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Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured right, has announced dates for the 2010 Texas Hurricane Conference, sponsored by the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The conference, scheduled for May 17-20 in McAllen, will offer attendees a variety of resources to prepare and coordinate responses to catastrophic storms. Conference invitees will include representatives from the emergency management community, first responders, and law enforcement agencies from coastal communities and inland sheltering communities. Featured with the South Texas senator in this photograph during a separate event is Raúl Óscar Gómez, one of the principal news correspondents for Noticias 40, the Telemundo affiliate in the Rio Grande Valley. See story later in this posting

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Farouk Shami, a classic symbol of the American Success Story, on Tuesday, March 2, praised the people of Texas for making and keeping the Lone Star State “the standard of excellence, the hope for the future for America, and the envy of the world.” Shami, who came to the United States 44 years ago with $71 in his pocket and became a successful Houston businessman and philanthropist, exploded onto the political scene late last year with his vision for Texas and as a major candidate for governor. His pledge to create 100,000 new jobs in Texas or resign as governor, his plans to make Texas a world-class leader in solar power and wind power, his promise to not take campaign contributions from wealthy special interest groups, and his vow to “declare war on poverty” in the state have established great expectations from millions of Texans. He said he fully expects his ideas to become reality because they are based on solid economic strategies, 21st century technology and science, high ethical standards, and compassionate democratic ideals.  Above all, Shami said it is the people of Texas who are going to help see those plans come to fruition. “I knew Texas is great, but after campaigning throughout the state and meeting thousands of people from all walks of life, I am humbled by the ideas and achievements of countless fellow Texans,” said Shami. “That’s why, although I wasn’t born in Texas, I got here at fast as I could. The people of Texas are amazing.”  Shami is featured here in El Paso during the 2010 National Latino Congreso Convention held in January in El Paso with Hidalgo County and Texas Democratic leaders. From left: Nelva Sosa-Slagle; Juan Maldonado; Farouk Shami; Alan Fizman; Giovanna De León; and Lydia Camarillo, vice president for the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. See story later in this posting.

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Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White, the former mayor of Houston – who took 60 percent of the vote in Hidalgo County on Tuesday, March 2 on his way to a statewide nomination victory – is calling on all Democrats to rally around him and the rest of the party ticket in its November election battles against Gov. Rick Perry and Perry’s fellow Republican nominees for other statewide offices. “Today Texans sent a message to the entrenched interests in Austin: Texans are ready for a new governor,” White said at his victory celebration that evening in Houston. “We invite those who supported other candidates to join our team, which consists of citizens from all backgrounds and both parties. We are committed to honest, competent, decentralized and accountable government. We believe that more unites than divides Texans,” White said. The former Houston mayor is featured here, on Tuesday, January 5, campaigning before staff members of the Hidalgo County District Clerk’s Office in the Hidalgo County Courthouse. See story on White’s victory remarks later in this posting.

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Gov. Rick Perry, featured here on Tuesday, January 5 at the University of Texas-Pan American, is reportedly ventured out from the traditional outlets used to appeal to voters in his successful re-election bid, according to WiredPRNews.com. As reported by the Dallas Morning News, Perry  utilized social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to garner campaign support and reach voters. Perry was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as stating of his technological based campaign efforts, “It’s one of the most diverse, one of the most focused, and one of the most effective in Texas history.” Perry’s rivals in the recently-concluded Republican Party primary race – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Debra Medina – also noticeably utilized social media in their campaigns. Mari Woodlief, president of Dallas-based Allyn Media is further quoted in the report as stating of the trends in modern political campaigns: “Campaigns are evolving just like people and technology… you have to go where the people are, and more and more that’s become the Internet.” Featured with Perry during the Republican governor’s visit to the local university, where he announced several million dollar grants, were, from left, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and UTPA President Robert Nelsen.

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Nearly 200 family members, friends, faculty, staff and students came together Friday, February 19, at the University of Texas-Pan American to celebrate the opening of the “Pillars of Success” exhibition, which features the photos and the success stories of five distinguished alumni that will be on display in the university’s Visitors Center for the next two years. Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said the Visitors Center has housed 11 exhibits since it opened in 2002 and has had more than 200,000 visitors, including thousands of Rio Grande Valley students. “We keep this display up for a period of two years because we want our visitors and students to know what this university is producing – outstanding graduates,” he said. “These Pillars of Success stand as role models for paths we want our students to follow.” See story later in this posting.

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In just its third year of operation, South Texas College’s Mid-Valley Campus Child Development Center in Weslaco has earned accreditation from the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC). STC’s center is the only child care facility in the Rio Grande Valley to have earned this prestigious accreditation. The center works to expand its college-going culture to include even its littlest graduates, featured in this photograph. See story later in this posting.

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Bless Me Ultima is the newest play being presented by the Pharr Literacy Project and Cultural Arts Center at the Historic Texas Theatre in Pharr, premiering March 26 at 7:30 pm. The play is based on Rudolfo Anaya’s best selling novel of the same title. With 22 local actors rehearsing the play since February, it promises to be a spectacular show. Bless Me Ultima is a coming of age story about a young boy’s loss of innocence and approach to maturity. But it also deals with tradition, and education, faith and doubt, and good and evil. The play with adult and children actors is set in post world war 2 in the mountains of beautiful New Mexico. Pedro García is the director and Elva Michal is the producer. Among some of the actors are Armandina Sesin as Ultima/La Grande, Alex Gelman as the author, and young Alejandro Arango as Antonio. Performances will be held at the Historic Texas Theatre, 115 E. Park Street in Pharr, on: March 26 at 7:30 p.m.; March 28 at 2:30 p.m.; April 9 & 10 at 7:30 p.m.; and April 11 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are only $6 and are currently on sale by calling The Pharr Literacy Project & Cultural Arts Center at 956/783-7746. Featured, from left, during a recent rehearsal in the Pharr Literacy Project Building, are: Víctor Alanis, Allyson Champion, Lizzie Cuellar and Alejandro Arango .

