Select Page

The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Thursday, August 25, gave final approval for the construction of a $42.6 million, 1,000-seat performance arts center at the UT-Pan American – a highly-anticipated decision that has been long in coming. But it comes just in time for the Edinburg City Council’s and Edinburg Economic Development Corporation’s planned and dramatic transformation of the community’s vital downtown and university corridors, says Mayor Richard García. “This is excellent timing because in a few months, we will be soliciting public bids from qualified firms for our planned make-over of West McIntyre Street into a beautiful, pedestrian-friendly, environmentally-enhanced corridor that will help existing businesses and attract new shops and venues to serve thousands of residents and visitors who will come to our downtown and university” said the mayor. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, a principal legislative architect in helping secure state funding for the complex, emphasized the positive impact of the approved project. This facility will attract supporters of the arts, quality performers and outside visitors. These benefits will also radiate into the community in other ways,” said Hinojosa. “I am confident this will be a top-notch performing arts center that will bolster the local economy by attracting jobs and investment, and enrich the cultural life of the Rio Grande Valley. Investments like these are particularly beneficial because they help boost UT-Pan American’s profile in the region.” See story later in this posting.

••••••

With several members of his immediate family looking on, local healthcare and produce businessman T.C. Betancourt on Monday, August 23, officially announced his candidacy as a Democrat for state representative, House District 41, which includes southwest Edinburg. He noted that Republicans, who control the Texas Legislature, approved state budget cuts and legislative redistricting plans last spring that cost South Texas billions of dollars in critical funding over the next several years. “I intend to work hard to create good-paying jobs, affordable healthcare and offer more people the ability to access the education they want,” Betancourt said. “These are the opportunities and benefits that I have provided our employees and families in Hidalgo County for the past decade. I can be trusted to fight for the people of South Texas.” Featured with him, from left, are his wife, Ana, formerly of Mission, and his parents, Mary and Lupe Betancourt. T.C. and Ana Betancourt have twin sons – Aiden and Tristán, and he has two brothers – Lupe III and Joel – and one sister, Candy Martínez. See story later in this posting.

••••••

The 2011-2012 Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors met on Thursday, August 11 at Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance to review short- and long-term plans to enhance events and programs produced by that organization. Johnny Rodríguez will step down as chairman and welcome Edna Peña on October 15 at the chamber’s Annual Banquet at the Echo Hotel and Conference Center. “I am very excited about our new board of directors. I feel that we have a great group of individuals who are passionate about the chamber and the city of Edinburg,” said Peña. “I look forward to serving as the 2011-2012 chairman and am excited for what is to come.” Featured promoting the announcement of the chamber’s new leadership are, standing from left: Alex Ríos; Johnny Rodríguez; Edna Peña; Marty Baylor; Letty González; Naomi Perales; Jacob De León; and Marty Martin Seated, from left: Elva Jackson Garza; Maggie Kent; and Dina Araguz. Not pictured are Lucy Canales; Gus Casas; Marissa Castañeda; City Councilmember Elías Longoria, Jr.; Robert Lucio; Robert McGurk; Edinburg Municipal Court Judge Toribio “Terry” Palacios; and Cris Torres. More information on the local chamber is available by calling 956/383-4974 or logging on to http://www.Edinburg.com

••••••

The Women’s Business Center honored Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa with the “Community Advocacy Award” on Friday, August 26, at the 2nd Annual Women’s Business Summit held at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen. Hinojosa was honored for being an outstanding community leader and for his dedication to improving the lives of women. “My hat goes off to women, because I know that women work much harder than men do,” Hinojosa said. María “Charo” Mann, executive director of the WBC, said “Sen. Hinojosa has been an outstanding supporter of woman issues here in the Rio Grande Valley and fought the good fight during this past legislative session. We are very honored to have such a leader among us.” The Women’s Business Summit was a day-long event providing useful information to business professionals, entrepreneurs, and aspiring business owners. The event’s theme was “Creating Strategies for Today’s Successful Woman” and topics such as Access to Capital, Marketing, Productivity and Leadership motivated attendees. For more information about the Women’s Business Center, visit http://www.wbc-rgv.org. Featured, from left: Sylvia Zamponi, Lower Rio Grande Valley SBA district director; Catalina Madrigal-Rupert, TXU Energy community relations manager; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; María “Charo” Mann, Women’s Business Center executive director; and Alma Ortega-Johnson, Wells Fargo Upper Valley president.

••••••

All aboard! Get on track with the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Depot Restoration committee and efforts to preserve the historic train depot, located at 602 W. University Drive. The Hobo Hap’nin Reunion will bring to life one of the most successful events and fundraisers that brought the community together for one common purpose. The event is scheduled for Saturday, September 17, starting at 6:30 p.m. filled with live entertainment, live and blackboard auctions and a scrumptious dinner. Featured promoting ticket sales to the Hobo Hap’nin Reunion are members of the 2011-2012 Depot Restoration Committee. From left are: Letty González; Elva Jackson Garza; Flo Prater; Maggie Kent; Marty Martin; Edna Peña; and Vivian Martin.

••••••

The Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) held their annual convention in Irving August 25 through August 27. The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, headquartered in McAllen, was honored as the Medium Chamber of the Year. In addition, Pepe Cabeza de Vaca, publisher of Socialife magazine, was honored as the Business Man of the Year.  The awards were given out at the annual Chairman’s Gala on August 26.  The RGV Hispanic Chamber was recognized for their work on issues that impact small business, education, legislative affairs, women, and health. It was noted that the RGVHCC had also extended their services to the entire Rio Grande Valley.  This makes the 10th award in the past 12 years from the Texas State Chamber that the RGVHCC has received. “We are extremely proud to be able to represent the Rio Grande Valley.  Due to the economic hardships, it has been hard at times to put forth our program of work, but our dedication to our membership is what has kept us going,” said Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president and CEO of the RGV Hispanic Chamber. Cabeza de Vaca, who also is a member of the RGVHCC, was publicly recognized for successfully guiding his publishing interests, which now are circulated in Starr County as well as Hidalgo County, plus he has added health and kids social magazines. “We are extremely proud that a member of our chamber would be honored with such an honor,” Sakulenzki emphasized.

