Harlingen mostly fails in entertainment industry — but why? Maybe leadership failures?

THE REAL DEAL
By JERRY DEAL
In looking at Harlingen’s record in the entertainment industry the past couple of decades and maybe a bit beyond, it does not look well. This reporter and a couple of friends did a bit of research since the city is planning to spend millions of dollars on a new convention center, which falls into that section of business.
Of course, there have been some events which have been successful, like the annual Birding Festival and the smaller summer Blues on the Hill event at McKelvey park.
Also, I need to say. some of the failures that I am about to point out were not especially due to those promoting them.
What I am trying to show here is that for some reason or other some highly planned facilities or events failed — usually by lack of leadership or failure of city or civic officials to know what the hell they were doing or not caring.
I remember the much ballywhood Six Shooter Junction, back in the 1970s, which went down the tube for lack of interest. It was a good idea gone wrong. Perhaps it was promoted badly, you who were there, can tell me. Anyway, it failed.
Most notable to me, is the Rio Fest, which I loved. But it seemed to get stagnet after a few years and crowds were smaller. Perhaps with some professional assistance it could have survived, because attendance dropped due to t he same old things.
One of my pets, no secret there, was the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings. The club survived for 20 years, but the last few were always in jeopardy, due to lack of interest and attendance.
I believe that with a bit more promotion and better following of some good players, a few now in the major leagues, it and the league could have survived. But there was also a terrible problem with league ownership and the fact that there were city leaders who did not want the club to survive.
I was much involved in the Valley Morning Star’s Rio 10 K Run-5K Walk, during my last years at the newspaper. It grew every year while I was there and ;in it last year that I was there, more than 3,000 runners and walker took part 30 scholarships were given out to needy graduates.
Unfortunately, after I left in 2001, interest by those at the newspaper diminished and after one year, it was stopped. Another lethargic situation.
The Valley Race Park is another situation that has not been great by any means. It might have done better had it been located in another location nearer the mid and upper valley, instead of where it is. Hopefully, it can be rescued this fall when some races resume.
I saved the biggest mistake of all until here, that being the then-Confederate Air Force and now called the Commemorative Fir Force. Of all the great things that the late Mayor Bill Card did, he and his administration failed on that one by letting it slip away and move to Odessa. Winter Texans, who had been coming here mainly for the CAF, were infuriated, Who from the north wants to spend the winter in equally cold West Texas?
I am not going to even get into the boondoggles the city commission has made, like the soccer fields, with no place for fans to sit, so that the state sports leaders go to Brownsville and elsewhere, where they can.
I do not know if I have made my point clear, but the Harlingen track years is pretty bad, right? Or do you disagree?

73 comments for “Harlingen mostly fails in entertainment industry — but why? Maybe leadership failures?

  1. erlkonig
    July 30, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Race tracks died with the emergence of the Texas Lottery. Edinburg got a baseball team after Harlingen and so I imagine that hurt attendance and revenue. For a minor league team to be attractive it probably has to be affiliated with a team in the majors. There seems to be a lot more marathons and 10Ks now that appear to be successful. Jalapeño 100, Harlingen Marathon, etc. I went to see George Lopez at the Harlingen Auditorium last year both shows were packed. I’d say the city needs to get more involved with getting good some big names down in music, or comedy. But it seems that the Reese does host comics. Downtown and many Harlingen restaurants now seem to offer live music. Maybe this was influenced by concerts such as Blues. Changing tastes and preferences including blues music.

  2. erlkonig
    July 30, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Harlingen seems to be on the up again. The MSA outperformed the McAllen MSA in annual job growth percentage the last couple of months. Harlingen’s unemployment is still third lowest in the valley at 5.7 percent. And the city got a new psychiatry hospital, new emergency center, expanding emergency Center, new restaurants, call center jobs, expansion of manufacturing jobs and other large projects on the horizon like a power plant and convention center. However Valle Vista Mall is in bad shape. All the anchors except JCPenney need a refresh. I walked through Dillard’s, Forever 21, and Sears and noticed all had the original flooring. Dillard’s with the same wood flooring in like 35 years!

    • erlkonig
      July 30, 2016 at 9:54 am

      New banking headquarters, expanded banking location, 100-unit apartment complex, new planned subdivision.

  3. Kenneth J.Benton
    July 30, 2016 at 10:08 am

    https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/officer-says-prosecutors-silenced-him-sandra-bland-case-055232587.html

    Bill Card was a smart man. I am sure that he realized with Harlingen sister II of racism Prejudice and bigotry things Confederate commemorative election for period in history did not plant the seed of progress.

    As you may recall I approached you once or twice for help in making contact with white wings ownership because I thought then and still believe now that my business nor cam and the use of New Market Tax Credit Finance could be used to do something spectacular or at least great that would enhance the entertainment value of 18 and the venue.
    . But as you also know everything I’ve tried to do since Boswell kill the community Olympic development program has been there or I will and the City can the rumour-mongers have trashed it.

    I guess they are proud of themselves these workers of iniquity who go around destroying efforts by many not just me to improve this community they are hell-bent on keeping it stagnant for no good reason that I can see but oh well …It’s their legacy.