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Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito, attended a hard hat tour of the Representative Jim Solis and Colonel H William “Bill” Card Jr. Outpatient Clinic on Wednesday, February 24.  That newly-named outpatient clinic, which is operated by the South Texas Health Care System in Harlingen, was named in the two men’s honor in recognition of their many contributions to Harlingen. The name change was authorized by legislation by the Lucios which was approved by the Texas Legislature last spring. Featured, from left: Rep. Lucio, III; Bill Card; Sonia Hernández-Keeble, the director of the Rio Grande State Center, which operates the Harlingen clinic; and Sen. Lucio.

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Sylvia Handy pleads guilty to harboring conspiracy, false statement in tax return, then resigns as Hidalgo County Commissioner

By ANGELA DODGE

Hidalgo County County Commissioner Sylvia Sue Handy-Espronceda, 52, on Monday, March 8, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harboring an illegal alien and to making a false statement on her 2005 tax return, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced.

Handy pleaded guilty late Monday afternoon before United States District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa in McAllen.

On Tuesday, March 9, Handy announced her resignation, as Hidalgo County Commissioner, effective immediately.

Hidalgo County Judge René A. Ramírez issued a statement shortly thereafter, noting that Handy’s decision to resign “puts the needs of her family first and allows the Commissioners Court to move forward toward building public trust.”

In the Hidalgo County official website, all references to Handy were eliminated.

Handy, a resident of Weslaco, admitted having orchestrated the fraudulent hiring and employment of an illegal alien from Mexico at Precinct 1, in McAllen, from 2001 to 2007. The illegal alien also provided housekeeping and childcare services to Handy at the county’s expense. Handy also admitted having lied on her 2005 tax return when she claimed a childcare credit for monies paid to an individual who had never worked for her and whom she had never paid.

At the March 8 re-arraignment hearing, the United States advised the court that had the case gone to trial, it was prepared to present evidence proving that from May 2001 to March 2007, Handy conspired with others to knowingly harboring and shielding from detection a Mexican national illegally in the United States by providing the alien with unlawful employment at Hidalgo County Precinct 1 under three assumed identities.

County funds derived from the falsified employment were used to pay the alien to provide housekeeping and childcare services for Handy. Two of the three persons whose identity had been used for the falsified county employment would have testified they never were employed by Hidalgo County.

Additionally, the government’s evidence would also have proven that on October 16, 2006, Handy did willfully make and subscribe a U.S. Individual Income Tax Return for the calendar year 2005, which she did not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter. That return, which she filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), falsely identified her child care provider as A. M. and claimed a $1,200 credit for child and dependent care expenses. In fact, the child care provider was an illegal alien who had terminated her employment with Handy in December 2004. The materially false statement and claim resulted in a refund payment to Handy.

The true A.M. would have testified she has never sought or obtained employment with Handy, nor had she ever provided housekeeping or childcare services to Handy or her family, or even met Handy.

The conspiracy conviction carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, without parole, and a $250,000 fine, while the false statements on the tax return conviction carries a maximum three-year-prison term and a $100,000 fine. Sentencing is set for June 23, 2010, at 9:30 a.m.

The investigation leading to the indictment was conducted by special agents of the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Rodríguez and F. Andino Reynal.

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Texans and Texas praised by Farouk Shami as “the hope for the future, envy of the world”

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

Farouk Shami, a classic symbol of the American Success Story, on Tuesday, March 2, praised the people of Texas for making and keeping the Lone Star State “the standard of excellence, the hope for the future for America, and the envy of the world.”

Shami, who came to the United States 44 years ago with $71 in his pocket and became a successful Houston businessman and philanthropist, exploded onto the political scene late last year with his vision for Texas and as a major candidate for governor.

His pledge to create 100,000 new jobs in Texas or resign as governor, his plans to make Texas a world-class leader in solar power and wind power, his promise to not take campaign contributions from wealthy special interest groups, and his vow to “declare war on poverty” in the state have established great expectations from millions of Texans.

He said he fully expects his ideas to become reality because they are based on solid economic strategies, 21st century technology and science, high ethical standards, and compassionate democratic ideals.

Above all, Shami said it is the people of Texas who are going to help see those plans come to fruition.

“I knew Texas is great, but after campaigning throughout the state and meeting thousands of people from all walks of life, I am humbled by the ideas and achievements of countless fellow Texans,” said Shami. “That’s why, although I wasn’t born in Texas, I got here at fast as I could. The people of Texas are amazing.”

Early Tuesday, March 2, while on the campaign trail, Shami expressed his deep appreciation for the tens of thousands of Texans who cast their ballots for him.

He also congratulated all candidates who were seeking their respective political party’s nomination for governor.

“We come from different backgrounds and have conflicting ideas, but in the end, it is our love for Texas that inspired each of us go before the people and present our ideas, to give them a choice as to who they want as governor,” said Shami. “The power of the secret ballot, wielded by a Free People, is the genius of American Democracy.”

Shami is a successful businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist who created a revolution in the beauty industry when he invented the first ammonia-free hair coloring and lightening system. He continued making history when he invented the world renowned brands BioSilk and CHI.

Shami got his start during the 80’s recession and with only $1,000, when he transformed his company, Farouk Systems, into a billion-dollar entity that currently exports to 114 countries.

In July 2009, Shami brought jobs from China and South Korea to Texas, which created 1,277 jobs in the Houston area.

During the final weekend in February, he opened a new warehouse in a predominantly African American community of Houston’s Fifth Ward.

Shami is also in the process of opening up a solar panel factory in the predominantly Hispanic colonias of El Paso.

Shami has a genuine passion to help others and has donated millions of dollars to charities.

He worked with the Mayor of Laredo and paid Southwest Airlines $28,000 to fly 96 soldiers from Fort Bliss – before they were scheduled to be deployed overseas – to be flown to Laredo, which was a central location to their homes during the holidays

Shami also graciously gave millions of dollars to New York after 9/11, to Louisiana and the City of Houston after Hurricane Katrina, and to the City of Houston after Hurricane Ike.

Pol. Adv. by the Farouk for Governor Campaign | 2500 West Loop South #300 | Houston | TX | 77027

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With Texans united, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White looks to November election against Gov. Rick Perry and Republicans

By KATY BACON

In front of hundreds of supporters gathered in Houston on Tuesday, March 2, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White addressed Texans of both parties and emphasized Texas’ future.

