Word on the Street: Fighting at Commissioner’s Court

Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales never seems to stop scheming to raise our taxes. There has been lying, conniving, and fireworks at the Nueces County Commissioner’s Court by County Judge Barbara Canales who continues to openly fighting with all her fellow Commissioners.

What is deeply concerning to us? Barbara Canales wants to raise our taxes for the next twenty years to build a $30 million dollar amphitheater in her own personal fiefdom, the Richard Borchard Fairgrounds in Robstown.

Canales wants to raise our taxes to build this amphitheater without public input, but County Commissioner Brent Chesney says it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. County officials have long warned this project will raise our taxes for the next twenty years. Commissioner Chesney has been deftly defending the taxpayer, challenging Canales on the project and even placed it on the agenda for what he thought was a vote. Chesney said it plainly, “I don’t believe this is a project that will do anything…but lose additional revenues at the fairgrounds, and cause financial drain.” How an amphitheater that is a “concrete pit” came to be billed to the taxpayers as an “energy saving contract” is an absurdity unto itself.

County Judge Barbara Canales is insistent that the project will provide an energy savings and despite the fact it has no financial impact analysis, she personally claims it will be a boom to Robstown. Canales wants the project and she wants it now. Except, she has a big problem.

The project clearly violates the terms of a settlement agreement signed by local businessmen Bill Durrill and Nueces County. As a way of background, Bill Durrill and his family are long time community leaders and philanthropists. The Durrill Family Foundation built and funded La Mirador de la Flor, which honors Selena. The Durrill Family Foundation also built the eight Miradores, the gazebo-like structures along the Corpus Christi Bayfront.

The Crónica has a great respect for the community work of Bill Durrill and his late father Dusty.Community leader Bill Durrill clearly believed he needed to defend the taxpayers against this project and filed a lawsuit against the County. The lawsuit settlement agreement requires the County to do certain things, which Canales hasn’t done. Instead, she is guessing about the financial impact, lying about the public input, cites no justification for the County to be competing with the private sector, and clearly is scheming to raise our taxes for the next twenty years. But Bill Durrill is a savvy local businessman who saw exactly what we saw in this scheme.

What does the Durrill lawsuit settlement agreement with the county require? A competitive bidding process or a legal opinion from the Attorney General of Texas. In other words, things just got hotter. Sorry County Judge Barbara Canales, you can’t go hire your buddies without going through a competitive bidding process. Canales is known to invoke her emergency powers or invoke her dictatorial powers and hire whomever she wants, whenever she wants. Commissioner Chesney clearly wanted to end Canales’ “green” concrete amphitheater madness. But what Commissioner Chesney didn’t know was that Canales was lying to Commissioners by “altering and changing” language he placed on the Court agenda. He thought the Commissioner’s could take action to remove the amphitheater through a vote, Wrong.

Barbara Canales connived and changed the language on the agenda item and stopped the Commissioner’s from voting. Commissioner Brent Chesney and his fellow Commissioners had clearly had enough. Chesney quietly outplayed Canales by putting the item back on the agenda. This time Canales’ bad behavior came back to bite her. County staffers who fear retaliation, say Canales lost her democratic majority by belittling her fellow Commissioners, talking down to them, removing their items from the agenda, scheming, screaming, and double-talking her way around issues.

Canales is a lawyer who likes to fight and she fights with anyone and everyone who gets in her way. For his part, Chesney has now placed the item back on the agenda to protect the taxpayer against the dreaded item that sounds more like horror movie: Canales’ Plan to Raise Our Taxes. Stay tuned for more as this story unfolds. We have seen it all, fake fighting at the Port of Corpus Christi.

Sean Strawbridge and Barbara Canales continue to lie and scheme, the Crónica did have a moment of amusement during the Port Commission meeting. Suddenly, there seemed to be a big fight between Sean Strawbridge and his partner in crime, Port Commissioner Rick Valls. We grabbed our popcorn to hear the back and forth. Valls as Chair of the Planning Committee, loudly and pointedly called out Strawbridge for personally agreeing to a large “green energy” policy initiative that dramatically alters the direction of the Port of Corpus Christi without informing or consulting the Port Commissioners.

The Crónica actually knows this to be true. Valls was even calling out Sean Strawbridge right after two-time Emmy Award winning KRIS6 former journalist Matt Stevens reported that he was investigating Sean Strawbridge for corruption. Could there finally be an awakening by the Port Board that they need to fire Sean Strawbridge and end the corruption? Suddenly, we realized we had been had. Port Commissioner reappointment time is coming up before the end of the year and it’s time for the annual fake fight between Rick Valls and his bro Sean Strawbridge. The fight was literally laughable.

The Crónica thinks Strawbridge and Canales should stick to their day jobs. Neither has an acting gig in their future and we won’t be duped. Valls has serious conflicts of interest as a Port Commissioner and his personal relationship with Strawbridge, Barbara Canales and her “common law” husband Doug Allison are deeply concerning to us. Valls presides over Barbara Canales “common law” husband making almost a million dollars off the Port, while she appoints Port Commissioners. This is wrong. The Port of Corpus Christi needs independent leadership that is accountable to the public and their appointed bodies. This is not happening today. The lying, conniving, and fake fighting will not be tolerated by the voters.

The Word on the Street is that the voters are steaming mad and you can look to see them strike back come election time. Recent private polling proves this to be true and you will be hearing more about the election polls we are hearing about as candidates continue to emerge. What’s the number one issue of concern to local voters? Corruption. Maybe this is why the incumbent County Judge, Barbara Canales, who appoints Port Commissioners, announced her reelection a full year and a half away from the actual election day. Seasoned political strategists laughed.

Barbara Canales is clearly worried about her relection, and she should be. Canales refuses to answer why, after she was elected County Judge and she appointed Port Commissioners, they hired her live in “common law” husband Doug Allison and are now paying him close to a million dollars. Port of Corpus Christi money is going directly into the household of the Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales. The Crónica believes Canales should be worried about her re-election. And so should every other elected official that turns a blind eye to what’s happening at the Port of Corpus Christi.