Page 1

Locally Owned

England swings like a pendulum do, Bobbies on bicycles, two by two” Roger Miller

A JOURNAL OF THE BORDERLANDS

september 2011

Est. 1994

Vol. XVII No. 9

64 PAGES

@lareDOSnews

r e e h ’ s W aldo ? M Is the POLICE Chief taking the city for a ride?

LareDOS Newspaper


In North Laredo, they see golf courses, stadiums, and $20,000,000 ball parks. For South Laredo, I see better law enforcement, cleaner water, and more jobs. MY PRIORITIES TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN PCT. 1 • To be a fulltime commissioner. • To donate half of my salary to scholarships and charities • To improve the Río Bravo Water Treatment Plant • To partner with the City of Laredo to secure a secondary water source • To hold all Webb County department heads accountable • To keep and maintain all Pct. 1 streets and vacant lots clean of debris • Maintain all Webb County roads • Improve police presence • Partner with the City of Laredo to eliminate foul orders from the South Laredo Waste Water Treatment Plant. • To be a responsive public servant and to put the needs of the people of Pct. 1 before my own.

956-725-2012

Paid Political Advertisement by Sandra M. Bruni, Treasurer for Louis H. Bruni Campaign for Pct. 1 Commissioner, P.O. Box 1810, Laredo, Texas 78044-1810.

2

| La r eDO S | SE P T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


SEVEN GOOD REASONS TO CHOOSE DR. RAFATI’S

RADIOLOGY CLINIC OF LAREDO

£ Ó Î { x È

°ÊYou save time, money, and regrets. Call us for a price quote.

° No appointment necessary. Just walk in at your convenience.

°Ê Immediate results. You walk out with complete knowledge of your exam results ° You can always consult Dr. Rafati free of charge.

° Second opinion is always free of charge.

° Dr. Rafati has 35 years of experience, knowledge, and common sense. We saved thousands of patients the horror of unnecessary surgery.

Ç

°ÊThe last reason is very, very important. If your doctor tells you not to go to Dr. Rafati’s clinic, you should immediately go to see Dr. Rafati and at the same time you should look for a new doctor. Many doctors are mad at us because we put our patients �irst. Remember, you have the right of choice.

OUR PRICE LIST Our philosophy at Radiology Clinics of Laredo is to practice medicine in a manner that involves complete disclosure of our opinion and our charges. In this spirit, I decided to publish my fee schedule, and I urge others to follow suit. Δ MRI Δ CAT SCAN Δ MAMMOGRAMS Δ BONE DENSITY Δ SONOGRAMS

$400.00 $250.00 $125.00 $125.00 $150.00 TO $175.00 Δ STOMACH OR INTESTINE EXAMS $200.00 Δ SKULL AND SINUSES $ 90.00 Δ BONES $ 85.00 Δ CHEST X-RAYS $ 80.00 Δ DOPPLER EXAMS $150.00 These prices include the x-ray, the interpretation, and consultation with the patient on what his/her exam shows and what to do next.

RADIOLOGY CLINICS OF LAREDO 5401 Springfield • (956) 718-0092

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM BER 2011 |

3


M ailbox L E

María Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

etters to the

St. Peter’s District residents organize Residents of the St. Peter’s Historical District met on September 10 to establish priorities for the preservation of the old Depot District, which is one of the most viable and intact historic areas in the city. Seated from left to right are Paco García, Viky García, Amelia de la Garza, Juan Mendive, and José Ceballos.

publisher

María Eugenia Guerra meg@laredosnews.com Editor

Cristina Herrera cherrera@laredosnews.com

Read

Sales

at www.laredosnews.com

María Eugenia Guerra meg@laredosnews.com Circulation, Billing & Subscriptions

circulation@laredosnews.com Layout/design

Izza Designs

Contributors

Barbara Baker Cordelia Barrera Hector Farias Bebe Fenstermaker Sissy Fenstermaker Denise Ferguson Neo Gutierrez

Jason Herrera José Roberto Juarez Henri Kahn Randy Koch Salo Otero Lem Londos Railsback Richard S. Wilson

design@laredosnews.com

ShuString Productions, Inc. www.laredosnews.com

1812 Houston Street Laredo Texas 78040 Tel: (956) 791-9950 Fax: (956) 791-4737 Copyright @ 2011 by LareDOS

Write a Letter to the Editor cherrera@laredosnews.com

4

| La r eDO S | SE P T EM B ER 2011

ditor

I am glad that Meg Guerra has continued to send us her monthly link as the newly printed and digitally launched copy of her monthly magazine, LareDOS, appears and comes online. Her pen has been particularly active in the past two issues where she takes on any number of important questions not least that involving the environmental damage caused by the intensive exploitation and mining of the socalled Eagle Ford Shale. The Eagle Ford Shale represents in the words of some printed and electronic outlets here in Texas the largest or most significant finding of oil and gas in Texas (and the nation) during the past 40 years. It’s what pumps up and makes lamely credible the current campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry as he goes out to campaign across the nation about his “miracle” Texas stint as governor and the commitment to creating jobs. That’s the jabber at least. But it quickly turns out be just one more tall tale to tell about Texas and its would-be Texas political heroes, for there ain’t nothin’ there. Recent articles by Joshua Holland in AlterNet, Robert Scheer in Truthdig, and Paul Krugman in The New York Times, among others across the nation, plainly and directly disprove the myth of the non-miracle in Texas. There’s no trickle down to the theory, period. One of the pivotal smokescreens making possible such telling of tall tales coming out of the conservative circles of Republican-dominated Texas is about jobs, or the selling of Rick Perry as the “jobs” candidate for US President. Most of those jobs are low-end jobs and Texas ranks dead last or near the bottom on too many social indices to make us be proud of the state some of us live and work in. Hello Mississippi, goodbye Massachusetts. Anyway, the Eagle Ford Shale has created thousands of jobs in the past two or so years in the oil and gas business. And most of these jobs occur in the 20+ county region where the oil and gas are found, gas and oil that’s being mined through the highly polluting process by many accounts called hydraulic fracking. These counties are located entirely in South Texas, border counties some of them. There’s a boomlet going on, for instance, in long since declining towns such as Catarina, Asherton and Carrizo Springs, in Dimmit County. In the immediate case, this is due to the jobs growth and population increase which this latest such oil and gas boom has brought, at least for now.

I read this month’s issue and I have to congratulate your journalists/writers on such excellent articles — this issue was such a page turner and eyeopener — thank you for keeping us informed on such important issues that affect us and our environment. My hats off to all the staff at LareDOS newspaper. Keep up the excellent work. I am an avid reader and so proud of having such a wonderful paper in Laredo… Signed from Facebook, Blanca Davila-Mendiola It is the sustained high oil and gas prices and the tax revenue such prices have generated in the past 10-12 years that have pumped up the Texas economy and otherwise kept the state from falling farther and faster than most other states where its economy is concerned. There are other reasons of course cited by the range of writers who have already point it out. Among these are the vast population increase in the past ten years (65% of the four million new Texas residents from 2000-2010 were Latino), the relatively stricter regulation of the mortgage and housing industry in Texas (strangely enough) relative to California, Arizona, or Florida, where the housing crisis hit hardest, and so forth. This governor does not want it known generally that these are substantive additional reasons for his socalled “jobs” miracle. As for the Eagle Ford Shale, it turns out that the major toxic dumpsite for this latest oil and gas boom in South Texas is located in a nearly 83-acre patch of land owned by a Tejano who’s named in one of Meg Guerra’s articles in LareDOS. Meg Guerra has easily become the leading writer speaking for the environment in South Texas where the highly contaminating excess from the Eagle Ford Shale is concerned. Local politicians and elected political bodies including Mexican American border congressmen, most of them Mexican American Democrats, aren’t guaranteed to stand up for the environment. Trucks loaded with highly toxic contaminants from counties as far away as Maverick, Dimmit and Zavala on the northern fringes of the Eagle Ford Shale are making the trip south all the way to Zapata County, south of Laredo Continued on page 12

44

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Santa María Journal

By María Eugenia guerra

Burros, goats, chickens, and the enthusiasm of my grandchildren framed this keeper of a day

By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

O

n a Sunday morning that seemed a bit aimless — one that began with a delicious, slowly sipped cup of coffee and beautiful contemplations — we headed out, the Guerra-Altgelts, comfortable in our land yacht of a double cab truck. Livestock trailer in tow, we drove to a ranch off State Highway 359 to pick up a family of donkeys: Mom, Dad, and Junior. The burros had obviously never seen the back end of a trailer or stepped into one, so it was a long moment in the sun getting them loaded — lots of chasing and dad-gummits. Junior was completely without manners and had a pretty serious hind-leg kick. The use of livestock panels would have been my immediate first choice for getting them to the back of the trailer and up, but alas, the roundup had been left to men who used ropes and feed until se les priendo la luz. We asked the rancher — who, as it turned out, had been a high school classmate of mine — if he had any goats for sale. He said he had seen some for sale in the morning classifieds. We called a number, set a meet-up, and drove to a ranch near Highway 59. The very experienced rancher, Mr. Salinas, who is the father of my friend Albert Salinas, was deft at catching the goats and was able to quickly load them. Goats and burros eyeballed each other cautiously, but there was no pleito. They didn’t mingle, but they didn’t seem to mind the company of one another. “Any chickens for sale?” my son asked in the interest of expanding the egg business he and his daughters are building. “Twelve,” Mr. Salinas answered, and then organized how we would catch them. I’d chase, he’d catch, George put them in a cage, and my granddaughter Emily opened and closed the cage door. We settled our cuentas and we drove off, Emily apprising us that we had 23 animals in tow. We found our way to Cuatro Vientos Road, experiencing the thrill of a new, empty road that effortlessly popped us out WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

We penned the burros and the goats together, where they would remain for the next several days. I look back on that day as one of the best family outings, just part of an ordinary day in which the unbridled exuberance of Emily and her sister Amandita framed the occasion for all of us. Priceless to me was understanding their tender regard for the critters now in our care, and how they assumed ownership and responsibility for their well-being. It was their day, and by sunset we were richer for it. u onto State Highway 83, long past the snarls of South Laredo traffic. When we got to our ranch in San Ygnacio, the windblown hens were all too happy to get onto firmament, and the rooster — well, the rooster was elated with his new friends. LareDOS | S EPTEM BER 2011 |

5


Why Go Out of Town? Advanced Cardiovascular Care AT DOCTORS HOSPITAL If you have vascular disease, Doctors Hospital can help by combining surgical expertise with advanced technology and procedures to promptly diagnose and treat a range of vascular disorders.

Offering: s Procedures to detect Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

s Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair with endograft

s Atherectomy (laser and minimally invasive techniques)

sDeclotting of arteriovenous (AV) fistulas

s Stenting and angioplasty

sGrafts and carotid stenting

Find a doctor. Call our free physician referral service at 1-877-992-1711. Physicians are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Doctors Hospital of Laredo. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians.

6

| La r eDO S | SE P T EM B ER 2011

10700 McPherson Rd., Laredo, TX 78045 www.IchooseDoctorsHospital.com

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Courtesy of Beverly Herrera

Art for sale Customers browse pieces of art and talk to patrons outside of Scholars Caffe Barista on Saturday, September 3 during the annual event, “The Bazaar.� The event was sponsored by TAMIU-Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), and local band Factura 22 provided entertainment.

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM BER 2011 |

7


David Almaraz

Began his legal career in 1977 as a State prosecutor in Starr County, Texas and Federal prosecutor in Laredo, Texas. In 1985 he started his solo practice, handing both State and Federal criminal cases. In the last 25 years he has aggressively defended clients in every major Texas city and in State and Federal courts in 12 other states. He passionately defends the Bill of Rights and is renowned throughout South Texas for his ardent cross examination in hundreds of jury trials. He has been invited to speak to fellow lawyers at C.L.E. functions about cross examination. He lists Gerry Spence, Clarence Darrow, and William Kunstler as his role models.

Almaraz Bldg., 1802 Houston Laredo, Tx. 78040 P.O. Box 6875 Email: almaraz@netscorp.net Tel. (956) 727-3828 Fax (956) 725-3639

8

| La r eDO S | SE P T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


From the Editor’s Desk

Uncertain times call for real lifestyle changes By CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff

M

aybe you’re having a wildly successful ride on life right now, but for most of us, we are living in uncertain times. Though I tend to have very secular beliefs, it’s hard not to feel a bit apocalyptic these days. Get ready for some ranting: Politicians on both side of the aisle continue to bicker, and none of the current Republican “frontrunners” seem very reasonable (I’m going to hold a prayer rally where attendees will pray that Gov. Rick Perry doesn’t become president). Democrats blamed Republicans when the Dems had control of the Houses and now the Republicans blame the Democrats. I don’t see blue or red anymore — it’s all purple now in Congress. Our economy hasn’t been solid since 9/11 — 10 years this September — and the crisis of 2008 only steepened our financial decline. Remember, 2008 was the year when we bailed out banks, when the housing bubble burst, and when we entered a worldwide recession. The banks are much reduced now (and you’ve probably noticed the racked-up fees and cut in amenities at your bank), housing prices may not have reached their lowest yet, and I think I can safely say most of the world is still suffering financially. Add to that a president who might not be the savior we built him up to be after all — and an administration that has failed in its attempts to restore confidence among the American people. The media has also gotten worse, but that decline started long before 9/11. I used to defend mainstream media, but now I’m with the masses — we’ve really become a bunch of sharks. And the sharks get ratings, so I understand

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

the plight of a journalism student who must suffer the profit-over-information structure of journalism. But you know what? Don’t let apathy get the best of you. Now is the worst time to be an apathetic voter. It’s times like these where we must rise up and tell our politicians and the media how much we despise how they are acting. I’m not calling for violence, because peaceful revolutions are often

activists tell you this, and most likely you dismissed the notion because in the end, who all is going to send a letter to their congressman anyway? My answer: Well, duh, nobody is going to send letters because most of them have the same mindset. Or maybe they meant to do it, but “never found the time.” Or maybe they really just don’t care and are fine with letting other people make decisions for them.

Don’t let apathy get the best of you. Now is the worst time to be an apathetic voter. It’s times like these where we must rise up and tell our politicians and the media how much we despise how they are acting.

the most effective kind, if only more people took that route. Americans must remind Congress that we are the bosses of this country, not a Congress with 237 millionaires — a Congress where most of its members bought their seats (We urgently need to have limits on campaign spending, but since Congress is in charge, I don’t think I need to tell you that they’ve always shot a campaign spending limit bill down). It’s times like these when extremist groups such as the Tea Party rise up. These types of group take advantage of people’s fear and uncertainty. And every time the media makes a joke about the Tea Party or simply dismisses them as a fringe group, they seem to become more emboldened. And if I didn’t mostly disagree with the Tea Party movement, I’d praise their grass roots efforts. The best way to show Congress that most Americans are reasonable is to vote and make your voice heard. You’ve heard countless journalists and

Procrastination and living in the mindset that “If it’s not affecting me now, who cares about the consequences later?” eventually gets us into avoidable messes. Hindsight will always be 20/20, yet people “in the moment” act like they haven’t learned that lesson at all when they are “in the mo-

ment.” Instead, let’s start planning for the future more often. Economists gave excellent advice before this economic decline: Start saving money young; don’t spend on expensive items such as cars and electronics unless you absolutely need them; don’t open up new credit cards; etc. People from all walks of life didn’t listen. Believe me, I was and still am a news junkie for many years, and I heard the warnings. In 2007, economists kept warning that the housing bubble was about to burst. By 2008, when it burst, people were seemingly taken by surprise. I wasn’t surprised, but I was not the target audience because I did not have a family of my own to support, a mortgage to pay, or credit card debt. I can only learn from the mistakes I’m viewing now and practice what I preach later on. Live in the now, but always be prepared for the future. You never will be able to tell what obstacles you face in life, but a little preparation will likely soften the blow. Goodness knows you can’t completely count on others to prepare for you. u

LareDOS | S EPTEM BER 2011 |

9


News Brief

Courtesy photo

U

Abrazo Children, Bridge Speakers named The Washington’s Birthday Celebration has named the 2011–2012 Abrazo Children and the celebration’s Bridge Speakers. Jordann Paris Hale and Ryan Montgomery C. Moore will represent the United States, and Horacio Alberto Perez Vasquez and Analia Mounetou Monroy will represent Mexico. They are pictured with Bridge Speaker Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega of Nuevo Laredo; Jose A. Palacios Jr., WBCA President; Bridge Speaker Rev. James A. Tamayo, bishop of the Diocese of Laredo; and Norbert Dickman, of La Posada Hotel, the event’s sponsor and official hotel of the annual WBCA festivities.

10

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

United Way to benefit from TDA Sportsmen’s Banquet

nited Way will benefit from the Texas Deer Association’s (TDA) Friday, September 30 Sportsmen’s Banquet, which is set from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Casa Blanca Ballroom on U.S. Highway 359. The evening will include dinner catered by La Reserva, drinks, a raffle, games, entertainment, and a live auction. A commemorative custom TDA rifle is among the items included in the auction, along with hunts, gear, jewelry, Yeti coolers, and paintings. Tables for eight are being sold at $600 and include signage, $100 raffle tickets, a table bottle, and eight glasses. Corporate tables are offered at $1,200 and include signage, $200 raffle tickets, a table bottle, eight glasses, and a take-home centerpiece. The primary purpose of the Texas Deer Association is to increase quality-hunting

opportunities for all Texas hunters. To achieve that goal, the TDA advocates wise management practices; promotes research and technology regarding improvements to deer herds through the practice of controlled breeding and genetic improvements; and recognizes that hunting and wildlife management are lifelong enterprises. The TDA also seeks to be a repository and resource for accurate, high-quality information and to improve the image and awareness of deer management and harvest through public education. The TDA shares all of its research findings, management techniques and harvest strategies with its membership. For further information or to purchase tickets, call the TDA at (210) 767-8300 or Librado Peña at (956) 723-6396. Visit the TDA site at texasdeerassociation.com — LareDOS Staff

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Opinion

US reaps benefits from Congo’s natural resources while innocent civilians suffer rape, other atrocities By BARBARA BAKER LareDOS Contributor

W

e are a technology-seduced society. Our lives seem paralyzed without cell phones, texting, laptops, and iPods. Though technology has advanced our lives in meaningful ways, it has also become a lifesupport dependency. No one can ever imagine what life was like before cell phones. We forget there was a time when people lived productive, successful lives without those luxuries. Most of us, as consumers, never think about where the materials came from for our technology or at what human expense we got our technology. All we know is that we want and need our phones and computers to make our lives more convenient and efficient. Would we be so apt to buy a cell phone or

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

laptop if we knew it contributed to human atrocities and rape against women? This has been the case in the Congo of Africa. Because the Congo is rich in natural resources, armed and violent government militia groups use the profits from selling conflict minerals to distributors to buy guns and bombs to terrorize innocent citizens and rape women in order to control the national resource mines. The Congo has been declared the worst place on earth to be a woman because rape is a primary tool to intimidate the population and control the mining industry. According to an educational video produced by The Enough Project in Washington, D.C., there are four national minerals in the Congo — tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold that end up in our high tech devices. Tantalum provides the electricity that keeps our phones operational with sound. Tungsten provides our phone the ability to vibrate. Tin is used as solder in the circuit boards,

and gold serves as a coating of metal on the wires. In the Congo, the militia groups are a mafia who control the mines; minerals are taxed and smuggled out of the mines to Rwanda and Uganda. These groups use the money to buy guns and other military equipment to inflict violence upon the people. The primary method of power and control is rape against women. According to human rights activist and social justice writer John Prendergast, the conflict in the Congo is one of the worst since World War II and one of the most deadly. From the mines in the Congo, minerals are smuggled to designated points controlled by the militia groups, where they are transported to countries in Asia and smelted with other minerals. This can make conflict minerals difficult to identify but not impossible. From Asia, the minerals are refined and sent to the United States and other countries for the production of cell phones, cameras, lap-

tops, and iPods. This gives us a deep social responsibility as consumers of technology. We must take the initiative to contact our cell phone and other technology providers to find out the sources of their minerals, and we must firmly urge our providers to take the steps to ensure that conflict minerals are not used in our products. As consumers, we have the power to make the decision not to use specific companies if they are not dedicated to obtaining production materials that are not associated with crimes against humanity. I urge you as social justice consumers to go to raisehopeforcongo.org website and choose the link, Conflict Mineral Company Rankings. When you review the Conflict Mineral Company Rankings, you will see that The Enough Project has provided research on how cell phone companies are ranked toward becoming conflict-free. This is how Continued on page 19

44

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

11


Pa r t T i m e S h u t t l e D r i v e r s

M ailbox L E etters to the

ditor

As a Marfa-born Tejano I enjoyed reading your piece on “Marfa and Langtry.� Unfortunately, with the gentrification taking place there most of my family and countless others have left for other locations where there are better opportunities for their children. My parents and grandparents and great-grandparents

s HOURSAWEEK s0AIDPERMILEs-USTBEYEARS s&LEXIBLESCHEDULEISAMUSTs.O#$,REQUIRED 4RANSPORTEMPLOYEESFROMAREASAIRPORTS DEALERSHIPSANDTERMINALS

Continued from page 4

(and Webb County) to deposit their deadly loads of gas and oilfield refuse. Please call 540.980.9585 Meg Guerra was there to uncover it and let it be publicly known. She has For application or submit resume to kristy@truckmovers.com photographs to prove it and a great story to tell besides.  If you’re interested in contemporary writing on the environment in what is historically a long-settled region by Mexicans and their descendants, then read her work and that of the talented young women writers on her staff. I recommend you read the 401 MARKET STREET July 2011 LareDOS issue and look up 956-722-0981 these articles: Alex Ura, “Landowners Cashing in on Eagle Ford Shale,â€? LareDOS, July 2011, p. 11. MarĂ­a Eugenia Guerra, “Zapata County Fills the Comptroller’s Coffers and Carries Environmental Burden for Eagle Ford Oil, Gas Exploration,â€? LareDOS, July 2011, pp. 32-34. WHEN SECURITY IS YOUR CONCERN, USE THE BEST Cristina Herrera, “Daylong Chase Ends at Hell-like Wasteland,â€? LareDOS, July 2011, pp. 33, 37. And in the current issue, August 2011, of LareDOS, read these articles: pecifics   MarĂ­a Eugenia Guerra, “Zapata Roland Gutierrez 210-785-9300 tant: _________________________________ Ph: __________________________________________________ This Ad has been designed for the exclusive County Passes Opposition Resoluuse of the customer advertising in the reDOS News 4.91 x 3.67 ______________________________________ Ad Size: ______________________________________________ Renewal of Moss Oilfield publication listed. Use oftion this adtooutside of ntonio 9/26, 10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24 the listed publication is prohibited. ______________________________________ Publication Date(s): _____________________________________

12

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

grew up in Marfa when there existed a harsh segregation of the races which never seems to get mentioned in the glamorization of the town. Signed, Jimmy Franco Los Angeles, Calif. Waste Dumpsite,â€? LareDOS, August 2011, p. 9.  MarĂ­a Eugenia Guerra, “Owner of Oilfield Waste Dumpsite Property Sues Operator J.L. Moss and Darren Kolbe,â€? LareDOS, August 2011, pp. 9, 16.  Cristina Herrera, “Coalition Urges City Council to Stay Vigilant about Environmental Downsides of Fracking,â€? LareDOS, August 2011, p. 14.   MarĂ­a Eugenia Guerra, “Commentary, Action Follow Story about Zapata Oilfield Dumpsite,â€? LareDOS, August 2011, p. 22. There’s more to be found in these pages, I’ve pointed only to some of the reading I’ve done personally. In the recent past it has become obvious that the environment in South Texas from Eagle Pass and Del Rio down to the Zapata and Laredo areas has come under especially intense attack due to the intensive exploration and exploitation of the fossil fuels industries on a scale perhaps not experienced before or at least not in many decades. This is in an area that is a semi-desert, where average rainfall ranges from about 8-14 inches per year.   Signed, Roberto R. CalderĂłn Historia Chicana