••••••

Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, and Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, whose legislative districts include Edinburg, are noting the economic influence of the performance arts complex, whose auditorium is featured in this rendition, and other upcoming academic and physical improvements to the largest state university south of San Antonio. “The completion of the fine arts center and the other major investments by the UT System are going to have a deep and lasting impact in our community,” said Peña. “Young people interested in pursuing careers in medicine, science, technology and the arts will have some wonderful tools at their disposal.” Peña was the coauthor of House Bill 153, supported by the Valley state legislative delegation, that included hte funding for the facility. “Good things come to those who wait,” Gonzáles said. “It took a while for monies we secured years ago to fund this project to become a reality, but it will definitely be worth the wait.  UTPA is one of the finest educational institutions in this state and it deserves a top-of-the-line Fine Arts Center.  The benefits it will bring not only to students, but to all our community will be endless.” See lead story later in this posting.

••••••

New UTPA performance arts center part of Edinburg’s plans for dynamic transformation of downtown region

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Thursday, August 25, gave final approval for the construction of a $42.6 million, 1,000-seat performance arts center at the UT-Pan American – a highly-anticipated decision that has been long in coming.

But it comes just in time for the Edinburg City Council’s and Edinburg Economic Development Corporation’s planned and dramatic transformation of the community’s vital downtown and university corridors, says Mayor Richard García.

The UTPA Fine Arts Academic and Performance Complex, scheduled for substantial completion by October 2014, will replace the aging Fine Arts Auditorium and Fine Arts Annex.

The project will involve the demolition of some existing facilities and the renovation of others. The demolition is expected to begin in August 2012 with construction beginning in October 2012.

It will have long-range positive benefits that will extend far beyond the campus as it plays a major role in the continued socioeconomic growth of Edinburg.

“This is excellent timing because in a few months, we will be soliciting public bids from qualified firms for our planned make-over of West McIntyre Street into a beautiful, pedestrian-friendly, environmentally-enhanced corridor that will help existing businesses and attract new shops and venues to serve thousands of residents and visitors who will come to our downtown and university” said the mayor.

García on Thursday, August 25, praised the action taken shortly after 12 noon in Austin by the UT System regents, which authorizes the creation of the state-of-the-art, 60,000-square-foot UTPA Fine Arts Academic and Performance Complex. The full board’s approval followed the recommendation the previous afternoon by that group’s Facilities Planning and Construction Committee.

Working with state and university leaders to establish a first-class performance arts center at UT-Pan American has been one of the legislative priorities for the mayor, the Edinburg City Council, and the EEDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the city council.

“It makes me feel accomplished and proud, and thankful for our entire Valley legislative delegation, who have been crucial for this and our many other legislative successes in Austin and Washington, D.C.,” said García, who also serves as president of the five-member EEDC Board of Directors.

The mayor singled out Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, for the vital role the veteran state lawmaker played in securing the state financing for the complex.

“Sen. Hinojosa helped lead the charge for us in Austin,” recalled the mayor, noting that Hinojosa was the driving force in the spring of 2006, when the Texas Legislature was at work during a special session at the State Capitol. “He was the principal legislative architect who made the state financing possible for this landmark project.”

The state senator successfully attached an amendment to a statewide tuition revenue bond bill. His effective move provided the needed financing mechanisms to pay for the performance arts complex, which represents one of the largest infusions of financial resources by the state for new construction at UTPA.

Complex to attract jobs and investments to Edinburg

Hinojosa emphasized that the positive impact of the performance arts complex.

“This facility will attract supporters of the arts, quality performers and outside visitors. These benefits will also radiate into the community in other ways,” said Hinojosa. “I am confident this will be a top-notch performing arts center that will bolster the local economy by attracting jobs and investment, and enrich the cultural life of the Rio Grande Valley. Investments like these are particularly beneficial because they help boost UT-Pan American’s profile in the region.”

The August 25 official approval by UT System regents solidifies plans by city leaders, who envision the complex – which will be located on the southwestern portion of campus – as a showcase anchor for the city’s downtown revitalization strategies.

Edinburg’s two other state lawmakers – Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, and Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, also noted the economic influence of the performance arts complex and other upcoming academic and physical improvements to the largest state university south of San Antonio.

“The completion of the fine arts center and the other major investments by the UT System are going to have a deep and lasting impact in our community,” said Peña. “Young people interested in pursuing careers in medicine, science, technology and the arts will have some wonderful tools at their disposal.”

Peña was the co-author of House Bill 153 – the legislation which contained Hinojosa’s amendment that provided the funding for the performance arts complex – which Peña, along with Gonzáles, Hinojosa and the rest of the Valley legislative delegation – voted for in May 2006.

HB 153 also included $6 million for the construction of the Starr County Upper Level Center, which opened its doors in September 2010, Peña added.

“Good things come to those who wait,” Gonzáles said. “It took a while for monies we secured years ago to fund this project to become a reality, but it will definitely be worth the wait.  UTPA is one of the finest educational institutions in this state and it deserves a top-of-the-line Fine Arts Center.  The benefits it will bring not only to students, but to all our community will be endless.”

Rebirth of key link to UTPA

A key element to the city’s downtown improvement efforts includes a visionary rebirth of West McIntyre Street.

That roadway runs from the city’s main fire station – located two blocks immediately east of Edinburg City Hall – westward to Dr. Miguel Nevárez Drive (Fourth Street), which will herald the entrance to the UTPA Fine Arts Academic and Performance Complex.

