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Rep. Peña says Mission PD could be breaking the law by withholding videotape of Eddie Sáenz’ DWI arrest


With just a few days before Hispanics cast their votes in the March 4 Texas primaries, a new poll released on Wednesday, February 27, showed Sen. Hillary Clinton with a commanding 41 point lead over Sen. Barack Obama. A new Latino Decisions Texas Poll found that Hillary leads her opponent among registered Latino voters in Texas 62% to 21%, with 15% undecided. The poll also shows that in head to head general election match-ups, Clinton outperforms Obama against John McCain by a margin of two to one. “While we are taking nothing for granted and working hard to earn every vote, Senator Clinton have a strong relationship with the Hispanic community in Texas dating back to 1972,” said Congressman Solomon Ortíz, D-Corpus Christi. “She’s been working with the community for 36 years, and they understand that she’s been tested, is fighting for them, and that she’s the candidate who has the best chance of beating John McCain in November.” See story later in this posting.



Chelsea Clinton, 27, daughter of President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton, is flanked by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, as she rallied hundreds of her family’s supporters during a campaign swing on behalf of her mother in Edinburg on Saturday, February 23. Clinton, who was hosted by Edinburg attorney Ramón Garcia outside his office, reminded voters of her family’s deep ties to South Texas. Both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, are seeking the March 4 Texas Democratic Party primary nomination for president. Both presidential candidates have promised to support the construction of a Veterans Hospital in the Valley if they are elected president.



Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton, who grew up in front of America when her father, President Bill Clinton, served eight years in the White House, poses with another potential future political candidate during Chelsea’s campaign swing into Edinburg on Saturday, February 23. Chelsea was 12 years old when her father was elected president. Her mother, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, are seeking the March 4 Texas Democratic Party primary nomination for president. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, former Hidalgo County Judge Ramón Garcia of Edinburg, and Edinburg school board president Carmen González were among the dignitaries who greeted Chelsea at the rally.



With Sen. Barrack Obama, D-Illinois, showing strength among younger voters in his battle against Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, for the Texas Democratic Party nomination for president, the Saturday, February 23 appearance in Edinburg by Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, is drawing support from the former First Daughter’s own generation. Hundreds of Edinburg residents, including these avid supporters, showed up to greet Chelsea during her campaign swing on behalf of her mother in downtown Edinburg. Hillary Clinton and Obama are seeking the March 4 Texas Democratic Party primary nomination for president. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, former Hidalgo County Judge Ramón Garcia of Edinburg, and Edinburg school board president Carmen González were among the dignitaries who greeted Chelsea at the rally.



Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa, featured left, and Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, stand proudly with Sen. Barrack Obama, D-Illinois, during the Democratic presidential candidate’s swing through Edinburg on Friday, February 22. The two area Democratic leaders are among a select few who have chosen to endorse Obama against Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-Illinois, in the tight race in Texas for the March 4 primary nomination, along with Edinburg School Board Trustee Robert Peña, Jr. On Wednesday, February 27, Obama also picked up a major endorsement from Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, a leading candidate for Speaker of the House in the Texas Legislature. See related story on the Thompson endorsement later in this posting.

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Sen. Obama, who has risen against all odds, urges thousands in South Texas to do the same


Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on Friday, February 22, brought his presidential campaign to the University of Texas-Pan American, where he urged the crowd to believe that the impossible is within their reach, to dare to think big. “Yes, we can! Si se puede,” Obama said. “Texas, this is our moment, this is our time. If you are willing to work for me, I promise you, we will win the nomination in Texas, we will win in the general election, and you and I, together, we will change this country, and we will change the world.” See related story. Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, are the two presidential candidates seeking the Texas Democratic Party primary nomination on March 4. See lead story later in this posting.



In an apparent attempt to let South Texans know he knows about struggles in life, Obama made sure to highlight his own life story in a 37-minute long speech at the University of Texas-Pan American that also included many of his campaign platform goals. “I was born to a teenage mother. My father left when I was two. I never knew him. I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. They didn’t have money, they didn’t have fame. But what they did have was they gave me love, they gave me an education, they gave me hope.” See lead story later in this posting.