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


News

Día del Río 2011 activities celebrate river, watershed resources BY MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

P

lanning efforts are underway by members and staff of the Río Grande International Study Center (RGISC), the Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center (LBVESC) and Keep Laredo Beautiful to make 2011’s Dia del Río the most successful celebration of the Río Grande in its 17-year history. A host of enriching and educational local events and events across the communities of the watershed in the U.S. and Mexico aim to bring attention to the beauty of this American Heritage River and the need to conserve its water quality and riparian ecosystem. The Río Grande remains one of the 10 most endangered rivers in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund. A Friday, September 30 official proclamation and Interfaith service – Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Islamic, and Native American faiths – at the entrance of the Paso del Indio nature trail on the LCC campus kicks off a month of river activities. The annual Paso del Indio nature trail workday, which begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, October 1, will draw between 400 and 600 student and community volunteers to haul trash, prune vegetation, plant wildflowers and mulch Laredo’s oldest trail that winds along riverbanks. Volunteers are asked to sign in at the LBVES where they will also be issued tools, gloves and a complimentary T-shirt. Keep Laredo Beautiful will assist with wildflower planting, and the Imaginarium of South Texas will host an activity booth for elementary- and middle school-aged children. City Council member Cindy Liendo Espinoza will once again provide lunch for all volunteers. A vivid photography exhibit of birds, “The Rio Grande: Nature’s Aviary” will open at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, October 3 at the Laredo Community College Yeary Library. The Laredo Center for the Arts will host a juried exhibit of river art on Friday, October 7, with a reception beginning at 6 p.m. Guest juror is artist Marilu Flores Gruben. On October 9, the Monte Mucho Audubon Society will host their Big Sit, a free event coordinated by Bird Watchers Digest, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the mouth of Zacate Creek on the eastern edge of Las Palmas Trail, at Justo Penn Park. On October 12, RGISC is hosting the 2nd annual Rio Research Roundup. The biWWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

national student water-testing project will involve nearly 80 student teams throughout the watershed, including students from nearly 20 schools in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. Teams will test the health of the river, and obtain data for bacteria, nitrates, dissolved oxygen and other parameters. Other events that draw attention to the beauty of the Río Grande and its watershed include the October 15 Río Fest, a 33-mile kayak race that ends at Dos Laredos Park on the riverbanks west of Bridge I. Big River Outfitters will also host community kayak races and Laredo Ciclomania will host the Rio Grande Classic Mountain Bike Race. Trolley service will shuttle people back and forth between Rio Fest and El Centro de Laredo Farmer’s Market at Jarvis Plaza. Meanwhile, at 2 p.m., the Laredo Under Seven Flags Rotary will attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records by getting more than 5,000 participants in a bubble-blowing event. The evening will end with Rhythms on the Rio, a free live music concert by Laredo Main Street, at Dos Laredos Park from 5 p.m. to midnight. On October 20, the Laredo Environmental Summit will take place for the second year in a row. This free day-long event will be held at the Texas A&M International University Student Center, with speakers and break-out sessions focused on conservation and recycling. Keep Laredo Beautiful will host a MakeA-Difference Day cleanup and Pumpkin Patch t Fr. MacNaboe Park from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 22. RGISC’s Loving Laredo Hike Series, also on Oct. 22, features famed herbalist Tony Ramirez on a nature walk from 8 a.m. to noon. The event, which costs $15, is limited to 25 participants. Lunch will be provided. On Oct. 25, a “Xeriscaping & Organic Gardening” workshop, featuring presentations by Laredo landscaper John Kelley and Austin nursery owner George A. Altgelt. The free workshop will take place at 6 p.m. at Scholars Caffe Barista, 1701 Peaceful Meadows Ct. (off Del Mar Blvd, behind Popeye’s). For further information on participation in Día del Río or to register for activities, please call RGISC’s Día del Río coordinator Gail Hauserman at (956) 721-5392 or the LBVESC at (956) 764-5701. For information on Rio Fest, call Hilda Falciola at 722-0444, for community kayak races, call Big River Outfitters at (956) 209-1879, for the mountain bike race call Bernie Chapa at 744-8250. ◆ LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

13


Civil War on the Tex-Mex Border Reception for exhibit opening August 25, 2011

T

he Webb County Heritage Foundation (WCHF) commemorated the Texas Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, and the program also included the opening of a new exhibit at the Villa Antigua Border Heritage Museum, called Civil War on the TexMex Border. William McWhorter, military sites program coordinator for the Texas Historical Commission, presented a workshop on the Palmito Ranch Battlefield

National Historic Landmark. TAMIU history regents professor Dr. Jerry Thompson also gave a presentation on “The Civil War on the Texas Mexican Border.” Laredo was one of three cities in Texas to participate in the Sesquicentennial Initiative. The Civil War exhibit will be up until mid September, according to the WCHF. For more information, go to webbheritage. org or call (956) 727-0977. — Cristina Herrera

William McWhorter, military sites program coordinator for the Texas Historical Commission

14

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


News Brief

About Work

A five-question survey That’s where the eager 12-year-old got taken advantage of. Q: What part of yourself do you bring to the job every day? A: There’s too much of me to leave at home. I’m pretty much me all the time. Only thing I leave at home is my temper and attitude.

Employee: Sammy "THE HOUSE" Ramirez Employer: Border Media (HOT 1061) Position: Radio Personality / Interactive Media Specialist Start Date: June 1992 Q: What brought you to this job? A: My dad, literally. I was 12 when I started out. He knew a lot of local DJs. He knew a lot of everyone. I used to mimic the guys he would introduce me to. He knew the [general manager] at the time and he put in a good word. I was 12. It wasn’t going to happen. One day I get a call. None of the DJs at the station I was first hired at wanted to do pre-recorded shows that aired at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

Q: Is there prestige or pride in your work? A: Sometimes too much. That’s one of the things I should leave at home more often. I get lots of wonderful comments from people who listen or see me around and it is important to stay humble. I am blessed with so much and I try to accept it gracefully. My head is big enough. Q: Tell me something about your job that would surprise people. A: Lots of other tasks to be done. Lots of bosses. It’s not always fun. It’s a job. Q: Are there new hires in your career? A: As a matter of fact, we have an awesome promotion that just kicked off! We just started The Fight for THE MIC 2011. We are looking to add another member to the Hot 1061 Family. We need anyone interested to upload a 1-minute long audition video to YouTube and post it up on our Facebook. Good luck. u

27th Annual Update in Medicine Conference set for Oct. 14, 15 at UTHSCSA Regional Campus

T

he Area Health Education Center (AHEC) of the Mid Río Grande Border Area of Texas and the Webb-Zapata-Jim Hogg Medical Society are preparing for the 27th Annual Update in Medicine Conference, which is set for Friday, Oct. 14 and Saturday, Oct. 15 at the D.D. Hachar building on the UTHSCSA Regional Campus at 1937 E. Bustamante St. The two-day conference, which is offering continuing medical education for physicians, nurses, and social workers, is sponsored by AHEC and the UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine. The roster of classes for Friday, Oct. 14 includes autism, diabetes in pregnancy, diabetes management, gall bladder disease in children, and management of polytrauma. Saturday’s classes cover pancreatic and thyroid cancers, Vitamin D deficiency, Latino childhood obesity,

heart disease in women, peripheral artery disease, influenza, portable EMR devices and their effect on doctor-patient interaction, and the diagnosis and treatment of depression. Presenters include Pauline A. Fillipek, MD; Ashley N. Parker, MD; Franco Polli, MD, PhD; Khalid Ghazy, MD; Francisco Cervantes, MD; Cheryl A. Lehman, PhD, RN; Anita Broxson, PhD, RN; Veronica K. Piziak, MD, PhD; Adelita G. Cantu, PhD, RN; Angela D. Pal, MSN, RN, ACNP; Matthew J. Sideman, MD, FACS; José Cadena-Zuluaga, MD; Adam W. Pickens, PhD, MPH; Robert L. Jimenez, MD. Co-directors of the program include Gladys C. Keene, MD, MPH; Ralph Nimchan, MD; and Julie Bazan, MHA. Members of the planning committee for the conference are For further information on the conference, call (956) 712-0037 or write mrgahecadmin@stx.rr.com ◆

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

15


News Brief

Pink to Do gears up for ninth annual cancer walk

P

reparations are underway for the ninth annual Pink to Do Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, which is set for Saturday, October 1, at the south campus of Laredo Community College. The walk begins at 8 a.m. and continues until 10:30 a.m. The registration fee is $20. The goal of the annual walk — besides fundraising for services for Laredo cancer survivors — is to raise awareness about breast cancer. Pink to Do pays for mammograms, doctors’ bills, medical tests, office visits, transportation for medical appointments

in Laredo, San Antonio, and Houston, groceries, utility bills, compression sleeves and gloves, prostheses, scarves, wigs, and more. Pink To Do is a nonprofit organization registered with the IRS. Donations are tax deductible. All operational costs are personally funded and 100 percent of the proceeds are used for breast cancer survivors in Laredo. For more information, contact Elizabeth Benavides at (956) 319-0384; Martha Narvaez at (956) 791-1446; or Ophelia Noriega at (956) 337-0920. — Maria Eugenia Guerra

News Brief

Cancer survivor will kick off ninth annual Pink to Do Breast Cancer Walk

B

efore Pink to Do participants begin their walk on the morning of Saturday, October 1 at LCC’s South Campus, they will meet one of Laredo’s most distinguished women, Norma Benavides, who in addition to having been a much-respected educator, happens to be the city’s oldest breast cancer survivor. In June of 1996, she traveled to Houston for the removal of what was thought to be a cyst in her right breast. It turned out, however, to be something of far greater consequence. Behind the cyst was a larger mass that was malignant. Surgeons removed it and 20 lymph nodes, and Benavides began a six-week regimen of radiation treatments in San Antonio. “My boys would take me to San Antonio on Monday and I would stay the week with my sister María Teresa while I underwent the treatments. My sister has since passed away from cancer,” Benavides said. “Having loved ones near me — friends and my family — was part of getting well. It’s important not to feel alone.” Benavides said it had been a blessing to go into surgery believing it was for a minor procedure. “I was spared the uncertainty and the anguish. My sister Blanca Azios and her daughter Dr. Blanca Azios at M.D. Anderson were with me and had helped me find the right doctors,” Benavides said. She also said there is much to be thank-

16

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

ful for — that the cancer did not metastasize and that she has been cancer-free since the surgery. “And there is much to be optimistic about. Technology has enhanced early detection of breast cancer and surgery is less radical these days,” Benavides said. “Cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was. And there are groups like Pink to Do that help cancer survivors at the local level in every way possible. I admire what they do and support their efforts.” Benavides lauded Pink to Do’s generosity and its accessibility to women who need its services. Her daughter-in-law Elizabeth Kurczyn Benavides is a co-founder of the nonprofit, along with Martha Narvaez. “I often invoke the Serenity Prayer as I did when I was in recovery,” Norma Benavides said. ‘God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’” She also shares thoughts on what cancer cannot do, repeating the inspirational message — “It cannot invade the soul, suppress memories, kill friendship, destroy peace, conquer the spirit, shatter hope, cripple love, corrode faith, steal eternal life, silence courage.” Benavides said she is proud to be part of the annual Pink to Do cancer awareness walk and urges Laredoans of all ages to come out for the fundraiser. — Maria Eugenia Guerra WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Students at Roses’ Drama Studio sit below instructor Carol Rosales during the dress rehearsal for children’s book There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, which they will perform at The Kids Bookstore on Saturday, September 24 at 1:30 p.m. From left to right, Karissa Riojas plays the dog, Luis Vargas plays the bird, Olivia Glass plays the fly, and Benicio Cantu plays the cat. For more information, visit rosesdramastudio.com.

Courtesy Photo

Cristina Herrera/LareDOS

The dog, the bird, the fly, and the cat

Future homeowners Salvador and Belinea Garcia stand in front of their house, which they are building with the help of Habitat for Humanity, during the nonprofit’s 9/11 Day of Service on September 11.

Looking for a place to view some bucks?

Rural Land Loans Country Home Loans Farm & Ranch Loans Livestock & Equipment Loans Operating Capital Real Estate Appraisal Services

We’re the answer.

Capital Farm Credit has been making loans for agriculture and rural real estate since 1917. The source of our strength is our cooperative structure: We share our earnings with our customers and have returned more than $400 million.

Agribusiness Financing Leasing

Laredo Office, 1303 Calle Del Norte, Ste. 200

1.888.218.5508 or 956.753.0758 CapitalFarmCredit.com

T E X A S

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

L A R G E S T

R U R A L

L E N D E R

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

17


News & Commentary

Another fracking-waste spill en route to Zapata highlights environmental hazard By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

H

Cristina Herrera/LareDOS

undred of trailers a day loaded with tons and many cubic yards of oilfield drilling waste, sludge, and fluids are hauled from Dimmit and LaSalle counties on Highway 83. They then connect with Interstate Highway 35 to drive through Laredo and again with Highway 83 South to traverse Webb County en route to the end of the load and the end of the road: the Railroad Commission-permitted toxic dumpsites in Zapata County. One is operated by J.L. Moss, Embark Environmental, and Camino Agave, and the other by R360 Environmental and U.S. Liquids. On a now recurring basis, there is little consequence in Webb County and Laredo

for those open-topped trailers moving through our city to deposit their lethal oily stew of drilling mud, BETX (benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene) hydrocarbons, and diesel fuel. The toxic spill we documented on September 7 happened at the light at the terminus of IH-35, where it intersects with Victoria Street. As the driver of the burnt orange truck accelerated through the intersection and onto Highway 83 — according to eyewitnesses who filmed the spill — something comparable to the quantity of two 55-gallon drums of black waste spewed from the back of the grimy, oil-encrusted open trailer, sloshing over the tailgate and onto the road surface. One of the eyewitnesses said that just before the spill occurred, he and his business partner had noticed plastic bottles bobbing

The head of the oilfield waste spill on September 7 at the intersection of I-35 and Victoria Street was addressed by a TxDOT clean-up crew.

18

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

in the black liquid in the trailer. The hazardous spill was addressed in the same way that all recent spills have been dealt with. A City of Laredo Fire Department ladder truck blocked the area, while TxDOT employees wearing no protective gear used shovels to cover the thick, oily mess with dirt. Once the layer of dirt was in place, the lane was opened back up to traffic that carried the dirt and the contents of the toxic spill in every direction. Sometimes an absorbent material akin to cat litter is used rather than sand or dirt. Tailing the truck, which was registered to R-A Trucking and Excavating in Von Ormy, the witnesses followed the offending 18-wheeler down Matamoros and Chihuahua streets, witnessing another spill in front of the H-E-B store on Chihuahua. The truck was stopped on the 2100 block of South Zapata Highway by a Laredo Police Department (LPD) patrol officer, who requested the assistance of an LPD-TxDOT inspection officer who characterized the tractor trailer’s movement through Laredo as the source of “several ongoing toxic spills from the Interstate all the way to South Meadow” and an “environmental hazard.” Though the driver was in CDL compliance, the trailer filled with his nasty cargo was not. It had only one of its four brakes working, and, according to the LPD inspector, the trailer box and its shape “was not made to carry liquids.” He said the trailer had no cover, that it was filled to capacity, and its seals were cracked or broken. Before departing with the load, the driver reportedly told the owners of the trailer that he did not want to drive it because he could see the leaks and faulty seals. He reportedly told LPD officers that when he was threatened with his job, he went ahead and drove the truck. Cabello’s Wrecker Service took the truck off Zapata Highway to the 2600 block of Guadalupe, where that evening its engine idled and its toxic cargo filled the air with an acrid, poisonous odor. R-A Trucking and Excavating, according to a Google search, is owned by Robert L. Acree. There have been numerous spills of this nature on the highways and streets of Laredo, some of them documented, many of them not. Let’s do the math on the ones that are Continued on next page

44

Spill Clean-up

Forward thinkers offer solutions to address oilfield waste spills

F

ire Chief Steve Landin and Chief David Piton offered their insight about handling oilfield waste spills. Chief Landin said if the material is as toxic as it smells, kitty litter isn’t the measure to address it. He said that a sprayed-on product called MicroBlaze can stabilize spills on roadways and make them easier to pick up and dispose of properly. Chief David Piton added that the trucking companies that spill on our streets should be charged for the cleanup as stipulated by the Haz Mat ordinance that has been on the books since 1998. That ordinance and Article XIII of the city’s Motor Vehicles and Traffic Ordinance offer a number of ways to address open-bed trailers moving through the city, including permitting, licensing, spillage, containment, seals, and routes. Environmental Services Department assistant director John Porter is preparing a course for officers of Laredo Police Department, Department of Public Safety, and the Sheriff’s department that deals specifically with oilfield waste spills. Two classes in early October will train 125 officers on enforcement based on state law — the Clean Water Act, Illegal Dumping, and Section 8 of Railroad Commission law that covers the hauling of oilfield waste. For information on the classes, call Porter at (956) 794-1650. — Maria Eugenia Guerra

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Continued from page 18

Continued from page 11 the ranking is set up: Green Star — companies on the right track and making progress by tracing and auditing their supply sources. Companies listed: Dell, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, and Nokia. Yellow Star — room for improvement because these companies have made some effort to research the source of their minerals but need to take more action. IBM, Apple, Lenovo, Acer, LG, Phillips, Samsung, RIM, and Sony Ericsson. Red Star — falling behind, which means these companies have taken no steps toward becoming conflict free. Panasonic, Nintendo, Sharp, SanDisk, Canon, and Toshiba. It’s sometimes very easy for us to think that just because we live in United States, that what happens in Africa and other countries does not involve us and that we having nothing to do with human atrocities. We have to educate ourselves as consumers, and once we know that the products we use are fueling violent conflicts, we have to take a stand for human life and dignity. When I learned about the conflict in Congo, I was shocked, appalled, and dismayed. I was also disgusted that I was not a smart consumer, so I wrote poem about it as a re-

minder that I must be socially responsible to other women in the world because we share a danger that we can all be victims of violence and rape for someone else’s greed, anger, and hunger for violence. Editor’s note: The following poem contains some explicit content. Congo Bush In the Congo, he came from a green plush bush, grinding her womb as if it is a raw bone to null on. Her screams and cries are dormant to a grayish night sky. In America, business men and woman on Blackberries, making corporate deals, checking bank accounts, and playing solitaire in first class. While we hold our cell phones close to hand gossiping and complaining about our soap opera lives, Our sons and daughters are possessed by texting and Nintendo games. In the Congo, he leaves her wounded legs open, bloody as if she is disposable garbage. Was the sound a ringtone or echo of tears and screams? Are we holding a rape bed in our hands? ◆

Cristina Herrera/LareDOS

documented. What does it cost the City of Laredo to crank up a fire truck and a handful of firefighters to block traffic? $1,200 dollars an hour, according to Fire Chief Steve Landin. What does it cost TxDOT to get a truck to the scene and a shovel crew to a spill to cover it with soil or cat litter? Upwards of $700 dollars if you factor in benefits for the crew, fuel, insurance on the truck. Police officers and cruisers? About $700. In most cases the offending truck has driven on, in this case to continue spilling across town and down Highway 83 — more firefighters, more TxDOT crews, more police officers. And what is it costing you and me as we sit next to that crap in our vehicles in the next lane on a highway snarled with re-routed traffic? What is the cost to all of us as the remains of that spill now re-broadcast by traffic makes its way to the river in a heavy rain event? What are these hauling companies think-

ing as they move so hastily and with inadequate containment for so lethal a cargo? They are thinking money has greater value than clean water and human life. And what are our city and county leaders thinking as they contemplate more expedient ways to grease the wheels that will entice more oilfield commerce, at any cost, and without thinking of the environment? They are thinking narrowly, as though they are not part of the food chain and that other cities — cities that have progressive leadership and forward thinkers at the helm, leaders who balance business with environmental safety — are eating Laredo’s lunch. And what should we be thinking about them? We should be thinking we could be doing better than the lot of them; that those who do not speak for the environment, clean water, and enough water do not speak for us. Let’s remember this when the spring elections come around. (Photos contributed by Cristina Herrera.)

Plastic gallon-containers sit atop and in the black sludge within the R-A Trucking open-top truck.

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

19


News Brief

LaMantia, Castillo to preside over first-ever SOL Masquerade Ball

Cavazos Ramirez kicks off re-election bid Webb County Attorney Anna Laura Cavazos Ramirez has announced her bid for re-election in the upcoming 2012 elections. She kicked off her campaign September 15 at the Billy Hall Administration Building. The consummate professional has done much to make the office of the county attorney a proactive component of county government.

News Brief

Pink Glove Dance video garners recognition for UISD’s Instructional TV

T

he United ISD Instructional Television (ITV) Department received an Honorable Mention Award from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). The department’s production of the Pink Glove Dance video, which featured students and staff from United High School, was the winning entry. Hundreds of video entries from school districts across the United States and Canada compete annually in the NSPRA competition. The Pink Glove Dance video was produced to promote breast cancer awareness, and was inspired by United South High School teacher Edna Mayers, who is a breast cancer survivor. ITV director Susan Carlson said the entire school was involved in the making of the video, including students, staff, athletes, cheerleaders, the dance

20

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

team, Junior ROTC and numerous school clubs and organizations, all of whom appear in the video. “Our department is very happy and honored to receive this prestigious award,” Carlson said. “We really enjoyed working with Edna Mayers and everyone at United South High School. But more importantly, we hope that this video helps to promote breast cancer awareness.” Mayers was present throughout the recording process, and she used the event as a learning opportunity to talk to students, especially girls. She told them that screening and having a mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer which afflicts one in every eight women. The Pink Glove Dance video can be seen on YouTube at UISD TV. — LareDOS Staff

Courtesy Photo

Cristina Herrera/LareDOS

A

rt and history advocates Linda LaMantia and Gabriel Castillo will preside over Laredo Main Street’s first-ever Streets of Laredo (SOL) Masquerade Ball on Friday, October 29, at La Posada Hotel’s San Agustín Ballroom. LaMantia and Castillo will be crowned Reina and Rey del Sol, respectively, at festivities replete with live music from Banda Show International, a silent auction, and Cajun-inspired cuisine. LaMantia and Castillo were chosen for their commitment and vision to enhance the quality of life in Laredo by focusing on the important bearing that the Downtown HisLinda LaMantia and Gabriel Castillo toric District has on Laredo, according to Laredo Times. He is an active board member of the Main Street. Instituto Cultural de Mexico and has been Linda LaMantia is an artist and com- involved with community nonprofit agenmunity volunteer who serves on many cies for many years. Most recently Gabriel boards, most involving the arts and educa- has published the first issue of Streets of tion, as well as civic organizations, includ- Laredo magazine dedicated to promoting the Washington’s Birthday Celebration ing and preserving all that is great about Association. A member of the Equestrian downtown Laredo. Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, Individual tickets to the ball cost $100 she is the mother of five daughters and is per person or $1,000 per table. They can married to Steve LaMantia. be purchased by calling the Laredo Main Gabriel C. Castillo is the director of the Street office at (956) 523-8817 or the Laredo Laredo Center for the Arts and is a con- Center for the Arts at (956) 725-1715. tributing columnist for The Laredo Morning — LareDOS Staff

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


News

Microenterprise series aims to boost small businesses By CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

Cristina Herrera/LareDOS

O

n the second floor of an old building in El Azteca neighborhood, a small hopeful group listened to the speakers in the latest installment of the Latino Microenterprise Tech Net Speaker Series, hosted at the recently created Latino Micro-entreprenur Tech-Net Center on August 24. The Azteca Economic Development and Preservation Corporation (AEDPC) operates the center. Hector Ramirez, a small business loan officer from Acción Texas, spoke to the group about the requirements for a small business loan from Acción USA, a nonprofit dedicated specifically to microfinance. According to Acción USA’s website, the company “empowers low-to-moderate income business owners through access to capital and financial education.” “I know [microfinance loans] create jobs,” Ramirez told LareDOS, commenting on the current nationwide priority of job creation. Ramirez said he is currently working with a customer who has been in business for a year, but he did not have enough cash to hire employees, which meant the customer had to do many small tasks himself. The customer went to Ramirez and applied for a small loan — $10,000 to $15,000 — to help hire an employee to help with the minor tasks. “That helps them in that manner to delegate little jobs that he shouldn’t be doing, and puts them out there to be getting some sales,” Ramirez said. Ramirez said that to qualify for a microfinance loan, a company must be classified as a microenterprise, which includes 5 or fewer employees. A microenterprise differs from a small business in that a small business can have up to 100 employees. Acción Texas is more lenient than the average bank, Ramirez said, and offers loans to people with “minor credit problems.” These issues, which show up on a client’s credit report, include current bankruptcy, a federal tax fee, and civil judgment by a person or organization of large amounts. “There are some customers that I am not able to help out, but I still see the potential for them to receive funds somewhere else,” Ramirez said, adding that Acción Texas can help guide these customers. The nonprofit also offers job training, with its own job database and tax credits for businesses that hire from the database.

