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The Edinburg school board has honored Jefferson Elementary, headed by Principal Dominga Vela, Lincoln Elementary, headed by Principal Eva Sandoval, and Treviño Elementary, headed by Principal Cynthia Sáenz, for being named to the Texas Business and Education Coalition (TBEC) 2006 Honor Roll for their students’ performance on the TAKS tests. The three schools, which are part of 268 public schools across the state named to the honor roll, are models from which the rest of the system can learn how to educate all students. “Every one of our schools in the Edinburg school district works hard and long to help our students do the best they can on the state-mandated tests,” says Gilberto Garza Jr., interim superintendent of schools, “But in the case of these three elementary schools, their principals, their staffs and their parents have proven that a dedicated and united effort can make a big difference when it comes to student success.”

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Francisco Barrientes, 59, decorated war hero and community role model, has ECISD middle school named in his honor

The Edinburg CISD’s soon-to-be opened fifth middle school will bear the name of longtime community and parent volunteer, Francisco Barrientes, following a recommendation to the school by a seven-person citizens’ committee.

Barrientes, 59, is a graduate of Edinburg High School and a lifelong resident of Edinburg. In 2002 he was named by Gov. Rick Perry and the State Board of Education as a Texas Hero for Children.

Barrientes received an award for his service to children. The award honors individual volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to student learning or who have demonstrated a sustained period of involvement and support of public education.

He is married to the former Marta Galindo and they have three children – Leonel Eduardo, José Francisco and Lucy Marie.

Barrientes, the recipient of two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, has never let a potential handicap ever stop him from helping children and serving his community. After graduating from high school, he was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1968 and sent to Vietnam. On May 5, 1969, an enemy hand grenade struck his leg, leaving him injured. Despite the injury, Barrientes went back into the battlefield several days later and was suffered an AK47 gunshot to the face that left him severely wounded.

He was left without an esophagus and with damaged vocal chords, a tragedy that would force him to live a different lifestyle the rest of his life and force him to under medical attention and reconstruction for 7 ½ years. He retired from the military as a disabled veteran and while his goals may have suffered setbacks, he quickly decided that despite his severe injuries, he had been given a second chance at life.

Barrientes wholeheartedly believes in second chances.

“I got a second chance for a reason,” said Barrientes. “It’s not really my life anymore. I believe that I was allowed to survive for a reason. I am supposed to help as many people as I can.”

Since that point of self-realization Barrientes has lived to serve. For the last 35 years, he has involved himself in school, community and church events, as a volunteer, and while he doesn’t get paid monetarily for volunteering, Barrientes feels it is his way of making a difference.

In 1980, Barrientes began volunteering at different schools in the district before dedicating himself to serving the children and staff of L.B. J. Elementary. Over the last 27 years, he has volunteered more than 22,000 hours of service to helping the school.

Barrientes has served LBJ school under six principals – Octavio Pérez, Dolores Edwards, Cynthia Sáenz, Rosario Zamora, Dr. Jonelda Garza and currently Trina Rendón.

In the years he has volunteered, Barrientes has done just about everything there is to do at the school campus. He arrives at school before 7:30 a.m. each day where he faithfully directs and guides parents dropping their children off every morning and picking them up very afternoon. He puts in five to six hours every day, leaving the campus as late as 5 p.m. and coming back when there are night events.

As a volunteer in his school, Barrientes also:

•Assists with traffic duty as parents drop-off and pick up their children every day;
•Assists with traffic duty on Saturday as parents drop-off and pick up their children who are participating in the school’s Optional Extended Week Program;
•Coordinates the loading and unloading of students on buses participating in field trips;
•Coordinates the packing of sack lunches and refreshments on buses participating in field trips;
•Assists in supervising children when needed on field trips;
•Assists in preparing and handing out refreshments at track and field events;
•Helps out with Parent Teacher Fundraising events;
•Helps in safely guiding students at the street crosswalks leading to the school;
•Answers the school telephone when his assistance is needed;
•Helps parents as they enter the school and need assistance in signing-in, obtaining a visitors pass and/or locate a classroom;
•Performs light office duties such as making copies, doing calendars, cutting paper;
•Assists in passing out informational items (flyers, memos, letters, notices) to be taken home by the students;
•Assists with lunch duty and after school duty; and
•Assists in the ordering of tee-shirts and other student incentive items for students and staff

His day doesn’t always end when leaves the school. It isn’t unusual for parents to call him and ask him to talk their children about such things as the importance of attending school, doing their homework and behaving. To the children he serves, he is not just parent volunteer. In their eyes, he is a teacher, a counselor, a friend, a confidant.

His community involvement experience includes the Edinburg Parks and Recreation Department and the Edinburg Pony Baseball League. He also serves as a speaker for Veteran’s Day activities Valley-wide. At his church, Holy Family Catholic Church in Edinburg, Barrientes has been a volunteer for over 20 years.

In the nomination form submitted to the “Name the School” Committee, nominators Elizabeth Aguilar, Elsa Perales and Irma Garza, wrote: “Mr. Barrientes is a respected individual that has won the hearts of the community. He fosters in everyone an appreciation for life. He passionately instills in children his motto: ‘Stay in school and get a good education, appreciate what you have, and don’t take life for granted.’""

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Edinburg’s 2006 construction activities through October surpasses $169 million

Total construction activities in Edinburg between January and October 2006 passed $169 million, an increase of almost $13 million over the same period in 2005, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

For the month of October, total construction in Edinburg – not counting any activities at the University of Texas-Pan American – passed $12.7 million, up from more than $8.8 million in October 2005.

The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council.