Edinburg City Councilmember Gus García, Jr., in dark suit, and other area residents reach out to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as the Democratic Party presidential candidate prepares to address thousands of supporters at the University of Texas-Pan American on Friday, February 22. García, along with Mayor Joe Ochoa, Edinburg school board trustee Robert Peña, Jr., Rep. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-San Benito, and Rep. Aaron Peña, Jr., D-Edinburg, were among the elected officials who showed up for the political rally. Obama is facing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, who along with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are hugely popular, with a long history, among the Hispanic population in the Valley and Texas. See lead story later in this posting.



“One of my primary interests and concerns as a presidential candidate and hopefully as president will be to make sure that we are opening access to a college education for everybody,” Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, told about two dozen students from the University of Texas-Pan American during a meeting before his rally on February 22 at the Edinburg based campus. Obama reported that college costs are up 40 percent and the average Texan leaves school more than $18,000 in debt, One of his proposals includes a $4,000 tuition credit for every student every year. See story later in this posting.



Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, shows off a carving board bearing the All-America City symbol of Edinburg given to him during his visit on Wednesday, February 20, to the University of Texas-Pan American. Kennedy, part of an iconic American political family that includes his slain brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert Kennedy, was in the three-time All-America City to rally advance support for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, who along with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, is seeking the March 4 primary nomination for president. Kennedy’s visit was hosted by Mayor Joe Ochoa, featured to Kennedy’s left, and City Councilmember Gus García, Jr. Obama visited Edinburg on Friday, February 22.



The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is proud to announce that Soledad O’Brien and John Quiñones will headline NAHJ’s 19th Annual Scholarship Banquet on March 13 in New York. That night, NAHJ will pay tribute to Rubén Salazar. In April, the U.S. Postal Service will issue a stamp in his honor. Salazar (1928-1970) was the first Mexican-American journalist to have a major voice in mainstream news media. His writings in the Los Angeles Times and segments at KMEX-TV on the Chicano movement of the 1960s added richly to the historical record. While in Los Angeles covering a Vietnam War protest, Salazar was killed by a tear gas projectile. See story later in this posting.



The American Heart Association is hosting a 2008 Tailgate Gala to benefit area children on Saturday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the McAllen Country Club. “The purpose of this event is to raise funds to further the AHA’s mission to help people live healthier lives free from cardiovascular disease and stroke,” said AHA Director Rebecca Taylor. The event will feature two very special families that both have children that have survived multiple heart surgeries. They will share their stories with gala guests and provide a better understanding on the effects of heart disease and what we can do to increase awareness. The money that is raised will stay in the community and be used to help educate people on their risk and help save the lives of those that are honored that evening. Sponsorships and tickets are available by calling Rebecca Taylor, director of the American Heart Association, at (956) 984-1213. Featured, from left, are: AHA Chair Michele Sparks, Pickles and Ice Cream; AHA board member JoAnn Wright, Edinburg Regional Medical Center; AHA volunteer Kristi Collier, Super Savings; Taylor; and AHA board member Elizabeth C. Martínez, The Business Times of the Rio Grande Valley.

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Mayor Ochoa says 2007 “another phenomenal year for Edinburg” during State of the City presentation


Mayor Joe Ochoa, shown here on Thursday, February 7, delivering the State-of-the-City address, says Edinburg in 2007 continued with positive economic growth and a high quality-of-life, and the future remains bright. “When unfortunately other parts of the country are struggling, Edinburg is blessed,” Ochoa told the audience at the Public Affairs Luncheon, which was hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. “Construction activity, economic development, sales tax revenues, population, and labor force are all on the rise.” See story later in this posting.