José A. García, president of Graphitiks Advertising Design Inc., answers a question from potential small business owners at the monthly Latino Microenterprise Tech Net Speaker Series on Wednesday, August 24. José A. García, president of Graphitiks Advertising Design Inc., built his small business from the ground up. García, who also spoke at the event about building up his business, worked as a designer at The Laredo Morning Times in the 1980s. While at the Times, he was doing design jobs for other clients, such as the Laredo Chamber of Commerce. Eventually he figured he could start his own business with the client base he had already built up, but García did not have a business plan. A good client list, a routine that worked, and a bit of luck helped García. “I was just doing a routine I was doing when I started, and it was good,” he said. “I think we were more lucky than being astute. I didn’t learn from anybody.” Garcia did not discount the advantages of being prepared and having the proper training, even though much of what he learned was self-taught. The business center staff agree. “There are no guarantees for success when creating a small business but proper training and technology can make a difference,” according to literature from the Azteca Small Business Technology Training Center. Licensed and ordained minister Tonie

Gamboa, who also attended the event, has run the Chapel of Everlasting Love on San Bernardo Avenue for over a year now. She was struggling to get returns on advertising she had placed in the radio and newspaper, but she decided to go to AEDPC to receive advice about her nonprofit, which does not take payment but does request donations. “I’ve got the passion, I’ve got the excitement, and I have the hunger, but to pay the bills, I need to be out there,” Gamboa said. She told the crowd in Spanish that she didn’t understand technology, but she knew that she was missing out on a major online market. With the help of the small business center, Gamboa created her own website, laredoweddingchapel.com, and is aggressively trying to get her chapel seen. She credited the aid of small business center director Steve Gutierrez, who helped her create the website. Gutierrez said micro-lenders such as Acción USA offer credit to people who had no credit history or are in debt — people in poverty who seemingly have no way to pick themselves up. “You’re talking about a population who didn’t have credit, and culture comes in and they develop a loyalty to these micro-

lenders,” Gutierrez said, explaining why the micro-lenders have found success in these areas. He said customers feel obligated and can be counted on to pay back their loans. Once they pull themselves out of debt, they often take out more loans to expand their small businesses. Gutierrez said the center plans to do the speaker series monthly, and is asking any small business owners or business experts who are interested in being a speaker to contact him at (956) 726-4462 or steve@aedpc.org. AEDPC is a nonprofit corporation that has served the poor in Laredo since 1982. The nonprofit helps low-income people find housing and offers financial education, job training, and business development. The Azteca Small Business Technology Training Center is an offshoot of the Latino Micro-entreprenuer Tech-Net program, which is led by the Mission Economic Development Agency and that National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders. The center is funded by a federal grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. For more information on the program or AEDPC, go to aedpc.org or call (956) 726-4462. u LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

21


News & Commentary

Parallel universes at LPD: Police chief’s take on global role, while rank and file say he’s missing in action

T

By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

he whiff of scandal, that of a reported liaison with a married female state legislator while he was head of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety — old news now — clung to veteran public safety officer Carlos Maldonado as he applied for Laredo Chief of Police in early 2008. Fortunately for him, he applied in a human resources and City Council vacuum that ignored news stories of his abrupt March 2006 resignation to “pursue personal and academic opportunities.” The details of the parallel universe of Maldonado’s personal life — including a review by the New Mexico governor’s office of the lengthy, afterbusiness-hours calls and text messages from Maldonado’s state-issued cell phone to New Mexico State Rep. Debbie Rodella — did not seem to factor into Laredo’s decision to hire him. Fortunately, too, “The Love Chief,” as Maldonado was dubbed by New Mexico blogger Joe Monahan, was hired by a city administration eager to put aside its own embarrassing maquinitas corruption and bribery scandal that sent former Chief of Police Agustín Dovalina III to the penitentiary. Curiously, Maldonado was not in the field of 43 applicants who had applied as of March 20, Chief Carlos R. Maldonado 2008 — 19 through the Mercer Group, the Santa Fe, N.M., consulting group contracted by the city to recruit candidates, and another 24 candidates who applied directly to the city. More curious was that Maldonado, who was not on the April 8 short list of 12 candidates — which included Assistant Laredo Police Department (LPD) Chief Fructuoso San Miguel, a 25-year LPD veteran; LPD Capt. Gabriel E. Martinez Jr., a 26-year LPD veteran; and LCC Police Academy director Ray Garner — suddenly appeared as a frontrunner on a subsequent list of the most viable contenders for the job. The majority of the department, 320 of the 425 officers on the force, members of the Laredo Police Officers Association (LPOA), had voiced a preference to serve under a chief who was a known quantity, one of their own who had risen through the ranks of LPD. City Manager Carlos Villarreal said in an April 22 Laredo Morning Times story that while the city had set a self-imposed March deadline for applications, the Mercer company had been asked to continue the search, and that is how Carlos Ray Maldonado leaped ahead of the other contenders without ever having been in the original field of 43 or on the short list of 12. Thus in a cloud of debate, misgivings, and a City Council vote of 5-3, did the mid-May 2008 hiring of Maldonado, who submitted a completed application to City of Laredo Human Resources Department at 8:18 a.m. on May 12, 2008, come to fruition, portending perhaps in its non-serendipitous details the bumpy ride ahead for him and a department that for

22

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

the most part did not support his appointment. It also prompted Assistant Chief San Miguel to sue City Council for violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act. Veteran LPD officers and LPOA members Cordelia Perez, Enedina Martinez, and Ernesto Elizondo went before the City Council on May 12 to ask that the decision to hire a new chief be made by the newly elected incoming council members who were about to take office and not by the exiting council members. “It would have made the new Chief of Police accountable to the new council,” Perez said. LareDOS spoke to six LPD officers, members of both police organizations. Four spoke on the record and two asked that their names not be used for fear of retaliation. They were candid in their observations of Maldonado’s tenure as police chief. They spoke of his leadership, his travel, his management style, and his priorities. The two un-named officers, both patrolmen, are referenced as Officer 1 and Officer 2. “When Mr. Maldonado came up for his interview for the position, we were sure he would not be selected. He was the least qualified,” observed 26-year LPD veteran officer Luis Dovalina, LPOA president. “He didn’t meet any of the qualifications. He wasn’t a Texas peace officer. He wasn’t TCLEOSE [Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education] certified. And he didn’t speak Spanish, as the job description called for,” he added. Patrol Sgt. Cordelia Perez, an LPD officer for 20 years and first vice-president of LPOA, said the department waited for Maldonado to establish leadership, unity, and heightened morale. “It’s what he promised. We didn’t know him, but we felt he deserved a chance. What we began to understand is that he neither understood nor wanted civil service or collective bargaining.” Perez said, adding that it became noticeable that Maldonado gave deferential treatment to members of the force who were in the smaller Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) organization. “His key appointments were FOP. His demotions were LPOA,” she said. In an interview with LareDOS, Maldonado said that when he was appointed chief of police that he came into an environment embroiled in controversy. He said he had the experience to be part of the healing process and to restore the loss of confidence in the community and the department. “Police agencies are good at the core. With leadership and proactive and productive actions, you have positive results,” he said. “We have re-established public confidence.” Had the city leaders who hired Maldonado bothered to look at a survey taken just before he resigned as chief of the New Mexico State Police, they would have read that 367 of the 487 state troopers in his charge had not been satisfied with his performance as chief, this according to a February 23, 2006 news story in The Santa Fe New Mexican. Perez noted, “Just as we held an open mind about him, we expected the same and invited him to our LPOA meetings and events. Increasingly he was much less visible. It was rare, and it still is, that we got memos from him directly. They usually come from the assistant chiefs who serve under him.” According to Sgt. Enedina Martinez, an investigator, 20-year member of the force, and second vice-president of LPOA, “It’s almost like he never showed up because he just sort of disappeared. City administration set the precedent for how Chief Maldonado was going to work out when they hired him.” She continued, “They bent the application rules and deadlines for him. He knew from the beginning that policy and procedure were second to politics. He saw it with his own eyes.” As would soon become evident, the city had hired itself a traveling man. In the last half of 2008 — Maldonado came on board in May — he was out of the office, according to the log for his electronic entry access card to LPD headquarters, for 38 days. In 2009, it was 55 days; 2010, 76 days; and in the first half of 2011, 34 days. A review of Maldonado’s travel shows that some of it is clearly personal, but much of it indicates that he is often an invited speaker at out-of-town law enforcement symposia, conferences, and events, and that for the most part he is on the city clock at $64.38 per hour when he does travel. What is sometimes clear in literature attached to his travel information is that his expenses are covered by the agency hosting the conference, but what is not at all clear is if he is paid an honorarium for speaking while he is being paid by the city. There is also WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


correspondence that indicates that Maldonado has offered himself as a speaker or presenter. The majority of the chief’s travel is for meetings of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Texas Association of Chiefs of Police, and for law enforcement conferences such as those hosted by the National Forensics Academy, the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group, ICE, Homeland Security, and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, to name a few. His travel costs have on occasion been picked up by IACP, the FBI, and Department of Justice grants administered by New Mexico Tech. He has traveled to Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, Penn.; Alexandria, Va.; Orlando, Fla.; San Diego, Calif.; London, England; Atlanta, Ga.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Knoxville, Tenn. His travel arrangements, regardless of the purpose of his trips, are made by a city employee. According to documents, when Maldonado has reimbursed the city for travel that a hosting agency paid for, he used a money order or a personal check rather than endorsing over to the city the check he received from the agency. Maldonado also confirmed that his family had traveled with him on at least three occasions, when he visited San Diego, Orlando, and London. “There is speculation that he actually works outside of here as a paid consultant,” said patrol Officer 1. “Something isn’t right. We are paying him while he is out of town. Is he being paid by someone else? The trainers he uses are from the company he worked for in New Mexico. Is that a conflict of interest?” he asked, adding, “It’s clear to us his heart is not in this job.” Dovalina concurred, “I believe he is paid for consultation elsewhere. The LPOA has brought this to the city manager’s attention. We want the Webb County district attorney to look into this, and we want him to ask the State Attorney General to step in to investigate. We want to be present when the city manager meets with the DA’s office to initiate proceedings.” Maldonado said he represents the department and the community when he travels and that the city should pay for his time. “If I’m not invited to these meetings, someone else could be, and we would be losing an opportunity for funding and other resources,” he said. As representatives of the LPOA, Dovalina, Perez, and Martinez have met with both City Manager Villarreal and Assistant City Manager Cindy Collazo to discuss Maldonado’s performance as chief, his travel, and alleged discrepancies in Maldonado’s travel documents. “The chief should be held accountable like the LPD officer recently arrested for falsifying his attendance records,” Dovalina said. With a 23-point list in hand of the chief’s shortfalls and areas in which he could improve, LPOA members have taken Maldonado to task for failing to unify the department, which was one of his original pronouncements; for aligning himself with the Fraternal Order of Police officers and not being inclusive of the 320 officers who constitute the LPOA; for rewarding FOP members with reassignments to better positions; for punishing LPOA officers with reassignments to lower positions; for wrongful terminations; for failure to lead by example; for the attrition of well trained officers to the more stable and progressive law enforcement environments of DEA, Border Patrol, and Webb County; for the number of grievances brought against him; and for allegedly arranging his time to attend more conferences out of town or to go on family vacations. Shortly after Maldonado took office in mid-June 2008, he took a two-week Fourth of July family trip to Orlando He turned in the request and authorization for leave without pay for that 11-day trip almost a month after he took the time off. Perez and Martinez recalled a 2009 memo Maldonado issued in reference to the swine flu outbreak. “He asked us to make other arrangements ‘before considering taking annual leave to care for your [sick] children’ and he reminded us that our mission was to protect and serve,” Perez said. 4 Continued on page 34 4 WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

Opinion

Chief on national crusade to fight terrorism; officers want local leadership and level playing field

P

By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

olice Chief Carlos Maldonado’s penchant for travel ended up being a much larger story than I expected — one that formed a picture of who staffs the Laredo Police Department (LPD), the caliber of individuals who make up the force, what they’d like to see in a leader, and what they say they haven’t seen in Maldonado. As I concluded reading information for the story — which included the travel documents, calendars, and information on many of the seminars the chief had traveled to as far away as London; the logs for Chief Maldonado’s access card into headquarters from 2008 forward; numerous interviews with police officers and one with the chief — I came away with the sense that the City of Laredo has two police departments: one in which the officers say there is a vacuum of leadership and commitment at the top and one in which the chief says all is well; one in which the rank and file of the department ask that immediate and local needs be addressed and the other the chief’s lofty view of LPD as a “tip of the sword” in the global fight against Mexican cartels and terrorism. I feel certain he was hired, per the description for the job for which Chief Maldonado applied, to provide leadership to the 400-plus men and women of LPD so that they can better address crime in Laredo, which of course in addition to thefts, assault, and domestic violence calls, includes drug crimes and murders relative to the drug trade. I’m equally certain that those city administrators and council members who hired him did not foresee that Chief Maldonado would pick up the sword as an authority on border violence that he has felt compelled to share as much as possible in Washington and once in London. It’s odd, how disparate are the wants of LPD officers — simply put, leadership by example, training to address local issues, and a level playing field — and the idea the chief has that as head of LPD, he is part of a national effort to stop drug violence and cartel terror. When editor Cristina Herrera and I sat down with the chief and assistant chief Gabriel Martinez Jr. for an interview on September 19, we came away with a headbobbing sensation that there are two LPDs: the local entity that keeps a watchful eye on the streets of our city and nabs criminals, and the one in Chief Maldonado’s head that has trained 45 officers to deal with suicide bombers and shares cartel intel with the federal government. Great stuff, but it’s not in his job description. If I were a city administrator concerned with money woes or a City Council member who had a shred of accountability to my constituents, I would put a pencil to what it costs to have the chief whizzing to conferences across America and England — intel sword in hand — at $64.38 an hour, $515.04 a day, representing himself as an authority on cartel violence. (When he asks for 16 hours of compensation time for travel across the ocean, he is asking for $1,030.08.) I would look very seriously at the log for the card he has to swipe to get into headquarters, and I would listen to LPD officers who want change and who have waited for many years for a chief who knows their names and their jobs and works alongside them toward the common goals of diminished crime stats, officer safety, and improved morale.

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

23


News & Commentary

City Council ponders the chance invocation by a Satanico; other cities ‘eating Laredo’s lunch’ in Eagle Ford Shale By CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff

W

e often poke fun at our City Council for bumbling speeches and poorly thoughtout responses to local issues — and often for good reason. Here is a LareDOS-style wrap-up of some notable discussions at the September 6 City Council meeting. Eating who’s lunch? After the usual recognitions, the meeting began with Mayor Raul Salinas commenting on the Eagle Ford Shale play. The mayor and much of council agree that other cities, mainly San Antonio, are “eating our lunch” when it comes to job creation in the area. The words have become the current buzz phrase when discussing the business opportunities in the Eagle Ford Shale. “We had decided to team up with everybody involved, and let them know that we’re ready to do business. We want to find

out what they need, and how we can accommodate them. People in Laredo want to work … We want to show these folks that we’re at their command,” Mayor Raul Salinas said. This statement was a reiteration of thoughts expressed at the August 15 meeting, when members of the Safe Fracking Coalition confronted City Council during public commentary, making it clear that they welcomed the benefits of the play but hoped the city would consider the environmental safety and public health concerns. Councilman Mike Garza later quoted the Cotulla Chamber of Commerce president Bill Cotulla: “There are only two groups of people who aren’t happy [about the Eagle Ford Shale play]: ranchers who don’t own the mineral rights on the property and those who don’t like the traffic.” The quote is taken from the Cotulla and La Salle County Chamber of Commerce’s website. The article it’s from is called “Thousands of oilfield workers flood into Cotulla, Texas,” which goes on to say that approximately 3,300 people have come into Cotulla

Spears

24

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

because of the Eagle Ford Shale boom. “Yeah, but think of the economic benefits.” LareDOS asked for clarification of the We also asked the mayor if he thought comment, and whether it was a slap in the these small towns benefitting from the boom face to other groups who have real concerns, would eventually become what we see fursuch as the Safe Frackther south — businessing Coalition. es that were once teemAs our readers know, “I wanted to make ing with customers and we whole-heartedly a correlation between are now struggling to welcome the wonderful the cooperation bestay open, gas stations economic benefits the shale tween the chamber that still display $1.80 and the city of Cotulla. gas, and RV parks that has brought and continues Which is lacking here were once full. to bring, but city officials in Laredo,” Garza re“I have no idea. I have shown little effort sponded in an e-mail. don’t even know what when it comes to any of the At the meeting Garthe hell is going to za had said the angry happen tomorrow,” environmental or public groups were actually a Salinas said. “There safety downsides. good sign for that area, are projections, but as he explained further you know what? I like in his e-mail. to stay positive. Let’s do the best with what “Traffic issues! Meaning the increase in we’ve got today and try to make a better totraffic is a direct result in increased com- morrow.” merce for the area. The people have to put up The mayor heavily stressed to LareDOS with the inconvenience of more traffic but that local businesses will reap many finanthe results are increase in economic activity cial benefits from the Eagle Ford Shale play, in that area,” Garza said, adding, “At the end and that his main responsibility as mayor is of the day the city of Laredo is the one taking to “see Laredo prosper.” the economic development role on this issue “I’m not afraid of San Antonio, but we when our local chamber should be leading have to show that we care as a team about the charge on this important moment in our making sure that Laredo, Texas, gets its fair economic history. Forget that the Chamber share,” Salinas said at the council meeting. should do it to help the city of Laredo they City manager gives out reality checks should lead to help their own MEMBERCity manager Carlos Villarreal rained on SHIP!” council members’ parades as he emphasized Unfortunately, dear reader, Councilman the city’s shrinking coffers during a few Garza’s response did not fully clarify what agenda items. he thought the Bill Cotulla quote meant for Two items brought up by Councilman Alex the environmental safety and public health Perez would award two contracts to Zertuche of Laredo, but there you have it. Construction, worth $81,250 and $557,695.42, When LareDOS asked Mayor Salinas for work on the Utilities Department. what type of message the statement sent to “I had a meeting with Mr. Zertuche. What environmental watchdogs, he said, “We’re I indicated was I was going to be making a not going to hurt people for a buck. I come recommendation to table these two items from a public safety background. I am con- until some of the other projects were comcerned about the safety of our citizens, but pleted because I’m finding that we’re having don’t you think it would behoove us as a city some of those projects lagging behind, conto work to get these jobs instead of these jobs siderably,’” Villarreal said. going elsewhere?” Councilman Perez said the two items had As our readers know, we whole-heartedly been pending for a long time and asked Vilwelcome the wonderful economic benefits larreal how they could speed up the process. the shale has brought and continues to bring, “I understand, but what I’m trying to let but city officials have shown little effort when this council know is that if we continue, you it comes to any of the environmental or public might not see some of this work,” Villarreal safety downsides. The comments from this replied. The items were tabled. meeting reinforced the idea that economic Later in the meeting, Councilman Mike benefits far outweigh any public safety or Garza raised a concern that the city’s deenvironmental concerns down the line. Any partments might be missing grants that fall questions about environmental risk have conContinued on page 46 4 4 tinually been answered resoundingly with WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

25


26

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau

October on the Rio Calendar Sponsors

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

27


28

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

29


30

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Feature

‘Truth is out there’: Laredo to host UFO conference By CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff

A

bright orb whizzes across the night sky — is it a laser, a satellite, super-advanced military aircraft, or something else? After sharing your sighting with your family, they smile and condescendingly indulge your “fantasies.” Friends dismiss the claims as just your imagination, but you will never forget that mysterious light. Organizers for the first-ever Laredo UFO Conference aim to share experiences and possible answers with the public about Unidentified Flying Objects, a phrase that usually conjures images of grey interstellar beings and disc-shaped aircrafts, but actually refers to any object’s identity that cannot be confirmed or denied. Even the Merriam Webster definition refers to the entry “flying saucer,” further perpetuating the perception that UFOs are associated with extraterrestrial life. The conference, which is being sponsored by the Webb County Heritage Foundation (WCHF), is set for Saturday,

November 5 at Texas A&M International University. “Many of us have a strong interest in trying to figure out what’s out there in the rest of the universe,” said UFO author and researcher Noe Torres, who will be one of the presenters at the conference. “The Earth is only a small part of what exists in the university. As astronomer Carl Sagan once said, it’s really hard to conceive that the earth is the end of what is in the universe.” Torres has researched and written about UFOs for 15 years, and is the South Texas director for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), a nonprofit corporation dedicated “to resolving the scientific enigma known collectively as unidentified flying objects,” according to MUFON’s website. The website also includes a map that tracks UFO sightings, and a form to fill out for reporting other sightings. Torres will present three lectures, each on a book he has written. The first will be “Fallen Angel: UFO Crash near Laredo, Texas,” which details the July 1948 incident in which a military aircraft chased a 90-foot-diamater silver disc across Texas before it crashed 30 miles southwest of

Laredo, in Mexican territory. The case is also notable since it occurred almost exactly one year after the infamous Roswell UFO incident. He will also present “The Real Cowboys & Aliens: UFO Encounters in the Old West,” and “1955 UFO Crash on the TexasMexico Border,” a case which also features a military aircraft chasing down a bright object that was going an estimated 2,000 miles per hour. The presentation will include audio and video clips from the pilot, Colonel Robert B. Willingham. Torres has written seven books and the Wikipedia page for the 1948 crash near Laredo. He also appeared on the History Channel’s UFO Hunters. “I think that when people start hearing about UFOs and hearing about other people talk about them, there’s less fear about revealing their own experiences,” Torres said. “Any time you can bring the subject out in the open, that’s good. That’s why I think this UFO conference will be valuable.” Along with Torres, other presenters at the conference will include members of the Laredo Paranormal Research Society, a local nonprofit that seeks to collect, record,

and archive their own paranormal investigations; and Travis Walton, an American logger whose story is considered the most studied and publicized case of UFO abduction, according to conference organizers. On November 5, 1975 — the conference’s date coincides with Walton’s abduction anniversary — a 22-year-old Walton was with a crew of loggers working in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona when they came upon a bright light hovering over the forest. Walton left his vehicle and walked up to the light out of strong curiosity, but was suddenly “blasted by an energy bolt of unknown composition,” according to a WCHF press release. The crew was so frightened that they left Walton in the forest. Five days later, Walton called his brother-in-law from a gas station payphone, asking that he come pick Walton up. Walton was still in the clothes he had left in, and obviously shaken up. He later recalled waking up in what he thought was a hospital room and seeing two types of creatures who weren’t human. Walton thought he was only gone for a few hours. Continued on next page

