Category Archives: Business

If You Drive Padre Island Drive You Might See A New Billboard With A Recognizable Face

Last month former Nueces Country Sheriff and current Republican Party Chairman Jim Kaelin stirred up a firestorm when he shared a post that many people felt was blatantly racist. Even Gov. Greg Abbott took notice and called for Kaelin to resign. He survived a ”confidence vote” from his party and then rushed to hold a press conference where he maintained his innocence. Now LULAC Para Todos is punching back trying to do something that not even the Governor could do–get Kaelin to resign.

”LULAC PARA TODOS joins in Gov. Abbott’s call to have Jim Kaelin resign from his post as Chair of the Nueces County Republican Party, because racism has no home here in the Coastal Bend, in the state of Texas, or across the country. We will not tolerate racism in our community any longer”, said Eric Holguin, President of LULAC PARA TODOS. “This isn’t about party politics – it’s about doing the right thing so our community can come together. Racism and racists shouldn’t belong to any political party or party platform.” he added.

The billboard will be running for at least one month, or until Jim Kaelin resigns from his post. LULAC PARA TODOS (#22399) is a local civil rights chapter of League of United Latin American Citizens.

*Disclosure: Eric Holguin is also running for Texas House District 32.

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Are We Making A Big Mistake By Keeping The Beaches Open? Locals Will Go Regardless and Out-of-Towners Are Coming

Matt Pierce Briscoe

It was pretty much made clear at a joint city of Corpus Christi/Nueces Country press conference on Monday that Nueces Country beaches would remain open for the upcoming holiday weekend despite the ongoing and increasingly concerning rise in COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, not far to our south, Cameron County announced Monday that effective at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 30, all County Parks and County Beach access area will be closed.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. ordered the closure of county parks and beach access areas until 12:01 a.m. on July 13.

Why is that you say? Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni had an answer to the question. 

“They said they’re not going close the beaches,” Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni said. “We can’t close them if they don’t let us close them.” 

But that statement seems to pass the blame towards the state, even though Governor Abbott maintained that beaches were not the primary cause of the problem. Many disagree and while there are die-hard beach goers who would argue that closing the beaches for public health and safety is violating their rights, the rules of government do seem to allow plenty of flexibility for city and county officials to make that tough call. 

Local officials say that they can’t stop people from coming to the beach. Even though Independence Day weekend crowds mirror Memorial Day, the city and county seem to favoring business profits and tax revenue over public health. They can encourage people to be safe, they say.

But beyond that local officials do in fact have a way to limit both local and out-of-town beach traffic at restaurants, grocery stores and others places that holiday seekers tend to frequent—they can close the beaches and parks.

The Texas General Land Office has insisted that the agency is giving local government officials the flexibility to do what they need to do in order to keep their communities safe. Sources at the General Land Office Monday night confirmed that.

Cameron County, which instituted a beach and park closure on Monday tallied 2,281 cumulative cases on Monday. That’s only 161 cases more than right here in Nueces County, which is seeing the highest per capita increase in COVID-19 cases anywhere in the state. 

Like Nueces County, Galveston County is risking lives for money and keeping their beaches open even though the Texas General Land Office is working with local officials to give them the flexibility that they need. That doesn’t sit well with some folks. 

“They know damn good and well if you keep the beaches open people from San Antonio and the Hill Country will come,” says Corpus Christi resident Michael Cantu. “I mean you have enough people here willing to ignore the rules and go out there.” 

Cantu isn’t wrong. Robert and Patricia Curnow who live in the Boerne area say that they plan on coming to Corpus Christi because so much of the river activity in the Hill Country is restricted or shutdown due to COVID-19. 

“We will be there,” Patricia said on Monday. “If you ain’t scared then we ain’t either.” 

They aren’t alone. Blake Collins is a San Antonio College student who studies at UTSA. He said that originally he and a group of about 18 friends had planned to go tubing the Frio near Concan, but with the closure of tubing operators and heavy restriction and closures on many county parks in the Hill Country, they are coming to the last bastion of recreation—Nueces County.

