Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nice Article Dan Kelley! And these haters wouldnt be hating if they werent anonymous. It's an eminence front.

Nueces County Commissioner Peggy Bañales voted to take $118,000 for roadwork in her precinct and spend it inside the courthouse instead -- on a new office for her husband, Judge J. Manuel Bañales.

The judge, who presides over the 105th District Court, had been appointed recently to the additional duty of presiding judge of the 5th Judicial District. In those two capacities, he now maintains two offices in the courthouse.

The Bañaleses said the county was obligated to provide an office for the presiding judge, and that the money would have had to come from somewhere.

"No matter where the money came from, the county would have to do it," Commissioner Bañales said.

The transfer occurred June 13 after Commissioner Bañales abstained from two other votes related to the renovation, one on March 21 and another April 17. She said she wanted to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

Behind the scenes however, she worked to secure funding.

And on June 13, when a vote to shift the money for the project came up, she was the second of two commissioners who called to bring the transfer to a vote.

Her vote and involvement do not appear to be a potential conflict of interest, according to the county attorney. Commissioner Bañales also said she voted for the transfer because it contained increased funding for other projects, such as the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds.

Of the $165,000 used to renovate the judge's offices, about $118,000, came from 2004 bond funds earmarked to rehabilitate County Road 52 in Precinct 1, which is represented by Commissioner Bañales. Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria contributed about $40,000 from funds she controlled.

Each commissioner maintains a portion of the bond funds to be used in his or her district and each has control over that portion of the funds. Some have more than $1 million dollars left since the county issued the certificates of obligation.

When asked why he needed the second office, Judge Bañales said the county was obligated to provide an office for the presiding judge, and that the money would have had to come from somewhere.

Judge Bañales said he uses the office to have regular meetings with judges from across the region. He also uses the office for a committee that issues credentials for lawyers working in death penalty cases.

Commissioner Bañales said she used money slated for County Road 52 because another bond issue, from 2007, also included money for that road. She said other options to pay for the renovation included using money from the general reserve and taking money away from some other project.

"There was money available," she said. "It seemed that was the best solution."

Judge Bañales said he isn't the first presiding judge to have two offices -- two others who held the post in Edinburg and Brownsville also did.

"You have to keep in mind that the county is obligated to provide those funds, if it was for me or another individual," Judge Bañales said.

The judge estimated that he spends 20 percent to 30 percent of his time serving as presiding judge. Duties of that post include assigning cases to other judges in situations where another judge is ill or incapacitated, and presiding over situations in which a party in a lawsuit has asked a judge to step aside or recuse himself or herself from a case.

Judge Bañales also sits on the bench for civil and criminal trials in both Nueces and Kleberg counties.

The office has a kitchen, bathroom, and a large conference room where judges from several counties meet regularly.

Commissioner Bañales' vote likely is not a conflict of interest under Texas law. County officials generally are prohibited from voting on matters in which their close relatives have a financial or business interest, and this situation likely doesn't add up to a financial or business interest, County Attorney Laura Garza Jimenez said.

Bañales was appointed to a four-year term as presiding judge in January 2007.

He is the first judge from Nueces County to hold that post in more than 20 years.

Initially, Judge Bañales asked to house his new offices on the 10th floor of the courthouse, where the 13th Court of Appeals meets. He wanted to use office space the court of appeals wasn't using.

The Court of Appeals had other ideas.

A letter signed by six justices complained that locating Bañales on the 10th floor could allow visitors to his office to overhear the court's deliberations. It also would have ejected some of the court of appeals' staff.

By March, Judge Bañales had agreed to offices on the fifth floor.

Contact Dan Kelley at 886-4316 or

Post Your Comments

Post 1 April 29, 2008 at 4:19 a.m.

There is only one reason to put a story like this out .... swing a hammer out and see what you hit. Good luck oh and be careful of the bounce back. LOL
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Post 2 April 29, 2008 at 8:35 a.m.

post 1 what are you talking about you dont think that a wife holding our tax money decides to spend it on her husband is not important for us to know??

118,000 on an office renovation!! i can buy a house for that kind of money.

one word CORRUPTION!!!
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Post 3 April 29, 2008 at 8:36 a.m.

I guess they feel a new office is more important than fixing our deteriorating roads. We at least know where their priorities are. Enjoy your new office!
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Post 4 April 29, 2008 at 8:43 a.m.

I smell a rat!
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Post 5 April 29, 2008 at 8:47 a.m.

Make one wonder what else she has financed with County monies...
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Post 6 April 29, 2008 at 8:47 a.m.

"Judge Bañales said the county was obligated to provide an office for the presiding judge, and that the money would have had to come from somewhere." OBLIGATED? What was the problem with his existing office?

I agree Post 2 - could have bought a house for that kind of money. What are these people thinking?

Hope they didn't use the funds from the Sheriff's savings!
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Post 7 April 29, 2008 at 8:50 a.m.

It has been common place for our current Commissioners' Court to earmark taxpayer money for items of luxury rather than restoring the County's infrastructure. Just remember the next time you need to get your car aligned because you hit a pothole that Judge Banales is thankful for your sacrifice.
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Post 8 April 29, 2008 at 8:50 a.m.

I would have preferred it if C-T provided us with an accounting of the $118K. Open records act? give it a try C-T...
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Post 9 April 29, 2008 at 8:52 a.m.

I am outraged. I cannot imagine $165,000 to renovate an office. You can build a house for that. A kitchen? Does he have time to cook himself a lunch everyday or is our county tax money paying for him a personal chef? I heard this office is over 3,000 sq. ft. Do all of the judges have this and do all of the judges have their own personal bathroom and kitchen?

This story was not made up. It is factual and everyone in this county should be as mad as I am. The sad thing is that she has over 1 million dollars of our tax money in her fund and she can spend it anyway she sees fit and now we know how see "sees fit". No wonder we have such disgusing roads that tear up our cars.

Now we know why she wants to continue to be the "Full Time" County Commissioner. I wonder how many of her friends and children work at the court house and have the same luxury suites

No matter how many attorneys say it is not a "conflict of interest" it is. It is a slap in the face to the TAX PAYERS of this community.
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Post 10 April 29, 2008 at 8:52 a.m.

It is amazing how tangled the courthouse is in Nueces County...Does this ever stop? EVER!!!!!!!

If that money was tagged to be used on the roads...It should be used on the roads....Not for redecorating and remodling a second office for the judge. I am sure that it is not against the law to have voted for this reallocation of funds. Not at all....But does it matter what it looks like to the Judge and the commisioner. What they are doing to the people the commisioner represents.....

