Valley Morning Star downsized, editors let go, Brownsville taking over

THE REAL DEAL
By JERRY DEAL
Big time media reductions and changes, are here.
Rumors have been floating in the area about the Valley Morning Star, its possible changes and its demise, including one false report it was closing down.
Set the record straight right here:
There is no question that the area newspaper is not what it used to be. Much of that has been due to less advertising due to the economy, also other cutbacks, But also figured in is there were corporate financial problems, and now the bankers have taken over Freedom Communications. Bankers usually have no sympathy.
Most of the VMS business office and the production already was being handled iin McAllen. My concern is that the changes being made will cause even less coverage by the Star, which already is pretty poor.
Here are the “victims” in the VMS rundown:
VMS Editor Paul Binz, who came to the newspaper after being a longtime managing editor at the Monitor, is gone.
Also gone is Managing Editor Lucio Castillo, who rose from a young reporter into sports reporter then sports editor and later named (by this writer when editor) as managing editor, with about 35 or more years with Freedom.
I was told City Editor Charline Vandini was among them, but now am informed she isstill htere. Too bad, she is one of those whoshold be gone.
This follows up the demotion of former sports editor Dave Favila, who was downgraded to senior sports editor, with Wade Baker of the Monitor named sports editor of all three papers.
If you do not think there is a downsizing, here is the word. Brownsville Editor Marci Caltibano will also be the editor for the VMS There will no longer be a VMS managing editor, I am told. At one time, the Star folks sort of looked down on the Brownsville Herald and its coverage. That has switched, I am not saying the Herald is doing a great job, just saying it is doing better than the VMS
The only good thing is there are still some VMS reporters doing their jobs well despite all these interruptions, but it would seem to me they still are working under some difficult circumstances.
Freedom would be stupid (although it has not always been smart) to make any changes in the positions of reporters Fernando del Valle, who could work at any newspaper in the U.S., and solid rreporter Allen Essex, who has more than 30 years experience, covering local news. He also has been one or the best county reporters over the years, including the courts. Also there is newcomer Danielle Altenburg, a very competient woman, who is covering the city of Harlingen.
Marci can be a bitch, but she is all newswoman. It will be interesting to see how she handles the VMS as well as the Herald.
In my 15 years with the VMS I never dreamed that the Herald would be the main paper in this end of the Valley, or at least editorially.

.

31 comments for “Valley Morning Star downsized, editors let go, Brownsville taking over

  1. Warren Kininmonth
    June 13, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Are you serious? What is going to happen to Harlingen next?

  2. Dora Charles
    June 13, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Jerry the VMS has more adds than news. It is no more than a modified form of the bargain book.

  3. Kimberly Donaldson
    June 13, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I quit reading the Valley Morning Star several months ago. I became frustrated at the lack of local stories and then when they ran they were days behind the TV stations and, yes, even this publication.
    They might as well shut it down, merge with the Herald and be the Valley Herald-Star.

  4. Vaughn Coknockers
    June 13, 2011 at 11:27 am

    (In my 15 years with the VMS I never dreamed that the Herald would be the main paper in this end of the Valley, or at least editorially.)

    Wrong Jerry. The future owners (and they probably already are), of all of the Valley’s publications will most probably be the Valley Bargain Book.

  5. June 13, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Hey Jerry,
    Sorry to hear about the Star, she always had had a good staff,many good young reporters and shooters traveled through her. I was glad for the chance to photograph for her.
    Jerry Deal comments: I’m sorry too, because you and I worked our butts off to make it a better than average newspaper and now it’s about gone down the tube. Let’s make some contact. I need to get updated on what you are up to these days.
    For the readers of this publication, Ric Vasquez was one of the best photographers the VMS ever had. Unfortunately, the bitch of a city editor did not realize it and thank goodness she is gone.

  6. Dora Charles
    June 13, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I agree with Kimberly, 100%. I read the San Antonio Express.

  7. Aimee D.
    June 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I would be sorry too if the Valley Morning Star had not become such a poor newspaper. I agree with Kimberley, perhaps if it merged with the Herald they could come up with a half worthy newspaper.

