There’s a new situation comedy brewing along the streets of Del Rio which I refer to as ‘Chito and the Man.” Chito is the individual who has decided it’s his God given calling to landscape the median along Veterans Boulevard, with no regard that he is a roving traffic hazard. The Man is city councilman Raul Ojeda. Most recently, he has become an overwhelming traffic statistic which has become an epidemic in Del Rio: being arrested while driving under the influence of alcohol. This situation of errors can be placed into archives if the Del Rio City Council acts to do so. Don’t hold your breath. It’s not going to happen, but let me tell you why it should.
Chito’s merry mower parade has a primary route of Veterans Boulevard from north of Stricklen to 7th Street. Other streets of his armada include 15th Street, Main, and Avenue G. He is a complete menace to north side motorists. Chito’s cavalcades are at least 30 feet long and consist of a push mower, followed by wagons filled with mess, shambles, and clutter. He dodges in and out of traffic without any regard to motorists. Where is a DPS trooper or policeman when we need enforcement? While Loop 79 remains closed and the endless travel of pipeline trucks clog Veterans Boulevard worse than a teenage girl’s sink drain one hour before the prom; Chito’s 30 foot fleet plays chicken with eight tons of instant destruction.
Meanwhile, the story of the Man. Recently city councilman Raul Ojeda was pulled over by Del Rio’s finest for suspected driving under the influence. Reports state he had a blood alcohol level of 0.157 which is twice the legal limit of operating a motor vehicle. That’s even a lot in Russia. According to police reports, the Man was driving above the speed limit, on the wrong side of his road, and failed to stop until he made it to a residential driveway. Ojeda faces a Class A Misdemeanor.
For the first four years of my broadcast career I was as a traffic/news reporter in Dallas, Houston, and Miami. Before I advanced to an airborne reporter, my first year was in a ground mobile unit. I have witnessed the carnage of fatal accidents in which alcohol or uninspected/unauthorized operations of vehicles were contributing factors. I have seen decapitations, death by fire, and even a family of seven killed by a drunk driver. There were dozens of other accidents which I came upon before first responders, and three accidents where I either testified in court or provided depositions for insurance companies. I don’t have much compassion for those who break traffic laws as if they were changing their socks daily. Nor for those who get behind the wheel, knowing they have had too much to drink.
We can ask our Del Rio City Council to do something about this tongue and cheek situation comedy. Our leaders can provide ordinance of restricting the use of unauthorized vehicles on major thoroughfares (Chito) and reprimand, suspension, or letter of resignation of the Man (Raul Ojeda) for suspected drunk driving. How can we trust those who represent us when they choose to use a three thousand pound car as a potential weapon? Don’t look for any action to be taken. Just a continued episode of “Chito and the Man”
Last month I contributed an article exploring the tax payer cost and maybe future consideration of privatizing, or pay-for-play athletics for high school sports including Del Rio. In 2012, one Texas high school had no choice but to suspend athletics. Premont ISD, in Jim Wells County had suffered insurmountable loss in population and in economic development a decade prior. Enrollment fell. Attendance did not meet state requirements as well as financial accountability. As sourced by several news agencies at the time, the district was weeks away from closure. Before the start of the school year, then recently hired superintendent Ernest Singleton made a choice that gave a reprieve for the existence of Premont. All sports were eliminated. By the savings, more teachers were hired and two science labs were built. Premont managed to recover and today, by information provided through its web site, stability has been achieved and yes, athletics has made it back to the district.
I found another Premont report in a October 2013 issue in the Atlantic written by Amanda Ripley. In her story and what garnered my attention is that outcome of the decision appeared to win over the skeptics. Overall attendance improved. Eighty percent of the students passed classes, verses only half the student population when a sport was in place. In Ripley’s report, administrators and teachers saw more students involved in academics, with better attitudes, motivation and even pep rallies on Fridays. It was reported that about a dozen students enrolled at other districts and two coaches left.
A lot of you might wonder why I bring up the story of Premont ISD. Well, when a district is on the ropes, certain cuts must be made. Our schools are no where near the accreditation/financial crisis that Premont faced in 2012; however the board did have to come to the Del Rio voters in 2018 for approval of a TRE. Some of that money was for the restructure of building improvements and security. Most of it was for school district employee health benefits. In other words, taking sports out of the high school can be done with a great benefit towards education and reducing financial burden.
