Texas Supreme Court Issues Ruling: strikes down the Laredo plastic bag ordinance; fight is not over; Laredo to unveil a new awareness campaign for public and retailers
The Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday morning, upholding the decision of the Fourth Court of Appeals in favor of the Laredo downtown merchants to kill the plastic bag ordinance for Laredo and the rest of the state of Texas.
“Pecos Bill just show down Mother Nature in broad daylight,” said Tricia Cortez, executive director of the Rio Grande International Study Center, a Laredo-based nonprofit that worked on a 10-year campaign to get the Laredo plastic bag ordinance passed.
"This ruling threatens to roll back years of progress and beautification that have already taken place,” Cortez said. "We will continue to fight and we won’t give up."
RGISC and the City of Laredo will unroll a public awareness campaign asking the public and local retailers to stay the course, and to keep making the right changes for Mother Earth.
A joint City-RGISC press conference is scheduled for Saturday, June 23 at 10 am @ the El Portal conference room, 1600 Water Street, 78040.
Cortez noted that this is a hollow victory for the Laredo downtown merchants, since the leader of the group, Les Norton, doesn't even live in Laredo.
"It's amazing that a tiny group of well-funded downtown merchants, headed by someone who doesn't even live in Laredo, could halt progress and beautification efforts for the rest of the 250,000 people who live in this community," she said.
“We ask the people of Laredo and our local retailers to join us in this movement,” Cortez said. “Too much is at stake. The powers that be in Texas may still bow down to big corporate money but the tide will turn in this state. We will be part of that beautiful movement, and we ask the people of Texas and retailers to continue phasing out these unnecessary plastic bags. Plastic bags are real. They clog up the whole environment. This is a big loss for Texas.”
When earlier attempts failed in 2008 due to lobbyists hired by the Laredo downtown merchants, Brownsville took inspiration from Laredo’s efforts and enacted their own ordinance, becoming the first city in Texas to do so. The cities of Austin, South Padre Island, Freer, and Fort Stockton among others soon followed in their footsteps.
An investigative story by Meg (Maria Eugenia Guerra) of LareDOS Newspaper, “Will the City Enforce Ordinances and Fines for Monaco II Developer’s Environmental Encroachment on Shiloh Trials,” delves into the story of how a local developer bulldozed through a section of the Shiloh Hike & Bike Trials. The clearing cut through two streambeds of Manadas Creek for a new subdivision that calls for building a large quantity of homes to be immediately next to this unique and rare green space.
The developer had permission to clear out a 15-foot easement for their water line. Instead, they took out between 40-50 feet of land, nearly a football field in length, with no permission and no permits to do so.
To read more about this issue please click on the link below.
The 6th annual “Birds of the Brush” Art Contest is a lively special event that we do as part of our Laredo Birding Festival. This year, we received a record number of submissions, at 431.
As part of this collaboration with RGISC, the Laredo Center for the Arts and Monte Mucho Audubon Society, local students, amateurs, and professional artists submit artwork of birds found in our region. Art pieces are then judged by well-known artists and bird experts. Our panel of judges this year were: Armando Hinojosa, Raul Delgado, Gayle Aker-Rodriguez, and Frank Ortega.
For the first time in Birds of the Brush history, one art entry came from our sister-city, Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
The art contest is separated into 5 categories: Elementary, Middle School, High School, Community-Amateur, and Community-Professional. Judges select a Best in Show winner, and each category has 1st, 2nd, 3rd place finalists, and two Honorable Mention winners.
We wish to commend all participants, and their teachers. Our judges and Laredo Center for the Arts staff noted that the quality of art work submitted this year was significantly superior than previous contests.
On Feb. 7, we opened the Art Exhibit and a much anticipated Awards Ceremony took place in which all winners, and all participating teachers and studios were recognized.
6th Annual Laredo Birds of the Brush Art Contest Winners
Best of Show
Francisco Garcia United South High School
Elementary School Middle School High School
1st Nery Arguello 1st Jenelle Guajardo 1st Grace Alvarez
2nd Jacklyn Castillo 2nd Ethan Ramirez 2nd Stephanie Garcin
3rd Victoria Riojas 3rd Amaya Mashuca 3rd Claudia Jimenez
HM Brisa Duarte HM Gabriel Cervantes HM Zoe Macias
HM Azul Pedroza HM Angelina Cerda HM Catalina Berry
Community - Amateur Community - Professional
1st Hilda Zavala 1st Amando Chapa
2nd Elisa Gutierrez 2nd Erika Ordoñez
3rd Valentin Jorge Cuellar 3rd Nancy Poinsot
HM Patricia Najera HM Luis Hernandez
HM Blanca Manchala HM Erika Buentello
*HM: Honorable Mention
The art work is open for public viewing at the Laredo Center for the Arts until March 2, 2018.
Some pieces are also available for sale.
From Feb. 7-10, we welcomed 150 birders from 23 different states and 37 Texas cities for our 6th Laredo Birding Festival.
This was a record number for the Festival, and for the first time we had two international birders from Mexico. Birders come to our South Texas city to see the hundreds of species of birds –including our prized White-collared Seedeater—that live here or visit us during the different migration seasons.
The 6th Annual Laredo Birding Festival offered a loaded itinerary for birders which included:
The Mayor and Laredo City Council have formally withdrawn their vote and motion to build the proposed veterans museum at North Central Park.
RGISC would like to thank Friends of North Central Park and the interested group of veterans who diligently worked together with us on this effort. We also wish to thank Our Laredo for hosting a Vets Museum Forum on Jan. 9 which proved to be a game-changer in the development of this issue.
This is a terrific victory for the community and for our green spaces. RGISC is currently working with the City of Laredo to draft language that will serve to protect our parks and green spaces from future initiatives and development.
As a goodwill gesture, RGISC has committed to making a financial contribution to the Veterans Museum once the site is finalized and an operating fund is in place.