Que Pasa in Baja?

November 2, 2015
BY: DAVID FLORES

David FloresThe situation is getting grim.  Nine bars were closed with a humiliating banner that reads “clausurado”. The city’s tax inspectors who took over early last month with the change of city government discovered that these bars were operating without paying for permited late hours. Some others were operating entirely without a liquor license, which costs some 10 grand here. A total of nine watering holes were closed in one week last month.

Some bar owners showed receipts that were disallowed, as they were paying city inspectors on the down low instead of paying at city hall. And yes, the bar owners knew it, they were glad to take the “discount”.

Turns out the city, (that’s you and me, Bunkie), has been losing mucho dinero in not collecting for legitimate permits for the past four years of the Agundez administration. The new de la Rosa administration is bearing down on these scofflaws and is trying to recover that lost money by levying fines and interest charges. For any bar that doesn’t have a big savings account, this is going to be a toughie. If they’re closed, how are they going to earn the money to pay these charges?

Let there be light. A famous guy said that about 2 million years ago. Contractors hired by the ministry of communications and transport (SCT) are working along the fourlane between Cabo and San Jose, installing new light poles and laying down underground aluminum wiring. This wiring is less costly than copper, and less interesting to thieves, who stole the previous copper wiring, leaving us in the dark.

The SCT rep promised that all the 680 light poles and 1,360 LED light bulbs will be up and running by mid-November, at a cost of nearly $2 million. The poles are designed to resist winds of 147 mph ( a category 4 hurricane brings winds of 130-156 mph), and the arms with the 300-watt LED lights are retractile, which will help keep them safe during a hurricane. Wow, that’s a good idea. Who thinks of these things? Our own CFE? Doubtful.

But here’s the catch, isn’t there always?  Once installation is finished and all of the lights are up there lighting our way, the feds will turn them over to the city which will be in charge of maintenance. Hopefully this city administration, which just took over a month ago, will have enough will/intelligence/knowledge to keep the lights on. Far be it from us to tell Sr. de la Rosa how to run our city, but, sir, did you think to order spare bulbs to keep on hand?  Just a thought.

One more suggestion? The fourlane, the tourist corridor, is actually a federal highway, and as such is patrolled by the feds, who are notoriously corrupt and really, really mean. Way worse than our own Keystone Cops. Every time a new federal comandante rotates in, he makes rosy speeches of a new era of touchy feely police people, and within a short time, the feds are back to bad guys. What if they actually gave tickets to the speeders on the highway from hell? Forget the money raised, we’re talking lives saved here. Just a thought.

Desal plant not desaling.  (Hold those cards and letters, folks, we are a newspaper and we can make up words if we want to.) Former Los Cabos Mayor Pene Nuñez, who was appointed to run Oomsapas, the city’s water department  reported that the Cabo San Lucas desal plant is in dire need of repairs to the tune of $4.6 million. Holy cow. That’s a chunk o change.

“We are inspecting each and every part of the plant, as the repairs have been needed since hurricane Odile hit us in September last year,” said Nuñez, although not all the damage was can be chalked up to Odile. There’s a lot of routine deferred maintenance in there also.

Last week, the plant shut down entirely for two days of emergency maintenance but returned to operation in 48 hours as promised. Oomsapas has been pumping water at regular intervals twice a week now that Nuñez is in charge, so let’s give him a big round of applause.  If he could run an entire city government, surely he should be able to operate a desal plant that supplies the vital liquid to 40 neighborhoods in Cabo. And if you’re wondering why we give a guy the clap for giving us water only twice a week, it’s because that’s a vast improvement over what we were getting from the Adundez rein.

Possible justice coming our way. Maybe, Could be. Don’t count on it. Susana Zatarain, the young treasurer of the city government, said, “it is notorious, the neglect of the properties, assets and obligations of the previous city administration. This requires a technical, scientific and detailed analysis of the current state of the municipality.” This came right out of the starting gate during the first meeting of the new city council.

An audit was approved and a bid will be launched in a few days to hire a professional auditing company, which will also be required to provide the current administration with a guideline to implement internal control mechanisms to prevent this from happening again. Unlikely. Everyone knew, and we published many, many alerts that Tony Agundez was stripping the city of all its assets. Nothing was done to stop it.  His city council rubber stamped every thieving move.

During the same meeting, the city council  revoked the sweet heart contract with the E-Greentech company to manage our trash. The previous administration made the deal in its last days. A new bid to find a trash management company will also be launched.

Governor does Washington. Our new Southern Baja governor Carlos Mendoza, who was sworn in just last month, met with officials of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington DC to work on technical cooperation issues, such as improvement of the public safety institutions in our state. Crime prevention, emerging, sustainable cities, and financing for projects to modernize energy, mobility and drinking water were discussed.

“Opportunities do not arrive, we have to go out and look for them,” said Mendoza upon his return to our state, adding that “We are at the right moment to achieve an organized growth of our cities.” He negotiated for us a team of technicians and experts from the IDB who will visit Southern Baja “shortly”. As in “Pronto”. As in, well, we hope to do that some day.

Help! Help! Coming. Banobras, Mexico’s bank for public works, has promised new mayor Arturo de la Rosa financial support via the National Infrastructure fund to build an additional desal plant in Cabo San Lucas.