We as tax payers must communicate with our elected board leaders what is important for the future of our schools. If you want to hire qualified educators, you will need a good benefit package. If bonds cannot be passed due to the voters feeling that they are not fully explained or appear excessive, the funding must come from somewhere. If students show more interest in career training curriculum, but can’t make the class because they’re travelling six to 20 times per semester due to sports scheduling; administrators must look at the numbers: what is the overall investments to the student within a lifetime?
Only three students in the past decade have made it to the professional ranks as an athlete from Del Rio High School. That’s three in five thousand graduates.
It’s time for parents to pay for their child to participate in sports and take the burden away from the school and taxpayer. Blow the whistle. Enough is enough.
Texas high school football, for some if not a right of passage, might be regarded as a religion. Vengeance against a neighboring town, at the expense of a young 17 year old that is sold on the premise that ‘school pride’ is a virtue. Aristotle was never forced to practice in 110 degree heat in order to get his accolades at the Diary Queen on a Friday night. In 2019, Ol’ Aristotle would come to one conclusion about high school athletics, especially football. It is incredibly expensive. For a public school, little musing would render the discovery that athletics is a tax burden.
Whether the Texas good-ol-boy high school football booster realizes it or not, tax supported high school athletics, as we know it, is not as healthy as the coaches and athletic directors say it is. Student athletes are making choices to participate in other curriculum which requires focus outside of classroom hours. Coaches hate that. Academic eligibility often restricts the roster. Then there’s the new phenomenon of social technology. Kid’s can now become professional gamers and play a virtual sport; not in the Texas heat, but indoors. It is very feasible and more likely that a 17 year old can play a virtual sport and earn up to 50 thousand dollars annually depending on their achievement level and access to competition. Concussion free, unless hit in the head by a keyboard.
Texas public school athletics soon will face another dilemma; funding. Let’s look at any given Friday at Del Rio High School before a football road trip. If 70 players are on the roster, the average annual equipment cost is close to $1,500 dollars-per player. Meanwhile the math student left in the classroom, the average annual cost spent on him is slightly over $400 dollars. Then add in the cheerleaders, dance team, and band. No fewer than seven buses must travel a minimum of 300 miles round trip. The students must be fed while traveling. There’s the cost of bus drivers and fuel. Advisors, administration, and support staff must accompany the students. Then there’s the cost of hiring substitute teachers to fill the vacancy that day. The cost easily reaches the six figure mark, before even equating the legal expense and insurance. Oh, and let’s not forget the money forfeited by the district that day for excused student absences. The state funds the school district for attendance. Almost one third of the student enrollment is on the road five Friday’s in the fall. That is only one day and one sporting event.
It is time to get rid of public funded athletics and UIL competition in Texas high schools. It is a burden and great expense to the taxpayer. While state legislators continue to slash funds like Zorro, districts much like the San Felipe-Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District often have to come back to the tax payer and ask for temporary reform. Much like the TRE election this past November. That was a band aid for the district to address employee health care and campus security. The next go around, something is going to have to give. In my opinion, I propose pay-for-play athletics. In less than a decade, it will come down to hiring a science teacher or a football coach. Parents and school board members are going to have to face a hard realization of the future of a century old tradition. Does the student have a better advantage in life of core curriculum education or the chance at a trophy?
In the March edition of the Texas Times, I’ll share the story of a Texas high school that ceased athletics for one season. The results might surprise you.
How have you been? You might not remember me but the last letter I sent to you was as Bobby Corbell in 1968. I know there has not been correspondence between us in 50 years however there’s a few things that must be addressed. First of all, thank you for the Realistic Astronaut-5 Solid State five-band radio. Although my sister tore off the antenna in 1973, it still works on the police frequencies. Second, you really need a good lawyer that specializes in trade marks and franchise infringement. I see folks posing as you who don’t weigh over 150 pounds. The laugh is all wrong and toddlers leave the mall with wet pants and psycho dramatic delusions that confuse you with circus clowns. It puts both Clement Clarke Moore and yourself in a very bad position.
I know you had something to do with the early gifts that were brought to us in 2018. The confirmation of Bret Kavanaugh, Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections resignation, and finally after 13 days the Gina Ortiz-Jones concession speech. How do I know your hand was in it? Well, with that bowl-full-of-jelly frame dressed in your traditional flight suit, you’re practically a red-state yourself. You really rock as a Republican Santa.