White was introduced by his children, with his daughter Elena expressing gratitude, “Our family has been blessed by you, and the thousands who have joined you in volunteering, making phone calls, emailing, giving your time and giving financially.”

White began by saying, “Today Texans sent a message to the entrenched interests in Austin: Texans are ready for a new governor.”

He invited Texans from all political viewpoints to join his team, saying he would be a governor who would serve all Texans – urban, rural, Democratic, Republican and Independent – with integrity and a non-partisan spirit.

“We invite those who supported other candidates to join our team, which consists of citizens from all backgrounds and both parties. We are committed to honest, competent, decentralized and accountable government. We believe that more unites than divides Texans,” White said.

White predicted political posturing and a divisive approach from his opponent, giving several examples.

“We understand that those in power will do anything to avoid having to compete in the private sector… Rick Perry and his consultants and insiders will try to hide the growth in state spending in Austin by attacking the growth in government in Washington.” White said.

“Rick Perry and his consultants will complain of strings attached to federal funds, though year after year those in Austin have imposed requirements and unfunded mandates on Texas’ local school districts, cities and counties,” he continued.

“Texans understand your game of divide and conquer. Don’t try to claim some monopoly on Texas values. It is time we move our state forward,” White said.

The son of San Antonio schoolteachers, White helped build a law firm and managed a successful business before being elected Houston’s mayor in 2003. He was re-elected twice with 91% and 86% of the vote. During White’s administration, the Houston area led the nation cities in job growth and added more jobs than 34 states combined. At the same time, he cut property tax rates five years in a row and helped seniors with tax relief.

White started a special initiative to give returning veterans the welcome they deserve with coordinated social services, reductions in red tape, and employment opportunities. After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike, Bill White mobilized effective disaster responses including first responders, businesses and churches. For his compassionate, hands-on leadership after Katrina, White received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2007.

Previously, he served as Deputy Secretary of Energy of the United States.

For more information, please visit http://www.billwhitefortexas.com.

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Texas Hurricane Conference to be held in McAllen from May 17 through May 20

By ARTURO BALLESTEROS

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, has announced dates for the 2010 Texas Hurricane Conference, sponsored by the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The conference, scheduled for May 17-20 in McAllen, will offer attendees a variety of resources to prepare and coordinate responses to catastrophic storms.

Conference invitees will include representatives from the emergency management community, first responders, and law enforcement agencies from coastal communities and inland sheltering communities.

Hinojosa remarked on the value brought to South Texas by this conference.

“The Texas Hurricane Conference brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective to this region. To best coordinate relief efforts during a storm, public and private first responder agencies must know each other’s strategies. I am happy to see professionals from all sectors of the community forming part of this four-day conference. Our best protection against severe weather is preparedness,” Senator Hinojosa said.

The Texas Hurricane Conference will feature a wide variety of workshops, presentations, training classes, and exhibits. Presentations will address all aspects of catastrophic storms: coordination and control, evacuations, sheltering, search and rescue, and re-entry operations after the storm.

Hidalgo County Judge Rene A. Ramirez emphasized the importance of continuing education for emergency management officials and praised the selection of Hidalgo County as the conference host.

“First responders understand the challenges posed by natural disasters such as Hurricane Dolly. Our emergency management professionals have firsthand experience to share. They also want to learn more from other experts. We look forward to expanding the knowledge of these men and women who work behind the scenes to protect all of us every day of the year, not only during hurricane season.”

Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. Hurricanes can cause inland flooding and tornadoes hundreds of miles from the Texas coast.

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Physicians assistant and his wife, both of Edinburg, charged with defrauding Medicaid

By ANGELA DODGE

Manuel Anthony Puig, 44, and his wife Romelia Sánchez Puig, 41, both of Edinburg, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for health care fraud,  mail fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, United States Attorney José Ángel Moreno and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced on Wednesday, March 10.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

The defendants are  presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law

The three-count indictment was returned on Tuesday, March 9, 2010. The Puigs surrendered themselves to the United States Marshals Service on Wednesday morning, March 10, and made their initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos, who ordered them released on $174,000 bond.

They are scheduled for arraignment on March 15, 2010, at 11:00 a.m.

According to allegations in the indictment, Manuel Puig, a licensed physician’s assistant, and Romelia Puig, a certified nursing assistant, operated the La Hacienda Family Clinic near Alton.

Husband and wife are charged with conspiring to defraud the Texas Medicaid program, with executing a scheme to defraud Medicaid and with mail fraud by means of false and fraudulent claims to Medicaid in connection with the use of unlicensed medical personal, billing for medical services not rendered and for billing for medical services which were allegedly provided without any supervision or delegation from a licensed physician.

As a physician’s assistant, Mr. Puig is required to have a licensed physician supervising his work and delegating responsibilities to him. According to allegations in the indictment, in May 2005, Mr. Puig filed a written notice with the Texas State Board of Physician Assistant Examiners fraudulently claiming he would be supervised by a licensed physician in Mission.

Between May 2005 and January 2006, the indictment alleges Mr. Puig provided and attempted to provide medical services at La Hacienda Clinic which were not delegated to him nor supervised by a licensed physician. The indictment further alleges he and Mrs. Puig billed Medicaid for medical services illegally provided by Mr. Puig, illegally provided by unlicensed individuals and for medical services that were never rendered then sent more than 6,000 claims for payment to Medicaid charging in excess of $268,000 for these illegal/ineligible services.

Mr. and Mrs. Puig face up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, if convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud or executing the scheme to commit health care fraud and up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of mail fraud.

The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by the FBI and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Casey N. MacDonald and Special Assistant United States Attorney Rex G. Beasley are prosecuting the case.

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Long-awaited Brooks County Courthouse re-dedication celebrates 96 year-old structure

By ARTURO BALLESTEROS

Built in 1914, the Brooks County Courthouse has served the community despite needing major renovations. Some repairs were made in the 1980’s, but the courthouse has needed serious attention for about a decade. On Friday, February 26, the courthouse opened up with a fresh face after receiving a million-dollar makeover.

The Texas Historic Preservation Program, created in 1999 and funded by the Texas Legislature, made this renovation a possibility. Updates to the building include: a new electrical distribution system, slate roof, accessible elevator, renovated bathrooms, fire alarms, and an improved air conditioning system.