“You people got balls,” Collins said. “Don’t close the beaches! We have a chance for Spring Break Part Two. This thing doesn’t scare me or anybody that I know.” 

They already have an Air BnB booked for 6 days on North Padre. 

The popular internet site that Collins and his friends booked their short-term rental through actually showed limited short term availability for the days of July 2-5. So did the alternative site VRBO. As it is currently, there is no restriction on short-term rentals or hotels in place like there once had been.

The city of Corpus Christi began lifting restrictions on short-term rentals that had once been in place to help initially slow the spread. However on April 28, short-term rentals were once again allowed to take reservations from out-of-town visitors—and they still are. 

But there lies the part of the problem. Local officials trusted in the community as Governor Abbott reopened the state. What seems like to be “back in the day,” County Judge Barbara Canales had this stern warning and wishful thinking.

“We are going to have to take on more personal responsibility,” she said. “I know we can do it. We know how important it is for our economy to survive. It is incumbent for us to take this seriously.” 

That didn’t happen. 

At that very same press conference Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb said this: 

“If the numbers don’t make an upturn, we will expand to fifty percent capacity in two weeks,” he said. “If the numbers go in the wrong direction, well, we don’t want to get back into another order. You’ve been wonderful so far. We continue to request your participation in staying safe.”

Again, that didn’t happen and many area residents just carried on like everything was just like it was before—safe, sound and healthy. And there was another part of the problem. 

Corpus Christi and Nueces County have found themselves in more than just a political and social pickle. People without a doubt do not want to be restricted, but just like a hurricane or tropical storm, it sometimes just has to be done for public health and safety. On Monday it seemed like local government officials were still hanging onto the Governor’s philosophy of “as we do more testing the number will increase.” But just like Gov. Abbott recently admitted on television stations across the state—he made a mistake and he recognizes it.

There isn’t much doubt that locals and holiday seekers alike will be crowding Corpus Christi area beaches over the upcoming holiday weekend. Beyond that the number of COVID-19 cases will very likely rise again along with the death rate—just like it did before. Then, the ultimate question will remain: who will bear that burden of knowing that more may could have been done and they chose not to do it?

That might end up falling on all of us one way or another.

H-E-B To Make Bonuses Permanent

Back in April, employees of Texas base grocer H-E-B were rewarded with temporary hourly pay increases for their hard work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the company says that they have made the bonuses permanent.

“This pay increase will be the largest pay increase in the history of H-E-B. Additionally, we will continue our ongoing investments in pay and other perks and benefits for all Partners across the company, including making Martin Luther King Day an official paid holiday for our Partners,” H-E-B stated on its website.

Analysis: The Politics Behind The Masks

Matt Pierce Briscoe

Texas is setting records when it comes to COVID-19 and it seems like Texas is starting to finally feel the impacts that the rest of the world has been feeling for months. But then there is Governor Abbott and the face mask controversy.

As confirmed cases continue to go up in the weeks following Gov. Abbott’s decision to reopen the state, he is making the television rounds across the state explaining why it is he always had the “business mask requirement” rule in the plan. Of course he did.

You see, Gov. Abbott’s plan didn’t work out like he thought it would and the number of COVID-19 cases in the state have skyrocketed. This was and is his strategic political recovery plan, and Democrat officials around the state have zero choice but to follow suite.

The plan is masterful to say the least. Abbott began getting flack from business owners and the far right to open Texas ahead of plan. He had to do something and the fact remained that Gov. Abbott had little option. So, he did what he could do and laid out a plan to open Texas in phases, and that seemed to work in the short haul. Initially it had looked like he and his advisors had won the battle and Texas really did dodge the bullet. But then it happened.

We reached the most vulnerable phase of the reopening plan where we allowed bars to open, youth sporting events to continue, open hair salons, restaurants could increase capacity, and Texas would be ready to go! Governor Abbott, always a strategist and one to trust those closest to him, always left himself an out and always left a way to leave businesses and local governments holding the blame for any flare up in new cases.