  4. Bill DeBrooke
    July 30, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Birding Festival – small dedicated group of volunteers
    Blues – was a group of volunteers, now City run
    Six Shooter Junction – Private enterprise, some work some don’t
    Rio Fest – A very expensive operation. Had to raise 200K in sponsorships
    White Wings – Private enterprise, some work some don’t
    VMS 5K Run – Might have related to the changing fortunes of newspaper bus.
    Jackson Street Jubilee – Cost 10K in sponsorships, one day event. Market
    Days 12 times a year, self funding, City provides
    barricades to assist.
    Valley Race Park – Lotto Texas
    CAF – The One mistake I can recall that the City made relating to
    ‘Events’ & ‘Destinations’.

    I don’t see that the Convention Center is an apples to apples comparison to the history of events that have run their course in Harlingen. Most events have a life span and then they are gone or replaced. I grew up reading newspapers and you grew up creating them. We both are clearly near the end of the road as is the newspaper business unless the industry figures out a way to make a technology leap to capture younger readers.

    We were in the video store business from the late 80’s to the early 2000’s but younger people today are just as happy watching a movie on their cell phone. Life moves on.

    We do not have adequate Convention Facilities in Harlingen. I do not think anyone can disagree with that. I would much rather have the convention Center than the Hockey Arena that we were being sold on a few years ago. Perhaps we can move the business from the Casa del Sol facility to the new Convention Center and put the downtown facility to a use that benefits Harlingen and the Downtown on a continuous basis.

    • IA
      July 30, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      Downtown improvement tax = Unconstitutional

      • Bill DeBrooke
        July 30, 2016 at 9:18 pm

        Well, not really. It is an assessment that is agreed to by the property owners in the district. It has been renewed every five years since 1989. At the current level it is not that painful and does provide money that is used to improve the downtown District.

        • jjr
          July 31, 2016 at 8:08 pm

          Since 1989? Just a few years ago,property owners were up in arms about it. I remember one owner commenting on here that when he received his “downtown improvement tax” in the mail,it went straight into the trash can.

          Painful?

          “it is not that painful”,so you admit that it is taxing on property owners.

          Sounds like double taxation without representation because the EDC should be providing monies to improve the downtown district.

          Hell,you stated that yourself about the EDC in reference for your support in “restoring” the money pit/Baxter Building.

          What Benton states about McAllen’s vision and it’s fruition should have been applied to the downtown district not another tax burden.
          But hey,we have current and previous city leaders to thank for that.

          And since you claim it has been implemented since 1989 under commissioners and the city’s doing,like Benton states. It sure looks like it was forced on the property owners.

          Since 1989? Why has it taken almost two decades for downtown to begin to prosper?

          This improvement tax really needs to be looked into because apparently it has taken the place of the EDC.

          You strike me as speaking with a forked tongue BDB,like referring to a tax as painful and

          case in point>>>>

          “Bill DeBrooke on July 30, 2016 at 5:43 pm

          If it is on Los Nortenos property they have to call to have the City pick it up, and pay. Commercial property does not get free tree and trash removal.”

          “does not get free tree and trash removal.”

          Property owners pay for this service,it’s included on the Water Bill,there is nothing “free” about it.

          • Bill DeBrooke
            August 1, 2016 at 1:42 pm

            Jerry Sondock was opposed to the tax in the beginning. Bill Card put him on the Board. While Jerry opposes all taxes he finally got over it. As far as someone putting the bill in the trash. Does not make any difference, you either pay now or pay later.

            Actually in the 90’s the Downtown did pretty well. Stores that had been unrented for years were occupied. The program helped and continues to help a lot of people who want to start a business. After 2008 things slowed but have picked up again.

            The EDC views their role as creating ‘primary’ jobs. That would be manufacturing jobs, etc. Sometimes they stray from the path but so far have
            not strayed into the Downtown.

            The vote to renew the Downtown District usually ran about 90%. After the downtown banks became non-locally run from a decision making standpoint they fell off. We still run about 80% support. Can you think of anything else in town that gets that much support.

            In a commercial business you pay for trash removal from the dumpster. Anything that is not allowed to be put in the dumpster or will not fit has to be dealt with by calling Public Works, arranging a pickup and paying.

            We pay $0.15 per $100 of valuation for the Downtown Program. That money directly benefits the property and business owners through advertising, promotions and services to help businesses get started. The reason the property owners keep voting it in is because they see a direct benefit. Could the program run without a tax, probably on a modified basis. However, personally, I think if the people downtown are getting benefits they should contribute something.

            As I recall McAllen’s vision for their downtown other than to bus people up from the border, was to tell the bars, ‘either you move to 17th. Street or we will not renew you license’. If you ignore the fights, knifings, robberies, rapes and other assorted happenings I think that has worked out pretty well.

            Look at it this way. People from across the valley come to Downtown Harlingen on a regular basis. How many people from Harlingen on a regular basis go to Downtown McAllen or Downtown Brownsville?

          • Kenneth J.Benton
            August 1, 2016 at 7:26 pm

            Jjr I’m afraid I’ve got to agree with build on this one. Betc has no legal portfolio downtown its job its mission is primary jobs even though it doesn’t do it and it still miserably that’s what it’s supposed to be doing.

            That is the reason I fought hard to get the for be which is also an Economic Development Corporation one with water portfolio put into place because it can be used as a source of seed funding for revitalization black clearance and along with our community development block grant funds with your wasted terribly could be a source to help clean up the mess we have downtown.