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, whose senatorial district includes Brooks County, commented on the state program that contributed to the courthouse renovation project.

“The Texas Historic Preservation Program intends to preserve and restore Texas’ historic infrastructure. The Brooks County Courthouse is not only a symbol of Texas heritage, it is the county seat and home of county government. This building belongs to the citizens of Brooks County. When we set this money aside in 1999, we wanted to keep these courthouses in operation, serving the people that helped to build them,” Hinojosa said.

The Brooks County Courthouse structure has two cornerstones. The Masonic cornerstone contains the “corn of nourishment,” “the wine of refreshment,” and “the oil of joy,” all dedicated to the welfare and prosperity of Brooks County residents. The county cornerstone contains several U.S. and Mexican coins and a copy of a 1914 newspaper.

Many of the remodeling touches maintain the courthouse’s historical design. Audience seating installed in the courthouse dates back to the early 20th Century. The project received more than $3 million from the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.

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Ethnic last name costs primary election for Republican Texas Railroad Commission leader

By VÍCTOR CARRILLO

Dear Family, Friends, Colleagues, Supporters:

As you now surely know, last night (Tuesday, March 2) I was defeated (61 percent to 39 percent) in my statewide Republican Primary (for Texas Railroad Commissioner) by my opponent, David Porter.

Porter, an unknown, no-campaign, no-qualification CPA from Midland residing in Giddings filed on the last day that he could file while I was waiting in Abilene to bury  my dad. He has never held any elected office, has no geoscience, industry, or legal experience other than doing tax returns for oil and gas companies.

I was handily defeated in spite of spending over $600,000 to do the following:

  • Distribute two direct mail pieces to almost 500,000 Republican primary households;
  • Run a 60-second radio spot on Texas State Radio Network, supplemented by key conservative talk and Christian radio stations;
  • Run ads in several targeted newspapers;
  • RoboCalls to thousands of “Independent” households;
  • Distribute election push cards, website, Facebook page, bumper stickers, letter writing;  and
  • Actively campaign in-person by my campaign staff and me.

Early polling showed that the typical GOP primary voter has very little info about the position of Railroad Commissioner, what we do, or who my opponent or I were. Given the choice between “Porter” and “Carrillo” — unfortunately, the Hispanic-surname was a serious setback from which I could never recover although I did all in my power to overcome this built-in bias.

I saw it last time but was able to win because the “non-Carrillo” vote was spread among three Anglo GOP primary opponents instead of just one. Also, the political dynamics have changed some since 2004.

Many of you have begun to call and/or write to express your concern over the whole situation. You are correct to be concerned over the fact that the GOP (our party) still has these tendencies to not be able to elect or retain highly qualified candidates who WANT to continue serving the public as I do.

It is indeed a shame.

Nevertheless, I refuse to walk away in shame because I know that my team and I did just about all we could have done to ensure that the primary electorate knew of my qualifications, expertise, and experience. The rest was beyond my control.

I also urge party leaders to not alienate the Hispanic/Latino voter in Texas, as we now comprise about 39 percent of the population and we remain the fastest-growing minority group in the nation.

However, none of you should be concerned about me and my family or my staff.

Justin, my dedicated chief of staff and former student, gave up an excellent position to come back to help me through a most difficult time in my personal life with regard to my health and campaign. He remains a trusted friend and advisor and I will do all I can to ensure that he and his dear family are well positioned to allow his true, full potential to shine.

As for me and my family, I have learned much over the last several months of personal tragedy — after my own brain surgery/recovery, the death of my half-brother at Thanksgiving, and the death of my Dad (my best friend) in January.

The specific outcome of my path in life is not in my control, but wholly in the merciful hands of my Lord and Savior.  He, being sovereign, knows what is best for me, and He alone remains in full control!

As for me, it is well with  my soul!

So please don’t fret over my situation! God has known my path from before the beginning of time and He guides my path and I am fully confident that He will work things out for His ultimate glory!

I do, however, seek your continued prayers for my wife (Joy) and my daughters (Laura, Christina, Grace), that they not overly worry about our future. I also covet your ongoing prayers for my 86-year old mother (Alicia), who continues to grieve the loss of her firstborn son and my dad within a six-week time period.

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Casa Linda Homes charged by Attorney General Abbott with defrauding first-time home buyers

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday, March 1, charged a South Texas developer with defrauding first-time home buyers by unlawfully selling houses that were encumbered by undisclosed liens.

The defendant, McAllen-based Grande Valley Homes LLC, which is registered to do business as Casa Linda Homes, both sells and finances residential real estate property. Its business model focuses on first-time home buyers, particularly those with poor credit histories in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Houston areas.

According to the state’s enforcement action, Casa Linda sold residential properties that were encumbered by one of the following liens: a lien for delinquent property taxes; a lien of a third-party lender; or a mechanic’s lien for labor or materials used to improve the property.

Documents filed with the Cameron County District Court indicate that Casa Linda Homes did not disclose the liens when unsuspecting buyers entered into their earnest money contracts. When Casa Linda Homes subsequently failed to pay its undisclosed debt, the creditors who were owed money then instituted foreclosure proceedings or filed lawsuits against the home buyers.

The defendant was able to perpetuate this fraud, in part, because the houses were “owner financed” by Casa Linda Homes. As a result, purchasers were not warned about the undisclosed liens by title companies, because Casa Linda did not require home buyers to purchase title insurance. Thus, the developer could sell the properties without home buyers – particularly inexperienced, first-time home buyers – realizing that their new houses were subject to undisclosed liens.

The Office of the Attorney General has identified multiple Casa Linda properties that are encumbered by undisclosed liens. State investigators, however, believe that the defendant may have improperly sold additional encumbered properties that have not yet been identified. State investigators further believe that Casa Linda has changed its name and is now doing business as First Compass Homes.

Casa Linda Homes told prospective buyers that it would refund clients’ earnest money if their home loan was rejected or if construction of the home was not completed within 240 days of the earnest money’s execution. Customer complaints indicate that, despite its promises, Casa Linda did not always properly refund earnest money.

