CITY OF LAREDO
SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING
1110 HOUSTON STREET
LAREDO, TEXAS 78040
NOVEMBER 15, 2006
I. CALL TO ROLL
With a quorum present, Mayor Raul G. Salinas called the meeting to order.
II. ROLL CALL
Raul G. Salinas, Mayor
Michael Landeck, Council Member, District III
Johnny Rendon Council Member, District V
Gene Belmares, Council Member, District VI
Juan Chavez, Council Member, District VII
Juan Ramirez, Mayor Pro Tem, District VIII
Gustavo Guevara, Jr., City Secretary
Cynthia Collazo, Acting City Manager
Horacio De Leon, Assistant City Manager
Rafael Garcia, Assistant City Manager
Valeria Acevedo, Acting City Attorney
Motion to excuse Cm. Garza, Cm. Garcia, and Cm. Amaya.
Moved: Cm. Belmares
Second: Mayor Pro Tempore
For: 5 Against: 0 Abstain: 0
III. STAFF REPORTS
1. Introduction of federal legislative consultants Gerry Lederer, Allynn Howe, and Karen Johnson; and update on current federal legislative issues; with possible action.
Jessica Hein, Director of Communications and Administrative Services, advised that the
purpose of the meeting is for City Council to meet the federal legislative consultants.
She explained that the Federal and State Agendas are of the same format. She noted that
the packets have been packaged and sent to legislators and consultants.
Gerry Lederer, discussed the following memo issued to Council Members:
I. Executive Summary
In light of the most recent elections:
The City must be prepared to prioritize its earmark requests and to work hard with
Congressman Henry Cuellar, in his role with the Budget Committee, to move City
The City’s March meeting is more important than ever as there are new Chairman and staffs of Committees of vital importance to the City.
The City’s March meeting will be increasingly important as a bi-product of the
election may be the commencement of administration professionals departing the
Administration. We will need to maintain our contact with the agencies of
importance to the City.
II. General Impression:
Election results are a net loss to the City of Laredo. While the registration and voting
record of past elections indicate that the City is predominantly Democratic, our
delegation was better positioned with the Republicans in charge of both the United
States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.
A Democratic controlled House Appropriations Committee may be less likely to fund the construction of the border fence. (Question is whether there was enough money in
this year’s DHS budget to build fence proximate to Laredo.)
A Democratic House and Senate may be more willing to move the Presidents’ comprehensive, as opposed to House GOP’s punitive, immigration programs.
Large programs in which Laredo is a formulae beneficiary should see no additional
cuts, if not nominal growth. (CDBG, Sec. 8 Housing, COPs, DOJ Grants, etc.)
Representative Cuellar as a senior majority member of the House Budget Committee
will have a first cut on the spending of these programs.
If Representative Bonilla survives the special election against former Representative Rodriguez, he will no longer be a Cardinal, i.e. Appropriations Sub-Committee chair.
This means the number of earmarks that he will be able to command will be fewer.
Additionally, we will have to see if the election is read by the Congress as a vote
against earmarks. That could further chill the appropriations process.
Senator Hutchinson and Corynyn go from being senior members of the majority
party, to senior members of the Minority party. This is not nearly as large an impact
in the Senate as it in the House, but it does have some implications that we cannot
Representative Cuellar, while sitting as a Democrat, was viewed as a “go to” Democrat on issued where the vote was close matters and the Republican leadership
needed votes from the minority. This allowed the Congressman to bargain for grants
and program of interest to Laredo. He will no longer have this unique position.
Additionally, there are more liberal members of the new majority that may hold a
grudge against the Congressman.
V. General Thoughts
The election of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will result in a change in policy discussions in Washington. According to the National Democratic Party’s
web page, the new Democratic majority will increase emphasis on:
1. Honest Leadership & Open Government (Ethics reform)
2. Real Security (“Recognizing that homeland security begins with hometown
3. Energy Independence (“Reducing our dependence on foreign oil, eliminating billions in subsides for oil and gas companies and use the savings to provide consumer relief and develop energy alternatives, and investing in energy independent technology.”)
4. Economic Prosperity & Educational Excellence (“Raising the minimum wage, expanding Pell grants, and making college tuition tax deductible..”)
5. A Healthcare System that Works for Everyone (“Making sure everyone has access to affordable health care, starting by fixing the prescription drug program and investing in stem cell and other medical research.”)
6. Retirement Security (“Pension reform, expanding saving incentives and preventing the privatization of social security.”)
We believe that this translates to emphasis on issues of importance to Laredo such as:
· Increased funding for securing rail, transit, maritime and other recommendations of the 9/11 Commission;
· $2.10 increase in the minimum wage;
· Potential for negotiated immigration bill with the President; and
· Debate over the contours of trade policy as the President’s authority to negotiate international trade agreements expires in June of 2007.
The Texas Congressional delegation saw very little turnover, but it will none-the- less be in a weakened position in the 110 Congress. No longer will the state have the Majority Leader of the House (DeLay) nor many of the positions of chair that were held in a GOP congress. For instance, no longer will Rep. Barton serve as the Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, nor Senators Hutchison (military & Veterans Appropriations Subcommittee) or Cornyn serve as subcommittee chairs.
Depending upon the results of the special election for Laredo’s other congressional district between Rep. Bonilla and former Representative Rodriguez, the strength of the delegation may be further dissipated.
For purposes of visits in March of 2007, many of our traditional visits will make greater sense given the position of the members of the Texas delegation, most of whom are now in the majority party. The newest member of the delegation will be former Representative Lampson, who will occupy the former Delay seat.
Below is a list of the Texas and border community members with whom we have met in the past:
Representative Tom Delay
Representative Martin Frost
Representative Charlie Gonzalez
Representative Kay Granger
Representative Ruben Hinojosa
Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson
Representative Solomon Ortiz
Representative Ted Poe
Representative Ed Pastor
Representative Silvestre Reyes
Representative Ciro Rodriguez
Representative Max Sandlin
Representative Jim Turner
Allynn Howell and Karen Johnson, Consultants, encouraged the City Council to visit Washington as often as possible noting that the representatives need to hear from them as well.
2. Discussion regarding federal legislative program, including but not limited to program goals and objectives; alignment of agenda with legislators, agencies, and staff; tracing of issues; and plan of action for legislative session; with possible action.
This item was discussed in item number one.
3. Discussion regarding the 2007 legislative trip to Washington, D.C; with possible action.
Jessica Hein, Director of Communications, advised Council that the annual trip to Washington, D. C. would be March 4th through the 8th, 2007. She noted that City staff is
continuing to work on the details of getting the trip accomplished. She said that the City
of Laredo Legislative Committee would meet the following Monday and some of the
items will be discussed. She went on to say that staff would continue to move forward with the Legislative Committee to bring recommendations back to City Council.
IV. EXECUTIVE SESSION
The City Council hereby reserves the right to go into executive session at any time curing this public meeting, if such is requested by the City Attorney or other legal counsel for the City, pursuant to his or her duty under Section 551.071 (2) of the Government Code, to consult privately with his or her client on an item on the agenda, or on a matter arising out of such item.
Motion to adjourn.
Moved: Cm. Belmares
Second: Cm. Rendon
For: 5 Against: 0 Abstain: 0