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Area leaders on Thursday, August 2, participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, arguably the most important private investment in the three-time All-America City in history. When it is opens in the fall of 2008, the 80-store complex will provide one of the most unique shopping experiences in Texas, and generate a $90 million economic impact for the city and surrounding region. Local leaders participating in the event included: Mayor Joe Ochoa; former Mayor Richard García, who serves as president of the board of directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas; Mayor Pro Tem Alma Garza; Councilmember Noe Garza; Councilmember Gene Espinosa; and Hidalgo County Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios. See story later in this posting.

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Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, featured here second from right with some of her legislative staff in Edinburg, has almost $50,000 in her campaign treasury for her reelection bid in 2008 for a third two-year term, according to her latest campaign finance report. Gonzáles will be facing at least one challenger – Javier Villalobos, also of McAllen, who will be running for the Republican nomination. Both parties will hold their primaries in March 2008, with the general election in November 2008. Gonzáles represents House District 41, which includes southwest Edinburg. Shown here with Gonzáles are, from left: Ricardo López-Guerra, chief of staff and campaign manager; Stephanie Ozuna, legislative intern; Gonzáles; and Edna Dougherty, constituent services liaison. See story later in this posting.

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The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is helping sponsor the 2nd Annual Jewels of the Valley seminar in McAllen on August 28. Topics will include issues of importance to women who are in business or considering starting a business. Attendees will come face-to-face with over 25 exhibitors and will have the opportunity to participate in a 10-minute networking session. Featured are members of the planning committee for the 2nd Annual Jewels of the Valley are front, from left: Dora Ramírez, Maggie Jiménez, Time Warner Cable; Fatima García, McAllen Convention Center; Rosie Delgado, Southwest Community Investment Corporation; Desiree Méndez-Caltzontzint, Office of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa; Rosalinda Kiger, SCORE; back, from left: Osvaldo Cardoza, Southwest Community Investment Corp.; Elizabeth C. Martínez, The Business Times of the Rio Grande Valley; Gracie Guillen, Small Business Administration; and Juan Gómez, Time Warner Cable. See story later in this posting.

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On Wednesday, August 8, an organization led by former Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García and the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will meet in McAllen to lay out possible strategies to block the planned creation of a high-security border fence – the so-called “Border Wall” – favored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Shown making plans for the discussion session are seated left to right: Brenda Lee Huerta, MHCC Chair, and Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC president/CEO. Back row are Diana González, Vice Chair of Education; former Hidalgo County Judge and attorney Ramón García; Hari Namboodiri, Chair Elect; and Verónica Vela, Vice Chair of Women’s Issues. See story later in this posting.

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The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley to herald economic, cultural renaissance for Edinburg

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

Edinburg city leaders and First Hartford Realty on Thursday, August 2, broke ground on one of the area’s largest commercial endeavors – the 1.1 million square-foot The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, located on a 130-acre site at Highway 281 and Trenton Road in south Edinburg.

The theme of the complex is “The place to work, shop, dine, and be entertained in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley.”

It will have a profound effect on the people of the city, with 1,300 jobs expected to be created by arguably one of the most important private investments in the three-time All-America City.

The facility will have an estimated $90 million economic impact on the community and surrounding region, according to the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council.

The EEDC is governed by a five-member board of directors, which includes former Mayor Richard García, who is the board president; Mayor Joe Ochoa; Fred Palacios; Mike Govind, and Dr. Glenn A. Martínez, Ph.D.

The open-air shopping center will feature big-box retailers, traditional department stores, specialty stores, restaurants, entertainment, and a full service hotel.

Leasing is currently underway and the center is projected to open in the fall of 2008.

It will eventually feature 80 stores, including 12 national retailers, and will be connected to a lifestyle center with convenient pedestrian walkways.

“The site has excellent access and visibility, and our conversations with national retailers and restaurants have been very positive,” said Peter Higgins, Vice President of First Hartford. “Despite the area’s reputations as a dominant retail hub, it is still underserved in a number of key categories, and we intend to fill those voids.”

JC Penney announced their plans in March to join The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley with a 104,000-square-foot store, the third in this market, company officials added.

“The City of Edinburg has been instrumental in making The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley a reality,” said John Toic, Vice-President/Director of Projects Development. “After 18 months of intense planning, countless conversations with the city staff, the elected officials, meetings with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, all of our partners, all of our vendors, it is very exciting today to break ground for The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley.”

New style design

The shopping complex will be designed to bring unique experiences to the region.

“The goal of the development is to create the most memorable cross-cultural shopping experience in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Cheryl Steigerwald, Senior Design Architect of KA Inc., based in Cleveland, Ohio. “The center will combine an eclectic mix of shopping, dining and entertanment venues clustered around intimated public gatherings.”

In addition, the project “will consist of contemporary architectural forms incorporating the color, texture and art of is nearby Mexican neighbors in unexpected ways. Also, the center will feature lush landscaping, water features and ample shade devised to protect shoppers from the Texas heat.”

In addition to Ochoa, García, and top leaders with the development, the event also included the Edinburg City Council, Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, Rep. Aaron Peña, Jr., D-Edinburg, Hidalgo County Commissioner Héctor “Tito” Palacios, along with scores of other city and area business and community leaders participated in the festive ceremony.

“This is definitely a great dream for this community and the Rio Grande Valley,” said Ochoa. “I remember about six years ago, working to make improvements to the infrastructure of this area, so that one day, we would have the opportunity to break ground for a massive development.”

“Naysayers” rebuffed

García, under whose administration the shopping center was recruited, was equally proud of what is destined to become a major part of his own legacy to his hometown.

“This is as important an event for our city as we have seen in many years,” said García. “The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley will be as large – in terms of square-footage – as La Plaza Mall in neighboring McAllen. It will put us on the map.”

García dismissed alarming news stories in the past 18 months that cast doubt on the eventual creation of the retail complex.

“Over the years, Edinburg has been growing and has become a destination center for the great Lone Star State. It has raised our stature beyond measure, and it will be the single-most important event for our city in this decade,” García said. “To the naysayers of the last year who said this would never happen, step aside – or the construction crews might go right over you.”