Leonel Guerrero, featured in this portrait with his wife, Leslie, kicked off his campaign for City Council, Place 3 on Wednesday, February 6, by promising to do away with alleged favoritism and intimidation by the powers-that-be in municipal government. “I want to be your next city commissioner for Place 3 so I can be your voice to stop any group or personal agendas that benefit the few,” Guerrero told the gathering of supporters at the University of Texas-Pan American. “The practice of ‘old time politics’ services few, and doesn’t answer the problems of our modern and global society. I am here to tell you I will bring about the end of ‘old time politics’.” Guerrero, a pharmacist, is challenging incumbent Gene Espinoza, a sales manager with Rio Grande Steel, L.T.D. See related story.



Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, featured left with Wanda Garza, executive officer for Workforce Development and External Affairs for South Texas College, earlier this month visited with members of South Texas College’s administration, as well as representatives from The University of Texas-Pan American, to learn more about the status of work on the region’s Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Project. “I am very excited with the work that has been started for this initiative,” said Combs. “A well trained and educated workforce is of utmost importance to our state’s prosperity in a diverse and competitive economic climate. The team at South Texas College is developing innovative strategies to address this vital issue.” 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


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



Three Edinburg school board trustees want U.S. Department of Justice to throw out election changes


Gov. Rick Perry will be in Edinburg on Monday, February 4, to posthumously bestow the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor in memory of Alfredo “Freddy” González. Perry, who served four and a half years in the air force, will be in the three-time All-America City for the much-anticipated state ceremony, where he will deliver the Texas’ highest medal of valor to Dolia González of Edinburg, the mother of the famous hometown U.S. Marine sergeant who was killed in action in Vietnam. The governor’s appearance will come on the 40th anniversary of the young man’s death. On February 4, 1968, despite being seriously wounded in an early battle with communist troops, González aggressively moved against heavily fortified enemy emplacements, knocking them out of action, thus saving his platoon of about three dozen American marines. He was killed in action. See story later in this posting.



Edinburg City Councilmember Gus García, Jr., featured third from left, was one of the hosts on Tuesday, January 29, for Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, shown next to the local political leader. Noriega is seeking the March 4 Democratic Party nomination for U.S. Senate for the right to challenge Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the November statewide general election. Noriega’s appearance at The Social Club in Edinburg was part of his “Answering the Call to Service – South Texas Barnstorming Tour”, a three-day swing through the Rio Grande Valley to introduce himself to voters. Three other men are in the race for the Democratic Party nomination: Gene Kelley, Ray McMurrey, and Rhett R. Smith.



As part of Board Appreciation Month, South Texas College honored its trustees at the January board meeting. The board’s seven members were recognized for their ongoing support of the college’s vision and mission to create a college-going culture in the Valley. “During the 2007-2008 school year, we have focused on creating a college-going culture in the Valley and this vision and mission has been endorsed by our visionary trustees, who can truly see a day when every student in Hidalgo and Starr counties will attend college,” said Dr. Shirley A. Reed, president of South Texas College. “Our seven dedicated members have each overcome obstacles in their lives and understand the value of an education and so they have made a promise to our future generations that college will not just be an option – it will be a guarantee. There are no words to fully express our gratitude for their support and continued dedication to the college and our communities.” STC Board of Trustees members were presented framed pictures from future STC students representing communities across the Rio Grande Valley. From back row left are Roy de Le?n, Manuel Benavidez Jr., Dr. Alejo Salinas Jr., Jesse Villarreal, Reed, Mike Allen and Garry Gurwitz. From front row left are Gus McKay, Vincent Olivarez, Eric Castillo, Cassie Muñoz and Abby Talbot.



U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, on Wednesday, January 30, wrote a letter to President Bush asking the White House to fund a South Texas project developed by local elected officials in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties that will repair the levees along the Rio Grande while securing the border. Also on January 30, Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas released an artist’s rendition of how the planned levees. Hutchison is specifically urging that Bush request sufficient funding through the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) to repair the levees and construct strategic fencing “in accordance with the proposal offered by locally elected officials” working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “We have an outstanding project developed at the local level that will secure our border while protecting Texas residents from the dangers of flooding caused by natural disasters,” said Hutchison. “I will work with the President, the Office of Management and Budget, IBWC, Congress, and local officials to repair the levees and secure the border.” See story later in this posting.

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Titans of the Texas Legislature