  8. Got an Idea?
    June 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    You know the saying in business. “Someone’s lose in business is someone’s gain”. Questions are? Is there enough talent and potential investment in this northern regional market to justify a local competitive newspaper? Can the smaller newpapers in this market merge and expand? Should the San Benito News-PI also merge and expand to Harlingen-San Benito-100 Corridor News and be the new outlet?
    Economics is not the greatest, but timing may be to set the foundation for the future.
    Got an Idea?

    Jerry Deal comments: I believe a good newspaper could compete. But, it would be expensive to begin.

  9. John Clark
    June 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Jerry, Sorry about the Star. It was once a paper that was serious about journalism. The current Herald news judgment is so poor, and the coverage so thin, this does not look promising.

    • Vaughn C.
      June 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      We’d all be better off getting a subscription to the National Enquirer.

  10. Justin Credible
    June 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Nothing wrong with change. As the RGV continues to morph into one metro area, we will probably just need one regional daily newspaper. Just like we only need one regional airport (located in Harlingen).

  11. mysteryshopper1
    June 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I gave them solid news tips, but they would not follow up on it. I did the same for Channel 4.(they failed too) So now, I let KRGV know, and they follow through. As well as KVEO. I cannot get some calling center from San Antonio to stop calling me, and asking me if I want a subscription to the VMS. The only bitch reporter I remember, was Maria Hughes. I dont think she will ever forget me. I understand she is no longer a reporter. I enjoyed reading the colums of Jerry Deal and Dan Henderson. Those were the good days of VMS. Just like Channel 4, they have become an unreliable news outlet.

    Jerry Deal comments: Wasn’t Maria the one who also was a stripper for a time?

    • mysteryshopper1
      June 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm

      You are right Jerry. I heard she turned to pole dancing.

      • V. Tinker Shays
        June 13, 2011 at 10:27 pm

        What’s the hell wrong with that?

  12. Hector Gutierrez
    June 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Bye, bye Star, you once was a fine newspaper, now all you are is a Bargain Book that people have to pay money for to read (unlike the BB).

  13. Bill Debrooke
    June 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    When the Star and it’s cousin newspapers were a family business and there was still vacant land between Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen it probably made sense to have three community newspapers.

    We don’t live in that world anymore and the new owners are going to try and boost the bottom line and market what is left after the reductions. That brings us to the point that there should be one Valley newspaper. With computer driven presses today there should be no problem combining great coverage from across the Valley while still allowing advertisers to hit all or part of the market.

    National news on the cover with upper, mid and lower valley local news handled in sections could deal with the rest of the problems.

    If the new owners do not make the jump to one newspaper right now they are making a mistake. If this is done piecemeal they stand to loose their best and brightest employees.

    The only question in my mind relates to the name of the new Valley Newspaper. It should not one of the three existing names. Too many egos in the Valley for that.
    Options:
    Valley Herald Monitor
    Morning Herald Monitor
    Valley Freedom Monitor
    or add you own………

    Jerry Deal comments: I was told that at one time not so long ago a merger of sorts was considered for the VMS and the Herald, at least for production. The owners looked at the former beer distributor center for Runnels (Miller Lite) south of San Benito as a possible printing location, but decided the floor was not strong enough to hold a major printing press and too costly to make it so.

    • V. Tinker Shays
      June 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Mr. DeBrooke, we are getting closing to consolidation, we have El Alarma! y El Manana.

      • V. Tinker Shays
        June 13, 2011 at 10:39 pm

        closer, ‘scuse me

    • Bradstreet and Dunn
      June 15, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      Will the monitor print stories about everyone and not only one sided as was the case for the VMS?

      Jerry Deal comments: I believe they are more fair and unbiased.

  14. Gloria S.
    June 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Maybe Myleadernews should hire a reporter and an ad salesman and take over as the complete news source for the area. This is not to say the publication is doing a poor job, but with one more person you probably would do as good with local and area stories as the Valley Morning does now.

  15. Dora Charles
    June 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Jerry, I understand one of the Pac groups wanted to start a weekly publication. I heard it at las Casuelas. I hear, something similiar to the Delta News. I know Joe Rubio is close to you, maybe you can ask him.
    But you are right, it takes some cash.

