Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Help Out Other Americans

Currently, the disaster relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is undergoing some challenges. Getting people and supplies in and out of the disaster area is the biggest problem. It isn't that people and supplies are not available, they are. The main problem is that much of the infrastructure is in such bad shape or underwater. Once there, another problem of the relief effort is what to do with the thousands of victims who are homeless.

We dodged a hurricane in the Rio Grande Valley this year. The problems in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama could easily have been us. Please help our fellow Americans by donating money to charities. My preference is the American Red Cross. After the September 11th attacks, I am wary of United Way. You can call the American Red Cross at 1-800-HELP NOW (435-7669) to donate over the phone. You can also visit the Red Cross website and donate online. Their servers are running slow right now, so wait for the pages to load or try again later. The Red Cross would be better served by cash donations as they can use cash to purchase the items needed at wholesale costs. Once these items are purchased, the money can go towards transporting the goods and people to those in need. Please take 5 minutes to donate.

Surely, they jest

Last night after driving home from work, I had $6 for gas and was riding on empty. I stopped at the Circle K on 23rd and Buddy Owens in McAllen. $2.99 a gallon! Two blocks away at the Circle K on Ware and Buddy Owens, it was $2.49. As you drive around the Rio Grande Valley, you see this huge gulf between the prices of gasoline at some stations and the prices at another. HEB gas station on 10th and Trenton has been able to hold off price increases. There are a few mom and pop stations that are in the $2.49 range.

Usually, you don't really have to shop around. Most stores will have gasoline priced within 10 cents of their neighbors. Last night, and today, it would pay off to look around for the best prices.

When you only have $6 for gas like me, a poor Mexican, a 50 cent price difference is a big deal. I sympathize with those who have gas guzzling SUVs with 40 gallon tanks. That's a $20 difference if they refuel at the higher price versus the lower price. I think I will have to sell my truck and get a Rhoades Car. I could lose a few pounds around the waist, my wallet is already lean.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Marine's Point of View

Here is a post by Ben Christensen at the Brownsville Herald regarding the execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our our men and women victims or heroes? I vote heroes.

Aaron Peña On the Side of Cindy Sheehan?

Staff Sgt. Nick Martinez (left), of Eagle Pass, Texas, and Staff Sgt. Jose L. Padilla of San Antonio, Texas, hand out drinking water to Bedouin children in their patrol area. Members of Company B, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, the Guardsmen are assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, based in Lubbock, Texas. Master Sgt. Lek Mateo

Here is a recent blog post by Rep. Aaron Peña:

Did Cindy
Sheehan's Vigil Work?

Cindy Sheehan's month of fame - or infamy, depending on one's vantage point - is
drawing to a close. The grieving mother of a US soldier slain in Iraq will end
her vigil at the president's ranch on Wednesday, almost certainly having failed
in her stated goal of a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Bush.If nothing else, the
spectacle she launched added an American point of focus to the larger tableau of
bad news for the US effort in Iraq, dominated by a US military death toll
approaching the symbolically significant 2,000-person mark, and faltering Iraqi
efforts to draft a broadly acceptable constitution. For Bush, there's bad
political news as well: a Gallup poll, released last Friday, showing the lowest
job-approval rating (40 percent) of his presidency. Even among Republicans,
support for Bush has hit an all-time low - albeit a still-high 82 percent. But
overall, only 34 percent of Americans are satisfied with how things are going in
this country, another low for Bush's 4-1/2 years in office, Gallup reports. The rest of the
by Linda Feldmann.

Here is my comment (in case of deletion):

Shaine Mata said...
No. She's anti-semitic, anti-war in a state (Texas) where a majority voted
for G.W., and is essentially calling people, like my sister who went to Iraq,
morons for going along with the President. We may be poor Mexicans, but we know
that defending our country is a worthy cause. Let me also remind Cindy that our
military is ALL VOLUNTEER, including her son (twice). My sister decided not to
volunteer again, after serious consideration, for my mother's sake. I would also
volunteer if it weren't for some hardware in my leg from a motorcycle
accident.We both rode to UTPA together on the morning of Sept. 11 and felt the
sadness and anger from the attacks. I can't fight on the battlefield, but I will
fight in the arena of ideas to defend our country. Aaron, please back away from
this lady. She's no good for you or your party. Already there is a backlash of
families with dead soldiers who are against her. On top of that Al Jazeera likes
Tuesday, August 30, 2005 3:27:19 AM