            I do agree with you though nobody but nobody from McAllen to Brownsville is coming to Harlingen for a bunch of payday loans.

            More importantly international business Travellers are not coming here because there’s nothing that they can buy here

            As I said in my earlier post I am sorry it was incomplete again I’m back to talk to text and it doesn’t always get what I’m trying to say,.

            Downtown merchants in the City of McAllen work together to cooperate to attract those Shoppers from Mexico who were traveling to Laredo and to Houston to purchase goods and commodities that they needed on a regular basis.

            Local McAllen Merchants began to stock those items that they were buying in the radio in Houston the City of McAllen then open an office in the trade center in Monterrey to promote shopping in their community graduate a trickle became a flood and the success of downtown McAllen to the 6s the first Mall which is now turned into a second Mall.

            Anyway I doubt we’ll get anything changed in Harlingen so we’ll have payday loans and payday loans and payday loans and payday loans and Payday Loans.

            Add to that bright oppression poverty pimps and corrupt politicians and we’ll all go to heaven in a little row boat

          • Kenneth J. Benton
            August 1, 2016 at 7:58 pm

            Jerry, my earlier reply was done from my cell phone and is full of errors. Please ignore. I will try hunt and peck to see if I can be clearer.

            The 4A EDC job is primary jobs. Like our uneducated city commission even the state legislators have given up because “free trade” had denuded our economy of primary jobs but originally the 4A EDC was supposed to be focused on such.

            The 4B which you may recall I led the fight to pass, has a broader portfolio and can be used for quality of life ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, meaning a park which attracts tourism rather than spending edc funds for projects which should be funded out of parks and recreation funds!!!!!!!!!!!!

            The naming of the 4B as the Community Improvement Board was deceptive with intent to move funds away from the legal intent to meet Boswell’s agenda. I didn’t object too much as some of those projects where needed but we still have a blighted city core and no plan or vision to fix it. Like our 4B funds our CDBG funds are also being squandered but hey, Juan and Connie Salas are happy.

            Like the city of McAllen we need the private sector to cooperate.

            The failure of the port of Harlingen makes doing a massive scale redevelopment of the Wilson Road to N. Commerce impossible, but relocating Valco to the port along with the crap on Wilson Rd and N. Commerce would allow for the redevelopment of that Corridor.

            The poverty pimps will have none of it.

            The lack of a true business class which has been replaced by slum lords and “rentiers” means no production, no science, no technology and slums, slums blight everywhere. Sound familiar or more important LOOK FAMILIAR?

            I’ve heard that God is just. I hope so.

          • jjr
            August 1, 2016 at 11:10 pm

            ” Does not make any difference, you either pay now or pay later.”

            Is that an Authoritarian statement? Does it sound like,”It’s my way or the highway”?

            The American way to do it,is to give property owners a choice. They SHOULD have a choice. If they don’t want to participate and be taxed again then they don’t receive improvements from the tax fund. That’s it and that is how simple it should be.

            But why is this choice not given? Will it take away from the tax pot that has been created? Having a choice to not partake will take away from the pot,no?

            Who does the program help? The business who rents or the owner of the building?

            “Stores that had been unrented for years were occupied.”

            Why? Maybe because they were dilapidated and this program “helps” the renter fix up the place only to eventually leave and the owner gets the help because they now have renovated property?

            Does this looks like a scam to one looking in from the outside?

            The EDC did not stray into downtown? Were they PARAMOUNT in the blashka building swap?

            Remember this? “The EDC (4A) replaced a function that was historically performed by the Chamber of Commerce. Until fairly recently the Chamber with a Board make up of important business people provided the incentives to bring business and industry to town. With the passage of the 1/2 cent sales tax to fund the operation of the EDC that function was institutionalized as a City function.”

            How much of that support is genuine? Do we have a very bad problem in this town,people who go with the flow? Just like all the voter apathy?

            “That money directly benefits the property and business owners through advertising, promotions and services to help businesses get started.”

            Correct me if I am wrong but were you adamantly opposed to businesses having signs to promote themselves? Were you or were you not a forefront in an outright ban on this type of advertising?

            I have no idea were you get that McAllen’s bars have to move to 17th street. There are plenty and I mean plenty of other clubs,pubs,bar and grills throughout that city. What do we have here (and I am not talking about dives) about a dozen,a half dozen?

            If you really think that people from other cities do not visit McAllen for it’s attraction you are delusional. If you claim that a “regular basis” of visitors to this town is based on an event that takes place ONCE a month that translates into 12 TIMES a year,well,whatever makes you happy.

          • IA
            August 2, 2016 at 8:08 am

            How is it that McAllen’s downtown has been bustling and booming for over thirty years without a Downtown Improvement Tax Bill De Brooke? Brownsville’s downtown does extremely well so does Weslaco’s. I don’t believe those cities require Downtown Improvement Taxes.

          • jjr
            August 2, 2016 at 10:29 pm

            Nah BDB,it does not take all that much time to “pick apart” what someone states. Especially since I don’t watch the idiot box.

            And I like to stay an ANON. You should ask yourself if I have possibly rubbed elbows with you and others in certain cliques’ of this town.

            You will spin it to suit your stance,Hell,you even state that you like to play the “game”. I don’t play though. Just call it the way it looks.

            But it does not make me feel “important”. It actually makes me feel sad that certain groups and special interest in this town get away with,what they get away with.