    Jerry Deal comments: I’ll ask him. About four years ago a few of us, including Rick Ledesma, worked toward starting a printed tabloid newspaper, but we ended up being too far apart on whether we wanted it to be a hard slugging publication or more features and entertainment. My son, Jay, who is the webmaster here and is with a movie distribution firm in California, completed several ideas for the cover etc.

  16. Marlene McCoy
    June 13, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Concerning Rick Vasques. I never knew what had happened to him but he is fabulous photographer. My first letter to VMS several years ago was to compliment them on having some of his pictures on the front page. Best wishes to him wherever he may be. VMS has never had another photographer that could even start to rival his work.

    Jerry Deal comments: I agree and I am going to try and find out where this friend is these days.

  17. Camelot
    June 13, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Just a sign of the times. It will not be too many years before the major publications will be only online. Of course it will take the slow Valley a few more years to do it, as usual.

  18. Minnie
    June 14, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I quit reading the VMS about two years ago. Read the Monitor instead. It also carries Harlingen items and much more.

  19. Olivia
    June 15, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Jerry, if Charlene is gone why is she still at her desk every day? Call the VMS and ask for her and she will answer. Where in the world do you get your info?

    Jerry Deal comments: That is puzzling.My info came from a member of the VMS. Will check back and see what happened.

  20. matzoh_ball
    June 15, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Man, I love this blog. I can’t believe this goober “The Real Deal” was editor at the Valley Morning Star and that he lasted 15 years. myleadernews is lazier than anything I’ve ever seen come out of that paper; there isn’t a single source cited here. I’ll bet “The Real Deal” got canned for cooking copy. And Fernando Del Valle and Allen Essex are the worst reporters this side of the Mississip! Have you seen how many corrections those two clowns print every week? I’m sure they’ve burned tons of sources, not with their hard-nose journalism, but with their incompetence. Anyway, at very least, Mr. Real Deal, mr. editor extraordinaire, could you correct the misspellings, ramblings, fact errors and run-on sentences in this post? Don’t do it for my sake but for that of your own credibility. You, sir, are a laughing stock. Keep up the blog though; it’s really funny stuff you’re putting out, comedic gold.

    Jerry Deal comments: Thanks for all the compliments. As a matter of fact, I retired from the Valley Morning Star at the age of 69 and to start my own newspaper, which I owned and operated for three years. When I left the Star it was a good newspaper. This here is only a sideline. I also work for two weekly newspapers and with the North American Baseball League.
    I guess you really do not read this publication, I use plenty of sources.
    But, you just keep being perfect and I will just be myself.

    • mysteryshopper1
      June 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      hey mr. balls, the VMS WAS at its peak when Mr. Deal had his column. My dad, an educator, would ONLY buy the subscription to VMS if only Jerry’s column was there. When Jerry retired from the VMS, my dad, cancelled the subscription. My dad, was very picky. Whatever he selected in life, cars, homes, land, purchases, food, it had to be the best. When Jerry put this website on hiatus for awhile, we were without a RELIABLE news source. Jerry does have good contacts. He is fair. I check on this webiste everyday. I cannot remember the last time I saw the VMS. So, Mr. Balls, I applaud, Jerry, in his success. It takes alot to maintain a website. Perhaps, you should get yourself educated, or get the hell out of Harlingen. I will pay for your ticket. We are trying to clean up this city, perhaps we can start with you.