I have voted Democrat in the past because, quite frankly, the only option in Hidalgo county usually IS democrat. I would willingly vote democrat if the dems supported our country. In local elections, party doesn't really matter because local officials don't affect national policy a great deal. However, dems can't seriously believe they can get away with being "anti-war and supportive of our troops". Geez, who is running the war? Our brothers and sisters are over there. They are the ones carrying out the mission. The majority of them are over there willingly. Many of our brothers and sisters are reenlisting. Are they stupid? According to democrats, they are. Democrats say that our brothers and sisters are tricked into going to Iraq or Afghanistan. According to Dems, many of our troops joined the military because they had no other opportunities to advance in life. Then why reenlist? One tour to the Middle East should be enough to pad a resume. Yet we hear of soldiers reenlisting. There are even soldiers who have been severly injured or maimed who would go back if they had the chance. They've seen the good things that our country has done over there. They believe in the mission. In fact, I am going to get names of soldiers who went and would go again.

Despite what Democrats tell you, our people are out there doing good things. Visit for what is really going on. If you are Mexican, you've heard "Haz el bien sin mirar a quien." That is what our troops are doing over there. They are doing good things. If you are a recalcitrant Mexican, you are probably asking "then why do they hate us over there?" First of all, they don't all hate us. The majority are grateful for our presence. Second, do you remember that Jesus was killed for doing the right thing? It doesn't matter if they hate us or not, we are doing the right thing. It is ALWAYS more difficult to do the right thing. If you don't believe me, then contact a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan and ask him or her what evil things they have done. They will tear you a new one for being one. Pay attention! The people against our soldiers are NOT Iraquis or Afghanis. They are from Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries that harbor anti-americans. NOTHING our soldiers could do would satify these radicals. It doesn't matter how many schools they build, how many hospitals they establish, how many public utilities they set up, or other good things our troops do. The same holds true for the Cindy Sheehan types and her sympathizers. It doesn't matter how much good our troops bring about in the Middle East. Nothing will satisfy them because they believe American and all her actions are pure EVIL. Is your son, daughter, brother, sister, or spouse evil? The Democrats think so. Our troops carry out what is good for our country. They are either good or evil. Don't be a weasel. If you don't support the mission,you don't support them. They ARE America. If you don't support them and their work, you don't support the country.

Increased Taxes?

We all know how government works. If you are in charge of a department, you ask for a certain amount of money that is more than you really need. You do this so that the powers that be will grant you the same amount you had last year or more. You know, and they know that you will not receive what you request. If for some reason you happen to be efficient at spending your money, you splurge it all at the end in order to spend all the budgeted money. If you have any money left over, your next year's budget is cut.

If you have taken managerial accounting, you know how a company determines its budget. First, accounting asks marketing how much product they can sell. If Marketing thinks it can sell $1 million in goods and services, then you go to the production managers. You ask them, how much will it cost to make $1 million in goods? You then go and take that figure, add fixed expenses, and you have a budget. Not so with government. It doesn't matter how much production costs are or whether they meet production needs. In fact, it really doesn't matter if the money is really necessary at all. According to government, it ALWAYS costs more to meet the same level of service as last year. Government NEVER asks if we can afford to pay more than last year. Through good economic times or bad, you don't see government budgets decrease. Budget committees take it at face value that what was presented is actually what is needed. Despite the overbudgeting, you have problems like we had last year in Hidalgo County.

Last year, we had a county-wide hiring freeze because the county was running out of money. My wife saw first-hand what happens when money is mismanaged. Early in the year, Head Start was paying out hours galore and serving the children liberally in their lunch hour, as is expected. Towards the end of the "school year", teachers had to count how many cookies they fed the children. In government, middle managers are never cut. You simply cut back on the services provided. In a business, this is stupid. Why cut production when you can save money and retain profit by getting rid of middle managers?

With all the new construction going on this year, you would think that the county might be able to make ends meet through increased property tax revenue. For the love of Pete, we are close to Las Vegas in the amount of growth going on.

I will admit, the price of gasoline for the Sheriff's department could be a problem. We do have a large county and our deputies must travel long distances. On the other hand, gas prices affect us too. Not only do we pay more for gas, we may pay more for our property? Not cool at all. How about some of the county people trimming their budgets a little instead? They need to use their brains a little and figure out how to save some money rather than figure out how to reach into our pockets.

Illegal Immigration and the Chinese

I am going to tell you of a recent adventure that I had. I don't know that what I did was illegal or not. I do know that it was a 10 foot pole situation.

