The transfer has been criticized as a conflict of interest risk.
Edinburg – The Hidalgo County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved of a lateral transfer of the wife of County Commissioner, Joseph Palacio’s from Health and Human Services Department to the Public Relations Department. Palacios’s abstained from the vote.
Prior attempts at establishing a healthcare taxing district have failed twice with Hidalgo County voters.
EDINBURG – A highly controversial subject is expected to be discussed once more if agenda items hold true at Tuesdays Commissioners Court meeting. Item 8-A on the Hidalgo County agenda calls for a discussion over a “Health Care Funding District.” Previous attempts at creating at Healthcare (Hospital) District have failed twice with Hidalgo County voters, with the most recent 2016 Proposition 1 being rejected by 72% of voters. Continue reading “Health Care District back on Hidalgo County Agenda”
Edinburg – Hidalgo County Executive Officer, Valde Guerra will being enjoying a 22% increase in salary if Hidalgo County Commissioners approve the Fiscal Year 2018 budget next week. The increase will bring Mr. Guerra’s total compensation to around $160,000 annually, which would be on par with other county governments of similar size and scope, this according to Precinct 2 Commissioner Eddie Cantu who spoke with the McAllen Monitor.
Guerra has been in the services of Hidalgo County for the past 30 years, ultimately being appointed to Executive Officer in 2007. According to Executive Officer profile on the Hidalgo County website, Guerra’s duties include:
Oversee and provide management direction to all County departments under the direct control of the Court.
Ensure to the Court that all departments are managed and administered in an efficient and cost-effective manner
Support the overall operations of the County
Provide necessary services to the Hidalgo County citizens and/or to County departments and employees
Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, Hidalgo Commissioners, nor Mr Guerra himself have demonstrated what additional duties Mr. Guerra would assume to justify a 22 percent increase, nor have they disclosed any performance evaluation reports to the public that would justify an increase.
It didn’t take long for Hidalgo County citizens to raise their concerns with Mr. Guerra’s raise. The optics couldn’t come at worse time considering the cost of the new county courthouse is under scrutiny, and questions were raised on whether Hidalgo County really needed to procure a 5.4 million dollar voting machine replacement.
Complicating matters further is the uncertainty the federal 2018 budget will have on municiple and county governments, particular in housing and urban development, much in which the county has some oversight. Reduction or elimination of these grants could reduce employment, and place additional burden on Hidalgo County’s very own general fund if the county is to cover some of the cost.
Citizens also pointed out that Mr. Guerra’s increase amounted to an annual salary of various entry level staff positions, and could be better spent in aquiring additional support in numerous departments. Taking a look at the employement section of the county website shows a few positions where $28,943 increase is nearly the starting annual salary for some staff positions.
That being the case, did the Executive Office, budget office, and Commissioners take the time needed to determine whether essential support staff was urgent and necessary before approving the raise? Increase in personnel charges must be sustainable, and it’s $29,000 the county will not have for additional personnel or operating cost. This especially at a time where unemployment rates in the Rio Grande Valley are running at higher percentages than other major metro areas.
Once again Commissioner Eddie Cantu justified Mr. Guerra’s increase by saying it maintains parity with other counties. However, what Mr. Cantu fails to understand is just because something is wasteful in other counties, doesn’t mean it has to be wasteful in ours.
UPDATE: The annual cost of living adjustment (budget permitting) for employees is 3 percent.
The mayors comments in support of a border wall drew criticism from local open border groups.
Mission – A delegation from LUPE (La Union del Pueblo Entero) are set to arrive today at Mission City Hall to present a petition to Mission Mayor Beto Salinas objecting to comments he made to the Washington Post, regarding his support of the border wall. In addition, LUPE is petitioning the Mayor to retract his support, demanding that he, and the city council draft a resolution to oppose the border wall. Members of the Objective Watchers of the Legal System (OWLS), and supporters of border security will also attend to voice their support for Mr. Salinas. The highly suggestive image below, created by LUPE, seeks to draw parallels between President Trump and Mayor Salinas.
Contributions amounted to over $25,000 with Hidalgo Co Judge Ramon Garcia, and Commissioner Joseph Palacios as primary benefactors.
Edinburg – Yesterday, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FB) raided the McAllen office of a Houston based engineering firm. Around noon, agents stormed the Dannenbaum Engineering office, located on 1109 W. Nolan Ave. Agents were seen retrieving dozens of retention boxes from the building and loading them up in FBI vehicles. Information as to what specifically they were looking for was limited. Dannenbaum Engineering was involved with some high profile projects in Hidalgo County, specifically with the planning of the border-wall levee project in Granjeno, and were front-runners to secure the construction job for the proposed new courthouse in Edinburg. Since 2009, representatives of Dannenbaum Engineering have contributed approximately $25,000 to Hidalgo County officials, with Hidalgo Co Judge Ramon Garcia, and Commissioner Joseph Palacios as primary benefactors.
McAllen – The local offices of Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation was raided by the FBI today, however the FBI is remaining silent as to what they’re looking for. The office, located on 1109 Nolana Loop was one of several offices raided by the FBI throughout the state. When pressed by CBS 4 News, FBI Spokesperson, Michelle Lee released this statement:
Per your request, I can confirm the FBI is lawfully present at the location you referenced (Nolana Loop in McAllen) conducting a law enforcement activity. While we can’t discuss the nature of the work we are doing, there is no public safety threat.
No arrests have been made. I can’t comment any further since it remains an ongoing matter.
This week, U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar (D) revealed that President Donald Trumps proposed budget cuts would greatly affect government assistance in the Rio Grande Valley, specifically within Hidalgo County. The McAllen Monitor, which picked up on the budget cuts, provided a list of agencies affected, placing emphasis on Community Development Block Grants, and funds made available to Hidalgo County Community Service Agency to provide job assistance and other forms of aid to the community. With these cuts came the enduring narrative that Trump is an out of touch oppressor of the poor and vulnerable.
Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, in a quote provided to the The Monitor said of the budget cuts:
“It will hurt the poorest of the poor.”
Garcia continued by demonstrating his concern for the poor and elderly, who he believed these cuts are specifically targeting. However, Garcia showed little concern for the 2016 disastrous Health Care Tax Proposal, which if passed, would have greatly affected the county’s most vulnerable from paying more on their property tax, and potentially losing their homes.
It’s ironic that Hidalgo County, which has historically demonstrated to operate on a policy of crony dealing and wasteful and in effective spending, suddenly is the moral authority on government spending. Trump’s proposed cuts allows us to reevaluate the operations of the agencies that receive them, and hold these agencies accountable for how these funds are being used. Continue reading “Trump’s Budget Cuts May Force Hidalgo County Agencies to Trim the Fat.”