  21. Get_out_quick
    June 16, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I tend to agree with Matzoh. The stuff on here is pretty shoddy and it’s kind of a shame that anyone can get online and post nowadays without knowing all the details. I don’t know about the Star’s reporters or their corrections but papers across the board used to be a lot stronger than they are now. That’s not a problem that applies only to the Star. Mr. Deal keeps mentioning how he was the Star’s editor at it’s peak but I’d challenge any editor, Mr. Deal included, to return that paper to glory now, when times are tough, when it’s not a matter of news content but of dollars and cents. That’s something no one in the paper’s editorial department is in a position to affect. Papers are poor and the journalism is weaker because there are fewer people trying to put out the same amount of daily content as when there were many people. The profession is further cheapened by blogs like this one, where anyone can log on and call themselves a journalist. And mysteryshopper1, on trying to clean up Harlingen: There’s nothing in Harlingen worth seeing so mission accomplished. It’s totally cleaned out 🙂

    Jerry Deal comments: A agree with you that it would be a difficult task to bring back the “glory days.” I also agree with you on anonymous blogs, but that’s the way everyone has gone, even the newspapers allow them on their online editions. I always favored, and still do, having every contributor who gives his opinions be identified, but any online publication who would try that would be out of business in a very short time.
    I do check the contributors to make certain I can identify them, however.

  22. June 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Hey Jerry, Ric here I am in San Antonio back home freelancing now. The freelance biz is tough and slow right now with the economy, I do miss the sights and sounds of the Valley it was always fun to shoot down there and of course the people were always great. E-mail me when you get the chance and I’ll send along my number…Take care
    Ric

    Jerry Deal comments: Will do and so good to hear from you.

  23. Sue Groves
    September 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Dear Mr. Deal,

    On Thursday, Sept. 15, I used statistics to argue against the 2-cents-per- $100 valuation property tax increase, (an increase of 4.7 %), at that night’s County Commissioners meeting.

    Today, upon Commissioner Sanchez’s request, I will be faxing him a copy of the statistical research I used in my presentation (see below). Lupito Sanchez, of PROYECTO JUAN DIEGO, also requested a copy of the statistics. If you could supply me with your fax number, I’d be happy to do the same. In addition, I could also include a couple .pdf if you send me your email.

    [From L. Martinez Brownsville Herald article:] “Officials said the county does not have the authority to do that unless the state legislature would give such power to the counties.”
    I’ve attached research on how a local county COULD (despite Judge Cascos’ assertions) levy a local sales tax, which would have a larger tax base, (e.g., tourists patronizing the Bass Pro Shop). Property taxes could thus be reduced. My hope was that a temporary local sales tax would be considered INSTEAD of increasing property taxes.

    [From L. Martinez Brownsville Herald article:] “Precinct 4 Commissioner Dan Sanchez said county officials had looked at the budgets of various departments and found there were no additional ways to trim budgets. “It was as lean as it could be without eliminating positions,” Sanchez said. “I’m not going to wait until May or June of next year to start balancing next year’s budget. I am going to start now.”

    Yet, when I questioned the Commissioners on how the $3.1 million deficit would be addressed, Judge Cascos was only able to come up with approximately $1.1 million in revenue, admittedly, it was a spontaneous response. I also noted the Fiscal Year 2010 county expenditure of $733 million for “Public Assistance”, but when asked, if not welfare, what groups/programs/ and/or organizations received those monies; he referred the question to one of the folks from the County Auditor’s office, who stumbled through something about “Worksheets” that are NOT available for the public to view on the county’s website. Also, I inquired about the $11.8 million in FY 2010 for “Miscellaneous Expenses”; the County Auditor, (sorry, I didn’t get her name), responded that the budget would be “500 pages too long” if those expenditures were itemized. This information is also NOT available on their website. Hasn’t she hear of zip files?

    [From L. Martinez Brownsville Herald article :] “Several cuts were made to the budget such as eliminating car allowance for non-elected officials..”
    So that means that the County Tax Assessor, since he is elected, gets his base salary, (I can’t seem to find anything about county benefits for the elected offices), of $77,500, PLUS a $7,200 transportation expense. Also, how do you explain that the Cameron Appraisal District has a budget of $90,000 for (unrestricted) car allowance, including
    $650 per month for the Chief Appraiser, $450 a month for four CAD Department Managers, and the balance to anyone (apparently) at CAD who needs to drive around the county. Where is the budget oversight for the Appraisal District?

    I also suggested outfitting all county vehicles with a GPS device to analyze and track their usage, thus determining the efficacy of the existing routes, as well as being one way to prevent fraudulent use of county vehicles. Judge Cascos said that the Commissioners had already considered this, but it would be “too expensive”. Really? Has he even bothered to actually look into it? GPS is already on most cell-phones , and many golf courses use GPS to track their carts – how expensive could it be?