Plans for the West McIntyre Street improvements, which will be paid for from federal and local resources – including financial contributions from the EEDC – will feature the addition of outdoor lighting, pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, trees and related landscaping, art sculptures and water features.

West McIntyre also will be linked to an anticipated multi-modal transportation system that will serve as the headquarters for proposed bus services and light rail.

The EEDC is investing significant financial resources into the McIntyre Street project, including $500,000 from the EEDC’s operating budget later this fall, according to Nelda T. Ramírez, the EEDC’s Interim Executive Director.

Most of the EEDC’s funds are generated from the collection of the 1/2 cent local economic development sales tax.

Highlights of the new annex

“Today is a great day for our students, this university and our community. We have been working on this for a long time. We are grateful to the regents and chancellor for allocating the funds to make this project possible. We also appreciate the support we received from our legislative delegation that represents our Valley and the university’s needs so ably,” said UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen. “Our students will not only have the top of the line facilities they deserve to practice and perform in, but our community will have an auditorium that will provide a state-of-the-art venue for music and dance performances.”

The complex will add a total of nearly 14,500 square feet of space for UTPA’s fine arts programs which will allow the university to accommodate 453 music and dance majors, up from the current enrollment of 320, and 44 faculty members, up from the current 38.

The architectural firm for the project is Page Southerland Page from Austin.

Also according to the UT System:

The scope of the project, revised to align the design program with new budget considerations, will include demolition of the existing Fine Arts Auditorium and Fine Arts Annex, and the construction of a new performing arts center of approximately 60,000 gross square feet (GSF).

The center will consist of a mid-sized theater designed for approximately 1,000 audience members with accessible seating dispersed throughout and four rehearsal facilities with an audience capacity of between 95 and 140 seats each.

The lobby will accommodate events to include seated dinners.

Restroom, food concessions, circulation, and other audience amenity areas will reflect modern audience expectations for a commercial venue and will be sized to accommodate all theater patrons before and after performances.

The scope of work for the Fine Arts Music Buildings B and C will include the associated demolition of existing interior space with full interior renovations of Building C and renovation of the second floor of Building B to meet the academic program requirements. Renovation will consist of life safety, code, and accessibility upgrades; new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); new interior space reconfigurations; new interior architectural finishes; and new roofing.

Basis of Design

The planned building life expectancy includes the following elements:

• Enclosure: 50-75 years;
• Building Systems: 15-20 years; and
• Interior Construction: 10-15 years.

The exterior and interior appearance and finish are consistent with similar commercial level state higher education performing arts centers and are aligned with the Campus Master Plan. The mechanical and electrical building systems are designed to ensure an appropriate audience experience.

Project financing mechanisms

The project was originally proposed in August 2006 at a cost of almost $50 million, but has undergone revisions that have brought the cost down to the $42,696,000 approved by the regents. To fund the project, $39,796,000 will come from tuition revenue bond proceeds and $2,900,000 will come from the state’s Higher Education Assistance Fund (HEAF).

On August 10, 2006, the project was included in the CIP (Capitol Improvement Plan) with a total project cost of  $49,745,000 with funding of $39,796,000 from Tuition Revenue Bond Proceeds and  $9,949,000 from Revenue Financing System Bond Proceeds.

On May 10, 2007, the UT System Board of Regents designated the project as architecturally significant.

On December 10, 2009, the board revised the scope of the project; revised the funding to $39,796,000 from Tuition Revenue Bond Proceeds, $7,049,000 from Revenue Financing System Bond Proceeds, and $2,900,000 from HEAF; removed the special interest designation; and appropriated funding.

On November 11, 2010, the board revised the scope of the project and redesignated the project as new construction.

The final amount budgeted for the facility, as approved by the UT System regents on August 25, was $42,696,000. The sources of the funding are $39,796,000 from Tuition Revenue Bond proceeds and $2,900,000 from the state’s Higher Education Assistance Fund (HEAF).

According to the House Research Organization, which is the research arm of the Texas House of Representatives, tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) are issued by institutions of higher education for which future revenue (tuition and fees) is pledged for repayment of the bonds. The Legislature must authorize bond issuance, and bond proceeds generally are used to fund institutional construction, renovation projects, equipment, and infrastructure.

The Higher Education Assistance Fund (HEAF) was created as a counterpart to the Permanent University Fund by constitutional amendment (Article VII, Section 17) to the Texas Constitution in 1984, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Since September 1, 1985, these funds have provided assistance to most public universities that were outside the University of Texas and Texas A&M Systems which do not have access to the Permanent University Fund – such as UT-Pan American – to acquire land, construct, equip, repair or rehabilitate buildings or other permanent improvements; and acquire capital equipment, library books.

(Gail Fagan contributed to this story.)

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. It’s five-member governing board, which is appointed by the Edinburg City Council, includes Mayor Richard García as President, Dr. Glenn Martínez as Vice-President, Fred Palacios as Secretary-Treasurer, Felipe García, and Mark S. Peña. For more information on the EEDC and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://www.EdbgCityLimits.com

••••••

UT-Pan American to share in $30 million plan to bolster education, operations in South Texas

By MATT FLORES

The Board of  Regents of The University of Texas System on Thursday, August 25, approved a $30  million plan to expand educational programs, recruit faculty and bolster  operations at UT institutions in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and South  Texas.

“With over one-third of all UT System students attending institutions in South Texas, it is easy to see  how important this region of the state is to higher education,” regents’ chairman Gene Powell said. “Therefore, investments such as the one the board is making in this region are vital not only to ensuring a more robust higher education experience for students, but for enhancing health care to  a chronically underserved area of the state. It is through those efforts that the UT System can  enrich lives and promote a more vibrant community for generations to come.”