First Hartford Realty is a privately-held real estate developer based in Machester, Connecticut. The company has developed over 35 million square-feet in real estate, including more than six million square-feet of retail space since the company was created in 1949.

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Valley leaders may file lawsuit to block planned Border Wall

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

As federal legislation favored by the Texas Border Coalition makes its way through Congress, a separate group of South Texas leaders is threatening a lawsuit to stop plans for the construction of the so-called “border wall” to separate key portions of Texas and Mexico.

On Wednesday, August 8, an organization led by former Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García and the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will meet in McAllen to lay out possible strategies to block the planned creation of a high-security border fence favored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The border wall could be constructed in the Rio Grande Valley by the end of 2008, according to Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, who, along with Cameron County Judge Carlos H.Cascos, met with congressional leaders on this issue in Washington, D.C. from July 10 through July 12.

The Secure Fence Act authorized the construction of 700 miles of double-layer fencing along the southwestern border of the United States, while the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill of 2007 allocated $1.2 billion for fencing, vehicle barriers, technology, lighting and tactical infrastructure.

“Homeland Security has announced that the border wall/fence along the Texas-Mexico border will be constructed soon, said Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president and CEO of the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. As a result, her group, along with former county judge Garcia, “are inviting leaders and interested public to a discussion session to look at the possible actions that could be taken to delay/stop the building of the wall/fence.”

August 8 meeting

The discussion session will be held on Wednesday, August 8 at 6:30pm at the Palm View Community Center Meeting Room, 3401 Jordan, McAllen.

Jim Blackburn, who specializes in environmental and constitutional law, has been invited to address the group and will be able to pose and answer any questions relevant to possible actions that could be taken to address this issue.

In addition, community leaders from different industries, who live and work on the southern border of Texas, have already confirmed their attendance to work on this concern.

“The communities’ participation in discussion and fundraising is extremely important on this very important issue that will affect the entire Valley, state and nation,” she said. “We encourage people who will be directly affected, such as property owners whose land will be taken without due process; business owners; environmentalists, etc. to attend this very important meeting.”

After listening to all of the facts, a determination as to whether to take legal action and how this will be funded will be decided upon by those in attendance, Sakulenzki said.

Seating is limited, so residents are encouraged to call in to the MHCC office at 928-0060 to reserve a seat.

TBC legislation

In a July 31 memorandum issued to fellow members of the Texas Border Coalition, an update on key federal legislation was provided by Eddie Aldrete and Monica Stewart, who served on the TBC executive committee.

Their viewpoints follow:

“Recent developments in the homeland security appropriations bill have gone in our favor and we wanted to bring you up to date on the situation. Congressman Ciro Rodriguez (D-San Antonio) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) have secured the adoption of language in their respective homeland security appropriation bills that provide two key principles regarding the border fence.

“Ciro’s language in the original House bill withholds fence funding from DHS unless the agency can prove to Congress that DHS has consulted with local communities regarding the fence. Senator Hutchison’s amendment deletes the specific geographic locations for the physical fence and gives the DHS Secretary the ‘flexibility’ he needs to determine when to use a physical fence and when to use virtual fencing. Ciro’s language was included in the original bill sent to the House floor, and the Senator’s amendment was adopted on the Senate floor.

In the DHS authorization bill – Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo/McAllen) included similar consulting language as well. We are grateful to Congressmen Rodriguez and Cuellar, and Senator Hutschison for their efforts on our behalf. This fence issue has been a high priority for TBC and the results prove that we can’t move forward unless we move together.

“Ciro introduced us to his Subcommittee Chairman David Price, and that has been a very productive relationship. The chairman’s recent visit to the Texas border helped forge strong ties and an open line of communication with a key player in Washington. Price remains impressed with the unity of TBC mayors and judges. Thanks to everyone for helping us move forward on these issues. Teamwork pays off.”

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With Javier Villalobos set to campaign against her, Rep. Verónica Gonzáles has $50,000 in political treasury

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

With at least one Republican rival already lined up against her in the 2008 general elections, Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen has almost $50,000 in her campaign war chest, according to her campaign finance report filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Gonzáles, who will be seeking her third two-year term, is being challenged by Javier Villalobos of McAllen, who will be seeking the Republican Party nomination for House District 41, which includes southwest Edinburg, most of McAllen, a portion of northeast Mission, and all of Palmhurst and Alton.

Gonzáles and Villalobos are both McAllen-based attorneys.

Both legislative candidates filed their respective campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission by the July 15, 2007 deadline.

The report covers all finance campaign activities from January 1, 2007 through June 30, 2007.

Gonzáles’ campaign finance report covers all her political contributions and expenditures from January 1, 2007 through June 30, 2007.

Villalobos’ campaign finance report covers all his political contributions and expenditures from April 4, 2007, when he officially entered the race, to July 16, 2007.

Additional background on Villalobos and his campaign finance activities will be detailed in a separate story in the coming days.

Both party primary elections will be held on the same day in March 2008; the general election will be in November 2008.

The victor will begin a two-year term in early January, 2009, when the 81st Texas Legislature convenes at the Capitol in Austin.

For Gonzáles, her campaign finance report stated that she had received $24,507.80 in total contributions of $50.01 and more, and had received $76.87 in total contributions of $50 and less.

She also did not owe or take out any campaign loans.

Her latest contributions were added to a balance of $24,502.43, boosting her cash-on-hand as of June 30 to $49,087.10.

Biggest boosters

Highlights of her contributors included three supporters who gave her between $1,500 and $2,500 each;

eight contributions of $1,000; nine contributions of $500; and nine contributions of $250.

Her biggest booster was a family from Arlington, Texas.

Alan and Patti Harper, who were listed as cattle breeders with Harper Cattle Company in Arlington, gave her a total of $2,500 on June 19.

The most generous donor from the Rio Grande Valley was another married couple: David R. and Edna R. Guerra of McAllen, who gave her a total of $2,000 on June 29. Guerra is a banker and is president of International Bank of Commerce.