I am sure that it is the responsiblity of the county to supply the judge with the office space.....But really....Do you really need two offices...Could you not find some way other than spending $118,000.00 so that you could have two office to work from....The courthouse does not have a conference room that can be used for the meetings that you have with other judges....Come on....

We all must find ways to get around things without spending the extra money now a days....But I guess that does not apply to politicians and judges when it comes to spending tax payers money in the best interest of the tax payers.

It is time that the people of Nueces county step up and put a stop the the abuse that the elected officials running this county are doing to this county.....This has gone on long enough.....
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Post 11 April 29, 2008 at 9:03 a.m.

First of all, I am disgusted with her smug smile. Keeping track on who to vote for next election time comes around.
Boy, these judges are making it an easy way for the people of Corpus Christi to keep tabs on next election.

Whoever said our economy is in a recession- lied!
$118,000 UNREAL!!!
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Post 12 April 29, 2008 at 9:06 a.m.

I live in "her" district and this really upsets me. We have roads and bridges that need repaired/replaced, and she takes money that has been appropriated for these and renovates an office for her husband...and no conflict of interest. Maybe some of the monies have been used to pay attorneys off as well. Come November, she WILL NOT get my vote...It is time to clean up this mess
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Post 13 April 29, 2008 at 9:12 a.m.

Looks like im voting Republican for all local offices for now on
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Post 14 April 29, 2008 at 9:12 a.m.

I am glad that people of Nueces county are seeing what goes on in that courthouse. Remember Judge Banales is also an elected judge.....

When it is time to vote for either one of the again...I hope people remember how they have decided to spend the tax payers money. I must also state that it was not just her that voted on this as well.

People look at all of the commisioners and what it is that they vote on with the tax payers money....Take a good long deep look at everything.....
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Post 15 April 29, 2008 at 9:22 a.m.

I don't believe any County Commissioner should have the power to transfer money that was set aside for a single project. I guess Precinct 1 does not need any improvements and Betty Jean Longoria's precinct must not need as much since she contributed $40,000 to help with Judge Banales office. I sure wish they would have an open house so that all of us in Precinct 1 could see what a $165,000 renovation looked like, but if they DO have an open house and you DO go, BE VERY CAREFUL, the last time I drove down Leopard Street I had to get new tires and a front end alignment because of the millions of potholes that are in Precinct 1.

YOU GO COMMISSIONER BANALES, you are spending the tax payers money WISELY.
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Post 16 April 29, 2008 at 9:23 a.m.

Now we know why our roads are in such terrible shape. Those wonderful people representing us are more interested in the appearance of their offices than the safety of our roads! I find this absolutely INCREDIBLE --- the audacity of Mrs Banales, to take monies allocated for public roads and improve an office for her husband who already has an office in that building We need to clean house at the next election.
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Post 17 April 29, 2008 at 9:35 a.m.

$118,000? Are you kidding me? What kind of shape is his office in? You can buy a house for that amount of money. I am so disappointed in the Banales family. I think that Peggy is abusing her position to do this. What a shame.
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Post 18 April 29, 2008 at 9:36 a.m.

I am not happy but I am glad that when things like this happen because it tends to wake us up!
I am writing down all of the judges names who let out low bonds on criminals.
I am also writing down names of judges who seem to think they can relocate monies and do as they please with conflict of interest no doubt!
The DA can say it isnt conflict of interest but in my eyes it is!
Come election time- OUT with the old - IN with the new.
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Post 19 April 29, 2008 at 9:37 a.m.

Post 1 - Since most of us work or have other obligations that do not allow us to attend the County or City meetings, I appauld the Caller-Times for writing this story. If it is about how our tax money is being handled I wish they had a section in the paper once a week so that we could keep abreast of what is happening.

Obviously you do not live in Nueces County. It sounds like you wish they would have kept it secret. If you do live in Nueces County, have you received your new tax appraisal?

If Commissioner Banales was proud of what she did, she should have used this transfer of funds in her campaign as her platform this past primary. If you are going to push for something that you are proud of then stand up and say it. Don't try to keep it hush hush.
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Post 20 April 29, 2008 at 9:39 a.m.

I suggest you good folks who are outraged over this contact Dan Kelley and ask to take before and after pictures of the so called " new renovation". It's imperative that we the tax payers see where that money went too and the end results.
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Post 21 April 29, 2008 at 9:50 a.m.

Post 20, I don't need before and after pictures in order to get the "BIG" picture if you know what I mean...... I already see the "BIG" picture loud and clear and it offends me as a taxpayer.
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Post 22 April 29, 2008 at 9:51 a.m.

Don't think I won't remember this come election time in November! I just hope everyone else that is as sick and disgusted with the way our county monies are being handled comes out and votes in November. We need to make it known that we've had enough of this current bunch. I cannot fathom that anyone would think this is okay. If not legally, at the least, ethically. Make you wonder what else our tax money is being used for. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm tired of paying these high taxes and having nothing to show for it.
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Post 23 April 29, 2008 at 9:59 a.m.

A District Court Judger is STATE OFFICAIL! The State of Texas should pay for his presiding judges offices since they APPOINT them to be a PRESIDING JUDGE. He could save Nueces County taxpayers the expense by letting the "extra income" he gets for being a presiding judge go to some other county that can afford it and already has these offices like his predecessor from Brownsville. The State created "Presiding " judges positions which are adminsitrative in nature not judicial.
Nueces 'county voters did not elect him to be a "Presiding Judge"
they elected him to a judge for thier district. He accepted the position since it is not mandatory or a requirement to keep his job as a district 'court judge.
Didn't he also have his wifes bumper sticker on his Officail car when she was running for commissioner in volation of a Judges "nuetrality" on political endorsements?

They both "leach" off the public.
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Post 24 April 29, 2008 at 10:08 a.m.

The truth of the matter is that you all have no place to complain. This money was spent before the last election. If you didn't like it, the election and your vote would have voiced your displeasure. If you didn't know, don't blame it on the paper; you should have gone to the commissioners' court meetings (they are open to the public). Had to work?....there is a replay of the meetings on public television on the weekends. The bottom line....there is a massive amount of information available about how our money is your own homework about who spends it and why before the next election....if you don't, shut up, you....we....get what we deserve.
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Post 25 April 29, 2008 at 10:45 a.m.

These two could get away with murder!! It is about time that light has been shed on how backwards they are. Remember this in November.
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Post 26 April 29, 2008 at 10:56 a.m.