“We believe this to be a  transformational investment in the region’s institutions which will greatly  enhance education and health care, giving the Lower Rio Grande Valley and  South Texas a substantial boost in how it educates and trains future  professionals in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine,” said  UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. “What I love about this plan is it will  have an impact on classrooms from K-12 all the way up to the doctorate  level in higher education.”

The plan is part of a UT System initiative aimed at expanding programs and improving operations  across its 15 institutions, and was presented to regents as part of Cigarroa’s framework action plan for advancing excellence over  the next several years. Funding for projects will be disbursed beginning in  Fiscal Year 2012, which starts on September 1.

“This is a pivotal moment  in history for the Rio Grande Valley — when a strategic and focused  investment by the UT System can play a transformational role in helping shape  its destiny,” said Juliet V. García, president of UT Brownsville. “And that destiny is  directly tied to that of the entire state of Texas. There can be no greater  return on investment than one that targets the development of human  capital.”

The long-term plan for the  Lower Rio Grande Valley and South Texas includes:

  • $4 million to establish UTeach programs  in STEM education and engineering at UT Pan American and UT Brownsville;
  • $9.5 million to establish a faculty  recruitment program to attract exceptional STEM faculty and researchers to UT System institutions in the Rio Grande Valley;
  • $10 million to establish a Simulated  Teaching Hospital – a joint endeavor with UT Pan American, UT Brownsville  and the Regional Academic Health Centers (RAHC), which is part of UT Health  Science Center-San Antonio;
  • $4 million to establish a Biomedical  Research Program – a joint endeavor with UT Pan American, UT Brownsville, the UT Regional Academic Health Center, and the Laredo Regional campus, which is part of the UT Health Science Center-San Antonio, and the Regional School of Public Health in Brownsville, which is part of UT Health Science Center-Houston;
  • $1.5 million to establish a stronger  foundation for medical education by expanding the number of residency  opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley for existing and future medical  students; and
  • Up to $1 million to strengthen  philanthropic efforts and UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American through the  Strength in Numbers program.

“The Lower Rio Grande  Valley Initiative is a true game-changer for the Valley, and I do not use  that term lightly,” said Robert S. Nelsen, president of UT-Pan American. “We at UT-Pan American are extremely grateful to the regents and the chancellor for the investment that the UT System is making in our community. We look  forward to working closely with UT-Brownsville, South Texas College and  others to fulfill the promise of this initiative and improve the quality of  life for Valley residents.”

Dr. Kenneth I. Shine, the UT System’s executive vice chancellor for  health affairs, said the plan is expected to dramatically improve health  care in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, which for decades has been chronically underserved.

“This plan will respond to  unmet needs in health care as well as improve opportunities for economic development in the region by enhancing the education of the health care  workforce, including physicians, and strengthening research in diabetes and  obesity,” Shine said.

••••••

T.C. Betancourt of Edinburg announces bid for House District 41 state representative

By BRIAN GODÍNEZ

Local healthcare and produce businessman T.C. Betancourt on Monday, August 23, officially announced his candidacy for state representative, House District 41, which includes southwest Edinburg.

He will be filing as a Democrat for the March 2012 party primary nomination.

McAllen attorney Roberto “Bobby” Guerra, formerly of Edinburg, has also publicly announced his plan to seek the Democratic Party nomination for the seat.

Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, has previously announced his plans to seek the Republican Party nomination for that post. The GOP primary will also be held in March 2012.

Betancourt conducted a press conference from his conference room at his healthcare office in Edinburg, Elite Rehab Services. With the new district lines drawn up by the last legislative session, District 41also includes portions or all of  McAllen, Mission, Sharyland, Palmhurst and Pharr.

Betancourt is seeking the legislative seat because he believes that it is time to focus on caring for the people of the district. He noted that Republicans, who control the Texas Legislature, last spring approved state budget cuts and legislative redistricting plans that cost South Texas billions of dollars in critical funding over the next several years.

“I intend to work hard to create good-paying jobs, affordable healthcare and offer more people the ability to access the education they want,” Betancourt said. “These are the opportunities and benefits that I have provided our employees and families in Hidalgo County for the past decade. I can be trusted to fight for the people of South Texas.”

During the press conference, he was surrounded by friends, neighbors, business colleagues, employees and his family, including his parents and wife, Ana, formerly of Mission, and their twin boys, Aiden and Tristan.

“I believe that I have the experience, necessary resources and energy to run a strong campaign and get our message out into the community,” Betancourt said. “We can change the way things are.”

Betancourt believes that his years in healthcare and agriculture have provided him with many opportunities to see and learn first-hand how the political and government system operate – what works and what doesn’t work.

“I have been listening to what our district needs. I have the skills, energy and determination to successfully work with the state’s top leadership, including the Valley legislative delegation, so our communities receive our fair share of Texas’ financial resources,” he contended.

Betancourt was born and raised in the Edinburg-McAllen area and is a product of the Edinburg CISD school system and graduated from Edinburg North High School in 1995. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Agriculture Science from Texas A&M University Kingsville in 1998 and 2002 respectively. In addition, he earned an MBA from University of Texas – Pan American in 2006.

T.C. and Ana Betancourt started Elite Rehab Services six years ago, a regional outpatient therapy clinic specializing in occupational and speech services. In addition, they provide their clients with nutritional and social services. They service pediatric and adult clients throughout the South Texas area and San Antonio. He is also involved in the operation of Betancourt & Co., a local-area produce company.

He is active and involved in groups that are affiliated with the advocacy of the healthcare providers on both the state and national level.

He serves as Vice-President of the Out Patient Independent Rehab Association and is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is also a member of Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association.

(David A. Díaz contributed to this article.)

••••••

Edinburg’s June 2011 retail economy shows  26 percent growth over same month in 2010

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

Edinburg’s retail economy in June 2011, as measured by the amount of local and state sales taxes generated by a wide range of local businesses, was up 26.06 percent over the same month last year – once again the best improvement among the Valley’s largest communities.

