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Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP: McAllen recovers more than $2 million in late property taxes and fees during latest fiscal year

Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP: McAllen recovers more than $2 million in late property taxes and fees during latest fiscal year - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Rep. Aaron Peña of Edinburg on Tuesday, December 14, announced in Austin that he has switched to the Republican Party, making him the first Hidalgo County state legislator who is part of the GOP. Peña, featured here at the Republican Party Headquarters in Austin on December 14, was elected on November 2 to his sixth two-year term as a Democrat. Peña said he will run for reelection in 2012 on the Republican Party ticket. Republican heavyweights attended the GOP press conference, including Gov. Rick Perry (featured left, back of Peña), who praised the 10-year South Texas lawmaker, along with Rep. Allan Ritter of Nederland (featured right, back of Peña), who also switched to the GOP. "They’ve always stood out as remarkably conservative compared to the other members of their former party," Perry said, himself a former Democrat. "I know a little something about trying to stop a political party slide away from those essential values, and then making the decision it’s time to move on. It becomes clear when you are no longer welcome and that any change in that political party is highly unlikely." Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, struck a similar note, noting the tremendous victories statewide in last month’s legislative elections, particularly in the House of Representatives. "November 2nd was a historic day for the Republican Party of Texas as we not only increased the number of Republicans in the State House from 77 to 99, but also added approximately 300 new Republican officeholders statewide. I believe a revitalized and reorganized Republican Party ticket played a significant role in this accomplishment, along with having a strong top of the ticket led by Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. (David) Dewhurst and Attorney General (Gregg)Abbott. It is our hope to build upon these gains in the future, in part by reaching out to independents and Democrats as well as renewing our committment to outreach to minority communities." Boyd Richie, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, lashed out at Peña. Richie’s statement follows: “In defecting to the Republican Party, Aaron Peña is abandoning the voters of Hidalgo County. Just weeks after the men and women of his district elected him as a Democrat, Rep. Peña is turning his back on them and pledging his support to a Republican agenda that is harmful to his constituents. If Rep. Peña had any respect for his voters, he would resign and run as a Republican in a special election, but Peña won’t do that because he knows he would be defeated. Aaron Peña is joining a Republican Party that is hostile to the hardworking families of Hidalgo County. A Republican Party whose leaders are proposing larger class sizes, laying off thousands of teachers and cutting access to higher education promises to deliver a crushing blow to economic opportunity for families in Peña’s district. Aaron Peña is also joining a party whose legislators have filed legislation that would assault the rights of Hispanic citizens, including bills that mimic Arizona’s assault on the fundamental rights guaranteed to us as citizens of our democracy. The Texas Republican version of ‘Hispanic outreach’ amounts to reaching out to self-serving politicians like Aaron Peña while reaching into communities to take away economic and educational opportunity.”

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Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP: McAllen recovers more than $2 million in late property taxes and fees during latest fiscal year - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, featured standing, earlier this fall at the Alfredo Gonzalez Texas State Veterans Home in McAllen told leaders for area veterans groups that he will support state efforts to develop a federal VA Hospital for the Rio Grande Valley. Patterson, who also serves as chairman of the Texas Veterans Land Board, currently has the authority to issue bonds for the construction of state veterans homes in Texas. Rep. Armando "Mando"  Martínez, D-Weslaco, seated in this photograph, has pre-filed legislation that would give Gov. Rick Perry the authority to tap into the $190 million Texas Enterprise Fund to help build a federal VA Hospital in deep South Texas. "Helping develop a major VA Hospital in the Valley would have huge economic benefits to the region and to the state, and that is the objective of the Texas Enterprise Fund," said Martínez. "My legislation is consistent with the goals of the Texas Enterprise Fund, and it also allows the state’s leadership to help take care of our wounded war heroes and their families, who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms." See story later in this posting.

