CITY OF LAREDO

SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING

M2006-SC-17

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

 

            In attendance:

 

            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

                     projects forward.

                     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. 

 

             III.  Pluses:

 

                     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. 

 

             IV.  Negatives

 

                     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

                     ignore. 

 

                     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

      security.”)

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 Bonilla

                        Representative Burgess

                        Representative Cuellar

                        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.

 

V.        ADJOURN

 

            Motion to adjourn.

 

            Moved:  Cm. Belmares

            Second:  Cm. Rendon

            For:     5                                               Against:  0                                            Abstain:  0