In June 2011, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,566,171.55 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,242,389.38 in local sales taxes produced in June 2010.

The June 2011 sales tax figure represents June sales reported by monthly tax filers, and April, May and June sales reported by quarterly filers.

The city’s latest economic barometer also was better than the statewide average of 10.3 percent, and better than the 7.84 percent average of all cities in Hidalgo County.

McAllen, the retail sales leader for the Valley, showed a 1.65 percent improvement in June compared with the same month in 2010, while Brownsville – which has the most population of all Valley cities – reported a 2.67 percent jump in retail sales activities for June 2011 compared with June 2010, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Harlingen, which is ranked fourth in city population in the Valley behind Brownsville, McAllen, and Edinburg, respectively, was up six percent in June 2011 over the same month last year.

Among the other larger communities in Hidalgo County, Pharr showed a 7.68 percent improvement, Mission reported a 9.61 percent increase, while Weslaco was up 11.32 percent in June 2011 compared with June 2010.

For the first six months of 2011, Edinburg’s retail economy is up 13.53 percent over the same period in 2010, the state comptroller’s office reported.

Shopping locally pays off for all

Mayor Richard García, who also serves as president of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation’s five-member Board of Directors, reflected on the importance of a prosperous local retail sector.

“We hear about other communities that are having to look at different things, such as raising property taxes because of the drop in their local sales taxes,” the mayor told a gathering at the Edinburg Industrial on Thursday, August 11, at the ribbon cutting for MAXIMUS, which is set to hire 400 local residents for its new call center by the end of 2012.

“We are very fortunate to be the one community that is leading the charge in growing a record pace, compared to other cities with economic woes right now,” García said.

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

It collects and administers the local one-half economic development sales tax for numerous economic development priorities.

He noted the leadership roles played by the Edinburg City Council in successfully influencing economic growth policies in the city, recognizing the presence of Councilmember Elías Longoria, Jr. – himself a former member of the EEDC Board of Directors – at the MAXIMUS ceremony.

“It’s just another example of how our community is able to shop Edinburg, that our people realize that it makes a difference for us to stay within our own hometown, supporting our local businesses, our restaurants, our grocery stores,” said Longoria. “We see that impact in these state reports. Our future continues to look bright.”

Eight straight months of improvements

Edinburg’s continuing positive showing, documented by the state comptroller’s office, also represents the eighth consecutive month that the city’s retail economy showed improvements over those same months the year before, said Nelda T. Ramírez, EEDC’s interim executive director.

“These latest state findings about our growing retail economy allows the EEDC to reinvest our local economic development sales tax revenue into major projects and public policies, in conjunction with the Edinburg City Council and other top city leaders, that are designed to continue building a prosperous city and improving the quality-of-life for all our citizens,” said Ramírez.

Among many key projects, some of this increased sales tax revenue will be used to help pay for the construction of a secured facility that will allow small and large aircraft, for the first time, to clear passengers and cargo at the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg, she added.

Edinburg’s June 2011 retail economy showing is part of a continuing positive trend documented by the state comptroller of public accounts.

In May 2011, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,194,491.73 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,088,198.03 in local sales taxes produced in May 2010.

In April 2011, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,181,367.28 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,124,172.20 in local sales taxes reported in April 2010.

In March 2011, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,672,045.16 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,425,614.92 in local sales taxes reported in March 2010 – an improvement of 17.28 percent.

In February 2011, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,127,941.23 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,069,450.28 in local sales taxes reported in February 2010, reflecting a 5.46 percent improvement.

In January 2011, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,313,889.30 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,079,226.86 in local sales taxes reported in January 2010 – a 21.74 percent improvement.

In December 2010 – the crucial holiday shopping period – Edinburg set a record for the amount of local monthly sales taxes collected – $1,724,220.34 – which was an 11.2 percent improvement over the same month in 2009, when $1,550,742.56 in local sales taxes were collected, according to the state comptroller’s office.

In November 2010, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,137,280.35 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,035,902.80 in local sales taxes reported in November 2000 – for about a 10 percent improvement.

Statewide retail economic activities

Also according to Texas Comptroller Susan Combs:

State sales tax revenue generated in June was $1.86 billion, up 10.3 percent compared to June 2010.

“This marks the 16th consecutive month of increased state sales tax revenue,” said Combs.  “The strong growth was again primarily in business spending in areas such as the oil and gas sector and manufacturing.  Sales tax revenue from restaurants also showed gains.”

From the $1.86 billion in state sales tax revenue generated in June, Combs in August sent the local sales tax portion – totaling $606.7 million –  to cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts, up 9.1% percent compared to June 2010.

Under the reporting system used by her office, the local and state sales taxes generated on retail sales in June 2011 were reported to the state comptroller’s office in July. On Wednesday, August 10, the state comptroller’s office sent back the local sales tax portion – called a rebate – to the cities in which the retail sales were made.

For details of June sales tax revenue and the rebates from that month sent in August to individual cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts, locate the Monthly Sales Tax Allocation Comparison Summary Reports on the Comptroller’s Web site at http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo
/allocsum/compsum.html. The Comptroller’s next sales tax allocation will be made in September.

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. It’s five-member governing board, which is appointed by the Edinburg City Council, includes Mayor Richard García as president, Dr. Glenn Martínez as vice president, Fred Palacios as secretary/treasurer, and Felipe García and Mark S. Peña. For more information on the EEDC and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://www.EdbgCityLimits.com ;

••••••

Edinburg man sentenced to prison in connection with Texas Syndicate gang crimes

By ANGELA DODGE

Six Texas Syndicate members and associates have been sentenced to prison for racketeering, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, kidnapping and possession with intent distribute cocaine, United States Attorney José Ángel Moreno announced on Tuesday, August 30.