The largest contribution from an individual from the Rio Grande Valley totaled $1,500, donated on June 28 by the Law Office of Reynaldo Ortíz, L.L.P. of Brownsville.

Gonzáles listed Charles Wesley Kittleman as her campaign treasurer. His address is 301 Toucan in McAllen. The report did not list a telephone number for Kittleman.

She listed her address as 605 Water Lily in McAllen.

They are both partners in the law firm of Kittleman, Thomas and Gonzáles, located at 4900-B North 10th Street in McAllen (956/686-8797).

Established in 1998, the law firm’s practice includes complex civil trials in state and federal courts. Transactional work includes banking, real estate, taxation and corporate law, personal injury, automobile accidents, and wrongful death.

Her legislative district office is also located in Suite 2 of their law office, and the contact telephone number is 956/686-5501.

Gonzáles contributors

The list of Gonzáles’ contributors, their home town, the amount of the contribution, and the date of the contribution follows:

  • Alan and Patti Harper, Arlington, $2,500, June 19 (Cattle breeders, Harper Cattle Company);
  • David R. and Edna R. Guerra, $2,000, McAllen, June 29 (Banker, president, International Bank of Commerce);
  • Law Office of Reynaldo Ortíz, L.P., Brownsville, $1,500, June 28;
  • Atlas & Hall, L.L.P., McAllen, $1,000, June 27;
  • Greg LaMantia, McAllen, $1,000, June 27 (Beer distributor/owner L&F Distributors);
  • Joe V. LaMantia, Jr., McAllen, $1,000, June 27 (Beer distributor/owner L&F Distributors);
  • César Pérez, Edinburg, $1,000, June 29 (Attorney with Watts Law Firm);
  • Texas Trial Lawyers Association PAC, Austin, $1,000, June 29;
  • Yzaguirre & Chapa, McAllen, $1,000, June 27;
  • AEP-Texas/Committee for Responsible Government, Austin, $1,000, June 25;
  • HILLCO PAC, Austin, $1,000, June 25;
  • Robert Elizalde, McAllen, $1,000, June 22;
  • Nick Kralj, Austin, $957.80, June 25 (Fundraiser expense);
  • Paul Sullivan, McAllen, $500, June 29 (Business Owner, AAA Electrical Signs);
  • Texas Federation of Teachers, Austin, $500, June 29;
  • Daniel D. and Alejandra Vela, McAllen, $500, June 28;
  • Law Office of Benigno Martínez, Brownsville, $500, June 28;
  • Ben and Melanie Barnes, Austin, $500, June 25;
  • Blackridge Consulting, Austin, $500, June 25;
  • Independent Bankers Association of Texas, Austin, $500, June 25;
  • Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas PAC, Austin, $500, June 25;
  • Jaime Capelo, Austin, $500, June 25;
  • John and Evelyn Escamilla, McAllen, $350, June 30;
  • Jacob C. Fuller, McAllen, $350, June 25;
  • Raudel & Liza Garza, McAllen, $250, June 29;
  • Concepción Villanueva, Edcouch, $250, June 29;
  • Carlos & Rubi Yzaguirre, McAllen, $250, June 28;
  • Geoffery and Amy Hall, Mission, $250, June 28;
  • Sandra Martínez, McAllen, $250, June 28;
  • Glen and Cindy Romero, McAllen, $250, June 26;
  • Target Texas, Austin,$250, June 25;
  • Ethan & Yarbrough, Austin, $250, June 25;
  • Latino Leadership PAC, Austin, $250, June 25;
  • Kittleman, Thomas and Gonzáles, McAllen, $220, June 30;
  • Jesús A. Zambrino, San Juan, $150, June 27;
  • Mauro Vázquez, Mercedes, $100, June 29;
  • Oxford and González, Edinburg, $100, June 27;
  • Robert & Karen Wallace, McAllen, $100, June 27;
  • José Martínez, McAllen, $100, June 26;
  • Pasar Public Affairs Consulting L.L.P, Austin, $100, June 25;
  • Craig K. & Carmina H. Lewis, McAllen, $100, June 22;
  • Olga Gabriel, McAllen, $50, June 30;
  • Nancy Villarreal, Edinburg, $25, June 27;
  • Elizabeth Shawn, San Juan, $25, June 22;
  • Migdalia Rodríguez, Edinburg, $20, June 29;
  • Dahlia Pérez, Pharr, $20, June 28;
  • Rey and Martha Ramírez, Edinburg, $20, June 27;
  • Edna Garza, Edinburg, $10, June 27; and
  • Humberto & Gladys Herrera, Edinburg, $10, June 27.

Gonzáles expenditures

The list of Gonzáles’ expenditures, the amount paid, the date of the expenditure, and the reason, follows:

  • Kittleman, Thomas and Gonzáles, McAllen, $1,013.72, February 1 (Telephone/copy/fax/postage expenses);
  • Paper Chase Printing, McAllen, $869.79, June 19 (Letterhead);
  • Barton Springs Graphic Design, McAllen, $540.08, May 2 (High school graduation certificates);
  • Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships, McAllen, $500, February 12 (Scholarship contribution);
  • Legislative Study Group, Austin, $500, January 30 (Membership dues);
  • The Monitor, McAllen, $494, February 15 (Advertisement);
  • Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Austin, $300, January 30 (Membership dues);
  • Amount McAllen Memorial High School, $275, April 24 (Fundraiser sponsorship);
  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice Manufacturing and Logistics, Huntsville, $253, May 1 (Constitutional chair);
  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice Manufacturing and Logistics, Huntsville, $253, April 18 (Constitutional chair);
  • Women’s Health Caucus, Austin, $250, March 22 (Membership dues);
  • UTPA Bronc Baseball Scholarship Golf Tournament, Edinburg, $250, January 5 (Sponsorship);
  • McAllen Evening Lions Club, $235, February 1 (Donation);
  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice Manufacturing and Logistics, Huntsville, $232.72, January 18 (Constitutional chair);
  • Service Over Self Foundation, Edinburg, $200, February 5 (Event sponsorship);
  • Texas House Administration, Austin, $190, May 9 (Panoramic legislative photo);
  • Hobby Lobby, McAllen, $174.69, April 19 (Framing – reimbursement to Edna Dougherty);
  • Edinburg Boys & Girls Club, $150, February 1 (Delta Youth Outreach Services fundraiser sponsorship);
  • McAllen Chamber of Commerce, $125, February 1 (Membership dues);
  • Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, $120, February 1 (Membership dues);
  • Noemi Campos, McAllen, $100, June 1 (Travel expenses for family of injured soldier Juan Campos);
  • American Association of University Women, McAllen, $100, April 4 (Donation);
  • Mission Chamber of Commerce, $100, February 1 (Membership dues);
  • America’s Last Patrol, Edcouch, $100, January 3 (Donation);
  • Texas House of Representatives, Austin, $96, January 6 (Flags – reimbursement to Ricardo López-Guerra);
  • HEB, McAllen, $93.98, June 1 (Event supplies – reimbursement to Edna Dougherty);
  • Legislative Ladies Caucus, Austin, $80, January 3 (Legislative reception sponsorship);
  • Hobby Lobby, McAllen, $33.55, June 21 (Framing – reimbursement to Edna Dougherty); and
  • Legislative Ladies Caucus, Austin, $25, January 6 (Membership dues);