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Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP: McAllen recovers more than $2 million in late property taxes and fees during latest fiscal year - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García, featured right, on Wednesday, December 1, announced plans for LZ: RGV, a major event – free to the public – set for April 9 at the McAllen Convention Center. (LZ is a common military abbreviation for a helicopter landing zone.) "Our Vietnam Veterans of South Texas have not had an official welcome home event to recognize the sacrifices made during Vietnam," García explained. "This event is intended to recognize all Vietnam Veterans in South Texas and remember the killed in action and missing in action heroes that fought on behalf of our country." An estimated 12,000 Valley residents served in Vietnam, according to event organizers. In addition to area veteran leaders who participated at the press conference, held in García’s law office in Edinburg, were Willacy County Judge

Aurelio "Keter" Guerra, featured standing, second from left, and Willacy County Judge-elect John González, featured standing, third from left. Other elected officials in attendance for the announcement but not shown in this photograph were McAllen Mayor Richard Cortéz and Willacy County Sheriff heriff Larry Spence, a Vietnam veteran. For more information on the planned event, and for area residents to submit  stories and pictures about their experiences during the Vietnam War, please go online at http://www.lzrgv.com.

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Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP: McAllen recovers more than $2 million in late property taxes and fees during latest fiscal year - Titans of the Texas Legislature

The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce has announced the 2010-2011 Board of Directors, including the selection of Johnny Rodríguez, featured seated, third from right, as Chairman of the Board for the next 12 months. The organization’s leadership recently made time for a portrait inside the Edinburg Depot, which houses the chamber’s administrative headquarters. Seated, from left: Elias Longoria (Vice Chair-Treasurer); Elva Jackson Garza (Vice Chair-Governmental Affairs); Edna Peña (Chair-elect); Johnny Rodríguez (Chairman); Cris Torres (Vice Chair-Fiesta Edinburg); and Mark Peña (Vice Chair-Marketing). Center row, from left: Maggie Kent; Cynthia Bocanegra (Immediate Past Chair); Naomi Perales (Vice Chair-Ambassadors); Dina Araguz; and Edinburg Municipal Court Judge Toribio “Terry” Palacios. Back row, from left: Robert McGurk; Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, president of the University of Texas-Pan American; and Gus Casas (Vice Chair-Tourism). Key chamber board members not in this photograph are Marissa Castañeda, Jacob De León, Darcy Kelly, and Flo Prater (Vice Chair – Leadership Edinburg).

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Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP: McAllen recovers more than $2 million in late property taxes and fees during latest fiscal year - Titans of the Texas Legislature

GE Engine Services, based in McAllen, received the Employer of Excellence Award from Workforce Solutions/Lower Rio Grande Valley at the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) 14th Annual Texas Workforce Conference held November 17-19 in Dallas. The award honors an employer that is actively involved with Texas Workforce Solutions and has made a positive impact on employers, workers and the community. Featured, including members of the governing board for Workforce Solutions/Lower Rio, are from left: John Gonzáles, Willacy County Judge-elect and lead chief elected official; Sonia Quintero, board member; TWC Chairman Tom Pauken; TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton; Yvonne Garza, GE Engine Services; Sam F. Vale, board chair; Yvonne “Bonnie” González, Workforce Solutions/Lower Rio Grande Valley chief executive officer; Mike Willis, Workforce Solutions/Lower Rio Grande Valley vice president; and TWC Commissioner Representing the Public Andrés Alcantar. See story later in this posting. 

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Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP: McAllen recovers more than $2 million in late property taxes and fees during latest fiscal year - Titans of the Texas Legislature