At a hearing on Monday, August 29, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa sentenced the chairman of the Texas Syndicate in the Rio Grande Valley, José Ismael Salas, 40 of Edinburg, to 20 years in federal prison without parole for drug trafficking offenses in violation of the racketeering statute.

Salas pleaded guilty on April 2, 2009, admitting to committing two acts of racketeering, namely two separate acts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance – six kilograms of cocaine on Aug. 12, 2004, and 39 kilograms of marijuana on March 28, 2003, intending to further the goals of the gang.

Five other members or associates of the gang were also sentenced on August 30 by Hinojosa, including Fidel Valle, 45 of Donna – the source of drug supply to the gang who employed gang members to assist in his drug distribution business. He received 126 months imprisonment for possession with intent to distribute six kilograms of cocaine.

On July 28, 2009,Valle pleaded guilty to the federal felony drug charge acknowledging that on August 12, 2004, upon being contacted by Salas, Valle agreed to sell approximately six kilograms (approximately 13 pounds) of cocaine to Salas’ associates. That drug load was found and seized by law enforcement officers during a traffic stop of a Ford pickup seen leaving Valle’s residence in Donna on August 12, 2004.

Romeo Rosales, 41 of Raymondville – an admitted Texas Syndicate gang member who was convicted of kidnapping Amancio Pinales-García – was sentenced to 151 months imprisonment. Reyes, son-in-law of the kidnapping victim, sought a monetary reward to turn over Pinales-García to unknown subjects in Mexico. Pinales-García was shot several times in the low torso during the struggle and subsequently died in Mexico. Rosales pleaded guilty on March 3, 2009, to kidnapping Pinales-García.

Noel De Los Santos, 33, of Donna, was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment for violent crimes in aid of racketeering, that is, for the murder of Crisantos Morán on March 20, 2003. According to trial testimony, Morán had been ordered by the Texas Syndicate to kill a rival gang member who lived near Peñitas. De Los Santos and José Armando García, both Texas Syndicate gang members, agreed to accompany Morán to commit the murder. However, Morán failed to carry out the order as given. Instead, De Los Santos and García shot and killed Morán for failing to carry out the order. On August 10, 2010, García was convicted of racketeering and violent crimes in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to life in prison on January 5, 2011.

Cristóbal Hernández, 31, and Arturo Rodríguez, 28, both of Brownsville, were sentenced to 120 and 240 months imprisonment, respectively, for violent crimes in aid of racketeering arising from the murder of Marcelino Rodríguez in June 2007. After members of the Texas Syndicate obtained a copy of a sealed court document from an employee of a McAllen area law firm which represented Marcelino Rodríguez in a federal case, the murder of Marcelino Rodríguez  was approved by the leadership of the Texas Syndicate.

Hernández and Arturo Rodríguez were recruited by Raúl Galindo to commit the murder. Galindo shot Marcelino Rodríguez in the back of the head while Arturo Rodríguez set the vehicle on fire with gasoline.

On August 10, 2010, Galindo was convicted of violent crimes in aid of racketeering and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant. On January 5, 2011, Galindo was sentenced to life imprisonment.

All six of the defendants sentenced on August 29 are in federal custody and will remain in custody pending transfer to Bureau of Prisons facilities to be designated in the near future.

All 13 charged in this case have been convicted and sentenced to prison. Juan Pablo Hinojosa, who was convicted by a federal jury of racketeering and violent crimes in aid of racketeering, was sentenced to life imprisonment on January 5, 2011.

On January 28, 2010, Benjamín Piedra pleaded guilty to violent crimes in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to 120 months confinement and three years of supervised release on February 22, 2011.

Adán Roberto Ruiz pleaded guilty to criminal information charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, while Jorge Puga pleaded to a criminal information charging him with possession with intent to distribute 39 kilograms of marijuana. Ruiz and Puga received 52 and 37 months, respectively.

Joel Carcaño Jr. pleaded guilty providing false statements – admitting he lied to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents when he falsely stated he did not provide a copy of downward departure motion to Texas Syndicate members. This document was used as the basis to order the murder of the government’s informant. On February 22, 2011, Carcano was sentenced to 52 months custody and a three-year-term of supervised release.

The investigation leading to the federal charges and subsequent conviction of these admitted Texas Syndicate gang members was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Robert Wells, Jr. prosecuted the case.

••••••

Former District Attorney investigator arrested in investigation related to Judge Limas case

By ANGELA DODGE

A former Cameron County District Attorney’s Office investigator, who was also former state Judge Abel Limas’ bailiff, has been indicted and now arrested, United States Attorney José Ángel Moreno announced on Wednesday, August 24.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

The sealed indictment charging Jaime Munivez, 47, of San Benito, with five criminal counts arising out of the Abel Corral Limas public corruption investigation, was unsealed on August 24 following his arrest earlier that morning by FBI agents with the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Border Patrol, Brownsville Police Department and the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department.

The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on July 19, 2011, charges Munivez with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841 and 846, and with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right and extortion under color of official right, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951 and 2 (The Hobbs Act).

According to allegations in the indictment, Munivez served as an investigator for the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office. Criminal charges arose from his alleged activities during his time as an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office from October 2007 to February 2008, including the receipt of $10,000 in exchange for a fraudulent drug forfeiture document provided by Munivez to José Manuel Longoria in an effort to assist certain individuals whom they believed were engaged in narcotics trafficking and related activities.

Munivez served former Judge Limas as a bailiff for the 404th District Court before joining the District Attorney’s Office.

Longoria is currently charged in a separate indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841 and 846, and with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right and extortion under color of official right, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951 and 2 (The Hobbs Act). He is currently scheduled for trial October 6, 2011.

Munivez made his initial appearance on August 24 before U.S. Magistrate Recio who set $75,000 bond and scheduled an arraignment hearing was set for Thursday, September 1, at 1:30 p.m.

