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Photograph Courtesy MARCI CALTABIANO

About 300 11th-grade high school students and their fathers and/or mentors from throughout South Texas participated in the Together in Educational Success (TIES) conference at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in early April. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, along with the City of Edinburg, promote the best interests of UTRGV and the UTRGV School of Medicine though its extensive legislative lobbying efforts before the UT System Board of Regents, the Texas Legislature, and Congress.

Photograph Courtesy MARCI CALTABIANO

Possible action on several current and new job creation strategies being considered by the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation will take place beginning at noon on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 in the Council Chamber at Edinburg City Hall, the EEDC has announced. The two items scheduled to be deliberated in open session are interlocal agreements with the City of Edinburg regarding Project Domain and the city’s soccer park. In executive session, the following issues will be reviewed: Project Urban; Project Grindstone; the monumentation at the North Industrial Park; Project Square; Project Quest; and a development agreement with VICA Enterprises, L.P.

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Project Domain, city’s soccer park to be reviewed in open session at City Hall on Tuesday, April 26 during monthly meeting of Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Possible action on several current and new job creation strategies being considered by the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation will take place beginning at noon on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 in the Council Chamber at Edinburg City Hall, the EEDC has announced.

The EEDC, of which Agustín Garcia, Jr., is the Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

The meeting, which is open to the public, also will be televised live and available on videotape on the Edinburg Cable Network.

The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members.

Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor Richard García are not related.

The two items scheduled to be deliberated in open session are:

• Discuss and consider authorizing the Executive Director to enter into an Interlocal Agreement with the City of Edinburg regarding Project Domain; and

• Discuss and consider authorizing the Executive Director to enter into an Interlocal Agreement with the City of Edinburg regarding the City’s soccer park.

In executive session, where under state law the EEDC Board of Directors and its staff meet are allowed behind closed doors in a conference room located behind the Council Chamber, the following issues will be reviewed:

• Deliberate authorizing the Executive Director to enter into a Development Agreement with Project Urban;

• Deliberate authorizing the Executive Director to enter into a Development Agreement with Project Grindstone;

• Deliberate authorizing the Executive Director to enter into an Agreement regarding the monumentation at the North Industrial Park;

• Deliberate possible action regarding Project Square;

• Deliberate possible action regarding Project Quest; and

• Deliberate authorizing the Executive Director to enter into a Development Agreement with VICA Enterprises, L.P.

According to the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, closed, or executive sessions, may be held by a governmental body in certain situations.

Executive sessions are permitted when a body is meeting with its attorney on litigation or a settlement offer; deliberating personnel matters; deliberating the purchase or lease of property; discussing certain financial contract negotiations; or discussing deployment of security devices.

The aliases given to the economic development projects – such as Project Domain, Project Quest, etc. – are also allowed by state law in order for the city to encourage business prospects to engage in more detailed negotiations that can lead to the creation of more jobs.

Once a decision is made, the actions must be announced during the public portion of the EEDC board meeting, and most, and details regarding those actions, including contracts, are available to the public.

Several other exceptions to open meetings are also contained in the Texas Open Meetings Act.

UTRGV WELCOMES 300 MALE STUDENTS AND FATHERS TO “TOGETHER IN EDUCATIONAL SUCCESS (TIES)” EVENT ON EDINBURG CAMPUS

About 300 11th-grade high school students and their fathers and/or mentors from throughout South Texas participated recently in the Together in Educational Success (TIES) conference at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg for a day of learning and male empowerment.

The EEDC, along with the City of Edinburg, promote the best interests of UTRGV and the UTRGV School of Medicine though its extensive legislative lobbying efforts before the UT System Board of Regents, the Texas Legislature, and Congress.

TIES, hosted April 8, 2016, by UTRGV in partnership with the Region One Education Service Center (ESC) “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs” (GEAR UP), is part of a series of TIES events that Region One ESC GEAR UP conducts with its partner institutions of higher education. (Others include Texas A&M University–Kingsville and Texas A&M International University.) This is the third consecutive year that the event has been hosted on the Edinburg Campus.

While the general theme of the TIES program promotes physical fitness, leadership, educational attainment and following one’s dreams, this year’s TIES event had a special focus: the field of criminal justice.

Participants were welcomed by Ricardo L. López. Jr., Education Specialist for GEAR UP: Ready, Set, College! Partnership, Center for Excellence in College & Career Readiness, Region One Education Service Center; Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTRGV Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs; and Richard Sánchez, Assistant Vice President for Governmental Relations.