    That’s when the Commissioner (who sits to the right of Judge Cascos – sorry, I can’t remember his name) suggested that instead of allowing police officers to drive their police cars home, they could leave them at their station(s), thus allowing for the utilization of the cop cars on a 24-hour basis. This one item could elimnate (an estimated) 150 cars out of the (approximate) 300-car fleet. (Repairs are usually cheaper than a new vehicle.) Are the County Commissioners even going to seriously consider this?

    [From L. Martinez Brownsville Herald article:] “County Judge Carlos H. Cascos said the county had to pay for bonds Commissioners Court approved in June for county projects, pay back money pulled from the Road and Bridge Fund to balance budgets from previous years, and replenish county reserves.”

    I was not able to find any information on this Bond. I have a copy of the spreadsheet that includes the Bonds that existed as of 8/31/2010, but the Bond from June won’t be included in these figures: (available by fax) Principal: $71,590,000; Interest: $26,838,157 (each year); Total Principal: $98,428,137

    Commissioner Sanchez initially inquired about the biennial Property Vale Study (PVS) for each school district for state funding purposes. This study, an independent estimate mandated by the Texas Legislature, ensures that property values within a school district are at or near market value for equitable school funding. The state sends MORE MONEY to those districts that are less able to raise money locally because of insufficient taxable property.

    In an article in the Valley Morning Star on Sunday, June 19, 2011, Cameron County Chief Appraiser Frutuoso Gomez is quoted as claiming:
    “We’re losing almost $33 million in property value for the whole county,” he said. “Park models travel trailers were removed from the tax tolls, and [that] has greatly affected tax revenues.” [Note: In the interest of full disclosure, what Mr. Gomez failed to note is that CAD taxed park model travel trailer owners as late as 2010, when the law actually went into effect on Jan. 1, 2009. In 2011, CAD taxed park model travel trailer owners for “improvements” such as sheds, awnings and driveways. I won my appeal at the ARB formal hearing in June regarding this – my property tax was reduced to zero – and I am continuing to advocate in District Court, but that’s another story…

    Here’s my presentation, which I wasn’t able to fully deliver at Thursday night’s meeting, due to time restrictions:

    GOOD AFTERNOON, MY NAME IS SUE GROVES, AND I LIVE IN HARLINGEN, THE CITY THAT PARADE MAGAZINE DUBBED “THE CHEAPEST CITY TO LIVE” IN AMERICA.

    WHAT PARADE DIDN’T MENTION IS THE FACT THAT THE HARLINGEN’S POVERTY RATE IS THREE TIMES THE NATIONAL AVERAGE.

    OF THE THOUSAND OF COUNTIES IN THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES, THE ABSOLUTELY POOREST, (WITH POPULATIONS IN EXCESS OF 250,000) IN TERMS OF MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME, (THE MEDIAN INCOME IS DEFINED AS THE HALF-WAY POINT IN A DISTRIBUTION: HALF THE HOUSEHOLDS WERE HIGHER AND HALF WERE WERE LOWER) , CAMERON COUNTY HAS A MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME OF $24,501; PER CAPITA INCOME FOR
    THE PAST 12 MONTHS (2010) WAS $13, 474.

    CAMERON COUNTY HAS THE HIGHEST POVERTY RATE OF ANY OF THE THOUSANDS OF COUNTIES IN THE UNITED STATES: 41%. FOR COMPARISON’S SAKE, EL PASO HAD A POVERTY RATE OF 29%.

    THIS PAST TUESDAY, THE CENSUS BUREAU STATED THAT 46.2 MILLION PEOPLE NATIONWIDE WERE AT, OR BELOW, THE POVERTY LEVEL, DEFINED AS $22,113 FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR; 7% OF PEOPLE WITH JOBS STILL FELL BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL.

    IN TEXAS, THE RATE IS EVEN HIGHER: 18.4% OR 4.6 MILLION PEOPLE.