To Post 20. We do not need before and after pictures. NO JUDGE needs a kitchen and personal bathroom in their OFFICE.

To Post 24 - Commissioner Peggy Banales was elected to better her Precinct, that is what she told us. We should not have to attend meetings and police everything she and the other commissioners do and say.

I still cannot believe that anyone can say this is OK and not a conflict of interest. People this is nothing more than theft . And yes, her husband was in on it and he is an ELECTED OFFICIAL in this county and the State of Texas should pay for his office if they appointed him. How can either one of them fairly judge someone after being involved in this corruption.

Maybe we should contact Governor Rick Perry who appointed him and let him know exactly who he appointed and what he and his wife have done. They should pay the money back - ALL OF IT
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Post 27 April 29, 2008 at 11:06 a.m.

Not to paint using a wide brush with this comment, but local politician think they are God's gift to man. Instead of paying any politician, they should have to pay citizens to serve us. Then and only then will they be "public servants". Amen!!!!!!
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Post 28 April 29, 2008 at 11:11 a.m.

All you morons crying about this absolutely HORRIBLE stewardship of your tax dollars shut the fork up. You sheep voted this woman in. She has shown a pattern of crap like this. She is a joke of a commissioner and no one will dare take her job because of the impending retaliation from her hubby. All you bloggers are the gripe and complain, and spend all your time commenting and judging other people...hoping someone will respond to your post, yet where are you when its election time? I know where...probably on blogging instead of voting these CROOKS out. Loyd Neal votes to keep budget issues one cares...Loyd Neal votes to keep the contract awarding process secret with his pal one cares...yet yall are outraged over $165,000. Dont get me wrong...its ALL BAD...but yall bich about thousands, yet do nothing about the MILLIONS that the "Neal run" county continues to take and keep you in the dark about. Again...where were you morons when it was election time. Get off your computers and get to the polls or shut the fork up.
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Post 29 April 29, 2008 at 11:15 a.m.

Let me guess, the other two commissioners who voted to shift the money on June 13th was Oscar Ortiz and Betty Jean Longoria. Am I right? You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Oh, people, we have no ideal what they have done and it is probably so corrupt we will have a hard time figuring it out. Never thought it would happen with Betty Jean Longoria and Peggy Banales but sadly it has.
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Post 30 April 29, 2008 at 11:15 a.m.

Post 28--- Calm down!---geez....
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Post 31 April 29, 2008 at 11:24 a.m.

Post 28 is right. But we don't have to campaign against her because of retaliation from her hubby, tell her how much you support her and then when you go to vote no body will know who you voted for except for you and God. That we can keep secret!
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Post 32 April 29, 2008 at 11:25 a.m.

Come on folks!!!

We are only a larger version of Robstown. You expect better?
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Post 33 April 29, 2008 at 11:33 a.m.

post 26...thanks for the lesson....let me see if I got this right, if they say it and we believe it and we vote for them then they will do what they, as you say, why do we have to watch what they do....Let me enlighten you. In this world, without any checks....there is no balance. And, if you think everyone else is going to watch out for you because its the right thing to do....then I guess you're always going to have the kind of leaders you are now complaining about.
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Post 34 April 29, 2008 at 11:38 a.m.

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Post 35 April 29, 2008 at 11:39 a.m.

Methinks Mr. Celis would have been a good advisory interior designer on the project. Hope it looks good and is comfy for the Judge and his prima.

Sat on a jury in el Kine once under Banales, was impressed by his unabated arrogance toward the public.
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Post 36 April 29, 2008 at 11:41 a.m.

Just because the county is obligated - doesn't mean he has to take it. I can only imagine what a $118K remodel job looks like. Does it say the county is obligated to spend THAT much? I wouldn't think so. And I can't see why he can't have the same meetings, make the same decisions, etc in his other office. I'm sure it's a doozie as well.
They just lost my votes as well. Just because cow manure is on sale for $5/bag and I've got $10 in my pocket doesn't mean I'm gonna rush out and buy 2 bags...
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Post 37 April 29, 2008 at 11:45 a.m.

Sounds like more funny money to me - business as usual in the County Courthouse by the County Commisioners.

Despite it all, we can expect the voters to blindly vote for the best baby kissers around - reality be damned! In a few words, you get what you vote for!!!
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Post 38 April 29, 2008 at 11:48 a.m.

Do you people really believe that these criminals actually run for public office to protect your rights? DUHHH!!!!

Do you really believe that they are the least bit concerned about your feelings, want's, wishes, beliefs or cares? DUHHH!!!

Get Real!!! They are there to feather their own nests and only their own nests!!!

Go down to City Hall or the Court House and look around. Every door is closed. Every windows is shaded or opaqued. There are no people visible anywhere except the employee who is strolling down the mezanine with his nose in the air heading for the coffee shop or break room.
Security gates, armed security, metal detectors, wired glass, bullet proof windows and doors, locks, mines, security cameras, tear gas emitters, armed police, deputies, security guards and private security companies patrolling their private parking lots, private parking garages and spaces. It is no wonder that they get a feeling of superiority over everyone in the community. It is no wonder that they feel they are above the law and common civility. It is no wonder that they feel they can get away with anything. There is NOONE there to see them, oversee their operations or place any checks and balances.

When only the criminals oversee the criminals, there will be criminal activity running rampant!


IS THIS why my property TAX assessment just jumped $30,000 DOLLARS AGAIN THIS YEAR!!!!?????
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Post 39 April 29, 2008 at 12:02 p.m.

I told you all, warned you all, NOT to vote for her but noooooo.

Okay, so the Judge needed the office. She should have had sense enough to just not vote...ABSTAIN.

But, if it is true that she had to lobby for her husband's office, well, I guess that's okay yet, why would she want to put herself in such a position?

When dealing with such things, one must be one step above the law. You'd think her Judge Husband would advise her of these matters and tell her to Keep Out of it. You know, it probably would have passed even without her vote.

And if she is a lawyer, herself, she should know better and also realize how things can be perceived. Dummy lady.
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Post 40 April 29, 2008 at 12:13 p.m.

I am at a loss for words other than I'd like to cuss Peggy Banales out.

I'm spitting mad. I'm spitting upset. This is outrageous.

How can Banales and Banales sleep at night? They have no shame. Is this how they were raised? Is this the example they want to put forth for theirsmart daughter who came out on TV last month for great grades? I think it was her because she looked so much like her mom. I bet if she reads these comments she would be so embarrassed.