Rodríguez is a former member of the Board of Directors for the EEDC.

Attendees also heard an inspirational message from Sabas Quiroz, a 2006 GEAR UP graduate and a 2010 UTPA graduate. Quiroz went on to pursue a law degree from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and graduated in 2014.

Throughout the afternoon, divided groups attended four breakout sessions, which were followed by the TIES Showcase, in which partnering agencies highlighted the different equipment and resources used in their respective lines of duty to fight and solve crime.

Presenters included:

• Edinburg Fire Department;
• Edinburg Police Department;
• McAllen Police Department;
• Region One ESC GEAR UP;
• Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
• UTRGV Health and Environmental Safety;
• UTRGV Information Security, in collaboration with Infragard and ISC2;
• UTRGV Police Department;
• UTRGV Criminal Justice Department;
• UTRGV Criminal Justice Student Organization; and
• UTRGV Recruitment.

The line-up of assets included the Texas DPS helicopter; the DPS tactical marine unit (TMU); McAllen Police Department Forensics Lab Unit; and the Edinburg Police Department’s T3 Segway, among others.

Presenters and exhibitors provided information regarding pathways for entering their respective fields, the various careers available, career requirements, benefits/disadvantages within their field, what a day in the field is like, and other applicable information.

The Division of Governmental and Community Relations event organizers said they were pleased with the high turnout, unique exhibits and numerous partnering, and credited the many partners and attendees for the success of TIES 2016.

MORE ON THE TEXAS PUBLIC INFORMATION ACT AND TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT

Several other exceptions to open meetings are also contained in the Texas Open Meetings Act.

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas strives to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in public and works to protect the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment, according to its website (http://foift.org).

The organization assists individual citizens, journalists and government officials through educational seminars, an annual conference and a speakers bureau. FOIFT also file briefs in important legal cases addressing open government and freedom of speech and press. It’s FOI Hotline connects Texans with volunteer attorneys who explain open government laws. The FOIFT’s Light of Day project teaches college students how to use public records in their reporting. It is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.
Also according to the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas:

Texas Open Meetings Act

The Texas Open Meetings Act is detailed in Chapter 551 of the Government Code. It states that governmental bodies must hold open meetings unless there is an authorized reason for a closed session, also known as an executive session.

Key provisions of the act are as follows:

Covered Entities

Governing boards, commissions, agencies and other bodies created within the executive and legislative branches of government are subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act. Commissioners courts, city councils, school boards and certain nonprofit corporations providing public services or spending taxpayer money are among the entities covered. Certain property owners’ associations also are subject to the law.

Quorum

A quorum refers to a majority of members of a governing body, unless a quorum is defined differently by an applicable law or rule or charter of the body. A quorum must be present for the body to take action.
Posting of Notice

The governmental body must give the public notice of the date, time, place and subject of an upcoming meeting. The notice must be posted in a place readily accessible to the general public at all times at least 72 hours before the meeting. In case of an emergency or “urgent public necessity,” a meeting notice or addition to a meeting agenda may be posted at least two hours prior to the meeting. The governmental body must clearly identify the emergency.

Other Exceptions to Posting Law

Boards or commissions with statewide jurisdiction must have their meeting notice posted on the Internet by the secretary of state at least seven days before a meeting. Committees of the Texas Legislature are not subject to the meeting notice rules above. Their rules are set by the Texas House and Senate.

Closed Sessions

Closed, or executive, sessions may be held by a governmental body in certain situations. Executive sessions are permitted when a body is meeting with its attorney on litigation or a settlement offer; deliberating personnel matters; deliberating the purchase or lease of property; discussing certain financial contract negotiations; or discussing deployment of security devices. Several other exceptions to open meetings are also contained in the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Deliberations Between Meetings

Under a new provision of the act that took effect September 1, 2013, members of a governing body are allowed to communicate with one another about public business between meetings if they do so in writing and on a publicly accessible online message board. The message board must be prominently displayed and easy for the public to find on the government entity’s website. Officials may not take action on the message board. That must wait for a posted meeting.

Video Conferencing

The Texas Open Meetings Act now allows for members of a governmental body to attend a public meeting via a video conference call. The head of the board or commission must be physically present in the designated meeting place and the public must be given access to that meeting space. The public must be able to witness the comments and actions of those officials attending the meeting remotely via audio and video equipment and be able to participate via the videoconferencing just as they would at a traditional public meeting.

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Jennilee Garza, Marcia Caltabiano, and Jennifer McGee contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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