still getting sick. Who’s paying for the medicines?” Mayor Reyes, who has lived in El Cenizo since he moved there with his parents in 1992, observed, “Webb County ignores us out here. We are two small communities with many residents who live below the state’s poverty level. Our communities lack resources and manpower. Rest assured that if we each could afford a city attorney, we would find ourselves at the table of governance.” Asked if he thought the water quality has improved, Reyes said, “I can’t say. Just yesterday it smelled weird. No one is drinking from their taps.” 

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Philosophy

Constellations in concepts

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o help us comprehend how the subconscious mind uses sensory data to formulate our conscious awareness of an object, using analogies is helpful. As an analogy, consider any constellation from the zodiac. Take Scorpio for example. “Scorpio” is a recognizable pattern of stars in the night sky. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision the tail and stinger of a scorpion suggested by the pattern. The rest of the creature, however, including its eight legs and grasping claws, is a product of fantasy. Obviously, there’s no picture up there in the sky; we see what we want. With the formation of images in our consciousness, it’s rather the same, except that instead of seeing what we want, we see what we must. As sensory data is transmitted to the brain, the subconscious apparatus scans it. Almost instantaneously, it pinpoints particular datum arrayed within the mass of data, until it recognizes a pattern — like a stellar constellation. At incomprehensible speeds the subconscious produces an image that is then depicted onto the conscious screen — and we see it in the mind’s eye. As is the case of a constellation in the night sky where the picture is not “out there” among the stars, the image of an object in the mind does not exist in objective reality. The consciously perceived object is “only” a picture in the conscious mind based on a pattern of data--just like the image of a scorpion is based on the pattern of stars astrologers refer to as, “Scorpio.” In order to appreciate the implications of this, we may consider a few things about the nature of our “sen-

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sory constellation.” First, what we see in our heads is a concept. Although we perceive an image in our heads, an apple for example, the physical object that the image represents is not the image. Obviously, when you look at an apple, an apple is not physically constructed inside your head. If it were, your head would explode (duh). Rather, the image in your head is entirely conceptual — it’s just an idea. The sensory constellation, on the other hand, is non-conceptual. It is not the concept depicted in the conscious mind. Rather, it is a pattern of data spotted by the subconscious upon which it draws the conceptual images we see. Gathered from the real world and communicated to the brain via the senses, the subconscious constellation consists of an impression of real matter that has managed to filter through the senses and into conscious awareness. The constellation, in this way, is captured in the concept. And, while the location of the concept is inside our head, in a conscious sub-reality, the data that the constellation is composed of is really out there. The concept is conjured up after the senses perceive and transmit data, and after a pattern or constellation is spotted upon which an image is formed. The differences between similar objects, the distinguishing particulars, are the imprint of what the constellation or pattern spotted by the subconscious really consists of (whatever it really is, “out there”). Watch how this happens. Look at a green, unripe banana for instance (in your imagination). It appears in the conscious mind as one concept. Within a few days, the green banana turns yellow. A few days later, it develops little brown spots as it ripens. Give it another couple of weeks or so, and it starts to turn black before it becomes garbage. In spite of these

changes in appearance, however, the concept of banana remains the same (and in your head) — you still recognize the object as a banana regardless of its changing condition. But that’s the artificial part. Although vital, the concept is merely a conjured up image. The different details, however, these gradual changes, are brought on by the adjusting pattern (or constellation) and serve as the only manifestation of what’s really out there —as far as our senses actually let us know. As the subconscious apparatus keeps scanning the data, it communicates the changes in detail from the wide variety of minute differences that are in flux, evolving, subject to time, and undergoing constant rearrangement. The distinguishing particulars of similar ob-

jects last only so long as qualities of an object before they decay and disappear with the passage of time. Yet the subconscious tirelessly monitors the data identifying the evolving patterns amidst the sheer mass of transmitted sensory data. So efficient is the subconscious in performing this task that the conceptual images appear to us as a seamless, conscious experience — a continuous uninterrupted flow. As already stated, the constellation of phenomena is non-conceptual — but it’s the only part of the concept that is real. Nevertheless, the concept, and even though an imaginary construct, is the only form of understanding we could ever have of reality. Without the constellation, however, the concept would be entirely meaningless, and we’d be lost in space. 