The state’s enforcement action seeks an injunction that will prevent Casa Linda from selling houses that lack clear title. Further, the state wants to prevent the defendant from selling houses that are not covered by title insurance. The attorney general is also requesting civil penalties of $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Texans who are considering buying a home should:

  • Be wary of sellers who pressure buyers to make an immediate decision to purchase a home or sign any documents;
  • Before signing, carefully review all documents; take them to a trusted independent person, such as an attorney, to help review any terms that are difficult to understand;
  • Make sure a title company is involved in the transaction and independently determines who owns the property and checks for liens or outstanding debts for which the buyer could be held liable;
  • Never make payments in cash. Use checks or money orders; and
  • If monthly payments to the seller or financing institution include homeowners’ insurance and property taxes, check periodically with the county tax assessor and with the insurance company to ensure that the accounts are current.

Texans with additional information about either Casa Linda Homes or First Compass Homes should contact the Office of the Attorney General online at http://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call toll-free at (800) 252-8011.

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Congressman Cuellar votes for jobs bill, which includes tax breaks, approved by U.S. House

By ASHLEY PATTERSON

Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo/McAllen, on Thursday, March 4, helped pass a jobs package in the U.S. House of Representatives that includes $13 billion worth of tax breaks for businesses to hire unemployed workers, plus a payroll tax holiday and increased tax write-offs for the nation’s small businesses.

The package aims to help stabilize America’s small businesses while creating tax incentives to hire new workers.

“This package immediately helps businesses hire unemployed workers while providing tax cuts to keep small businesses alive,” said Cuellar. “As a former small business owner, I understand how valuable these tax cuts are and how tax breaks can be a lifeline to small businesses in these tough economic times.”

The House passed H.R. 2847, the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, by a bipartisan vote of 217 to 201 on March 4. The package provides employers with incentives to hire and retain new employees by exempting employers from paying the employer share of social security taxes in 2010 (6.2% of the first $106,800 in wages) if the new employee had been unemployed for at least 60 days. The bill also provides employers with a $1,000 income tax credit for every new employee they continue to employ for 52 weeks and includes a payroll tax holiday for businesses that hire unemployed workers.

In order to help small businesses recover from economic losses, the bill extends capital expenditure tax deductions up to $250,000 for small business expenditures in 2010. These combined business

tax credits are estimated to create 300,000 jobs nationwide.

“Passing this bill is an immediate measure to help get Americans back to work,” said Cuellar. “In December, the House passed a robust jobs bill and today we’ve worked with the Senate to stop the stalling on the legislation and help American businesses hire new workers.”

In 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided small business tax credits and widespread tax cuts for 95% of all employed Americans. In fact, $4.2 billion in tax cuts went to working families across Texas, including over 274,000 families in the 28th District of Texas.

Two months ago, the House passed the Jobs for Main Street Act to rebuild highways, expand small business lending and support new hires for schools, fire and police departments. The HIRE Act, which passed the House Thursday, is a revised bipartisan jobs bill aimed to provide businesses with immediate tax cuts to hire new workers.

The new package also extends the Highway Trust Fund, allowing tens of billions of dollars in new infrastructure investments nationwide. Texas stands to gain $4.9 billion in highway transportation funds thanks to the extension provided by the bill.

“Our highways in Texas move goods, commerce and agricultural products supporting hard-working Texans, small businesses, ranches and farms,” said Congressman Cuellar. “That’s another reason why this bill is a good gain for Texas.”

Over the next 10 years, the HIRE Act is fully paid-for, as Congress will adhere to strict Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) spending rules authored by the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, of which Cuellar is a member. In February, President Obama signed PAYGO back into law. Similar spending rules are credited with having helped create the fiscal surpluses of the 1990s.

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Congressman Hinojosa passes resolution calling for continued U.S. aid to Chile

By PATRICIA GUILLERMO

Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, on Wednesday, March 10,  stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives vowing continued support for the victims of the February 27, 2010 earthquake and tsunami that took hundreds of lives and has left millions displaced in Chile.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed Hinojosa’s resolution.

“The United States has been quick to respond to Chile’s President Bachelet’s call for help to re-establish communication and to transport humanitarian cargo,” said Hinojosa. “The United Stated stands ready to provide whatever additional aid is necessary to help the victims of this natural disaster.”

The resolution also expresses the House of Representatives condolences for the families of the victims. Millions of families have lost their homes. Hundreds of thousands of families in Chile remain without running water or power. House Resolution 1144 reaffirms the House of Representatives’ commitment to the people of Chile and to aid in their speedy recovery.

“As Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Commerce and International Relations, I am committed working with my colleagues to strengthen our relationship with our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere,” Hinojosa added.

“The people of Chile have come together to help their friends and neighbors rebuild,” he noted. “Today, we want to assure them that we will stand by their side to help as they recover from this tragedy.”

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Much at stake, from increased political power to billions of dollars, for Valley in U.S. Census

By SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

It depends on us whether we get the federal funds Texas deserves by how well we respond to the census that begins April 1.

Unfortunately, California and Texas, two of the most poorly counted states, reportedly will lose the most after the last decennial census count, roughly $1.5 billion and $1 billion respectively over the fiscal 2002 to 2012 period.

Such losses are of particular concern for the border, where we have been traditionally underserved despite our growing population.

I urge every South Texan to fill out the simple forms that let Washington know how many residents live in our area. From the count, it is determined how hundreds of billions of federal dollars are distributed to states and communities like ours.

The U.S. Census Monitoring Board reported in 2001 that PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the nation’s leading accounting firms, estimated that an undercount in the 2000 census would result in a federal funding loss of more than $4 billion in 31 states and the District of Columbia, with a majority of the funds lost ($3.6 billion) in 58 of the nation’s largest counties over the next 10 years.

The study concluded that the funding loss would translate to nearly $3,000 per uncounted person in these counties.

If we could get the full measure of the federal funding for our state, imagine the needed services that might be filled in our area.

The census count also directs how we handle redistricting at state legislatures. From the population count every 10 years, we draw new congressional and legislative districts, so this will be one of our duties during the 82nd Legislative Session in 2011.

As a fast-growth area, we will be competing with other Texas regions—particularly suburban areas—for newly created congressional seats.