It is governed by a five-person board of directors, which includes Mayor Joe Ochoa, former mayor Richard García, who is the EEDC board president, and Fred Palacios, Mike Govind, and George Bennack.

Residential construction – work done on single-family homes – and new commercial construction have reached similar levels, registering more than $63.9 million and more than $60.4 million, respectively, between January and October 2006.

By comparison, between January and October 2005, residential construction accounted for more than $57.3 million, while new commercial construction had reached more than $39.2 million.

Residential construction does not include multi-family dwellings, such as duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and apartment buildings.

Multi-family residences accounted for more than $13.6 million in new construction between January and October 2006, compared to more than $28.7 million during the same period in 2005.

The values of the construction are listed in building permits issued by the city’s Code Enforcement Division.

Construction activities on non-taxable facilities – government buildings, churches, schools, not including UT-Pan American – have reached almost $9 million between January and October 2006, compared to almost $17.5 million during the same period in 2005.

Building permits are permits taken out in order to allow excavation and to protect public safety.
Building permits represent the estimated cost of construction, not the selling price.

The building permits do not include the price of the lot.

A start in construction is defined as the beginning of excavation of the foundation for the building.

A building permit is permission issued by a city’s planning department to oversee and approve any changes to structures. They are documents designed to guarantee that any construction work, from remodeling to demolition to building a new home or business facility, meets the city’s building codes.

Medical facility construction

The continuing expansion of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance was reflected in its receipt of the most valuable building permit in October.

Alonzo Cantú received a building permit for work valued at $2,321,060 for a commercial structure that is being built at 2821 Michael Angelo Drive. It is located in the Doctors Center Phase II Subdivision.

Universal Health Services, Inc., owners of Edinburg Regional Medical Center, the Edinburg Children’s Hospital, and the South Texas Behavioral Health Center, among other area medical facilities, also reported construction activities in October. 

UHS received a building permit for additions/repairs, valued at $200,000, at one of its buildings, located at 1102 W. University Drive.

Several other commercial projects, by other developers, also reflected some of the most valuable new construction projects authorized in October.

Phillip Pecord was issued a building permit, for work valued at $700,000, for the construction of Auto Zone, located at 1655 South McColl Road, in the Auto Zone McColl Subdivision.

Coming in third as the most valuable project authorized during October was a commercial building, owned by Albert Villarreal, worth $450,000. The structure is located at 5107 North Jackson Road in the Alexis Mary Jo Sarah Subdivision.

Doctors Hospital at Renaissance also received a building permit, for a construction project valued at $375,000, that is located 5502 South McColl Road in the Doctors Center Phase II Subdivision.

The most expensive single-family residence authorized for construction in October belongs to Raúl Villarreal, valued at $249,500, located at 2217 Jordan Drive in the Hacienda Las Fuentes Subdivision.

For the month of October, total construction activities, which include everything from installing plumbing to building the structures, saw building permits approved for $12,739,092 in governmental, residential and commercial construction, up from the October 2005 figure of $8,881,479.

Calendar year-top-date, total construction activities were $169,124,677 from January through October, compared to $156,209,925 during the first nine months of 2005.

A more detailed breakdown of the October 2006 figures for Edinburg features the following highlights:

Commercial construction

New construction of commercial buildings, not including multi-family residences, was reported at $5,219,060 in October, compared to $749,200 for the same month in 2005.

Calendar year-to-date, new construction of commercial buildings reached $60,414,972 from January through October, compared to $39,269,530 during the same nine-month period in 2005.

Commercial alterations in October totaled $343,700, compared to $680,000 in October 2005.

Calendar year-to-date, commercial alterations have reached $9,448,804, compared to $9,275,270 from January through October 2005.

Home construction

New construction of single-family homes in October 2006 reached $4,418,752, compared to $5,385,350 in October 2005.

Calendar year-to-date, building permits have been issued for residential homes valued at $63,931,869, compared to $57,305,332 during the same nine-month period in 2005.

Calendar year-to-date, building permits have been issued for the construction of 696 single-family homes, compared to 645 from January through October 2005.

In October, work began on 68 single-family residences, compared to 59 homes in October 2005.

In October, alterations for single-family residences were valued at $219,580, compared to $237,299 for the same month in 2005.

Calendar year-to-date, building permits have been issued for residential alterations valued at $5,029,032, compared to $2,493,106 in alterations during the first nine months of 2005.

Multi-family residences

New construction of multi-family residences in October 2006 reached $2,340,000, compared to $1,829,630 for the same month in 2005.

Calendar-year-to-date, new construction of multi-family homes total $13,684,000, compared to $28,791,569 during January through October 2005.

During the first nine months of 2006, building permits were issued for 143 multi-family residences, or 308 units, compared to 301 multi-family residences, or 699 units, between January and October 2005.

For the month of October, building permits were issued for 28 multi-family residences, or 56 units, compared to 16 multi-family residences, or 42 units, in October 2005.

Top October construction projects

Highlights of construction in October of commercial buildings, not including multi-family residences, valued at $100,000 or more include:

•Alonzo Cantú, 2821 Michael Angelo Drive ($2,321,060);
•Phillip Pecord, 1655 S. McColl Road ($700,000);
•Albert Villarreal, 5107 N. Jackson Road ($450,000);
•Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, 5502 S. McColl Road ($375,000);
•Marcos A. López, 603 N. Jackson Road ($330,000);
•JAR Development, 3009 Regency Drive ($294,000);
•Alberto and María Medina, 515 E. Schunior ($200,000);
•Flumencio Cepeda, 2121 N. Closner Blvd. ($200,000);
•The Shoe Depot, 4015 S. McColl Road ($125,000); and
•Benito González, 3143 Regal Drive ($100,000).

