Mayor Tony Martinez, our “Believe in Brownsville” mayor, reached out to a familiar company, M.A.P.(Message, Audience, Presentation, Inc.) of Austin, the same company that ran his campaign for mayor, to advertise, organize and plan his “State of the City” event at the Brownsville Event Center on May 14.
The small company(5-10 persons) was paid $23,342.58 to assist in the event. Attendees paid $50.00 to attend unless they were fortunate enough to get a ticket from a corporate sponsor.(Actually, the bulk of the 500+ who attended must have been given complementary tickets as just a handful of individual tickets were sold according to materials I received from the city from an Open Records request..
Taking a look at M.A.P.’s website, the company presents itself as specializing in “communicating with the Hispanic and African-American electorates.” M.A.P. shares with us its approach to Hispanics:
“The biggest challenge in communicating with Hispanics is not one of language only, but one of tone and approach. We have to recognize that those we most need to turnout are more apolitical and at an economic level that can often make politics and voting seem like a luxury.”
The M.A.P. website makes this comment on communicating with a group they refer to as the “New Latinos”:
“Spanish in Texas is for the most part an oral tradition, among a community that has low-educational(sic) achievement levels. While Spanish print has made a comeback, it is important to keep it at a grade level that ensures the widest comprehension.”
Next, M.A.P. refers to an “empowerment and educational component: No one likes to be embarrassed, and considering the low level of information most Hispanics have on political processes, basic information on how to participate is critical in overcoming issues of insecurity, fear and doubt.”
OK. I’m not Hispanic, but, to me, the above remarks are condescending bull shit. It does give some insight into how the mayor thinks and perhaps why he did not find any advertising firm in Brownsville competent enough to handle the event’s promotion and organization. He did use a Brownsville caterer, Keko’s Bistro and Catering, paying the company $9,411.60 to feed the attendees.
A Brownsville Herald article dated July 29, 2013 commented on Mayor Martinez decision to go with an outside firm to run the event:
“He said that since the money for the State of the City event was privately raised, he saw no issue with spending the money with the same consultant firm that helped him win his office, explaining that based on practices he has observed in other areas, the event is typically planned wholly at the mayor’s discretion.”
I don’t believe that what Tony says is correct, that all of the money raised for the “State of the City” event was raised privately. For example, the Brownsville Navigation District donated or bought $1,500.00 worth of tickets. Isn’t the navigational district supported by tax dollars? Now, the $8,500.00 given by the Public Utilities Board are technically not taxpayer dollars, but aren’t they ratepayer dollars? Where does the Brownsville Economic Development Council get its money? They gave $1,500.00. The Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville gave $500.00. Does Tony consider that private money? The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation donated $1,500.00, clearly from the 4B diversion of yes, you guessed it, sales tax collected in Brownsville. The University of Texas at Brownsville gave $1,500.00, then $500.00 more. There’s no P.U.F. oil money in that baby. It’s all funded by tuition and tax. The shadowy, nontransparent, fake governmental entity, United Brownsville, that is totally funded by 8 other taxpayer entities, gave $3,000. Oh, I just noticed, the BCDC gave yet another $150.00. By my calculation, that is $18,650.00 of taxpayer, ratepayer, tuition payer money contributed to support an event taxpayers had to pay $50.00 to get into. Nena and I didn’t get invitations, but its doubtful we would have sprung for the 100 semolians necessary for entry.
A bit unsettling is the United Way of Cameron County’s contribution of $4,000.00. So, that means that after the United Way’s notoriously high adminstrative fees, still $4,000 comes off the top to help pay for the mayor’s highbrow event before any of the needy are served? Geez!
Given the above, perhaps the event’s organization, advertising and running should have been put out for bid to vendors approved by the city instead of Tony going to his comfortable campaign cronies. Maybe next year’s handling of this event will be done in a way to actually demonstrate that the featured speaker really “Believes in Brownsville.”