In guidance, he has always said that a business doesn’t have to open their doors if they don’t want to do it. He also has always had the provision in place for local leaders to force businesses to enforce mask wearing restrictions or face the consequences. Gov. Abbott and his strategy team had this well under control in the event that this thing ever went south. And go south it did.

New cases started going up higher and higher in Texas. Kids who had been locked at home for weeks and months were now able o go out and do things. The gym and health people were now free to go and workout while socially networking at the gym. You could finally go and get a haircut! Texans were now free to roam about as they please without much restriction at all. Meanwhile, the number of new cases continues to increase.

Governor Abbott had his atomic scapegoat and now he is being forced to play it. He couldn’t go after Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins again or it would look like he was just playing hardball on familiar turf. It was Nelson Wolfe in Bexar County that took the bait first.

While Wolfe was drafting his plan for Bexar County, under the rules set in place by the Governor, Abbott was making the TV rounds. Up in Waco, Abbott let it slip that “it was about time” that Wolfe and others saw that there was this exemption in place for them to use. Abbott not only wanted them to start enacting the rules that he sat in place, he politically NEEDED the Democrat judges and mayors to jump on that ship. Now, Abbott has just what he needed: His political scapegoat and by forcing the mask issue at the local level, Abbott makes the mainly Democrat local level leadership and weak Republicans take the ultimate blame at lower levels of government.

Voters are not likely to take their wrath out on Governor Abbott when he comes back up for re-election. Here is a fact: Voters have short term memory in big races. By then, Republicans will be too focused on keeping a Republican at 1010 Colorado. Locally, they won’t likely forget and for Republicans, that is a good thing.

The plan is that you make the Democrat and weak Republican leaders at the local level take the blame and you weed them out forcing a clear path for a GOP future without sacrificing too much. It is chess, not checkers.

So by forcing businesses to force customers to wear face masks, Abbott knows it is what needs to be done, but he is not going to be the one to take the political hit for it. Sure, some will (and are) coming down on him pretty hard, but that will pass. Those Republicans will not sacrifice a major seat over a face mask. But in the end, the Democrats are desperate to gain some ground and right now, it looks like this might be their golden goose to claim a victory. Be careful. Abbott has some good, middle-of-the-road-walking strategists behind him and he is eloquent with words. for Democrats it is more like being forced to pick their poison and they had better be damn careful.

No New Major Outbreaks Of COVID-19 At Texas Prisons

A recent report that has been circulating since last week that a new major outbreak had occurred at a TDCJ facility in Beeville is inaccurate.

TDCJ spokesperson Jeremy Desel confirmed that contrary to some reports, the rumor is unfounded.

”There is no major new out break anywhere” Desel told the Southside Light News. ”We have had results of mass testing if asymptomatic offenders and staff trickle in which are now beyond the 14 day quarantine date.”

While there has been a major uptick in new cases around the state, TDCJ is at least seemingly keeping things under control.

Desel was able to confirm that symptomatic testing has declined six weeks in a row.

“COPS” Has Officially Been Sacked

The popular television show “COPS” has officially been canned by Paramount Networks.

“‘Cops’ is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” a Paramount Network spokesperson said in a statement.

The original decision to hold  “Cops” was spurred by nationwide protests against police brutality following the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police officers.

“Cops” originally launched on Fox in 1989 and has come under fire in recent years for its depicts law enforcement and questionable behind the scenes practices.

Fox aired 25 seasons of “Cops,” pairing it with “America’s Most Wanted” on Saturday nights for 14 years. “Most Wanted” moved to Lifetime in 2011 and was eventually canceled. “Cops,” meanwhile, got a new lease on life in 2013 when Spike TV ordered new episodes and paired them with repeats.

Two South Side School Districts Announce Their Plans For The Upcoming School Year

Area school districts have begun to unveil their plans for what the upcoming school year might look like round our area. The Corpus Christi Independent School District announced on Monday that they would be transitioning to what they are calling a year-round schedule. Flour Bluff ISD also announced their plans, which largely reflect only slight changes.

CCISD said that they will return to school on August 13, 2020 and the school year will end on June 3, 2021. Breaks are being scheduled on Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, Jan. 19-22 and June 7-11.