Highlights of construction in October of multi-family buildings (duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and apartment buildings) valued at $100,000 or more include:

•Eleazar Salazar, 1514 Orlando Street ($200,000);
•Rodrigo Martínez, 3501 Samgar Street ($200,000);
•Rodrigo Martínez, 3503 Samgar Street ($200,000);
•Rodrigo Martínez, 3505 Samgar Street ($200,000);
•Edgar Lao, 718 O’Hare Drive ($185,000);
•Elisa Gutiérrez, 2101 Bahamas Drive ($175,000);
•Elisa Gutiérrez, 2107 Bahamas Drive ($175,000);
•Santana García Construction, 610 Horizon Peak ($175,000);
•Joe and Kellie McEvoy, 1516 Tampa Street ($165,000);
•Raul Fabela, 2027 Western Drive ($150,000);
•Benito González, 3103 Regal Drive ($100,000);
•Benito González, 3027 Regal Drive ($100,000);
•Benito González, 3019 Regal Drive ($100,000);
•Benito González, 3151 Regal Drive ($100,000); and
•Benito González, 3035 Regal Drive ($100,000).

Highlights of construction in October of single family homes valued at $100,000 or more include:

•Raúl Villarreal, 2217 Jordan Drive ($249,500);
•Mr. Pursley, 3316 Princess Street ($214,000);
•Jorge Salvo, 3624 Ebro Drive ($200,000);
•Rommel Rendón, 1424 W. Rogers Road ($180,000);
•Mike Armato, 3310 Lonny Lane ($165,000);
•Joe and Kellie McEvoy, 1522 Tampa Street ($165,000);
•José Peña, 4006 Blackhawk ($150,000);
•Eduardo and Norma Farias, 3630 Ebro Drive ($145,000);
•David Rogers, 2313 Gary Lane ($144,500);
•Aaron Cano, 1103 Bunker Avenue ($130,000);
•Rey Benavidez, 3728 Inez Street ($130,000);
•Delfino Benavidez, 905 Loyola Drive ($125,000);
•Rey Benavidez, 2426 Leslie Street ($110,000);
•Gary Burch, 3006 Leslie Street ($105,000); and
•Gerónimo García, 2209 W. Rogers Road ($100,000).

By DAVID A. DIAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com
For more information on the people and politics that impact Edinburg, please log on to http://www.EdinburgPolitics.com

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Sen. Lucio wants Capitol grounds monument to honor military veterans who have served since Vietnam

U.S. military veterans who have served in combat action since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 would be honored with a monument on the State Capitol grounds if legislation authored by Sen Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, is approved next fall.

Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 4, which would require approval in the Senate, House of Representatives, and by Gov. Rick Perry, calls for the construction of the monument. Currently, there are monuments honoring veterans of World War I and the Korean War on the Capitol grounds in Austin, and plans are underway for monuments recognizing the sacrifices of World War II and Vietnam War veterans.

Lucio’s resolution follows:

SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 4

""WHEREAS, From the outset of this nation’s history, its security has been dependent on individuals who have demonstrated their responsibilities as citizens through service, leadership, and valor in the Armed Forces of the United States; and

WHEREAS, Since the fall of Saigon in April 1975, and the discharge of the last Selective Service draftee five months later, our military has relied on an all-volunteer force, requiring numbers of courageous young men and women to step forward to serve their country; and

WHEREAS, In various engagements subsequent to our departure from Vietnam, over 4,000 brave Americans have been killed in action, or otherwise have lost their lives, in combat zones and areas of conflict around the world; and

WHEREAS, Presently, the grounds of the state Capitol in Austin are home to memorials to those who fought in World War I and the Korean War; placement of monuments or memorials to those who
fought and served in World War II and the Vietnam War have been approved by the Texas Legislature and await project completion; and

WHEREAS, Under Chapter 443, Government Code, and rules of the State Preservation Board, a portion of the north Capitol grounds is available for new monuments, subject to legislative approval,
specified procedural requirements, the provision of funding from private donors, conformity to certain size and design limitations and parameters, and completion on a timely basis; and

WHEREAS, Members of the Texas Legislature find that a commemorative monument in honor of Texans who have participated in more recent military actions would be a worthy addition to the
Capitol grounds; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 80th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby authorize the State Preservation Board, subject to state law and rules of the board, to approve and permit the construction of a
new monument on the Capitol grounds recognizing Texans who have fought or otherwise served, and in many cases have given their lives, in specified military operations since the end of the
Vietnam War; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the monument honor Texans who have participated in: the rescue of the in Cambodia; Operation Eagle Claw-Iran; the Beirut deployment of the early 1980s; Operation Urgent Fury-Grenada; Operation El Dorado Canyon-Libya; Operation Earnest Will-Kuwait; Operation Just Cause-Panama; the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991, Operation Restore Hope-Somalia; Operation Uphold Democracy-Haiti; international peacekeeping and other operations and missions in Kosovo and the Balkans generally; military defensive actions during and in the immediate aftermath of 9/11; Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan; and Operation Iraqi Freedom; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That also eligible would be those who fight or otherwise serve in any specific operation, mission, or other engagement that is added, between the approval of this resolution and the approval of the monument or memorial design, to: the conflicts listed in Section 54.203, Education Code; the conflicts identified by presidential executive order under 8 U.S.C. Section 1440; or the conflicts in combat zones identified by presidential executive order under 26 U.S.C. Section 112; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the Texas secretary of state forward an official copy of this resolution to the executive director of the State Preservation Board.""