Those of you who know me, know that I do some work for a Chinese restaurant. Logically, my boss is Chinese. This means that he often gets calls from Customs and the Border Patrol to translate for them when they catch Chinese OTMs crossing the river. Of course, they ask for asylum, which gives them a chance to roam around the country until they get their court hearing. Some show up at court and others don't, choosing to remain as illegals rather than risk being deported.

Well, being Chinese, the OTMs sometimes come asking my boss for help. If you know a Chinese person in the RGV, you know that they work their tails off to get ahead. My boss is the same way. These two Chinese OTMs came asking for help to get to Houston for their connection to New York City. They asked him to rent a car and send them on their way. Of course, he said no. Why risk everything he has worked so hard to build to help two strangers who had no humility? He fed them as they had not eaten in a couple days. Poor bastards got Chinese food (hey, it's a Chinese restaurant), so they were probably hungry again 30 minutes later. So, my boss asks me to dump them somewhere near a Chinese restaurant. So, I drove around McAllen neighborhoods to confuse them and make sure they didn't come back. I went to another restaurant a few blocks away and somehow communicated with them to get the (^&$ off my truck. I don't know what happened to them after that.

Later, my boss explained to me that many Chinese restaurants and businesses owned by a Chinese smuggler will pay for these people to come over (not him, he's the only Chinese person in his business). What happens is that the smuggled person's family is held as collateral until they pay off their debt for being smuggled in. These OTMs work for a few years at less than minimum wage to repay the debt and prevent one of their family members from getting killed. This is why you see at some Chinese buffets that all the workers are Chinese and barely speak English. They are probably Chinese mojados.

So, if people can come from 6,000 miles away, not knowing Spanish or English , and can cross the Rio Grande and land jobs, what could a determined terrorist do?

So far, we have had one suspected terrorist come into Harlingen Airport. We are getting increasing numbers of MS 13, Marasalvatrucha 13, gang members getting caught crossing the border locally. This gang has been known to have been in contact with Al Qaeda. With increasing numbers of Chinese and MS 13 gangsters being caught crossing the river, doesn't it stand to reason that MAYBE, our border needs better protection?

Self Promotion

I've been working on a new blog that houses the menu for China Wok in McAllen and the Quick Woks in Edinburg and Mission. You can see the the work at, feel free to visit whenever you feel like eating Chinese food. I still need to work on the site a little bit.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Rio Grande Valley Has Two Drive-in Theaters

I was reading through the current issue of the Mesquite Review. There is an article by Lisa Valadez about the drive-in theaters here in the RGV. We used to have one until recently when a new theatre, The Cactus Drive-In, opened.

McAllen used to have the Buckhorn Drive-In on the expressway. Towards the end, it wasn't as good because the surrounding area was developing and more lighting was installed, which interfered with the ability to see the movies. As a kid, I used to go with my family. It was a lot of fun. You take whatever food you want. You can lay in the bed of your truck or on the hood with a radio to listen to the movie. If you get a chance, be sure to visit one of the existing theatres.

Cactus Drive-In
1919 W Business 83
Weslaco, TX
$8 per car

2 Mile West Rd and Business 83.
Rain or shine, Mon. thru Thurs: $5 per car
Fri., Sat., and Sun $10 per car

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Setting Up Chinese Restaurant Site

If you live in Mission, McAllen, or Edinburg and visit China Wok or one of the Quick Woks for Chinese food, I've been working on putting the menus on the web for the last couple days. Visit to check it out. As of now, I still need to finish the Quick Wok Menu. Afterward, I will be adding descriptions of the plates to help visitors choose.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Took the political plunge

I took the plunge today. Laura Hinojosa visited the store and I asked her how the campaign is going. She says that she has been receiving support from the community. I would like to see what goes into a campaign, so I volunteered to help her get elected. Laura accepted and has invited me to help her campaign do some work on Thursday. The election is still a long ways off; she is starting early to maximize her support.

It's easy for anybody to be a backseat politician. So, in order to get vicarious experience in the electoral process, I volunteered to help Laura. It's exciting to be part of a campaign again. Last campaign I worked was Dukakis when I was in Jr. High. I was confused at that age and did not realize that I am conservative. Laura is probably Democrat too, but she's a nice enough lady. I'm willing to help her win for District Clerk. Besides, if I wait for a Republican to run a campaign and win in the Rio Grande Valley, I'm in for a long wait.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

RGV Football Profiles

You can't help finding news about high school football. The Rio Grande Valley is big on supporting our local teams.