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Congressmen Cuellar and Hinojosa, along with famed economist Ray Perryman, to headline Workforce Summit 2007 in McAllen on Wednesday

By CARI LAMBRECHT

On Wednesday, August 8, various stakeholders from across the community, including the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, will come together for the second time in two months to form an action agenda for building the future talent of Hidalgo County.

The Workforce Summit 2007, organized by the Office of the Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas III, supports the group vision that Hidalgo County can overcome identified challenges such as high drop-out rates, professional labor skills shortages, a dearth of basic skills and limited English proficiency levels.

On July 5, more than 150 workforce forum participants from the business, social, economic and education settings identified these challenges and began to the lay the groundwork to fix them. The Workforce Summit 2007 is a continuation of that effort.

The Workforce Summit promises to bring together high-level decision-makers such as Congressmen Henry Cuellar and Rube?n Hinojosa — Chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifetime Learning and Competitiveness — and the influential economist Dr. M. Ray Perryman, who will speak about the “economics of education.”

College and university presidents, school district superintendents, the region’s top employers, economic development specialists and key workforce development resource centers will attend the summit as well.

Stakeholders have been invited to sign a non-financial Memorandum of Understanding to promote collaboration, communication and creativity in solving one of this area’s most vexing problems: How do we develop, attract and retain talent in Hidalgo County that can compete in a global economy?

“At the summit, we plan to create the Coalition for Building Future Talent, an organization that will manage next steps and oversee the development and implementation of an action agenda,” Salinas said. “We will build upon the challenges identified at the workforce forum. Our long-term goals require follow through to become reality, but I strongly feel that we as a region are ready and poised to take on these challenges.

“The better we prepare the future, the better quality of life we will all have,” Salinas added. “The future starts with us.”

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Construction activities in Edinburg approach $116 million through June

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

The value of construction activities in Edinburg from January through June 2007 passed $115 million, with additions/repairs valued at $300,000 at the Museum of South Texas History coming in as the top construction project in June.

During the first half of 2006, total construction activities in Edinburg had totaled almost $113 million.

For the month of June – the latest figures available from the city government – Edinburg generated almost $13.2 million in total construction, compared with more than $21 million in June 2006.

The latest numbers, compiled by the city’s Code Enforcement Department, were released by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council.

The EEDC 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 Dr. Glenn A. Martínez, Ph.D.

The estimated value of construction for a project is included when the city issues a building permit.

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.

The building permit does not include the value of the lot.

A breakdown of the major construction categories year-to-date and by month in Edinburg includes:

  • Total new construction, January through June, was $115,440,934, compared with $112,935,482 during the same period in 2006. In June, total new construction was $13,149,130, compared with $21,137,032 during the same month last year;
  • Total new commercial construction, January through June, was $57,698,225, compared with $45,916,864 during the same period in 2006. New commercial construction in June reached $2,056,575, compared with $11,699,000 in the same month in 2006;
  • Total new construction of single-family homes, January through June, was valued at $34,481,773, compared with $37,723,590 during the same period in 2006. New construction of single-family homes in June totaled $7,296,572, compared with $7,337,250 in the same month last year;
  • The number of single-family homes built in the first six months of 2007 totaled 365, compared with 486 from January through June 2006. In June, construction began on 87 new homes, compared with 70 new homes in the same month last year;
  • Total new construction of multi-family residences (duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and apartments), January through June, was valued at $7,726,500, compared with $5,995,000 in the same period in 2006. New construction of multi-family residences in June totaled $2,367,500, compared with $740,000 in the same month last year;
  • The number of multi-family residences built, from January through June, totaled 88 (85 duplexes, three triplexes/fourplexes), compared with 88 (87 duplexes, 1 triplex/fourplex) in the same period in 2006. New construction of multi-family residences in June totaled 32 (31 duplexes, 1 triplex/fourplex), compared with 12 (all duplexes) in June 2006;
  • Total residential alterations, January through June, were valued at $3,123,307, compared with $3,429,780 during the same period in 2006. Total residential alterations in June were valued at $558,542, compared with $303,938 in June 2006;
  • Total commercial alterations, January through June, were valued at $2,163,269, compared with $7,961,248 during the same period last year. Total commercial alterations in June were valued at $480,941, compared with $1,053,844 during the same month in 2006;
  • No permits have been issued through June for construction of non-taxable structures (government buildings, churches, etc), compared with work valued at $8,996,000 during the same period. The city government does not issue building permits for any construction work at the University of Texas-Pan American.
  • Alterations/repairs on non-taxable structures (government, religious, etc.) between January and June have reached $10,247,500 during the first six months of 2007, compared with $2,913,000 during the same period last year. For the month of June, building permits valued at $389,000 were issued for alternations/repairs on non-taxable structures, compared with $3,000 worth of work in June 2006.

