Shutdown — Laredo Style!

Just when you thought you hadn’t seen anything stupider than the Federal government shutdown, we get our very own debacle right here in sunny South Texas earlier this month.
Granted, the stakes in this city-county chingazo weren’t nearly as high as the stakes were when Rafael Cruz (you might know him as Canadian Ted) and the Tea Party caused the Federal Government to shut down over the new health care regulations, but the drama has been approaching that level for quite a while. Behind is all was a long standing interlocal agreement between Webb County and the City of Laredo, wherein the city would provide health services, like immunizations, restaurant and food inspections, animal control (dog catchers), etc., for the unincorporated part of Webb County.

The agreement had been in place for a long time … the story is outlined in this story from LMT.

So Lizardistas, it looks like the City of Laredo was nearly tripling the price of those services because they needed (make that, WANTED) the money. Somewhere there’s a golf club that needs new cart paths, I guess. And when the County said no to the outrageous price hike, the “politics” hit the fan.

The interlocal agreement expired October 1. (Can you say “shutdown?”) And, as County officials scrambled (that describes operating in a panic) to find ways to keep providing vital services to the people, the rhetoric between City and County escalated. Basically there has been more finger pointing than a gordo in a panaderia.

Making matters worse, City Manager Carlos Villarreal, in an attempt to do, well, something … released a he wrote to County Judge Valdez wherein he basically called the county court liars for discussing services they believed the city would be providing citizens.

Read the story

He further went on Pro8News to piss and moan about it … even though it was him who had the County bent over the barrel.

See the Pro8 News coverage.

Could City Manager Carlos Villarreal been a little more VillaREALISTIC about the sudden jacking up of the price to the city? You betcha. Could County Judge Danny Valdez have foreseen this was coming and taken the initiative to iron out a workable agreement with the city? God yes.
However, what we’ve got here, as they said in the movies, is a FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE. City Manager and County Judge both did what was absolutely worst for the people who pay their salaries. Their inability to get along resulted in a standoff that put the health of the public in danger. Villarreal is the only real power in the City of Laredo government – he’s obeyed by Mayor, Council and department heads. And Valdez did what he normally does – he ignored the problem until it became a full blown crisis. Then he let his Commissioners do the dirty work. For the record … he voted to accept the price hike and was shot down by, well, EVERYBODY ELSE!

Fortunately, there are smarter people on Commissioners Court than Valdez; people who understand business and government extend beyond patronage and the sales of political quid pro quo. Thanks to them, the State of Texas had agreed to pick up the slack caused by the city-county breakup. And just a couple of days ago, it was reported that the State was indeed making plans to do just that.

Hopefully this situation will be resolved in the near future and doesn’t go the way of yet another city-county debacle that winds up costing everybody more and delivering everybody less.

But don’t bet on it.

Stay tuned, Lizardistas. The forecast calls for mostly STUPID with a 60% chance of DUMB.

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