Hidalgo Co citizens petition County Judge to end renewed health care tax push

Citizens of Hidalgo County have had enough with the health care taxing debate and are voicing their objection to Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia through an online petition.

The petition, created by resident Robert Bonds, seeks to obtain at least 500 signatures before being presented to Garcia, and the rest of the county commissioners.  As of Monday night, the petition has generated a little over 300 signatures. Continue reading “Hidalgo Co citizens petition County Judge to end renewed health care tax push”

Hidalgo County: No action on Health Care Funding District for second straight week

Edinburg – For the second straight week, the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court have taken no action on the “Health Care Funding District.” Possible discussion of the health care funding district have been scheduled for the past two weeks, appearing as listed items on the Hidalgo County agenda. Continue reading “Hidalgo County: No action on Health Care Funding District for second straight week”

Richard Cortez officially kicks-off campaign, local leaders still unsure of electability

McAllen – Former McAllen Mayor and former District 1 Commissioner Richard Cortez officially kicked-off his bid to become the next Hidalgo County Judge. Speaking in front of supporters, Cortez assured them that he’ll work to become a County Judge that citizens would be proud of.  Current Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia will not be seeking re-election.

Speaking with the Rio Grande Guardian, Cortez offered his plans on dealing with county-wide issues, one which includes his support of a highly unpopular proposal.  For the much maligned courthouse project, Cortez assures that he’ll see that it’s built on time and on budget. In speaking about the UT-RGV School of Medicine, Cortez would like to see the school fully funded. Currently, legislation in Austin have left the UTRGV Medical School with reduced funding. Proposition 1, which sought to establish a health care taxing district, would have offered additional financial support to the medical school. At this time, Cortez hasn’t made it clear whether he would support a new health care proposition.

Despite the fanfare, there are some local leaders that are still un-sold on Cortez’s appeal in a county-wide race, one official being current County Judge Ramon Garcia.

Continue reading “Richard Cortez officially kicks-off campaign, local leaders still unsure of electability”

Health Care District back on Hidalgo County Agenda

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”

Hidalgo Co: $29,000 pay raise for Executive Officer raises questions

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
Valde Guerra, Hidalgo County Executive Officer

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.

2017 McAllen mayoral race had a 42 percent drop in turnout since 1997

Othal Brand Sr’s 1997 runner-up vote totals were greater than Jim Darling’s winning totals in 2013 and 2017.

McAllen – Around 88 percent of eligible registered McAllen voters were not moved to vote in last Saturdays mayoral election, according to the unofficial election results provided by the City Secretaries Office.  Ultimately, their passiveness proved costly to challenger Othal Brand Jr, who had spent nearly two times as much as the Darling campaign, in effort to convince McAllen voters to elect him over incumbent Jim Darling.  Darling was declared the winner of the highly contested race with a comfortable margin of 4,409 votes to Brand’s 3061 tally.  While other traditional media outlets were quick to congratulate voters that turned out, a lingering question remained.  How could a city of over 134,000, with approximately 66,000 registered voters, have a major election decided by a very few?  Since 1997, the City of McAllen as seen a sharp decline in voter turnout for local races.

Continue reading “2017 McAllen mayoral race had a 42 percent drop in turnout since 1997”

LUPE set to confront City of Mission Mayor over border wall comments

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.


Continue reading “LUPE set to confront City of Mission Mayor over border wall comments”

Hidalgo Co Officials Received Political Contributions from FBI Raided Engineering Firm

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.


Continue reading “Hidalgo Co Officials Received Political Contributions from FBI Raided Engineering Firm”

Lack of Confidence for Hidalgo County Judge Race Leaves Door Open For Wildcard Candidates

Edinburg – After being elected three times as Hidalgo County Judge, Ramon Garcia has finally decided to give up the gavel.  Garcia had cited interest in returning to law full time as primary reason to not seek a re-election bid. Despite Garcia’s intent on whether to run, a slew of established challengers hovered from above, seeking their own bid on a highly coveted position. Continue reading “Lack of Confidence for Hidalgo County Judge Race Leaves Door Open For Wildcard Candidates”