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS Staff

By RAUL CASSO LareDOS Columnist

Students receive dictionaries from LULAC Daiches Elementary fifth graders Amanda Lara, Ashley Rodriguez, Shanti Gonzalez, and Elizabeth Muñoz are pictured on Friday, January 10 after receiving pocket dictionaries and subscriptions to Kids Discover magazine from LULAC Council #7. LareDOS I JA N UA RY 2 0 1 4 I 5 3


The Mystery Customer BY THE mystery Customer

Los Generales 3319 Santa María It was great to greet year’s end with good service, fabulous huevos rancheros, and the welcome news that Raul and Rosy Ceballos are back at Los Generales. The MC has missed them and their longstanding tradition of friendly service. Jiffy Lube 1307 E. Del Mar The MC’s vehicle was the first in the cue on the morning of December 24 for an oil change. The service was over-the-top polite, thorough, informative, and expeditious, and it gave the MC peace of mind for a trip out of town. Logan’s Roadhouse 5300 San Dario Ave The MC and his guest stopped by one Tuesday afternoon to grab some lunch. The established was buzzing with the lunch hour crowd, and unfortunately there were not enough servers to go around. This resulted in slow service and cold food once. Despite the busy atmosphere, the server was friendly and provided the best service he could. Sames Honda Service Department 6105 San Dario Manny Hernandez took care of all the MC’s concerns for her Honda delivery workhorse, a Fit, just after the Christmas holiday. A couple of hours after taking the vehicle in, it was back on the route with a new battery, a repaired tail light, and a Tires for Life checkup. Ben’s Western Wear 109 N. Front Street Cotulla, Texas Deadlines kept the MC from traveling to Cotulla to enjoy an hour at Ben’s, but she finally made it with a

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Los Generales: Raul and Rosy Ceballos are back! fast, precise service at Jiffy Lube on holiday eve few hours to spare before Christmas. This South Texas tradition stocks the finest all-cotton ranch wear, sturdy weather and brush wise jackets, fine hats, and boots for every occasion. The best part, in addition to finding the exactly wished-for Christmas boots for the kiddos, was visiting with owner Jill Martin. Pier 1 7509 San Dario Ave Management at this establishment is stupendous. All the employees are very knowledgeable as far as the seasonal merchandise in stock. One of the managers was very helpful and friendly when the MC was returning some products over the holidays. Best Buy 7905 San Dario The customer service representatives were not in good spirits prior to Christmas. The crowds of customers were clearly overwhelming, the MC’s observed. The service reps were in hiding as droves of customers desperately searched for assistance with questions on products that interested them. The MC usually receives great service here; perhaps on this day it was the seasonal workers that were on the clock. Bolillo’s Café 6950 McPherson Rd The MC enjoyed the delectable cilantro shrimp salad with the fresh lemonade offered at this establishment. The chic ambiance with fantastic art pieces on display, offered the perfect environment for a pleasant afternoon for the MC and her family. Maria Bonita 4615 San Bernardo If you are in search of a truly authentic Mexican experience, the MC

recommends you eat at Maria Bonita. The ambiance of the establishment is unmatched by any other local eatery. The panchos are absolutely delicious. The portions of all dishes are plentiful. The MC enjoyed a peaceful dinner on the patio and was pleased overall with the service. Cinemark 5300 San Dario This movie theater at Mall Del Norte, has very friendly and attentive staff that always makes the MC’s movie-going experience a pleasant one. Not to mention that the popcorn is always popped to perfection. Kohl’s 5219 Santa Maria The MC stopped by to make a

payment one Tuesday evening. Although there were not a lot of customers, the service was lacking. The sales clerk was texting as the MC arrived at the counter and did not greet her. The serviced was rushed and the MC was made to feel that her business did not matter. Crunch Gym 6415 Polaris Dr. This fitness center offers an array of fitness courses taught by energetic and supportive trainers. Although the MC has been a member at this gym for a year, it was only recently that he began to dabble in the cycling courses. The MC would recommend this fitness to center to anyone of any age. 

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Review

Greed and excesses take center stage in Scorcese’s Wolf of Wall Street (WARNING: If you’re a hardcore feminist, don’t watch it!)