Now that I’m in my fifties, I’m not asking for any tangible gifts for myself. But there are some things that we all could do with and without, that might keep the holiday spirit a glow year around and that you might be able to bestow under the tree. First my request of the things we all could do without:
• Flat earth conspiracies
• Jason Garrett as the Dallas Cowboys head coach
• The CMA Awards
• Political Campaign Ads
• Lady Gaga
• Direct Mail
• The madness of the bowl game television nightmare
Also, could you arrange a UFC event in Las Vegas between Alexa and Siri? A fight that leads to their non existence. The gift would not be complete except for placing the critical thinking controllers of Facebook and Google in a single self driving car. Once the vehicle hits 70 miles per hour, it never stops. Ever. Those in the apparatus participate in a perpetual fight for the remainder of their natural lives over one USB port in the back seat. That would be really great Santa! People need to get up and turn off lights and select music using vinyl and turntables themselves.
The things we could all use Santa might take a few years from research and development to design. Some of the elves might have to go back to college during the off season to obtain advanced education to tender the request. But I believe gifting these needs would keep on giving, not just for Del Rio, but mankind. My request includes:
• More street lights
• Folks using correct Enter and Exit doors at Wal Mart
• A four lane highway between Del Rio and Uvalde
• True, legitimate, rightful, ingenious and affordable Health Care Reform
• The return of Luby’s
• Bunuelo’s year a round.
Finally Santa, I know you cannot please everyone. The constant entitlement of the millennial demographic wonders why you haven’t contracted your hard work to China. A lot of these folks believe Christmas is an Amazon-shopping season that begins in September and lasts for 30 minutes on December 25th, before heading to a brick-and-mortar mall or glutton lined casino.
You leave those who are misfortunate and don’t receive a Christmas gift to us which practice the Christian faith with compassion and kindness. Our fault is that a majority of the time, we do not exchange such small gifts or acts for the remainder of the 364 days of the year. Maybe if we spent Christmas Eve listening to all 53 movements of Handel’s Messiah, some of what we learned as a child in Sunday school would come back to mind.
Happy travels Santa. Be careful navigating between Del Rio and Rocksprings this year. The deer leases are full and bourbon has been flying off the shelves.
Two months before the November mid-term election, a selective few KWMC listeners of Town Talk Live specifically made a verbal point to articulate that I am different. That is a realization that I came to understand by the age of three when I could ride a bicycle without training wheels and I wore cowboy boots to bed. Their remarks were not a reaction to my wardrobe but primarily due to my conservative viewpoint. Webster’s definition of difference is ‘a point or way in which people or things are not the same.’ The synonyms include contrast, distinction, and variance. Some listeners have an overall general problem and concern with the above. They would prefer a more ratified, common uniform message for their personal political taste.
Friday, September 21st a business leader contacted the station owner in regards to something I said on Town Talk Live. Usually, the disagreement or feedback from an individual comes directly to me during the broadcast. That is the whole essence of the show. Yet while I shared why I do not support Beto O’Rourke for the U.S. Senate candidacy, the highly agitated business leader fired a text message to Guillermo Garza, critical of Ken Herrera and me regarding our discussion of Beto. Guillermo sent the text to us why still on the air. I prefer to respond over the air while on KWMC, after all the show is not “Town Text Live”, and at the time I chose not to.
I’m a bit suspicious why the business leader responded to Guillermo instead of us. Perhaps, this individual was applying the pressure for a reprimand, clarification or an apology for not drinking the Del Rio Democrat Kool-Aid. The text message did not suggest that at all. It was critical of us being too much like Fox News. I find that remark hilarious. Fox News does not take names for the H-E-B Heavenly Delight Birthday cake on Friday’s. However it was the method which hits a sore spot with me. The business leader did not participate on the show in regards to my political beliefs, but to question my presentation with the station owner.
I’m not going to publicly announce the name of the business leader. If the individual wishes to appear on the air with us, they are more than welcome, as anyone in this community. But I will not refrain from my difference or dissimilarity of what is perceived as the “local majority” on how I choose to vote or what I think. My job for two hours a week is to engage the audience in matters of Del Rio and talk about them. I have another responsibility at the station, keeping the listeners tuned to KWMC for another day of conversation. I do believe I’m pretty good at what I do. Friday got the attention of a business leader who chose to share his thoughts of variance with KWMC ownership.