Obama has Wright. We, hispanics, have the Banales.
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Post 41 April 29, 2008 at 12:14 p.m.

I bet this is the elegant "meeting room" for the Ortiz Group. I wonder if you dug deep enough you would find that the Ortiz family, Terry Shamsie, Richard Borchard, the Banales', etc. have their secret meetings there. That way, no one could hear them plotting to take over Nueces County. You know, nothing is too good for that group and it is paid for by YOU!
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Post 42 April 29, 2008 at 12:17 p.m.

The attorney might have said this was not a conflict of interest; however, Peggy Banales should have thought how her actions would be perceived by the public. It is evident now how the public views this little fiasco.

Was it worth it, Mrs. Banales?
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Post 43 April 29, 2008 at 12:29 p.m.





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Post 44 April 29, 2008 at 12:31 p.m.

"the money has to come from somewhere."

Hmm, really? Maybe the bloated salaries of the commissioners could cover a modest revamping of office space.

I would rather see the $$$ spent on repairing roads.
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Post 45 April 29, 2008 at 12:36 p.m.

I do not know Ms. Banales. I have know the Judge professionally for several years. Any allegation of impropriety on his part is misplaced.
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Post 46 April 29, 2008 at 12:36 p.m.

What a dissappointment the Banales have become. Shame on you too Betty Jean.
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Post 47 April 29, 2008 at 12:46 p.m.

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Post 48 April 29, 2008 at 12:49 p.m.

Post 42

"The attorney might have said this was not a conflict of interest; however, Peggy Banales should have thought how her actions would be perceived by the public. It is evident now how the public views this little fiasco.
Was it worth it, Mrs. Banales?"

It appears the her answer could be as that famous Clark Gable line "Frankly madam, I don't give a "darn".

She does not care, she thinks she can get away with everything and anything and she is, much to our shame as voters, probably right. The Democratic party machine in Nueces County will get her elected again. You know the story, my daddy was a Democrat, his daddy was a Democrat and his daddy was a Democrat and we are still poor and the Democrats are for the poor people..... so we have to vote for them.
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Post 49 April 29, 2008 at 12:54 p.m.










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Post 50 April 29, 2008 at 1:09 p.m.

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Post 51 April 29, 2008 at 1:13 p.m.

She should use some of that money for a face lift.
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Post 52 April 29, 2008 at 1:15 p.m.

Banales and Betty Jean probably did it because they have no intentions of running again.
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Post 53 April 29, 2008 at 1:24 p.m.

I bought a whole house, a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with garage last October for $130,000.

$165,000 is being spent for an "office" renovation?

This may not be "illegal", but it sure is immoral
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Post 54 April 29, 2008 at 1:25 p.m.

I will be voting in November for Mike Pusley. I am in Pct. 1 and will not have my tax dollars being spent on rediculous things like this. If you live in this Pct. make sure you get out and vote, that's the only way to stop this!!!
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Post 55 April 29, 2008 at 1:26 p.m.

If you live on County Road 52, precint 1 area, you were just told, "you ain't all that and I don't care about you to the tune of $118,000"
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Post 56 April 29, 2008 at 1:31 p.m.

Thank you Dan Kelley. We need more of this type of reporting.
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Post 57 April 29, 2008 at 1:32 p.m.





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Post 58 April 29, 2008 at 1:40 p.m.

This is so typical for what goes on here. It's SICK SICK SICK........
Shame Shame on them all.

This has got to be stopped. We must remember this when election time comes up.

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Post 59 April 29, 2008 at 1:47 p.m.

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Post 60 April 29, 2008 at 1:58 p.m.

So this is what a felon who stole $118K looks like??? If life were fair, her pink suit would be changed to white with black stripes. And what is sad is the look on her face, like "I did it and you can't do anything about it!!!" God help this thief.
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Post 61 April 29, 2008 at 2:06 p.m.

Want to see this change...... use your abilities to vote.....

For some reason people - even after Joe Benavides pointed this out - still voted for her..... who all is in her pockets or who's pockets is she lining..... IMMORAL? UNETHICAL? INAPPROPRIATE? CORRUPT? ILLEGAL? Doesn't she need to be held accountable...

Was there not a need somewhere else besides MANNY'S office? Did she put in a bedroom there too? HOLY COW? I wish I was the contractor that got that $$$ or was that person part of the plan as well! Who's to say she didn't get to nicely pocket some of that money for personal gain.... ANYONE FOR AN INVESTIGATION?? This is abuse of position and tax payers money!!!

WHETHER YOU ARE REPUBLICAN OR NOT.... YOU CAN VOTE FOR MIKE PUSLEY TO CHANGE THIS! Can't wait until he calls her out on this one... she won't be able to stammer and stutter her way through this.....

MIKE PUSLEY... a conservative voice of change for Precinct 1!!!

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Post 62 April 29, 2008 at 2:06 p.m.

Hey!!! Post 60: That's not entirely accurate!!

That is an old file photo taken when she was caught transferring funds from the HCMF (Homeless Childrens Medical Fund) to the Business Account of "Banaleze Court House Office Renovators and Construction Enterprises".

Don't you remember?
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Post 63 April 29, 2008 at 2:09 p.m.

Let me get this straight....

Everyone who is whining needs to realize.....

Shamsie - Banales - Ortiz - Garcia - Berry - They all feed each other.... and off of each other... it literally is a you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours... you need to investigate the ENTIRE group... all the awarded contracts and kickbacks....

Do the Googlin'.... Look up Peggy Banales - Terry Shamsie - the is a good place to get some chisme!
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Post 64 April 29, 2008 at 2:09 p.m.

He also presides in Kingsville, does he have an office there for going out to the one horse town once a week? So that is one day a week that he is not in Corpus, so he needs two offices for being in Nueces county 4 days out of the week... Maybe the contractors are also related, that's why such a high $$$$ for improvements to an office...
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Post 65 April 29, 2008 at 2:13 p.m.

This is exactly what happens in this city & county everyday. Just on Monday a group charged with helping decide the fate of the Memorial Coliseum just approved to pay a consulting firm $50,000.00 to help them decide the fate of the Coliseum. It's only the tax payers money, so why should our city officials care. Everyday it's something else. Another saga in the stupid things that go on in our county & city government. We have got to get rid of these big spenders.
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Post 66 April 29, 2008 at 2:19 p.m.