Betancourt Holding LLC was issued a building permit for the second most valuable project in June. They are building a commercial facility, valued at $266,000, at 3127 South Sugar Road in the Canton Businesss Center.

Four other commercial projects authorized for construction in June were valued at $200,000 or more, while five commercial projects authorized for construction in June were valued from $100,000 to $175,000 each.

The most valuable commercial addition/repair project to receive a building permit in June belonged to Tony Karam, for work, worth $198,000, on a facility at 2001 W. Trenton Road in the Trenton Crossroads Plaza Subdivision.

Permits were issued in June for 32 single-family homes valued at $100,000 or more.

The most valuable home to receive a building permit in June was issued to William and Liza Guzmán, for construction valued at $190,000. Their home is located at 2006 Rochester Avenue in the Madison Park Subdivision.

Fifteen of the 18 multi-family homes authorized for construction in June were valued at $100,000 or more, with a home owned by Santana and Evangelina García topping that list at $175,000. That multi-family home is located at 609 Pebblecreek in the Vista de las Colinas Subdivision.

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Congressman Hinojosa backs federal bill to provide health care to 11 million children, and strengthen Medicare

By ELIZABETH ESFAHANI

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, on Wednesday, August 1, joined a majority in the House of Representatives in support of legislation that provides health care to 11 million low-income children and strengthens Medicare. The Children’s Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act was approved by a vote of 225-204.

“No child in Texas should have to go without access to reliable healthcare coverage,” said Hinojosa. “I am proud to report that today we are ensuring that 500,000 Texan children will have the medical care they deserve.”

In addition to protecting coverage for 6 million children nationwide, CHAMP would extend health care coverage to 5 million more low-income children, covering a total of 11 million children. CHIP was established on a bipartisan basis in 1997 by President Clinton and Congress, but must be reauthorized by September 30, 2007. If the program is not reauthorized by September 30, 6 million children nationwide could lose their health care.

The CHAMP Act also includes provisions to strengthen Medicare, control out of pocket costs for seniors and help ensure seniors have access to the doctors of their choice by stopping a scheduled 10 percent payment cut to doctors. Additionally, the legislation ends massive overpayments to private health organizations like HMOs and makes a series of preventative screenings free for Medicare beneficiaries. New free benefits under Medicare provided under the CHAMP Act include:

  • Diabetes screening tests;
  • Screening for glaucoma;
  • An initial preventive physical examination;
  • Bone mass measurement;
  • Prostate cancer screening tests;
  • Colorectal cancer screening tests;
  • Mammography screening; and
  • Pap smear screening.

“The CHAMP Act will ensure that hard-working, low-income families do not go to bed at night worrying about a major sickness or injury striking,” concluded Hinojosa. “We are one step closer to providing more Americans access to high quality healthcare coverage.”

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Edinburg school board approves 2007-2008 teacher salary schedules

By GILBERT TAGLE

Beginning teachers in the Edinburg school district will earn $39,400 under teacher salary schedules approved by the school board during its special meeting in July, announced Carmen González, school board president.

“The direction taken by the school board puts the Edinburg CISD in position to offer and attract a competitive salary for new teachers just entering the field of education,” said González. “The average beginning salary for beginning teachers in Texas is $27, 320.”

González said Edinburg will be paying $12,000 more than the state average salary to teachers with no experience beginning in the 2007-2008 school year.

The salary schedule approved by the school board allows the Edinburg school district to be more competitive in teacher salaries in school districts within the Region One Education Service area, said González.

Under the new teacher schedule, all of the district’s 2,000 teachers will receive a four percent general salary increase or $2,000 more than they did last year, said González.

“Teachers with zero to five years experience will get the 4.0 percent general increase plus an additional adjustment,” González said.

González said during the 2006-2007 school year, beginning teachers received $35,320 and no additional adjustment, but under the district’s new salary schedule for 2007-2008, a teacher with Bachelor’s Degree and with:

  • Zero Years of Experience will receive a $2,000 general increase plus a $2,080 adjustment for a total of $39,400;
  • One Year of Experience will receive a $2,000 general increase plus a $1,890 adjustment for a total of $39,800;
  • Two Years of Experience will receive a $2,000 general increase plus a $1,710 adjustment for a total of $40,200;
  • Three Years of Experience will receive a $2,000 general increase plus a $1,520 adjustment for a total of $40,600;
  • Four Years of Experience will receive a $2,000 general increase plus a $780 adjustment for a total of $41,100; and
  • Five Years of Experience will receive a $2,000 general increase plus a $40 adjustment for a total of $41,600.

González said the approved salary schedules are based on a 187-day working schedule that applies to classroom teachers, librarians and school nurses.

González said that a study conducted by the Human Resource Services Division of the Texas Association of School Boards shows that at present, the ECISD pays $8,000 above the state minimum salary schedule which is still significantly lower than the market median and is the lowest of the 12 Region One comparison school district used by the TASB consultants.

“The new salary schedule approved the Edinburg school board addresses the TASB findings and significantly raises the salary for beginning teachers,” said González.

“The board recognizes the value of all of its teachers and will continue to look for ways to compensate them adequately for the service they provide day-in and day-out to teach our children,” said González.

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Rep. Peña honored for legislation protecting animals from cruelty, exploitation, such as dog-fighting

By ORLANDO SALINAS

With dog fighting dominating national headlines in recent weeks, the Texas Humane Legislation Network, a nonprofit organization that speaks on behalf of animal welfare agencies in Texas, has given its highest award to Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, for his successful efforts in securing legislation for the protection of animals.

Although repeated attempts were made over several legislative sessions to strengthen laws protecting animals from abuse and cruelty, each of these attempts were ultimately unsuccessful. As the newly appointed chairman of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, Peña took a strong leadership role in negotiating key legislative successes which occurred this session.

“This has truly been a landmark year for the animals of Texas,” said Randy Turner, president of Texas Humane Legislation Network. “We commend Rep. Peña for his leadership in giving innocent creatures the protection they deserve from senseless acts of violence.”