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Gov. Perry says federal government should invest in Operation Rio Grande, not building 1,200-mile fence

By Gov. Rick Perry

A famous poet once wrote that ""good fences make good neighbors."" However, this author did not have to deal with the realities of homeland security, where a wall is only as strong as it is fortified by law enforcement personnel.

Building a wall along the entire Texas-Mexico border would not only be cost-prohibitive, it would create a false sense of security. And unless the federal government is willing to put enforcement personnel all along such a barrier — something it has refused to do along a border without fencing — it would be no more successful at keeping illegal immigrants out of Texas than the Rio Grande.

Strategic fencing in high-population areas makes sense. But I would like to see the federal government invest in increased border security operations such as Operation Rio Grande rather than a 1,200-mile wall.

With joint law enforcement operations, we have managed to reduce crime in areas patrolled by border sheriffs by up to 60 percent during surge operations. With fixed wing and rotary assets in the air, more law enforcement boots on the ground and a stronger boat patrol presence, we have virtually shut down drug and human smuggling activity during intensive operations. The success of these operations is the reason I will ask the Legislature for $100 million to secure our border.

As I have said repeatedly, you can’t have homeland security without border security, and there is no sense in reforming immigration laws if we cannot enforce them. And I have said equally as often that immigration reform without border security is meaningless.

Divisive language is not constructive or useful. We cannot be a nation that is anti-immigrant because we are a nation of immigrants. In fact, foreign-born citizens are some of the strongest supporters of tougher border security. Clearly, something has to be done because hospitals, schools and other service providers are being flooded with illegal immigrants at a great cost to taxpayers.

But neither amnesty nor mass deportation is the answer. The first unfairly rewards those who broke our laws, and the latter is not only unrealistic and unenforceable, but it would devastate our economy.

That’s why I support a guest worker program that takes undocumented workers off the black market and legitimizes their economic contributions without providing them citizenship status.

I would rather know who is crossing our border legally to work instead of not knowing who is crossing our border illegally to work. A guest worker program that provides foreign workers with an ID removes the incentive for millions of people to illegally enter our country. It also adds those workers to our tax base, generates revenue for needed social services and can be done without providing citizenship.

Along with millions of Americans, I think it is wrong to reward those who broke our laws with citizenship ahead of those who have followed the law and are waiting to enter this country legally. And like millions of Americans, I do not support amnesty.

With a more secure border and a reasonable guest worker program, we can allow guest workers to help build our economy without offering citizenship. Many don’t even want to become citizens — they just want to provide for their families back home.

We just finished an election where the Washington politicians gave us a lot of rhetoric on immigration, but no real solutions. We need Washington to be part of the solution. For us, it is not just a subject of intense debate, it directly impacts how we live.

I promise I will use reason and fact, not emotion and fear, to help us resolve this issue in a spirit of unity. We need to work toward solutions, not slogans. We need immigration reform that doesn’t compromise our security and security that doesn’t compromise our economy.

And I believe we can accomplish all of this with a guest worker program and real security measures that utilize our law enforcement tools to help secure our border.

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Pew Hispanic Center report: Unemployment plays small role in spurring Mexican migration to U.S.

The vast majority of undocumented migrants from Mexico were gainfully employed before they left for the United States, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released earlier in December. The report suggests that failure to find work at home does not seem to be the primary reason that the estimated 6.3 million undocumented migrants from Mexico have come to the U.S.

Founded in 2001, the Pew Hispanic Center is a nonpartisan research organization supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, a Philadelphia-based charity. The Pew Hispanic Center’s mission is to improve understanding of the diverse Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos’ growing impact on the nation. It is a project of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan ""fact tank"" in Washington, DC that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does not advocate for or take positions on policy issues.

Once they arrive and pass through a relatively brief period of transition and adjustment, migrants have little trouble finding work, according to the study. Family and social networks play a significant role in this; large shares of migrants report talking to people they know in the U.S. about job opportunities and living with relatives after arrival. They easily make transitions into new jobs, even though most find themselves working in industries that are new to them. Also, many are paid at minimum-wage levels or below, and it is not uncommon for these workers to experience relatively long spells of unemployment.

The demand for labor appears to play a strong role in shaping the economic destiny of Mexican migrants. Regardless of their background and origin in Mexico or their year of arrival, migrants are concentrated in the same handful of industries in the U.S.–agriculture, hospitality, construction and manufacturing. However, there are also signs of change in the characteristics of migrants and the nature of the demand for them. The more recently arrived and younger migrants from Mexico are better educated than their predecessors (though their education levels remain low by U.S. standards). They are also increasingly coming from a greater variety of regions in Mexico and making homes in new Mexican-migrant settlement areas in the U.S., such as New York and Raleigh, N.C. The latest arrivals are less likely to be farm workers and more likely to have a background in other industries, such as commerce and sales. More and more, Mexican migrants are being hired in the construction and hospitality industries in the U.S.

These findings emerge from the Pew Hispanic Center’s Survey of Mexican Migrants. The survey provides detailed information on the demographic characteristics, living arrangements, work experiences and attitudes toward immigration of 4,836 Mexican migrants who completed a 12-page questionnaire as they were applying for a matrícula consular, an identity document issued by Mexican diplomatic missions.

The survey was not a random sample of foreign-born Mexicans but one designed to generate the maximum number of observations of migrants who were seeking further documentation of their identity in the U.S. Fieldwork was conducted in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Raleigh and Fresno, Calif., from July 12, 2004, to Jan. 28, 2005. While respondents were not asked directly to specify their immigration status, most are believed to lack authorization to work in the U.S. Thus, the survey provides a unique opportunity to study the economic status of a population that is otherwise very difficult to measure.