44

The Laredo Paranormal Research Society captured this image of two Unidentified Flying Objects in northeast Laredo with an improvised high-power infrared camera. Power lines are visible above and below the lights. The LPRS will present photos like this one at the Laredo UFO Conference on November 5 at TAMIU. WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

31


Continued from page 31 “It’s burned into my mind, as far as everything that happened there,” Walton said in an interview with LareDOS. “There was no dreamlike quality.” Walton said his life has been “derailed” by his abduction and the publicity that came after the incident, and he wishes it had never happened in the first place. His experience has been dismissed as a drug hallucination, temporary mental insanity, and a hoax. Part of his frustration over the years has been trying to get people to believe him. “What’s really stupid is that no one has been able to understand how people would be able to share a drug hallucination,” Walton said. “The same explanation that it was transitory psychosis: That doesn’t explain the crew and what they saw.” Walton has also come to his own conclusions about government involvement in the case. “I think that there was a deliberate attempt by covert government agencies to try to discredit the incident,” Walton said. He added that he recently learned one of the members of the logging crew was offered money shortly after the incident to keep quiet. Walton will present his story, photographs, and documents about his abduc-

32

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

tion, and there will also be a showing of the Fire in the Sky, a 1993 motion picture based on Walton’s book, The Walton Experience. The stigma of being labled a “kook” or “crazy” — as Walton has been labeled at times — when people share their sightings is one of the reasons UFO research and information is so murky, according to Torres and members of the Laredo Paranormal Research Society (LPRS), which investigates, records, and documents possible paranormal activity at buildings around the city. LPRS member Ismael Cuellar said his group was at first averse to opening themselves to the public because of that stigma, but he said reaction to the group’s talks and investigations has been surprisingly welcome in Laredo. “I think our fear for so many years was what are they going to think of us? How can we explain this?” Cuellar said. “It’s hard. If you see something paranormal in front of you — a UFO or a shadowy figure — and you’re the only eyewitness, probably the only person who’s going to believe you is your immediate family. And even then your family member might have some doubts.” But he said Laredoans who attended LPRS’s talks and events lined up afterward to share their paranormal experi-

ences and ask questions about them. Law enforcement employees formed the LPRS 13 years ago after member Ismael Cuellar took a photo of a green entity that neither he nor FBI experts in Austin could explain. The LPRS mainly concentrated on possible ghostly entities until it expanded to ufology about five years ago. Fear for how the group’s work would affect their jobs also kept members quiet about the LPRS, which mostly relied on word-of-mouth to find clients. They do not charge their clients for their work. “We’re not ghost hunters. We’re not trying to make a show. Our return of investment is the research and educating the public,” Cuellar said. “We take it very seriously because it’s hard to explain to the public something you cannot see, and make it as an archive or investigation just like a criminal investigation.” This research now includes recording and documenting UFO sightings in the night sky, which Cuellar said happen every single day. When Cuellar and LPRS member José Alvarez visited LareDOS, they showed two videos they had captured with an improvised high-powered camera: one of a regular airplane flying in a linear angle, which was clear to see with its nose, wings, tail, and federal aviation lights, and one that showed an orb of light moving around at

a much faster speed, and with no discernable features. The videos will be shown at the conference, along with other evidence the group has collected. “It could be very sophisticated military aircraft. Could it be something from somewhere else? We do not know. It is unexplained,” Cuellar said. He added that the sightings could be military aircraft such as the Predator drone or something like the mysterious stealthy helicopter used in the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden. Cuellar admits that the public can be quite skeptical with evidence collected, since video, photos, and audio can be manipulated to trick people, and that most people need to see the proof firsthand. “You can never underestimate the invention of the human mind. It’s just that there are things out there that you can’t explain; paranormal,” Cuellar said. “That’s why it’s good to archive this and maybe in the future we’ll find out what it is.” Registration for the Laredo UFO Conference is $20 General Admission advance purchase, $25 on the day of the event, and $30 for preferred seating. The conference is not recommended for children under 13. For more information call the WCHF at (956) 727-0977 or visit webbheritage.org/LaredoUFOConference.htm. ◆

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


BANK FA ALCON. F . L K A NK LOCAL. B N C A O B L . L K A N C A . BANK LO FALCON. B N K O C N L A A B F . L K A N CON. C L A O B A F . L K A NK L N C A O B L . L K A N BANK LOC ALCON. BA . F N K O N C L A B A F . L K A N C FALCON. L. BA K A NK LO N C A O B L . L K A N C A O B L . ON. BANK NK FALCON C L A B A F . L K A N C A O B L FALCON. . L K K A N N C A O B L . L K A N C A O B N. BANK L K FALCON. O N C L A B A F . L K A N C LCON. A O B A L F . L K A NK N C A O B L . L K A N C BANK LO ALCON. BA . F N K O N C L A B A F . L K ON. A N C C L A B A F . L K A N C ANK LO A O B L . L K CON. BAN ANK LOCA L B A . F N K O N C L A B A F . L K A N FALCON. . BA L K A N C ANK LOC A O B L . L K A N C A O B L N. BANK K FALCON. O C N L A A B F . L K A N C A O B ALCON. L F . L K A N C ANK A O B L . L K A N C A . BANK LO FALCON. B N K O C N L A A B F . L K A N C ALCON. A F O B . K L N A A C B ANK L O . L L A K C N . BANK LO ALCON. BA N F O C K L N A A F B . K L N CON. A L A C B A F . L K A N C A O ANK LO B L . L K A N BANK LOC ALCON. BA . F N K O N C L A B A F . L K A N C FALCON. L. BA K A N C A O BANK LO B L . L K A N C A O B L . N. BANK K FALCON O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A O B L FALCON. . L K A N C A O BANK B L . L K A N C A O B . BANK L FALCON. N K O N C L A B A F . L K A N CON. C L A O B A F . L K A N C A O BANK L B L . L K A N BANK LOC ALCON. BA . F N K O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A FALCON. L. B K A N C A O BANK LO B L . L K A N C A O B L . ON. BANK NK FALCON C L A B A F . L K A N C A O B L FALCON. . L K K A N C A O BAN B L . L K A N C A O B N. BANK L K FALCON. O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A O ALCON. B L F . L K A N C A O BANK B L . L K A N C A . BANK LO FALCON. B N K O C N L A A B F . L K A N CON. C L A O B A F . L K A N C A O BANK L B L . L K A N BANK LOC ALCON. BA . F N K O C N L A A B F . L K A N C FALCON. L. BA K A N C A O BANK LO B L . L K A N C A O B L . N. BANK K FALCON O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A O B ALCON. L F . L K A N C A O BANK B L . L K A N C A . BANK LO FALCON. B N K O N C L A B A F . L K A N CON. C L A O B A F . L K A N C A O BANK L B L . L K A N BANK LOC ALCON. BA . F N K O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A FALCON. L. B K A N C A O BANK LO B L . L K A N C A O B L . ON. BANK NK FALCON C L A B A F . L K A N C A O B L FALCON . L K K A N C A O BAN B L . L K A N C A O B N. BANK L K FALCON. O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A O ALCON B L F . L K A N C A O BANK B L . L K A N C A BANK LO ALCON. B . F N K O C N L A A B F . L K A N C A K FALCON AL. B N C A O BANK LO B L . L K A N C A O B L . N CO ON. BANK C NK FALFree L A A B F . L K A N C A O B L . K FALCON L K N front and back images of all checks A A C B O BAN . L L A K C N O A L B ON. BANK C K FALCON. L N A A F B . K L N A A C B FALCON O . L L K A N C A O B L BANK . L K A N C A O B L N. BANK K FALCON. O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A O B ALCON L F . L K A N C A O BANK B L . L K A N C A . BANK LO FALCON. B N K O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A O B K FALCON AL. N C A O BANK L B L . L K A N C A O B L . N K CON. BAN L ANK FALCO B A F . L K A N C A O B L FALCO . L K K A N N C A O BA B L . L K A N C A O B L . N. BANK K FALCON O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A O B L FALCO . L K A N C A O BANK B L . L K A N C A O B N. BANK L K FALCON. O N C L A B A F . L K A N C A O B L K FALCO AL. N C A O BANK B L . L K A N C A O B L . N K CON. BAN L ANK FALCO B A F . L K A N C A O B L . L K K FALCO A N N C A O BA B L . L K A N C A O B L . Kn b a n k . c o m N O. Nf .a Bl A C NK FALCON w w w c o L A A B F . L K A N C A O B L FALCO . L K K A N C A O BAN B L . L K A N C A O B N. BANK L K FALCON. O C N L A A B F . L K A N C A O B L . NK FALCO CAL A O BANK B L . L K A N C A O B L . N K O N ANK FALC ALCON. BALareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 F L | 33 WWW. L A RL E DO OC S NE W S.. CB OM K A N A B . L K K FALCO A N N C A A O B B L . L K A N C A O B L . N K NK FALCO CON. BAN L A B A F . L K A N C C A O B L . L K A BAN CAL. BANK FAL ANK LOC

FREE BUSINESS C HECKING No minimum balance requirements No monthly service fee Earns Interest

Unlimited check writing

Monthly Electronic Statements (E-Statements)

(956) 723-2265


Continued from page 23 Martinez added, “A few days later the chief asked for three days of annual leave for himself for May 6, 7, and 8; three days of flex time for May 11, 12, and 13; and two additional days of annual leave for May 14 and 15.” The chief’s written request for travel to Albuquerque from May 6 to 18 noted that the hours absent would be charged against “hours earned during weekend and evening official duties.” In November 2010, Maldonado traveled to London, clocking out of the office November 5, a Friday, and returning to work Thursday, November 18. Though the official dates of the conference he attended were Monday, November 8 through Friday, November 12, Maldonado spent an extra week out of the office. E-mail correspondence from David Williams at New Mexico Tech to Maldonado indicated travel and expenses would be courtesy of a Department of Justice grant for five days of consultations at New Scotland Yard for “the development of training programs to prevent and when necessary respond to kidnappings, extortions, and violent attacks on law enforcement officers by criminals associated with Mexican Cartel Trafficking Organizations.” The DOJ grant that paid for Maldonado’s roundtrip travel ($1,200) and six days (hotel, $273 per night; $146 per diem) in London was administered by New Mexico Tech’s Border Security Center. The chief traveled to London as part of the U.S. Southern Border Delegation of Chiefs of Police. He did not return to his office until Thursday, November 18 at 8 a.m. He justified the extra week he spent in England after the conference by asking for flex time for the 18-hour periods it took him to travel to England and back to the U.S., a holiday for attending the London conference on Veterans Day (November 11), and time he spent on the Sunday before the conference meeting with other attendees. On Thursday, March 17, 2011, the chief left LPD at 8:27 a.m. and returned to his office on Monday, March 28 at 8:39 a.m. Correspondence to assistant city manager Collazo apprised her of a presentation he would make in Albuquerque to the New Mexico Sheriffs and Police Association. Maldonado’s correspondence to Collazo said he would be working “from an off site.” Though he didn’t present until March 23, he was out of the office three workdays in advance. From Albuquerque, where his family resided, he flew to Washington, D.C., for the meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Mid-Size Cities Mid-Year Meeting at which he spoke on March 24 at a border issues discussion. He returned to work on March 28, but departed the next day for Austin to speak before the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce on SB 1450 on March 29 and 30. According to members of the LPOA, City Manager Villarreal argued that Maldonado had not been out of the office for that period. A copy of Maldonado’s plane ticket to Albuquerque, however, surfaced and circulated at LPD to controvert the city manager’s defense of Maldonado. When LPOA members met with Villarreal on July 26 to question some of Maldonado’s travel and absences, including days he was not docked for the March 2011 Albuquerque/D.C. trip, Villarreal said he did not approve Maldonado’s leave and would deal with it administratively. Maldonado was in Albuquerque from May 16-20, which he does not indicate on the work attendance sheet he submitted for payroll for that period. He was paid regular time as though he had not been absent. He submitted a corrected work attendance sheet that reflects he took annual leave. The matter was corrected on a subsequent paycheck. In the same period that he was in New Mexico in May 2009, Maldonado canceled the department’s annual Police Week commemoration, something officers found demoralizing. “It’s the one week people remember the really good things police officers do,” said Perez. According to Martinez, “He may be a VIP police chief outside of Laredo, but there are Laredo PD officers who have never met him. He is a non-presence in the department, and he doesn’t know our names.” Martinez said that even without the leadership of a chief, dedicated officers continue to serve their community. “We work hard regardless of who the chief is. If crime rates have dropped, it doesn’t have anything to do with Chief Maldonado. The officers of LPD are the

34

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

frontline. How can you provide leadership if you are not here? ” she said. Martinez questioned some of Maldonado’s initiatives. “45 LPD officers trained for dealing with suicide bombers? We don’t get too many suicide bomber calls. And what’s with the relationship with New Mexico Tech for travel and training? Our officers can be trained here for how to make better arrests, use of force, domestic violence calls — the things we have to deal with daily. They don’t need to travel to New Mexico,” Martinez added. According to Maldonado’s job application, he was last employed at $53.72 an hour by SAIC (Science Applications, Inc.) at New Mexico Tech’s EMRTC training facility in Socorro, N.M., “arranging, scheduling, and assigning instructors from around the country to teach ‘Prevention and Response to Suicide Bombing Incidents.’” “The country needs to be prepared. It is important to know the elements associated with suicide bombings and to be proactive and pre-emptive for any situation,” Maldonado responded. He said, trainings have “helped us plan for terroristic threats that could affect the community.” He called the training “absolutely necessary” and “not an extravagance.” “We would be delusional to think that what goes on in Mexico doesn’t affect us,” he said. “We are the tip of the sword.” “Why is the Chief of Police of Laredo, Texas, speaking like an authority on border violence at Scotland Yard when he is so far removed from it and he could not begin to have dialogue in Spanish with the Mexican authorities? What he knows is what he has read. Yeah, he’s top cop in a border city, but he is not in the fight,” Dovalina said. Maldonado said his experience in law enforcement at the state and municipal level has given him a perspective he can share with other agencies. He said border issues are a topic he is “very concerned with.” “We work with the Department of Homeland Security exploring methods for the collection of information and disseminating it. These are programs I participate in. That dialogue is taking place on a national level,” he said. Maldonado added that as a member of the IACP’s ad hoc committee on border issues, he has helped “develop and identify best practices along the border and have shared intel with the organization’s DHS Intelligence and Advisory Committee.” Maldonado said that through his affiliation with the National Crime Strategy, he has been able to tap into HIDTA money — High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area — to pay for overtime for LPD officers. Maldonado said that his dialogue with Vice President Joseph Biden’s office brought to fruition a $4.2 million dollar grant that will pay for the addition of 22 new officers. At a graveyard shift briefing earlier this year, officers questioned Maldonado’s purchase of a Camaro that the chief defended “for recruiting purposes.” Officer 1 asked, “What kind of candidates are you looking for? I wouldn’t have been drawn to start a career because I saw a hot car, and I wouldn’t have used forfeiture funds for that purpose.” Officer 2 called the two most visible of Maldonado’s changes — new squad cars and new uniforms — “cosmetic changes, changes that don’t speak to who we are at the core and what we need to keep doing our jobs. The chief does not lead by example.” Officer 1 concurred. “Cars, colors — he’s all about appearances, form and not function. Those new caps we have to wear are ridiculous looking and impractical.” Perez took issue with the chief’s failure to wear his own new uniform. “After he made the new uniforms mandatory, why did he show up at new officer ceremonies and a recent funeral in his old uniform? And why isn’t he always in uniform like the chiefs of other cities? Why is the order to wear ballistic vests mandatory only for certain officers?” Downtown patrol Sgt. Chris Baker, a 16-year member of the force and a 12-year member of LPOA, said, “We have to wear our vests under our clothes, next to our skin, in 100-degree heat. Where’s his vest? Where’s his new uniform?” Wearing the Kevlar vests under the uniform has grown into an ongoing point of contention in the department, even causing severe rashes on some officers. According to the LPOA, many officers have expressed a preference to wear the vest over their clothes. Maldonado has ordered that they be worn under the uniform. “We are not against wearing them, but an officer directing traffic in 105-degree heat for two hours on hot pavement is going to have a problem. Forget bullets. It’s being hit by a car when he drops to the ground with heat stroke,” Dovalina said. WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Perez recounted that on a day that Maldonado knew many members of the force, including the chief, would be in direct sun at the recent dedication of a statue to fallen officers, he suspended the order to have to wear the vests. Maldonado maintains that he has a good relationship with at least some officers. “If I see them directing traffic on Loop 20, I will stop to hand them a water bottle,” he said. “If I see a traffic stop, I might pull up to see if any assistance is required.” Martinez took issue with how easily Maldonado arranges to be out of the office. “Do you have any idea how hard it is for a police officer to get time off to take care of a sick child or to make it to your kid’s school activities? The department has no maternity leave policy. You move Heaven and Earth to get the time you need. In a period of lengthy illness and expired leave time, we give up our own accrued time to an officer who needs the time. We help each other in the ways you do when you are a team,” she said, adding, “The chief sets a very bad example, a demoralizing one.” Officer 1 called his time under Maldonado “a low point” in his career. He continued, “Maldonado has disdain for patrol officers. He has put all kinds of restrictions, restraints, and rules on us — rules that ramp back our initiative for fear of being investigated by an anonymous complaint that will go to internal affairs. The investigation process is not fair. We have to go through a charade of an internal affairs investigation, and we are guilty until we prove ourselves innocent. He has taken pride from our work.” Regarding the discipline of officers, Dovalina said, “Police officers are not exempt from discipline. When it is necessary it should be structured per the collective bargaining agreement — fair and across the board.” Baker referred to Maldonado as a man who has “yet to learn that respect is something you have to earn.” Officer 1 called Maldonado “an embarrassment.” He said that the chief had promised to reevaluate every position in the department. “He made his adjustments at the top, but he’s never met people who are the heart of the department. He ran into one of our lifetime officers in a line at the movies, made chit chat with him, and never knew he was talking to someone the rest of us respect,” he continued, adding, “All these trips and escapades across the country and the world — he has no interest in this town.” Officer 2 said that LPOA representatives meet with the chief once a month. “We do not have his full attention,” he said. “He is not open to our ideas. He’s playing with his phone; he’s texting. He is anything but interested. We have good supervisors, watch commanders, and sergeants that push us, but how is the department supposed to move forward without a leader?” Maldonado said while some officers have taken issue with his approach, others have walked up and actually thanked him for being here. “There’s a lot to tell us that Chief Maldonado is not committed to this department and to us. He does not lead by example. He lacks common sense, and there is plenty to tell us he does not know police work. He doesn’t understand. He doesn’t listen. He sees us as the enemy, and we do not recognize his leadership,” Dovalina said. Maldonado said he does not see leadership as “a popularity contest.” He said he provides direction for LPD, leverages resources, and meets the safety needs of the community. “I am not involved with officers day to day about their responsibilities. That is not what a chief of police gets paid for,” he said, adding that officer safety is paramount to him. “I know I have my critics,” Maldonado said. “I see everything from a national perspective, and I do the best I can to address all issues. I try to find balance. We have committees to hear concerns.” Maldonado said his formula for morale building includes good working conditions, leadership from supervisors, leadership training, and productivity. “My goal is to bring this organization to the cutting edge. I don’t have an ego. I’m here to do my job. Am I very proud of what we have accomplished? Unequivocally,” he said. Baker said, “We are not just a handful of officers. We are a department of over 400 men and women paid with public money to keep the community safe.” He, continued, “Why has the police chief been allowed these kinds of accommodations for travel, time away from his job, and for the performance of the duties he swore to uphold? As an officer of LPD, someone who takes a lot of pride in my work, beyond the fact that Chief Maldonado is paid so well for doing so little, I am outraged as a taxpayer, and I am outraged that the city manager, the mayor, and the council are letting this go on. The chief is building his resumé on the city’s dime.” ◆ WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

Theater Review

Lopez’s farewell brought down the house and wall of intolerance By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

W

ith Painting the Town Red, Alex Lopez’s farewell to Laredo before leaving for the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, he brought down the house. His performance of songs, dance numbers, and vignettes from plays he’s acted in was dazzling, and his narrative self-deprecating, smart, and scintillating. He was accompanied onstage by a handful of friends who happen to be some of Laredo’s best music and acting talents — Hector Rios, Rosalinda Reyes, Stephanie Solis Schnyder, Briana Morales, and the cast of the recent local production of Rent. There was not a single lapse in the momentum of the evening, a night coordinated ostensibly as a fundraiser for his tuition and living expenses. It was also a night of reckoning that ended on the frank, courageous note in which — in addition to thanking his audience of adoring supporters for their role in his life and his development as an actor — he said he didn’t belong in his hometown, a place he considers judgmental and unaccepting of its gay community. “I belong somewhere else. I need to spread my wings,” Lopez said. He called bullies by their rightful name in his monologue and stood up for everyone who has met hatred for being different and for being gay, and everyone who ever considered suicide successfully or unsuccessfully as a way out of the misery of living a secret life. This was not the first time I heard Alex Lopez frame this issue, but it is the first time I saw his eyes well with the tears of his convictions. We

spoke last month about how closeted Laredo is, and all the reasons that make this the case. “We only get one life to live. Why live it as a secret? Why not live it in the open?” he asked. “A lot of my gay friends say, ‘Well, it’s Laredo; what can you do?’ I see them hurt having to live with the fear that someone will find out who they really are. How do you live life if you can‘t be who you really are? You can’t build a life on lies. When you are found out, no one will trust you.” Lopez said he was lucky to have had Armando and Cissy Lopez as parents. “Without hesitation, they have always been supportive. If I wanted a Dolly Parton piñata, if I wanted a Wizard of Oz Barbie set, they were there. I tried baseball, and I tried Scouts, but when theater came into my life, they said, ‘Go for it.’” he said. Alex Lopez’s range as an actor is breathtaking, pulling off everything from Georges Bizet’s “Habanera” (the words never mattered less) from the opera Carmen to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” When Alex Lopez performed “Somewhere” from West Side Story, he drove home the point that the withering prejudices of your own hometown can make you look for a place more forgiving, a place where you can be who you are without the consequence of hate or ridicule. The inyour-face poignancy of his delivery was not lost on this audience. “Maybe I took one brick out of the wall of intolerance that night,” he said of that evening. Young man, for that night that you held us willing captives and witnesses to your talented performances, wry hilarity, and the raucous celebration of your life, you brought down the house and the wall. ◆

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

35


News

Mock trials immerse students in legal world By CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff

S

tudents from three local high schools were lawyers, jury members, witnesses, defendants, and prosecutors — for a day, at least. L.B.J., United, and J.B. Alexander high schools participated in a day of mock trials on Saturday, September 3 at the U.S. Federal Court House. The U.S. Courts of the Laredo Division of the Southern District and several local bar associations helped put the event together. The organizations hosted six mock trials simultaneously — each courtroom of students trying the same case, which was loosely based on a real case, according to Yamil Farid Yunes, a law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Saldaña. The affidavits were also based on real sworn statements from high school students. According to the case file, State v. Fratelli, defendant Wilfred Brimley “Chunk” Fratelli was accused of assault

36

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

with bodily injury against Laredo High School classmate P.W. Herman. Mock juries then had to decide whether Fratelli was guilty or not guilty, just like a real trial. Judge Saldaña was one of the main advocates of the program, and hopes to make the mock trials an annual event. “I think [the students] get exposure to the legal system and just the idea of ‘I can do this,’” Judge Saldaña said. “For those of them who were interested in going into law school, they have a better understanding of what it entails.” The organizers also hope to expand the program to both school districts. Participants for this year’s event were chosen from the schools’ National Honor Society organizations. “I think they did a very fine job, especially since this is probably the first time they were in a court room,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Guillermo Garcia told the J.B. Alexander group. Although the students acted on their own, volunteer attorneys from the U.S.

