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Former Councilmember Eddie Cisneros-Johnson arrested on DWI, firearm, drug charges in McAllen

Edinburg school board president Carmen González on Tuesday, April 8, drew pieces of paper containing the names of fellow trustees Greg García, Jr. and Robert Peña, Jr. to determine the new length of their terms of office. The drawing of the names was authorized by a controversial new state law, according to school board attorney Jacques Treviño, that will eventually result in all seven school board trustees having their terms of office increase to four years from its current three-year length, and switch the month for school board elections to November from May. García, Peña and trustee Jaime Chavana have objected, contending the state law was voluntary, not mandatory, and that voters in the school districts should be the only one with the power to make those changes. González and the other three school board trustees say the new state law required the changes, whether they agree with the results or not, and that view has been supported by the Texas Attorney General and the Texas Secretary of State. The school board attorney, seen here, coordinated the drawing, which will be broadcast beginning of Friday, April 11, on the school district’s television channel on cable 17. García and Peña did not attend the special board meeting that was scheduled specifically for the drawing. See story later in this posting.

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Fern McClaugherty of Edinburg, a community activist who looks out for waste in government, on Tuesday, April 8, urged the Edinburg school board and area voters to reject two school construction bond issues that will be on the May 10 ballot. She express her sentiments with a card bearing the following theme against the two proposals, which involve almost $150 million in new debt: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Supporters of the bond issue contend that the bond election will provide facilities needed to improve educational attainment. Proposition 1 includes building four (4) elementary schools, two (2) middle schools; converting Harwell Middle School into a fourth high school; three (3) multi-purpose fine arts centers at each of the existing high schools; Brewster School addition/renovations, and land acquisition for a total of $111,920,000. Proposition II includes $37,675,000 of 1998 Lease Purchase Bonds to be converted into Series 2008 voter authorized IFA supported bonds.

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South Texas College is a winner of the 2008 MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award. The announcement was made Tuesday, April 8 at the American Association of Community Colleges annual convention held in Philadelphia. The other national winner is The Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland. As part of the award, each college receives a $30,000 grant to continue creating and implementing effective strategies for aiding underrepresented students, as well as using data to target and assess strategies to improve student outcomes. The two colleges were chosen based on their ability to demonstrate determined leadership, innovative programming and attention to outcomes. The result: clear improvements in meeting the varied learning needs of low-income, first-generation, immigrant and working students. Representatives from South Texas College accept the MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award. From left are Roy de Leon of the STC Board of Trustees, President Shirley A. Reed, and Irene García, chair of the STC board. See story later in this posting.

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Democrat Criss champions civil rights, equal justice as controversy faces GOP-led Texas Supreme Court

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Dolia González, mother of Edinburg war hero Alfredo “Freddy” González, is comforted by Gov. Rick Perry as they both look at the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, the state’s highest recognition for valor, which was posthumously bestowed upon the national war hero by Perry at an historical event at Cats Stadium on Monday, February 4 – the 40th anniversary of the young Marine’s death in action in Vietnam. “The story of Freddy González will be told as long as there is a Texas,” the governor said. Featured, from left, are: Commander R. Alistair Borchert, Commanding Officer of the USS González, a $900 million guided missile destroyer named in honor of the Edinburg native son; Dolia González; the governor; Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; former Texas Longhorn head coach Fred Akers, for whom González played quarterback when Akers was head coach for the Edinburg Bobcats; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Edinburg school district superintendent Gilberto Garza, Jr.; and Letty Garza, KRGV-TV anchorwoman who served as the the mistress of ceremonies. See story later in this posting.

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Hundreds of area residents looked on from the stands at Cats Stadium in Edinburg on Monday, February 4, to bear witness to a ceremony honoring the late Marine Sgt. Alfredo “Freddy” González as a Texas hero. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, a former U.S. Marine squad leader in Vietnam, was one of the dignitaries to participate in the event. Hinojosa was a high school quarterback for his hometown of Mission and he remembered playing against González, the quarterback for Edinburg’s only high school back in the 1960s. “I am very proud of Freddy González, and of his mon, who gave up her son so we can enjoy our freedom,” Hinojosa said. “As I stand on this football field today, I can feel Freddy’s spirit. From this community, we produce people who are young, raised by our families, but who are willing to become adults and fight for our country. For us, there would be no freedom, no America, if it were not for people like Freddy González.” See story later in this posting.

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Janiece Longoria, a daughter of the late Sen. Raúl Longoria, a longtime Democratic political leader in Hidalgo County, on Friday, February 1, was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, to the University of Texas Board of Regents for a term to expire February 1, 2011. Longoria, who was raised in Pharr before leaving the Rio Grande Valley to attend the University of Texas at Austin and the UT Law School, currently resides in Houston as a partner in the law firm of Ogden, Gibson, Boocks & Longoria, L.L.P. She succeeds Robert Estrada of Dallas, whose term had expired. Estrada is formerly of Brownsville.Fittingly, her first meeting as a UT regent was held in Edinburg on Wednesday, February 6 and Thursday, February 7, when the governing board held one of its rare session out of Austin. See story later in this posting.

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Place 4 City Councilmember Alma A. Garza, who also serves as mayor pro-tem, on Thursday, January 31, asked hundreds of her friends and family members at her campaign kick-off at the ECHO to support her bid for a new, three-year term during the May 10 city elections. She noted that the city’s continuing strong economy – low unemployment rates, major new commercial and residential projects, strong retail and medical performances – is among the many good reasons for voters to keep her in office. Garza will be facing Johnny Rodríguez, CEO of Austin Personnel Services of Edinburg, who is making his first run for elected office. “We have 100 days until May 10 – 100 days to run this election,” she rallied her troops. “I take nothing and no one’s vote for granted. Please note that in the next 100 days I will be runing con todo mi corazón (with all my heart). See story later in this posting.

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Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, grills officials with the Texas Department of Transportation, disputing the agency’s claims that it no longer has necessary funding to continue work on public roads, though it continues to spend tax money to support toll projects. “I am dismayed that the legislature didn’t receive accurate information regarding TxDOT spending,” Zaffirini said on Tuesday, February 5, during a joint legislative hearing in Austin of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Transportation Committee. “It is crucial that we get to the bottom of this, as projects across the state are being delayed or cancelled.” To her left is Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and to her right is Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan. See story later in this posting.

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