The major findings of this study are:

•Unemployment plays a minimal role in motivating workers from Mexico to migrate to the U.S. Only 5% of the survey respondents who have been in the U.S. for two years or less were unemployed while still in Mexico.

•Unemployment in the U.S. is above normal only for respondents who have been here for less than six months. Nearly 15% of the latest arrivals reported they were not currently working. But only about 5% of respondents who migrated more than six months ago reported they were unemployed in the U.S.

•Immigration status has little impact on the likelihood of unemployment in the U.S. Respondents who reported that they have a U.S. government-issued ID had the same employment experiences as those who do not have any documents making them eligible for legal employment.

•Family networks play a key role in locating jobs for migrants. More than 80% of respondents have a relative other than a spouse or child in the U.S., and talking with friends and relatives in the U.S. was the most commonly cited method–by 45% of respondents–for finding information about jobs in the U.S.

•Migrants from Mexico are responsive to regional variations in demand for their services. Construction is the dominant industry for employing migrants in Atlanta, Dallas and Raleigh; hospitality is the major employer in New York City; manufacturing in Chicago; and agriculture in Fresno.

•A very high percentage (38%) of migrants reported experiencing a spell of unemployment lasting more than a month in the past year. This unusually widespread–compared to other U.S. workers–experience of temporary unemployment is evident among Mexican migrants regardless of their year of arrival, legal status, education and survey city.

•The median weekly earnings of survey respondents are only $300. Earnings are especially low among women, those who speak no English and those who do not have a U.S. government-issued ID.

•Migrant workers in the survey have a background that resembles the core of Mexico’s labor force. Two-thirds of respondents who entered the U.S. in the past two years worked in agriculture, construction, manufacturing or retail trade in Mexico. That is also true for 57% of the labor force in Mexico.

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Gov. Perry declares Tuesday, January 2, a Day of Mourning for President Ford

Gov. Rick Perry on Friday, December 29, declared Tuesday, January 2, an official day of mourning in remembrance of President Gerald R. Ford.

“President Ford was a humble leader with a gentle spirit who restored honesty and candor to government during turbulent times,” Perry said. “It seems fitting to publicly set aside a day of mourning so all Texans can reflect on the life and person of Gerald Ford.”

The governor’s executive order encourages Texans to pay their respects through appropriate ceremonies in homes, businesses, public buildings, schools, places of worship or other suitable places for public expression of grief and remembrance.

To allow state employees to attend such observances, Perry is directing state agencies, offices and departments to close on Tuesday – except those agencies, offices, and departments that the heads thereof determine should remain open with a sufficient number of employees for reasons of public safety and essential public business.

On Wednesday, December 27, Perry directed all flags to be flown at half-staff for 30 days in honor of President Ford.

The governor’s directive applies to all U.S. and state flags under the control of the state. Flags will be at half-staff on the state Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state until sunrise on Friday, January 26. Individuals, businesses, municipalities, counties, and other political subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.

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Executive Order Honoring the memory of the thirty-eighth President of the United States of America, Gerald R. Ford.

BY THE
GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF TEXAS
Executive Department
Austin, Texas 

December 29, 2006

(Note: Executive orders are normally used by the governor to set policy within the state executive branch and to create executive boards, commissions, or task forces.)

WHEREAS, the nation lost a humble leader with a gentle spirit this week with the passing of President Gerald R. Ford on Tuesday, December 26, 2006; and

WHEREAS, , as president, Gerald R. Ford restored honesty and candor to government, ushering in a new era of national healing in the aftermath of Watergate that thrust him into the presidency during a time of growing economic uncertainty with rising inflation and a looming energy crisis; and

WHEREAS, President Ford led America during an era of difficult foreign policy challenges, including the Soviet Union’s aspirations for world domination and the resolution of the conflict in Vietnam; and

WHEREAS, Gerald R. Ford lived a long life of distinguished public service, serving in the Pacific Theater in the United States Navy during World War II, in the United States House of Representatives during twelve terms from 1949 to 1973, and as minority leader from 1965 to 1973; and

WHEREAS, Gerald R. Ford was an icon not only in politics but as a member of two national championship football teams at the University of Michigan; and

WHEREAS, Gerald R. Ford’s wife, Betty, is an inspiration to millions of Americans who have battled cancer and addiction, showing there is hope in the midst of adversity; and

WHEREAS, in retirement, President Ford used the years following his presidency to urge bipartisan unity on the critical issues facing the country; and

WHEREAS, it seems fitting to publicly set aside a day of mourning so all Texans can reflect on the life and person of Gerald R. Ford;

NOW THEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of the State of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the State of Texas, do hereby issue the following order:

Tuesday, January 2, 2007, shall be recognized as an official Day of Mourning. The people of Texas are encouraged to gather, assemble, and pay their respects to the memory of Gerald R. Ford through appropriate ceremonies in homes, businesses, public buildings, schools, places of worship, or other appropriate places for public expression of grief and remembrance.

To allow state employees to attend such observances, state agencies, offices, and departments shall be closed on that day; except those agencies, offices, and departments that the heads thereof determine should remain open with a sufficient number of employees for reasons of public safety and essential public business pursuant to Sections 662.003, 662.004 and 662.022 of the Texas Government Code.