Attorney’s Office, Federal Public Defender, and the bar associations coached the student-lawyers, planning out strategy and giving them hints. “The courtroom can sometimes be a mystical, intimidating and scary place for people who are not familiar with the judicial process,” said attorney Oscar O. Peña, who volunteered to coach students on the defense side. “Growing up in a family of lawyers, I had the luxury of being around the courtroom all of my life, but not everyone comes from that kind of background.” One student who thrived in the courtroom was L.B.J. High School junior Sandra Bernal, who eventually wants to become an attorney. Bernal, who played the part of prosecutor, won her case after captivating closing arguments, where she firmly addressed the the jury and judge, “You should find the defendant guilty,” followed by comments pointing heavily to the hard evidence of the case. “It was awesome,” Bernal said after the jury went in for deliberations.

“I wanted to see if I could do it. I took it very seriously, as if it were a serious matter.” Bernal added that she wants to study public defense, and that the mock trials were a good experience that will help her in the future. Most of the cases resulted in a guilty verdict, but for the few that did not, they served as examples of how effective arguing of a case can sway a jury. “Laredo has a lot of potential litigator talent within the high school ranks,” said attorney George Altgelt, who was also a trial coach. “It is the [LaredoWebb County Bar Association’s] intent to develop that and put them in the law school pipeline in hopes that they return to their hometown to make a difference in the local judicial system.” The following bar associations participated in the event: Laredo-Webb County Bar Association, Webb County Women’s Bar Association, the Young Lawyers Association, and Volunteer Attorneys. ♦

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Federal Magistrate Judge Guillermo García

Alexander High student Abraham Martinez

High School Mock Trials

Hosted by Federal Southern District of Texas Judge Diana Saldaña, Magistrate Judge Guillermo García, The Laredo Webb County Bar Association, and the Laredo Young Lawyers Association.

Questioning the witness in the AHS courtroom

Cristina Herrera/LareDOS

Attorney Oscar Peña

Assistant Federal Public Defender David Lopez WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

Attorney Fernando Sanchez and LBJ High student: Sandra Bernal LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

37


Citizen Reporters Make A Difference. If you see hazardous materials — oilfield sludge and drilling liquids — spilling from open-top trailers hauling waste through Webb County, call any or all of the following: Laredo Police Department Laredo Fire Department City of Laredo Environmental Services Department LareDOS Río Grande International Study Center

911 911

(956) 794-1650 (956) 791-9950 (956) 721-5392

We will post your photos and video to our website.

www.laredosnews.com 38

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

39


Feature

Laredo Farmers Market on par with big city markets By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

O

taquitos de nopal that they’ve purchased. Among the new product additions to the market in recent months are honey from a valley producer, fresh Gulf shrimp, all natural glycerine soaps, and certified organic vegetables from Pleasanton. Market director Alli Hrncir said that a producer of grass-fed beef will soon be selling at the market. The Laredo Farmers Market marks a oneyear milestone in October and has engaged many local gardeners and growers during its brief history. It has also consistently drawn more and more Laredoans downtown. For information on becoming a vendor, call Hrncir at (956) 523-8817. u

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

n a recent visit to San Antonio, I chanced upon the Farmers Market on the grounds of the old Pearl Brewery. I couldn’t help but compare the Laredo Farmers Market with SA’s, a big city venue in which its vendors sell from white toppedtent puestos. Befitting a city of that size, the SA market offers far more vendors and many, many choices — including growers, bakers, and ranchers, which is not to say the Laredo market is limited in any way. It is expanding with new vendors, and the

established vendors now enjoy a following of regular clients. The most glaring and pleasant difference between the two markets is the blessed shade, ambience, and sense of community that Jarvis Plaza offers Laredo vendors and shoppers. Regular visitors to the Laredo market every third Saturday of the month have come to know the vendors and have likely enjoyed the conviviality of the scene. In the heart of old downtown, the market has become a great place to run into friends. There are places to sit, and soon, thanks to AEP, there will be shaded tables in the marketplace at which patrons can enjoy the pastries and coffee or

40

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


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

Y

September’s gravity

ellow walnut leaves spinning the echo of students’ sentences out of my like tiny turbines drop past my head — maybe Nicholson Baker’s The living room window to the black Anthologist or Jim Harrison’s Legends of pavement below, and behind the Fall or an article about the decline of the house the sumac blushing on a shelf books in print in The Writer’s Chronicle. of shale bends under the weight of grapeEven then, I face the same problem: My vines. In a nearby yard, scarlet windfalls eyes steadily drifting across and down the thump the grass with Newtonian pre- page, hypnotically sinking to the last line dictability, fog crawls into hollows and and dragging my lids with them. Then, bottoms, pigeon grass slumps over the around 3 a.m., I wake up, the bedroom shoulder of the Millville Road, and the light still burning and the book or magevening sun dips behind the Pennsylva- azine collapsed on my chest. If writing nia hills earlier was composed each night. In and published There at the Bloomsburg, as from the bottom crest, the announcer in much of the of the page up, on a local radio station playcountry north of my eyes would the Brazos, fall be continually ing through the speakers in isn’t just a time of lifted, opened to the car doors said something year but a verb, greater attention about a plane and a building nature’s essential and wakefulin New York City. As I coastaction. And here ness. However, ed down the west side of the in this certain, like so much overpass, everything autumnal landthat we take for scape, it’s equal granted in our changed. parts season and culture and lanpsyche, biology guage, writing and Bible, myth and memory. also reflects natural phenomena, particuLabor Day marks the unofficial end larly the cycle of seasons. of summer, when recollections of campAnd like the accumulated gravity ing in Big Bend or mugging for pictures of all that student writing and the unat Six Flags begin to fade, and the new controllable sagging of my eyelids, my school year absorbs everyone in its cha- memory, particularly of some events, also otic rhythm. Of course, summer doesn’t lets me down as I get older. Take Mary’s officially end until September 23, the 17th birthday for example. She left home autumnal equinox, when daylight and early that September morning, driving darkness are balanced and the sun sags her Honda Civic from our apartment east further south. But in spite of what the of the Laredo Public Library to Spanish calendar and astronomers tell us, many class at Alexander High School. I prepped people already dread the slow descent for my 9:30 English 1301 class at LCC and toward winter as nights grow longer and drove my decrepit gray Honda hatchback dawn arrives with greater reticence each down Calton and onto I-35, downshifted morning. on the Washington Street exit, crossed It’s not just this reading of nature’s the railroad tracks, and turned west at signs that contributes to this sinking the light. feeling. The resumption of school means I remember my left elbow hanging grading hundreds of students’ papers, es- out the open window, hanks of torn pecially as I get deeper into fall semester gray fabric fluttering from the ceiling and the stack of freshman essays on my around the dome light, the intermitkitchen table grows like a small Tower of tent speedometer ticking in the dash, Babel. Students laugh when I tell them I and my brown Remington briefcase sometimes read their papers while stand- and green vinyl lunch bag on the pasing up. “It’s tough to doze off,” I explain, senger seat next to me. I caught green “when I’m on my feet.” Later after col- after green, ran through the gears as lapsing in bed but before shutting off the I crossed Santa Cleotilde, and shot up light, I try to read something else to scour Continued on page 46 4 4 WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

News

VITA signing up tax preparation volunteers

T

By CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff

he IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is once again signing up volunteers for its annual free tax preparation program. VITA is looking for people who know how to use a computer, want to learn basic tax information, and “enjoy helping others,” according to VITA literature. Volunteer sign-up runs until December. The program offers free training to become a certified tax preparer, site coordinator, quality reviewer, or site greeter. Taxes are much easier to prepare than people think, according to AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Julio Cruz. The volunteer opportunity is also a good resume booster, he said. In 2011, the program saved $567,000 for taxpayers and brought in nearly $6 million after preparing 2,800 income tax returns. For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer for VITA, call (956) 320-0016 or go to laredofesc.org. The program is also on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/Laredo-VITA-Volunteers/138402552877943.

Ask VITA tax volunteer

Daisy Almanza Q: When and why did you first become a VITA tax volunteer? A: I started this past year in December. I attended the basic tax preparer training, I wanted to learn more about accounting, and I wanted to help out the community. Q: What did you think of the program when you first started? A: I thought the program was very organized, and I felt this service was great for the community. Q: How easy or hard is it for the average person to be a tax volunteer? A: It is very easy because the trainers guide you through the training and the software is very user friendly. Q: Who can get help from your tax services? A: Anyone who makes below $50,000 dollars qualifies for the program, and small business and self employed individuals who have less than $10,000 dollars in expenses. Q: Where are some sites that you’ve volunteered at? A: I volunteered on the weekends at the Laredo Public Library, which was

always busy. Q: Why should people go to VITA to get their taxes done instead of commercials tax preparers? A: One, commercial tax preparers charge for their services; two, often people get audited when they use professional tax preparers because preparers don’t always know what they’re doing because they may not be up-to-date with current tax law. Q: What do you get out of being a VITA tax volunteer? A: Just the satisfaction of giving something back to the community, I immerse myself in school and work and this gives me a sense of fulfillment. I love to volunteer. Q: Why should others volunteer their time to become VITA tax volunteers? A: One, to give back to your community, especially here in Laredo [where] a lot of individuals are unaware of services like this. Two, you learn something different, and it’s always great to know how to prepare your own taxes. Q: What’s the best thing about volunteering for VITA? A: When I helped a family of five, they were unaware of our program and the services we offer. The year before, they received a small refund but they actually qualified for a larger refund. Their smiles just made me feel so good. ♦ LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

41


Feature

Laredo under six dioceses Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five narratives about the diocesan history of Laredo, from its founding in 1755 to the present. ery soon after Don Tomás Sánchez founded Laredo on May 15, 1755, the citizens expressed a desire for a resident priest. Laredoans had been fortunate to receive the services of the Franciscan pastor at Revilla (now Guerrero) for emergencies and the fulfillment of the requirement for annual confession and communion. On such occasions the citizens paid for the expenses of the 50-mile trip with their products (sheep and cattle). They also donated their first fruits. They requested the resident priest when an official inspector of the Spanish government arrived in July 1757. Unable to pay for his services, they asked the royal treasury to bear the cost. The inspector informed his superiors that a priest would not cost the treasury any money if the priest were given the administration, and, thus, the first fruits and ministerial fees, of both Laredo and Dolores Hacienda down river. No action was taken, and in November 1759 Sánchez again asked José de Escandón, the governor of the Province of Nuevo Santander, to provide a priest. A month after receiving Escandón’s reply that they needed to wait patiently for the viceroy to send a priest, Laredoans heard that the Bishop of Guadalajara, who was on an official inspection of church foundations in the Province of Texas, was to be in Dolores. In December 1759 a large contingent went to Dolores to petition the Bishop, Fray Francisco de San Buenaventura Martínez de Tejada, to send a priest for the 270 citizens living on both the northern and southern banks of the Río Grande. Sánchez told the bishop that a chapel was already under construction and that though the citizens were poor, they were willing to contribute 150 pesos annually and make the most essential vestments. The Bishop informed Laredoans that he would send a priest given “the miserable condition in the administration of the holy sacraments and the education of these unfortunate souls” and “the unenlightened condition of these unfortunate souls.” The bishop, who had a theologian who asked very difficult questions, obligated

V

42

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

himself to send a priest and provide the extra funds needed for his support until the ministerial fees could pay all the expenses. Bishop Martínez de Tejada asked Sánchez to complete the chapel. Whether Laredo and the four villas on the south bank of the Río Grande were under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Guadalajara had not yet been determined. Laredo under First Diocese of Guadalajara, 1760-1778 Even before finishing his inspection visit, Bishop Martínez reported his actions to the viceroy and informed him that he felt compelled to send a priest to serve Laredo and Dolores. The new priest arrived from Boca de Leones (now Villaldama) on January 6, 1760, the founding date of the parish of San Agustín de Laredo 251 years ago. Thus, Laredo has the distinction of being only the second Hispanic community in what is now the U.S. Southwest to be assigned to diocesan rather than religious missionary clergy. San Antonio was first in 1731. Who the first priest was is unknown. The baptismal, burial and marriage records from 1760 to 1789 were lost sometime between 1851 and 1915. Thanks to an Oblate priest, Rev. Florencio Andrés, who spent countless hours researching genealogy and land records in the 1930s while he was at San Agustín, he provided the names of most of the priests who served here. As one would expect, most of the priests were

Courtesy of James C. Parish

By JOSE ROBERTO JUAREZ, Ph.D. LareDOS Contributor

from northern frontier families. The first cleric whose name we know was Juan José de Lafita y Verri, who came from Boca de Leones in 1762 and remained until 1767. Worried that the payment of tithes and stole fees would discourage the development of his settlements, Governor Escandón was displeased that secular rather than missionary priests had been sent. Nevertheless, the sacraments and ministrations of a cleric were at last available in Laredo itself. These clerics served in a frontier environment frequently under attack by Apaches and Comanches. The future of Laredo and San Agustín Church were firmly set in 1767, when two representatives of the viceroy, Juan Fernando de Palacio and José Osorio y Llamas, were sent on a formal visitation of the area. Palacio and Osorio supervised the distribution of land to the citizens and the church. On June 13, 1767, they officially annexed the lands on the southern bank of the river to Laredo’s spiritual and civil control; Revilla lost its jurisdiction and the two Laredos were joined, only to be separated in 1848 as a result of the war against Mexico. Most importantly for the church, the Palacio-Osorio visitation surveyed and marked San Agustín Plaza. The square facing east was to be used to erect a more permanent church and a house for the priest. The inspectors wrote that the pres-

ent (1767) church and the priest’s house were “poorly made jacales [mud-plastered palisade huts].” De Palacio, the newly appointed Governor of Nuevo Santander, took a personal interest in seeing to it that a permanent structure be built, and on August 31, 1768, he wrote the alcalde (mayor) of San Agustín de Laredo, Joseph Martínez de Sotomayor, to start the building. “ To worship God with greater reverence and piety,” the local officials allotted two sources of revenue for the erection and maintenance of the church. They required the rental of a certain portion of the common lands set aside for cultivation by the citizens of the community to accrue to the building fund. The proceeds from a canoe ferry were likewise devoted for the church. Only strangers and travelers, however, were charged two reales (about 25 cents) for crossing the river. An additional real (12 and a half cents) was charged for each bundle or piece of freight. In addition, each person was required to bring a certain number of rocks to the church each week, and everyone had to devote a certain amount of time to help construct the church. Although Captain Sánchez had attempted to cancel the partial subsidy for the priest in Laredo in 1771, he nonetheless passed a decree on July 9, 1774, establishing a fine of 12 pesos applicable toward the building fund if settlers did not build their permanent homes. According to the city charter each settler was to build a house on the town lot that fell to his share within two years or else lose it. Don Tomás Sánchez also decreed that unclaimed livestock were to be sold, and the proceeds used for the church building. Another source of funds was a fine of 12 pesos on persons who could not show the brand or the ears of the animal whose meat they were selling or consuming. Apparently enough funds were raised from all of these sources. This earliest “permanent” church structure was probably begun in 1768, although the exact date cannot be determined from extant documents of the period. Oral tradition, unconfirmed by contemporary documents, maintains that a small chapel, named in honor of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows), was erected on the north side of the present block. As a result of continuing Apache and Comanche attacks, Laredo became the site of a permanent cavalry company in 1775. u WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Texas A&M International University

Book Review

University forges 'Powered By' identity

Beyond self-published novel’s controversial title, story of cuckold’s anguish

Y

Special to LareDOS

ou might detect a power surge this fall on campus at Texas A&M International University. TAMIU has launched a new identity campaign designed to consistently capture its mission and power to help all imagine their possibilities. The campaign, launching with Thursday’s start of fall classes, focuses on the identity phrase “Powered by TAMIU.” TAMIU president Ray Keck said the phrase offers a spirited and confident assessment of the power of higher education. “TAMIU has an energy and a passion for education and leadership that it shares on a daily basis. That power translates into generations of brighter futures. When we say ‘Powered by TAMIU,’ we are sharing our confidence, our pride and our commitment to degree programs, initiatives, faculty and facilities that will change and power lives to greatness. Our core statement is ‘Imagine the possibilities… when you’re powered by TAMIU,’ ” Dr. Keck said. The campaign relies heavily on social and interactive media. The university is marshaling and enhancing its existing social media programs on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Foursquare, and launching a smartphone component that provides portable University information access. It will also drive increased use of smartphone, social media and

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

web-brokered campaign interactions and collaborations with University service providers and friends. The identity campaign was developed by the University’s Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services in cooperation with its Office of Recruitment and Office for Institutional Advancement. Feedback from student surveys and others was also studied. The campaign will infuse all the University’s promotional materials and signage, and become a key part of campus life through collaborations and community-building initiatives. Flags proclaiming “Powered by TAMIU” are distributed throughout campus, and buttons and student T-shirts already dot the campus. In addition to identity materials, the campaign is tied to TAMIU’s strategic goals in recruitment, retention, participation, and sustained relationships. “Like so much of what the University does, this identity should be shared. We feel it will resonate well with our students, faculty, alumni and community partners, and we look forward to building this identity with them,” Keck concluded. For additional information, contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at (956) 326-2182, email email prmis@tamiu.edu, click on tamiu.edu/Poweredby.shtml, or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268. ◆

By CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff

A

merican Bitch is a spellbinding look into the dark side of Laredo’s elite families and more significantly, the male anguish and pursuit of revenge that results from a crumbling marriage that was once wildly successful. A couple plagued by adultery, sobering depictions of Laredo and its people, and a shocking revenge plot are certainly tantalizing enough to compel a reading of this 223-page novel. The title of the selfpublished work by city attorney Raul Casso evokes scandal, but even now I’m left wondering what exactly Casso means to express with such an inflammatory phrase. A young affluent Laredo couple, the oddly named Jethro and “Daddy’s princess” Sadie, are suffering a crumbling marriage. Sadie meets a photographer at her spin class named Benny, and develops a relationship that Jethro suspects may be more than friendship. Sadie makes it clear multiple times that she wants Jethro out of the picture, but her moods are unstable and she offers multiple truces, which unfortunately perpetuates the unfair “moody woman” stereotype. But in Jethro there are redeeming qualities. Jethro is an intelligent attorney who met beautiful Sadie in a Midwest town. Together they rose to affluence in Laredo society on their good looks and perfectfamily façade. Jethro even acknowledges that Sadie’s beauty and charm have helped his reputation, and that weighs on his mind. But Sadie is lazy, playing the role of housewife in name only while letting Jethro cook and clean. I couldn’t help but also approach this novel from a female perspective. My kneejerk reaction to seeing the title combined

with the macabre depiction of a sauntering female skeleton in flames was obviously negative. But I have met many Sadies in my lifetime, and could sympathize with Jethro’s situation, even though he seemed to be conscious of what he was getting himself into. And Jethro realizes at certain instances that he, too, should be blamed for his marriage’s end — he knew he was marrying a spoiled brat, he deals with stereotypical macho tendencies, and he engages in an affair with a singer in Mexico City, an event that Jethro must later deal with morally. But his foolhardy attempts to salvage his marriage can often be tedious. And then there are Jethro’s revenge schemes. As a reader, you’re often left wanting to correct Jethro’s actions when he acts out his revenge toward Benny and his wife. Why not just let the marriage end peacefully without any more drama? Ah, but there goes the book. Instead, the attorney resolves to catch his wife in the act, and employs a private detective named Manfredo. Jethro’s anger is understandable and quite vividly expressed. You can’t help but feel at times that you’re reading the sensational details of a frou-frou society with biting and sometimes comical depictions of its image-driven characters. Casso offers a rare glimpse into the male perspective of spousal troubles — one that hasn’t been given much voice in the politically correct Lifetimemovie world of media (And I’m sure “empowered” female media execs still get paid less than men. So much for PC.). Beyond the adultery theme, Casso depicts Laredo and Mexico, the two main settings of the novel, with brilliant accuracy. These descriptions are some of the strongest aspects of American Bitch, and help ground some ludicrous plot twists and turns. Casso has a true knack for deContinued on page 46

44

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

43


Tuesday Music and Literature Club By DENISE FERGUSON

Denise Ferguson is newly arrived in Laredo. A Rhode Islander by birth, she and her husband retired to Laredo to be near their family. She can be reached by email at denise291.1@juno.com.

Speaker tells of news journal’s history

44

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

Courtesy photo

P

TMLC members celebrated Mildred Reyna’s 102nd birthday at the meeting. had more two-income households and more new homes being purchased. “But there was an environmental price to pay,” Guerra said. “Officials need to respect both business and the environment. We can do both.” Guerra believes that the Laredo City Council and mayor need to keep the best interests of Laredo at heart. “Laredo needs clean water and enough water. Leadership is not focused. Laredo is not a clean city,” she said, adding, “Politics is an impediment to doing the right thing at times. They need to make decisions that help all of us.” Upon opening the meeting to questions from the group, a member of the club asked Guerra why the suggested consolidation of school districts proposal didn’t go anywhere. Guerra responded, “not with these bozos running the districts. They have their own little territories, and provinces — as is the case with City Hall.” Another member of the club lauded Guerra for publishing unpopular or negative remarks made from local citizens. “The policy of LareDOS is to give everyone a voice — everyone has a right to say what they are thinking,” Guerra said. Guerra feels that her vocation as publisher of watchdog journalism is a form of redemption for some of the choices she made while growing up in the 1960s.

Current staff of LareDOS are Guerra, editor Cristina Herrera, and designer Isabel Sosa. LareDOS is available on a monthly basis and can be obtained free of charge at the Laredo Public Library, Laredo International Airport, bank lobbies, breakfast places, and the TAMIU and LCC libraries. It also can be accessed free on the website laredosnews.com. The business portion of the Tuesday Music and Literature Club followed, with the celebration of the 102nd birthday of Mildred Reyna, honorary member. In addition, president Linda Mott reminded members

to set up their reservations for the upcoming 100th anniversary on October 11. Mott also noted that all club historical materials will be on exhibit at the anniversary meeting. Upon the conclusion of that historical meeting, the materials will be removed permanently to the Archives Department of the Laredo Public Library. Mott also advised members to pre-order the club’s history book “Our First Hundred Years” so that it will be available to them on October 11. However, additional history booklets may also be ordered by interested parties at the October 11 meeting. ◆

Courtesy photo

ublisher Meg Guerra was the guest speaker at the Tuesday Music and Literature Club’s first meeting of the season on September 13 at the First United Methodist Church. The September meeting precedes the 100th Anniversary of the club, which will be celebrated at Embassy Suites on October 11 at 6 p.m. Guerra is the CEO of ShuString Productions, Inc., the parent company of LareDOS. Guerra founded the publication in late 1994 with her former partner, Richard Geissler, a community activist, former VISTA volunteer, and accomplished photographer. “Normally, little newspapers don’t stay in business very long,” said Guerra, who described the early success of LareDOS as a “miracle,” as the small publication lacked investors. Even Guerra’s mother did not approve of the venture. She didn’t think it was a good thing to write about scoundrels and then have to face them. She was known to remark, “Why can’t you write really sweet stories?” Guerra added that there is no shortage of material for publication in LareDOS as “There is no shortage of scoundrels.” Part of Guerra’s reverence for historic downtown Laredo developed when she spent Saturdays assisting her father, who owned a hardware store in the old business district. “The beautiful architecture is in place; much of it is intact,” Guerra said. “The city needs to keep downtown streets clean and in good repair, get rid of the sewage smell, and improve lighting and garbage pickup. Rather than addressing such concerns, politicians have spent nearly halfa-million dollars for the plans of outside consultants.” She said LareDOS had cut its teeth on stories about LISD’s outrageous property acquisitions and costly decorating and landscaping schemes in the mid 1990s. The school district pushed back with a piece of hate mail as a form of retribution. The result of the hate campaign had an oppositional effect with advertisers responding that they didn’t do business that way. Guerra recounted the changes in Laredo brought about by the NAFTA. There was increased traffic with increased hazardous spills. Business was good and Laredo now

LareDOS publisher Meg Guerra speaks at the Tuesday Music and Literature Club’s first meeting of the season on September 13. WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


History of the Borderlands

Hector Farias, Jr. is a U.S. Customs broker. He obtained his PhD from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and is a former faculty member at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, N. C.