Post 65

Being very honest, I am not against big spending at all. My concern is where, what, when, how and why? If it is in the best interests of the area, the County, the city, the citizens, the taxpayers, sure, go for it. Anything else raises a whole bunch of red flags.
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Post 67 April 29, 2008 at 2:33 p.m.

to hell with this, first the 50k on that dump the hummellsium and now this. these idiots need to be held accountable. the c-t needs to start a watchdog columnist like some of the other Texas papers and make this widley available during election periods. this just sickens my stomach.
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Post 68 April 29, 2008 at 2:44 p.m.

Vote the incumbents out of office. Why do they keep running for office. They never do one thing to improve Nueces County.
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Post 69 April 29, 2008 at 2:45 p.m.

Post 68, They keep running for office for the money.
(Suggest removal)

Post 70 April 29, 2008 at 3:14 p.m.

"the money had to come from somewhere"....well why not from YOUR pocket instead of mine?? I have a good idea...Lets house those poor kids from the LDS compound in his 3000 square foot office and the Banales' can feed them all the milk and honey $113,000 can buy!
(Suggest removal)

Post 71 April 29, 2008 at 3:35 p.m.

Do your part. Vote for the people who will make a difference in the area.
(Suggest removal)

Post 72 April 29, 2008 at 3:39 p.m.

The media should do a follow up story to show the taxpayers exactly what their tax dollars paid for.
(Suggest removal)

Post 73 April 29, 2008 at 3:54 p.m.

Term Limits for all Politicians is a must. No one should serve more time in any office than the President of the United State. NO ONE IS THAT GOOD..
(Suggest removal)

Post 74 April 29, 2008 at 3:55 p.m.

Need to start a protest on this stuff! Make it known so all media outlets will get ahold of this story & the other dirty stuff.....

Make a scene outside there so called "office"...
(Suggest removal)

Post 75 April 29, 2008 at 4:17 p.m.

Post 70 et all...they keep running for office because we keep voting them in for a SECOND TERM.

iT'S OUR FAULT...a lot of people just don't vote and they are the ones who make some real changes in what is going on. Every vote counts.
(Suggest removal)

Post 76 April 29, 2008 at 4:18 p.m.

What did Post 59 say??????
(Suggest removal)

Post 77 April 29, 2008 at 4:24 p.m.

Oh yes, term limits are a must. Peggy has her first full time job since college and she has found a home. Right there by her hubby, how cozy. If term limits are OK for the city council then they are a must for the county commissioners and any other elected positions. Anyt;hing more than 2 terms is 2 much. Her first term and she already thinks the money belongs to the Banales family, think what is is going to be if she stays any longer. She certainly does not believe in giving it to the poor working people. If she stays in office I guarantee that the name of the courthouse will be changed from the Nueces County Courthouse to the Manuel and Peggy Banales Courthouse of Nueces County. Heck, they already have a 3000 sq ft home there.
(Suggest removal)

Post 78 April 29, 2008 at 5:02 p.m.

Stop whining-you fools vote these people in & those that do not vote are just as guilty.
(Suggest removal)

Post 79 April 29, 2008 at 6 p.m.

"Of the $165,000 used to renovate the judge's offices, about $118,000, came from 2004 bond funds earmarked to rehabilitate County Road 52 in Precinct 1, which is represented by Commissioner Bañales. Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria contributed about $40,000 from funds she controlled."

$165K? for an office? and he has TWO of them? My house cost less than half that and I only have one, but he takes my tax dollars and doesn't fix my roads? Democrats have lost touch with real people like me.
(Suggest removal)

Post 80 April 29, 2008 at 6:07 p.m.

(Suggest removal)

Post 81 April 29, 2008 at 6:08 p.m.

(Suggest removal)

Post 82 April 29, 2008 at 6:22 p.m.

Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, the nerve of these critics is totally out of bounds. Of course you used that discretionary money to renovate your hubby's office, after all, why waste it on a stupid old road.

Don't these dummy taxpayers realize that we already have the finest roads to be found anywhere in the country? We do not need to waste one more red cent on roads when we already have the very best.
(Suggest removal)

Post 83 April 29, 2008 at 7:13 p.m.

The Banales take home almost a quarter of a million dollars a year in pay and benefits from the State and County Treasury.

You would think that if they wanted new toys to play with they could afford to buy them.

Now we know why the Caller Times endorsed her opponent in the primary. Thanks for the info. Caller Times.
(Suggest removal)

Post 84 April 29, 2008 at 7:35 p.m.

First the crooked little Mike Hummell project known as the Memorial Coliseum and now we have these crooks absolutely abusing their positions. Why isnt the editorial board of the C-T not doing its job and demanding an explanation. Come on C-T grow a pair and act like a real newspaper and editorial board. The b.s. projects from Hummell and Banales are abuses that need to be investigated and halted!
(Suggest removal)

Post 85 April 29, 2008 at 7:46 p.m.

Judge Banales: tough on crime
Mrs. Judge Banales: worthless

Vote Democrat: It's easier than working!
(Suggest removal)

Post 86 April 29, 2008 at 8:01 p.m.

I like the pic. this chick is hood.
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Post 87 April 29, 2008 at 8:05 p.m.

Judge Banales is a GREAT judge (although he might be a little stiff with his sentences). He deserves to hold both offices.

However, there will need to be some explaining of an office that cost $180,00 for renovations. I mean...I have seen mansions that spent that kind of money on the entire house! What kind of wallpaper did he get -- 24K gold?!?

Anyway, perhaps this story is a reported in a negative light. Is it possible that not all of the $180,000 was spent on the office? Something just sounds fishy about it. I seriously doubt that they spent that kind of money on an office (or even a set of offices). So I think that Judge Banales deserves the benefit of the doubt.

(Suggest removal)

Post 88 April 29, 2008 at 8:15 p.m.

Our County Judge -- what does he think about this?
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Post 89 April 29, 2008 at 8:16 p.m.

WRONG! Judge Banales WAS a great judge. Now he's just a thug like his hood wife. They should both be thrown in jail. A very sad day indeed!
(Suggest removal)

Post 90 April 29, 2008 at 8:35 p.m.

(Suggest removal)

Post 91 April 29, 2008 at 9:32 p.m.

I thought WE had problems. You guys in Corpus could have used that 168,000 (50,000 from the Memorial Colisium ) to fix roads, maybe repaint schools, get new textbooks, maybe use that money to fix the gang help, or hire a gang consulting firm, or maybe clean up Leapord. That is crazy, isn't there something you guys can do?
(Suggest removal)

Post 92 April 29, 2008 at 9:54 p.m.

