Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Eye on Laredo

It's quite obvious that I usually use my blog as a personal writing clips file, but with a press issue event happening around my employer and the new mayor here in Laredo, Texas it looks like time to alter focus.

All information received so far says mayor, and former FBI agent, Raul Salinas has ordered copies of LareDOS removed from the airport, the Laredo Visitors and Convention Bureau and City Hall. He appears to be reacting to criticism of city government action around a shopping mall and another around another mall interlocked with a wetland -- which garnered some 10,000 petition signatures in defense of the wetland.

The most visible critiicism has been on the front cover of LareDOS -- seen online at -- which has depicted the mayor, city council and the mayor's dog. The dog made no political decisions -- that anyone knows of -- but was brought in after it became a public figure, too, in an unrelated public action campaign.

The key issue here, as the way the laws present it, is that the mayor is a public figure and subject to such criticism and some riducule over issues important to this booming city of some 207,000. Also, of importance, are the limits a mayor in Texas has under the "weak mayior" system. To put it lightly, there is serious doubt about a mayor's ability to order the removal of any publication, which also enters into free speech issues.

I have known the mayor for some 23 years now, since my sports writing days in Alice when the FBI agent Salinas would frequently visit his hometown -- probably as part of his public relations responsibilities in South Texas. Of course, G-men are limited in what they can say, so one can usually just know a G-man on a limited basis, but I have known him. Because I have known him that long, I have to question whether or not he is acting on his own, or receiving poor advice in this matter. Either way, I hope both sides speak to each other while it can still be corrected.

Although, it certainly could be too late, already.

It's a surprise to think that he could have run for office here in the U.S. and not have, at least, known that such criticism is the norm. He is a rookie politician and my publisher, Meg Guerra, has had the paper for 13 years, so there's an imbalance there, but when holding public office in a city this size, ignorance is no excuse.

Keep an eye on Laredo. Let's see what happens.