            Sigh.

            I have a question for you BDB. You will have to watch and listen to a video down below in a new comment box.

        • jjr
          August 1, 2016 at 11:14 pm

          I know Benton and I sure wish the EDC would do what it is supposed to do but history shows otherwise.

          HarlyJOKE,still 20 years behind.

          • Bill DeBrooke
            August 2, 2016 at 4:33 pm

            The thing I love most about discussing issues with nameless people is that they speak with immunity.

            Downtown Brownsville and McAllen ceded their downtowns to the cross border Mexican shopper years ago. Local residents of those two communities did not shop there. Recently it stopped working all that well in Brownsville so they are trying to reinvent themselves.

            Raudel covers this further down but the 4A had nothing to do with the Tower project, that was 4B.

            As to ‘pay now or pay later’ throw your County tax bill in the trash and see how far that gets you.

            I don’t even know how to deal with the Downtown Assessment(tax) argument. An assessment district is a vehicle that can be used to address issues in a particular area. In this case it was the downtown. Harlingen did not have the Mexican shopper to ‘save’ its downtown. After the mall opened in 1981 you don’t have to be a mental giant to know that the downtown was in crisis. It had happened before in the 1960’s when the old mall opened. That time the business people that stayed in the Downtown made an effort to recapture some of the traffic.

            However, by 1990 when I first came downtown there was a lot of absentee ownership in buildings. Several of the buildings were owned by estates because previous owners and business owners had passed away. Banks (this is a general statement) would not lend money downtown. The circumstances were bleak.

            The Downtown program started in the fall of 1989 was an attempt by the City to try and reverse the situation. Now remember, this was Harlingen and no one was willing to agree to give private citizens money to make the downtown a better place. With that thought fresh in your mind how would you solve the problem?

            The answer was an Assessment District. Assess the property owners and make them pay to improve their own property. How good is that? Your approach would be like Ken’s, roll a D9 Cat through?

            One of the first things that happens is that absentee owners who have no real interest in the Downtowns future put their buildings up for sale. They are not making money now and with higher taxes they want out. Next the estates that have no real interest and wished that they had been left cash instead of a beat up building agree to sell.

            This process made way for new people to come in and purchase buildings. With the help of the matching grant program they were able to improve them and attract tenants. And the rents, wow what a deal, they got as high as $0.20 per square foot.

            Signs. Signs are a tough issue. I just returned from a couple of weeks in Ann Arbor, Mi. with one of the toughest sign ordinances I have ever seen. In the Downtown we allow the business to have 1&1/2 square foot of sign for every linear foot of frontage. If you are on a corner you can repeat that on the side. The City allows 3 square feet per front foot outside the downtown. We will pay for 1/2 of your sign. The City is no help.

            Driving down Jackson you are not more than 40-50 feet away from a businesses sign. An 18″ tall letter is more than adequate to be read.

            Personally I love signs. I collect and probably have 300-400 signs dating back to the early 20’s.I try to save old Harlingen signs because they are a part of who we were and are. Rialto, Grande, Holsum Bread are all a part of our collective history.

            It is not that I do not understand the game here. Someone writes something, anything and you who apparently have little but time on your hands pick it apart. I don’t think you care one way or the other but this makes you feel important. Fine with me I like to play.

      • Kenneth J.Benton
        July 30, 2016 at 9:29 pm

        Not if it’s pursuant to a comprehensive plan voted on and approved by the city Commission.

        Corruption politics and selfish people without a vision have run the central business district which runs all the way from Van Buren up to Lee Street into the ground. Its true a rising tide lifts all boats but there’s a lack of trust and a few too too many poverty pimps and corrupt politicians are in the game.

        McAllen didn’t always have 2 grande malls and everything else that it has going for it now. the downtown merchants and ciyu of McAllen got together with the city fathers open up an office in the trademark in Monterey and themselves invested in stores that sold the kind of things that the people from Monterey with traveling to Laredo and use them to buy.

        They work together cooperate with each other for the good on themselves and the result was that generated so much sales tax that it has benefited all of McAllen and Merchants from all over the United States want to locate there because of the influx of Shoppers and money from Monterey. It took a vision a plan and execution.

        Same thing with Weslaco took a mayour with courage and Leadership to clear away a large area of blight and to replace it with South Texas College and fourteen thousand young students seeking a better life. they haven’t gotten there yet but I think they’re on their way and the retail sector is moving and they didn’t spend $49 on a Bass Pro or anything else.

        I wonder if Ezekiel Reyna is going to invest in Weslaco Harlingen certainly gave him enough money to do so.

        Weslaco will still need more primary jobs.

        • jjr
          July 31, 2016 at 8:12 pm

          Points realized and the folks in this town need to as well.

        • Bill DeBrooke
          August 1, 2016 at 4:14 pm

          Ken, for twenty years we have been having a discussion about the Downtown. We are moving along and you are still complaining.

          • Dan Fernandez
            August 2, 2016 at 10:48 am

            Needlessly complaining seems to the one thing Benton excels at.