Our statements on that September Friday were not highly critical of Beto O’Rourke at all. None were nasty as the multitudes on social media and political message boards. In fact, we did say Beto had run an aggressive, grass roots campaign. Senator Ted Cruz took a real jab at the first U.S. Senate debate in Dallas calling it a “254 county photo op with the press in tow.”
What was said confirmed my conservative views in a nut shell. Our Constitutional 2nd Amendment right, reduction within the Federal government and taxes, a fundamental right to life for the unborn, the abolishment of universal-social medicine, and a secure border that defines this nation’s sovereignty. As I recall, I also said that any blue wave millennial who doesn’t understand my views and shouts them down without discussion suffers from delusions of grandeur and should be branded as Liberal Fascism.
To the business leader of concern: First, yes I’m different. I’m a white male in my 50’s who votes conservative and lives in Del Rio. In other words, in Val Verde County, I’m a minority. Minorities in the United States have the same 1st Amendment rights as the majority within the community. My expression of beliefs is not limited by the Val Verde Democrat Party majority, whether I was born here or not (as long as I’m an American citizen) the church or parish where I worship (or choose not to) or the color of my skin.
Second, I can’t fathom to think if text messaging was the only 21st century technology to have been in existence while Jay, Madison, and Hamilton contributed to the Federalist Papers. If that sole petitioner had stopped the presses through a tweet, the United States would not have made it through Franklin Pierce’s presidency. (the second most divided time in our nation’s 242 year history next to present day). If the consequences of an editor reaction to a hypothetical 18th century text message would have occurred, the generations which survived through it all today would live in a very poor agrarian society filled with famine and filth. It was Freedom of Speech and the Fourth Estate that became the bedrock of a very young nation.
This scenario reminds me of something I once read by Steven Covey: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” Touché local business leader. There was no intention of understanding on your part in September. It was just a reply. If you wish to engage in the conversation, please be our guest. I hope someday you truly understand the definition difference. As the old adage goes’ every man has the right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Meanwhile, I will choose to remain ‘different.’
Story by Bob Corbell
Over the summer, my wife and I had an enjoyable lunch with a former student.
This person has already achieved an undergraduate degree and midway through post graduate completion. The occupation this individual is perusing is highly professional and very competitive. They wish to establish a homestead in Del Rio. Being almost adamant and determined to do so, some of our conversation revolved around the current and future political, education, an economic make up of our fair city. Without going into the particulars of our lunch discussion, I did leave the table more optimistic about our community in relation to this individual. But one’s effort is not enough which led me back to my mid life pessimistic thought. One young individual is not enough. I came to this conclusion. We, as the citizens of Del Rio, need to retain as many young individuals as we can muster and offer them the opportunity to grow personally and professionally in the town in which they were born.
The question is “how do we do it?”
First, let’s look at what Del Rio has to offer. A strong community passion, rooted in the commitment of family. We have a clean environment. There are deep roots of faith and service for one’s religion of choice which are properly instilled through family love. Our city also possesses a sense of more patriotic pride within young individuals that many Texas communities have to offer. More than a handful of research and studies have found that millennial and post-millennial (those born after 1997) seek the core values Del Rio already has that will grow in their personal and professional life. The values can’t be bought by larger, competitive cities. However, many 20 something’s reluctantly find themselves making a compromise, settling for what the much larger ponds have to offer. Whether we realize it or not, our town has the necessary building blocks for a prosperous future. Where we as baby-boomers and Gen-xer’s have failed is that we have not properly asked for the 20 something’s formal input concerning desired economic growth and needs.
Second, we have to access the millennial and post-millennial needs after four to six years of education or workforce experience. Most will have quite a bit of college debt. At present, outside of the government or education job sector, it will be hard for them to find an adequate wage to match their education or work skills. Some will consider the compromise in salary in lieu of quality of life. However, that leads to another concern on their minds, affordable new housing. As much as they love Mom and Dad, they don’t want to stay parked in the old bedroom. I know in the case of one millennial that they recently took on a very large mortgage in Houston. In so many words, this person said “I would rather start my family here (Houston) rather than waiting five years of qualifying then waiting for construction in Del Rio. The lack of red tape doesn’t exist in a large town. Del Rio will always be there.” I’ve probably have raised the hairs on the back of the neck of some local bankers and realtors who might disagree. But when these young folks are able to get what they want in a large town, and quickly, they are not going to shop for comparison. They are going to act and move on with their life.