A

European settlers spar with Apaches, Comanches in early Texas

fter the end of conflicts between France and Spain in the early 1700s, the Spanish initiated several colonization ventures by establishing frontier presidios in Texas to expand their territory. Pedro de Rivera y Villalon was appointed by the viceroy in Mexico City, Juan de Acuña, to inspect all the presidios on the northern frontier of New Spain. The presidios extended from California to Louisiana and obliged de Rivera to travel 7,500 miles by horseback. In the summer of 1727, he arrived in Texas to examine the presidios at San Antonio and La Bahia. In 1726, the presidio at La Bahia had relocated to the Guadalupe River near Victoria. At the time of de Rivera’s inspection, La Bahia in East Texas and Los Adaes, found most of the presidios reasonably well run. De Rivera recommended closing the East Texas presidio when he returned to Mexico in 1728, as well as reducing the garrisons, which was accepted by Viceroy de Acuña. With the closing of the presidio in East Texas, the missions in the area were left without protection, forcing the clergy to move to San Antonio in 1731. Missions continued to exist near Nacogdoches and San Agustín so that the East Texas missions were not entirely abandoned and the mission at Los Adaes continued to operate and remained the official capital of Texas. The reduction of these missions negatively affected the increase in population needed by the Spanish in order to govern the region. San Antonio’s population grew significantly during the late 1720s because a great majority of the soldiers who were discharged became permanent settlers and established a precedent by marrying into local families. Additionally, the missions from East Texas which relocated along the San Antonio River brought the total number to five and increased the number of Native Americans and support personnel associated with mission work. The population increased in 1731 with the arrival of 55 pioneer families from the Canary Islands recruited by De Marques de Aguayo, who proposed that civilian settlers would protect their own land WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

George Catlin/University of Texas

By Hector Farias

Frontier artist George Catlin was fascinated by the Comanche tribe’s horsemanship. Catlin observed Comanches capture and break wild mustangs, and harness them for hunting, hauling camp equipment, and making war — all aiding their nomadic lifestyle. in Texas. This initiative would result in reducing costs with lesser outlays of expenditures in comparison to the maintenance of presidios. De Aguayo’s venture was slowly implemented because of bureaucratic impairments, which became so extensive that the government refused its continuance in 1731. The new colonists, known as Isleños, had difficulty in getting along with the other residents in San Antonio and experienced great difficulty adjusting to life in Texas — one example being that the Isleños insisted on being the only residents in the Villa of San Fernando de Bexar, the first municipality in Texas. There were constant quarrels over livestock and crops with other settlers that were not received well by government officials in Mexico City. It seems that the Isleños were complaining about everything, and this not only included the missions, the presidio, the Native Americans, and older and permanent settlers while claiming that the area solely be their possession. One of the Mexican officials stated “the more we deal with them, the more I am convinced that the Isleños may not find sufficient room for themselves in the entire province.” In spite of other related problems, San Antonio grew and became the most important settlement in Texas. Rather than living in the official capital at Los Adaes, by 1735 the governors of the province

chose to live in San Antonio. Along with a population explosion, the settlers began experiencing difficulties with the indigenous Native Americans, which became their largest problem by far since conflicts with them and the Spanish had been occurring, though sporadically, since the arrival of the earliest Europeans. By the 1720s, warfare — which initially involved few settlers — had become significant and sustained as it continued to unfold, and particularly between the Lipan Apaches and the pioneers in the province. The Apaches and Caddo tribe conflicts created long-standing animosities because of cultural differences and competition for buffalo hunting grounds in North Texas. The Native Americans regarded the Spanish missions among the Hasinis as consorting with the enemy, and the Apaches justified their raids on San Antonio when the establishment of the missions was located adjacent to Apache territory. In 1723, the Apaches conducted a destructive raid and stole 80 horses from the presidio because of encroachment. Captain Nicolas Flores y Valdez retaliated with a regiment of soldiers who killed 30 Apache warriors and captured 20 of their women and children while taking 120 horses. By 1727, some of the conflicts between

the Spanish and the Apaches had decreased which led Pedro de Rivera to propose the reduction of the San Antonio garrison, believing that there were only a few Apaches left in the area who had learned to respect the fighting abilities of the soldiers. This was an unrealistic assumption because shortly after his proposal was initiated, the Apaches accelerated hostilities that continued until the 1740s. The arrival of the Comanche tribe in Texas was another cause for trouble. The Comanches were originally from the Great Basin region of the west and belonged to a branch of the Northern Shoshones. They had acquired horses and adapted to a nomadic life dependant on hunting buffalo. The tribe’s name was derived from a Ute word meaning “anyone who wants to fight all the time.” Accustomed to hunting and fighting on horseback, they were more at home riding than on foot. The artist George Catlin commented, “The moment they mount their horses, they seemed at once metamorphosed and surprise the spectator with the ease and grace of their movements.” Comanche warriors on horseback were the most feared adversary ever faced by other Native Americans and Europeans alike in Texas. Continued on page 48

44

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

45


Continued from page 24 through the cracks. “I know each department does its own thing … Are there grants that we’re passing up or is there a clearinghouse where we can check?” Garza asked. Villarreal said that Garza was “looking at the clearinghouse right now” and clarified that “we don’t like to leave any grant on the table.” Enter the city manager’s next reality check. “Some of the old famous ones — the matching grants at Parks & Wildlife, EDA [Economic Development Administration] grants — all of that money is going by the wayside. It is not there. There are no earmarks anymore coming from Washington,” Villarreal said. Councilman Esteban Rangel suggested starting a grant committee, but was shut down by Villarreal: “I don’t think we need another committee, sir.” He added that adding a citywide grant writer was a luxury the city didn’t have. “This is the basic where-we-are-rightnow, a little dosage of reality: You’re not going to see that many grants based on the budget we’ve been working on.” Garza did not relent, telling Villarreal that he received information about recurring grants, and nothing else. And Villarreal echoed his earlier comments: That funding is not there anymore. The other issue, brought up by Councilman Charlie San Miguel, was entering negotiations for possible acquisition of a 16.5-acre piece of land that would extend North Central Park. Villarreal said he couldn’t negotiate if he didn’t have any money to work with, and that there had “to be a public need for the piece of property so I can negotiate in good faith.” Villarreal brought up a letter from the property owner, who asked for between $500,000 and $2 million for the land. “There’s no money available for the acquisition of property,” Villarreal said. San Miguel asked why the land was even appraised if the city didn’t have money to buy the property, and Villarreal said the council directed the city manager’s office to pursue an appraisal. The following is a transcript of the conversation they had next. San Miguel: Had you told us then that there was no money for it, then we wouldn’t have wasted more money to get the appraisal. Villarreal: When I get a directive from councilSan Miguel: We’re giving you the directive right now to acquire the landVillarreal: You’re talking about an appraisal and you’re talking about an acquisi-

tion. We can be able to say we can get an appraisal so you can know what it is. Not necessarily that we will buy it, but it will give council a good gauge as to whether or not to proceed. No action was taken on the item after San Miguel confirmed that staff could negotiate the price without directive from council. Church and state Councilmen Charlie San Miguel and Juan Narvaez co-sponsored a proposal to “allow for opening prayer at all City Council Meetings as part of protocol rotating pastors, priests, rabbi, and all clergy of the community.” As Mayor Pro Tempore Johnny Rendon put it in response to San Miguel, the proposal was “opening up a can of worms,” and most of the council members agreed to settle with a moment of silence. Rendon added his recollection of when the council allowed a “witch” to lead a prayer at the beginning of one of the meetings. Public and media reaction was extremely negative to her prayer, Rendon said. “Because of that incident, I think we stopped. I myself feel very comfortable with a silent prayer,” he added. The mayor was mostly silent on the matter. He agreed religion was important during these times, but wanted to hear more from the legal aspect of the proposal. San Miguel made the point that the prayer would not be given its proper place “before the gavel.” “It was kind of unofficial, out there by the side, many people weren’t really listening. It didn’t have its proper place,” he said. “I’ve learned at the State Capitol that they do practice prayer after the gavel strikes at the House and the Senate floors.” Councilman Jorge Vera, who admitted that he is very religious, was concerned about prayers in entities he didn’t believe in. “We cannot say we’re going to allow certain religions or a certain belief,” Vera said. If we have somebody that comes in here that is a Satanic worshipper, will they be allowed?” “We cannot discriminate,” city attorney Raul Casso answered. “We cannot discriminate, and that is my concern. Because then of course, my beliefs are with the almighty, and if we do something like that right after the Pledge of Allegiance, and then we’re going to allow somebody to come up here and praise any god that they believe in. I don’t think that’d be correct,” Vera responded. Though all council members who spoke up agreed to a silent prayer, Councilman San Miguel made a motion for the city attorney to research how the Texas Legislature conducts its prayers. The motion was carried. The prayer saga continues…

Continued from page 43 tail, and it tends to create a painfully realistic observation of divorce, high society, and Laredo: “Walking across the bridge was… the most charming diversion that Laredo, Texas had to offer.” Descriptions jumped out of the page, and Laredoans will certainly have “Yes, exactly!” moments when reading detailrich passages such as these: “Early evening found people finishing their day jobs. Instead of scurrying directly home, however, as one did on the American side of the river, people here took their time and went out for a leisurely paseo. It was as though a new part of the day started at twilight. The parks would fill with characters of all sorts. There were hustlers, and hawkers, and hookers, and thieves. There were beggars, and shoe-shining boys, and sidewalk musicians filling the air with music. Openair bars were filled with tourists, laughing and drinking margaritas and beer. It was only them, and no the locals, who dared to wear those outrageously brimmed sombreros as they sang their drunken songs. And it was only the tourists who would buy the cheap trinkets that the hawkers were selling.” Later on, Casso introduces a lawyer Sadie hires for the divorce proceedings named Porter Swinefellow, a former dis-

trict attorney who may or may not be based on an actual Laredo figure. Swinefellow was a district attorney “twenty years ago” and has two daughters who serve as his assistants. It’s not hard to enjoy the scathing depiction of Swinefellow, who serves as the perfect representation of Laredo’s longstanding cronyism and corrupt politics. Ultimately, the plot veers into a revenge scheme that left me a bit puzzled by its juvenile construction. But flaws aside, American Bitch truly is a titillating, amazing tale. Jethro muses about Aztec history and Laredo culture with very astute observations, and then commits juvenile acts of revenge that make for a bizarre, astounding story. Eventually I saw that Jethro could be flawed but also a character you end up rooting for. He too is an odd man, starting with his out-of-place name, but also because he’s extremely conscious of himself. Jethro hopes and hopes things will work out for the best, and the reader is there alongside him, waiting to see what trouble his schemes will get him into next. The twice-repeated mantra, “It’s better to live alone in a bark hut than with a brawling woman in a fashionable home,” leaves a bitter taste. All that glitters is not gold. ◆ (Raul Casso’s novel is available at the Laredo Public Library and can be purchased by calling 771-0097.)

klrn.org

46

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


The Anonymous Teacher

Leadership skills 101: Administrators should recall lessons from kindergarten Editor’s note: Times are getting tougher and tougher for teachers as districts slash budgets and tighten restrictions. The Anonymous Teacher has returned to school, and continues to write about his experiences and opinions on the education system. ith the uncertainty in business and government, jobs can disappear overnight. Employees know that the first elimination due to budget cuts or lack of sales is workers. And workers who lose their jobs often spend twice as long as in previous years finding another job. But nothing justifies a boss being so rude as to point out “how lucky you should consider yourself that you have a job and we haven’t fired you.” Words and attitudes like those are surefire ways to turn off employees and decrease production in any field. It is doubly so in education, where most teachers want to be successful and look to their leaders to inspire and guide them. What teachers get usually are leaders who could be replaced by an e-mail. They pass on directives, but do nothing to initiate a team approach. Ask any educational administrator and they will tell you they are a good leader. Ask them what makes a good leader and the answers seldom match what accepted research designates as the qualities of a good leader. And they are rather basic qual-

W

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

ities, which should have been learned by “The Boss Is Always Right,” but not the the second grade: manners, respect, work- one entitled, “Your Employees Are Your ing well with others. None of it is brain Most Valuable Resource.” When adminsurgery-level knowledge, yet the number istrators say, “I’m just telling you what I one complaint in today’s job market con- was told. Do this or you will be written cerns bad leaders. up and fired,” Treat employees what they are Most administrators like adults. Being really saying is, and board members told constantly that, “You aren’t caseem to have attended the “if you don’t do pable of thinkwhat we say you’ll ing for yourself session on ‘The Boss Is Albe punished,” is or responsible ways Right,’ but not the one no way to inspire enough to do entitled, ‘Your Employees respect. Teachers, anything if I like every other emdon’t watch Are Your Most Valuable ployee, need to be you.” This is not Resource.’ motivated and chala team. It is tyrlenged to do their anny. Threats, best, but they do not need to be threatened excessive walk-throughs, turn-around or harassed. teams, and heavily regimented scope and A good leader knows that everyone can sequences are signs of micromanaging. learn, including the leader himself. Ad- And everyone knows that the quickest ministrators are often entrusted with educating the teachers concerning new regulations, techniques, and policies. That does not mean the administrator can stop learning from the teachers. Current administrators tend to ignore teachers and their input. With the tight budgets and increased standards, it will take a team effort to find viable solutions. Most administrators and board members seem to have attended the session on

way to kill initiative is to hover. The best administrator I ever had would immediately look for teachers who had the skills she lacked. She saw it as strength to utilize and complement the work of others in her own success. She was firm, but fair. Leaders like this are few and far between in education today, and that void is reflected in the attitude of many teachers. They feel left out in solution planning, while getting much of the blame for those solutions when they do not work. It all boils down to manners. Listening, avoiding petty politics, and making teachers feel valued reflect the qualities of a good administrator. It is important to set goals that are achievable (remember Atlanta and those unreachable goals that resulted in mass cheating). Create a team atmosphere where everyone is working toward a common goal. If “two heads are better than one,” then 200 heads are the best.♦

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

47


Continued from page 41 the left lane. At the top of the overpass above the rail yard east of LCC, I saw the palm trees shimmering near the Human Resources building and the sun casting shadows west toward the river. There at the crest, the announcer on a local radio station playing through the speakers in the car doors said something about a plane and a building in New York City. As I coasted down the west side of the overpass, everything changed. That night I heard none of the usual jet engine noise from the airport as I watched the images on TV: ashen faces of firefighters, battered businessmen and women plodding down the middle of a street, the exodus on ferries to New Jersey and Brooklyn. I remember all that, but I don’t recall a cake or gifts, can’t remember it as

48

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

Mary’s birthday. I should, but I don’t. Here in Bloomsburg I smell smoke drifting from a chimney where a neighbor’s small fire burns off the chill of dawn. Ashes, probably gray bits of newspaper, twist between tree limbs and eventually settle on the lawn. Stars shimmer before the sky cracks open in the east. Clear. Crystalline. Like parts of that memory. Ten of them now. Turbines on the 91st floor. Paper descending like leaves into Church Street and Broadway. A last step from a ledge and headlong into the Manhattan skyline. And the collapse that carried with it our faces, our shoulders, the gravity of a generation of Septembers. I try not to let it get me down. But fall is upon us, and I cannot, will not forget. ◆

Continued from page 45 The Comanches hunted buffalo by surrounding a herd and tightening the circle until they could ride within a few feet of the right side of an animal and shooting an arrow behind the ribs into the heart. They continued to hunt in this manner even after they acquired firearms. The buffalo were butchered on the spot so that the meat could be wrapped and packed in hides. Most of their food, clothing and shelter depended on the buffalo, although they also collected wild fruits and nuts and engaged in some trade with the French, offering buffalo hides and horses to acquire guns and ammunition. Every Comanche camp had an elder leader chosen by the group to mediate. Other than war, important decisions were discussed in council, reflecting a consensus among the tribe. In matters of warfare, any man could lead a party of warriors providing he could convince others to join him. Successful warriors had the best chance of persuading other men to participate. A war party was held the night before the raid and usually left before dawn, so they could attack by surprise and

then withdraw quickly. When they were pursued, they either fled alone or in smaller groups. Warriors gained status by demonstrating their bravery by touching a living enemy. As described by a scholar, “To gain advantage on the buffalo plains, the Comanches had to be willing to fight hard and once they had won their land had to fight with equal vigor to defend themselves against an assortment of white and Indian enemies.” Every aspect of their lives related to war, and they fought because they had to. Comanche country, or the Comancheria, extended from the Panhandle eastward to North Texas and then south to the Edwards Plateau northwest of San Antonio. Their continued attacks on the Apaches forced them to renew their attacks on Spanish settlements. Horses remained the Comanches’ primary objective along with livestock, guns, and ammunition. Expeditions by the Spanish had little effect, and efforts by missionaries to negotiate peace were also unsuccessful. The Comanches continued accelerating warfare until the mid 1700s. u

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Maverick Ranch Notes

O

ver the last weekend a cool front blew in with wind gusts up to 20-30 miles an hour. We thought the Hill Country was already as parched as it could be but, whoa Nellie, those winds took the last remaining moisture from this land. The linoleum floor in the house crackles. A clapboard fence in Boerne tells the story, too. It flaps forward and backward, showing a builder’s woodwarp ignorance. This has become a nailpulling drought. But three days ago, ignorance to beat all ignorance lay east of us on Highway 3351. Workers grading the road shoulder on the Camp Stanley side spread out round bales of hay to keep the dust down. To keep the dust down… Every evening I work in swirling dust, feeding cows while a genius road maintenance jefe decrees dust be kept from the lungs of owners of enormous houses along 3351. What happens? If you have any rural sense of things you can guess. At our Native Plant Society meeting three days ago, several people came in saying 3351 was on fire. They said fire departments were putting it out but it had gotten across the fence into Camp Stanley. Camp Stanley is good wildlife habitat, maintained by the military in a responsible way, which we all appreciate. Across the road sit those big houses, taking advantage of the view the military (and all of us) provide. But, the fire was being put out. The next morning Sissy was at the front gate seeing the farrier — a person who specializes in horse hoof care — out when smoke suddenly filled our valley. This is somewhat terrifying when you don’t know why or what. She went out and around to IH-10 trying to locate the smoke source but never could find it. An hour or so later the valley cleared. At about 2 p.m., we drove into San Antonio and the horizon in all directions was clear (if you don’t count the Ozone Action Day underway — oh yes, San Antonio will deny that). Driving home about 4 p.m., we saw a large dark blue column of smoke miles away to the north. It was somewhere on Camp Bullis or Camp Stanley. As we got closer, it got bigger and bigger until the column was at least a mile wide, black with yellowish-white smoke on its sides. Hideous, scary, and yes, it was on Camp Stanley. WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

Fire in drought times We took a detour through the city of Fair Oaks to get an idea of how bad. Nearing the intersection of Dietz-Elkhorn and 3351, the thing was horrible to see. Fire vehicles and police were everywhere, and it was all happening right on the road across from those houses and Fair Oaks Elementary. Thankfully we were diverted away by a quick-thinking Fair Oaks city employee, who pulled his car across the roadway to prevent any more vehicles reaching the frantic intersection. All this is about two miles as the crow flies from home. It wasn’t funny for anybody. We got a call from a friend several miles west of us who smelled smoke (the wind was from the northeast); since we were in Fair Oaks we could give her a description of the fire. Another friend on her way to a meeting asked us to call her cell if we thought she should come home. The fire had rekindled from the day before and by the time we saw, it had torn through a great part of the northwest Camp Stanley. Firefighters fought to keep it from the buildings and bunkers of Stanley, and how thankful we are it didn’t reach them. That’s where munitions, the extent of which we’ve always pondered, are stored. The firefighters were from little towns and areas surrounding Camp Stanley, experts at fighting grass fires. The military came with helicopter and water bucket. Fire retardant was flown in, too. This was a country fire, not a city fire. By 7 p.m., they had reduced the fire so that all I could see from home was a much-reduced white column of smoke. Our relief was palatable. Also palatable was the night air, full of eye-burning and lung-clogging smoke. Yesterday we took a look at the devastated area, which was still on fire. The bucket helicopter still brought water from the Fair Oaks golf-course pond to pour on hot spots. Great strips of orange fire retardant covered the ground; in one place the plane missed and painted the highway. Firemen and vehicles were still at work on the smoldering remains and will be for days. The ground was solid grey ash and skeleton trees covered the hills. The loss of habitat and wildlife made me ache. Poor Texas is so hard hit. There are many stories of great and kind actions. But right alongside are stories of greed and sloth, such as Wyoming hay raisers making a

bundle selling hay at jacked-up prices to Texas ranchers desperate to keep a few seed-stock animals. Many ranchers line-bred their animals for 50 years but have to sell them all because of expense and lack of feed. Midwest livestock buyers chuckle in radio interviews about fancy Texas cattle they are getting Smoke plumes near Interstate 10 at bargin prices at sell-out livestock auctions all over the state. to identify a plant along the road going 60 Laugh now, you clods. Memory is long. miles an hour. And back to the road maintainers Bexar County is experiencing a rash of spreading hay on the road shoulder. Hay is wildfires that have some of us on edge. We so expensive and so dear to find for Texas examine and reexamine almost every move livestock. Were they spreading usable live- to ensure against a spark of some sort that stock feed? If so, that action is doubly trea- could start a fire. The Camp Stanley fire sonable. of early September was close enough. Just Bebe Fenstermaker looking at the photographs snapped of it is sobering. In a day or two we are due to On Sunday, September 11, Bebe and have supper with a Grey Forest firefighter, I joined the family and friends of a dear who we’ll grill about the blaze. friend, Rebecca Yoder, to celebrate her life. The day it rekindled, Bebe and I were We got to know Rebecca while volunteer- awed by the size of the smoke plume and ing at the San Antonio Botanical Center in how black it was. We drove into Fair Oaks the native plant area during the late 1990s. Ranch to get a better view and when leavSix of our group stayed in touch, going on ing, saw a resident driving around in a golf field trips, collecting native seeds, rescuing cart shooting pictures with his cell phone. native plants from sites soon to be devel- The world has been set free thanks to cell oped, enjoying lunches, and anything else phone communication. that kept us busy. A touch of fall has crept into the air as We were all graduates of the Master Nat- our nights have suddenly become much uralist course and an opinionated bunch, cooler. For a while the daytime temperanot a bit shy about speaking our minds. To tures also decreased into the high 90s. The a person, I’d say, we were outspoken about early mornings were so refreshing one althe nuisance of invasive plants, trees, and most forgot the drought. Lately however shrubs. we have fallen back into the temperature One day Rebecca asked Bebe and me pattern of summer. Every creature is hunif we would like to join a new group gry and thirsty, always on the lookout for that was just forming, the Boerne Chap- something to eat, and eagerly waiting for ter of the Native Plant Society of Texas a handout. I wonder what we will look (NPSOT). She and a few other farsighted like next spring. So many trees and shrubs individuals had decided the Boerne area have lost their leaves while others are in needed a NPSOT chapter. And the rest is the process now. Whether they will surhistory, things to do, new places, and old vive is the big question. On a brighter note, places to explore or revisit with Rebecca we are one day closer to the rain that is charging ahead. The one thing the rest of bound to come. us learned never to doubt was her ability Sissy Fenstermaker Courtesy photo