        • erlkonig
          August 2, 2016 at 9:25 am

          It’s hard to argue with results, over 90% occupancy rate. New restaurants, lounges, concert venue, art galleries and shops. Monthly events like farmers markets that seem to be well attended. I think the downtown business owners and association people have done a tremendous job. Downtown was dead when I left mid-90s. La Placita is next, keep the momentum going. Re-open the Grande Theater, offer evening mariachi serenades at La Placita to draw crowds to that area. Rotten Flesh Factory, Rio Grande Grill, Colletti’s, Carlitos, the Prelude, and the Point just to name a few unique places. There are many more interesting places, my family was impressed.

    • jjr
      July 30, 2016 at 9:42 pm

      baxter building swap – projected cost in the millions JUST TO BRING THE MONEY PIT UP TO CODE.

      BP deal- sold to the citizens as a 21 to 24 million gamble,now approaching a debt heading towards 40 million for the tax payers.

      Retail endeavors- still low paying jobs for citizens.

      What you listed BDB is only in the thousands and they are all or were positive for the community.

      The short list,and I am being short. IS IN THE MILLIONS.

      Their is bad leadership HISTORY everywhere in this town and one only has to see it to believe it. Just look at the failure of an airport we have and the bridge border crossing.

      You can’t change history BDB. No matter how much you try to take away from the point and spin whatever is stated.

      • Bill DeBrooke
        August 1, 2016 at 5:17 pm

        Throughout Harlingen’s history it had overcome obstacles. The fact that Lon C. Hill picked a spot in the middle of nowhere was a problem. Fortunately we landed the second railroad.

        The hurricane of 1933 was a problem and in the middle of the depression. The citizens overcame that.

        The closure of the airbase. Solved that problem too.

        Seems to me that up through the mid seventies Harlingen was cooking right along. Am willing to be corrected by more informed locals.
        The mall opening in early 1980’s wrecked the downtown but that happened everywhere so I don’t need to do my bit about how the Downtown has recovered.

        The problem as I see it, and I realize that nothing is simple, is that a generation of people in this community that should have been civic leaders weren’t. While other valley cities were making serious progress Harlingen sort of sat there. At least that is how it appears from an outside perspective. It is hard to get back in the race after you have been coasting.

        Do not mean to make anyone mad. Do not mean to insult anyone. Would be interested to know where I got it wrong.

        I may be a little off on the time line but from the mid 70’s maybe to 1990 there seems to be a pause. I don’t discount the 20% interest in the early eighties, we all suffered through that.

        • jjr
          August 1, 2016 at 11:18 pm

          The easiest way to see why there is a “PAUSE” is to follow the money. Who was benefiting from the stagnation. History can not be changed and the proof is in the record as to why this town is 20 years behind.

      • Kenneth J. Benton
        August 1, 2016 at 8:10 pm

        I’m ok with the swap. It was a desperation, and clever, move by the mayor to get $300,000 badly needed dollars into the hands of the $A EDC so they could meet that quarter’s Bass Pro debt service.

        It was deceptive but again a clever move. Where we fail is the take out by low income housing move which fails miserably.

        Discloser: One reason I started NorCam was to make a business helping to fund both the tower renovation and the blight clearance…so I too would have a conflict of interest if I could be allowed in the game but if the Hispanics think they get short shrift from the city fathers ( one deal done at the 4A in all of these years..and it was a terrible deal) just imagine how Black folk fair!

        Sure their Christians.

        It didn’t take much to buy Jerry and Jerry, Desi and Rick Ledesma did it??

        The blight remains, No Idea school in Harlingen and the Youth build program is a lie!

        Did you say God is just?

        I’m waiting.

        • Raudel Garza
          August 2, 2016 at 12:15 am

          Mr. Benton, your claim that the 4A EDC needed $300,000 to make a payment on bonds for the Bass Pro Shops is indeed incorrect. The 4B EDC paid the 4A EDC 3 $100,000 payments. the 4A has a healthy cash fund balance. The 4A manages its funds well enough to meet all of its obligations and to continue to make deals to keep and bring primary jobs into Harlingen. Perhaps a look at the news would allow for one to see that Palms Behavioral Health opened today. Qualfon continues to grow and will surpass 400 positions in short order. Fox Valley Molding has expanded and is creating new jobs. ULA continues to manufacture high-quality components for the Atlas V rocket. I could go on, but you’ll just keep telling people whatever you want, versus telling them the truth – that the 4A is working on creating primary jobs in Harlingen. We continue to work with the Harlingen Industrial Foundation to promote the land they own in the industrial park. We continue to market the Harlingen Aerotropolis. We continue to work with the Port of Harlingen to promote their land. We are working with Cameron County, and the cities of Harlingen and San Benito to promote the Los Indios International bridge crossing. We continue to promote the construction of I-69 so that it can be a completed interstate connecting to I-37. And we do much more. We have a solid board of directors who take their responsibilities seriously and care for this community. Please don’t spread false information.

          • Citizen
            August 2, 2016 at 3:45 pm

            Boom. Next topic please.

          • Dan Fernandez
            August 2, 2016 at 3:56 pm

            Thank you, Raudel Garza for setting the record straight! Most decent, reasonable and well-informed people would agree with you that a lot of good things are happening in Harlingen and a lot of smart, qualified and dedicated people are working hard to help make these things happen. But I think you know that Mr. Benton and his ilk are in the business of spreading false information to promote their hidden and hateful agendas. Thank goodness there aren’t very many of these rotten apples in Harlingen. Too bad Mr. Deal gives him this open forum and doesn’t do a better job of vetting his misguided and erroneous comments. Same with jjr.