The issue of animal cruelty has been in the headlines recently due to the indictment of NFL quarterback Michael Vick on federal charges related to dog fighting. Federal authorities allege that Vick and others engaged in the training and transporting of dogs for the purpose of fighting. The most egregious aspect of the indictment relates to the killing and disposal of many these dogs.

Addressing the growing problem of dog fighting, animal cruelty and the criminal activity surrounding these events, the Texas Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, led by Peña, shepherded two bills of high importance to the protection of animals. Dog fighting was addressed in House Bill 916, by Rep. José Menéndez, D- San Antonio, which increases penalties for people who train dogs for fighting and organize the exhibitions. In addition, the bill aims at denying such exhibitions an audience by increasing penalties for those who attend the events and provide the financial incentive to the organizer.

In a thorough and balanced manner animal cruelty laws were also strengthened by establishing separate laws on animal cruelty for livestock and non-livestock animals.

HB 2328 by Rep. Beverly Woolley, R-Houston, expands protections for non-livestock animals while retaining the status quo for treatment of livestock animals to avoid interfering with agricultural practices. The strengthened protections will help close loopholes in existing law and prevent future acts of cruelty against animals. The delicate balance established in this legislation required intensive negotiations between competing interests.

“My thanks to the good people who have recognized our efforts to bring a little humanity towards the treatment of man’s best friend,” said Peña. “I am honored by the recognition.”

“The Texas Animal Humanitarian Award is our highest recognition for those who champion protections against animal cruelty,” said Robert “Skip” Trimble of the Texas Humane Legislation Network in Dallas. “The State of Texas owes Rep. Peña a debt of gratitude for his leadership in making this legislative session a success.”

The award will be presented to Peña in an ceremony later this month to be held in Austin. Peña is the Chairman of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence and is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means. He is serving his third term in the Texas House.

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Sen. Lucio appointed to Human Services and Welfare Committee on National Conference of State Legislatures

By DORIS SÁNCHEZ

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, has been appointed to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) standing committee on Human Services and Welfare by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

“I am honored to be able to serve on this notable committee. This will afford me the opportunity to both acquire a wealth of knowledge to bring back to Texas and also to share our best practices with other states,” said Lucio. “Our state has so many needs that include stemming child abuse, improving our foster care system, expanding services to the elderly, and increasing access to health care for our indigent.”

Lucio has been at the forefront of many of the issues that this committee addresses. He feels very fortunate to have been selected to serve Texas and join forces with other state leaders.

“This is an excellent way to evaluate firsthand how other states have shown improvements in the areas of human services and welfare, and to work on methods of applying them to our communities when feasible,” noted the senator. “I look forward to learning more about how other states are dealing with long-term care issues in light of the abuses in our state schools that have recently been highlighted in the media.”

The committee will meet three times a year to provide an exchange of information through dialogue, meetings and networking opportunities. There are a total of 11 committees—also meeting three times yearly—composed of legislators and legislative staff, the main organizational mechanism serving the NCSL members. The committees also disseminate information through special seminars, web sites, a variety of written documents and even audio tapes. As needed, these committees can also consider and adopt policy positions for NCSL.

‘It is an opportunity to learn, to share, and to do more for my state and my district,” added Lucio. “I am anxious to begin serving.”

Lucio’s two-year term from 2007 to 2008 is effective immediately.

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Athletic departments, including UT-Pan American, may have profited by promoting student loans in exchange for kickbacks

Opening a new chapter in his ongoing investigation into the student loan industry, New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday, August 1, served subpoenas and document requests on 40 universities seeking information on deals their athletic departments made with a student loan provider.

Thirty eight of the universities subpoenaed are Division I schools. Student loan provider, Student Financial Services, Inc. (SFS), doing business under the name University Financial Services (UFS), was also subpoenaed. Cuomo is investigating whether athletic departments at these universities agreed to promote SFS loans to students in exchange for kickbacks.

“Students trust their University’s athletic departments because so much of campus life at Division I schools centers around supporting the home team,” said Cuomo. “To betray this trust by promoting loans in exchange for money is a serious issue, especially when Division I schools already generate tremendous revenue from their student athletes. Today’s action is an important new step as we continue to examine the unethical conflicts that pervade the student loan industry.”

The Attorney General’s office is specifically investigating whether athletic departments evaluated UFS interest rates before recommending their federal loans, or if their endorsement of UFS was based purely on payments from the lender. Such an arrangement would constitute revenue sharing, which is a violation New York state consumer protection laws, as well as a violation of federal law.

A previous investigation by the Attorney General’s office of Dowling College revealed that its athletic director had entered into a revenue sharing agreement with UFS on behalf of the college. Under the terms of this agreement:

  • UFS agreed to pay Dowling College $75 for every loan application that was directed to them from the school’s athletic department;
  • The athletic department agreed to put links to UFS on their website and hand out UFS promotional materials in order to steer students towards UFS loans;
  • The athletic department gave them permission to market their loans throughout campus, including book stores, student unions and other meeting places; and
  • The athletic department allowed UFS to utilize the department interns to assist with distributing promotional materials at events.

The Dowling agreement was the basis for continuing to investigate UFS’s relationships with other athletic departments at universities across the nation. As part of its settlement with the Attorney General, Dowling agreed to terminate the Athletic Department’s relationship with UFS.

Cuomo is also investigating how athletic departments’ are using school team names, mascots, colors and logos, to imply that UFS is the school’s official lender.

The schools that received subpoenas and document requests include: Arkansas State University; Auburn University; Bowling Green State University; CAL State Sacramento; Central Michigan University; Colorado State University; East Carolina University; Florida Atlantic University; Georgetown University; Georgia Tech; Georgia State University; Howard University; Indiana State University; Marquette University; Ohio University; Oregon State University; Rutgers University; Southern Illinois University; Tennessee Tech; Texas Christian University; Tulane University; University of Alabama-Birmingham; UCLA; UNC Greensboro; University of Central Florida; University of Detroit Mercy; University of Houston; University of Kansas; University of Louisville; University of New Orleans; University of North Alabama; University of Oregon; University of Pittsburgh; University of South Florida; University of Texas at San Antonio; University of Texas El Paso; University of Texas Pan American; Wayne State University; Wright State University; Youngstown State University

The subpoenas and requests for information to the 39 schools specifically ask the Universities to provide:

  • All documents relating to agreements made between athletic departments and UFS or other lenders;
  • All documents showing payments made by UFS;
  • All documents reflecting how and why UFS was chosen as the athletic department’s recommended lender;
  • All documents which show whether athletic departments compared other lenders rates to those of UFS;
  • All documents related to the marketing of loans by athletic departments on behalf of UFS;
  • All benefits given by UFS to any employee of the college, including meals, trips and other perks; and
  • All documents reflecting communication between staff of the athletic associations and the related university or college, including emails.

