The term political puppet is defined as a person who has a title indicating possession of political power, but who, in reality, is controlled by outside individuals or forces. Corpus Christi City Councilman Ben Molina first caught the Crónica’s eye for what he didn’t say. Because, as an elected member of the Corpus Christi City Council, he didn’t say much. For four years he seemed to be asleep at the wheel on Council, letting other City Council members take on the hard issues and lead the debate. The Crónica believed maybe it was because he was busy at his privately owned roofing company. That is until this year when the Port of Corpus Christi’s Sean Strawbridge and Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales decided to run very high profile state legislation to benefit the County. The legislative bill allowed the Port of Corpus Christi to partner with one political entity–guess which one? You guessed it–Nueces County. What it really did was allow the Port and the County to develop tax free. But here is the kicker- they were only going to develop tax free in one city and that city was not the City of Corpus Christi. The Crónica is digging deeper as to why the County Judge was so interested in developing one city in the County– what city was that? Robstown.
Naturally, other local cities and San Patricio County got mad and passed resolution after resolution against the legislative bill. The Corpus Christi City Council members vehemently spoke out against the bill, detailing how it allowed the Port to build tank farms unchecked, how it hurt regional development, and all were perplexed as to why the Port and the County wanted to develop tax free in Robstown, a full 20 minutes from Port operations. Mysteriously, sleepy Ben Molina woke up and for some strange reason became a huge supporter of the bill. When City Council members took to passing an official resolution against the bill, Councilman Ben Molina voted to support Barbara Canales and Sean Strawbridge over his constituents at the City of Corpus Christi. We wondered why?
The Word on the Street is that sleepy Ben Molina fancies himself to run for higher office and what could be much worse, he has business interests that are “complicated.” It’s well know that Barbara Canales and her “common law” husband, Port lawyer Doug Allison are in full swing recruiting candidates for their Port domination tour. We believe Ben Molina wants their support and we have some ideas as to why. We have heard that Molina fancies himself a Commissioner, Congressman, or even Governor someday and for some odd reason he thinks Port lawyer Doug Allison is his ticket to the big leagues. Official candidate/office holder campaign finance reports for 2020, list Port lawyer Doug Allison, Port Commissioner Richard Valls, Tiffany Valls, Port Commissioner Bryan Gulley, former Port Commissioner Wayne Squires and Port Commissioner Catherine Hilliard as Ben’s biggest contributors. That’s a whole lotta Port Commissioner cash rolling into Ben Molina’s campaign. Clearly, Ben Molina did not want to make his benefactors mad and so instead City Councilman Ben Molina voted against the very constituents he represents and for the Port. On the Corpus Christi City Council, Ben Molina votes like a man controlled by the puppet strings of County Judge Barbara Canales and her “common law” husband Doug Allison.
Issue after issue and Ben Molina is a 100% Doug Allison vote. Let’s look at Ben’s record. He has supported the Port’s desalination project over the City of Corpus Christi’s project, even though the city is the regional water producer. He voted to appoint every single Port Commissioner candidate that Barbara Canales and Doug Allison have hand selected. He speaks in favor of failing Port projects. And the final straw? He supported the Nueces County and Port’s legislative bill against the body that elected him- his very own City Council and most egregiously, against his constituents.
But, what “Coastal” Ben should really be careful about are conflicts of interests. There are troubling rumors about other reasons why he votes the way he votes. Early this year after promising to reappoint a Port Commissioner, out of the blue, Ben suddenly flipped. Rumors abounded as to why he would not vote to reappoint a qualified and hard working Port Commissioner. Instead Ben voted for newcomer Rajan Ahuja, the close personal friend of County Judge Barbara Canales and her “common law” husband Doug Allison. Canales even held a public “swearing in” ceremony acting like Rajan Ahuja was her appointee. Ben Molina’s vote to appoint Rajan Ahuja solidified Barbara Canales’ stronghold over the Port of Corpus Christi. What did Rajan Abuja then do? He immediately voted to give a big fat bonus to the tune of $50,000 to Port CEO Sean Strawbridge, who hires the County Judge’s “common law” husband Doug Allison to the tune of almost one million dollars. The Crónica will be getting to the bottom of why Ben votes the way Ben votes. With election season beginning to be underway, we are keeping a close eye on “Coastal” Ben, his political strings, campaign contributions, and his voting record. We are going to be keeping an even keener eye on his work projects. We strongly believe if Ben Molina wants to continue to be elected to represent the City of Corpus Christi, then there should be no strings attached, Ben Molina should vote with the citizens of Corpus Christi.