          • Kenneth J.Benton
            August 2, 2016 at 4:20 pm

            No false information Rauldel.

            That was the only reason the mayor did the deal the way he did it the three-way swap you know it I know it everybody knows it

          • Raudel Garza
            August 2, 2016 at 9:38 pm

            Mr. Benton,

            Again, you say that the Mayor did a three-way swap because the 4A needed money to pay for a quarterly payment for the bonds for BPS. I can’t say it any simpler – payments are semi-annual and we had the funds set aside in our budget. The money from the sale of the Commerce street building to the 4B is still in the bank. 4A didn’t need it to make the semi-annual payment. As of the end of June 2016, the 4A has $4.2 million in cash in the bank. Does that sound like we are not managing funds properly? You can say what you want about the sale of the Commerce building, but I know that the 4A is managing its budget and funds in a conservative fashion, and thus has been able to improve its financial position every year since I began almost 4 years ago.

        • jjr
          August 2, 2016 at 6:44 pm

          False information DF??????? I see you got your cheerleader outfit on once again.

          One only has to research who made what,how much they made and during what time period. Like I say over and over again,you can not change history. Same goes for the FAVORITISM and the rest of the ILK that received and receives it.

          The TRUTH is in the history and the record.

          When you took the position,you inherited this history and the way THEY do things around here Raudel Garza. It’s not your fault.

  5. The Real Dennis
    July 30, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    The problem Jerry is that out glorious establishment didn’t fill their pockets or come up with idiotic rules & regulations with the support of the public puppets in city hall and commissioners. Example: Harlingen Police Association use to have a booth in Rio Fest and then we get kicked out for having too much Fun! You have snobs who want to control but won’ let you have fun doing it! Just like city hall & establishment who make it hard for new businesses to come in UNLESS it’s filling their pockets.

  6. Harlingen Watchman
    July 30, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    I believe the Convention center will help lure people to hold meetings or conventions in Harlingen. At any given weekend. check the both Marriott Hotels, and the Holiday Inn, always packed. Some people do not like to hold meetings in Mcallen, because of all the people from Mexico wanting the businesses to cater to only them. Brownsville is just too dirty of a city. The UIL will hold Pigskin Jubilee at Boggus Stadium this fall. Alot of people coming from out of town. I just hope Boggus Stadium has enough parking. I agree, we need more comedy shows to come to town. The Valley Morning Star used to be an excellent newspaper, but with frequent editor changes, it is just not worth the .75 cents. We are a clean city, with clean restaurants. Excellent customer service awaits at most businesses. There have been groups that have wanted to have large meetings in Harlingen. Casa Del Sol, is a dance hall, Casa De Amistad, also a dance hall, Community center, needs updating and technology upgrades. If the convention center has alot of space, for meetings, exhibits, and has outstanding broadband, it will be utilized very well. Padre Island convention center, cannot accommodate a technology conference, too well, since its network infrastructure is too weak. Excellent planning, to meet the demands of the public and incoming businesses will prove this convention center to be successful. Visit another convention center, plan, learn, and make sure everything is included in this building to accommodate the public.

  7. erlkonig
    July 31, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    You said what I didn’t. Harlingen and South Texas are tops in customer service and hospitality. I’very been to conferences in Kansas City, Washington D.C., and Minneapolis recently and the people look at you like you are bothering them when you ask for anything. And they are in the hospitality business! Connect Harlingen Convention Center to UTRGV fiber ring.

  8. erlkonig
    August 1, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    http://www.edinburgpolitics.com/2016/07/31/president-bailey-college-football-reality-utrgv/

    A Harlingen plan SHOULD be to build a football stadium across the Vacker’s Ogden dealership on IH2 or behind KGBT. This site should be endorsed by Tudor Ulhorn and Dr. Nolan Perez who are on the study committee. This site is equal distance from Brownsville and Edinburg. The Vacker’s being the largest donor to date, despite being from Mission, should pull for this as this is the most central point, and allows for convenience and free advertisement to the tens of thousands of spectators the stadium will bring.

    • jjr
      August 2, 2016 at 12:38 am

      “We must live in a world of reality, not a world of denial, delusion and fantasy the Democrats inhabit every waking day of their lives.”

      http://usdefensewatch.com/2016/07/an-open-letter-to-mr-khizr-khan/

      You need a good dose of reality erlk.

    • Gage D
      August 5, 2016 at 10:51 am

      This would be the best thing Harlingen has pulled off in over 30 years if that were to happen

  9. erlkonig
    August 1, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Bert Ogden Motors will most likely be the biggest advertiser/sponsor of UT RGV athletics. What bigger advertisement than having your dealership located across the street from the football stadium???

    • erlkonig
      August 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      Bert Ogden Motors, Southwest Airlines the official airline of UT RGV Football, local coverage by KGBT, ULA, VBMC sponsorships; it could work.

      • Gage D
        August 5, 2016 at 10:51 am

        Makes too much sense

  10. President E. Howard
    August 1, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    The dog track was placed as close as possible to mid and upper Valley given dog racing is only allowed in coastal counties.

  11. jjr
    August 2, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Bill DeBrooke on August 2, 2016 at 4:33 pm
    The thing I love most about discussing issues with nameless people is that they speak with immunity.