281 Tattoo of Edinburg is hosting a “Toys for Tatts”  toy drive through Wednesday, December 22. Everyone is encouraged to donate a toy valued at $25 to be dropped off at the Tattoo shop, located on 222 E. Monte Cristo, Suite 6. With every donation, donors can receive a free 4×4 tattoo of their choice. The toy donations will be given to the Rainbow Room of Edinburg.  The Rainbow Room is a non-profit organization and an emergency resource center available to Children Protective Services caseworkers to help them meet the critical needs of abused and neglected children. Russo’s NY Pizzeria will also be donating pizzas to all of the children during the gift giveaway and celebration, set for December 22 at the Rainbow Room. “We are very excited about the ‘Toys for Tatts’ toy drive, we are the first tattoo shop in the Rio Grande Valley to host a celebration such as this. We feel it’s important to give back to our community and support those who are less fortunate,” said John De La Garza, artist in residence and part owner of 281 Tattoos. “We hope your contributions enable us to continue this endeavor every year.”  Featured promoting the charitable drive are, from left: Iván “Shorty Ink Hustla” Aguilar; Imelda Rodríguez, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director; John “El John” De La Garza; Evana Vleck, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Marketing Director; and Jimmy (El Payaso Colorin) Colorin. For more information on “Toys for Tatts”, please contact the tattoo shop by calling 956/381-6708.

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Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP: McAllen recovers more than $2 million in late property taxes and fees during latest fiscal year - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Top Exemplary Migrant Students are honorees at the Texas Migrant Education Conference hosted by the Association of Migrant Educators of Texas (AMET) at the Convention Center in  South Padre Island. These outstanding students each addressed conference participants, recalling their struggles and how their parents and school personnel encouraged them along the way to excel in school. These students are now enrolled at major universities in Texas and in the U.S. Featured, from left: Rubén Hernández, Jr., Donna High School; Sofia Samantha Velázquez, Johnny G. Economedes High School in Edinburg; Carlissa García, La Joya  High School; Eliza DeDow, Mathis High School; Michelle Rangel, Sidney Lanier High School; and Anabel Rodríguez, Rio Grande City High School. See story later in this posting.

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Pharr Mayor Palacios says STC board should appoint successor to fill vacancy

Pharr Mayor Palacios says STC board should appoint successor to fill vacancy - Titans of the Texas Legislature

The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation has honored Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured center, with the Texas Access to Justice Legislative Hero Award for his contributions to improving access to justice in Texas.  The public recognition was bestowed on Wednesday, October 27, at the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid office in Edinburg. Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, featured right, the Court’s liaison for access to justice issues, presented the award to Hinojosa. Lilia Ledesma (featured left), an attorney with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, a national law firm with offices in Edinburg and Brownsville, also attended the public ceremony. Hinojosa was recognized for his outstanding leadership efforts in the 81st Texas Legislature during the spring of 2009 that led to an historic appropriation of $20 million for civil legal services for poor and low-income Texans. “Times are tough, and funding is scarce for the legal assistance low-income Texans desperately need, whether it’s a protective order to prevent abuse, obtaining benefits for the family, help with an eviction, or other legal services,” Hecht said. “Sen. Hinojosa understands, and he has supported this worthy cause with leadership, determination, and courage.” See story later in this posting.  

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Pharr Mayor Palacios says STC board should appoint successor to fill vacancy - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Rep.-elect Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, featured right on Thursday, October 21, at the University of Texas-Pan American, was selected to attend the prestigious NALEO National Institute for Newly Elected Officials in Washington, D.C., which was held November 18 – 21. The three-day governance “boot camp,” hosted by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, is a professional development seminar designed to help newly elected officials acquire the skills needed for effective governance and establish professional networks needed to succeed in public office. Congressmen-elect Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R-San Antonio, and Raúl Labrador, a Republican from Indiana, were among this year’s participants. In addition to Muñoz, other new members of the Texas Legislature selected for the Institute were: Sen.-elect José R. Rodríguez, D-El Paso; Raúl Torres, R-Corpus Christi; Rep.-elect Larry Gonzáles, R-Round Rock; and Rep.-elect Naomi R. González, D-El Paso. For her part, Zaffirini  on Monday, November 8, pre-filed the first 44 Senate bills of the 82nd Texas Legislative Session that will convene on Tuesday, January 11. See stories on Muñoz and Zaffirini later in this posting.  