In addition, and in accordance with a proclamation issued by the President of the United States and by my powers under the Texas Government Code, the flags of the United States of America and of the State of Texas on the State Capitol Building and in the Capitol Complex, at the Governor’s Mansion, and upon all state buildings, grounds, and facilities shall be flown at half-staff for a period of 30 days from the date of his death. I further direct that these flags shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all Texas offices and facilities abroad. Individuals, businesses, municipalities, counties, and other political subdivisions in Texas are encouraged to fly these flags at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect and honor. Flags should be returned to full staff at sunrise or the beginning of the display day on Friday, January 26, 2007.

This executive order supersedes all previous orders on this matter that are in conflict or inconsistent with its terms and this order shall remain in effect and in full force until modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by me or by a succeeding Governor.

Given under my hand this the 29th day of December, 2006.

RICK PERRY(Signature)
Governor

••••••

Statement by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst on the death of President Gerald Ford

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst on Wednesday, December 27, released the following statement on the passing of former President Gerald Ford.

""I join all Americans in mourning the passing of a great man and a fine president. At a time America needed it most, Gerald Ford gave us a steady hand and helped restore faith in our system of government. We are a stronger nation thanks to President Ford’s service. President Ford’s dedication and devotion to public service has long been an inspiration to all Americans and I believe will be his greatest legacy to future generations.""

••••••

North Texas Republican Solomons says consumers are getting shortchanged at gasoline pumps

State Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, has filed legislation that would require gasoline sold to consumers to be adjusted for temperature. The standard gallon of gasoline is measured at 60-degrees, but like all liquids, gasoline expands at higher temperatures and contracts at lower ones.

At the 60-degree standard, the 231 cubic inch American gallon puts out a certain amount of energy. But that same amount of gas expands to more than 235 cubic inches at 90 degrees, even though consumers still only get 231 cubic inches at the pump. Thus, every degree over the 60-degree standard diminishes the energy a 231 cubic inch gallon delivers to a vehicle – and forces consumers to consume and pay for more fuel. The legislation filed by Solomons, House Bill 37, requires temperature adjusted gasoline for retail sale of gasoline in Texas.

“This means that when a consumer purchases a gallon of gasoline in Texas they will know that they got exactly what they paid for – the energy production of a gallon of gasoline at the 60 degree government standard, nothing less” Solomons stated. He went further to suggest that gasoline marketers know exactly the advantage of temperature adjusted gasoline, since it has been required for wholesale transactions in Texas since the 1940s. “If it’s good for the gasoline companies, then it should be good for the consumers. There should not be two standards!”

HB 37 would require the Texas Department of Agriculture to regulate and enforce the temperature adjusted gasoline. Currently, the Texas Department of Agriculture is responsible for the accuracy of all weights and measurements in Texas, including gasoline pumps at retail gasoline marketers.

The gasoline marketers’ position on temperature adjusted gasoline depends upon whether it works to their advantage. While, “hot gas” in Southern states in America works to the marketers’ advantage, “cold gas” works against them since gasoline condenses below 60 degrees. That is why in the early 1990s the marketers pushed for a legislative change in Canada to allow for temperature adjusted gas pumps on a voluntary basis. Currently, Canadian regulators estimate that 95 percent of motor fuel sold in the country is temperature adjusted.

Now, consumers in the United States have caught on to the issue of temperature adjusted gasoline. On December 13, truck drivers and motorists in seven states filed suit against seventeen oil companies and gasoline and diesel retailers for overcharging at the pump for fuel heated above the industry standard. “For decades, oil companies and gasoline and diesel retailers have been quietly pilfering from us by selling ‘hot fuel’ to fill up our cars and trucks,” stated Tom “Smitty” Smith, a spokesman for Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization. “Big Oil already makes sure that fuel is temperature-adjusted all the way down the distribution cycle so it doesn’t lose one penny – right up until the point it gets to the pump and into our gas tanks. Until now, there have hardly been any protections for consumers.”

Smith stated that in the absence of federal standards, Public Citizen supports class-action lawsuits filed in California and New Jersey on behalf of drivers and independent truck operators, including some in Texas, to compensate for the selling of hot fuel.
The class action suit charges the petroleum retailers with breach of sales contract and consumer fraud and seek relief for motor fuel consumers in the states of California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia.

“This lawsuit is another example of driver frustration about rising prices and not being treated fairly at the gas pump,” stated Solomons. “With HB 37, I look forward to working with Agriculture Commissioner-Elect Todd Staples to help farmers and all drivers in Texas get what they pay for at the gas pump. In working together, we can formulate a legislative solution this session rather than have the courts eventually decide what is the right thing to do.”

Due to marketer reluctance to switch to temperature adjusted fuel pumps, a legislative or judicial solution is imminent. Texas has an average temperature of 78 degrees. Based on fuel expansion from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and gas consumption figures from the American Automobile Association, Texas consumers purchase an additional 143 million gallons of gas at a loss of $416 million a year. Smith stated “Public Citizen also strongly supports House Bill 37, which would make Texas the second state after Hawaii to require all gasoline and diesel retailers to temperature-adjust their fuel at the pumps.”

Solomons represents House District 65 which includes the Southeast Denton County communities of Carrollton, Dallas, Frisco, Hebron, Lewisville, Coppell and Plano. Solomons and his wife live in Carrollton with their daughter.

••••••

Don’t overlook net price and benefits of college

By MARK G. YUDOF 
Chancellor
The University of Texas System

Since we continue to read about rising tuition and the affordability of a UT System education, we wish to offer a few facts regarding tuition at University of Texas institutions. We work hard to keep the cost of education, reflecting all funding sources, as low as possible. In fact, total revenue per student adjusted for inflation has remained relatively flat.