This year, look out for Bradley Stephens of McAllen Memorial High School.

Scrimmages are still going on. Here are some early results: Link 1, Harlingen, Sharyland.

Keep checking The Monitor and The Brownsville Herald for updates on our local football teams.

I don't have any info on the Eagles yet. You can log into forum for sports discussions. They also have a page of links for more information.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Voter Fraud and Corruption Coming to an End

At first glance, it seems that all the recent cases of political corruption in the Rio Grande Valley are a sign of the overall culture being corrupt to some extent. A friend of mine who worked in Brazil for a few years tells me that officials will ask you for their "gratificazion" openly, their bribe. He learned that that is their way of doing business. The way he puts it is, "it's in their mother's milk". That is, they are born to it and is a part of life. After reading about the politiqueras and voter fraud (San Juan elections and McAllen elections), bribes for contracts (PSJA school district and City of Alton), gross mismanagement of a public utility (La Joya Water Supply Corporation), and police protection for drug traffickers (Conrado Cantu), you would think it's in the milk of Rio Grande Valley mothers' milk.

I see all these cases as a sign of the good changes coming to the Rio Grande Valley. What is happening is that our cities and officials are becoming more and more professional in their jobs. We can't get rid of the politics, people will still be unfairly fired or have their contracts expire for being too professional. So, the more stories that come out about this official or that official being caught doing something improper or illegal, the better I feel about our region. The reason for this is that other people are doing their jobs. Auditors are putting in better money controls, agencies are doing a better job of overseeing public services, and prosecutors are increasingly pressured to nail the big guys too.

The end result is that we are getting better people into our elected high offices and unelected posts. At the national level, after a joker like Bill Clinton, the nation felt like electing somebody with set standards who stand by and do what he says. In the RGV, we are electing better officials to replace corrupt ones. This is a good thing. So, rather than look at the news about a new scandal as a bad thing for the Rio Grande Valley, take pride in the fact that we got them and they will no longer bring shame to us or make us feel we don't have a chance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Two I-69's?

There is some wishful thinking that the I-69 project will develop two spurs that use existing Hwy 77 and Hwy 281 for the Trans-Texas corridor. It's unlikely. Steve Ahlenius says it best. There is no reason for the federal government to spend money developing two spurs of the same highway.

The McAllen side of the Rio Grande Valley has the advantage that McAllen itself is a destination for tourists from the south. If you doubt me, watch the novelas on the Mexican channels. Whenever the characters come to the U.S., they head for McAllen. I-69 would make the McAllen side more attractive because it would facilitate travel to the rest of the U.S.

The Harlingen side has the advantage that it's right in middle of the whole Lower Rio Grande Valley. From Harlingen you can go to Brownsville or McAllen in about the same time. Well, maybe not the same time, but better than having to cross from McAllen across the Valley to get to Brownsville. No matter where the Interstate highway goes, it's sure to mean more traffic on Hwy 83. With increased trade, customs brokers stand to make a killing. Restaurants and other businesses servicing truckers and tourists would also benefit. Short-term, we would benefit from the construction dollars spent. Long-term, we would all see a trickle down effect of the cashflow through this area. One thing is for certain, the Rio Grande Valley MSA would gain sigificance due to the importance our region would have for commerce.

Compadreism at Work

Here is a story about a Cameron County attorney who displayed stupid behaviour on 2 separate occasions. Knowing how to work the system, his first offense got him deferred adjudication for something that would get most of us arrested. With the second offense, also a misdemeanor, we will have to see what happens. No doubt he'll continue to work for the county. The commissioner's court will "probably" address Wright's indiscretions at the next meeting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Local Race for Hidalgo County District Clerk

Laura Hinojosa is running for Hidalgo County District Clerk. Laura is known as U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa's daughter, but she has plenty of public service under her belt. This will be her first elected office. Her experience includes the following:
  • President of Boys and Girls Club of McAllen
  • Executive Board Member of Boys and Girls Club of McAllen
  • Member of Leadership McAllen Class 13
  • Board Member of Valley AIDS Council
  • Committee Member of Our Lady of Sorrows Fund Raising events
  • Committee Member of Cattle Baron Ball American Cancer Society
  • Board Member and Gala Co-chair Discovery School
  • Board Member Palmer Drug Abuse Program
  • Past Board Member Junior League of McAllen
  • Committee Member and Chairman Auction CommitteeMcAllen Internatioal Museum
  • Teacher La Joya High School, South Texas ISD, Educational Certification Alternative Program, Oratory Academy

That's quite a bit of work that Laura has done. I've only met Laura when she stops by to do some shopping where I work. She has always been friendly and direct with this lowly cashier.