Munivez faces a maximum prison term of 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to five years on the Hobbs Act counts, if convicted. He faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life and a fine of up to $10 million if convicted of the drug conspiracy charge. It is expected that the case will be set for trial later this year before U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen.

The charges are the result of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Brownsville Police Department. Munivez is the 9th person charged to date as a result of this investigation. Assistant Unite States Attorneys Michael Wynne,  Óscar Ponce, and Jody Young are prosecuting this case.

••••••

Rio Grande City man sentenced for importing undocumented immigrant girls for prostitution

By ANGELA DODGE

Juan Antonio García-Garay, 32, of Rio Grande City, was sentenced on Wednesday, August 24, to the statutory maximum of 120 months imprisonment for importing undocumented immigrant girls for prostitution, conspiracy to harbor and harboring aliens, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced, along with Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in San Antonio.

U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane also sentenced two co-defendants, Juan Ignacio Chavarria-Ontiveros, 26, of Mexico, and Antonio Martínez Jr., 38, of Rio Grande City, to 84 and 87 months, respectively. Following their release from prison, all three will also serve a three-year-term of supervised release.

“Today’s sentencing of all three defendants should resonate loud and clear throughout our immigrant community,” said Robinette, “ICE will continue to aggressively identify and assist victims of human trafficking and apprehend and present for prosecution those abusers who engage and profit from these crimes.”

The defendants went to trial and were convicted in June 2011. García-Garay was convicted of importing aliens for prostitution, conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and harboring illegal aliens. Chavaria-Ontiveros and Martínez were convicted of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and harboring illegal aliens.

During trial, the jury heard testimony of a Rio Grande City officer that on March 16, 2011, during a traffic stop the officer encountered the driver, García-Garay, and Chavirra-Ontiveros and a 13-year-old juvenile female as passengers. The officer learned that the juvenile was in the country illegally and contacted Border Patrol (BP).

While asking routine questions of the unaccompanied minor, BP agents learned about the child being used for prostitution purposes. ICE-HSI agents were contacted and their investigation identified the 13-year-old and two other females, ages 15 and 18, who were undocumented immigrants who had been harbored at two apartments and a house in Rio Grande City.

These juveniles testified that they had been prostitutes in Mexico and García-Garay had asked them to come and work in the United States. They testified he coordinated their travel and that while they were at the apartments and house, they had sex with the defendants and other men. The girls were promised money upon their return to Mexico.

Chavarria, who was armed, acted as a guard at the apartments always looking out the window and Martínez rented the apartments and lived in the home where the juveniles were harbored.

A fourth defendant, Jorge Eutacio Martínez-Mendoza, 46, previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to harbor charges and was sentenced on Wednesday, August 18, 2011, to 51 months for his role in the conspiracy which was to guard the minors when they were at Martínez’ house.

All defendants have been in custody since their arrest where they will remain pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

The case was investigated by ICE-HSI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kimberly Leo and Kristen Rees.

••••••

Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramón receives CERA designation

By KARINA CARDOZA

Hidalgo County Commissioners’ Court on Monday, August 22, recognized Yvonne Ramón, Elections Administrator, for her designation as a Certified Elections/Registration Administrator (CERA). This award is the highest designation available to elections and voter registration officials.

CERA designation is achieved through a multi-year course of study conducted by The Election Center’s Professional Education Program and completion of twelve core courses taught by the Master’s in Public Administration faculty of Auburn University in Alabama.

The courses range from ethics, to voter registration and elections law, planning, communications, and voter participation, among others.  The intent of the program is to professionalize the management of voter registration and elections administration in promoting and preserving public trust in the democratic process.

“This is the highest designation available to elections and voter registration officials,” said R. Doug Lewis, director of the Center. “Of more than 21,000 elections and voter registration officials throughout America, this graduating class of 88 professionals takes us to 677 election officials who have achieved the CERA status. This is an outstanding accomplishment.”

Ramón, who was appointed by the commissioners’ court in September 2008, received her certification at a ceremony conducted in San Antonio in mid-August. Ramón completed a total of 12 core graduation courses in less than three years to obtain her CERA status, and is now one of only 677 election officials nationwide who have achieved this distinguished certification.

“It is my great honor to assure that the public’s will is accurately reflected in our elections,” Ramón said. “I see my role to dignify all potential voters and to remove as many barriers as possible to participation in the democratic process. Our office cannot be responsible for how many actually turn out for each election, but we can certainly be sure that they have the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted accurately.”

The Professional Education Program is sponsored by The Election Center, a non-profit association of voter registrars and elections administrators throughout America.  Its membership is comprised of township, city, county and state elections officials.  The Center’s primary purpose is education for local and state voter registrars and elections officials to promote and improve the democratic process.

••••••

Tickets remain on sale for September 17 fundraiser to preserve historic Edinburg Depot

By EVANA VLECK

All aboard! Get on track with the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Depot Restoration committee and efforts to preserve the historic train depot, located at 602 W. University Drive.

The Hobo Hap’nin Reunion will bring to life one of the most successful events and fundraisers that brought the community together for one common purpose. The event is scheduled for Saturday, September 17, starting at 6:30 p.m. filled with live entertainment, live and blackboard auctions and a scrumptious dinner.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at the Chamber office or from Depot Restoration Committee members and board of directors. Tickets are $75 per “hobo”.

“I want to invite all of our local business owners from Edinburg and the surrounding communities to get excited about being a part of preserving a one of kind and historic building,” said Johnny Rodríguez, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors. “It takes all of us working together to ensure that the Southern Pacific Train Depot stands for generations to come.”

According to historic records, on January 11, 1927, the first Southern Pacific train rolled into Edinburg. In February 1927, the Southern Pacific Railroad began passenger service.