Finally, how do we get these young individuals to come back home? Right now, my guess is that we retain less than 15 percent after college, and I think that’s a high estimate.
The person I had lunch with briefly spoke about this effort, but I will expand on it. Del Rio community and professional leaders can reach out to them by asking for their input and involvement through a future task force. Much like many major cities have done through out the United States for the last two decades, proper and well developed initiatives which have led to a renaissance of current and future economic growth in those communities is the benefactor.
Suppose a joint initiative between the county, city, school, and both chambers of commerce could be established with bi annual or quarterly meetings focused on constructive an achievable goals. If designed an implemented properly, it could only lead to the betterment of Del Rio’s current and future needs. Those who are studying business can offer input in the cities fiscal and financial solutions. Students who study in the health career sector could offer ideas shared with the hospital board. The young minds who study law can work with leaders towards better contracts, law enforcement concerns, and legislative measures. In other words, current leaders are asking for the young mind input and investment towards their hometown. It gives them ownership and it gives all proper solutions. It strokes healthy egos, and re establishes community pride.
If the citizens of Del Rio truly desire a brighter future for our community, we must do something more than hand an 18 year old a few scholarships upon high school graduation and wish them the best. We loose 80 percent of future professionals to the outside world except for weddings, reunions, and Christmas visits. Isn’t it time that the elders start looking at some time consuming and creative resolutions that can insure this city’s future without merely hoping “if we build it, they will come ” ?
We need to forget about costly sports complexes, never ending studies of the potential need of a second bridge, and the bickering about proposed tax increases for much needed necessities, like fire engines and emergency management equipment when we don’t have the current budget funds due to past short comings. What we do need, are young minds that have Del Rio pride and desire a future back home. Let’s face it, currently there is not a long list of folks who desire to move to Del Rio, except those who were born and raised here. If we invest in these individuals now, with the community and family qualities that we already have, it can only be to their and our benefit.
It’s time to get back to the future, and quick.
Story By Bob Corbell
Voter apathy is not a new phenomenon to Del Rio or for that matter the rest of the country. However in the last three elections held in Val Verde County, the lack of turnout has passed way beyond epidemic acute proportions. It is chronic and dire. Maybe the explanation is that of the affects of self medication with illegal drug use or alcohol. It’s too easy to become hooked after the first nip, or high. That first taste of not participating in an election gives one the sense of control and euphoria all wrapped into a sublime feeling. Meanwhile the crash, hangover, or depression after the high of not voting leads to a pattern of cynicism over someone’s name they’ve never read on an election ballot.
This is the story of 85 percent of the registered voters in Val Verde County. They’re the ones who say they give a damn, but they really don’t. The majority of registered voters in Del Rio spit at the 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th, Amendments of the U.S. Constitution; 95 percent can’t define any of the specifics. Well since you slept through civics class, or were sick that day, let me give you a quick reminder. Between 1870 and 1971, these amendments ensure you the right to vote no matter your race, color, or previous condition of servitude (Amendment XV 1870). It doesn’t matter what sex you were born; you can vote in America (Amendment XIX 1920, the woman’s right to vote). You no longer have to pay a poll tax. Voting in the United States is free of charge (Amendment XIV 1964, the beginning of the end of Jim Crow). If you are 18 years of age at the date of an election, or older, you can vote. (Amendment XVI 1971).
Unless you fall under the category of felony disenfranchisement due to a conviction or are not a United States Citizen, there is absolutely no excuse for not casting a vote in any election, period. Every law, tool, time, and resource is more than adequate for you to participate within your government.
According to the Val Verde County Clerk Office, there are close to 27-thousand registered voters on the rolls. In the May 2018 City of Del Rio election, slightly fewer than four thousand people took time to cast a ballot. So, why the apathy?
One reason could be the convoluted, an excessive number of elections that we do have. General elections, bond elections, primary’s , special elections, county elections, county-primary run-off elections, city elections, hospital board elections, school board elections, school board bond elections, and city run-off elections. A total of 11 elections since November 2016. That is a one per month election average which is quite byzantine for most of the voters. The resolve would take both legislative action and city-county effort for cohesive and simplified voter solutions.