To be fair, I have not met the current District Clerk, Omar Guerrero. Perhaps some day when he shops at the store.

Valley Schools May Lose With Judicial Legislation

Aaron Pena has a post that has me concerned. The legislature's failure to get school finance going will end up sending the matter to the Texas Supreme Court. This is a bad thing for the RGV because while such matters are handled by the Legislature, we and our interests are represented. If our local Rep. believes that an amendment or any part of a bill is detrimental to our region, our Rep. can vote against it or try to have changes made. We don't have that if the courts take over. I don't know that this was the intent of the stalwarts in this last special session or not.

We stand to lose money for our schools, under any plan other than the current Robin Hood system. There is nothing we can do at this point except wait and see what happens. We have no voice in the matter once the court takes over.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mission High School Class of 1993 Reunion Kickoff

I want to announce the kickoff of the Mission High School Class of 1993's 15th Year Reunion. All members of the Class of '93 should visit the Forum Topic to participate in the planning.It is extremely important that you get the word out to as many of our classmates as possible. We want to start early and make this as good or better than the last one.Let's get the ball rolling!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Why We Have So Many Illegal Immigrants

I was speaking to a friend yesterday, who happens to be an illegal immigrant. I was curious about why he decided to gamble on coming over to the U.S. to try to make a living. I wasn't exactly shocked to hear what he told me, but I can understand his motivation. There are some things that we take for granted on this side of the border that our neighbors to the south cannot. Amongst these are jobs, standard of living, transportation, and trust in government. These can be compelling reasons.


Firstly, jobs in Mexico are of two kinds. There are jobs for the educated and jobs for common laborers. The vast majority of Mexicans cannot afford and are not encouraged to seek higher education past high school. Laborers will perform jobs in construction, food service, and anything else that commands low wages and hard work. For the majority of the population, this is the only option available.

Education helps command better wages but is still not as well compensated. In order for your education to be worthwhile, you need to learn self-employable skills such as medicine, law, computer repair, or whatever you can use to start up your own company or business. Training in clerical skills and other employable positions improve employability, but don't increase earning power by very much. On the other hand, any education means that you will not have to work as a laborer.

Standard of Living

My friend was telling me that living here illegally, even at low wages, he has it better than some of his counterparts back home. Keep in mind, he works long hours and gets one day off per week. Any social life has to happen after hours and on the day off. His job provides him with steady income with which he can pay his rent, bills, and have a little left over to save for big purchases.


One large purchase for anybody is a vehicle. Here in the United States, if you buy a vehicle, you have to pay tax, title, and license. This is the same for a new or used vehicle. Obviously, a new vehicle costs more in tax, but that is all. In Mexico, if you buy a new vehicle, you can expect to pay about $600 to $700 per MONTH in fees! Keep in mind, you own the vehicle and still have to pay for the privilege of driving it. If you ow and older vehicle, you have to pay $600 per year. In the U.S. our annual costs are the state inspection sticker and registration renewal, almost negligable costs. You would think that with such high fees they would have better roads. Where does it all go?

Trust in Government

This brings me to the final and most important reason why so many people come over, Government. We take for granted that ours is generally dependable in providing for the common good. Amongst our government's greatest contributions are its criminal laws, roads, investment in education, and the military. These things can't be said of the Mexican government. You may recall how President Vicente Fox was touted as being an agent of change for Mexico. He was going to do so much to improve the country. Here we are a few years later and he has been ineffective at doing much of what he was expected to do. I think that he was not counting on bureaucracy to hold him back as much as it has.

With respect to criminal laws, Mexican newspapers along the border are always printing this murder and that. There are robberies and assaults. Thousands of unsolved crimes keep piling up year after year. Recently, drug gangs are fighting each other for control of cities along the border. Keep in mind, they are not fighting the Mexican government. They are fighting each other. So, crime can be a problem in Mexico.

If you have ever driven in Mexico, you know that roads can be scary unless you drive on one of the toll roads. Those are generally well-kept and have the added benefit of not having any practical speed limit. But for the general population, roads leave much to be desired.

I don't know if the Mexican government invests in education in the form of subsidized student loans or guarantees. I'll have to find out about that.