The Depot goes back to a time when Valley residents were able to ride the train to a vacation destination, travel on business or to visit with family and friends. The Depot served as a freight depot until 1982, and through the years welcomed many dignitaries, such as first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Truman and artist José Greco.

In recent years, Gov.  Rick Perry and local state officials such as Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, have visited with the staff, board of directors and other volunteers.

“A special thanks is owed to several chamber and city leaders that had the vision and understood the importance of purchasing and restoring the Southern Pacific Railroad Station that is now fondly called ‘The Depot’, said Elva Jackson Garza, chairwoman of the Depot Restoration Committee.

In 1994, the Edinburg Industrial Foundation purchased the building with a $400,000 grant from the Texas Department. of Transportation, and the City of Edinburg matched it with a $100,000 grant.

Subsequently, three previous Hobo Hap’nin’s have raised more than $1 million that were invested to refurbish and restore the facility.

In 1997, the Depot opened its doors as the home of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, Edinburg Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and Edinburg Economic Development Corporation

••••••

Joint Senate-House committee to hold public hearing on improving higher education systems

By WILL KRUEGER

The Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency will hold its first public hearing at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21, in Room E1.036 of the Texas Capitol, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, has announced.

Co-Chaired by Zaffirini and Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, the committee was created by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, to ensure that governing boards follow best practices when developing and implementing policy, look for major policy decisions to be adequately vetted and discussed transparently, and protect the excellence and high quality of the state’s institutions of higher education.

Zaffirini and Branch also chair the standing higher education committees of their respective chambers.

Other House members appointed by Straus are Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton; Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-San Antonio, Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, and Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.

Other Senate members appointed by Dewhurst are Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin.

“Higher education oversight is critical because our colleges and universities are among Texas’ most important assets,” Zaffirini said. “They not only equip our future leaders to be lifelong learners, but also conduct nationally recognized research, thereby expanding knowledge, creating new technologies and positioning Texas at the forefront of the knowledge-based economy.”

“I thank the Speaker and the Lt. Governor for the opportunity to serve, and for assembling a team of  thoughtful legislators who care deeply about the importance of higher education in Texas,” Branch said. “Governance of our universities is important because, in so many ways, higher education will set the course for the future of our state.”

••••••

Hispanic media in the U.S. showing gains and losses compared to English-language media

Spanish-language media remains important to the nation’s growing and changing Hispanic population. And in the last year, this media sector tended to fare better overall than the mainstream English-language media, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Hispanic newspapers overall lost circulation in 2010, but not nearly to the extent of the English-language press. (English-language dailies saw a five percent decline for the six-month period from March to September 2010 compared with the same period the year before.)  And daily Hispanic papers grew circulation by 1.9 percent. The financial picture seems to have improved as well in the last year.

Spanish-language television had an even more positive year. Univision’s audience continued to grow and now competes with – and in some time slots outpaces – audiences for ABC, CBS and NBC. Indeed, between Univisión and Telemundo (and all of their stations), the 2010-2011 season is projected to bring in $1.5 billion in ad revenue.

Hispanic radio and magazines also showed growth. The number of Spanish-language radio stations grew eight percent for the most recent year we have data (from 1,224 in 2008 to 1,323 in 2009), and magazine ad spending increased in 2010. There are several ways to measure ad spending and revenue, and looking across all of these calculations, PEJ puts Spanish-language magazine ad revenue growth at about five percent in 2010.

On the digital front, while Hispanic Americans do not access the internet at the same rates as other Americans, there is growth, and bilingual Latinos are already heavily online.

This study is the latest edition to the ethnic chapter of the State of the Media 2011 annual report.  The State of the Media 2011 is the eighth edition of PEJ’s annual report on the health and status of American journalism.

Among the findings:

  • The total number of Hispanic newspapers remained stable in 2010 (832 versus 835 in 2009), according to the Latino Print Network. And the largest cohort – weekly publications – grew by 18 to 117 papers;

    • While daily audited newspapers grew circulation in 2010, weeklies saw a 2.5 percent decline to 11.08 million. This was still better performance than seen in English-language newspapers. Less than-weeklies dropped slightly, 0.6 percent, to 4.92 million;

  • Univisión has plans to launch a 24-hour news network, Univisión 24/7. The channel is expected to debut sometime in 2012. While details on the channel have yet to be released, it will be distinct from Univisión’s existing cable channel Galavisión and will draw heavily on the strength of Univision’s current news division;
  • Bilingualism seems to have led to less Spanish-language television watching, though viewing there is still strong. Almost a quarter of Hispanics who speak mostly English at home, 24 percent, watch one to three hours of Spanish-language TV a day, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.
    Still, among those who mostly speak Spanish at home, 40 percent watch one to three hours of Spanish-language TV a day and another 26 percent watch more than three;

    • Univisión Radio took steps in 2010 to solidify its place in the radio market. In April 2010,Univisión Radio began to format more of its radio broadcasts so that Arbitron could collect audience ratings-a key metric used by advertising agencies and major advertisers;

    • Bilingual and English-dominant Latinos are far ahead of Spanish-dominant Latinos in many measures of digital usage. Spanish-language Latinos are significantly less likely to use the Internet, have a home internet connection, have home broadband access, or have a cell phone than English-dominant and bilingual Latinos, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. But internet usage among Spanish-dominant Latinos has increased from 36 percent in 2009 to 47 percent in 2010; and

  • The digital divide between Latinos and whites remained in 2010. About two-thirds of Latino (65 percent) and African American (66 percent) adults went online in 2010, compared with 77 percent of white adults. And only 45 percent of Latinos have broadband access at home, compared with 52 percent of blacks and 65 percent of whites.

The report, Hispanic Media: Faring Better than the Mainstream Media, can be accessed on the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellent in Journalist website.

The Pew Hispanic Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism are projects of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!