Another reason might be a bit subjective to the age of the voter, but let’s face it; times are changing on how a candidate’s message is presented. Social media has become the coffee-shop-feel-good-trendy-way of an office seeker to present his message. Quite frankly, it’s not personal for the voter. Yes, the message might be presented well, with some near instant feed back, but it does not carry into a one-on-one conversation.
When I see political messages on social media, I scroll through the news feed. If I continue to receive them, they are blocked or removed. I would much prefer to be addressed by a person seeking office either by taking the effort of knocking at my front door (block walking shows sincere concern) or speaking with me as I seek them out at a political debate or forum. I don’t want robo-calls six times a day or illuminating my Face Book news feed like it’s the Las Vegas strip. I believe I’m not in the minority when it comes to this intrusion. Thus, the more these messages are seen, the less participation on Election Day.
Voter revolt is another reason for not turning out to the polls. Many feel the person running for office is not adequate to fill the shoes. Poor representation from previous elected officials, unreliable administration, excessive taxation when not necessary, and an unclear message of how to resolve issues have folks resorting to apathy at the polls like it was crystal meth.
The eighty five percent who do not vote in Val Verde County cannot be totally blamed for their dependence of the voter apathy drug addiction. There are those who are the enablers. Some which are politicians themselves. For they do the research and know within a percentage point how many votes it will take to get them in the big red chair. Apathy, or the lack of turn out on Election Day, is what a few count on to seize the power. It’s much easier to win a low voter turn out election than attempt to reach all of those registered to vote. It’s also a cheaper campaign. It takes less mailers, and is easier on the feet for those long, hot, and tiring block walks.
For those who are looking for voter apathy addiction intervention for a loved one, or might be seeking rehabilitation for themselves; there are very capable people to get you the help that is needed. All one has to do is to go the United States Post Office or the Val Verde County Court House and ask for a Voter Registration Card. As for support groups within the election process; contact either your Republican or Democrat Party. For those few who wish to overcome apathy through self help study, might I suggest the Libertarian Party. Those choices are up to the individual.
Story By Bob Corbell
June 20th, 2018 certainly was one of the worst public relations nightmares for the City of Del Rio and Mayor Bruno Lozano. In a six hour time frame, Bruno ousted a Catholic Priest from city hall, fired the city manager without citizen comment, then had an elderly woman removed from council chambers. While this was occurring, I could not keep from thinking of the SNL skit where the fight attendants constantly mumble the words “bub-bye” as passengers exit the aircraft. What irony. Bruno makes a living as a flight attendant. During the meeting, he held an attitude that was not customer friendly at times; “bub-bye” possibly could sum up a very short political career of Bruno Lozano. At least in the eyes of those who support Henry Arredondo.
The day after the meeting, someone, or group, picked up a packet from city hall which contains the protocol for a recall election. In the case of Bruno, he must hold office six months before a recall can be filed. That’s the rule. But since when has anyone paid attention to all those pesky rules and items such as “the city charter” in Del Rio? It all doesn’t matter. The wheels of recall are already churning and burning. Oh, great. It’s all Del Rio needs. Another election in November and the sixth trip to the ballot box in a nine month period.
Of course Bruno is not the only actor in the removal of Henry Arredono. Council people Diana Salgado, Liz Elizalde, and John Sheedy were the votes which terminated the life of the city manager’s career. No one will admit who submitted a calling for a special city council meeting for Henry’s fate. It was submitted to the city secretary anonymously. All seems very curious in the eyes of some citizens of Del Rio. Time was running out for the majority vote needed for Arredondo’s removal. The runoff of elections to fill two city council seats was just three days away. What we don’t know is why the sudden rush to the removal of Henry. Speaking with John Sheedy the evening after a very heated discussion (and both of us had calmed down) he did share there are certain perspectives which lead to a very hard decision that can’t always be as transparent as the public (and Henry who asked for the meeting to be held in public rather with portions in executive session) would like to be presented. Although I don’t necessary agree, I can understand the reason for the process.
There is a lot about the removal of Henry Arredondo that bothers me. One fact is he did not find out about the special city council meeting called to remove him until he was on a trip to Mexico City for official business. The mayor and Councilwoman Elizalde accompanied the city manager on the trip. Talk about your “Et Tu, Brute” moments.