De la Rosa also met with officials of Mexico’s national water commission, (Conagua), and obtained funding for 50% of the cost of the studies needed to find a second water source in Cabo San Lucas. OK, here’s the deal: If De la Rosa hires that same lame Spanish company that screwed up our current desal plant, we are all going to lose faith in him. Let’s just watch, and cross our fingers. If he hires a Gringo company we will know he’s honest, because the job will be done right, the parts can get here fast, and American companies can not pay off overseas companies to award contracts. There will be no kick backs by penalty of doing time in the U.S stoney lonesome.

Another election. The Los Cabos municipality is gearing towards electing their delegation’s leaders, who represent people in the outlying areas at City Hall. This election is called a “Consulta Ciudadana,” and is sort of a plebiscite, with no more formality than showing up on voting day with a current voting card.

The vote will take place Sunday, November 8, in Cabo San Lucas, Miraflores, Santiago and La Ribera, all of which comprise the municipality (sort of like a U.S. County) of Los Cabos along with San Jose, which is the seat of the government.

Once the votes are counted and the winners named, the mayor has seven days to swear them all in. There are four candidates registered for Cabo, three for Miraflores, four for Santiago and three for La Ribera. There is not a single woman, despite that Mexico’s congress approved last week a Law of Genre Equity.

City gets federal help. Raul Cholet, head honcho of Fonatur, the federal tourist development agency that developed San Jose and the Cabo marina, stated last week that he has been instructed to support our destination resort with maintenance and repairs to improve our streets, sidewalks, lighting and garbage pick-up. Fonatur help will be limited to tourist areas like Marina Boulevard and the main drag in Cabo, in addition to the San Jose hotel zone, but hey, any help is welcome.

Cholet said all the improvements should be finished by February next year, with an investment of nearly $22 million, although part of that dough is also being spent in Loreto. What!!? Screw Loreto, we want it all! Well. Ahem, we’re very glad Loreto is under consideration for this generous offer, but in our opinion, we are more needful than those people. So there.

Theater play announced. Hotel Casa Tota presents Las Estrellas de Todos Santos’ production Slice of Life, a variety of theatrical readings by their new ensemble that will both tickle and tug at your heart. (That’s fine, if you want your heart screwed around with like that). The dates are February 3rd, 4th & 5th, 7:00. Tickets are $15 and may be acquired at the hotel’s Reception. There will be a wine & nibble mingle after closing night’s show. In the Galeria two doors north of La Santeña Restaurante & Cantina. 5:00 pm pre-show dinners at the hotel are $20 and diners may save their theatre seats before their meal. Special room rates. 612 145 0590 or email hotelcasatota@gmail.com.
Totally in English.

7th annual open studio tour. Again. Nothing new here. Every year Todos Santos artists fling open their doors for gawkers to see the artists in their natural habitat. Saturday and Sunday, February 6th and 7th. follow a map showing all of the studios. You will get a glimpse of what the life of the artist is like. Painters, sculptors, photographers, muralists, plein-air painters, encaustic artists, jewelers, printmakers, collage artists, potters, wood turners and we can only imagine what else.

Last year’s 2015 Open Studios Tour with 34 participating artists saw 400 visitors roaming throughout the town in one giant art fest that raised nearly $4000 for the children’s art programs of The Palapa Society of Todos Santos. This year, all proceeds will benefit this same program. Karin ts.studiotour@gmail.com 612-143-8491.

Writers’ retreat. The Seventh Annual Writing Down The Baja & Manuscript Lab will take place February 21-28. This is the longest-running Todos Santos writers’ retreat for improving your craft and advancing your career as a writer. It is guided by award-winning author, poet and experienced creative writing instructor Ellen Waterston. Morning sessions for Writing Down the Baja, afternoon sessions for Manuscript Lab, evening critiques, guest author presentations, anthology of student writing, concluding public reading in Todos Santos. Lodging and meals for a low low 2 grand. That’s dollars, honey, not pesos.  Register by November 3 for $100 discount. $500 nonrefundable deposit required upon registration. Day students: $900 plus meals. Hey, you can stay at our house for way less than $1100. For more information contact Ellen Waterston, info@writingranch.com, www.writingranch.com, US # 541-480-3933.

Race postponed. Due to the street mess in Todos Santos and the uncertainty, (OK, complete mystery), of the completion date of said mess, the Palapa Society of Todos Santos will not be holding this year’s 5K run. New dates will be announced for 2016, so stay tuned. What, people can’t run over the top of mounds of dirt? Doesn’t sound that hard to us.  The Palapa Society will still be holding its 7th annual Tianguis, (rummage sale), on Saturday, November 28 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the future site of the new Palapa Learning Center on the bypass road.

The group is seeking donations of house wares, clothing, children’s items, sporting goods, and any stuff that’s in good condition to re-sell. To drop off your donations email info@palapasociety.org.org or look www.palapasociety.org/ to find out what this is all about and if they are worthy of your precious junk.

Fish tourney in Loreto. It’s not until April, but the organizers are anxious.  The Fishin for the Mission Yellowtail tournament will take place April 21 to 23 in Loreto. Save the date, it’s a wonderful town, and that’s a good time to visit.

Three prominent Baja artists are presenting a their works altogether in an exhibition titled “Merino, Casty, Magallon—Three Artists, Three Ways to Art”.

The Exhibition has two opening nights, Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14 from 7 to 10 p.m.,and will be open Saturday, 11 to 2, at the new Galeria Bellaterra in La Paz.(formerly Galerias Pax). It then continues at the Galeria through the holiday season and into January. At present the art can be viewed Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Galeria Bellaterra is at 1250 Guillermo Prieto, between Cinco de Mayo and Constitucion, in La Paz central. Telephone Nasch at 612 141 1004.