    IN CAMERON COUNTY, THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, AS OF APRIL 2010, IS 12.0% – (as of August 2011, this has increased to 12.6%), SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER THAN THE 8.1% RATE IN THE STATE OF TEXAS, AND 9.1% NATIONWIDE.

    TEXAS ALSO HAS THE HIGHEST RATE OF UNINSURED RESIDENTS, AT 24.6%. 34% OF TEXANS AGED
    19 TO 64 WERE UNINSURED LAST YEAR (2010).

    ALSO, ACCORDING TO THE CENSUS BUREAU, CAMERON COUNTY RANKS FOURTH IN THE HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE ON FOOD STAMPS: 27%; CHILDREN ON FOOD STAMPS, IS 47%, A RISE OF 8% SINCE 2007.

    IN 2010, CAMERON COUNTY RANKS EIGHTH IN COUNTY EXPENDITURES AT $1.8 TRILLION. CAMERON COUNTY SPENT $734 MILLION ON PUBLIC ASSISTANCE.

    ACCORDING TO THE TEXAS COMPTROLLER OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS, CAMERON COUNTY’S GENERAL FUND PROPERTY TAX RATE HAS GONE FROM 0.259 IN 1996 TO 0.364 IN 2010.

    CAMERON COUNTY’S TOTAL PROPERTY TAX RATE HAS GONE FROM 0.317 IN 1996 TO 0.364 IN 2010. THE PROPOSED 2-CENT-PER $100 VALUATION PROPERTY TAX INCREASE, DOESN’T SPECIFICALLY STATE IF THE INCREASE WILL AFFECT THE COUNTY GENERAL FUND PROPERTY TAX RATE, OR THE TOTAL COUNTY PROPERTY TAX RATE.

    A 2-CENT PER $ 100 VALUATION PROPERTY TAX WOULD EITHER INCREASE THE GENERAL FUND PROPERTY TAX RATE TO 0.38 % OR TOTAL PROPERTY TAX RATE, ALSO TO 0.38 %.

    BY COMPARISON, DALLAS COUNTY, WITH A POPULATION OF 2.1 MILLION PEOPLE, FIVE TIMES THAT OF CAMERON COUNTY’S 406,000, HAS A GENERAL FUND PROPERTY TAX RATE OF 0.24 %, AND TOTAL PROPERTY TAX RATE OF 0.2431 %.

    ACCORDING TO THE COUNTY INFORMATION PROJECT, (CIP) OF THE TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES,
    PROPERTY TAXES ACCOUNT FOR JUST OVER 50% OF THE AVERAGE COUNTIES’ TOTAL REVENUE, AND NO OTHER SOURCE ACCOUNTS FOR MORE THAN 15% OF TEXAS COUNTIES’ REVENUE STREAM.

    IN CAMERON COUNTY, ONLY 68 % OF PEOPLE OWN THEIR OWN HOMES. MANY OF THESE HOMEOWNERS ARE SENIORS, (MANY OF THEM WINTER TEXANS), TRYING TO SURVIVE ON FIXED SOCIAL SECURITY INCOMES.
    SOCIAL SECURITY HAS NOT GIVEN A COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT, (COLA) FOR FOUR YEARS – SINCE THE THIRD QUARTER OF 2008.

    HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE, MANY WHO ALREADY HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BUYING GROCERIES OR THEIR MEDICATION(S), GOING TO AFFORD AN ALMOST 5 % PROPERTY TAX INCREASE? WHERE ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO GET THE ADDITIONAL INCOME?

    IN ADDITION, THIS PAST JUNE, A ROAD BOND WAS PASSED. I COULD NOT FIND OUT ANY INFORMATION REGARDING THE SPECIFICS OF THIS BOND, EVEN ON THE CAMERON COUNTY WEBSITE.

    ACCORDING TO THE TEXAS BOND REVIEW BOARD , CAMERON COUNTY ALREADY HAS 3 EXISTING ROAD BONDS, FROM 2002, 2005 AND 2008. AS OF AUG. 31, 2010 THE PRINCIPAL FOR OF ALL OUTSTANDING BONDS IS $71, 590,00. INTEREST ON THE BONDS ALONE IS $26,838,137 EACH YEAR. THE TOTAL PAYMENT FOR THE BONDS IS AT $98,428,137, NOT INCLUDING, AS PREVIOUSLY STATED, THE NEW ROADS BOND FROM JUNE.