Then there is the evaluation process of the city manager. I should say the lack of a formal evaluation of Henry’s performance since January 15th 2015. During his tenure of four years, Arredondo requested an evaluation 19 times and the city council NEVER provided a proper, formal evaluation. Sometimes, there were not enough council members present at meetings to perform the task, some did not receive the pdf file in order to do so, etc, etc, etc. My hope is that Henry would re submit his application with the pile of resumes for a new city manager being taken. That would put an interesting twist and comparison with the new applicants in regards to experience.
Before the action of his removal, Henry was allowed to make a public comment. His accomplishments over the last four years are extraordinary. The highlights of course are the bond rating concerning the city’s finances is double A; the highest in Del Rio’s history. The city is able to borrow money for future needs and projects along with repayment within 10 years. The revenues of the International Bridge have almost double during his tenure and Henry delivered a much needed airline service to Del Rio without the use of any property tax dollars. Then the infrastructure improvements that are still a work in progress. Henry Arredondo left Del Rio in a better working order than any other city manager in a very long time.
Bruno ran on a platform brand of “unity”. Well, that all went out the window June 20th, 2018. He did not allow public comments during the special meeting. He ordered the removal of two women by the police chief; one lady was a senior citizen who was no threat at all. Bruno’s demeanor registered the score of zero on the unity scale. Hours earlier, he called police to remove Father Clay Hunt from city hall, a meeting in which Clay was invited by Bruno. The rumors, hearsay and chisme aren’t necessary to discuss. However, if you are in public service in Deep South Texas and wish to continue to do so, you do not have a Catholic priest removed from your office by the police. You might as well place your life savings in Edsel or Enron stock.
Perception on how one act is the reality in many people’s mind. The actions of Bruno on June 20th 2018 will never be forgotten by many of the citizens of Del Rio. What is sad are the rumors that start and fuel fast then linger on forever. For some folks in this town, there are red hot mad in saying “bub-by Bruno, we hardly got to know you.” The sentiment in some camps is already to circle the wagons for another election come November. Just what we need before the Holidays. Please hurry up 2019. This has turned into a really rotten political year.
May 5th, 2018. A date that will live in infamy, as far as Del Rio politics goes. Eighteen years into the 21st Century, those three thousand folks who chose to show up between Cinco de Mayo margaritas elected their first millennial leader with the selection of Bruno ‘Ralphy’ Lozano. While the overall turnout was significantly low by total registered voters’ standards, it was an overwhelming majority of 61 percent which lead to the defeat of baby boomer Mayor Robert Garza and crowning the 30 something mayor-elect. A title that he might consider for the 2022 campaign: Landslide Lozano.
While Bruno’s campaign of slightly over 90 days was never crafty, slick, or over produced, (as many political consultants would diagnose as the only way to defeat a highly successful and educated incumbent) his grass roots, low key approach was deer-in-the-headlight blinding to the opposition while attracting the masses with one, simple key word: Unity.
There are several factors why Del Rio chose Bruno Lozano for the big red chair. His timing was as crystal clear as a Steven Spielberg final scene, leaving nothing for the cutting room floor. There wasn’t rhetoric, trash-talking, or promises. The incumbent answers at public forums, mass-mailers outlying previous achievements, budgets met, and expectations that Del Rio must look at for the future did not seem to faze Bruno in the least and he kept on point. What his supporters took with them into the voting booth was the one word repeated from countless hours of block walking and public speaking at forums: Unity. To be determined over the next 48 months is can Bruno deliver?
In order to achieve collective cohesiveness, Del Rio still has to determine who will serve in District 2 for city council as well as Council at Large Place C. That will be a very difficult decision between Jim Dereus and David Scarbo in the District 2 showdown. Both men have high achievement with their past professional and community service experience. Their character alone demonstrates the comprehension of unity. Place C has voters deciding between Reno Luna and Raul Ojeda. Luna has served many years as councilman, so he does not need to be reminded of the definition of Lozano’s credo. Ojeda does understand and acknowledges a desire for what Del Rio demands of its future government.
What Mayor-elect Lozano probably will find in the upcoming months is how fortunate it is that District 1 voters chose Fred Carranza. If anything, Fred Carranza is a perfect synonym for unity. As for council persons Rowland Garza, Diana Salgado, and Elizabeth Elizalde-Calderon, Bruno will find that they too have Del Rio’s best interest at heart. But he shouldn’t feel surprised at the hard ball questions to come along with some opposition.