The newly adapted CCISD school calendar tack on five minutes to campus class schedules and will allow them to reserve an additional two days should they be needed. The CCISD spring break will run concurrently with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Del Mar College.

Flour Bluff ISD opted not to follow the exact same structure as CCISD, however the two districts will be returning to school on the same day and will be operating on a more traditional schedule for the upcoming school year.

FBISD did send out a survey last month asking parents and staff their opinion on the idea of a more year-round schedule. The response from both the community and parents was in overall support of the idea.

Last year Flour Bluff ISD began considering making a move towards what is known commonly as a “District of Innovation,” which in essence allows a participating district some freedom with rule making, scheduling and other items. The final touches of that plan were put in place during this school year which had previously allowed for this schedule structure.

It is very likely that though Flour Bluff ISD did not change their schedule this time around it will eventually come up again for a future school year when budget managers and trustees could figure out a way to generate more operating capital to cover any potential financial increase. Any such financial proposal would likely not earn favor with voters in the upcoming election cycles anyhow.

Parents who we spoke with from both districts seem to be in agreement with educational leaders over the new structures. However some CCISD parents did not agree with the plan.

“I feel like they are using coronavirus to just get what they always wanted,” says Maria Sandoval, whose children attend Veterans Memorial high School. “I mean why not just say that.”

As for Flour Bluff parents, a handful of them that we spoke with said that they wish the district would have just gone ahead and made the change. Others say that they are just fine with waiting.

An analysis of both districts operating budgets shows that with the new adaption of the schedule, there would be some financial bearing from the districts. Some estimates take that number into the low millions.

Food and Culture: All In for Local Omelettes

The Big Ol’ Pig from Chops and Eggs on Yorktown in Corpus Christi. (Matt Pierce Briscoe)

Matt Pierce Briscoe

The omelette. Ham and cheese, spinach and chicken, or whatever you want to throw in it, an omelette is just so freaking wonderful. But not just any omelet. No way. It has to be a real, honest to God creation of perfection of sorts. Forget those big breakfast chains like IHOP and Denny’s. They work pretty good at 3:00 in the morning after pint or ten of Guinness, but they really do not satisfy hit the mark. I mean, they work in a pinch but when you are looking for a real omelet you have to think a little bit outside of the cage.

Corpus Christi is a struggling food city with fairly limited options outside of the plethora of Mexican food places and taco stands. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t beat a real bad ass breakfast taco. But sometimes you just crave that delicious goodness of something wrapped in eggs and covered in cheese.

I said earlier that IHOP works pretty good and it fills the void when you are searching for a half baked breakfast. But let’s face it, they mix some egg carton Sysco crap together and throw in some pancake batter to make it fluffy. Whoopty-dooo. Throw that in the garbage disposal.

From one of those places, I prefer Waffle House, but good luck finding one of those here in this town. We get excited over and impressed with far lesser establishments. but there are some pretty decent places to get an omelet here in town.

One of which is Atomic Omelette. They seem to have it down pretty well and they don’t load you down with cheap potatoes and these things called pancakes. I mean what do you think about a tamale omelet? Hell yes. Cover that in that goofy, cheesy sauce that they have and you have a real winner on your hands. I am a fat ass and I like to eat. I can toss in a full order of the Hawaiian French Toast just for added measure.

What in the world does Mike VanSyckle put in that salsa? I mean you can put that stuff on almost anything and make it taste great. But it takes more than just a tamale omelette to impress me. Personally, I think those guys have it down pat and they are making solid food for the right reasons.

Are you opening a restaurant to get rich? Screw that. You are already starting off on the wrong foot. Anybody knows that the restaurant industry is a losing proposition from the minute that you get the idea. I don’t feel that way with Atomic. Plus, the new location off of South Staples is a Hell of a lot more fitting than that place they were at over at that funky intersection of Cimarron and Wooldridge and whatever, whatever, whatever. but the real attraction is the food, right?