This inquiry marks a new phase in Cuomo’s nationwide investigation into the student loan industry. The investigation has already resulted in agreements with 12 student loan companies, including the eight largest lenders in America – Citibank, Sallie Mae, Nelnet, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Wachovia, and College Loan Corporation – as well as Education Finance Partners (EFP), CIT, National City Bank, and Regions Financial Corporation. Citibank, Sallie Mae, Nelnet, CLC, EFP, CIT, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, Mercy College, and Career Education Corporation have all agreed to contribute a total of $13.7 million to the National Education Fund established by Attorney General Cuomo. This fund is dedicated to educating and assisting the country’s high school students and their families about the financial aid process.

Cuomo’s Code of Conduct has become New York State law as the Student Lending Accountability, Transparency, and Enforcement (SLATE) Act of 2007. Proposed federal legislation regarding the student loan industry also incorporates Cuomo’s Code of Conduct: the Student Loan Sunshine Act has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

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Edinburg EDC helping support McAllen conference to highlight, help women entrepreneurs on August 28

By ELIZABETH C. MARTÍNEZ

Bringing together women entrepreneurs, business professionals, and opportunity seekers is the basis of an upcoming conference. The Southwest Community Investment Corporations (SCI) is pleased to announce the 2nd Annual Jewels of the Valley 2007 Conference and Business Expo, which will be held on Aug. 28, 2007 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will take place at the McAllen Convention Center located at 700 Convention Center Blvd.

There is something for every woman who is in business or is considering starting a business at the conference. Conference topics include Keys to Start a Business, Growing Your Business, 25 Reasons Your Business Should be on the Internet, and Marketing for Success. Attendees will come face-to-face with over 25 exhibitors and will have the opportunity to participate in a 10-minute networking session.

SCI’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) is seeking support and participation through corporate donations, event sponsorships, and involvement as an exhibitor or attendee in this event designed to help women in our communities realize their dream of business ownership.

Supporting the 2nd Annual Jewels of the Valley is the Small Business Administration and the Office of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa. Also supporting the event promoting women entrepreneurship are the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, Time Warner Cable, McAllen Convention Center, the Office of Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, Medi-Quip, Texas National Bank, Horizon Properties, The Business Times of the Rio Grande Valley and the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

For more information contact SCI at (956) 661-6560.

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Attorney General Abbott urging Texans to check for potentially dangerous Westlake, YKS, Compass tires

The Office of the Attorney General is urging Texas drivers to check their vehicles for potentially dangerous tires. The tires were sold from 2002 to 2006 for light trucks, sports utility vehicles, and vans, and could be in danger of tread separation. The tires were made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. (“HZ”) in China and distributed in the United States under several names, including Westlake, YKS and Compass.

According to Foreign Tire Sales, Inc. (FTS), – 1 – the U.S. distributor, at least 270,000 tires may have insufficient or missing “gum strips,” an important safety feature on certain tires that helps prevent tread separation. More than 50,000 of the potentially unsafe tires are believed to have been sold in Texas.

If you have any of these tires, immediately contact the dealer where you bought them. If the dealer is more than 50 miles away, ask the closest tire shop or mechanic to inspect your tires. In the interest of public safety, the Office of the Attorney General is asking tire dealers not to charge for such an inspection. Consumers who purchased these tires should not drive for long distances on hot roads and should avoid overloading their vehicles.

If an inspection indicates that the tires may be unsafe, consumers should immediately file an online complaint with the Office of the Attorney General at http://www.oag.state.tx.us or call (800) 252-8011 to receive a form by mail. Consumers can also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at (800) 327-4236 and FTS at http://www.foreigntire.com.

Consumers should check the sidewalls of their tires for the brand name, size, model, and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number. If the DOT number contains “FTS” as part of the number, the tire may be subject to a recall in the future.

Specific tire sizes and models affected:

  • LT235/75R-15 CR861 CR857;
  • LT245/75R-16 CR860 CR861 CR857;
  • LT225/75R-16 CR 861;
  • LT265/75R-16 CR860 CR861 CR857;
  • LT235/85R-16 CR 860 CR861 CR857; and
  • LT31X10.5R-15 CR861 CR857.
  • At this time, NHTSA has not ordered a recall of any of these tires and no replacement program has been instituted. However, consumers should regularly check the NHTSA, FTS and Attorney General’s Web sites for updates.
  • As part of general tire safety, consumers should keep the following tips in mind:
  • Inspect tires at least once a month and before every long trip for patterns of uneven wear. Check tire inflation pressure in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.
  • Do not overload your vehicle. Excess weight can place extra stress on your tires. Check your tire placard or vehicle owner’s manual for the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely carry.
  • Develop safe driving habits. Observe speed limits and avoid fast stops, starts, and turns. Avoid contact with potholes, debris, and curbs when driving or parking your vehicle.
  • Keep your vehicle properly maintained. Rotate tires regularly, get wheels balanced, and get a front-end alignment if necessary.
  • Use the proper tires for your vehicle. Check the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations before replacing a tire with a different size and/or construction.
  • Be aware of how the outside temperature affects your tires. Hot weather can be especially hard on tires.
  • Have any tire problems checked out by professionals. If you find that one of your tires is losing pressure, take it to a tire expert for a complete internal inspection.
  • Avoid buying used tires. You might be getting previously recalled or otherwise dangerous ties.