What Bruno Lozano must decide once the council is in place are the specific goals that will unify Del Rio.
More strategic economic growth plans. A continued pace of securing needed infrastructure. He has already hinted at the beautification of Del Rio and better containment of its natural resources. Bruno had me on my feet with applause when he said that he chooses not to compare Del Rio to Eagle Pass, but selects other cities of its size in the United States. That comment is rather bold and might even miff those who supported him.
Bruno might consider looking at the accomplishments of Robert Garza since 2016 which might guide him to unification at a steady pace. The Ports-To-Plains vision for Del Rio, along with future cooperation with interior Mexico is a laudable plan to pursue. The achievement of our financial status, bond rating, and payment of debt are to his credit. The one thing you can say about Robert Garza’s tenure, he left us in a better financial position than when he came into office.
Finally, mayor-elect Lozano might want to set his goals with a well outlined series of tasks in order to meet his ultimate summit. Once his council is selected, it’s time to roll the sleeves up and focus on amalgamation. Its definition is “the action, process, or result of combining or uniting. Welcome to City Hall Ralphy. Opport-Unity knocks!
Story By Bob Corbell
The storyline of Del Rio’s awkward an insatiable past of airline service has raised its head again, but maybe this time the reality will unmask the unfounded perception. This has been a hot bed of conversation over the last 30 days on KWMC. The further discussions at City Hall can only conclude one thing for certain: it will be a well spirited month of May without any need of a rented margarita machine in the hallway left over from Cinco de Mayo.
A lot has happened since 1949 when a certified airline carrier by the Civil Aeronautics Board serviced Del Rio. Air Mail Route 82, was granted to Trans Texas Airlines which flew mail, passenger, and cargo along a line stretching from Houston to El Paso with stops in between that included Uvalde, Eagle Pass, Ft Stockton, and Van Horn. By 1978, when the airline industry was deregulated, service to Del Rio became more complicated. This was mainly due to regional carriers having to create alliances with an assortment of major carriers. The majors battled rapid expansion, fare wars, and quite frankly, chaos that continued well into the 1990s. Del Rio suffered from these consequences.
There are two misconceptions that have lead to the “no mas” attitude towards any future consideration for air service in Del Rio. Most recent is the contract with Texas Sky. It was costly and did not provide through ticketing outside of DFW airport. Also there were some frequent service interruptions and the mid afternoon departures which lead to a full day of travel. The other misconception is that future airline service will be a burden to the taxpayers.
The reality that strikes the first perception is the service which Colgan Air provided between 2004 and 2012. The operating load factors were respectable during this time. The carrier suffered some insurmountable circumstances following 2009. This put the service in question. Finally the merger between Continental and United Airlines lead to the exiting of Del Rio. Not one circumstance was due to the loss of profit or load factors.
The second reality that addresses the perception as “a burden to the taxpayer” was presented before the Del Rio City Council on April 10th, 2018. After months of strategic planning mastered by City Manager Henry Arredondo and staff, the council had to decide whether to begin an agreement between the city and American Airlines to establish service as early as November. While the exact terms are still within negotiation, American would offer two flights daily between Del Rio and Dallas/Ft. Worth for two years. The presentation was almost flawless, factual, and fiscally feasible for the gold standard of the air travel industry to sprout roots in Del Rio. As Mayor Robert Garza pointed out, the funding of the bottom line dollar amount to be committed by the city is “new money”. That new money is an increase in toll fare of the International Bridge by 25 cents and a commercial rate of 50 cents per axle. This hard assessment of current funds and projections through the year of 2020 more than met the expectations. Basically American Airlines wants a 2.9 million dollar commitment over two years and a 75 percent load factor on its flights. Garza also stressed to council that American would not consider entering into the agreement unless they saw a profit. He’s right. American Airlines losses close to 400 potential Del Rio customers per week, who now travel to San Antonio and Austin while boarding a Southwest, United, or Delta aircraft. The sales tax receipts from these customers prove that fact.
Finally, the economic support from fact and general comments made from the city’s top government and business leaders are laudable to say the least. If this city wants sustainable growth for the future and a commitment from its top three job sectors; an airline service is necessary. This deal presented to the Del Rio City Council gets absolutely no better than today. Meanwhile, it’s all up in the air. Until final approval.