Between 2002 and 2005, revenues per student increased by only $229 – from $12,728 to $12,957 – or 1.8 percent. The actual cost of producing a semester credit hour is not out of control; we are not seeing annual double digit increases as in the case of health care. But the price charged to students has risen significantly. Like state legislatures across the country, the Texas Legislature is confronted with competing priorities amid rising costs for many vital services, including the public schools and health and human services. 

While state support for UT academic institutions has remained fairly consistent over the last four years, enrollment growth and inflation have eroded the share of costs the state covers. Students have made up most of the difference. In round figures, the state share of funding has gone down $1,000 per student and tuition has gone up $900. Though students and their families are picking up more of the tab, a college education at a UT institution remains affordable. 

About half of our undergraduate students receive financial aid. As has been the case in every tuition-setting process, we set aside funds for this aid – more than the 20 percent required by law. Many students of moderate means will pay little or none of their tuition increases. The average student receives more than a 30 percent discount from the sticker price. Professor Bridget Terry Long of the Harvard Graduate School of Education describes what she calls the ""list"" tuition price – as it appears in college catalogs – and the ""net"" tuition price – that is, the average price actually paid by students once scholastic grants are factored in.

She invokes College Board figures to show that from 1996-97 to 2006-07, at public four-year colleges across the nation, the average list price (tuition and fees) increased 49 percent, but net price increased only 29 percent. That certainly reflects our experience in Texas. And it reflects general trends in inflation. 

We want students and their families to be able to anticipate the net price and so we established http://www.texascollegemoney.com. org. This web site helps Texas families determine costs, find available financial assistance and seek out additional financial aid counseling. Additionally, with the advent of tuition flexibility, we have been able to establish incentives for students to graduate in a timely fashion. Our campuses are using innovative approaches such as flat-rate tuition, rebates, discounted tuition for courses offered at off-peak hours, and guaranteed tuition rates for a set period of time to encourage students to take more credits each semester and graduate within four years. 

Graduating on time saves students far more than they pay in tuition increases. Taking longer to get a degree costs students and their families in two ways: extra tuition and the opportunity cost of not moving on into the workforce. Besides, UT institutions are still great values. According to the Department of Education, among the 10 most populous states, the total price of attendance and tuition and fees at Texas four-year public institutions continues to rank among the lowest. And, all UT System academic institutions have tuition levels well below the average for top-tier public institutions in the 10 most populous states. UT-Austin ranks seventh out of the 10. 

A college education remains the best investment for students and for Texas. U.S. college graduates earn nearly twice as much as their peers with only a high school diploma. Even if students must borrow to attend, as graduates their higher income makes their loans easier to repay. Education, like all investments, should be evaluated on the basis of anticipated return. By that standard, it’s a solid investment for everyone. 

••••••

Rep. McClendon files bill to block investments of public funds in companies linked to Sudan atrocities

State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, on Thursday, December 28, announced she has filed legislation to prohibit public retirement funds from investing in disfavored companies conducting business in the Republic of Sudan, a central African nation.

McClendon filed House Bill 419, proposing that Texas adopt model legislation which would prevent public retirement funds, specifically the Employees Retirement System of Texas and Teacher Retirement System, from investing in disfavored companies (as defined in the bill) which have business operations in Sudan. According to United Nations estimates, the three-year crisis in Sudan has resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, and more than 2 million have been driven from their homes. Investors in the United States have become increasingly more disturbed that companies which conduct business there and condone Sudan’s practices.

Under HB 419, ""disfavored companies"" would include Sudanese businesses and other businesses which have demonstrated complicity in the crisis of genocide happening in the Darfur region in western Sudan. Potentially, oil, energy or power-related business activities or operations, and suppliers of weapons, arms, or military defense supplies in Sudan, would be considered as disfavored companies unless they undertake substantial action to counteract Sudan’s genocide policies and practices. For example, substantial action taken by a company in relation to Sudan would include its boycotting the government of Sudan, curtailing business operations in Sudan, selling substantial assets or property located in Sudan, or engaging in significant humanitarian efforts in the eastern, southern or western regions of Sudan.

McClendon stated, ""I’m all in favor of our Texas public retirement fund officials investing funds from the Employees Retirement and Teacher Retirement systems in financially sound, private equity investments. As fiduciaries, however, Retirement Board members are responsible for making investments that preserve and protect the funds, and not speculating with retirement money. In good conscience, fiduciary investment of Texas public moneys should not incur financial gain from business operations which condone or promote the atrocities that have occurred in the Republic of Sudan.""

••••••

Edinburg City Council to get updates on major projects, hold regular meeting on Tuesday, January 2

Location:

University of Texas – Pan American 
International Trade and Technology Building 
1201 West University Drive 
300 Block, Dr. Miguel Nevarez Drive 

JANUARY 02, 2007 

WORK SESSION 6:00 P.M. 

I. Discussion and Update on the following Projects: 

Sugar Road 
Canton Road 
Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion 
New City Hall 
New Library 

REGULAR MEETING AGENDA 7:00 P.M. 

I. CALL TO ORDER, ESTABLISH QUORUM. 

A. Prayer. 

B. Pledge of Allegiance, Alma A. Garza, Councilmember. 

II. CERTIFICATION OF PUBLIC NOTICE. 

III. PUBLIC COMMENTS. 

IV. MAYOR’S REPORT. 

V. CITY MANAGER’S REPORT.

VI. PUBLIC HEARINGS/ORDINANCES. 

A. Consider Ordinance Abandoning and Vacating a portion of Kenyon Road Right-of-Way south of Monte Cristo Road (FM 1925), being a 2.69 acre tract out of Lots 4 and 5, Section 247, Texas-Mexican Railway Company Survey, as recorded in Volume 2, Page 29, and Volume 3, Page 6 of the Hidalgo County Map Records, as authorized by the Texas Transportation Code Section 311.001 and Section 311.007, as requested by Fred Palacios, President of the Monte Cristo Golf and Country Club. (Remove Item from Table-CC Mtg. 12-05-06) 

B. Hold Public Hearing and Consider Ordinance Providing for the Rezoning Request from R-A1, Single Family Residence District to C-2, General Business District, being a 1.00 acre tract of land out of Lot 10, Section 240, Texas-Mexican Railway Company Survey, located at 2804 North McColl Road, As Requested by Oscar & Graciela Arriaga. 