    THAT’S OVER ONE BILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT. MOST OF THE BONDS DON’T MATURE UNTIL [BEGINNING]
    IN 2019.

    WHO – AND HOW – ARE CITIZENS GOING TO PAY FO ALL THIS?

    I’D ALSO LIKE TO NOTE THAT WHEN SOMEONE IS MAKING $77,500 A YEAR, PLUS A CAR ALLOWANCE OF $7,200 PER YEAR, HOW DO YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO ONLY MADE $13,000 IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS THAT THIS COUNTY OFFICER NEEDS A PAY RAISE AND/OR TO KEEP ALL THEIR BENFITS?

    INSTEAD OF A 2-CENT-PER $100 VALUATION RISE (4.7 %) IN PROPERTY TAX, I PROPOSE A TEMPORARY (5 TO 10 YEARS) COUNTY-WIDE SALES TAX INCREASE WHICH WOULD HAVE A SUBSTANTIALLY LARGER TAX BASE, INCLUSIVE OF ANYONE VISITING THE COUNTY, LIKE TOURISTS (HOPEFULLY) PATRONIZING THE BASS PRO SHOP.

    IF THE BASS PRO SHOP FULFILLS IT’S ECONOMIC PROMISE, AND MAKES HARLINGEN A DESTINATION – INSTEAD OF A PLACE YOU DRIVE THROUGH ON YOUR WAY TO BROWNSVILLE OR MCALLEN – THEN A TEMPORARY SALES TAX MAKES MUCH MORE ECONOMIC SENSE, AND MIGHT ALSO HELP PAY THE CITY BACK THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
    IT GAVE TO BPS IN TAX INCENTIVES.

    THERE’S A DISCREPANCY IN TWO SEPARATE ARTICLES THIS WEEK FROM THE BROWNSIVLLE HERALD REGARDING THE BUDGET DEFICIT.

    ON SEPT. 1, “UNNAMED” OFFICIALS WERE QUOTED AS SAYING THAT THERE WAS A $ 3 MILLION DEFICIT IN THE 2011-2012 COUNTY BUDGET. HOWEVER, JUDGE CASCOS STATED THAT [ELIMINATING THE TAX DISCOUNT FOR EARLY PROPERTY TAX PAYMENTS] WOULD “ONLY” BRING IN $866,000. HE THEN [RHETORICALLY] IN THE ARTICLE ASKED ”WHERE WOULD THE COUNTY FIND $1 MILLION TO BALANCE THE BUDGET”. ACTUALLY, THAT FIGURE SHOULD HAVE BEEN $2.2 MILLION FOR THE FIGURE TO MATCH PREVIOUSLY-STATED TOTAL OF $3 MILLION. [The county commissioners didn’t act on this item either.)

    MY FINAL THOUGHT: WHERE, IN PRACTICE, IS THE “SHARED SACRIFICE” THAT SO MANY OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, ESPECIALLY THOSE RUNNING FOR OFFICE, ARE SO FOND OF CALLING FOR BY TAXPAYERS?
    HOW MANY OF THEM HAVE TAKEN A CUT IN SALARY, BENEFITS OR CAR ALLOWANCES?

    THANK YOU.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. If you’d like me to fax you a copy of the research and the statistics I used, just email me your fax number. I’ll also be glad to email .pdf files.

    Thanks.

    Sincerely,

    Sue Groves
    (956) 365-3931
    Sulizan7@yahoo.com

  24. Bill Hethcock
    October 7, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Jerry,
    Sorry to hear about the Star’s troubles. I’m in Dallas now (Dallas Business Journal), but remember my Valley days fondly.
    Always a pleasure working with you.
    Bill Hethcock

    Jerry Deal comments: Very good to hear from you. Also good to hear you are back in Texas. You were my best city editor and one of the best reporters. I will e-mail you later and let’s get caught up.

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