As for the military, Mexico has one. Referring back to the drug wars going on along the border, many of the fighters are ex-military special forces. They make a better living fighting for drug lords than for the Mexican government. The Mexican military is not quite like ours. They don't have deserters. Deserters are killed. It's not official policy, it's just the way things are done. Most people don't trust the military. The military serves corrupt officials.

Is it any wonder that we have illegal immigrants? We have the good life. Unless you listen to Democrats, then we are perpetually miserable.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

RGV Life Dot Com is Taken!

While considering the purchase of the domain, I went searching for availability. Wouldn't you know it? is taken. It is a site that features artists. The first and only featured artist at this time is Omer Garcia, III. By the looks of the site, other artists will be added soon. So, the site is worth checking out.

I also checked into as a backup. No luck. It's already taken by somebody who has it parked. I wonder what will be done with it. Let's just leave it as a blog. There's no harm in it.

The Rio Grande Valley Has a Direct Flight to Vegas

Many people who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley have a dim view of how good things are here. This year, Allegiant Air made McAllen one of its destinations to and from Las Vegas, NV. If you visit their website, you can see that the only other Texas city to have Allegiant is Wichita Falls. Not Dallas, not Houston, not San Antonio, or Even Corpus Christi. They came to McAllen. Our region has the demand for such a service. There are an increasing number of affluent families in the Rio Grande Valley. In addition, we have many affluent resident aliens and tourists from Mexico that come to McAllen to live or touch base before heading into the interior of the U.S. Stop by their website to see the rates available.

Friday, August 12, 2005

La Joya Water Supply Corporation Under Investigation

Update by the Progress Times on the criminal investigation of the La Joya Water Supply Corporation. This is an example of the corruption I have claimed in the past. Most often, corruption takes the form of misappropriated funds or illegal kickbacks. Most of the corruption that is caught happens in small towns like La Joya.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hidalgo County Discusses Flooding

Here is an article by the Progress Times discussing the wake-up call our county commissioners received with the aftermath of Hurricane Emily, which, fortunately, did not hit us with all her wrath. We received about 6 inches of rain, which was enough to max out parts of our drainage systems that were built long before we had so much development. Read more about it.

Will the Dems Keep the RGV?

I was reading A Capitol Blog, Dos Centavos, and Rio Grande Valley Politics, today. There are some posts about the recent DNC Hispanic Summit held in San Antonio. Many of the recent news articles and blogs I have read are essentially saying the same thing:
We are losing Latinos to the Republicans because we no longer connect with them
and we don't give them positions of power within the party.

It's true. The Rio Grande Valley is Democrat territory. It's rare when a Republican can win an election, even when the Republican is Hispanic and the Democrat isn't. Since our area is so dependable in voting Democrat, we are pretty much ignored by campaigns. With the recent drift towards Republicans, the Dems are taking notice. Was it something they said? Nope. It's what they've done or failed to do.

What they are failing to see is that many of us are or want to be mainstream Americans. Many of our brothers, sisters, and children are over in Iraq and Afghanistan. You don't mess with family. High profile Dems, including Howard Dean, routinely tell us that we shouldn't be at war, it's all a mistake. Our poor soldiers are being sent against their will if you listen to the Dems. Yet, my sister is a volunteer. Her friends who went with her also volunteered. They went because they made that commitment and believe in defending our country. I don't like it when Dems say that she and her friends are stupid. They don't say it outright, but when they say that our soldiers are only in the military because they don't have education or job opportunities, they are implying that our Hispanic soldiers can't make an intelligent decision when they join the military. My sister was going to school at UTPA before she was deployed. What is more mainstream America than joining the military to help preserve our freedom?

Another way Dems are failing us is that we are mostly Catholic. Many Hispanics are therefore conservative. Sure, you have the occasional Hispanic that is pro-abortion and a proud supporter of gay marriage, and claims to be Catholic. These Hispanics say that just to sound sophisticated and try to fit in with their cool friends. The truth is, many of us don't support abortion, which the Democrats have a blood pact to defend and promote to the death (which the party is beginning to sense). They need to break that contract. With respect to gay marriage, Hispanics don't want it. We are generally tolerant of gay lifestyle unless it's in our face. It's like having a rich guy flaunt how good he has it daily by making it a point to come to you and show off every thing he has better than you. Rich jerks are generally despised. Humble rich people can be great friends. Same with the gay marriage issue. Go ahead and live together, have your civil unions, and have nice ceremonies. Just don't try to redefine marriage. The Dems keep promoting and defending the issue as much as abortion. By shoving this issue in our Catholic faces, they are not making points.