C. Hold Public Hearing and Consider Ordinance Providing for the Rezoning Request from R-A1, Single Family Residence District to R-B2, Multi-Family Residence District, All of Lots 1 thru 12, Daffodil Estates Subdivision, located approximately 656.78 feet south of Russell Road on the east side of Sugar Road, As Requested by City of Edinburg. 

D. Hold Public Hearing and Consider Ordinance Providing for the Rezoning Request from R-A1, Single Family Residence District to R-B2, Multi-Family Residence District, being a 6.00 acre tract of land out of Lot 59, Kelly-Pharr Subdivision, located approximately 1,320 feet east of Sugar Road on the south side of Alberta Road, As Requested by M&N Construction. 

E. Hold Public Hearing and Consider Ordinances Providing for the Comprehensive Plan Amendment from General Commercial Uses to Auto-Urban Uses and the Rezoning request from C-2, General Business District to R-A1, Single Family Residence District, being a 3.03 acre tract of land out of Lot 11, Section 243, Texas-Mexican Railway Company Survey, located approximately 780 feet west of Jasman Road on the south side of Rogers Road, As Requested by Grupo V.C. Corp. 

VII. APPOINTMENTS. 

Consider Appointments to the City Advisory Boards and Committees for the Following: 
Community Development Council Area 6, One Member 
Cultural Arts Committee, Seven Members 
Education Committee, Six Members 
Environment Committee, Three Members 
Graffiti Committee, One Member 

A. Consider Awarding Bid No. 2007-16, 2007 Loader/Backhoe Tractor, to Doggett Heavy Machinery Services, LTD (HGAC), in the Amount of $53,607.17. 

B. Consider Awarding Bid No. 2007-19, Field Maintenance for Edinburg Baseball Stadium to All-Star Turf, Inc., in the Amount of $67,500. 

C. Consider Awarding Bid No. 2007-29, Thermoplastic Melting Kettle to Pathmark Traffic Products of Texas Inc., in the Amount of $37,350. 

D. Consider Awarding Bid No. 2007-35, Personal Duty Lockers, to Southwest Solutions Group from Addison, Texas, in the Amount of $55,600. 

E. Consider Purchasing City Vehicles from Philpott Motors, through the Texas Local Government Purchasing Contract (Buyboard), in the Amount of $325,226. 

F. Consider Authorizing the Purchase of a Theft Detection System From Checkpoint Systems, Inc., for the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library, in the Amount of $18,505. 

G. Consider Rejecting Bid Number 2007-36, Reconstruction of One (1) Home in the Housing Assistance Program. 

H. Consider Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute an Interlocal Agreement Between the City of Edinburg and the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District for Additional Improvements to the CATS Stadium Parking Lot and New City Library Sidewalk Improvements, said Agreement to be Negotiated by the City Attorney with the E.C.I.S.D. Attorney. 

IX. EXECUTIVE SESSION. 

The City Council will convene in Executive Session, in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act, Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated, Government Code, Chapter 551, Subchapter D, Exceptions to Requirement that Meetings be Open, §551.071, Consultation with Attorney; Closed Meeting. 

1. Legal Discussion – Regarding the Construction Agreement with Velasco Construction Development L.P. For The Public Safety Complex Addition and Renovation. 

2. Legal Discussion – Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Requested by First Hartford Realty Corporation. 

OPEN SESSION: 

The City Council will convene in Open Session to take necessary action, if any, in accordance with Chapter 551, Open Meetings, Subchapter E, Procedures Relating to Closed Meeting, §551.102, Requirement to Vote or Take Final Action in Open Meeting.

X. ADJOURNMENT. 

I hereby certify this Notice of a City Council Meeting was posted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act, at both bulletin boards located at the main entrances to the City Offices of the City of Edinburg, and at the 210 West McIntyre entrance outside bulletin board, visible and accessible to the general public during and after regular working hours. This notice was posted on December 29, 2006 at 4:50 p.m. 

BY: /s/Myra Garza, City Secretary 
City of Edinburg, Texas 

[All matters listed under Consent Agenda are considered to be routine by the Governing Body and will be enacted by one motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items. If discussion is desired, that item will be removed from the consent agenda and will be considered separately.] 

IF ACCOMODATIONS FOR A DISABILITY ARE REQUIRED, NOTIFY THE CITY SECRETARY DEPT. AT 383-5661 PRIOR TO THE MEETING DATE. WITH REGARD TO ANY ITEM, THE CITY COUNCIL MAY TAKE VARIOUS ACTIONS; INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO RESCHEDULING AN ITEM IN ITS ENTIRETY FOR A FUTURE DATE OR TIME. THE CITY COUNCIL MAY ELECT TO GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION ON ANY ITEM WHETHER OR NOT SUCH ITEM IS POSTED AS AN EXECUTIVE SESSION ITEM AT ANY TIME DURING THE MEETING WHEN AUTHORIZED BY THE PROVISIONS OF THE OPEN MEETINGS ACT.

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