The census also has a major impact on the private sector, businesses and manufacturers–from airlines to movie theaters–that make decisions based on demographic data. Accurate data can better assist businesses that are making vital decisions regarding where to add flights or perhaps locate a factory.

For me, there is also a strong element of civic duty in filling out these forms. The census is a Constitutional requirement (Article 1, Section 2) established when President George Washington signed the Census Act in 1790.

My father raised my nine siblings and me to believe in what he termed “Americanism.” He taught that public service, military service, commitment to one’s community, voting and standing up to be counted were mandatory obligations to our country and the price we pay for our participatory government.

It takes fewer than 10 minutes to answer 10 basic questions addressing name, sex, age, date of birth, Hispanic origin, race, household and relationship.

Changes to the reporting process of the Census Bureau and the introduction of the American Community Survey, which collects and produces population and housing information every year instead of every decade, have resulted in a shorter form than in the past, making it easier to fill and send back.

Since we have unique cultural challenges in the border region, whether they be our distinct culture, language barriers, immigration status or the all- too-often sense that our voices along the border do not matter, these issues must be fully addressed through continued public awareness to make sure everyone is counted.

Some localities are using the slogan “wherever you lay your head is where you should be counted.”

This means our Winter Texans and anyone else from outside the area living here during the count should be included.

I join our media, U.S. Census Bureau representatives, local government officials, business heads  and community leaders in working together to achieve the most complete count we have ever had and draw the funding for which our population and tax dollars make us deserving.

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March 12 deadline approaches for nominations for names of new Edinburg school campuses

By GILBERT TAGLE

The Edinburg Consolidated ISD will be accepting nominations through Friday, March 12, for the naming of four new elementary schools, a new middle school, and a new high school now under construction through the School Bond 2008 approved by Edinburg voters on May 10, 2008.

The deadline to submit nominations for new school names is 5 p.m on that date. Recommendations will be taken to the school board for approval at their regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 13.

Nomination forms are available online at http://www.ecisd.us or can be picked up in the superintendent’s office at Edinburg CISD Administration Building, 411 N. 8th St., Edinburg, Texas.

The school board has appointed a “Naming of New Schools Committee” to accept the nominations, review them and submit recommendations to the school board.

The committee has set the following criteria for all nominations:

  • All new schools may be named after the area or subdivision in which they are located or after individuals, living or deceased, who have made significant contributions to the educational program of the district as an educator, a volunteer, or community member;
  • The “Naming of New Schools Committee” will consider various criteria for the selection of a school name, such as the following:
    • Outstanding character and reputation within community;
    • Length of service as an educator or community member;
    • Impact or influence on education or community or service to country;
    • Level of service responsibilities; and
    • Innovativeness as a servant leader

All nomination entries should be addressed to Dr. René Gutiérrez, Superintendent of Schools, and mailed to the Edinburg CISD Administration Building, 411 N. 8th St., Edinburg, Texas 78541 or hand-delivered.

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South Texas College child development center merits prestigious national accreditation

By HELEN J. ESCOBAR

In just its third year of operation, South Texas College’s Mid-Valley Campus Child Development Center has earned accreditation from the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC). STC’s center is the only child care facility in the Rio Grande Valley to have earned this prestigious accreditation.

“The center management and staff worked very hard to meet the rigorous guidelines set forth by NAC and are now reaping the fruits of their hard work,” said Verónica Rodríguez, chair of STC’s Child Development Department, who oversees operations of the center. “Not only is the center a great place for children to grow and learn, but also serves as a tremendous resource for students enrolled in our degree programs. The experiences they have come away with are helping them develop into experts in early care and development.”

The accreditation process included a self-study in which college administrators and staff, as well as parents, evaluated the program in accordance with NAC standards. After the self study process was complete, an onsite observation took place at the center by an early childhood professional. National commissioners assessed the information provided by STC’s center and the onsite observer to determine worthiness for earning the accreditation. Only 47 other child care and day care facilities in Texas have earned the accreditation.

“The accreditation demonstrates the seriousness of our commitment in caring for young children and allowing their parents to continue their education, as well as training students to offer the best childcare possible so that our Valley children can excel,” added Rodríguez. “To earn the merit, our center exceeded state licensing requirements in many important areas, including health, safety, curriculum, student/teacher interaction and parental involvement. Our community should take pride in having such a great facility in its midst.”

Currently, enrollment in the center is open to children of STC students first, followed by STC faculty and staff, and then the community. There are 60 children currently thriving at the center, ranging in age from 18 months to 5 years of age. Plans to expand the center include two additional toddler classrooms beginning in the fall 2010 semester.

For more information about STC’s Child Development Program or Mid-Valley Campus Child Development Center contact Rodríguez at 956/872-7265 or vrodrig2@southtexascollege.edu. For more information about the NAC program, visit http://www.naccp.org.

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Tax preparer Israel González from McAllen indicted for preparing fraudulent tax returns

By ANGELA DODGE

An Hidalgo County area tax preparer on Wednesday, March 3, was indicted for willfully aiding, assisting and advising in the preparation of fraudulent U.S. income tax returns, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and IRS Special Agent in Charge Rodney E. Clarke announced.

Israel González, a tax preparer in McAllen, voluntarily surrendered himself to federal authorities on Tuesday, March 2, 2010.  Later the same day, U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos ordered González released on bond with the condition that he not prepare, counsel or advise on income tax matters or returns.

The public is reminded that an indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

The 16-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on February 24, 2010, accuses González of having prepared numerous 1040 income tax returns for taxpayers for tax years 2004 through 2006 which included fraudulent business expenses on form Schedule C, totaling more than $840,000. Each count of the indictment carries a maximum prison term of three years and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Allen-McCoy.

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Use respectful language: Eliminate the “R-word” in referring to intellectual disabilities

By SEN. JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 3, was National “Spread the Word to End the Word” Awareness Day, offering us a rich opportunity to focus on using respectful language for persons with intellectual disabilities by eliminating the “R-word.”

Our efforts were bolstered recently when an American Psychiatric Association review panel unveiled proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, an influential guidebook in the mental health field. One recommended change favored by the panel is particularly overdue: eliminating all variations of the word “retarded” and replacing them with respectful language referencing persons with intellectual disabilities.