Did I mention that most Hispanics are Catholic? Well, we are. By putting down the Catholic church and taking God out of government and schools, the Dems are not making points.

The Dems can't claim to be championing our rights. Last I heard, Hispanics are now a majority in Texas. Yep, we outnumber the other minorities and the majority. What are the chances that we are going to be pushed around and discriminated? This isn't the 60s and 70s. It's time to change the playbook.

Immigration? Most of us don't care about "protecting" the rights of illegal immigrants. It's not up on our radar screen. The Republicans are dropping the ball here too. Don't listen to the few loud Hispanic groups that follow leftist ideals. Listen to us, mainstream Hispanics. Protect our country! But, since neither the Dems or Republicans want to mess with illegal immigration, this is a moot point.

Now that we Hispanics can't be ignored, and we are mainstream, we need the Dems to champion mainstream ideals. We poor Mexicans understand economic incentives and trade. We know that goverment programs cost us money. We know that if anybody tries to discriminate against us, the public won't stand for it and will drive them out of business or get them fired. I think that is the main problem. The Dems treat us as if we don't know any better like our previous generations of Hispanics. That needs to be understood by the Democratic leadership. If you spend all your time representing liberal groups that don't represent mainstream America, you don't represent us either. Hispanics are mainstream. Hispanics are Catholic. Hispanics are living the American dream. Hispanics ARE America. Treat us like Americans, not like your wards.

Why You Have Opportunities in the RGV

If you live in the Rio Grande Valley, you are probably a bit jaded when it comes to finding opportunities. After a lifetime of hearing that there's no jobs in the Valley, you may begin to believe it. I'll tell you, it's true. It's tough to find a job insofar as blue-collar work is concerned. No, let me rephrase that. It's tough to find a well paying blue collar job. You'll always have somebody work for far less than you want and may do an equally good or better job than you to boot.

Do you want to know where the opportunities are? Well, there are two. White collar jobs are one way to make decent cash. Educate yourself and don't hold out for the perfect job. You're NOT going to make $40k right out of college. Salaries aren't as high in the Rio Grande Valley as in other parts of the country or state, but our cost of living is lower. This means that your meager $40-$50k salary will buy you more than in other parts of the United States. The dirty little secret is that many of our talented people, who have seen their families struggle here leave the Valley for what they perceive are greener pastures. There is a brain drain in the Magic Valley. This is both good and bad. It's good for the talent that stays here because they can reap bigger rewards for their services. It's also good for people who come here to work from other parts of the country to fill our need. It's bad because we could use people who grew up here to make life better. So, develop some talent and put it to work.

If you are really serious about making money, then start a business in the RGV. You have about as much a chance of succeeding as anywhere else. You still need to find something that is in demand. The big difference is that your labor costs will be lower; therefore, profits are higher. In addition, the RGV is undergoing some heavy duty growth. This gives you plenty of opportunity in industries such as construction and home products. The houses that are being built today are monstrous compared to the houses in which most of us grew up. The average home used to be single story wood frame home. If you wanted to get fancy, you had a concrete floor. Newer homes are 2 story brick, which routinely sell for $80k to $400k, depending on the neighborhood. We do have $1 million homes as well. Unfortunately, few of them have garages big enough to fit the new Hummer H2s that the home owners buy.

Another growing industry in the Rio Grande Valley is entertainment. Our local population has more money than in the past and wants to spend it. We have the Dodge Arena and Villa Real Convention Center. There is baseball in Edinburg and Harlingen. Mission has the Pepsi Sports Complex. There are the dog races. I work in a party store and sell all kinds of frivolous, for entertainment only, products. There are a number of party rental places cropping up because people don't want to have birthday parties at home. The point is that we DO have opportunities and there IS money in the Rio Grande Valley. People here demand and are seeking ways to spend money on leisure and entertainment. When tourism kicks in, then there is that much more opportunity.

If more of our local people were trained to look for opportunities rather than just look for a job which pays well, they would recognize the opportunities here and we would not have to bring in outside talent. As we change from a largely agricultural economy to an International trade centric one, more and more metropolitan attractions are coming. This is not the Rio Grande Valley of the past. We have money, we have talent, and we have no limits.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Class Reunion Updates

There have been class reunion updates at both and at Most of the reunions are for the classes of 1996.