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Pharr Mayor Palacios says STC board should appoint successor to fill vacancy - Titans of the Texas Legislature

McAllen banker Alonzo Cantú, featured left, and businessman Forrest Runnels, also of McAllen, on Wednesday, November 10, were sworn in by Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, as the newest members of the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority Board of Directors during the RMA’s work session in Weslaco. Cantú was appointed on Tuesday, November 2, by then-Hidalgo County Judge René A. Ramírez, who is featured in the background, while Runnels was appointed, also on November 2, by Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner Óscar Garza at the request of incoming Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios. Both appointments received unanimous approval of the county commissioners court. In late October, R. David Guerra, Vice President and Director of International Bancshares Corporation (not shown), was sworn in as an RMA board member, representing the City of McAllen, on Wednesday, October 27. “Alonzo, Forrest and David bring tremendous credentials, integrity and vision to one of the most important projects that will affect all Hidalgo County residents," said RMA board member Michael G. Cano of Pharr, an attorney with the national law firm of Linbarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, which has offices in Edinburg and McAllen. "For all of us, it is both very challenging and very gratifying to be part of history in the making. We encourage all Hidalgo County residents to provide their ideas, concerns, and hopes to us at any time." The seven-member governing board for the RMA is charged with many responsibilities that will affect the economic and transportation development of Hidalgo County, including planning and financing toll roads and other major highway improvements for the region. See story later in this posting  

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Pharr Mayor Palacios says STC board should appoint successor to fill vacancy - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes,  featured here during his campaign victory party  in McAllen on Tuesday, November 2, has been elected as the 1st Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States and Puerto Rico. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus aims to address national and international issues and the impact these policies have on the Hispanic community. The function of the Caucus is to serve as a forum for the Hispanic members of Congress to coalesce around a collective legislative agenda. Hinojosa, who was formerly 2nd Vice Chair of the organization, was promoted on Thursday, November 18. Congressman Charles A. González, D-San Antonio, was elected as Chair, Congressman Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, as 2nd Vice Chair and Congressman Dennis Cardoza, D-California, as Whip. "I am honored to have been elected 1st Vice Chair to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus,” said Hinojosa. "I, along with my colleagues in the CHC, will continue to work on the issues that affect our Latino community in the 112th Congress. Together, CHC members will follow our new Chair, Congressman González, in our commitment to finding solutions to the problems facing Hispanics. I look forward to serving in my capacity as the 1st Vice Chair of the CHC and as a U.S. Congressman. We will all work vigorously to address the challenges that face Latino families today.”  

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Pharr Mayor Palacios says STC board should appoint successor to fill vacancy - Titans of the Texas Legislature

The Holiday season is upon us. This is the season where Americans share good times with loved ones and count their blessings. Let this also be the time of year where we give to others and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing we have brought a smile to someone’s face. The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce would like to invite the community to join them in their efforts with the “Surprises from Santa” Toy Drive. With this toy drive, that will run from November 30 through December 17, they hope to collect as many new unwrapped toys as possible so that they may be distributed in some of the colonias of the Rio Grande Valley. “Financial contributions will also be accepted to buy toys and clothing for the more unfortunate children,” added Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president and CEO of the RGVHCC. The drop-off location for anyone interested in donating toys will be the RGVHCC office, located at 3313 N. McColl Road in McAllen. Please call them for information at 956/928-0060. Featured making preparations for the “Surprises from Santa” Toy Drive are, from left: Melisa Tejada, membership director; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, RGVHCC president and CEO; and Obie Calzada, events intern. Seated in front is Michael García, membership intern.  

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Pharr Mayor Palacios says STC board should appoint successor to fill vacancy - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Ready to kick off the holiday season with your friends and family? Come to South Texas College’s Christmas Toys and Joys Family Night on Thursday, December 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the college’s Pecan Campus located at 3201 W. Pecan Boulevard in McAllen. The event is open to the public and admission is two canned goods for the RGV Food Bank, or a coat for Tim’s Coats, or an unwrapped toy for The Salvation Army. Activities include games and rides, music, holiday carolers, a lighted train tour and more. Children will meet Santa and his helpers. For additional information, contact Armando Ponce at 956/872-2515.  

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Titans of the Texas Legislature