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artin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio are stirring up controversy with their fifth collaborative (The Departed, Shutter Island, Gangs of New York, and The Aviator) blockbuster, The Wolf of Wall Street, a no-holds-barred take on life on Wall Street from the mid 1980s through the 1990s — a life of all excess all the time. Based on Jordan Belfort’s (Dicaprio) memoir of the same name, the film depicts the real-life motivational speaker and former stockbroker’s remarkable rise and fall. In the beginning of the film, as in Belfort’s life, the stockbroker starts out with the ambition to live the American dream —to do more and be more. Under the wing of his older broker guru (Matthew McConaughey), Belfort learns the important mantra of Wall Street — “you’re not making them money, you’re making yourself money!” It was advice that Belfort took to heart for years, swindling clients out of hardearned money as well as the elite out of their pocket change in the thousands. After the market crash on Black Monday, Belfort temporarily finds himself cast out of Wall Street and into a strip

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mall selling penny stocks for “up and coming” companies. Caught up in the ensuing boom, Belfort, along with some of his coworkers like Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) — a depraved money hungry man — form their own firm, a boiler room for penny stocks. As the firm’s popularity escalates, so do the shenanigans of sex, booze, and drug-infused motivational exercises. Alongside Dicaprio is Rob Reiner, who does an excellent job portraying his father, and Kyle Chandler, as an FBI agent on Belfort’s trail. Belfort’s transition from his first wife Teresa Petrillo (Cristin Milioti) to second wife Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie) is an allegory for his transformation by corporate greed. You shouldn’t like Belfort, but try as you may to discount him, Dicaprio prevails as a charming character. Belfort’s wild ride ends with an indictment in 1998 for fraud and money laundering. Sc re enw r iter Terence Winter of the acclaimed series Boardwalk Empire, outdid himself with the indecencies of cousin marriage, Quaaludes, prostitution, and a hilarious analogy of Popeye’s spinach to cocaine. This film is not for the lighthearted. From an astonishing number of Fbombs (not so many if you’re a Scorsese fan), orgies, massive substance consumption, and of course a lot of cash, it is not hard to see how Belfort trapped himself in the fast-paced lifestyle of white collar crime.

Scorsese’s humorous depravity in this rags to riches to rags again story depicts greed as the root of all evil. The master filmmaker shows audiences just how it is done in this three-hour-long film told in first person narration. Scorsese delivers a film justly compared to Goodfellas. Belfort, like Henry

Hill (Ray Liotta) claws his way up from the working class to a more luxurious pampered lifestyle with his own (not homicidal) mob. Both characters find defeat at the hands of their own egos, addictions, and vanities. If you have a sense of humor it’s a must see. 

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

Live music and local shopping NAME was among entertainers at the monthly Bazaar on Saturday, January 11 at the French Quarter. The Texas A&M International University’s Artisans group hosted the event. LareDOS I JA N UA RY 2 0 1 4 I 5 5


Avril and Eitan Benavides enjoyed a brisk Saturday morning of Zumba at UISD’s Third Annual Let’s Move for Scholars event on January 11 at the Student Activity Complex.

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Father and daughter zumba

Serving samples for attendees Various teams competed at the Laredo Crime Stoppers 18th Annual Menudo Bowl on Saturday, January 18 at the LIFE Fair Grounds.

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Abrazo children at WBCA’s 2014 kickoff

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The Abrazo children, representing Mexico, Eduardo Andres Lerma Bazan and Gisella Rose Carranza Gutierrez; and Isabella Gonzalez and Frank Puig, representing the United States were at the WBCA Commanders Reception on Januray 23 at the Laredo Energy Arena.

STCE Comic Con staff Jessica Lozano and Leanna Barrera were among staff members at the South Texas Collectors Expo Comic Con on Saturday, January 25 at Texas A&M International University Student Center. W W W. L A R E D OSNEWS. COM

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The Walking Dead star at Comic Con Rene Sotelo Jr. and Rene Sr. are pictured with Travis Love of the critically acclaimed AMC series The Walking Dead at the South Texas Collectors Expo Comic Con at Texas A&M International University on January 25.

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Women’s City Club Disbursement Dinner Laura and Mike Link, along with Jackie Martinez, were among attendees of the annual Women’s City Club Officer Installation and Disbursement Dinner on January 9 at the Laredo Country Club. The WCC awarded donations to various non-profit groups as well as local schools.

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LareDOS January 2014