Banbueno-por-nada (Ban-good-for-nothing)
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Post 93 April 29, 2008 at 10:05 p.m.

Well looks like typical South Texas, I could just see the judge rolling over in bed and saying you know you could build me a new office with the road money. I hope everybody that voted for her thinks she did the right thing, and votes for her next time. I should run for the seat I could use a new garage to store my re-election signs. Way to go
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Post 94 April 29, 2008 at 10:26 p.m.

Captions for Peggy's picture above:

"Don't worry, honey, it's a piece of cake to get a remodel for your office. Watch me do my stuff at the County Commissioners Meeting."

"Watch me pull a fast one over these lowly taxpayers."

"Roads...roads need fixing? Quit teasing meeeee. The ride from my house to the office is fine."

"Yes, Manny and I laugh all the way to the bank each month!"

"Of course I don't give a damn what the taxpayers say about me or Manny. Let them eat cake."

"Okay, Betty Jean, here comes the vote. You know what to do."

"Tee hee hee, I pulled a fast one again!"

"And the Caller Times didn't even endorse me. Ha ha, I won anyway to continue to take advantage of the taxpayers and make sure I represent myself, the old guard, and not the people in my district."

"Integrity? How do you spell that?"

"Yep, working behind the scenes certainly did it. You think anyone noticed? After all, it happened back in June? Ha ha."

"Noooo, by the time it all surfaces and the poop hits the fan, it will be a done deal. I know how these things work."
(Suggest removal)

Post 95 April 29, 2008 at 10:31 p.m.

"Of course I don't give a damn what the taxpayers say about me or Manny. Let them eat cake."

This is very funny! Marie Antoniotte never really said that though")
(Suggest removal)

Post 96 April 30, 2008 at 1:27 a.m.

This is why I have said again and again, vote "NO" on everything!
If it costs you money, you should avoid it.
How many of you would have actually voted that kind of money for a fancy office for the judge?
If you vote no on everything, they will have to spend the actual tax dollars collected to fund everything instead of thinking of new ways to spend.
(Suggest removal)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lencho Rendon: link to these companies constituted "self-dealing" and raised serious questions about how forthright Jones had been with the board

Thursday, April 24, 2008


By JMontoya
Now that Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos has issued a mass pardon for every elected official and public administrator involved with the pilferage of the $21 million in bond money issued for the construction of the port rail/truck bridge, it appears that the powers that be want us to forgive and forget.
Except for the companies or individuals named in the unsealed indictment, apparently no local officials will have to answer for their part in the fiasco, even though we all know that many of them had their hands in the till and enriched themselves - directly and indirectly - from the public's money.
The port sued Dannebaum engineering, of Houston, for $9.2 million of the $15.5 million the firm was paid for performing engineering and consulting work on the bridge. Investigators determined that only $4.5 million of that amount was justified by the work product delivered by the firm. Despite the failure of the firm and its Mexican subcontractors to attain a diplomatic note from the Mexican government to construct the bridge, they invoiced - and were paid - more than $2 million as "success" bonuses.
Villalobos's recovery of $1 million of "success" bonuses will be shared by the DA's office and the port, although no numbers are yet available on the split. The DA indicated some of these bonuses were paid "imprudently." For many months, many have questioned why commissioner Roy De Los Santos signed the bonus checks - and more importantly - why local banks such as IBC, approved payments with only one commissioner's signature, against BND policy.
De Los Santos opted not to run for reelection for his position at the last minute, leaving Sergio "Tito" Lopez without an opponent.
U.S. Congressman Solomon Ortiz and his former chief of staff (now a Washington lobbyist) Florencio "Lencho" Rendon not only wined and dined at posh restaurants and hotels here and in Mexico City, Washington, and Monterrey at port expense, but also played a direct hand in guiding port boards and administrators on which contractors to hire, according to previous testimony by former board members.
Although Rendon sought to distance himself and the congressman from the fiasco, past port commissioners told investigator Charles Willette that Rendon often recommended who Dannebaum Engineering should hire in Mexico.
Former commissioner Sidney Lassaigne told the local daily that Rendon was directly involved in telling port officials who to hire in Mexico, including a firm called Construcciones Mantenimiento y Comercializacion RODA, S.A. Willette noted in his report that Dannenbaum officials told him that they contracted RODA without formal port approval on Rendon's recommendation.
"He (Rendon)...brought numerous other subcontractors and potential subcontractors to BND and was often trying to influence how BND was run," Lassaigne told Emma Perez-Trevino, of the Brownsville Herald.
BND's consultant in Monterrey, Esther Rodriguez Silva, receives $4,000 a month. She was hired at Rendon's recommendation. There is no documentation indicating her professional specialty, other than that she is a close friend of the congressman's chief of staff.
At one point, Rendon's insistence on how to run the port's business reportedly prompted the late Raul Besteiro, BND's executive director, to throw up his hands and tell Rendon that he could be the port director if he wanted.
It should be noted that James Dannenbaum and his company's manager Louis Jones have contributed heavily to Ortiz's reelection campaigns every two years.
And it was Ortiz's office that recommended that the port hire Randy DeLay and then Glenn B. LeMunyon (former majority leader Tom DeLay's former chief of staff, Randy's brother) to lobby for the port on the bridge and other pojects. In six short years (1998-2004), DeLay received $1.9 million in fees. LeMunyon received $525,178 from the year 2000 to 2004.
And still, no bridge.
The fiasco started in earnest in 1997, when Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr.- moonlighting as a consultant - introduced Dannenbaum Engineering to the port. The board then hired the firm and terminated its bridge contract with Brown and Root. Lucio, who acknowledged receiving $140,000 from the firm from 1997 to 2001, also acknowledged he received a yearly $30,000 from the company in the years since, including two $10,000 bonuses. Lucio denied he received any bridge money, but refuses to specify what work he does for the firm on other projects.
At the local level, former commissioner Lassaigne received $6,000 from Dannenabum officials as political contributions as did former commissioner "Captain" Eddie Rendon, who received $2,000 in contributions from them. De Los Santos received $6,000 from the firm officials contributing as individuals. It is against Texas law to accept contributions from corporations.
A port spread sheet show that even the BND's contract lawyers Rentfro and Rentfro, received money from the bridge bond funds. The spread sheet indicates that from 1995 to 2004, the Rentfros billed - and got paid - $22,781 for their work on the bridge project.
Dan Rentrfo Jr., who investigated in 1999 whether $304,152 paid to a local attorney and consultants in Mexico were legal, determined that no state or federal laws were violated in the transaction. He determined this even through local attorney Dennis Sanchez paid Alma Guerrero-Miller $40,000 for consulting work and later for a pictorial history of the port, even though she was a Tamaulipas state employee at the time.
Rentfro also saw nothing wrong with the $240,000 sent to a Mexican firm - Malpaso Corp. - through wire transfers to a bank in the Bahamas. Willette noted in his report that it was not Rentfro's determination to make.
Many at the port speculate that the unnamed indictees would include Dannenbaum manger Jones, who told Willette he had no role in the formation or operation of the firms in Mexico that received millions in port funds. Willette found that Jones not only knew of the companies, but was also the major stockholder in three of them - COBINA, Homeframes de Mexico, and Sistemas. He reported that $9.2 million went to the three companies linked to Jones, and that little or no work product existed to justify the payments.
Willette's report stated that Jones' link to these companies constituted "self-dealing" and raised serious questions about how forthright Jones had been with the board. Payments to the three firms were made through wire transfers at the same time through the same money exchange houses in Mexico, Willette's report noted.
There was no comment in Villalobos's statement announcing the grand jury's finding and indictments, on whether the board had erred in accepting a settlement with Dannenbaum that gave the port no money, and which did not specify what or when $2.9 million in promised engineering work would be delivered.
It should be noted that Carlos Masso, an assistant DA in the White Crimes Unit, was one of the BND members voting for the settlement. Villalobos has stated in the past that Masso had no role in his investigation or the presentation to the grand jury.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bentley never came forward and now is acting high and mighty regarding Terry Carter when he is the one who's actions are in question