The “R-word” is extremely hurtful and demeaning to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and its use presents significant barriers to community inclusion. State governments are recognizing this belatedly and are progressing toward the universal use of respectful language:

Several states voted recently to remove the R-word from statute. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is considering Rosa’s Law, a bill to eliminate the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor laws.

Texas should not lag behind.

In 2009 I authored legislation that would have required all variations of the word “R-word” to be removed from Texas statutes.

Although Senate Bill 1395 was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, it was never scheduled for a vote. I plan to re-file this respectful language legislation for the next Texas Legislative Session that will convene on January 11.

When it comes to treating persons with respect, Texas should lead by example, and our leaders should too. Recently high-level advisors to Gov. Rick Perry and President Barack Obama were criticized deservedly for using the R-word inappropriately. This is not a partisan issue. It is a matter of human decency.

Eliminating the R-word from our everyday and legal language would reflect our commitment to the ethic of respectful reciprocity, or what many of us know as the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Equally important, it also would reflect the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they would like to be treated. These rules are not only the way we should live our lives, but also are the best approach to public policy.

Sadly, removing outdated and disrespectful language in statutes and in dense psychiatric tomes can take a long time. The revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, for instance, will be the first in 10 years, and the process is not yet complete.

Fortunately, no legislation has to be passed for us to start eliminating the R-word from everyday speech. We can start immediately by talking with our friends and family.

To find out how you can help promote respectful language, visit  http://www.r-word.org/. More than 70,000 persons have visited the site and pledged to support eliminating the R-word in their everyday speech.

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Attorney General Abbott attends U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Chicago gun prohibition law

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Tuesday, March 2, attended oral argument at the United States Supreme Court, which that morning heard the so-called Second Amendment case, McDonald v. City of Chicago.

The landmark case involves a constitutional challenge to the City of Chicago’s prohibitions on handgun possession. Abbott led a national effort to protect all Americans’ right to keep and bear arms by forging a 38 state coalition that defended the Second Amendment and argued that Chicago’s handgun ban is unconstitutional.

The case before the high court on March 2 stems from a legal challenge brought by Otis McDonald, a 76-year-old Army veteran who lives in a high-crime area of Chicago. McDonald was denied a handgun registration certificate by the city. As a result, he is prohibited him from legally possessing a handgun – which he wants to protect himself and his wife in their South Chicago home.

“Less than two years ago, we successfully fought to have the U.S. Supreme Court confirm that Americans have an individual, constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms,” Abbott said. “Now, the City of Chicago claims that the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision does not apply to local governments – so cities and towns can simply ignore the Second Amendment and pass laws that disregard Americans’ constitutionally protected rights. Texas has led the fight to defend the Second Amendment by forging a coalition of 38 state attorneys general who reject Chicago’s attempt to circumvent the Constitution and who understand that all Americans – whether they live in Washington D.C. or not – have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms.”

In 2008, Abbott filed an amicus brief on behalf of 32 states that challenged the constitutionality of a Washington, D.C. ordinance that banned all handguns – and required that rifles and shotguns be disassembled or encumbered by trigger locks at all times. In a landmark decision styled District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court agreed with the attorneys general, declared the federal city’s handgun ban unconstitutional, and held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Abbott’s brief in the McDonald case explains: “The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is a critical liberty interest, essential to preserving individual security and the right to self-defense.”

Despite the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, the City of Chicago contends that Americans’ constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms does not apply to – or place limits on – states or cities. Under the City of Chicago’s argument, law-abiding gun owners are not protected from municipal action that abrogates the constitution – because Chicago argues that the Supreme Court’s Heller decision does not apply to state and local governments.

The states’ brief refutes that argument by explaining that the Fourteenth Amendment applies the Second Amendment to cities, counties and other local governmental bodies across the country.

“Just as local governments cannot constitutionally act as ‘laboratories’ for initiatives to abrogate their citizens’ right to free speech or their freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, nor can they nullify the fundamental right to keep and bear arms secured by the Second Amendment,” the attorneys general wrote in their Supreme Court brief.

If Chicago’s unconstitutional gun ban were allowed to stand, the attorneys general explained, “millions of Americans will be deprived of their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as a result of actions by local governments, such as the ordinances challenged in this case.”

The states’ amicus brief acknowledges that some firearms regulations are permissible, including in circumstances where they are necessary to prevent violent felons from owning guns.

Abbott’s brief is co-sponsored by Ohio, Arkansas and Georgia.

Other states that joined the brief are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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Gov. Perry grants posthumous pardon for innocence to Tim Cole, who died in prison

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday, March 1, granted a posthumous pardon for innocence to Tim Cole after receiving a recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

“I have been looking forward to the day I could tell Tim Cole’s mother that her son’s name has been cleared for a crime he did not commit,” Perry said. “The State of Texas cannot give back the time he spent in prison away from his loved ones, but today I was finally able to tell her we have cleared his name, and hope this brings a measure of peace to his family.”

Cole was serving a 25 year sentence for aggravated sexual assault of Michele Jean Murray when he died from an asthma attack in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on December 2, 1999.

DNA testing later proved he was innocent.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to recommend the posthumous pardon for innocence. Additionally, Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney Matthew Powell and Lubbock Chief of Police Dale Holton have written letters in support of a posthumous pardon. The victim has also supported Tim Cole’s family in obtaining his exoneration.

The authority for a governor to grant a posthumous pardon was uncertain until January 7, 2010, when Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion stating that a governor may grant a posthumous pardon.

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Five University of Texas – Pan American alumni honored at “Pillars of Success” exhibition

By GAIL FAGAN

Nearly 200 family members, friends, faculty, staff and students came together on February 19 to celebrate the opening of the “Pillars of Success” exhibition, which features the photos and the success stories of five distinguished alumni that will be on display in the university’s Visitors Center for the next two years.

This is the fourth class of honorees who are selected by the President’s Executive Committee from a list of nominees recommended by a Visitors Center Exhibits Committee comprised of faculty and staff.

Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said the Visitors Center has housed 11 exhibits since it opened in 2002 and has had more than 200,000 visitors, including thousands of Rio Grande Valley students.