By bebe & sissy fenstermaker

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

49


Feature

Montreal, the second time around By LEM LONDOS RAILSBACK LareDOS Staff

50

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

Courtesy of Lem Londos Railsback

O

n my way to a tour of Europe in 1966, I went by way of New York City. Arriving by bus earlier than I had planned, I took a short jaunt north to Montreal, Quebec. Because I had studied in high school the invasions of Quebec by American forces during King William’s War, the French and Indian War, and the Revolutionary War, I wanted to visit the area. Included in my sightseeing was a visit to the grounds, where preparations were underway for the grand exhibition of Expo 67. Several of the exhibition halls were under construction, and a replica of Jerome Duquesnoy’s Manneken pis statue (the little pissing boy) was already completed and situated. The original statue of the little boy is to Brussels as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris and the Statue of Liberty is to New York City. Interestingly, about two weeks later, I was lucky to view the original statue in Brussels. When I returned from Montreal to New York City, I visited Grand Central Park, downtown Manhattan, and Rockefeller Center. I viewed the giant statue of Prometheus and enjoyed a Rockettes performance at the Radio City Music Hall. Then, I toured Europe, had a wonderful time, won several pants pocketfuls of freshly-minted new French francs at Monte Carlo, watched the local girls of Nice change into their swimsuits on the beach while carefully holding their towels, and came home to Texas. In 2006, I returned to Montreal for a Summer Seminar of the National Social Science Association. After the seminar, I vis-

During his last days in Montreal, Railsback took this shot of a massive street protest against Israel’s shelling of Lebanon. Over 40,000 protestors marched that day, and the majority were Hamas members, according to Railsback. ited the historic McGill University, where Dr. Wallace Lambert conducted his famous longitudinal study on French-English bilinguals. On the basis of his long, long study, Dr. Lambert concluded that coordinate bilinguality actually raised the I.Q. Later that evening, I took a diningand-dancing boat trip up the St. Lawrence Seaway. On that trip I learned

from a crewmember that a local ship’s cook long ago had invented a special salad dressing. In those days, before the St. Lawrence Seaway had been dredged and cleared to provide navigable channels, and small ships and boats travelled among the 1,000 or so islands of the seaway to deliver goods to cities and towns. According to the legend, this particular

cook worked and lived on his small ship. As he prepared meals, he would simply go to his kitchen, look over his vegetable leftovers, chop them into small pieces, and drown them in mayonnaise — a dressing that would become known as “thousand island dressing.” Continued on next page

44

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Continued from page 50 On the next day, I toured the local Japanese gardens, special places designed for meditation and quiet communes with nature. I was already familiar with Japanese gardens. I had been reared in Brady, Texas, and had been taken several times by my parents to the old San Antonio Japanese Gardens, which were quite large and always quiet and calming. During my adulthood, I have viewed and appreciated the Japanese gardens in Yokokusa, the 7th Fleet facilities in Tokyo, and in San Francisco and Las Vegas. While I revered each of those beautiful arrangements within limited spaces, the Japanese gardens of Montreal touched me deeply with their simplicity, logicality, efficient use of space, and beauty. Within easy walking distance of the Japanese gardens was a building that held displays of butterflies, moths, beetles, and other insects from different parts of the world. Of course, I had never seen most of them before, and I was impressed with the number of different varieties. I learned from the printed explanations that insects are the largest body of species in the world, in contrast to mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, and eightlegged creatures. In one exhibit, I viewed a butterfly that had wings over a foot long. I left that building with an increased awareness of all those things flying around me. When a foreign student in the hostel told me about the Montreal Biodome, I decided to go see it. Along with several dozen other tourists, I paid a hefty price to a special tour bus to carry me there. Inside that Biodome, four different ecosystems or “weather styles” had been replicated. One could walk through a hot and humid tropical forest, a polar climate area, a wilderness area, and a marine habitat. Three of the four climate ar-

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

eas had animals peculiar to their respective climates, and the fourth had fish and other marine life. I took a photograph of two penguins in the polar area. I was so fascinated with the contrasting weather systems of the Biodome that I stayed way too long. On a cool, quiet night, several hundred Quebecans and I walked to one of the large parks that dot the city. For our enjoyment, a small ballet troupe and a large orchestra performed. The dancers were polished and versatile; the musicians played classical, jazz, and pop. A beautiful young medical student from Morocco sitting next to me translated French songs into English for me. After nearly two hours, the free concert closed to much applause. While I was on my second trip to Montreal, the city played host to the LGBT’s first World Outgames. Several streets were roped off for the running events, and the parks were used for the field events like shotputting. Downtown felt the squeeze from so many out-of-towners and made huge profits. Montreal invited the Outgamers to return for the next year. On one of my last days in Montreal, I was photographing interesting sights downtown. I was surprised to see a group of police cars come down one of the main avenues and then take positions on each side of the avenue and stop. They were apparently clearing the streets for a massive group of demonstrators protesting Israel’s shelling of Lebanon. I discovered later that over 40,000 protestors had marched that day and that the majority of them were members of Hamas. I was appalled to learn that just one city in Canada had that many Hamas members living in it. I had to wonder just how many other Canadian cities held similar foreign populations. As I returned home, I recalled with pleasure the sights, sounds, and customs of Montreal on my second trip. u

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

51


Laredo Community College

Speaker series, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ coming in October; trash can art on display

F

Special to LareDOS

rom a man who delves into the minds of serial killers to a wellknown skeptic, fascinating things are on the horizon at Laredo Community College. Four high-profile speakers with unique points of view are scheduled to make appearances at LCC as part of the college’s 2011-2012 Distinguished Speaker Series. The speaking engagements are free and open to the campus body and community. “This series will allow LCC to offer events at no cost to students and the community that they normally would not be exposed to,” said Dr. Vincent Solis, vice president for student services at LCC. Solis hopes that this will be the first of many such events sponsored by LCC. Dr. Jack Levin The fall semester’s first speaker is author and professor, Dr. Jack Levin, who has been studying the methods and mentality of murderers and other violent criminals for the past 25 years. He has testified in court, consulted with attorneys, and helped police arrest violent criminals. He has shared his work on television programs like NBC Nightly News, Larry King Live, and Oprah, amongst many others. Discussing his book Serial Killers and Sadistic Murders: Up Close and Personal, Levin takes a different approach to studying true crime. His focus is not on one single crime, but rather, he relates his discussions with killers, victims, their families, and others in an attempt to understand why these violent people perform their despicable deeds. “The net result of my research into the motives, minds, and modus operandi of the murderer has taught me a number of important lessons that I wish to share with readers. My personal experiences are interesting in themselves, but they are also useful for making some crucial points about the conditions under which serial murder occurs,” said Levin. Levin delivers his presentation on Wednesday, October 5. Dr. Michael Shermer Skepticism is at the heart of Dr. Michael Shermer’s lecture, “Why People Believe Strange Things,” as he explores pseudosci-

52

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

ence, superstitions, and other confusions. As an established skeptic, Shermer investigates why people believe what they do and what they do with that knowledge. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the executive director of the Skeptics Society, monthly columnist for Scientific American, the host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech University, and an adjunct instructor at Claremont Graduate University. Shermer speaks at LCC on Tuesday, November 8. South Zaffirini Library exhibits unusual art It’s hard to miss the brightly colored and cheerful works of art disguised as trashcans throughout LCC’s Fort McIntosh and South campuses, and thanks to a new exhibit that opened Monday, September 19 at the Senator Judith Zaffirini Library at the South Campus, you can learn how they were made. Created as part of art instructor Gary Brown’s spring 2011 Design IV class, the small-scale versions of the larger trash cans draw attention to the lengthy process involved in making the functional, yet attractive, trashcans, which were part of the campus beautification project: “Yes We Can.” “A lot of people think an artist just grabs the paint and goes up and does it from memory. But a lot goes into this, and the students experienced the entire process,” said Brown. “It took about a month to do the prep work.” Brown said he and his students initially narrowed a list of 100 works of art. While wanting to make sure it was recognizable, they also needed to stick to works that were in the public domain. Having made their selections, most of them from Early Modern artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne, the images were reproduced onto a 3-foot cylinder with a re-drawing technique using one-eighth scale calculations. Students in Brown’s Design IV class who contributed work include Jasmin Cantu, Juan Castillo, Emily de los Cobos, Maricela Duffield, Felicitas Garcia, Arianna Mata Orduña, Samantha Proa, Cristell Rodriguez, and Ashley Tristan. The cylinders will include a brief synopsis of the work and will be displayed in a case at the Zaffirini Library from until October 7. The exhibit is free and open to the campus body and public. The library is open

LCC art major Felicitas Garcia unveils her creation of Franz Marc’s “The Large Blue Horses” during the presentation of LCC’s campus beautification project: Yes We Can! on Wednesday, May 11 on the Fort McIntosh Campus mall lawn. Learn how Garcia and eight other students in a spring 2011 Design IV art class created several famous works of art onto 55-gallon steel drums, as part of the new exhibit, “The Plan for the Cans.” The show opened Monday, Sept. 19 at the Senator Judith Zaffirini Library at the LCC South Campus. Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and weekends from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information about the exhibit, contact librarian Bill Wisner at (956) 721-5280. LCC to offer spooky fun with ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ The spirit of Halloween is coming alive at LCC, thanks to the Opera Workshop’s presentation of the hit musical, Little Shop of Horrors, showing October 27-30 at the Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Fine Arts Center theater. Sponsored by the LCC Performing Arts Department, the Opera Workshop fall production is set to show on the LCC stage on Thursday, October 27 through Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. Admission is $10 per person with proceeds benefiting student scholarships and future Opera Workshop productions. LCC Opera Workshop Director Dr. Joseph Crabtree explained that the musical is a modern telling of the Faustian legend, which offers a comical, poignant, and revealing view of human nature. It is musically styled after 1960s Motown and set in Mushnik’s Flower Shop at 1313 Skid Row.

The production is being presented by the LCC Opera Workshop for the second time in recent memory; it was originally staged in 2002. “The Laredo Community College Opera Workshop is pleased to retell the story of Seymour, a nerd who discovers that getting what you ask for can come with messy and nasty strings,” Crabtree said. “He sells himself to a plant named Audrey II to help win the heart of Audrey. After giving the plant its first drop of blood from a thorn prick, Seymour discovers what greed, desire, and love can do to a nice guy.” “As Seymour’s success grows, so do his problems; and he soon discovers that there are no free lunches,” Crabtree said. The lead role of Seymour will be played alternately by Alex Vargas and Mark Garner. The musical also features Jessica Cardenas as Audrey. “Little Shop of Horrors” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. Tickets can be bought in advance beginning Monday, Oct. 3, or at the door. For more information, call the LCC Performing Arts Department at (956) 721-5330. ◆ WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

53


Gateway Gatos of Laredo

By RICHARD S. WILSON LareDOS Contributor Editor’s note: Gateway Gatos of Laredo, our newest monthly columnist, is a group of cat lovers who want to bring other cat lovers together and educate the public about the sometimesforgotten feline species. lthough dogs have traditionally been called man’s best friend, recent surveys agree that cats are now America’s most popular pets. According to figures published by the American Pet Products Association, in 2011 Americans own 86 million pet cats and 78 million dogs. In fact, the U.S. has more pet cats than any other country. China is second with 47 million, and Russia a distant third with 13 million cats. Despite their popularity, however, many cat lovers would contend that cats just don’t get the respect, appreciation, and concern for their welfare that dogs do. Myths and misconceptions about cats and cat ownership are much more prevalent than those about dogs. Many people seem to view a cat as a less important, more “disposable” pet than a dog. Unfortunately many more cat owners than dog owners allow their unaltered pets to roam and reproduce freely. According to one estimate, 60 percent of dogs that enter animal shelters are euthanized, while 70 percent of cats in shelters end up being euthanized. Although cats outnumber dogs, Americans spend only about half the amount on veterinary care for their cats as they do for their dogs; James Flanigan

Mayor Raul Salinas, left, helps hold up the official proclamation for “Cat Appreciation Day” with Berta “Birdie” Torres, right, on July 30 at the Petco store on San Bernardo Avenue. or four times a year, just imagine how this would reduce the overpopulation of cats in Laredo.” Gateway Gatos also seeks to bring more veterinarians to practice in Laredo, a city of 250,000 that currently has only four veterinarians. Another goal of Gateway Gatos, according to Torres, is to start a program to provide cat food vouchers to people in need “so that they can keep their pets rather than disposing of them or letting them fend for themselves.” In the long term, Gateway Gatos would like to establish a no-kill animal shelter for cats in Laredo, and also a trap-neuter-release program for feral cats. Gateway Gatos recently celebrated its second anniversary by holding “Cat Appreciation Day” on July 30. Mayor Salinas attended the event, held at the Petco store

on San Bernardo Avenue, and officially proclaimed the day as Cat Appreciation Day in Laredo. Cats — both live cats and photos — were judged in categories such as “bushiest tail” and “most vocal,” with prizes donated by Petco. On Sunday, October 9, Gateway Gatos and St. Peter the Apostle Church will host a Blessing of the Animals to be held at St. Peter’s Plaza (Main and Matamoros streets) at 3 p.m. Father Tobiro “Toby” Guerrero will be on hand to bless the animals. All animals (not just cats) are welcome but should be on a leash or in a cage. Torres said that last year’s Blessing of the Animals was well attended and “even a goat was blessed.” Gateway Gatos is seeking other Laredo cat lovers. For information, please call Birdie Torres at (956) 286-7866 or e-mail at birdtorres@hotmail.com. ◆

Courtesy photo

A

of the American Veterinary Medical Association stated, “Cat owners are much less likely to seek veterinary care for their animals … and this divide seems to be growing.” Laredo is home to an organization dedicated to the welfare of cats: Gateway Gatos of Laredo. Founded in 2009, Gateway Gatos of Laredo seeks to bring cat lovers together to educate people about cats and cat ownership, to help cat owners get veterinary care for their cats, and to promote responsible pet ownership and humane treatment for all animals. “We love all animals, but we saw a need not being met. There seemed to be more being done for dogs, so we decided to form this organization,” according to Berta “Birdie” Torres, the founder and president of Gateway Gatos. “I love cats. I wanted to find other people in Laredo that felt the same way and wanted to work together to make a difference in the lives of cats in Laredo.” Torres (who said she also loves her 18-year-old cocker spaniel “Lady”) said that Gateway Gatos of Laredo is registered as a nonprofit organization in Texas, and is currently working on obtaining 501c3 status with the IRS, “which will allow us to raise funds and apply for grants.” One goal of the Gateway Gatos is to bring a San Antonio mobile spay-and-neuter clinic to Laredo for a weekend. This program provides spaying and neutering for free or at reduced cost. “They would do 50 cats on Saturday and 50 cats on Sunday,” Torres said. “This costs almost $5,000, but if we could do this three

Courtesy photo

Cat lovers aim to boost education, appreciation for feline friends

Gateway Gatos officers are, from left to right, Veronica Ramirez, Richard Wilson, Birdie Torres, Kathryn Ingram-Wilson, Lola Ross, and Richard Ross.

54

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Notes from LaLa Land 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.

B

ack in the mid ‘50s when I started teaching in Laredo, Roseanne Zamora, now Salinas and now from Brownsville, was my dance partner. Imagine the terrific surprise when I got news that her son, Miguel Salinas, a lawyer in Brownsville, had addressed the United Nations a few weeks ago! Miguel is the program director of Adobe Youth Voices (AYV), a program that has given more than 80,000 young people and educators in more than 45 countries a voice. It’s a voice used to comment on their world, their passions, and sometimes their perils; to take action on issues that matter to them and their communities. He shared the experiences and successes that the program has realized in using technology to empower youth from underserved communities to express themselves and create change. Miguel discussed the broad impact that AYV is having and the lessons the program has unearthed for using technology to bring social, economic, and geographic divides. He also shared specific testimonials from AYV youth and educators on how social expression through media has changed them as individuals and has changed their worlds. Miguel’s address to the General Assembly came as part of the UN’s high-level meeting on youth, in which member states and invited speakers are gathered under the theme of “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.” The meeting was the highlight of the UN’s declared International Year of Youth. From the UN website we learn the background of this program, which is an effort to harness the energy, imagination, and initiative of the world’s youth in overcoming the challenges facing humankind — from enhancing peace to boosting economic development. Miguel Salinas is the nephew of Laredo’s dance team icon Mrs. Estela Zamora Kramer and the cousin of Betty Kramer of San Antonio.

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

A friend’s son addresses the United Nations Last month Laredo’s gift to Hollywood, their own genre. Lucy’s name reminded Julia Vera, did it again, when she got an me that her home in Beverly Hills is next acting role in The Protector, a regular dra- door to Charo’s home. And also, her son, ma on the Lifetime Network. And while on Desi Arnaz Jr., was MC one year for my the set, who does she bump into but Miguel Beverly Hills H.S. Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Ferrer! When I found out Miguel was there, Beverly. As I have said before, Cantinflas I told Julia he had been my student at Bev- was an annual visitor to Laredo. erly Hills High He would School many buy thouyears ago, along sands of dolLast month Laredo’s gift to with his brother lars of clothHollywood, Julia Vera, did it again, Gabriel Ferrer ing at Joe when she got an acting role in The (who married Brand’s and Protector, a regular drama on the Debby Boone). would have Lifetime Network. Julia was my ever yt h i ng dance student shipped to at L.J. Christen him in MexMiddle School ico. He, of when I first started teaching in Laredo course, was the grand master of comedy, many years ago. So I told Julia about creating a golden era in film in Mexico, as Miguel, they meet, and what do they end well as with his performance in Around up dong? Talking about their ex-teach- the World in 80 Days, for which he won er! Small world, indeed. two Golden Globe Awards. Charlie ChapThe Protector revolves around a single mother, Gloria Sheppard, who struggles to balance her family and professional life as an Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective. Miguel Ferrer is cast as Lt. Felix Valdez. The show was not picked up by CBS, but in February 2011, Lifetime announced it has picked up the show for 13 episodes. The show has a breezy tone, with snappy dialogue and terrific upbeat music, as well as stellar performances by the stars. Ferrer, born in L.A., is the oldest of five children of Puerto Rican Academy Award winner Jose Ferrer and American singer Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt). Last week I was watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua Part 2, in which Miguel does the voice for one of the doggie characters in the film. On an aside, Brad Krevoy was listed as the Chihuahua film producer, and he was also my student at Beverly Hills H.S. And last month would have been the 100th birthday for Lucille Ball and Cantinflas, both revered artists/comics, each in

lin once said he thought Cantinflas was the world’s greatest comedian. His full name was Mario Moreno Reyes. Although he grew up in the gritty barrios of Mexico City, playing the circus circuit before films, he eventually owned the largest ranch in all of Mexico. Memories of meeting Academy Award winner Anthony Quinn in person came to mind when one of his 13 children, Francesco Quinn, age 48, had a heart attack, running at the L.A. beach with his son, Max, 9. Francesco never drove anywhere, preferring to ride his bike. He bicycled as much as 300 miles per week. Anthony Quinn was invited by one of my students to participate in an on-stage panel discussion on Mexican Americans — and he showed up! This event was part of an advanced culture class I taught at Beverly Hills H.S. at the time. And on that note, it’s time for, as Norma Adamo says, TAN TAN! ◆

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

55


The Mystery Customer BY THE mystery Customer

No customer care at Kmart; restaurants each offer something unique

Kmart 5000 San Dario Ave. Kmart: The place to go if you want to be treated rudely. On a recent trip to pick up some slacks, I realized why I get a headache every time I shop at Kmart. I found no slacks in my size, but picked up some candy and other items I thought I needed. As I stood in line I watched my cashier leave her position three times to talk to one of the other cashiers. It took more than 15 minutes for her to check out one person. Then I waited for two more customers in front of me. As I got to the front of the line the cashier looked at me and said, as she pointed to the service desk, “Go over there and pay.” Then she walked off, without turning off her light. I walked to the service desk and waited in line again. Just as I reached the front of this line,

this cashier looked at my cart and said, “You can’t pay for that here. Go back and get in line over there.” I told her that the other cashier had told me to pay here. She replied, “Well, you can’t.” I was a little (OK, a lot) upset by now and told her that I had been waiting in line for 30 minutes and was doing what I had been told, but she just looked at the other cashier, who had returned but was doing nothing, and yelled across the store, “Why did you send people over here?” Then she walked away. My first reaction was to walk out, but I thought I needed a couple of the things I had in my basket, so I waited at the back of another line. After I paid, I walked out, determined not to go back. If this had been the first time I had been treated like that, I might understand, but it has become the norm at Kmart. I have gone to Kmarts in other cities and been

treated like a customer. Here I am treated like a nuisance, so I have decided to take my business elsewhere. Tacos Kissi 4402 McPherson Road The MC loves a place with variety, and does Tacos Kissi have variety! Tacos Kissi is a part outdoor, part indoor restaurant attached to Mr. Shrimp, which is also extremely popular with its shrimp cocktails and other seafood. Tacos Kissi offers the usual Mexican fare, unique snack favorites such as the Hotdog Mexicano, and even sushi. Very few restaurants in Laredo are open past 11 p.m., but Tacos Kissi offers a hangout — plus good food — for the night owls. The service can be very hit-or-miss, with mostly young servers who sometimes seem to forget about their tables. But if you happen to get a decent waiter or go on a day where they are short-staffed, you’ll enjoy your time at Tacos Kissi.

Embassy Suites 110 Calle del Norte Road I went to Embassy Suites’ lunch buffet on my father’s birthday, and we had a memorable experience. The hotel is known for its atrium-like, beautiful lobbies with a tropical feel. This provides the perfect escape for those who want to leave Laredo without actually going past the city limits. We went for the lunch buffet, which offered a small but elegant array of dishes, such as spicy shrimp, fresh roast beef with au jus, and fresh chicken salad. Our host was a very polite older man who was a complete gentleman, though the younger servers were less gracious and attentive. They also had a problem breaking dishes that day, for some reason. Ah well, it happens. The food was different (in a good way), our surroundings were gorgeous, and we enjoyed the live Brazilianthemed music. ◆

Texans Always Answer the Call And here in South Texas, we’re building a better future for our communities—thanks to the discovery of decades’ worth of natural gas and oil resources in a geological formation called the Eagle Ford Shale. Natural gas found in the Eagle Ford Shale is bringing thousands of good, sustainable jobs and long-term economic investment to our area. Local community leaders share our commitment to safe and responsible development of this Texas resource. A cleaner fuel source for transportation and power generation, natural gas is significantly reducing emissions of carbon—providing a cleaner and brighter future for our children and grandchildren.

Texas natural gas. It’s powering our future. Visit www.anga.us/Texas to learn more.