Nice work my friend and yes indeed it is foremost about South Texas as a wholeDear Juan M Garcia III and South Texas,

Juan, I just wanted to inform you and everyone else (in writing) we at Los Kenedeños support you and your efforts for re-election. With your Term in Austin you sponsored and wrote legislation for a South Texas Constituency. We have had differences in the past and that is the past. We have moved forward for a bigger cause in South Texas. We look forward to helping you help South Texas. It is not about what you want or I want but it is about what WE as a South Texas People want. I believe the fine is a knit pick at best especially when we have the likes of Lencho Rendon & Dannenbaum building bridges halfway to nowhere and immigrating Asians while Kenneth & Ping Lee Cohen get locked up as part of the BND Delay LR Global DreamTeam.!

Sunday, April 13, 2008


As El Defenzor reported months ago, it was Damon Bentley who failed to come to Mauricio Celis side and to come out publically and explain who the naked girl was (his girlfriend) that Mauricio came to pick up (along with Damon) at the Stripes convenience store. Lord knows how inebriated the foolish girl, or Bentley was, for her to walk naked to the store. Mauricio and Bentley went after her in the middle of the night. Bentley never came forward and now is acting high and mighty regarding Terry Carter when he is the one who's actions are in question. Bentley set traps to frame Carter along with other EDC members. We have reported on this on March 27, 2008 on "How Things Work" in this blog. Now Bentley wants to be citizen of the year while his morality and ethics in sticking by Celis are in question. As Celis begins to slowly rise from the ashes and launch his defense and more information is coming in about the frameup which occurred, Bentley will be in a very difficult position explaining how his naked girlfriend was at Celis house and then took off naked and Mr. Bentley is trying to pass himself off as "Honest Abe" and citizen of the year. The Defenzor will be launching a full investigation about the Terry Carter attack, but not to worry, there will be no one protected from the Solomonista side as in other publications.


  • It is disappointing to see that all of the hard work and investigation done by El Defenzor a month ago was taken and rewritten by We the People. On the other hand, one would argue that getting the message out is all that matters, but what is the message? The message is that We The People Failed to Bring out the Lencho/ Shamsie/. Solomon Ortiz lust for power side, which is just as corrupt. You will notice that a hypocritical quote is made by Shamsie in Kelly's article, that the EDC (Economic Development Corporation) should be ashamed of how it is acting. Although I agree that Terry Carter is under fire, let us not forget that it is Lencho and his cronies with Shamsie that are fighting against this group to be as equally corrupt. SADLY, YOU WILL NOTE THAT NOT ONLY DOES KELLY QUOTE SHAMSIE AND PORTRAY HIM AS SOME SOME SORT OF HERO, BUT HE ALSO HAS ADVERTISING FROM SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, JR. and from Todd Hunter. Curiously, none of these individuals are being discussed in his "in-depth" reporting. IS IT STILL "ME THE PEOPLE" JOHN? IS ME THE PEOPLE where the buck comes first and the agenda is to protect those that feed you some scraps? El Defenzor also accepts advertising dollars and has disclosed that, but El Defenzor BROUGHT OUT THAT BOTH LENCHO AND SHAMSIE AND THE EDC ARE FIGHTING FOR CONTROL AND REALLY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT POLITICS OR WHO IS FEEDING OR ATTEMPTING TO FEED THE PAPER DOLLARS. IT IS ABOUT THE TRUTH. Be that as it may I challenge JOHN KELLY to respond to this Posting and explain why he is trying to make the Solomonistas the heroes along with Shamsie and Lencho and make the EDC the only bad guys in town.. TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH JOHN, NOT THE ONE THAT SUITS YOU. Plust the agenda is clear that Kelly was backing the other Lencho puppet, Peggy Banales and we should look very closely my followers and readers on John Kelly's activities and why he has turned his back on Juan Garcia and is courting Todd Hunter: MONEY!!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nueces De La Parra: Shamsie “Strong Arms” Solomon Ortiz & Rene Rodriguez

Nueces De La Parra: Shamsie “Strong Arms” Solomon Ortiz & Rene Rodriguez:

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Shamsie “Strong Arms” Solomon Ortiz & Rene Rodriguez