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FOIA, FYI: Openness in government

By SEN. JOHN CORNYN

During this Congress, members on both sides of the aisle have fought to enact strong earmark reforms designed to promote an environment of openness and transparency in connection with government spending. I strongly support earmark reform and transparency because it will provide the American people with information about how their money is spent. This will ensure greater accountability, which benefits us all.

To me, earmark reform and other open-government reforms should be embraced by conservatives, liberals, and anyone who believes in the freedom and the dignity of the individual. From my vantage point in Washington, it’s about holding accountable the politicians who continue to grow the size and scope of the federal government. And it’s about holding accountable the bureaucrats who populate the federal government’s ever-expanding reach over individual liberty.

That is why I feel so strongly about reforming the federal Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA. FOIA, enacted more than 40 years ago, requires a legislative update to ensure it actually works for the citizens of this country. When operating properly, FOIA is indispensable in shining light on government policies, good and bad. Patrick Henry famously observed that “the liberties of a people never were, or ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” Reforming FOIA will help ensure the public’s right to know and legitimize the consent of the governed.

Today, impediments prevent many from timely obtaining government information. Some agencies take years to even start working on requests. Far too often when citizens seek records from our government, they are met with long delays, denials and difficulty. Federal agencies can routinely and repeatedly deny requests for information with near impunity. Making the situation worse, requesters have few alternatives to lawsuits to appeal an agency’s decision.

And when requesters do sue agencies, the deck is stacked in the government’s favor. Courts have ruled that requesters cannot recover legal fees from agencies who improperly withhold information until a judge rules for the requester. That means an agency can withhold documents without consequences until the day before a judge’s ruling. Then the agency can suddenly send a box full of documents, render the lawsuit moot and leave the requester with a hefty legal bill. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings have revealed instances of this very practice. And while the agency gets away scot-free, the requestor is left with large legal bills.

In the meantime, the delay can keep mismanagement and wasteful practices hidden and unfixed. Judiciary hearings have documented FOIA’s use in uncovering significant overspending and government misconduct.

For instance, documents obtained through FOIA requests revealed up to $4 billion of cost overruns on the international space station.

Additionally, reporters for Knight Ridder used FOIA to uncover hurdles that veterans who fought bravely for our country have trouble obtaining the medical benefits they deserve upon returning home. Thousands died waiting for their benefits, many more received wrong information. Legal fees alone topped $100,000 along with the time and effort. Few citizens have such time and budgets.

To address problems of long delays and strengthen the ability of every citizen to know what its government is up to, Senator Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) and I introduced bipartisan legislation to reform the FOIA. This legislation was reported from committee with bipartisan support and awaits action by the full Senate.

Our bill, the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007 (the “OPEN Government Act”), would close loopholes in FOIA that can lead to waits of months — or even years — for requested information.

The bill would direct agencies to institute tracking systems and hotlines so the public can easily follow their request. And it would also create a FOIA ombudsman position to review agency FOIA compliance and to suggest alternatives to litigation. Finally, our legislation would set up incentives for agencies to act on FOIA requests in a timely fashion. Some have raised concerns the bill might force disclosure of sensitive law-enforcement information, so Sen. Leahy and I agreed to changes that ensure this will not occur.

The bill has the support of business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers, media groups and over a hundred advocacy organizations from across the political spectrum. We owe it to all Americans to help them know what its government is up to and make our great American democracy even stronger.

Like earmark reforms, this bill will make our government more open and therefore more accountable to its citizens. I am hopeful that the Senate will pass this bipartisan legislation soon.

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National Association of Hispanic Journalists elects new region directors, student representatives to its board of directors

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists certified the election of its new region directors and student representative to the board of directors on Tuesday, July 31.

The region directors representing the eight regions will serve on the board until the summer of 2009. The student representative will serve on the NAHJ board for one year. These newly elected directors will join the eight other members of the board of directors who currently serve in the executive office posts and at-large positions.

Of the nine people certified Tuesday as the winners, three are incumbents who were re-elected and six are new to the board.

“I congratulate the new and returning board members and hope they bring renewed energy and vision to our task, which remains vitally important in this constantly changing media landscape,” said NAHJ President Rafael Olmeda. “It’s an honor to serve with them.”

The elected board members are:

  • Region 1 – José E. Maldonado, business editor, El Nuevo Día, San Juan Puerto Rico, Region 1; Alternate – Miguel Rosa, photographer, WIPR Canal 6, San Juan,Puerto Rico;
  • Region 2 – Diego Ribadeneira, assistant metro editor, The New York Times;
  • Region 3 – *Regina Medina, reporter, Philadelphia Daily News;
  • Region 4 – Erin Ailsworth, staff writer, West Orange County, The Orlando Sentinel;
  • Region 5 – Gustavo Reveles Acosta, education reporter, El Paso Times;
  • Region 6 – Brandon Benavides, news producer, KSTP-TV/5 Eyewitness News, St. Paul, Minnesota;
  • Region 7 – *Elizabeth Aguilera, reporter, The Denver Post; and
  • Region 8 – *Verónica García, copy editor, national desk, Los Angeles Times.
  • Student Representative – Aisha Al-Muslim, Lehman College, Bronx, New York

*denotes incumbent

They assume their offices immediately and will attend their first board meeting jointly as a newly constituted board next October 4-6, 2007 in Washington, D.C. These directors join the rest of the NAHJ Board of Directors listed below:

  • President – Rafael Olmeda, assistant city editor, South Florida Sun-Sentinel;
  • Vice-President/Broadcast – Manuel de la Rosa, reporter, KIII, Corpus Christi;
  • Vice-President/Print – Cindy Rodríguez, race relations and cultural affairs reporter, The Detroit News;
  • Financial Officer – Sam Díaz, assistant technology editor, The Washington Post;
  • Secretary – Elizabeth Zavala, deputy metro editor, Fort Worth Star-Telegram;
  • General At-Large Officer – Gary Piña, news editor/page designer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram;
  • Spanish Language At-Large Officer – Claudio Alvarez Dunn, managing editor, Primera Hora, San Juan, Puerto Rico; and
  • Online At-Large Officer – Lavonne Luquis, web editor, National Education Association.

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