    Downtown Brownsville and McAllen ceded their downtowns to the cross border Mexican shopper years ago. Local residents of those two communities did not shop there. Recently it stopped working all that well in Brownsville so they are trying to reinvent themselves.

    Raudel covers this further down but the 4A had nothing to do with the Tower project, that was 4B.

    As to ‘pay now or pay later’ throw your County tax bill in the trash and see how far that gets you.

    I don’t even know how to deal with the Downtown Assessment(tax) argument. An assessment district is a vehicle that can be used to address issues in a particular area. In this case it was the downtown. Harlingen did not have the Mexican shopper to ‘save’ its downtown. After the mall opened in 1981 you don’t have to be a mental giant to know that the downtown was in crisis. It had happened before in the 1960’s when the old mall opened. That time the business people that stayed in the Downtown made an effort to recapture some of the traffic.

    However, by 1990 when I first came downtown there was a lot of absentee ownership in buildings. Several of the buildings were owned by estates because previous owners and business owners had passed away. Banks (this is a general statement) would not lend money downtown. The circumstances were bleak.

    The Downtown program started in the fall of 1989 was an attempt by the City to try and reverse the situation. Now remember, this was Harlingen and no one was willing to agree to give private citizens money to make the downtown a better place. With that thought fresh in your mind how would you solve the problem?

    The answer was an Assessment District. Assess the property owners and make them pay to improve their own property. How good is that? Your approach would be like Ken’s, roll a D9 Cat through?

    One of the first things that happens is that absentee owners who have no real interest in the Downtowns future put their buildings up for sale. They are not making money now and with higher taxes they want out. Next the estates that have no real interest and wished that they had been left cash instead of a beat up building agree to sell.

    This process made way for new people to come in and purchase buildings. With the help of the matching grant program they were able to improve them and attract tenants. And the rents, wow what a deal, they got as high as $0.20 per square foot.

    Signs. Signs are a tough issue. I just returned from a couple of weeks in Ann Arbor, Mi. with one of the toughest sign ordinances I have ever seen. In the Downtown we allow the business to have 1&1/2 square foot of sign for every linear foot of frontage. If you are on a corner you can repeat that on the side. The City allows 3 square feet per front foot outside the downtown. We will pay for 1/2 of your sign. The City is no help.

    Driving down Jackson you are not more than 40-50 feet away from a businesses sign. An 18″ tall letter is more than adequate to be read.

    Personally I love signs. I collect and probably have 300-400 signs dating back to the early 20’s.I try to save old Harlingen signs because they are a part of who we were and are. Rialto, Grande, Holsum Bread are all a part of our collective history.

    It is not that I do not understand the game here. Someone writes something, anything and you who apparently have little but time on your hands pick it apart. I don’t think you care one way or the other but this makes you feel important. Fine with me I like to play.

    • jjr
      August 2, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      Nah BDB,it does not take all that much time to “pick apart” what someone states. Especially since I don’t watch the idiot box.

      And I like to stay an ANON. You should ask yourself if I have possibly rubbed elbows with you and others in certain cliques’ of this town.

      You will spin it to suit your stance,Hell,you even state that you like to play the “game”. I don’t play though. Just call it the way it looks.

      But it does not make me feel “important”. It actually makes me feel sad that certain groups and special interest in this town get away with,what they get away with.

      Sigh.

      I have a question for you BDB. You will have to watch and listen to a video down below in a new comment box.

  12. jjr
    August 2, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Please watch this portion of this video Raudel Garza and please tell us what you think in relation to why the EDC would consider handing money to a used car lot?

    https://youtu.be/fJtQazWlF6k?t=14m45s

    Now BDB,please tell us what you think about it as well. Since you like to play the “game” and all.

    • IA
      August 3, 2016 at 11:28 am

      https://youtu.be/fJtQazWlF6k?t=23m59s So it was going to be a grant?

      • jjr
        August 4, 2016 at 7:27 am

        Grant translates into FREE MONEY.

    • Bill DeBrooke
      August 3, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      I think you already answered this question. Something about living in a world filled with reality. My reality is this. I play Downtown. I have fun playing Downtown. I get into enough trouble just playing Downtown. I use the Tower project as an example. The Mayor and Commission are certain they are helping the Downtown by packing the building with affordable housing. If you have followed the discussion, I disagree. There are better options but you have to be able to back up your position with money. Ergo, we will probably get affordable housing.

      The EDC both A & B have Directors that are appointed by the City Commission. The decisions they reach are discussed, passed across the City Attorney and probably occasionally sent to Austin for an opinion. In this ‘real’ world we live in it is unlikely that all their decisions would be approved by everyone. You being a case in point.

      Let’s approach the discussion from this perspective. I think we had agreement that there was a period in Harlingens past when not much was going on, economically speaking. This Mayor, Commission and EDC Boards are not making that same mistake. They are betting the ranch on the projects that have been rolling out over the past several years. While it may be too early to determine if they all will be successful, we can see that their plan has had a dramatic impact on the economic base of this community. If we all had 20-20 foresight rather than 20-20 hindsight it would be easier to pick winners and losers.

      Harlingen, in the early days was a risk taking community but I don’t think anyone would put us in that category now. We plod along, picking and choosing projects, trying to build a future for the people living here. My answer to you is pretty much my answer to anyone. Get involved. If you don’t like the direction we are going, be active and try to steer things in a different direction. In the meantime I suppose, keep picking things apart.