Another place that you cannot go wrong with is Chops and Eggs, the new dive that opened up here awhile back over on Yorktown on the city’s south side. I like it. I mean recently killed the “Big ol’ Pig” omelette over there. the decor is a little misleading and the biscuits seem a little too perfect but let’s face it, you are not going there for the biscuits anyway. Here is what they have going for them—they don’t give you a bunch of BS on your plate that you really don’t want anyway. No greasy hash browns that have been browned in some artificial oleo product. It just tastes good. the presentation is nearly perfect, but you have to take it for what it is—a dive. Worth the wait? Debatable. But then again, given a large chain or Chops and Eggs, I will always error on the side of caution and spend my money with somebody local.

There is only one thing that hits me about Chops and Eggs that I really don’t like. Follow the expansion. A restaurant that nearly immediately seems to be promoting their franchising opportunities alongside their amazing food just doesn’t sit well with me as a foodie. do you love the food or love the franchise dreams? For me, that makes the food taste just a little bit different. But regardless, it is a damn good omelette.

Sometimes you just want something wrapped in egg and thrown perfectly together and is not wrapped in a tortilla. Both Atomic and Chops and will do the trick and both beat the crap out of that big, blue chain place.

Luby’s closing will leave a void for some in our community

Matt Pierce

Over here on the city’s south side situated right on Saratoga sits what is left of a legendary Texas cafeteria chain. It has been empty since March 31, 2020, but it had been on soft footing for some time. On Wednesday, company officials with Houston based Luby’s said that it will sell its restaurants and assets to pay off its debt and stockholders.

Officials with Luby’s say that they will immediately pursue the sale of its operating divisions and assets, including its real estate assets, and distribute the net proceeds to stockholders after payment of debt and other obligations.

During the sale process, some of the company’s restaurants will remain open to continue serving guests. However, a company spokesperson said told The Southside Light News that they do not believe Corpus Christi will make the list for stores that will be reopened.

“We believe that proceeding with this sale process followed by distributions contemplated under a proceeds distribution plan will maximize value for our stockholders, while also preserving the flexibility to pursue a sale of the Company should a compelling offer that delivers superior value be made,” Christopher J. Pappas, CEO and president of Luby’s,” said in a press release.

Luby’s stockholders have made it clear that they support seeking alternatives to continuing operating the company’s restaurants in their current form and this monetization program will seek to accomplish that task in the most efficient manner.

Luby’s be exploring several methods to achieve that goal, including selling the company’s chief brands: Luby’s Cafeteria, Fuddruckers, and Culinary Contract Services.

The Luby’s that we see today was first opened back in 1947 in San Antonio by Bob Luby and his cousin Charles R. Johnston, but the origins run back much further.

Harry Luby, the father of Bob Luby, opened a lunch counter in Springfield, Missouri back in 1911.

In 1929 the very first “Luby’s Cafeteria” was opened in Dallas. But there is a local connection to Corpus Christi.

In 1931 Bob Luby opened a cafeteria of his own here in Corpus Christi. In fact, Bob Luby decided to take a few years off from his studies at the University of Texas to move to Corpus Christi and take a chance on the thing. By 1940 Bob Luby had opened several cafeterias in Texas, but during World War II, Luby sold his businesses and joined the Army Air Corps.

After the war, Luby and his cousin opened up the first “official” Luby’s Cafeteria in San Antonio and the chain as we have known it since was born.

Bob Luby operated the chain of cafeterias until his death in 1998. In 2001 Chris and Harris Pappas joined the Luby’s front office and the legendary chain became a round about part of the Pappas family restaurant domination which owns Pappasito’s Cantina, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen and Pappas Bar-B-Q, among others.

Over the years Luby’s has seen a decline in their model. Inflation and overall lack of youthful support seemed to play hardball with the chain. While many consumers still enjoyed the food and the cafeteria styled service that the chain was known for, the support from younger Texans seemed to fade, leading to today’s announcement.

While there is still some hope that Luby’s might still be around in some form, it is highly unlikely that it will be the Luby’s that most Texans have come to grow and love. time will tell, but as of today, it certainly seems that the legendary chain has seen what could be it’s final days.