Shamsie “Strong Arms” Solomon Ortiz & Rene Rodriguez
Jaime Kenedeno - 11:40pm Oct 10, 2005 Central
Shamsie “Strong Arms” Solomon Ortiz & Rene Rodriguez
Democrats are not behind Shamsie! There is only certain clique of Democrats who want to “Strong Arm” Shamsie back into the Nueces Constitutional County Court! This “clique” (or group of “Cronies”) I will refer to as the “Shamsie Clique” or “Shamsie Cronies”. It is my understanding, Shamsie’s support stems from the Office of Congressman Solomon Ortiz and certain other witnesses to the “Capelo Deal”. Attorney Shamsie (along with George Finley {Nueces County Hospital District}) witnessed the transaction between Attorney & State Representative Jaime Capelo and Attorney Rene Rodriguez.. Capelo represented Citgo at the time and Rodriguez was in dispute with Corpus Christi Police Officers Association! (Laredo National Bank VP) Roland Guerra had to break the bad news to Capelo and then he was thrown to the dogs! Why was Shamsie never deposed? Why not Finley (deposed)? Tony “The Two Fer” was mad at Rodriguez and Capelo! What about Hugo Berlanga grooming Capelo for the JOB? I seem to remember some kind of criminal charges filed on Hugo Berlanga and his backroom politics! Now Capelo and Berlanga are both better off! They are both successful lobbyists in Austin! Then we go to the Medical Legislation! Who was it good for? Was “The Two Fer” Pro or Con with the proposition authored by Joe Nixon? The Doctor’s Malpractice insurance increased! Who made out on this deal?
Now back to the “Shamsie Cronies” it is rumored and warnings have been issued! The media is being “Strong Armed” financially! Elite and Power Brokers (Powercrats) within the Democratic Party are frowning on the media who promote any other option for the Democratic primary and certainly to support an independent will bring the wrath of both Parties! They are in essence saying, “we are going to use our Incumbent resources to discourage (SQUEEZE) clients from working with your business’ if you (the Media) speak negatively of Shamsie! Even if it is
Tejano2K - 02:50pm Oct 11, 2005 Central (#1 of 10)
As we know;There's always two sides to every story,hope somebody will tell it because anyone can write just about anything about anybody.Sould we be rooting for 'Shamsie'?
GRusling - 08:16am Oct 22, 2005 Central (#2 of 10) If voting could really change things, it would be illegal...
This is all political doubletalk. It appears meaningless because it is...
Jaime Kenedeno - 06:17pm Oct 22, 2005 Central (#3 of 10)
GR: "This is all political doubletalk. It appears meaningless because it is..."
Explain? Verify your statement Please?
GRusling - 10:49pm Oct 23, 2005 Central (#4 of 10) If voting could really change things, it would be illegal...
Politicians are all crooks, endit.
The "pot" is calling the "kettle" BLACK again!
All concerned are up to their eyeballs in gutter-slime...
Jaime Kenedeno - 11:52pm Oct 23, 2005 Central (#5 of 10)
GR: I agree with you. Do you have any suggestions for a Candidate with integrity for Nueces County Judge. Suggestions for a nomination?
GRusling - 06:40am Oct 24, 2005 Central (#6 of 10) If voting could really change things, it would be illegal...
I don't live in Nueces County, thankfully...
Jaime Kenedeno - 07:04am Oct 24, 2005 Central (#7 of 10)
Then Theoretically speaking. Who do you beleive to be the man or woman for the JOB?
GRusling - 08:30am Oct 26, 2005 Central (#8 of 10) If voting could really change things, it would be illegal...
I have no idea. Nueces County politics are a peripheral issue for me. I rarely comment except when it's "pure" politics with little or no substance...
John DeLaGarza - 07:06pm Nov 17, 2005 Central (#9 of 10)
I dont know much about the Democrat Party locally or otherwise or the Republican Party for that matter, but I definately do not like Shamsie. IMO there is definately something Shady about him.
There has got to be a better Democrat for the job than him, either way I'll vote against him whenever he is up for reelection.
John DeLaGarza - 09:22pm Dec 8, 2005 Central (#10 of 10)
Good news Shamsie isnt going to run for reelection.


Jaime Kenedeño said...

Darrell Keach, 33, Nueces County Record Star, General Manager

How long in current position and how long in newspapers: I’ve been actively involved in the business since 1994. I’ve grown up in the business and I’m fourth generation, starting with my great-grandfather who owned the Floresville Chronicle Journal and later bought The Record Star in 1926. Since then my grandfather Carroll Keach was publisher and my father Sam Fore Keach is the current publisher.

Why did you get into newspapering: I didn’t seem to have much choice I guess, being fourth generation.

What is your most rewarding part of the business: Helping a new or existing business and the community we serve succeed, while at the same time making our own business succeed.

What is the worst part of running a newspaper: Failing to succeed.

What are your goals for the future: Continue to grow our circulation and reach without sacrificing quality.


Jaime Kenedeño said...

Sam Keach, a Robstown historian whose family has owned the Record Star newspaper there since 1925, wrote a column in August describing chatter about fast-action, high-stakes poker around the clock in the 1940s at a dance hall/watering hole named Rob's Place in Robstown.

He was not able to document Texas Hold 'Em having its beginnings there, but the column conjured a response from Gigi Starnes, 63, born in Falfurrias, now living in San Antonio. Her father was an occasional gambler who owned Clancy's Cafe in Falfurrias, a popular restaurant with area gamblers.

Starnes' response to Keach's column: "I well remember whisperings of those high stakes card games. There was a gambler called Buttermilk (because that's all he would drink while playing) who once gave me a $10 bill, which he said he'd won playing Held 'em in Rob's. I must have been around 5 or 6, and remember wondering who Rob was, now I think it must have been Robstown."

Historical raids in Corpus Christi at places such as the famed Dragon Grill verify the existence of gambling for decades. Linn Keys (Doc) Mason, of Pennsylvania, arrived in Corpus Christi around 1926. Eight years later he opened the Dragon Grill on Corpus Christi Beach, according to Nueces County Historical Commission information.

It was a plush, swanky nightclub, a classic blending of art deco, excellent food, good music, dancing and gambling that thrived for years.

An early morning blaze destroyed the building on Jan. 15, 1944, according to Caller-Times archives. Within 18 months, a new Dragon Grill was opened at the Elks Club building, built in 1928 at the corner of Water and Starr streets.

Considerable money changed hands nightly in the third-floor Jaina Room. Entrance was achieved only by way of a special elevator. Blackjack, poker, dice games, slot machines and roulette were favorite games. A system of warning lights and buzzers were used if danger threatened from below.

In August 1953, however, one industrious policeman, Raymond Lamp'l, joined with FBI agents who had been dating women known to Mason, and all posed as customers. They watched as patrons threw down their chips, and when it was Lamp'l's turn he threw down his badge.

Charges of keeping and exhibiting a gaming table were brought against Mason and one of his employees. Though the grand jury returned a no-bill, that was the end of Mason's gambling career in Corpus Christi and the end of big-time gambling at the Dragon Grill.

Contact Mike Baird at 886-3774 _or,1641,CCCT_811_3545047,00.html

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