56

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Arts & Culture

Creativity flows freely at Open Art BY CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff

W

hen Victoria Ortega was a little girl, she liked to collect junk. All types of junk — discarded furniture, toys, and pieces of wood she used to create new things. Nowadays, a look around her art studio is like viewing a quirky, charming museum of reused items. The tables and bottom panels of her studio were made out of pieces of discarded wood from a church that closed down. It was perfectly usable in Ortega’s eyes. A painted cat made out of an old tea jug sitting on another DIY shelf is a testament to Ortega’s talent for creating completely new objects out of what people once considered junk. In her studio, called Open Art, she has perfected the concept of “organized chaos.” “I grew up just working with things around my house. My parents were very humanitarian people… and we would go to areas with extreme poverty. So I would build stuff with the kids there,” she said. At age 8, Ortega even had a little museum at her house made out of junk she found around the neighborhood. Her parents weren’t big fans. They hated her hoarding and did not want her to major in art, but she said she could never get art out of her system. Her sustainable upbringing and love of all things creative inspired Ortega to found Open Art in July 2009: one part creative consulting firm that gets clients in touch with creative experts in order to take an idea and express it through art; and one part studio for children’s and community art projects. Ortega believes that art can expand people’s knowledge on other subjects. She calls it “art integration.” “Everything can be explained in art,” she said. “We can connect any type of activity or subject to an art project.” Ortega’s company has worked with clients such as the Imaginarium and the Laredo Center for the Arts on creative projects. Ortega has also attempted to bring projects that Laredoans don’t normally see. This past Mother’s Day, she used paper maché to create Lupita Logan, a middle-aged Hispanic woman whom she placed at a nearby bus stop. WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

“I built it because I would see all the ladies who wait for the bus and I thought, this is going to be my Mother’s Day gift and I would have it by the bench and give out drinks and stuff,” Ortega said about the statue. “It was supposed to be for that one day, but people responded so much to it, and I hadn’t had that interaction in a long time with just strangers.” Lupita Logan now stands in front of the Open Art studio entrance on Logan Street. Ortega said a rancher has even been offering to buy the statue to display at his ranch. She offered to make him his own ranchito, but he told her he wanted Lupita. In early September, somebody yanked Lupita’s purse off. When Ortega brought the statue in to fix it, people would come in and ask her where the statue had gone. But more fascinating was the discovery of little pieces of paper with children’s drawings and notes people left while waiting for the bus. Maybe someday Lupita will be her own popular tourist attraction. She has already been listed on Roadside America’s website as a “Paper Giantess.” According to the entry, “Lupita Logan is a bus stop companion (paper sculpture) named after the street and avenue where she stands.” And the Open Art studio is its own museum. Ortega said sometimes the Boy scouts take field trips to the studio just to see the workspace, which is a makeshift museum of projects that current and former students have left behind. Underneath the tables is a big stack of used high-school-science-project trifolds.

Ortega points to a long strip of space near the ceiling, which displays the leftover science project titles — “Magnetic Attraction,” “Let it Burn,” and “Keeping it Cool” among them. Ortega admires the creativity used to concoct the titles and designs. The other component of Ortega’s business is teaching children to come up with ideas and express them through art projects. Ortega and her family came to Laredo in 2003, after living in San Antonio, Albuquerque, N.M., and Maui, Hawaii. She noticed something different between the places she had lived in and Laredo. “You have all these art festivals and events [over there], but I wouldn’t see them as much here, especially in my kids’ schools,” Ortega said. “When we came here, [art] wasn’t as much a part of school.” Ortega said the hands-on projects that children used to do in schools are getting shut down by less time in the classroom, and curricula that is “too test-oriented.” “[Kids] are so used to being given instructions,” Ortega said. “They want you to tell them everything, and it doesn’t

take long before I can get them used to making decisions of their own. I think that’s the most important part [for kids].” On Saturdays, she guides students — ranging from toddlers to teenagers — in daylong sessions so they can bring their ideas to fruition. She said that in the morning, she usually hosts her youngest group of kids, while the teens tend to come later on in the day. Her studio offers an escape for those who want to see their ideas become tangible products. Another escape is one of Open Art’s most popular productions. Usually every month, Ortega, staff, and students transform the studio into the theme of whichever book is being read for that story time. The studio has been equipped with a stage, props, and homemade puppets. For the adults, Ortega said they, too, Continued on page 62

44

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

57


Seguro Que Sí By Henri Kahn

Contact Henri D. Kahn with your insurance questions at (956) 725-3936, or by fax at (956) 791-0627, or by email at hkahn@ kahnins.com

Optimism is the order of the day

D

ay in and day out, the media constantly bombards us with the pessimistic aspects of our social problems. We do have social problems that are not unlike the rest of the world, but in our great country we never stop striving to correct the problems and improve our coveted lifestyle. Here are some of the victims of the repugnant TV, newspapers, radio and even quasi authors’ constant barrage of negativity. The deterioration of our educational system is the primary whipping boy of the media. However, if it is in the dumps, why does virtually every country in the world jump at the chance to send their students to the U.S.A.? Locally, just check out the enrollment of foreign students at TAMIU. Why don’t all these harbingers of the appalling investigate the elemen-

Try living in countries of the Easttary and high school systems, which have an impressive record of educat- ern hemisphere and even some European, Central or South American ing people from all walks of life? Lawlessness and crime are a prob- countries. Name one country that looks after lem all over the world, but you can’t name a country that has a better and the homeless better than the U.S.A. effective system of qualified police We provide food, clothing, and shelter for people authority that that are down protects indiWe must continue and out. You viduals in our working hard to redon’t have to society from go very far, being hurt by solve our social and economic just cross the other individuproblems wirh a positive atRío Grande als. titude and not concentrate on for a big dose Our system of desperation of justice is fair the negativity that is fosand homelessand effective tered 24/7 by the media. ness. and serves to The collapse punish criminals for their actions against society. of family values is a favorite subject of The system of innocence until proven our thoughtless publisizers of U.S.A. guilty is not practiced in many coun- regression. We do have teenage pregnancies, illegitimate births, and onetries of the world.

parent families. This great country has developed social programs, that, along with the majority of religious sects, serve to educate teens concerning promiscuity. One-parent families are an increasing problem that is addressed by beneficial social programs. Our financial system is currently suffering, along with the majority of world, but we are in the process of trying to develop cooperation between the main political parties to bring the prosperity and the dignity of having a job back into our economy. We must continue working hard to resolve our social and economic problems with a positive attitude, and not concentrate on the negativity that is fostered 24/7 by the media. The glass really is half full, not half empty! The future is as bright as you believe it to be. ¡Adelante! ◆

The best kept secret in Laredo

1, 2 and 3 bedroom floorplans available. Prices starting at $725 Town houses and corporate suites also available For more information, please contact: www.carmelapts.com Carmel Apartments Office Hours 830 Fasken Blvd. Laredo, Texas M-F 8:30-5:30 956.753.6500, 956.753.6502 fax Sat. 10:00-5:00

Sit back, relax, and welcome home 58

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


South Texas Food Bank By salo otero

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

W

ith a poverty rate of 30 percent, the hungry in Laredo and South Texas are plentiful. And can you imagine millions of government dollars earmarked to feed the hungry going unused because qualifying candidates do not apply for assistance? Yes. Enter the South Texas Food Bank (STFB) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach Program. SNAP was formerly the Food Stamps Program. The STFB has a crucial role in the ultraimportant statewide initiative that kicked off in 2006, partnering with the Texas Food Bank Network and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The goal is to get more needy South Texans to apply for food stamps (SNAP). SNAP is an entitlement program, and the Center for Public Policy Priorities reported in 2009 and 2010 that millions of dollars in benefits for hungry Texans were left unclaimed. In Laredo-Webb County, the amount is huge — an estimated $40 million per year. People seeking assistance are often discouraged by delays because of long application lines, a tedious eligibility process and overloaded caseworkers. The STFB addresses the critical problem by providing individual application and process assistance for applicants, who are sometimes elderly or otherwise have problems filling out the application. STFB executive director Alfonso Casso emphasizes that the SNAP Outreach Program plays a key role in the food bank mission.

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

Food bank, partners help needy qualify for assistance “Feeding the needy is our main mission but in almost 100 percent of these cases, the need is not just for food,” he noted. “Our Outreach Program looks for other state and federal programs and services available — such as SNAP and Temporary Assistance to Families in Need (TANF) — that our clients may not be aware. We direct them to these services. United Way, of which we are a member, supports many other local agencies, who also help provide services, and we refer many of our clients to these agencies and vice versa. Together we all can help those in need in our community.” Alma Blanco is the South Texas Food Bank SNAP Outreach Program coordinator. Her assistants are Lourdes Uvalle, Norma Alvarez and Marissa Alvarez. Blanco and staff go where the potential clients are, setting up portable offices throughout the eight-county service area at local businesses and community centers. For information, call Blanco at (956) 726-3120. STFB staff member Juan Solis is the chief programs officer. He is in charge of SNAP, Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and the Adopt-a-Family program. Blanco’s staff informs families about SNAP benefits and helps with the application, which is then delivered to the state office for processing. “We get 70 to 80 percent of the applicants to qualify,” Blanco said. Executive director Casso’s report at the monthly STFB board meetings reveal an average of 400 applicants per month. In August, the food bank signed up 350 families, representing 475 adults and 505 children, bringing the year’s total to 3,149

applications representing 4,230 adults and 4,309 children. “The SNAP outreach is a win-win situation for everyone,” said STFB board member Mike Garza. Garza, who is also a Laredo City Council member and United ISD administrator, added, “The outreach feeds the hungry and is a big boost to the economy.” A single mother of three who had not previously applied for SNAP said, “Thanks to the food bank, I now qualify for $300 worth of food stamps. My cupboard is full and with the money I was using to buy food, I can now buy clothes for my children.” Also at the September board meeting, it was reported that 761,467 pounds of food was distributed in August, bringing the 2011 total to 6,622,792 (6.6 million) pounds. Through July the food bank has served 167,147 families, including 137,539 children, 263,409 adults, and 410,235 meals. New Adopt-a-Family coordinator Miguel Zuniga reported 851 families on file with 442 on a waiting list. Angel Serrano coordinates the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which is primarily for the elderly. A total of 7,364 were served in August. There is a waiting list of 325. September: Hunger Action Month JC Dwyer, state policy director for the Texas Food Bank Network, reports that Gov. Rick Perry, in cooperation with the Texas Food Bank Network, has proclaimed September as Hunger Action Month. The organization, made up of 19 Texas food banks, is part of the national organization Feeding America.

“It is with deep concern for the hundreds of thousands of citizens nationwide who face difficulties feeding their families and look to local food banks to get them through that we encourage securing additional resources, food and volunteer support to assist them,” Perry stated in the proclamation. Perry said more than 3 million Texans yearly are fed by food banks, and that he encourages “all Texans to learn more about how they can help keep food available for many food banks serving the people in our great state. ◆

Weekly SNAP Outreach Program schedule Monday — At the Mexican Consulate on Farragut Street, 9-11 a.m.; Super S Store on Santa Maria Avenue, 1-5 p.m. Tuesday — Women Infant and Children (WIC) Clinic on Zapata Highway and WIC at the Laredo Health Department on Cedar Avenue, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday — Rio Bravo Community Center, 8 a.m. to noon. WIC on Cedar Avenue, 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday — El Cenizo Community Center, 8 a.m.-noon; El Metro downtown Laredo, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m; WIC on Zapata Highway, 1-5 p.m. Friday — H-E-B on Guadalupe Street, H-E-B on Saunders Street, and H-E-B on Calton Road, 8 a.m.-noon; H-E-B on Zapata Highway and H-E-B Downtown, 1-5 p.m.

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

59


Traditionally Modern Cooking By Jason Herrera

Herrera is an English major at Oklahoma City University. He’s had a passion for cooking since he was 8 years old, when he started teaching himself recipes and eventually, creating his own scrumptious meals. Herrera also enjoys gardening and horror movies.

Cream puffs: the easiest ‘fancy’ dessert

I

have fond memories of helping my mother and grandmother make cream puffs. The recipe came from my grandmother’s first edition Betty Crocker Cookbook, a large red tome filled with hundreds of amazing recipes my grandmother has collected during her lifetime. After the water and butter came to a boil and the flour was added, each egg had to be beaten in. Nothing made me feel like I was cooking more than mixing dough with a large wooden spoon. Now whenever I make cream puffs in my dorm room, my friends enjoy helping me. The memories I have with cooking these beauties are as delicious as the cream puffs. This recipe is near and dear to my heart, and with a few tweaks from the Betty Crocker version, I’m sure it’ll bring joy to whoever makes them. Cream puffs are truly one of the easiest “fancy” desserts to make. Unlike pies or other pastries, cream puffs cannot be over mixed or handled. Making them requires no special tools or techniques, and they are amazingly delicious. They can bring smiles to kids’ faces as an after-school treat, make casual get-togethers memorable, and with

For the dough: 1 cup water 1 stick (eight tablespoons) butter 1 cup flour small pinch of salt 4 eggs Heat the water, salt, and butter on medium heat until they come to a boil. Mix the sifted flour in quickly. Cook on low until the mixture leaves the pan in a ball (no more than a minute). Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes. If using a wooden spoon, mix the eggs into the

60

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

helps brown the flour and creates crispy outer shell. Water is needed to make the dough stick together. After they are baked and filled, it’s usually best to refrigerate cream puffs before eating. Once cold, the cream in the puffs has set and they are as refreshing as they are rich. Cream puffs are nowhere near as remarkable without their filling. Sweetened whipped cream or any flavor of ice cream you like works wonders, but the true magic is found in velvety, thick, and rich cream pudding. You can try packaged pudding

Courtesy photo

Here is my foolproof recipe, which makes 12 large cream puffs or 24 small cream puffs or éclairs.

a bit of sprucing up, they bring elegance to dinner parties. Cream puffs are one of my favorite desserts and they have always been a hit with anyone who tries them. Cream puffs, choux à la crème, or profiteroles are crispy hollow shells usually filled with whipped cream, ice cream, or a pudding called pastry cream. They are a form of choux pastry and are made with a rather wet dough. The dough is made up of water, flour, butter, and eggs. Instead of a leavening agent, eggs and steam are used to make the puff in cream puffs. The butter

Jason’s Cream Puffs flour mixture one at a time until each egg is completely mixed in. It helps to beat the egg a bit before adding to the flour mixture. If using an electric stand mixer, place the flour mixture into the mixer bowl. Using a paddle attachment, turn the mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs in one at a time until wellmixed. After combined, spoon the dough onto an ungreased baking sheet using either a piping bag or two spoons. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 30-40 minutes or until dry and golden brown. Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes and cut off the top fourth with a knife. Scoop out the inside dough. Fill with the vanilla cream pudding. Top with choco-

late sauce and/or powdered sugar. Vanilla cream pudding (filling): 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 tsp salt 6 tbsp. flour 2 cups milk plus two tablespoons cream 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon vanilla Combine the sugar, salt and flour in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the

mix — don’t use instant because the texture doesn’t work — but one day when you’re feeling adventurous, try making your own cream pudding. I was so surprised at how easy it was to make from scratch that now I almost always make my own pudding. While normally used to fill cream puffs, the cream pudding recipe I’m providing can be thinned out and used wherever vanilla pudding is used. I usually do one of two things when I’m ready to add in the eggs (one at a time) into the cream puff dough: I use an electric stand mixer or I beat in by hand. It just depends on the day. Feel free to use either. After the dough is combined, it should be velvety, thick, and butter yellow. Sometimes when I’m feeling fancy, I’ll put the dough into a pastry bag, or a zip-top bag with a corner cut off, and pipe out the cream puffs. Using a pastry bag is helpful if you want to make éclairs, but for cream puffs, it’s usually easier and more efficient to use two tablespoons (spoons used for eating, not measuring). Using one spoon, grab a bit of the dough. Using the other spoon as a scraper, spoon the dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. ◆

milk and cream. On medium-low heat, cook the mixture until it comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Off the heat, add a little bit of the hot mixture into the eggs. Keep adding until half of the hot mixture has been added to the eggs. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook on low heat until it comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a mesh sieve. Add in the vanilla. For the chocolate sauce: 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 1-2 tablespoons cream Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or on medium heat in a microwave for 30-40 seconds. Stir in the cream and use immediately.

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


Movie Review

The trouble that comes with the truth: ‘Our Idiot Brother’ By CORDELIA BARRERA LareDOS Staff

WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

The Weinstein Company

W

ouldn’t it be great to always be content, always be comfortable in a pair of plastic red Crocs, and always be satisfied with taking the high road — both metaphorically and literally? This describes Ned, the perpetually untroubled title character in director Jesse Peretz’s film, Our Idiot Brother. The film was written by Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall and is based on an original story by the brother-and-sister team of Jesse and Evgenia Peretz. Although I was not expecting much from this indie film about the trials and troubles of yet another dysfunctional family, I was easily drawn into the concept behind Our Idiot Brother, especially the idea of Ned as an individual. Our Idiot Brother begins as Ned (Paul Rudd), a biodynamic farmer and obvious nonconformist, knowingly sells pot to a uniformed policeman. The cop tricks Ned into believing he really needs to take a load off. Ned, a man-child with a perpetual smile on his face who is wholly incapable of mistrust, is casually hauled off to jail. He spends several months in prison making friends and is eventually released on good behavior. On his return to the makeshift farm he shares with his surly, hippie girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn), Ned discovers that she has taken up with another plumper and even dimmer man-child named Billy (T.J. Miller). Homeless and dogless — Janet refuses to give up Ned’s dog Willie Nelson — Ned makes his way home, where his mom Ilene (Shirley Knight) happily takes him in. Eventually, however, Ned will make his rounds: He’ll end up briefly living with, and wreaking havoc for, each of his three sisters in turn. Ned’s sisters are drawn like clichés, but all three are wonderfully cast and, so, up to the task of filling in the gaps of onedimensional characters. First, there’s Liz (Emily Mortimer), the neurotic stay-athome mom who’s married to a jerk. Next, there’s Miranda, the scruple-free journalist (Elizabeth Banks) who will do anything to land Vanity Fair’s next top story. Finally, there’s Natalie, the flighty, sex-addicted bisexual artist (Zooey Deschanel). Ned’s sisters love him, but their 21st century lives clash with Ned’s. His actions are plain, and his words are candid

Paul Rudd is Ned in Our Idiot Brother. and truthful. Money’s not important to him; clothes are insubstantial; material goods are unnecessary. When Ned enters his sisters various worlds, the result is chaos because his idealism and honesty clashes with their underhanded, often insensitive affairs. Eventually, as situations and lives are eventually resolved (this is, after all, a comedy), it’s ultimately a bit too easy, a bit too neat and tidy. Yet, My Idiot Brother is not a cop-out; it’s understated and refreshing — a bit like a cop who might choose to chill with a bit of weed. There’s a certain wholeness, a certain perfectionism to Ned. He brings to mind what the great American mythologist, Joseph Campbell, championed as the core of his philosophy: “Follow your bliss.” If more humans followed their bliss, there would be more happiness in the world, more light, more love, more good… you know? In short, if there were more Neds in the world, there would be more altruism and happiness, more grace perhaps. Our Idiot Brother reminds us that even though there are so many all-too-human systems and organizations that crowd our bliss daily, we might nonetheless move past our power-hungry, ego-hungry, and material-hungry ways toward idealism. I appreciate the easy lesson championed by Our Idiot Brother, and the plot surrounding Willie Nelson is amusing and endearing. If only we all had an idiot brother to remind us of what’s truly important: the unconditional

trust of our loved ones, an honest day’s work, a carefree attitude to enjoy a day off to help a sibling or play a silly game, the ability to smile away catastrophe. This film is not perfect. In fact, it’s unevenly paced and sometimes stereotypical. Its content is not too edgy. The dialogue is not conspicuously snappy. Many of its rhythms — its scenes and situations — are a little peculiar and odd, but they are hardly unorthodox. The characters, especially Ned’s three sisters, lack the uninterrupted quirkiness that we find in familial indies like the extraordinarily

disconcerting Little Miss Sunshine (2006), or even the Robert Altman classic Cookie’s Fortune (1999). Also, those looking for the over-the-top comedic fare that Paul Rudd is often associated with — films like Anchorman (2004) and Role Models (2008) — will likely be disappointed. The best word to describe Our Idiot Brother is sweet. This is a sweet film —pleasing to the senses, agreeable and satisfying in its good-natured, untroubled way. Our Idiot Brother is a lot like Ned: honest and idealistic, and a bit flaky around the edges. ◆

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

61


Continued from page 57 get something valuable from seeing their creative ideas become reality. Adults don’t normally get the chance or make the time to sit down and express their own creativity, she said. “I think we get so stuck in our routines that we don’t get to do these things, so this is a chance for them to return to that fun thing,” Ortega said. “This is a chance to get back into the habit of creating and the feeling of being a child.” In the little more than two years that Open Art has been around, Ortega has found success elsewhere. This year the company is opening a branch in San Antonio, led by instructor Chris Navarro, a teaching consultant and co-director for the Central Texas Writing Project. Navarro met Ortega in 2003 while he was education director at the Laredo Center for the Arts. For the last four years, Navarro had been teaching at a San Antonio charter school, but wanted to open a branch of Open Art after he witnessed changes for the worse at his own school. “The problem I have and what I went through was that some management companies bully the administrators, and then that came down to influencing teachers and the curricula of the classroom,” Navarro said. “I

62

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

understand the need to be economically viable in this economy, but with no input from teachers, administrators, and parents.” Navarro said he has nothing against private interests involved in education, but says it’s a matter of “how you maintain the integrity of education without corporate interests interfering.” This led him back to Ortega, and now he is nearly through preparing to open his studio, which adopts the same idea of “art integration.” Navarro specializes in digital storytelling or “transmedia,” which uses multimedia — visuals, sound, etc. — to tell any story in the world. “It can be used by nonprofits to get a message out; it can be used to collect and archive traditional stories; and I’ve seen it used a lot for businesses and advertising,” Navarro said.

Digital storytelling was one of the subjects taught at Open Art San Antonio’s first after-school classes on Monday, September 19. The classes are part of a partnership with two San Antonio schools under the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), a network of free college preparatory charter schools. Navarro also thinks art is undervalued in today’s society. “We experience the world in a very fractured way, and maybe artists can bring it back together — or at least help us understand the way the world works,” Navarro said. Back in Laredo, Victoria Ortega is happy to see an idea created in Laredo expand to a major metropolitan area. “We talk about how Laredo copies San Antonio, but this time San Antonio is copy-

ing us,” Ortega said about the new branch. For Ortega, the company provides a perfect outlet for her seemingly endless stream of ideas. She used to develop programs for grant money, but now she is fully devoted to her studio. “Sometimes I want to create something just to get it out of my head,” Ortega said. And sometimes, she says, she will tell other people about her ideas. And when they ask her why she doesn’t protect the idea, she tells them that she does it so that maybe someday she will see that idea become a reality, no matter who creates the finished product. “I was always like this. People ask me how I come up with this stuff, but I really can’t explain it. That’s all I know. I don’t know if I know anything about art or psychology or anything that I majored in, but I know that I’m creative and that I can show others how they can bring that creativity out,” Ortega said. At first, Ortega said she was proudest of Lupita Logan, but upon reflection: “It is this place, the whole concept, and the fact that I make my kids proud when they hear positive comments from the community,” she said. “It is what makes me feel the proudest.” For more information about Open Art, go to the company’s website at open2art. com, call Ortega at (956) 726-1700, or call Navarro at (210) 413-0355. ◆

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM


WWW. L A R E D O S NE W S . C O M

LareDOS | S EPTEM B ER 2011 |

63


64

| L a r e DO S | S EP T EM B ER 2011

WWW.LAREDOSNEWS.COM

LareDos Newspaper September 2011  

LareDos a journal of the borderlands.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you