Rep. Aaron Peña on KURV

Rep. Aaron Peña will be on KURV on Thursday morning. See his blog for more details.

Valley Reps Vote for CAFTA

According to, some of the RGV Reps voted for CAFTA. In the article, it is expected that organized labor will "retaliate" against defecting Democrats. Ha! Fat chance of that happening in the Rio Grande Valley. As is well known, the only political party in the RGV is the Democrat party despite the populace being socially conservative. It's an unexplainable phenomenon.

Amongts the CAFTA 15, as the defecting Dems are called, are Henry Cuellar (D) from Laredo, Rubén Hinojosa (D) from Mercedes, and Solomon P. Ortiz (D), from Corpus Christi.

My Rep is Lloyd Doggett (D), Austin, not one of the dissenting Dems.

Notice that the Democrat Reps voting for CAFTA are along the border. Lloyd is an Austin boy, he doesn't get it and doesn't get us. Our districts stand to make some serious cash with more trade. Much of the goods made in Central America have to pass through the Rio Grande Valley. It will trickle down. First, the customs brokers make money. The truckers passing by will spend money. The increased traffic will also increase drug trade, which improves OUR economy. I don't think that voting for CAFTA will affect our dissenting reps negatively. After all, they are improving our economic future. It is fortunate that Texas is not a Union state and our reps can vote according to what is best for their districts rather than be beholden to organized labor.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Example of Local Corruption

In a prior posting, I failed to mention Judge Ed Aparicio as an example of the local corruption. I've never met the judge, so I cannot refute any of the reports in the news. I focused on Conrado Cantu in Cameron County in the last article. Here in Hidalgo County, there was Judge Ed Aparicio who probably committed suicide a while after his office was raided by the FBI and they walked out with boxes of records. His death is still under investigation to be 100% sure that it was suicide and not something else. According to the article, there were traces of marijuana and alcohol in the judge's body during the autopsy. Unofficially, as in, you won't find this in the news, the judge left a letter and incriminating evidence that points to other corrupt officials. That is just a rumor and could easily be false. I'm not a journalist, so I don't have the high standard of proof. I only tell you what I hear and read. One thing is certain, you have to wonder, did the judge smoke marijuana whild on the bench? I don't mean at work. I mean, in the time he served as a judge. The 92nd District Court is a trial court.

If you recall in the last article about this subject, it's not exactly suprising that there is corruption in the RGV. Many people like to put down our little corner of the world as a backwater of Texas. They don't realize how much money there is here, traceable and untraceable. Here, power equals money. McAllen just had an election for Mayor. According to a local public interest group, Futuro McAllen, that reviewed one-third of mail in applications, 96 percent of them appear to have been illegally prepared. I searched for today's The Monitor article on the front page for this but was not able to find it. I also listened to Davis Rankin on KURV interview one of the members of Futuro McAllen with the same information. In fact, run a search on The Monitor for "politiqueras" to see results of voter fraud allegations in McAllen, Pharr, San Juan, Edinburg, and other Rio Grande Valley cities. If you are new to the RGV, politiqueras are political operatives who sell votes.

Going back to the previous article, there is corruption here. There is no question. In some cases, it affects trials (Ed Aparicio), in some cases it affects national policies (Conrado Cantu), and in other cases it may just be local official elections (politiqueras). There is certainly much more that is not caught and brought to light. It's like cockroaches, for every one that you see there are hundreds more hiding. The same is with our local corruption. It's the compadre politics I mentioned. If you have some connection with somebody on the inside, you can arrange things.

There is somebody I know who has a connection at DPS who can arrange to get a license for illegal aliens. I know of some people who were criminals were given a break by a local judge and were later asked to return the favor. There are judges who can take care of your ticket for a price if you get to them before the officer submits his paperwork. Believe me, if you are a business person, you can get these connections. If you don't have money, forget it. My possible connections are by proxy because I am a broke-ass Mexican. Even by proxy, I get these offers. Being broke, it is tempting at times. Deep down in one's heart, one knows that the favor will have to be returned one day.

I don't want to paint a bleak picture about the Rio Grande Valley. On the surface, this is a decent place to live. I am merely pointing out what happens behind the scenes. For the most part, our local governments carry out their duties well. There are also examples of mismanagement, but that's another topic. Just keep in mind if you move here that you should either start a high-end business or become friends with big local business owners. These people will be your gateway to getting things done. I am not encouraging you to participate in corruption, this is just business. If you move here and are broke, just pay the fine or don't fight; you don't have a chance.
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