      • jjr
        August 4, 2016 at 7:05 am

        First and foremost I thank you for answering BDB. I appreciate it and I hope that others will as well.

        I agree with you and my take is that “THEY” do as they please. Whoever “THEY” are. I suppose picking apart the past,looking into the history of who passed what,who made money off of what and letting the record speak for itself will show who “THEY” are.

        I totally agree with you about how “THEY” have gambled with millions and millions of City Coffer money.

        Yes,time will tell but I believe that investing in the companies that Mr.Garza named,should have been the way to go. Just think how much faster those companies would have been prospering if some of those millions from the City Coffers were invested their way.

        If that had been done and more expansion would have probably taken place thus having an influx of people moving here to work. And like the current mayor states in the video link above. The crime rate is supposedly low,another attraction for people and companies to come here.

        But that didn’t happen and we have what you stated above,the wait to see if these million upon million investments (gambles) will work in the long run.

        I have been involved and have rubbed elbows in the political crowd. But when the voter apathy is as bad as it is,it is an uphill struggle with a cart in tow that has square wheels. I can steer just fine,it’s getting there that is the mountain to overcome.

        • jjr
          August 4, 2016 at 7:27 am

          This goes out to anyone who can answer it because the answer leaves me at the moment.

          What’s the name of that new auto sales lot by the Los Indios Exit off of Expressway 77?

          Dan Fernandez would you know?

          How about you Citizen,do you know it’s name?

          • Bill DeBrooke
            August 6, 2016 at 5:47 pm

            You need better bait on your hook.

          • jjr
            August 7, 2016 at 2:56 am

            ROFL,yes indeed BDB but what needs to actually be asked is who is tied into what?

            Pretty much what I have been stating on here for years.

            Follow the money trail from the city coffers. Let the record speak for itself and like citizen says,BOOM! History will show us what is really going on.

    • jjr
      August 4, 2016 at 7:10 am

      Just as long as none of the money gets sidetracked and winds-up in the wrong hands.

      • Born on F Street
        August 7, 2016 at 8:53 am

        “wrong hands”?…does that mean anyone’s hands but the ones you deem the “right hands”?

        • IA
          August 7, 2016 at 4:29 pm

          Let’s look at that 65000 dollars that the mayor himself corrects the amount the challenger states in regards to the EDC handing out money. It’s in the video BOF.

          And I want your response on this BOF.

          Is a USED CAR LOT an industrial development?

          Is a USED CAR LOT eligible for Type B funding?

          • IA
            August 10, 2016 at 9:58 am

            Still waiting on that response or have you lost your mind and can not answer?

          • jjr
            August 10, 2016 at 10:29 pm

            When his handler deems it is necessary for him to answer, he’ll cheerlead again. But in this case,the definition down below will answer both those questions.

        • jjr
          August 7, 2016 at 8:20 pm

          Deem?

          WTF are you talking about? I believe that anyone can see that all the companies that Mr.Garza stated are deserving of Type A funds from the EDC.

          You going senile or are you one that believes funding should go to special interest without question?

    • Gage D
      August 5, 2016 at 10:53 am

      Keep up the good work, Raudel!

  13. Kenneth J.Benton
    August 3, 2016 at 11:36 am

    I gave the mayor and the EDC a pass on that one simply because they still haven’t figured it out.

    I believe Elliff’s plan included some things which would have demolished adjoining properties and allow them to embellish improve that whole blocks appearance this in my mind it fit Under the revitalization Umbrella MN. Still technically you are correct it was not appropriate for the ATC to be involved in that at least not before 8 revitalization of the core City belongs to the four B but like I said they still haven’t figured it out yet

    • Kenneth J.Benton
      August 3, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      Not appropriate under the4a hair weave revitalization plan and designated Zone and place 4B funds might have been a legitimate use

      • jjr
        August 4, 2016 at 7:20 am

        Legitimate. What a great and good word. Something that all Christians are supposed to be. But we know otherwise,right Benton.

    • jjr
      August 4, 2016 at 7:31 am

      AWESOME! I look forward to it eventually being implemented on a mass scale.

  14. jjr
    August 4, 2016 at 7:35 am

    For the folks who are wondering what all the fuss is about in dealing with “4A” and “4B”.

    Check it out>>>>>>>>>

    Type A EDCs — Developing Industries

    Type A EDCs are typically created to fund industrial development projects such as business infrastructure, manufacturing and research and development. Type A EDCs can also fund military base realignment, job training classes and public transportation.

    Type B EDCs — Developing Industries & Cultivating Communities

    Type B EDCs can fund all projects eligible for Type A, as well as parks, museums, sports facilities and affordable housing. However, Type B EDCs are subject to more administrative restrictions than Type A.

    Here is the whole Enchilada>>>>

    http://texasahead.org/tax_programs/typeab/

  15. Gage D.
    August 4, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    I really miss the RGV White Wings! I’m hoping a team comes back to play at Harlingen Field soon.
    Rio Fest was fun too, but as you said, it got stagnant over time.

  16. The Real Dennis
    August 10, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Voting for Gary Johnson for President! No way voting for a lying money grubbing muslim lover responsible for American’s deaths or a loud mouth rich spoiled idiot! Gary Johnson, GO!

Comments are closed.