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Wimberley, and running out of money so she moved back to Laredo. “I spent many years undoing the stereotype; people thought I’d become a hippie.” She worked as a reporter for the Zapata Weekly Express \(one of two warring newspapers in the Rio Grande International Study Center, before she and photographer Richard Geissler started LareDOS in 1994 \(with around “We’d been kicking it around for years, talking about everything we would put in a newspaper,” Guerra said and “everything” truly ran the gamut from original reporting to company press releases to a fishing column. “One thing Meg has going for her,” said her friend Jackie Jeffrey, a professor of anthropology and journalism at Laredo’s Texas A&M International University, “is that she was a debutante here, her father was president of the Chamber of Commerce here, so her roots are solidly insider, but she’s been away and come back, and has the perspective that others do not.” Naturally, that perspective has not always been welcome. At its outset, the paper looked much as it does now, like a rough-around-the-edges city alternative weekly, and like many alternative weeklies, LareDOS consistently went after abuse of public office. Yet while your typical New Times reporter might be required to dig deep for a story, and then carefully enumerate the nefarious connections between City Contractor X and County Judge Y and a supporting cast of Unscrupulous Developers, in Laredo the tree shakes a little easier. The way Guerra describes it, public corruption in Laredo has historically acted like a freewheeling virus, migrating from one governing body to another when the old environment becomes too hostile. After a Rhode Island-born mayor and a CBS expos reported by Bill Moyers shed light on the outrageous city patron system during the late seventies \(when the Street Department had fifty to sevhuman shame-o-deficiency virus emigrated from city government; it eventually found a receptive host in the Laredo Independent School District, where it was thriving at the time Guerra started her paper. LareDOS went doggedly after L.I.S.D., printing numerous stories of its irregular expenditures. It reported, for instance, that superintendent Vidal Trevino and others had been spending school district funds on costly trips \($11,800 for three officials, their wives, and an decorating expenses \(in excess of $100,000 for banners to be hung A lot of these stories were perhaps easier to write \(who needs text when you can run a picture of a Laredo Independent School District violated the city’s code of silence. Or, as Guerra put it: “This town would rather get fucked than say anything.” From a business standpoint, the paper was hardly a sure thing to begin with: Laredo’s 169,000 residents just don’t include the numbers of university types and clubgoers that help other alternative papers sell futon and music ads. If ad sales were a gamble from the outset, antagonizing the school district only made the paper’s financial health more precarious. Advertisers bowed out, Guerra said: “The first go-round they did [advertise], but then I think they heard that since we weren’t reading from the script then maybe they shouldn’t advertise with us.” A Guerra and son George Joseph Altgelt at their Courtesy M. Guerra Santa Maria Ranch, San Ygnacio, Texas In 1996, Guerra bought out Geissler’s share, and assumed a comparable amount of debt, in a parting she describes as less than amicable. “Where we fell off as partners, was that I felt that if it didn’t pull its weight with advertisers, if it didn’t have the revenues to sustain itself, that wasn’t acceptable.” At that point, “it became my responsibility to make us survive,” she said. Guerra moved the paper to a new location, where she discouraged the sort of casual dropping-by that had made the old office something of a salon for the underemployed, and scoured the city for advertisers: “I was relentless with the phone calls and faxes.” LareDOS also kept up its practice of business boosterism, smalltown-newspaper style. Press releases are reprinted verbatim in the paper, as are photos of ribbon-cuttings and profiles of small businesses on both sides of the border. Scruples about keeping the editorial and advertising sides of a publication separate have little place at LareDOS, where Guerra writes many of the articles and sells most of the ads; instead she seems to have defined a sphere in approach is always local, in spite of the fact that Laredo with its long lines of idling eighteen-wheelers waiting to cross the bridges, its warehouses, and the maquiladoras across the border is increasingly shaped by global forces. When Gueri a talks about idling trucks, the problem she addresses is the city’s failure to establish a FEBRUARY 18, 2000 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13