“We keep this display up for a period of two years because we want our visitors and students to know what this university is producing – outstanding graduates. These Pillars of Success stand as role models for paths we want our students to follow,” he said.

Each inductee or their representative talked about the university’s role in their success after being introduced by UTPA President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, who welcomed them back to their alma mater.

The 2010 honorees are as follows:

Gustavo De La Viña, chief patrol agent (retired), United States Border Patrol.

An Edinburg native, De La Viña, earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1963 and served as an educator before entering the U.S. Border Patrol in 1970. Over the next 34 years, he rose to lead a number of Border Patrol Sectors across the country and assumed the position of chief of the U.S. Border Patrol in 1997, serving until his retirement in 2004. He was the first Mexican-American to achieve that position. De La Viña’s initiatives include Operation Gatekeeper, which added infrastructure, technology and more agents along the border to discourage illegal immigration, and the Border Safety Initiative, which systematically advised border residents of the dangers of illegal crossings saving thousands of lives since its inception. De La Viña, who passed away suddenly late last year after his selection as an honored pillar, was represented by his daughter Dina and other family members.

Dr. Dana González, obstetrician and gynecologist, Victoria (Texas) Women’s Clinic.

A child of first-generation, Mexican-American migrant farm workers, González was raised in Alamo and aspired to be a doctor while attending the South Texas High School for Health Professions where she ranked third in her class. While in high school, she became a single mother but with encouragement from family and educators continued her dream of a medical career. She was accepted into the Premedical Honors College Program at UTPA, where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1998. González went on to obtain her medical degree at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She is currently practicing in Victoria, Texas as the city’s only Mexican-American, bilingual ob/gyn.

Dr. Anil Menon, president, Globalization and Smart+Connected Communities at Cisco Systems Inc.

After earning an MBA from then Pan American University in 1984, Menon launched his career to become a global corporate leader. In his current role, Menon co-leads a cross-Cisco team in the corporation’s globalization efforts around Smart+Connected Communities, focusing on services-led solutions in safety and security, real estate, energy and transportation. He is responsible for utilizing new business models, solutions and a global ecosystem in these efforts. Menon previously led IBM’s corporate strategy in IBM growth markets and was also a successful academic and business consultant, providing services to worldwide corporate giants such as Coca-Cola and Sony Corp. among many others. Currently on the job in his native country India, Menon was represented at the ceremony by Jackie Michel, a former colleague of Menon and current director of Innovation and Intellectual Property at UTPA.

Javier Palomarez, president and CEO, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

One of the nation’s pre-eminent multicultural sales and marketing executives, Palomarez is a thought-leader and strategist on the issues affecting consumers, particularly the Hispanic community. One of 10 children raised in a single parent household in South Texas by his mother, Palomarez did migrant farm work and learned English as a second language. A high school dropout, he earned a GED and later worked his way through college to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance at UTPA. He began his career at Allstate Insurance Company where he helped initiate the industry’s first fully-integrated, nationwide Hispanic marketing, sales and service campaign. He later worked at Sprint as assistant vice president for Marketing and Public Relations and most recently at Ing Financial Services as vice president of Multicultural Marketing.

Tim Tully, president and founder, Southwest Precision Printers, L.P.

A Dallas native, Tully attended Pan American University in 1968 with a baseball scholarship, playing on the 1971 championship team under acclaimed coach Al Ogletree. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, Tully started a career as a sales representative in a reprographics company owned by a college friend’s father. He ventured out on his own in 1975 to start Southwest Precision Printers in Bellaire, Texas. That company, which he leads as president, is now the largest independent commercial printing company in Houston, providing services worldwide and winning countless awards for printing quality and graphic excellence.

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South Texas Literacy Coalition inducts 2010 Officers

By RICARDO CONTRERAS

The South Texas Literacy Coalition (STLC) inducted it’s new officers in December during its annual holiday social held at the University of Texas-Pan American. The STLC, established in 2008, is a nonprofit organization working to enhance learning opportunities for all of South Texas (Region One Service Area) by insuring all children and families have access to strong integrated literacy services and resources.

The 2010 officers, nominated and elected by their peers, are as follows:

  • President – Laura Hinojosa, Hidalgo County District Clerk
  • President Elect – Dr. Dahlia Guerra, Dean College of Arts & Humanities, UTPA
  • Vice President – Dr. Ida Acuña, Abriendo Puertas, Texas A&M
  • Secretary – Ricardo Contreras, Administrator, Hidalgo County District Clerk’s
  • Treasurer – Letty Leija, Library Director, Dustin Sekula Memorial Library

“It is an honor to serve my community in this capacity alongside a group of such dedicated individuals” said Hinojosa, STLC President. “I look forward to working with our members, community leaders, and business partners in fostering a culture of literacy to improve the lives of families in South Texas.”

At the conclusion of the induction ceremony, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) presented $2,500 grant awards to fifteen organizations in the area which will help support Family Literacy Nights or Family of Readers training programs in their respective communities. Grant funding was made available by The Meadows Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on improving the quality of life for Texas families.

“We want to thank RIF and The Meadows Foundation for their partnership and contributions which will help to enhance our literacy efforts,” said Guerra, STLC President-Elect. “These grants will aid in helping parents develop the skills to take a leading role in their children’s reading and help communities bring families together through literacy.”

Grant recipients include the following programs:

Family Literacy Night Recipients

  • HIPPY Rio Grande Valley (Edinburg)
  • Hubert R. Hudson Elementary School (Brownsville)
  • Barrientes Middle School (Edinburg)
  • Mercedes Early Childhood Center (Mercedes)
  • John H. Shary Elementary School (Mission)
  • Stephen F. Austin Elementary School (Edinburg)
  • Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary School (Edinburg)
  • Kappa Delta Pi (Edinburg)

Family of Readers Training Recipients

  • San Benito Consolidated Independent School District (San Benito)
  • Texas State Technical College Harlingen (Harlingen)
  • Region One Education Service Center (Edinburg)
  • Brownsville Independent School District (Brownsville)
  • Workforce Solutions (McAllen)
  • Pharr Literacy Project (Pharr)
  • San Perlita Independent School District (San Perlita)

To learn more about the STLC or its partners, log on to:

http://www.southtexasliteracy.org

http://www.rif.org

http://www.mfi.org

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